Title of Story: How to Melt an Ice Queen
Word Count: 9,040
Type of Edward: Icelandic-ward
Story Summary: Edward is the best warrior the Viking age has ever known – save one: The Ice Queen of Icelandia. To win her hand, and have any chance at her heart, a warrior must defeat her in single combat. Many have tried. Can he succeed?
Disclaimer: The author does not own any publicly recognizable entities herein. No copyright infringement is intended.
I strode into the steeply peaked wooden throne room; my father, brothers and an assembly of our best warriors striding through the vaulted entrance at my back. Our voyage to this remote island from our own Ríki, kingdom, on the north shore of the Scandinavian Peninsula, had been arduous, to say the least. The winter storms were coming early this year, though this day had dawned bright and clear. The promise of the prize for success today was too great for me to have let anything to force me to stay away. Even knowing the cost of failure and the almost innumerable warriors who had fallen before me, I could do nothing but fill my lungs deeply, now, and boldly step forward.
It had been just a few short months since I was first claimed by the power and beauty that was Icelandʼs infamous Ice Queen. In those first brief moments, I had been challenged to face my innermost demons; to confront my most secret, poingnant hopes and dreams. It was difficult to explain, even to myself. Seeing her was like finding my true home. It was only a matter of weeks before I could no longer deny the pull I felt toward her and had begun the process that lead to today.
I had felt such an instant, visceral connection (quickly morphing into admiration for the substance of the person I had observed on the battlefield that fateful day) that I could not refute the revelation of my life's purpose – to be her mate, to be the man at her side as she ruled, and to find with her, what happiness could be found in this life. So I had set about sending my adoptive father to her, to negotiate for her hand, and then turned my back on my own veritable princehood in familiar lands, amoungst people who respected, and knew me, to begin a new life. A life with her.
Walking through the longhouse, I felt a swell of pride for my people. The carved wood beams forming the high peek above us, were appropriately reminiscent of our great raiding ships. Ships the sight of which caused lesser cultures to the south among the barbaric Germanic tribes and to the west among the animalistic Celts and Picts, to fear on sight. The walls were lined with heavily furred and armed warriors, including the almost unknown, rare warrior maiden. Their joyful derision had no doubt struck fearful doubts into the hearts of many of the hopeful combatants before me.
I passed many of her people, faceless in the dim, flaring, firelight warming the ceremonial hall. At its head: Hjördís Sigrúnríður or Sword Goddess of Beautiful Victory. She sat back, upon her dais, chin high, the very picture of confident authority. My future queen. The most feared and ruthless warrior of our age. Her wealth was boundless, as was her beauty . . . and many a tale told of a temper to match. I felt my lips curl slightly at the thought of winning her loyalty and I saw her already ram rod posture stiffen further, and if I wasn't mistaken, her hand tightened on the naked Ulfberht blade lying across her lap.
Yes, I relished the challenge. The rumors of her temper were in no way exaggerated. A woman with brains, strength, and cunning to match my own was such an arousing combination, compounded only by the exotic beauty of form before my eyes. It had been three winter seasons since she had issued the challenge to defeat her in combat to win her hand in marriage, but this past summer had seen a sharp decline in prospective bridegrooms seeking the honor. I fully intended there would be no others after me.
Many would not consider the sneer pulling her lips to be beautiful, but I was not most men - a fact Emmett Eysteinn took great delight in reminding me of frequently. I couldn't deny her skill entitled her to sneer at me and my challenge. Women were seen as only fit for the home and hearth, and she had broken with all tradition. Most viewed her choice to be a warrior maiden with derision – until her sword found their throats, anyway. She had little hope of finding a warrior to equal her, let alone one who would not view her as chattel to bring them a kingdom. Even as unusual as my family was known to be, I knew none of them would view her as an equal, nor appreciate her strength, speed, and skill, as an impetus to match her the way I did.
Reaching the foot of her dais, I halted and bowed deeply, keeping my hand upon the hilt of my own equally rare and powerful Ulfberht. "My Queen."
"You enter my Hall most arrogantly, for a dead man walking, Edward Einar," she proclaimed coolly.
"And you sit most calmly for a woman about to be conquered, Hjördís Sigrúnríður."
Her answering laugh curled through my body, pooling in my belly, and awakening the lust I dared not embrace. Yet.
"You've a fine wit. I could use a court fool. I'll almost regret killing you."
Her warriors burst out in appreciative laughter. I felt my own lips curling up as well. "We shall see, won't we, My Queen?"
"Yes. Yes, we shall," she stated through clenched teeth, her eyes darkening - imagining pleasing visions of my swift death, no doubt. "I refuse to admit anyone into my bed who is not my equal and who can view me as such. So far you Viking men have proven far too breakable." She paused for the uproars of laughter this statement produced from the crowd. "I have earned my people's respect. In turn I offer them the respect of trying to find a man worthy of being my husband. I've already broken with all custom, so why not one more. Thus my challenge: defeat me in single combat. Prove your worth to win my hand along with co-rulership of my lands and people. As you can see many have tried, and their helms now adorn my walls." She gestured to the high timber walls around her, studded with shields, helmets, and no small number of other trophies taken from those who tried – and failed – before me to win her.
"But I fight not for the glory, nor to boast of besting you. Therefore, I shall succeed where all others have failed."
Her stare was intent. "Shall we begin, then?"
"As my Queen wishes," I answered, fist to chest, bowing slightly in bold deference.
"I am not your Queen, Edward Einar. You forget yourself," she growled, rising to her feet.
"As my Queen says," I replied, cocking my head and bowing again. She was mine already, she just didn't know it yet.
"I take it back. I will very much enjoy spilling your arrogant blood! Prepare yourself!" she snarled before stalking across the room to begin preparing for our combat, snatching at the ties of her outer wear as she went.
Thankfully she was not one to overly flaunt her feminine physique. As it was, her clothes were close fitting enough to allow for freedom of movement, with just the barest nod toward typical female attire. It was almost shocking to see how small she was without her cloak. The force of her personality, and reputation, made her seem much larger. My instinct was to protect women like her, so small and frail in appearance.
Tearing my thoughts away from such counterproductive thoughts, I turned back to my own entourage, I untied my heavy, fur-lined cloak and tossed it to Emmett Eysteinn, who grinned broadly at me. "Feeling particularly suicidal today, eh, Edward Einar?" Leave it to Emmett Eysteinn to view my potential demise with such jovial enthusiasm. Jasper Jökull just shook his head at me, even as his eyes continued to scan the foreign warriors for any signs of betrayal. It was his reaction that made me nearly chuckle even more than Emmett Eysteinn's. Carlisle Sigurður faced me and clapped my forearm solidly with his own, displaying his support and confidence in my skill. I smiled tightly back at him, grateful for the solidity of his support.
I drew my sword and began the ritual movements I used to ready myself for battle. Today of all days I needed to be centered within myself, and I sought that special place of inner calm that had always served me well in combat.
As we prepared, her warriors drew their swords, and ringed the room, leaving a wide open space for our impending combat. They began rhythmically pounding the flats of their swords against their shields. The rhythm grew as more of her warriors joined in, filling the hall with the sound of my own potential death march. My heart beat faster, rising to the challenge the sound presented.
I could see many of the men bantering together, undoubtedly taking odds on the probable speed of my demise. I heard a thunderous laugh at my side and found Emmett Eysteinn, the bastard, pounding his own enormous shield. "Do you rally for or against me, brother?" I called to him over the din.
"Which will bring me more wealth do you think?"
"You are the son of a motherless goat!" Emmett Eysteinn merely laughed harder.
Turning to a grinning Jasper Jökull I playfully slammed my shoulder into his. I stripped myself of my jerkin, loosened my shirt from my breeches, and then reached over my head to pull it off over my head and handed them to him.
Ever the sage, Jasper Jökull leaned close to say, "Remember Edward Einar, her embarrassment must be more dear to you than your own. To win her heart, you must first win her mind – though I see you also take aim at bringing lust to her body," he laughed.
"A man's got to use what advantages he has!" I slyly returned.
The stories of her battle fury and the discs of iron and rawhide ringed linen decorating her hall made it plain she would go to her grave a maiden rather than be humiliated at the hand of another warrior.
Sterk,mínfallegkona. Mínfegurð. So strong my beautiful woman. My beautiful one.
Many whispered behind their hands that she was secretly a lover of women, and the challenge to men offered only to give the appearance that she might one day produce an heir. I knew deep in my heart this was not true. Yes, I had no doubt she was my match in every way. She sought a man strong enough to not only embrace her strength, but who could feel secure enough in his own strenghts to match her, lift her up when she needed and support her from behind on occasion, with equal ferver.
The rosey pink tinge to her face gave me much satisfastion, imagining as I did that it was in reaction to the breadth and definition of my bare chest. It was so hard not to allow even a little of the hopeful satisfaction at her reaction to show upon my face. She would, I was sure, misinterpret it as vindictive glee, rather than the tender optimism I felt in truth.
"Enough! Let us begin." she shouted, her voice suprising in its ability to be heard over the din.
I filled my lungs with air and let it out slowly. Yes, I was ready.
"As the Queen wishes, so shall it be done,ˮ I replied.
"Edward be that your bedchamber voice?" Emmett muttered as he chuckled behind me.
"A better one than 'yes, ma'am, Lady Rose," I shot back as I hefted my shield. The chorus of laughter from my men was a good sound to go into battle to.
I saw her lips part and the flush upon her cheeks deepen. Another slight point for me. I dared not wholly delude myself that it was desire staining her skin. I knew her warriors saw it as a flush of well controlled rage, but part of me certainly dared to hope I was the one who was right.
Unleashing a powerful battle cry, she charged.
"Ho, Edward, your lady approaches!" Carlisle yelled, pushing me across the rushes strewn upon floor at my feet. I heaved my own shield above me, deflecting her first blow. I knew she could not hope to match my strength, so speed and cunning had to be her allies. I was right. Almost quicker than I could blink she allowed her sword to slip and dip, very nearly sliding up, around, and past my guard to gut me. But like her, I had not survived as long as I had in my position without agility of my own.
I took a few hasty steps back and allowed my respectful admiration for her strategy to show upon my face. I wondered how many challengers had fallen to that opening technique? I would hazard many.
After that, I had little time for conscious thought as she came at me again. Never in a straight-on attack, but always seeking to go around my guard. We quickly became a circling, parrying, occastionally kicking and leaping, mass of movement. We made complete use of the space, often forcing the spectators to move or risk injury themselves.
Several times she almost made it past my guard and I grinned at her. She would snarl and increase her effort, coming ever closer to dipatching me, but never quite managing it. I took several light flesh wounds, and left numerous small rents in her clothing. My world became all parry, thrust, block, advance and retreat as I used every bit of my hard-won skill to make my play for her heart, as well as her hand.
Soon, our first frenzied burst of energy ebbed, and our motions took on more of a slightly dance-like quality. At one point she struck so hard upon the edge of my shield that the layered, linen and rawhide circle split apart from the bronze center protecting my hand. I immediately discarded what was left of my shield in order to grasp the hilt of my sword with both hands. As soon as I dropped my destroyed shield, she disguarded hers as well, sending it skittering across the floor, very nearly upending a pair of elderly warriors with it, much to their increased merryment. It would seem she wanted no doubt in anyone's mind she did not win through any percieved inequity in armorment, but through sheer skill. I was certainly impressed to find the rumors of her vaunted skill were most decidedly true.
The lack of a shield allowed for closer combat with more of an edge of grapling to our contest. I made as good a use of my free hand as I could, sneeking in subtle grazing touches to her arms and upper thighs, hips, and the small of her back. I liked to think that the increased spots of red centered on her cheeks was a measure of my sucess, and not purely from her exertions – nor her overt rage at my forward behavior.
Our clashing blows rang through the room, loud and rapid. Our feet began a faster paced dance of advance, retreat, spin and counter. We were exceedingly well-matched as we danced our subtlly erotic, ernestly deadly, dance. Finally our blades locked and her blade was wrested from her hands with my greater reach. In the moment I felt victorious, the Queen reacted with a quick-timed shoulder blow and my impact numbed hands allowed my sword to go flying as well. I laughed and sketched an abreviated bow of my head even as we both drew long knives from the sheaths at our wasits, and continued circling one another. Now began the feints. Suddenly, she thrust the handle of her knife into her teeth, spinning to grab a long handled axe from one of the spectators.
No sooner had I registered this action than she swung, nearly taking off my head! I fell back, rolling over one shoulder and quickly recovered my footing, even as a large smile stretched my lips.
"What a woman!ˮ
She actually screeched with rage.
I moved in indicating with my body language I planned to move to the left and when she raised her arms to stike at me again, I launched myself directly at her midsection, tackling her to the ground. Not even permitting myself an instant to think, my hands slid up her arms to trap them before she could bring the but of the ax down on my back. I pulled myself up, marginally onto my knees and further braced my hands, staring deeply into her utterly captivating eyes. I had often heard poems proclaim how it was possible to drown in the depths of a woman's eyes, but never credenced it until this moment. Poetry was said to have the potential to ensnare a young woman's heart in spell bound rapture from which she might never escape – in this moment I knew her eyes had spoken poetry to my heart, and I would forever be hers.
For the first time, I felt the allure of breaking with custom, risking the rath of every male relation she possessed for daring to extend such a slur upon her person (implying I had intimate knowledge upon which to base such sweet words of praise to her charms) and wax poetic about her myraid attractions. Especially the non-physical ones.
Now, with her hands trapped above her head, and our knives lost in our fall, my body pressed against her's. Instead of uttering sweet words of love, I risked all I had gained with my swordsmanship to dip my head and deeply inhale her bewitching scent from behind her ear, trailing my nose along her skin as I went. It made my head all but swim with desire, and my skin tingle with sensual awareness.
"Dear Gods, but youʼre amazing, Woman!" I whispered earnestly in her ear.
Her gasp and unconscious sharp thrust of her chest into my own sent a spear of pleasure-filled hope through my body. Her fingers slipped from the ax handle. I was careful to keep my groin from pressing against her, though that was exactly what every fiber of my being craved to do. But I would not disrespect her.
My inner congratulations were cut short as she smashed her head against my temple, stunning me long enough for her to snake one arm loose, reach around over the back of my head, grab my ear in her fingers and pull.
With an oath hissed between my gritted teeth, my weight shifted and she was able to arch and throw me off of her. I rolled to my side and then back over my shoulder to regain my feet. I shook my head, hoping she had not actually torn my ear from my head like it felt. I didnʼt think I could feel any blood trickling, but with all the sweat, it was hard to tell.
We began circling one another, once again, both striving not to show our growing fatigue. Unexpectely, we both tried to make the same move at the same time and ended up twirling past one another, stopping back to back. Quickly, I reached out and locked shield arms with her, and then thrust out my hip into the small of her back while bending low. The motion flung her up and over my shoulder. She landed in front of me, but off center, almost at my side. With a particularly loud battle cry, she flung one leg high into the air, over my shoulder and then vaulted to perch upon the back of my neck, her legs scissoring in a concerted attempt to strangle me.
I whipped my head to the side, tucking my chin against my shoulder, just barely in time to protect my airway from her crushing thighs. The motion also afforded me an unanticipated bonus that I was not about to let slip past: it brought my mouth firmly against her linnen clad leg. I exhaled strongly against the linen-covered skin and then pulled my lips back to bite lightly onto her thigh. Not to harm her, but to again elicit previously unknown sensation in the woman I strove to make my mate and my wife.
Her body jerked.
It was time to end this.
My own body was not unaware of her moist heat perched upon the back of my neck. I longed to explore that heat, and uncover the source of the moisture, and most certainly not with my neck. The time had come to prove my worthiness to possess her – and be possessed in return. My luck was strong, she had been distracted enough by what I had done with my mouth upon her thigh that I was able to grasp the wrist of her sword arm. As I grasped her as tightly as possible over her leather wrist guard, and pulled her slightly forward, I buckled my knees, tossing us down toward the floor. When my backside struck the ground, I jerked backward, slamming her arched back forcefully into the planks, knocking the wind out of her lungs.
The moment I felt her legs loosen ever so slightly, I twisted and dug my toes into the floor, thrusting myself up the length of her body, trading her sword hand to my own shield hand, and capturing her empty shield hand. I then braced both hands in one of my own and drew my second knife and held it to her pretty throat. "Do you yield?ˮ
She lay straining against my grasp, teeth clenched, glaring at me. I decided it was time; I had restrained myself more than long enough. I slipped one leg between hers and pressed. Her instant deep inhalation made my belly burn, and my eyes along with it, I was sure.
"I repeat, do you yield? Or do I need to prove myself further, right here. In front of these witnesses?ˮ
Her eyes widened and their fire rose higher as well. "You wouldn't dare! Iʼd kill you first!ˮ
"Are you saying, you didn't just give that your best effort? One last time: do you yield?ˮ
Her reply came grudgingly, through clenched teeth, and resembled a snarl more than a mere reply. "Yes, I yield.ˮ
"And I accept,ˮ I replied dipping my head, bringing my face just inches from hers. Just as I saw her lips part, and an almost hopeful light kindle in her eyes, I rolled off, sprang to my feet and offered her my hand.
I could tell she wanted to spurn my proffered hand, but like the just ruler she was, she knew the right political answer, and took my hand. I pulled her up, and wound my arm around her waist. "I guess it̕s a good thing we came on Friggʼs day!ˮ
A chorus of male chuckles greeted my ribald statement, even as pain exploded through my foot.
"Yes, I guess for once the guest feast wonʼt go to waste,ˮ she stated calmly, while glaring dagggers at me. "Itʼs been so long since I've enjoyed a good feast,ˮ she added, to her own round of raucous laughter.
"Mmm, Iʼm sure it has,ˮ I replied trying to disguise how her blow had left me a touch breathless. "Until later, my Lady,ˮ I felt my smirk threatening to pull at my lips once again as I raised her hand to my lips and placed an almost nonexistent kiss upon the backs of her fingers. It thrilled me to see how intently she watched my gesture.
The next few hours were filled with my visit to the menʼs bath house where my adoptive father and adoptive brothers took great delight in "educatingˮ me on my new duties as a husband. I had come prepared, having exumed the Ulfberht blade I had used from my grandfather's grave to present to my new bride for safekeeping until the day our first son reached his majority. I had come well prepared to leave my bachelorhood behind me.
Thankfully, very thankfully, considering how long it had taken Carlisle Sigurður to complete the negotiations, the bruðkaup or bride price, including mundr and morgengifu and heiman fylgia or dowry, had been negotiated in the months before our arrival. I was now doubly grateful our forethought meant there was no obstacle to keep us from proceeding immediately with the wedding. I knew my brothers had ordered our warriors to begin unloading the goods from our ships to be presented to my bride, even as I prepared for the ceremony.
I was quite touched when Carlisle Sigurður presented me with a new, finely wrought, silver Thórrʼs hammer pendant to wear during the ceremony and ensure a fruitful union on this most important of days. It was the one special item in my otherwise ordinary, though finely made, wardrobe.
Soon, though not soon enough to suit my eager mood, it was time. I led the way, my adoptive father, and brothers once again flanking me at my back as they had only hours ago when we arrived. We walked briskly thorugh the glorious autumn day to the sacred grove nearby to await the arrival of my bride. The witnesess from the bruðkaup negotiations, and those whose social standing permitted them a place of attendance with us. Our marriage would only be valid so long as at least one of the official witness remained alive over the following decades, so a minimum of six witnesses who had been present for the bride price negotiations, were typical.
I was pleased to see the gyðja, or priestess, waiting with the sacrifices to the gods. Tied to the trees near the heaped stones of the horgr, or altar, were a goat, in honor ofThórr, a sow to honor Freyja, and a horse to invoke the blessing of Freyr. These animals represented a living gift to the gods of fertility, and would live out their lives as sacred beasts, protected and honored. If they had not been selected to be living sacrifices, their blood would have been spilled into a bowl in order to confer the blessing of the sacrifice upon the gathered guests. Instead, mead had been symbolically placed into a large bowl placed on the horgr along with the hlaut-teinn, a bundle of fir-twigs to be used later in the ceremony.
Soon I saw the young kinsman, who had been chosen to lead my bride to me. He bore the sword she would present to me as her new husband on his out stretched hands and walked at a suitably regal pace. I had no thought left for the lad at that point, as I spotted my bride. She wore a deep blue, fur trimmed gown with her long hair flowing freely about her shoulders, and the bridal wreath upon her brow. She was so beautiful, it took my breath away!
I know the gyðja, or priestess, began speaking, invoking the blessing of the gods and goddesses to our union, but all I could do was stare transfixed at my Queen. I still couldn't quite believe I had won her hand, to have and to hold, from this day forward.
It wasn't until thegyðja dipped the fir-boughs into the bowl of mead and moved the hlaut-teinn in a short, gentle downward movement, swiftly followed by a flick to the left and right, meant to portray the sign of theThórr's hammer, that I came to fuller awareness. The gesture very effectively sprinkled a very minute amount of the blessed liquid onto the crowd, thereby conferring the blessings of the gods, invoked for the ceremony, onto all who had gathered for our union. I had never ceased to marvel at the effectiveness of the well-practiced motion as to not douse the assembly, but merely create a gentle mist of consecration.
I felt a flight of moths in my gut as I realized it was time to present my bride with the ancestral blade I had wielded to win her hand. The recently shined steel gleamed in the late autumn sun as I accepted the blade from Carlisle Sigurður. I almost allowed a very un-Viking display of emotion to overcome me at the intense feeling of pride I got from his expression toward me as he clapped his hand on my shoulder. My gratitude for his guidance as my surrogate father showed in my returned expression.
With very deliberate movements, I turned back to my bride, my Queen, mínFegurð. "It is with utmost reverence, I entrust this sword of my ancestors to your keeping for our future sons.ˮ
Her face was very solemn as she replied, "I accept your trust, and solemly promise to keep and protect this sword in keeping for the day our son takes it up in my stead.ˮ
She accepted the sword from my hands, sheathed it then turned and accepting the sword from the youth who had born it, offered it to me. "I present to you, my husband by right of conquest, my sword. A sacred blade of my family line, may you use it in guardianship and protection of myself and my people.ˮ
I took the precious blade from her with the reverence both the superior blade and her offer deserved, and slipped it into my own sheath holding her eyes the whole time. It was with nearly shaking hands I shifted to face the horgr. I removed the golden ring from where it rested there within the sacred arm-ring, the placement of which symbolized the unbreakable nature of the vow we were about to make, and placed it upon the hilt of my sword. I turned and offered the ring bearing sword hilt to her. I felt my heart swell as she took the simple ring and placed it upon her finger.
She then turned to the horgr and removed the second, larger ring, placed it upon the hilt of my former sword, rather than upon the sword I held, and offered it to me. Her choice was clearly a statement that she would remain her own protector even as she accepted my protection and companionship. I had to hold myself rigid as I reached out to take her ring so as not to betray the riot of emotions surging through me in that moment. The cool metal felt completely natural as I slid the ring home on my finger.
To cement the bond, we then placed our hands atop the hilt of my sword and spoke our vows in unison. "I offer to you, as my wife,(as my husband) this unbroken circle of gold, a symbol of our unbroken, sacred unity from this day forward.ˮ
As I spoke, I endeavored to silently tell her that it was my whole heart and soul I was offering her along with my protection, experience, and partnership.
The gyðja addressed the assembly to finalize our union, but once again, I was lost in mínFegurð's gaze. All at once the crowd broke out in rousing cheers signaling it was time to begin the feast. True to tradition, my bride took off like a shot, determined to beat me to the doorway of the longhouse. It was with joy bursting from my heart I took off after her, quickly overtaking her – though not by much. It was fortunate I was known for my speed. Should she have beaten me, she might have crossed the threshold unattended, and should she have tripped or fallen it would have boded most ill for our future. Following tradition, I barred her way with my naked blade before deftly swinging her up into my arms.
The usual custom was to set the bride down just inside the room, but once I had her in my arms, she felt so right and good, I just couldn't bring myself to release her so soon. So I strode down the length of the building to the dais, my bride rigid and blushing in my arms, her arm around my shoulders, for all the world attempting to look like this was her idea. All too soon we reached our seats and I was forced to put her down, but I knew I would never relinquish her in my heart, and I could only pray someday she would feel the same towards me.
There was yet one more tradition to uphold at the feast. I turned and approached the central supporting post for the house. Taking my blade in both hands I plunged it as forcefully as I could into the wood, leaving quite a prodigious gash. The depth of the scar was said to be not only an indicator of the luck of our marriage, but also a testament to the virility of the groom. I was determined my wife would know I was a very virile man and there would be many strong children produced during our marriage.
I returned to my wife's side and took my seat. Still wearing high color in her cheeks, she promptly performed her first duty as a wife by offering me a trophy vessel with handles on either side carved in the shape of mountain lions. The "loving-cup" or Kåsa as it was often called, was full of mead. As she began to speak, her resonant voice once again wrapped around me, intertwining itself through my mind and body. Her words were meant to confer health and strength to me as the drinker, and I had to admit, they certainly strengthened my desire for her.
Ale I bring thee, thou oak-of-battle,
With strength blended and brightest honor;
'Tis mized with magic and mighty songs
With goodly spells, wish-speeding runes*
When she was done, my wife passed me the cup. I dutifully consecrated the drink to mighty Thórr by moving my hand in a T-shaped pattern over it, making the sign of the Hammer in his honor.
"To Óðinn, Father of us all!" I proclaimed to the gathered guests before lifting the beautiful vessel to my lips and taking a sip, watching her over the rim the whole time. When I finished, I reverently passed her the cup.
"To Freyja, Lady of many blessings!" she proclaimed loudly in return before raising the cup to her own lush lips.
By drinking together, our bond, both legal and spiritual, was affirmed, and once the gyðja placed a hammer in reverence to Thórrinto mínFegurð's lap, it signaled the final public step in symbolically affirming our new status, and encouraging fertility in our union.
The remainder of the feast passed in a blur of food, revelry, and innumerable toasts. I do not think I put down my drinking horn once from the time I took it up. Soon the guests were dancing and making merry. When the crowd got fatigued from dance, impromptu wrestling matches ensued. Emmett Eysteinn, of course, led the charge in hurling humorous insults, or flyting, inour direction, much to the intense delight of our guests. By the end of the evening, things had calmed down enough that several lygisogur, or "lying stories," were offered up for our enjoyment.
Fortunately, the time finally came for our evening to end.
"Come, Father! It is more than time we put our brother to bed with his wife! I am sure they are most eager to be alone!" Emmett Eysteinn boomed out, laughing even as he drained his own drinking horn, at which point several ladies came forward to escort my wife from the room to our bedchamber. The good natured heckling went on for several minutes, giving my wife time to ready herself for my arrival. Our witnesses from the ceremony then took up torches from the wall sconces and led me to my bridal bed.
Once there, my breath caught in my throat. The large wooden bed featured the usual carved dragon heads on either side of the headboard, and was decorated for the occasion with small golden plaques showing miniature images of naked figures meant to depictFreyr and his lady. What made me pause and lose all ability at rational thought was the sight of my wife sitting stiffly at the head of the bed, a sheet draped over her and tucked under her arms, wearing only the woven bridal crown of wheat and straw over her loose hair. She was a vision, a veritable incarnation ofFreyja herself at that moment!
Emmett Eysteinn slapped me strongly on the shoulder, jolting me out of my stupor. "If you don't go get yourself into that bed swiftly, I might just be tempted to take over for you, Brother!"
Glaring daggers at him, I approached the side of the bed.
"You're not man enough to even touch the bed linens, let alone her, you toothless cur!" I proclaimed back at him, much to the intense delight of all gathered. It was definitely time for the "witnesses" to leave.
I climbed upon the bed to kneel next to mínFegurð. I held her eyes as I ran one gengle finger down her cheek before reaching up and reverently removing the bridal crown from her brow and placing a kiss upon her forehead. This final act, symbolizing the consumation of our union, was the last barrier to our being alone for the first time.
"Now you may all get out," my lovely wife proclaimed calmly, though with a very bright red face.
"Ooooh, Edward's going to get some again at last!" Emmett Eysteinn teased amongst a sudden chorus of ribald comments, as was customary.
"Now, Emmett Eysteinn, don't embarrass your brother, the last place he needs blood is in his face, right now," Carlisle Sigurður chastised, grinning even as he ushered the merry group out the door, closing it firmly behind him.
I couldn't help a soft, long suffering chuckle as I turned my attention back to my beautiful bride.
"It seems to me one of us is a bit over dressed," she commented, her breathing betraying a bit of a nervous rasp.
"I see you are observant as well as skilled, strong, and beautiful, my wife. Let me rectify the situation at once."
I rose from the bed, not once letting my gaze drop from hers, and began untying the laces around my boots, kicking them off before my fingers trailed up the sides of my thighs to reach the laces at the top of my breeches. I noticed my bride's breathing was quite deep and fast, now, even as she, too, refused to drop my gaze.
As my pants fell to the floor, however, her eyes did drop oh-so-briefly to my midsection, and the prominence jutting eagerly out from there. Her lips parted and she bit into her bottom lip. Discarding the rest of my clothing, I once again climbed upon the bed.
"You do me honor, taking me to your bed, my Queen."
"You earned the honor, Edward Einar. You defeated me where none has in a very long while. You honor me with your strength and valor."
"I am the luckiest man in the world, for fortune has made me your husband." I couldn't resist taking up her hand and laying soft kisses on each of the scarred and slightly bruised knuckles. Her soft gasp in return was music to my ears.
"I treated your poor ear quite badly. Does it hurt?" she asked as her long, trembling fingers gently brushed the hair back from my previously tortured ear.
"It is nothing."
"Let me see."
I bent my head offering her a clearer view of the appendage in question. It was my turn to gasp and feel my breathing pick up when I felt her warm breath on the skin next to my ear.
"Does it hurt here?" she asked, placing a kiss upon the thick lobe.
"Mmmm, no, not quite there."
"How about here?" she asked placing a kiss in the middle of the ridge of the shell of my ear.
"Perhaps just a bit."
"What about here?" she asked kissing the crest of my ear where her fingers had grasped.
I was all but panting now. "Yes, yes just about there is a little sore."
"Oh, dear. We can't have that. Shall I kiss it better?"
"Yes. Yes, I would be very appreciative of that." A tremendous shiver raced through my body when I felt the small pointed tip of her tongue tentatively touch the rim of my ear. "Dear Freyr, do that again!" I panted.
"Did you like that?" she asked in all innocence.
"Good to know," she breathed against my ear as she did it again, bless her.
She spent the next several moments exploring my ear more and more boldly with her tongue, and with wet kisses, until I couldn't take it anymore and I turned her face to mine and captured her lips in a tender kiss. I was filled with masculine pride when I felt her melt against me and then clutch my hair, holding me firmly to her lips.
What started as a chaste kiss quickly became a deep kiss of passions newly kindled, and long banked, suddenly roaring to life. We feasted upon each other's lips more heavily than we had feasted upon the rich and varied foods during the previous hours. Finally, panting for breath I pulled back. "May I come under the covers with you?"
"Yes, you may," she replied with a very intent expression in her eyes. It was like a fire had been lit inside her, one she had never missed nor suspected existed, but now that it was lit, she sought to explore with the same fierce determination she had brought to every battle of her life. I peeled back the sheet and was totally unaware when my mouth fell open at the unparalleled exquisiteness before me.
"Perfection. Min falleggyðja – my beautiful goddess."
The scars, wounds, and reddened areas from our combat only added to the excellence of her form, for they had helped to define the amazing woman before me. Each was an indicator of her strength, and trials that marked her journey which had led her to become the amazing woman who was now allowing me the honor of being the only man to ever grace her bed.
Leaning forward, I once again took her lips in a deep kiss, bracing my arms next to her and lowering my body on top of hers. Her gasp as our midsections connected would, without a doubt, live within my heart to the day I died. Her legs parted and welcomed me into the cradle of her body. It was a fit designed and destined by the gods. I pulled back from the drugging influence of her lips before I lost myself even before we began.
"So beautiful and strong," I murmured as I placed kisses across her jaw and over to her ear where I exhaled in the barest ghost of a breath. Delightful shivers traced through her body. She held herself in rigid, unable to anticipate what I would do next. I replicated what she had done to my ear earlier and allowed the pointed tip of my tongue to lightly trace the shell of her ear before I exhaled a bit more forcefully, allowing a steady flood of heated air to swirl over the dampened skin.
Following the trail of her heart, I began kissing down the column of her neck, delighting in the strength of muscle beneath the silken skin and the way my kisses caused her to arch and tilt her head sharply to give me the most access possible. My kisses turned to nips, leaving small circles of dampness as I progressed down over her collar bones to the smooth plain of her chest before finally reaching the top swells of her breast.
"What a woman!" I exclaimed with gasping breaths as I brought on hand up to trail the tips of my fingers lightly over the skin over the fullness of her breasts. After a moment of wondrous exploration, I looked up into her eyes to gage her reaction before I cupped the breast in my palm. The feeling of the nipple contracting sharply against the center of my palm brought a small hiss to my lips. My fingers began gently kneading the flesh without conscious permission from my mind and, to my great satisfaction, several gasps erupted from her lips.
"Mmmm, it feels like a raspberry against my palm. I love berries. I should sample this one, don't you think?"
"Oh, Thórr! Yes, I dare say you should," she exclaimed, breathing in short bursts, her eyes half closed in pleasure even as she watched my actions avidly through slit lids.
I scooted back, much as my manhood weepingly protested the loss of the much needed physical contact he had been enjoying. However, now I had a better angle to appreciate her glorious nipples. I rested on my elbows as I took one breast in each hand, caressing them with my thumbs as I licked my lips in anticipation. Bending down, I took one turgid nipple in my mouth delivering several successive suckling kisses before I took one fully in my mouth and sucked firmly. Her sharp exclamation of pleasure was music to my ears. The slight sting of her fingernails gripping my back brought even more male satisfaction roaring to the surface. It seemed to say, "I did that. I made my woman feel that pleasure."
Noticing the expanse of her toned, trembling belly, I realized I was neglecting it. We couldn't have that.
I began trailing kisses and slight nips across and down her abdomen, covering the area quite thoroughly in my travels. I even paused to dip my tongue into the well of her navel, smiling at the particularly sharp gasp this motion evoked from her.
Her thighs had begun to move up and down the outside of my own, even crossing a time or two, encouraging me to come back closer to her.
"Do you want me closer, my Queen?"
"Gods, yes. Yes, just don't stop. Freyja help me, I want more."
"As my Queen wishes, so shall she receive."
I rolled to my side, and with one hand I lightly caressed the swell of her tummy - that seductive curve that just invites a man to bury his face and breathe his woman in. I did just that. She smelled so good. She smelled of clean woman, herbs from her earlier bath, and the barest hint of her own personal musk. I needed to explore the source of this much better. Trailing the tips of my fingers along her skin, I moved to feel the hard ridge of her hip bone, and then back up to the wide notch where her leg met her torso. This decision seemed to meet with particular approval from my wife, based upon the eager sounds it engendered, and the sharp thrusting motions her body delivered with no obvious thought or control involved.
These motions and sounds brought out my most basic self, and I reveled in being able to do the same to her. Finally, I trailed my fingers into the dark, curled forest between her legs. The moist heat rising from the area drew my interest like a moth to a flame. Using just one finger, I trailed down the central cleft until I reached the bottom edge, and then pressing more deeply, parted the folds to travel back up to the top.
Such divine wetness! My own desire was peaking, and I knew I couldn't hold out much longer, but I wanted to explore just a bit more before I gave in. I knew I wouldn't last long at all once we joined. This whole experience was just too amazing and overwhelming in its intensity.
"Dear Óðinn!" she exclaimed. "What are you doing to me?"
"I am exploring the oceans of our desire, my love. It is what we Vikings do, don't you know?"
Her answering breathy laughs spurred me on to further voyaging. I found the inner folds so thoroughly lubricated it was difficult to make out much detail in the satin heat. When I found the central nub at the top, I reveled in her crying exclamation and jerking hips. I was laying partially on one of her arms, and the other one flailed and made as though it was going to push my hand away. I lunged up with my body, freeing my own arm just long enough to capture her wrist and bring the arm back across her body so that I could secure it and still lean on my elbow. Her hips went wild and her whole body twitched and writhed.
"No, more. No, more, Edward!" she cried, her body arching, sharply. "Come up here."
Much as it pained me, I did as she directed and levered myself back up and over her body to be greeted by an enthusiastic kiss. She, like me, back in the day, was quite a fast learner, and had taken her brief lessons well to heart.
When she wrapped her legs around my hips and dug her heels into my back side, I couldn't suppress my own resonant groans of appreciation and began arching and withdrawing against her center. Her fingernails were once again gripping the muscles of my back in time to my rolling motions. The feeling was almost too much and I released her lips to pant sharply into the perspiration-slickened skin of her neck.
Her cries suddenly grew sharply in frequency. Her hips which had begun rolling in a pleasing counter rhythm to my motions, began to twitch wildly. They suddenly went rigid for several long moments, followed by a rapid succession of sharp bucking motions.
"Now, Edward. Take me now!"
This was one command she would never have to tell me twice. Sliding back a bit more I placed my hand between us to better guide myself toward the site of our impending joining. Lining myself up, I shuddered as I felt my tip settle into the cup of her womanhood. I pressed and watching closely for signs I should stop, I began pressing more firmly. The opening was quite narrow, but exceedingly well lubricated. After a momentary resistance, I slipped fully inside. We exhaled heavily in chorus.
"Is it good?"
"Yes. Yes, go."
Once again I began my rolling motion, and the intensity of sensation caused me to cry out. I was lost to all rational thought at that point. My hips began snapping forward sharply and I was only vaguely aware of her heels digging even more sharply into my backside.
Suddenly the end was upon me. There was nothing I could do to delay it, and in all honesty, I wouldn't have wanted to. Emotion and sensation collided and I came with a great roaring shudder, clinging to my wife even as I felt her cling to me in return. I collapsed into a sweating heap on top of her and lay panting for several minutes.
"I should move. I must be getting heavy."
"No, wait a moment more. I find I rather like it. I've never felt so safe," she said briefly tightening the hold she had around my waist and up to my shoulder blades. After several more minutes I leaned back and put most of my weight back onto my knees.
"That was amazing! You are amazing. You have made me the most fortunate man alive."
"I feel the same," she replied in a quiet, almost small voice. "When you walked so arrogantly through my door, I wanted nothing more than to kill you, but at the same time, you awakened something in me. It was so foreign, it scared me at first. If I'm being totally honest, I'm still a little afraid, and it's not a feeling I enjoy. But I have a feeling embracing it will teach me more than I ever expected. I want our marriage to be a strong one, made of two pieces which are stronger together than apart," she said softly, looking searchingly into my eyes, before taking on a more mischievous expression. "Look what taking a chance on you has brought me already!" she said with a grin.
My own answering grin was very wide, as well. "I will do my best to be as strong as you deserve, my Queen. To support you, and when necessary to disagree with you, but your position as Queen will be as important to me as if it were my own position as King in my own lands. You are important to me. You are such a remarkable woman. I never hoped to find such a match for myself. I thought I would spend my life alone, merely watching my brothers pair off and have families." I let the feeling of extreme tenderness I was feeling become fully apparent on my face. "I feel I have fallen in love with you already. For the first time, I see a very different future before me, my Queen."
She reached out to cradle my cheek in her hand, a most tender expression entering her eyes, "Call me Bella. It's how I think of myself. A private remnant of my childhood."
"Bella," I repeated, smiling.
"I think I am coming to love you as well," she continued. "You earned my respect today. Not to mention no small measure of my trust. I never hoped for such a partner, but I think that is exactly what the gods have brought me in you."
"Yes, that is exactly what you have in me. And what I feel equally blessed to have in you."
Smiling at one another, I laid down on our bed and pulled her into my arms. We lay quietly in one another's warmth until at last sleep took us. Dreams on the wedding night are said to foretell the future of the marriage, its descendants, as well as the number of children. We both slept soundly and dreamed vivid dreams of a bright future, full of good fortune, laughter, brief struggles, and ultimately a strong, successful legacy.
*From Sigrdrífumál: Hollander, Poetic Edda, p. 109 according to The Viking Answer Lady
Frigg's Day, now known as Friday, was the day of weddings for ancient Vikings in honor of the goddess.