Astrid was once again in front of her mirror, this time accompanied by a hoard of servants twisting her hair into an elegant updo, and crafting her makeup to perfection. Her face was stoic as the servants worked their magic, adding blush to her pale cheeks, and painting her lips a bright crimson.
It had been a week since her father had announced her engagement to Loki Laufeyson; and only two from when she first found out she had to get married at all. Her life was turned upside down, quicker than she ever thought possible.
After putting on her face, the maids left the room quickly, only one remaining to help Astrid dress in the attire she would wear to meet her groom-to-be. Atla was a servant who had been with Astrid since she was a little girl, only being a teen herself when she started working for her family.
The two had formed a close bond over the years, and Astrid often felt as if Atla was her only true friend. Atla guided Astrid in front of her full length mirror, motioning for her to put on the first layer of her costume.
Astrid did so emotionlessly, keeping her eyes trained on the wall in front of her. She did not move from her rigid position the entire time Atla was dressing her; not even when she was pulling the strings of her corset as tight as they would go.
When Astrid was completely dressed, Atla looked at her with a small smile on her face. “You look absolutely ethereal my lady.” For the first time in days, Astrid smiled. “Oh please Atla, we’ve been friends for ages, enough with the ‘my lady’ crap.”
Atla let out a small laugh. “There’s the Astrid I know and love,” she said, raising her hand to touch Astrid’s face. “She just needed a bit of a push.” Astrid’s face suddenly trembled, and the emotion she had been trying to hold in suddenly spilled out all at once.
She let out a loud sob, and wrapped her arms tightly around her friend, hoping that this would not be the last time she saw her. Atla quickly returned the hug, wiping a single tear from her eye as she did so.
“You’ve been such a dear friend to me Atla.” Astrid choked out in between sobs. “I wish you all the happiness in the world, and I hope to see you again someday.” “I have faith that we’ll see each other soon. And don’t you worry one bit about me. I’m going to be okay. As much as you may not think so, life still goes on when you’re not around.”
Astrid laughed, grateful to Atla for keeping up their normal banter. She sure would miss her when she was on Asgard. Atla let go slowly, and reached for the necklace that was always hung around her neck. It was a heart pendant that her father had given to her a few days before his demise. She took it off slowly, being careful not to break the clasp.
“Sorry to interrupt my lady, but your mother and father have requested your presence outside. It is almost time for your departure to Asgard,” one of her mother’s maids summoned.
“Thank you. Tell my mother I’ll be right down.” She turned back to Atla, and found her playing with the necklace in her hands.
“Here,” Atla said, “whenever you’re feeling alone, or like you need a friend, hold this to your heart, and I’ll feel it. And when I do, I’ll be thinking of you, then maybe you won’t feel so alone anymore.”
Astrid took the necklace, and placed it in a hidden pocket of her dress, more tears streaming down her pale face. “Thank you my friend. I imagine I will be holding it to my heart quite a bit, so be prepared to be thinking about me quite a lot.”
“I wouldn’t expect anything less.” Atla said with another smile, and a light touch to Astrid’s arm. “Go show them that no one messes with Astrid Freydottir.” Astrid nods with another grim smile and walks out of her room.
And with that, Astrid walked gracefully down the steps of the castle, on her way to begin her new life.
End of Chapter Two [all parts can be found under the tag "crisp trepidation"]