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I Might Have Been Queen

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ein.

“You don't want to go to Kattegat,” Siggy said to Lagertha in the glow of the lamps in their longhouse. Lagertha's owl watched on as Siggy and Lagertha talked, making no noise.

“And you don't want to go to Kattegat. But we must, Siggy. We are to see Bjorn off before he goes on his journey. What kind of mother would I be if I didn't see my son off before he leads his first raid?”

“You say she took everything from you.” She, in this case, being Aslaug.

“She did. She took my husband. She took my title. She took Kattegat away from me. I would not be surprised she convinced the gods to curse me with only one son.”

“If you say she has bewitched you, there was one thing she never had the the foresight to see. Maybe even the Seer never saw this.”

Lagertha looked at Siggy. “You.”

Siggy nodded. “Me. And maybe your owl. But me.”

“The gods brought us together because they knew we were unhappy with the men we married.”

“And they knew I was not meant to be a ruler away from Kattegat.” This time Siggy spoke of Rollo. Years after she left Rollo's side, Rollo became the Duke of Normandy in Frankia. Siggy learned, from visitors passing through Hedeby, that Rollo married a Frankish princess named Gisla and had some children with him. Upon hearing the exploits of Rollo, Siggy was happy she left Rollo. She felt Rollo living in Frankia and become a duke betrayed the gods. Siggy had no idea how Rollo felt about the gods, but she felt becoming a Franish duke betrayed their gods.

“The gods knew we would be better together than separated because of the men we once loved.”

Siggy nodded and smiled. To her, what Lagertha spoke of was the truth.

 

tveir.

Bjorn's journey to the Mediterranean was praised by the residents of Kattegat. Ragnar's attempt to bring forces to England, on the other hand, was treated with scorn. Ragnar ended up bribing residents of Kattegat to come with him to England. He even ended up bringing his son Ivar with him.

Aslaug predicted correctly the ship Ragnar and Ivar were in was going to capsize. But she read the rest of the prophesy wrong. She thought Ragnar and Ivar would die in the shipwreck. Instead they survived, washing ashore on the island. No prophecy came to challenge Aslaug's incorrect assumptions.

When Lagertha was in Kattegat, she issued a threat, a threat she never said but hoped Aslaug could hear: You will never be queen of Kattegat. Maybe Lagertha's threat against Aslaug did have an effect on Aslaug after all.

 

þrír.

“You're planning to plot revenge on Aslaug, aren't you?” The statement seemed like it came out of nowhere as Siggy and Lagertha were heading back to Hedeby. And yet Siggy sensed something as the ceremony held before Bjorn and his men left for the Mediterranean was taking place.

“Yes. She is unfit to be queen. You've seen it. Kattegat has no defenses. Most of the men there have left with Bjorn or with Ragnar. Two of her sons and my son are not in Kattegat. We don't know if they'll return. If enemy forces take Kattegat, Kattegat cannot defend itself.”

“You are to raise an army.”

“Yes. First to take Kattegat from Aslaug, then to protect Kattegat. My army can defend Kattegat. Aslaug's forces can barely defend themselves.”

“You want me to help you.”

“Of course.”

“How? You know I am no shieldmaiden.”

“We will plan. Aslaug will not be expecting you.”

 

fjórir.

Siggy headed to where Sigurd and Ubbe lived in Kattegat. After she introduced herself to them, they allowed her to sit with them at a table in their home.

“Lagertha would like to meet you both in Hedeby,” Siggy said to Sigurd and Ubbe.

“Why does she want to meet us now?” Ubbe asked.

“It has taken her years to deal with Ragnar and your mother having you all. And she has had her issues. During the second raid on Paris, she lost a child.”

Ubbe looked at the floor.

“Now she feels she is strong enough to talk to the two of you.”

“Can she not wait until Ivar and Hvitserk return?” Ubbe asked.

“She cannot. She wants to talk with you two now. She will meet with Ivar and Hvitserk when they return from their journeys.”

Sigurd slapped Ubbe on his back. “Don't you want to go to Hedeby? I bet everywhere you walk in Hedeby there will be a shieldmaiden.”

“This seems suspicious, Sigurd,” Ubbe whispered.

“Let us go anyway. We should not be stuck here waiting for Bjorn, Ivar, and Hvitserk.”

Ubbe turned to Siggy. “We will go to Hedeby with you.”

 

fimm.

With Sigurd and Ubbe trapped in Lagertha's longhouse in Hedeby, Kattegat was easy to take. Lagertha was not surprised when Aslaug took up a sword, only to drop it and declare defeat. Aslaug believed her destiny was fulfilled. There was nothing more for her. All she wanted was to leave Kattegat in peace, to where the gods wanted her to go. When Aslaug's sons learned of Aslaug abdicating her throne, they would not seek revenge.

Lagertha let Aslaug walk. Siggy did not. She ran to Aslaug, finding space in the crowd assembled to witness Aslaug abdicating her throne. Siggy's knife went through Aslaug's heart.

Aslaug fell to the ground as Siggy removed her knife. The people of Kattegat accepted Aslaug's assassination after her abdication; this was what the gods wanted, after all.

 

sex.

Ivar's brothers told him about Aslaug's death. They did not tell Ivar her final words. Ivar, full of rage, went to the Great Hall of Kattegat, seeking Lagertha. He challenged her to a fight, to defend Aslaug's honor.

“I did not kill your mother, Ivar,” Lagertha said.

“I know.” A twisted smile formed on Ivar's face. He pointed at Siggy, who was sitting by her side. “Siggy killed her. But I'm challenging you to combat. You are a shieldmaiden; she is not. And when you fall, I'll kill her as you die.”

“Your mother wanted to go where the gods wanted her to go, and asked that her sons not seek retribution in her name,” Siggy said to Ivar. “The gods wanted her to go to Hel. They approved of me killing her.”

“I refuse to fight you, Ivar Lothbrok, son of Ragnar. And I refuse to let you murder Siggy as retribution.”

Ivar huffed. “Don't fight me, then. But your fates are fixed. I will force you to fight me, and I will kill you some day. And Siggy will follow you in death.” Ivar left the Great Hall, the residents of Kattegat watching him leave in silence.

 

sjau.

Shortly after Lagertha became queen of Kattegat, Ragnar died, killed in England by Aelle and his snake pit. Odin visited all of Ragnar's sons first, quietly announcing Ragnar's death, telling them Ragnar's call for retribution: “How the little piggies will grunt when they hear how the old boar suffered.”

The last person Odin visited was Lagertha. She was in bed with Siggy when she awoke to see Odin in front of her, ravens resting on his shoulders.

Lagertha sat up in bed, stunned at Odin and his message. “Ragnar is dead.”

Odin and his ravens disappeared. In their place was the image of a young Ragnar, the Ragnar Lagertha knew when they were farmers trying to make a living for themselves. This was before their ambition drove them to positions of power, for better and for worse. Siggy woke up around this time.

“Are you seeing what I am seeing, Siggy?”

Siggy nodded. “Yes.” Siggy turned to the vision of young Ragnar. “Leave us be, Ragnar. She is happy with me. Your presence is not needed.”

The vision of young Ragnar disappeared.

“Thank you, Siggy.”

“I couldn't have done it without my queen.” A pause. “What about the matter of Ivar?”

“He will not fight me. He will not get the twisted justice he seeks. I will make him comply with his mother's parting words. I hear he so loved his mother. I doubt he will disobey her, even in death. Now let us go to bed. No more interruptions. We must have our rest.”

The prize of Kattegat won, and Kattegat headed towards a new future, Siggy and Lagertha kissed and fell asleep in their arms. A new day awaited them.