He approached the house like an assassin, using trees and barrels for cover. When he saw you exit the barn to begin chores outside, he dipped around the side of the house, making his way around the back and sneaking in small door used for the animals.
He stopped in the cool darkness of the house, panting to get his breath back.
In his hand, Sigurd held a bunch of the most beautiful wildflowers he’d taken pains to pick that morning, assessing every petal and stem to be sure he plucked only the strongest and most beautiful plants. He’d bound the posy together with a leather cord so it wouldn’t come apart on his way to your house.
Sigurd snuck through the house to the front door, where he saw your young daughter sitting next to the chickens, lazily throwing a few bits of grain and smiling when they flocked to peck it up.
‘Psst. Pssstttt, Gunhild!’
The little girl’s head pricked up and she turned, her eyes widening when she saw Sigurd stooping in the doorway. She was going to call out an excited hello, but he pressed a finger to his lips and the child fell silent. She tiptoed over to the door to meet him.
‘Did you bring the flowers for Mamma?’ she whispered.
He held up the posy of lavender and poppies, dog rose, agrimony, betony, cornflowers, foxgloves and yarrow. ‘What do you think?’
The child covered her mouth with a hand to hold in an excited gasp. ‘Mamma’s going to love them. What about the other surprise?’
‘Don’t you worry,’ Sigurd said. ‘I’ve got it all covered. Shall we go and see her before we’re discovered and our surprise is ruined?’
The child nodded, took Sigurd’s hand and dragged him to where you were working. ‘Mamma, look!’
You turned and saw Gunhild holding Sigurd’s hand. The beautiful midday sun shone off his flaxen hair, which fluttered in the breeze. ‘Sigurd! Whatever are you doing here?’
‘He has a surprise for you, Mamma!’
Sigurd pulled the posy from behind his back. ‘Happy Mother’s Day, Y/N!’
You gasped in surprise and covered your mouth with both hands. ‘Oh my! You bought these for Mother’s Day?’
Sigurd looked down at Gunhild, who grinned up at him. ‘It was not my idea, but someone else’s. She didn’t know what to get you and needed some help with her papa away.’ He gave her the flowers and the child brought them to you. You took them from her, smelling all the individual flowers in the bunch.
‘These are beautiful. Thank you, both of you.’
‘There’s something else, isn’t there Sigurd?’ the child asked, looking back at him.
Sigurd took a small pouch off his belt and opened it, taking out a small parcel of velvet which he laid in the child’s hand. ‘Be careful,’ he whispered.
Gunhild brought the parcel to you and you handed her the flowers while you unwrapped it. You were surprised to see a pair of earrings. You inspected them closely. The little figures on the pendants were matching images of the goddess Freya.
You looked up at Sigurd with scepticism. ‘These must have been terribly expensive.’
‘It’s rude to ask what a gift cost,’ Sigurd said with a wink and a devilish look in his eye.
‘And one more thing!’ Gunhild declared.
Sigurd pulled out a string of glass beads that been roughly tied together. The beads themselves were splodged with paint and strung together higgledy-piggledy.
Gunhild took it and presented it you as if it was worth more than all the earth. ‘I made this all by myself. I painted the beads and everything.’
You gasp and a tear of pride wells in your eye. ‘Oh my dear, it’s so beautiful. Would you put it on for me?’
Gunhild stretches the string and slips it over your wrist. Somehow, the colours go perfectly with your apron dress.
‘Here,’ Sigurd says. He takes the earrings from your hand and carefully slips them into the holes in your ears. He then kisses you on the cheek. ‘Happy Mother’s Day! We didn’t want you to miss out.’
You wrap an arm around both of them, kissing them each on the cheek. ‘What a wonderful surprise. Thank you. Both of you.’