Freya’s birthday was approaching rapidly - less than three days to go. Restlessness took over most of her time during those short days.
Because of the nagging uneasiness, she woke up that gray November morning earlier than the other girls in her dorm. Her eyes were not functioning to the best of their ability and she tripped over Nadine’s trunk, making the sleeping girls stir. After a quick shower, she took Thor for a walk and then headed down for an early breakfast.
In truth, nothing exciting happened during the days that followed. Somehow Freya had expected everything to escalate, to build up as her birthday got closer. It didn’t.
The last lesson on November twenty-fifth was Defense Against the Dark Arts. It was the most boring lesson Freya had ever had in the presence of her favourite professor. In fact Professor Jordan was very distant, he made the class read chapter after chapter from their textbook, and didn’t notice when someone raised their hand to ask him a question. Freya couldn’t help but think that if this became a regular thing she had to agree with Ginny - Lupin was the better teacher.
Most of the lesson was spent discussing Professor Jordan’s weird behaviour with Eliot.
“It just seems a bit odd; suddenly he's in a complete Binns-mode.” Eliot whispered, even though it wasn’t necessary; everybody was talking and Professor Jordan’s attention remained unattainable. He sat chewing on the end of his quill absentmindedly.
“Yeah... It’s weird.”
’I’m just saying that the circumstances seem familiar.’
Professor Jordan’s words echoed in her mind. When Freya had heard him speak with the other professors about Harry's stay in the Hospital Wing, she hadn’t given Professor Jordan’s words a lot of thought. Now, putting it together with the conversation she had overheard between Harry and Hermione, it made more sense. That was how Professor Dumbledore knew about the curse hitting Harry; Professor Jordan had told him. In Freya’s mind it all made sense, but Eliot wasn’t as easily convinced. He seemed to think she was jumping to conclusions.
“Ok, let’s say you are right...” Eliot began, rolling his eyes slightly, making it obvious to Freya that he didn’t really think so. “Just because something seems familiar, doesn’t mean that he has seen it. It could be a friend or even his mother’s aunt’s friend’s sister... And you still don’t know for sure what happened to Potter.”
Freya knew he had a point; she had a habit of fitting things together in her mind even though there was a complete lack of evidence. Her mind was spinning with information, she almost forgot about her dreaded birthday the following day. Almost.
As she lay in her bed the minutes turned into hours. She had gone to bed early, unable to keep her focus on anything but the upcoming events, although she didn’t have a single clue of what to expect. Half past eleven she felt as though she had been waiting for three days, not hours. Freya slid out of bed and started pacing the floor; she could hardly wait anymore. Then it occurred to her that she didn’t have to just wait; she could actually do something - a bit of reading perhaps?
Freya hadn’t touched the book she had gotten from her father, not since that first night, and honestly, she wanted to be prepared for whatever she was about to face.
For some time the book lay closed in Freya’s lap. Somehow she would deem it a bigger defeat if she didn’t understand it after this night. It seemed that her birthday was a bridge to her inheritance, when she turned sixteen the passageway should be open. That moment was only an hour away.
Placing the book on her pillow she laid down flat on her tummy; supporting her chin with one hand and going through the book randomly with the other. Freya read the same passage again and again; it was explanations to spells. One was particularly difficult to grasp:
Those who conquer the world will always be lacking. The heart is full if the mind is willing. If the mind conquers and the heart is lacking, nothing is gained. The heart must conquer an unwilling mind.
She didn’t understand a thing, it was rubbish. She was used to a clear explanation on how to move the wand and which letter to emphasize. The only thing she was offered in this book was paragraphs of total and complete nonsense. Half an hour later, Freya had managed to understand, more or less, the meaning of three spells or whatever they were. To be quite honest with herself; Freya had no idea if any of the things she read resembled what she knew of magic at the moment. Suddenly she was painfully aware of what it was like to be Muggleborn.
The three things Freya understood, by eleven thirty PM on Wednesday twenty-fifth of November, were as follows:
Liefdania: This was one of the first spells mentioned. As far as Freya could tell it was a spell to surround a bigger or smaller radius with love. How that actually worked and what it meant, Freya didn’t know.
Valkyranian Arrivarius: The spell was on page twenty and seemed a lot more complicated. Nevertheless Freya felt certain that she had understood the essential parts of it. It was a summoning spell of sorts, something to call her friends to her. Now, she had no idea how broad the term friends was in this book; right now the only friend she could think of was Eliot and somehow Freya knew there was more to it than that.
Sort Imperi: This was the last one she got some meaning out of. The other two had made a bit more sense, but she knew she was on the right track, she didn’t really understand the given explanation, but the ‘spell’ itself gave a lot away. Sort was the Danish word for black and Imperi sounded an awful lot like Imperius. Putting those two together it would bring about something like Black forcing spell or Black bend-will spell. Freya was a bit disturbed by her own conclusions; it sounded evil and awful. If she was right about this... maybe she was turning into something horrid?
With those terrifying thoughts flowing through her head, Freya dozed off. Her hand slipped from under her chin and her head sank into the pillow next to the open book.
When Freya opened her eyes, it took her a minute or two to realize that she was no longer truly awake. The room was exactly the same as the last time Freya was there. Darkness, broken by sporadically placed floating candles. The mahogany table held the crimson book once more. Without hesitation Freya approached the book. This time it didn’t move towards her, no one told her what to do. This time she decided for herself; she was ready.
The book looked regular, nothing special really. Still, Freya’s stomach clenched and her throat felt dry. Last time, she had opened it to find colours confusingly swirling about the pages. What would she find this time? Finally, Freya placed her index finger between two pages and opened the book with care. Rays of a thousand colours dazzled Freya, overwhelming her with emotions. It flooded her. She was unable to move, think, to do anything but stand there and just let whatever was happening, happen.
Then abruptly, the rays ceased and Freya collapsed on the floor. Years later, she would still struggle with explaining what had taken place; it would probably never be completely clear to her.
When Freya awoke, she was still in the dream room, alone. Something had happened to her, something important. She was sure of it. Even so, she didn’t really feel any different. For some reason Freya had expected an instant reaction, some kind of an epiphany maybe, but she felt none the wiser or stronger.
“How are you feeling dear?” A serene female voice filled up the room.
“Who are you?” Freya searched the room with her eyes, to make sure the woman wasn’t sneaking up on her. No one was visible. Even so, Freya remained alert; just because she couldn’t see anything, it didn’t mean that it wasn’t there.
“We have spoken before, don’t you remember?” The woman seemed somewhat amused by the fact that Freya didn’t recognize her.
“It was you? I mean; last time I was here, that was also you?” Freya didn’t much care for people who found her lack of knowledge amusing, but she realized that it would be foolish to argue now. She wanted answers and thought it best to be polite.
“Oh yes, that was me, but I suspect you couldn’t really... define me?” Suddenly a blue mist appeared a couple of feet from were Freya sat. Yellow orbs swirled from the bottom of the mist upwards, and as they did, a woman took form. Freya held her breath. The woman was beautiful. Her long curly brown hair was tied loosely with golden ribbons. Her robes were white with golden seams. Her simplicity made her all the more stunning.
“Who are you?” Freya asked once more, even though she knew the answer. This was her ancestor, ‘Freja’. This was the woman in whose footsteps Freya was meant to walk, it was overwhelming. Freja was a stunning, wise, legendary witch; how was she supposed to follow that?
“Don’t be afraid my child... You will do great things.” Freja smiled and as she did, the room and everything in it was touched by her serenity.
“What should I do now?” Freya needed to be given clear instructions, someone just telling her where to go from here. She didn’t want to face the process of decisions.
“Firstly I want you to celebrate your birthday, I have a feeling you won't have any problem forgetting your troubles for a while.” She smiled secretively. “After that you’ll have time to process everything, Verdante Enron will help you as she once helped me. You won't be seeing me again.” A single tear dropped from her left eye and as it traveled down her cheek it hardened. Pulling out a gold thread from the seam of her robes, Freja hung the tear upon it. “I will always be with you. Never take this off, it will protect and guide you, even if you are not aware of it.” As she said this she placed the necklace around Freya's neck. The next thing she knew the Northern Goddess Freja was gone.
Right before lunch on Thursday the twenty-sixth of November, Freya felt the joy of having a birthday. She had been so stressed out about the whole legacy that she had forgotten all the great things about birthdays. She had gotten a whole pile of presents from her parents, including a couple of small vials for potions and a beautiful, black dragon skin belt to hold her wand. She had also received a letter that made her heart soar; it was from the H.E. telling her that she had been accepted into their study group.
Eliot met her just outside the Great Hall. She had agreed to meet him there the previous day, but he wouldn’t tell her where they were going.
“Are you ready?” His brown eyes were twinkling with anticipation. As he often did when he was showing her something or trying to comfort her, he grabbed her hand and walked slightly in front of her, leading the way.
“Where are we going?” Freya asked, getting more and more excited. Eliot always knew what to do to brighten up her day.
“No where special.” He wore a slight smirk. He seemed to enjoy the fact that Freya was so curious.
They walked hand in hand around the lake until they reached the opposite bank. Freya felt her heart beat faster and harder; everything was so beautiful. And suddenly, she saw it: Eliot had prepared a picnic right under the branches of a birch tree. All of Freya's favourite foods were there: chicken with green pesto, Italian bread, wild berries, black olives and pumpkin juice.
“Eliot... it’s... wow!” Normally Freya had no problem talking to him, but now, her mind seemed not to work as well as usual and her stomach was dancing in circles - or was it her heart?
“I’m glad you like it.” He beamed happily at her. “Sit down, please,” he continued, gesturing towards the green and yellow blanket. Slytherin and Hufflepuff.
They ate all the wonderful food while Freya kept quiet most of the time, letting Eliot do the talking. She didn’t really know what to think. Sure, her stomach had done the occasional flip flop in Eliot's presence in the past too, but not like this.
In her dorm she had sometimes heard the other girls talk about boys. Melandra had been quite graphic describing her first kiss. Back then Freya had thought it sounded less than pleasant, but now, as she sat there on her birthday, after having a great meal, the only thing she could think of was how much she wanted to kiss him.
“Are you alright, Freya?” Eliot had been watching her while she thought of him. She had no idea if he felt the same way and she didn’t have the courage to ask him.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Full though... maybe I ate too much.” She smiled at him, feeling stupid for talking about something so superficial.
“Have you noticed the tree?” He suddenly asked. “It’s a birch tree, like your wand. I figured you might feel more... I don’t know... at home maybe or stronger.” He looked at the branches and so did Freya.
As they sat there looking at the wind playing with the leaves, Freya forgot all her worries. If she had Eliot everything would be all right. His hand traveled around her waist, pulling her closer. He leaned in to her and whispered softly:
“Can I kiss you?”
Freya looked at him in the eyes and nodded slightly, feeling scared, happy, excited and in love, all at the same time.