The next four years passed quickly. Boromir and Lorell had three charming girls, and Sam and Fraya had three boisterous boys. I was an aunt, and I spent a great deal of time with Lorell and her daughters. Lorell was a pure product of the city’s old ways. Her parents were nobles, and Lorell had been raised as a noblewoman. In some ways, she didn’t approve of me. There was always an invisible wall between us. I liked Lorell, I loved my neices, but I thought Lorell’s life was limited and boring. She thought I hadn’t been raised correctly and was always trying to teach me to behave.
In the city, I was member of an old and rigid society. There were rules for everything. For visits, for the ceremonies, for socializing. I was expected to stitch needlepoint, to grow an herb garden, and to make the proper prayers to the proper gods at the proper time of year. I could visit my brother and Lorell, but I had to be accompanied by a servant when I left our house. Usually it was my mother’s maid who went with me – Janne. She was an older woman who was always careful to whom I spoke and who spoke to me. In our society, boys were not allowed to approach girls on the streets and chat with them. We were expected to meet at a properly chaperoned house – perhaps at a party or a dance. And we stayed within our social rank. I was a Lady, my mother had been a princess, so I was not expected to befriend commoners.
My father thought it was all nonsense. After the war, there was such a lack of people that it made no sense to divide society into small groups. My mother agreed. So on the whole, I was freer than most of my friends. But old traditions die hard, and my friends lived sheltered from anyone outside their station in life. I often felt I was astride two worlds – my father’s world, which he both loved and despaired of – and my mother’s world, where everyone was equal and women were freer.
I was always happy to visit Fraya and Sam – I loved the mountain hall so much. And so I begged and pleaded to spend summers there. When I was fifteen, I spent my last summer in the mountain hall. It was the best and worst time of my life. I was young, full of romantic dreams, and I fell headlong in love with one of the horse master’s sons.
Halthro was seventeen, he was tall and blond, and his eyes were as green as the clover in the meadows. I was swept away in a rush of emotions. We met in the stables, behind the king’s graves, by the river, in the valley, on the hillside…whenever we could. We slipped notes to each other, poems and love songs, promising the sun, the stars – the moon.