They gather around her. She is in their midst. They want to be close to her. She can feel their warmth. Slowly their talk and presence begins to weave a web, a cocoon of normalcy, a shield-skin against all the ill that captured her mind.
Her mind drifts off still. The cold, the poison, the terrible threats. The captivity. Yet here she is. Their voices bring her back. They know exactly how to be. She feels their love, yet they are not fussing over her or burdening her with their worry. Rather, they are confident. Now that she is back, they know all will be well. The family can restore itself.
She has trained this team well. They are the best of healers, peace-makers, house-makers, world-blessers. She has taught them to find root and to let forth wing and fly. She has been their mistress and their inspiration. And now they return the favors. Now she is weak. Now she is the student, relearning how to be herself. The web of safe routine dispels the sudden flashes of nightmare. Slowly she begins to disbelieve them, those words she dreaded, those images she began to believe, those distorted mirrors of herself that surrounded her in the horror show, when she thought she'd never, ever come back.
She will need to be here for a long time. Here, in the circle. Here, in the midst. Not teaching. Not leading. Just being. Being near the bodies of her comrades. Caressed by their melodic voices conversing about things dear to them. Feeling their reassuring hands on her thigh or shoulder, the eyes that welcome, welcome back, the nods that say, you belong. And she needs this.
There is no burden here. They are grateful to be so honored as to be able to help her who led them. And most healing of all, they know she will come back. There is no doubt of it, and this slowly helps to dispel the doubt that still grips her yet far-away eyes.
There is not yet hope for her. But there is stability. For brief moments. She can feel it. The roots say, the terrors were lies. Someday she hopes she will believe them. For now the company of friends and comrades. The structure of healthy tribe to hold up the fort, to buttress the rafters, to feel the strong pillars and walls. In time, in time. The hope will return in time.
And maybe then someday love will return. Once her mind and heart fully have. She has not been herself. She has not been herself for too long. The winter stretched on forever. Now she is back. She is back. She repeats the words to herself beneath her breath, deeply sighing, feeling the marble-lined granite of Sessrumnir's floors. They are solid. They are real.
She looks out down Mount Lyfjabjorg, healing herbs surrounding on all sides, running down in golden and violet-green lanes throughout Folkvang. She will run through these fields, barefoot, as she used to. She will run through and let the spirits of those blooms and worts sing and scent her back to life. To life, to mind, to heart ... someday, perhaps, again, to love. Yes. In time.
See Fjolsvinnsmal 35 - 40 and Voluspa 25 (ætt jötuns Óðs mey gefna, "Od's maiden had been given to the race of Giants") for the background on this tale. Freya has been returned from the grip of the giants, through Od's help. But now, forlorn, she struggles to regain her mind and heart, with the help of her handmaidens. This piece fills in how that healing happened.