“Freya’s hand in marriage.”
“He just wants her hand?” asked Thor hopefully. She had two hands, after all, and might be persuaded to give up one of them without too much of an argument. Tyr had, after all.
“All of her,” said Loki. “He wants to marry her.”
“Oh,” said Thor. “She won‘t like that. Well, you can tell her the news. You’re better at persuading people to do things than I am when I’m not holding my hammer.”
They went together to Freya’s court once more.
“Here’s your feathered cloak,” said Loki.
“Thank you,” said Freya. “Did you find out who stole Thor’s hammer?”
“Thrym, lord of the ogres.”
“I’ve heard of him. A nasty piece of work. What does he want for it?”
“You,” said Loki. “He wants to marry you.”
Thor was pleased that she seemed to have accepted the idea so easily. “Put on your bridal crown, Freya, and pack your things,” he said. “You and Loki are going to the land of the giants. We need to get you married off to Thrym before he changes his mind. I want my hammer back.”
Freya did not say anything.
Thor noticed that the ground was shaking, as were the walls. Freya’s cats mewed and hissed, and they fled beneath a chest of furs and would not come out.
Freya’s hands were squeezed into tight fists. The necklace of the Brisings tumbled from her neck to the floor. She did not appear to notice. She was staring at Thor and Loki as if they were the lowest, most unpleasant vermin she had ever seen.
Thor was almost relieved when Freya began to speak.
“What kind of person do you think I am?” she asked very quietly. “Do you think I’m that foolish? That disposable? That I’m someone who would actually marry an ogre just to get you out of trouble? If you two think that I am going to the land of the giants, that I’ll put on a bridal crown and veil and submit to the touch and the . . . the lust of that ogre . . . that I’d marry him
. . . well . . .” She stopped talking. The walls shuddered once again, and Thor feared the entire building would fall upon them.
“Get out,” said Freya. “What kind of woman do you think I am?”
“But. My hammer,” said Thor.
“Shut up, Thor,” said Loki.
Thor shut up. They left.
“She’s very beautiful when she’s angry,” said Thor. “You can see why that ogre wants to marry her.”
“Shut up, Thor,” said Loki again.
They called a gathering of all the gods in the great hall. Every god and goddess was there except Freya, who declined to leave her house.
All day they talked, debated, and argued. There was no question that they needed to get Mjollnir back, but how? Each god and goddess made a suggestion, and each suggestion was shot down by Loki.
In the end only one god had not spoken: Heimdall, the far-seeing, who watches over the world. Not one thing happens that Heimdall does not see, and sometimes he sees events that have yet to occur in the world.
“Well?” said Loki. “What about you, Heimdall? Do you have any suggestions?”
“I do,” said Heimdall. “But you won’t like it.”
Thor banged his fist down upon the table. “It does not matter whether or not we like it,” he said. “We are gods! There is nothing that any of us gathered here would not do to get back Mjollnir, the hammer of the gods. Tell us your idea, and if it is a good idea, we will like it.”
“You won’t like it,” said Heimdall.
“We will like it!” said Thor.
“Well, “ said Heimdall, “I think we should dress Thor as a bride. Have him put on the necklace of the Brisings. Have him wear a bridal crown. Stuff his dress so he looks like a woman. Veil his face. We’ll have him wear keys that jingle, as women do, drape him with jewels—”
“I don’t like it!” said Thor. “People will think . . . well, for a start they’ll think I dress up in women’s clothes. Absolutely out of the question. I don’t like it. I am definitely not going to be wearing a bridal veil. None of us like this idea, do we? Terrible, terrible idea. I’ve got a beard. I can’t shave off my beard.”
“Shut up, Thor,” said Loki son of Laufey. “It’s an excellent idea. If you don’t want the giants to invade Asgard, you will put on a wedding veil, which will hide your face—and your beard.”
Odin the all-highest said, “It is indeed an excellent idea. Well done, Heimdall. We need the hammer back, and this is the best way. Goddesses, prepare Thor for his wedding night.”
The goddesses brought him things to wear. Frigg and Fulla, Sif, Idunn and the rest, even Skadi, Freya’s stepmother, came and helped to prepare him. They dressed him in the finest clothes, the kind a highborn goddess would wear to her wedding. Frigg went to see Freya and came back with the necklace of the Brisings, and she hung it about Thor’s neck.
Sif, Thor’s wife, hung her keys at Thor’s side.
Idunn brought all her jewels, which she draped about Thor so that he glittered and gleamed in the candlelight, and she brought a hundred rings, of red gold and white gold, to go on Thor’s fingers.
They covered his face with a veil, so that only his eyes could be seen, and Var, the goddess of marriage, placed a shining headdress upon Thor’s head: a bridal crown, high and wide and beautiful.
“I’m not sure about the eyes,” Var said. “They don’t look very feminine.”