Ragnar only combed his hair when the braids pulled soft and sloppy with overgrown roots, but Lagertha preferred to wash and comb her hair regularly.
She would pick out the old braids with a fine toothed comb, slowly and methodically. As she bathed she would pull her fingers through to rinse out the dirt and filth of living. Then as it dried, Ragnar would smooth it down with oils, and comb her long hair out until it was sleek and soft, and then he would begin to braid.
Lagertha’s hair was straight and fine and easy to plait. When Bjorn was old enough not to pull, Ragnar taught him how to wind the stands together to create the patterns Lagertha preferred. Ragnar would begin the braid, taking small sections from the crown of her head and combining them to hold the braid securely; Bjorn would finish, tying off the end and fixing the loose tail in place.
They ran parallel and crossways, higher and higher until Lagertha wore her gold hair like a crown. Gyda said she looked like a queen, and Lagertha would braid Gyda’s hair while her men worked at hers.
When Ragnar became the earl, they had a girl to braid Lagertha’s hair. On quiet nights they would send her away, and Bjorn would comb her hair and Ragnar would twist and weave it into masterpieces.
After they left, Bjorn’s fingers shook the first time he braided his mother’s hair alone. It took him weeks before the plaits looked just right— just like his father had done them.
He practiced all the styles he’d seen Ragnar do; then he began to invent his own.