That winter, Gruadh continues to soften towards Macbeth. She still feels grief and anger, but also believes one day she might feel forgiveness. Maeve calls this a “mothering instinct,” claiming “women are peace weavers by nature.”
Gruadh holds grudges for a long time, but has seen first-hand that her husband is a good and penitent man. Maeve believes Gruadh will have to give up on her grudge because she’s a woman and women do not naturally hold grudges, but this is not true for Gruadh.
Gruadh knows accepting Macbeth as her husband will make her life, and the lives of those around her easier, but she is not ready yet. She takes the stone Una gave her and turns it into a piece of jewelry for Lulach to wear to protect him.
Gruadh is closer to forgiving Macbeth, but still needs time to mourn her husband and adjust to a new status quo. Always concerned with protecting her family, she is happy to use Una’s protective stone.
When the weather begins to warm, Macbeth and his guards begin to travel out into the countryside. Gruadh doesn’t understand why he is going on war patrols, but he understands he is looking after the people in his domain, rescuing children and sharing food from Elgin’s storage with his tenants. He understands that if he helps and gets to know his tenants now, they will fight for him in wartime.
Although Gruadh has spent the last few years eavesdropping and learning about politics, she still has a lot to learn. Macbeth, who has simply spent more time as a ruler, understands that a good mormaer attends to his people in peacetimes as well as wartimes to instill loyalty.
Gruadh begins to feel flashes of desire for Macbeth, who has yet to visit her in her bedroom at night. Maeve, too, now considers Macbeth “a good man,” and reminds Gruadh she will need to have sex with him if she ever wants a royal son.
Gruadh continues to soften towards her husband. Personally, this is a victory, but it also signals that she could continue her family line if she and Macbeth had sex and conceived a child.
Gruadh has the urge to leave the fortress. She has Angus, Bethoc, and Séan, one of Macbeth’s warriors, accompany her. They ride towards the ocean where they spot Viking ships. Angus pulls Gruadh into a hiding spot behind a rock. Men from the Viking ships, including one Gruadh recognizes as Thorfin Sigurdsson, meet an envoy of four other men on horseback, one of whom Gruadh recognizes as her husband, Macbeth. Gruadh suspects he is trying to buy Viking loyalty if he ever makes a bid for the crown.
Gruadh hates Thorfin because he kidnapped her when she was a child. Even though her father has forgiven him and Thorfin has tried to make amends, she personally has not forgiven him. Therefore, she is angry both that her husband seems to be engaging in shady political dealings and that he is consorting with her enemy. Still, she understands his strategy and that he is strengthening his claim to the crown.
Macbeth and his men give Thorfin and his men a box, but there is some disagreement and Macbeth kills one of the Viking soldiers. Gruadh is horrified, but Angus chastises her and argues if she were “a true warrior, rather than a woman keen to play with swords” she would understand the necessity of bloodshed. He continues that an alliance between Moray and the Orkney will be necessary if Duncan comes to power, because the people do not trust Duncan to be a good, strong king.
Gruadh is horrified by the violence. Angus assumes it is because Gruadh is a woman, and women are less violent than men, but in reality it is likely that Gruadh has simply experienced less violence in her life than Angus has. Still, although he has insulted her, he takes the time to explain the political dealings going on before them.
Although Angus encourages her to sneak away with him, Gruadh feels her husband has been “secretive and cruel” and wants to confront. She reveals herself to Macbeth and challenges him, wondering why he killed a man and why he paid a bribe. Macbeth tries to get her to return to Elgin, but she will not leave. Finally, he explains he paid the Vikings a bribe, as men have done for years, to keep the shoreline protected. He adds the tribute he paid was once promised by Gilcomgan. Macbeth suggests that as a wife and a lady Gruadh should stay home, but she makes it clear she is uninterested in her traditional womanly role.
Gruadh is upset by the violence and confronts her husband about it. He is upset that she has spied on him, and, like Angus before, suggests that she does not understand because she is a woman, and she should not try to understand because it is not her job as a woman to be involved in politics. However, Gruadh is interested in the sphere outside of her home and refuses to be locked out of political decisions.
As Gruadh returns home she feels “admiration” for Macbeth. She sees that he is capable, uncompromising, and ambitious, with a strong moral code. Additionally, she resolves to keep herself informed of political goings on outside of her household. She considers herself Macbeth’s equal, and is not content to limit her power to the domestic sphere.
Although initially upset by the violence she saw her husband commit, Gruadh is awed by his commitment to his cause and by his violent ambition. More than seeing him in moments of vulnerability, his strength melts her defenses.