Chapter 53: Asgard

Mayura didn't know which way to look. Everything was just so beautiful. The bridge itself was shining like a kaleidoscope and the scenery below her was just breathtaking. Beautiful blue seas and lush emerald green forests melded into a spectacular patchwork of colors as she walked higher and higher ever drawing nearer to her destination. Only in her wildest dreams did Mayura actually dare to hope that this day would become a reality. If you had asked her when she was the forever curious fifteen year old enthralled to the point of obsession with mysteries and the occult, Mayura's imagination would have fallen short. Turning her head, Mayura smiled at the man lovingly gazing at her, the man that she had married and was going to marry once again, the man that she had given everything for. Their walking pace came to a halt as he brought his left hand up to stroke Mayura's cheek.

"" whispered Mayura, becoming enchanted within his sparkling emerald eyes. Loki remained silent, his small smile growing into a radiant one. Leaning into Mayura, he tilted her head up, kissing her sweetly before continuing up the Bifrost Bridge. The gods behind them smiled and sighed at the romantic sight before them, but it was lost to both Loki and Mayura who were living in their own little world.

It wasn't until they reached the top that Mayura and Loki returned from their own world. "Welcome to Asgard Mayura," announced Thor, since he was the only person that wasn't behind Loki and Mayura on the bridge. "I almost thought I missed you guys. What took you so long hmmm?" he asked leaning towards Loki.

"I wanted to go slowly Thor. I intend to remember this day for a very long time."

Thor raised an eyebrow at Loki's answer. The gods who were able to hear the exchange between Loki and Thor giggled or straight out laughed. "Oh, he was doing more than taking his time!" shouted Bragi. "I could write a sonnet. Glimmering eyes, kisses within the rainbow, looks that would melt a blizzard in Jotunheim…"

Thor smirked at Loki. "Oh... you were busy."

"We weren't busy Thor. I don't know what you like to do in public, but..." Thor hunched over laughing, pointing his finger accusingly at Loki. "What!"

Thor straightened up and shook his head side to side with a faint smile like someone who was trying to explain something painfully obvious. "Loki, Loki, Loki..." he said, continuing to shake his head. "You've become so Japanese."

"And what is that suppose to mean?" inquired Loki angrily.

"Nothing, nothing at all," backed off Thor, still grinning. Loki rolled his eyes.

Tired of being left alone as Thor and Loki spoke to each other in a language she couldn't understand; Mayura began to gather breath to yell at them rather loudly when she thought of another idea. Had anyone been paying attention to Mayura they would have been disturbed to find Loki's patented smirk upon her face. Moving closer to Thor she got up on her tip toes and blow softly into his ear. Thor's heart beat quickened, but not in a good way.

Loki's eyes grew large in disbelief before hardening down into tiny points of green with tints of crimson red. Thor backed away stammering, "Loki, now Loki. I, I... it, I... I didn't do anything." "Mayura-chan! Help me!"

But Thor was shocked to see Mayura stare angrily at him as well, her hands resting hard on her hips. "Oh, was that Japanese? I'm sorry; I wasn't paying attention, not understanding a word of Old Norse and all. So now you'll talk to me? Maybe I don't want to talk to you Thor-sama or you either Loki," she finished, staring down hard at the two of them.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry Mayura-chan. I just forgot. I've never spoken anything but Old Norse in Asgard before. But please!" begged Thor, who still felt the heat of Loki's angered gaze although it was mostly focused on Mayura now.

"Why did you do that Mayu-chan?" Loki asked icily.

Mayura calmly sauntered up inches away from Loki, her eyes flashing with her own internal spark. "You were ignoring me. I had to get your attention somehow," she grinned impishly.

"That's my expression you're wearing," replied Loki, his anger already dissipating. Something about her demeanor had hit a chord within him, and Loki found himself returning her grin with a smirk.

"I didn't see your name on it."

"Stealing from the trickster god isn't a good idea Mayu-chan," he warned.

"He won't mind," she answered, copying Loki's smirk.

"Is that so?"

"That's right."

"And why wouldn't he mind hmm?" he asked, resting his forehead against hers.

"Because I've already stolen something much more valuable," she replied softly, her breath teasing Loki's lips.

"So you have." Loki stood still gazing deeply into the eyes of the goddess before him. "Mayura, when… when did you become like this?"

"I…" Mayura lowered her head. She had been dreading the moment that he would notice her behavioral changes. The last couple of days had been very emotional and it was doubtful he had noticed anything or perhaps he had just shrugged it off… but now it looked like her luck ran out. "A lot of things happened in the last six months, that and your powers are melding into my personality," she answered. Loki lifted her head back up.

"My powers? Already?"

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry I'm not the person you fell in love with anymore." Mayura tried to turn her head, but Loki's touch held it still.

"I didn't say I didn't like it… you're just different… intriguing."

"You still love me?"

"I've always loved you Mayura," he responded, gently rubbing her check. "In fact, if Odin had decided differently I would have become mortal for you."



"Do you like the changes love?" Mayura asked as she ran her fingers up his neck and into his hair, her eyes shining mysteriously.

"They're definitely something I could get used to," Loki replied grinning naughtily. As one they leaned in closer for a kiss.

"No! Wait! You can't until after the ceremony!" yelled Freya she tried to stop the two from kissing. Startled by Freya, Mayura glowed a light purple as she lost her balance and sent Loki and herself sprawling on the ground. Loki had just sat up with Mayura in his arms when hot sudsy water fell on their heads from the sky.

"Bleh... I really hated this part," Loki commented harshly.

Mayura giggled. "It could have been worse Loki. The other two times it was mud."

"I'll remember to count my blessings."

"Hurry up Mayura!"
"Sunset is less than twelve hours away!"
"And there're colors to pick"
"And dresses to try on"
"And your hair to wash"
"And vows to learn"
Babbled on four of the five goddess of love, Freya, Sjofn, Var, and Vor. Lofn stayed away since she wasn't into the whole lawful wedded thing.

(A/n: Lofn is the goddess of forbidden love, and illicit unions.)

"Loki!" screeched Mayura as she was dragged away by the exuberant goddess. "Help me!" Loki blinked in shock as he watched Mayura's heels lift dust into the air as the now lukewarm water still dripped from his hair.

It was hours later before all the goddesses of Asgard stopped running around. Loki—now clean and dry—was rather awed at the goddess's efficiency. Everyone had known what her job was and performed the task quickly. And they had done a very lovely job as well. Fresh flowers accented the high golden arcs of Gladsheim, while garlands of ivy twined around the white marble columns. Miniature fountains were tastefully placed in the corners. The soft sound of the water falling calmed Loki's nerves—as odd as that was.

(A/n: Gladsheim is basically the Acropolis of the Norse Gods)

"Impressed?" asked Thor as he came up behind Loki.

"I've never seen them work so well together before. Not even a single argument."

"They've been planning and training for the past three months."

"Three months for a hand-fasting?"

"They're already working on your wedding," interrupted Odin.

Loki snickered. "Why am I not surprised?"

"I told you not to get married in Asgard Loki."

Loki was going to reply when the gods and goddess assembled in Gladsheim abruptly fell silent. Loki turned around to face the palace's entrance. Standing in the glow from the sunset was Mayura. Her dress was Victorian white, but the color behind her made it seem to be made of the purest of white. The dress's cut was simple, without the lace or intricate embroidery of her bridal kimono and western style wedding dress from the year before. The bodice was low cut and the waist tightly fitted to allow Mayura's natural beauty work its charms. The only piece that could be deemed an accessory was the dark blue Freya's ribbon tying a portion of her hair back that Mayura adamantly refused to take off.

Mayura smiled as she walked up to meet Loki in middle of the grand hall. Stopping momentarily to graciously curtsey to Odin, Mayura took her place opposite of Loki.

Clearly his throat Odin began, "We are gathered here today to reaffirm the vows of love Farbautisen Loki and Misaodatter Mayura made to each other a year and a day ago. Is there anyone here that wishes to speak before they once again swear sacred oaths in front of this assembly?" Hearing nothing but silence, Odin continued. "Freya, would you please present the cord chosen by Loki and Mayura?"

From the back Freya gracefully walked to Odin's side. Unlike a year ago Freya was composed. Not a single tear shed down her face nor did it look like she was struggling not to cry. Crying was okay in front of the close group of gods who lived on Midgard, but crying in Asgard was completely unacceptable. She had an image to maintain after all. Instead she was regal, confident, composed, and smiling—even though her insides were tearing her apart. Grudgingly she had to admit to herself that she hadn't loved Loki as much as she claimed, but that still didn't mean she didn't like him. At first it had just been a ruse to make Od jealous, but over time she had honestly fallen for the Trickster god. She knew however that her love of the little giant would never compare in intensity or depth with the love between Loki and his soul mate—but that didn't mean that watching him proclaim his undying love for Mayura in front of the gods any less painful. "The color chosen was gold entwined with white. They ask for unity, prosperity, and longevity to be twined with peace, sincerity and devotion within this coming year and a day."

(A/n: Od is Freya's missing husband. Some believe he was really Odin in disguise. According to mythology, Freya is still waiting for Od to return to her.)

Odin nodded in acquiescence as Freya handed the cord to him. "Vor, Var… please come forward to listen to the vows of commitment." Silently Vor and Var bowed before coming to stand across from Odin. In response Odin nodded to Loki, signaling him to begin his vow.

Taking Mayura's right wrist in his, Loki began. "I, Farbautisen Loki, do pledge to my love Misaodatter Mayura, to honor and protect her for as long as she accepts my love. I pledge to be loyal and faithful to her in the good times as well as the bad, through the mud puddles and the kisses."

Following Loki's lead, Mayura wrapped her fingers gently on his wrist. "I, Misaodatter Mayura, pledge to love, h-h-honor-u, and… trus-trust Farbautisen Loki," she said, stumbling through the Old Norse she had memorized mere hours before.

As the last words died, Odin finished tying the Freya's knot. "I now pronounce you husband and wife. May the oaths you proclaimed today grow stronger as the days pass." Loki's face flashed into a bright smile as he watched Mayura blush prettily. "Well aren't you going to kiss her or something?" asked Odin impatiently. Finding nothing wrong with Odin's suggestion, Loki did exactly that. The assembled witnesses cheered at the once again happily hand-fasted couple.

Loki opened his eyes as he felt a surge of energy from Mayura. Pulling reluctantly away from their kiss, he looked up to find flower petals floating in the breeze. "We really need to work on that."

The End
Because all good endings are beginnings.

Author's Note: Thanks for all the support and reviews from everybody! Each one meant a whole lot to me. Rereading this story, I can see how far I have come as a writer and can see how far I still have to go. As I said, all good ending are beginnings, so of course there is more to this story. A whole eternity actually, but the sequel may never be written. Gomen nasai.

Author's Note2: All this information comes from a really cool website about hand-fasting. Although this isn't the only site I used in researching for this chapter, I thought this was the most concise version. I'm sorry if ffnet doesn't allow the web address to be posted. I have no intention to plagiarize this work. It is not mine. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I had.

wwwЖearth-dancing Жcom/historyЖ ofhandfastingЖhtm
(remove Ж and add 'dot')

Trivia For Lovers:

Freya's or Freyja's Knot. Represents fertility and love. Also known as Freya's/Freyja's heart.

Colors of the Cord used in tying the Knot and their significance:

Dark Blue - for a safe journey and longevity

Light Blue - for understanding and patience

Pink - for romance, honor, partnership and happiness

Green - for health, prosperity, luck, fertility and beauty

Red - for courage, strength and passion

Yellow - for wisdom and harmony

Brown - for healing animals and the home

Silver - for creativity and protection

Gold - for unity, prosperity, and longevity

White - for peace, sincerity and devotion

Handfasting at one time was the only way that couples could be engaged and/or get married because the church let the civil government of the period take care of these matters. In the British Isles, Handfasting was the old pagan ritual of marriage and it remained legal in Scotland all the way up to 1939, even after Lord Harwicke's Act of 1753 declaring that marriages in England were legal only if performed by a clergyman. After Lord Harwicke's Act, the Scottish border town, Gretna Green became a mecca for eloping couples from England who fled there to perform their own Handfastings. In those times, the couple themselves performed the Handfasting before witnesses. It was also used in Scotland for the engagement period of a year and a day before a wedding was proved.

The very word handfasting got it's origin in the wedding custom of tying the bride and groom's hands (actually, wrists) together. In some versions, this is only done for as long as the ceremony lasts, but in others, the cord is not untied until the marriage is physically consummated.

Handfasting is the marriage rite used toady by many Heathens, neo-Pagans and Wiccans. The term itself comes from the custom of shaking hands over a contract. It is a custom steeped in old tradition.

In most Pagan traditions today it may mean a non-state registered wedding or one in which a marriage license is filed. For some it is a year and a day, renewable "so long as love shall last" and for others a commitment to be together through many lives.

There are probably as many rituals for this as there are people who have joined themselves together.

The hands are generally bound with a cord as part of the ritual.

One custom is that while facing each other, the couple placed their right hands together and then their left hands together to form an infinity symbol while a cord is tied around their hands in a knot. Another custom is that the man and woman place their right hands only together while a cord is used to tie a knot around their wrists.

The ritual itself might have been led by a respected non-church affiliate such as a Chieftain, Leader, Priest, Priestess, Shaman, or Elder of the community while the couple took turns reciting their vows of promise to be engaged for a year and a day in front of witnesses. On the last day of "the year and a day promise" they would then make a promise for infinity repeating their promise to each again. A cord is tied in a knot around their hand while the ritual takes place. This is where the term "tie the knot came from" when referring to getting engaged or married today.

In day of old, records were not kept who got engaged, married, had kids, and died. Today the Sacraments of the church has the responsibility of taking care of these things. Before the church took over these duties, these things were overseen by the whole community and therefore were set in law by their witnessing what happened between the couple making the promise.

If a handfasting was performed with the two left hands together without the tying of the knot, as was the custom of rich and influential German nobility, it meant that the woman was a mistress and would not be able to claim the name, inheritance, property, etc. of the real wife and was only in the protection of the man. But her offspring would be taken care of as legal heirs second in line to the man's legal and first wife. Having lots of children was once the only form of "Social Security" in one's old age. The previous combinations were all considered legal and binding in an engagement or marriage except for the "left hand ritual."

The Handfasting gesture seems to have been derived from one of the ancient Indo-European images of male-female conjunction, the infinity sign, whose twin circles represented the sun (female) and the moon (male) or in some of the southern Mediterranean traditions it was sun (male) and moon (female).