A/N: This is meant to be a story in three parts, recounting the relationship between Sif and Loki from its early stages up to the point where the movie begins (and going just a bit further from there). A better A/N awaits you at the end of this chapter.
Between Two Points
I alone know, as I think I do know, your love beside Thor, and that was the wicked Loki.
The shortest distance between two points is the line from me and you.
(Between Two Points, The Glitch Mob)
Sif was not born with dark locks; her dark hair was Loki's doing.
When Sif was a child, she was not admired only for her early skills as a sword maiden, but also for her beautiful, long, golden tresses envied by many a goddess that formed a radiant halo around her maiden's head. She lived with the princes of Asgard and looked like she belonged to Odin's kin, even better so than Odin's own second-born.
Her golden treasure was taken from her and changed by a man, then merely a boy, who was tormented by jealousy and wanted her to be just a bit more like him; just a bit less like his brother. Yet since, he had managed to change even more of Sif, most importantly the way she would see him. For Sif was only ever meant to love one son of Odin, the one who could wield the mighty Mjölnir and create lightning with its sheer force, but although she would be loath to admit so, she held a deep affection for the one with dark hair, too.
Loki was as tall as Thor, but his figure was lanky and thin and it did not welcome the encounter with the ground of the training grounds kindly. After elbowing his younger brother in the right shoulder and sweeping him off his feet with one strong move of a leg, Thor decided to conclude yet another sparring victory by pointing the tip of his fake sword at Loki's chin.
Thor laughed merrily. "You are not even trying today, brother!" he spoke, then looked at the crowd of warriors standing near the training grounds, observing the two princes practicing. There were nods of approval. Everyone admired and respected Thor.
And everyone always pitied Loki.
I am always trying, Loki thought, looking up at his brother grudgingly, then at the spectators.
But he was no match for Thor; no match for the young man who, at the age of fifteen, was already a brawny and feisty warrior. Thor seemed to have everything that Loki wanted – approval, admiration, strength and now, of all things, their father decided to have a special weapon crafted in Thor's honour. The weapon would be a hammer that Odin would name Mjölnir and it would have the power to create lightning. It was a perfect gift for Odin's firstborn and to show how special and strong this son was, the weapon would be designed so that only Thor would ever be able to wield it.
And what did Loki get yesterday for his twelfth birthday? A small dagger with green gems embedded in the hilt. It was a beautiful dagger, but it was nothing more than that. It had no special powers. It could not create lightning, or wind, or rain, anything he could use to defeat an enemy. It was only a dagger. His father did not have to try hard to find him such a gift.
Thor removed the tip of his practice sword away from Loki's face and extended one hand to help his younger brother stand up.
"I don't need your help," Loki snapped and jumped to his feet. He could at least do that.
Thor lifted his arms as if in surrender, then laughed again. "Come, come, brother. You will get better. Practice makes perfect. You've shown some improvement over the years."
"Indeed," a voice sounded from the edge of the training grounds and both brothers turned around to look at Sif, every bit the daughter of a warrior.
Sif was dressed like a boy, but no one could ever mistake her for one. Her long, golden hair that reached all the way to her waist was braided up in an intricate design that was both beautiful as well as practical, for it allowed her to practice without having to worry about tangling herself up in her own hair. In the sun, her hair shone like a lit-up chandelier and she walked to the princes of Asgard with feminine grace that was not to be underestimated by far. Sif, Loki's age, was a fierce warrior and Loki already knew how it felt to be defeated by her. All young warriors-to-be, apart from Thor, knew Sif's strength.
"Good morrow, my liege," Sif greeted Thor, laughing. Sif liked to jest, as she was not one for formalities, but Loki knew that she truly did see Thor the way everyone else did – as the future king of Asgard.
Then, Sif looked at Loki and nodded. "I see you're covered in earth and dust, Loki. I hope Thor was not too rough on you, were you, Thor?"
Loki was fuming with anger, the emotion scintillating in his green eyes. He hated them, hated their perfection, their arrogance and their pride. If only he could wipe those smirks off their beautiful faces! He was used to Thor's taunts, but with every new day, Sif was becoming more like Thor and as of late, she even started to look at Thor with infatuation glazing her dark eyes.
Loki missed the Sif who was not too high and mighty to speak and jest with him. They were once good friends. Now, she was always by Thor's side, mocking Loki and allowing Thor to caress her beautiful golden hair, her great pride. In the training grounds, it seemed as if she were playing with Thor, but attacking Loki with pleasure, as if to show him what a weakling he was. All of it because she began to favour Thor, and Loki had even heard his father speak to the council, mentioning that the Lady Sif was a woman he could easily see as the wife of Thor. Nothing was settled, but she was being considered and strangely, the notion inspired Loki with longing and pain.
Could she not see that she would be nothing more than a trophy to Thor, that it was Loki who truly saw her as she was, with all of her weaknesses and strengths? Or did she know, and that was precisely the reason she mocked him now? Loki could believe that of the new Sif.
Now, Sif and Thor had already forgotten about Loki's presence. They were preparing for a sparring match and Loki did not matter anymore. He did not matter to them at all, it seemed.
Loki dropped his practice sword and stormed off, headed for his usual place of solace and comfort – the library. But he knew that, this time, he would not be able to calm down until he punished his brother and the lovely sword maiden, and suddenly he knew just how he could hurt them both at once.
Loki tore the dagger from his belt and smiled to himself, mischief sparkling in his eyes. He would put the dagger to good use.
He crept into her room precisely at midnight like a thief. He made sure he was very silent, for Sif's warrior's hearing was acute and he could not afford to wake her now.
He hurried to her bed, not pausing to observe her serene sleeping face, even more wonderful now than during the day. Her skin looked like glistening silver under the light of the moon, but he could not give it one stolen, gentle stroke. There was no time. He had to say the words before she awoke. If he was too late, there would be hell to pay.
He scoffed, thinking of all the times she beat him in the training grounds, and leaned over her, placing his lips next to her ear, breathing words of the enchantment he had learned into her dainty ear. She stirred, turning her face towards his, then grew still, descending into a deep slumber. He knew that she would not be able to awaken for several hours. He shook her shoulders to make certain she was lost to the world, then sat down next to her sleeping form, pulling her into his arms. It was not an embrace.
He pulled the dagger from his belt – a gift from his father – and began to cut the golden mane.
As she was losing her treasure, the green gems were glinting, and so were his eyes.
Sif awoke feeling puzzled. The sun was already high in the sky and she could not understand why she had not awoken at dawn, as she usually did, or why her body felt so lazy. She pushed herself into a sitting position with her elbows and automatically brushed her fingers across her forehead to remove the long, wayward tresses from her eyes.
But she could not feel her hair and that made Sif's heart stop for a short moment before it accelerated its pace wildly.
She raked her fingers through her hair, but there was nothing there. Her hair stopped at the tips of her ears; it was simply... gone. Panicked, she scrambled from her bed and ran to the small, oval mirror in the niche where she bathed and screamed in agony as she saw the short, golden tufts springing from her scalp. Her beautiful hair was gone and utterly ruined! She collapsed to her knees and began to cry. Now she was not beautiful anymore. Now, she would not be seen as a warrior goddess, but merely as a girl who wanted to fight like a man. Her hair had meant so much, and now she had it no more. She wailed. Why would someone, anyone, cut off her hair, the symbol of Sif's grace, elegance and fierceness?
Despite the tears, Sif burned with the desire to find the culprit and hurt him, or her.
Suddenly, she stopped her wretched sighs, a thought crossing her mind.
He was the only one who had ever looked upon her with something other than admiration. He was the only one who had ever shown her signs of resentment, anger or envy. And yesterday, he stormed away from the training grounds, spite brewing in his emerald gaze. It was not a coincidence that today someone should rid Sif's head of the golden hair she had possessed. She simply knew it was him.
Her mouth grimaced into an angry line. Sif stood up, wiped away the tears and hurried to dress. Once she was decent, clad in a simple yellow gown that now looked very plain on her, she left her room and went in search of the boy who was famous for his mischief. His tricks had always been harmless and made courtiers and warriors laugh, for though he lacked strength, Loki had charm, but what he did to her was not a trick anymore. It was an act of malice and she was not laughing.
She knew she would find him in the vast library that contained all the knowledge of the nine realms and she was right, for there he was, at the centre of it, making a tome hover tremblingly in the air, practicing magic instead of sword-fighting yet again. Foolish boy! She had never liked magic much, mostly because she did not possess the gift and Loki did. She was guilty of envy as well, but she would never harm anyone to appease her pride.
He must have heard her approach, for he suddenly turned around and the tome fell to the floor with a loud thud that created a small echo. Then, he covered his mouth with one hand, trying to suppress laughter.
At that, Sif growled and attacked. She jumped on him and fell him to the ground, knocking the air out of his lungs.
"You cut my hair!" she screamed at him, pressing his arms against the ground, so he could do nothing but wriggle under her. He may have possessed the gift of magic, but he was still weak at it, as well as at sword-fighting.
She expected him to lie and deny his involvement, but he surprised her by saying "And what of it? You deserved it!"
"Deserved it?" she retorted and punched him in the face, then focused on keeping him on the ground once more. He yelped – she broke his nose, and blood was trickling from one nostril.
"You are a mean, ugly boy! What did I ever do to deserve this?"
He looked at her with such hatred and pain that she winced involuntarily. "You have done a lot, and well you know it!" he screamed back. "You are only upset because he will not like you anymore! Not as you are now!"
Sif knew what he meant, knew how once they were good friends and then, she fell under Thor's spell. It was impossible not to, and it was even expected, she believed, for he was the future king of Asgard, the first son of Odin, and Sif respected that. She admired Thor, his strength, his agility and boundless energy. She began to seek his company and friendship more often, and his younger brother could not stand sharing her with Thor. Consequently, her connection to Loki broke because Loki was so very jealous of his brother, and she could not stand to be somewhere in between, so she chose Thor, the one she believed in. Loki did not take her choice well, and truth be told, she was still adjusting to the change herself, but it had to be done.
Now, he ruined everything. He spit his hatred on her, punished her and that Sif could not forgive.
"I have done nothing," she persisted, knowing that that was not entirely true, but Loki did not deserve her pity.
"Liar!" he screamed. "You constantly seek my humiliation, in tandem with my own brother!"
Sif was genuinely shocked. She did not sick to humiliate him, not ever; whenever she mocked Loki, it was all done in jest. Everyone knew she liked to jest. She never meant it... No, no, she would not let him appeal to her conscience.
"I demand that you undo what you have done to me, Loki," she spoke firmly. She did not know how he could do that, but she could always force him.
"Or what?" He sneered at her. "It'll grow back eventually."
"I do not care that you are Odin's son. I will avenge myself and my revenge will be painful for you."
He gritted his teeth. "You shall not threaten me."
Sif punched Loki again. "Oh, I think I shall! I think I can!"
What Loki did next took Sif by such surprise that she could hardly breathe or think. In the moment when she let go of his arms, he turned his palms toward her and she flew across the library, hitting a nearby book shelf and making all the books tumble down upon her form. He did not even touch her, he most assuredly did not, and she knew he did not possess the proper physical strength to even push her to the ground. Yet she felt a wave of energy push against her chest and hurl her away from him. She screamed and shielded her head by folding her arms over it in an arch, remaining so until the books ceased to rain down upon her. When she stood up shakily and looked at Loki in shock, she saw him gazing at his hands, his expression both puzzled and excited.
"I did it," he whispered to himself.
"Whatever did you do?" Sif asked him quietly, still recovering from what had just happened to her.
She needn't have asked; it was magic. Loki was improving and she had just experienced his improvement. She had underestimated him.
He looked at her, his face bloodied, yet he was grinning. "I did it!" he repeated with enthusiasm.
Sif's jaw hardened. How could he rejoice in such a moment? First, he cut off her hair, then he threw her against a book shelf. She remained determined.
"Your magic is growing strong," she spoke coldly. "Find a way, then, to give me back my hair."
He dropped his hands. "Don't you want to know how I cut it off without you knowing it, Sif?"
Of course she wanted to know. She took a step forward, and so did he. But first she had to solve this tragedy.
"I will forget this mischief, Loki, if you restore my hair. I know you can. If you could find it in you to change a goblet into a rose last week, you can restore my hair." She lifted her chin proudly. "And if you do so by nightfall, I shall avoid Thor and the All-Father until then and never speak a word of your mischief to them."
Loki smirked and shook his head. He wiped the blood from his nose with the sleeves of his black tunic.
"And how, do you think, shall we explain my broken nose to my father?"
They both knew that Odin would be angry with both of them if he learned of what they did to each other.
"Loki, please," she added earnestly. She was not afraid of anyone. She might have even sounded vain, wanting back her hair so fervently, but to her the hair had always been a symbol.
He looked at her for a long time and she did not waver under his gaze. At long last, his eyebrows rose and she knew that he had just thought of something. She still knew him well.
She promised to herself that if he undid his actions, she would not mock him again – at least not in public. But she would always remain wary of him, for Loki had always been one for tricks.
"You hit me, you know. Twice," he said evenly.
"And you had cut off my hair. You deserved it," she retorted.
He smiled. "I... may have stumbled upon a little enchantment in one of the books on magic. It might restore your... mane. But it won't be easy. The enchantment requires a skilled performer."
"And at what price?" she asked, for she knew him too well. She did not want him to trick her yet again.
Loki shrugged his shoulders. "There will be no price. Simply meet me here come nightfall."
Sif was suspicious of his compliance, but she said nothing. Her anger had come swiftly, and just as swiftly it had abated. She had been compared to nature – beautiful and changeful. She turned on her heels and walked to the door. As she opened them, she turned around again and looked at him sternly.
"How shall you explain the broken nose?"
Loki waved a hand at her, displaying confidence. "I know an easy magical trick. The injury is not too grave. I can handle it myself."
Magic again. Sif believed he must have used it on her, forced it on her.
"And how did you fool me, Loki? I sleep lightly."
"Just as you fell asleep, I came into your room very silently and whispered a special enchantment into your ear." He smiled. "Should you ever have trouble sleeping, I have the solution."
Sif gritted her teeth and left the library, leaving a still-smiling Loki behind.
They were standing on the balcony outside the library, surrounded by darkness. The stars and the moon could not be seen, veiled as they were by thick clouds.
Sif was watching impatiently as Loki was contemplating a page in one of the thick tomes he had taken from the library. Observing his brow furrowing in deep concentration, she heaved a heavy sigh and snapped her fingers in front of his face. He flinched, then narrowed his gaze.
"I am tired of waiting, Loki," she said. "We are both expected at dinner tonight. Thor will be given the hammer Mjölnir. We cannot miss his moment and I cannot go to the great hall looking like this!"
She pointed an index finger to the tufts of hair that were left from her glorious mane. Loki set his lips in a thin line, then deposited the tome on the ground. He attempted to touch Sif's head with his hands and she slapped them away.
"What are you doing?" she demanded.
"Trying to give you back your hair," he snapped angrily. "If you will be kind enough to let me."
Sif crossed her arms over her chest stubbornly and nodded. "Fine. Touch my head if you must, but know that I don't trust you. You lost my trust, Loki."
Loki said nothing, keeping his face expressionless. He merely repeated his previous gesture as if her words had not reached him, placing his hands on either side of her head, closing his eyes. Sif waited, and waited, and waited, feeling slightly uncomfortable being held by Loki, but nothing happened.
"Are you certain this is – "
"Shhh," he interrupted her sternly and his authoritative voice impressed Sif, so she closed her mouth and waited, urging herself to be patient.
Suddenly, one of his hands left her head and he extended his arm towards the sky, gritting his teeth. What transpired took Sif's breath away. She saw a whirlwind form in the black sky and the dark air inside it began to seep into Loki's very arm! He was shaking, but his face displayed complete concentration. She did not even dare to gulp. The hand that was on her head grew hot and she felt its strong warmth pouring into her skin, tickling her lightly. Loki's knees began to buckle, but he seemed to be completely unaware of his body and Sif had to pull him to her form and embrace him, lest he fell and broke the spell he was performing. Now shaking in unison with him, she clung to him, surrounded by moving black air and whistling sounds, trying to keep them both on their feet, and it seemed that he clung to her as well, sending his energy, and the very night, into the skin of her head.
"Loki?" she whispered, frightened, and he opened his green eyes slightly, his soul in a daze.
He smiled and let his arm fall limp against his body, making the shaking and the whistling stop.
"I have never before," he began, his voice trembling, "attempted such strong magic," he finished and slid from her arms, landing on the ground.
Sif's hands shot into her hair, expecting them to still be gone, but they were back, thick and long, soft and strong, reaching all the way to her waist, just as before. She grabbed it and looked at it, gasping and taking a step back. She looked at Loki, who was resting on his back on the ground, his chest heaving visibly, a trace of sweat making its way down one of his cheeks, and then at her hair again, her mouth agape.
"It's..." she started.
"Back," he offered tiredly.
"Black!" she exclaimed. "My hair is black!" she yelped, panic tingeing her voice.
He eyed her briefly, then covered his eyes with his palms, laughing. "Amazing. Oh, Sif, this is amazing! Have you any idea how strong a spell I just managed to perform?"
Sif knelt by his side and peeled his hands from his face. "I am aware of it, yes," she spoke stiffly, "and I both thank you and congratulate you, but Loki, my hair is black. How will I explain this? Please, try again. Change the colour. I know you can do so."
The smile was gone from Loki's lips. "Tell them the truth, then. I did what you asked of me. I gave you back your hair." He scoffed. "You did not specify the colour."
Sif got up on her feet and pointed an accusing finger at him. "You know I wanted my hair back as it was before you cut it! You could have made my hair blonde. You did this on purpose."
He got up as well, although his limbs still seemed to be weak and shaking. "I suppose that is the price I decided for you to pay, after all."
Sif let out a scream. "Forget my promise, Loki. Everyone will learn the truth of your mischief."
She turned on her heels and stormed off.
Loki did not feel an ounce of regret or shame. He was proud of his work, very proud. It had all turned out the way he predicted. He cut Sif's hair, she came to him to demand he undo the deed, and he did – with slight alterations. All of it gave him a chance to show someone how good he was getting at magic, to show Sif how good he was becoming, and it also gave him another wonderful chance – to make Sif less like his brother, for she had become terribly like Thor over the last few months. He inserted a crack into Sif's arrogance and he took away from Thor what he so loved about Sif.
Loki was not afraid of the consequences. At least not very much.
It had all been worth it.
Sif never told the truth to those who asked about the major change in her appearance.
She looked at herself in a mirror, clad in her ceremonial warrior's attire, and stared for a long time at the new image that the silver surface was reflecting. She looked more mature, more feral, stronger, even. Her facial features were accentuated by the colour and no one could mistake her for a fragile maiden now. Angry for appreciating Loki's work, she walked away from the mirror, still determined to acquaint Odin with Loki's mischief.
As she saw a new kind of admiration in the eyes of the inhabitants of Asgard, she decided to keep quiet for a while longer. They saw her the way she had seen herself in the mirror, and in truth she did feel like a new, improved and better Sif. Her hair had always been a symbol.
The black hair shocked her at first, but now she was growing to like it and she was deeply ashamed of her feelings. It would have made Loki pleased, knowing how her anger was dissipating because his creation was appreciated by the wearer, and she could not bear it. She could not bear the thought of him getting under her skin in any way, the smug, yet jealous boy that he was.
When she saw Thor's shocked face, when his fingers touched the black silk of her mane and when his lips demanded to know what happened, she kept the truth hidden. She wanted to tell it, to punish Loki in return, but she could not bear to do it. She saw that the change struck Thor strongly, but still she knew she would keep the new colour of her hair. Some things were more important than what Thor desired, she allowed to confess to herself.
Sif, much to her dismay, enjoyed her new look and she cursed her own vanity.
Oh, Loki, you wretched boy! He could bring out the worst in her.
But Sif kept quiet about the truth and explained, with Loki standing nearby and hearing her words, that on a whim, she paid the dwarves Brokk and Eitri to forge new hair for her from the energy of the elements, following in the footsteps of many Asgardian women. Asgardians lived long lives and their appearances changed slowly, so women liked to take advantage of any type of change they could to spice up their appearances. Sif did remind herself briefly that perhaps, she should have visited the dwarves to repair the damage Loki had done, instead of turning to Loki and suffering another trick of his, but what was done was done. Her new hair had been seen, and it had been admired.
Everyone believed her; only Odin, the All-Father, gazed at her in contemplation, then hung his head, smiling to himself, suspecting, but never saying a thing. Sif released a breath of relief and dedicated her entire focus to the ceremony prepared in Thor's honour. It hurt her heart and pride that Thor's smile, when he would look at her, was now puzzled and less cheerful. He was the one who had the hardest time adjusting to her new appearance.
Please, Thor, I am still the same Sif you have chosen as a friend.
During the ceremony, she looked away from the spectacle, feeling someone's eyes boring into her. The eyes belonged to Loki. She saw triumph in them, as well as uncertainty. Loki could pretend that he did not care whether she told anyone about what he did or not, but she knew how he would care if Odin knew. And when Odin called out to Loki to join him by his and Thor's side, and when the All-Father embraced his second-born around his thin shoulders, Sif was won over by sympathy she had not expected to feel towards Loki. He found her face in the crowd and she nodded at him. He smiled, wonder and surprise showing in his emerald orbs.
They came to an unprecedented truce that night. The truce would be forever fragile, they both knew, and Sif would always remain wary of the green-eyed boy, never fully trusting him, never allowing herself to let him too close to her, but it was a beginning of sorts.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I had lots of sources and different types of inspiration for this story, and credit must be given where credit is due. The story is based on the Marvel Comics, the Edda poems (Norse Mythology) and Tom Hiddleston's (Loki) interviews. Hiddles doesn't know he's given me ideas.
Music is always a source of inspiration for me. The songs that played a big role in creating this piece of fiction are: Infinity by The XX (which first made me start writing this story), A Forest by Bat for Lashes and Between Two Points by The Glitch Mob, which also became the title of this story.
Hiddles has mentioned Shakespare a lot, so I say - Loki: Iago, anyone? Funny, Kenneth Branagh, the director, was a great Iago in a movie adaptation of Othello.
Initially, this story was meant to be a big one shot, but it covers three different stages, so it seems only fair to divide it into three parts. If you find that you like Part I, I will happily proceed.