Disclaimer: Marvel owns everything.
Author's Note: Sigyn is a combination of her Marvel character (hence her physical description, though I imagine her looking rather like Zooey Deschanel), myth, and my own spin on things.
Loki leaned back in his chair in the palace library, relaxed and happy to have some quiet time away from his noisy brother. Occasionally, he heard people come in and quietly shuffle over to the stacks behind him, but he paid them no attention. He was utterly engrossed in a philosophy text when a soft, sweet voice whispering into his ear made him flinch.
"What are you reading?"
He recognized the voice immediately. Anyone else he would have scowled at for managing to sneak up on him, but he looked over his shoulder at her with a smile.
"Sigyn, you are like a cat. I think you enjoy startling me."
She smiled at him affectionately. "Perhaps. May I sit?"
"Of course." Loki rose to pull out the chair for her. He had known her since they were small children and she was quite possibly his most favorite person. In recent years he had become aware of a shifting in his feelings toward something deeper, but he firmly suppressed those feelings because he did not want to lose her friendship. It had been difficult, because she had been visibly bewildered when he pulled away from her innocent touch and embraces but he could not explain to her that the age difference, small as it may be, was still enough for him to react differently to her now that they were no longer children.
She had always been kind and understanding, though, and she accepted the invisible barriers between them and had learned to navigate around them to continue their friendship.
"Thank you." She sat down, smoothing the skirts of her dark blue gown.
"Were you visiting your sisters?" he asked, also sitting back down.
Sigyn nodded. "Yes, I wished to see Syn, Nanna, and Lofn." She had eight sisters, though she herself was the only unmarried one. "And father wished to speak to me about something. He was busy, though, and told me to go away until the afternoon."
He resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Iwaldi was a dwarf and his favorite things were riches and jewels. The question that everyone wanted to know the answer to was how a dwarf managed to have eight beautiful daughters. It was assumed that their mother Freya being a goddess of beauty had overridden whatever unfortunate physical characteristics they may have inherited from Iwaldi. The only unusual thing about the sisters was that they were smaller than other Asgardian women. Sigyn insisted she was not through growing yet, but her head scarcely reached his collarbone and she looked even more minuscule beside Thor.
"I can only assume he was busy counting his precious gold," Loki commented with a touch of sarcasm.
Sigyn looked as though she might scold him but then she smiled. "Most likely," she admitted. "But you never did answer my question. What are you reading?"
This was why he was so fond of her, he decided. She loved books as much as he did, and she wasn't interested in warfare or watching sparring. He could do the latter just fine, but he didn't particularly enjoy it and he often become tired of Thor hamming it up for the cheers and praise of the people. He loved his brother, but Thor could be quite exasperating at times.
"It is a book of philosophy. The author presents a theory that…" Loki began to describe what he had read and soon he and Sigyn became engrossed in exchanging ideas and even debating the strengths and weaknesses of the theory. She scooted her chair closer to his and he tried his best to ignore the warmth radiating from her body and the scent of what he thought he identified as lavender and chamomile.
Loki was thankful she was completely oblivious to her effect on him, and also thankful that Thor was equally oblivious because if his brother ever knew of his feelings for Sigyn, he'd never hear the end of it.
And he loathed being embarrassed. Perhaps he had too much pride, but he did not care.
A clock chimed the hour and Sigyn sighed. "I should go back and see what father wants."
Loki stood as she did. "Perhaps it will be good news."
"I thought I was supposed to be the optimist." She smiled slightly but her big blue eyes were worried.
"You are. It is a role that suits you far better than it does me." He was cynical, but could not be that way with her. "I will see you later, and then you can tell me all about it."
Her smile became more genuine and she nodded. "Good-bye, Loki."
He watched her leave the library, before sinking down slowly into his seat.
For the first time, he allowed himself to silently express the thought that he was in love with her.
"You are going to be married."
Her father's words echoed in Sigyn's head and for a long moment all she could do was stare at him, uncomprehending. "Wh-what?" she stammered. "I don't understand."
Iwaldi sighed, trying to be patient. "Theoric has agreed to pay the bride price I asked for you."
"Theoric? Theoric Haraldson?" She felt a surge of panic. "Father, I cannot marry him! He is so… so aggressive." He frightened her and she could not imagine that they would have a harmonious coexistence. She was not even certain he knew what a book was.
"He's Aesir," Iwaldi snapped. "What do you expect? He is a formidable warrior which means that you will not be carried off and killed by trolls. I would think that should please you."
"That is not a good reason to marry!" Tears sprang to her eyes. "Father, I beg of you, do not marry me to him."
"The arrangements are made, Sigyn. The bride price has been paid, and the Allfather himself has given approval to the match. Cease your weeping. What, do you think you are Syn to have had numerous requests for your hand? You have had none. I was afraid I'd never marry you off, and I had to work to even build up Theoric's interest in you. This is the best you will ever be able to do, so I suggest you get your tears out of the way in the next two days so that you can be a pretty bride for your wedding."
Her face flushed, and in addition to her fear she now felt humiliation. She was the only one of her sisters to have black hair and she knew she was not considered beautiful by Asgardian standards. She was also shy and had a difficult time making friends, which made things even harder for her. "But I had hoped…" she trailed off.
Iwaldi furrowed his thick brows and then realization dawned on his face. "You had hoped Prince Loki would one day marry you. Sigyn, you must be realistic. You are a bastard, and a prince can do far better."
Sigyn dropped into a clumsy courtesy to her father and ran out of the den. The words had cut deep, but she sobbed because she knew they were true.
Loki did not see Sigyn for dinner that evening. The next day he was occupied with his studies and it was evening again before he was able to search for her in the great hall. He did not find her and was disappointed. Her sisters were there but he did not feel like approaching them to ask about her. He amused himself by watching Thor and Sif bicker with one another (and may or may not have been egging them on with a few carefully chosen comments), and when he grew bored with Thor telling stories he went to retire to his room.
The shadows moved in a corner of his room and green magic glowed in his hand before he realized it was Sigyn.
"Sigyn! I could have harmed you. I wished you wouldn't be so…" he trailed off and the magic faded when he realized that she was sobbing. "What is it? What is wrong?" He approached her, placing his hands on her shoulders gently.
"I'm going to be married off tomorrow! To Theoric – that's what my father wanted to tell me. I can't marry him, Loki. I can't. I'm afraid he's going to hurt me. But Father says that I ought to be grateful, because Theoric is the best I'll be able to do." Still crying, she pressed her face into his chest.
He froze in shock. "No… no, he can't do that. And it isn't true. That idiotic brute…"
"Your father has approved of the match. The only way it won't happen is if my father or Theoric change their minds. And I just do not think that will happen."
Loki had never been good at comforting others, but he tried his best with her. He touched her dark hair, letting her cry even as he struggled to move past his sense of denial – and bitter disappointment.
Sigyn's tears slowly stopped and she sighed, pulling back to wipe at her tearstained face. "Ugh… I am a mess. May I use your bathroom?"
Despite the gravity of the situation, he smiled briefly because she was still so polite. "Yes, of course."
Sigyn disappeared into the bathroom and when she emerged a short while later, her face appeared normal and her hair was out of its long braid, black waves spilling down past her waist. "Loki… I need to ask something of you. I know it is wrong, and I have no right but I desperate."
"What is it?"
She took a deep breath and then slowly released it. "Would you please sleep with me tonight?"
He stared at her in disbelief, thinking he had heard wrong. "Would I – what?"
Sigyn began to blush and she wrung her hands together. But she had started this and was going to finish. "Theoric is a brute… his pride would never allow him to have a bride that another man had had first. I can escape the marriage and… and I trust you not to hurt me. I know it is asking a lot of you, but please? Please help me out of this?"
The honorable thing would have been to say no. She could not know that he was attracted to her, and that if he agreed it would not be because he was being a selfless friend. This was a bad idea on so many levels, and he could not see it ending well for either of them. But then she stepped closer to him, and he thought if this was the only time he would be able to have her, he would do it.
Loki ran his fingers through her long hair, and leaned down to gently kiss her lips. "Very well, my lady," he whispered, and pulled her closer against him.
Sigyn lay curled up against Loki, alternating between watching him as he slept and looking out the window. Time passed and her stomach clenched up in knots because she knew that the peace and safety she felt in his arms was going to soon end. It had been lovelier and more wondrous than she could have ever imagined, and if it was like this for all people then she finally understood why Syn had lovers.
The thought of doing with Theoric what she had done with Loki repulsed her, though, and she wondered if – when the scandal of the broken marriage blew over – that she and Loki might have a future together. The thought made her smile and she looked at him again. He had always made her laugh and he merrily tugged her along to experience life when otherwise she would have sat back and merely observed it.
The sky took on the faintest light tinge and she realized that it was time to go. Reluctantly, she wriggled out from under his arm and gingerly walked over to dress herself. She pulled on her shoes but left her hair loose.
Sigyn walked back to the bed, and thought about waking Loki but decided against it. She would be seeing him soon enough. Still, she bent down and softly kissed him. He stirred and she froze, but he did not awaken. "I love you," she whispered, wishing she had the courage to tell him when he was awake. But for now, this would have to do.
Iwaldi had very good hearing. He heard the door quietly open, and then the sound of slippers walking softly on the floor, and skirts swishing. His daughter came into view as she approached the staircase up to the second floor of his home, and his worst fear was confirmed.
Her hair was disheveled, her gown was crumpled, and she had not even bothered to relace the back of the bodice.
"What have you done?" he asked, his deep voice deadly.
Sigyn stopped in her tracks, and then his meek daughter surprised him by looking over at him defiantly. "I took a lover, sir. Theoric will not want soiled goods, will he? If you doubt me, I can even show the blood on my petticoats."
Iwaldi gripped the staff he used to help him walk – and fight – and slowly stood up from his seat, approaching her. He knew that she was not lying. Her face was pale and she was trembling. She was not a good actress, and her expression was a mixture of haughtiness and fear.
"You ruined yourself because you are such a child that you could not allow this marriage to happen?"
"I am no longer a child, sir."
Her words angered him and he advanced upon her. "Who was he?"
Even though she was a good foot taller than him, she still took several steps back away until she was pressed into the wall. "I'm never going to tell you or anyone else, Father. And who said it was only one?" she asked, managing a challenging smile.
"Sigyn, what have you done? You are as big a whore as your mother!" he shouted.
"But I am not, sir," she answered politely. "For I did not fornicate with dwarves, so I cannot be like her."
The combination of her insolence, the knowledge that he would have to pay back Theoric his gold and jewels – plus extra, most likely, for the humiliation this would result in for him, and her awakening old feelings of insecurity and anger at Freya having dumped him for other lovers in Vanaheim caused him to snap.
Sigyn had slept poorly the night before, and not at all this past night. Her reflexes were not that of a warrior to begin with, but were even more slowed because of the lack of sleep. She saw the staff coming toward her but was not even aware it had struck until she heard a scream – her own, she later realized – and felt excruciating pain blaze up the side of her face. She felt herself fall, and more blows followed though she scarcely felt them as the darkness rose up to swallow her.
Before she was completely gone, though, she heard more screaming and a woman's voice – Syn's? – saying, "Stop it, Father, please, you're going to kill her!"
Loki had been disappointed when he had awakened and found that Sigyn had left without saying anything to him. She had seemed content at the end, but perhaps she had not enjoyed it. Or perhaps she had regretted it. Either possibility was upsetting and he tried to put it out of his mind as he prepared to go about his day.
It was not until midday when he became aware of the buzzing of gossip spreading throughout the palace. He did not have to ask anyone or eavesdrop, however, because he heard the news from his brother.
"Did you hear yet? Sigyn has been banished to Vanaheim," Thor announced.
Loki stared at him. "What? Why? I thought she was getting married today."
"The marriage is not going to happen. Apparently, she disgraced herself by bedding another man before the wedding. No one knows who. But Theoric was enraged and humiliated. Her father has disowned her and one of her sisters took her to Freya in Vanaheim."
It took every ounce of control he possessed to not display the shock, horror, and pain he felt at the news. "For how long?"
Thor shrugged. "I don't know. I thought you had already heard of it, seeing as you two were close as children. I never would have imagined such scandalous behavior of Sigyn. She was always the sweet, quiet one."
"I'm aware of her personality," Loki said, sharper than he'd intended.
"Do you have any idea who ruined her?"
Ruined her. That's what he had done, and the guilt and remorse he felt over it was overpowering. That must have been why she had left him without saying anything. He couldn't blame her, but he could still feel the wave of sorrow that swept through him.
"No," he said, grateful his tone sounded normal. "I have no idea. I will see you at dinner, Thor. I have things to do." Without waiting for a response, he returned to his room.
Loki sat on his bed, struggling as his emotions swamped him. He couldn't tell anyone what had happened, and the person he normally would have shared his problems with was in another realm.
"I'm sorry," he said hoarsely, lying down and burying his face into the pillow. It smelled faintly of lavender and chamomile. He pulled his head away from it, and looked around his room. His gaze settled on a small carved figure of a black wolf with blue eyes. It was an innocuous appearing gift Sigyn had given him one year, but within it magic sparked and allowed him to find her anywhere. When they were younger, she had been terrified of being carried off by trolls and they had created a spell together to allow him to track her.
She had placed inside the wolf, and he had promised her that he'd be able to find her anywhere.
Loki picked up the figure, closing his fingers around it and pressing into his palm. He clenched his fist so hard he felt the points of the wolf ears dig into his skin and when he opened his hand again he looked blankly at the tiny bleeding cuts.
He couldn't face her. He couldn't hurt her again, should have controlled himself and never should have taken advantage of her request.
Loki shut the wolf away in a drawer, and stayed silently in his room, brokenhearted, until the shadows from the fading sun gathered around him. When he emerged for dinner, no one noticed anything different around him but the coldness had seeped into his bones and he knew that nothing would ever be the same without her around.
Sigyn awakened in an unfamiliar bed, and she almost called out for Loki. At that last second she hesitated and it was a good thing she did because when she opened her eyes she saw a tall, beautiful blonde woman sitting beside her.
"Mother?" she asked uncertainly.
Freya set aside the book she was reading and smiled gently at her youngest daughter. "So you remember me. I was afraid you would not. Syn wanted to stay with you, but she had to return to Asgard to attend to Frigga."
"Where am I?"
"Vanaheim, in my hall. You've been sleeping for days, Sigyn, but that was good. It allowed your face and head to heal." There was a note of anger in her voice, but it was not directed at her daughter.
"My face?" Sigyn lifted her hands to touch it. It felt tender and she suddenly remembered what happened. "Father hit me. I was… rude, and he hit me."
"He never will again," Freya said savagely. "You are safe here."
"But… but… I need to return to Asgard," she said shakily, thinking of Loki. She needed to see him.
"There is no need. You are not marrying that awful oaf Theoric. Your father has disowned you, and the only home you have is here now. Do not worry, my child. Your sisters will visit you when they are able."
Visit. Loki could visit her. Once he found out where she was, surely he would come and see her. Their mothers were related, after all, it would not be unusual to see each other. He also could find her anywhere, with the spell they had made as children. It would only be a matter of time.
Sigyn nodded and Freya began to hum, lulling her back to sleep.
Days passed into months, the seasons changed, and still she heard not one word from Loki. Sigyn had tried to remain hopeful, made excuses, but eventually hope faded and she was forced to acknowledge that she had done something to make him not want her – not as a friend, and certainly not as a lover.
There was nothing wrong with him. Her sisters, when they visited, chatted on about what was happening in the palace and apparently neither prince ever mentioned her. She listened and she smiled, making comments in all the right places but when they were gone and she was alone she cried.
Syn was the only one who suspected, but even she was careful to not ask too many questions.
"Do you wish me to give a message to Loki?" Syn asked one afternoon as they sat in Sigyn's bedroom window seat that overlooked the gardens.
"No," Sigyn answered. The thought of embarrassing herself more than she already had with him made her feel sick. "There's nothing to say to him."
Freya, who was also a goddess of love, noticed how thin and sad her daughter looked as the years began to pass. One fine spring day, she sat outside with Sigyn, who appeared to be studying the melting snow on the grass.
"The seasons are one thing can be relied upon, here," Freya said. "The coldness of winter seems harsh and everlasting but it does end. And with it, comes warmth and rejuvenation. New life."
"What does it matter?" she murmured indifferently.
"You know that your sister Hnossa has a different father, yes?" Freya asked, apparently changing the subject. "Her father was Odin's brother, Ve. It was an arranged marriage, part of the truce for the Aesir-Vanir War. I hated him at first, because I did not want to marry anyone and resented that I was being bartered to him like livestock. But I grew to love him. I thought I would have many children with him after Hnossa, and that even though I missed Vanaheim that Ve and our children would be a comfort in Asgard. He became my world. And then one day, Surtur murdered him and his other brother Vili."
Sigyn may have been despondent but she was no fool and had become alert when she realized the direction the story was taking. "You never married again."
"No," Freya agreed. "Ve was my husband. No one else can ever compare. I was so lost, my dear. I was angry and sad, but I had a child to care for. And then, years later, I began to have you and your sisters."
"Are you saying I should stop feeling sorry for myself and move on…?"
Freya smiled. "One day you will. One day you will take an interest in living again. What I was trying to tell you, is that one does not mourn forever. It does take time to get past wounds such as this… to lose someone that you love."
Sigyn lowered her head. "I love him… so much. But he… he's never coming for me, is he?"
Freya said nothing, wrapping her arms around her daughter and holding her close. They both had the Vanir gift and curse of sight.
They both knew the answer to her question was no.
Sigyn looked up from the painting she was working on out in Freya's gardens. She normally would have been happy to see her sister, but there was an alarming note in Syn's voice that worried her.
"Over here!" she called, moving off the stool she was straddling. She rarely wore dresses now, preferring to wear leather pants with a long tunic over it. "What's the matter, Syn?"
Syn came around the hedge corner breathlessly. "I have… I have to tell you something."
"Tell me then," she answered, walking up to her.
Syn bit her lip, and then blurted out, "Darling, I am so sorry. Loki's… he's dead."
Sigyn stared at her, and for a long moment the only thing she could hear was the thunderous pounding of her heart. "What? Was there a battle? I-I don't understand." It had been a very long time since she had allowed herself to think of her first – and only – love. There had been other men in her life but none had hoped to touch her heart the way he had.
Syn sat down with her on a nearby bench and with the scent of honeysuckle and roses thick in the air, Sigyn learned of all that had happened in Asgard in such a few short days. She could not imagine what could have made Loki destroy Jotunheim. When Syn was finished, she shook her head.
"He's not dead," she said, her voice husky with unshed tears.
"He's not! Don't you think I would have seen it – felt it – something?" she demanded.
"There was no body," Syn admitted. "But he fell into what… even if he had survived it, where could he be? If the fall into space didn't kill him, he probably landed somewhere that did."
"I don't think—"
Sigyn glared at her. She had much changed from the sad, timid girl she had been when she first came to Vanaheim. "Then don't think – just act. Show me where he is with your magic. I will do the rest, but I need a starting point."
Syn recognized her sister's obstinacy, even though she thought she was only drawing out the pain by denying his death. So she went with Sigyn over to a nearby pond, and used her ability to see the past, present, and future in reflective surfaces to try to see where Loki was. She closed her eyes, not wanting to be shown a dead body. But when she did not hear her sister gasp in horror, she opened them again.
In the pond was a murky image of Loki – anguished and appearing more than a little mad and hunted – but very much alive.
"You can't…" Syn began, but in the next heartbeat she was speaking to nothing but air because Sigyn had already teleported away.
It had been very dark where Loki was, and she searched for him in Svartalfheim, Niffleheim, and now had come to Hel. She was tired and more than a little cranky – though truthfully, it was more fear of what kind of state she would find Loki in. She had become extremely good at being stealthy but she had to act quickly because the longer she remained in a realm, the more likely she would be discovered and powerful magic user as she was, it still would have been foolish to fight alone.
"Loki, where in Hel are you?" she hissed. Then a short while later she saw it, a cave where she caught for just a split second a flicker of green light. Without hesitation, she went into the cave.
"Loki?" It was so dark that she could see nothing, and before she had a chance to create a spell to allow her to see in the dark, she felt hard fingers clamp around her throat and shove her into the cave wall.
The green light flickered again, but this time it held and eerily illuminated Loki's face. He stared at her for a long moment with something akin to hope but then his gaze hardened and he glared at her. "You aren't real."
His grip around her throat made it hard to speak but she managed. "I am. It's me, Sigyn."
"Sigyn left such a long, long time ago. I hurt her." He suddenly looked distraught, then furious. "How dare you take her form to torment me?"
"Didn't hurt me," she rasped out, her hand coming up to cover his gently. "Well, you are now. But not then. Didn't want to leave… was so happy we were together. Best night… of my life."
He loosened his grip and then moved his hand away entirely, watching her warily.
"You don't belong here."
"I don't belong anywhere," he said, and laughed loudly.
"Come with me." She reached out to touch him but he took a quick step back.
"You wouldn't say that if you knew what I was," he replied in a singsong tone.
"I don't care. I was too… stupid long ago and lost you once. I can't lose you again. Please… please, Loki, come with me to Vanaheim. Whatever happened, we'll figure it out together."
Her slim fingers touched his cheek and he shuddered at the contact. How long had he dreamed of her? His thoughts were a chaotic jumble and he swore that he was hearing voices whispering to him, speaking of darkness and power.
Loki closed his eyes briefly, and when he opened them Sigyn was still there, her beautiful eyes holding his gaze calmly. The voices receded and for a moment he could think clearly again.
"I'm sorry," he said and her heart clenched up because she thought he was refusing her. But instead he closed his hand around hers and nodded his consent. "Take me with you?"
Sigyn didn't want to give him a chance to change his mind so she teleported them back to Vanaheim instantly, leaving the darkness and gloom behind.