NOTE: Sigyn isn't an option on the list, but she is the main character of this fic. I love Sigyn's character, and the pairing of Loki/Sigyn! This story occurs immediately after the movie Thor, so Loki is presumed dead. This is my interpretation of Sigyn's reaction, with plenty of fluff and feels to go around. So, here it is:
It was colder than Sigyn remembered.
She pulled the hem of her cloak, emerald, marking her sorcerous status, up to her chin. It never snowed here on Asgard, but the sky seemed ready to burst at any moment. It swirled moodily above her with the lights of the Nine Realms. It was beautiful, Sigyn thought, but lonely in a way. The stars were tinged with a faint sadness, as if they carried all the sorrows of the realms. The stories they could tell, she mused, tracing her finger along the glass of the carriage window. He used to say as much. He used to say the stars had their own voices; that they were far wiser than any one man could dream to be.
"But not a woman," she'd added teasingly.
"Hmm, maybe, but there's one I worry about," he'd replied with a malicious grin, and she had laughed.
That was how she remembered Loki. Laughing, his green eyes sparkling mischievously. The familiar spark of magic in his palms. The low, distant hum of energy, of raw, untapped power. She had always found reassurance in it. Funny, she thought, how one could grow to trust someone so known for their lies.
Sigyn wondered how much he had changed. His letters, to her surprise, had become more and more frequent in the past few years, but they seemed all the more distant, restless. He seemed preoccupied. But what with a mind like his, Sigyn told herself, wasn't that to be expected?
Her carriage had rolled through the glistening palace gate and shuttered to a sudden halt in the middle of a grand courtyard. The door creaked softly as it was opened, and she gratefully accepted the guard's hand as she stepped onto the slick cobblestone. A light drizzle covered the palace as Sigyn made her way up the massive marble steps. Thunder rumbled ominously in the distance. Thor was restless. And that did not usually end well.
The hall was silent, the stillness permeated by the occasional trill of a night swallow. Torches cast ominous shadows across the walls, but they did not frighten Sigyn anymore. They seemed childish now, the Devil's play-things. The entire castle seemed to have grown smaller as it aged, to have grown tired. Suddenly, the dim corridors she had memorized as a child waiting on the Lady Frigga grew claustrophobic, closing in around her. She clutched at a marble pillar to steady herself and caught a glimpse of her own wide-eyed face in an ornate mirror stretching down the hall. A tall, slender woman with long blonde hair and weary violet eyes blinked back at her. Her face was still young, but weathered with worries and new responsibilities. Sigyn couldn't' say which had changed more: Asgard or herself.
She knew something was wrong the moment she met the steward outside Odin's Hall. He was the same ferret-faced man Sigyn remembered, but his eyes darted about the hall with the look of a cornered rabbit (or, rather, a weasel in his case).
"Lady Sigyn!" he began breathlessly, glancing anxiously back at the massive iron doors, designed to seal the Hall as a final fortress. Asgard's Last Stand, it was called. "I trust you had a safe journey. Frigga is most anxious to see you."
"Where is Loki?" Sigyn asked immediately, voicing the thought that had been nagging at her since she first set foot in the palace. "He promised to meet me by the gate. Is he well?"
The man twitched uncomfortably. "H-he has taken ill, my lady," the steward finally managed, his expression distressed. "Please, let me get—"
"How ill?" she pressed, folding her arms across her chest. Sigyn was known for her soft-spoken nature and grace, but no amount of magic could change her mind once it was set on something. Loyalty is unwavering, to both idea and person. "Loki is not one to be detained by a cough, sir," she continued. "Can you tell him I have arrived?"
"I-I." More twitching. "Please, my lady, if you could—"
"Oh, for Valhalla's sake, let the lady in already, Bran!" the Queen of Asgard scolded, the guards heaving open the mighty iron doors before her.
"Sigyn, my dear," Frigga called warmly, enveloping the sorcerous in a long hug. "It has been too long. You're all grown now. Time has done you well. It has been less kind to me."
Again, something was wrong. Her smile was gentle, but her eyes were tired and red-rimmed, the dark lines in her face deepened by the heavy shade of her dress. She smelled of candles and grief.
Something was wrong.
The Queen led her down the marble wonder that was Odin's Hall. Her footsteps echoed around the cavernous room, and despite its emptiness, Sigyn felt as if she were being watched. Her magic flickered agitatedly in her palms, but Frigga seemed not to notice. Odin himself waited for her, sitting stiffly on the golden throne of Asgard. He was as regal as ever, but greyer and his eyes were void of the life they used to possess. The source of the storm was seated despondently on the steps, hands clasped, brow furrowed, Mjolnir at his side. Thor had grown up nicely, Sigyn thought with a slight smile. For once the stories were true. She was not sure if she wanted all the stories about Loki to be true.
"Sigyn," Odin called out in his familiar booming voice, a faint smile playing on his lips. "I trust you are well. And an anointed sorcerous of the Realm! The best in the Realm, they tell me!"
She could not help but notice the sadness that crept in his voice.
Bowing slightly, Sigyn acknowledged him with a nod. Words were not her way. "Well met," she replied, smiling shyly.
"My Lady Sigyn!" Thor had risen to his feet, stooping over to envelop her in a crushing hug.
"Hullo, Thor," she sputtered, brushing herself off. "Goodness, how long will you let it grow?" She pulled at the Thunderer's hair teasingly.
Thor grinned broadly. "Ay! Though it could never out shine your own, fair lady!"
Sigyn flushed at the compliment, but she was well aware of Thor's past…experiences with women. She had an altogether different one on mind anyway. "I can't help but notice where short one," she said, before Frigga could interject. "Is Loki well?"
Her smile faded with the Odinsons'. Sigyn had never seen Thor appear so distraught.
"They said he was ill," she began again, louder. Her voice rose an octave. "I'd…I'd just like to see him. If you could tell him—"
"Loki is dead."
The moment shattered.
"No, no he's not," Sigyn stammered. The pleas of the living. "He's not, he can't, he wrote—"
"No!" Odin thundered, slamming his fist into the side of his throne. Frigga and Sigyn started; Thor looked unreachable. "No," Odin said again, his voice softening into melancholy. "No. Loki is dead. He's dead. My son is dead. My son—"
He choked, burying his head in his hands, his body shuddering. It was the first time she had ever seen the All-Father cry in all her years in the palace. She felt herself begin to shake.
"He fell," Thor answered, his knuckles tightening around Mjolnir's handle, "Off the Bifrost. When it…broke. I was there. I saw it happen."
"Sigyn," Frigga said softly, holding out her arms to the sorcerous.
Sigyn stepped back. She took in Frigga's black velvet cloak, recalled the steward's own dark attire. They were wearing mourning clothes, she now realized.
"I—I don't believe you," Sigyn said finally, not caring how ridiculous she sounded. "He wrote to me, he promised…"
"He wrote to you?" Frigga asked gently, smiling softly. "I never knew."
Sigyn wanted to leave, to run out into the night, never to return. It was silly, she thought. They hadn't seen each other since they were children. But it hurt all the same. He'd taught her everything. She owed him everything. Her debt would forever be unpaid.
"That's his up there," Frigga murmured, pointing up to the wall. Tapestries lined the hall, tributes to the fallen lords. The newest, and nearest, was a deep emerald and trimmed with gold. "We're holding the ceremony in two days' time. We thought…we thought you would want to be there, to say good-bye."
Sigyn had always considered herself to be strong—not in a physical sense, but in her resolution (and occasional stubbornness). She was rightfully named the Goddess of Fidelity. But that never meant she was easily bought. If anything, it made her all the more weary and solitary. And now, the one she had unconsciously rested all her faith in, all her love and her trust, was dead.
It left her empty and bitter. What was the banner-man when the king was dead? What became of the rebel when the cause died? She felt as if the slightest breeze could carry her away. Maybe she wanted it to, as it had carried him away.
The Odinson's made no attempt to stop her as she swept out the imposing iron doors. She shoved past the babbling steward, her footsteps heavy as she made her way up the tower steps. Sigyn had been given the rooms next to the Lady Sif's, who, to Sigyn's relief, had already shut her door for the night. She flung her cloak unceremoniously in the corner and wrenched open her trunk. Her mouth drawn in a tight line, she tossed silks and spell books alike across the floor, until her hand finally emerged clutching a simple wooden box. It was only about the size of her two fists, and still lingered of the scent of pine. She waved her hand and violet sparks (her magic had always been violet) flickered across the box's surface. It gave a faint click, and Sigyn, steeling herself with one long breath, flipped it open.
The letters spilled into her lap, words and hopes and promises piling at her feet. They were all written in the loopy, elegant hand-writing she knew so well. She smiled a sad smile down at them, tracing the familiar words with her fingertips. The first had been so formal, but he'd never kept her waiting. "To my faithful student" it began. That's how she'd met him, in the hushed courtyard with leaves in his hair and magic racing through his fingers. At first she'd studied the unusual boy from behind the pillars and shrubs, but curiosity had gotten the better of her. But Loki had only laughed when she'd approached and proceeded to turn the nearest sentry's helmet into a rose bush, to a young Sigyn's delight. Since that day she had been his faithful student, his lone admirer. He'd shown Sigyn her own potential, her own spark.
But in the end, that was what tore them apart. When Sigyn had only just begun to grow out of childhood, she had been selected for training in the magic arts, an honor, they'd told her.
"Why not you?" she'd asked Loki pointedly in the middle of his lesson on turning field mice into teacups. "You're better than all the Masters."
Loki had smiled wistfully at this and just shook his head. "They won't let me. I heard them talking. They say it's a shame to the household. Magic is not a man's weapon."
"Oh," Sigyn had replied before adding with a mischievous grin she'd picked up from her teacher, "I think they're just jealous. I would be."
He'd laughed at that. "Well, when you're Queen of the Realm, I'll be the first to apply."
The goddess smiled forlornly at these memories, as her gaze fell to his more recent messages. "Student" had been replaced with "Lady" over time (after which Sigyn had jokingly addressed all her letters to "My Lord Loki"). Then, the last letter had come. Her response was still lying half-written at the bottom of her trunk. "My dear Sigyn" it began, and its simplicity warmed her more than any number of formalities ever could.
No, she thought, he was not dead. He was lost, and she intended to find him.
She was surprised by how much she remembered of the place as she made her way through the palace, darting down forgotten corridors and silent staircases. Her heavy breathing filled the dim halls. A left, a right, down one, left, through a door, down some more…finally. The cold enveloped Sigyn the moment she set foot in the Rose Court, and the warmth drained from her body. She cursed herself; in her haste, she'd forgotten her cloak.
The Rose Court was located in the center of the palace, a wedding present from Odin to his wife Frigga. It was ringed with marble columns and dark hedges. Magic sustained the hundreds of rose bushes that inhabited it, so they bloomed full even in the miserable cold now. Their heavy, cloying scent made her eyes water, but she'd always found it pleasant. She cupped a creamy white bloom in her palm, its petals like satin against her skin. Frigga had loved these gardens, in kinder years. Thor had been banned after he'd hacked down a row of pale pink roses with his wooden training sword, so of course Loki had frequented the place, away from teasing eyes, more and more often.
Sigyn padded across the smooth cobblestone until she found his secret place. There was a little hollow under the red rose bushes, big enough for two small people. That's where they'd first spoken.
Her mother had attended the Queen all her life and served as companion to Frigga. Sigyn had never met her father. She was told he was a military man who could never keep still for long, not even for his wife and new-born daughter. Some said that's what sparked Sigyn's desire to be true. To be faithful.
"You look just like him," her mother told her once by the fireside, "Same hair, same pretty lilac eyes."
Sigyn had worked alongside her mother, stitching and sewing, cleaning and polishing, watching and waiting. On more than one occasion she was sent on errands by the Queen (Sigyn had always been quite fast), and on that particular day this was the case. She'd scampered off to the Rose Court with a note for a certain Prince Loki. She knew Thor well, of course—everyone knew Thor—and he would carry her around on his back when he was in a jovial mood. But Loki she knew little of. He spoke sparingly and rarely lingered at the dinner table, and Sigyn had no reason to know him. Yet there she was, plodding through Frigga's rose bushes in search of him.
She saw the lights first, a luminescent green. After a closer inspection, she realized it was a boy with raven-black hair and eyes like emeralds. The sparks danced on Loki's palms, the energy swirling about him with faint whispers. It was the most beautiful thing Sigyn had ever seen.
The moment was broken almost immediately when she leaned in closer, only to feel the nearest branch snap under her weight. Loki's head jerked up as the lights vanished, his eyes widening at the sight of Sigyn. Sigyn wished she could say she'd given any manner of witty remarks, but truth be told she'd only managed a high-pitched squeal before throwing the letter at the Prince and scurrying out of the courtyard. She supposed he got the note because he showed up to dinner at exactly 6:30 as instructed. To her relief, the green-eyed boy ignored her for the rest of the evening. Sometimes she wondered he'd been more startled than her.
The sorcerous crouched under the little hollow, surrounded by the flowers' dizzying scent. Sigyn smiled at the sight of a lone bright blue branch amongst the green, left from one of Loki's lessons. She wrapped her hand around it, like a long lost friend. Suddenly, she frowned as her fingers tingled slightly. A tingle she knew to signify the presence of magic. Unusual magic. Someone had hidden something. The magic preserving the roses had been thick enough to stifle it, even from someone as sensitive to it as her. She gripped the branch tighter, breathing slowly as she studied it.
Magic is like a signature: it reflects the user. Sigyn had learned to hide her signature, but she'd been told it was warm, like a gentle breeze, they said. The magic on the bush was masterfully done, she had to admit. It was revealed just enough so only someone familiar with the caster could recognize it. Someone like her.
Loki's signature was dark. The sparks thrummed with power; elegant, but foreboding. She could never forget it.
Sigyn murmured a simple Reveal spell, her violet sparks intertwining with the green. There was a faint sigh and Sigyn felt a papery object appear in her palm: a letter.
"You sneaky little devil," she whispered, her lips parting in a wide smile.
She broke the familiar emerald wax seal of Prince Loki of Asgard, smoothing out the parchment on her thigh.
"My dear Sigyn" it began again and she blushed slightly.
"If you are reading this," it continued, and she could practically hear Loki's smooth drawl. "Then, undoubtedly I am dead, presumed dead, or in other ways inconvenienced at present. I was hoping for more than a burial shroud to give you upon your return, but as it would seem, things have not gone according to plan. You are not Queen, just as I am no longer an Odinson, and no amount of wishing can change that. But I find that all lies tend to find their way back again, and we might just meet again.
"As I have said, if you were not aware already, I am not an Odinson. I am not even a true Asgardian (I'm sure the kitchen staff would be more than happy to supply you with all the latest palace gossip). I understand if you want to forget me, in which case throw this off the Bifrost, and be done with me forever. In fact, I think it would be wisest. But (I hope) maybe there's room for a little madness in us all. Yours truly, Loki Now-Laufeyson"
She let the paper slip from her fingers. It drifted lazily, coming to rest in her lap. Sigyn swallowed. Hard. She didn't understand, not everything, and she wasn't sure she wanted to. But in her heart, she knew Loki could not be dead. He wasn't. He was all there, contained in that one note. The sorcerous steadily rose to her feet, the folds of her gown sweeping behind her. Her mouth drawn in a hard line, she snatched up Loki's letter, pressing the final words, Loki's name, to her lips.
"I'm waiting," the Goddess of Fidelity whispered. "Come home. I'm waiting."
She strode out of the garden with resolve, and the cold no longer bothered her. Never before than in this place where all things were dead and dying, did she feel more alive.