A/N: Although this is a sequel to Betweeen Two Points, it is not necessary to read the first installment in order to follow this particular story, which is written as a stand-alone story. But it wouldn't hurt to read Between Two Points, right? (shameless advertising) At the end of this chapter, there is a more extensive Author's Note with some explanations and such. Enjoy!
A Warrior's Lamentation
A young woman must always be
stern, hard-of-heart, unmoved, full of belief,
opposing breast-cares and her heartaches' legions.
She must appear cheerful
even in a tumult of grief.
('The Wife's Lament', from The Exeter Book)
Only moments before Loki fell into the starless void, Sif pierced the cold heart of a Frost Giant with her sword.
Alongside the Warriors Three and a score of other Asgardian warriors, she was fighting the few jötunns that had dared to show their faces in the city of the gods with the intention of felling it to its knees.
The blue-skinned monsters failed in their unholy quest, for they were easily defeated and Sif herself only suffered a deep laceration slithering from her elbow to the wrist. She had experienced worse injuries and what hurt more than the bleeding wound was the rage at the thought that Asgard had been attacked by its greatest foe, invited inside its golden walls by a traitorous, green-eyed Æsir,a shame to his own race, which made her gnash her teeth and bear them in anger every time she swung her sword.
As Sif thrust the blade into the frosty chest of her last opponent still standing, the force of her rage, and the hard ice not yet melting off the blue monster's skin in the heat of the battle, made it crack at the hilt. Sif swallowed, for that sword had been the last of the weapons she had had on her person before the battle began, but mercifully, the blade managed to do enough damage. Before it broke, it penetrated hard skin and flesh successfully, and the jötunn swayed, then fell, dead.
Sif eyed the huge body and charmed a pleased smile to her face, then swept her gaze over her fellow warriors, acknowledging with delight that the battle had just been won in their favour. She lifted her broken sword, ready to cry out in excitement.
Instead, her surroundings shuddered with amazing force, tripping Sif to the ground, and a hot, strong wind blew across her body, carrying with it the strange, unearthly shriek of Seiðr bursting asunder, which lasted only a moment. The whole event passed incredibly briefly, but its intensity was scalding and loud, and Sif did not know whether to cover her ears or attempt to shield her skin; so, she let out a scream, trying to do both, but failing.
When the occurrence was over, the next thing Sif knew was that she was being pulled to her feet by Hogun and Fandral, her limbs shaking. Volstagg had dropped his glaive and shield absent-mindedly, staring at something behind her, utter disbelief colouring his face.
"What – "
The question dissolved in her mouth and she followed the stunned gazes of her fellow warriors. She widened her dark eyes and gasped as she saw Heimdall's Observatory in ruin and flames, the midnight sea below it wildly lapping and frothing against what was left of the Bifröst. The magic of the bridge had stopped flowing through it and its colourful energy was slowly turning to black. And there, in the distance, she could make out two male figures, one standing, his back turned to them, and the other one kneeling, his brow kissing the destroyed bridge, in agony, or fatigue, or grief, Sif could not say. But she recognised the red cape, the golden hair, the hammer of thunder resting by his side, and she could not stop herself.
Not caring about her bleeding wound, the dark-haired Daughter of Asgard ran towards her general; towards her fellow warrior; towards her friend. The feisty Lady Sif with nigh endless stamina was breathless by the time she reached Thor. She remembered to bow before the king, but the All-Father did not see her; his eye seemed to be fixed on something only he knew to be there and Sif feared to look at either him or his son, but she knew she had to. Something beyond all their imaginations had occurred and she could bear no one else but Thor telling her the truth.
Slowly, carefully, as if approaching a dangerous and wounded beast, she lowered her knees to the blackening ground and put a careful hand on one shaking shoulder. Stupidly, it was only then that she realised that, for the first time in all the centuries she had known him, Thor was crying. Sif watched, almost in horror, the salty drops sliding down his strong jaw, and she looked away, thinking she should spare him the shame of being found weeping by a fellow warrior. She looked over his shoulder and then she saw it, the horned helmet, lying forgotten on the jagged edge of the broken bridge. By instinct, she looked down into the void, searching for some sort of sign with her eyes.
Sif began to understand and as she did so, her heart began to hammer in her chest and an invisible, icy hand gripped at her throat, encumbering her breathing and swallowing.
Finally, her eyes met Thor's and his watery gaze made her stomach clench. She could not bear to see him like this and despite all the resentment and the hatred she had bestowed upon his brother, she was not certain she could – or even wanted to – hear the truth. She gripped at Thor's shoulder hard and pressed her lips into a thin line, trying not to feel a thing, apart from the smarting of her wound, but all she could hear were her own last words to the Trickster, full of spite, accusation and despisal. They had once been friends; they had once danced; they had once even shared the mistake of a fleeting kiss – her first and only kiss – and regretted it instantly; but her pride and honour denounced their friendship when he became king and she re-affirmed her eternal loyalty to Thor. Their paths were destined to go their separate ways, for the Lie-smith's lies and tricks had gone too far. Sif's love of honesty and her great dislike of deceit could no longer bear it.
Yet now, she did not want to hear that he might have –
... that he –
She could not even think it. Had she not vowed to hate him? Yet she had never wished Death upon him.
"Loki fell," Thor whispered, his voice a ghost of its former boisterous self, its rich velvet faded. "He... fell. He could have been saved, yet he chose to ..."
Thor shook his head in grief and Sif bowed her own, confusion accumulating in every fibre of her body. She did not know what she was feeling, or should feel, but there was a hard, cold lump between her ribs now and she wanted to be rid of the way it felt every time she took a breath.
"He is dead," Thor finished and buried his head into the large cradle of his hands.
It was finally said aloud. He is dead. Sif's heart thrummed. He. Is. Dead.
"I am sorry," Sif offered, her voice sounding lame to her ears.
She stared into the black void below them and wished that she could have seen Loki one last time, so she could slap him and tell him how she hated what he had become.
Sif wished she could have seen Loki one last time.
He was born a jötunn. He was a cursed jötunn all that time.
Sif tried to taste the word; she said it aloud, in disbelief, and it was old copper in her mouth.
"This must not change your mind about him," Thor said, almost ordered, and she looked at him with spite in her eyes.
"Hardly anything could, Thor."
Spite – spite and anger – made the cold lump between her ribs feel less heavy and painful. It made breathing easier, so she held on to those dark feelings, her medicine in those dark times.
Thor looked at her with hurt; again there was his hurt and as always, she could not bear to see it. It reminded her too much of how that wretched lump felt; it made what had happened too real and she had not quite come to terms with it yet. Loki's fall, as everyone had started to call it, still seemed surreal to her mind and she actually expected him to appear at any moment, laughing in their faces, leering at them, teasing them and their naive stupidity.
Loki fell and stubbornly, Sif only remembered the bad things he had done and that was easy, for he did many bad and mischievous things during his lifetime. It was easier to remember the bad things.
"I told you this secret, and a secret it must stay, Sif, for you are my closest friend. You," Thor said and patted her shoulder, "are my sister, in spirit, if not by blood, and you deserve to know. I want you to know, so that I may share the weight and pain of the truth with another."
They were in one of the gardens where Thor had asked her to come and at these words, Sif turned around and began to walk down a path, fuming. She did not know what irked and shocked her more, for shock her it did; that Loki truly was a monster from the land of blue ice and eternal snow, or that Thor had just dubbed her as his sister. For centuries, she had followed him faithfully, in peace and in war. For years, she had harboured a strange infatuation for him, but she had never expected much. Even when she knew that, in truth, she herself loved him more as a sister than as a woman, it still stung to be denied even a chance of something more, for she had been led to believe that she should, in fact, expect 'something more' and the notion became a familiar constant.
Nothing was familiar or constant anymore.
It stung that many had been expecting it, yet he chose a mortal, fragile thing over her. His choice shamed her. Was she not a powerful warrior of Asgard, and that little Midgardian thing only a pretty woman? It stung that, all of her existence, there had been two, and now there was only one to call her anything at all.
The Stunning Sif; the Feistiest of the Feistiest; Sif the Lady Warrior; Sister Wrath. Sister Wrath. In jest or in all seriousness, Loki had called her all the names.
And all that time, Loki had been a Frost Giant. At the thought, she dug her nails deep into her palms, replacing one form of pain with another. Certain things which she thought odd before now started to make sense.
How there was always a chill that persisted on his skin even in the summer.
How he never stayed long by an open fire, claiming he was never cold. The cold never affected him, never turned his cheeks red, never made his breath shudder.
How skilled he was at magic, a trait common amongst jötunns.
How little he resembled his brother and father.
"Sif!" Thor yelled after her and Sif obeyed, stopping and curling her fingers into even tighter fists.
"Do not expect me to love him for what he truly was," she said.
Thor narrowed his gaze. "Do not disappoint me by hating him for it."
Was Thor scolding her? Oh, the impertinence! How dared he make her feel ashamed? Yet she understood that she must not be angry with Thor, for Loki, in Thor's eyes, had always been Thor's brother and Thor genuinely did not care about Loki's true parentage. He loved his fallen brother the way he always had and he sincerely mourned the Trickster's death.
"You must understand that it is a hard thing to accept," Sif replied, relenting, suddenly feeling complaisant. "We were raised to hate jötunns, not love them. I have killed jötunns. Surely they can't be our friends!"
Thor sighed. "I know. But Loki's sins, right before he... died," he said, still having a hard time saying that Loki was dead, "had nothing to do with his true nature. Jötunn or Æsir, it does not matter. He would have done it all the same. And he was my brother, my true brother. Can you overlook all the good memories for the sake of his lineage?"
Sif crossed her arms over her chest and assumed a stern face. She was starting to feel something else besides hatred and the lump between her ribs was beginning to awaken.
"Thor, please," she said, half groaning out the words.
Yet Thor was adamant. "Loki was born of Laufey of Jötunheimr, but he was Odin's son, until the very end. Loki was of Asgard and he was my father's second son. His strife was with me, never with the All-Father or with any of you, and in his twisted way, he did try... in the end...to help, to please, or both."
Sif was gaping at him. She set her arms akimbo. "Alright. I can forgive him the accident of his birth, for your arguments are solid and I cannot deny them. But I cannot and never shall forgive him for betraying Asgard and for almost killing an entire race only to ensure his secret might never be divulged. I spare no love for the Frost Giants, but I could never kill with such cruelty and coldness. I only kill when I am provoked, which he was not. He even tried to kill you, so he could remain king! How can you overlook that, Thor? And," Sif said, squaring her jaw, "he sent the Destroyer after us all. "
He would have killed her. Mere days after Thor's banishment, mere days after the banquet, and the dance, and the kiss... If she saw him now, she knew that she could easily return the favour. She would aim right for his cold, black heart.
Thor ground his teeth. "I do not overlook it, Sif, yet although I do not forget, I forgive. He did love me, but to him, that was simply not good enough. It hurts to know it, but I must accept it. And remember, he sent the Destroyer after me, not you. I am only sorry that he ever felt the need to do so."
Sif huffed. "Is that not enough, his attempt to murder his own brother? You were raised together, you played and fought together and once upon a time, which I can hardly remember now, you were one. Yet despite all that, he would have murdered you, and still you defend him?" She raised her hands in defeat. "We shall never agree on this matter and I do not wish to quarrel with you. I must go to the training grounds. Will you not come?"
"In a moment."
Suddenly, Thor stretched out his arm and caressed a lock of Sif's black hair. She stood in place, stunned by the gesture. She was breathing fast, clueless as to what to expect.
"Do you remember? I know that he cut it and then made it black. You kept it a secret, but I suspected and eventually, Loki confessed it to me. I remained silent, thinking that, if you did not wish to talk of it, I would not pressure you. But I know and your hair shall always remind me of him." Saying that, he chuckled without mirth and dropped the long tress. "Shall we go?"
In reply, Sif ran away, not heeding Thor's calls this time, and hid in a dark corner of another garden.
She embraced her torso with trembling arms and tried to take deep breaths.
The lump between her ribs expanded a little more.
Thor went to see Heimdall every day. He left with a hint of hope in his eyes and returned glum. Sif watched his little expeditions every day from the wide balcony of the great hall, from where one could see the gray-blue sea and the Observatory, which was now being repaired. The Bifröst was still dead and it would take more than the combined powers of the All-Father and the best wielders of Seiðr, either of Asgard or of Asgard's allies, to repair the damage.
Sif suspected the purpose of Thor's daily visits to Heimdall, but she was not certain. She wished she knew, for there were things she wanted to know herself.
"He goes to seek hope," a voice behind her said one day and startled, Sif turned around to find Frigga standing a few paces away.
"My queen," Sif spoke and bowed, thinking how it was possible that someone, even if that someone was a powerful goddess, should be able to sneak up behind her.
Frigga was as beautiful as ever, full of innate grace and regal elegance, but her ivory face contained a darker shade than usual and it had looked wan and weary ever since the day that Loki fell.
Frigga smiled gently, although the smile did not quite reach her eyes, and took hold of one of Sif's hands.
"I wonder, every day," Frigga said, with great calm that reminded Sif of resignation, "whether Heimdall's usual replies might change."
Sif's brow contracted into a frown. "My queen?"
Frigga looked at her. "Do you know why my son goes to see Heimdall every day?"
Sif blinked. She could not bring herself to say it, not in front of a grieving mother, so instead, she replied, "I believe it is to inquire about the mortal, Jane Foster, and her progress in finding a portal to us."
The All-Father had enough power in himself to travel the branches of the World Tree without the bridge. Thor could use the hammer to do the same, only that such travels could weaken him significantly. There were very few others, powerful sorcerers, skilled wielders of such strong Seiðr, some of it dark and tainted, that could do the same as Odin if they concentrated enough, but if one travelled the Yggdrasil in such clandestine ways, one should expect danger and death. The bridge had to be open for all Asgardians; all the branches of the tree had to be one united flow of energy; and the All-Father would even welcome the help of mortal Midgardians to revive the Bifröst's ancient magic.
Frigga returned her gaze to the almost-restored gilded Observatory. "That, too, my dear Sif. But Thor hopes that Loki might have found a hole between the branches of the Yggdrasil, a path to a cold star or a barren moon, where Loki could have fallen. If it is not hidden inside a vortex which Heimdall's eyes cannot penetrate and if Loki is on that star, or that moon, or on a world not yet discovered by us, he may be brought back to us. So Thor asks, every day, 'Have you seen him, Heimdall?' And every day, Heimdall's reply is the same. 'No.' "
Sif cared that Thor suffered. Sif cared that her queen and her second mother, Frigga, suffered, and she bit her lip, not knowing what to say. What could one say to a mother grieving after her dead son? For Sif knew, she knew with absolute certainty, that to Frigga, Loki had never been a traitor or a jötunn, only her son that she loved as much as she did the one to whom she gave birth. Sif could be angry with Thor for his blind loyalty to a brother who had betrayed him, but she could never resent Frigga. She could not resent a mother for loving her son and forgetting all the wrong-doing he had done. It was the way of mothers. It was the way of her own mother before she died in a great battle, for no matter what mischief of a tempestuous child Sif committed, her mother would always forgive her and kiss her brow.
"A mother can never resent or hate. A mother can only love," Sif's mother would say with a smile.
A mother can only love.
And suddenly, Sif understood; understood that the world was not as black and white as she would have wanted it to believe; as she had seen it in her stubborn foolishness.
Standing by Frigga's side, seeing a mother's grief, made her realise how far from simple things truly were. Frigga's sorrow began to change Sif's mind and she did not appreciate the change. She could never excuse Loki's actions, never. Yet she found that, even though she tried to summon it, the hatred would not come this time and the lump between her ribs stirred with a nameless need.
"The All-Father does the same every day, you know," Frigga revealed, squeezing Sif's hand as if searching for comfort and Sif pressed the queen's fingers with her own, "only that he does not go to Heimdall. Instead, he sends out his ravens."
Frigga closed her eyes and sighed. "I wish they'd both stop. My heart cannot take it anymore. I only wish they'd both stop and let me mourn my son's death in peace. Can you imagine how hard it is to have your hopes raised every day, only so that a blasted bird may dash them with its croak of rejection? I cannot even stand the sight of Huginn and Munnin any longer, and to think that once, I enjoyed nothing more than to pet the warm feathery beasts. "
"I am so sorry, my queen," Sif whispered, unable to say more. The lump between her ribs was beginning to chafe against the bones and cause her pain. Its ice hurt. "You may always confide in me, to relieve yourself of any burden, my lady..."
A tear slid down Frigga's cheek and she smiled. "I know, my darling, and I thank you for it."
She kissed Sif's brow and patted her shoulder. "Thank you for listening, my child."
When Frigga left, Sif turned away from the Observatory, finding that she, too, could not stand the sight of Thor returning to the palace anymore.
Instead, she went to seek solace at the training grounds. She was fiercer that day than ever before and although she did not mean to, she broke Hogun's arm and made Fandral's head bleed.
Her warrior friends looked at her with resentment and her apologies were not enough.
"Which part of the phrase mock battle do you fail to understand, Sif, hm?" Volstagg accused her. "We are not the enemies. What in Hela's name is wrong with you?"
Sif had nothing to say. Nothing that she could say would make things better.
"I am sorry," she repeated, "I am sorry."
She threw her glaive to the ground with a growl, the weapon bouncing off it, and walked away, cursing under her breath.
On that day, there was a moment when Sif hated herself.
A few weeks after Loki's fall, the mourning of Odin and Frigga had to be put aside at last, for tradition had always been a significant feature of Asgard and the annual feast in honour of the valkyries had to be held. The feast was the first celebration after the destruction of the rainbow bridge. Despite the recent unfortunate events, the feast was a glittering event, although slightly calmer in comparison to the previous times.
Asgardians could only see the valkyries once a year when they came from the hallowed halls of Valhalla to come and speak of their deeds and, on rare occasions, in search of new shield-maidens to join their ranks. All the other days, they fought in battles on Odin's behalf, acting as arbiters and proclaiming worthy winners, slaying enemies without mercy, their battle cries instilling fear into the bones of even the bravest of men. They circled the skies of the Nine Realms on their white winged horses and along the way, they collected the souls of the bravest slain warriors from all the branches of the Yggdrasil, escorting them to Valhalla to serve as Odin's ghostly army. In Valhalla, the valkyries took care of these einherjar, feeding them with the mead of the goat Heiðrún and the blood of the nightly-ressurrecting beast Sæhrímnir, preparing them for their role as Odin's ghostly warriors at the time of Ragnarök, the hour of which was only known to the norns.
The valkyries fought the beast every night and sometimes, the Æsir, invited to Valhalla by the All-Father, joined them in the never-ending battle for sport, which was also great practice for them, as the Nine Realms contained many a dangerous beast; hence came the establishment of the ritualistic tradition. Only once, half a century ago, Sif herself was finally invited to Valhalla to fight the beast alongside Thor and Loki. It was the greatest honour she had ever received. Now, as she was watching the valkyries in their golden armour thronging into the great hall of Asgard, with their golden swords resting in their hands and their golden helmets with white feathers perched atop their heads, she remembered the golden hall of Valhalla with its many pillars covered with runes, the hall's ceiling thatched with golden shields, and the golden Glasir, known as the most beautiful tree amongst gods and men.
Sif remembered fighting the giant beast well and she was doing a wonderful job on that white winged horse for a long while, her sword in one hand and her shield in the other. She wounded it deeply several times, its thick, dark red blood dripping off the blade like honey, but the beast fought back and it threw her off her horse with a sharp claw, tearing through her thick armour. It was then that, for the first time in all of her existence, Sif briefly contemplated death as she was falling towards the ground far down below her, with a nasty wound spreading from her left hip to her right shoulder. It was Loki who saved her then, intercepting her fall on his own winged beast. He greeted her with a jest instead of inquiring after the wound and she knew, then, that he was trying to divert her attention from the possibility of her meeting with Death.
"How even the mighty shield-maidens fall in Valhalla!" he teased and she would have slapped him had she not been half dead.
He landed the horse in a safe corner of the Hall of Death, pulling her off the animal, cradling her like a wounded baby deer. She hated the feeling of helplessness; the feeling of depending on someone, that someone being Loki himself; yet she clung to him, for she still had life pulsating inside her and she was not ready to give it up for the sake of her pride. Her blood was smearing his silver armour and the hunter green fabric of his sleeves. He pressed his pale fingers against the gash, sealing it loosely with magic the best he could, for he had not taught himself to become a healer, and she grabbed his fingers, keeping them on her stomach, afraid that if he let go, the invisible seams making her bleed less would disappear. He only chuckled in reply, always the cheeky bastard.
"Thor... we must not leave him..." she said weakly, thinking only of the safety of her general.
"He has company," Loki replied. "Besides, you should worry about the beast, from the outlook of things. Thor brought the hammer with him and the valkyries are in a particular mood tonight."
It was also the first and the last time she experienced the dizzying feel of teleportation, for Loki transferred them both straight to the healing rooms, where Sif was left to recover. She knew that the only other person he had teleported when necessary was his brother, and she felt once again that she belonged with the princes, in times of war and in times of peace. That day, it was Thor who had the honour of slaying the beast, but it was Loki who left Valhalla with a souvenir for Sif, gifting her with the very claw that had wounded her. It was as big as her and became the mantelpiece in her bedchamber, another memory of him to haunt her.
Why did she even have to think about the wretched man, and tonight of all nights? Yet she knew that there were things about him that she would never forget, for he had not only been a foe, but also a friend (and the only man to have kissed her, but she would not think of that) and the helplessness of the situation frustrated her. Memories frustrated her. Was... was she actually... grieving? Of course not, she was only remembering, for the very idea of her grieving after Loki was ridiculous and preposterous, yet in answer, the lump between her ribs stang and Sif had to repress a hiss of surprise.
She clenched her teeth in anger. She forced herself out of the thoughts revolving around the God of Mischief that was no more and never would be again, and began to mingle, searching for no other than Brynhildr herself, as she had done every year for the past half century. These annual meetings had become their tradition.
The leader of the valkyries found Sif first, greeting her according to warriors' code by placing her right fist on her left shoulder and bending herself in a quick half-bow. Sif did the same, closing her eyes in reverence and opening them again when she straightened herself up once more to look into the great valkyrie's sea-gray eyes.
Without a preamble, the beautiful and fierce Brynhildr asked, "Have you an answer for me, brave Sif? I look forward to it each year."
Sif blushed, fearing that one day, she would insult the valkyrie with her repeated rejections.
"My lady Brynhildr, you honour me again with your invitation."
The valkyrie gave a faint smile. "And I do not intend to desist just yet, for you are one of the finest and bravest shield-maidens Asgard has seen and Valhalla would greet you with much enthusiasm and pride."
Sif stood as straight as a rod, her entire body rigid with tension. "Two months ago, I was ready. I would have said yes and joined you for ever, but now, if I have not worn your patience too thin, I would ask you to invite me again next year, Brynhildr."
The valkyrie nodded. "I will not say that I am not disappointed and saddened by your response. I shall wait another year, but Prince Thor is the greatest warrior Asgard has seen and he will survive without you, Lady Sif. Miss you he shall, but he will learn to understand."
Brynhildr knew everything about Sif. The valkyrie had asked many questions and Sif always responded faithfully, trusting the valkyrie by instinct. There was no reason not to trust a warrior of Odin.
Sif blinked several times. "You know my feelings, wise Brynhildr, and you might be proud of me when I tell you that I have quite conquered those sentiments of which a valkyrie must cleanse herself. In time, although with difficulty, I shall be able to leave Thor's side, for it is my one great wish to fight by your side, to be one you. But these days, the queen herself relies on my company. I cannot leave her now, so soon after..."
Sif lowered her gaze, feeling ashamed for showing any signs of weakness in front of the great Brynhildr.
"Of course, the Trickster's death is still fresh on your minds," was the valkyrie's reply.
It should not be a surprise that the valkyries did not feel the death of the younger prince. Yet the bluntness of Brynhildr's speech made Sif snap up her head.
"Yes, it is," she confirmed fiercely and startled herself with the heat of her answer.
The valkyrie narrowed her gaze. "Do you mourn, too?"
Sif tried to remain calm. "I have noticed his absence, but I am sorrowful for the queen's sake, for it pains me to see her so melancholy."
Brynhildr chuckled, her long, braided fair hair moving along with her amusement. "You notice his absence. Well! Do you remember your first fight in Valhalla? I remember it clearly and I remember how you looked at them both as you fought by their sides. You looked at them both, even at the Lie-smith, so do not tell me you merely notice his absence. Mourn his loss, cleanse yourself of this last remaining sentiment and be ready to come with me next year. It might be your last chance to join us. A valkyrie must not be burdened with residues of her past life that may come to haunt her in Valhalla. She cannot afford anything to make her look back and cloud her judgement."
"I know," Sif replied and Brynhildr continued.
"Seven centuries ago, your own mother became one of us. We still grieve her death, for Kára was a wild one, a warrior so fierce that all trembled in awe of her. There is much of your mother in you, but you are a warrior in your own right and you would not only serve as a replacement for Kára. You must know that and you must also know that, although your mother loved you and knew she could only see you once a year, it was her calling to become a valkyrie and she heeded it. She decided well. How will you decide after another year? Think well, Sif. You have heard the calling. You've been hearing it since the night you fought with us." Brynhildr raised her chin proudly. "Only forget the Trickster. Forget them both, but especially Prince Loki."
Brynhildr bid Sif farewell with a warrior's bow, not waiting for Sif's answer, and Sif stared after her, the valkyrie's words echoing in her head. Did Brynhild suggest, actually suggest, that Sif might have harboured feelings for Loki?
At the trainings grounds, she still expected him to appear for practice. During meals in the great hall, she still looked at his now-empty chair like a fool. Whenever she ventured into one of the gardens, she still expected to see scrolls and books lying about where he'd left them.
You fought with him. You were once saved by him. You shared meals with him. You talked to him many a time. You watched him work his magic with interest. You confided in him things you hid even from Thor. You danced with him. You kissed him.
"No," Sif whispered to herself, so that no one may hear her speaking to herself.
Think of the bad things. He lied. He betrayed: his father, his mother, Asgard, you. He abused his powers as king. He tried to destroy a whole realm to hide his secret, for her was born a jötunn. He was born as your foe. He was made of secrets and you hate secrets. He tried to kill Thor. He tried to kill Thor. And he would have killed you, too.
The lump between her ribs was calmed and Sif drank a goblet of wine to ensure it would remain dormant for a while longer.
It is good that you are dead, Loki Laufeyson, was her last thought before she started another goblet of wine on the route to oblivion, for if you had survived, I would have avenged myself and I would have done it with a smile on my lips.
A/N: There is going to be another chapter after this one (two at the most). Originally intended as a long one-shot, the story got too long, so I thought it would be better to split it into parts. The story is a mixture of the comics, Norse mythology and, of course, the movie Thor. All 'new' names are taken from mythology (Huginn and Muninn, in translation 'Thought' and 'Memory', are known as Odin's ravens) and the Edda poems (in which Brynhildr and Kára feature as two of the valkyries, Brynhildr being the most famous one and appearing in several sources), and so are certain traditions (like the gods fighting the nightly-ressurecting beast with the valkyries). Seiðr means 'magic' in Old Norse.
While writing this story, I kept listening to Og Lengra by Olafur Arnalds (a wonderful Icelandic artist) and Our Last Fight by Scala and the Kolacny Brothers, which was an especially inspiring song.
I hope you enjoyed the first chapter and I do hope you let me know your thoughts in your reviews! Reviews are super nice.