"It's done, then, isn't it? This is my reality, that after everything I should be denied the chance to form it with my own hands." Sif spoke to the long shadow on the ground before her, blurred around the edges.
"The melodrama is new," the shadow replied.
It shifted, lengthening and shortening again as Thor jumped the fence and sat beside her. This court was empty of any at practice – all who could attended the betrothal celebration within the palace walls. Those who could not held their own celebrations elsewhere in the city.
"But not unexpected."
"From you, it is. Very much so, if I should speak with you honestly now. You ought to be inside."
"And you ought to be supporting your brother."
"Loki has all the realm to look upon him and smile this day – none will miss me."
Sif felt her lips move, though she gave voice to no sound. I do already, she thought.
Instead, she closed her mouth and tipped her head backward against the fence-post. Looked upward. Away.
At her right hand lay the palace and at her left, as much warmth as she might ever know. Above her eight more realms she might travel, a thousand adventures in each. All too far off for usefulness, abandonment of duty they implied too chill for contemplation. She would be noticed now.
I had wanted to make my own name.
"Me, though." She stopped. Stretched her arms, returned them to where she had had them folded across her chest. "There ought to be someone else here, Friend. My family is hardly above angling for a better catch than what they have already."
Thor laughed at that – empty of heart, missing what possessed him upon the courts or the field of battle. She felt him shift; his hair tickled her neck.
"Would you turn me away?" he asked, directly into her ear.
A moot point; Sif shrugged. "Would any? Your marriage is far too valuable a commodity to waste with intra-national alliance. That is what younger sons are for. It matters not in any case; neither of us is one for deliberate betrayal."
The heat emanating from Thor's body vanished when he stood, replaced with a breeze of damp, heavy air. The set of Thor's shoulders and the cant of his head, neck held tight, lips thin – his upset showed, as it forever did. A crack sounded far off, promising rain.
He extended a hand – his right. Sif took it and let herself be drawn up. She stepped forward when she ought not, and their embrace was as any they had shared before this night, heady and bone-crushing. Sif thought breath might occupy that space of luxury which could wait for some other time.
When breath came, her lungs shuddered inward, overtaking her entire person. She stilled with effort, taking up even countenance like armor.
Thor noticed, though; he narrowed his eyes and tilted his head toward her, though his hands stayed at his sides. "You go on ahead. I'll follow a while after – it is better that way. Will you – ?"
Sif nodded, and he stepped back.
Her assent gave half a lie: she was not well now, but that would surely come in time. Others had not so much as the assurance of knowing, as men, those who they would wed. Sif had at least black friendship with hers, and the occasional burning desire to run him through when he did something half-witted or mindfully cruel.
"You shall have my friendship, always," Thor said.
Sif drew a breath before she replied, for steadiness and grounding. The air clung to her throat, and caught there.
"And you mine," she said at last. "You may count upon my presence at your back, against any who would oppose you. Always."
Thor took her hand and squeezed.
She did not return this gesture, but withdrew her fingers and forced her lips into the upward curve of a strung bow, and departed.