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Haunted

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The edge of the shattered Bifrost crackled beneath her feet as she dared just a little bit closer, the beauty of the swirling nebulae in blues and purples, lost to the greens and reds, painful reminders of what had been lost, and soon those colors faded into shadow. Blackness, seeking, pulling at the darkest parts of her soul, beckoned her closer still to the yawning void, and she obliged, the glassy surface beneath her feet chipped and uneven. She did not stop until the tips of her boots had found the fragile edge, and when she did, it was only to lean out, bending at the waist to look down, down where there was nothing to see at all.

Sif did see, though, and what she saw labored her heart and tightened her throat, setting her eyes to burning in that way she had learned to battle and suppress, but try as she might, the tears came anyway, blazing a fiery trail down her cheek. A shuddery breath wracked her body, and she felt herself being pulled, inexplicably, forward, but this time she resisted, not willing to nudge a toe over the invisible boundary that would guarantee a fall.

In her field of vision, Thor picked Jane up, twirling her around as if she weighed nothing, but then again, the tiny mortal did weigh nothing. Tiny and fragile and so full of life….

“You must feel utterly wretched.”

The voice echoed in her head, a vocalization of every pitied look sent her way, and she stiffened. It was true, she was a shattered thing, twisted in the effort of holding all the pieces together, and failing, faltering in the face of Asgard.

Not that anyone cared for the truth of it; what they saw was heartbreak over her betrothed’s choice, jealousy perhaps, and that was all. Not even those she called her friends offered more than unwanted condolences, and she longed to rage and scream, and tell them that they were wrong.

But they weren’t wrong, they were right. She was heartbroken and jealous.

Thor set Jane back down on the desolate surface of the desert, and Sif could remember the heat of the place, radiating against her skin in waves. She’d liked it, that heat, it had helped to warm the chill in her bones. His hand moved to tilt her head up, to kiss the woman he loved, and Sif choked on the sound in her throat, expressing a strangled sound of despair as she closed her eyes and leaned away. Blocking it out, pushing it away; not willing to begrudge her friend his happiness in the face of her own anguish.

“He would have never loved you anyway.”

The echo had returned, the voice bouncing back at a longer interval this time and almost allowing her to recognize the speaker, and, oh, It was so familiar, almost comforting in its cruelty.

Her eyes remained screwed shut, breathing labored against the tightness in her chest and throat, blood pounding painfully in her veins. It wasn’t Thor’s love she’d sought, no envy that it had not been her that he had found happiness with, but rather that he should have it when she had mourned the loss of the one she had wanted above all others.

It was petty of her, and she knew it, but the voice had spoken truth again. He would have never loved her anyway. His attentions were a game, and she had played it brilliantly. Rising to the bait when he stoked her anger, satisfying his need to be dominated in an exchange of tooth marks and scratches, bruises in the shape of fingertips, and satisfying her desire to be needed and wanted with the way he would keen her name. She could so easily recall the first time he’d drawn her blood, a punishment for something she’s said to hurt him, crimson staining his lips when he had sneered at her.

Sif could remember the taste of his blood, taken in retaliation, and the unspoken bond that had formed, a bond of blood and pain, feelings never spoken for the flash of anger she could always detect when searching his eyes; ever tempered by the cool wash of his voice, and the feel of his lips against her pounding pulse.

Verdant depths as scalding as the winds of Muspellheim, as deadly as the Destroyers fire against her back, and the blisters she could feel for days after he’d ended their game and proven himself the ultimate winner. Dragging the shards of her heart into the abyss with him.

“Sif…. Please!”

And this time the voice was clear, frightened and lost, instantly recognized, snapping her eyes open wide. Loki hung there before her, one pale hand gripping the razor sharp edge of the Bifrost, bleeding as it cut into his flesh, his other arm waving free in the darkness that threatened to swallow him.

Her cry was inarticulate as she bent to reach for his hand, her fingers closing around his wrist. Intangible, he vanished under her touch, tearing a scream from her lungs, eaten by the spaces between the stars, and answered by a mad cackle that drifted up from the very depth of the void, swallowing her.

Sif woke, shaking, her pillow soaked under her cheek. She shoved it away, and forcing herself to get up, to dismiss the dream for what it was – just a dream. The Bifrost had long been repaired, and wherever Thor shared Jane’s life, she knew it was not on a dusty patch in the middle of the desert.

And Loki….

Well Loki was still dead, dead again, for good. To avenge his fallen mother and protect Thor’s love. A good death it would have been if not for the crimes he had committed. She wondered if her Valkyrie sisters had found him worthy in the end.

She would not have.

Liar.

Ebony locks of hair fell about her face as she shook her head, a moot point. Regardless the trickster’s final destination, he was gone, and she was not. There was much yet to do. A Kingdom without an heir in need of rebuilding, young warriors to train and prepare to fill the ranks of the fallen. Time would grind on as it always did, too much and yet not enough of it stretched before her.

Mechanically, she dressed, buckling on her armor, and arming herself before striding out into the palace, bustling this time of the morning. She paid heed to no one, however, her fingers in her dark tresses, braiding it back from her face, tying the ends deftly.

A shadow moved, drawing her attention to an alcove, and she slowed, paused, peered into the darkness at a familiar silhouette that stilled her heart, aflame in her chest.

“Loki?” She breathed, stepping out of the lit hallway and into the gloom.

“Lady Sif.” A familiar voice greeted, an orb of white appearing in a wisp of green seidr.

She covered her disappointment with a polite mask, bowing genially. “My King. I would not have expected to see you in here.” Sif expected a rebuff for her comment, but none came.

Odin laughed, a pleasant rumbling. “Occasionally, I like to observe.”

“I see.” She bowed again. “I apologize for my intrusion.”

“Your presence is never an intrustion, my lady.” He murmured, and if Sif was not sure she was inching toward madness, she would have thought he sounded a great deal like Loki.

He didn’t miss the way her eyes widened, a shark’s smile, not at all familiar on the Allfather’s face, uncurled across his lips, as she backed out of the alcove, and once she’d resumed her walk, headed no doubt to the training fields where she would pass her day, Odin’s form shimmered, and Loki stood with his wicked grin.