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Balder and the Witch

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Loki has a fondness for poetry, and for song. The rhythm of lyrics and care placed into the selection of words suits his nature. As himself, Loki prefers quick verses, with a hard edge and a cold end. As herself, Loki has a fondness for sweeping rhyme and smooth pentameter, and the flavor of loss.

At the altar, Balder takes Loki's hand in his, and vows to love her always, through this life and the next. He swears to hold Loki above all things, and to never spurn or abandon her, never to doubt her love for Balder or her words of advice.

He says to her, “I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where, I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I don't know any other way of loving,” and Loki wants it to be true. Needs it to be true, more than she needs the air in her lungs or the ice in her veins.

Leaning close, in tones so soft that only Loki and Heimdall will ever hear, he tells her, “I love you as certain dark things are loved, secretly, between the shadow and the soul.”

Loki lets her eyes fall shut for half a heartbeat, and breathes.

She says, “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.”

Balder smiles, eyes full of light and love, the ring on his hand warmed by the press of his flesh against Loki's palm.

Loki smiles. She does not know what lies in her own eyes.

Loki lives a life of sudden shifts in meter, always sliding from ballad to limerick to sonnet and back again. Nothing is certain, nothing is permanent, and always, always, Loki is subject to the creeping feel of madness behind her eyes.

After the wedding, after the wedding feast, after the wedding night, she lies beside her sleeping husband, in their freshly mussed marriage bed, naked and clear-eyed (for now), and wonders how long this will last.

Marriage is not a house, or even a tent, part of her remembers, pulling lines from faded texts and yellowed pages. It is before that, and colder: the edge of the forest, the edge of the desert the unpainted stairs. This marriage is not so simple as Balder doubtless dreams, as Thor must imagine. Nothing that Loki does can ever be simple, nothing she touches can ever be so easy. Nothing built on the rocks of Loki's love can ever be stable; she has known that almost always.

How long can she hold on to this? Long enough to build something, something solid and real? Solid enough to last, or just real enough to be noticeable when it crumbles like so much rotted wood? Or not even that long, just long enough to tear at her lover's heart, to reopen his own too-raw wounds?

“Maybe the bride-bed brings despair,” she murmurs, hoping for something, anything. For the empty night to shush her, for Balder to wake and soothe her, for lightning to strike and prove her right. Anything. Something.

But there is nothing, nothing but the sound of her own breath, and of Balder's.

She turns to face her husband, whose face is as soft in sleep as it is in daylight. Perfect, princely Balder, he of the fair face and fairer judgment, with love as far-reaching as branches of the world. Patient, gentle Balder, who holds her hand and smooths the hair from her face, and kisses her when he fucks her; his hands soft and careful on her rolling hips, his mouth a brand where it brushes her skin.

“Perhaps,” she sighs, the rush of her breath stirring the dark tangle of Balder's hair. “I am somewhere patient, somehow kind, perhaps in the nook of a cousin universe I've never defiled or betrayed anyone.”

She rolls away again, onto her back, staring up at the ceiling of her husband's rooms. The sheets have fallen away from her, are tangled around Balder's shoulders and her own hips, and the night air is cold on her bare breasts. There are purple shadows on the curve of her arms and neck, on the underside of her breasts; if she looked further, she knows, she would find them in the secret places between her thighs.

Like all things, they will fade.

She places her face in her hands. She is Loki; she is madness and mischief, she is destruction and dismay, chaos and calamity. She will be the Ender of Worlds, and Kinslayer. Loki is many things, and will be many more.

Never has she thought she might find herself Wife.