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The Marks on Your Skin

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Sif has taken a mark in ink.

Loki remembers many things.  He remembers warm summers and the taste of apples.  He remembers dirt under his fingernails and how hard he fought to dig it out before dinner.  He remembers his brother’s throaty laughter, the light catching on the scruff he claimed was a beard.

He remembers Sif.  Her mother’s perfume in her hair and the way she’d shouted at them, her insistence that she’d had no choice in the matter.  He remembers the way she hit him for laughing and wrestled him to the ground.  He remembers the hint of breast just visible under the dip of her tunic.

And the way the slickness of her hair, the scent of it, that curve of her breast, had shredded the breath from his body and left the deepest ache between his lungs.

 

Sif has taken a mark in ink.

Loki remembers Thor’s laughing eyes and the way he’d kept walking briskly ahead of him when Loki looked up from his book.

He remembers the face he wore in response.  He’d practiced it so often.  The quirk of an eyebrow, subtle narrowing of the eye.  The nonchalance he’d chiseled into wrinkling his nose was an art form in itself.

A what pray tell?

He does not remember the answer, though he is sure Thor could not have withheld the gossip for long.  He remembers the day though.  The day spent agonizing over this mark.

In the days before, warriors had worn Odin’s symbols: the raven, the valknott, the eight legged stallion.  And before then, Loki thinks, he’d secretly wished to bear his father’s mark.  Perhaps not the best warrior, perhaps not a warrior at all.  But Odin’s man, yes.  Of course.

Those days seemed old and brittle things now.

Loki remembers the nights spent agonizing over the thought of it.  Sif’s skin red and raw, ripped up and melted anew, painted black and stark against that sunstained flesh.  He would never see it, he remembers thinking.  He had not the courage, nor the right, to ask her of it, or her reasons.

Sometimes he wonders if he does even now.

 

Sif has taken a mark-

Yes but of what?

-a mark in-

Why a brand of all things?

-ink


He awakes with a start, thunder rattles the windows and rain batters the walls.  Loki feels impossibly small in this world, yet still somehow too large for his skin, stretched taught across his bones.  He breathes deeply and realizes an arm is draped across his chest.

It is attached to a woman, naturally.  Her hair is long and dark, splayed like a curtain across her back.  Loki’s hand is still wound in it, loose at the base of Sif’s neck.  Yes, Sif, he recalls as sleep finally sinks away from him.  Sif and her strong bronzed arms, the thick muscles of her thighs, Sif and her warm breath and white teeth and dark, dark hair.

He bends and inhales the scent there, the perfume of sweat and cotton sheets and fierce love.  When he touches her arm it is hot, and he feels a frozen thing begun to thaw.

Sif has taken a mark in ink

He pulls back the thick mane of hair away from her back, and there it is, black and stark and still surprising.  He’s seen it before and yet still never quite gotten used to it, this view, this side of The Lady Sif.

The symbol isn’t one he’s ever been familiar with.  Not a rune nor a soldier’s brand, not so angular or harsh.  It encircles her shoulder blade, an unbroken chain but for the knot at the bottom, woven from thin ribbons or vines or water, stretching and changing shape with every shift of muscle, arch of back.

The knot itself is simple, weaving itself into place among the separate black lines and curves to create two vertical halves interlocked, like hands, or folded like wings.

Or like nothing I could understand and something that is all her own, he thinks

 

What always draws his eye, though, is the scar that the brand has been woven around.  It is small but dark and angry, the remnants of a spear shattered into his lady’s back.  He traces it with the pad of his finger, feeling the slick tissue there.  He remembers when she received it, a week before Thor had told him of the brand.  Her first mission as a Warrior of the King and she’d managed to slay seven men, and receive a single wound in turn.

We were still so young then.

And yet in the face of such a wound and the ugly hole it had left she had only smiled.  Sif at just fifteen with that cocky grin, those bright eyes, had worn it like a medal and boasted of her success.

I take pride in every scar, she told him once, they are not mistakes.  They are proof that after all the anger and pain I am still living.

And Loki, he with so many scars on his heart, remembers again why he loves her so.

 

He bends his head once more, this time to the brand, which feels hot, hotter than the rest of her, and places his dry lips there, letting them linger as she stirs and shifts and wakes.

“What are you doing?” She asks, the black lines of the mark twisting as she turns to him, bringing a hand to touch his face.

Sif has taken a mark in ink

He leans forward, warms his mouth against her own, and strokes the brand and scar with reverence.

"Reminiscing."