Sif kneels, one fist over her heart.
The coronation is the grand, golden affair it should have been. Loki is...well, present, but Sif finds herself grinning anyway. Thor has grown. He would have needed someone steering him before, but now he will simply know; she's sure of it. Thor was strong enough to sacrifice his life, to save the Frost Giants, and to bring Loki back from his madness. And though she does not think of the green-eyed monster as Thor's brother, Thor does. He has that much forgiveness in him, and that much ability to mend.
Thor will be a fine king.
Loki stands tall at his brother's side, and kneels properly when it is time to swear to him. Loki makes it through the oath--just--because it is to Asgard first, king second.
Even at his darkest, Loki had made himself believe he was fighting for Asgard. Even when he was fighting for Odin. That frame of mind is where this whole mess started. Loyalty to the king, but not respect for the man, for Loki is the clever one. And now Thor rises to the throne.
The green-eyed trickster squashes the voice that tries to explain why he needs to ruin this coronation, too. Thor isn't tested yet; we lack data; we don't know. It is an excuse, only, and Loki is used to crushing his feelings. The fact that his eyes don't flicker to Sif at that thought is proof enough.
Odin is tired. He needs someone to take over. Perhaps another would be better--perhaps Sif, perhaps Hogun, perhaps Loki--but neither Sif nor Hogun have been raised to this, and Loki is too ill-trusted.
Odin retreats, over the next few days, and so doesn't see what's to come.
Sif tries to lie to herself. She isn't very good at it. She watches Loki talk to Thor, and wants, desperately, for Thor to make some misstep after losing a one-sided shouting match with Loki, or to do something right after winning one.
Thor never does. When Thor wins, he charges in, makes unseemly demands, and the meeting ends two steps from war. Thor is more careful with the Frost Giants, as if compensating for his younger years, but that's all it is. No strategy. No real forgiveness.
Her stomach twists with it. Loki was forgiven only because of a shared childhood. Nothing more. Sif came later. With one misstep...
Thor roars at his brother, loud enough that the Vanir could make out the words. This is a standard annual meeting, but Thor acts as if it is an insult to his kingship.
He's such a child. Loki says something placating. Thor growls an acquiescence, and then...he does everything perfectly. The meeting ends with both parties happy, and Asgard heavily favored.
Sif looks at Loki and curses all her treacherous thoughts as she thinks them. Thor is her king; Thor is her king, she is sworn to obey him.
Loki would be better.
The first time Sif dares voice her thoughts is nearly alone. The Warriors Three and sit around the table, sharing mead.
"I believe Thor misguided."
The words hardly matter, though they are treason enough on their own. She says it carefully but without hesitation. I am sure of this. I have thought on this. I want to be wrong, but I'm not.
Volstagg and Fandral fall silent, suddenly hiding their expressions behind their mugs. It is answer enough.
Hogun the Grim is the next to speak. "Yes."
Loki tries. Be it for the excuse that Thor is truly beyond saving as a king, or truly an attempt to keep Asgard stable, he doesn't know.
Loki is adviser. The role he was raised for, in truth, though Odin sometimes pretended otherwise. Thor was supposed to be battle-worn enough to see the horrors and avoid them. No one counted on him loving war this much. Fighting, yes, battles, perhaps. But not wars. Not the messy, bloody anything-goes that wars become. 'People are not supposed to enjoy that,' Loki wants to say. 'That's why wars are supposed to work. Everyone hates it enough to stop.'
Loki never asks for aid, and expects none.
Sif walks alone. The corridors around this wing twist in ways Loki barely trusted her with, and she already plans to betray one trust. No point in making it two.
She finds him. Studying, of course, though this time he has a book of customs in his hand, expression absent rather than brightened. Loki has given even this hiding place to his job as unofficial adviser, and Sif thinks, That is dedication. That is duty, honor, loyalty.
Sif waits. Loki appears to be willing her away, but she needs to speak and he needs to listen. Another reason the Warriors Three had not come with: Loki was focused. Loki was terrifyingly focused.
Words were never Sif's realm.
"I speak for the Warriors Three." At the raised eyebrow, she adds, "And myself."
Sif kneels, one fist over her heart.