Heimdall still maintained his post, though celebration continued within the palace walls.
We celebrate even when we've lost all, Sif thought, approaching on foot. He saw her coming; heard her footfalls, surely, but did not move. She had thought them close when she was a child; now their shared mother stood a weaker link than shared grief.
Ocean now poured over the edge of the world, Bifröst little more than a jagged overhang, emptiness without as within.
"Brother," Sif called; Heimdall's posture shifted minutely. She quickened her pace, not fast enough to tax her breath. Stopped beside him, looked over her shoulder and caught his glance through the corner of his eye. And the words upon her tongue felt trite now, as childish as any she had ever spoken. She said them anyway, "You might come home, you know. Even your fellows have gone — "
"Or were lost."
"They fell with honor," Sif replied, the irony of that sharp beneath her ribs. She had promised the queen she would ever be at Thor's side not an hour ago, and here she stood, her mouth wrought with poorly-formed comparisons.
Heimdall raised one brow. Question and statement: Consider what you've said, and repeat it when you are certain it is what you intend.
"All of our engineers and sorcerers are at work in the restoration of your observatory," she said, now.
"I know," Heimdall replied, "I watch them."
"Perhaps it would be better if — "
"I will not leave my post, Little Sister."
"I was not going to suggest that you should!"
He turned toward her and rested one hand upon her shoulder, squeezed. Looked into her eyes in the disconcerting way he had, as it he witnessed her very soul, all of her drive and motivation, the stones of her very self that she had not yet found will or desire to overturn and examine for herself. Every fear, every doubt, every itch and worry.
Asgard might yet be lost to every other realm, could they not restore their use of the bridge. They lay flightless, hoping only for mercy from those who could come to them, to a Jötunheim that might destroy them, caught itself, from Heimdall's very observation, upon the edge where it could turn inward or outward on the whim of whomever seized power now.
"Were you not?"
"There is nothing here," she said. Sif allowed the tremble in her voice, that which she suppressed in the company of any but herself, sanded smooth for her own well-being. No cracks, no burrs, upon the visible surface of her person.
"No," he replied. "Not that you see."
"That is not fair use of advantage," she muttered. "I came here tonight that I might comfort you."
"You only think that drove you — " Heimdall began.
"I rescind permission for you to see into my soul," she replied. The words emerged so haughty that a small laugh bubbled from her afterward.
It faded quickly, laced with the thought that she ought to attend the practice courts now, instead of this place. That all must prepare at least for the possibility of war in their own streets, upon their own soil, the like of which none had seen in over a thousand years.
"— Though your company is welcome," he continued, as if he had not noticed the weight upon her very mind.
Perhaps he hadn't, deliberately or otherwise.
"Then I shall stay."
"For a time."
Heimdall smiled, and watched.