"Love consists in this, that two solitudes protect and touch and greet each other." - Rainer Maria Rilke
Loki Odinson, prince of Asgard, was too young to remember the opposing feelings of joy and grief that accompanied the birth of Sigyn, daughter of Brynjar and Unnr, as Unnr left the world of the living as her daughter entered it. The death of his beloved wife broke Brynjar's heart and left him suffering for months. When he emerged from his grief, he set to lavishing his only child with gifts and love at every opportunity. This should have made Sigyn spoiled or rude or snobbish. It only made her kind.
The princes of Asgard, Loki and his elder brother Thor, knew Sigyn from a young age but not well. Being a child of the court, she was introduced to the boys early on, but it was several years before Loki truly met her.
It was in a summer of Loki's youth (he would appear about seven to Midgardian eyes) that he found her. Some of the other boys, friends of Thor, had been taunting him, so he fled to the sanctuary of the royal gardens. Once there, though, he heard a light song drifting through the gardens, carried on the wind. Loki followed the voice until he reached a small pool, and it was there he saw her.
Sigyn was only a few years younger than he (still looking around seven as Asgardians age differently). Her hair was the color of summer wheat, her eyes as blue as the clear sky, her skin as pale as the winter's first snow. She was singing in a clear, light voice, her fingers deftly weaving a crown of flowers from brightly colored blooms. He moved closer to her and snapped a twig. She stopped singing and looked around, calling out, "Hello? Who's there? Who is it?"
"It's only me," Loki said, stepping from his hiding spot, "I was listening to your song."
She visibly relaxed, replying, "Oh, Prince Loki. Hello. What brings you here?"
"Some of the other boys were taunting me, so I came here to be alone."
"I could leave if you like."
"No, please don't. I'd love to hear more of your singing."
"Oh, no, you don't. It wasn't all that good really."
"Yes it was. It was lovely."
Sigyn smiled at him and continued her song. It was old, a folk song about a man returning from battle and his wife's joy at seeing him alive and victorious. Her song finished with her wreath of flowers.
"Why did you pick that song, Sigyn?" Loki asked.
"It's a happy one. I sang it because I was sad, and it's hard to be sad if you're singing a happy song. I should be happy today, anyway."
"It's my birthday."
"If it's your birthday, why are you sad? Birthdays are happy."
She looked away, at her crown of flowers, and said softly, "My mother died on my birthday, on the exact day I was born. I never knew her, Loki."
"I'm so sorry. That's so sad."
"Yes… it's strange how I can miss her when I never knew her…"
Loki couldn't imagine a life without his mother, Frigga. She was always there for him when he had a nightmare or an injury or was being bullied. The very thought of her suddenly not being there made him feel indescribably sad. He looked over at Sigyn. Her eyes were cast up at the sky.
"I suppose I can't feel too sad though. She's still looking after me, from Valhalla. At least, I believe she went to Valhalla. What do you think, my prince?"
Loki mulled it over for a moment before answering, "Yes. I believe that."
"Really? Even though she didn't die in battle?"
"Yes. She did something even braver than that."
"She died bringing another life into this world, not taking life. That's better."
Sigyn smiled at him, saying, "You're the first person to say that. No one else will answer me."
Without thinking, the words passed his lips: "I'll always answer you, Sigyn."
She smiled even brighter, and Loki decided he wanted to see her no other way. He would do all in his power to make sure she would never be sad or lonely or upset or anything but happy ever again. He started by producing a bright red rose for her out of thin air.
"Happy Birthday, Sigyn."
As Loki and Sigyn aged into their teenage years, they grew closer. They could often be found shirking their sparring lessons in the Great Library, whispering over old tomes and scrolls. Neither of them was particularly fond of the arts of war. They could hold their own in a fight, surely, but they would rather not fight at all if given the choice. Loki had become more and more skilled with magic and words, and he also became a fairly good warrior. Sigyn, meanwhile, grew up into an excellent housewoman and lady of the court. She became a lovely, willowy creature, still so kind that it almost hurt. Many of Asgard's young men sought her hand, but she refused them all. It often confused Loki why she should deny so many suitors and instead keep him company.
Loki was of the opinion that he was nothing special. He was pale where most had a healthy glow, his hair an inky black, his eyes the color of the first spring leaves. He was not muscular but had strength, and he knew he was smarter than anybody else. It did not explain why Sigyn preferred his company to all others, but he knew it made him inexplicably happy.
It made him so happy for the same reason that his silver tongue ceased to work properly around her, for the same reason that he longed only for her happiness, for the same reason that made his heart leap with joy whenever she smiled at him or when she said his name or when he thought about her. It was the same reason he thought her beautiful even when she had just finished her barn chores or cleaned her home or scrubbed a floor.
Thor seemed to take pleasure from gently ribbing his younger brother about it, but he was one of a few who was genuinely happy Loki had found love. Unfortunately for Loki, Thor had yet to find love of his own, and so the younger prince had to wait to make his intentions known to Sigyn or anyone else.
He settled for showing his love to her in little ways. He would still produce a red rose for her whenever he saw her. Her face would light up, her cheeks flushing pink, her long eyelashes fluttering. Loki wanted to believe this meant she loved him in return, but he didn't really know. How could she love him when there were so many better suitors than he? The thoughts only left him melancholy.
"Brother, why the sad, far-off look in your eyes?" Thor asked him one day when he was in one of these dark moods, "You look as if someone has set the Nine Worlds on your shoulders."
"It is not of import."
"It bothers you. That is always of import to me."
Loki did not answer right away, looking out over the gardens. Thor stepped closer and followed his gaze. A clear, light voice rose up from the trees and flowers, a halo of golden hair shining in the sun.
"Does your melancholy state have to do with Lady Sigyn? Did you have a row?"
"No, I don't think we've ever had a row," Loki replied quietly, "I just… I wish only for her happiness, but I worry that… what if her happiness is not with me?"
"What do you mean?"
The younger prince finally turned to his brother and whispered, "Listen, brother, and keep it a secret for I shall tell no one but you. I love Sigyn. I love her more deeply than anyone can possibly know, and I long to marry her… but I fear she does not love me in return."
At this, Thor let out a bark of laughter. Loki was instantly angered, saying loudly, "What? Why are you laughing? I said nothing funny!"
"Oh, Loki," Thor said with a smile, "You are wise beyond belief, but you cannot see what is plainly in front of you, what is obvious, even."
Panic threatens to choke Loki.
*Of course she doesn't love me. She already has another suitor. I should never-*
"Of course she loves you, brother. I can see it in the way she looks at you."
Loki's head snapped up to look at Thor.
"Really? How can you tell?"
"Because you look at her the same way, Loki. Like you've never seen anything more wonderful and amazing in your life but can never have it. I wish I could feel love as deeply as you."
The information was still processing. Sigyn loved him back. He never thought it could be real. Thor's voice intruded on his thoughts, "You should tell her your feelings."
"Why? We cannot wed until you do."
"But you could be promised to each other."
Loki fell silent. That was true. If they were promised to each other, then she could have no other suitors. He wouldn't have to worry about anyone coming between them ever again. That thought made him very happy indeed. However, there was always the chance that Thor was mistaken. Loki didn't want to make a confession of love and be made to look like a fool. No. He would bide his time a bit longer. Brynjar did spoil his daughter endlessly, and he would listen to all her refusals of suitors as long as she wished him to do so. Waiting would be best.
He did, however, go down to the gardens to see her. She looked up when he laughed, for she was singing that same song she was singing on the day they first truly met, her fingers weaving another crown of flowers. He pulled a full red rose from thin air, saying, "Here, use this one, too. It will look beautiful on you."
"It's beautiful enough on its own."
"True, but you will make it more beautiful."
"You keep saying that backwards."
"I always say everything exactly as I mean it, Sigyn," Loki said quietly.
"How can I add beauty to a flower?"
"By simply having it near you. You add beauty to everything… all the time."
Sigyn's cheeks turned bright pink, and she looked away, muttering, "You don't mean that, Loki."
There it was, the little fluttering of his heart when his name fell from her lips. He whispered softly, "I told you just now… I always say everything exactly as I mean it."
She chewed her lip, staring at the bloom in her hands. Very quickly, a pair of soft lips were pressed to his cheek, and then Sigyn was on her feet and walking away, her wreath of flowers abandoned on the grass.
She took the rose with her.
Sorry it's been a while! I've had a lot on my plate the last few weeks, so I haven't been able to update.. So sorry!! I love you all!!
It was a gorgeous day in Asgard. The sun shone out brightly over the kingdom. The autumn treetops made the forests look like seas of fire. Through the woods galloped two fine geldings, each with a fine rider on his back. One was a beautiful chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail, a wide blaze across his face, and four white stockings. His rider had long, flowing, golden hair and kept turning to shout at her companion. He sat astride a true black gelding, laughing and calling out to the girl. The chestnut was swift and agile, his rider sure of herself and her mount. The black tried to keep up but was no match for the quick little chestnut. He only caught up when they stopped at a small lake.
"I've never met a better rider, Sigyn," Loki said, "You put many of the best horsemen in Asgard to shame."
"I should hope so. It helps that Knut is the finest horse ever to be tamed."
"I'm not too sure about that. Stig is a fine animal."
"He is… but Knut's better."
They turned their horses out to graze and get some water. Meanwhile, Loki and Sigyn took a walk through the surrounding woods, just listening to the birds and the sound of nature before winter set in. Loki had to try and hide his smile when Sigyn looped her arm through his; he wasn't sure he succeeded. It was a pleasant stroll, neither one speaking, simply enjoying each other's company. Finally, after several hours, they returned to the clearing by the lake. He looked over to her, saw a smile on her face. It had been a long while since she kissed his cheek in the garden, and they had not spoken of it since. Therefore, before they returned home, Loki stepped forward and took both of her hands in his, taking in a deep breath.
"Sigyn, I have something to tell you."
"Yes? What is it?"
"We have known each other for many years, ever since we were very young," he said softly, "From the moment we met in the gardens so long ago, I have loved you. I love you more than I have ever loved anyone. I would give anything, do anything, just so you can be happy. Even if I were completely alone save for you, with nothing else to my name, I would be the happiest man in the entire universe. I just… I love you, Sigyn."
Tears blurred his vision, but he could still the glistening trails down her cheeks. Her lip trembled as she pulled in hiccupping breaths.
"Please say something. Anything."
She choked out, "Oh, Loki… I love you, too," and wrapped her arms around his neck. He had to bend over for her to do it, and when he straightened up, he lifted her right off the ground, arms around her waist. Nothing could ever make him happier than this moment, except perhaps their wedding day. They remained in each other's arms for several minutes, during most of which Sigyn cried with joy. Loki spent that time pressing light kisses over her hair and temple. When they finally disengaged, Sigyn wiped her face, saying, "We should head back. We've been gone a long while."
"Don't suppose you'll take it easy on me going back?"
They mounted up, and Knut was off like a shot, tearing through the trees with Stig on his tail. The two horses wove through the trees, their riders calling to each other with taunts and endearments. It was just sunset as they returned to the stables. They giggled as Loki set to plucking small twigs leaves from Sigyn's hair and got his hands swatted at by her. A few of the grooms gave them funny looks, but they didn't notice.
"I love you," Loki whispered, grinning.
"I love you, too," she responded softly.
"Do you really think he'll like him?" Loki asked nervously.
"Of course! He's gorgeous!" Sigyn replied.
Odin Allfather's third millennial was in only a few days time, and Loki was trying to determine if his gift would be good enough. Sigyn circled the steed several times.
"Yes, this is a fine horse. He appears to be of good stock. He has excellent conformation. If none that pleases Allfather, then he'll certainly appreciate those legs!"
Sigyn gestured down the horse's eight legs, all of which pawed at the ground.
"You think him a good gift for my father though?"
"Oh, definitely. Allfather's horse is getting old and gray around the muzzle. He needs a new horse, and I think this little stallion will be more than fine. Does he have a name?"
She rested her hand on the muscled, grey neck, murmuring, "Sleipnir… yes, you're a handsome boy, aren't you?" followed by the question, "Wherever did you find such a magnificent creature, Loki?"
"Well, I sort of… put him together," he replied, "Magic is a very useful skill."
"Really? You made him? Oh, that's incredible!"
"You think so?"
"Your father will absolutely love him. I'm sure of it," Sigyn stated happily.
Together, they led him to a sequestered stall in Sigyn's family stables until the celebration, when Loki would present Odin's gift. He briefly wondered what Thor was giving him.
The celebration was simply magnificent. The palace's Great Hall was completely draped with purple banners and gilded decorations. Every member of the court was present, all dressed in their most expensive finery, to celebrate Odin Allfather's third millennial and especially to see the gifts of his two sons.
Thor presented their father with a treasure from another realm, a dagger commissioned from the dwarves, covered in gold and glittering jewels. It was rare, expensive, and very nice. Loki swallowed nervously, praying Sigyn was in place behind the huge oaken doors.
"Father, I hope my gift to you will be of much use in your long years to come," he stated loudly, "I admit that I have crafted it from my own two hands with a bit of magic, but I hope you find it satisfactory, nonetheless. Please, open the main doors!"
Everyone gasped as Sigyn entered the hall, dressed in a pure white gown with a vest of gleaming mail, holding the reins of Sleipnir. The guests all murmured as the elegant, dapple-gray stallion walked in calmly, dark tail swishing lazily. His eight hooves beat out a strange cadence on the marble floor. Sigyn paraded Sleipnir once around the Great Hall and then walked him up to Odin. She even got the horse to kneel with her.
"Hmmm, eight legs? Does it make him any faster?" Allfather asked.
"Oh, yes, Father. I guarantee he can outpace any horse in the Nine Realms."
"Why a new horse, Loki?"
"It's something you need. Yours is getting too old."
Odin rose and circled the stallion, carefully eyeing him up, then looked to Sigyn.
"Lady Sigyn, you are a horsewoman. What is your opinion?"
"Sleipnir is the finest horse I have ever laid eyes on and the fastest. I have tested him myself. He is a very suitable mount, especially for a great king such as you, your Majesty."
"Yes, Father," Loki answered, "For his swiftness."
The Allfather stepped up to Loki. Then, he reached out and embraced him before announcing, "He is one of the finest gifts I have ever received! I shall care for Sleipnir well, and I shall proudly take him into battle. With even more pride, I shall say he came from my son's own hand."
Loki beamed up at his father, and he could see Sigyn grinning too, still holding Sleipnir's reins.
"Lady Sigyn," Odin stated, "please take Sleipnir to my stables and see he is well looked after, then I pray you return with all haste."
"Yes, your Majesty."
She was gone for a short while, but Loki found her as soon as she returned. Sigyn had changed into an elegant royal blue gown, trimmed with silver. A silver circlet sat among her golden curls, gleaming brightly. They pushed their way to each other, brushing off compliments and well-wishers until they met in the middle. There, Loki threaded Sigyn's arm through his, leading her out to an empty balcony. The sun was setting over Asgard, the winter just setting in. The fresh layer of snow reflected the myriad colors from the sky, orange light gleaming from the icicles on the trees.
"Loki, you were wonderful," Sigyn said excitedly, "I knew your father would love him. I told you."
"I couldn't believe it. For once, I managed to outshine Thor. I fear it will never happen again."
"Well, you will always be my favorite prince, if that is any consolation."
He sought out her hand and gripped it in his own, whispering, "Thank you for believing in me."
"I always will."
"Trusting the trickster. Most would think you mad."
"Maybe I am… but that trickster has never been false to me. Not once. In fact, his silver tongue seems to stop working properly around me."
"I have no need of it with you, Sigyn."
She smiled up at him, and he grinned down at her. After a beat, Sigyn pressed herself into his arms, her face nestled against his chest. He wrapped his arms around her shoulders, resting his cheek on top of her head. Loki took several deep breaths. Her scent filled his nose, overwhelmed his senses. She smelled largely of flowers and faintly of hay, with a hint of rain and grass. How she did that in winter, he will never know. He let his fingers stroke through her curls.
"I love you," he whispered, "I love you so much."
"And I love you, Loki," she replied with a smile, looking up at him once more.
He put his hand on Sigyn's cheek, his thumb stroking the soft skin. Then, Loki did something that he had wanted to do for so long. He leaned in and pressed his lips to hers. Something sparked up and down his spine, told him yes this is perfect, that he would never feel this way with anyone else for as long as he lived… and from a simple touch of lips. When he pulled away after a few seconds (which felt much longer), they looked at each other, and Sigyn murmured, "Kiss me again."
"As you wish."
One day, Loki would learn to stop agreeing with his brother's hare-brained ideas for 'glorious battles'. This time, Thor had led to Nornheim to seek information from the Norns, seers of all fates. However, one of the warriors insulted a priestess there, causing old Urd to release a demon horde on them. They fought off and killed many of them, but the battle was slowly being lost. Loki quickly devised a plan of escape, and after calling everyone to him, created a cloud of smoke and some copies that hid them and allowed them to retreat safely. It was nice to be thanked for saving everyone's lives for once.
Back at the stables, everyone was laughing, still high on adrenaline, giddy from battle and being alive. It was exhilarating. After a while, only Loki and Thor were left. That was when Sigyn came in. Her golden hair was tied up in knot, and she was wearing simple working clothes. Her mouth was set in a thin, firm line.
"Is it true? What Fandral told me? You all almost died?"
Neither brother answered until she shouted, "Tell me what happened!"
Thor finally spoke up, "We went to see the Norns, and one of our warriors insulted a priestess there by accident. Urd set her demons on us as punishment. We would have been lost if not for Loki."
She continued to glare at Thor, so he continued, "He... created a cloud of smoke to hide our escape. It was ingenious. He saved all our lives."
"Why did you travel to Nornheim in the first place?"
Loki looked to his brother, who clearly wanted to not answer the question, but still replied, "I went to question them about my fate… if I would be king one day."
The sound of Sigyn's hand connecting with Thor's face rang throughout the barn. Thor at least had tact enough to not look angry about it. He would not look at her.
"You idiot! You risked ten lives just to feel better about yourself? Do you think of no one but yourself, Thor? People could have died today!"
"It was not I who insulted a priestess!"
"No, it was one of your oafish friends!" Sigyn spat venomously, "Even if Fandral hadn't told me it was Bjorn, I could have guessed it! If you want to be king, you must not surround yourself with flatterers and fools but wise people who have opinions of their own! Do you think Allfather's court and counselors bow to his every whim? No, or else ours would not be the most powerful of the Nine Realms!"
Loki was impressed with how easily she made Thor look sheepish.
"What would have happened if Loki were not there to save you?"
Thor still wouldn't look at her, so she turned her ire on Loki, giving him a slap to the face, yelling, "And you! Why didn't you stop him? You knew this was foolish, yet you let him do it! What if you had died? What would I do then? You are as bad as he is sometimes, thinking nothing of those who love you and only of your own glory! I would die without you!"
Sigyn was then too overcome with emotion and stormed out of the barn, tears threatening to fall from her eyes. The brothers were silent for several moments until Thor said, "The lady has quite an arm."
"Yes, she certainly does."
"I will make sure to never anger her again."
"Oh, I agree. Definitely."
Loki started to leave, still rubbing his jaw.
He turned. Thor stood in the same spot, looking at him. Finally, the older prince said, "Brother… you are lucky to have her."
Loki would need a whole garden of flowers to apologize for this.
Laughter echoed through the halls of the palace. The two princes of Asgard strolled down the corridor, regaling each other with fond memories and comedic tales.
"I could not believe it!" Thor exclaimed.
"Yes, but the best part was when Sif started laughing!" Loki chuckled, "She couldn't help herself!"
"And then he could not figure out why we were all laughing ourselves!"
"I know! Volstagg looked ridiculous without his beard! I cannot believe he did not feel it missing!"
"Oh, and then he tried to challenge you to a duel!"
"And I did not even do it! Twas Fandral that shaved it off while he slept!"
They leaned into each other, guffawing with laughter, glad Volstagg was not there to hear. He never did quite forgive them. The brothers continued down the corridor, wiping their eyes, when a noise caught their attention. Someone was running toward them, and they stopped moving, unsure of whom it could be. It was a young woman, they saw at last, with golden hair and dressed in vibrant blue. She seemed extremely distressed. Thor gripped Loki's shoulder just as the latter recognized the girl.
"Oh, gods… Sigyn."
Loki stepped forward to meet her, taking her face in his hands and asking softly, "Sigyn, what's wrong? What's happened, love?"
She just shook her head furiously, unable to speak. She was sucking in short, gasping breaths, tears streaming down her face, her cheeks red and blotchy. Her whole body was shaking. Loki whispered, "Thor, help me," before leading Sigyn out to the gardens, Thor at her other arm. It took several minutes to calm her down. Loki carefully embraced her, whispering soothing words and drying her tears. Much to his credit, Thor remained silent the entire time. At long last, Sigyn choked out, "Loki, I don't know what to do. I begged my father, pleaded with him to do otherwise, but he stood firm!"
"On what? What happned?"
"Father has promised me to another man!"
Loki's heart dropped into his stomach. This was not possible. This was never supposed to happen.
"It is Theoric Thialfison, but I do not wish to marry him! I do not love him!" she continued, "I love you, Loki! You are the only one I have ever loved! I will die if I must marry him!"
"No," Loki said immediately, "no, don't speak like that, darling. You will not marry him. I will make sure of it. I shall personally talk to both my father and yours, and I will make sure that very soon, I will be the one you are promised to… the one you will marry."
Sigyn was crying again, nodding and trying to smile through her tears. The younger prince placed a kiss on her forehead and then wrapped his arms around her, looking to his brother. He hoped Thor saw the anger in his eyes. After a while, Sigyn had calmed enough to return home with his promise to right everything.
"What will you do, brother?" Thor asked once Sigyn was out of earshot.
First, he went directly to Odin and Frigga, saying, "I know that it is custom for the eldest to be the first betrothed, but I beg you to make an exception just the once, Lady Sigyn has been promised to another, but neither of wishes for the marriage to happen. We… we are in love. We love each other more deeply than anyone can know. Please, let me save the woman I love."
Frigga leaned in and whispered to her husband, clearly moved by their younger son's plight. Odin considered her words briefly, then said to Loki, "If the lady's father can be moved, then we will certainly agree to it. We are happy for you, my son."
Loki's heart leapt with joy, and he turned to face his elder brother, the blonde man grinning widely.
"We'll go to her father tomorrow, Thor. By tomorrow night, Sigyn will be mine, and I hers."
He couldn't wipe the smile off his face all day, but it was done for him the following afternoon.
Loki and Thor went to the house of Brynjar and were graciously received by Sigyn and her father. There was polite conversation between them all, as was custom and courtesy, but Loki swiftly got to his point.
"Sir, I have come to you to talk about your daughter," the prince said calmly.
Brynjar nodded and waved a hand, so he continued, "I have been informed that Lady Sigyn has been promised to Theoric Thialfison. I am here to beg you to reconsider and instead have her betrothed to me."
"Please, father," Sigyn added, "I pray you listen to him. Please."
The old warrior sighed, saying, "Prince Loki, you are a fine young man. You are wise and a good warrior. However, I am afraid I cannot agree to your request. Thialfi is an old comrade and friend of mine, and he and I have made an oath. Theoric has long desired the hand of my daughter."
"So have I, sir. I have long courted Lady Sigyn."
"I am sorry. I cannot break such an oath and dishonor this family on a whim."
"It is not a whim!" Sigyn half-shouted, "I love him! I have always loved him!"
"I am sorry."
Sigyn looked as if she wanted to say more, but emotion choked her voice. She only let out a sob and ran for her chambers, unable to bear the conversation any longer. She was gone by the time Loki found his voice again.
"Fine. Then tomorrow I go to the house of Thialfi, and perhaps I shall make him see sense. I'm sure they can be persuaded. Good day."
He swept out of the old warrior's hall, Thor behind him.
"Are you sure that is wise, Loki?" Thor whispered.
"Wise? Possibly not… but it will be worth it. Of that I am sure," Loki replied, his voice dangerous.
For the first time in his life, Loki was determined to get his way, determined to do whatever it took to make people see he was right, and the gods help anyone who got in his way. He woke the next day prepared to do what he said he would, but it was not meant to be.
Loki was summoned to the Halls of Healing early in the day, although for what the guard would not say. The younger prince went to Thor, asking him to accompany him, dread settling in his stomach like a lead weight.
"The Halls of Healing? Who is injured?"
"I do not know. The man would not tell me."
They went together, Loki's heart pounding in his chest. It could not be a member of the royal family, or Thor would have been summoned also. It was the same for any of their common friends, and Loki had few friends that were not also Thor's. He was at a loss for who it could be. The brothers stopped at the doors. Nothing was said. Thor simply squeezed his brother's hand before pushing open the doors. A young Healer's apprentice rushed forward, saying, "Prince Loki, Prince Thor. Please, follow me, my lords," and ushering them to follow her. She led them through the maze of beds in the hall until they reached one shrouded by a curtain. The young woman pulled the curtain aside, murmuring, "I am sorry, my lords."
Loki's legs gave way immediately, sending him crashing to the floor, a quiet whimper escaping his lips.
"What happened to her?" he heard Thor ask, "Was she attacked? Is she injured?"
"Lady Sigyn was found like this," the apprentice explained, "Her father found her this morning and had her brought to us. There appears to be nothing physically wrong with her. She seems to have just… fallen asleep, and she will wake for no one. The Head Healer believes that in her mind she lost the will to live, but her heart still hopes and beats. She's just… asleep. We are not sure how long it will last."
Someone brought chairs for the princes, and Loki managed to pull himself up off the floor and into one. He reached out and gently took her hand in his own. Leaning in close, he whispered, "Sigyn… my darling… my love… please, please wake up… for me… for Loki. I do not know why you have left me. Did I not promise to right this for us? If only you gave me more time… if you come back, we can still be together. Please… please, just wake and return to me, my love… my precious Sigyn…
Loki's voice finally failed him. He ducked his head, willing his tears not to fall, not here. He sat by her side all day, one hand clutching hers until a Healer and said they had to leave for the day. (He'd forgotten Thor hadn't already left.) Loki slowly got to his feet and leaned over her bed to plant a gentle kiss to her lips, murmuring, "I shall just have to wait for you to return to me."
Thor walked with him back to his chambers. Only once he was there and was sure no one was around did Loki's mask fall away. A small, choked noise escaped his throat, his head bowed as if Thor did not already know he was ready to break. The blonde stepped closer to his inky-haired brother but stayed quiet. Loki's whole body was shaking finely. His throat was constricted, his chest tight, his eyes burning and wet. The dam was going to break and soon, so he just looked up at his brother and whimpered, "It isn't fair."
He was pulled into Thor's arms just his face crumpled and his tears fell. It was like when they were children, and Loki was being taunted and tormented by the other boys. His brother had always been a safe haven, as he was now, one in whom he could always confide, who would never reveal his secrets. Now, he would have to pull Loki through this. Did the younger prince not deserve happiness? What had he done wrong in his life that the gods treated him thusly? Had he made himself somehow unworthy? He wished he could voice his thoughts as he wept into his brother's shoulder, but his words were lost to his grief. Thor simply held him tight, gently shushing him until he was completely cried out, his energy utterly spent. It gave him a blissfully dreamless sleep that night.
The raven-haired prince turned increasingly bitter to his fellow Asgardians (save for Thor until that day) over the next year. He pulled all manner of pranks on the members of the royal court. Frigga tried to calm and placate him, while Odin sought to punish him, even marginally; Frigga won out. She seemed to understand that her son's bitterness stemmed from the loss of Sigyn to her sleep and was loathe to reprimand him for loving and being hurt by his love. Meanwhile, even as he sat with his beloved, Loki was slowly consumed by anger.
Then came his trick with the Jotuns and Thor's banishment and the horrifying truth of his heritage and his brief stint as king and his fight with his elder brother.
*No, I was never his brother.*
The Bifrost was now broken, Thor hanging from Odin's grasp and Loki from Gungnir in Thor's. As soon as the word no left his once-father's lips, Loki knew he only had one choice. He thought of the abyss of empty space below him. He thought of what would happen to him when he fell into it. Just before he let go and fell, he thought of Sigyn and her smile and her eyes and her hair and everything about her.
He wanted her to be the last thing he remembered in this life.
Lady Sigyn woke from her sleep the same day that Loki fell into the abyss of space. It was Thor beside her when she did, prompting her to ask, "Prince Thor? Where is Loki? Why does he not sit at my side?"
Thor swallowed, wondering if he should tell her everything. The truth would hurt, but not telling her would be even more harmful. So, he told her all. Every little thing. He told her how long she'd slept for, what it had done to Loki, his true parentage, his fall. Sigyn wept heavily at the news of Loki's death, and Thor feared she may now truly lose the will to live.
"My lady," he said quietly, "please do not lose hope. Loki did not. He sat by your side every day, talking to you, touching your hand, your face, your hair. He never lost hope you would return to him. He often told me so. I beg you not to leave us again."
She answered thickly, "No. No, now it is I who must carry on without him. I must wait for him to return to me. It is what he did."
"But… he is gone. He fell off the Bifrost into the Empty Space."
"He is not dead. I know it, and so do you. You can feel in your heart, as I can. I would know if he had died, for I would have died along with him. No, Loki is not dead, Thor. I know not where he has gone, but it is not there."
The prince nodded, drinking this all in. Of course, Sigyn was right… to a point. It was true that Thor did not believe his brother was died when he fell, but no one knew where the Empty Space led. Only Loki knew where he was. Even Heimdall, who saw all in the Nine Realms, could not see him now. Thor opened his mouth, wishing to keep speaking with Sigyn, but the Head Healer had gotten wind of her waking and quickly ushered Thor from the Hall.
He did not see here again until a celebration two days later. Odin set up a feast for the return of his son and crowning of his heir and to mourn the loss of his other son. Frigga wove an elaborate tale (which even she partly believed) about how losing Sigyn to her sleep drove Loki mad, causing him to believe the destruction of Jotunheim would bring her back. Meanwhile, Sigyn stood by, dressed mourning attire, a black veil covering her golden curls, a portrait of beauty and grief. Guests cast pitying looks her way until she could suffer their gazes no longer. Thor saw her duck out of the Great Hall and into the corridor. He followed her as she left the palace and made her way to the Bifrost, stopping at the broken edge, staring into the abyss. He stepped up beside her.
"You did not enjoy your celebration, my prince?" she asked quietly.
"No, I did not," he answered, "Feasts are not quite as happy without my brother by my side. I feel I am the only one who is unhappy today… except you, my lady."
"I could stand their looks of pity no longer. Everyone looked upon me as though I would fall down and die at any moment or burst into tears or tear at my hair or something equally dramatic and silly."
"They only offer me congratulations as though I had not just lost my brother. They do not even offer condolences to our mother and father, acting as if they had not just lost their son. Sigyn, I feel…" he stopped, wet his lips, continued, "I feel that you are the only one who understands my pain at his death."
The lady turned to look at him, her eyes glittering with tears, and stated very calmly, "Prince Loki is not dead. I told you that when I woke the other day."
She sighed and looked out into the Empty Space, and Thor stepped up to stand right next to her. She said, "I long for him to come back to me. I have loved him for a thousand years, and I will for a thousand more. I just want him back to love."
"You still love him as strongly as before?"
"You do not?"
"Of course I do. He is my brother. I have known and loved him my whole life. Nothing can change that."
All she said in return was, "Exactly," and Thor immediately knew what she meant. Sigyn loved Loki more deeply than anyone could imagine. Or possibly understand. A bond like that could not simply be destroyed with a few words.
"You are missing someone else in addition to your brother, I think. Your grief feels too similar to mine in this place."
He replied softly, "Yes. There is a woman on Midgard… Jane. She studies the universe, and she is very kind-hearted. She and her companions took me in when Father banished me. She… she kissed me before my return to Asgard and vowed to find me again."
"Jane must really love you."
"She does. I know it."
"Now you begin to understand me, Thor," she said with a small smile.
*Yes*, he thought, *I suppose I do… although I wish I did not have to…*
"Can you feel her here?"
"I do not know. Why?"
"Because I can feel him, his love… I can almost hear his voice…"