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For Now the Winter is Past

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For all its majesty, the sound of women's laughter rang seldom through the halls of Asgard’s palace. That it did now brought a smile to Thor's face as he approached his quarters, weary after a long day of too little sparring and too many meetings concerning diplomacy, strategy, and the other necessary evils of being heir to a kingdom. It reminded him that for all of the associated problems, Asgard's increased activity in other worlds had brought his people good.

It had brought him Jane.

As his fingers brushed against the closed door, another, lower feminine chuckle reached his ears, and his smile widened. No wonder Fandral and Volstagg had been reluctant to see him leave the training field so soon—Sif must have met Jane in the library this morning and accompanied her thence, depriving the Warriors Three of their usual sport twice over.

The thought gave him pause, a break in his stride as he entered his chambers. Not that Sif would harm Jane; there were many who believed it to be so, but Thor knew well the extent of her loyalty. Nay, he worried because Sif had done this before, in the days following Jane's ill-planned but justified attack upon his brother, scarce leaving her side. Jane had only just arrived back on Asgard; was there already another threat that his shield-maiden felt she must meet personally? Certainly there were many who disdained their prince's choice for a future queen, even though all knew of her heroic actions against Malekith and his forces. He simply tended to dismiss such naysayers out of hand, for if they were foolish enough to antagonize a woman so obviously versed in creating explosions then they well deserved to be offended.

Still, even a terrier could bite, and it was with thoughts of crushing dogs underfoot that Thor flung open his bedchamber door. Fortuitously for his enemies, what he saw halted all mental activity. Jane, as was often her wont, was tucked in his bed, tousled and petite against the headboard. However, he could only see flashes of her beyond Sif, who had been seated before her on the bed but now leaned off the side for her sword, battle-lust in her eyes.

It was true enough that Thor remained largely unconcerned with details, at least those that he could conquer with a direct approach. Finesse, after all, was not always concurrent with honor, and he loved the latter dearly. But that was Thor the warrior, crown prince of Asgard. Thor the son, friend, and lover noticed much more than he let on: the pink of Jane's cheeks, the slickness of her mouth, the way the laces of her gown trailed even more loosely against the rumpled bedclothes.

Battle-lust indeed.

Thor met Sif's gaze as she slowly slid her blade back onto the floor. A single raven eyebrow arched, a gesture he knew and loved well. Behind her, Jane tried to speak, opening and then closing her mouth. It did not go well for his beloved, save that it only made her more endearing.

"All yours," he said to Sif, watching the supple play of muscles beneath creamy skin as she rose from her sprawl, sitting tall and proud. "Though I will stand guard, lest you falter."

"Is that a challenge, my prince?" Sif inquired.

"Nay." The bed was large, but not so vast that there was not space for him in the chamber to snatch a chair from the other room and arrange it alongside to his liking. All the while Jane watched him with wide brown eyes, her breathing erratic. He might think it for his benefit, were he not so familiar with Sif's skill. Only when it was in place did he remove his breastplate with swift, practiced movements, setting the armor aside with more speed than care. Sighing in relief, he bestowed a fond look upon Jane before turning back to Sif. "But it is an oath."

"Considering how seriously you take oaths, I really hope that that's an inside joke," Jane said, finding her voice at last.

"Oh, I am in earnest," he assured her, voice low as he took in the peach glow of her skin, the way her hair curled around her neck and clung to it with just the slightest hint of dampness. "Am I not, Lady Sif?"

"Always," she retorted, running her hands up Jane's legs, their sweet curves hidden beneath the blankets. Gasping, Jane looked at him as though she half-expected him to tackle Sif through the wall. "But so too am I."

"And you, Jane?" He stepped closer, near enough now that he could smell her warm scent, hints of soap and pastry atop the earth and salt of her. "It has been a long and tiring day. Will it displease you overmuch if I only watch your pleasure this eve?"

"Will it—" She laughed, an incredulous sound he would forever associate with hot sand and her odd, cramped vehicle. "No, that—that's fine, Thor."

"Then I leave you in Sif's capable hands." The kiss he bestowed upon her forehead was many things—gratitude, benediction, reassurance—as was the hand she laid upon his cheek. They had learned much about the diplomacy of two worlds, Jane and he, in their time together.

"If you're going to watch, you'd best sit down, prince of Asgard," Sif said, shouldering him out of the way. Laughing, he obliged. "And as for you, Jane Foster, scientist of Midgard and beloved of Thor—"

"Stop!" Jane laughed, rolling her eyes as she had been unable to do when his father's well-meaning but officious herald had announced her presence before the court two nights ago.

"I cannot," Sif declared, her hands gliding further up Jane's body until her callused fingers brushed Jane's collarbone. "I am bound by word and honor now to satisfy your desires."

"Does everyone know she talks this much?" Jane demanded. Even were he inclined to reply, Thor decided that his beloved did not really want an answer. Particularly because Sif had leaned forward to capture Jane's mouth with hers, and were he uncertain that he had interrupted the act earlier, the way they tangled together now would have removed all doubt.

As always, Sif was grace incarnate, her fingers running through Jane's hair with slow, easy strokes at complete odds with the way her mouth devoured the smaller woman's. Yet for all her centuries of skill, he saw the way her fingers faltered when Jane returned the gesture, nipping at Sif's red mouth with enthusiasm. Now you understand, he thought but did not say, for as they continued to kiss he realized his presence had dwindled in their regard from a focal point to a mere afterthought, if that.

Jane's laces were indeed more loose than normal, a fact that became wonderfully apparent when she rose up to her knees to meet Sif's embrace more fully. Pulled taut by her lower body, the olive green of her gown dragged down one shoulder, outlining the peaks of her nipples through the light fabric. From the way Sif broke away, breath heavy and gaze lidded, to look at Jane, he knew she noticed and appreciated the sight. But Jane would have none of Sif's patience, choosing instead to busy her hands with the fastenings of the sleeveless red tunic Sif usually wore beneath her armor.

"How do you even get this thing on?" Jane scowled, plucking at the side lacings that molded the fabric to Sif's elegant frame.

"More easily than you might think," replied Sif, biting back a grin as Jane craned her neck to look for any hidden buttons or bows. "Might I assist?"

"I can do this," Jane huffed.

"I have no doubt."

"Ladies," Thor rumbled, and they both turned to glare at him. Sif lifted her arms, Jane pulled the tunic up and over her head with a sharp jerk, and he held his hands up in surrender.

Sif wore undergarments below her tunic—somewhat about bouncing and chafing, he did not inquire overmuch—but he did not recall them being so ornate when last he saw her unclothed. The black corset featured striking red embroideries, bold lines that slashed across each other like wounds before they ended in dagger-sharp points. It made much of her bosom, the gentle curves swelling forth with a lushness that made his mouth dry.

"Now that," Jane said, her voice husky, "you can help with."

"Do you dislike it?" Sif teased.

"I may steal it," Jane muttered.

"Do not descend to thievery on my account. We can surely have one made for you. I shall inquire personally."

When Jane, always proud, attempted to protest, Sif silenced her with a single finger upon her lips, a trick Thor himself had used to equal effect. "It shall be a gift. Indeed," she added with a wicked grin, "I will insist upon certain... details."

He really did need to learn more about women's underclothes, if the kiss that Jane bestowed upon the lady Sif was any indication. The suggestion became an imperative when they began to attack each other's lacings in earnest, Jane pulling apart the panels of the corset as Sif parted the gown all the way down to the other woman's belly. The sight of Sif's familiar hands tugging the gown past Jane's shoulders to pool around her hips would remain with him for a long time afterwards, as would the sweet ache of his loins.

Now Sif, who knelt for none but royalty, bowed her head before Jane, rubbing her cheek against the side of Jane's breast. She dragged her lips around its curve, nibbling the slight furrow of her cleavage before her mouth moved to hover above a nipple. Rather than suck the peak into her mouth and give into temptation—one he had to admit he was often unable to resist—Sif simply breathed upon the pebbled skin, her tongue occasionally darting out to swipe cat-quick along the edge of Jane's areola. Only when Jane was reduced to tiny gasps, her hips rocking down against the bed, did Sif tongue her nipple in earnest, alternating suckles with nibbling and, once, a long exhalation of air that made Jane's peaks stand forth at more attention than ever and drew a fierce growl from her throat.

Seeing his beloved, who cherished reason second only to him, reduced to base instinct sent lust spearing through his body. As unable to ignore his body's demands as he was to look away, he fumbled at the lacings of his tunic, loosening the fabric around his throat just as Sif coaxed Jane into leaning back against the mountain of pillows at the head of the bed. Sliding off the bed on the far side, Sif moved the blankets back and out of the way with more haste than elegance, a sentiment he echoed by tugging at the closure of his breeches so hard that they tore. Hidden from Jane's sight by the abundance of pillows, Sif inclined her head toward Jane as if asking for his approval. Whatever he managed to convey, it served to conjure up a smile as aroused as it was amused.

Sif moved now to pull Jane's gown away by its bottom hem but Jane beat her to it, kicking the elegant garment aside as if it were sackcloth. "Are you overheated, lady Jane?" she inquired solicitously, sliding the loosened corset over her body to leave her clad only in her leggings.

"She gets warm easily when in bed," Thor said, for the pure and simple motive of making Jane look upon him as he released his cock from its confines, relaxing his posture as he glided a fist up and down its length. Sif's charms were mighty indeed, but the way Jane bit her lip as he touched himself served as abundant proof that he would not have to yield his bed to their sport every night. "Though she is often cold during the day and always at night. 'Tis most intriguing."

"I'm right here, you know."

"Believe me," said Sif, "I am well aware." Nudging Jane's discarded gown out of the way, she laid on her belly so that her face was pressed against the other woman's navel. "I might remind any extra parties in the room that the field is mine alone to win... unless, of course, the lady Jane says otherwise."

Any hope that Jane might have mercy on his obviously invigorated condition died a quick and sudden death when he saw the gleam in her eye. "Well, I wouldn't want my betrothed to suffer," she said, waiting until Sif had risen halfway to her knees to add, "So I think it best to let him rest his weary... head."

"Oh, well played," murmured Sif, rewarding Jane's cleverness with a swipe of her tongue. Jane's skin was most sensitive around her navel—of all the places to be ticklish, it was her only one—but he could tell that she craved Sif's attention elsewhere.

Sif, of course, knew it too, and he half-expected her to wait. Or, more accurately, to make Jane wait, teasing the other woman until she lost her patience and took what she desired. To his surprise, Sif began to drop gentle kisses down Jane's belly, moving lower and lower until her lips brushed curls instead of skin. Meanwhile her fingernails raked softly against Jane's inner thighs, spreading them with gentle persuasion rather than rough force, something that Jane liked well indeed if her increasingly vocal moans were any judge. The gentle pace of his hand moving up and down his cock became decidedly more vigorous when he watched Sif's dark head disappear between the juncture of Jane's thighs, her actions apparent only when Jane's moans broke upon a gasp.

When their relationship became one of the bed as well as the heart, Jane, in the dawn-lit and secret hours of the morning, had confided that none of her previous lovers had ever used his mouth upon her most private of places. The very thought had offended him to his core. For one, it was unseemly at best for any lover on Asgard, male or female, to deprive one's partner of such pleasure. To add insult to injury, Jane tasted delicious, tart nectar and honey. That she had never experienced such mutual ecstasy—that even now it silenced her usual bedroom noises, save for the occasional tiny gasp or mewl—usually brought a tinge of anger to his thoughts, even when the rest of him focused on the way her flesh responded to his touch.

Here and now, though, there was no anger, only the wet sounds of Sif's tongue and mouth working upon Jane. Now he could see the way her face twisted and contracted; he could see her bite her lips, watch her brow furrow until Sif licked a spot that made her entire face go slack. He could watch her fingers twist in the bedsheets as her body went rigid, straining for the next peak.

And so too could he hear the noises that Sif made, the murmurs of appreciation as she tasted his beloved for the first time, her low chuckle when she feinted a withdrawal and Jane's hands scrabbled to return her back to her task.

"Ready?" he heard Sif murmur, and he almost roared Yes! before remembering he was nothing more than an audience. His lot was to watch as Jane gulped and nodded, as Sif moved her hand from Jane's thigh to her opening, fingers plunging inside with a decadent sound. To stay seated and rapt as Jane's back arched, her hips grinding up, when Sif coupled the thrust of her fingers with the lashing of her tongue. To look, and to look alone, at the play of light upon her sweat-slicked skin, the thrust of her nipples as with hands braced upon the headboard she bore down upon her tormentor.

His roar of completion filled the air a scant second after Jane cried out, the broken sounds of her ecstasy allowing him release by his own hand at last. Hot seed spurted over his clenched fist, a slick glide that sent shudders throughout his body as his mind emptied of any and all rational thought.

When awareness returned, it was to find that Jane was more warrior than he, poised on shaky knees as she kissed Sif's glistening mouth and chin. Lazy and replete, he could only grin as Jane's hands, always busy, put themselves to good use, delving into her lover's leggings. Sif's surprise swiftly turned to pleasure as she let Jane experiment upon her until, overcome at last, she held Jane's hand still and rubbed herself against its delicate fingertips until she reached her peak.

Time moved slow and sweet as honey as they all laid there, the tang of sex giving way to the scent of warm skin and the beeswax from the candles in the wall sconces. Sif made to move but before he could speak to halt her, there was Jane, her fingers lazily twining in Sif's tousled black locks.

"You should stay." She looked up at Thor, shy and sweet but still utterly Jane. "She can stay, right? God knows there's enough room in the bed."

"Aye," Thor rumbled, though Sif subsided only when he gave her an extra nod of his head.

"It would be a bother to return to my chambers," Sif mused, pulling herself up the bed to curl against Jane's side. "For one thing, I think you may have ripped my tunic."

"Oh—" Jane blurted, cheeks coloring. Sif kissed one with a resounding smack and gave a fond squeeze to Jane's upper arm.

"It was well done."

"Aye," he said, shedding the remnants of his clothes, "it was." He winked at Sif as he wandered around the room, blowing out all of the candles save for one. That one he set within the brazier tucked inside the far wall, adjusting its cover so that the growing fire emitted light but no errant sparks. Tasks complete, he made his way to his place at Jane's other side, curling into her warmth with a kiss atop her shoulder as he tugged the blankets back up.

"Well," Jane yawned, "we could always try it again sometime. You know, for science."

Her constant bedfellow's place of primacy reaffirmed, Jane dropped into slumber. For a time he was content to do nothing more than match his breath to hers. At last, though, he could put it off no longer, and glanced up to where Sif waited for him to speak. "Why?"

"She is lovely." A secret smile curved her mouth. "With more spice than I imagined."

"Some might think it curiosity on your part," he agreed, "but you are no cat."

"Am I not?" At his expectant look, she sighed. "I am more hound than feline, you mean to say."

"Your loyalty is a gift." One, he knew, born of his need as much as hers. Yet a shield-arm could not keep a warrior warm in the night, nor could it make him vulnerable.

"As is your heroism, my prince." Neither could a hero—or a prince—be aught less, even if his actions proved otherwise. Sif had always been quick to forgive his shortcomings.

"And Jane?"

"A gift... and a promise." She brushed a finger against a stray lock of Jane's hair, tucking it back among the rest. "For a mortal to turn the head of one of Asgard's own is an anomaly. Two is a standard. Those who would seek to supplant her seem rather fond of those."

"They will still talk." He twined his hand with hers, resting them both upon the blankets that kept Jane swaddled in warmth. "Those who we have lain with before will say that you have become so desperate for my regard that you are willing to lay with a Midgardian."

"The thought had occurred to me. I find that I mind it less than I ought." Her mouth quirked as she flicked her gaze to a point decidedly southward upon his body. "After all, none of them will ever know how she tastes... or that their prince becomes an impatient youth spending in his hand once more, simply because she wills it."

"Loyal Sif," he grumbled, and the soft sound of her laughter carried him into dreams, his Jane at his side.