Thor laughed a bit, grateful for the distraction from his pain that Sif was giving him. “If it is height you seek in a man, then you are blessed with being easily amused.” He leaned his back against the tree and crossed his arms over his chest, looking at her. “Did you know that I once challenged him to a duel? I was oddly short for my age then and I think I was jealous. I was sent home from classes that day.” He watched her a moment, a smirk playing on his lips. “But no day shall ever be more embarrassing than the day the new student taught me a thing or two in the ring.” Surely she would know that he was talking about her. When they first met, he didn’t like that she wasn’t impressed by him and he tried to fight her. Needless to say, he was sent home from classes with a bloody nose.
“Well, not anymore!” Sif protested, giving Thor a playful shove. “There are many more qualities that I now require in any man who wishes to court me. Aside from meeting all of my requirements, which in and of itself is no easy feat, he would have to best you in a duel for my honor, since our childhood marriage was never annulled. Anything less would be a breach in protocol, I’m certain.”
Sif leaned against the tree and nodded sagely as Thor recounted the time he’d fought with Brandr, and her own first day of official training to be a warrior. “Ah, yes, that must have been quite embarrassing for you to be beaten in front of the whole class by the only girl in the academy. You wouldn’t speak to me for a week after that.” He’d deserved the bloody nose, of course. Sif had been a gangly, scrawny child, and Thor had tried to impress her with his status and strength, all to no avail. He never made that mistake again, at least.
Thor laughed at her joke. “Aye. And you are the only one granted such permission to ‘thrash’ me.” When they stopped at the ash tree, he put his hands on his hips and listened to her story, remembering it as though it were yesterday. “How could I forget? I was so frustrated. My attempts to sneak away were always thwarted by my mother who I swear had the sight of Heimdall!”
He looked to Sif, a genuine smile in place on his features. “Do you remember when we were very young, some boy, I cannot recall his name, denied you when you asked to date him.” He chuckled at the idea of a small child wanting to ‘date’. “You were so distraught and I wanted nothing but to cheer you up. I brought you here and we were married just beneath this very same tree.” He thought back on that night when he had to think quick to make up what he thought a wedding would be like. It was so silly and childish, yet the sentiment remained. She had smiled that day and he succeeded and he took pride in knowing he caused it. For a six year old, it was a big accomplishment.
Sif laughed in surprise at how suddenly and vividly the memory of that day came to her mind. They’d been such wild children, dashing headlong into every kind of mischief that Loki might concoct, or every adventure that Sif and Thor could dream up. It seemed that time had caught up with them, however, and that day under the tree when Thor had presented her with flowers and ribbons was now a thousand years behind them. Things would never be so simple or so innocent.
Not wanting to dampen the pleasant memories with somber thoughts, Sif was silent for a moment before saying, “His name was Brandr, I think. I don’t remember much of him, except that he was taller than all the other boys our age. Maybe that’s why I tried to court him.”
Thor smiled a bit at her words. It was comforting to know that he still had his friends by his side. He nodded and walked with her through the hallways of the palace. “Thank you,” he said, filling the comfortable silence that fell between them. “I know you were never fond of my brother. I understand your reasons, of course, but it means much to have you on my side in this.”
Soon they found themselves in one of the royal gardens. Frigga loved her gardens and Thor thought back on how they used to play here as children.
“I am always on your side,” she said, eyes straight ahead as they headed out into the gardens. “Unless you’re being an ass, in which case I am well within my rights to thrash you,” she amended with a small grin.
The flowers and trees of Frigga’s carefully-manicured garden were limned with starlight. Apart from the training grounds, this was Sif’s favorite place in the entire palace, and one that she visited frequently in her spare time. Looking over at Thor, she instantly recognized the expression of nostalgia writ on his face.
“Do you remember how we would always climb that ash tree when we were children?” she asked, gesturing to the tall tree in the heart of the garden. “You fell once and broke your arm, and we stayed at your bedside for almost a solid week before you were allowed to play outside again.” The ‘we’ she referred to was herself and Loki, but she went without saying.
Thor was surprised to hear someone call his name. He stopped walking, inwardly cursing whoever disturbed his peace. He just wanted to be left alone. A moment later, he registered the voice and turned to see his friend Sif. Aside from Fandral, she was probably the one person he trusted the most. They were friends since early childhood and had even dabbled in a short lived romance. He suddenly felt relieved to see her.
Looking exhausted, circles under his eyes, he waited for her to catch up. “I had to get away,” he explained. His actions didn’t need any justification but he wasn’t sure what else to say. “The entire lot’s a bunch of liars,” he said, anger seeping into his voice. “Their condolences are a joke.” He was bitter as he cast his gaze downward.
“Pay them no heed,” she said. “No one knew Loki like you did. If they don’t grieve for his loss, they aren’t worth your consideration.” Sif touched Thor’s arm briefly but let her hand fall away. Her voice dropped, too, and she couldn’t help but feel some regret for her own sentiments toward the prince. It was hypocritical, perhaps, but Thor needed to hear it, at least. He needed the solidarity.
Asking if there was any way she could help was a moot point, since there was no way to bring Loki back, but she could still be there to support him. “Come, I’d have a walk with you. Perhaps taking in the fresh air would help ease your mind.”
Thor stood next to his father as they oversaw the proceedings of Loki’s funeral. There was no body to burn so the pyre was completely symbolic. Thor watched the flames as they grew higher and he couldn’t help but blame himself for what happened. None of the citizens of Asgard knew the truth of what transpired that day, yet many were still quick to blame Loki. It disgusted Thor. No one present truly looked sad. They were there because it was expected of them. It seemed none but he and his family would even notice his younger brother’s absence. Surprisingly, Odin hadn’t blamed Loki at all. He was unusually silent about all of it. Thor knew this to be a sign of deep grieving since he father was rarely silent.
Looking around, Thor saw the faces of the people of Asgard. Some seemed bitter, others angry. Most just seemed bored. It was enough to infuriate him. He had to get away. He turned to his mother, Frigga, and gave her a kiss on the cheek. She smiled to him, the tear stains on her face still wet. Silently, he slipped away from the ceremony and wandered down one of the palace hallways. He had no destination in mind, he just had to move.
Over the course of their relationship, Sif had thought and felt a great many things about Loki. Few of them were charitable. Loki had a way of getting under people’s skin, and she’d never gotten entirely over the incident in their childhood when he’d shorn her hair as a nasty prank.
Despite the grief shared by the royal family, the funeral itself was a farce. While many of the citizens of Asgard weren’t entirely opposed to the idea of destroying Jotunheim, many of them never cared for Loki. Most of them, she’d guess. Thor had always been the golden boy.
From her position near the dais, she saw Thor kiss his mother and slip away. She didn’t wait to follow him lest she lose sight of him- the halls of the palace were long and winding.
“Thor!” she called, speeding up to catch him. “Wait.”
I find it interesting that so much human music is about love, in one form or another. On Asgard, most of our songs are epic tales of mighty battles and heroic deeds.
If any of you need to get a hold of me for plotting re. Sif or Rafaela, feel free to contact me on aim at “theninjacowgirls.”
Thor smiled thinking about the scene. “I miss them. I miss all of you. Sometimes I wonder what I’m even doing here.” He sighed and picked up a screwdriver before heading back into the foyer. He hung the other door on it’s hinges, tightening every bolt. “It’s good to see you again, though.”
“We miss you, too. I miss you,” she said, following him back to the door. It was good work— the construction looked built to last. “I’ll see that this is delivered into the right hands,” said Sif, gripping the strap of the satchel. “And I’ll see you again, soon.”