“I seek an audience with L– the king.”
Sif was not accustomed to his newfound position, the title in relation to the boy she once knew still difficult to reconcile in her mind.
She could fondly recall when she had first met the younger prince, the raven-haired boy with the bright eyes and wide smile, and how they had become fast friends. She often found herself reminiscing about the days from their childhood spent hunting in the woods or discovering old tomes in a dusty corner of the palace library.
Time had since strained their relationship somewhat, with the pressures of the crown weighing on his shoulders and the unspoken but widely-understood betrothal to the older prince weighing on hers.
She couldn’t remember the last time she had actively sought him out, yet here she stood.
The guard at Loki’s door bowed his head in respect and replied, “My deepest apologies, Lady, but the king is not presently admitting visitors.”
“I beg your pardon?” Sif had never once been refused entry when she wished to converse with any member of the royal family. She wondered if perhaps this was Loki’s retribution for her defiance in the throne room before.
Sif still stood firm on her earlier position, but felt that perhaps she might be able to get through to the newly minted king in a way that no one else could. Their connection had always been more profound out of the entirety of their band of friends, and Loki was more amenable to her than any save his mother.
“He has requested that no one disturb him in his chambers until the morrow.” The Einharjar appeared contrite, but did not seem to be otherwise affected by her withering gaze.
Her icy stare had struck fear into many a men throughout the decades, but this man remained steadfast in the face of her ire. While an impressive feat, she had no intention of backing down so easily. “I’m not a common peasant wishing to settle a squabble, I am a friend of the king’s and a trusted warrior in the Allfather’s army; now I demand you grant me passage at once, or so help me Odin you will feel the wrath of War herself.”
The guard readied to speak, no doubt an admonishment, when the door opened of its own accord, short bursts of light flashing before their eyes with green smoke billowing behind it.
Loki’s voice rang through clear as if he was standing before them, “The Lady Sif is always welcome wherever she pleases. And I suggest you remove yourself from the way before she demonstrates the skills which earned her the most esteemed title of a warrior of Asgard.”
Apparently that was enough to scare the guard into conceding his position and Sif decided she would need to work on her grimace more if it was less intimidating than a little magic show.
A smirk adorned her face as she walked unimpeded into Loki’s chambers.
“Pleased, are we?” His voice reverberated around the walls, seeming to come from everywhere and nowhere, while Loki himself wasn’t anywhere to be found.
Most would be discomfited by this trick, but Sif was not fazed by the juvenile ruse. She had grown up with the prince after all, and she knew all of his ploys.
“What would give you that impression, my king?”
She continued her journey through the first room, which was where guests would usually be entertained in a royal’s suite. Sif was certain the space never received much use outside of a reading nook.
Though she still could not see Loki, she could hear his sly grin when he responded, “And what would you have done had I not intervened?”
“Why, I would have relied on my highly-acclaimed skills, of course.” Sif bypassed the room of shelves stacked with overflowing books and proceeded into his study where he mastered new spells and concocted fresh schemes. Her search remained fruitless, but she persisted.
Loki gasped, a mocking, exaggerated sound. “You mean to say that you would strongarm your way into my bedroom? Why, my fairest maiden, I didn’t presume you to be so brazen regarding your deepest… desires.”
The last word couldn’t be described as anything other than a purr and Sif found an unwelcome heat rising to her cheeks. This kind of teasing was not a recent development, but lately it had been affecting her in a way which she would much prefer not to dwell on.
After searching the fifth room and coming up empty, she was losing her patience. “I don’t know what game you’re playing at but-”
Suddenly a frost giant appeared mere meters before her and she had her sword out and poised in the same exhale. She found it odd that this individual was smaller than the average size of its kind, but an enemy was an enemy and she would not let her guard or weapon down at any cost.
“What have you done with the king you despicable creature?” she spat, fueled with worry.
“On the contrary, dear Sif.”
She was surprised to say the least when Loki’s voice emanated from the being and angered at his inappropriate illusion which had scared her beyond reason. “Why would you think that is an acceptable form to take after recent events? Your trickery has exceeded its usual amusement, Loki.” She lowered her sword, but the fury in her eyes did not waver.
His face fell in what she thought was remorse until he replied with a sly tone, “Oh, but it is not a trick. Do you not wish to know who I truly am? The monster that has always been inside your camp? Come closer and see for yourself.”
She furiously approached, her hand reaching out to strike him for the inconsiderate jest when he abruptly backed away from the oncoming blow.
“I wouldn’t touch me if I were you. Unless of course you desire to live out the remainder of your days as an ice sculpture.” He picked up the nearest object, a knife from his desk, and it instantly froze over. When he loosened his grip, it fell to the floor and shattered, the shards resembling glass rather than the metal from which it had been constructed.
Sif was so shocked that she stumbled backwards, the first time she had been unsteady on her feet in centuries.
“You see, my lady, this is not a charade.” He gestured to himself. “I would not willingly choose this form.”
Her confusion was evident by her furrowed brow, and her thoughts spilled out unimpeded from her mouth. “Then how–“ She could not finish. There was only one possible scenario in which his words proved true, and she couldn’t bring herself to believe in the mere idea of it.
“My father,” he spat the title, malice tingeing his words, “lied to me.” A pause, he chuckled, and continued, “And imagine, they’ve named me the liesmith. I believe that’s called irony, is it not?”
“So you truly are…” She trailed off, unable to fathom the news still.
“A risi? Yes.” He answered so matter-of-fact that one might not know how it truly affected him if they hadn’t grown up learning his tells.
Sif was well educated in his nonverbals by now. He was as okay with the situation as she was with it, which is to say, not at all. After collecting her thoughts she calmly asked, “And when did you acquire this knowledge?”
“Right before the Allfather collapsed. But I had my suspicions since our little adventure on Jotunheim.”
They were both still for a moment, red eyes staring into green.
Silence between them used to be companionable–words were never needed for them to communicate–but this pause hung heavy in the air, neither knowing what to say next.
Loki finally broke the quiet. “I know that I must truly disgust you, so I will not be offended if you wish to take your leave. All I ask is that you keep this matter in your utmost confidence. Asgard would not be as merciful as you if they learned their king was a monster.” His face remained impassive, but Sif saw a flicker of anguish on his features before he fully turned away from her.
Sif tentatively stepped closer to him. “Loki, you are many things, but a monster is not one of them.”
He quickly spun and readied to speak when she held up a hand to signal that she wasn’t finished.
“You are a good person. A good man. And while you’ve only just earned the title, I believe you will be a good king. That is, if you don’t refuse the counsel of your trusted friends.” She raised an eyebrow, recalling the earlier conversation with the Warriors Three. “I know you will make the best decisions for the good of Asgard in the Allfather’s absence because you have always upheld her interests. You have good intentions, and a good heart along with that brilliant mind of yours. The fact that these are contained within blue skin makes their worth no different.”
She wished to touch him, to give some small semblance of comfort. She decided to follow her instincts, reaching out before he could pull away and just barely resting her palm against the side of his face. His skin was cold, but not unbearably so, and by some miracle she found it became warmer the longer her hand remained.
A smile slowly formed on his face, matching Sif’s own. He mirrored her position, placing a blue hand on her pale cheek.
“That was a gambit, you know. I have yet to master control over my power. Touching me could have killed you.” The earlier anguish returned momentarily, but a look of wonder fast replaced it as Sif stepped even closer, their bodies mere inches apart.
She looked up into his eyes, not his usual green, but she found that she did not care. “Let’s be glad I’m not, then.”
She pulled Loki’s face towards hers and their lips met, all of their emotions pouring into the kiss.
The recent events and revelations had definitely been shocking, but Sif knew that together, they were going to be okay.