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Second Chances

Chapter 50

Charles stopped and took a deep breath, reaching for his coffee. Maia blinked her eyes, feeling as though she had been asleep, deep in a dream, but it had been a memory, and so realistic she actually reached up and touched her temple, checking there were no signs of the battle. Loki’s hand touched her knee beside him and she looked at him, confused for a moment as his hair was longer, his outfit different, and he looked at her with much the same dazed expression.
‘That is…quite an experience.’ Charles said finally, taking a drink.
‘What do you think?’ Maia asked, her voice sounding alien to her ears with the American accent.
‘I think there is still a lot I have to see, but you are correct. You were once Sigyn of Asgard.’ He looked at them both beside him. ‘Do you want to break for a short while? Or are you happy to continue?’
‘Just let me grab some water and I’m good.’ Maia answered as Loki nodded.
‘Continuing is fine, but let me.’ He stopped Maia from getting up and went to the mini fridge for her water.
‘He is certainly attentive.’ Charles commented to her and she smiled with a small nod. It had not slipped his notice that Loki really did seem to only have eyes for Maia and his emotions were genuine.
Minutes later they were ready to start again, but this time Charles started with Loki, seeking his memories from where they had left off.
‘You should have asked her by now.’ Thor commented as he bit into an apple. He was laying in the window seat in Loki’s chambers as his brother paced before the fireplace.
‘I am aware of that, thank you.’ Loki snapped.
‘Someone else will, if you do not.’ Thor examined the apple before taking another bite. ‘Fandral has already suggested if you do not make your intentions clear he will happily take her.’
‘Fandral has enough maidens on his arm for the night already, he can keep his damn hands to himself!’
‘And yet you cannot even ask one maiden such a simple thing. She is no stranger, Loki, she likes you. Simply open your mouth and let the words come out.’
‘What if she says no?’ Loki stopped his pacing and glared at his brother.
‘What if she says yes?’ Thor sat up. ‘You already missed asking her to the last two solstice feasts because of your inability to string a simple sentence together. You may join her after the feast each time but would it not be better to be seated by her? To know you are there together?’
‘It would be immensely better, but you know Father still wants us to bide our time taking…’
‘It’s a feast!’ Thor interrupted. ‘You are not asking Sigyn for her hand at this point, you are asking her to accompany you to this feast day. You are overcomplicating by making excuses about responsibilities. You love her, do you not?’
Loki closed his eyes and sighed. He knew how he felt about Sigyn, he knew he was so in love with her it hurt, but his heart was guarded, his responsibilities great, and fear she may not feel the same haunted him. ‘Love is such a strong word.’
‘And yet true.’ Thor threw the apple core out of the window and went to his brother, resting his hand on his shoulder. ‘Ask her, Loki. Ask her, or I will.’
‘You?’ Loki looked at him in alarm.
‘Have you seen the appreciative looks some of Einherjar give her? I know more than one has commented none too kindly on what they would do to her, given the chance, and if you will not ask her then I will, as a friend, to protect her from undesirable attention. I would not be surprised if she had already been invited by more than one, but you know what, brother? She is ever hopeful, waiting for you to ask.’
Loki swallowed, knowing Thor was right. He didn’t want anyone else escorting her, even Thor with his good intentions. ‘I’m going to ask her.’ He went for the door.
‘Good man!’ Thor followed him, wanting to make sure he did.
Loki got most of the way before he stopped. ‘I should have flowers.’ He tried to turn but Thor put his hand on his shoulder, keeping him moving.
‘She cares not for flowers, Loki, she cares for you.’
‘She deserves flowers.’ Loki insisted but kept walking.
‘I guarantee, brother, you could arrive caked in mud and she would care not, as long as you ASK!’ He pushed him to the door and stepped around a pillar out of sight.
‘No, I can’t.’ Loki turned away again but Thor caught him around the shoulders, positioning him in front of the door.
‘You can. You are a prince of Asgard, and behind that door is not only one of your best friends but perhaps the love of your life. One question. “Go to the feast with me?” It’s all you need to ask. You can do this.’ He banged on the door before Loki could argue and darted back to his hiding place.
Loki knew Sigyn’s father would be at the garrison so when her lady in waiting answered he was not surprised, although he still swallowed before he spoke. ‘Good afternoon, I would speak with the Lady Sigyn, if you please?’
‘Of course, my prince. Please, come in.’ She stepped aside and Loki glanced back at Thor who gave him a thumbs up and a smile. He took a deep breath and stepped inside.
‘Lady Sigyn,’ her lady in waiting called, ‘you have a caller.’
Sigyn had been dressing, having spent the morning training with Sif, and she had got herself in a knot with her dress. ‘Just a moment!’ She called, dragging the material over her head and throwing it on the floor as she could make no sense of it. Instead she grabbed a long sleeved pink gown she had been avoiding wearing because the colour did nothing for her complexion but she knew she could throw on easily. Affixing her gold belt and checking her hair she rushed towards the door, almost tripping out of it as she crossed the threshold. ‘Loki.’ She smiled as she righted herself, blowing a curl out of her face.
‘Lady Sigyn.’ He bowed his head to her and she realised her mistake.
‘My prince.’ She said rapidly and curtseyed as the lady in waiting left them. ‘How may I serve you?’ She leant back to make sure the lady in waiting was out of earshot before pulling a face at Loki. ‘I am going to be in so much trouble for that.’ She whispered and he felt his nerves alleviate a little at how she never seemed to change.
‘I will pardon you the indiscretion.’ He too peered around the corner, checking if they were alone. ‘I come to ask something of you, if you would hear me out?’
Sigyn bit her lip as she saw the door close at the end of the corridor and grinned, rushing to him. ‘She’s gone!’
‘I do have something to ask you, Sig, please.’ He took her hand and guided her to the window seat, sitting beside her so they faced one another.
‘What is it? What’s wrong?’ He looked so serious she felt bad she had not noticed immediately. They were friends but she was in more of a hurry to see him than to consider why he may have been there.
‘Nothing, not wrong.’ He realised he still held her hand and looked at it in his, so small and dainty, and he paused, unsure how to begin.
‘Ask her!’ Thor’s voice boomed through the door and Sigyn jumped in surprise.
‘Shut up!’ Loki shouted back before smiling apologetically at her. ‘Sorry. Thor is a little impatient.’
‘What do you want to ask me, Loki?’ She said quietly, unable to keep the smile off her face.
‘Well, it’s almost the winter solstice, and the preparations are well underway for the feast. I was wondering if, perhaps, you would…be going?’
‘No!’ Thor’s voice came from outside again and Sigyn side eyed the door.
‘Should I ask him in?’ She asked uncertainly.
‘Definitely not.’ Loki shook his head, getting to his feet and opening the door to find Thor so close he must have had his ear to the wood.
‘Ah, brother, Lady Sigyn…I lost…something.’ He crouched and picked up nothing, holding his thumb and forefinger as though he had picked something up. ‘I can leave now.’
‘Yes, you should.’ Loki pushed at his chest and slammed the door before turning to her. ‘I am sorry for the interruption.’
‘None needed.’ She shook her head as he came back to take his seat beside her. ‘But you asked of the Yule feast? I will be going, although I fear I yet again have no escort.’ She said uncertainly, offering him the chance to ask, if that was what he wanted. She had been asked by two of the Einherjar but she had declined them graciously, again in the hope that Loki would ask, as Sif kept saying he would, and it was not going unnoticed by her father that she was keeping herself for something or someone.
‘I would escort you, if you would permit it?’ He said quickly, before he could change his mind.
‘I would like that, if it were no trouble?’ She added. ‘I would hate to think I have kept you from taking someone you would rather, simply to save me yet another evening of the ladies of the court asking why I am alone.’
‘You keep me from no one, as there is no one else I would rather take.’ He assured her. ‘Will you do me this honour, Sig?’
‘I would be delighted to.’ She nodded with a smile that warmed his heart.
‘Good, that’s…good.’ He managed to say through the grin that had made its way onto his face. ‘I was afraid you would say no.’
‘Why would I refuse you, Loki? I love spending time with you.’ She laughed softly.
‘And I with you.’ He took her hand in his once more. ‘Would you like to take a walk with me? The gardens are quite snowbound and beautiful.’
‘I would.’ She stood and he did the same. ‘I will just get my cloak.’
‘And shoes, I hope?’
She looked down, realising in her hurry to greet him she had come out barefoot, hardly noticing the cold stone against her skin. ‘Oh goodness.’ She groaned as she realised he knew she had had none on but didn’t seem to mind or care.
‘It is a little cold for that, but in the summer we will go walking in the gardens with no shoes, I promise.’
‘I’d like that. Just give me a moment.’ She ran back to her room and pulled out her warmest boots and cloak, which was pale yellow and heavy velvet. It covered her from head to toe and as she knew it to be bitterly cold out, she took an extra moment to slip leather pants on under her dress. It would do her no good to get too cold and shiver her way through the walk with Loki. She took up her gloves and went back through to find Loki had created himself a warm coat with fur trim collar and she paused in the doorway, realising they would look like two sides of a spectrum, in their opposing colours.
‘I’m ready.’ She said and he looked up at her, having not realised she had returned.
‘You look lovely, Sig.’ He smiled at her as she came across the floor in her cloak.
‘Thank you. It really doesn’t go with the awful dress but you can’t really see it, can you?’
‘The dress is not awful.’ He laughed, feeling more relaxed, having got the question out and not been rejected.
‘I really don’t like it. Father thought it feminine.’ She rolled her eyes as he offered her his arm.
‘I suppose it is that. But the cloak is lovely. You’re quite the sunbeam in it.’
She dug him in the ribs with her elbow before linking their arms. ‘You are not funny, my prince.’
‘Quite true, and the dress is very rose petal like.’
‘Stop teasing or you will walk in the gardens alone.’ She glared at him playfully.
‘Alright, petal. I’m sorry.’ He grinned. ‘You should tell your lady where you are going.’
‘Where’s the fun in that?’ She looked down the hallway and made sure the door was still closed before pulling him quickly to the door. ‘If she thinks I am lost she will have something to worry her besides my sensibilities remaining intact.’
‘Do your sensibilities remain intact?’ He teased.
‘In some respects.’ She pulled the door open before he could. ‘Those ways are still waiting to be explored.’
He had no answer to that, just let her lead them out of her quarters and down the hallway.
‘I have an escort, father.’ Sigyn argued as she picked up her shoes. ‘I promise you, I am not going alone to this feast.’
Her father glared at her, sure she was, yet again, going to appear as though she would be content to be a spinster. ‘I do not mean after the feast when you always join your friends, I refer to the feast itself, when all around you have partners and you sit alone, as though it natural for a girl of your age and status.’
‘I have an escort to the feast. I have an escort for the night, and I promise you, you will like him.’
‘So it is a him, not you and the Lady Sif claiming to partner one another as men are unworthy, again?’
‘Not Sif, and yes, a him.’ She smiled. She had been ready for Loki to come for her for almost an hour, other than her shoes, her dress a rich festive green with gold trim, fitted at her waist and falling to the floor elegantly, her sleeves fluted in the latest style. Her hair she had fastened at the top of her head in a small bun looped with braids, the rest of her curls falling loose and adorned with ribbons.
‘Do I know the fellow?’ Her father folded his arms over his broad chest, still eyeing her suspiciously.
‘You do. You even like him.’ She slipped her shoes on and checked her reflection before turning to face him. ‘I promise, Father, you will not be disappointed. He is a fine man even you could not disapprove of.’
He narrowed his eyes at her. ‘If Fandral knocks on that door…’
She laughed out loud and went to him, resting her hand on his arm before leaning up to kiss his cheek. ‘It is not Fandral.’
He sighed and put his hand over hers. ‘I worry for you, daughter. You have taken a career fighting alongside our greatest warriors, despite the many years you spent learning to be a lady. It has not gone unnoticed that you turn down many of the men who seek your attention.’
‘Am I not allowed to have my own opinion of which men I prefer to keep company with? Would you have me unhappy with any man than happy with none?’
‘You know I care for your happiness, but you have a duty…’
‘Pfft, duty.’ She rolled her eyes and went out to the living area. ‘If my duty is to do nothing but needlework with a husband I do not love then I will be dishonoured.’
‘There are many men who would seek your favour, were they not so intimidated.’
She laughed. ’If they are intimidated by me they would make a terrible choice for a suitor anyway.’
‘While I agree with that sentiment I fear many may also be deterred by the company you keep.’
‘Love me, love my friends.’ She shrugged, brushing the front of her skirts. ‘Really, father, I am barely nineteen. I do not think, for a race who lives to be around five thousand, that I need to be worrying over my status as a spinster just yet.’
‘I wish for you to be happy.’ He came and took her gently by the upper arms.
‘I am happy.’ She smiled warmly at him. ‘Never been happier.’
He went to answer but there was a knock on the door. The lady in waiting rushed to it, knowing this was the mystery escort Sigyn would tell them nothing about. There had been quite the talk about who it could be and a small gambling pool had been taking place below stairs, but what they didn’t realise was both Loki and Sigyn knew and even had placed wagers themselves.
‘I hope he makes you happy.’
‘He already does.’
He let her go and she turned as the door was opened, to reveal Loki, resplendent in his gold and green armour. He held his helmet under his arm and his green cape hung down his back to his ankles. He was nervous, but it didn’t show. Thor had reminded him, yet again, this was Sigyn, his friend, perhaps the friend who understood him most, and he had nothing to fear. Outwardly, he would be himself, but inside he was aware that something may change for them tonight, he hoped for the better.
‘Prince Loki?’ Her father said in surprise as he stepped through the door.
‘Good evening, General.’ He bowed his head. ‘I am not too early, am I?’
‘Perfectly timed, as always.’ Sigyn said, walking towards him.
‘Lady Sigyn, you honour me with such beauty.’
‘Thank you, my prince.’ She bobbed a quick curtsey to him. ‘And you look more handsome than ever.’
‘You are too kind.’ He offered her his arm. ‘Shall we, sunbeam?’
‘Let’s.’ She turned to her father with a smug smile. ‘I shall see you at the banquet, Father.’
He had no reply and Sigyn began laughing as soon as the door closed.
‘Do I sense there was some discomfort with your father before I arrived?’
‘Quite.’ She shook her head. ‘He is very concerned over my status as an old maid at court.’
‘You are hardly old.’
‘And yet my father would have me married off.’ She complained. ‘Does your father do the same?’
‘My situation is a little different.’ He sighed. ‘But I do not want to speak of our father’s and their ridiculously archaic notions.’
‘What would you rather speak of?’
‘What about how we are going to spend our winnings from the pool of who your escort may be?’
‘Oh, I do like that idea.’ She grinned, stepping closer to him and curling both arms around his.
The feast was grand, as always, the hall hung with many seasonal boughs and decorations; fires, candles and torches lighting the room warmly as snow fell outside. There was much merry making, drinking and eating, but Loki hardly noticed, his attention completely for Sigyn as they spoke and laughed throughout the banquet. They were seated beside Frigga, with Odin and Thor on her other side and Sif made sure to stop by the table and wish them all a fond yuletide, making sure to hug Sigyn with a brief; ‘Finally!’ in her ear.
After the food, Odin gave a blessing and threw the traditional yule log into the great fireplace before the dancing and games began. Volstagg took up his usual place, near the remaining food and drink, telling stories while his friends gathered around and heckled, Fandral with a girl on each arm, and Sigyn assumed they would be joining them, but Loki had other ideas.
‘Are we not joining the others?’ She asked as they passed a table playing dice.
‘Eventually, I do not doubt, but would you not like the full escort experience?’ He glanced down at her. He had long since removed his helmet and sent it off to his vault along with his cape, for comfort.
‘Full escort experience?’ She asked.
‘Would you dance with me, sunbeam?’
She smiled broadly. ‘I would love to.’
They took to the floor but neither spoke, unsure of what to say for some time, until Sigyn thought of something to ask.
‘Loki, why did you ask me to the feast?’
‘Do you not know why?’ He quirked his head to one side.
‘Pity? Apparently everyone in Asgard is tired of seeing me alone, or Sif and I as one another’s escorts.’
‘Definitely not pity.’
‘Boredom? You desired my company over that of your brother?’ She grinned.
He laughed. ‘Perhaps partially, but I prefer your company over all others, not just Thor.’
‘That’s sweet of you to say so.’
‘It’s quite true.’ He insisted. ‘I wanted to ask you to the previous two feasts. I was certain you would decline.’
‘I can rarely say no to you, Loki.’
‘And yet this was the one thing I feared you would.’
She shook her head. ‘I wouldn’t. In truth I have been waiting for you to ask.’
‘Is that why you have always attended alone?’ He frowned, suddenly thinking he understood something he should have realised.
She looked away as her cheeks flushed. ‘I…held hope you might. I had, and still have, no desire to spend my time with members of the Einherjar who wish for me to do nothing but look pretty and smile nicely while listening to their tedious retellings of exaggerated battles.’
What she said sank in and Loki stopped them moving, frowning at her. ‘You had invitations to be escorted by some of the Einherjar?’
‘One or two.’ She looked back up at him apologetically.
‘I find it almost as hard to believe you have only been asked by one or two as I did to believe none at all.’
‘Perhaps more, I didn’t keep count.’ She said flippantly, hoping they could change the subject.
‘Oh, Sig.’ He sighed, closing his eyes for a moment as he realised she really had wanted him to ask her as much as he had wanted to ask. ‘Did we both miss opportunities because of my fear?’
‘I think we did.’ She admitted reluctantly. ‘Sif has been telling me for months you were going to ask, and I didn’t want to have to say no.’
‘I did want to ask, and I should have. I’m sorry.’
‘No apologies, Loki. We’re friends, all we need from now on is the truth.’ She smiled warmly.
‘If it is the truth you wish then I think I owe you one more.’ He glanced around at the crowded dance floor. ‘Perhaps we could discuss this somewhere more private?’
‘Of course.’ She nodded and he offered her his arm, taking her across the room towards the balcony where few people were gathered, avoiding the cold weather, but they didn’t quite make it before they were called.
‘Brother!’ They stopped and turned to find Thor with their friends, drinks in hand and smiling far too happily at the young pair.
‘We are a little busy, Thor. Can it wait?’ Loki asked as he led Sigyn towards them.
‘Certainly, however,’ he pointed above Loki and Sigyn’s head. They both looked up to see a ball of mistletoe hung from the ceiling. ‘You would not dishonour Mother by ignoring this tradition, would you?’
‘Oh.’ Sigyn said as she realised why everyone was grinning at them.
Loki looked at her, slightly wide eyed. ‘Sig, we don’t…’
‘Mother is watching.’ Thor pointed out.
‘It’s okay, Loki.’ Sigyn smiled shyly.
‘I would rather no one was watching.’ He glared at Thor before turning back to Sigyn, his expression softening. ‘I would have had privacy for this.’ He said quietly before slowly raising his hand to cup Sigyn’s cheek. She blushed faintly as her stomach danced nervously, Loki stepping closer as his eyes studied hers apprehensively, expecting her to turn him away despite the Asgardian custom they were honouring. She swallowed as he bowed his head, her eyes closing as his lips reached hers in the barest of touches. It was everything she could have hoped for, despite the simplicity of the caress, and her heart skipped a beat as his fingertips brushed her hair.
Loki had wanted privacy but he could not deny the kiss was all that he wanted, that she was all he needed. In that moment she became his air, even more than she had been before, and he didn't care that they had an audience. His other hand came up to cradle the back of her neck as her hands rested on his chest, trembling with both nerves and excitement, but when they parted it wasn't because they were ready but because of the cheer that went up from their friends and Sigyn dropped her head down, obscuring the blush that scorched through her as Loki scowled at the group before his eyes came to rest on Thor.
‘Yes, thank you all for making this such a memorable experience.’ He said sarcastically before bowing his head so his mouth was close to Sigyn. ‘Shall we find our privacy, sunbeam?’ She nodded, not trusting her voice, and he shot one final scathing look at their friends before taking her arm and walking them towards the balcony, but he had one last parting gift for their meddlers. Waving his hand he placed in each of their goblets a small, harmless snake. That would teach them for interfering.
‘That was…’ he sighed, trying to find the right words.
‘The right thing, the wrong place?’ She suggested quietly and he turned to face her, regarding her with wonder.
‘Exactly.’ He took one of her hands in both of his. ‘I offered you one more truth, before…before. Will you hear me out?’
‘Of course.’ She smiled.
‘Very well. This truth, is that,’ he sighed and set his resolve, ‘I consider you more than a friend, Sig. You’re dear to me in a way the others are not. I would like you to please consider me as more too.’
Sigyn swallowed past the lump in her throat that his nervous words brought. ‘I already do, stupid.’ She managed a small laugh. ‘Sif was right when she said you men are blind to what is right in front of you. I swear if I had to…’
‘You do?’ Loki interrupted.
‘Of course I do! You’re my best friend, and more.’
He couldn’t help himself, he kissed her, and this time there was less hesitation. He pulled her to him and she wrapped her arms around his neck. It was several minutes before they parted again, both flushed and smiling. ‘Does this mean you would consider me as a suitor?’ Loki asked.
‘I would be proud to do so.’
‘That’s wonderful.’ He grinned, unable to keep himself from doing so. He took her left hand from around his neck and pushed up her sleeve. ‘I would make it official,’ he stroked his fingers around her wrist and in their wake came a braided gold chain that met in the design of a snake biting its own tail, a symbol for infinity, ‘and it would please me greatly if you would wear this.’
‘It would please me greatly too.’ She smiled as he folded her sleeve back down. ‘You realise we will both get a good dose of “I told you so”’s from our friends now?’
‘I will gladly take it, if you are to be my prize.’
‘My son?’ They turned at the sound of Odin’s voice and Sigyn took a step back and curtseyed to him.
‘Father.’ Loki greeted him.
‘Your mother wishes to dance with you.’ Odin said, still having not acknowledged Sigyn standing beside his son.
‘Of course. Will you excuse me, my lady?’ He asked.
‘Please, go ahead.’ She bowed her head to him and he kissed her hand before leaving the balcony. Sigyn had expected Odin to leave then too but instead he stood before her, keeping his one eye on her until she felt nervous under his scrutiny.
‘Lady Sigyn, I would speak with you a moment.’
‘As Your Majesty wishes.’
He offered her his arm then led her to the edge of the balcony where the snow fell. ‘I notice my son’s both have a fondness for you, but Loki in particular.’
‘They are a true credit to you, Allfather. You must be very proud.’ She said, wanting nothing more than to look at the King but afraid to do so at the same time.
‘Indeed I am, as your father is of you.’
‘You are too kind, Majesty.’
‘And that is why what I must say saddens me.’ Sigyn felt the smile on her face falter as he continued to speak. ‘Loki is a prince of the realms and you, while a lady, are foremost a warrior, and as such not suitable as the consort to royalty. While you may hold Loki’s heart, his duty is to the nine realms and anything you and my son have can never lead to anything permanent. Please consider this before you embark on something that can only lead to heartbreak for you both.’ Sigyn felt cold dread starting in her heart as Odin patted her hand on his arm before turning to face her but she could only still look out over the balcony. ‘You are a lovely girl, Sigyn, you will find another suitor easy enough.’
‘Thank you, Allfather.’ She said distantly as he walked away, leaving her with her heart breaking. The music and laughter from the celebration washed over her but she had found and lost her happiness in the space of a few minutes. She didn’t see how she could stay after what the Allfather had said, she needed distance, and a way to explain this to Loki as she doubted Odin would. He had been polite enough but his point was made; she and Loki would never have a future together.
Turning on her heel she knew she had to leave before the emotions roiling inside her escaped. She made her way to their friends who smiled at her as she approached.
‘No Loki?’ Fandral teased and she forced a smile.
‘No, he is doing his duty as a good son.’
‘What’s wrong?’ Sif asked, tilting her head to one side as though it would help her figure it out.
‘I am just a little tired.’ She lied, twisting her hands nervously. ‘I hardly slept last night for excitement and now it is haunting me.’
‘To be expected, with your young heart all a-flitter.’ Volstagg remarked around his flagon of ale.
‘Indeed.’ She turned to Thor. ‘Would you please make my excuses, I fear I must retire or sleep where I stand.’
He frowned at her, not understanding why she was leaving when she had seemed so happy minutes before. ‘Allow me to escort you home.’ Thor got to his feet.
‘No, thank you, my prince, that is quite unnecessary. I can find my own way.’ She looked among them. ‘Goodnight.’ And she turned towards the doors.
‘Nonsense.’ Thor caught up with her as she reached the great doors. ‘What kind of a friend would I be to allow you to be roaming the halls on the longest night alone?’
‘The kind of friend who can take a hint?’ She said quietly, knowing her emotions would not leave her be for much longer. ‘Truly, Thor, return to the party, ask Loki my forgiveness, and have a good time.’
‘I’m afraid I just cannot do so.’ He said simply. ‘Although perhaps you would like to tell me why the sudden departure after speaking with my father.’
She sighed. She would not get away with much but the truth with Thor or he may ask Odin directly. ‘I would rather speak once we are further from the great hall.’
‘Very well.’
They walked some way before she felt happy to speak openly and then she felt bad as this was Thor’s father too. ‘The Allfather considers me a unsuitable choice for Loki. We will not be permitted a relationship of any kind other than friendship.’
‘He said that?’ Thor stopped her with his hand on her arm and just looking up into his eyes was enough to break her. Tears welled up in her eyes and her lip quivered despite her best effort. ‘Oh, Sig, I am so sorry.’
‘It cannot be helped.’ She said but it came out strangled and Thor tried to pull her into a hug but she stepped back. ‘Please, Thor, it will not help matters, it will change nothing. I need some space, and just forget this night ever happened.’
‘Let me speak with Mother.’ Thor suggested as she continued to back away from him. ‘She loves you and sees how good you are together.’
She swallowed, knowing he meant well, but the Allfather had spoken, his word was law. ‘Please, pass my apologies for my early departure to whomever may ask.’
‘Sigyn,’ He began but she shook her head, the tears now escaping over her cheeks.
‘I’m sorry, Thor.’ She said simply, before turning and walking briskly back to her quarters.
Maia was sobbing loudly when Charles let the memory go and Loki pulled her into his lap, letting her bury her head in his neck and cry loudly as he held her, Charles himself having tears in his eyes at how powerful the memory.
‘It’s alright, Sig, it’s okay.’ Loki murmured into her hair as he stroked her back. ‘We’re together now, Odin cannot stop us.’
Charles wiped his eyes and swallowed before speaking. ‘Perhaps we should take a break before continuing.’



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