damalur: (Default)
no, use my SPACE name! ([personal profile] damalur) wrote2015-12-28 06:43 pm

amnesty: what delights the blood (marvel, sif/loki)

Sif/Loki that I think was started for Mischief & Mistletoe '14 and then quickly abandoned.



This is how you kill a Frost Giant.

-

"Give him to me," they say, one after the other. "Give him to me, I know best how to break men," they say. "Give him to me, gods are nothing in the face of my subtlety, my wiles," they say. "Give him to me," they say, "and I will teach him pain."

Sif stands in the corner, as blank and heavy, as cold and quiet and old, as stone; her red cloak with its pelt collar is draped about her shoulders, and her presence sits hard and immovable in the midst of the learned and wise.

"Give him to me," they says.

"Enough!" says the All-Father. "I cannot hear my own thoughts for the calling of you carrion birds." Some measure of Odin's council takes offense at the insult, and a ripple shivers through them--but a small thing, is the wake of their anger, nothing compared to the tidal force Sif herself could bring to bear.

"Do we dare pit our courser against a wolf of the first order?" says Odin. "We do. The All-Father has decided; it was Sif who caught the traitor, and it is Sif who shall have him."

They mean to argue with him, but no sooner have their mouths fallen open than Odin raises a fist.

"The All-Father has decided," he says. "Will you question your king?"

Their mouths are open, gaping, slavering holes; and then, one by one, the jaws snap shut.

In the corner, Sif adjusts her wolf-fur collar; her teeth are always bared, a grin of savage, hungering delight.

-

This is how you kill a Frost Giant:

You feed it. You teach it, clean it, show it how best to stand, to walk, to run. You touch it with gentle hands, lift it when it falls, shelter it when it sleeps. You keep it warm. You surround and swaddle it, you smother and shroud and suffocate it

with

warmth.

-

Down the stairs she goes, ten thousand stairs and more, down and down and down until Asgard is only a thought, the sky only a memory. Down and down she goes, past stone and water, gold and bone, ash and uru and cold iron; she takes the steps in unceasing descent, a hand curled over the pommel of her sword, aware of the stir of the air at her passing.

Odin did not build this cell for the traitor; it simply was, from the first breath of Asgard's conception, waiting all these long ages for an usurper to fill it. And he is waiting for her, at the bottom of the world, his eyes closed in meditation: traitor, usurper, liar, serpent, wolf.

His eyes open. "Hello, Sif."

Sif crouches in front of him, balanced easily on the balls of her feet, and her cloak pools behind her. Does she speak? She does not; she speaks but rarely now, and her expressions come in what is bared and what is sheathed.

"Are you here to gape and gawk?" he says. "Do you come to stare? There is a guard who does the same, but he's too afraid to come close enough to let me whisper to him. He stands there, at the foot of the stairs--"

Loki's ribs curve and glint in the light of the torches. Sif sees skin, she sees being, she sees the body she once touched with tenderness, but she also sees the map of cuts she would have to make to flay him open. She has done is a thousand times and more, with boars and bears, rabbits and bucks; she knows how to jerk back the skin, empty the belly of offal, crack open the ribs and tear out the heart. What is Loki but one more creature who falls to Sif's hunt?

"Do you come to sate your blood-madness?" says Loki. "Will you strike me, Sif? Will you beat me, cut me, burn me, club me, assault me with sword and spear? Will you lance me through the side? Would it satisfy?"

Sif tilts her head. Once she touched those ribs, felt him flinch and laugh beneath her fingertips; once she had flinched and laughed for him herself. That was so long enough. She does not remember as a woman remembers, with grief or tenderness, hours passed or boons gained. She remembers as earth remembers: slow, inexorable, rolling, a memory too deep to press into words.

"Madness," says Loki. "Has it stolen your tongue? It has sharpened mine, and now I might flay you with my sword as you flay me with yours. Shall we peel each other apart? Have we not already done so?"

His words fall on dumb ears; Sif lacks the ability to articulate even this. She has become something else, something new: his fall gave them both fresh purpose.

When Loki grins, his teeth glint white, and the one thing she can read is the amusement, the very genuine amusement in his eyes. "The dog of war has me," he says. "All that remains is for her to prove she knows what to do with the traitor. So, Sif: what now?"

-

This is how you kill a Frost Giant:

You keep it from what it wants, what it knows, what blood demands. You dress it in finery and pretend it is civilized, pretend it is not a brute draped in kills, pretend you can bring it to heel. It asks for a sword; you tell it no. It asks for a dagger; you tell it no. It asks you to free it from its chains; you tell it no.

It chews off its own foot to escape and runs, mindless, for the woods. The blood-trail is fresh, strong. You track it down, bind its wound, drag it back league by league through the thick drifts of snow. You force it to walk upright; you dress it in silk; you deny it teeth, and think it better for the binding.

-

In Asgard they tell the story often, and in other places, too; like most good stories, it gains something new with each telling.

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