‘Til Death: Sigyn

‘Til Death: Sigyn

Part of the Free Reads Collection

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PART 4

Loki. Sigyn licked her lips, wishing to say his name aloud, but it wasn’t the right moment for her to speak just yet. She wondered instead if he could hear his name rattling around in her mind as they stood across from one another, Frigg between them to conduct the wedding ceremony. Her smile was infectious, or so she’d been told, and every time the edges of her lips quirked upward, so did his. When he grinned, it was easy to forget all the Aesir and Vanir sat behind them, watching perhaps with both fascination and some humor—after all, Loki’s reputation warranted a little laughter.

She’d never thought this day would come—not so suddenly, anyway. Chaste and prone to solitude, Sigyn had been content with her life up until a certain trickster wandered into it. Gardening soothed her, and she traveled all the realms, collecting seeds from far and wide to add to her personal garden. She was held in no real regard by the humans. There were no duties she needed to attend to, no ceremonies she ought to watch, no favours to bestow. A goddess by birth, by race, she was free to do as she wished. Her family had always been scattered, and she liked it that way.

Yet here she was, standing before all these people, all these important figures, marrying a man whose name was known across the lands. A man who desired her so plainly, but who’d worked tirelessly for months, almost a full year, to win her heart. Never once had he pushed her to break her vow, the one she’d decided to make to honour her husband—whoever he might be. Loki had instead gardened with her, swam naked under the moonlight. He’d taken her on walks, sometimes across the mountains, sometimes between the realms. Through him she’d seen jötunn tribes and dwarfish gatherings. Notorious for his pretty words and deceptive glances, he’d sat in silence on many occasions, simply to listen to her talk, or sing, or hum. Always watching her.

No one could blame her for thinking it was all a big trick initially. Loki was the father of lies, the master of treachery, a man both feared and adored by the local humans. She also knew he enjoyed seeking his pleasure wherever he could find it. Sigyn knew of his reputation long before he happened upon her mid-afternoon swim many seasons earlier. He had a giantess wife—or mistress, no one was entirely sure—with whom he’d already had children. Monsters, according to even the other gods. His sexual desires were not unknown to her—and she’d thought he’d seen her as a conquest at first. A prize to be claimed. A feat to be conquered.

But most would have abandoned the quest long ago—or, perhaps, tried to take her by force. Loki had done neither.

He’d made her love him in all that time, with words so sweet she’d sometimes forgotten whose tongue they came from. With innocent touches. Gentle kisses. Wandering hands that never lingered for too long.

When he asked her to be his wife, despite already having one in a faraway realm, she thought he’d earned the privilege.

And so she stood before him at last, her feet bare, toes wiggling in the thick green grasses of Asgard. The day was exquisite, seasonally warm without a cloud in the sky. Behind the crowd of witnesses, the grandest of feasting halls stood, prepared by Odin himself to receive his blood-brother after his wife Frigg had married the pair.

Sigyn’s gaze swept over her soon-to-be husband, her partner for life. He’d learn she’d not be as easily forgotten as his first wife. So handsome. He’d tied his unruly hair back for the occasion, the sun making it seem redder than usual. Both dressed plainly, him in black and her in beige. The most elaborate part of her attire was the bridal crown, which Sigyn had woven herself. Its base consisted of young branches and straw, while she’d decorated it with different flowers from her garden. No colour pattern—she’d wanted to remind him of the day they met properly, when Loki was drawn to her because of her beautiful garden. Meanwhile, Loki’s small token was an intricately crafted metal ring, which he wore on his thumb—freeing his finger for the ring she’d place there soon.

“The swords,” Frigg said suddenly, drawing Sigyn out of her quiet contemplation. Loki stepped away first, and his absence, no matter how temporary, made her heart hurt. When he returned, an impressive broadsword was presented to her. Whether it was ancestral to his somewhat uncertain lineage was unclear, but she took it all the same, her small hands barely wrapping around the handle, upon which a pair of serpents had been carved. She brought it to her heart, her arms trembling under the weight, and met his gaze briefly. The green orbs glittered in the sunlight, and with some difficulty she turned away, passing off the sword to the attendant beside her.

Sigyn had never had handmaidens. She had no priestesses or worshippers so devout that they’d earned a spot by her side, but the great queen Frigg had been kind enough to lend a handful of hers for the day. One of the taller ones, who might have been a Valkyrie in another life, stepped forth to give her the sword of her father, one she’d carried with her for years. It was so easy to hold after carrying Loki’s, but he took it from her as if both weights were equal. After admiring the floral marks she’d set in the blade itself, he stroked its handle before passing it off to Odin, who stood dutifully behind. When Sigyn’s eyes accidentally met those of the All-father’s, she blushed bright pink, still unused to having the attention of one so important trained on her and only her.

Next came the declaration of love, words spoken by them both with Frigg’s gentle prompting. They talked of devotion, of the centuries that awaited them, before offering a ring to one another on the hilt of their swords. The one he’d given her was plain gold, but she would have wanted nothing more. His was silver, on the inside of which she’d etched their initials.

“And so on this day,” Frigg announced, her golden tresses aflutter in the breeze, much like Sigyn’s near white locks—going forward, she would never wear her hair loose again, a symbol of her shift from maiden to wife. The goddess’s attendant brought forth the sword Loki had presented her earlier, and she and Loki wrapped their hands around the handle, his touch a familiar comfort. The crowd tensed, waiting, perhaps, for the bride-running to follow Frigg’s declaration. Sigyn glanced toward the great goddess on her left, catching the way she smiled softly as her all-seeing grey eyes wandered the seated guests before she continued, “I proclaim the union of Loki and Sigyn.”

The crowd cheered as they kissed, man and wife at last, and the attendant discreetly removed the sword between them as Loki pulled her firmly to him. Frigg was gone when they broke apart, Sigyn’s cheeks flushed again and her chest heaving somewhat. Before them, the gathering of gods and goddesses waited for a signal from Loki, who made them wait longer than necessary. So long, in fact, that it wasn’t until Sigyn gave his arm a playful smack that he sent them on their way.

With a wave, the race had started. Whoever reached the grand feasting hall at the other side of the field first, be it those who witnessed for Loki or those who witnessed for Sigyn, would be the winner, and the losing side would be forced to serve the drinks for the first few hours.

“Go,” Sigyn insisted, shooing the loitering attendants away. It was so obvious they wanted to join the race—after all, even Odin and Frigg were among the runners—and the cluster of women shot off as if pursued by wolves. All that remained were the bride and groom, and they followed the noisy crowd hand-in-hand, moving across the trampled long grasses with smiles on their faces. Laughing occasionally. Her whole body seemed to pulse, her mouth trembling with excitement, happiness—anticipation.

Eventually, they broke off into a run, knowing the guests would be waiting anxiously for their arrival to commence the feasting and drinking and general merriment that would last for days—weeks, even.

Their running stopped at the entrance of the hall, through which Loki leapt and held out his hand for her. Dramatically, carefully, he helped her cross the threshold, pointedly reminding her to watch her step, and as soon as she was inside, the entirety of the wedding party, from the attendants to the guests, broke out into a cheer so loud that it must have echoed throughout Asgard and all the way to Midgard.

Humans would feel the tremors of her wedding, and the thought made her smile.

The guests were restless. Many had settled down at one of the long tables, but their conversation was already unruly, laughter and shouting rising to a tremendous volume as Sigyn followed her new husband toward the head table. His witnesses had breached the hall first, which meant hers were to serve them ale for the first half of the night. No one, however, could drink a drop of what they desperately wanted until one final tradition was observed.

While Loki stood behind his tall-backed chair at the head table, already laden with fresh breads and fruits, servants waiting to the far sides of the hall to serve food, Sigyn made her way to a small table behind, upon which sat nothing more than a bottle of dark red wine and a bowl. Carefully, she uncorked the bottle and poured the contents into the bowl, her hands still trembling, the din of the rowdy guests behind her making her head throb. However, once she’d picked up the bowl, which was crafted from the skull of a great deer, the feeling disappeared. As did the noise, blocked out by her focus on Loki—and by the way Odin quieted the crowd. In a few steps, she was beside him, and before all the witnesses in the hall, she held out the bowl for him to take. He did, of course, his fingers brushing over hers as she pulled her hands back. They stayed clasped in front of her as she watched him drink deeply from the skull—the first of her duties as his wife complete. Loki then turned and raised the bowl to Odin, as did all the guests in the hall, only with empty cups and goblets, then took another sip.

Sigyn drank second, Loki tipping the bowl so that some of the wine poured passed her lips. The liquid drenched her tongue, her throat, both of which had suddenly seemed quite dry. Once he pulled back, the hall was engulfed in another thunderous roar of excitement, of celebration, with guests of both tribes, both witnesses, slamming their palms on great wooden tables and stomping their feet on the stone floor. As Loki helped her into her chair, she liked to think the noise was for her and him, but really, everyone was probably just excited to be allowed to drink at last.

And drink they did. Long into the night, everyone enjoyed the finest ales and wines, feasted on the richest cuts of meat, and danced to only the best music. Never once did she leave Loki’s side, nor did he slip away when Baldur and Freyr and Odin tried to coax him to. Their hands stayed clasped once they’d finished eating, and they sat together, danced together, and kissed each other for all to see. His lips had always aroused her before, but there was something different about them now—their touch meant something. Preceded something. All night her stomach turned at the thought, but not once did Loki comment on it. Others did. They leered and joked, jostling one another and pointing from her to him, but her husband merely nuzzled her neck and cooed soft words in her ear.

When the time came, Sigyn wasn’t entirely sure she was ready for it. Some of Frigg’s attendants pulled her away in the sleepy hours of the morning, when the palest of light started to paint the sky again. The festivities were still well underway, but many had drunk so much that things had finally quieted down a little.

She was taken out of the hall and brought to a small house on the edge of the clustered wooden cabins—one that she realized belonged to Loki, one that she’d never seen before. And she didn’t see much as the women hurried her inside, too anxious for what was to come that her mind barely retained the details of the carved beams or numerous fur rugs.

The bed she’d remember forever, however. She’d remember the way it sunk as she was placed on it, and the softness of the covering. She’d remember how it smelled like him, and that one of the attendants fretted about how the bedding hadn’t been changed. Sigyn didn’t want it changed. She wanted it to smell like him, and hoped that when the deed was done, it would smell like her too.

Loki arrived some time later, accompanied by a band of drunken men and women, Odin and Thor among them. The onlookers carried blazing torches, illuminating the small sleeping quarters like they were a part of the sun itself. While there was some stumble in Loki’s step, his gaze was so incredibly focused, so honed in on her and her alone, that Sigyn gasped when it met hers.

Ignoring the chanting and singing and drunken rambling of the crowd around them, Loki crawled toward her from the edge of the bed, slowly, like a cat stalking a mouse, until he hovered over her, their hips pressed together. Her breath came hard and fast, her nerves finally overtaking her excitement.

She’d put it off for so long, never wanting to share such a secret part of herself with anyone but her husband.

And now here he was. Her husband. Her Loki.

And she was frightened. Tears threatened to surface, but she swallowed them down, willing herself to be brave for him—for the man who’d bedded a hundred lovers, and would probably think nothing of taking one more.

With gentle fingers, Loki plucked the pins from her hair, loosening the hold her bridal crown had on her head until it eventually came free. Odin and his sons and brethren boomed their approval, for the removal of her bridal crown was, in their eyes, much like the act of consummation that was to follow. They stayed, baying and whooping and stomping their feet, as Loki set the crown on the empty wooden table beside the bed, handling it as carefully as if it were glass. Once he climbed in beside her, resting on his side, the torchbearers drifted out, still singing and laughing and knocking into things outside the bedroom. Darkness fell once they were alone, and she flinched when his fingertips brushed her cheek.

“Nothing to fear, sweet wife,” he whispered, his voice making her body hum. It brushed along her skin, tickling the bottoms of her feet and the insides of her thighs. Her head turned toward him, studying his outline in the dark, and he grasped her chin between his thumb and finger. “I’ll never hurt you.”

And she believed him, down to the very core of her being. With a nod, she let him kiss her, let him touch her, stroke her, let him settle between her thighs—let him take her. The tears that came now were ones of joy, a feeling she’d only experienced perhaps once before at the sight of the first flower she’d ever planted finally coming to bloom in the spring. As he explored her, hands and mouth and teeth showing her pleasure she’d never thought possible in places she’d never thought important before, Sigyn knew tonight was the start of something new. A wonderful beginning.

For tonight they’d planted the seed of a new garden, one they’d grow together in time, and Sigyn planned to see it blossom and bloom for the rest of eternity.

Part 3

The story continues in Do Us Part.

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