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Fandoms: Thor (Movies),
Relationships: Loki/Sif (Marvel),
Loki & Sif (Marvel)
Characters: Sif (Marvel),
Ullr | Ull,
Additional Tags: Útgarðar | Utgard,
the Einherjar - Freeform,
Thor II trailer,
Thor 2 trailer,
...Norse myth-typical anyway,
Ásgarðr | Asgard (realm),
The world was called Utgard. Lost to and taken from the Frost Giants in a long-bygone war, it held little attraction for anyone beyond serving as a hunting camp for the foolhardy. This made it suitable for Sif, in no mood to be accompanied by anyone.
She had left Asgard within a week of Loki's falling from the Bifrost. Fandral and Volstagg had seen they could not persuade her to stay, so they had assured her they would cover for her absence.
Many of her days and nights now were full of the hunt, tracking the warm-fleshed scaled beasts and the thickly-furred grazers plowing an eternal path through the snows. Tracking, killing, and then preparing, eating, and storing the meats and organs of her kill. Carrying no more than what was vital, she left bundles of fur cloaks and fur blankets in each of her stopping points, making deliberate loops on her travels through Utgard.
Until they ceased to bother her, the nipping nibbling winds of chill and sparse snows were a welcome distraction to keep her mind from roaming afield.
But it was in the minutes of her own personal twilights between wake and rest, that her thoughts would intrude, remind, look at again. Perhaps if I had told him, was one such. Oh how Asgard would have feasted at the news of an heir having sired a grandchild for Odin. Would he have done all his recent deeds - the Destroyer, the Bifrost's breakage, falling away - if he had but heard from my lips that we would bear a child, the very thing that would have secured his place as surely as Thor's death nearly did. But then, every time, just as sleep overtakes her, Sif knows, But I did not. And that would mark the end of that story.
There are other thoughts that she would prefer to set aside for another day, if she must address them at all. But then Sif routs the hesitancy from her mind and faces down the bothersome questions which have sprouted in her mind since before Utgard and after Asgard.
I am loyal to Asgard, sworn to defend it. But how can one be loyal to a place one has turned their back on? Is this merely an intermission in my life, like so much outside the Einherjar?
And if Odin asks me to hand my child over to him? She could answer that of anyone else, even, she was sure, if it was Thor asking her. "Anyone else, I could and shall defy - but the Allfather?" and knew the question needed further thought.
Ullr is born in a branch-reinforced tent at the northernmost extent of her migratory loop. He comes into the world as the winds bear down and once more try to bury everything beneath a downpour of heavy snow. His first scream is louder than the howling winds just outside the tent and whipping for miles and more.
With hair as starless black as both his parents', Ullr's skin is as fair as his mother's, hands and feet as pale as his father's. His eyes, however, match those of neither Sif nor Loki.
For all that she considered herself a poor canidate for the duty, for all that this was the one field she harbored doubts as to her ability, instinct was not the only thing which stayed Sif's hand. Oh she went through the motions - nursing and cleaning the infant Ullr, all of that. But "What do I do with you?" she found herself asking.
Instinct bade a mother turn over her babe to another if she felt inadequate to the task - Sif herself knew of a dozen bastards born to Freya and raised by others. Instinct was what turned a group against an indifferent parent. Instinct trapped the limbs of any who considered harm to a child.
But what trapped Sif was not instinct. It was indecision. A need to resolve questions and futures and reasons.
"I spent my formative years among the Einherjar," Sif knew. Still, Ullr lived and Sif thought more. If he lives, it must be for a reason. I may not have sentiment. I and he must have a cause, a reason, a purpose.
One purpose came to mind immediately: "You are born by royalty, my son," Sif said to him. "Continuity would have you in the palace of Gladsheim, awaiting your own inheritance and enthronement." But you are the son of Loki Secondborn And Throneseizer, and ill will towards your father's deeds may land upon your strong shoulders.
"I swore loyalty to Asgard, and you are doubly Asgard - by blood and by inheritance." Am I to become serving girl and nursemaid and private hunter to a prince, then? My mother loses, and my aunts win after all, for I have given Gladsheim an heir. All of my accomplishments may well end out paling beside this one event beside me: "You." Sif Princebearer. My hard work, all...
"I could take you to the Einherjar. They could be the core of your family, as they were with me." But they are only permitted to leave Asgard for pitched battle.
"We could make a residence somewhere else in the Realms." But even my half-brother's silence only lasts so long. And with how many enemies I your mother have made, Ullr, Utgard will be the safest possible place. And we are here already.
"Or we could wander the worlds. Be nomads." For how long? For all I have done with them, I am no Einherjar. I live too long.
"Our people live for thousands of years, and can endure for millions," Sif said to Ullr.
Sif knows exactly how much time has passed before Thor's arrival. Knows it by her son's age. Knows it by the movement of stars overhead. Knows it by the nearly-imperceptible Utgard seasons and how the native beasts react in the parts of the year.
"May I enter?" Thor asks at the door of her small cabin at the southernmost extent of a loop.
"You may," Sif says, knowing her obligations as host, knowing how they bind her twice over because Thor is at once comrade-in-arms (or once was) and lord.
Thor enters and takes a seat on the floor so thickly covered with furs everywhere. There is a fire in the traditional place for hearths, and he warms his hands over it. "Thank you, Sif, for your hospitality," he says, speaking what is never spoken - Earth has affected me more than I have already thought, Thor mused; hospitality was a given - you remarked over its absence, you did not praise for its presence.
"Meal is some time away. I can offer you dried meats," Sif says.
He accepts a small serving of the dried meats, for that is what a guest does. "You appear well. Do my eyes deceive me?"
"I am well. Yourself?"
"I continue to miss the friends I made while under banishment," Thor said. "That aside, I am well."
Unable to hold it back any longer - shameful in its way, given her training; yet vital to an equal degree - "Who betrayed me?" Sif asks him; Was it Heimdall or Odin who revealed where I lurk these days?
"There was no betrayal, Sif," Thor says, his voice gentle and soothing, speaking the way he does to calm tempers inflamed by fighting. "We are concerned."
Ullr begins to cry, and Sif takes her son up to one breast so he might feed; utter disregard for Thor in the baring of herself; others might show humility or seduction in the deed, depending upon their wishes towards the prince. I am not the host I once was, nor the host I perhaps could have been. Perhaps I am still weary from labor and the hunts, reasoning that as part of why she had no care for how much of her a friend saw this day.
But Thor accepts this, taking no slight or umbrage, feeling no lure. "A fine child," Thor says.
"His name is Ullr," she says, her face daring him to ask who the father is.
And that is a bait Thor does not take. "Ullr is welcome in Asgard, Sif, as are you, whenever you wish to return."
"You presume I wish to return."
That sets Thor back, rocking his face like a hard slap, stunning him like a kick to his gut.
Sif can read Thor well after so many battles and adventures together - You are asking yourself, Thor, how can I not wish to return to the Realm to which I had sworn my service and my life. You came here with the thought to bring me back so all may continue as it has for centuries before, that all I needed was some time alone to gather my thoughts.
How can I answer you, Thor, prince of Asgard, when my own mind is yet a tumult?
"Loki?" Thor asks.
The way you asked me that, tells me that Loki has not returned to Asgard. "Are you asking after Ullr's parentage, or if your brother is the reason for my refusal?"
"My reasons are my own," is all Sif says. "Maybe the Allfather knows them already, as he knows all else; but I will not speak them."
"Sif, your friends are worried for you. I worry for you."
Deliberately misinterpreting him, "As something other than my friend? As our race is monogamous, will not your Jane be jealous?" she cannot resist taunting him; lashing at him for his role in what she holds guilt in as well: Loki's falling away.
The snows have turned your mind, Thor thinks but does not say. "As your friend, I am concerned."
"Ullr deserves to be with others -"
"Halt your words where they are, Thor," Sif warns him. "How many children run in the halls of Gladsheim? In all of Asgard, then? How would my Ullr have more members of his age group there, than he does here?" You and I and Loki were the abberation, three youths of nearly the same age; even the Warriors Three are our juniors.
"In the company of others, then," Thor says. Loki taught me patience and how to wear down arguments, though I did not realize it in time to appreciate it. "And if you have others to watch him, you can rest."
"I rest," she asserted honestly. "If you are in such a hurry to return to Asgard, then I give you leave to depart. I ask only that you not darken my doorway a second time."
"I will go as you have asked. I ask only that you be careful. Asgard cannot afford to lose two more of its children."
You all should have thought of that before. As should I. "I accept your claim," is what she says.
Thor nods, hoping that that will be sufficient, that his old friend will return to Asgard and retake her rightful place.
Ullr grows. And does so quickly.
Watching him shriek with laughter as he tumbles in the snow, throwing it into the air and thinking to will it back down around him, Sif thinks back to the lessons she sat through with the Einherjar, and to those that the princes' tutor had not been able to shoo her away from (not that the royal boys had wanted their playmate to leave)... What stuck to her mind most was a chart which reduced the varying lengths of time each race spent in each portion of life, to a percentage, and then assumed all had a single common span of years to the total life. The point was to compare how who grew the slowest or aged the fasted.
Dwarves matured the fasted. Asgardians were only second best in that regard.
And then there were the diseases, the plights, the curses, those which took a normal part of life or nature, and bent it backwards like a sapling being made into a bow, Sif thinks as Ullr comes up to her and asks for help building a shield wall. At two months and well weaned onto solid foods, Ullr is the height of a boy ten times his age. When he sleeps, Sif can hear his back breaking and knitting, the bones about as subtle as an army in full gear as they charge downhill.
It never occurs to her to blame Loki for this - plights are normal for her race who live for so long and so near the stars. And great variation occurs even those who are not true plights, like her half-brother Heimdall who - their mother confided to Sif once - assembled himself from nine afterbirths to become an infant unremarkable in appearance.
And if Ullr's hands are a little chilly at times, it is not for nothing that Utgard was known as the furthest enclosure from one's hearth. Jotunheim was warmer than this; though we shall not leave. Not yet.
Maternal concern tended to war with maternal pride at times such as this, where Ullr practiced his skills at hiding and laying in ambush, always getting better each time he buried himself in the snows.
"Ahhhh!" Ullr roars, bursting out from an unsuspicious-looking snowbank, tackling Sif's leg; she lets herself fall rather than risk a broken leg from the bones being pushed in the wrong direction for those joints. "Did I win?" Ullr asks her, grabbing her hands to try to pull her back up almost before she's finished falling.
"You won that battle, yes," Sif tells him honestly, which elicits a broad smile that reminds her almost entirely of Loki's. She suspects it may be wishful thinking, but thinks that in lieu of his father's mischievous streak, Ullr instead inherited her drive to compete and win.
You won that battle, but how many battles and hardships lie ahead of you? How many of them will have a chance of your success, and how many will be as lopsided as pitting Mjolnir against a brick?
And those questions spark an answer to what she had wondered before... I am Sif. I am she who is War. When Freya held the position of War, she chose to be the passions which can bring about a war, the passions stirred during a war. I shall be the maternal side of war, the will to defend what is mine even if war be the cost, the will to be a living shield bristling in defense to keep war from those I care for. And I will keep even Odin Allfather at bay, though he is also War.
Setting her hands on Ullr's shoulders, "I will speak to Loki before all others," Sif vows, knowing that the Allfather heard her, as he hears all. "He will know before anyone else knows, that you, Ullr son of Sif, are his son, the son of Loki." And if anyone else speaks to you of this, my son, I will have their tongue.
"Yes," Ullr says, and tickles her.
For Thor, it is a joyous moment when he sees Sif returned to Asgard, her hand holding that of young Ullr, travel-packs strapped upon the backs of them both.
His delight is dimmed somewhat by only finding out when the peals of alarm sound throughout and around Gladsheim, the sound all are instructed to know is the call to arms against a returning enemy. Thor takes flight and lands on the Bifrost, just shy of where Bridge meets Observatory - for that is where stands Sif and Ullr.
"Sif," Thor says, "It is good to see you again," as the gathering army wonders why the alarm sounded for a returning Asgardian and an unknown child.
"You remember Ullr," she says.
"I do," Thor says. "Hello."
Ullr blinks and scrunches into himself, not liking the loomingness of the army.
Thor turns and personally leads the way back to the city, everyone else hurrying to keep ahead of him and keep out of his way.
And the moment Ullr steps off the Bifrost and onto the ground, the grass for a few inches around each foot becomes gilded with frost.
"He's -" one of the guards exclaims.
"Have a care," Thor warns. "Laden your tongues with caution, or I will laden it with Mjolnir."
Everyone disperses, content that if the boy is any trouble, he will be dealt with by Thor personally.
Sif looks at him, and Thor sees a blend of defensiveness and caution on her face, not a mixture he has ever expected to see, particularly not on her face. She says nothing, however, and they continue walking past him and walk the path not to Gladsheim and the throne and eating halls, but the path out to the fields of standing stone.
He follows at a polite distance, curious what their first stop would be. And he notices that, each time Ullr lifts a foot, the frost evaporates away from there.
Sif stops in the middle of the field, and Ullr does likewise; ditto for when Sif bends both her knees before the stone marker which is memorial for ages-long-gone Forseti. "He had a plight which was the same as yours," Sif says, her voice hushed enough that only she, Ullr, and the Forseti stone may hear her; "which rushed all the stages of growth into a lifespan barely the length of a human's. Wise Forseti wasted no time nor energy, plowing as he did through all that existed of laws and traditions, committing it all to his memory; even the old, the ancient, and the sage would ask his opinion. Old Forseti gave a blessing to Buri, the first king of Odin's dynasty."
"When was he here?" Ullr asked, his free hand reaching towards the Forseti stone but not touching it.
"Long ago, Ullr my son. So long ago that Asgard was no city, and barely had a wall to its name." It was only after Forseti's death that fear drove king Buri to begin work on the now-famous Wall, which drew near-eternal Slepnir to reside in Asgard.
"Cattle die, kindred die, you yourself die," Ullr said, reciting what Sif had sung to him as he was weaned: the verses of what every member in the Einherjar knew by heart.
"That's right," Sif said, kissing first the top of Ullr's head, then the flat of the memorial.
Turning his head to better look at her, to see into his mother's eyes, "I will die."
"But first, I will make myself a name that none can bring down. A name as strong as Forseti's own. They will remember me at least as long as they have remembered him."
She smiled. I wonder which of us Ullr gets that sense of grand scale from, o lost Loki. "I have every confidence in your success, my son," Sif said.
"Can we go home now?"
"Not yet," Sif says. "There are those who will want to see you. And they can be wrathful if displeased," standing the two of them up, and turning to face Gladsheim and the throne.
The journey to there was made more bearable by the passing-by of the Einherjar on one of their daily marches, of which Sif's body remembered every one she had ever been on. One of the senior officers stepped away from the group to kneel before Sif: one knee on the ground, the other lowered further than would be given to any mortal king or Asgardian soldier.
"Alfred Hrothgarson Grendelsmit," Sif said happily. "Good day to you."
"Pardons," Grendelsmit said humbly. "Many within the Einherjar have said how I resemble him, and now I hear from your authority that I do indeed bear strong likeness to my father."
Sif winced at the size of her error. A danger to one degree or another in any of the Realms...but greatest in Asgard itself. "May I hear your name, then, son of Alfred?"
"I am Aelfred Alfredson Grendelsmit, and I am honored to meet your grace, Sif Shieldbreaker."
Only the Einherjar does not call me Shieldmaiden, and instead credit me with my accomplishments. "Aelfred. This is my son, Ullr. One day perhaps, a shieldbearer alongside the Einherjar."
My grandchildren will see that day in pride, Aelfred knew. "We would all be joyful to serve in your son's company."
"In the meantime, it is my hope to return to the hallowed companionship I knew in your father's day," Sif said. If I must stay in Asgard, as I suspect will be impressed upon me, then I will live once again with the Einherjar. Though perhaps his frost footfalls may alarm.
"This would please us all. May your days be full of many delights, Shieldbreaker; I must return to my troops now."
Sif nodded. "I wish you and your fellows all the prosperity they can bear," and Aelfred left.
"He was nice," Ullr said.
"His father was equally polite," Sif said. As were his grandfathers and grandmothers, and theirs on back to the day when, not having been born to nobility, I could only become a warrior by first joining the Einherjar.
As they came closer still to Gladsheim, "Who are we going to see?" Ullr asked.
Your grandparents. "The king and queen."
All the guards - Einherjar and Asgardian alike - step out of their way, though with wary looks at where Ullr steps, and soon enough, and all too soon, they are in the palace of Gladsheim. In the throne room. Coming to the foot of the royal stairs, where they stop, mother and son.
Odin Allfather looks at Frigga, and Sif knows that at least one of them saw her statement to Ullr in the snows of Utgard.
Frigga rises and coming down the stairs to crouch before him, Frigga said "Welcome Ullr son of Sif warrior of Asgard."
Ullr met her gaze, not knowing to be afraid.
Frigga beheld his future, that of all Asgard, and she stumbled back to sit on the steps.
"Frigga!" Odin said, on his feet in an instant.
"I am fine," Frigga said, standing before the guards or the Einherjar could express blades. "I fell faint. I suppose I did not foresee being so hungry so soon," said with a smile to allay concerns. To Sif and her boy, "I offer you both a place at table."
"We would accept," Sif said, and went with Frigga to the dining tables, Ullr never once letting go of his mother's hand. He sat beside his mother, who joined the Warrior Three at where they had always eaten. If the Allmother was startled that Sif and Ullr were not eating with her, she didn't comment on it.
"Hello there, little one," Volstagg said. "How are you?"
Barely a blink in response.
"This is Volstagg," Sif said, making an introduction. "He is a friend of mine." Next, Fandral and Hogun. Then...everyone else, as all of court and all others assembled for eating now wished an introduction to the first new face in a long time.
"And what would you wish to be when you mature?" Idunn asked him when it was her turn to pass by and be introduced, and Sif just wanted to strangle her for using that tone in her question; but then, she and Idunn had never gotten along.
Ullr's answer had only one word: "King."
And oh doesn't that set everyone in a tizzy, Sif thought as she watched everyone's reactions - from surprise to finding it adorable to concern - but that was not half the commotion that filled the hall as did seconds later, when Thor placed his hand upon Ullr's shoulder and said -
"Perhaps, one day," Thor said. And if his hand felt slightly chilly, he gave no sign of it, did not acknowledge it at all - contrary to what many believed their prince had just acknowledged: that Ullr was Thor's son.
Sif and Ullr were moved to live in Gladsheim within a day of that happening. It does not matter what the opinion or rumor is, Sif knew, It does not even matter if Thor is or is not Ullr's father. What matters is that Thor has placed my son under his protection. We have become Thor's dependents as surely as if I had married him. She tries to picture Loki's face when he heard a rumor of her having married Thor, thinking the look of shock would make her smile, cheer her up...but finds she can only visualize a cold silence.
Ullr comes over from where he was playing on the floor - resolutely ignoring the towering desk that Odin had given him - and places something in Sif's hands. Something cold. Not exactly wet.
She looks down and sees an arrowhead made of ice, complete with a fastener to bind it to the arrow shaft, and all the blades are correct in their angles and placements and sharpness.
"I made this," Ullr confides in her.
"Its lovely," Sif says, and can't for the life of her ever remember saying that to anyone before. "Is it for me or for you?"
"For you," he says, smiling as if she's silly to ask.
"Do you want to stay here?" she asks him before he can return to the playing space on the floor.
"We can return to Utgard?"
"I fear not. It would be in this room, or we could live in the Einherjar barracks."
Ullr looks at her, blinks, then gives her a hug as he says "With you."
Sif lets her arms wrap protectively around her son. How quickly has news of your footfalls spread across Asgard, my son? And to how many does that matter? And how many attribute it to my Vanir parents, my Vanir ancestors?
And now much of Asgard is at war with itself in their hearts, Sif suspected. They are unsure whether to fear Ullr's footfalls, or to coo over him and lavish him with gifts for being the first infant born in over a century on Asgard, outside of the Einherjar.
When it came to propagation of the species, few species in the Nine Realms and beyond could outdo the Asgardians when it came to taking a long time between birthings; animals tended to take anywhere from a month to several years, ten or twenty at the most. Asgardians required an average of a century. And even with that slowing their expansion into the Realms, they had managed to establish colonies.
The age of expansion had come to an end in the reign of king Bor. There was nowhere else to settle, and when some settlements collapsed, that forced many to return to Asgard for want of anywhere else to live. Never a particularly prolific species, the Asgardians chose to slow their propagation yet further, to stave off the looming danger which would present itself.
A great deal of time had been bought thanks to Odin's war with Jotunheim. But even that only delayed the day when Asgard knew Forseti's words would come to pass: the hardest decision must be made - will our heirs chose lives or honor?
"What troubles you?" Odin asked once they had retired for the evening to their bedchamber.
Frigga did not bother to deny it...she never tried to, not while married to a god who saw all the smallest of things. "Sifson's future," Frigga said.
"A good end?"
"Nothing so reassuring, my king."
"Do we have a quisling on our hands?" Odin asked. He had been tempted to send his sons to recover the Cube from that self-improved man on Midgard; but the boys had been in one of their quarrelling periods, leaving Odin uncertain how long they would remain united while afield - there was loyalty, true, but there were also different paths to the same end.
"Worse," Frigga said. "What I beheld was Ullr sitting in your throne."
"A successor," Odin said with pride.
"I sat beside him."
Frigga did not answer; much as she hoped that to be the case, she did not wish her Odin to encourage Ullr, only for a darker future to reveal itself. "Do we have any of that wine Idunn sent us before your collapse?" she asked. "For there is another matter we might discuss, my dear husband."