Another pre-Liesmith, Sigyn-and-Loki short. How Loki got the stitches in his lips. The original myth this is referencing is described in the Skáldskaparmál, but the tl;dr version is “Loki bets his head tricking dwarves into making treasures for the gods, subsequently loses the bet, then discovers the logical fallacy known as Loki’s Wager“. The story also forms a good deal of the backstory to Stormbringer, now that I’m thinking of it. Guess it was a pretty formative experience for the ‘verse…
She knows something is awry when she walks into their home.
It is dark, the fire extinguished. Something she has never seen, the flames in their hearth burning with all the fickle passion of her maddened love.
But not tonight. Tonight is blackness, a seeping cold that comes not from Ásgarðr’s gentle air.
Sigyn is not afraid as she steps over the threshold to the small and ill-kept home. Not one of the grand halls of the true æsir, not a thing of gold and sprawling rooms. Just a house, its low-slung roof more weeds than thatch. Sigyn’s place, and she shifts her grip upon her axe as she walks into the main chamber.
Her muscles ache, she stinks of sweat and blood. A day spent training with the valkyrjur, of chopping wood and doing chores. A good day, and now Sigyn wishes food and rest. To lay her head upon her cold and lonely pillow, and dream of red hair and bronze skin and jealous, wicked eyes.
But not tonight. For tonight the house is dark, and fire does not burn within the hearth. Something has snuffed it out.
Something that yet remains within her home.
“Who is there?”
This is Ásgarðr, and Sigyn is not afraid. Yet still her heart does hammer, her hands do shift upon her axe’s wooden haft. If there are intruders…
From a darkened corner, she hears a sound. A whimper, a muffled cry. And Sigyn thinks, Oh please, let it not be him…
She steps further into the room.
It is. He does not answer, but Sigyn sees the bright green flash of his eyes as he raises them to see. In the gloom of their meagre home, his hair shimmers with the embers of the dying fire.
Sigyn drops her axe. It clatters to the floor, but she is far across the room, uncaring of any damage. Closing on her silent, cowered love.
Something has happened. Something has always happened, lest Loki would not grace her door. This is the way of things, the way of Loki, a thing Sigyn has learnt to bear. It is not such a hard thing, not truly. Not when her days are filled with work and battle. Such exertion that she may fall into her cold and lonely bed at night, and never dream.
Sigyn reaches for him, and even in the darkness she sees him shy away. Curled against the wall, face turned against the wood, one hand over his mouth.
He shakes. Underneath the scent of storms and smoke, Sigyn thinks she does sniff blood.
Loki turns away, bright eyes closed against the dark. Sigyn thinks she hears him make a sound, but it is a strange thing. Muffled. When she reaches out, her hands shake. When she kneels, she thinks perhaps she will never rise again.
“Show me what they have done.”
Loki does, because Sigyn has asked and never could he refuse her will. He lowers his hand, darkened with the purple-green of jǫtunsblóð.
Sigyn must bite her tongue to still her cry. Must clench her fists against the ice-cold rage she feels within her heart.
“Who did this? Who?”
Except Loki cannot answer, and turns away. Raises his hand once more to cover his mouth. Cover the thick and ragged stitches that sew it shut. Made by nothing so fine as thread, or needle. Made instead with leather, and with awl.
Somewhere, deep inside, Sigyn swears vengeance.
But not right now. Right now is the time to still her heart and hands, to rise from off the floor. To fetch water and cloth and shears. To return to her cowering spouse. To gently snip the thongs from out his lips.
As the last stitch is freed, he howls. Such a bitter, broken sound. A wild sound, a hateful sound, a sound not for Ásgarðr’s tawdry halls.
One day, Sigyn thinks, and it is an oath of the darkest sort. One day…
One day, but not today. Today Sigyn holds her love unto her breast. Cleans his blood and tears and lays sweet kisses on his brow. He does not speak as she does, hands curled into claws but not daring touch his wife. Sigyn feels madness in him, despair that would scour the world beneath its wake. Violence she knows not how to quell, nor knows if she would have desire to do so if she did.
She tends him, for he is her heart, and she can do no other thing.
He says nothing, nor will he rise when she tries to cajole him to the bed. In the end, she sleeps upon the floor, head resting at his feet.
He does not move. He will not for some time yet. Not the next day, when his vicious, beastly brother comes knocking on their door. Sigyn looks straight into Óðinn’s eye and says she has not seen her husband. The lie grates upon her tongue and she knows the Alföðr does not believe. He clutches a new thing in his hand, a spear. Later, Sigyn will learn of its origins, will learn it is the treasure for which her clever, vicious husband paid his price.
She will loathe it. It and every other glittering, vile thing the æsir covet to hide their rot, their weakness. Such petty things, paid for with such pain Sigyn would see it rain down upon them all a thousandfold.
She will see this, but not before she sees Óðinn thin his lips and eye and say, “If you see my brother, tell him we feast for Ásgarðr’s fortune. He has a seat by my side in this, as always.”
“Of course, Ásagrimmr.” It is another lie. Sigyn will not do this wicked thing. She has no need, knows Loki listens from his dark corner.
Óðinn leaves. Not for the first time, Sigyn wishes there were some rune that she could carve, some galdr she could weave, to keep his bitter shadow from their door.
From her husband’s hearts.
But there is none, and still Loki will not move.
His lips heal. Sigyn tends them every day, but in truth there is little she can do that his jötunn skin will not.
The wounds leave scars. Ugly things that mar her handsome husband’s face. On the fourth day, as Sigyn rises from her place by his side, Loki’s hand darts out to catch her about the jaw. Turns her to look into his eyes.
“Tell me,” he says. The first thing he has said since his return, his voice the crackling hiss of burning flesh.
Sigyn reaches to take his claw from its hard grip about her face, laces his fingers with her own. She runs her free hand across his mouth. “Let them see what their greed has wrought,” she says. “Beasts who place mere things above the pain of others. May their ill-choices hound them till the end.”
For a moment, Loki is silent, bright green eyes searching Sigyn’s in the dark. The he is surging forward, crushing scarred mouth against Sigyn’s own, sharp teeth biting through her flesh until she does taste blood.
When he pulls back, Sigyn’s breath comes hard and the kindling sparks between her thighs.
It has been a long time since she shared her husband’s bed. Too long.
“Oh, wife,” Loki says. “Your naive heart will doom us yet.”
Somewhere, inside, Sigyn hopes that it is so.
That night, he takes her, the marks of his wickedness laid across Sigyn’s skin. Tomorrow, she knows, he will be gone. The next she sees him it will be laughing at Óðinn’s side, playing fool for Ásgarðr’s court. Unchanged, but for his new-made crooked grin, raw as bone within a wound that will not heal.
Sigyn will see this, and she will feel ice curl within her gut. And she will press a thumb into a burn that looks not unlike a hand, hard enough to lance the pain into her heart.
She will do this, and she will know.
One day, it will not be Sigyn’s skin that burns.
But not today.