Title: Golden Hair
Fandom: American Gods
Word Count: 610
Warnings: stalking, implied D/s, implied infidelity. Mild spoilers.
Disclaimer: Neil Gaiman owns the setting. The gods own themselves.
Thanks to sionnain for betaing.
That would be Sif, for, wary ever
And cautious, you kept to yourself,
Except that you lay with a lover once
As well as Thor, I think,
And the lucky one was Loki.
--Lokasenna, trans. W.H. Auden and P.B. Taylor
A Few Years Ago
Sif dances. She is light on her feet in spite of her age; her body is almost as strong as it once was. She feels her feet fly over the chilly ground; she pours out her smile freely to every man whose arms reel her in and then whirl her out again into the night. The sweet wine sings in her veins and flushes her cheeks with warmth.
It is only her heart that is dead, turned to ashes in that terrible year, the year her husband died, the year even the golden crops turned to dust in her hands. Proof beyond refutation that her powers were waning. She had not buried him in the dry dusty earth. She had sent the blazing boat down the river. It was what he would have wanted.
Enough. She tosses her long golden hair, tosses the pain as though the wind can carry it away. There is a song the mortals sing. Some dance to remember. Some dance to forget.
She descends into the rhythm once again. Step, turn. The crowd is a cacophonous blur around her; they clap and cheer, raise aloft their glasses of wine and beer.
She might never have seen him if he hadn’t been so unearthly still.
She trips, misses a step. She feels a phantom pain at the back of her head, and a wave of heat washes over her body even as she breaks out in gooseflesh.
No. I am not yours.
She murmurs a flimsy excuse to her partner, something about a headache, and cuts through the crowd to her car. She drives as though Fenrir himself were on her heels.
Safely back at home, Sif locks the doors. She glances at the sepia photograph on the mantel. Impossible that he is dead, he who was once so full of thundering laughter.
She lights a fire, hoping it will bring her comfort. Instead, she watches the fickle, hypnotic dance of the flames, the tricksy ephemeral way they seem to mock her, and she sees the other face.
His scarred lips smile. And why not? For he has won. Shamed her. She clutches the bedclothes to her body, modesty an hour too late. He has a knife. Yes, kill me. I deserve it. But he does not kill her. He cuts her hair. “Do you know what this means?” He is still smiling.
“Yes,” she says. Thralldom. It means she is his slave.
She blinks, shakes her head, willing the memory to be gone. She turns away from the fire. She goes to the kitchen and pours herself a drink. Think about something else.
There is a knock at the door. She knows who it must be. Don’t answer. No.
She thinks of her solitary existence here in Hermann, surrounded by people who can never truly know her or what she is. Never truly touch her. He, on the other hand, is one of her kind. He is of her past. He remembers, as she does, the golden days when the mead ran like water and the world was new. He is, perhaps, all that is left of the world she once knew.
And he has found her, and if she does not answer the door, perhaps he will go away forever, and she will be alone until the Norns see fit to allow her to join her husband.
If she does answer the door, she will be his slave again, and this time there will be no one to insist that he let her go and restore her honor to shining gold.
She goes to the door and opens it. His scarred lips are smiling.