The dungeon in Asgard was the same as it ever was. The place had been built by Odin’s grandfather, and though its foundations were ancient, its magic was strong and furnishings just as ornate and lavish as the rest of the palace.
Loki sat in the same cell as he had before, waiting. He sat close to the “window” of magic and leaned his head against the wall, tracing the runes that glowed across the window with his finger. Like always, he thought of Caedra. Though he knew she was safe wherever she was, he still longed to have her back.
He’d heard no word from Thor since he had been locked away. He expected it wouldn’t be much longer until Thor had decided his fate and would sentence him. Loki had little hope that Thor would show him any mercy. Though often in the past his brother had tried to reason with him and give him another chance, Loki was sure that Thor would not show him clemency this time. He should never have, but then again Thor was one to believe in second chances.
He heard the great door open from down the hall, and immediately he snapped to attention. He listened as he heard someone walk towards him. Was it Thor? Had his brother made his decision already? A few days would have been long for anyone else, but for Thor it was actually rather soon, all things considered.
A moment later Sif appeared, and with a sigh Loki leaned back and resumed his bored tracing. “Why have you come, Sif?” he asked dryly, glancing at her.
Sif stepped as close as she could to the boundary. “You don’t wish to have a visitor?”
“Not you,” Loki snapped with a resolute shake of his head. “You have no reason for coming here.”
Sif paused. She’d not expected Loki to be this way, though in fact she should have. Having spent time with him in Jotunheim and seen his true devotion to Caedra, she had forgotten what he was like without her this way. “You think I don’t?” she inquired.
Loki glanced at her. “What reason could you have, Sif?” he asked back. “Are you my brother’s messenger, to tell me he has made his decision, or are you just that desperate to see me?” he smirked.
Sif crossed her arms. “Thor has not yet made his decision, Loki,” she replied, attempting to keep calm though her tongue got the best of her. “And I came to give you word of Caedra, though it seems you would not hear me while your eyes linger.”
“Wait,” Loki said quickly as she turned to leave.
Sif paused and looked back at him, raising an eyebrow. “Yes?”
Loki slowly pulled himself up and stood close to the runes. “What of Caedra?” he asked, his tone notably gentler. “Is she well?”
Sif slowly uncrossed her arms. “She is well,” she replied. “Though she does not understand why you have gone.”
“Have you told her?” Loki inquired.
Sif shook her head. “I only said you had things to take care of,” she answered.
Loki nodded slowly, lowering his eyes as he thought. “So she is in your care?”
“Not technically,” Sif answered slowly.
Loki looked up quickly. “What do you mean?”
Sif gave a sigh as she lowered her eyes. “Thor has placed her in her uncle’s care,” she answered slowly.
“What?” Loki snapped. “How did he even know about Gallan? You said you were the only one who knew who he was to her,” he paused, his eyes turning to Sif with an intense glare. “Unless you told Thor.”
Sif shook her head. “I never told Thor,” she insisted. “He has known about Gallan for quite some time. I do not know how he found out but he did. After you were taken I stayed with Caedra for the rest of the night. The next morning I took her to Thor and he said she was to be put under her uncle’s care.”
“So how is she now with you?” Loki asked. He could worry about Gallan later. What intrigued him more was how Caedra was still in Sif’s care.
Sif paced. “Remember when I first told of Gallan?”
Loki nodded. “You said he was questionable man and that Caedra was better in my care than his.”
Sif nodded. “And what I said was true. Apparently Thor knew about it. He put Caedra in his care only because it is the realm’s law, but he threated that should anything happen to Caedra, Thor would personally come for him.” She paused, smirking slightly. “That seemed to be enough for Gallan. He fears what Thor will do should Caedra even skin her knee while running. And he knows that even if he tried his hardest he could never care for Caedra as he should. So he came to me and asked if I would do him the ‘favor’ of caring for her. She stays with me for much of the time, though I cannot do anything without Gallan’s consent.”
Loki nodded slowly. “Thank you, Sif,” he said softly. “At least she has someone that loves her.”
Sif seemed more affected by Loki’s words than he would have expected, for her demeanor immediately changed and she stared at him with a mournful gaze. “Loki…you should be the one to raise her.”
Loki was surprised that Sif would say such a thing. She had said many times that Caedra was better off with him, but she had never said that he should be the one to care for her. He shook his head slowly. “You know I can’t.”
Sif did not seem deterred by his words. “You are the one that loves her more than anyone. You are the one that can protect her and love her as she needs.”
“But I am also the one that will cause her just as much harm,” Loki objected, the anger within him beginning to stir. “Titus coming after her was because of me. Because of what I did. And he is not the only one that wishes to have my life and take what I hold dearest. There are many throughout all the realms, and one way or another they will come.”
Sif shook her head slowly. “Danger will come no matter who she is with or who has done what. And whether Caedra is with you or no there may be those that come after her. But if they do, she would still be safest with you.”
Loki was unmoved. “She is better without me,” he repeated as he again sat on the small ledge and leaned his head back. “She is safer with her family.”
Sif lowered her eyes, thinking. “Loki,” she sighed. “There is something you need to know.”
Loki glanced at Sif. “What more could I possibly need to know?”
Sif stared at the ground, searching for the right words to say. She knew that Loki would not believe her no matter what she said, so she decided to say it plainly. “Caedra is your daughter.”
“What?” Loki asked in disbelief. Caedra could not be his daughter. He only had one daughter and she…well that was something he would rather not think of. “You’re lying.”
Sif shook her head slowly. “I wish I were,” she replied. “But I speak the truth.”
“How?” Loki demanded. “How is that possible?”
“I don’t expect you to remember,” Sif said as she sat on the step, glancing back up at Loki. “It was nearly six years ago. There was a servant that fancied you and Thor got you drunk one night and…” she paused. “I truly hope I don’t have to explain the rest, do I?”
Loki lowered his eyes. He still was not convinced. He vaguely remembered the night that Sif spoke of, but that had been a long time ago. “I still don’t…” he paused and looked back up at her. “How do you know any of this?”
“I told you I was friends with Caedra’s mother,” Sif answered. “I knew her at the time and I warned her against her feelings towards you but nothing would sway her. And when you came for her she welcomed you, even though she knew it would only last one night. After that night she spent with you she was engaged to another man. Not too long later she came to me and said she was with child. She wanted to tell you but I convinced her to keep quiet. She was married soon after and everyone believed Caedra was the child of her husband. I was the only one that knew her secret, and I have never spoken of it until now.”
Loki was silent. He still couldn’t believe that Caedra was his own flesh and blood. How could a child as innocent as her be his?
Sif saw that he was still conflicted. “Don’t you see, Loki?” she pressed, standing. “How is it that you of all people would find her? Why would she be so drawn to you and trust you so much even though she knew exactly what you are? The two of you share a bond – a bond of blood.”
The realization came over Loki and he knew there was no denying it. Caedra was his daughter. His flesh and blood. She was everything to him. She was the only thing he truly loved, and he needed her.
As much certainty as this gave him, it did not excuse his actions. He had still broken Odin’s law. He had left Asgard. His reasons for leaving meant nothing, nor the fact that he had returned. Actions have consequences, and Loki’s fate was in Thor’s hands same as before.
“Why tell me all this?” he asked Sif, looking to her. “What difference does it make for me to know that she is my daughter?”
“It makes a difference,” Sif insisted. “If Thor were informed that Caedra was your daughter he may very well let you-“
“No!” Loki cut her off, nearly leaping to his feet. “Thor must not know of this.”
Sif stared at Loki, shocked. “What? Why not?”
“If Thor knows that Caedra is mine, he will see her no better than he sees me,” Loki replied. “She will never be trusted by anyone. She could never have a normal life. I cannot – I will not let her have such a life.”
“Loki…” Sif began.
Loki glared at her with a most hated look. “No. Swear to me that you will not tell him.”
Sif opened her mouth to say something else.
“Swear to me!” Loki screamed.
Frightened, Sif jumped at his sudden rage. “I….swear…” she said softly, lowering her eyes.
The door opened and the sound of it echoed down the now silent hall. Both Sif and Loki looked to see four guards walking towards them. Sif stepped away from Loki’s prison quickly, watching the guards closely. “What is it?” she asked them in an authoritative manner.
One of the guards stepped forward. “The king has summoned this prisoner,” he answered.
“What for?” Sif inquired, though in her heart she knew the answer.
“The king has made his decision.”