The overlarge doors of the hall flew open, and I made a sound of dismay, taking a half-step back even as my fingers grasped Thor’s tunic more tightly. Sif had borrowed Freyja’s boar, harnessing him to a chariot of blinding gold and patterned with sheaves of wheat. That particular set of doors led only to bifrost, and from bifrost straight to Asgard, but the polite thing to do would have been to leave your boar-drawn-chariot parked outside on the flagstone courtyard. Sif, however, drove it straight into the hall at speed, golden hair flying, and aimed it directly at me.
“Halt, Sif!” Baldur called out, stepping out in front of us.
The tension in Thor’s shoulders eased just slightly as his brother moved between Sif and me. I exhaled, and took back the half-step I’d given her, if only to stand that much closer to Thor. It didn’t matter all that much anymore, I supposed, if she thought we were carrying on an affair or not. But it would be a shame to die for something I wasn’t actually guilty of doing. My gaze traveled over the powerful line of Thor’s shoulders, and I was suddenly very aware of the muscle beneath my hand on his back.
He froze, shooting me a storm-cloud glance over his shoulder. Sparks slipped up my arm, dancing through my blood. My heart skipped. From the tingle of current coming off his body, or the way he was looking at me, I wasn’t sure, but I did know one thing: in that moment, we were thinking the exact same thoughts.
“So it’s true!” Sif snarled, her chariot pulled up short by Baldur, who had only had to look at the boar to slow its stampede. “You’re in love with this mortal?”
Thor dragged his gaze back to the problem at hand. “As I am no longer your husband, Sif, I cannot see how it is any of your business one way or the other. You have no grounds for offense or insult. Is this not true, Baldur?”
“It is true,” Baldur agreed, frowning. “Unless Thorskona has given insult to Sif in some other manner, she has no claim.”
Sif’s eyes narrowed, glowing gold. “You use Baldur’s justice as your shield, but he will not always stand between us, and his law does not reach into mortal lands! Once this Thorskona leaves Asgardian soil, she is mine!”
“And you would break the Treaty of Nine Worlds?” Thor demanded. “Tear us from the earth once more, and lock us again in Asgard just to feed your jealousy?”
“Um,” Mia said, at my elbow, and I realized she and her zombies had joined us, forming a horseshoe around me in a last line of defense. “I might be confused, of course, but it seems to me that all of this would be nicely settled if Amaliaz just became an Asgardian citizen. Then she’d be protected by Baldur’s justice all the time, right?”
Sif hissed. “Is this mortal another of your playthings, Thor?”
“Most certainly not,” he said, but his eyes had lit with something like appreciation as he glanced at Mia and her Zombies. “Admiral Hayson’s friends are not overfond of my company at all. But Baldur, would it serve?”
Baldur did not take his eyes from Sif, his gaze more stone than silver. “Provided Thorskona met the requirements for citizenship – you have trained her, have you not?”
“I’m a little bit rough on the poetry parts,” I admitted, glancing at Bragi, who still looked a little crisp around the edges. “But I’ve seen those forms, Baldur. They’re all written in nonsense, thanks to Bragi.”
“An oral examination would serve,” Thor said. “It has been done before.”
“Yes,” Baldur agreed. “Certainly it would, under the circumstances. We could not trust Bragi to give a fair assessment, regardless.”
“No!” Sif launched herself from the chariot, fingers curled into claws and arms outstretched.
Thor and Baldur shifted immediately to shield me, weapons of choice in hand. I wasn’t really sure where Baldur had pulled the sword from, but he held it as naturally as Thor did Mjolnir.
But Sif wasn’t aiming for me this time. Her golden fury was set on Mia.
***I know, I know. Mia led you to believe this would be the last episode, and I REALLY TRIED you guys, I did! But it just did not work out that way. SO. TUNE IN NEXT WEEK, same bat time, same bat channel!