Epilogue: The Beginning

June 5, 2011

Asgard

The Banquet Hall in the Royal Palace of Valaskjalf was filled with loud noise and boisterous laughter, the tables groaning under the weight of all the food that had been prepared for the feast that was thrown to celebrate Thor's return. In between bites of food, Volstagg regaled everyone with the tale of what had occurred in New Mexico, Fandral occasionally throwing in playful quips that had everyone laughing.

Everyone was dressed in elegant clothing, though Thor was in his armor that gleamed in the firelight. Lyssa was dressed in a light gold and cream, sleeveless high-collared dress* with a pair of light gold 5" high heeled peep toe pumps*. Her hair was braided away from her face and pinned at the back of her head, the remainder of her locks left loose to tumble down her back in ringlets with a few tendrils left free to frame her face*.

Aria was dressed in a light purple dress with long, fitted sleeves and slightly darker purple flats. Around her waist, she had a thin silver chain tied like a belt and her hair was in its trademark Potter disarray despite Lyssa having combed the thick, curly locks after getting her dressed.

"And then, with a mighty bellow," The Voluminous one continued around a bite of chicken. "I flew into the giant metal creature and laid him low!"

"Fwew!" Aria emphasized, clapping happily. Lyssa had fed her beforehand, uncertain of how she would react to being around so many strangers; but, thankfully, the little girl was happy and excitedly adding her own two bits to Volstagg's story, much to everyone's amusement.

Whereas Lyssa had been met with curiosity and mild suspicion due to her being human, despite being a witch, Aria was met with warmth from the moment she was seen. Thor had quietly explained the previous day when Lyssa had mentioned it that while there certainly were children on Asgard, none were quite as young as Aria. He revealed to her that the youngest child was Volstagg's daughter who looked to be the equivalent of 9 or 10 years old though was in fact at least a century old; Asgardians aged at a human rate until they reached puberty when their aging slowed down significantly. As a result of their near-immortality, they didn't have as many children, Volstagg being among the rare few who did have a large brood of 12. When Thor had once again expressed his regret at mother and daughter being stuck on Asgard and as a result Lyssa being subjected to his people's suspicion, she told him in no uncertain terms that as long as Aria was treated with genuine warmth and kindness, she could deal with the people's suspicion. She further assured him that in time, the distrust would fade as they got to know her.

"Is that another way of saying you fell on your huge arse?" Fandral asked playfully.

"Arse!" Aria repeated delightfully.

"Fandral!" Lyssa exclaimed, shooting a mock glare at the blond-haired warrior. "Little ears!"

A ripple of laughter spread among the partiers, Lyssa's reaction so similar to how many of their own mothers had reacted to such words.

"Sorry!" Fandral said with a laugh, unused to having to censor his words around one mentally so young.

"As a matter of fact," Volstagg continued, drawing everyone's attention back to him. "Falling was a tactic lulling the Destroyer…"

Thor, who had been sitting next to Lyssa while Aria was on her lap, quietly stood up. He squeezed her shoulder gently before pressing a kiss to Aria's head and slipped out of the Banquet Hall. Lyssa watched him go sadly, knowing that he still felt guilty at shattering the Bifrost and was mourning the loss of Loki.

"Sif?" Lyssa called softly, catching the dark-haired woman's attention. "Can you keep an eye on Aria for me, please?"

"Sure." Sif replied, smiling.

Lyssa stood up and passed Aria over to the dark-haired woman across the table, the toddler more preoccupied with the story being told and adding her own input to notice that she was being moved. Once she was settled, Lyssa slipped away from the table and passed the guests who were also listening to the story, joining Frigga by one the many square columns that were scattered throughout the hall supporting the ceiling and watching as Thor walked across the cavernous room to the balcony on the far end.

"I'm so sorry for your loss, Your Majesty." Lyssa said, turning to the Queen and bowing her head.

"And I am sorry for the loss you have faced in the wake of what has happened." Frigga said softly, gently touching Lyssa's arm. "Your path back home."

"Your Majesty, I do not think of it as a loss." Lyssa admitted honestly. "I have Aria and as long as she is happy and healthy and more importantly, safe, I am happy and can make a life for us wherever I must." She sighed and glanced back to where Aria was sitting on Sif's lap, the Asgardian warrior maiden keeping her goblet of wine away from the toddler's reach while handing her one filled with juice. She turned back to the Queen. "I know it will be a challenge to adjust once the novelty of our arrival wears off, but Aria is still young enough that she'll be okay. Thor did what he had to in order to save an entire race of beings; I cannot blame him even if I wanted to because doing so would have meant condemning the Frost Giants to death just so I could return to Earth."

"I must say, I am pleased my son has you." Frigga told Lyssa honestly with a small smile on her face. The smile faded and was replaced by a look of concern. "How is he though?"

"He grieves for his brother." Lyssa admitted softly. "And… he harbors guilt at being the reason Aria and I remain here."

"He will continue to feel that guilt." Frigga informed her. "You must continue to reassure him of your stance on the matter and, in time, he will truly believe it and let the guilt go."

Lyssa nodded in understanding, not all that surprised by the news; she was actually much the same way, having harbored a deep guilt at being unable to save Lily and James even though she hadn't been to Godric's Hollow since the Fidelius Charm was cast – she literally had no idea where the cottage was, so she could not have saved them. Her belief that Sirius was innocent of being their Secret Keeper was based entirely on what she knew about them and the fact that he had been the one to tell her of the switch the day after the spell had been cast.

Sif came up to them, carrying Aria in her arms. "Lyssa, Aria wants you once more." She said, passing the toddler over.

"Thank you for watching her." Lyssa said gratefully, perching the toddler on her hip.

"It is no problem." Sif said honestly. "She is a delight to look after."

"You say that because you have the option of handing this little spider-monkey back to me when she drives you insane." Lyssa said bluntly.

"Monkey!" Aria said with a bright grin.

"Indeed, I do." Sif agreed with a small laugh, tapping Aria playfully on the nose.

"Mama, where Thow?" Aria asked curiously, looking around the packed hall but not finding the blond man she was searching for.

"Thor has gone down to see Heimdall." Odin said, walking up to the small group.

Lyssa and Sif bowed their heads respectfully to the King when they saw him, Aria waving and smiling brightly at him.

"If you will excuse us." Lyssa said, nodding respectfully to Frigga and Odin. "I'm going to take Aria to see Thor. I would actually like to know what Heimdall can tell me about my family and how they fare."

Odin and Frigga both nodded and watched with Sif as the redhead walked off with Aria on her hip.

"You both see it as well, do you not?" Odin remarked to Sif and Frigga, standing between the two women and watching Lyssa's retreating back.

"Yes." Frigga said while Sif nodded in agreement.

"Thor is unaware of it, however." Sif pointed out. "Should we not tell him?"

"No." Frigga said firmly. "If we are correct, then their relationship must progress without the interference of the past or else Lysianassa will forever remain in doubt as to Thor's feelings for her and whether they are for her or for who she was. And if we are wrong, then their relationship will have shattered before it could even be formed."

"In either circumstance, we must keep our suspicions to ourselves." Odin agreed,

"As you wish, my King, my Queen." Sif said, bowing to their higher wisdom borne from not only their greater age, but also from their years of ruling.

Meanwhile, unaware of what Sif, Frigga and Odin were discussing or that she was the topic of said discussion, Lyssa flew through the City with Aria laughing delightedly in her arms. They caught up with Thor as he reached the Bridge and Lyssa landed on silent feet, retracting her wings and walking alongside him.

"Lyssa? I thought you were enjoying the banquet." Thor said, taking Aria and perching her on his hip when the little girl reached for him.

"I was." Lyssa replied with a nod. "But Aria wanted to see you." She smiled gently up at the large man towering over her. "You are the only other person she really knows aside from me so she'll cling to the both of us for a while. She'll go to Sif and the Warrior's Three willingly enough but it won't be long before she'll ask for one of us again, at least until she settles down and starts recognizing people."

Thor nodded in understanding as they began walking across the crystalline Bridge towards the jagged edge. "I spoke with my father." He said after a few minutes of silence, absently prying his hair out of Aria's tight grip with a wince. "I admitted to him that I had a lot to learn before I could be a good king, or even a wise one as he is, though there will never be a wiser king than he. I swore to him that I will make him proud."

"And how did he respond?" Lyssa asked, not needing her Foresight to know what the response had been.

"He said that I have already made him proud." Thor admitted. He had a confused frown on his face, as though he didn't understand what his father meant. "But I do not understand. How can I have made him proud after all that I have done? All that I have caused?"

"You made him proud because you learned what he had been trying to teach you." Lyssa explained. "You showed humility when you told him that you had much to learn; you showed humbleness when you apologized to me for blocking my way back to Earth; you showed compassion when you pleaded for the innocent lives of everyone in New Mexico just as you did when you fought to save Jotunheim; and you showed true selflessness when you faced the Destroyer and Loki all the while knowing that you could die doing so."

She fell silent and let Thor think about what she had said, clearly having given a lot to think about with her words. Aria instead filled the air with random babble, encouraged with well-placed words by Lyssa at regular intervals; at some point during Lyssa's explanation to Thor, the toddler had been set on her feet when she began squirming in the Thunderer's hold, with her hands held tightly by the adults to prevent her from running off.

It was in this babble-filled silence that they reached Heimdall, the Gatekeeper standing stoically at the very edge of the Bridge. He had his hands folded over the hilt of his sword and his golden-eyed gaze staring out into the vast expanse of space.

"Is Earth truly lost to us?" Lyssa asked as Thor picked Aria up and perched her on his hip once more.

"No." Heimdall replied. "There is always hope."

"Can you see them?" Thor asked softly.

Heimdall chuckled softly. "Yes." He replied.

"How are they?" Lyssa asked.

"They search for you, all three of you." Heimdall replied, looking at the trio beside him.

"Does anyone from the Wizarding World know about what had happened?" Lyssa asked. She had been told when she revealed her status as a witch that Asgard was aware of the Wizarding World. She had been pleasantly surprised to learn that Thor and Loki had previously spent time with the young witches and wizards who would grow up to become the Hogwarts Founders, that they had actually helped build the magnificent castle.

"Jane has succeeded in getting in touch with Remus using your communications device that had been left behind and informed him of what had transpired and the suspicion that you and Aria have become stuck here since none of you had returned to them." Heimdall replied. "She has reassured Remus that she and her friends are doing everything they can to find you. Remus as a result has decided to remain in England and focus on trying to save Sirius."

"Moony?" Aria asked when she heard Remus and Sirius' names. "Mama, where Moony and Pafoo?"

"Moony is on Earth, Prongslet. And so is Padfoot." Lyssa replied gently, not going into the details of what was really happening. She would tell her, when she was a bit older, but at the moment, she was just too young to really understand so she kept it simple - 'Moony and Padfoot were in England' or as it is now, 'Moony and Padfoot are on Earth'. She turned to Heimdall with gratitude clear on her face. "Thank you." She said earnestly, the gratitude echoing in her voice as well.

"Any time you wish to know of how they all fare, come to me and I will tell you of what I see." Heimdall told them.

Lyssa and Thor both nodded and turned around, beginning the walk back towards the City. One arm holding Aria in place, Thor wrapped his other arm around Lyssa's shoulders and she leaned in against him, bringing one hand up to poke Aria in her chubby stomach, earning a giggle from the girl.

Heimdall watched them go, not for the first time struck by how right they looked, the three of them together. As a family.

Links (on pinterest):

*Lyssa dress - .ca/pin/474566879482470191/

*Lyssa shoes (light gold) – .ca/pin/474566879483977710/

*Lyssa hair - .ca/pin/474566879485372611/