Human beings lived such tenuous, frantic lives. You found them and you loved them and before you knew it, they were dead. The Midgardian custom of burial only made it more obvious; they trapped their loved ones between sediment and stone. Loki, posing as an elderly Midgardian himself, couldn’t stop them.
And yet, though part of you was still there below him, he couldn’t feel you anymore. All he felt was very foolish, standing there alone, clutching a bouquet of tulips. They weren’t standard grave flowers, Loki knew, but he didn’t care. Tulips had been your favorite flower, and, somehow, honoring that seemed important. Gone only for a week and he already felt as though bits of your memory were slipping through his fingers.
The flowers, though, would be the last he listened to. Once Loki gave—left—you the tulips, he was going back to Asgard. There was nothing for him on Midgard anymore. The children were grown, and the grandchildren headed that direction. Loki would be damned if he stuck around long enough to see them buried, too.
Maybe that was why, in addition to confused, he felt strangely…angry. Loki’s fingers felt white-hot around the bouquet. He knew that he should feel sad, but instead he just felt trapped. You were gone; he couldn’t stay. Asgard, though, wasn’t exactly where he wanted to go, either. Thor was there, and though he and Loki had made up, Thor would still be a painful reminder, for at least a few hundred years.
Because Thor had listened. When everyone pointed out that, while Thor might have loved Jane Foster with all his being, she would grow old and wither before him, Thor had listened. In the end, he picked Sif, who would age at the same rate and already knew Asgardian customs. Loki hadn’t listened. Even knowing how much more mortal you were than he, he couldn’t imagine picking anyone from Asgard to be his partner, male or female, human or horse.
He had thought to make it easier with illusions. As you grew older, he did, too—or at least, Loki appeared to. His hair became magically gray and thinned over time; arthritis appeared to hamper his movements. But Loki had known, really, especially as you got more and more ill, that you knew that that wasn’t really him—that underneath it all, he was just as spry and handsome as he had been when you’d met him.
And you had grown distant. The children took over taking care of you. And Loki tried to make things better, to cough at the right times, to make his hands shake when he was feeding you soup. Nothing worked. You only looked tearfully at him in the moments before your death, and then you were gone, and there was nothing keeping Loki from looking himself anymore.
“I am sorry, you know,” he said quietly as he placed the flowers down. Obviously, nothing happened. Still, Loki paused and looked around, as if half-hoping in his delirium to hear your voice. After a long minute of hard silence, he took a deep breath and headed toward the entrance. After that, it was a twenty minute walk to where Thor was going to pick him up.
As Loki walked away, he felt the remains of his illusions leaving him, drifting off like ghostly streamers. Away went the heavy wrinkles, the swollen joints, the thick, curling gray hair on the backs of his hands. By the time he reached the entrance, Loki looked exactly as he had on your wedding day: young, dark-haired, and upright.
Something stopped him at the gate. He hesitated once more. There was nothing in the air, no spiritual presence, but still Loki felt as though he couldn’t just leave you like that. So he turned back and looked back over toward your tombstone, where the tulips sat still in the gentle breeze.
“It was a nice life,” he said. “Thank you.”