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Unofferable, Part II - Divergence

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For Ellie, life had settled into a delightfully relaxed routine in the last few years. Now at the age of twenty four, she had been Loki’s lover for five secretive but rewarding years. Frigga had withheld their secret and only ever spoke of it to either of them in private, so as far as Asgard was concerned, Ellie and her employer were nothing more than friends. This lifted a heavy weight off both her shoulders and their relationship, and her life on Asgard settled into the happiness she had been waiting for.

Waking up at dawn as per usual, she stretched and forced herself to her feet. She opened up her chamber curtains and gazed through the small window at the gardens below, people beginning to come to life as they got to their duties. With a smile, she got to work. Washing and dressing quickly in her usual working attire, she had a small breakfast consisting of a scone and a piece of fruit. Right on time, she left her chambers and walked to Loki’s door nearby. The Einherjar nodded to her as she knocked on its hard surface.

“Come in,” came Loki’s voice from within, and the sound of his early-morning grogginess had her smirking.

The sight of him sprawled out on his stomach in bed made her laugh. “Good mornin’, Prince Loki.”

“Is it really?” he grumbled, voice muffled in his pillows.

“What’s the matter?” she asked as she pulled open his curtains. “Is it about the meetin’ with your father?” Loki made a sort of grunting noise resembling a ‘yes’ and she went on. “Do you want me to run you a bath?”

Another positive grunt.

As Ellie disappeared into the bathroom, she heard him finally pull himself out of bed. As she was filling the bath with hot water, he appeared in the doorway stark naked and anxiously picking at the palm of his hand. She knew this side of Loki all too well. It only really seemed to appear when he was under Odin’s scrutiny. His mood swings were nothing new to her — they happened on occasion whenever he was blatantly overlooked or not acknowledged by the one whose affection he so desperately wanted. She couldn’t blame him for feeling that way even though he usually hid it quite well. Only she and Frigga ever saw him at his worst, but Ellie did what she could to cheer him up and insist that he was one in a million. It wasn’t entirely surprising that the God of Mischief was more anxious than usual with the announcement of Odin’s next in line so imminent.

“Hey,” she called softly as she got to her feet and approached him. “You okay?”

He shrugged. “I am not exactly looking forward to this gathering.”

“It’ll be okay, I promise. Odin would be mad to overlook you.”

“It is not as though he has been doing that for centuries,” he said bitterly. “It would seem that I can do nothing right, even when Thor is the one who blunders around insisting that the only way to solve his problems is to smash them with his damn hammer.”

While she knew Loki’s bitterness came from intense feelings of envy that had been harboured for most of his life, Ellie couldn’t exactly blame him for it. Living in an elder sibling’s shadow no matter what you tried to do to escape from it seemed difficult, and she could see the toll it took on him firsthand. There were many a night when he would come barrelling into her chambers demanding that she clean his own room, only to pull her into a tight embrace when the door shut behind them and prying eyes where blinded. She was there with whatever he needed. Some nights, he sat in silence and held her close until he fell asleep. Others, he vented to her for hours on end until he tired himself out and she offered whatever advice she had. Sometimes, he simply pulled her to any nearby surface and ravished her until her neck bore marks from his teeth and his back was imprinted with red half-moons from her nails.

She saw what these meetings and the impending announcement was doing to him and she genuinely feared how he would react if he was simply tossed to the side by his father yet again. Frigga was, as always, a blessing for keeping her son from feeling well and truly ignored. No matter how many times Odin disregarded what Loki had to offer, his mother saw it and embraced it. She offered him council when the Allfather denied it, she made sure to acknowledge her sons with equal praise, and she, like Ellie, reassured the youngest Odinson that he was just as worthy of a throne.

“I’m sure even Odin knows that bein’ quick to anger is not what makes a king,” she said,   with confidence. “Much like what he told you as a child.”

Loki simply shook his head and ran a hand through his hair. “And yet Thor is still favoured above me. I am convinced I must have done some horrible thing to my father in a past life; I cannot think of any reason why I have earned such displeasure from him. I am a Trickster of course, but that hardly makes me worse than Thor…”

“My love,” she murmured, reaching up to gently cup his face in one hand and stilling his anxious fidgeting with the other. “If the Allfather can’t see all that you have to offer, then I fear he may have lost the sight in his one good eye. If there’s one thing that I promise you, it’s that I refuse to let you question your self-worth for more than a moment. I simply won’t allow it.”

His green eyes softened at her words and, with tender care that was usually reserved for her eyes only, he pressed a kiss into the palm of her hand. “You speak of my worth and yet all I realise as you stand before me is how truly lucky I am to have you in my life.”

“And I you. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“Even if Father chooses him?” His voice was hesitant and his eyes were shy, almost nervous about her answer. “Even if I am forever sidelined behind Thor?”

“The Allfather himself could forbid me to be near you and I’d sooner tell him to shove his throne up his arse than be parted from you.”

A chuckled escaped him before he spoke. “My, my. What a colourful image, darling.”

“I mean it,” she insisted and placed on hand over his heart. “It doesn’t matter what he says, or what he does, or which son he chooses; you and I will never be torn apart. How could we do that when a part of us lives within the other? Even if he picks Thor, you’ll always be my Loki.”

His own hand covered hers and held it there, the beating of his strong heart thumping through his chest. “How is it that you always know how to calm me?”

“’Cause I love you and it’s part of the job description.” Without any hesitation, she pulled him into a tight hug and relished the feeling of his arms winding around her waist.

“I love you too.”

His scent enveloped her and put her at ease. She could feel the anxiety slowly seep from his body and disappear. Now perhaps he would feel better seeing his father. She could consider her day a success if she helped him, even if it was just a little bit.

“Would you like me to wash you?” she asked as she went back to the bath and turned off the tap.

“You do not have to do that,” he said with a small frown, watching her like a hawk.

“I’m aware, but I’d like to if you want me to.”

Without another word, he smiled and lowered himself into the warm water — he had never been one for a steaming-hot bath. Cleaning Loki never felt like a chore to her. In fact, she took great pleasure in it. It was something he was hesitant to do at first, but once she explained that she wished to return the gesture when he so gently took care of her after the events on Alfheim, he couldn’t really say no. Now, it was something he loved doing. Anything that reduced his stress-levels was important. He lay in content silence in the water as she cleaned his body  and hair with the utmost care.

It was as he stood from the bath when he spoke again. “I will be requesting your presence for the duration of the day.”

“You want me t’shadow you for the day?” she asked as she handed him his towel.

“Yes, whatever other tasks I had for you can wait until tomorrow. I wish to have you by my side throughout the day in case my father decides to announce his decision.”

“Of course,” she agreed as he patted himself down. “If you need me by your side then that’s where I’ll stay. I’ll go get your clothes ready.”

As she was walking out the door, Loki gently reached out to grab her hand before she could cross the threshold to his bedroom. Turning to look at him in surprise, she wasn’t expecting him to kiss her.

“Thank you,” he said as their lips parted, briefly nuzzling his nose against hers.

“There’s nothin’ to thank me for, Loki.”

With a smile he released her wrist and Ellie got back to helping him ready himself for the day ahead.

 

* * *

 

Odin didn’t exactly seem to eager about Loki having Ellie present for their meeting. Not that she particularly cared one way or the other. She had never been Odin’s biggest fan, and he was never hers, so there was an unspoken mutual distrust between them. She wouldn’t go as far to say that they hated each other, but they certainly didn’t like each other. She was quite biased — she couldn’t help but show her favouritism towards Loki when she cared for him so deeply, and she despised seeing Odin disregarded him from time to time. Despite the fact he seemed mildly vexed by her presence, he couldn’t dismiss her because he had to no genuine reason to do so. Loki was perfectly within his right to have her present for it, so he would do as he pleased.

Loki had her stand nearby with a jug of water and some cakes resting on a table top beside her and called upon her to fill his goblet whenever he felt like it. She knew it was mostly just to give him some emotional support — the soul bond meant their connection was stronger when they were nearby, and thus allowed them to help calm each other. So she had no issue with staying close to bring him some ease. As she stated previously, it was part of her job description. As Odin spoke, she could feel the anxiety seeping from her lover, who sat and listened to every word with rapt attention. Thor also gave his father his full attention, knowing that this conversation was a serious one. Both brothers were just as eager to be king, but for different reasons. Neither of them were perfect candidates either, with each having their own flaws and imperfections. Ellie was foolishly hoping that Frigga would perhaps give away some trace as to who was chosen as Odin’s heir, but the Allmother remained completely passive even as she spoke. She couldn’t fault her for that — Frigga had always been a wonderful mother and treated her sons equally, as a good parent should. And, bless her, she had not told anyone of Ellie and Loki’s relationship despite its impracticality and controversy. All she wanted was for them to be happy, so obviously there was no chance she would give any impression as to who Odin had chosen — that is, if he had already. A small anxious part of her really wished he had yet to make a decision, only because she feared what it would do to Loki if he was, once again, overlooked. She would certainly bare witness to his genuine reaction behind closed doors.

Lost in her thoughts, her attention was once again brought back on Odin as his words and tone shifted. “… but this is not the reason I have asked to speak with you today, my sons.”

Ellie’s gaze flitted to the family as they sat at the table. Thor and Loki visibly shifted in their seats. The Allfather and Allmother remained impassive.

Here we go…

“I have come to a decision as to which of you will become king,” Odin began slowly. “And now that I know, I do not see the need to keep either of you in suspense any longer.” He paused and looked between them. “But, before I share my choice with you, I want you to know that I love you both, and that my decision has been made taking into consideration as to which of you would be best suited in the role. It is for the good of the Nine Realms, but not just Asgard. You would both make excellent kings, but I can only choose one of you.”

Ellie held her breath from her spot and waited.

“It is after much deliberation, that I have chosen Thor to be king.”

Her mouth went dry almost instantly. It took every ounce of strength in her to not hang her head in disappointment. Loki didn’t react — he simply stared between his mother and father as Thor grinned in surprised delight next to him. When Loki turned and smiled at his sibling, Ellie frowned in confusion.

“Congratulations, brother,” the Trickster said, placing his hand on Thor’s shoulder. “You will make a great king.”

“Thank you, Loki,” Thor replied, his voice expressing his delight at hearing the news. “With you at my side, none will dare to test the strength of Asgard!”

The lies slid off Loki’s tongue with ease, as was his way. He had the room fooled, but not Ellie, not with their connection being far greater than anyone realised. She sensed his distress — she could feel its severity with him being so close by. While he sat passive in his seat with his thin lips pulled into a soft smile, she felt his loss and rejection as though it was her own. She desperately wanted to comfort him, to hold him, to tell him that he was loved despite not being chosen.

“Thor,” Odin began, grabbing their attention once more. “You shall be crowned king in the coming weeks before the people of Asgard. To prepare for your new role, you will attend councils with myself, your mother, and my closest administrators.”

“We are both very proud of you,” Frigga added with a smile. “Of both of you.”

While Ellie knew her words to be true, she noticed that her smile did not reach her eyes. Somehow, this did nothing to put her at ease. Then it hit her; there was more to this encounter. Something else was amiss…

Odin spoke up again, turning his attention to his youngest child. “And as Thor takes on new responsibilities, you will do the same, Loki.”

The latter’s smile faltered slightly at this. “Father?”

“While you may become part of your new king’s council, you must also embrace the path I have chosen for you too. As a prince of Asgard, you will help to repair the still somewhat broken relationship this realm shares with Vanaheim.”

“And how would you have me achieve such a thing?”

“Through marriage.”

The atmosphere in the room instantly changed.

In shock, Ellie foolishly looked at Frigga, but the Allmother only met her gaze for a brief moment.

Loki sat in dismay, looking between his parents. “Marriage?”

“Yes, to Lady Sigyn. She has resided in Vanaheim for many years now and has been granted dual citizenship and council with the Vanir for her service. A marriage between you two would help to bring our two realms—”

Ellie couldn’t listen to it; she could not and would not. She didn’t care about Asgard’s relationship with Vanaheim, she didn’t care who this Sigyn was, she didn’t fucking care that Odin was probably well within his right to order this of his son for the good of the realms.

She did not care.

Loki was…everything to her. He was not Odin’s to give away.

She was struggling to not react as the Allfather’s voice and Loki’s protests faded away. Despite trying to keep her composure, he hands shook by her sides, not that it really mattered — none of them took any notice of her as she waged her own war internally. If he was to be wed, what would become of her? What would become of their relationship? The numerous thoughts swimming around her head were making her stomach ache and her legs weak.

“But, Father, with all due respect, I do not wish to wed this woman,” Loki explained, trying to keep his voice level. “I do not even know her.”

“She is a fine goddess,” Odin replied in some poor attempt at reassurance. “Thor is to take on the mantle of king and you must also do your part. After Thor is crowned, she will be brought to Asgard, and after a few weeks you will be wed. Loki, we both know that sometimes we must do things we are not necessarily overly fond of, but this is bigger than you or I. It is to be done for political reasons, but I’m sure you will come to care for Lady Sigyn in time.”

By Odin’s side, Frigga looked displeased with a tightlipped frown on her face. She focused her attention on her youngest son, who was clearly struggling with this new information.

“Why must I marry?” he demanded, losing some of his composure. “What of Thor? He is the one who will need a queen!”

“Leave me out of this,” Thor mumbled, grimacing at the very idea of marriage.

“Thor’s time will come, but he needs to prove himself as king before he is allowed to have a queen.”

“Well I will not marry this woman,” the Trickster spat, shaking his head. “You cannot make me do this. Mother, I—”

“It has already been arranged, so you do not have a choice.”

“Odin,” Frigga cut in gently, trying to ease the growing tension in the room. “If he is particularly abhorred to the idea, then why not reconsider?”

Odin’s voice was short, evidently losing what patience he had left. “There is nothing to reconsider. It does not matter if he detests the woman! It is about time you realised that this world does not revolve around you. This is what it means to be a prince; not everything goes your way, and you will have to do things that you do not want to. There will be no more arguments, no more discussions, that is final.”

The screech of Loki’s chair on the floor as he pushed it back to stand up caused Ellie to wince. Frigga tried to call him back, but he was on his feet and striding out the door in seconds, beckoning Ellie to follow with a snarl. With a swift look at the Queen, Ellie obediently followed her prince out of the room.

She walked with him swiftly as he all but stomped back to his quarters. The silence between them was palpable, but she didn’t dare break it until they were hidden from inquisitive eyes. When they reached the safety of his chambers, he aggressively slammed the door shut behind them, locked it with magic, and began relentlessly pacing up and down in front of the fireplace.

Ellie watched him apprehensively, not knowing what she could say to comfort him or herself for that matter.

“First, he has the audacity to put that fucking oaf on the throne,” he growled, voice laced in malice. “And then he forces me to wed some bitch for the good of Vanaheim? He is barely fit to be king and I am — once again! — shoved to the side! And now, he wants to take you away from me? I will not allow it! He does not get to control me! If he insists on putting Thor on the throne, then he shan’t part us!”

“Loki?” she asked, voice wavering as the hopelessness of the situation finally hit her.  All the years they spent together would be cut short… “What’ll we do?”

He halted his pacing and turned to face her. His eyes were red, expression both worried and angry. Almost instantly, he strode to her and pulled her into a crushing embrace. Her body shook in his arms and she buried her face in his neck, seeking any comfort he could offer. She would also do her best to comfort him considering she was not the only one affected by this new turn of events. Not only would she lose him, but he would lose her.

“I will not let him take you from me,” he insisted, determined despite his shivering form. “Do you hear me? I will not.”

She nodded, inhaling his familiar scent before saying. “I know you won’t, and I won’t be parted from you either, I swear.”

“I do not care what he says. I will not stand for this, nor will I let Thor rule Asgard!”

“Is there anythin’ we can do?” she asked, leaning back so that she could meet his gaze.

He cupped her face gently in his hands and studied her for a moment, green eyes burning into hers as he contemplated their fate. “I will come up with something to stop it, I promise you. My father’s demands mean little to me.”

“But this is serious, Loki. Surely we can’t go against the Allfather’s wishes?” She paused, eyes burning with unshed tears. “Perhaps… Perhaps we could just remain a secret?”

“A secret?” Loki repeated, looking disgusted at the mere thought. “What? And I-I-I marry this wench and sleep with her by my side? And sneak off to meet you in the dead of night, like some common harlot?”

“But it might be our only option—”

I do not care!” he hissed, tears now freely flowing down his sharp cheeks. “I will not do that to you, I will not wed someone I do not love or want, and I will not brush you off as though you are nothing, Ellie. I will not be brushed off as though I were nothing.”

She hung her head, running her hands up and down his arms. “That’s not what I meant. You’re not nothing.”

“I know, I know, love. But all will be well. I am not going to be with someone I do not care about. I would not expect that of you either.”

“Alright,” she agreed with an uncertain nod. “Then we’ll figure this out together?”

“Yes, together. I will do everything in my power to stop it.”

“Maybe talkin’ to your mother could help? After all, she does approve of our courtship.”

“You are right. I will have a word with her soon. In the meantime, I would ask that you spend the night with me.”

“You don’t need to ask,” she chuckled slightly, pulling his hand to her mouth and gently kissing his wrist. “The Allfather himself couldn’t pull me from this room. I already told you; we’re a team.”

“A team,” he repeated with a sad smile and let his forehead rest against hers. “That we are.”

“What of Thor?” she asked hesitantly. “I know that you’re not okay with his decision.”

He bit his lip at the thought. “I love my brother, you know I do, but he is not fit to be king. He’s reckless and quick to anger. That is not what it means to be a ruler.”

Although she hated to admit it, she agreed that Thor wasn’t a good choice to be king either. The potential was there, but she was uncertain as to whether he would ever grow out of his childish ways. She could see in his shimmering eyes how much this tore Loki apart. This wouldn’t be the end of it. His mood would only get more sour, especially with the added stress of their uncertain future. She genuinely feared what may happen.

“I can’t really fault your logic. Hopefully he realises that soon.”

“If I know my brother, I do not think he will. Alas, I promise I will do everything in my power to stop this.”

“I know you will. All will be well, it has to be.”

To reassure her of his promise, Loki leaned in and captured her lips in a hungry kiss. She didn’t hesitate to deepen it, sliding her arms around his neck and holding on to him with all the strength she possessed. The taste of salt on her tongue and the intensity of his previous words were all she needed to vanquish her fears and doubts.

The lovers were selfish. The good of the realm did not matter.

All Ellie cared about was the rejected prince that she loved so dearly.

Chapter Text

Frigga came to breakfast privately with her younger son the following morning. Ellie let her in, relieved to see their only hope standing before her. She had spent a restless night in Loki’s company, both of them trying to come up with ways to at least delay the marriage, but it seemed near impossible to come up with something that wasn't completely detrimental to someone’s wellbeing. Eventually, when they were both struggling to stay awake, she suggested they call it a night and try to get whatever sleep they could. Despite the exhaustion, they lay awake in each others arms, their worries preventing any sleep from being had that night.

“Allmother,” Ellie greeted her with a formal bow of the head.

“Ellie, my dear girl,” the Allmother began, placing a reassuring hand on her shoulder. “It has been been a while since I have seen you looking so low.”

Ellie shrugged. “It was difficult to get any sleep last night.”

“Mother?” Loki said as he appeared from his washroom. He was quick to embrace her, something that was standard when he needed comfort. The younger woman gave them a moment and stepped away to make some tea. When she returned, she found them sitting together on his couches and talking lowly, both looking quite anxious. Once Loki heard her coming, he got to his feet to assist her with the tray of mugs and tea.

Frigga flashed her a genuine smile as she was handed a hot mug. “Thank you, little one.”

“It’s no problem, My Queen.”

“There are no formalities needed this morning. I come to your chambers as a mother and a confidante.”

“You have come to help?” Loki asked, holding his own cup.

“To try,” she explained. “And to speak with you both.”

“We’d planned on approachin’ you about it,” Ellie affirmed, finding some small comfort as she cupped her hot mug of tea. “We stayed up all night tryin’ to come up with somethin’.”

Loki sighed heavily and sat closer to her on the couch. “And those discussions came to no resolution, at least not yet.”

“You both look worse for wear,” Frigga said. “But I could not blame you it after a sleepless night. I too am not happy with my husband’s decision to arrange an unhappy marriage.”

“Did you know?” Loki asked bluntly.

“I will not lie to you; he informed me shortly before our meeting and would not hear what I had to say about it. Nor would he listen to my thoughts after your refusal. You know how stubborn your father can be, especially when he believes what he is doing is right. In terms of political thinking, he is not wrong — a marriage between you and Lady Sigyn would be a wise move. It would be nothing but beneficial to Asgard’s relations with Vanaheim, and sometimes we must do things that we do not want for the good of the realms. My own marriage was arranged in a similar manner, but I grew to love your father. Had circumstances been different, I would probably go as far to say that you would grow to care for your intended.

“And yet Odin does not know the real reason for your discontent and why you could never have another.” She briefly smiled as Loki’s hand found Ellie’s in his grasp. “Not like I. I would not ask that of either of you, but I am unsure as to what our legitimate options are.”

“We’ll take any advice you have to offer,” Ellie said determinedly. “Anything at all.”

“You will not like it.”

There was a moment of silence before Loki spoke up. “What are you suggesting?”

“I believe you have two options as of now,” Frigga explained with a sigh. “One of which, is to go ahead with the marriage and continue your relationship with each other as a complete secret, much like you have already.”

No,” Loki disagreed vehemently, shaking his head. “Ellie already suggested that, and I refuse to lay with any other than her and treat her as though she is a common whore. I will not push her aside.”

Ellie studied his face with a frown, noting the tension in his jaw and the way his hand gripped hers tighter. “Likewise, I’m not gonna ask him to do that if he really doesn’t wish to.”

Frigga eyed them both with a sad smile and took a sip of her tea. “I understand. That is love for you. Then, I have but one more option for you — you tell Odin the truth.”

The silence in the room was deafening. Ellie could only stare at the Allmother in disbelief. She nervously glanced at the lover who sat next to her and was greeted with the sight of a completely baffled Loki.

“Tell Odin the truth?” he all but snapped, eyes burning angrily at the concept.

Ellie bit her bottom lip. “We, uh… We couldn’t possibly…”

“Mother, no.”

“Both of you,” Frigga immediately shushed them. “Calm yourselves before you make each other feel worse.”

“But how could you suggest this?” Loki demanded, face scrunched up in worry and panic. “Father will never approve of us and you know that! When she was but a child he was even against our friendship! He will not be reasoned with.”

The younger woman felt her lip tremble. “I hate to be so negative, but he’s right. I’ve never exactly been on Odin’s good side and I doubt he’ll start now if he finds out I’ve been courtin’ his son for five years. If he finds out ’bout us, I fear what might happen.”

“It would not end well,” Loki insisted. “I am telling you, he will not have it.”

“I understand where you are both coming from,” Frigga said, quick to assure them that she was on their side. “But you must understand; if you go to Odin, Loki, and explain your feelings for Ellie, then we could possibly convince him to change his mind. I can speak for you as well and help to convey the severity and strain this situation would put on your relationship. He loves you and wants you to be happy—”

Loki shook his head and spat bitterly. “Somehow I doubt the legitimacy of that statement.”

The tension was clear in the air and Ellie so desperately wanted to tell him that everything would be okay. She knew Loki’s relationship with Odin has always been somewhat strained, but she feared that Thor being chosen for the crown may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. He hid his emotions so well from others, but she and Frigga both knew how he felt and what the dismissal had done to his self worth. It was almost as though yesterday’s meeting had reaffirmed his beliefs that he was simply not good enough and never would be.

“I do not lie,” Frigga replied, tone even. “He does love you, whether you believe it or not.”

“He made his feelings clear when he chose Thor,” Loki muttered and stared at Ellie’s fingers interlaced in his. “And now I come to him and tell him that I have been courting a Midgardian under his nose for years. I am sure he will just use this as another reason to justify his choice; another reason for him to justify me not being good enough.”

“Do not speak of such things,” Frigga insisted, visibly affected by his words. “Your father loves you just as much as he loves Thor, no matter who sits on the throne.”

At that, Loki got to his feet, releasing Ellie’s hand and slowly began to pace in front of the fireplace. “I do not care about the throne.”

Ellie knew all too well what those words meant. Of course the selection was not disappointing because Loki would not be king. In the grand scheme of things, that had very little to do with it.

After a moment, Frigga got to her feet and approached her son. Ellie watched quietly from her seat as the Queen placed her hands on his, immediately stopping his pacing and fidgeting. He stared at her, brow creased in confusion before she whispered. “I know, Loki. I know. If either of you do not wish to tell your father, then we will not. You have my word that I will continue to hold my tongue and keep your relationship a secret if you ask it of me. But, all I ask of you both is to consider what I have told you. This is not an ideal situation to be in and I had hoped that it would never come to this, but I promise that if you choose to go ahead and tell Odin how you feel, I will be there every step of the way. I will defend and support you two without hesitation, so do not feel like you are alone in this, alright? I only want the best for you. So, take your time and think it through; discuss it together, and let me know of your decision. Can you do that?”

There was a beat of silence before Loki, now calmer in appearance, nodded slowly and said. “Yes, Mother.”

“And Ellie?”

“I agree,” the Midgardian replied. “We can do that much.”

“Good, good. Now, come sit back down with your mother and beloved and finish your tea.”

The Trickster did as was asked of him without hesitation, sitting heavily next to Ellie and holding her hand in his cool grasp yet again. She smiled at him and leaned over to kiss his cheek.

“We’ll be okay,” she reassured him. “We’ll figure this out somehow.”

“I know, love.”

Frigga spent the rest of the morning with them, talking idly about anything and everything. She also informed them that a celebratory feast was to be held in Thor’s honour tonight — although Ellie had assumed such an event would happen eventually — and insisted that they should both attend. There was no way they could avoid it anyway, given that Loki was his brother and the second in line to the throne. With a small smile he agreed to go in support of Thor and Ellie did the same. When the Queen took her leave, the pair sat in silence for sometime, her letting her head rest on his shoulder while he wrapped one arm tightly around her and held her hand with the other.

“Are you sure you’re alright to attend the feast?” she asked after a moment, idly rubbing her thumb on the back of his hand.

He hummed in response. “Yes. Obviously I doubt Thor’s ability to be king, but I do…love him. He is still my brother, and if this is how it must be then I cannot do much about it. All I can do is support him however I can.”

“Perhaps you’ll be able to help him,” Ellie suggested. “If Thor is to be king, then surely you’d be the best right hand man he could hope for?”

“Perhaps. Although as to whether he would chose that roll for me I am unsure.”

“You’re kiddin’, right? He loves you, Loki. He thinks the world of you. You guys are different for sure, but you’s adore each other more than you realise.”

“Well aren’t you a perceptive little Midgardian?” he said with a smirk, nuzzling his nose into her hair.

“I’m just bein’ honest,” she replied, breath hitching slightly as his head suddenly dipped and nipped at her earlobe. “Stop distractin’ me, I’m tryin’ to help!”

She heard him chuckle, his breath fanning her ear and making her shiver. “I know you are and I appreciate it, but I tire of all these serious conversations.”

“It’s important that we talk ’bout it though.”

Loki paused in his actions, lips brushing lightly against the sensitive skin under her ear with which he was already very familiar. Though she could feel herself heating up as he placed his massive hand on her thigh, she needed to hear what he was thinking. She knew all too well that sometimes he wasn’t the best communicator — she had her moments too — but this situation was certainly one of the worst they had to experience in their relationship. In the grand scheme of things, they had had five years of bliss since the Alfheim incident. But now, there was weight on both their shoulders; an ever-present uncertainty with what the upcoming weeks would bring.

“I know,” Loki repeated himself, tone having returned to its previous earnestness. “I know we must, Ellie. But we have spent all of last night and this morning trying to figure out what to do, and my head is far too muddled to discuss it further.”

“It’s okay,” she reassured him, cupping his cheek and leaning back so that she could rub her nose against his. “I feel the same as yourself. My head is fried.”

“I am not surprised. I do not wish to think anymore about it right now. I just want to spend time with you before the feast.”

“Then do you think we could try get some sleep beforehand? I don’t think I’ll survive that thing if I don’t nap first.”

“Of course,” he said with a light chuckle and placed a kiss on her lips. “Come, we will rest together for a while.”

Wrapping her arms tightly around him, Ellie clung on as Loki got to his feet and effortlessly carried her to his bed. Stripping each other down to their undergarments, they huddled under the covers and tried to get whatever sleep they could before the feast. It was only when Ellie let her head rest of his chest and felt his breathing level out did she eventually drift into a much-needed sleep of her own.

 

* * *

 

The feast hall was a beehive of activity later that evening.

Ellie was kept busy serving along with the other hand servants, going to and from the kitchen to get the food from the cooks with expert swiftness she had gathered over her years of service. Feasts were a piece of cake to her now and it was always nice to see her friends again and catch up when the meals were served and diners were busy with their food. The Allfather and Allmother didn’t mind servants speaking with each other on the sidelines as long as they kept a watchful eye out for goblets and plates that needed to be refilled. Over the last few years, Ellie frequently found herself being paired up with Rainger on the sidelines, due to his position as Thor’s hand servant. Since her rejection of his advances some five years ago, they had actually become close friends, something Loki had briefly abhorred. Thankfully, he very quickly saw that Rainger meant no ill will or sneaky tactics, so his distrust and jealousy was forgotten.

“I feel like I may have my work cut out for me tomorrow morning,” said hand servant whispered with a small smirk as they stood, jugs in hand, waiting for someone to request more wine.

Ellie followed his gaze to see Thor downing the last of his drink as his free hand went up to ask for another. “I think you may be right.”

“Excuse me a moment,” the young man said as he quickly approached the head table and refilled his master’s tankard. When he returned, he went on. “I think Prince Thor plans on getting so inebriated that he forgets he has been chosen to become king.”

“That wouldn’t exactly be out of character for him,” Ellie chuckled, looking at the eldest prince with fondness. “How does it feel knowin’ you’ll be a hand servant of the king soon?”

“Honestly it does not bother me too much. He will still be the same Thor he was as a prince.”

For the briefest of moments, her brow furrowed. Rainger’s comment got her thinking about her earlier conversation with Loki and his biggest worry with the decision; Thor’s inability to be king. She loved Thor like a big brother — obviously she did — but there was a small part of her that worried about him becoming king. He was not perfect, as no one was, but he had certain qualities that he needed to lose before being crowned. But she wondered whether he ever would do just that. He was a good man, yes, but he could be quite rash and reckless — two qualities that a king should not have. She had to give some credit to Odin; he was neither of these things.

“That’s true,” Ellie agreed, watching the God of Thunder carefully. “I wonder if he’ll, y’know, grow a bit more mature before bein’ crowned.”

Rainger shrugged slightly. “I do not know. Prince Thor is set in his ways — much like Prince Loki — but hopefully the Allfather can teach him a thing or two ahead of time.”

“I certainly hope so.”

“Do you fear Prince Thor’s reign, Ellie?” he asked with a small smile. “Or are you disappointed that your master was not chosen?”

“Oh c’mon,” she scoffed. “This isn’t a competition, Rainger, even if my boss is better than yours.”

“We are both biased towards our employers, which is expected.”

“Of course we are, but that doesn’t make me wrong.”

“Oh, really?” he asked, chuckling. “Do you think Prince Loki would make a better king?”

“I do actually,” she answered honestly, eyes now trained on Loki who sat quietly in his seat finishing the last few bites of his meal. “Don’t get me wrong — neither of them are completely perfect for the job, but I probably wouldn’t’ve picked Thor.”

“Biased, so biased,” Rainger tutted beside her. “But that is expected. All jesting aside, I am sure the Allfather plans to teach Thor what he must learn and consider before his official coronation.”

She let out a sigh. “I hope so.”

“Are you genuinely worried about Prince Thor’s rule?”

“I’m not exactly worried ’bout it. I guess it’s more of an uncertainty regards the whole situation.”

“I am sure Thor will fair just as fine as Loki had he been selected instead,” Rainger mused, trying his best to ease some of her worries, something that did not go unnoticed. “I know you worry, and I know you were worried about the announcement, but all will be well. Odin would be lucky to have either of them as king.”

Ellie appreciated his attempts to calm her, but she couldn’t shake the knot of anxiety in her gut. “See, you think that ’cause you know Loki; your father worked for him for centuries. My issue is that I don’t think others feel the same way. He’s not exactly as well respected as Thor, even though he should be.”

As she spoke, she kept a close eye on the rabble at the princes’ table. At this stage, Thor and his friends were already quite tipsy while Loki remained as cool and collected as ever. He wore a convincing smile for his brother, but while he was happy for him, she knew the smile harboured concerns and uncertainties given the impending marriage that Thor’s coronation also signalled. She could feel his unease and it only fuelled the worries she harboured deep in her gut. She was happy for Thor too, but she couldn’t help but feel the weight of the world on her shoulders knowing that his success would separate her from her beloved.

The sight of Loki holding up his empty goblet cut through her thoughts.

“Your boss calls,” Rainger commented casually and nudged her shoulder. “You best make sure he is not left waiting.”

“Still better than yours!” she whispered playfully before going to heed Loki’s call. She stood on his right and began to pour the wine into his goblet as he turned to get a look at her. She smiled at him and he smiled back, this one feeling far more genuine that what he had previously wore.

“Ellie!”

The young woman looked up as her name was called and met the very unsteady gaze of Thor across the table. “Yes, Prince Thor?”

“I have not spoken with you since I was chosen to be king,” he exclaimed as though to was absolutely unacceptable. “You have yet to congratulate me!”

“My sincerest congratulations to you, my Prince,” she replied. “I’m sure you’ll make a great king.”

“You have my thanks, little Midgardian. You must celebrate with us!”

“Another time, considerin’ I’m on the job as we speak.”

As Thor let out a disappointed groan, Volstagg chuckled and drank from his half empty tankard. “I am sure she is disappointed that her favourite prince was not chosen.”

The burly man’s comment was said in jest, but Ellie’s felt the shift in Loki’s posture beside her.

“Lies!” Thor boomed, waving his own tankard around and sending her a playful but drunken wink. “You will find that I am certainly her favourite prince, and her favourite soon-to-be-king.”

“I hate to be the bearer of bad news,” Fandral began. “But you are certainly not her favourite. She and the Trickster are like peas in a pod, as the Midgardians say! I’m sure she is disappointed with the decision, but also not overly surprised.”

“Overly surprised?” Loki repeated, eyebrow piqued. “I dare say that is quite the comment to make.”

Ellie nodded as she finished filling his goblet. “I agree. I favoured the princes in their conquest equally, no matter what you claim, Fandral, or who I serve.”

Thor pouted at her comment. “I beg to differ; I am the clear favourite.”

“I feel that the Midgardian has a clear favourite,” Hogun said. “But it is the Trickster. They have always been alike in personality.”

“She is his loyal handmaiden after all,” Volstagg added with a smile. “Favouring him is part of her job.”

“I can assure you that it’s not,” Ellie cut in quickly, sensing the atmosphere at the table changing the more the warriors spoke. “I work for Prince Loki, but they’re both my friends.”

“Friendship is not what makes a king, sweetheart,” Fandral corrected her with a smirk.

Ellie sent him a glare, probably mirroring the exact look on Loki’s face right now, but she found his tone excessively condescending. “I’m not your sweetheart, Fandral. Are you goin’ t’educated me on what does make a king? I hadn’t realised you were so knowledgeable on the subject.”

“I feel as though you have a death wish,” Loki agreed, setting his goblet down on the table and clenching his fist. “Considering you are being rude and disrespectful to a loyal employee of a Prince of Asgard.”

“I answer to the king, Trickster, not a prince such as yourself.”

“On the contrary,” Ellie began matter-of-factly, feeling Loki’s free hand discreetly reaching out to touch her hip, hidden from untrained eyes. She wasn’t sure if it was to comfort her or himself, but she was positive that he was beginning to grow tired of the conversation. “You answer to both. And here I was expectin’ to be educated on the matter.”

“I would be happy to educate you, little mortal. Asgard needs a king who would defend its borders with tremendous strength and bravery, not a magician who would attempt to charm our enemies.”

While Volstagg and Lady Sif looked a little surprised by his comment, Thor chose not to directly defend his brother, despite the fact he was being aggressively disrespected at a public event. This simple fact had Ellie seeing red, finding it very hard to resist the urge to pour the rest of her jug over Fandral’s head.

“I have no interest in arguing with a half-wit,” Loki sighed, getting to his feet before anyone could get a word in. “Come, little one, I wish to retire for the evening.”

“Loki,” Thor whined, watching on in disappointment. “You cannot leave; it is my celebratory feast—”

“I can and I will,” the God of Lies cut him off, tone firm. “You have my congratulations, brother, but I grow tired of my company and the barrage of insults through which I must sit.”

With a swiftness that ensured no one could argue, Loki turned his attention to the Allmother and Allfather, respectfully asking to retire for the evening. Though slightly miffed with the idea, they agreed and Ellie was quick to accompany him. He said nothing as he walked briskly through the halls, and she too remained silent until they reached his chambers. While he sat on the bed in silence, she prepared his sleeping clothes and put away his formal attire once he stripped. The atmosphere was unpleasant given the goings-on and blatant ridicule experienced by them both at the feast. She couldn’t help the feeling of unease that gripped her gut with an unrelenting ferocity. Seeing her lover sitting in deep thought was no help, but she made it her mission to comfort him.

She stood in front of his unmoving figure and was unsurprised when he placed his hands on her waist and buried his face in the front of her dress. He said nothing as she whispered sweet-nothings and ran her fingers through his hair, assuring him that all would be well and that Fandral was simply a jealous arse.

Eventually, he murmured into the fabric of her clothes. “What is to become of us?”

“We’re gonna stick together through this,” Ellie reassured him with no hesitance at all. “Their lack of respect and opinion doesn’t change how we feel about each other.”

“I know,” he agreed, voice uncharacteristically small. “But it affects how they react to me. What if we do as Mother suggests and they do not listen? What if they separate us?”

She cupped his cheeks softly and gently ushered him to meet her gaze. “We already spoke of this and their attitude doesn’t change it. We’ll be okay; I promise you that, Loki.”

Feeling the grip of his large hands tighten, she was forcefully pulled down to straddle his lap. She didn’t argue — not that she even wanted to — but merely watched quietly as Loki flexed his fingers and looked up to meet her gaze. The question in his eyes required no verbal response, so she merely nodded.

“Off,” he huffed and the lack of specific gesture didn’t leave her confused for what to do next. She slowly abided by his wishes, shrugging her dress off her shoulders and revealing her naked chest to his wanton gaze. He stared for the longest time, her breasts at eye-level, until she began to shiver with anticipation. She abided by his wishes as he voiced his appreciation for her form and what he wished to do to her, and merely sighed as he brought his mouth to her bare chest and marked her for all to see. He had been visibly irked by the words of his brother’s companions, that much she knew, but she had no qualms with reminding him that she loved and respected him. She was happy to whisper her delight at his antics if it cheered him up that evening. Tomorrow, they would deal with the words spoken at the feast.

Tonight, it was just the two of them, and, for now, that was all that mattered.

Chapter Text

Ellie groaned, slipping out of her sleepy haze. The arms around her waist tightened as something — or someone — nipped the side of her neck.

Lokiiiii,” she murmured, voice rough as she opened one eye to reveal her bedroom, still quite dark. She assumed it must have been dawn.

“Yes, love?” the voice behind her answered. She could practically hear him smirking. “Did I wake you?”

“You already know the answer to that, you little shit.”

It was a few days after the feast and, thankfully, Loki’s mood had slowly improved since the incident. She assumed that he was mostly back to normal, considering she woke up to discover him in her bed when she distinctly recalled falling asleep alone the night before. It was a game they had conjured up over the past few years, which involved one sneaking into the others bed every now and then to wake them up with lingering kisses and intimate touching. It wasn’t uncommon for Ellie to wake up to discover Loki’s head between her legs, but she simply made sure to do the same to him, usually until she had him begging, which was a challenge in itself.

“You never complain when I wake you in such a manner,” he continued, before settling his lips against her neck and running his tongue along the sensitive skin he had bitten. “Though sometimes you do seem quite impertinent.”

“Maybe ’cause I was tryin’ t’sleep? Ever think of that? What time is it anyway?”

“Not yet dawn.”

“Oh for the love of — ow!” She flipped over to quickly face him, blankets rustling at her harsh movements. She was met with his grinning face, both hands held up in front of him. “Did you just bite me?”

“… Yes.”

“I swear, if you gave me a hickey again—”

“I most certainly did.”

She let out a disgruntled noise and glared. “Out.”

“Now, Ellie,” he began, his tone as mischievous as ever. “Do not be so harsh with me. I simply wish for others to know you are mine, and to bring you pleasure. I know your neck is your weak spot, much like your stomach and your—”

“I said out,” she insisted. “Get outta my bed. I can’t go to work with a bloody hickey on my neck!”

“Would you rather I mark you elsewhere? Because I can think of a few places…”

She tried to look as annoyed as possible, but the predatory glint in Loki’s eyes had her heart rate picking up. “Don’t—”

Before she could tell him otherwise, the Trickster leapt up and grabbed her. She squeaked as he rolled her on to her back and could only meet his gaze as he pinned her hands above her head. Looking up at his large frame looming over her, a delighted smirk plastered across his lips, she struggled against his grip, kicking her legs up in an effort to get him off.

Giggles began to erupt from her as he shifted his body to pin her down with his weight. “Loki!”

“Do not act as though you do not love this, you little minx,” he chuckled, leaning down to plant open-mouthed kisses all along her neck and chest. “I have you right where I want you.”

“You are ridiculously—” She cut herself off with a hiss as he nipped at the dip above her collarbone. “—needy, did you know that?”

“That I am, but not in the same manner you are implying.”

The feeling of Loki grinding his hips between her spread legs caused a whimper to escape her. The sensation sent shockwaves through her body. “Fuckin’ hell, Loki… Why do you chose to do this when I should be sleepin’?”

He growled into her ear and bucked against her. “Because I cannot help myself.”

“You’re insatiable.”

“It is part of being a god, darling. And you usually keep up quite well.”

“Not when I’m half asleep I don’t.” Her heart began thumping in her chest, her lover’s knowledgable movements and tricks already turning her body into a needy mess. The heat between her legs was maddening and each slow drag of his own arousal against hers only made it worse.

“I had meant to ask something of you,” he suddenly pondered aloud, voice still deep and thick from his actions. He lightly ran the tip of his tongue down the side of her sensitive neck. “To pick your brain, you could say.”

“I don’t know if I’m capable of formin’ a coherent sentence right now, let alone answer your queries. Not if you keep doin’ that with your tongue.”

“I am sure you will have no issue multi-tasking, considering you usually do it so well.”

“Out with it, please! Before you drive me mad!”

He chuckled, a deep rumble erupting in his chest as he pressed it against hers. “I wish to get away for awhile.”

“Away? From Asgard?”

“Yes, much like how we used to travel to Midgard, but preferably for longer than an evening.”

She tilted her head slightly as she asked. “Why do you want’a go away?”

“I need time away from here with all the commotion before Thor’s coronation. That, and I feel as though we may not get the opportunity to travel for a while afterwards. It will be a hectic time, with new responsibilities for my brother and I. I fear that my free time will be temporarily non-existent.”

Such a thought saddened Ellie tremendously. While she would continue to be Loki’s handmaiden, the thought of them not being able to spend as much time together as lovers was a harsh reminder of their current predicament. “I understand. Do you wish for me to go with you?”

“Of course. I also wish to leave so that I may spend time in your company.”

“Well, just name the place and I’m in. How do you plan on sneaking away for longer than a night, though? Surely someone would notice our absence?”

“That they would, little one, which is why I will be asking for permission to travel to Midgard this time.”

Her brow piqued in surprise, but she listened intently. “And you think they’ll give us permission to go?”

“Of course they will,” he replied, slightly insulted by her uncertainty. “What part of ‘silver tongue’ do you find confusing to comprehend?”

“Fair enough,” she said with a shrug. “I’ll leave that to you, then.”

“That you will.” With that, the god abruptly climbed out of her bed and got to his feet.

Ellie stared at him in surprise, chest still heaving. “What’re you doin’?”

He shrugged casually as he ran his hands through his dishevelled hair. “You told me to leave, so leave you I shall.”

“But you can’t just—”

“I expect to see you in my chambers and ready to work in an hour’s time. Best get some rest while you still can, Ellie.” With that, he winked and fled out the door before she could even get a word in.

Sitting in her bed, the young woman stared at the door through which her lover had escaped. A string of profanities left her before she fell backwards into her pillows and released a rather frustrated groan. She would have to get him back for that later.

 

* * *

 

As it turned out, it wasn’t much of a hassle for Loki to get permission to go to Midgard, even with Ellie in his company. He asked his mother and father over breakfast, Thor also present, and Ellie and Rainger standing nearby in case they were called upon. Having Frigga secretly aware of their relationship also worked in their favour, because whenever there was an opportunity for the pair to spend time together, the Allmother was happy to encourage it and make sure that the arrangements stuck. This was one of those occasions.

“Why do you wish to travel to Midgard, my son?” Odin asked, not unkindly mind you, as he ate his breakfast.

“I expect that my duties will increase once Thor is crowned king and once I am expected to wed Lady Sigyn,” he explained, the lies rolling effortlessly off his silver tongue. “And I wish to take a short break beforehand. I can promise to help with whatever I can for the coronation, but a few days to be in my own company before I take on these new responsibilities would be greatly appreciated, Father.”

“It sounds like a reasonable request,” Frigga agreed, smiling at her son.

Thor laughed heartily as he set down his goblet. “It sounds like a request to go gallivanting in another realm before responsibility ruins whatever revelry you currently enjoy.”

“Thor,” the Allmother warned, her tone less than impressed. “Do not start.”

Loki merely smirked at his brother’s comment. “I can assure you that that is not my intention, though I cannot speak for Thor in that regard.”

“So be it then,” Odin announced, probably unwilling to disagree with his wife and son over something so menial. As Ellie held back the urge to smile, she pondered the possibility of the Allfather being in a particularly good mood that day. “But no more that two days, and always remain inconspicuous — do not involve yourself in the mortals’ lives.”

“Of course,” Loki replied, keeping his reaction calm but visibly satisfied. “You have my word. I would also request the company of my handmaiden, as I still expect to be served upon even within another realm.”

Keeping her eyes politely on the floor, she could feel Odin’s one good eyes burning briefly into her. She hoped that Loki’s mildly demeaning comment would throw the King off the real reason why he desired her company. “So be it, but brief her with regards her etiquette on Midgard beforehand.”

“I shall of course. Thank you, Father.”

Though she was quite relieved by the lack of scrutiny Odin expressed at his son’s request, Ellie was still always a little bit knocked for six when Loki was treated as an equal son and not the forgotten one. While the sight of him being disregard always hurt her, it never upset her. It was a welcome change whenever he actually was listened to and allowed a small request for his own enjoyment. She could only put these occasions down to Odin’s good mood and the influence of Frigga’s honeyed words.

Little preparation was needed; Midgard was in no way unfamiliar to the couple and Ellie was glad to be going back. They hadn’t been in some time and it was only when they were on the Bifröst was she told where exactly they would be going.

“Can’t you just tell me?” she asked as they road down the bridge atop Skeidbrimir. She sat behind him, holding on to his waist.

“Because I am trying to surprise you, obviously,” he answered smoothly. “Why must you ruin the surprise?”

“’Cause I want’a know, maybe?”

“You have very little patience, little one.”

She rolled her eyes as they cantered along. “That’s a bleedin’ lie and you know it.”

“Oh?”

“Don’t ‘oh’ me.”

“You are not the one who had to deal with an unruly Midgardian child for years.”

“I have’ta put up with you and that requires loads of patience. You’re like an adult sized toddler.”

Oh, you are quite the little minx.” He chuckled slightly and turned to look at her over his shoulder. “If we were not currently approaching the Gate Keeper, I would make you eat your words.”

“Not unless I make you eat yours first, My Prince.”

Their playful banter was cut short as they reached the auditorium and dismounted the horse, pulling their travelling bags on their backs. Heimdall stood guard as per usual, Hofund in hand. He was polite and reserved as always, greeting them both with a small nod and asking where in Midgard they wished to travel. While she was giving Loki her best side-eye, he smiled slightly as he asked for the Gatekeeper to send them to Dublin, Ireland. Her mouth fell open slightly at his words, but she held back the other flurry of emotions she felt before Heimdall could see otherwise.

“You wish to visit the hometown of young Ellie?” he asked, deep voice surprisingly impressed with this idea.

“Indeed,” Loki replied. “I suppose why not hit two birds with one stone and we both may get something out of it? She has not been since she came to Asgard.”

“A thoughtful suggestion, Your Highness.”

“That it is,” Ellie agreed and smiled at her beloved. “Thank you, My Prince.”

“Think nothing of it, little one. Come, Heimdall, we politely ask you to send us on our way.”

“As you wish.”

Ellie was not exactly overly fond of the Bifröst; it was noisy and chaotic, and she had only used it a handful of times — during two of which she had been incapacitated so that hardly counted… Still, she did her best to remain calm, using the breathing exercises Eir had given her for whenever she felt anxiety taking over. After the events on Alfheim, and taking her childhood also into account, she was advised by her closest friends to perhaps speak with Eir regarding her mental health. It had obviously affected her deeply — how could it not? — and Loki was more than aware of what was going on when she became irritable at times, or jumped when he touched her arm. She didn't want to be afraid of him because she had no reason to be, and she found herself continuously insisting that she was alright. He was less than impressed with her denial, but remained ever understanding while gently insisting that she speak to him about it. Training became a far more difficult task, as wielding a knife brought back graphic memories of what she did in that building. Sometimes she became withdrawn and angry, spending sleepless nights alone or in his company scolding herself for being stupid enough to follow Dagny out of the palace.

Your stupidity put so many lives at risk! Do you have any idea how dangerous it was? The princes risked their lives for you, you useless little mortal!

These thoughts would always draw Loki from sleep due to the soul bond. It also meant that he felt when her nightmares approached, but a whispered incantation and a gentle hand on her forehead meant that they were always kept at bay. Only when she suffered a public anxiety attack at a formal feast did she finally listen to those around her and sought out Eir’s assistance. After all, arguing with Loki was one thing, but arguing with Frigga, Fen, and Sevda was another… The experienced healer was able to help ease her fractured mind. The panic attacks subsided and the anger and fear dwindled. A small amount of situational anxiety remained, but she had learned to manage over time with regular counselling and exercises to calm herself. Before then, she wouldn’t have stepped anywhere near the thundering Bifröst. Now, she calmed herself, took Loki’s arm as he offered it, and remained relaxed as the white lightening consumed them.

In no time at all they landed safely in a deserted back alley. Ellie let out a sigh as she regained her footing and took a look around. In the sky overhead, the sun was beaming and it was pleasantly warm despite the cool breeze. The noise of crowds and cars could be heard not too far off, and the nostalgic familiarity of the sound made her smile.

“Heimdall always leaves us in the nicest alleyways,” she laughed slightly, turning to grin up at Loki.

“That he does,” the prince agreed before green light shimmered over them and they were dressed in more Midgardian attire. “But we should look our best in case we are spotted.”

She eyed his all black suit before looking down at her own dress. “Damn. Are you feelin’ fancy today?”

“We must look as such considering our destination.”

“And where’s that?” she asked, eagerly accepting the hand he extended.

As he began to lead her towards what she presumed was a main street, he explained. “Well, you have been there before and although you may have drank too much wine, I thought you might like to visit it again for an extended period of time.”

Her eyes grew wide at his description. “You’re jokin’…”

“I can assure you that while I can be hilarious, I am not joking, love.” As they stepped out of the alley and on to a main street, he looked up and pointed with his free hand. “Ah, here we are.”

Though it had been years since she had laid eyes on the Shelbourne Hotel, Ellie would recognise its redbrick facade anywhere. She stared in delight at the building for a moment, her lips pulling into a beaming smile before she could contain herself no longer. Turning her attention once more with Loki, she was met with his kind, green eyes, and launched herself into his arms. She couldn’t help but thank him profusely, the words tumbling uncontrollably from her lips before she leaned back and he silenced her with a soft kiss.

When he pulled back, he murmured. “It is worth it to see the smile on your face. I love to see you so happy.”

“Only you can make me smile like this,” she assured him and laid her head on his chest. “I love you.”

“I love you too, Ellie. Now come, let us get ourselves settled.”

As Loki led her across the road, Ellie took in her surroundings. It seemed to be late morning in Dublin City, with some people rushing about to go work or college. Others sat in nearby cafés, grabbing lunch and chatting with friends. She recognised the outskirts of Stephen’s Green to her left and recalled how Loki had brought her there upon first visiting Ireland through his secret passageways. She had done her research since and was a little more familiar with Dublin’s layout. Though it had been six years since she last stood before the hotel’s main entrance, she felt no uncertainty or anxiety as she went through its spiral doors and entered the lobby.

The clerk at the front desk greeted them with a friendly smile as they approaching. “Good morning, sir, madam. Are you looking to check in?”

“That we are,” Loki replied, sending her a polite smile. “Under Loki Odinson.”

“How the hell did you book a room with such little notice?” Ellie whispered as the clerk began to type his details into the computer.

“I am the God of Mischief, don’t you remember?”

“Well, it’s hard to forget…”

Their conversation was briefly interrupted as the clerk began to read out their booking information, including their room number and where to go to find it. As she handed what Ellie assumed was two keycards to Loki, she chose not to question the latter about how he acquired a room at a presumably busy hotel with such late notice. It wouldn’t surprise her if his silver tongue had a lot to do with it. Ultimately, she simply thanked the clerk herself and followed Loki to the carpeted staircase at the other end of the lobby. They hadn’t climbed many flights before they arrived on their floor and quickly found the entrance to their room. As Loki allowed her to enter first, Ellie took a step inside and immediately faltered at the impressive space. The room was massive and elegantly decorated with plush golden chairs and mahogany tables and drawers. The bed was almost as large as Loki’s back on Asgard, but draped in red and gold sheets and cushions, perfectly matching the impressive curtains that rested either side of the nearby window overlooking Stephen’s Green.

She audibly gasped as she set her carrying bag down on a nearby chair and ran her hand along the duvet.

“Impressed?” his amused voice asked as he slid his arms around her waist to hug her from behind.

“Very,” she admitted. “I know I grew up in the palace, but this room is amazin’ to see.”

“I will admit that it is quite high-end, especially for Midgard. We have our own washroom as well.”

She hummed in acknowledgement, resting her head back against his chest. “I think I’m goin’ t’like it here.”

“You and me both, love.”

Considering the day had only just begun, Ellie expressed her desire to do some more exploration of Dublin, considering the last time they were here they spent the entirety of their time within the hotel. Loki seemed more than happy to oblige and let her lead the way as they stepped out on to the street once more. They had lunch at a nearby café, ventured through the nearby shopping district, and went for a stroll through the park. There were simple things to keep oneself occupied of course, but she took great pride in being able to walk with Loki in a public place and hold his hand. No one knew who they were or where they were from, and no one cared otherwise. They didn’t have to fear any judgemental looks or ‘being caught’ as they sat together on a park bench and gazed at the creatures she recognised as swans languidly gliding up and down the little streams before them. It was a simple thing yes, but it was something they rarely got to do. He seemed content to sit in the afternoon sun with his cool hand clutching hers and his other arm around her waist. It was the first time since the unsettling announcement of his arranged marriage did Ellie feel entirely secure in his company. Even now, with the imminent coronation hanging above their heads, she couldn’t worry about it. All she could focus on was how the sunlight only made his green eyes glow brighter and the smile that he sent her every time their gazes met. Even with the ever pleasant sight of the swans and the calm water, her eyes always found their way back to him.

In the late afternoon, they returned to the hotel for dinner, having a table waiting for them in the Saddle Room Restaurant, a rather extravagant room with golden booths for its guests’ privacy. After a delicious meal, the pair sat close together, sharing a bottle of wine and speaking in hushed whispers.

“Have you thought anymore about your mother’s suggestion?” she asked him, finally biting the bullet about what they were going to do.

Loki took a moment to steady himself before answering. “Thinking about it is difficult.”

“I know, Loki. I hate thinkin’ about it too, but we have to try figure somethin’ out.”

“I know we do, but I am beginning to wonder whether Mother’s words really are the best course of action. I worry about Father’s reaction to us and what he may do in retaliation.”

She noticed the subtle but familiar twitching in the fingers of his left hand that lay on the table. As he began digging his nails into his skin, she slowly reached across to ease the fidgeting digits. “So do I.”

“I fear my mother’s thoughts are clouded in ideology — she does want us to remain together of course, but she may think my father would also allow it despite his opinion of mortals, let alone princes and servants.”

“I guess I’m his worst nightmare,” she mused with a slight frown. “’Cause not only am I a Midgardian workin’ within the palace, but I’m also sleepin’ with his youngest son.”

While she set her eyes on her glass of wine, she felt Loki softly press his lips against her head. “Do not concern yourself with what he thinks of you, little one. No matter what he thinks or says, I love you dearly. That will never change, no matter what route we chose to take at this crossroads. As I have said to you already, nothing will keep me from you.”

“That’s reassurin’ to hear. I don’t doubt you obviously, but I just find myself gettin’ increasingly more anxious the closer the date gets and we’ve yet to make a choice. Frigga did ask us to think over what she suggested.”

“And we still have our reservations.” He released a sigh and let his cheek rest against the top of her head. The comforting gesture helped to relax her somewhat. “My fears, if you must know, involve us coming to my father and being completely honest; we tell him of our love and courtship, and that is why I cannot engage in this arranged marriage. He, in realising that I have been involved in something that he has continuously reiterated abhorring, is furious. I… I fear his dismissal of you as my handmaiden and as a worker within the palace. Part of me thinks that he would even cast you out of Asgard for being involved with me.”

The unease between them as Loki described his ultimate fear was palpable. Everything he said resonated deeply within her as she constantly feared the thought of Odin discovering their relationship and forbidding it from continuing. How do you go against the command of the Allfather? While she could trust the Queen with her life, Ellie had yet to feel she could completely trust the King.

Instinctively cuddling closer to him, she murmured. “You and I have the same fears, then. It’s certainly risky.”

“I am not sure if I am willing to take that risk,” he elaborated. “And yet, if we say nothing, I lose you in another way.”

“And we’re runnin’ out of time anyway. In a few weeks, Thor will be king and that means you will have’ta begin courtin’ this Sigyn person…”

“Not if the coronation is somehow delayed. That may be our best option right now. Perhaps if we are stuck with no other option after trying everything else, then maybe we will consider taking my mother’s advice.”

“I suppose you’re right. Maybe we’ll figure somethin’ out, right? We still have a little bit of time anyway.”

“That is correct. Perhaps this is a conversation best continued when we return home. Right now, I would much rather spend my time with you here in peace.”

“At least here I can hold your hand in public,” she mused with a slight laugh. “Ireland is spoiling me. I’m just relieved that Heimdall can’t see us or what we’re up to thanks to your seiðr. Otherwise we’d never get time to ourselves.”

She sat there expecting some sort of a response from him, but was met with silence. After a couple of seconds, she tilted her head slightly to get a look at him, seeing he was deep in thought. “Loki?”

“Hmm?” he replied, snapping his attention back to her.

“You alright?”

“Am I alright? Well yes… Yes, I am just thinking.”

“About?”

“Nothing of note,” he mumbled after another pause. She felt his arm tighten around her slightly. “But… yes, I am also enjoying spending time here with you with no judgemental eyes. It is refreshing.”

“It really is. If only we could stay here instead of goin’ back to Asgard.”

“That would certainly solve our problems, now wouldn’t it?”

She nodded. “That it would. And then we wouldn’t have’ta constantly hide from everyone. We could do whatever we wanted, y’know?”

“Whatever we wanted?” he mused with a slight smirk. “Do not give me such freedom when it comes to doing whatever I want.”

“It’s not just doin’ whatever you want.” Making sure to lightly run her lips along his jawline, she whispered as she reached his ear. “It’s about doin’ what you want t’me.”

The sharp intake of breath from him had her smirking uncontrollably. Seeing an opportunity, she placed her free hand on his knee and squeezed. That was all it took.

Before she could blink, Loki promptly slid out of the booth, downed the rest of his wine, and held out his hand to her. “Come, we are returning to the room.”

With an amused tilt of the head, she questioned. “Oh, are we?”

“If you wish to play this game, then you must have expected such a response from me.”

“I’m just surprised you broke so soon,” she chuckled, stomach already doing flips at the thought of the evening ahead. “But perhaps you’re a little needy tonight.”

As she took his outstretched hand in hers, he swiftly pulled her close. “Keep teasing me like that, darling, and you will surely regret it.”

She hummed and drank the last of her wine. “I feel as though you’ve stated a challenge.”

As she began to pull him out of the restaurant, he snickered and followed her without argument. “Oh, so that is how you want to play it? Challenge accepted, darling.”

The journey back to their room was quick, especially when the pair of them couldn’t keep their hands off the other. Loki was insistent about pulling her body as close as possible to him, even if it meant that they were tripping over each other. She couldn’t help but giggle as he incessantly kissed her neck while she tried to open their door with the keycard.

“Keep doin’ that,” she laughed, trying to get the keycard in the door. “And we won’t be able to get in the room.”

Loki growled in response. “Then I shall just have to take you in this corridor.”

She shivered as his teeth grazed over the skin. “You act like that’s a bad thing, love.”

“You would not mind an audience?”

“That’s an experiment for another day,” she moaned as she finally unlocked the door. Grabbing Loki by his shirt collar, she pulled him into the room, and shut the door behind him. “Right now, I’m good with it bein’ just me and you, and no one else.”

“I agree. There is no need for an audience right now.” He leaned in close, his lips brushing against hers as he spoke. “Everyone in this hotel is going to know my name by the time morning comes, along with you.”

Having had enough of his teasing, Ellie finally pulled him into a passionate kiss. For the rest of the evening, the couple embraced their newfound freedom, ensuring that they tested the limits of their privacy. It was not common that they could enjoy such an occasion, so who could blame them for embracing it? As Loki had promised, the hotel became acquainted with their names, perhaps too intimately, not that the couple had any regrets.

Chapter Text

The morning of their second day on Midgard, Ellie awoke first. Beside her, Loki remained fast asleep, and she took a moment to cuddle closer to him and study his peaceful face. It was a rare occasion, waking before him, so she always made sure to get her money’s worth. A sleeping Loki was a sight to behold.

Well, she thought to herself. Loki is certainly a sight to behold in general, but he’s particularly pleasin’ while sleepin’.

It was the only time Ellie had ever seen him completely free of worries or doubts, seemingly completely content and at peace with himself. It was probably a bit selfish, but she loved the fact that she was the only one to see him in such a manner. The ease with which he lay there mesmerised her. His face held no rigidness, his eyes remained calm and unmoving, and his thin lips were softly pursed. The slow rise and fall of his chest kept her calm and very nearly lulled her back to sleep. But it didn’t take long for him to finally wake, shifting slightly in his early morning haze.

She didn’t fight him as he pulled her body closer to his, but merely chuckled instead. “I don’t think I’ll ever get over how much of a cuddler you can be.”

“Do not act as though you hate it,” he replied, voice rough at this hour. “And good morning to you too.”

“G’mornin’, Loki.”

He hummed deeply, unceremoniously lifting her so that she lay flat a top him. “It certainly is a good morning.”

With her hands laying flat and interlaced on his chest, she settled her chin down against them so that she could watch him comfortably. “How did you sleep? I sensed nothin’ other than ease from you, which was nice.”

“I slept well, love, thank you. And I could sense no nightmares from you, much to my relief.”

“I think havin’ you close by without fear of bein’ caught helps. As well this lovely city in which we can enjoy ourselves.”

“I agree. Dublin has very nearly won me over.”

Damn! That’s a tough task to manage. Did you have anythin’ specific on the agenda today?”

“Bar laying in bed with you all day? No.”

She rolled her eyes at the shit-eating grin her wore. “Not a chance. We spent all night in bed and today is our last full day here! We should do somethin’.”

“Your wish is my command. Did you have anything in mind?”

“I’d love to see some of the museums,” she pondered. “I’m pretty sure that the National Gallery and the Natural History Museum are only a short walk away.”

“Then visit them we shall.”

A smile slowly formed on her lips at his obedience and she lightly traced one finger along his collarbone. “I’m lovin’ this.”

“Loving what?” he asked, mimicking her movements and lightly running a hand down her spine.

“You bein’ so pliant and willin’ to do whatever I wish.”

“I am always willing to abide by your wishes.” He tilted his head slightly and met her gaze. “I would give you the world if I could.”

“You know you don’t have’ta do that,” she reassured him. “As long as I can have you, then I’m good.”

“And I you, Ellie.”

“I’m glad we could see eye to eye on this. Now if you’ll excuse me, I goin’ t’go take a shower.”

“An excellent idea!” Loki swiftly sat up in the bed and, before Ellie could blink, picked her up bridal style. “A shower is just what we need.”

“I meant on my own, but I suppose there’s no harm in allowin’ you to join me.”

“Of course not. I promise you shan’t be complaining when I wash your hair so gently that you nearly fall back asleep!”

All she did was smile as he carried them into the bathroom and stepped into the shower. With the promise of a relaxing and intimate time with him, she could hardly argue as he turned on the shower and warm water began to fall upon her head.

 

* * *

 

“Where to?”

Outside the Shelbourne, Ellie and Loki stood hand in hand, washed, dressed, and ready to take on the day.

“I was thinkin’ we could visit the Natural History Museum first?” she suggested, nodding in its direction. “They have loads of stuffed animals on display and I thought it’d be cool to see what they look like up close. Plus, the National Gallery is right beside it so then we can look at some of the exhibitions… How’s that sound?”

“A splendid idea. Why don’t we—”

Before Loki could get another word in, a crowd cheering interrupted the conversation. Ellie looked up in confusion to see a vehicle drive by the front of the hotel. The only issue was, it was unlike any vehicle she had seen on her trips to Midgard. It looked more like a yellow and blue boat on wheels and was carrying a fair amount of people inside, who she assumed were the ones doing the yelling. For some reason, each person wore a cheap looking horned helmet.

What in the name of the Nine Realms,” Loki began slowly, looking at the boat/car thing in utter contempt. “Is that?”

‘Viking Splash Tour’,” Ellie said, reading the text on the side of the vehicle aloud. Then she noticed a name printed near the front. “Hey! It has your name on it!”

“It what?!” he practically screeched, drawing some attention from passersby as he narrowed his eyes at the vehicle. “How dare that monstrosity use my name!”

Biting down on her lip to hold back laughter, she shook her head. “Calm down, love. I think it’s just some sorta tourist attraction—”

“How dare it even associate me with that offensive eyesore! And why are they wearing such impractical helmets?” he demanded. “They are tarnishing not only a Prince of Asgard, but our culture!”

“Here, you can’t be one to slag them about helmet impracticality!”

“I can and I will,” he grumbled, glaring at the offensive ‘monstrosity’ until it turned the corner and disappeared from sight. “My helmet is glorious and you are not to say another word.”

“In that case, let’s just go to the museum and you can forget all ’bout that…thing.”

Though the walk around the corner didn’t take long, the Trickster was still reeling after witnessing some of Ireland’s more kitsch attractions. That being said, he quietened down when they arrived at the Natural History Museum, a long, white brick building at the end of a small winding path opposite Merrion Square. Although she had expected it to be busy, it was particularly quiet that morning, and as the couple walked through the front doors, Ellie couldn’t help but stare at the massive room before her. It was full to the brim with cabinets and displays that contained many varieties of stuffed animals. After reading through a small pamphlet, they discovered that the ground floor was called the Irish Room, and contained fauna native to her home country. She was amazed to see the massive, seven-foot tall skeletons of Irish Elk, which had been extinct for some time. They slowly walked through the exhibit, seeing the mammals, the birds, the sea life, as well as the insect life, before venturing to the second floor to see the Mammals of the World exhibit. The bats intrigued her, the giraffes amazed her, and the tigers reminded her of reading the Jungle Book as a child. Loki seemed particularly fond of the wolves and snow leopards in parallel cabinets. Though he would never make a massive deal out of it, he seemed impressed with the vast number of creatures on display and perhaps he was just happy to do as Ellie asked. While he was also unfamiliar with the wildlife of Midgard, for her, it was the first time she would see any such animals in real life, though she was from this realm.

Afterwards, it was on to the National Gallery of Ireland. As was usually customary, the exhibitions were free for all visitors on the day the couple visited. It was busier than their previous excursion, but thankfully not crowded. The display, Masterpieces from the Collection, was where they spent most of their time. As part of a special presentation, highlights of the Gallery’s collection were mounted in the lower galleries and featured a selection of European and Irish paintings and sculpture from the early Renaissance to the twentieth century. They slowly moved through the rest of the gallery afterwards, neither daring to utter a word in the mostly silent rooms. That being said, sometimes Ellie would whisper a comment every now and then for his ears only and tried to get as close as possible to see the smaller details on different paintings. They spent over an hour there, making sure to get in every piece that they could. At first, she was worried that he would grow bored, but Loki seemed more than happy to learn of what Midgard’s artists had to offer. While she loved the Rest on the Flight into Egypt by Rembrandt van Rijn, he was transfixed by the Taking of Christ by Caravaggio. They both stared unabashedly at the work of Jack B. Yeats and Claude Monet as well. Once they left the gallery, they grabbed a bite to eat and a drink in a nearby café. Here, they picked each others brains for ages, asking what the other thought of different pieces and artists. They prattled on and on until their plates were cleared and their cups empty.

As they walked down Nassau Street and passed Trinity College with the intention of stopping in to view the Book of Kells, another passerby unexpectedly bumped into Ellie’s shoulder, causing her to drop the pamphlets she collected from the museums. She would have stumbled had she not been holding on to Loki’s arm. She grunted slightly at the contact and her lover pulled her close as the man turned his attention to her.

“I’m so sorry, ma’am,” he apologised with a distinct American accent. “I should have been paying more attention.”

“You are right,” Loki agreed with a small growl. “You should have been paying closer attention, you clumsy—”

“It was just an accident,” Ellie cut him off, gently rubbing his arm but giving him a ‘please don’t start’ look. “It’s fine, sir, really.”

“It’s certainly not fine,” the stranger disagreed, removing his sunglasses to convey his sincerity. “I didn’t hurt you, did I?”

“Not at all,” she reassured him and went to bend down to collect her lost pamphlets.

“Allow me,” the man insisted, squatting down to collect them before she could argue. “It’s my fault you dropped them anyway.”

As he picked up the scattered items, Ellie gave him a quick once over, along with the other man who stood next to him. He was wearing a rather fancy looking black suit with a white shirt and black tie. As he was on the ground, his suit jacket opened slightly, revealing a badge of some kind. Just before he got to his feet again, she noted the abstract eagle emblem on the badge, along with the acronym S.H.I.E.L.D.. She assumed from his friend’s similar attire that they worked together.

Who’s this guy? Police force, or somethin’?

“Are you alright, love?” Loki asked her gently, pulling her from her thoughts.

“I’m grand,” she insisted and gave his arm a squeeze. “Don’t worry.”

“Here you are, ma’am,” the man announced and handed the pamphlets to her. “Again, sincerest apologies.”

“It’s no bother at all, really!”

The man wished them a nice day before he and his companion took their leave, heading off in the original direction from which Ellie and Loki came.

“They were not any normal tourists,” Loki muttered, gently ushering her along once more.

“Did you see his badge? It looked fairly fancy.”

“That it did. I hate to do this because I know that you wished to see more of the city, but I think it is best that we return to the hotel for a little while. We can dine later anywhere you would like, but I would rather return for now, because they did not seem like standard Midgardian guards.”

“Of course,” she agreed and remained close to his side as they turned down a side street and headed back towards the Shelbourne. “I trust your judgement as always.”

They did as Loki suggested and Ellie allowed herself to be led back to their room. As he shut the door behind them, he turned and met her gaze, looking quite serious all of a sudden. “I wished to speak with you.”

She sat down on the bed expectantly. “Oh?”

“With regards the situation on Asgard,” he explained, taking a seat on the chair opposite her. “I think I may have come up with something.”

Immediately her interest grew and she leaned forward in her seat. “Tell me everythin’.”

“Well, we know that my arranged marriage is to come into action after Thor’s coronation. And we know we cannot go as far as injuring or critically maiming anyone to stop it. But, perhaps it would be possible to delay Thor’s coronation and, as a result, stopping my marriage to Lady Sigyn.”

“Surely delayin’ it will just delay your marriage too, no?”

“Not if that which delays it has to be Odin’s priority. Essentially, we give him a problem that he needs to solve before he can even consider crowning my brother. Eventually, Vanaheim becomes tired of waiting and calls off the arrangement.”

She nodded in agreement, knowing that he was certainly right in his tactics. There was probably no way to permanently prevent Thor from becoming king — not that they even wanted that to happen — but if they could delay it for as long as possible, then they could at least solve their own problems. “And I’m assumin’ you’ve come up with such a problem?”

He grinned slowly, his thin lips stretching out for the first time since the beginning of the conversation. “You know me so well, little one. That I have. Technically speaking, something you said yesterday sparked my attention. Remember when you spoke of my ability to cloak us from Heimdall’s gaze? Well, if I were to do that for someone else — someone who has no place sneaking about Asgard — and then reveal their location at the right moment during Thor’s coronation, Father will have no choice but to put a stop to it.”

“Holy shit, you’re right. He’d have’ta… But is that not insanely risky? Especially if its someone who is a threat.”

“It is, but I would ensure that they could be stopped before hurting anyone. We just need them to be seen and Father alerted as a result. But as of right now, I do not know who I will lead into Asgard or for what reason.”

“Well, we don’t have very much time to decide on that.”

“I know, but I think that once we return to Asgard I can come up with the perfect candidate.”

“And you know I’m here to help if you need me.”

“Of course. And you will be kept completely in the loop with regards my thoughts and ideas, I can assure you.”

“I would hope so,” she chuckled with a smile. “After all, we’re a team, right?”

He met her smile with his own and moved to sit next to her on the bed. “That we are. It is also the best team I could hope for.”

They sealed their plan with a chaste but loving kiss and agreed to spend their last evening on Midgard merely enjoying themselves and not worrying about the impending days ahead. After all, their coming days would provide them no such opportunity to rest or relax. They had to savour it while they still could.

 

* * *

 

It was a few days later while in Asgard’s training yard with Loki when Ellie was given the final details of his plan.

Frost Giants?” she whisper-shouted after he had tackled her to the ground in close combat so that their whispering wouldn’t be noticeable. “Are you mad?

“Possibly,” he replied, trying to keep her down as she fought him off. “Come now, you know how to dislodge me!”

She growled and did as he asked, twisting her thighs around him so that she could pin him to the ground. “There. Happy now?”

“Most definitely,” he drawled, sweeping his eyes over her body. “I do love when I can look up at you like this, darling.”

“Loki, focus,” she insisted, her breathing levelling out as they trained. “Is that not fuckin’ risky? These are the Jötunns were talkin’ about!”

“I know, but all will be well, I promise.”

Since their return to Asgard, all had been eerily quiet. Loki had to settle back into his princely duties and attended a number of conferences with Thor, the Allfather, and the Allmother. Sometimes, she and Rainger were in attendance, mostly to wait on the princes while they listened and learned of the new duties expected of them. If Ellie’s presence was not required, she attended to other tasks that Loki asked of her, usually involving picking up items from the local market, and returning or taking books from the library. If he needed nothing of her, she was usually sent to assist Frigga’s handmaidens in whatever they required. Though they didn’t get very much time to themselves anymore with everything going on, they still got to train together, sometimes with the company of Lady Sif. After all that happened on Alfheim, Odin didn’t argue with her training, considering it saved her life before. So now, as long as it didn’t affect Loki’s own duties, he allowed them to do as they wished.

“From what you’ve told me of Jötunns, they’re Odin’s sworn enemies. Wouldn’t they try to kill you on the spot if you went near them?”

“Not when I give them a tempting offer,” he explained further, getting to his feet once she had gotten off him. He eyed the edge of his dagger before continuing. “Not when I give them a chance to take back what was once theirs.”

For a beat, she was unsure of his riddles, but once she remembered the only item in Asgard that previously belonged on Jotunheim, she raised a brow at him. “The Casket of Ancient Winters.”

“The one and only.”

“But that lies within Odin’s vault.”

“That it does. And I will allow the Frost Giants access.”

After years of being schooled on Asgard by both scholars, Frigga, and Loki himself, Ellie was quite familiar with the treasures that were locked inside the Asgardian weapons vaults. The Casket of Ancient Winters was an artefact from the realm of Jotunheim and was originally used by Laufey, King of the Frost Giants, to enslave Midgard over a thousand years before. Odin stopped him and took the powerful casket for safe keeping in the vaults, along with a number of other deadly relics. It was no secret that the Jötunns would do anything to get the artefact back.

As the couple got back into their offensive stances, Ellie pressed him for questions. “And how exactly are you gonna stop them from takin’ the casket?”

“Odin will sense anyone who gets inside the vault, so he will let the Destroyer handle them; they are no match for it.”

“While I think this plan is a little insane, I can’t fault you for the facts you’re givin’ me.”

“Watch you feet,” he commanded, taking a swing at her as she elegantly dodged him. “This plan is perfect. And it will definitely delay Thor’s coronation and my marriage as a result. Odin will not rest until he finds those responsible, but he will never suspect me or you.”

Despite his words, Ellie couldn’t help but feel apprehensive. This was very serious — if either of them was found out, they could be convicted of treason. As she circled him and took a swipe with her left hand, she muttered nervously. “This is a risky game we’re playin’, Loki.”

Without warning he grabbed her wrist, bringing her in close and subduing her with a firm hold. He leaned in close, whispering as he spoke. “If it means ending this unfair marriage, giving Thor more time to learn to be a calm and concise king, and ensuring that you will be mine for the rest of our lives, then it will be worth the risk.”

His words left her momentarily stunned, but after taking a few seconds to compose herself, she looked at him with a newfound determination. “As long as no one is hurt and your marriage is the only thing ruined by this scheme, I’m onboard.”

Her answer brought a smile to his face. “Then we have ourselves a plan.”

“Loki!”

The booming voice of Thor brought the couple’s conversation to a close and Ellie looked up to see the soon-to-be king striding towards them in delight. “Hi, Prince Thor.”

“Hello, little Midgardian,” he replied cheerily. “How goes your training? I hope my brother is not being too harsh on you?”

“Only as harsh as I deserve. He’s a good teacher.”

“You flatter me,” Loki said, studying the dagger in his hand. “But you are not wrong.”

Thor laughed heartily before he spoke again. “I hope you do not mind, Ellie, but I wished to speak with my brother alone for a moment.”

“Of course.” She was quick to sheath her daggers, purposely avoiding making them disappear with seiðr due to Thor’s presence. “I’ll leave you’s to it. Do you need anythin’ of me before I go, Prince Loki?”

“Not at present, little one. Not until this evening as I wish to dine privately in my quarters.”

“I’ll organise it.” She gave them a small bow before she took her leave, unable to shake the uneasy feeling in her gut despite the confidence behind Loki’s words. While she hoped they would succeed, there was a part of her that couldn’t help but be terrified with what had to be done.

 

* * *

 

Loki watched Ellie leave, rather wishing that he was going with her than having this conversation. Not that he disliked talking to his brother, but he knew that she was anxious about his plan. He couldn’t fault her for it either, but he only wished to comfort her and reassure her that they would succeed. Thor directed them over to the edge of the training yard where they took a seat on one of the benches.

“Firstly,” Thor began steadily. “I owe you an apology.”

Loki’s tone was, of course, sarcastic. “Oh? What for?”

“For not defending you when Fandral said…what he said at my feast. You did not deserve that treatment.”

“You are correct; I did not, but I expect nothing less from Fandral, considering he is a vain lout.”

While the God of Thunder cracked a smile at his comment, he pressed onwards with his explanation. “Well, I want you to know that I am sorry for not saying anything at the time. I have only just come to realise that the new things required of you must be hard to carry out.”

“You mean my marriage to Lady Sigyn?” he asked, slightly miffed with the turn in the conversation.

“Yes! I had forgotten about what is expected of you in my excitement to become king. I know your displeasure is not merely because you do not wish to be tied down, but is because you do not want to be separated from your secret lover.”

Ah yes, so Thor did indeed recall some details Loki previously shared. “I had assumed you had forgotten such things.”

“It is hard to forget such a thing as you falling in love with some poor woman,” he chuckled. “I am both impressed and amazed that she has put up with you all this time.”

Choosing to ignore the semi-insulting comments, Loki agreed with his sentiment. “She is all that and more, brother, I can assure you.”

“Then I am sorry Father has put such a task before you.”

“Such is the curse of being a prince I suppose,” he replied with an angry frown, wishing he would never be made to do such a thing. “I am beginning to think that I would rather give up my title than never be with her again.”

While Loki kept his eyes on his hands cupped tightly together, he felt Thor’s surprised gaze on him. “Your sentiment continues to amaze me. Have you perhaps considered speaking with Father about it? He may reconsider if he sees how enamoured you are with this maiden.”

A grim laugh escaped the Trickster at the suggestion. “You and I both know that that would be a dead end. Princes do not marry for love — it is all about political conquest and financial gain. He would sooner banish her from Asgard if he knew of our secret courtship.”

“Perhaps if we both spoke with him!” Thor suggested in a hopeful tone. “Mother would certainly support it.”

Already knowing Frigga’s opinion, he nodded. “I am sure she would, but Father’s word is the one that matters most.”

“Well he will surely change it if he is approached by all three of us! He cannot deny his son some happiness, surely?”

Thor’s words left a bitter taste in Loki’s mouth. When had Odin ever allowed him some happiness? So far, he disapproved of most things that brought him joy. “You optimism is misplaced, brother. It is hopeless at this rate.”

The eldest Odinson scoffed before he clapped Loki on the back. “Well we will hardly get anywhere with that attitude! I will think about it and come up with a plan myself.”

“Do not approach Father about this!” Loki hissed, pointing a finger at Thor. “You are not to speak a word about my lover without my knowledge!”

“I shan’t!” Thor insisted, getting to his feet. “But if you insist on being so negative, then I will come up with a plan that will surely work.”

While Thor’s sentiment warmed Loki’s heart somewhat, he couldn’t help but shake his head at his brother’s ignorance. Surely he knew it was hopeless? Perhaps if he knew the people involved, he would realise just how grave such a thing was. He watched the Thunderer leave before he was once again informed that a solution would be found. He sat in the yard on his own for a few moments more, thinking his own solution over again in his head. He couldn’t help but wonder if Thor would happily assist Loki in his scheme if he was aware of all the factors; of the truth. Would he sacrifice his own crowning to ensure Loki and Ellie’s happiness?

Somehow, he doubted it.

Chapter Text

As was customary before and after big occasions on Asgard, feasts and balls were frequent. It meant that it was quite a busy time for servants and kitchen staff alike, but it was even more stressful for young Ellie. At least she and Loki received some warning beforehand from Frigga, but this particular occasion was set to be a particularly trying one for them both. Mostly because Odin had invited representatives from Vanaheim and Loki’s betrothed, Sigyn, was also on the guest list.

While they were both particularly miffed by this, they couldn’t do much about it. As a prince, Loki had to do his duty and make an appearance, and, as his handmaiden, Ellie would also have to appear. This meant that she would have to be in the same room as him while he met his betrothed for the first time.

Certainly not an ideal situation for either of them.

Ellie was well used to having to remain professional and pretending that nothing was going on between them when in the public eye, but this was on another level. Could she hold it together while watching him schmooze with another? While she knew that Loki loved her — she had never been so sure of something in her life — there was a tiny, completely irrational, part of her that was terrified of the prospect of him actually liking this woman. Was that possible? That little part of her thought so, even though it was ridiculous idea. In five years he had never even looked at another in such a manner! She didn’t want to voice her concerns to him either considering how completely ludicrous they were.

But what if Sigyn arrives and she’s a beauty? her irrational side piped up. What if he sees her and realises he’s wastin’ his time with you? After all, you’re still mortal and she’s—

“Ellie?”

Loki’s voice snapped her out of her daze and she looked up from her breakfast to see him watching her apprehensively. “Huh?”

“I have been talking to you for the past five minutes,” he explained, patting his thin lips with a napkin. “And I think it has gone in one ear and out the other.”

“Sorry,” she sighed. “I’m just kinda tired and I zoned out. What were you sayin’?”

“I was asking how you feel about tonight, but all I received in response was ‘mmm hmm’, so I assumed your mind was elsewhere and did not want to pry.”

“Well, I was actually thinkin’ ’bout the feast later, but I was also not listenin’ to you, so I apologise.”

“Oh?” he asked, giving her his full attention. “Would you like to talk about it?”

She contemplated being honest for the briefest of moments before she settled on something else she was pondering over. “Are you gonna be okay? What with havin’ to speak to Lady Sigyn and all?”

A large hand slowly ran through his raven locks, brushing them from his eyes. “Well, I am certainly not looking forward to the occasion. I would much rather never have to deal with her. At least I can find comfort in the fact I will not be marrying her. If I must put up with her company for once evening, then so be it. I will remain polite and formal however, as I have no interest in wooing her. I would much rather woo you.”

She chuckled at that. “I think you’ve already managed to woo me, Loki. Considerin’ we’ve been courtin’ for five years, no?”

“I intend to never stop wooing you, Ellie,” he replied. “I enjoy keeping you on your toes.”

“Maybe someday we can go to a feast together too,” she mused hopefully, even if it was merely a dream now. “That’d be nice.”

“Yes, it would. Someday.”

“It’s an unrealistic dream, I know—”

Loki placed his freehand gently on top of hers. “There is nothing wrong with having dreams, little one, especially if they involve yours truly.”

She released a sigh, but couldn’t help smiling at his adorable smirk. “You’re lucky you’re insanely charmin’, y’know that?”

“I had to win you over with something. But enough about me, how are you faring ahead of tonight?”

“Eeeeehhh,” she drawled, for once finding it difficult to pick her words. “Let’s just say that I’m not exactly wishin’ the day away so that it begins sooner rather than later.”

With a small frown, Loki shifted his seat around the table so that he could sit right by Ellie’s side, firmly clutching her hand in his. “So we feel much the same about it then. I really wish you were not being put through this.”

“I wish you weren’t bein’ put up to this either. It’s not exactly fair on either of us.”

“Nothing about the situation is fair,” he murmured, idly stroking his thumb against the back of her hand. “My mother had promised to intervene if Lady Sigyn grows too fond of my company, but I doubt she will attempt anything other than polite discourse.”

“I certainly hope so. I know you wouldn’t do anythin’ else with her, but I’m a little anxious ’bout it, I guess.”

“Anxious about what exactly?” When she hesitated for a moment, he added. “Come now, little one. You know you can tell me anything. I can sense that there is something amiss — that there is something you are not telling me. I am always here to help.”

“It’s stupid.”

“Nothing that causes you genuine stress or discomfort is stupid. If I can help, I will do my best.”

“Alright,” she sighed, straightening up in her seat, her eyes fixed on her free hand. “I’m worried ’bout when you meet your intended and what you’ll think of her. And before you try to interrupt me—” She put up a hand, effectively shutting him up. “—I know what you’re gonna say, but just hear me out for a sec and let me say what I have’ta say. I know it’s somethin’ Odin wants to arrange purely for political gain with Vanaheim, but what if you meet her and realise that she can offer you things that I can’t? As it stands, all I can give you is a secret relationship — one that your father abhors — and that’s it. I’m a mortal handmaiden amongst royalty, amongst gods. With her, you could y’know, actually have a public relationship, you wouldn’t have’ta hide it, or disappoint your father. It could make your life a lot easier, especially if you meet her and you end up likin’ her.”

As she finished her sentence, her voice dropped, the image she was painting making her stomach drop. The thought of Loki finding happiness with another was…heartbreaking. She genuinely wasn’t sure if she could watch it unfold before her tonight.

“Ellie.” His voice pulled her back to reality. “Ellie, look at me.”

My name has never sounded better comin’ from anyone else’s lips, she thought to herself, slowly raising her gaze to meet his. She was overwhelmed with his green orbs, looking at her intently before he leaned in and placed a soft kiss on her forehead. The gesture, along with the thought of him being with Sigyn, and the overwhelming stress she had been under of late sent her overboard. Before she knew what was happening, tears were flowing freely down her cheeks and her bottom lip was quivering beyond her control. She buried her face in her hands as sobs erupted from her throat. All she wanted to do was curl into a ball and disappear. She didn’t want to go to this fucking feast. She didn’t want to watch her love socialise with a woman his father expected him to marry. She didn’t want any of this!

Before she could react, she felt strong hands lifting her up before gently seating her in what she assumed was Loki’s lap.

“It is alright, darling,” he whispered gently, wrapping his arms around her and slowly rocking back and forth. “Shh, it is alright. I’ve got you. Everything is alright. You are safe here with me. I am going to protect you.”

“Please don’t leave me,” she sobbed, voice shaking with distress as she buried her face into the side of his neck. “Please don’t. You mean so much to me, Loki, and I can’t bare to think ’bout you and her—”

“Hey now,” he began, voice soft and comforting in a way that was only ever heard by her. “I am not going anywhere, I promise. I am going to stay right here, okay, Ellie? You are not going to lose me.” With gentle hands cupping her face so that he could press his forehead against hers. “I’m not going anywhere without you. There is no need to cry, love. We have already solved it, remember? This marriage will not be coming to fruition, I promise. No matter what happens tonight at this feast, I can assure you that I will never look at another the way I look at you, or feel love for another the way I feel it for you. I will never want another and I will never seek out another. So please do not plague yourself with these thoughts. I will do my best to ensure that you never feel this way again. This feast will change nothing about how much I love you. Just breathe.”

“I love you too,” she managed to get out through small whimpers, finding reassurance in his comforting words and closeness. “I’m sorry I doubted us.”

“We cannot be strong all the time,” he hushed her. “It is a trying time and you have dealt with a lot. But please know that nothing will happen tonight to push us apart. There is only one woman with whom I will be leaving.”

A small chuckle escaped her as she sniffled. “She’s a lucky girl.”

“I would argue that I am the lucky one.”

“Agree to disagree?” she suggested playfully as he dried her tears with the sleeve of his under tunic.

“Not a chance,” he replied and softly kissed her lips.

Her worries banished for the time being, Ellie tried to find what comfort she could in her lover’s embrace before they had to face their fears later than evening. She did a good job of hiding her anxiety as she and her fellow hand servants attended to the food and drinks. Not even Fen, Sevda, or Rainger seemed to notice her discomfort, thanks to the believable facade she put up. The feast itself wasn’t the standard “sit down and have polite dinner conversation” type. Instead, it involved people walking freely while being offered drink and food from servers and from a number of tables around the dance floor. It was designed to allow everyone to mingle, which thankfully meant that Loki could insist Ellie stick close to him — he needed to be waited upon obviously, and he preferred that it was from someone who knew exactly what he liked to eat and drink. While the atmosphere in the hall was nothing short of positive with all the Asgardians more than happy to congratulate Thor in his upcoming roll, Ellie was still on edge. That being said, Frigga frequently returned to her and her son to see how they were faring. It was a comforting gesture, however small.

Despite the positive start, the point in the evening they had been dreading eventually befell them, for the next time Frigga came to them, she was in Odin’s company and that of the Vanir.

“Loki, my son,” Odin began as Ellie watched on. “I would like you to meet Lady Sigyn, your intended.”

Ellie’s eyes trailed along Odin’s outstretched arm and her gaze eventually fell on Sigyn. She sucked in a sharp breath at the realisation that this woman was stunning.

By the fuckin’ Nine, she just had to be beautiful, didn’t she?

She supposed this was a standard thing with gods, but it only caused her anxiety to begin nagging at her again. Of course she would have flowing blonde hair and alabaster skin to die for. Her form fitting blue dress was an exceptional choice and highlighted every asset she had. Everything about her screamed of worth and royalty. She looked like a genuine princess, one which would look well suited on Loki’s arm.

“Lady Sigyn,” Loki greeted her formally, bowing his head slightly. “A pleasure.”

“And you, Prince Loki,” she replied, just as politely. Beside her, the Vanir were then introduced, but Ellie couldn’t focus her attention anywhere else. Before her brain could begin to reiterate how damned stunning this goddess was, she felt a little internal tug in her chest, one which could only come from one other.

It was times like this when Ellie truly loved the soul bond with Loki. While it had its clear benefits, being able to secretly communicate while surrounded by others was one of the best aspects. In a way, a link existed between them, once that could be gently tugged to gain the attention of the other. It was like an invisible rope that became stronger and clearer the closer together they were. With the link was an electricity, much like the flutter she felt inside when in close quarters with him. The tug she felt at that moment was meant to be one of reassurance from him. Along with it, came his voice in her head.

“While she possesses that which most men and women would be bewitched by, you are far more beautiful to me than she could ever hope to be. You stand there thinking you are nothing, and yet you are the only one from which my gaze never strays.”

At that moment, she thanked God for her insignificance, because no one noticed or subsequently questioned her blushing cheeks. His words did their intended job and eased a lot of her worries, even with this gorgeous person standing before her. Odin and Frigga slowly drifted away in the company of the Vanaheim officials, chattering as they had to, leaving the trio alone to bask in the awkwardness of their encounter. Ellie stood by her prince, not moving from his side unless he told her otherwise. There was a silence for a few moments for Sigyn spoke again.

“Are you enjoying the festivities, Your Highness?” she asked Loki politely.

“It is alright,” he admitted with a calculated glance around the room. “These events are not something that I actively enjoy or pursue. They are more so tolerated.”

“I am none too fond of them either,” she replied with a slight frown. “They can be overwhelming sometimes. I prefer small gatherings, but I suppose this is what comes with royal duties.”

“Unfortunately,” Loki agreed. “Many royal duties are more of a hindrance than anything else.”

The meaning behind his words did not get passed Ellie. She certainly didn’t disagree.

“I will take your word for it, Prince Loki.” Suddenly, Sigyn’s eyes wandered over to Ellie. “This is your handmaiden, yes? The Midgardian?”

“Ah, yes,” he replied. “This is Ellie.”

“My Lady,” Ellie greeted her, dipping her head slightly. “Nice to meet you.”

“And you, dear. Would you mind fetching me a drink?”

“Oh.” Momentarily surprised by the request, Ellie cleared her throat before she nodded. “Yes, of course. If my employer permits me to?”

“It is alright, little one,” Loki reassured her. “You may fetch Lady Sigyn a drink.”

A very small part of her was hurt by the request. Ellie knew she was being unfair — there was no way Loki could tell her to not bother fetching the drink for fear of rousing suspicions. It was her job, and it certainly wasn’t out of order for Sigyn to ask the handmaiden of her betrothed for a drink. And yet, as she nodded once more and walked away from the pair, she couldn’t help but think that she was fetching Loki’s intended a drink. Loki’s intended. That stung.

Fetch me a drink while I speak with my husband-to-be…

It drove her mad, but what was she to do?

As was expected of her, she fetched the drink, and returned to them with a goblet of wine in hand.

“Your wine,” she announced and carefully handed it to Sigyn. “As requested, My Lady.”

“Ah, thank you, Ellie! Prince Loki was just telling me that you have been employed with the Royal Family since you were but a babe? I had not realised you were so young.”

“Uh, yes. I was brought here when I was five years old, and began to train with Frigga and her handmaidens some time after. I’ve been Loki’s personal handmaiden for nearly six years.”

“And how old are you, dear?”

“Twenty four, My Lady,” Ellie answered, slightly put off by her question, but masking it well.

That roused a chuckle from the guest, who went on to say. “My! You are still but a babe! Although I suppose it is different considering you are mortal and have a different lifespan to the Aesir.”

“I suppose so,” Ellie muttered, feeling the horrible dread filling her throat and chest once more.

“Lady Sigyn,” Loki began quickly, setting his own empty goblet down on a nearby table. “You must forgive me, but I will have to take my leave and retire for the evening.” Though Sigyn’s face fell slightly at his confession, he gave her no chance to question him and continued on. “I have not felt in the best all evening and fear that I would just be rather dull company for you. It has been pleasant to meet you, but we must continue this conversation another time. I will leave you in the capable hands of my mother, father, and brother. Enjoy the rest of your evening.”

With merely a polite bow, Loki turned and began to walk right out of the hall, not even bothering to ask his parents for permission to leave. Without even hesitating, though she knew he would get shit for it tomorrow, Ellie followed him from the hall and out into the deserted corridors. As soon as the doors closed behind them and once there was not a single guard in sight, Loki dragged her into a nearby alcove, pressing her against the stone wall with his body, and crashed his lips against hers.

Well, this isn’t exactly how I expected my evenin’ to go.

She yelped slightly when he bit her lower lip, but he merely took the opportunity to forcefully slide his tongue into her mouth. Her eyes immediately slipped closed, enjoying the shiver of pleasure that ran up her spine. His large hands cupped her face, and the growl that rumbled in his chest had her heart thumping erratically.

“I will not have you be her servant,” Loki growled between rough kisses. “She has no right to ask that of you, or to comment on your heritage.”

“Loki,” she gasped, clutching at his hair as he pulled on her bottom lip with his teeth again. “It’s okay—”

“I won’t allow it,” he insisted. “You are not hers. You are mine, and only mine.”

“I know, I know,” she reassured him in a breathless whisper, knowing that it was her turn to comfort. “I’m yours, Loki.”

The shiver that ripped through his body was easily felt beneath her wandering hands, and he unceremoniously shoved his knee between her legs. “Gods, I have to have you.”

“Now?” she asked, the rough fabric of his pants rubbing against her and making her whimper.

Now!”

“C’mon. We’re goin’ to my chambers.”

Though they would much rather be doing the opposite, the lovers quickly straightened out their clothes before hurrying back towards her room. They paid little attention to the few Einherjar about, and likewise they paid them no mind. Upon arrival at their respective bedrooms, a carefully placed duplicate of Loki walked into his chambers while the real disguised Loki followed Ellie into hers. Once the door was shut, all hell broke lose.

As Loki reappeared in a haze of bright green light, he pulled Ellie into his arms again, kissing her with a heated passion that usually came about when he had been truly upset by something done at her expense. She didn’t argue, but merely met his passion with her own, moaning into his mouth as she deepened the kiss. The couple stumbled backwards, refusing to separate despite the risk of falling over, when suddenly Ellie felt her legs hit the back of her bed. When he pushed her on top of it, she giggled and scooted further up the bed as he climbed on top of her wearing a massive grin. She met him halfway when he leaned down to capture her lips once more.

“You are the only one I want beneath me, the only one I will bed,” he hissed, quickly shoving her skirts above her waist. “And I am going to fuck you so hard that the whole palace is going to hear you scream my name as you come.”

“Jesus, Loki…”

“I will not wed her and I will not bed her either. You are mine.

In an aroused daze, Ellie lay flat on her back as he reared up on his knees and quickly undid the buckles of his pants, staring at her with blown pupils, the green in his eyes barely visible anymore. “Jesus, you’re fuckin’ stunning like this.”

“You should see yourself right now, love.”

Without further thought, he quickly slid between her legs, lay atop her, and kissed her deeply. The weight of his body on hers made her moan wantonly, relishing in the sensation and the feeling of safety it gave her. She bucked up against him, urging him on. She needed him now and simply couldn’t wait any longer.

Neither of them even had a chance to react before the door slammed open and shut again.

“Ellie, I need to speak with you about my brother’s secret— what in the name of Odin’s beard!?”

Her eyes snapped open, seeing a completely shocked Thor standing in her room, mouth agape and eyes darting between her and Loki above her. “Oh, shite!”

Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck!

Thor’s voiced filled the room. “Ellie! Who is—?”

Loki whipped his head around to see his brother standing there. He was then quick to shield Ellie’s body with his. “Thor! Get out, you fucking imbecile!”

Loki?” the God of Thunder yelled, looking totally horrified. “What are you doing?!”

It was all happening too fast. In an instant, Ellie realised that her and Loki’s secret relationship was ruined.

She began to panic. Her hands clutched at Loki’s arms as they protectively caged her on the bed. Her breathing quickened as Thor’s eyes finally settled on Loki with what could only be described as murderous rage.

“Get off her!” he demanded, quickly approaching the bed in a threatening stride.

Loki was quicker, already protectively pulling Ellie to the other side of the bed as she obediently clung to him with one arm and held out the other to Thor in a plea for him to just wait. “Thor, stop! Don’t—!”

“Loki, I said get off her!”

“Stay away from her!” Loki barked as they got to their feet on the other side of the bed, holding her behind him as he faced off against Thor. “Do not take another step!”

“Brother, if you forced yourself on her,” Thor began, raising his fist as he clenched his teeth. “I will see to it that you regret it!”

The assumption horrified her, and she was too stunned to reply, so it was Loki who snapped. “What? Is it so hard to believe that she would want to lay with me, you dense brute? Get away from her!”

With a growl, the elder Odinson raised his hand, threatening to summon his trusty Mjölnir without even looking.“Move out of the way, Loki! I will not tell you again!”

“Thor, shut up!” Ellie practically screeched, slipping around to stand close next to Loki, who was still struggling to hold on to his loose pants with one hand. She wrapped an arm around his waist, other hand still raised at his fuming sibling. “Would you stop shoutin’ and listen to us for two fuckin’ minutes!”

Thor’s eyes finally moved down to meet hers, and she hoped to God that he recognised the desperation in them. “You better explain what I have stumbled upon before I throw him from the window!”

“You won’t be throwin’ him anywhere, Thor!”

“If he has forced himself on you then yes I will—”

Before she could say another word, Loki cut across her. “She is my lover, you halfwit!”

The room fell into silence.

Ellie felt her stomach drop. There was no other choice, but this was nothing short of a disaster. She couldn’t help but fear the worst.

What?” Thor demanded, calmer but still visibly enraged and confused. “She is your what?”

“My secret lover,” Loki explained, teeth clenched but speaking slightly calmer than he had been two seconds ago. He hung his head before continuing. “The one which I told you about that night a few years ago. It was Ellie.”

The God of Thunder was clearly stumped.

Ellie could hardly blame him.

Thor’s rage suddenly dissipated and was replaced by complete shock. His eyes darted between them as his hand was slowly lowered back to his side. In a far lower voice than before, he asked Ellie. “Is what he says true?”

“Yeah, it is,” she answered. “I love him, so you won’t be throwin’ him out of any windows.”

“You already know how I feel about her,” Loki muttered, holding her close. “So I shan’t repeat myself.”

Thor seemed…baffled. Absolutely baffled with the new information he had just discovered. He was completely quiet as he tried to comprehend it all.

“How long has this been happening?” he eventually asked, this time addressing them both.

“It began shortly before I told you we had argued,” Loki explained evenly, gaze firmly fixed on his brother now as he awaited a reaction. “And we have been courting ever since.”

“But I… I do not understand how… h-how you have done this without us knowing?”

“Mother already knows. She realised it through her own motherly intuition, as it were. But she is the only one. Until you.”

“You can’t tell anyone,” Ellie insisted. “If Odin finds out ’bout us we’ll be in deep shit.”

“But what of his marriage?” Thor asked. “That is why I came to speak with you, Ellie! I wanted to ask for your help to stop it.”

“Well, I’m as bewildered as you are, Thor. We don’t exactly have any ideas ourselves.”

“So,” Thor spoke slowly, placing a massive hand on his temple. “You are telling me that all this time, you two have been…courting?”

“Yes,” the younger sibling agreed. “And you won’t be speaking a word of this to anyone.”

“I won’t,” he insisted, seemingly quite genuine. “But brother, you spoke of your secret lover in quite a lovely manner. So you are telling me that you are in love with little Ellie?”

“I am, brother, as crazy as it may sound. And she loves me.”

The room fell into silence once again until a smile slowly formed on Thor’s lips. He suddenly approached the couple and wrapped his massive arms around them both, hugging them tight. A sigh of relief escaped Ellie and she took a second to glance up at Loki and flash him a small reassuring smile of her own.

“This is wonderful news!” Thor declared, leaning back so that he could get a good look at them, his whole demeanour changing with said ‘wonderful news’. “I never would have suspected… I cannot believe I did not realise! Is this why you asked that she be your handmaiden?” Loki could only roll his eyes in response, and this was all Thor needed as an answer. “Loki, you scoundrel!”

“Thor—!”

“I merely jest! I am happy for you both. First, I was happy because my brother had found love, and now I know that my dear Ellie has also found it, with you! This is a delightful turn of events.”

“We appreciate the sentiment,” Ellie said. “Really, we do, but you can’t speak a word of this to anyone. I’m serious.”

“I know, I know, and I give you my word that I shall keep your secret.” With a laugh, Thor grinned at her. “Does this mean I can call you sister?”

Loki immediately groaned while Ellie blushed. “For the love of—”

Before he could argue, Thor placed his meaty hand on the back of his brother’s neck and squeezed lightly. “I hope you know that I greatly approve of this and I am glad you have found happiness in each other. I mean that, Loki.”

Now it was Loki’s turn to be stumped. For a few seconds, his usually impassive facade broke, showing the surprise that he felt at the admission. Ellie was quick to hold his hand in hers, giving him any comfort that she had to offer. She knew he was surprised to have his relationship being accepted by his brother. She was sure that he had expected the earlier accusations to be thrown in his face, despite how severe they were. But this? This acceptance, this joy, this utter delight at his happiness was not considered.

And it warmed Ellie’s heart.

With Loki surprisingly at a loss for words, she was the one who spoke. “Thanks, Thor. That means a lot to us, really.”

“Not at all! This revelation is a thing to celebrate.”

“Maybe we’ll leave the celebrations until tomorrow. We were gonna head to bed before you…arrived.”

Thor let out another laugh, looking at them both as if they were children caught doing something bold. “Ah, yes! I forgot that I interrupted you two earlier. I will let you get back to your fun.”

She couldn’t help but cringe at his words, and Loki literally hung his head in his hands. “If I hear another word from you, I swear, I will wring your neck with my bare hands!”

“You do not need to tell me twice. We can discuss solutions to your arranged marriage tomorrow, brother. I wish you both a good night.” With a very inappropriate wink, Thor took his leave and left the couple alone.

All Ellie could do was sigh and sit herself down on the edge of her bed. As she shut her eyes and tried to calm down, she felt the bed dip beside her and her lover’s hand gently squeezing hers.

“Should we have told him?” she whispered. “’Bout the plan and the Frost Giants?”

Loki looked back at her with a frown and slowly shook his head. “Not if we wish to stay together. No one can know, Ellie.”

Though lying outright to Thor was not part of the plan, she couldn’t deny that Loki was right. “No one can know.”

With another person aware of their relationship, it just put them at further risk of being discovered by Odin, but they would have to make do with their situation.

Despite the change, the plan still stood.

As the couple sat together in a completely different atmosphere, they couldn’t help but feel unsure with the future. The lies kept growing, no matter how much they tried to prevent it. But the plan had to happen.

There was simply no other way.

Chapter Text

It had been an…interesting time for Ellie and Loki after said God of Thunder discovered their secret. They had been genuinely dreading how he would treat them in public, convinced that he wouldn’t be able to contain himself from blurting out the truth, but it had been a relief to see that nothing changed. The couple had been on their way to the library to collect some books when Thor bumped into them with Lady Sif and Rainger by his side. Ellie very nearly turned and ran in the other direction.

“Brother!” Thor greeted his sibling, as he always did, and clapped him on the shoulder. “It is good to see you. And you, little one!”

“And you, Thor,” Loki replied, before acknowledging the others, who returned his greeting.

“What are you two doing for the afternoon?” Thor asked, lightly ruffling Ellie’s hair. If she didn’t like him so much, she’d give him a slap.

“I need to fetch some books from the library.”

“Ah, of course! It is your favourite place in the palace, no?”

“Only because it is the place which you avoid as much as possible.”

“They are at it again,” Rainger whispered to Ellie, wearing an amused smirk as the brothers began their good-natured banter. Even Sif was amused by the exchange.

“It’s how they show love, alright?” Ellie replied, eying the pair, but mostly happy about Thor keeping his mouth shut. “I much prefer this over them eatin’ the head off each other.”

Ranger nodded slowly. “I have to agree with you.”

“We were on our way to the markets,” Thor continued. “Why not join us instead of going to the boring, dusty library you love so much?”

Loki hesitated before he spoke. “The books I need are quite important—”

Lokiiiii, come on! My coronation is but a few days away, and we will not have as much time to do these things afterwards. Come, you can bring little Ellie as well.”

Loki’s gaze briefly fell to her before he rolled his eyes and conceded. The eldest Odinson was delighted with the couples’ addition to the group, and began to lead the five of them down the halls and out of the palace. Instead of grabbing their horses, Lady Sif suggested that the walk might do them good, so the group were more than happy with stroll to the markets and browse on foot. While the princes and Lady Sif walked together ahead of the group, ideally chatting, Ellie and Rainger walked behind them, taking their time and discussing anything and everything.

“I can agree with you that I am fairly certain Prince Thor will drink himself into a coma,” Rainger mused. “Once his coronation is out of the way, I feel as though he will let go a little too much during the feast afterwards.”

“Good luck scraping him off the floor the followin’ mornin’,” she teased, pausing at a food stall that grabbed her attention. “Do you want a cake? These look delicious.”

Ranger grimaced at the thought of dealing with Thor the morning after. “I would rather not think about that. I would however love a cake.”

She bought five off the vendor before handing one of them to her friend, and then beginning to eat her own. She caught up with the gods so that she could offer them each a cake before turning her attention back to Rainger.

“I meant to speak with you,” he began, already finishing his cake after wolfing it down. “About something.”

She could only stare as he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Jesus, don’t you chew?

“Don’t you ever stop complaining?”

“No! It’s why we get on with each other so well.”

He smirked at that before he shook his head. “Look, we are getting off topic and I wished to ask for your advice.”

“I don’t know what good I’d be,” she admitted. “It’s not exactly like I’ve enough life experience to be offerin’ advice.”

“You have plenty,” he reassured her and looked over at the princes to make sure they weren’t playing much attention. “It is about a, uh, a woman.”

About to bite into her baked good, Ellie paused with her mouth open, eyes flitting to her friend. “A woman?”

Rainger nodded, cheeks slightly flushed. “Uh, yes.”

Without hesitation, she linked her arm around his. “Honestly, Rainger, there’s no need to be embarrassed. I’m assumin’ by your blushin’ that you really like this woman?”

“I do… She is quite something.”

“Are you gonna tell me who it is, or do I need to pry the information outta you?”

“She is one of the kitchen staff,” he admitted, keeping his voice low and his eyes on the ground beneath his feet. “You are familiar with Hedvika, correct?”

Ellie couldn’t stop the smile that spread to her face. “I do, and you have been pinin’ over her for ages. I’m glad you’re finally doin’ somethin’ about it. You deserve it after Leif politely turned you down.”

“I know that was a few years ago,” Rainger sighed. “But my confidence was somewhat shook by the rejection. He was well within his right to do so if he was not attracted to me, but you know that I’m not overly kind to myself after being rebuffed.”

“I know, Rainger, I know.” She gave his arm a gentle squeeze. “And I’m glad that we got passed it and became friends. Now I can give you all the relationship advice you need, despite my own inexperience.”

He chuckled at that. “You are too kind. So, what do you think I should do about Hedvika?”

“Well, I’m kinda of the opinion that she might like you too. You’s are both as oblivious as each other and always missin’ the way you two blush like lovesick teenagers when near the other. If I were you, I would start with talkin’ to her a bit more. Make an effort to be near her, and don’t be afraid to talk to her when you can. Then by the time our next servants holiday comes around, you can ask if she’d like to accompany you to the markets.”

He nodded as she spoke, attention firmly fixed on her as she offered what advice she could. “That is quite a good idea, actually.”

“I know, I’m full’a great ideas.”

“I will give you credit where it is due. If you ever need advice about men, just let me know.”

Ah, if only you knew what the hell I was up to right now.

“I will, but I very much doubt that will happen. I’ve yet to even meet one that can hold my attention.”

“I know you are quite fussy about men, Ellie, but really there is nothing wrong with that. You might as well wait for one who loves you dearly, and who you love back. Odin help him if he even manages to hold your attention, because then he would have to get Prince Loki’s approval as well.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” she demanded, gaze flicking to her employer.

“I am fairly certain that he will happily threaten any men whom he deems unworthy with his knives before letting them anywhere near you. Am I wrong?”

Well, not entirely…

Their conversation drifted as the day went on, and a little while later, Ellie found herself walking next to Prince Thor, the other three members of the group otherwise distracted with interesting stalls or speaking to sellers.

“Thanks for not sayin’ anythin’,” Ellie whispered to the large god, making sure there was no one around listening. “For not bein’…obvious.”

The grin that he gave her in response was genuine and he placed a large hand on her meagre shoulder. “There is no need for thanks. All I ask is that you and my brother find happiness, and it is lucky that you seem to have found it in each other. I have known you since you were but a babe, and you told me a little of what you went through on Midgard, but I am certain that you deserve some joy after all that.

“I know Loki well, and I know how trying he can sometimes be. But I also know that you understand him just as well as I; you did grow up with him by your side, after all. I have noticed a change in him since you began your secret courtship. He seems more at ease, if you can call it that. He is still himself, of that I am certain, but I think he has benefitted from the experience. The same can be said about you, little Midgardian. While you have not been the same frightened child that arrived in our home for some time, you seemed to settle even more in the last few years. I hope that that is partially because of my brother.”

She was momentarily stunned by Thor admission. They hadn’t had a chance to speak since he discovered them in an intimate embrace, so this conversation was yet to be had, until now. She felt better for it, knowing that despite the negative connotations that one might associate with an Asgardian prince in a relationship with a mortal, Thor was all for it.

“I can safely say that he’s certainly helped,” she admitted, smiling at the memory. “I think he understood how I felt. Some of the Aesier weren’t exactly welcomin’ in the first place, but I think once Loki chilled out a little, he realised that we weren’t so different. Obviously you and the Allmother helped too, but he really seemed to empathise with me.”

“I know what you mean,” Thor replied. “I know that Loki and I are quite different, but I do wish that sometimes the people of Asgard could see him the same way I do.”

“I know, Thor. Honestly, I wish he could see himself through our eyes.”

Suddenly, Thor slipped a large arm around her shoulders and gave her an uncharacteristically gentle side-hug. “I trust that you will help him get there, Ellie. And do not worry, we will find a way to keep you together.”

The gesture was unexpected, for Thor was usually one for crushing embraces and jarring movements, but this one seemed so genuine that Ellie leaned into his touch, wrapping an arm around his frame so that she could squeeze him back. She was once more acutely aware of the fact that she would have to prevent him from becoming king in a matter of days, a reality that continued to hang over her head like an ominous, croaking raven. She said nothing, choosing instead to let the comfortable silence calm them, watching from a distance as Loki spoke with a stall holder with regards his wears. Sometimes she worried that he spent so much time wishing Odin could see him as worthy, that he forgot she, Frigga, and Thor already knew he was.  Perhaps someday Loki would see himself as he really was.

 

* * *

 

That interaction had calmed the couple’s nerves somewhat. They no longer worried that Thor would randomly blurt out their darkest secret. But as our story goes, all good things must eventually come to an end.

Eventually, the time had come; Thor’s coronation had arrived.

The lead up to the coronation was unlike anything Ellie had ever experienced on Asgard. She had been a part of big celebrations before, but nothing of this magnitude. Considering she was handmaiden to a prince, she had even more running around to do. She was obliged to stick by Loki for the majority of the day, from the second he woke until the moment he went to sleep. As if this fact wasn’t already taxing enough, it wasn’t taking their plan into account. That was just added stress, something that was consuming them both in the run up to the event.

She awoke before dawn, never before dreading the thought of leaving her bed this much. But she didn’t have a choice. If she wanted to be with Loki, she had to do this. She eventually drew enough strength to haul her legs from beneath the covers, settling her bare feet into the fluffy rug beneath. Her arms trembled and she took a moment to steady her breathing. For some reason, she couldn’t shake the sick sense of dread that consumed her gut. As she gnawed on her lower lip, she recalled thinking before that she would wake up happy this morning knowing that she would prevent Loki being torn away from her. And yet, here she sat, realising all the factors that were playing against them. No matter how many times Loki assured her that he had ‘sorted it’, she remained anxious.

Treason, banishment, death… If we’re caught, how far will Odin go?

Ellie did the only thing she could; she pushed herself to her feet and got to work.

When she went next-door to Loki’s chambers after picking up his breakfast from the kitchens, he was already awake.

“I could feel you,” he explained, sitting on his bed and leaning against the headboard. “Your worries about today and all that goes with it.”

“Sorry,” she replied, setting the tray down on the nearly table. “I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“Your apology isn’t necessary, love.” As she moved to grab his clothes from the wardrobe, he spoke up again. “You can leave them for a moment. I would like if you came to sit with me.”

Looking over at him on the bed, she couldn’t help feel her heartbeat quicken. She wasn’t sure if she would ever not be mesmerised by his beauty. She didn’t argue and strode to the bed, not resisting as he pulled her on to straddle his lap. That being said, their was nothing sexual in his intentions, for he carefully cupped her cheeks and brought her down to rest his forehead against hers.

“I want you to know,” he began softly, thumbs idly stoking her skin. “That no matter what happens today, you are safe with me. I will not let anything touch you, or harm you, or tear us apart. The Allfather himself would have to go through me before laying a finger on you. Do you trust me?”

“Of course I do,” she insisted, staring back into his green eyes, noting the sincerity they conveyed. “We’re in this together.”

His lips stretched into a small smile as he answered. “Together.”

The preparations flew by. It seemed that every servant within the palace had a task to attend to, and no one hesitated in flying about to complete it. Once Loki had breakfasted and dressed in his ceremonial clothes, he and Ellie made their way to one of the many anterooms that lead to the main hall in which Thor would be crowned. Though they could not physically comfort each other in the open, they made sure to continually test their connection, giving a gentle tug whenever the other’s unease could be felt. A few comforting words uttered telepathically was another calming method they engaged in. Thankfully, it helped Ellie to relax.

The first noise they heard upon entering the room was Thor shouting “Another!” before being followed by the smashing of glass.

“He’s in good form,” Ellie whispered to Loki just as they rounded one of the large banners that lined the hallway.

“But he’s nervous,” Loki added with sincerity.

Before them stood Thor, also decked out in ceremonial garb for the occasion, Mjölnir in hand. Rainger stood obediently beside him, awaiting orders, as they walked up towards the couple. Loki and Thor stood together by the brazier at the foot of the steps that led up to the throne room. The distant murmur of the crowd within could be heard through the doors. Ellie stood on Loki’s right next to the banner from which they had come, while Rainger stood on Thor’s left in silence.

“Nervous, brother?” Loki asked, smiling beneath his helmet.

Thor laughed good-heartedly. “Have you ever known me to be nervous?”

“Eh, well there was the time in Nornheim…”

“That was not nerves, brother; it was the rage of battle!”

“Ah, I see,” Loki replied sarcastically.

Thor continued on, ignoring the comment. “How else could I have fought my way through a hundred warriors and pulled us out alive?”

The Trickster blinked, raising a brow at his sibling’s tale. “Uh, as I recall, I was the one who veiled us in smoke to ease our escape.”

Before he had even finished his sentence, Thor started to laugh as an attendant appeared offering a goblet of wine to the soon-to-be-king. “Yes… Some do battle, others just do tricks.”

The attendant stifled a laugh, immediately grabbing Ellie’s attention. She looked at him in dumbfounded surprise. Was he unaware how serious of a gesture that was? To openly laugh at a prince? Rainger certainly did, because his eyes nearly fell out of his head as he looked to his employer for a response. Ellie would have chastised the attendant herself if it was her place, but Loki quickly took notice of the man’s transgression. None too pleased with the disrespectful gesture, the Trickster swiftly twisted his hand in the goblet’s direction, a small green light gleaming in his palm. She grinned as the wine within the goblet quickly turned to eels, slithering and writhing out on to the tray in the attendant’s hand. He released a frightening scream and quickly dropped the tray with a clatter, the magic eels twisting every which way on the floor.

Loki released a breathy laugh, smirking in delight while Thor half-heartedly chastised him. “Loki… Now that was just a waste of good wine.”

“Oh, it’s just a bit of fun,” Loki said, feigning innocence. “Right, my friend?”

With a wave of his hand, the illusion of slithering eels disappeared, revealing the spilled wine on the floor. The two brothers chuckled as the attendant — who didn’t seem to get the joke — picked up the scattered items and took his leave. Rainger quickly stepped up after giving the fleeing man a dirty look. With a bow to Thor, he handed him his helmet, which the god held on to for a moment, hesitating in actually donning it immediately.

“Oh,” Loki began teasingly. “Nice feathers.”

With a snigger, Thor nodded to his brother’s own helmet. “You don’t really want to start this again, do you, Cow?”

“I was being sincere!”

“You are incapable of sincerity!”

“Am I?”

“Yes!”

Ellie watched as Loki turned to look at his brother, not an ounce of irony held in the words he uttered. “I've looked forward to this day as long as you have. You're my brother and my friend. Sometimes I'm envious, but never doubt that I love you.”

Noting that his words were in fact genuine, Thor smiled and placed a gentle hand on the back of his little brother’s neck. “Thank you.”

Without missing a beat, Loki added. “Now give us a kiss.”

With a laugh and a slap on his chest, Thor replied. “Stop it!” As he turned back to face the steps, the uncertain nervousness reappeared on his face. “Really, how do I look?”

“Like a king,” was the simple reply. The distant blast of the ceremonial horn signalled the beginning of the ceremony. “It’s time.”

“You go ahead.” After an unsure look, Thor insisted. “I will be along, go on. And you too, Rainger.”

“Come, Ellie.” Loki gave her a nod, and she turned to follow him.

“Actually, Loki—” The trio turned as Thor called his brother back. “Could we have a moment alone?”

“Of course,” he replied and gave Ellie a look before going back to his sibling’s side.

“Best of luck, Thor,” she whispered kindly to the God of Thunder, who smiled and thanked her before she disappeared up the steps with Rainger in tow, giving them some privacy.

“I wished to speak with you,” Thor began, addressing Loki earnestly. “About your situation with regards the marriage…”

Now it was Loki’s turn to feel uneasy. He was just glad that Ellie was out of earshot for this. “I am not sure if there is much to be said.”

“That is where you are wrong.” He leaned in close and kept his voice uncharacteristically low. “I wanted to assure you that once I am made king, I will do everything in my power to prevent your marriage to Lady Sigyn.”

Loki blanched. This was something he had…not expected. An unforeseen spanner in the works. “Brother… you cannot. You cannot undo an order from the Allfather.”

“That I cannot, but I can speak with him about how I do not consider Lady Sigyn to be a viable option for marriage. If I were to sow enough doubt in his mind about ‘wasting’ his son on a useless maiden, then surely he would call it off. Then at least we would give you and the little one more time together. Perhaps by then, I could even convince him to leave you unwed, seeing what other ways he could gain favour with Vanaheim.”

It was naive. Very much so.

Loki wanted to reassure himself that no such thing could ever be accomplished. And yet, he couldn’t risk believing that Thor’s plan could ever come to fruition. Not only that, but the uneasy feeling in his gut only grew when he heard of his brother’s sincere intentions — he wished to use his position of power to make Loki happy.

And here Loki stood, planning to destroy his hopes of becoming king in order to keep the woman he loved.

He opened his mouth to argue, but he was quickly shushed by a god who insisted that ‘all would be well’. As Loki was gently shoved towards the steps, he couldn’t help would wonder if they really would be.

Once they reached the main door, the prince and two hand servants waited for Frigga, with whom Loki was to formally enter. She arrived moments later, presumably having some words with Thor before he too entered. Ellie was momentarily stunned by the beautiful yellow dress she wore, and was delighted to receive a reassuring smile from the Queen as her son took her hand gently in his, and stepped out through the doors.

The throne room was quite the sight. It was jam-packed with bubbling Aesir, as well as representatives from all across the Nine Realms. Massive, colourful banners from the various places within Yggdrasil adorned the walls, and Ellie couldn’t help but gaze in wonder at each to them. She stayed close to Loki and Frigga as they walked through the Einherjar who stood either side of their path towards the throne. She spotted the Warriors Three and Lady Sif at the front of the hall, happy to stand before all the guests in their place of honour. It wasn’t hard to overhear Fandral trying to get Hogun the Grim to crack a smile — “Look, forget the smile, just show some teeth! Remember, we are the Warriors Three!” — while Sif rolled her eyes impatiently.

“Fandral, he is not going to do it. But, if you would like a challenge, I know of an even greater one for you.”

“Name it, Lady Sif.”

She grinned and replied in a sing-song voice. “Keeping your mouth shut.”

“Ah, Allmother, Prince Loki!” Volstagg greeted them happily. “Good to see you.”

Frigga gave him a polite nod and greeted the others as well.

“And you,” Loki replied, taking his place at the front of the hall. He quickly leaned to whisper to Ellie. “You and Rainger must take your place off to the left of the throne.” He pointed to a spot near the foot of the steps. “The ceremony should be beginning soon. If I need you, I will call.”

Within her mind, his familiar voice reminded her. “All will be well, my love.

“Of course, Your Highness, Your Majesty,” she answered him as she and Rainger moved off to the side with a slight bow of the head.

“This is quite impressive,” Rainger noted casually, his gaze wandering about the place. “It feels quite nice to be close to the action.”

“That it does,” Ellie agreed. “Who knew they would have us two eejits standin’ on the steps next to Odin’s throne while Thor becomes king.”

He chuckled, well familiar with her Midgardian terms. “Better us than another. We have worked hard to get here. We are the ones who have to serve the princes, two of the most finicky men in all Yggdrasil.”

“Y’know, Rainger; you’re right. We put up with enough of their shite to be up here. So well done us.”

With another blast of the horn ringing out through the room, the crowd went silent. Ellie watched as the Einherjar honour guard moved into formation. They parted at the throne, revealing the Allfather himself sitting in full ceremonial armour, Gungnir in hand. Frigga, Loki, Lady Sif, and the Warriors Three all bowed before him. Ellie had to hand it to him — he exuded nothing but power and majesty in his seat. That being said, as his gaze was cast over the Warriors as they took their positions on the steps either side of the throne, he did not look impressed with Thor’s absence. He focused on Loki and received a shrug in response, his mood worsening as Frigga stood on the step above the younger son.

“That’s the signal,” Ellie whispered to Rainger, brow raised. “And he’s not here.”

“I can see that,” he replied. “And Odin is not pleased.”

As the crowd began to murmur, she heard Volstagg on the other side of the steps ask Loki softly. “Where is he?”

“He said he would be along,” he answered honestly.

A shake of the head from Sif resulted in Volstagg looking to her for answers, to which she answered. “He wants to make an entrance.”

Fandral scoffed. “Well, if he doesn't show up soon, he shouldn't bother. Odin looks like he's ready to feed him to his ravens.”

“I wouldn't worry,” Loki muttered with a shrug. “Father will forgive him. He always does.”

At that moment, Mjölnir came thundering up into the hall, Thor striding behind it before calling it back into his hand. He raised it above his head triumphantly as the massive crowd erupted into cheers, and he milked it for all it was worth. Ellie couldn't help but bite her lip as the prince slowly strode between the guards, tossing and twirling the hammer in his grasp in an attempt to rally the crowd. The Aesir gave him what he wanted, clapping louder and cheering him on as he oozed cockiness and delight, basking in the glow of their adoration. All it did was further remind her that perhaps Thor wasn’t the best candidate for this. She chanced a glance at Odin, and noted the sour expression on his face. Maybe he was having the same revelation?

Once Thor eventually reached the foot of the steps, he got down on one knee, rested Mjölnir on the ground, and removed his helmet. While Frigga gave him a scolding look, he merely winked in response and she couldn’t help but smile. Ellie smirked too and shook her head. Odin slowly got to his feet and, with a strike of Gungnir against the floor, the resounding boom brought the crowd to silence.

With sure and confident authority only familiar to those who have ruled for centuries, Odin began his speech. The pride which he held for his son was not difficult to see. “Thor Odinson, my heir, my first-born—“ His voice faltered before becoming steady once more. “So long entrusted with this mighty hammer, Mjölnir. Forged in the heart of a dying star. Its power has no equal — as a weapon, to destroy, or as a tool, to build. It is a fit companion for a King.

“I have defended Asgard and the lives of the innocent across the Nine Realms since the time of the Great Beginning. And though the day has come for a new King to wield his own weapon — that duty remains the same.”

Ellie tried her best to focus on Odin’s words, despite the increasing rate of her heart. She knew what was happening within the Vault. What was going to happen. In this hall filled to its capacity with people, only she and Loki knew the disruption that was due to take place. When exactly she did not know. All she could do was stand and wait, and hope that it worked.

As her concerns faded, Odin’s speech continued on. “Today I entrust you with the greatest honour in all the Nine Realms. The sacred throne of Asgard. I have sacrificed much to achieve peace. So, too, must a new generation sacrifice to maintain that peace. Responsibility, duty, honour. These are not merely virtues to which we must aspire. They are essential to every soldier and to every King.”

“Thor Odinson, do you swear to guard the Nine Realms?”

“I swear,” was the sure response from Thor.

“And do you swear to preserve the peace?”

“I swear.”

“Do you swear to cast aside all selfish ambition and pledge yourself only to the good of all the Realms?”

“I swear!” Firmly, with Mjölnir raised above his head.

Ellie glanced at Loki, knowing Thor would be crowned in a matter of moments. She gulped as he turned his attention towards Thor, face betraying no ounce of doubt or uncertainty as they waited for the inevitable. Despite his assurance that they would be alright, she took in a deep breath to steady her nerves, relieved that Rainger was too distracted by the ceremony to notice. Despite the fact she never wanted to betray Thor, despite the fact she wanted him to be happy, she was now impatiently willing their plan to just happen. And yet, as Odin continued to speak, she couldn’t help but wonder if it had been foiled. In a selfish gesture, she focused her gaze back on Loki — her Loki — smiling at his brother and looking as beautiful as ever. It was a rare thing to see him smile and yet she was the one worthy enough to witness it. She couldn’t even think about what it would be like to live without that smile in her life.

“Then on this day, I, Odin Allfather, proclaim you—”

In another uncharacteristically selfish gesture, she willed the intruders on, hoping they would do what needed to be done.

Odin hesitated and her head snapped in his direction. As his one good eye wandered away from his son, she held her breath.

“Frost Giants.”

Her eyes widened at his announcement. Around her, everyone snapped into action. While the Allfather struck the ground with Gungnir once more, and the warriors reached for their weapons, she met Loki’s concerned gaze as the hall erupted into confused chaos.

Now, there was no going back.

Chapter Text

The relief Ellie felt knowing that their plan had come to fruition didn’t last long. The hall erupted into manic pandemonium, with the crowds being controlled and guarded by armed groups of Einherjar. While screaming and confused yells rang out through the place, Rainger was quick to grab Ellie’s hand; whether it was to ensure her safety or to keep himself calm, she did not know.

“Hey,” she said, getting his attention when she noticed his panicked expression. “We’re okay, Rainger. We’re okay.”

“Didn’t you hear Odin?” he asked, eyes wide. “There’s Frost Giants in the palace! How in the name of the Norns did they get in here?”

Before she could even attempt to answer him, Odin’s voice sounded loudly. “Warriors! To the vaults.”

By his words, everyone sprung into action. Odin was down the steps in seconds and running from the hall. Thor was quick to trail behind, closely followed by the Warriors Three and Lady Sif. As Loki and Frigga appeared quite suddenly by their side, Ellie looked up at him, genuine worry now etched on her face.

“You two,” he said in a hurry. “Stay close to us. You are not to go out of my sight. Come!”

Sensing the urgency, she didn’t argue as Frigga grabbed her hand and the four of them quickly took after the other sprinters. Running through the palace halls was not something she thought would be on the agenda that day, but here they were. Despite the fact she knew how and why the Frost Giants ended up on Asgard, Ellie couldn’t help but feel anxious about how exactly things were going to play out from here. Loki was playing the part of the worried younger prince well, but then again, he was a professional lie-smith. Thankfully, he had taught her well, because no one seemed to suspect anything looking at either of them. But then again, why would they? Most people didn’t even know they were intimately involved…

The commotion in the throne room had moved out to the halls, with guards stationed at every door and some running to check different areas of the palace. Though Odin knew that Frost Giants were in the vaults, he had to make sure they hadn’t snuck in anywhere else, so crosschecking every area seemed appropriate. Though Ellie’s lungs began to burn from taking quick breaths, they reached the vaults below the palace swiftly enough. Odin and his sons were the first to enter, with Frigga, the warriors, and the hand servants hanging back at the steps beside the entrance. As the doors opened, she could feel the temperature change immediately. When she had gasped at the sight of the room, her breath became a visible mist in front of her face, a sure sign that the Jötunns had indeed been here. The entire room was covered in ice, frost clinging to the stone walls with smoke rising from the extinguished fires at the entrance. Scattered blocks of ice and the remains of the Jötunns are strewn about the place, along with the two dead Einherjar. She couldn’t help but cringe at the sight of their twisted bodies. Everyone lowered their weapons upon realising that the threat had already been dealt with — the presence of a massive figure at the end of the hall ensured that. It was an imposing figure — standing to its full height and towering over every single one of them. Beneath it’s metal exterior glowed hot flames, ones which held the power to turn a person to ash with a single blast of fire. Ellie had heard of its ability from tales told by the Odinson brothers themselves, and it only furthered her genuine fear of the sentinel.

“The Destroyer,” Sif gasped under her breath.

Volstagg looked at it in awe. “I thought it was but a legend.”

As the flames within its chest finally dwindled down again, it stepped back into its post, the wall reforming to hide it once more.

“I have never been inside the Vault before,” Fandral began, looking about the place uncomfortably. “It is said the Tesseract was once held here.”

The Tesseract? She had heard of that before from conversations with Thor and Loki. It was a blue, glowing, crystalline cube that apparently housed a great power. It was however lost many years ago on Earth and hadn’t been seen since. It was however briefly unearthed during World War II, before again disappearing God knows where. But like Fandral, she had never gone near the vault before, so she was happy to get a look at all the relics that were housed there.

Volstagg gasped aloud, clearly amazed by what was going on. “The Tesseract? I thought that was but a legend too!”

Sif was quick to shush them both as Odin surveyed the damage, approaching what Ellie assumed to be the Casket of Ancient Winters on its podium. Thor and Loki stood either side of him, looking about in dismay.

“The Jötunns must pay for what they have done!” the former declared, Mjölnir in his eager hand.

“They have paid,” Odin replied dismissively. “With their lives. The Destroyer did its job, and the Casket is safe, and all is well.”

“‘All is well?’” Thor looked at Loki indignantly, then back to his father. “They broke into the Weapons Vault! If the Frost Giants had stolen even one of these relics—”

“They didn’t.”

“Well, I want to know why!”

Ellie cringed at Thor’s tone, biting her lip so that she would refrain from blurting out anything incriminating. Despite her involvement in the turn of events, she couldn’t help but wonder how Odin let such a petulant tone go unpunished. If Loki ever dared to speak to the Allfather like that, he would surely be reprimanded accordingly…

With his eyes still firmly fixed on the Casket, Odin explained himself. “I have a truce with Laufey, King of the Jötunns.”

“He just broke your truce! They know you are vulnerable!”

Turning to finally face his enraged son, Odin glanced at his comrades and his wife. “Leave us.”

With a small amount of hesitance, Ellie glanced at the silent Loki before she turned and followed the others out of the vaults.

“Well,” Fandral began, back to his usual sarcastic self. “Thor will certainly be getting an earful.”

“Oh, hush,” Sif insisted. “I have heard enough from you.”

“Warriors Three,” Frigga began, getting their attention. “I ask that you join Asgard’s forces in ensuring that there are no other Frost Giants sneaking about the palace. Once the all clear is given, you can go about your business.” After receiving three replies of ‘Yes, Allmother’, she turned to Lady Sif. “I would ask that you remain here with Rainger, Ellie, and I. It would be wise to keep a warrior by our side until we are told all is well again.”

“Of course, My Queen,” Sif agreed with a slight bow of the head.

Frigga then looked at the two hand servants who were still visibly uncomfortable. “There is nothing to worry about, dears. Whatever breach through which they came, it shall be found and blocked. You are both safe with us. Come, we shall wait within my chambers.”

Ellie and Rainger were not waiting within the royal chambers for long before the Einherjar returned mid-afternoon to tell the Queen that there were no Frost Giants to be found on Asgard. It seemed that the attacked was carried out by but a few who were subsequently killed by the Destroyer. That being said, Frigga did a good job of easing their worries by making tea and chatting to them about anything and everything. It wasn’t long after when Loki arrived, looking grim but relieved that they were all alright.

Once he hugged his mother, he turned to Rainger. “You should return to your family. Thor is in no mood for company, friendly or otherwise. After today, you should get some rest.”

“Of course, Prince Loki,” the younger man replied. “Thank you. Give Thor my regards.”

“I shall. It might also be best if Lady Sif accompanies you there, since Odin is still unsure as to where they came from.”

“Where is your father?” Frigga asked him, looking somewhat worried.

“With the troops, keeping them company while they scout Asgard for possible breaches.”

“And your brother?”

Loki grimaced slightly and said. “He is…stomping about the palace. He is not happy that his big day was interrupted.”

“No surprises there,” Rainger muttered grimly.

“He will be alright. It is best to leave him for a day and return to your normal duties tomorrow.”

“Thank you, Prince Loki.” With a bow, Rainger took his leave, Lady Sif walking by his side so that he would make it home without incident.

As soon as they left and it was just the three of them in the room, Loki swept Ellie into his arms and pulled her into a crushing hug. She knew that his concern was mostly for show — to convey their false image of innocence — but the feeling of his strong arms circling her waist gave her some much needed relief. She buried her face in his chest without hesitation, unconcerned with Frigga’s presence even though she was never one to judge. She could feel his emotions anyway; all the relief, the exhaustion, the delight knowing that their plan had actually worked. She allowed herself to be selfish for a moment, forgetting about Thor’s apparent distain for having his moment interrupted. For once, she genuinely cared little for anyone other than her prince.

“Are you alright?” he asked her, leaning back so that he could gently cup her face in his hands.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” she insisted. “Are you? What happened on the vault?”

“Let us just say that Thor was more willing to…teach the Frost Giants a lesson, while Father was more interested in sealing the breach in our defences. He received a scolding, and is not amused. I am sure it has added to his current tantrum-throwing.”

“I cannot say that I am surprised by his reaction,” Frigga began. “But hopefully he just needs the day to calm himself. Once we find out how the Frost Giants entered Asgard, we can organise his coronation.”

“Do not tell Thor that. He will be livid when he hears that his big day has been not only interrupted, but pushed back as well.”

“Thor needs to concern himself with safety as this realm,” Frigga replied, her tone conveying that of a disappointed mother. “And less with his big day. His day will come once we solve this issue and he must understand that. That is what a king must do.”

“You do not need to tell me twice, Mother. I am sure that Thor will see reason.”

“That he will. Now, you two best go back to your quarters while all the commotion dies down.”

“But what about you?” Ellie asked in concern. “We can’t leave you here on your own.”

“I agree, love.” Loki sent his mother a warm smile. “Come, we will have some tea to pass the time and then Ellie and I will take our leave.”

Probably delighted to spend some quality time with her son and his beloved, Frigga agreed to the suggestion with ease. Though Ellie was still nervous about all that occurred, she found it a lot easier to relax around the Queen, and Loki’s equally calm company always helped too. They didn’t stay for long and soon returned to his quarters for some privacy.

As soon as he locked the door behind him, he looked at her with nervous excitement and said. “I need to speak with you.”

Taking a seat at his dining table, Ellie eyed him curiously. “Is somethin’ wrong?”

“Not at all,” he replied and quickly took a seat next to her, elbows resting on his thighs as he clasped his hands together. “Considering all that occurred today, everything went exactly as planned.”

“Well, that’s certainly a relief. Then what’s up?”

“Thor. More specifically, Thor’s reaction to this whole debacle. He has reacted in a far more aggressive manner than I had previously predicted. I knew he would be angry, and I knew he would want to teach the Jötunns a lesson, but he seemed intent on going to Jotunheim and starting a war.”

Ellie’s brow furrowed at that, leaning forward in her seat. “A war?”

“Yes. That is what he suggested to Father in the vaults. Upon being asked what action he would take after you were all dismissed, Thor said he would march into Jotunheim and ‘teach them a lesson’, so that they would never again dream of trespassing upon Asgard. He says that it was an act of war.”

“Oh, God,” she muttered under her breath. “I knew he’d be annoyed, but how can he justify wantin’ to start a war with the Frost Giants? Especially when you’s have an uneasy truce as it is.”

“It was somewhat surprising, yes, but not exactly out of character. If he had been crowned before the attack took place, I fear we would be marching down the Bifröst as we speak.”

“I imagine you wouldn’t be wrong.” She sighed heavily, her head in her hands, before she met her lover’s gaze again. “I’m assumin’ Odin was havin’ none of it?”

“Of course. That was to be expected, but he is not wrong. The truce is delicate and one cannot risk tossing that aside as it stands, even if the Frost Giants are despicable beasts.”

“This is already paintin’ a great picture of King Thor…”

“Do not fret, darling,” he whispered, his lips slowly forming a smirk. “Thor’s outburst may in fact work in our favour.”

She wasn’t sure why, but the overly-familiar feeling of unease was creeping up yet again. “Care to elaborate?”

“Thor’s reaction to these events was that of a warrior, as my father told him in the vaults. I think it may have been a reason for Odin to question whether Thor is ready to take on the responsibilities that come with being a king. Though I doubt this event alone would deter Odin, I think it was a small wake up call. We could, however, manipulate this to fit our agenda by giving Thor a very gentle push.”

“Loki…” She shook her head, already not liking where this was going. “I don’t like the sound of this.”

“It’s alright,” he reassured her, gently taking a hold of her hands. “Ellie, look at me. Remember what we said? That we would be here for each other no matter what happens? Just listen to what I have to say for a moment.” When she didn’t utter a word, he pressed onwards. “Thor is angry and you know how reckless he can be when he’s like this. If he had his way, if Odin had not forbade it, he would march straight into Jotunheim with an army on his heels. As you and I know, this is not how a king should act. If anything, Father should have noticed this in the vaults and said something right away. And yet, he didn’t. What I think, is that Father may delay Thor’s coronation for far longer if he were to act on these feelings. If he hears that his eldest son intends to defy his orders by starting a war with another realm, he will most certainly consider him an unworthy candidate for rule. Surely he would delay the coronation yet again to give Thor the teachings he needs in order to act as king.

“What I am suggesting is that I plant a seed in Thor’s head; I shall encourage his reckless behaviour so that he does indeed decide to go to Jotunheim himself. But, before he can even get to the realm, I will inform Father of the development and stop him before his plan can be carried out. Surely after that the crowning will be delayed indefinitely and my marriage along with it.”

“I don’t know how I feel ’bout that,” Ellie said, shaking her head. “That’s really pushin’ it.”

“Not particularly,” Loki disagreed, but not unkindly. “You agreed with me about Thor being an unfit king. If anything, his reaction to the infiltration is further proof of that, no?”

“Well, yes, but are we not pushin’ our luck?” Her stomach was flipping nervously, her thumb rubbing circles on the back of his hand in an attempt to calm herself. She thought they could be done with all of this, and yet here they were, plotting yet again. “Look, the original plan worked and that’s great! Why do we need’ta do this?”

“Because we have only delayed my marriage temporarily,” he explained. “This will surely stop it for a far longer period of time.”

“This is madness, Loki.”

“Of course it is,” he laughed. “This whole plan is madness, but it has worked so far. You could probably call our relationship madness as well. I will not let anything happen to you, alright? I will not even let anything happen to Thor — Father will reprimand him before he can even step foot near Laufey.”

Ellie had to be honest, his promises were swaying her in his favour. Was there really any severe harm if Loki was to end a war before it even had a chance to begin? All Odin would see is a man not yet fit to be king. No one would get hurt, and she and Loki would be free to court as they pleased without worrying about his impending marriage. Ensuring that Thor is not crowned meant that Loki would never wed Lady Sigyn…

“Do you trust me?” he asked her after a moment, pulling his chair forward in an attempt to be closer to her.

“Do you even need to ask?” she replied with a sad smile. “Of course I do.”

“Then trust me when I say this will be the last scheme. After this, there will be no need to try anything else. My marriage will by prevented and we can continue as we once were. Believe me when I say that this will be the end of it.”

“Right,” she sighed and let her head rest on his shoulder. “Well then I guess we need to go give Thor a shove.”

The feeling of his arms encasing her in a warm hug was somewhat reassuring despite the new uncertainty that consumed her mind. “It will be alright. Worry not, little one. This will be the end of it.”

“It better be,” she said, her voice muffled by the material of his clothes. “This is excessive schemin’, even for you.”

He chuckled at that, his warm breath ghosting over her neck. “I thought you loved my scheming? It is part of my title.”

“I do but this is more than I’m used to.”

“Well, it’s good that this is the last of it then.” With a kiss on her cheek, he let his chin rest on her head. “We should go find Thor before he has a chance to simmer down.”

“Any idea where he is?”

“I am sure the guards will be able to point us in his direction, what with his stomping around.”

Sure enough, Loki was right. A number of Einherjar were happy to tell them that they last Thor thundering towards the banquet hall, and the resounding crash and roar that echoed from outside its doors was proof enough that he was indeed inside.

“Did he just flip the table?” Ellie asked as the two of them slipped through the entrance and walked along the top of the steps overlooking the late afternoon sky.

“I did tell you he was furious,” Loki whispered as Thor took a seat on the steps, looking completely dejected and frustrated. Before him was an upended table — presumably by his hands — with plates, food, and wine spilling out over the massive floor.

Loki approached Thor slowly, each of his footsteps planting softly on the steps as he took a seat next to him, while Ellie sat herself on the Trickster’s left.

“It’s unwise to be in my company right now,” Thor grumbled, glancing at them briefly. Then, with more passion, he continued. “This was to be my day of triumph!”

“It will come,” Loki reassured him with a hushed voice. “In time.”

“He’s right, Thor,” Ellie agreed. “It might not be today, but it’ll be soon.”

At that moment, Lady Sif and the Warriors Three came bursting into the hall.

Volstagg looked positively aghast at the sight of the destruction. “What’s this?”

While Thor payed no attention to his friends, Loki briefly frowned at their arrival before turning to speak to his brother, his silver tongue doing what it was best at. “If it's any consolation, I think you're right. About the Frost Giants, about Laufey, about everything. If they found a way to penetrate Asgard’s defences once, who is to say they won’t try again? Next time, with an army.”

“Exactly!” Thor declared, looking relieved to have someone validate his feelings.

“There is nothing you can do without defying Father.”

At that, Thor turned to face his brother, the gears visibly turning in his head.

Loki’s eyes went wide just as Thor got to his feet. “No. No, no, no, no, no, no, no! I know that look!”

“It is the only way to ensure the safety of our borders!” Thor said with determination, pointing a finger at his sibling.

“Thor, it’s madness!” Loki insisted, trying to deter him.

“What?” Ellie asked, looking between them. “You’re not suggestin’—”

“Madness?” Volstagg asked from where he stood, quickly gathering a massive plate of food. “What sort of madness?”

There was a beat of silence before Thor spoke with resounding confidence. “We’re going to Jotunheim.”

At that, Ellie noticed Loki gulp. He was intrigued by what had occurred, but she could easily spot the excited glint in his eye. Another one of his plans was well underway and he quickly turned to look back at her. She kept her expression as one which conveyed shock, of course. She was back to playing the part, but if it was to ensure her and Loki would  remain together, then she couldn’t exactly complain.

But she had faith in Loki.

After all, he had promised her.

Chapter Text

There were multiple signs that reinforced the idea that Thor’s plan to go to Jotunheim was awful. One, was that his ever-loyal friends considered it suicidal. Though Ellie knew why events had to go this way, she couldn’t help but agree with them.

As Fandral questioned Thor’s declaration right away, Sif, who obviously cared for the Thunderer dearly, was perturbed. “Thor, of all the laws of Asgard, this is one you must not break.”

“This isn't like a journey to Earth,” Fandral added. “Where you summon a little lightning and thunder and the mortals worship you as a god. This is Jotunheim.”

Volstagg’s attention lay on his plate of food as he spoke. “And if the Frost Giants don't kill you, your father will!”

“My father fought his way into Jotunheim,” Thor declared with pride. “Defeated their armies, and took their Casket! We'd just be looking for answers.”

Ellie hesitated before speaking herself. “Thor, I knew I’m not on your level, and it’s kinda risky for a servant to speak out against a prince, but you’re also my friend and I can’t encourage somethin’ like this. You were the one who told me the Frost Giants were monsters! Listen to your comrades; they’re tryin’ to keep you safe.”

Sif insisted. “Even the young Midgardian agrees that your idea is reckless. It is also forbidden!”

As Thor chuckled and approached his friends, Ellie and Loki exchanged a nervous look. She noticed his clasped hands and wished she could reach out to touch him, but knew better than to risk all that they had built for one moment of reassuring affection.

“My friends, have you forgotten all that we've done together?” Thor asked them with his usual charismatic enthusiasm. First he turned to Fandral. “Who brought you into the sweet embrace of the most exotic maidens in all of Yggdrasil?”

“Well, you helped a little…”

With a hearty laugh, he turned to Hogun. “Who led you into the most glorious of battles?”

“You did,” Hogun answered with the smallest of smiles.

“And to delicacies so succulent,” Thor continued, placing a hand on Volstagg’s back. “You thought you had died and gone to Valhalla?”

“You did.”

Thor laughed in delight before finally turning to Lady Sif. “And who proved wrong all who scoffed at the idea that a young maiden could be one of the fiercest warriors this realm has ever known?”

“I did,” she replied without an ounce of uncertainty.

“True, but I supported you. My friends, trust me now. We must do this. You're not going to let my brother and I take all the glory, are you?”

Loki was immediately startled, his eyes briefly flitting to Ellie before he whispered. “What?”

His surprise made Thor’s face fall. “You are coming with me, aren’t you?”

Ellie’s jaw dropped, looking between the pair of them as Loki turned to flash a brilliant smile at his brother. “Yes, of course!” He got to his feet and stood proudly by his side. “I won't let my brother march into Jotunheim alone.”

Loki! she hissed in her head. What are you doin’?

Play along, love, his voice replied. Act like the nervous lover once Thor’s friends leave, alright?

She didn’t get much of a chance to say anything aloud about the matter bar a distressed exhale of Loki’s name, because Volstagg spoke up in favour of Thor, much to their friends’ chagrin. “And I!”

Even though he had been completely against the idea at first, Fandral was the second one to fold. “And I.”

Next was Hogun. “And I. The Warriors Three fight together.”

“I fear we'll live to regret this,” Sif simply added before placing her fist on her chest and turning to take her leave.

As the Warriors Three followed her out, Volstagg gathered some of his food and added. “If we're lucky!”

The trio were finally left alone. Thor laughed in delight before he made to leave as well, Loki close on his heels. They were both, however, impeded by Ellie, who was not having any of this.

“What’re you playin’ at?” she demanded, her gaze firmly fixed on Loki.

“What, love?” he asked innocently.

“Don’t ‘what, love’ me. You’re mad to go to Jotunheim and you know it!”

“You know Thor is right. If we do not confront the Frost Giants they will do it again!”

“Bullshit they’ll do it again! Let Odin handle this; it’s literally his fuckin’ job!”

“Oh,” Thor exhaled, mildly amused. “I have not seen you two engaged in a lovers spat before. This is an interesting sight to behold!”

“That’s enough out of you,” she growled, a finger raised at the God. “You’re the reason my lover is goin’ to Jotunheim in the first place.”

“It is not my fault that the Frost Giants attacked Asgard!”

“But it’s your idea to go and confront them!”

“Ellie,” Loki’s voice murmured as he placed his hands on her shoulders. “You must calm down.”

“How can I stay calm while watchin’ you two idiots do somethin’ incredibly stupid and excessively dangerous?”

Thor shrugged. “That is a fair point, brother…”

“They would not dare to lay a hand on us,” Loki explained. “And that is beside the point — we will not go into Jotunheim with axes and swords swinging left and right.”

There was a beat of silence before Ellie spoke again. “Right well, if I can’t stop you’s from goin’, then I guess I’m goin’ with you’s.”

It hadn’t been part of the plan. She knew that.

Loki would hate it. She knew that too.

And yet that was how she felt. She didn’t care if convincing Thor to go to Jotunheim was imperative. She didn’t care if they would never even get to step foot outside of Asgard, if Loki’s promises were anything to go by. And even still, she wasn’t going to let him go off and be an idiot alone. Just in case there was ever a small chance of them going to Jotunheim, Ellie wasn’t leaving his side, even if he hated it.

What?” the brothers exclaimed together, Thor is surprise and Loki in horror.

With a shrug, she turned to leave. “I’ll go get my weapons.”

“Ellie!” Loki shouted, stomping after her. “You are not coming with us! You are staying right here where it is safe.”

“I am in my hole stayin’ here! I have to make sure neither of you end up dead.”

“You are staying here whether you like it or not!” he insisted, grabbing her arm to halt her progress. “I won’t have you step foot on that realm!”

She met his green eyes and sighed. They were filled with confusion and anger. This wasn’t part of the plan seemed to be the message they conveyed, but she just shook her head. “Sorry, Loki, but you can’t stop me.”

“Ellie, please—”

“Have you forgotten her training, brother?” Thor intervened. “And that she will be in the company of Asgard’s fiercest warriors? She will be fine.”

The younger Odinson was clearly upset, and she hated that she was making him feel this way. “If anything were to happen to her, I do not know what I would do.”

“Nothin’ is goin’ to happen to me, alright? If we stick together, we’ll be fine.”

“I wish to speak with you about this.” He shot a glance at Thor. “Alone.”

“Of course you do…”

As she strode out the door, Thor’s voice called after them. “Just so you know, I am on your side, Ellie!”

No sooner than when they were in the halls did Loki drag her into a deserted alcove. He used his body to firmly trap her against the wall. “We did not agree upon you coming to Jotunheim.”

“We didn’t agree on you goin’ either,” she replied, keeping her tone far more calm than it had been inside. “If you go, I go.”

He rolled his eyes in dismay. “We will not even reach the realm before Father—”

“Then what’s the big deal?”

“If anything were to happen to you,” he began quite earnestly. “Because of me, I would never forgive myself.”

“You said it yourself, nothin’ is goin’ to happen to either of us. Remember how we agreed to stick together through this? That’s exactly what I intend to do. I’m sorry, but you can’t change my mind ’bout this.”

With a sigh he studied her face and reached to gently cup her cheek. “Have you always been this stubborn?”

“Have you always been this attractive?”

“Honeyed words will do little to sway me,” he said with a laugh.

With a brief glance around to make sure they were still alone, she pulled him into a soft embrace. “I learned from the best.”

 

* * *

 

Outside the palace, Thor, Loki, and Ellie met with Lady Sif and the Warriors Three, though the latter seemed completely baffled by the mortal’s presence. Everyone had changed from their formal attire to more practical wear in case of any fighting that they may face in their impending journey.

Fandral had no problem voicing his concerns. “What exactly is the mortal doing here?”

“You’re as foolish as you look, Fandral,” Ellie began, securing her quiver to her back. “If you think I’m lettin’ those two go to another dangerous realm without me.”

“But you cannot possibly accompany us?” he insisted. “You will slow us down and get yourself killed—”

“She has been trained by us for years, you imbecile,” Sif cut in as the group reached a bench where the rest of their gear lay waiting. “She can hold her own, lest you have forgotten the events on Alfheim.”

Ellie sent her an appreciative smile before adding. “Alfheim is another reason why I’m comin’. You all helped me when I needed you’s, so I should return the favour.”

“The little Midgardian will be fine,” Volstagg agreed with a grin. “Plus, she will be in the company of Asgard’s fiercest warriors! She will have nothing to fear.”

“Exactly,” Thor added as he picked up his weapons. “I will take all the help that is offered to me. Now, we must first find a way to get past Heimdall.”

“That will be no easy task.” Volstagg eyed his friends before declaring quite confidently. “It is said the Gatekeeper can see a single dew drop fall from a blade of grass a thousand worlds away.”

Fandral found great amusement in that and added sarcastically. “Yes, and he can hear a cricket passing gas in Niffelheim.”

“Jest not! He heareth all!”

Please. Getting past him should be simple enough now, since he seems to be letting Frost Giants sneak by under his nose.”

“Oh, forgive him,” Volstagg proclaimed to the very sky above him. “He meaneth no offence!”

While Ellie chuckled at their exchange and once they were a safe distance away, she felt Loki lean over her shoulder and whisper in his ear. “Go on with them and distract them for a moment, love. I need to warn the guards of my brother’s intentions.”

“On it,” she assured him, before striding after the group while securing her vambraces. “Volstagg, where has this sudden fear of Heimdall come from?”

“You speak of it as though he is not formidable,” he answered factually. “You have lived here for the majority of your short life — you know he heareth all and he probably knows we are on our way right now.”

“You worry too much! We’ll be fine.”

“You seemed to have changed your tune from earlier,” Sif noted. “I thought you would be as averse to this as I am.”

“If you want my honest opinion, I think what Thor is doin’ is insanely stupid, but I suppose friends stick by friends even when they’re bein’ incredibly dumb.”

“That’s the spirit!” Fandral agreed, giving Thor a slap on the back for emphasis.

As they reached the attendants holding their mounts, Ellie added. “That and I can’t let my boss die out there and leave me unemployed.”

“Such a loyal servant you are,” Loki snickered as he rejoined the group and hopped on to his horse, knowing that she was only jesting.

With skill acquired over the last couple of years, Ellie hoisted herself to her own horse, a mare named Mór-Ríoghain that was gifted to her by Loki on her twenty first birthday. Once everyone was ready, they set off galloping through the streets of Asgard and soon found themselves racing down the Bifröst. As they drew towards the Observatory, they spotted Heimdall standing there, clad in his armour with his massive sword, Hofund, in front of him. He stood as stern and still as ever, blocking their way. At Thor’s signal, they slowed their horses and stopped some distance away. As everyone dismounted, Ellie naturally drew close to Loki and decided that speaking to him through their soul bond would be safer than whispered words.

They’re gonna ask you to speak to Heimdall, right? she thought, directing it to Loki so only he could hear. So you can lie for us?

“Of course,” his voice replied, while his eyes remained firmly fixed on the Gatekeeper. “But I will make sure to fail in my task. That should give Odin more time to reach us as well.”

“Keep your weapons sheathed and your mouths closed,” he said aloud, addressing the group. He smiled at Thor as he stepped forward. “This is going to take subtlety and sincerity, not brute strength. You leave this to me.” As the group approached Heimdall, Loki stood in front of his brother and smiled pleasantly in greeting. “Good Heimdall—”

“You are not dressed warmly enough,” Heimdall said evenly.

“I’m sorry?”

“Do you think that you can deceive me? I, who watch all? I, who can sense the flapping of a butterfly's wings a thousand worlds away?” He fixed his gaze on Fandral. “Or can hear a cricket passing gas in Niffelheim?”

A completely gobsmacked Fandral stammered in response. “That was, eh, just a bit of a jest, really…”

With a laugh, Loki went into damage control. “You must be mistaken. We were—”

Enough,” Thor boomed, silencing everyone as a result. He stepped in front of his brother, his gaze firmly fixed on the obstacle in their way. “Heimdall, may we pass?”

“Never has an enemy slipped my watch until this day,” the Gatekeeper answered. “I wish to know how that happened.”

“Then tell no one where we have gone until we have returned. Understand?”

Without another word, Thor strode passed Heimdall, the group following quickly excluding Loki and Ellie, who stood together and waited for the others to go ahead.

“What happened?” Volstagg teased Loki as he walked by him. “Silver tongue turn to lead?”

Loki sent him a very pointed glare while everyone shared a laugh, but Ellie was quick to defend her friend. “Get me off this bridge before it cracks under your girth.”

“Pay them no mind,” Loki muttered to her, but she knew he would struggle to take his own advice. With a nod to Heimdall, the pair walked around him and joined the others within the Observatory. As the group stood together, Heimdall ascended the large control apparatus at the centre of the room and readied the Observatory for travel. As was customary for the couple, Ellie smiled slightly when Loki offered her his arm to hold on to. As the dome around them came to life with its cracking white lightening, she gladly accepted his gesture and wrapped her hand around the crook of his arm.

As she waited, she glanced over her shoulder and expected to see Odin barrelling up the bridge to stop them. Alas, the bridge was deserted bar their own horses left behind. She gulped and quickly sent Loki a thought.

Loki, shouldn’t Odin be here by now?

“Yes, he should,” he replied, the worry evident in his voice.

But you told the guard, right?

“Of course, but he should be here by now.”

“Be warned,” Heimdall announced loudly. “I will honour my sworn oath to protect this Realm as its Gatekeeper. If your return threatens the safety of Asgard, the Bifröst will remain closed to you, and you will be left to die in the cold wastes of Jotunheim.”

Loki, I’m startin’ to get worried…

“It is alright, I won’t let anything happen to you.”

But we’re not meant to get this far!

“Couldn't you just leave the bridge open for us?” Volstagg suggested as the Bifröst’s energy began to build, the rainbow vortex appearing before them as the Observatory’s turret moved into place.

Heimdall’s explanation was blunt. “To leave the bridge open would unleash the full power of the Bifröst and destroy Jotunheim with you upon it.”

Ellie looked over her shoulder again. There was still no sign. She couldn’t help it — she was panicking. This wasn’t part of the plan.

Loki, he’s not comin’. What do we do?

“It’s okay, love. We will have to make do.”

We can’t just make do! We can’t go to Jotunheim!

“What choice to we have now? If we leave to get him, we will rouse suspicion. We must remain here and hope he comes soon! He has to…”

“I have no plans to die today,” Thor said with an excited grin.

“None do.”

As Ellie heard the sleek noise of Heimdall inserting Hofund into the control panel, Loki pulled her closer and whispered. “Hold on, little one. I won’t let you go.”

It was the only warning she had before she felt her body being sucked into the vortex. The journey was swift, as it always was, and it took Ellie a lot of effort to keep her eyes open and focused ahead. The massive ice mass of Jotunheim was approaching quickly, and in an instant they touched down, the Bifröst hitting the cold ground and kicking up flurries of snow upon impact. The comfort of having her feet firmly fixed on a flat surface only calmed Ellie for a moment before she looked up and took in the world around her. Loki steadied her slightly wobbly form while she gazed around at the icy wasteland. The first thing she felt was the cold. They stood on the edge of a sheer cliff that was surrounded by nothing more than a black abyss. From the ground jutted jagged shards of rock and ice, while massive sheets of ice and the ruins of a Jötunn city lay in the distance. The only noise around them was the eery howl of the wind; it was as if nothing stirred within the frozen wasteland.

“We shouldn’t be here,” Hogun stated gravely.

Ellie couldn’t help but agree and sent Loki an anxious look. He looked no better, but said nothing.

“Too late now,” Thor replied.

“Actually, it's not,” Fandral said. “We could turn right around, hop back to Asgard, share a mug by the fire. Could be nice?”

Thor was having none of it. “Let’s move.”

Ellie looked at Loki is desperation. We have to do somethin’ to delay him so that Odin can get here!

Loki nodded slightly and spoke up. “Perhaps we should wait.”

The God of Thunder turned back and demanded impatiently. “For what?”

“To survey the enemy. To gauge their strengths and weaknesses from a distance.”

“That’s a far better idea than goin’ in with hammers and axes swingin’,” Ellie agreed. “This way, we can plan an attack.”

“I'm liking that,” Volstagg added. “Gauging, surveying. Particularly the distance part.”

Thor’s disagreement was immediate, and it left his friends with no choice but to follow him into the abyss. “We know all we must. It's time to act.”

Sif expressed her concern under her breath. “He’s just got to swing his hammer…”

The group slowly trudged through Jotunheim, the realm mostly quiet but for the crumbling of rock that every now and then broke the silence with a distance crash. None of them said a word — everyone seemed to know that it was in fact a terrible idea to come here. Ellie couldn’t stop her heart from thumping in her chest knowing that they were never meant to get this far in the first place. Each of them seemed freezing, trying to shield themselves against the biting breeze. She resorted to pulling the hood of her cloak over her head and sticking close to Loki. She gazed up at his anxious profile, noting that he seemed unfazed by the chill in the air.

“Are you not cold?” she asked, he breath becoming visible as she spoke.

He shook his head. “I manage just fine.”

She exhaled. “Just another reason why bein’ a mortal is kinda shit.”

“It feels good, doesn't it?” Thor asked his friends, clearly invigorated. “To be together again, adventuring on another world?”

Fandral scoffed as he tugged his furs tighter around his shoulders. “Adventuring? Is that what we’re doing?”

“What would you call it?”

“Freezing!”

“Starving,” Volstagg added.

Whining,” Sif sighed.

“How about a song to lift our spirits?” Thor suggested, rising a groan from everyone.

“No,” Hogun disagreed. “Not that!”

“Please don't make us sing again!” Sif implored, nearly losing her patience.

“If I have to listen to Volstagg’s singing voice one more time,” Fandral bit out. “I’ll fall on my own sword!”

Sif suddenly shrugged. “Well, now I'm onboard.”

“Quick, Volstagg!” Ellie called. “Do it before he has time to go back on his promise.”

Eventually, the group reached a plaza on the edge of a large city, its icy ruins towering above them, worn and damaged from battles waged long ago. Before the plaza lay a temple.

“Where are they?” Sif inquired.

“Hiding,” Thor replied. “As cowards always do.”

“Stay close to me,” Loki told Ellie, both of them noting the figures that stalked around them in the shadows. “No matter what happens, stay by my side, alright?”

“Alright,” she answered, not looking to disagree with him over her safety. She held out her pinky finger to him. “I promise.”

With a nervous expression, the Trickster returned the gesture and linked their fingers together. It wasn’t hard to sense the presence of the Frost Giants in the plaza’s walls surrounding them. Everyone gripped their weapons tightly and Ellie slowly channeled seiðr into her hands in case she needed to quickly conjure her daggers. As they reached its centre, a raspy voice echoed through the air.

“You have come a long way to die, Asgardians.”

Ahead of the group, the would be king spoke first. “I am Thor Odinson!”

“We know who you are,” the voice replied.

“How did your people get into Asgard?”

Above them on a balcony sat a hulking creature, veiled in shadow but for a streak of light that allowed his red eyes to glow. This, Ellie assumed to be Laufey, the King of the Frost Giants. It was surely obvious with the power and nobility he radiated. His deep blue skin was covered in markings and ridges, only adding to his overall intimidating presence.

Laufey’s answer was cryptic. “The house of Odin is full of traitors.”

His statement nearly made Ellie turn and call the Bifröst herself. It took all over her self control not to look at Loki in desperation, but she could feel Lady Sif and the Warriors Three looking puzzled.

Thor obviously did not appreciate the Frost Giant’s words. “Do not dishonour my father’s name with your lies!”

At that, Laufey leapt to his feet, revealing how truly imposing his massive figure was. “Your father is a murderer and a thief. And why have you come here? To make peace? You long for battle. You crave it. I see you for what you are, Thor Odinson. Nothing but a boy, trying to prove himself a man.”

Around them, the figures who had been slowly circling them came out from their hiding spots, revealing a vast number of Frost Giants that were ready to tear them apart if needed. Ellie glanced around, inching closer to Loki. Without any hesitance, he grabbed her hand.

I think we pushed our luck with this one, Loki.

“Well,” Thor began, unfazed by the dire situation. “This boy has grown tired of your mockery.”

On queue, the Frost Giants armed themselves, weapons and armour made of strong ice forming on their arms and legs with cracks and shrieks. Now in the light, Ellie saw that they were truly terrifying and stood over eight feet tall. The Asgardians were outmatched and outnumbered.

Loki immediately strode to Thor’s side, bringing Ellie along as he pleaded with him to stand down. “Thor, stop and think. Look around you. We are outnumbered.”

“Know your place, brother,” Thor spat in response.

“He’s right, Thor,” Ellie hissed. “If you make a move we’re all dead.”

“You know not what your actions would unleash,” Laufey drawled, almost with an air of disappointment and sadness. “I do. Go now, while I still allow it.”

Another Jötunn slowly approached the princes, firmly planting himself between them and his king. Though Thor was visibly thrumming with rage, Loki was quick to try to bring the mess to a close. “We will accept your most gracious offer.”

The silence that followed and the look of distain that Thor sent his sibling did nothing to ease Ellie’s worries. She simply followed Loki as he slowly turned and urged Thor to follow. “Come on, brother!”

Around them, their comrades looked at Thor imploringly and breathed a sigh of relief when he finally turned to leave. Perhaps had the Frost Giant not uttered the next few words under his breath, a lot of what followed would have been different.

“Run back home, little princess.”

Perhaps, had Thor not heard the insult, Ellie and Loki would not have to worry about the events that followed and how it would affect them forever. Perhaps they would have gotten away with their faulty scheme.

Beside her, Loki froze, his face white. “Damn.”

Thor swung Mjölnir in one quick move, struck the Jötunn, sent him flying across the plaza, and crashing into the temple wall. With a grin, he chuckled. “Next?”

Before anyone could stop him, he struck another Frost Giant in their path. Loki looked horrified, holding out an arm in front of his foolish brother in an attempt to prevent things from getting worse.

Perhaps, had Thor possessed more self-control, they could have escaped unharmed.

As all hell broke loose, Ellie took a deep breath and squeezed Loki’s hand. In her other, she conjured a dagger. As his green eyes met hers, she wondered what could have been.

Perhaps things would have turned out differently had they never come here in the first place.

Chapter Text

Of all the events that could have taken place on Jotunheim, a massive fight just had to happen. Ellie couldn’t help but feel like their luck had run out. Firstly, Odin should have stopped them before they even set foot on this barren wasteland. Secondly, Thor should maybe have acted less like his usual rash self, and stopped and thought for but a minute. Perhaps then, she wouldn’t be placing her dagger in its sheath and drawing her bow from her back.

“Keep your distance,” Loki ordered, much like he would order her around in training. “And stay by my side at all times. We cover each other and the others.”

“Of course,” she answered, knowing he was completely in the right. “You’ve my back and I have yours.”

While the Frost Giants immediately swarmed around Thor, he didn’t seem to be struggling at all, happily smashing his hammer into any that got too close, all with an arrogant smirk on his face. Loki was on high alert, throwing knives at any enemies who tried to rush the pair, while she made sure to aim and fire at any Jötunns that came into view, aiming specifically for their necks and and weak spots in their armour. The Warriors Three and Lady Sif quickly readied themselves for battle.

Over the clashing of weapons and roars of the Frost Giants, she could hear Fandral and Volstagg discussing their fight plan.

“Well?” the former asked. “What move, do you think?”

“I say we use ‘The Norn’s Revenge’,” was Volstagg’s reply as he swung his axe at an oncoming Jötunn.

“At this close range? I think ‘The Alfheim Lunge’ is a better move.”

“Maybe if they were three feet tall! No! How about ‘The Randy Valkyrie’?”

Only when Hogun urged them both to shut up did the argument end. He and Sif wasted no time in arming themselves and defending each other with experience gathered over centuries of fighting side by side. Together, the group formed a circle around Thor, who seemed to be having the time of his life.

“At least make it a challenge for me!” he declared, before more Jötunns jumped from the temple walls to descended upon the group, the ground shaking beneath their feet on impact.

With her back to Loki, Ellie heard him yell for her to duck. She immediately dropped to one knee, firing another arrow with a thwish into a distant Jötunn. One of Loki’s throwing knives struck the warrior next to her target immediately after the arrow successfully landed.

“If Odin doesn’t get to Thor first,” she growled, breathing heavily as she notched another arrow and drew back the string. “I’ll wring his neck myself.”

“Get in line,” was Loki’s reply, gritting his teeth as he threw two more knives into nearby enemies, felling them both at once. “And follow me!”

She listened without any hesitance considering they were slowly getting swarmed, keeping an eye out as she backed up to join him behind a massive hunk of rock, not before offering some support to Sif as she struggled with a particularly aggressive attacker. Thankfully, Hogun had her back too.

Safely hidden from sight, Loki waved his hand and duplicates of themselves reappeared within the throng, firing knives and arrows at anyone they could.

“A distraction?” she asked him, trying to get her breath back as the cold air burned her lungs.

“Bait,” he answered, just as one Jötunn charged their duplicates, subsequently running through their transparent form and tumbling off the cliff.

She gave him a nod as he had the illusions disappear. “Nice. If only they could fall for that twice.”

“There are too many of them,” he bit out, quickly checking her over for any injuries before they returned to the commotion. “Are you alright?”

“Perfectly fine bar bein’ mad stressed. Are you okay?” When he nodded in reply, she continued on. “Come on, we should help the others before Thor gets them killed.”

Bow and knives in hand, the couple returned to battle, keeping themselves back to back as they fired at any Jötunns that go too close to the group. Ellie’s arm burned as she launched arrow after arrow, resorting to conjuring new ones when she used up all of the supply she had brought. A cry from Volstagg drew her attention immediately, and she looked up to see him toe to toe with a Frost Giant. Without hesitating, she fired an arrow that struck her target, giving the Asgardian enough time to headbutt it into unconsciousness.

“Don’t let them touch you!” he called out to the group, his arm covered in a massive sizzling black mark, presumably caused by the touch of their ice cold skin.

Suddenly, a barrage of ice bullets came hurling at Sif and Ellie. As quickly as she could, Ellie divided behind the more experienced warrior, knowing that her shield could cover them both. Sif lunged back into battle as the mortal rolled to the side, squatting on the ground as she noticed a massive Jötunn thundering towards her.

“Shit,” she muttered. No time to notch another arrow. One hand grabbed her dagger while the other placed her bow on her back.

“Ellie!” she heard Loki scream from behind her. “Through its legs!”

The closer the giant got, the more the ground beneath her bounced and shook.

Though she was frightened, she knew what Loki would do. She trusted him as she quickly got to her feet and ran directly towards her attacker. As he raised his weapon to fell her in one swing, she leaned back and dived to the ground, sliding straight between his legs. He missed his target and ran right into the Trickster, who stabbed him with a vicious cry.

As Ellie turned to help, she saw the giant fall to its knees and grab Loki’s other arm. Though the slippy ice beneath impeded her speed, she hurried back as fast as she could. The touch of the Jötunn quickly destroyed the armour on his arm, freezing and shattering it to reveal the bare skin beneath. The closer she got, the clearer the picture became.

The skin didn’t burn as Volstagg’s had done.

Instead, in turned blue; the same blue as the very hand that now held it.

She looked up to see Loki’s eyes grow wide as his entire arm painlessly changed colour.

What the—

She faltered, speechless. Even the Jötunn was thrown off. Quickly snapping out of it, she plunged her dagger into the back of its neck, effectively killing it. As Loki returned from his own daze, he kicked the body away from him and held up his arm to get a better look. Again, the blue slowly faded away and it returned to its normal shade. Looking up, he suddenly realised Ellie was standing in front of him. She met his gaze. The first emotion she recognised in his eyes was fear.

“Are you okay?” she asked quickly, watching intently as his arm returned to normal.

“I… I don’t know,” he answered, his eyes never leaving her.

“We have’ta get outta here,” she insisted, gently holding his hand in hers before he could pull away. “First things first. Then we’ll deal with this together, alright?”

After a moment to gather himself he nodded, and no sooner after did they turn their attention back to the larger issue at hand. As if on queue, a strangled scream drew their attention and they looked across the battle to see Fandral impaled on a large shard of ice.

“We can’t beat them!” Ellie insisted as Loki slew a giant behind the injured warrior with a knife. “Sif! We have’ta get him outta here!”

With a nod in agreement, Sif called out to the God of Thunder, who seemed more than happy to stay where he was battering anyone who came close.

As Hogun and Volstagg pulled Fandral off the shards, Loki appealed to his brother. “We must go!”

“Then go!” came the response, as Thor sent Mjölnir flying through as many Jötunns as possible.

“Don’t be an idiot, Thor!” Ellie implored. “We’ll all die here!”

Suddenly, the ground beneath them rumbled, a deep growl drawing Loki’s attention away from his brother. He shoved Ellie behind him and she looked over his shoulder. What she originally thought to be an ornate sculpture of some foreign beast began to move, ice falling from its horned face to reveal angry red eyes. As one of its clawed feet broke free of its confines, Volstagg threw Fandral over his shoulder and yelled out to the others. “Run!”

“On my back!” Loki said to Ellie, briefly squatting down so that she could climb on his back and wrap her arms around his shoulders. It was the only way she would keep up with the group. He stood swiftly, grabbing on to her legs and holding them around his waist as he took off running after the others. He called Thor’s name one more time over his shoulders, but said god was very nearly consumed in a piling mass of angry Frost Giants. The previously still beast suddenly erupted from the ice with a terrifying roar and wasted no time in pursuing them through the rocky wasteland. She thanked God that she weighed practically nothing to Loki, so that she didn’t impede him as they fled for their lives. Though they moved quickly it had no trouble catching up, barrelling through pillars of rock and ice as if they were made of hay. Around them, the world was falling apart, massive slabs of rock and stone falling from mountain sides, and yet even that couldn’t stop the enraged beast behind them.

A foreboding crack of lightening and a flash of light immediately grabbed Ellie’s attention. She turned her head to see lightening striking down for the sky into the plaza — presumably to Thor’s hammer — before the electricity flew out in all directions and felled many of the Jötunns. She would have felt relieved had the subsequent shockwave not trembled the ground beneath their feet. Suddenly, the ice began to crack.

“What has Thor done?” Volstagg called above the racket.

“Likely killed us all!” Loki answered, picking up the pace as the path behind them began to crumble and fall into the abyss.

Behind them, the pursuing beast suddenly stumbled as a fissure opened beneath its feet, and fell with a distant roar. Fandral laughed at the sight, despite the presence of thousands of Frost Giants still running desperately from the destruction. The group neared the very edge of the cliff, and Ellie clung to Loki as they leapt over the forming cracks in the ice.

Upon reaching the end of the line, Volstagg called out. “Heimdall! Open the bridge!”

Nothing. The only response was silence.

She looked around, praying that the Bifröst would suddenly open and take them home.

From the edge of the cliff, a massive claw swiftly rose and grabbed onto the ground at Sif’s feet. The beast they had thought to be slain slowly pulled itself up, its red eyes focused on the entire group. A snarl rumbled through its clenched fangs and Ellie felt Loki’s grip on her legs tighten. It roared, the force of which sent her hair flying everywhere. They were cornered.

“What do we do?” she asked Loki, unable to take her eyes off the monster before her.

“Stay with me,” he replied, his voice wavering as the beast stood on its back legs, but before it had a chance to attack, something huge and red flew through its open mouth and out the back of its head. The group stood stunned as it collapsed to the ground and Thor landed before it. While it sluggishly fell off the cliff’s edge, the prince turned to face his friends with an arrogant grin. Ellie could only stare back at him in disbelief as his smile slowly faded.

The group spun around to see themselves surrounded by thousands of Frost Giants. At the forefront stood Laufey, grinning menacingly as though they were mice caught in a trap.

Stay behind me,” Loki’s voice said in her head. “No matter what happens, you and I stay together. I will get us out of this, okay?”

The Jötunns descended upon them before they were halted in their tracks by a deafening roar from above. The sky parted and the rainbow bridge shot from a hole behind the clouds. Within the blinding light, a figure flew down and landed beside them with a boom. Ellie blinked and held a hand in front of her face, the immense light burning her eyes. A horse whinnied and the unmistakable silhouette of Sleipnir appeared as the light slowly faded. Atop him sat the Allfather, clad in his battle armour.

He had finally come to their aid, only far later than originally planned.

She didn’t know whether to be relieved or worried even more now.

“Father!” Thor cheered, raising Mjölnir above his head. “We’ll finished them together!”

Silence!” Odin hissed.

Though she couldn’t see Thor’s face from where she clung to Loki, she knew he looked dejected and confused. If he thought Odin came here to wage war, he was in for a rude awakening.

Laufey’s towering frame rose atop chunks of ice to look Odin in the eye. With a small smirk, he greeted him. “Allfather. You look weary…”

He was right. It was only now that Ellie noticed how he swayed atop his mount. Perhaps this was what caused his delay in arrival?

“Laufey,” he replied. “End this now.”

“Your boy sought this out.”

As the group awkwardly looked at said ‘boy’, Odin agreed. “You’re right. And these are the actions of a boy, treat them as such. You and I can end this here and now, before there is further bloodshed.”

“We are beyond diplomacy now, Allfather. He’ll get what he came for — war and death.

“So be it.”

Without warning, Laufey swung an ice blade at Odin, but the latter was far quicker, even in his weak state. He raised Gungnir above his head, reopening the Bifröst and sending Laufey flying. Before anyone else had a chance to react, Ellie felt the familiar pull of the rainbow bridge as she, Loki, and the others were sent back to Asgard.

They had barely set foot on the familiar floor of the Observatory before Thor voiced his displeasure. “Why did you bring us back?”

“Do you realise what you have done?” Odin snapped. “What you have started?”

“I was protecting my home.”

“You cannot even protect your friends! How can you hope to protect a kingdom?” Odin tore Heimdall’s sword from the podium before tossing it at the Gatekeeper. “Get him to the healing room! Now!”

Sif, Volstagg, and Hogun quickly helped to escort Fandral out of the room, probably more than eager to be out of Odin’s line of fire. Loki slowly lowered Ellie to the ground, but kept an arm across her waist, shielding her from the Allfather.

“Remain here with me,” he murmured lowly so that only she may hear, his expression genuinely upset. “And do not say a word.”

“And not only did you put your friends in harm’s way,” Odin continued, enraged. “But you thought it acceptable to bring a mortal with you!”

Thor was insistent. “There won’t be a kingdom to protect if you’re afraid to act! The Jötunns must learn to fear me, just as they once feared you.”

“That is pride and vanity talking, not leadership. You have forgotten everything I taught you about a warrior’s patience.”

“While you wait and be patient, the Nine Realms laugh at us! The old ways are done. You’d stand giving speeches while Asgard falls!”

Odin had seemingly had enough as he erupted. “You’re a vain, greedy, cruel boy!”

Thor had no issue with shouting back at his father. “And you are an old man and a fool!”

With the God of Thunder’s words, the room grew eerily silent. Odin’s anger faded, replaced with the look of a disappointed and tired man. His eyes slowly lowered to the ground and Ellie feared what he would say next.

“Yes,” he began in but a whisper. “I was a fool to think you were ready.”

There was something in his voice — something that gave her a bad feeling in her gut. This didn’t feel like a typical telling off for Thor. Somehow, this seemed far worse.

We have to do something! she insisted, knowing Loki could hear her. This is our fault.

“I know,” he agreed. “And I will try to help.”

Loki, in a moment of panic, approached Odin and implored. “Father—”

The deafening growl which Odin made quickly silenced the younger sibling, stopping him dead in his tracks. In a reaction to the harsh shout, Loki reached his arm back, shielding Ellie from the Allfather’s anger even though she wasn’t the target of it. In turn, Ellie gripped his hand in hers, eager to also protect him from the frustrated king.

It was a reaction. A simple reaction what would be expected between lovers.

One which would convey far more to Odin than he was ready to see.

Though he was preoccupied with his argumentative son, the Allfather’s eyes drifted to their close proximity and Loki’s protective stance. Ellie noticed the slight and brief crease in his brow as he studied them. It was gesture that seemed to say a lot to him, and perhaps explained why the pair were so close. Perhaps he had never seen Loki react in such a way with a woman before. Or maybe he always had his suspicions and this merely confirmed them.

If she thought she was worried before, this new tight feeling in her chest couldn’t compare. With a thumping heart she moved to step away from Loki, but he firmly held her where she was, apparently uncaring under his father’s gaze or simple holding her there as a precaution.

As Odin spoke, Ellie broke his gaze, dropping her eyes to the floor. “It would seem that your trip to Jotunheim was not the only thing happening under my nose.”

Her eyes grew wide, and Loki’s grip on her arm grew tighter as he went into damage control yet again that day. “You must understand, I was merely—”

“I understand perfectly well. Both of my sons sought to betray my trust; one through waging war on a nation with which we have peace, and the other by refusing to wed so that he may continue to bed the palace servants. More specifically, his mortal handmaiden.”

The three people in question looked stunned, tears brimming in the corners of the brothers’ eyes as everything came to light. Ellie couldn’t help but meet Thor’s gaze, and yet she knew asking for his help was fruitless. Every one of them was in the firing line here — none of them would get out of this unscathed.

“Father,” Loki begged, trying to keep his voice even despite the slight quiver that could be heard. “Allow me to explain. I have not bedded anyone—”

“You would dare to lie to me?” Odin erupted again, his rage making a return. “You would dare to lie to your King? Your father? Your honeyed words mean little when I can see it with but one good eye!”

“Allfather,” Ellie cut in, earning her a look of dismay from her lover. “Please, you must understand—”

“You will not speak out of turn,” he all but growled. “You have no place or right in this conversation to tell me what to think! If you assume your affiliation with my son gives you a right to converse with me at this time then you are far more ignorant than I thought.”

“Do not speak to her like that!” Loki insisted, looking up at his father imploringly.

“I am your King and I will speak to my subjects however I please, you foolish boy! Have you forgotten that she went with you to wage war on Jotunheim? Perhaps she used her own persuasive words to convince you to bring her along!”

“She did no such thing—”

The air shifted in the room quite instantly, now with a sudden urgency that Odin’s words had brought. Ellie knew these accusations not only painted her in an ill light, but it went as far as implying that she contributed to Thor’s hotheaded idea. Going along out of obligation was one thing, but being one of the conspirators was another offence altogether…

And yet it was somewhat true — she helped Loki to plant the seeds in Thor’s mind.

“I should have her removed from her post for her transgressions,” Odin continued on, the disgust evident in his tone. “And for abusing her close position to the family.”

“I haven’t abused my position!” she argued, choosing her words carefully consider she was not entirely innocent in this situation. “Your accusations are empty, Allfather.”

She was panicking inside — she couldn’t help it. If she were to be thrown from the house of Odin, what could she do? What would she do without her friends? Without her job? Without Loki? The thought had the three of them scrambling for the right words.

“You are in no position to tell me whether my accusations are just or not!” the Allfather raged on. “You are but a Midgardian and you best remember your place in this realm!”

“Father, stop!” Loki yelled, forcing himself between them. “She has not abused her position and she had nothing to do with Jotunheim!”

Ellie was on the verge of desperate tears when Thor spoke up. “She did nothing! She had no part in this. I was the one who insisted on going to Jotunheim to protect our realm from the Frost Giants. It was I, and I alone, so do not punish the little one for my actions, though I still consider them necessary and deserved. She and Loki had nothing to do with this and it was my decision as king.”

His declaration left them momentarily stunned. Even Odin was silent as he considered his words. Ellie looked at the eldest brother in surprise and gratitude, her insides twisting when remembering that she was part of the reason that they had gotten to this point. She agreed upon the scheme with Loki, and now here they stood in the resulting destruction. Their plan had fallen apart so quickly, and now it seemed that the life they had carefully and lovingly assembled was at its end.

Slowly, Odin looked to his eldest son. It seemed as though his heart grew heavy with the revelations that were discovered and the words that were shared. With a slight shake in his voice, he spoke. “Thor Odinson, you have betrayed the express command of your King. Through your arrogance and stupidity, you have opened these peaceful realms and innocent lives to the horror and desolation of war!”

His anger returned once again, before he grasped Gungnir and thrust it into the podium, streaks of lightening erupting from its top.

Behind Thor, the portal of the Bifröst opened once again while Odin angrily approached his visibly distraught son and continued on. “You are unworthy of these realms!” He ripped the discs off Thor’s chest as Loki and Ellie looked on in shock. “You are unworthy of your title!” Next, he ripped away Thor’s cloak. “You are unworthy of the loved ones you have betrayed.”

Loki? What do we do? We have’ta do something!

“We cannot do anything, Ellie.”

But we caused this! This is our fault!

“That means little when we can do nought to stop it!”

“I now take from you, your power,” Odin stated as he returned to the podium and held his hand out to his son. Instantly, Mjölnir was ripped from his grasp and flew into the King’s awaiting hand. “In the name of my father and his father before.”

At his words, the armour on Thor’s arms disintegrated. For a brief moment, he looked to Ellie and Loki with desperation in his eyes before he again turned to his father. Only then did her tears finally fall as the King yelled. “I, Odin Allfather, cast you out!”

Odin thrust the hammer towards his son and, with a crack and flash of lightening, Thor was thrown backwards — his chest armour flying off as it was destroyed — and disappeared through the open vortex. Loki, visibly overcome with emotion, looked to his father in shock before quickly hurrying to the portal through which Thor had vanished. Ellie hurried after him, stunned into silence as Odin whispered something to Mjölnir before it too was hurled into the Bifröst.

No one said anything, probably because no one dared to test Odin further. With a heavy sigh, he tore his spear from its slot in the podium and the portal was closed. Before he turned to descend the steps, his gaze slowly met that of the shocked couple. Despite his earlier anger, he spoke with apparent sadness and disappointment. “We will discuss this later. I must go and mourn the loss of my son with my wife before I deal with you both.”

The pair watched as the Allfather left with a slight shake in his step, never once casting them a second glance. Left alone as Odin spoke briefly with Heimdall outside the observatory, Ellie gently touched Loki’s arm.

“What have we done?” she whispered, her vision blurring with tears.

As he looked away from the closed vortex, he too began to silently cry. “I… I don’t know.”

Chapter Text

Ellie couldn’t remember the last time she and Loki had sped back to the castle in such genuine distress. Firstly, they were panicking considering Odin knew and he was obviously less than impressed with them. The threats he had made about sending Ellie away had her on the verge of tears. With nowhere else to turn and no idea as to what the Allfather would do, the couple ran to the only support they had.

Once in the palace, they lay in waiting outside the royal chambers, for they knew Odin was already inside informing Frigga of all that happened both on Jotunheim and in the Observatory. They agreed to avoid Odin for the moment, and hid in the shadows when he emerged from their quarters and quickly took his leave. With the coast clear, the pair swiftly slipped into the room, only to find Frigga pacing up and down with silent tears streaming down her cheeks. At the sight of her youngest son and his partner, she let out a sigh of relief and rushed to meet them. Loki didn’t hesitate in wrapping his arms around his mother and pulling her into a hug, after which Ellie received her own hug from the Allmother.

“Are you both alright?” she asked, visibly worried.

“We’re okay,” Ellie reassured her as she pulled away. “We’re not hurt. But Thor—”

“Odin told me,” she said, a wave of despair passing over her face. “I have already expressed my contempt for the situation. I cannot believe he would chose banishment, and I cannot believe Thor would chose to do something so destructive as invading Jotunheim.”

“We did not think he would be banished,” Loki agreed, hanging his head. “But what can be done? Can Father bring him back?”

“He says he cannot. He told me that although he grieves, Thor’s fate is in his own hands.”

“What d’you mean?” Ellie asked in confusion. “Thor is just stuck wherever the hell he was sent?”

Loki’s brow furrowed. “Where did Father send him?”

“Midgard,” Frigga answered and shook her head. “Lost and alone without his powers… Completely reliant on his own ability to get himself home.”

Ellie’s heart fluttered at the thought of Thor never finding his way back. “So nothin’ can be done?”

With gentle care, the Allmother gently cupped the young woman’s face in her hands. “No, little one. Though I wish there was something we could do.”

Unable to hold back the stress and worry that had consumed her from the strenuous day, the mortal’s eyes welled up until tears were flowing and couldn’t be stopped. She felt Loki by her side in an instant, wrapping an arm around her waist and making soothing noises in an attempt to calm her down.

Frigga, ever the observant mother, noticed that something was amiss. “This is not just about Thor… Is it?”

After a few beats of silence, Loki spoke quietly. “Odin knows.”

No further explanation was needed apparently, for the Queen’s face fell. “How?”

“He figured it out in the Observatory while sending Thor away. Without thinking, Ellie and I moved to protect each other, and he just knew.”

“He threatened to send me away,” Ellie choked out, finally giving into her emotions. “He… He said he’d deal with me later. My Queen, please, I don’t want’a go away. This is my home, I don’t have anywhere else—”

“You need not worry, Ellie,” Frigga said with determination. “He has already sent Thor away, but I will not let him send you too.”

“Mother, please,” Loki added earnestly. “You cannot let him.”

“And I won’t. You have my word that Ellie will not be going anywhere. As she said, this is her home and if she wishes to remain here, then here she shall remain.”

Though her words helped to ease the weight upon Ellie’s shoulders, they seemed to do little for Loki, who still stood with with a grim expression. He turned to the young woman and said. “I need you to stay here for a moment, love.”

“Where’re you goin’?” she asked immediately, not entirely eager to be separated from him lest Odin come looking for her.

“I need to attend to something important as soon as I can,” he replied vaguely. “Remain with my mother and she will keep you safe.”

“But Loki—”

“No arguments,” he cut her off, keeping his voice as level as he could. “I will return for you, don’t worry. You will take care of her, right, Mother?”

“Of course,” she said. “But hurry back.”

After kissing each of them on the cheek, Loki rushed out of the room, his strides filled with determination. As the door shut behind him, Ellie did her best to remain strong. It was only when he left did she remember more of the events that happened on Jotunheim. More specifically, an event that left her and Loki reeling and perturbed. With her lover gone, she turned to the next best thing. Perhaps the Queen herself would be able to shed some light on the situation.

“Come sit, little one,” she said, ushering the younger woman into her usual seat. “I’m sure you are also exhausted after the events on Jotunheim. I think we could both do with some tea.”

Ellie obliged, and though a smile didn’t reach her lips, she appreciated the sentiment behind the beverage. It was always Frigga’s way; finding solace in a hot drink. It was in recent years with trips to Midgard that she discovered the Irish people’s fondness for tea, and a part of her wondered whether the Queen frequently drank it with her to give her something familiar to enjoy. Either that, or Asgardians were as obsessed as the Irish…

Ellie insisted upon preparing the tea this time, knowing that Frigga was suffering with Thor’s dismissal far more than she. She honestly couldn’t imagine how she felt being told that her son was banished to a foreign realm without any of his powers. Not only that, but he had to find out how to return home on his own? The odds were certainly not in his favour.

But it’s not Thor’s fault, she thought to herself as she poured the tea into two mugs, making an effort to keep her hands steady. It’s mine and Loki’s. Had we not made that stupid plan, none of this would’ve happened.

She didn’t want any of this — all she wanted was to live peacefully with Loki, but apparently even that was too much to ask for. It was the entire reason why they insisted upon this risky plan.

And now here they were; dealing with the repercussions of their decision. If she had any ounce of bravery in her body, perhaps Ellie would have admitted to Frigga — a woman who had done nothing but help her — that it was her fault her son was gone.

“Thank you,” Frigga said as they pair sat down across from one another with respective cups of tea in hand. “You managed to avoid injury on Jotunheim?”

“No,” Ellie replied, blowing on the hot drink. “Thankfully not.”

“All your training came in useful, I see.”

“That it did, but I also have’ta give your sons, Lady Sif, and the Warriors credit. They’re a great team who look out for each other. I’m sure I wouldn’t’ve made it without them. Frost Giants are…more intimidatin’ than I thought they would be.”

“They are a formidable race living amongst ruins of their former glory,” Frigga agreed thoughtfully. “Our peace with them was a shaky one, but an agreement no less, and Thor’s  actions will have dire consequences. I don’t agree with Odin’s method of punishment, but I fear what Laufey may do in retaliation. Odin tires — his Odinforce runs low at the most inconvenient of times.”

“His magical force? Is he goin’ to go into Odinsleep soon?”

The Queen nodded solemnly. “I think he might. I recognise the signs and the inevitable cannot be prevented.”

“But that’d leave Asgard leaderless… With Thor on Midgard and Odin incapacitated?”

“The line of succession would then fall to Loki,” Frigga explained further. “Though I know he does not wish for it, I think he would make a good king.”

“I think you’re right.” The small smile brought about by the thought of Loki ruling as king slowly faded as she recalled how he fled from the room. “Frigga, there’s somethin’ I need to talk to you ’bout. Somethin’ that happened on Jotunheim.”

Always quick to reassure, the Allmother said. “You can talk to me about anything. Go on.”

“There was a moment,” Ellie began, voice quiet. “When the battle began and Loki and I were fightin’ side by side. We were briefly separated while a Jötunn charged me, but I got out of the way and Loki was quick to defend me. In the scramble, the giant grabbed his arm and, with his cold touch, he destroyed his vambrace. We thought the cold would burn his skin as it had done with Volstagg’s, but… it didn’t. Loki’s skin didn’t burn. Instead, it turned blue — the same blue that coloured the Frost Giant. I don’t… I don’t understand why it happened. It wasn’t magic, surely. It wasn’t somethin’ Loki had done to distract the Frost Giant before killin’ him. He looked as confused as me and had no answers for the occurrence either. I don’t think he’d keep it from me, and I don’t believe he’d lie to me either… But it left a bad feelin’ in my gut.

“Obviously we haven’t gotten a chance to talk ’bout it, and he’s left to find his own answers I suppose, but… I don’t think any good will come of this. I wanted to ask if you knew anythin’ ’bout it. You’re his mother, you know him better than anyone. That, and we trust you completely.”

She hadn’t expected the silence that followed, or the distant expression that briefly flittered across the Queen’s features. So, she did know something.

She has to tell me, right? She wouldn’t hide this from us… But if she knew, why didn’t Loki know? Why hide it from him?

“I must be honest with you, Ellie,” Frigga began after taking a sip of her tea. “I do know why it happened.”

“You do?”

“Yes, but I have to admit that it is not my place to tell you.”

“Tell me what?” Ellie asked, brow furrowing. She didn’t like this at all.

“The truth. That and I don’t think you should know before Loki knows it himself.”

“So he has no idea?”

“As you stated yourself, he would not dream of lying to you. I think it’s only fair that Loki is given an explanation first and then shares it with those he wants to know.” She lowered her gaze into her mug and let out a sigh. “I always wondered when this day would come. It was inevitable, but I do not know how my son will react, or how he will be perceived by others.”

“I’ve… Frigga, I’ve genuinely no idea what’s goin’ on. What does this mean?”

Frigga’s eyes settled on the Midgardian, a sad smile gracing her features. “That is something Loki must tell you himself.”

Chapter Text

Frigga never went beyond that, but Ellie never pushed her for an explanation either. She knew she was right; Loki should be the one to inform her as the what the hell was going on.

She stayed in the royal chambers until two Einherjar came bursting through the door, explaining that the Allfather had fallen into a very poorly-timed Odinsleep. They were followed by more guards who entered the room, carrying an unconscious (or conscious? She wasn’t sure…) Odin atop a stretcher. As he was gently moved to the large bed in the centre of the room, the guards explained that Prince Loki was the one who raised the alarm.

Without missing a beat, Frigga turned to face Ellie. “You best go to see if he is okay.”

Firmly nodding, the young woman took her leave and went to Loki’s chambers as quickly as she could, using their soul bond to locate him in the palace. She entered the room without knocking, knowing that he probably wouldn’t care ether way, and locked the door behind her. She was greeted with the sight of Loki pacing up and down in front of the fireplace. He looked up at her with red-rimmed eyes before he shook his head, looked away, and continued pacing.

“You should not have come here,” he mumbled, wringing his hands.

She stood still for a moment, confused by the cold response. “Excuse me?”

“You should not be here,” he insisted.

“Why? I needed’ta make sure you were okay.”

“You need do no such thing.”

“Loki—”

Leave me!” he snapped, halting in his steps and finally looking at her.

She knew this move well — obviously he was pushing her away. It was something he hadn’t done since she confessed her love for him, so whatever occurred between him and his father must have been serious. She hadn’t expected it to derail him so much but, if Frigga’s words were anything to go by, whatever information he discovered had been difficult to comprehend.

So, Ellie defied him. She wasn’t going to let him push her away this time, not when he probably needed her more than ever. “No.”

“I beg your pardon?” he growled, eyes narrowing.

“I’m not goin’ anywhere, Loki.”

“You will go wherever I tell you to go!”

“Not when you’re just pushin’ me away, I won’t! Look, whatever Odin told you, we can get through this together. You don’t have’ta do it on your own.”

He scoffed, shaking his head. “You foolish girl—”

“Oh no, you do not get to call me a fool! You’re the one who insists on pushin’ me away when I could help you deal with whatever ails you. That’s foolish!”

There was a brief silence between them. The crackling of the fire was the only sound to be heard before he spoke again, his voice significantly quieter this time around. “You cannot help me.”

“I can try.”

She could see the muscles in his jaw tensing — he was really, genuinely trying not to shout. Given her upbringing and her reaction to the last time he yelled a few years ago, he always refrained from raising his voice. The silence between them grew long and strained, Ellie giving him as much time as he needed before he spoke again. With a slight shake of the head, and a single tear sliding down his pale cheek, he focused on the fireplace.

“If I told you,” he began, voice meek but sincere. “You would not love me.”

“Not love you?” she asked, stumped by the insinuation. “Loki, that’s not possible. I love you more than anythin’.”

He spoke bitterly, unfazed by her declaration. “You don’t truly know that which you love.”

“What do you mean?”

Me. You don’t truly know me. By the Nine, it turns out I do not even know myself.”

“But you’re my best friend,” she said without hesitation. “I grew up with you and spent all my time with you. I don’t think there’s anyone else on Asgard — in my life — that I’m closer with than you. What makes you think that anythin’ could change that? Or change my feelin’s for you?”

“What if you knew I was a monster?” he asked her. “What if I told you of my true parentage, as Odin has just told me?”

True parentage? A monster?

Before she could reply, Loki continued on, forcing the words out as he struggled to be honest with her. “What if I told you, that all those years ago, when Odin Allfather defeated the Frost Giants, the Casket was not the only relic which he stole from Jotunheim? That Laufey’s runt of a son, a mere baby, was left to rot on that frozen rock! That Odin took him to use as a pawn to unite the two realms together, and nothing more!” He took a deep breath, trying to steady his rising anxiety, his shoulders shaking as he expressed nothing but anguish recalling the story. “Odin lied to me — he told me I was his son, but I am nothing more than an abandoned Jötunn bastard who was thrown out, lied to, and locked up until there might be some use for me. That is what he told me, Ellie, and that is what I am — I am no son of Odin, no brother of Thor… No Asgardian prince. I am a monster who was unwanted by all. How could you ever love that? How could you ever want anything to do with me when I am one of them?”

Ellie stood completely still, shocked by the story he had shared. Loki? A Frost Giant? The very thought sent her reeling — not because she thought of him as some beast, but because no one ever told him. Why would Odin and Frigga withhold his true parentage? Surely this would just enforce the mere idea that being a Jötunn was a terrible thing?

While she was taking in the news, Loki, in a rare and raw display of emotion, was shaking by the fire place as tears rolled down his face, culminating at his quivering chin before they dropped to the rug beneath his feet. The sight had her heart breaking and tears building in her own eyes, so she moved to hold him, to touch him, to comfort him in some way that she knew would help. To tell him that this confession could never change how she felt for him.

“Stay away!” he urged her, stumbling back to turn away from her. “Don’t touch me!”

“Loki, please,” she insisted, struggling to keep the tears from falling. “I just want to help you. Odin did the right thing in savin’ you, but it wasn’t right for him to not tell you the truth. I need you to know that it makes no difference to me — Frost Giant or Asgardian or mortal — I still love you.”

With his back to her, he laughed bitterly, though his voice conveyed no confidence. All she heard was disgust and sorrow. “Impossible. You have never even seen the real me.”

“Then show me,” she replied with more confidence, stepping forward so that she was standing right behind him. “If that’s what it takes to prove I’m not lyin’ to you, then show me.”

Her statement was met with silence, but she said nothing more, waiting for him to either accept or reject her suggestion. She knew he wanted to run — god, she could feel all of the emotions seeping out of him and consuming her. The fear, the anger, the sadness, the confusion, the self-hatred… Knowing this was how he felt destroyed her. She only hoped that she could help him realise his worth, no matter his parentage.

“If I show you,” he began slowly, refusing to turn and face her. “I fear you will run from me and never look back.”

She took a deep breath, tasting salty tears on her lips. “Nothin’ will move me from this spot, I swear to you.”

“So be it.”

The air in the room immediately changed, chilling slightly so that Ellie could feel its cool bite on her bare arms. Even still she stood confidently, waiting for her lover to turn and face her. After a beat, he did, his movements slow and hesitant as he built up the courage to show her. His blue skin became apparent as his head moved, revealing the characteristic narrow ridges on his brow and forehead. Tears stained his blue cheeks as he turned most of the way around to rest his bright red eyes on her. And there he stood — Loki, son of Laufey, Prince of Jotunheim.

And yet, he was far more than that — far more to her.

She hadn’t expected it, but he seemed different to the Jötunns they had faced only hours before. She wasn’t frightened or intimidated by the sight of him. Instead, he was still Loki and he was still beautiful. How could she ever leave him while he looked so vulnerable? While he laid himself out bare for her to ridicule and judge? Who could have the heart to hurt him more than already had been done?

“Well?” he asked, his voice hoarse. “Here I am. The monster you claim to love. Do I horrify you? Does it disgust you to know you have let me touch you? That you let this bed you?”

She stared in amazement, running her eyes along the intricate patterns on his forehead and down the side of his neck. “You’re…beautiful.”

He stood silent, surprised by the statement, his eyes flitting over her face before he uttered. “You lie.”

“You’re the lie-smith,” she answered. “So you know that right now I’m tellin’ the truth. It doesn’t matter whether you’re Asgardian or Jötunn — you’ll always be beautiful to me, and if I need to spend the rest of my life helpin’ you believe that, then I’ll stay right here doin’ just that.”

Slowly, she reached her hand up, wishing to touch the skin he hated so much, to show him that he was no monster and that she didn’t fear him. He flinched at the sight of her hand, red eyes wide with fright. “I-I will hurt you.”

“You’ve never hurt me before,” she reassured him and, with as much care as she could muster, cupped his cheek in her hand.

The burning pain never came. Instead, he felt as cool as always under her hand and she delighted in knowing that she could still touch him in his true form. She truly meant everything she had said to him.

The contact broke Loki. With a cry, he rested his own hand over hers, tears streaming uncontrollably down his face as he chest heaved with each unsteady sob from his throat. “Why do you not run from me? How can you love me?”

“’Cause you’re still my Loki. I didn’t fall for you ’cause you’re Asgardian or ’cause you’re royalty. This doesn’t change anythin’ that we’ve shared over the years. You’re still the most important thing in my life, love.”

Now cupping his face in both of her hands, she cried with him as he openly wept, firmly grasping at her fingers. “I do not deserve you, Ellie. Your loyalty is foolish…”

“Says the guy who took on two crazy, hostile gods for one little mortal.”

“What else could I do? I don’t know what I would do without you by my side. That is why…” He took a deep breath in an attempt to steady himself. “That is why I was afraid to tell you. If you were to leave me—”

“Not a chance,” she interrupted, pressing her forehead against his. “I’m not goin’ anywhere.”

“Please don’t leave me,” he sobbed, shaking his head. “I cannot do this without you, Ellie. I cannot.”

“And you won’t.” She pulled him into a firm embrace, holding him as tight as she could. “I know you’re weary, and so am I, but you won’t have’ta do this on your own. Remember what we promised each other? We’re in this together.”

“Together,” he repeated. “Always together.”

Pulling back to check on him, the sight of his broken expression was too much for her. Doing everything in her power to assure him that this changed nothing between them, she reached up and pressed her lips against his. He jolted in surprise, breaking the kiss in the process. He kept his eyes firmly shut, and Ellie watched in wonder as his blue skin was slowly replaced with his usual pale complexion.

“You love me still?” he asked, voice quiet.

“I always will.”

At that, his eyes opened. No longer bright and red, she was met with his green irises before he dipped his head down and captured her lips in a searing kiss. She responded in kind, eyes drifting shut as he pulled her firmly against him with shaking hands.

He broke their connection only to ask her. “Please, I need you. I need to… I need to feel you.”

“And so you’ll have me,” she said. “Take from me whatever you need.”

This time they met in the middle, resuming their kiss and holding each other as tightly as possible. Ellie could taste their mingled tears on her lips, but didn’t hesitate to wrap her arms around his neck and pull him closer. As their embrace grew more heated, she too realised that she needed him just as much as he needed her. When his large hands drifted to her thighs, she helped him hoist her up and wrapped her legs around his slim waist. He wasted no time in getting to the nearest surface, which happened to be the wall next to his desk. With her back firmly pressed on the cool surface, and one of his hands keeping her left leg hooked across his hip, she planted the other leg on the desk. He groaned into her mouth and had their clothes vanish with a small wave of his hand.

She broke this kiss to moan as he ground his hardness between her legs. His breath fanned across her face as his nose nuzzled hers. The vulnerability in his eyes made her shiver and she slid her hands into his raven hair to grasp it between her fingers. With his forehead pressed against hers, he grasped his length in his free hand and caressed it against her entrance teasingly, hooded eyes focused on every expression that crossed her face.

With a low groan he entered her.

She inhaled sharply. The stretch burned, her body not yet fully ready for the intrusion in their haste, but she welcomed him eagerly nonetheless. His concerned gaze met hers, but she shook her head and pulled him into a kiss, basking in the feeling of his hard chest against her bare breasts.

“I do not deserve this kindness,” he whispered roughly, grasping her breast softly and pinching the nipple. “Nor do I deserve to be with you like this.”

Her reply was insistent as her hands slipped to hold his shoulders. “You deserve it all and more, and I can assure you; only you will have me like this.”

Her confession set him off and he began to thrust hard and deep before she could say anymore. She was pliant in his grasp, trusting him not to drop her or hurt her. Each forceful buck of his hips had her gasping. She wasn’t alone in her pleasure, as Loki was grunting lowly, letting himself be consumed with the sensation of her heat and wetness. Ellie too found herself lost in the sensation as he found the spot inside her that caused her back to arch. Sparks of pleasure shot through her body and she could only whimper as he dipped his head to nip on her breasts. Her muscles clenched around him uncontrollably, his rough thrusts growing more desperate.

“I’m goin’ t’come,” she whispered quietly, pressing her face into the crook of his neck as she felt her body tense up.

Spurred on by her pleasure — as he always was — the gentle touch of his hand on her neck forced her eyes open again. Careful not to hurt her, he tilted her head up so that he could look into her eyes, both of them too overwhelmed with sensations and emotions to hold back their tears.

“L-look at me,” he grunted, quickening his pace and forcefully pumping his hips as hard as he could, the rough patch of dark hair beneath his naval grinding against the most sensitive part of her. “Please. Look at me when you— oh, Gods… Look at me w-when you come.”

With one more harsh thrust, she came, holding his gaze until her eyes slammed shut and her lips parted in a silent moan. His whole body pressed her into the wall as her muscles rhythmically clamped down on him, urging him to finish inside her. Mind foggy as the pleasure of their connection consumed her, her head tilted back and met the wall behind her.

“Gods, you look ravishing,” he hissed, not an ounce of insincerity in his voice. “I love you so much.”

“I love you too.”

His lips were on hers again once he resumed his movements, quickening the pace in a desperate attempt to reach his own release. He put his entire body into long, quick thrusts with his hips, letting himself go and thoroughly fucking her until she felt the familiar coil tightening only minutes after she came the first time.

Her legs shivered and tensed. His shaking hand delicately touched her breast as his hips stuttered with his impending orgasm.

She didn’t have to say anything. She didn’t need to tell him that he could come inside her, that she wanted to feel him claim her. It was evident in the way she looked at him, in the delight she experienced knowing he wanted no one but her. With his eyes closed and his mouth hung open he cried out, forcing himself inside her as deep as possible as he came with one last hard push. His release triggered her second, her own gasps mingling with his pants and grunts. The feeling of his hard body freezing against hers was comforting and familiar, and she clung to his clenching rear with both hands so that they wouldn’t separate as he emptied himself inside her. They stayed there, basking in the familiar feeling of being so intimate. His arms held her in a crushing but safe embrace, the hand still clasping her hooked leg sure to leave bruises.

Their coupling did nothing to solve the unfortunate truth that Loki had just learned, and Ellie knew this. She couldn’t brush the lies under the carpet as Odin had done, not when they were in such a dire situation already. She needed to support him and reassure him that though she couldn’t speak for Asgard, she was sure nothing would change between them. If physical intimacy helped him to believe it, then how could she deny him?

“Nothin’ will change between us, okay?” she said, gently stroking his hair. “You’re still Loki to me.”

“You would pledge yourself to a monster?” he asked as he slowly lowered her burning legs to the floor.

“I pledged myself to you, and you’re no monster, Loki. This doesn’t change how I feel ’bout you, and if I have’ta spend the rest of my life provin’ that to you, then so be it. I love you, your family loves you, and we’re not goin’ anywhere, okay?”

Though still visibly unsure, he let his forehead rest against hers and nodded. “Alright.” His hands delicately gripped her hips as he severed their connection to pull her into a comforting hug. “I… Thank you, Ellie. You don’t know how…” He paused and let out an unsteady breath. “Just… Thank you.”

It was a difficult time for the young lovers. As if the days ahead weren’t already uncertain due to Thor’s banishment, now a centuries-old secret had been uncovered that could very well tip the youngest Prince of Asgard over the edge. Though she held him in her arms without hesitance, Ellie knew this wasn’t the end of it. As if Loki wasn’t already given the short straw, now he was given a rather difficult explanation to swallow. His entire life, his entire sense of self, had been a lie… She was sure his mind was racing to awful conclusions.

All she could do was be there for him and tell him that he was no monster. She firmly believed it too.

In her eyes, and those of anyone with a sympathetic heart, Loki could never be a monster.

Chapter Text

Evening was descending upon Asgard. The sun drifted behind the mountains surrounding the Royal Palace as dusk slowly gave way to the purple night sky. Ellie and Loki remained in his rooms, laying together on the bed and contemplating all that had befallen them that day. The young prince had called for a servant to bring them dinner, and they sat in a slightly uncertain but comfortable silence as they ate. There was a definite change in his mannerisms, one which didn’t go over Ellie’s head. He seemed placid and continuously found himself drifting off into deep thought, only to be brought back to reality when she would lay her hand over his and smile. It warmed her heart when he smiled right back and stopped shying away from her touch. It seemed to settle him. At first, even after their  escapade against the wall, he seemed uncertain about being close and touching her. That uncertainty was slowly washed away every time she made an effort to touch his hand or kiss his cheek. Now, they lay together in his bed, while Ellie had her cheek pressed against his back and her arms wrapped around his waist. Loki held her hands with one of his and let the other rest on her thigh, which was draped over him.

“We should probably go t’see your mother,” Ellie whispered, breaking the tranquil silence in the room. “Last I saw her, the guards were carryin’ Odin into their chambers.”

Loki stiffened slightly at that and slowly released a deep sigh. “Must we leave my chambers? I would much rather stay here with you.”

“And ignore all the problems and events playin’ out ’round us? Yeah, I’d rather to do that too, love, but we can’t do it forever.”

She felt him shimmy his body closer against hers as he agreed. “I know, though I would be more than content to remain here with you.”

“You can’t tell me that you don’t worry ’bout your mother? What Odin told you makes no difference about how you care for her or how she loves you.”

“But I am not—”

“Loki,” she interrupted him gently. “If you fight me on this or make any claims ’bout not bein’ her ‘real’ son, I’ll go on a mad one.”

The light chuckle that escaped him made her grin. “Oh? Are you threatening me, little one?”

“That I am, and I think you know it’d be a bad idea to argue with me.”

Before he answered, he rolled over on to his back so that he could look at her. “I wanted to tell you that I do not know what I would do in this situation without you, Ellie.”

“Well,” she began with a smile. “It’s a good thing that you’re stuck with me, isn’t it?”

He chuckled again and quickly propped himself up on his elbow. “I am trying to be serious and you are too busy jesting to listen. It would seem that our rolls have reversed.”

“Nah, I’ve always kinda been a bit of a messer, but I get it from you. What did you expect from me when I grew up with the God of Mischief as my best friend? And I am listenin’, I just want’a make you smile.”

“Then you have succeeded,” he admitted, flashing her a smile as if to prove his point. “But I mean what I say — I have been thinking how I would have dealt with all this on my own, and I do not know how I would have survived it without your support. You know that talking about my… emotions is difficult for me, but you and our connection has made it a little easier to comprehend. And I do believe you now when you say you will not leave me, even if such a statement has me baffled.”

“As I’ve said before, not even Odin could keep me away from you.”

At that, Loki’s brow furrowed, and his voice lowered a fraction as he spoke. “I fear that he will once his Odinsleep has ended.”

“Let him try,” she spat. “I’d have a few choice words for him after his impeccable parentin’ skills, the twat.”

“You are a little spitfire,” he mused, looming over her. “And I do love it.”

“Right back at you, Trickster.”

Before he could pull away, she pushed herself up so that she could place her lips on his. Though his hesitation was brief, after a few seconds he gently kissed her back and slid a hand into her hair.

After she broke the kiss, he nuzzled his nose against hers. “I must tell you, before I went to the Vaults, I visited The Warriors Three and Lady Sif in the healers wing. They are alright despite their injuries, but I informed them of Thor’s banishment and that I told the guard to tell Odin of his intensions to go to Jotunheim.”

“You did?” she asked, mildly confused. “Why would you tell them that?”

“Because they were wondering how the guard knew in the first place, so I told them, but kept your name out of it. That being said, I think they suspect something.”

“As in, you think they suspect you had somethin’ to do with the Frost Giants gettin’ into Asgard?”

He nodded. “When I left the room, I stayed hidden outside so that I could listen to their conversation and they definitely suspect that I have something to do with it, and I think that they plan to go to Odin about it.”

“Well, thank God he fell into the Odinsleep when he did,” she mused uneasily. “Although this is another dire twist to worry ’bout.”

“At least we have some time before they can speak with him.”

“Speakin’ of, we should go see Frigga. I’m sure she’s worried ’bout you.”

His mouth was set in a grim line. “Probably.”

“So come on,” she encouraged, pushing herself up into a seated position on his bed. “We should do it now.”

It didn’t take too much coxing on Ellie’s part to get Loki out of his rooms. As they walked through the halls towards the Royal Chambers, he insisted that she link her arm in his and stay by his side. He explained that with Odin’s knowledge of their relationship, he knew word of it would get out to the palace. Instead, perhaps driven by her persistent devotion to him despite his Jötunn blood, he wished to share their secret on his own terms. Though he was not making a very public declaration of love, subtle intimate touches were his own type of statement. Though her heart was fluttering excessively within her chest, there was something oddly liberating about walking by his side as an equal for all to see. Though the Einherjar were trained to pay them no mind, some of the other palace staff were not entirely subtle, and she could feel gazes lingering on them as they walked. Thankfully, she saw none of the staff with which she was particularly close — Rainger was still at home with his family and Fen and Sevda had retired for the evening considering the Queen didn’t require their services.

Upon arrival at the shared chambers of the Allfather and Allmother, Loki and Ellie were allowed to enter. Frigga sat at the side of the bed while Odin lay within it, his body pale and lifeless. The Queen looked up at their arrival, seemingly relieved at their apparent closeness, but stayed in her seat beside her husband.

“My son,” she greeted him with a warm smile. “Come sit by my side.”

Loki hesitated, visibly torn about approaching his mother. Not able to bear the thought of them falling out, Ellie gave his arm a reassuring squeeze. His saddened gaze met hers once before he slowly walked to his mother’s side. Ellie, seeing that Frigga got to her feet once her son was near, slipped her arm from his and watched as he was pulled into a hug. There was no hesitation on his part — as soon as he was wrapped in his mother’s arms, he crumbled. Her tender embrace was that which only a mother could give to their child, and Ellie couldn't help the small amount of jealously that plagued her upon realising she could not remember how it felt to receive such a comfort.

“I’m sorry, Loki,” Frigga murmured, clutching him gently. “We should have told you. I did not want for you to find out this way.”

“I do not understand,” Loki wept, his voice muffled. “How? How can you love me when I am one of them?”

Frigga pulled back to delicately cup his face in her hands, her thumbs brushing away the tears that stained his pale cheeks. “Because no matter what, you are, and always will be, my son.”

The confession nearly had Ellie crying her own tears of joy. There was never a moment where she doubted Frigga’s love for Loki, but she knew that he would doubt his mother just as he doubted her only a few hours ago. It was something he needed to hear — he needed to know that Ellie wouldn’t leave him, and he needed to know that Frigga still loved him as her son. Perhaps when Odin would awaken, he could hear the same words from his father’s lips. She really hoped that he would.

“And can I say,” Frigga began, reaching out a hand to give Ellie’s elbow a squeeze. “I cannot express the relief I felt when you both entered our chambers together, for there is not a more loyal woman that you could have by your side.”

“I know, Mother,” Loki agreed. “I would not have her anywhere else.”

Ellie was more than happy to add her own feelings on the subject. “There’s nowhere I’d rather be.”

As Frigga’s gaze drifted once more to her husband, the trio took at seat together at his bedside and settled into a short silence. Behind the bed, the doorway that led to the balcony was slowly closed over, the room descending mostly into darkness. The only light in the room came from the flaming torches and the glowing golden beams that came from Odin’s resting place in the bed. Ellie couldn’t get over the sight of him. She had always known Odin as a powerful — perhaps an almost frightening — ruler, and seeing him now as a stark contrast to his usual self was unsettling. It was the most defenceless she had ever seen him, and the concept of Odinsleep and the stress that came with it seemed to make more sense to her than before. He had many enemies who would probably love to be in this room while he couldn’t defend himself.

Loki sat with his hands cupped together and his eyes firmly fixed on his father’s form. Upon noticing the pained expression on her son’s face, Frigga began to speak. “I asked him to be honest with you from the beginning. There should be no secrets in a family.”

“So why did he lie?” was the simple question Loki proposed.

“He kept the truth from you so that you would never feel different. You are our son, Loki, and we your family. You must know that.” As Loki took it all in, his eyes flitting to look at Odin once more, she tried to offer him another comfort. “You can speak to him. He can see and hear us, even now.”

Though Ellie could feel Loki’s internal struggle, his face remained blank and his voice stoic. “How long will it last?”

“I don’t know,” Frigga admitted. “This time is different. We were unprepared.”

“I never get used to seeing him like this. The most powerful being in the Nine Realms lying helpless until his body is restored.”

Frigga reached out to hold Odin’s lifeless hand. “But he’s put it off for so long now, I fear…” As she gulped, Loki sighed and placed his hand comfortingly over hers. She was clearly grateful for the gesture. “You’re a good son. We mustn’t lose hope that your father will return to us. And your brother.”

A look of concern crossed over Loki’s face at the mention of his banished sibling. “What hope is there for Thor?”

“There’s always a purpose to everything your father does. Thor may yet find a way home.”

This revelation troubled the younger prince and his eyes flitted to his lover. Ellie looked back at him and gulped, knowing all too well what Thor’s return would mean — a crowning ceremony to follow, and then a wedding. They were both completely torn at the thought of the God of Thunder’s return, because while they wished for him to come home, it meant that they were once more sealing their own fate.

Releasing Frigga’s hand, Loki slowly got to his feet. Ellie followed him obediently, and placed her hand in his when he offered it. With a polite nod to the Queen, she followed him as he made his way towards the exit. The doors were flung open quite suddenly, revealing the Einherjar guard blocking their escape. The Trickster was quick to put himself between them and his lover and Ellie was hurriedly ushered behind him. Looking over his shoulder with wide eyes, she expected the worst. With their hands placed upon their armoured chests, the guards got down on one knee and bowed their heads, leaving the couple well and truly perplexed. From the hall entered one of Odin’s own officers with Gungnir in his hands. He approached Loki, got to his knees, and offered him the spear. Ellie’s lips parted in surprise while she stared down at the weapon. Though she could not see her lover’s face, she could feel his hesitation and confusion. This was never the desired outcome…

Loki turned to his mother, his face expressing every ounce of hesitance, horror, and confusion he felt in that moment. His eyes were shimmering, but not with pride and joy. Only then did she realise that he was holding back tears.

“Thor is banished,” Frigga explained simply. “The line of succession falls to you. Until Odin awakens, Asgard is yours.”

The revelation hit Ellie like a tonne of bricks. She looked to the Trickster in surprise and met his horrified face before he turned back to the officer who was still patiently offering him the spear. Loki gulped and straightened his posture before he tentatively took Gungnir in his hands, the golden weapon gleaming in his grasp. It was a stark contrast to how Thor had been during his coronation — he did not ooze happiness or arrogance, but slowly adjusted to the feeling of power he literally held in his hands. Ellie watched in shock as he turned to face Frigga, who still sat by the bed beaming with pride.

The croaks of Odin’s ravens echoed through the room as the Allmother spoke. “Make your father proud, My King.”

Ever so slowly, Loki’s lips stretched out into a smile. He knew he was never meant to rule and yet he liked the feeling of Gungnir in his hands.

The young woman knew that the cogs were turning in his head — he was already planning something with his newfound power. His eyes drifted from his mother to her and his smile grew wider. She could only look back at him hopefully and express her own pride at the sight of him. Though this was never part of the plan, and though she knew he never wanted to steal the throne from under Thor’s feet, she couldn’t help how happy she felt with the sight before her.

A single tear escaped his green eyes as he sent her a very genuine and relieved smile.

“I… am to be king?” he asked, not unlike a child when given a new and foreign responsibility to manage.

“You are,” Frigga reiterated, still watching him with a similar expression Ellie imagined she wore upon seeing him begin to master seiðr for the first time. “And I am sure you will suit the part nicely.”

“What can I do?” he asked, walking closer to Ellie so that she could get a closer look at the spear. “Can I undo Thor’s banishment?”

“There are some things that you cannot undo,” she explained. “Though I wish you could do it, you cannot change such an important choice that your father made. I know that Thor’s fate lies in his own hands, and Odin made it clear how important it is that your brother finds his own way home. Though you may make any decisions you like, you are forbidden from undoing that which your father deems most vital.”

Loki’s brow furrowed slightly as she explained, but accepted it nonetheless. “But… my marriage…?”

It was now Frigga’s turn to smirk. “Can be postponed or cancelled if you so choose.”

Ellie’s head shot up at that statement.

His marriage? To Lady Sigyn? Cancelled?

“Oh, boy,” she muttered aloud.

“Then that would be my first order of business,” he said lowly, causing Ellie to whip back around to look at him in surprise. “I am afraid I must disappoint the Vanir and say that I will no longer be wedding Lady Sigyn. After all, a king must find himself an apt queen to rule alongside him, and she is not fit to do so.” He paused and gulped, eyes wandering over the spear before he looked at her with a small smile. “I think I may have someone else in mind.”

Excuse me?” Ellie said, eyes widening in surprise.

“That is, of course, if you’ll have me?”

“Uh…”

Today has been full of surprises, huh?

This was… a lot. While Ellie had in no way expected any of the events so far to take place, this was merely another to add to the list. And yet, here Loki stood, the acting King of Asgard and requesting her hand. But this had been the desired outcome, no? God, she hated how they had gotten here, but the main thing was that now she was in a position to say yes and seemingly spend the rest of her life by his side.

No more hiding, no more secrets.

But could she even agree? Was she allowed?

“I… I don’t… Y-you… What?”

Well done, Ellie, she thought to herself. You can’t even form sentences anymore. This isn’t a time to lose the ability to speak! Answer him!

She tried to compose herself, taking in a deep breath and clasping her hands together to get them to stop shaking. “You… You would marry me? Really?”

Loki nodded and held Gungnir in one hand so that he could reach out for her hand with the other. “When Odin threatened to take you away from me, I could not bare the thought of living my life without you. Just as I was when you were taken to Alfheim, I was once more reminded of how much you mean to me. And now, if I can prevent my marriage to Lady Sigyn, I would much rather wed you and have you by my side.”

“But I’m mortal,” she insisted, glancing at Frigga. “Can I still marry you if I’m a mortal?”

“While it is not something that has been done before,” the Allmother explained. “It can be arranged with the permission of Royal Family member in a higher position.” With one last look at her husband, she got to her feet and approached the couple. “If it is you that Loki wishes to marry, then I would make it so. I know that he truly loves you, and to prevent such a union would be needlessly cruel. You both deserve some light in this time of darkness — we all do — and it would be a pleasure to call you my daughter, Ellie.”

Her words nearly knocked the wind straight out of her, and she found her eyes welling up before she could stop it. “The honour would be all mine, Allmother.”

A gentle squeeze on her hand brought her attention back to her lover, who wore a small but nervous smile. “I know it is sudden, little one, but we have been so happy for sometime now. I would not have it any other way.”

“Are you sure?” she asked him, her voice unsteady as the severity of the situation hit her. “Are you sure you want a Midgardian for a wife?”

He smiled and raised his brow slightly. “Earlier today you were the one telling me not to question my worth and that you would love me no matter where I come from. Why would I treat you any differently?”

“But Odin—”

“Does not have a say in this,” he cut her off, nodding to Gungnir. “As the acting king, it is my choice, and I choose you to be my queen.”

“But he’d hate it.” She shrugged apologetically in Frigga’s direction. “No offence…”

“While you are right, I do not care. If my mother says yes then that is all the approval I need. So it really only comes down to one more thing, because I already know who and what I want.”

She released a sign and met his green eyes. “This is not somethin’ you guys take lightly…”

“I know, and it is why I am being completely earnest in my question. I also feel it would be appropriate to ask you in a similar manner to the Midgardian tradition, considering this is not just about me.” With visible nervous excitement, Loki lowered himself down on one knee, the end of the spear pressed into the ground to keep him balanced while he held her hand in his. He let out a small laugh and looked up at her with a hopeful expression. “So tell me, is it okay if I call you mine, from here on out?”

It had been a long and tiring day for everyone on Asgard. Thor had been banished, Odin fell into a very intense Odinsleep, and Loki was now the acting king. And yet, all of these things seemed to briefly slip from Ellie’s awareness. All she could focus on was the God of Mischief poised before her, asking to remain by her side from that moment onwards. Despite the fact they had been happily courting for the past five years, she couldn’t help but feel her stomach doing flips and her throat drying out as she tried to steady herself.

Despite all the terrible things that happened that day, she couldn’t help but be selfish, just for a moment.

She merely smiled as happy tears finally began to flow and answered. “Yes, my King, it is.”

Chapter Text

The sight of Loki’s beaming smile upon hearing her answer warmed Ellie’s heart, and the embrace he pulled her into had it fluttering uncontrollably.

The sound of his happy laughter had her giggling too as he lifted her and spun her around in his arms. The Queen, ever the supportive mother, left Odin’s bedside to congratulate them. She said that she was proud of them both for learning to let love in, despite their past transgressions in life. Though she feared Odin may never awaken, she said that she would support them as much as she could if he did, and expressed her belief that though he may be against it at first, he would hopefully come to approve of their match. Either way, they had Frigga in their corner and that meant the world.

With his new rank bestowed upon him, Frigga encouraged Loki to take his seat in the throne room tomorrow morning. Asgard had trying times ahead now that their relationship with Jotunheim was strained and their truce broken — it would be important for Loki to be there to support his people with whatever may worry them. She also encouraged that Ellie remain by his side now that she was to be a part of the family. Their imminent marriage was also to be announced. With Gungnir in one hand, and clasping Ellie’s hand in the other, Loki thanked his mother before taking his leave and practically running through the palace halls. Ellie kept up with him, slightly anxious as some guards took note of their entwined hands.

“Loki,” she hissed as they neared his rooms. “The guards—”

“You are to be my wife,” he answered proudly. “And I have no problem with people knowing, so they may look all they like!”

The smile he wore banished any reservations about outside judgement and instead, she let herself delight in the fact that they would soon be wed with Frigga’s blessing — something hopefully the Allfather could not undo. She made a mental note to give her a more thorough thank you the next time they saw each other.

Upon arrival at his chambers, he swung the door open, dragged her inside passed the two befuddled Einherjar, and slammed the door shut.

“Jesus,” she muttered as he suddenly dropped the spear on the couch and lifted her up into his arms. “You’re really not for subtlety anymore, are you?”

He swung her around and released a laugh before he let her feet touch the floor and hugged her tight. “Why should I be subtle any longer? I would have this whole realm know that you are all mine.”

“Ugh, I dunno,” she cringed jokingly. “I’m not really likin’ this overly affectionate side of you. I think I’ll have’ta remain as a handmaiden.”

“Not a chance!” he declared and swiftly pulled her on to the bed. “I am afraid you are stuck with me now.”

She landed atop him and placed her hands on his chest to steady herself while he looked up at her with a familiar glint in his eye. “Oh, am I now?”

He suddenly reared up and began placing kisses on her neck, before pushing the material of her dress off her shoulder and sucking at the newly exposed skin. “I would have you this instant, wife.”

“I’m not your wife yet,” she laughed before cutting herself off with a gasp as he bit her collarbone. “And you had me only a few hours ago.”

“Then I would have you again now.”

Quite suddenly Ellie felt herself being flipped before she landed on her back on the blankets, and Loki loomed above her with blown pupils and a grin tugging at his lips. She looked up at him in amusement. “Oh, so that’s how it’s goin’ t’be?”

Feeling quite daring, she began to playfully wrestle him for dominance. It was something they engaged in when the mood was just right, and Loki made an effort to hold off on his true strength to amuse her somewhat. He usually won out in the end, unwilling to give up his dominance completely, but she didn’t mind as much — these occasions usually resulted in them acting quite impulsive and going off their basic instincts. Every emotion — be it joy or playfulness — was raw, and natural urges came surging out of them. Even now, Loki was hurriedly tearing down the front of her former uniform with a frisky smile, and she followed his lead by swiftly trying to undo the belts and buckles that kept his tunic in place. With her chest exposed to him, he was quick to take a nipple in his wet mouth and moan loudly, and she tried to shove off his trousers.

“I want you to moan for me,” he demanded, pulling off her breast to meet her hazy gaze. “I want this whole palace to hear me fuck you — I want them to hear your satisfied screams. There are no spells to prevent the outside world knowing of our nighttime habits this time, so I expect they will know all come morning time. They will hear me pleasure my queen until you do not remember anything but my name.”

The only answer she could give him was a whine. She was quick to shrug off the majority of his clothing and, with his pants finally down around his ankles, he roughly shoved her skirts above her waist and disappeared between her legs. She probably should have been more concerned with the palace staff overhearing, but the way Loki was working her with his tongue had her gasping and writhing on the bed. His breath was hot on her thighs and her fingers grasped on to his messy hair. There was no amount of teasing in his movements this time, and instead he passionately lapped at her sex.

“Gods,” he growled as he pulled back briefly to slide a long finger inside her. “I can still taste myself on you.”

That set her off.

“Stop talkin’,” she grunted, then pulled him back up to kiss him hard.

He moaned into the kiss before he broke it and, once again, flipped her over so that she was lying on her stomach. She grinned as she felt him lay flat against her and shove her legs apart with his knees. He was inside her in one thrust and the familiar stretch and ache made her cry out. Loki breathed deeply, resting his head on her shoulder and kissing her cheek and neck before he started thrusting in long strokes, grunting each time he fully entered her. His tears wet her cheeks as her own eyes watered. Despite any previous reservations, Ellie forgot about the outside world and simply focused on Loki and how he was making her feel. The weight of him atop her made her feel safe and secure, and his large hands grasping at her body made her head spin. His movements were loving but intense, and she relished in the determined way in which he took her. She knew why he wanted others to hear this — she was to be his queen, and he was her king, and he needed to claim her all over again, from the inside out. He too seemed to be uncaring about anyone other than her, as he tilted her head to kiss her deeply as he ruthlessly pumped his hips. When he slithered a hand under her stomach and touched her right where she needed it, she saw stars. The noise that escaped her left absolutely nothing to the imagination, and she was consumed by pleasure before she could even think otherwise. Her release triggered his, and his length throbbed inside her walls as he came with a string of breathless curses.

As they came down from their highs, they kissed languidly and savoured each others company. They stayed connected for a long time, even when he had softened and they got their breath back. When he finally slid off her and settled on his back on the bed beside her, she found herself smiling shyly at him. He chuckled at her expression and she openly stared while taking in his genuinely happy and carefree expression. Seeing him smile, especially given the day they had had, was a welcome sight to behold. When he gestured for her to turn over, she replied in kind and allowed him to place a hand on her lower abdomen and mumble the familiar incantation that would ensure she didn’t fall pregnant.

“Might I ask you something?” he said quietly, lighting rubbing his hand up and down her skin.

“Anything,” she replied with a yawn.

“Oh, am I boring you?”

“No, but you did wear me out. I mean, c’mon! You really went for it.”

“I could not help myself. I think you enjoyed it though.”

“I mean, of course I did! Now, what’s the question?”

“Since you are willing to marry me, does that also mean that someday you might be willing to bear my children?”

“What, like more horses?” When he rolled his eyes, she let out a howling laugh. “I’m kiddin’! Stop poutin’, Loki.”

“I am being serious, darling,” he insisted, looking a little timid.

It was quite the question, one which clearly took Loki a lot of courage to ask. In the past twenty four hours, she had seen him in varying stages of emotion. Right now, as he lay beside her atop his bed, he seemed vulnerable but hopeful. He had been through so much, and yet he was still brave enough to ask her if she would accept his heritage, remain with him, and start a family.

“If you do not wish to,” he continued, looking like he regretted opening his mouth. “Then I understand. It is… You do not have to answer now, or if the answer is no I…” He cleared his throat as he blinked through forming tears. “I understand.”

“Hey, I know you’re bein’ serious, and I was jokin’ with you.” She paused and then gently placed her hand over his. “But the answer to that would be yeah, someday. When we’re both ready.”

“I don’t…” he began, then stopped, collected himself, and started again. “I do not know whether it would be possible, given our different…genes and my recent discovery. But perhaps when we are ready and willing, we could speak with Eir about what could be done.”

“This is a little surprising,” Ellie mused, studying his thoughtful expression. “I’d be lyin’ if I said I was expectin’ this.”

“It is just a thought, but I am as surprised as you. I don’t know what brought it on, but I do know that I love the idea of you carrying my child… Our child. I do not know whether I would be a good father, or how our child would turn out as a half Jötunn, but I do know that I feel a little more brave and willing to take on these challenges with your hand in mine.”

She smiled back at him before she snuggled up to his naked body. “There’s no one I’d rather take on those challenges with, Loki.”

“Well that’s a relief.” He let his hand rest on her tummy again and pondered the future with a small smile. “Our child…”

“They’d be an interestin’ character. I do look forward to meetin’ them someday.”

“You and I both, love.” He wrapped his arms around her and placed a kiss on the top of her head. “And tomorrow, we will face our new roles hand in hand.”

With a surprising weight lifted off their shoulders, Loki and Ellie happily fell into a restful sleep, for once forgetting about the troubles around them and instead thinking about the life they had to look forward to together.

 

* * *

 

The next morning, the halls of Valaskjalf were quiet. Mostly empty, bar the ever-present Einherjar, the new acting King of Asgard stood in his helmet and ceremonial armour with a slight tremor in his hand. Ellie watched from his side, trying to encourage him onwards as he scaled the steps that led up to the throne. Kirkjabyr and another guard stood close by, and Frigga stood at her son's other side, smiling proudly even though he seemed uncertain with his place. He stood before the throne, turned, and slowly settled himself into the seat. With Gungnir in a firm hold, he let out a deep breath and assessed his new view.

“This look becomes you, my King,” his mother noted kindly.

“Does it?” he calmly asked. “This is quite new for me.”

“I have’ta agree with your mother on this one,” Ellie agreed, eying him. “You look great.”

Asgard’s reaction to Loki’s new position as king was fairly reserved, but not in a negative way. He was certainly the least popular of the Odinsons, but the citizens seemed to have no qualms with him as their new ruler. While Ellie was sure that some people would disagree, the overall reaction seemed positive but restrained. She supposed they were just relieved to have someone in a position of power while the tension with Laufey and Jotunheim loomed in the distance. She really hoped that Loki would prove to them all just how good he could be.

Said Trickster gestured for her to approach. “Come here to me, little one.”

She looked at Frigga for reassurance, and when the Allmother gently nodded, Ellie walked to Loki and allowed him to pull her down to sit on his knee.

“Yes,” he mused with a grin. “This is more comfortable.”

“It is nice to see you both so open and happy,” Frigga mused. “And I hate to separate you, but I feel that Ellie has some news that she needs to share with her friends.”

Ellie looked at her with a raised brow. “You mean our engagement?”

“I thought you would rather share it with your friends personally before it is publicly announced.”

She appreciated the Queen’s sentiment, took her leave, and exited the halls in Frigga’s company. Together they walked to Ellie’s room where inside sat Rainger, Fen, and Sevda. After a brief explanation, it was understood that the Allmother had gathered them all there. Explaining her newfound position to her friends was an odd experience, and Ellie found their befuddled expressions quite amusing. When she admitted to her and Loki’s relationship, the three of them shared their disbelief before Sevda pulled her into a firm hug.

“I am so happy for you, little one,” she said, pulling back and smiling as her eyes welled up. “A little surprised of course, but happy nonetheless.”

“I’m not really that surprised,” Fen cut in with a grin and embraced the young woman. “You two have been such good friends and it is nice to see you have found happiness in each other.”

“Thank you,” Ellie said, looking between the two women who had welcomed her into her new role when she was but a young child. “You guys have always been so supportive of me, and it means a lot that you’re happy for us.”

“Who knew a little Midgardian would end up getting married to a king of Asgard?” Fen chuckled. “It is quite the story, but I suppose you have always led an interesting life.”

“That’s one way to put it,” Rainger said as he approached with an amused look. “No wonder you always favoured Prince Loki. It makes a lot more sense now.”

“I mean, I would’ve favoured him anyway.” Ellie grinned at him before she opened her arms. “Though I’m gonna miss workin’ with you at feasts and arguin’ ’bout which prince is better.”

“We will still be friends who argue, Ellie,” Rainger said and hugged her tight. “It makes no difference to me if you have a fancy new position — you are still an annoying little mortal to me.”

“Well thank God for that! I was hopin’ you wouldn’t think anythin’ less of me.”

“Not a chance,” Rainger insisted, and the fact that nothing would change between her and her friends was comforting. In a time when things were so on edge — and by ‘things’, she literally meant the entire realm’s stability — knowing that she still had good friends in her corner was something she needed to hear. She stayed with them for a little while as Frigga explained how and when their wedding would take place. It seemed that both she and Loki were eager that it happen before Odin awoke and Ellie agreed it was probably a good idea.

The happy moment was cut short by the arrival of one of Kirkjabyr, who bowed and announced. “Ellie, the King requests your presence.”

With a wry grin, Ellie nodded. “I guess duty calls?”

“And I must return to my husband,” Frigga agreed. “I will remain by his side now that I know you and Loki have everything under control. While I stay with Odin, you will  temporarily rule alongside my son, little one.”

While Ellie’s eyes widened, her friends looked surprised but delighted with the news.

“Wait, what?” She paused, stumped by the news. She thought all this talk of her being Loki’s queen was merely in jest. “You mean I’m to be queen? Literally the queen?”

“That you are. I cannot rule while I care for my husband, and with you marrying Loki, you will become a member of the Royal Family, and acting Queen of Asgard.”

“Oh…” She blinked and gathered herself. “Oh! Are… Are you sure? I mean, are you sure you want me to take your place? Even if it’s just for a little bit?”

“Of course I am sure,” she replied with a comforting smile. “You are one of the best things that happened to my son, and I think that having you by his side would make him a better king. Every king needs a queen that can keep him in line and remind him of the man he is. That is also why I must remain with Odin.”

“That is adorable,” Sevda chuckled lightly while Fen aww’d aloud.

“Trust your gut,” Frigga continued reassuringly. “And know that if either of you need my counsel, you can come find me at any time.”

Feeling Rainger place a supportive hand on her shoulder, Ellie nodded determinedly and promised to do her best. She then returned to Valaskjalf to find Loki sitting sprawled on the throne, far more comfortable than he had been before. “You rang?”

“I would have you stand by my side for a moment,” he explained, biting his bottom lip. “I am expecting visitors.”

“Visitors?”

“Lady Sif and the Warriors Three seek counsel with the King. I have allowed it, and they should be here momentarily. I am sure it is to express their suspicions of me.”

“Well, their facial expressions should be pretty interestin’ when they see you on the throne…”

“I concur. I would have you stand by my side as they arrive, wife.”

“As you wish, My King.”

Upon his insistence, she sat perched on the arm of the throne and took a small amount of pleasure knowing that Odin would probably be abhorred with the sight.

He let his hand gently rest around her waist. “Where has my mother gone?”

“Back to Odin, where she said she’d remain while you take care of things.”

Before they could speak further, the noise of the distant doors opening cut across them and they waited for their visitors to appear.

“Allfather,” Sif announced as the four of them entered the hall, heads bowed and fists on their chests as a sign of respect. “We must speak with you urgently—”

They halted in their tracks upon seeing that Odin was not who awaited them. She and Loki sat in patient silence, allowing them to take in the scene.

“What is this?” Volstagg asked in surprise.

“My friends…” Loki began with an air of sarcasm.

“Where is Odin?” Fandral asked.

The God of Mischief shook his head sadly and let his gaze wander to the floor. “Father has fallen into the Odinsleep. Mother fears he may never awaken again.”

Sif was insistent as they stood before the throne. “We would speak with her.”

“She has refused to leave my father’s bedside. You can bring your urgent matter to me…” Slowly, he got to his feet. Ellie looked up at him and met his eyes. She knew that he did not want this role — far from it — but she had encouraged him to embrace it to the best of his abilities, as his mother did too. He nodded to her as he turned back to the warriors and held his head high. Thudding the spear against the floor, he continued. “Your King.”

The looks of surprise and confusion that the group exchanged didn’t go unnoticed, and Fandral spoke again. “And why does the little mortal sit upon the throne with you, pray tell?”

“She is my betrothed.”

“She is your what?” Volstagg spluttered, but quickly covered himself when he noticed Loki’s gaze darken. “Ah, My King, I meant n-no offence! I was merely caught off guard—”

That being said, Fandral was less graceful. “Odin would never have a Midgardian marry into his family. How can you—”

“You have nothing to question,” Loki cut him off, not looking amused at all. “The Allmother has approved the match, and we are to be wed soon. My father cannot object in his current state.”

The group’s confusion merely grew tenfold — eyes darting between the pair — and Ellie narrowed her eyes at them as they slowly kneeled and thumped their fists against their chests.

“My King,” Sif began bitterly. “We would ask that you end Thor’s banishment.”

Loki gave them a skeptical look and chuckled under his breath. He beckoned Ellie to him, and she linked her arm with his as he slowly descended the steps. His tone was stern. “My first command cannot be to undo the Allfather’s last. We are on the brink of war with Jotunheim. Our people need a sense of continuity in order to feel safe in these difficult times. All of us must stand together, for the good of Asgard.”

Lady Sif as instantly on her feet, and Ellie didn’t think before she went to stand in front of Loki. He, however, calmly held her back while Hogun and Fandral grabbed both of Sif’s arms and halted her in her tracks. The young mortal locked eyes with one of Asgard’s most fearsome warriors and dared her to lay a hand on her king. The look of distain on Sif’s face told her that had her comrades not stopped her, she would very well try.

Fandral spoke up. “Yes, of course.”

“Good,” Loki replied. “Then you will wait for my word.”

“If I may,” Volstagg added as Loki seemed irritated. “Beg the indulgence of Your Majesty to perhaps reconsider—”

“You would ask that I go against my father? Against the Allfather’s command? The Allmother herself has already informed me that I cannot. All we can do is place faith in Thor that he will return as a better candidate for the throne.”

“We’d ideally like to have Thor back too,” Ellie added. “But Frigga said that there’s always a purpose to what Odin does, so there’s nothin’ we can do right now.”

“You speak out of turn,” Sif snapped, earning a swift pull on her captured arm from Hogun.

“It is actually you who speaks out of turn, Lady Sif!” Loki growled, his grip tightening on Gungnir until his knuckles whitened. “She is your Queen now, and you will treat her as such!”

“Please, forgive her, My King!” Volstagg added hastily, and looked between the couple. “My Queen, she is just worried for Thor’s wellbeing.”

“We are too,” Ellie said with a frown. “But Loki can’t undo his banishment.”

Loki nodded in agreement. “So you will wait for my command. Now, perhaps I would have had more time for you had you not insulted your Queen. We’re done!”

The Warriors Three wore varied looks of disappointment and frustration, and left the hall one by one. Sif remained but a moment more, her eyes darting between Ellie and Loki before she smirked and took her leave.

Once they were alone again, the Midgardian let out a sigh. “Well, I already don’t like this.”

“Do not worry about them,” Loki insisted and slid a protective arm around her waist again. “All will be well.”

“But they definitely think we’re lyin’ about not bein’ able to undo Odin’s last command.”

“Well they can do little about it when we are telling the truth.”

She turned to look at him in surprise and whispered. “The word truth sounds really weird comin’ out of your mouth.”

The God of Lies let out a chuckle. “I agree, but in this instance we have done all that we can.” He paused and spoke in a low voice so that only she could hear. “There is something we must do though, and at the earliest possible convenience.”

Ellie raised a brow and looked intrigued. “Care to elaborate?”

Her lover leaned in close and spoke softly, but quite earnestly. The words were unexpected, but most of the events of the past few days had been too. “We must go to Midgard and speak with the would-be-king.”

She simply stared back at him. “You lead, and I follow, My King.”

Chapter Text

This is where Odin sent Thor?”

“Indeed it is.”

Puente Antiguo was not what Ellie had been expecting. It was quite literally a small town surrounded by vast, flat, scorched land. Despite the fact it almost seemed plopped in the middle of nowhere in the desert, there was something quite quaint about it. She and Loki stood at the side of the main street. Before them was a sign stating the town’s name and the fact it contained a little more than two thousand residents. Before they left Asgard through one of Loki’s secret doorways, he asked Heimdall where Odin had sent Thor. Neither of them knew much about New Mexico, but they weren’t expecting the Mighty Thor to end up in a such humble little place. Their plan was relatively simple — find him, explain to him that Odin had fallen into Odinsleep and that they couldn’t bring him home, clear their names, and to just be honest about the situation in general. Their altercation with the Warriors Three and Lady Sif had left a slight sour taste in their mouths, and the last thing they needed was for Thor to doubt their genuine honestly as well. Otherwise, they could come across as far more conniving and malicious than they actually were.

“Jaysus, it’s a bit dusty here, isn’t it?” Ellie noted, looking at the desert around them.

“That is one way to put it, love.”

She turned to gave him a once over, eying his formal Midgardian attire. She had to admit, he looked pretty handsome in his suit and tie, and she was particularly fond of the fancy patterned scarf he had conjured up with it. “Are you not a bit hot in that?”

“No, not at all. It does get cold in the desert at night, you know.”

“I’m aware but it’s not exactly night yet.”

He pouted and fiddled with the cuffs of his jacket. “Do you not like it?”

“You already know that I love it,” she insisted, glaring up at the afternoon sun above her head. “Thank God this dress is at least a bit airy; the Irish aren’t built for this heat.”

He smirked and took a step closer to her, his eyes wandering over the clothes he had conjured for her — a short forest green dress and a long formal jacket. “You look ravishing as always.”

“You picked these clothes,” she said with a small chuckle and lightly grasped his hand in hers. “I just went with it.”

“I know, but you look very beautiful in my colours.”

“Before you start seducin’ me on the side of this road,” she began, and proceeded to pull him further into the town. “You owe me a favour.”

He let out an exaggerated groan as he was heaved in the direction of a small diner, earning a few curious glances from passersby. “Fine. I will never understand why I put up with you.”

“You’d swear I was askin’ you for your leg!” She halted outside the corner diner, eying its name  — Isabella’s Diner — which was illuminated in red and yellow neon lights. As Loki stood with mock disinterest next to her, she read the lists of food available within. She grinned at the thought of a big meal and entered the establishment with her betrothed hot on her heels. The diner was much like the ones she had seen in Manhattan — grey tables and red chairs, a few patrons sitting at the counter or off to the side reading newspapers. The only sound was that of chatting between friends and the clink of cutlery as locals filled their stomachs. An older woman in a pink cardigan was sweeping up what looked like the pieces of a shattered mug into a dustpan while muttering angrily in Spanish.

“¿Lo viste?” she asked another waitress, who nodded in agreement. "¡La primera vez trae a un hombre aquí, y es loco!”

With a tut she gathered up the pieces and disappeared behind the counter to dispose of the dustpan’s contents.

“Yep,” Ellie declared, looking around in delight. “This’ll do.”

Loki raised a brow at her before he followed her lead and sat down at a vacant table. Ellie was quick to read over the menu, taking in every available option before a waitress approached them and asked if they were ready to order.

“I’ll have a cheeseburger and fries please,” Ellie said while the waitress jotted down her request.

When she looked at Loki expectantly, he shook his head. “I am not hungry, thank you.”

“Anything to drink?” she asked, looking between them.

“Two coffees,” Ellie answered before Loki got a chance. “If you don’t mind.”

“Comin’ right up.” With a polite smile, the waitress left them alone at their table.

Once she was out of earshot, Loki leaned forward in his seat and muttered. “Two coffees?”

“Yep,” Ellie replied, putting an emphasis on the P. “Coffee helps you relax when you’re moody.”

He scoffed. “I am not moody.”

“Broody and moody is literally your whole aesthetic. Plus, you might as well enjoy a coffee while we try to figure out where the hell Thor is.”

“You just wanted an excuse to eat.”

She shrugged, clasping her hands together on the table. “That may be true, but it’s not exactly like we’re in a rush. Where’s he goin’ t’go? He’s powerless and stuck here.” She lowered her voice and leaned forward. “Plus, we can do recon in here — see if anyone has heard of any big, blonde, burly lads runnin’ ’round.”

“You wish to play detective?”

“Why not? You can be my Watson.”

He scoffed at her while the waitress placed two mugs in front of them and filled each one with steaming hot coffee. Loki thanked her before lifting the mug to his lips, blowing on it lightly, and taking a sip. Ellie gazed at him smugly as she put a small packet of sugar in her own drink.

When he caught her gaze, he rolled his eyes and asked. “What?”

Two coffees?” she mimicked him playfully, casually stirring the liquid with a grin she couldn’t prevent. “I knew you’d want one.”

“That is enough out of you, little one,” he replied in jest. “I should never have taught you how to be so antagonistic.”

“And yet you positively love it, Watson. Now, what’s the plan?”

Loki released a sigh and let his eyes wander around the room. “Listen intently in case anyone mentions Thor, or something that could be related to him, and be sure to keep an eye out. It is possible that he is nearby considering the town is so small.”

“Consider it done, My King.”

It wasn’t long afterwards when Ellie’s food arrived, and she happily tucked in while Loki languidly sipped at his coffee, every now and then looking out the window as the residents continued on with their days. The woman who had cleaned the broken mug from the ground topped up his drink when he nearly finished it, stating that refills were free. Ellie noted that she was Isabella, the proprietor of the diner according to her name tag. She seemed like a friendly woman and politely asked where they were from, stating  that she hadn’t seen them around before. It seemed as more of a way to make conversation as opposed to being nosey.

It seems that everyone knows everyone in Puente Antiguo, she thought while munching on her fries. But then again, it is pretty tiny.

Loki explained that they were visiting a friend who lived here, but had never been before. “My wife insisted that she was famished, so we came to your establishment for a bite before heading out again.”

“Awh, you two are married?” Isabella asked with a wholesome smile. “What a lovely young couple! I could tell you two were together when you came in the door.”

“We’re not married yet,” Ellie cut in, though she couldn’t help smiling at Loki’s explanation. “We just got engaged but he keeps gettin’ ahead of himself.”

“Well congratulations, you two. It’s always nice to see people who have found someone they love so dearly. It is quite clear in the way you look at each other too! How about a milkshake on the house?”

“Oh no,” Ellie insisted. “You don’t need’ta do that, Isabella—”

“Nonsense! Anything for the happy couple. And call me Izzy.” Before they could argue with her, she winked and left them alone.

Loki smiled genuinely and met Ellie’s gaze. “I do not know what a milkshake is, but I will assume it is a pleasant gift.”

“I think I had a few when I was a kid,” she mused and offered him some of her fries before taking the last of her burger in hand. “If my food is anythin’ to go by, I’m sure the milkshake will taste delicious too.”

“You are not doing much for the Irish potato stereotype,” he teased as he plopped two fries into his mouth. “You seem to have a weakness for them.”

“Potatoes are kinda a sensitive topic in our history, excuse you.”

“I am aware of the Great Famine—”

“You mean genocide,” she corrected him adamantly. “Famine my arse — I've read the history books in the library!”

“Yes, yes,” he hushed her, placing a hand on hers and squeezing. “Let us not get into another debate about the strained relationship between the English and Irish, alright?”

“Then don’t mention potatoes,” she huffed and shoved the last of her burger into her mouth. “Instead you should be sleuthin’ for details ’bout your brother.”

At that moment, Isabella returned with a large strawberry milkshake and two straws. She cleared the empty plates from the table and set the dessert between them. The pair thanked her again before they enjoyed her nice gesture. Sometime later, the bell above the door jingled as a man entered the diner. Ellie glanced at him as he greeted the older couple sitting by the door before turning and joining the other two men that sat at the counter. Without thinking much of it, she turned her attention back to their half-finished dessert.

“Hey Bob,” greeted a voice from the counter.

“‘Sup, Pete, Jake. The usual please, Izzy.”

“You missed out on all the fun earlier,” the voice, presumably belonging to Pete, chuckled. “Where the hell were you?”

Ellie watched carefully while sipping on their milkshake as the two men began filling in their friend on the day’s events.

Bob shrugged. “Had to help the wife out with the car this morning. Damn thing wouldn’t start, but we got it in the end. What I miss?”

“A goddamn radioactive satellite!”

Loki’s brow peaked at that, and his green eyes met Ellie’s from across the table.

“Pete had his hands all over it,” Jake elaborated with a chuckle. “He’s probably sterile now.”

“Well I wouldn’t have touched it if I knew that!”

“How do you know it was radioactive?” Bob enquired, amused by the tale.

“The Feds showed up and said so. They also closed off the crater and set up camp in there, so you won’t be able to have a look at it any time soon.”

“Damn, that sucks. Did anyone manage get the thing outta the ground before they showed?”

Jake shook his head. “It was too damn heavy. It even took the back off ol’ Stan’s truck when he tried to pull it out.”

Ellie looked up to see Loki watching her intently. His eyes briefly flicked to the men.

That has to be Mjölnir,” his voice sounded in her head. “It is too much of a coincidence to be anything else.

I think you’re right, she replied. It has to be.

“Excuse me, sir,” Loki called from his seat. The three men turned to him, but Pete had a slightly apprehensive expression on his face. “Did I hear you say there was some sort of commotion going on outside of town?”

“I suppose you could call it that,” the other man, Jake replied with a frown. “There was a satellite crash out in the desert.”

“Satellite?” Ellie repeated, pretending to look confused.

“Yeah,” Pete went on, relaxing a little bit. “I don’t know much about satellites, but it’s heavy and fell outta the sky.”

Ellie nodded along with his explanation. “It must be important if the Feds are gettin’ involved.”

“Seems like everyone is going crazy for it.”

“How do you mean?” Loki asked, noting the ruffled look that crossed Pete’s face.

“There was a guy in here not too long ago,” Pete explained. “Seemed pretty antsy about getting out to the crater to see it for himself. He got kinda intimidating when asking where it was.”

“And he was big guy too,” Pete added, looking slightly irritated at the memory. “I think he’s from outta town because I didn’t recognise him. But he left here looking pretty determined to have a look.”

And I think I know who that might be,” Loki’s voice said in her head again. “Thor never was one for subtleties.

Well then we have’ta go find him! Preferably before he gets Mjölnir back and returns to Asgard!

Jake chuckled into his coffee cup. “Good luck to him trying to get passed the setup the Feds have out there.”

Loki let out a little laugh, remaining completely relaxed before the townies. “And where did you say this satellite was?”

“About fifty miles west of here,” Pete answered. “I’m sure that big guy is on his way out there now!”

Loki was quick to rise to his feet as Ellie swiftly drank the remains of their free dessert. He walked to the counter, and placed a large amount of cash on top of it before nodding in thanks to Isabella. “For the food and lovely coffee, Izzy. You have our thanks.”

“It’s no problem,” the woman replied and smiled at them both. “Take care, you too.”

Ellie and Loki gave her a grateful wave before they exited the premises. On the path outside, the young Midgardian turned to Loki as she quickly made her way down the main street. “Okay so, we need to get to Thor before he gets to that crater.”

“Well he won’t be getting there as quickly as he would like without his powers,” Loki pondered, striding closely beside her. “He would look for a mount of some kind.”

“I highly doubt they sell horses ’round here. And that’s ’bout the only animal you can ride on Midgard.”

Loki halted in his footsteps and looked around the town, frowning as he pondered the possibilities. She stopped too, and stood still as he continued. “Then his only option is one of those automobiles.”

“I think that may be our only option of gettin’ out there quick enough too.”

“Well, I do not know where we will manage that. Unless there are any of those things you call ‘taxis’ nearby, otherwise we may have to…”

Loki’s voice faded into the background as he continued talking. Ellie’s eyes had wandered to a large black SUV on the other side of the road. She couldn’t help but stare in confusion as a man and woman exited a café with paper cups in hand. She recognised him instantly as the agent she had bumped into in Ireland only days ago, and her jaw dropped open as he and his companion hurriedly entered the SUV and took off down the street.

“Ellie?” Loki called, grabbing her attention again. He followed her gaze and eyed the passing vehicle curiously. “What is the matter?”

“You’re goin’ t’think I’m crazy,” she began and then pointed to the departing vehicle. “But do you remember that S.H.I.E.L.D. agent guy who bumped into me in Dublin? I swear I just saw him gettin’ in that SUV.”

Loki didn’t even ask if she was sure, he simply stood closer to her and wrapped a protective arm around her shoulder. “It would seem that they are what that man meant when he said ‘the Feds’.”

“That means that it’s definitely Thor’s hammer that is causin’ all this hassle.”

“I think it may be best if we conceal ourselves from now. Especially with that agent here — he may recognise us and interfere before we speak with Thor.”

“Noted.” She looked up at him and, with a nod, they used a concealment spell and became invisible to the residents of Puente Antiguo. With slight alterations, they allowed themselves to still remain visible to each other as they continued to walk hurriedly down the street.

“We still haven’t figured out how we’re goin’ t’get to the crater,” Ellie huffed. “Don’t tell me we’ll have’ta traipse through the desert—”

The beeping of a horn caught the pair’s attention. Down the street, they were surprised to see Thor emerge from a shop, decked out in Midgardian clothes and grinning broadly at whoever was in the driver’s seat of the van before him.

“There’s that big eejit!” Ellie whispered, and pointed to the former God as he paused by the vehicle, conversing with the driver.

She felt Loki grasp her hand in his and pull her quickly down the street. “And there is our ride. Into the back, quickly now!”

The lovers were swift in their movements and managed to climb into the back of the van through its rear door without making enough sound to draw attention from Thor. Just as Loki shut the door after him, Thor climbed inside, and thanked the woman sat behind the wheel. Ellie eyed her curiously and sat down beside a large case, holding on to it as they took off driving. Loki sat down close beside her, wrapping an arm around her waist to help keep her steady.

“You have my thanks, Jane,” Thor said with a happy smile. “What made you change your mind?”

“Uh, some things changed while you were gone,” the woman — Jane — replied. “And I figured you could give me the answers I needed.”

“Holy shit,” Ellie muttered, knowing that neither Jane nor Thor could hear her due to the concealment spell. “Did Thor make friends on Earth?”

“Norns help her if he did,” Loki snarked, tightening his hold on her as they exited the city and drove through the desert. “He is a lot to deal with.”

“What happened?” Thor asked, oblivious to the fact that his brother and friend were currently huddled behind them.

“These people showed up at my house and took all of my equipment,” Jane explained with an angry edge to her tone. “I’ve lost everything — all the work I’ve done, all the data that I’ve been compiling and collecting all these years. All of it, just gone like that, because they think they can waltz it here like they own the place and do whatever they want.”

Though Ellie could only see his profile, Thor looked a little miffed by the news. “I am sorry for your loss. Who exactly stole your equipment?”

“This organisation called S.H.I.E.L.D.. I’m nearly positive that they’re the same guys who Pete said are currently surrounding the crater.”

“Why would S.H.I.E.L.D. confiscate her stuff?” Ellie asked, looking to Loki for some input. “She sounds like some kind of scientist or researcher, or somethin’.”

“I imagine they would be looking to contain Mjölnir and all the information that comes with it. They were in Dublin because of the activity with the Bifröst too, lest you forget.”

“I’ve never done anything like this before!” Jane declared, her tone shifting to excitement. “Have you ever done anything like this before?”

Thor appeared to be amused by her delight. “Many times. You’re brave to do it.”

Ellie chuckled at the sight, feeling more relaxed having seen that Thor was doing okay. She had worried for him of course, when he was banished to Midgard without his powers, but he still seemed like his usual confident self, and that brought a little peace to her mind. “He’s got a goofy look on his face. I think he fancies her.”

Loki rolled his eyes. “Well now she definitely needs the Norns’ help…”

She gave his arm a light slap. “Are you jokin’? It would be gas if he ended up fancyin’ her. She’s really pretty, and she must be smart too if S.H.I.E.L.D. have stolen all her work.”

“I do not doubt that, I would just pray for her sake that he does not pursue her.”

“Maybe you two just have a weakness for Midgardians, hmm?”

“I would not say tha—”

He was cut off as the van suddenly lurched off road, nearly sending them flying. The tires screeched on the dirt ground beneath, dust flying into the air. Ellie grasped his arms without thinking, but Loki kept them safely nestled in the corner. She relaxed a little as he tightened his hold around her and Jane regained control of the vehicle. The pair in the front laughed as she apologised through her giggles. While Ellie muttered a profanity under her breath, she eyed them as they looked at each other. If she thought Thor seemed confident before, he definitely was now.

“This is gas. She nearly crashed the feckin’ car because she was lookin’ at him!”

“How is that in any way funny?” Loki asked, although he seemed charmed by her joy.

“He thinks she’s smart, and she thinks he’s purdy.”

“So you get engaged, and now you wish to play the matchmaker?”

“Well, maybe this Jane can give him a kick up the hole and help him t’be less of a hothead.”

“Wishful thinking, but who knows what she could do for him.”

Ellie and Loki sat in silence for the majority of their car journey, casually listening to Thor and Jane as they chatted back and forth. The Irish woman couldn’t help smiling every time she noticed Thor dropping Jane a compliment, or how he seemed genuinely interested as she discussed her life’s work. She was half expecting for Loki to continue rolling his eyes, but she knew better — on more than one occasion, she caught him smirking at their clear chemistry.

At one stage, he let out an airy laugh. “He is on Midgard for a day or so, and he is already trying to bed a mortal.”

Ellie let her head rest against his shoulder and replied. “He must’ve learned from you then.”

When they arrived at the crater, the sun had set and it was far colder than it had been during the day. As Jane and Thor jumped out of the truck and hid on a small ridge overlooking the crash site, Ellie and Loki followed, having no need to hide due to their previously cast spell. S.H.I.E.L.D. had built an impressive base around the crater. As the scientist declared, it looked like a little bustling city of walkways, armed guards, and a barbed wire fence surrounding the whole compound. In the centre stood a clear box structure, connected to a number of tube tunnels that constantly contained agents walking to and fro.

“So Mjölnir is in there, then?” Ellie asked pointing to the structure as thunder rumbled above their heads.

“Indeed, and it looks like Thor is intent on retrieving it.”

“What?” Ellie whipped her head around to see the former God of Thunder leaving Jane lying on the ridge with her binoculars and sneaking down towards the fence. “Oh, for God’s sake…”

“Come,” Loki urged her, taking her hand. “I would rather go through the front door.”

She followed him with a grumble. “We have to talk to him before he manages to get back to Asgard.”

“Then we shall intercept him as soon as he has recovered his precious hammer.”

Walking past all the oblivious guards and agents would have unnerved Ellie when she was younger, but now she was confident enough in the strength of her seiðr and her ability to stay hidden when she needed to. Loki was completely at ease, guiding her through the connecting tubes as klaxons suddenly began blaring.

“As graceful as always, brother,” Loki muttered in amusement as they passed by the scrambling guards and the storm clouds grew overhead.

Rain began falling, thumping off the roof of the tunnels. Thunder crashed and lightening flashed in the sky. As they reached the containment cube, Ellie got a look at Mjölnir, propped on a pillar of mud and rock in the centre of the pit, and humming with the growing storm. As the guards shouted into their radios and began running in one direction, she and Loki ascended a staircase so that they were now overlooking the scene below.

“Shouldn’t we help him?” Ellie asked with concern.

“I do not think he needs it,” Loki answered and nodded towards the tunnel from which they had come. Thor appeared, looking quite smug before he was shoved to the ground by a massive guard. As the two began fighting, Loki pointed above their heads. “That is a cause for concern though.”

She saw what he was talking about — a man, standing in a crane bucket raised high above the containment cube. He was armed with a bow and arrow, and was watching Thor intently.

She glared at him, a surge of protectiveness running through her. “If he tries anythin’, we’ve got Thor covered.”

Loki nodded in agreement just as Thor went tumbling with his attacker through the wall of a junction box and into the thick mud below. The Trickster fixed his eyes on the archer, ready to stop him if he tried to release a shot. It wasn’t long before a wall from the containment cube was torn down beneath them, and a very muddy Thor came strutting into the enclosure. As he neared his prize, the archer readied himself, and Loki saw his opportunity. He sent a wave of energy towards the crane bucket, causing it to swing as if it was struck by gale force winds. The archer stumbled with a curse, grabbing the bucket’s railing and losing the shot he had nocked.

Ellie gave her lover a nudge with her elbow. “Maybe you should do that again before he sets up another—”

“Ellie,” Loki interrupted her impatiently. “Look!”

Noticing that he was staring down below them in baffled surprise, she followed his gaze  to see Thor with his hand wrapped around Mjölnir’s handle.

He pulled and his face fell.

He pulled again with both hands, grunting in exertion.

No…

The hammer didn’t even budge.

She called Loki’s name, looking to him for some explanation, but he appeared to be just as stunned as she was.

How?” she demanded, eyes now darting between the brothers as Thor pulled with all his might, screaming with the effort.

“Father…” Loki gulped, his eyes wide. “Odin said that he was unworthy.”

Thor tried with all the strength left in his mortal body before he gave up, staring between his hands and the sky above. He cried up into the raging storm, confusion and frustration covering his expression as he was soaked with rain. Exhausted, he fell to his knees, and Ellie fought the urge to go down and comfort him.

As he was surrounded by guards and hauled away, Loki broke the stunned silence. “We need to speak with him… now.”

There wasn’t much time for either of them to acknowledge what they had just saw. After seeing Thor wield Mjölnir with pride for so many years, realising that Odin has decided that he was no longer worthy was a tough pill to swallow. Even when considering they saw him unfit to sit on the throne, they couldn’t believe it had gone this far. When the downtrodden god was placed in a containment cell, they followed him inside and stood patiently as he was calmly questioned by the agent Ellie had already met. His questions went unanswered as Thor sat staring forward blankly, his lips pulled into a permanent frown. He looked equal parts dejected and fed up. Eventually, a beeping sounded, and the agent — who introduced himself as Coulson — eyed a device he had kept in his pocket and took his leave. As soon as the door shut behind him, Ellie and Loki lowered their concealment spells so that Thor could now see them.

She knew the plan. It was simple; tell the truth.

“I thought he’d never leave,” she muttered, causing Thor’s head to fly up in surprise.

“Loki! Ellie!” He stared at them in disbelief from his chair, blue eyes wide. “What are you two doing here?”

Loki answered in a calm tone. “We had to see you.”

“What’s happened? Tell me, is it Jotunheim? Did Father punish you both for my actions? Let me explain to him why I did what I did. Perhaps if I can clarify my actions, he will understand.”

As he waited for a response, both Loki and Ellie hesitated and shared a look. They were short on time, but they had to use it wisely.

“Father,” Loki began, watching his brother with a regretful expression. “Has fallen into Odinsleep.”

“What?” Thor all but gasped, mouth agape. “How? When?”

“Not long after you were banished,” Ellie elaborated solemnly. “But it’s an intense one. Frigga is worried that he might never wake from it.”

“What has brought this on? Is… Is it my fault?”

Loki gently grasped his lover’s hand in his, and she was nearly sure it was for his comfort more than her own. “I think it was the stress from all of the events of late — the Jötunns, your banishment, our secret relationship, and my…” He hesitated and she squeezed his hand gently, offering her support in a simple gesture. He cleared his throat. “… And my parentage.”

His words only increased Thor’s confusion. “What of your parentage?”

“I am not your…” He sighed, and furrowed his brow before he continued. “Odin is not my father. I am the abandoned offspring of Laufey — a forgotten Frost Giant.”

“This is no time for tricks, Loki,” Thor nearly scoffed in disbelief, but hesitated when he saw the grave expressions on their faces. “Do you speak the truth?”

“I would not lie about this.”

The air in the room changed, but Ellie had to give Thor credit, he didn’t even hesitate with his reply. “You are still my little brother no matter what, Loki. It makes no difference to me from where you came. You do know that, don’t you?”

Loki hesitated in answering, and Ellie caught the slight tense in his jaw as his gaze fell to the floor. She interjected, casting her eyes outside to see if Coulson was coming back. “We don’t have much time…”

The Trickster, now showing none of his usual mischievousness, went on. “You must know that with Odin incapacitated and with Mother refusing to leave his bedside, the burden of the throne has fallen to me, and I will be taking Ellie as my wife.”

“Really?” Thor’s sorrowful eyes showed a glimmer of joy, and a small smile appeared on his otherwise somber expression. “I would say she is a fine queen for a fine king. I am happy for you both.”

“Thank you, Thor,” Ellie said, wearing her own sad smile. “You need to know that even with our new positions, Frigga told us that we aren’t allowed to undo Odin’s decision to send you here.”

As if he wasn’t already upset enough, the Thunderer’s expression fell again, and he slumped back into his chair. “I cannot come home?”

“Not yet,” Loki confirmed. “But Mother said that there is always a purpose to Odin’s actions. While I cannot undo his command, I have faith that you will return to Asgard.”

“Well, that makes one of us.”

Unable to stand his beaten expression any longer, Ellie released Loki’s hand so that she could quickly wrap her arms around the first son of Odin. After a beat, she felt his massive arms squeeze her lithe frame. It was so unusual to see Thor as anything other than his normal determined and upbeat self. It was as clear as day that not being worthy to wield his hammer had left him with many questions and a lack of self-belief. She could only hope that maybe, just maybe, this would inspire him to regain his worthiness. She had to believe that he could do it.

“Ellie,” she heard Loki call. “We do not have much time.”

Though it pained her somewhat to leave Thor alone on Midgard once more, she pulled back from him with watering eyes and rejoined her king. She met Thor’s eyes again and said. “This is isn’t goodbye, okay?”

“It is more of a ‘we will see you soon’,” Loki added. “Hopefully.”

“I will do my best to come home,” Thor said, appearing somewhat more determined than when they had first arrived. “Thank you both for coming here.”

“Farewell.”

Just as Agent Coulson returned, the pair raised their concealment once more and left the room, leaving Thor to deal with the rest of his interrogation. The couple walked hand in hand through the complex, remaining silent as they went. The young woman, feeling exhausted with all of the day’s events, tried her best to convey her urge to comfort Loki through physical contact alone, and the relief of him pressing a kiss on her forehead in acknowledgement was immeasurable. As they once more passed through the containment cube housing a still unmoved Mjölnir, he hesitated and came to a stop before they entered another one of the connection tunnels. She turned to see him eying the hammer with intrigue, but remaining stationary. She could practically see the clogs turning frantically in his head and she too couldn’t help but ponder the possibility for the briefest moment. But she knew this meant more to Loki than just the hammer — this was about his worthiness to brandish such a weapon, but more so his worthiness in the eyes of the Allfather. Perhaps, after all these years, he could finally make himself be seen. Maybe with the apple of Odin’s eye stuck on Midgard, Loki could finally receive an ounce of the praise he craved from his father.

“Hey, love?” Ellie softly called him while he stared at the hammer. She waited for him to tear his eyes away before continuing. “You don’t need the answer to that question.”

“No?” he replied, face troubled.

“It’s not the be all and end all. With or without the hammer, you’re still the Loki I know and love.”

The plan was simple; tell the truth.

When Ellie said those words to Loki, she was still abiding by the plan’s requirements. Had she not believed her own statement, she never would have uttered it. For a moment, she feared that he may not believe her because of his own doubt. The moment he cast a glance at Mjölnir once more, grasped her hand in his, and followed her out of the containment area, she let out a breath she hadn’t realised she was holding.

It was a simple gesture, one which most would not see the importance in, but she knew.

She knew, and she was proud of him for it.

Chapter Text

The grip with which Loki grasped Ellie’s hand never faltered as they returned to the palace and their now shared quarters. Though the young king was somewhat reserved, she was still relieved when he spoke every now and then, saying that he had enjoyed their time on Midgard, and that it was good to see that Thor was doing alright. He was surprisingly reverent about the whole thing, and she was a little taken aback by how he openly expressed his happiness with seeing his brother again. Quite honestly, it warmed her heart to hear the words come tumbling from his thin lips.

And yet, there was still a part of him that appeared worried.

“What’s up?” she asked him while sitting on his bed, legs crossed with her hands resting on her knees. Their chambers seemed to be their favourite place to go together. It felt like in there, they could hide away from any judgemental eyes or stress-inducing problems. They had spent a lot of time together in there of late, but she couldn’t fault it when it made them feel so safe.

He shook his head and took a seat next to her closely. Ever since their engagement, he seemed more touchy-feely and eager to be near to her, and she certainly wasn’t complaining about it.

“I feel conflicted,” he explained slowly, brow furrowed in thought. “About Thor’s return.”

“That’s understandable,” she replied, watching him carefully. “But sure look, if Thor does come back, it’s ’cause he’s proved that he’s worthy of his hammer, so he’ll have to change his ways.”

“It is not Thor that I am worried about. I am sure he will return and claim the throne, and I don’t particularly care with that. As long as he treats me with the respect that I deserve, I will have little to fret over. My concerns lie with Odin and what he will do about us.”

She let her head rest on his shoulder and scooted closer to him. “I have’ta be honest; I feel pretty worried ’bout it too.”

“I know that we intend to marry soon, and that Mother will help to ensure that he doesn’t change that, but we do not know what he will do. Considering I am not his son, he may try to tear us apart.”

“I wouldn’t allow it,” Ellie insisted with a small growl. The very thought of Odin doing such a thing had her blood boiling. “Let him try it. I’d show him what I think of him.”

I wish I could say that I don’t think Odin would separate us knowin’ that we love each other, Ellie thought. But he seems to frequently make decisions at Loki’s expense anyway…

“But,” Loki drew out, meeting her gaze. “I had an idea that may help us even if he does succeed in separating us.”

“I don’t even want’a humour the thought, but I’ll hear what you’ve to say.”

“It is something we have not spoken much about, but it is an important topic. It is the main difference between you and I.”

“You mean the fact that you gave birth to a horse?”

He narrowed his eyes. “Are you incapable of being serious?”

“Only when I know you find it real annoyin’! But I was only jokin’ with you. Continue!”

With an impatient sigh, Loki began again. “I speak of the fact I am… well, I am not mortal, and you are. I may not be completely immortal, but my lifespan is far greater than yours. And, if Odin were to separate us, I do not like the thought of you growing old while I remain as I am for the most part. At least if we age at the same rate, then we would have time to figure out a way around his command.”

“How would we even go ’bout that though? It’s not like you can just make me Asgardian.”

“You know of Iðunn’s Apples, yes?”

“Yeah,” she answered. “They give you lot your youth and long-lasting life.”

“Well, if you were to consume one, it would grant you such things as well.”

“Are you serious?” she nearly barked, eyes wide. “Loki, Odin would have your head if he knew you gave a golden apple to a mortal!”

“He would have my head if he knew it was I who lead the Frost Giants into Asgard, but do I look like I care?”

“Well, no, but—”

“If your hesitance comes from your distain for the idea, then I can understand that. I would never force immortality on you, and it will be your decision at the end of the day. But if you think I should not give you the apple for fear of Odin’s retaliation, then you would be wrong. The worst punishment I could ever receive would be losing you, and I refuse to let that happen. I would simply have Iðunn pick an apple and say it is for me. She does not need to know.”

It was quite the proposition, and it was the right amount of mischief that Loki was known for. Even still, she had never really considered the gravity with such a thing as her mortality. She had thought that she would always be with Loki and she was still a young adult by Midgardian standards, so thoughts of imminent death had somewhat slipped her mind. But he was right, especially given the somewhat unstable state they found themselves in. If she intended to remain by his side forever, then was there any need to refuse such an offer? Her whole existence was based around his, so why not ensure that they could stay together for as long as possible?

“You’d steal one of those golden apples for me?” she asked him, smirking mischievously at him.

Slowly but surely, Loki’s lips pulled into a grin and he looked at her in such a way that made her heart race. She couldn’t bare the thought of living a life without this Trickster. “I would steal all the Infinity Stones if you asked it of me.”

“You don’t need’ta go that far. How ’bout you marry me first, and then we grab an apple?”

“Are you sure? If it is something you wish to think on, I will understand.”

“What’s to think ’bout?” She took her hands in his and place a soft kiss on his knuckles. “There’s no one else with whom I’d rather spend eternity.”

“Then eternity will surely be interesting, little one.”

“I would hope so, love!”

“In the meantime,” he began again, happily linking his fingers with hers. “I think I may have an idea for gaining Odin’s favour so that he does not try to undo our decisions.”

She looked at him in surprise but noted that he wore a confident expression. “Oh yeah?”

“Yeah indeed. By preventing a war with Jotunheim.”

“Things are tense enough as it is. How d’you plan on stoppin’ it?”

“My mother always told me to use one’s strengths to one’s advantage. I was never one for Thor’s style of barrelling into Jotunheim swinging his hammer about, but stealth and magic were better suited for me. So, why not end this war in my own style?”

Right off the bat, Ellie didn’t like where this was going. Loki was still coming to terms with who he was as a Frost Giant, and that was always going to be difficult when your father told you that they were monsters all your life.

Loki continued on as she kept her expression neutral. “We struck gold already when I secretly lead the Jötunns into the vaults. What if I were to do that again? But this time, what if I were to let Laufey in and lead him straight into a trap?”

Loki…” She gave him a look. “It’s one thing to lead some Jötunns in here, but leadin’ Laufey himself is on a whole other level.”

“But it is perfect. Do you not see? I could trick him under the guise that I wish to take revenge on Odin for lying to me about my heritage. He would not turn down the opportunity to murder his enemy, and I would take him out before he could lay a hand on Odin. Then surely he will see that I am a worthy son!”

“Look,” she said slowly, still clasping on to his hands and pulling him to lie back on the bed. “While I’ll acknowledge that it is technically an ideal plan to dispose of Laufey, I don’t think Odin is worth all of this plannin’.”

Despite their disagreement, the young god clung to her and comfortably lay at her side. “It will solve our problem with Jotunheim once and for all. Thor would rather cause wars while I end them. I could do what Father never had the courage to do.”

“And what’s that exactly?” she asked apprehensively.

“I will tell you in time. For now, there are more important things that we must do. For one, I would marry you today.”

Today?” Her head turned swiftly to see his smirking face. She momentarily forgot all about Laufey. “Really?”

He released a laugh and pushed a lock of hair behind her ear. His eyes shone with characteristic naughtiness. “We agreed that we must wed soon, and what better time than now? Mother has agreed to be present as a witness, and we would have to make it a small affair with current tensions. So there will be no feasting for seven days.”

“I don’t care ’bout the feasts!” she exclaimed excitedly and threw her arms around him. “I just want’a marry you!”

Without missing a beat, Loki wrapped his arms around her and lifted her off the bed. “Then come with me.”

While he set her to her feet and began to pull her out of the room, she gave him a wry look. “Come with you where?”

“I have a surprise for you.”

She should have expected this. When you were courting the God of Mischief, it was sort of a guarantee that he would be fond of tricks and surprises. It was part of her life with him and yet she wouldn’t have it any other way. Perhaps growing up with him from a young age meant that she held a fondness for such things. Whether it was surprising her by celebrating the Midgardian holiday of Christmas, or their secret trips to Earth, he kept on leaving her stunned with thoughtful gifts and gestures. For a troubled god, he never stopped in his attempts to make her smile.

They strode through the halls of the palace, and she immediately recognised the path they took to be the familiar way to Frigga’s gardens. Once outside in the cool night air, she wasn’t surprised when he steered her towards the spot in which their tree stood tall. She was taken aback, however, by the sound of music drifting from its location. As they rounded the corner of the clematis hedge, Ellie stopped in awe, her mouth falling open.

Yes, she should have expected this, and yet she was still quietly surprised by the sight before her. Small balls of coloured light surround the tree as if it was Christmas time. The fantastic greens and yellows covered their favourite place, floating of their own accord on the trees and hedges, delicately circling branches and leaves alike. Beneath the illuminated tree stood Frigga, apparently waiting patiently for their arrival. Ellie should have guessed that the Allmother would have something to do with it, but seeing her standing there brought a smile to her face. Off to the side stood Rainger with a fiddle in hand, playing a slow Irish air that she recognised almost immediately. She had shown it to Loki years before, when she was barely a teenager.

“Look, Prince Loki!” she had exclaimed excitedly in the library, holding the book of Irish music originally shown to her by the Queen herself. “This song has my name in it!”

“Does it now?” he replied, somewhat disinterestedly as he browsed the shelves.

She was, however, insistent, and demanded his attention. “Look! Look look look!”

He eventually relented as she shoved the book as close to his head as she could. He gazed at the page and read its title aloud. “Eleanor Plunkett… Your name is Eleanor?”

She nodded enthusiastically. “Uh huh! My mam picked the name out herself, but everyone just called me Ellie anyway.”

“It is a nice name. Is this song where your mother found it?”

“I dunno, I just remember her tellin’ me that she liked the name a lot.”

He nodded and let his eyes roam thoughtfully over the sheet music. Without uttering a word, he placed the book under his arm and strode to the section of the library that contained all the Midgardian vinyls. He went hunting high and low while Ellie watched patiently from the sidelines. She was able to put two and two together quite easily, and grinned broadly when he pulled out the vinyl for which he had been looking. He sat with her as they listened to the song together, his brows furrowed in concentration as he took it all in. It was simply another occasion in which he helped her to feel more at home. Now, standing in one of her favourite places, the music made her heart swell with emotion.

With tentative steps, Ellie walked onto the patch of grass, releasing Loki’s hand. Feeling tears brim in the corners of her eyes, she stared at the transformed garden and then looked to him for an explanation.

“I spoke to Mother before we left for Midgard,” he elaborated with a proud smirk, making sure that Rainger was out of earshot. “She was more than happy to arrange it while we were gone, and eager to perform the ceremony herself. And Rainger well, you were always so fond of your music; it would be a shame not to have it on a day such as this. Oh, before I forget—” With a small wave of his hand, he was dressed in his ceremonial gear — helmet and all — and she wore a simple green dress. “You do not need anything extravagant when you are as beautiful as you are. Now we are ready to go.”

She looked down at her new garb in appreciation, struggling to keep it together as she ran her hand along the soft material. “If you keep sayin’ stuff like that, I’m goin’ to start cryin’.”

“As long as they are happy tears, I will welcome them.” With his lips slowly morphing into a shy smile, he approached and offered her his hand. “How about it then, little one?”

There was no question in Ellie’s mind. She could never refuse him.

She knew little of Midgardian wedding traditions, but it seemed that her King had been eager to involve some small things in the ceremony. He acted as though the gesture meant little, but it certainly meant something to her.

Ellie placed her small hand in his, sealing their fate, as Frigga began the ceremony to the tune of an Irish air. How a little Midgardian ended up in such a situation was quite the tale, and no one could have imagine that she would become the wife of the God of Mischief. And yet, as Loki slipped a ring on to her finger, she wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

* * *

 

They had a small feast in the hall that evening, with merely Frigga (for a brief time) and their friends as guests. There were no more than fifteen there including Rainger and his family, Fen, Sevda, and a few other handmaidens, Kirkjabyr, Lady Sif, and the Warriors Three. Although, the latter seemed slightly off that evening. They didn’t appear very sure of what to make of it all. But she couldn’t spend too much time worrying about them. Instead, she enjoyed the time with her friends and her new mother-in-law, as they say on Midgard. The ceremony and its afters were the only time Frigga had actually left Odin’s bedside, and Ellie greatly appreciated such a gesture. She didn’t argue when she quickly took her leave, not before she wished them a good evening.

They drank and chatted for most of the night, the affair being far more reserved than those which Thor or Odin organised. Ellie had attended the odd feast with her fellow handmaidens — ones in which they weren’t serving — and the odd tavern with Rainger or Loki. But this was obviously the first occasion in which she could be open about her relationship with Loki — now her husband — with her friends present. Thankfully, they seemed happy for the newly married couple. Rainger teased them mercilessly, along with Fen and Sevda from time to time. Kirkjabyr claimed that he had seen something between them from the beginning, and Radburn continuously expressed how relieved he was that Loki had finally found a partner who held his heart in such high regard, and vice versa.  However, she was not totally surprised by the reserved nature of Thor’s friends.

I don’t know exactly what I expected, but I can’t say that I’m entirely surprised by their grim expressions… Though I suppose Hogun always looks kinda grim?

Volstagg was the first to congratulate them, and she had to give him credit; he came across as quite genuine. She gathered that he was quite possibly happy for them on some level, while still harbouring his suspicions with regards Thor’s banishment. Hogun was as indifferent as ever, and Fandral held his tongue for most of the night. Lady Sif, however, seemed conflicted.

She and Ellie had spent a large amount of time together training the latter from a young age. While Loki was the one to train her the majority of the time in recent years, she still held fond memories of Sif showing her how to properly wield a bow, how to fight hand-to-hand, and how to perfect her agility. While she would always stand with Loki, she couldn’t help but feel a little bit miffed knowing that she may have lost Sif as a friend.

“Refill?” Ellie asked her husband, who was chatting animatedly with Radburn. Having avoided a very large affair, they had no servers on duty, and instead organised their own drinks and food.

He turned mid sentence and slung his arm around her shoulders. “My beautiful wife, you are too kind to me.”

“Wow,” Radburn chuckled, sipping on his tankard. “I never thought I would hear you utter such words, My King!”

“It’s the alcohol, Rad,” Ellie assured him in jest, well aware that Loki was a little bit tipsy from drinking a lot of Asgardian wine. “He’s usually still an arse.”

“But I am your favourite arse.”

He was swift in his actions, and Ellie let out a small yelp as he pinched her rear. Without hesitation, she grabbed his goblet. “One refill, and then I’m cuttin’ you off!”

“Fine,” he grumbled before he gave her an appreciative kiss on the cheek. “Thank you for keeping my goblet filled.”

Radburn couldn’t stop grinning at the pair. “What have you done to him, little Midgardian? You have the God of Mischief and Lies taking orders!”

Loki answered before she could get a word in. “She is one of a kind, you see, and I am lucky to have found her before another.”

Leaving them to their conversation, Ellie approached the table containing the seemingly endless jugs of Asgardian wine and ale. After refilling Loki’s goblet, she took care of her own drink, consisting of Midgardian wine they had bought back from their last trip. As she was looking after her drink, Sif and Volstagg appeared by at the table.

“Congratulations to you again, My Queen,” Volstagg said as he tucked into a massive cut of ham. “I hope that your marriage is a prosperous and joyful one.”

“Thanks,” she replied appreciatively. “That means a lot, Volstagg.”

With a small smile hidden beneath his beard, he picked up the rest of the ham and walked away, joining Fandral and Hogun at another table.

Sif, however, remained, and spoke in an unexpectedly hushed tone. “I would speak with you.”

Ellie looked at her curiously and asked. “Are you alright?”

“For the most part. I worry for Thor.”

The confession didn’t surprise her. Part of her desired to tell Sif of their trip to Midgard and how they had encouraged Thor to change, but Frigga was the only one who knew of that encounter. Fearing that others might think their intentions to be ill, their journey to New Mexico remained a secret to most. “I know. If it puts your mind at ease, he seems like the determined type. I’m sure he’ll be doin’ his best to get home.”

“But is there no way you can return him to us?” Sif asked in dismay. “You and Loki are now the acting king and queen. Why not make an order?”

As the conversation took a turn, Ellie frowned and decided she didn’t like where this one bit. “As Loki already informed you, we can’t. Frigga told us as much — we can’t undo such an important order from the Allfather. Sure, she already begged Odin to let him return and was shot down. Look, Thor was actin’ recklessly on Jotunheim, and if a trip to Midgard will help him shed some of his brash mannerisms and become a better candidate for king, then we should accept that. I don't like it either, but I’m tryin’ to stay positive. You can’t tell me that you agreed with his actions, Sif.”

“I never said that I did, but my duty is to protect my realm.”

“So is ours.”

“Of that I am not so sure.”

Ellie’s brow immediately peaked, eying the warrior and taking in her response. “What’s that supposed to mean? Do you think we’re glad Thor is gone?”

The Asgardian shook her head as she answered. “I do find it convenient that you two now possess the throne after he is banished. Not only that, but the two of you stand here wed and in power.”

“We didn’t want the throne.”

“But Loki has always been jealous of Thor—”

“If you think Loki was jealous of Thor’s acquirement of the throne, then you don’t understand Loki at all! He doesn’t give a shite ’bout the damn throne! He didn’t want it.”

Ellie tried to keep herself calm, but hearing such accusations being tossed at Loki drove her mad. The very idea that he would ensure his brother’s banishment so that he could obtain the throne was the most ridiculous thing she had ever heard. She knew that their actions were the catalyst for Asgard’s current dynamic, but the motivations behind them were based purely on a fear of losing each other, and Loki’s inadequacy in his father’s eyes. She didn’t care if one of Asgard’s most fearsome warriors was the one standing before her now — she would defend Loki until she could no longer draw breath.

And still, Sif stood tall. “Laufey said that there are traitors in Asgard’s walls. I intend to find out who those traitors are.”

It was imperative that she tried to stay calm and not draw attention to herself. Ellie would rather have Sif and the Warriors Three on her side instead of them working against her. In an effort to banish any negative thoughts, she spoke again. “And I intend to defend my husband when he has false accusations thrown at him. He’s always been prone to mischief, but he’d never betray his home. This is exactly what Laufey wants — he wants us to turn on each other. We need to stay united if we’re to deal with the threat from Jotunheim.” She paused, noting the way the woman studied her. She was clearly conflicted on some level, and Ellie wanted to use that to her advantage. “C’mon, Sif… Think ’bout who you’re talkin’ about. You’ve known Loki for centuries, and you’ve known me since I was a kid. We’re not usurpers.”

Though she could tell that her words had a small impact on her, Lady Sif shook her head after a brief silence. Her voice was a whisper. “I do not want to believe what my instincts tell me, and yet here we are.”

Without another word, Sif turned and rejoined her comrades, leaving Ellie standing with her and Loki’s refilled goblets in hand. She let out a small sigh, trying to keep her feelings of worry inside. She couldn’t give anything away and mentally thanked Loki for all the times he taught her about wearing a facade. Said Trickster stood on the other side of the room, talking with Radburn and Rainger with great liveliness — she had rarely seen him this content and relaxed in public, especially of late. While revealing their relationship to their friends had left them both relieved — their positive approval of the match definitely helped too — she dreaded the idea of telling him that his suspicions were right.

Her gut was twisted with anxiety. Even still, she held her tongue upon seeing him laughing happily. He seemed so joyful in that moment, as if he had forgotten about all his fears.

No, this can wait. He deserves one night without any shite to deal with.

She wouldn’t tell him, not tonight.

For now, she would let him relax and enjoy himself. She wanted no ill thoughts to sour their wedding night. As she admired the glint in his green eyes, she promised herself that it could wait until tomorrow.

Tonight was just for them and their shared happiness.

Chapter Text

Loki’s breathing was rough and shaky in Ellie’s ear. It had been like that all night.

Since they had retired from their relatively small wedding feast, her new husband was intent on keeping her in bed until her legs could no longer function correctly. She genuinely thought she wouldn’t even be able to walk tomorrow at this rate. She wasn’t sure how much time had passed since he threw her down on the covers and clambered on top of her. Since then, the Trickster had demanded that she come on his fingers, his mouth, and his cock multiple times. When she asked him to hold off, he couldn’t stop touching her until she was somehow coming again. Even when she was convinced that she was out of orgasms for at least a month, he managed to drag another from her and grinned in delight as her muscles clenched around him. His actions and words ranged from the ceaselessly loving to the downright vulgar and provocative. He expressed his desire for the entire palace to hear how good he could make her feel, and breathlessly admitted to wanting all to hear them conceive an heir. That detail in particular was quite surprising, but he seemed to have settled on his chosen subject matter for the evening, and she was more than happy to go along with the fantasy.

Ellie had put up a fight for dominance at first. Given their slight intoxication and high spirits, they spent time wrestling each other atop the covers before she succeeded in pleasuring him with her mouth until he was begging for release. And just when she thought she was the one in control, he turned the tables yet again and flipped her on to her back. Of course she couldn’t help but be outmatched by his superior stamina, but she didn’t exactly mind so much when she lost count of how many times she had finished with a gasp of his name.

Now, she found herself being taken from behind, Loki’s body draped protectively over hers and he made harsh, deep thrusts. Tears built in her eyes and he growled into her ear, expressing his desire to fill her up and to see her swell with his child. His confessions brought her to an unexpected and shattering climax, triggering his in turn. He held her hip in a bruising grip, ensuring that she couldn’t move as he spilled inside her.

She was so exhausted she could barely speak, whereas he didn’t seem too fussed. It was almost certain that she looked to be in some state as well…

“Feckin’ gods and your feckin’ stamina,” she barely got out, breathless as she let her face rest against the pillow. She could feel him kissing at the side of her neck and rocking his hips slightly. The contact made her whimper. “Do you intend to go all night?”

“If I had my way,” he explained, nipping at the sensitive skin below her jaw. “I would take you all night until you were most certainly carrying my child.”

“You’re really pushin’ this baby thing, huh?”

“Oh, you loved it.” He snapped his hips against hers with a groan. “You practically soaked the bed when I spoke of my desire to get you with child.”

“I know, I noticed,” she chuckled with a slight blush. “I dunno, it’s really intimate or somethin’, that you’d like to make one with me…”

“I would rather it be with no one other than you. But, for now—” He slid a hand under her belly to ensure that she wouldn’t fall pregnant just yet. “—we wait until things are a little more stable.”

“Agreed.”

She hissed slightly as he pulled out of her, but felt far better when he had laid down next to her and wrapped her up in his arms. Barely able to keep her eyes open, she only heard a few hushed loving words fall from his lips before drifting off into a much needed sleep.

Some time later, said rest was interrupted by a rustling noise.

Ellie’s first thought was something along the lines of “how dare!”. She was in dire need of rest right now and she was just about ready to deck whatever was preventing that from happening. She rolled in the bed, only to find the other side of it empty.

“Loki?”

“Sleep, love,” he replied as she opened her eyes with some difficulty, only to see his silhouette standing next to the bed.

As he gently petted her forehead, she asked him. “Where’re you goin’? Come back t’bed.”

“I will in a moment,” he reassured her gently. “I have something I must attend to first.”

“What? What d’you have’ta do?”

What was Loki talking about? Where did he need to be at this hour? She was still delirious from teetering between being asleep and awake, but she could tell that it was still dark outside.

In her hazy state, her hand reached out blindly until she found his. With what energy she had left, she wrapped her fingers around his affectionately.

“Do not worry your little head over it,” he said and placed a kiss on her head. “I will be back before morning comes.”

Unable to stay awake as her heavy body settled back into the bed, Loki’s soft voice sent her tumbling back into a deep sleep. Just before she lost consciousness, she was dimly aware of his hand releasing hers and the door shutting behind him.

 

* * *

 

Loki had not been lying.

As the sun was rising the next morning, she awoke to find him back in bed with her. For a moment she simply watched him, tracing her eyes along his profile and delighting in the fact that she could call him husband now.

“It is impolite to stare,” he suddenly said with his eyes still closed. His morning voice slightly hoarse and it had Ellie recalling all that they gotten up to last night. “And yet here you are.”

“How can you blame me when you wake up lookin’ like this?”

“Oh, you do know how to effectively stroke my ego, do you not?”

“It’s one of the requirements to be your wife.”

“And what are the requirements to be your husband?”

She pondered his question for a moment and tapped her chin. “Hmm… The guy has to be intelligent, funny, handsome, have a knack for magic, funny, mischievous, and be a bit of a brat. Know anyone who fits the bill?”

“I cannot say that I do,” he replied dryly, finally opening his eyes to look back at her. “It sounds like you are overly fussy.”

“You’re probably right.” She shrugged and slowly sat up in the bed. She left him watching curiously as she stretched with a yawn before getting to her feet. “While you think of a good match to my preferences, I’m goin’ to wash up. I’m in dire need of it after last night.”

“I will join you,” he stated and got up to follow her. “Although I do not feel as exhausted as you.”

She waved him off, strolling naked into the washroom with surprising confidence. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know you’re a god. You don’t have’ta keep remindin’ me.”

Just as she cleared the doorway, she felt his slightly cold hands slip around her waist and pull her back against his hard chest. He chuckled at the little yelp she let out, and kissed the top of her head. “Have I informed you lately that I am a god?”

“Fuck off, are you really?”

He kept her pressed tightly against him as he turned the taps on with a wave of his hand. Hot water sprung from them and began to fill the waiting bath. “You are quite vulgar.”

“Says you! What was it you told me last night? How you wanted to ‘fill me up until your seed took and all of Asgard would know that you can make your queen scream’?”

“I make no apologies because I did as promised,” he answered before swatting at her rear. “Now, in you go.”

With a small laugh she listened and happily got into the steaming water before he joined her shortly after. Before she could grab the soap, he took it in hand and started to wash her body with caring and thoughtful movements. The sensation of the soap and then the cloth against her aching limbs was just the thing she needed to start her day. When they were washed and dried, Loki dragged her back to the room with the confession that he had a gift for her to commemorate their marriage. Apparently the simple matching wedding rings weren’t enough. She could only watch with wide eyes as he showed her a small steel pendant he had hidden in his desk. She immediately recognised it as his own symbol — the two interlaced snakes, each one biting the other’s tail to form an S shape. With her permission, he carefully fixed its delicate chain around her neck and she took a moment to study the small piece of jewellery in more detail.

“Now others will know who you are as soon as they see you,” he said with pride, smiling as she studied the gift in delight. “And that you are one of the most important people in this realm.”

Without a present of her own to give him, she pulled him into a tight hug and said ‘I love you’ for what felt like the tenth time that day. She hoped it was enough.

Sometime later, Ellie sat with Loki as he met his royal court within the palace. He called the meeting urgently and asked after the state of Asgard and his people. Given how disorganised the last few days had been, things seemed mostly okay according to his advisors. The people had seemed happy with the news of a stable king and queen on the throne. Some were obviously unamused that one of them was a Midgardian, but others seemed to approve given Ellie had worked for the Odinsons for so long beforehand. That made her trustworthy. With the news that the Asgardian citizens had calmed, Loki said that he ordered Heimdall to keep the Bifröst closed until he solved Thor’s mess with Jotunheim.

“I do not want anyone going in or out until I know how they got in here right under our noses,” he expressed calmly, a decision with which his advisors seemed to agree. “I need to protect our people and my father in his vulnerable state. If there are any pressing cases of letting someone in or out, I have asked the Gatekeeper to inform me. On such an occasion, I will make a personal decision about what shall be done.”

There was a chorus of agreement at that.

Ellie stood by his side and listened intently as he explained himself. Though she wasn’t too fond of shutting off Asgard to all other realms, she knew why he had to do it. It made logical sense to let things calm and try to find out how the Frost Giants found their way into the palace. Obviously she knew Loki had arranged it, but it seemed like a reasonable response when you were trying to show your innocence.

Loki also asked after the wellbeing of their armies, to which his generals informed him that they were ready and waiting if he needed them to defend the realm. He insisted on not wanting to mount an attack and to only reply in defence if Jotunheim decided to try their hand at making the first move. It seemed like a responsible move on his part and he appeared quite relaxed and comfortable in his role as king. She was just relieved to see him settling into his unexpected responsibilities.

Eventually he dismissed the meeting and the royal court took their leave. With just her and her husband remaining, Ellie took the private moment to ask a burning question.

“Where did you go last night?”

Loki looked up from the papers on the table and raised a brow at her. “I had to attend to something.”

His dismissive answer did nothing to calm her worries. “It must’ve been urgent if you had to do it on our wedding night.”

He raised a brow at her as he straightened up. “It was, but I did not wish to interrupt your night. I did not want to ruin such a special occasion.”

“That still doesn’t answer my question about where you went.”

He paused, lips set in a firm line. “I went to Jotunheim.”

“You did what?” she exclaimed in shock, eyes wide in panic. “Loki, why would you do that? Did you go alone?”

“I had to go alone,” he insisted with an exasperated expression. “I could hardly bring Kirkjabyr while I spoke with Laufey—”

“You had a secret meeting with Laufey on our wedding night?” While Ellie couldn’t help but feel put out by not being previously informed about his actions, she was also now panicking about what exactly took place between Loki and his birth father. She recalled their previous conversation and how he had expressed his desire to take Jotunheim out by leading Laufey into a trap. This couldn’t be good… “Why didn’t you tell me what you were doin’?”

“You act as though I had met with another lover behind your back,” he replied, his brow creasing in irritation. “I did not wish to drag you back to Jotunheim, and I knew you would insist on accompanying me if I did tell you beforehand.”

“’Cause it’s bloody dangerous! And we said we were in this mess together!”

“I would not risk bringing you back to that wasteland! It is not safe and the Frost Giants are brutes! Not to mention you did not exactly seem very supportive of my plan when I told you yesterday. Don’t you see that this is the perfect way for Odin to see my worth? If I gain his favour then surely he we finally see me for all that I am and allow us to stay wed.”

“Frigga already promised to keep us together—”

“And if he wakes and sees that I have done nothing to solve Thor’s mess, he will dismiss me as he usually does, as well as my happiness.” Loki stared at her, green eyes filled with desperation. She could feel the panic beginning to well up in his chest. “Don’t you see, Ellie? It is the only way I can keep you. He cannot take you from me.”

She knew this was something that bothered him deeply. Not only that, but he was left shaken by the discovery of his true heritage. His decisions seemed to be made frantically since he heard the truth and Ellie was beginning to realise that he was not handling this as well as she previously thought.

“So what now?” she asked him. “What did you propose to Laufey? The plan you told me ’bout?”

“Yes, and in executing that plan, I will stop him and end this war once and for all.”

She felt like racking her fingers through her hair. “You killin’ their king will just start another war. How are you supposed to deal with the backlash?”

“It will be dealt with,” he snapped. “I can assure you that I will deal with all of Jotunheim. I will destroy them all before they even have a chance to respond. My very purpose is to bring about peace between our realms — Odin told me this in the vaults. I am simply doing what he wants by eliminating the danger of Jotunheim. It is my purpose. What else can I do if I wish to ensure my happiness in this fucking place?”

“Stop carin’ ’bout what Odin thinks for a start,” she answered, taking his hands in hers and pleading with him. “You don’t need’ta go to this extent to try get his respect.”

His tone was stiff as he spoke and his grip on her hands was loose. “It is too late. It has already been set in motion and it cannot be undone.”

Ellie looked at him in disbelief, her eyes stinging as she tried her best not to cry. She would defend Loki until her last breath because she loved him so dearly, but none of this felt right to her. He had went behind her back to set in motion an event that could have dire consequences for him. She knew he was doing what he thought was right, but nothing about Loki was okay. Even though she was there to support him, the revelation of his true heritage and Odin’s lies had very nearly broken him. If she didn’t know any better, she would say that all of the emotional distance he had experienced over centuries had built to this point. Loki simply couldn’t take it anymore and whatever was holding his mind together simply snapped. A twisting anxiety filled Ellie’s gut at the thought of not being able to pull him back together. She only wanted to help him, but what could she do? She was only one little mortal and the thought of not being able to help him terrified her.

She gently released his hand and looked down at her feet, feeling his eyes burning into her expectantly. Her voice was soft and surprisingly defeated. “I can't have any part in this.”

Though she was genuinely afraid to meet his gaze, she looked up after a beat. His brow furrowed and he frowned. He looked so forlorn with her simple reply and she immediately regretted it.

“I did not wish to put you in danger,” he explained weakly. “I would not risk bringing you back to those monsters.”

“I know that, Loki. But none of this sits right with me. I just don’t think it can end well…” She paused and shook her head. “I need to go be alone for a bit and think ’bout this.”

“Love, please,” he began, perfectly mirroring the look of a kicked puppy. “I am doing this for us. Don’t you understand that?”

“Can we talk ’bout this later, please?” she begged, feeling her restraint start to crack. “I’m not leavin’ you or anythin’, I just need’ta clear my head.”

He nodded slowly, though his expression didn’t change, and Ellie took the opportunity to quickly dip out of the room. Once in the hall, she hung her head in her hands and released a heavy sigh. She didn’t like storming out like that, but God, her head felt like mush.

I’ve no idea what’s goin’ t’happen now, but I have an awful feelin’ about it…

She was walking through the halls with the intention of going to get some fresh air in Frigga’s gardens when muffled arguing could be heard in the distance. She approached the sound cautiously and discovered that it was coming from one of the healing rooms.

Immediately, she recognised Sif’s voice behind the door. “Stop it, both of you! Stop… We all know what we have to do.”

“We must go.” That was clearly Hogun. “We must find Thor.”

Ellie frowned as the voices continued, Fandral speaking up. “It’s treason.”

“To hell with treason,” Volstagg added. “It’s suicide.”

As the warriors continued speaking, Ellie became nervous. Fandral was right — it was treason and there was no doubt in her mind that they would paint Loki as a villain if they went to Midgard and found Thor. But Heimdall stood between them and the Bifröst. He was under order by the king to not let anyone through. Right on time, a guard approached the door and Ellie watched as he entered and informed the group that said Gatekeeper demanded their presence. The guard quickly took his leave and Ellie slowly stepped into the doorway. Her appearance did nothing to ease the group’s worry.

“What are you doin’?” she questioned them.

Volstagg quickly insisted that they weren’t doing anything before Sif cut across him. “We are going to find Thor.”

“What are you doing?” Fandral exclaimed, looking at Sif in horror. “Are you unaware that that is Loki’s new wife? Did you forget this fact?”

“The Bifröst is closed off,” Ellie replied matter-of-factly. “No one can come or go until we ease tensions with Jotunheim. Heimdall won’t allow it.”

“Thor would do it for us,” Sif said simply. “I will not leave him to rot in that realm.”

Ellie let out an impatient groan. “What do you mean rot? He’s down on Midgard because he tried to destroy an entire race after they interrupted his coronation! Odin chose to send him there so that he could change his ways.”

“And yet you and Loki refuse to undo it!”

“’Cause we can’t! Why don’t you listen to me when I say that? Frigga told us that we can’t fuckin’ undo Odin’s last commend when it was such an important one!”

“It sounds as though it is just part of your scheme to steal the throne,” she practically spat, causing Volstagg’s mouth to fall open at her petulant comment. “I have no doubt in my mind that you and Loki led the Frost Giants into Asgard.”

“You haven’t a clue what you’re talkin’ ’bout.”

“I beg to differ—”

“Sif,” Volstagg warned her nervously. “It would not look good to accuse the acting queen of treason—”

“She is no queen when she sits on a stolen throne,” Fandral said, sending Ellie a glare. “She’s only ever been Loki’s mortal whore — now she just wears fancier clothing.”

“You have a way with words, Fandral,” Ellie chuckled with a smirk. “You really own the title ‘The Dashing’. Now sorry to interrupt, but I believe Heimdall needs to talk to you ’bout your own treason, right? In the meantime, I’m goin’ t’go let Loki — your king — know that you four are tryin’ to go against his orders and that of Odin. If you want’a eagerly forget that Thor literally tried to destroy Jotunheim in the middle of a tantrum but insist on throwin’ Loki under the goddamn bus when all he has done is rule to the best of his abilities, then I can’t wait to see how you’re punished for this one. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve a king to speak to.”

Without waiting for a response, Ellie swiftly turned on her feet and marched away from them. Using her connection with Loki, she tugged on their link, trying to find where he was in the palace. A gentle tug in response lead her towards one of the royal balconies that over looked Asgard. Despite the fact she had needed time to be on her own, she knew how important it was that she inform Loki about the treason within Asgard. It was something that they hadn’t actually prepared for and though Heimdall should forbid them passage, he should know sooner rather than later.

She moved as swiftly as her feet would allow, though Loki was quite a distance away. She was sure that the Warriors Three and Lady Sif were already receiving a scolding from Heimdall when she emerged on to the balcony. Loki stood at the edge with Gungnir in hand, surveying his kingdom.

As she approached, he turned to greet her and smiled softly. “I’m glad you have returned, little one.”

“Not with good news, unfortunately,” she said and hurried to meet him. “I need’ta talk to you.”

The severity of her tone had him quickly scowling in concern. “What happened?”

“The Warriors Three and Lady Sif intend to go to Midgard to find Thor. They know that we let the Frost Giants into Asgard, but they think we did it to steal the throne. They also think that you intentionally got Thor banished and now they want’a tell Thor this and I don’t think he’s goin’ to react well. What do we do?”

Though he seemed troubled by her words, he wrapped his free arm around her waist and pulled her into a comforting embrace. “Shh, it is alright. We will figure something out.”

“But Heimdall won’t let them go, right?” She looked up at him as her hands clutched at his cape. “You gave him orders to keep the Bifröst closed.”

“I have doubts,” he explained, looking uncertain. “About Heimdall’s loyalty to me. If I am honest, I barely trust any of the guards here at all. I had not really prepared for this reaction…”

Suddenly in the distance, the roar of the Bifröst observatory coming to life drew the lovers’ attention away from one and other. The light of the rainbow bridge shot into distant space, and presumably, sent the Warriors Three and Sif with it. Ellie felt Loki’s arm hold her tighter as her heart sped up, knowing that Heimdall had betrayed his king and allowed Thor’s friend to leave. She feared what they might tell him and how exactly they would paint her and Loki to the Thunderer. Her husband had his jaw clenched and she could easily sense the fear that was overtaking him with thoughts of what might happen to them. She could practically see the clogs whirring in his head, desperately trying to think of a way out of this mess.

When he felt her stare, he looked down and placed a tender kiss on her head before muttering into her hair. “I will not let them take you from me.”

“We’ll figure this out,” she said, doing her best to reassure him even though she was uncertain herself. “I know that they turned against you, but I won’t do that, Loki. I promise I’ll always be here.”

Though she hoped her words would comfort him, the underlying panic in his voice was quite clear. “I know, love. I will get us out of this. I promise you that.”

Somehow, despite the promises they made to each other, Ellie couldn’t help but feel that the peace they acquired in the midst of all this turmoil was quickly coming to an  unavoidable end.

Chapter Text

Beyond the horizon, the sun had set upon Asgard. The cool night’s wind flew through Ellie’s hair as she rode atop Skeidbrimir. Loki’s horse was thundering down the Rainbow Bridge while his master urged him onwards as fast as he could go. The urgency with which everything around them was crashing down seemed to push the couple to their breaking point. She was suddenly realising how well and truly cornered they were. It was essentially a situation in which it was them against the entirety of Asgard.

Ellie kept her arms tightly wrapped around Loki’s slim waist as they neared the observatory. As soon as the Bifröst came to life only moments earlier, he insisted that he knew exactly who was behind it.

“Heimdall does not trust me,” he explained as joined her at the stables. After witnessing the Bifröst coming to life, he sent her to ready his mount while he attended to something urgently. She didn’t ask questions, knowing there was very little time to argue anyway. “He has practically declared it, and he must have allowed them passage to Midgard. I shan’t stand for this treachery, not when I have so much to lose.” He paused, meeting her gaze with desperate green eyes. “Not when I can lose you.”

“So you intend to arrest him?” she asked in concern. “Should you not be bringin’ some of the guards along then?”

“I can hardly trust them now either. The Warriors Three, Lady Sif, and Heimdall had all sworn loyalty to me, only to betray me and go against my word. If I cannot trust them, those who are supposed to be my trusted friends, then how can I trust the Einherjar?”

And now, the pair of them arrived at their destination and left the horse a safe distance away. Below them, the ocean waves crashed against the building’s exterior before they toppled over the edge and fell into the abyss below. Outside the observatory, she could see the Gatekeeper standing and presumably waiting for them. She couldn’t help but feel intimidated by his stony expression and unmoving form. He resembled a marble sentinel awaiting command. And yet, he had just willingly went against the wishes of his king. In any normal situation, the consequences would be truly dire for the perpetrator, and Ellie had no idea how Loki was about to handle this. He was not the same man as the one with whom she was so in love the week previous. Now, he reminded her of a cornered animal, ready to bite anyone who came too near.

She walked closely by his side as he approached Heimdall.

“Tell me, Loki,” the latter said, as calm as always. “How did you get the Jötunns into Asgard?”

While Ellie could feel her gut twisting with Heimdall’s accusations, she kept her expression blank as he spoke, waiting to follow Loki’s lead, whatever it may be. She could hardly do anything else at this point, could she?

“You think the Bifröst is the only way in and out of the Realm?” the King replied, irritation present in his tone. “There are secret paths between worlds to which even you with all your gifts are blind. But I have need of them no longer, now that I am King.”

“Did you instil the help of your Midgardian beloved?” His golden eyes fixed themselves on Ellie. “Use her as a pawn in your games?”

She tried very hard to bite her tongue at such an insinuation. “You have some cheek.”

“She had nothing to do with this, and it would be wise to show more respect when you speak to your Queen. By insulting her, you insult me, and I say, that for your act of treason, you are relieved of your duties as Gatekeeper, and no longer citizen of Asgard.”

Ellie blinked, momentarily stunned by his choice. She turned to look at him, but he kept his eyes fixed warily on the now former Gatekeeper. “Loki—”

Before she could even defend him, Heimdall cut across her and made his choice. “Then I need no longer obey you.” He swung his sword upwards, which he always held firmly in his grasp, and raised his arms as if to strike Loki where he stood. As Ellie instinctively reached for the dagger she kept sheathed under her garments, she felt Loki wrap an arm around her waist and shove her behind his frame. She cried out for them to stop, just as Loki released his staff and summoned something invisible with both hands. In the blink of an eye, the Casket of Ancient Winters appeared in his grasp, from which a flurry of ice and dark magic come flying in a screaming wind. Ellie could only watch transfixed as Loki confidently held his place and the ice began to slowly consume Heimdall. His movements slowed, the swinging sword getting slower and slower as it inched towards the youngest son of Odin’s neck. A satisfied smile covered his face as the powers of the Casket slowly revealed his Jötunn appearance once more. Slowly but surely, the ice halted Heimdall where he stood, crackling and steaming in the night air. The Watcher of Worlds now stood frozen, and the Casket disappeared with a wave of Loki’s hands.

“Are you alright?” he turned and asked Ellie without hesitation.

She looked up to see his blue skin disappear, her hand still gripping the handle of her knife. “He… He just tried to kill you.”

“That he did,” Loki replied dryly, casting a curious glance at the frozen man. “Without hesitation.”

Ellie simply couldn’t believe it. “But he just betrayed you and then tried to lob your head off! How are you so calm ’bout this?”

“I am not so much calm as I am unsurprised by his actions.”

“Well I am!” she declared, running an anxious hand through her hair. “Jesus, I knew the Asgardians were cruel to you and held little respect for your ways, but this takes the cake. I just… I can’t get over that he tried to kill you.” She paused, trying to get her breath as her brain began to run over the events of the last few days. “What the hell have we gotten ourselves into? What are we doin’?”

Loki firmly grabbed her by the shoulders. “Surviving. We are surviving, that is what we are doing, little one.”

“And yet everyone seems to be against us — how can we possibly survive that?”

“We must. There is no other way. Now, come, I intend on ensuring our survival right now.”

With a sigh she followed him as he stepped around Heimdall’s frozen form and entered the observatory. “What exactly is the plan?”

Loki calmly stepped up to the podium in the centre of the room and inserted Gungnir into the control panel. Around them, the Bifröst came to life.

“To ensure that Thor does not return,” he answered and, with a wave of his hand, revealed the veiled weapon he had brought with him. Before the entrance to the portal stood the Destroyer, its head turned obediently towards its king, fire welling within its metal chest. With a twist of the sceptre, the portal swiftly drew the Destroyer into itself and sent it flying towards Midgard.

Ellie could only stare in dismay as Loki unraveled before her. “What are you doing?”

He seemed visibly perturbed by her questions. “Ensuring our safety, Ellie! Ensuring that Odin will favour me and allow us to remain together.”

“By killin’ Thor?” she all but screamed, bravely approaching him where he stood on the podium. “He isn’t to blame for any of this! Have you forgotten that he tried to save us?”

“It is his fault that we are even in this situation in the first place!” He reefed Gungnir from the control panel, shutting Asgard off from the outside world again, before striding down the steps and out of the observatory. “I will hear not anymore of this foolishness. I am trying to fix my brother’s mess and I need you by my side to do it.”

Hurrying after him, she continued to plead. “You know that I would never leave you, but I need you t’see sense—”

“I am the only one who apparently has any sense at all!” His outburst left her momentarily stunned, but he was quick to try to steady himself with his own moment of silence. He took several deep breaths through his nose, his thin lips firmly pressed together in a grim line. “I shan’t argue with you right now, not when we are already alone in this. Come with me while I see how the Destroyer fairs on Midgard.”

“This isn’t the way,” she insisted, cupping his face with both hands as they stood together on the Rainbow Bridge. “This isn’t the way we should fix things, Loki. Please.”

Though she knew that she appeared desperate, he looked back at her with quiet reservation. She knew that he believed her sentiment was wrong and misplaced. He saw no way out other than getting Thor out of the way. All of these steps led towards the one goal of earning his father’s favour and getting to keep Ellie by his side forever. And yet, with each passing choice, his plans seemed to get uncharacteristically sloppy. Even if the Destroyer killed Thor on Midgard, and Loki subsequently killed Laufey, surely the Asgardians would hear of how he had been slain due to Loki’s own orders? Hell, if Odin ever woke from his Odinsleep, surely he would find out about it too? Loki’s lies, which were usually so carefully woven and intricately planned, were slowly snapping under the pressure from every angle. With that, the young king was also beginning to snap.

The final straw had been the revelation of his parentage.

“It is the only way,” he said quietly, reserved in his sadness. His eyes welled, but he wiped them before any tears could fall. Done with the conversation, he beckoned his mount with a whistle and gestured to its saddle. “Come with me to the throne room; I must keep my eye on the Destroyer’s movements.”

He isn’t goin’ to see sense right now, and you know that, the little voice in Ellie’s head urged her. You were taught how to manipulate by the best, so do what he would do. Go to the throne room, watch him carefully, plant seeds with your words, and see how they grow. Make him see sense when he’s vulnerable. If anyone can do it, you can! You’re probably the only one who can get through to him now.

“I go where you go,” she offered. “Lead the way, My King.”

With a little relieved nod, he mounted his horse and offered her his free hand. She allowed him to pull her up and soon found them galloping back down towards Asgard’s palace. He moved along quickly and urged all of the guards out of Valaskjálf. Once left alone, Loki took his seat on the throne and urged Ellie to come closer. He was nervous — she could tell that much — and never truly looked like he was wholly happy in his seat. She allowed herself to be pulled into his lap and took a seat on his large thigh. Before she could ask how they were to go about watching the Destroyer, Loki waved his hand and conjured some sort of flat hologram in the air before them. The image flickered for a moment before it focused, revealing the familiar streets of Puente Antiguo. In contrast to when Ellie had visited the town, the residents were now running scattered and cars and buildings lay waste to the Destroyer. Their view in the hologram was moving quickly from side to side, as though they were in its very head. Its focus suddenly centred on the figures of the Warriors Three and Lady Sif approaching down the main street.

“I have tethered a connection between myself and the Destroyer,” Loki explained while her eyes remained fixed on the moving images. "So that I can control his movements and make sure the job is done properly.”

On queue, a blast of fire shot from the Destroyer’s mouth, crashing into a car and with it destroying an entire petrol station in an explosion of flames and smoke.

“What are you doin’?” she exclaimed, appalled by the display of violence before her eyes. “I thought you said you were goin’ after Thor?”

“I am.”

“Then why are you goin’ after everyone else?” Her thoughts flashed to Isabella and the residents of Puente Antiguo who had shown them nothing but kindness. How Loki could suddenly do something like this genuinely baffled her.

Loki shook his head, eyes still focused on everything the Destroyer was showing them. “The town has already been evacuated by Thor and his friends. Look around, Ellie — there are no Midgardians to harm. Only them.”

Ellie looked back at the screen just in time to see the Destroyer smacking Volstagg across the street with a powerful swipe of its metal hand. The warrior landed on an already obliterated car windshield. The Destroyer slowly approached its prey.

“Don’t,” she pled, eyes now settling on her love. “Leave them be, Loki.”

His brow rose teasingly. “They betrayed their king.”

“They did, and a death sentence is not somethin’ you’d do in retaliation.”

He looked at her quizzically before pursing his lips and ordering the Destroyer to leave Volstagg alone. She knew that look well. He knew she was right and thank the Norns he was still listening to what she had to say.

One thing at a time, Ellie. Don’t make it obvious, and take your time. You’ll know your moment when you see it.

Volstagg appeared to be momentarily baffled as the Destroyer moved to pass him by, still laying defenceless on the destroyed car. His moment of confusion was cut short when something forced the Destroyer to a grinding halt. It lurched forward — their view shaking with it — until it looked down to see a long spear protruding through its neck and into the sandy ground below.

“Sif,” Loki muttered irritably, instantly recognising the weapon used to subdue the machine. He was quick to address his weapon. “Get her off!”

The moment of misplaced calmness on Midgard was broken as the flames welled within the creature’s chest once more. With slow and unnatural movements, the Destroyer spun its whole body around to face Sif, who stared back in trepidation. She quickly jumped to safety a mere second before a fresh beam of fire burst from its mouth. It was quick to slide off the spear and stand tall once more.

“Fall back!” Sif yelled as she and the Warriors Three ran down the street and away from their attacker.

Another blast was unleashed from the hulking creature, sending her flying through the air. At that moment, Ellie couldn’t help but think about the times she had spent in Sif’s company as a child. The memories of learning hand to hand combat and how she encouraged her to learn while some of the others laughed at her for being a weak little mortal. They had not always seen eye to eye, especially in recent years with regards her relationship to Loki, but there was also a time in her short life when Sif helped save her from those who desired to ruin her. No matter what Sif had said to her in the last few days, or the threats and treason committed by those who believed Loki to be a scheming traitor, she couldn’t stand the thought of her death.

Finding it harder and harder to hold her tongue and keep her composure as the violence continued on Earth, she focused her attention on Loki once more. “Leave them be.

“After all that she said to you?” he spat, positively seething at the thought. “And I can only imagine what she told Thor upon her arrival. She has almost certainly painted us as the villains.”

“And you plan to disprove her claims by killin’ her in front of Thor?” she challenged, pointing as the warriors were sent flung through a shop window. “You’re smarter than that. I know you, Loki, and I know you don’t want’a kill them. It’s not in your nature.”

He hung his head for the briefest of moments, swallowing thickly. His eyes, shining in the dim light of the hall with anger and anguish, flitted between her gaze and the scene playing out below. “Nor is surrender, little one.”

“But there has t’be another way. There must be!”

“Do you not understand?” he asked, voice hushed and eyes red rimmed. “I would destroy anyone who threatened us. I just want to keep you safe with me.”

He was breaking yet again, and she knew it. These past few days had been nothing but trial after trial for Loki in his fragile state, and she genuinely feared what may happen if neither she nor his mother were around to help.

The Destroyer continued to walk, now ignoring the Asgardians as they got back to their feet and ran to cover, helping each other along the way. By Loki’s command, it withheld its attacks, instead walking towards its actual target. Thor appeared in the centre of the street. Behind him stood his friends of both realms, watching on in awe as he advanced on the towering beast. Amongst them, Ellie recognised the women with whom the eldest son of Odin seemed infatuated — Jane.

Through the dust and smoke of the burning town, Thor strode ahead, dressed in Midgardian garb and looking very much like a defenceless and mortal man. Ellie felt Loki tense at the sight of his brother, the one whom he claimed to be the cause of this mess. The one who had earned the favour of their father, the one whose shadow he had lived in.

“Brother,” Thor began, addressing the sibling he knew to be watching. “Whatever I have done to wrong you, whatever I have done to lead you to do this, I am truly sorry. But these people are innocent.”

Seeing the former God of Thunder fearlessly face such a behemoth, Ellie slowly forced herself from Loki's lap. His hands remained limp as he let her slide away. She walked to the very edge of the steps leading to the throne and watched as Thor continued to walk to his apparent death. Was this truly the god she had come to know so well? She studied his face and wondered whether he had truly changed.

“Taking their lives will gain you nothing…”

“It’s not his fault,” she murmured before turning to face Loki with a furrowed brow. “It’s not his fault that Odin favoured him, and it’s not his fault that Odin treated you the way he did. It was Odin who pitted you against each other.”

Loki said nothing, instead choosing to pick at the palm of his hand and watch his brother from beneath his helm. His face was twitching, but he said nothing in response.

The Destroyer walked onwards until it met Thor in the centre of the street and stood patiently, awaiting his command as it opened its mouth and the flames grew once more.

Thor held his ground, and offered that which Loki seemed to desperately desire. “So take mine, and end this.”

“Loki…” Ellie watched the man she loved so dearly as he slowly crumbled atop his unwanted throne. Steadily walking to him once more, she kneeled at his feet and gently took his hands in hers. “You don’t need’ta do this.”

He could barely meet her eyes as his own grew wetter with each passing second. “I… panicked. What was I to do? They probably told him that I am a monster.”

“You’re no monster, my love. Did you forget how happy Thor was to see us together? Or how he defended us before the Allfather himself? I know that he has upset you and been unknowingly cruel, but I’m also positive that he loves you. Just talk to him — make him see and understand your side of it.”

It was then that he finally looked up from their entwined hands, tears now dripping down his sharp cheeks. He sniffled and shook his head. “I am so tired…”

“What you’ve gone through the past few days has been more than most could bear, and I’m sorry you’ve had’ta deal with it. But you’ll get through it, and you won’t be alone, alright?”

That was the moment Loki broke, and, much like a few nights ago in his chambers, Ellie found herself holding him tightly as sobs wracked his heaving body.

“I did not want any of this,” he snivelled, clutching her dress in his hands. “I promise, I did not. I just wanted to be happy with you by my side! And Odin…” She leaned back to look at him properly, giving him all the time he needed to collect himself. “He will never forgive me for this.”

“My dear husband, how can you react any other way when you’ve been so mistreated? Thor was selfish and careless, Odin hid secrets from you, and Heimdall, Sif, and the Warriors Three disrespected you on more than one occasion. Even we’ve made terrible mistakes in the past few days. But, despite all that, I know Thor loves you and I think he has the power to change his childish ways.”

Loki once more watched his brother who was still worlds away, and waved his hand. The flames within the Destroyer suddenly began to dissipate and its head lulled, dropping down as it started to shut down.

For a brief moment, a smiling and relieved Thor appeared within the creature’s eye as he spoke. “Thank you, brother.”

Before he could say anything else, the hologram flickered and faded away. The Destroyer was done, and Thor was alive.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Ellie took a moment to get her bearings. The silence in the hall was only ruined by the flickering of nearby torches and the gentle breaths that Loki drew in and out.

“Are you alright?” she asked carefully.

“I do not know,” he replied honestly and titled his head. “Although I worry where I would be in this situation without you.”

“Probably havin’ a lot less fun, I can tell you that.”

Her answer made him huff and he offered her a small but genuine smile. All too quickly, the smile was gone as he recalled their current predicament. “There is one more thing I must do if I am to avoid Odin’s retaliation for all this.”

Oh…

She had momentarily forgotten about his plans with regards Laufey. Perhaps she had repressed it and wished that the idea never crossed his mind in the first place. “Must we?”

“It is the only way I can gain his favour. It has to work!”

Without another word, Loki forced himself to his feet unsteadily. Ellie shot up too, her eyes tracing over him in concern. No, he definitely was not okay, that much was obvious. “Are you sure—”

“Yes,” he insisted, the desperation rising within him yet again. “This is the last thing I must do, I promise you, Ellie. After this, it will all be over. But I need your help to pull it off. Will you follow me, this last time? And then we can go back to our normal lives, I swear it.”

It was wishful thinking. Living a normal life as husband and wife seemed like a faraway dream that would never come to pass. And yet, she had to hope — hope that Laufey’s end would bring with it Odin’s pardon. It was most certainly their last hope.

But only earlier that day he had spoken of his purpose and how he would take care of the realm of Jotunheim. How he intended to go about such a thing she had no clue, and desperately hoped that perhaps she could pull him away from such an idea, just as she had done with regards Thor.

Yeah, this is really the last chance we have.

“One last time,” she repeated with a nod, unable to manage a smile. “Lead the way.”

 

* * *

 

The Frost Giants had arrived and, unbeknownst to the majority of Asgard, were lead by King Loki. According to the mental messages shared between the lovers, there was only five of them — Laufey, and four guards. Two were to remain at the Bifröst with Heimdall, and the other two were to accompany the king to the palace.

Yeah, that’s grand, she thought as she raced to Odin and Frigga’s shared quarters, her bow and a quiver of arrows slung over her shoulder. The two guards are probably manageable between me and Frigga. It’s only two Frost Giants after all… Awh, Jesus, this is bad!

She was playing her part as the dutiful wife well, and abided by what Loki asked of her — go to their chambers, protect his mother, and help her to take out the two guards. No matter what, leave Laufey to him. Apparently, he had the Jötunn’s word that no harm would come to herself or Frigga.

Nope, she still didn’t like any of this one bit.

She unceremoniously burst through the doors upon her arrival, and was greeted with the sight of a flabbergasted Frigga standing to greet her. “Ellie? What is the matter?”

“Frost Giants!” she exclaimed between heaving breaths. She slammed the doors shut and sealed them with magic. “They’re in Asgard, and I can only assume that they’re here for him.”

Frigga looked to her helpless husband who still lay unconscious in their bed. Her face grew grave, but also hardened with resolve. “Where is Loki?”

“On his way, but I came down ahead of him to help you.”

“Then side by side we shall fight, daughter.”

As if on queue, an audible ruckus could be heard outside the door. Ellie assumed it to be Einherjar desperately trying to fight the intruders off, though she knew they would be no match. The sudden silence of their shouts that followed was evidence enough of their failure. The ice that shortly after formed on the door was the only signal the two women needed. Frigga swiftly armed herself with a sword as Ellie notched an arrow and aimed.

As the ice covered the golden walls, the door burst open.

The first massive Jötunn came thundering into the room, and Ellie quickly let the arrow fly. Piercing its neck, the creature stumbled. As it fell, the Allmother slashed at the second intruder, killing it instantly. Its blood had not yet splattered the walls before King Laufey appeared and smacked her out of his way. Acting on instinct, Ellie ran to her side and shielded her queen from the giant.

Instead of finishing the job, the attacker towered over them and spat out a very clear threat. “It would be wise to stay out of my way, little mortal, unless you wish for me to slay her too.”

She said nothing and instead pulled Frigga from harm’s way. As she anxiously checked her over for injuries, she caught sight of the Frost Giant perching himself atop the defenceless Allfather on the bed.

Loki? she called desperately, looking around for his arrival. Where the fuck are you?

She waited.

No answer.

Loki—!

“It’s said you can still see and hear what transpires around you,” Laufey drawled, his breath heavy with the anticipation. “I hope it’s true, so that you may know your death came by the hand of Laufey.”

For fuck sake, Loki! Hurry up!

An ice dagger, formed in his own hand, was raised above his head.

Unable to watch, Ellie held Frigga in her grasp, squeezed her eyes shut, and lowered her head. She was expecting to hear the sound of the dagger tearing through Odin’s chest.

Instead, the unanticipated blast of an energy beam tore through the room and struck Laufey in the back. She gasped and whipped her head up as the Frost Giant was sent soaring across the room.

In the doorway stood Loki, fully clad in his armour, and wielding a smoking Gungnir. He lowered the weapon and spoke calmly. “And your death came by the son of Odin.”

As the mighty King of Jotunheim — his rightful father — lay on the ground, disorientated and gasping for air, Loki raised his weapon again. With another blast of energy, Laufey was turned to ashes.

Chapter Text

Ellie heaved a sigh of relief when the threat was dealt with. She quickly helped the Allmother to her feet. “Are you alright?”

The Queen gave her a reassuring smile as she stood once more. “Yes, little one. I do not know if I would have survived without help from you both.”

“I don’t think I would’ve made it either. A little mortal against a bunch of Frost Giants is hardly a fair fight.”

Across the room, the son of Odin caught Frigga’s gaze. Once she was standing again she ran to embrace him in her arms. “Loki! You saved him.”

As Ellie approached, she watched with a small ounce of guilt in her heart as Loki held his mother tight. Even beneath the helm she could see how the contact affected him. He pulled back after savouring the moment, and spoke in an urgent tone. “I swear to you, Mother, that they will pay for what they've done today. I will end the Jötunn threat, now and forever!”

“What?” Ellie blurted out before she could stop herself. Now Loki and Frigga were looking at her expectantly. “What Jötunn threat? You literally just incinerated Laufey!”

“Exactly,” Loki replied urgently. “They just tried to assassinate the Allfather. They have practically declared war! They need to be dealt with before they can do any further damage.”

Dealt with?” Ellie repeated his words as her mind tried to grasp what was happening. She had assumed that when Loki expressed his need to complete one more task to earn Odin’s pardon, that Laufey’s demise was that one last thing. It suddenly dawned on her that this was not the end of his plan. She could only stare back at him in shock while keeping her lips tightly sealed. Had Frigga not been in the room, she would have grabbed her lover by the shoulders and demanded that he stop whatever he had formulated. There was no more they could do — this madness had to end!

She could see it in the way he looked back at her. His eyes, known for their ability to fool others and shield his true feelings, were like a clear window into his inner most thoughts for her. He could see the look of betrayal on her face. Given their bond, she hoped he could feel it.

You promised this was it, she thought, making sure that only he could hear what she had to say. Loki, you promised me that this was it!

“Killing Laufey was only part of it, Ellie,” he answered, his voice in her head sounded just as desperate as he appeared in person. “If I do not end this threat, Odin will never allow us to stay together!”

“Loki!”

The familiar booming voice snapped Ellie out of her daze. She whipped around to see Thor in the doorway, Mjölnir in hand. The sight of him standing there with his power reclaimed was a surprise to her, but also a welcome relief.

“Thor,” she murmured with a weak smile, but the God of Thunder didn’t return the gesture. “You found your way home.”

Frigga now ran to embrace her eldest son. While she expressed her belief that he would eventually return, Thor kept his gaze fixed heavily on his brother. Ellie would have ran to greet him herself, but something in his eyes prevented her from approaching. Instead, she moved instinctively closer to Loki and felt a little more secure as he wrapped his arm around her waist.

There was something clearly amiss.

Frigga sensed this too as she stood back to watch the brothers face off. When Thor approached Loki head on, the latter quickly shielded her with his body and took a few sure steps backwards.

His movements made Thor halt in his footsteps. “I am not here to harm the mortal.”

“Your stance says otherwise,” Loki answered. “As does your reclaimed hammer.”

“You speak to me as if I am the one who is in the wrong? After all you have done!”

Frigga took her chance to cut in. “What are you talking about?”

“Why don’t you tell her?” Thor demanded. “How you sent the Destroyer to kill our friends? To kill me? Sif told me of your plans to usurp the throne.”

“I had no such plans!” Loki spat. “Would you be so foolish to believe her words? She has despised Ellie and I from the very beginning!”

“You're a talented liar, brother. Always have been.”

“He’s tellin’ the truth!” Ellie insisted as the brothers faced off on either side of Odin’s bed. “We had no plans to usurp the throne at all, Thor!”

“And yet you had no issue with letting the Frost Giants into Asgard!”

“That was to prevent my betrothal to Sigyn, you fool!” Loki sneered. “And to perhaps give you more time to learn what it means to be a king!”

“Oh, so you know what it takes to be king, brother? Sif already told me of your scheming together. How do I know that your relationship with Ellie was not a ploy in the first place?”

Ellie’s stomach dropped at the sharp accusation. For the briefest of moments, she forgot about where she was and why this argument was happening in the first place. She could only stand with her mouth gaping in surprise.

Frigga was quick to cut in. “Thor, enough!

She could feel Loki’s body immediately tense. His voice was eerily calm, but one look at his face showed his eyes were struggling to contain tears. “A ploy? You think I would fake my affections for her, just to take the throne? Do you really think so little of me?”

“As I said, you always were a good liar.”

“Well, then… I must admit, it is good to have you back. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to destroy Jotunheim.”

Suddenly, Loki raised Gungnir and fired at Thor, sending him crashing through the chamber wall. Ellie jumped, gasping as the God of Thunder flew through one wall after another and tumbled down into the gardens below the palace. “What did you do that for?”

“He shan’t ruin my plans,” Loki replied cooly, tears now flowing from his eyes. “He may believe my love for you is a lie, but I shan’t let him take you from me.”

“I believe you, my son,” Frigga insisted and quickly grasped Loki by the shoulders. “Speak with Thor and he will understand. I will not let Odin separate you two—”

“Just like you reversed his decision to banish Thor? You cannot challenge his orders.”

“I am in your corner, do you not understand?” Frigga gently cupped Loki’s face, and Ellie couldn’t help but wonder if she was picturing him as a child once more. “You are our son, Loki. We will defend you.”

There was a brief moment of silence between the three of them. He seemed to be contemplating her words, even as his tears continued to fall. When he spoke, it was in a whisper. “But I am not. This is the only chance I have to make him proud.”

Don’t,” Ellie insisted, tightly clinging to his arm. “Loki, please. There has to be somethin’ else we can do.”

“Remain here and let me deal with him,” he replied before shaking her off and storming out of their chambers.

“He’s not stable,” she said to the Allmother desperately, feeling her own eyes welling up in a panic. “I didn’t… I didn’t know he would try to destroy Jotunheim, I swear!”

“Hush, little one. All will be well, but you and I have to work together.”

“I’ll do anythin’ to keep him safe, and whether or not I’m the actin’ queen means feck all to me — I follow your orders.”

Frigga stood tall and offered the mortal woman a comforting smile. In a motherly gesture that only made Ellie shed more tears, she clasped her hands tightly. “I fear that these trying times have pushed Loki to his limit. I knew that he was already at his wits end with Thor’s behaviour and that of his father, and I should have done more to help him.”

“I think we did what we could,” Ellie offered. “But I never thought I’d see it get to this point.”

“Nor did I, but we cannot give up on them just yet.”

“What do we do?”

“If there is anyone who can help to pull Loki from the pit in which he has fallen, it is you,” the Allmother explained urgently. “You need to follow him and try talk some sense into him before he does something he will regret. Norns know there has been enough senseless murder committed within this family.”

“And what ’bout you?” Ellie asked. “Can’t you help too?”

“I will remain here and try to wake Odin. I sensed earlier that his Odinsleep may be nearing its end, and this turn in his state may coincide with Thor reclaiming his powers. Odin’s strength grows again, and if he is to awaken, then he may be able to put at end to all of this. I can try to help pull his mind from its unconscious state as his power grows.”

The thundering of the Bifröst Observatory could be heard from the newly created hole in the Royal Chambers. Frigga rushed to take a look before turning her attention back to Ellie once more. “Go, there is little time. I will work as fast as I can.”

Obeying her Queen’s orders, Ellie fled from the room as quickly as her feet could carry her. A terrible sense of dread clouded her mind as she sprinted towards Asgard’s stables. Even after all that they had been through in the last few days, this moment seemed more pivotal and dangers than any other. She realised how truly high these stacks were — Loki, Thor, and the many Frost Giants that lay completely unsuspecting of any attack were all at risk.

She had once arrived in this realm as a mortal girl on the verge of death. Though she grew and learned to adjust to her surroundings, she would always be weaker than the beings in this realm. She had no right going to Jotunheim in the company of legendary warriors, and she barely had any right to be on Asgard in the first place. And yet, one of her greatest achievements had been the ability to adapt to her surrounds and successfully build relationships with those she grew to love. She had no hope of ever besting either of the brothers in combat, but maybe she could use the trust between them to pull them both back to reality.

“C’mon, girl,” she said, quickly mounting Mór-Ríoghain and talking hold of the reins. “I need you to run as fast as you can for me, alright?”

The mare huffed in response before setting off towards the rainbow bridge. Ellie pushed the horse as much as she could. A powerful whoosh sounded above her head, and she looked up to see Thor soaring through the air. The sight of him reaching the active observatory urged her to move faster. Energy roared through the bridge below Mór-Ríoghain’s galloping hooves as the spinning turret sucked up all the energy on offer. Upon arrival, she dismounted the horse in a rush. Beams of energy were already shooting from the turret which she assumed was pointed directly at an unsuspecting Jotunheim. This was enough information for her to realise that this wasn’t a safe place to be.

“Off you go, girl,” she commanded the horse, pointing back the way they had came. “It’s not safe out here, especially with them two clashin’ heads. Back to the stables! Gewon!”

Mór-Ríoghain obediently obeyed and moved swiftly back to safety. As Ellie approached the Observatory, she shielded her eyes from the rising power gushing from the vortex.  The controls in the centre of the room were completely encased in ice that was growing quickly, shooting out in spines to cover the golden roof and walls. Amidst the chaos, she spotted Thor struggling to his feet.

“I never wanted the throne!” Loki snarled as he rounded the corner, Gungnir in hand. “I only wanted to be your equal.”

“I will not fight you, brother!” Thor roared back over the noise of the bridge.

“I am not your brother. I never was.”

“Loki, this is madness…”

“Is it madness? Is it?” the Trickster asked, shaking with rage as fresh tears spilled down his cheeks. “Is it? What happened to you on earth that turned you so… soft? You had no qualms killing the Jötunns with your bare hands mere days ago! And yet when I do it with just cause it is madness!”

“There is no just cause for killing them!”

Yes, there is!” Loki screamed, striking Thor with Gungnir again and losing control of his emotions. “You believe my love for Ellie to be a lie! To be madness! I will not let you or Father take her from me!”

Stop!

Both brothers looked up to see Ellie standing there with her hands held aloft. Thor was the first to speak. “This is not your place, Ellie! Leave!”

“Asgard has never really been my place, Thor,” she snapped, planting herself between them. “But that hasn’t stopped me before. I won’t let you’s kill each other over such a bloody mess.”

“It is not safe for you here,” Loki said, his voice lowering slightly in her presence. “Let me deal with Thor.”

Instead of abiding by his wishes, she remained firm in her stance. “No. I’m not leavin’ you’s here like this. This won’t solve anythin’.”

“If it keeps us together, I do not care.”

“You do care, Loki, so stop actin’ like you don’t.” She turned to face him and slowly approached as the Observatory began to groan and rattle around them. “I understand that what happened shook you to your core, but this isn’t how you deal with it.”

“I am doing this to protect us. Can you not see that? If I do not appease Father, he will never allow us—”

“I don’t think Odin would’ve ever approved of us in the first place,” she mumbled sadly. “But with Frigga’s help, we can try get somewhere. She won’t let him separate us, I promise.”

Loki’s eyes were red-rimmed and shiny. Beneath his helm, he completely failed to keep his emotions in check. His hands shook with the spear in his grasp. Her words seemed to be working. God, she hoped they were!

“This is no trick?” Thor shouted over the noise. “You two really are doing this to stay together?”

“It’s true, Thor. We let the Frost Giants into Asgard to delay your coronation and to cancel Loki’s betrothal as a result. But whatever Sif told you is bullshit — it wasn’t a plan to get the throne, or to become King and Queen. We didn’t want this!”

Thor seemed baffled with her open admittance, but she saw little point in hiding it any longer. The only way Thor was going to believe they wanted nothing to do with the throne was by being honest.

“Why did you not tell me?” he asked. “I could have helped!”

“What could you have done, Thor? The only thing we could do was stop the weddin’ — we didn’t think you’d be willin’ t’go to Jotunheim, and we definitely didn’t think that Odin would banish you. We thought that he would instead focus his attentions on the breach in Asgard’s security, so much so that Vanaheim would get impatient ’bout the delay and call it off.”

“This is not the way,” Thor insisted, gesturing with his hammer. “We could have done something to help you.”

“He would never allow it,” Loki sneered. “He would never allow some Jötunn runt to wed a mortal in this realm. He would never allow me to have some sense of happiness, and you would be a fool to think otherwise. Did you not see how he reacted when he discovered our relationship?”

“And did you not see the way that I jumped to defend you?” Thor yelled. “I would have helped you!”

“And yet you were banished for your actions on Jotunheim. If that is how he treats you, what do you think he would have done to me for secretly consorting with a mortal?”

Seeing Loki’s facade already breaking with the mounting pressure, Ellie gently put her hands on his shoulders. “I know we did this out of desperation, love, but destroyin’ Jotunheim won’t save us. I know it, and you know it. I know ’bout what Odin has done in the past, but you’re better than that. You’re better than this.”

He considered her words with a frown before letting his eyes wander over the frozen control panel. Energy continued to funnel into the Bifröst, causing the dome around them to spin faster and faster as the turret destroyed the distant realm.

“Loki, we have to stop it!” Thor called, looking between his sibling and the controls. “Help me turn it off!”

“You cannot.”

“What do you mean?” Ellie asked, trying to see if he was lying or unwilling to help.

Loki seemed resigned to the inevitable destruction of Jotunheim. “The Bifröst will keep building until in rips Jotunheim apart. Now that it has begun, it cannot be stopped. Nothing can be done.”

A thundering groan rose as the ground shook beneath their feet. The walls of the dome began to crack under the building pressure of too much power. Ellie stumbled before Loki swept her up in his protective arms. “I’ve got you, little one. You are safe with me.”

“There has to be somethin’ we can do?” Ellie asked him, staring into his green eyes.

“You may have given up on me, brother,” Thor declared, striding over to the controls while Loki was otherwise occupied. He raised Mjölnir high above his head. “But I shan’t give up on you.”

Thor, don’t—!

The hammer cam crashing down on the ice with an ear-piercing crash.

Ellie barely had time to react before Loki shielded her with his body. Energy pulsed from the impact and sent all three of them flying through the Observatory’s walls. She felt herself land atop Loki on the bridge, and struggled to regain her surroundings.

“Loki?” she asked, quickly checking him over as he groaned. “Are you alright?”

“I should be asking you that,” he answered as he sat up. His eyes studied her carefully as he got his breath back. “Are you hurt?”

“No, I don’t think so. I’m pretty sure you broke my fall.”

The moment was broken when Thor came scrambling over to the couple. “Are you well?”

“Yes, Thor,” Loki growled and helped Ellie to her feet. “But I told you that you could not stop it, you oaf!”

“I thought you were being dramatic!” Thor retorted and looked back at the Observatory, which was now spinning completely out of control. The entire dome was consumed with bolts and flashes of energy. It looked well and truly impenetrable, and even still it gained power as it fired at Jotunheim. Ellie could feel the bridge vibrate as it gave all it could to sustain the turret. The eldest Odinson looked at a loss for what to do. “There must be some way to stop it.”

“It has gained too much power,” Loki said, keeping himself close beside Ellie. “And even if we could control it, none of us can penetrate it now!”

Suddenly, Thor looked at the bridge beneath. “No, we cannot. But I might be able to cut off its power source.”

Ellie followed his gaze as her hair whipped around her face in the strong wind. She watched as he raised his hammer once more and brought in down on to the Bifröst. The massive blow caused shockwaves to rumble through the bridge and she clung to Loki to help keep her footing steady. Another blow caused it to tremble as if hit by an earthquake. The bridge began to crack.

“What are you doing?” Loki asked as he struck it again with a thundering boom. “If you destroy the bridge, you will never see her again!”

“Then all I can ask is for her forgiveness,” Thor yelled and brought down his hammer again. “Either help me or go back to safety, Loki!”

Ellie could only watch helplessly as Loki contemplated his words. He quickly looked between the spear in his hands and her confused expression. Though still visibly distraught from their world crashing down around them, he gently cupped her face and kissed her hard. As they parted, he said. “Go, Ellie. I need you to go back to the palace.”

Her heart sunk in her chest. She swallowed thickly. “No way.”

“You do not have a choice in the matter.”

“I won’t leave without you!”

“There is no time to argue with me—”

“You said we were in this together! I’m no goin’ anywhere!”

While the couple argued over their safety, Thor summoned all the strength he had left as he raised his hammer for the final time.

As he brought it down on to the bridge, the structure shattered. Rainbow energy came exploding out of it, the tremendous noise completely deafening to the ears. Ellie called out for her lover as white light blinded her vision. She struggled to gather herself as she flew through the air, and only then realised that she was falling to the darkness below. Thor and Loki’s screams were heard nearby as they were also sent flying from the force of the blast.

She forced her eyes to focus. Only then did she see Loki falling with her. With all the strength she could muster, she reached for Gungnir, still in his grasp. As her fingers wrapped around the cool metal of the spear, she felt herself being forced to stop in mid air.  Her love hung on to the other end as she stopped him from flying into the abyss. With a gasp, she stared down into infinite space below. Peering over her shoulder, she saw Thor holding the end of her dress in his strong hand. Above him stood none other than Odin, whose hold on Thor’s boot was saving them all from a terrifying death. Frigga had succeeded in her promise, for the Allfather now stood at the edge of the broken bridge with his power reclaimed.

Ellie!” Loki called from below. “Are you alright?”

“I’m fine!” she spluttered, even though she was definitely not fine. Her arms and shoulders burned with the strain to keep him safe. The darkness stared up at her like a hungry maw open and waiting for its first morsel. “Oh, Jesus… Just hold on, alright? We’ll pull you up!”

She heard Thor groan above her as she kept her eyes on Loki. He looked around, visibly afraid, as the Observatory ripped itself to pieces and disappeared into the rushing torrent of Bifröst energy that threatened to consume them all if they let go.

“I’ve got you,” Ellie reassured him over and over. She managed to hold the head of the weapon with her other hand for some extra leverage. “I’ve got you. Thor, c’mon! Help us!

She felt herself being pulled backwards as Odin gently eased them back. Over the thundering noise of the destruction, she heard Thor grunt before he called her name in a panic. She could see Loki’s eyes suddenly widen as he looked passed her at his brother. She forced her head to turn as much as she could to see what the commotion was.

“Your dress,” Thor breathed and tried to reach out for her with his other hand. “I cannot reach you!”

She caught a swift glimpse of tearing fabric. Her heartbeat quickened as she realised her impending death, but also that of Loki.

Unable to do anything herself, she stared down at the god before her — her husband no less — as silent tears fell from his eyes.

“I am too heavy,” he sadly declared and gulped. “You cannot stop it.”

“I can,” she argued uselessly, desperately. Surely there was something she could do? “I can pull you up quicker.”

As she tried to do just that, she lurched in the air and screamed as more of her dress tore out of Thor’s grasp.

Loki screamed in fear. “Ellie, stop! Look at me!”

Though hearing the finality in his voice scared her more than she could ever imagine, she forced herself to look at his face. She would never get over how truly beautiful he was to her, but she never thought that she would see him in a situation as truly dire as this.

“You know that I love you,” he said with a flash of a sad smile despite his tears. “Don’t you? Do not forget it.”

Stop,” she begged him, knowing that this was it. “Please, Loki. Don’t go.”

“You have made me truly happy, you know. If I must do this to keep you safe, then I so be it.”

Thor’s voice yelled from above. “Loki, no!

Loki’s eyes never strayed from her. “I would do it. For you.”

She shook her head as he smiled at her despite it all. Despite the tears, despite his obvious fear of what awaited him below, and despite the end to what they were so lucky to share.

She was openly crying now, unable to keep it in any longer. “Loki, please—”

“Stay safe, little one.”

Please, don’t!

Despite her pleas and that of his brother, Ellie could only look on as Loki let go. Her screams carried after him as he fell into the Bifröst’s energy and was carried away with the debris.

As he disappeared into nothingness, Ellie’s vision blurred and her throat ached. She felt numb as her body was hoisted against her wishes. She looked into the blackness through which he had disappeared and all she desperately wanted in that moment was to follow.

As her back hit the safety of the bridge, she could barely think straight. All she could do, even as Thor pulled her into a crushing embrace, was cry.

All she could do was weep for him.