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Broken Crown

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A vulgar, sharp knock at your bedchamber door distracts you from the simple, three syllable mantra repeating in your head:

 

Do not cry.

  

You simply refuse to cry on your wedding day. And as the door opens to reveal an aged nurse, you swallow the tears back.

 

“M’lady,” she formally curtsies and greets you with a warm smile on her face.

  

You acknowledge the woman with a slight nod and even smaller frown. The type of frown that is typical of your home: empty and cold, like the ruined castles and Old Gods themselves. Sitting in front of the vanity, you fidget stiffly in your gown, ignoring the way the corset pulls tightly on your ribs.

  

As the woman tepidly makes her way over, delight surges through your veins when she ungracefully steps on the hearth. Clearly, she’s not a true Æsir. She’s probably nothing more than a well-bred Asgardian, plucked right from the streets. After all, a traitor’s daughter is not worthy of a proper handmaiden, regardless of her betrothed.

 

And soon your harsh judgement against the woman, your glee for her limitations, your vapid hate, retreats. It’s not her fault you’re here. She is probably in a situation much like yours, forced and coerced into a position that persuades her to serve. Why would she want to care for you? There is nothing to be gained by being your nurse. They all know the truth. You are the daughter of the most hated person in Asgard. And regardless of your royal blood, you are solely a pawn. 

 

The woman stands behind you, lightly resting her wrinkled hands on your shoulders.

 

“Are you nervous, M’lady?” Her aged, raspy voice asks, oblivious to the emptiness within your eyes.

 

“Of course not, I love the Prince,” You lie with a dry mouth, praying that the woman cannot hear the emptiness that seeps out.

 

A similar lie spews from her mouth, “And that Asgardian loves you.”

 

“Asgardian… or Jötunn?” You implicate defiantly, staring at the woman through the foggy mirror with a spiteful smirk on your face. This sneer isn’t like Vanaheim or the cold, this is laced with stubbornness and resistance that sprouts from deep within your soul.

 

The nurse’s smile falters, the corners of her grin falling ever so slightly as her hands move to your hair. Pulling roughly on the ends, she changes the subject. “You have such beautiful hair. I am tempted to style it in the Asgardian fashion.” Your heart plummets as the woman begins to pile the strands in a foreign way; being stripped of your dignity, heritage, and family all over again.

 

Then the woman sighs, letting your hair drop. “But the Vanaheim braids look so proper on you. After all, you look exactly like your father.”

 

And with that small statement, your calm and collected demeanor shatters like the remnants of the heart that once resided in your chest. How dare she talk about him. He is yours, the last remnant of your past that meant something.

 

You both sit in silence as the woman deftly braids your hair in the formal Vanir style and hums a faintly familiar tune. And you wish. Wish that the song wasn't familiar. Wish that you aren’t becoming like them.

 

You wish the past could envelope you and shield you from this... satire.

 

You wish your mother was here.

 

Stop.

 

Wipe the thoughts of them from your memory. It’ll be easier that way.

 

“Please stop,” You whisper, letting your eyelids flutter shut as a last defense to keep tears away.

 

The woman quiets, finishing your hair. “Did your mother tell you what to expect for tonight?”

 

Something changes inside you. It makes you snap, “I do not have a mother.”

 

“Not anymore,” she says, taking a pin from the apron tied around her waist. “Do not expect too much. Even if his rumored reputation is true. A woman’s first time is never pleasant.”

 

“What makes you think it will be my first time?” You challenge, holding your chin high.

 

When putting the pin in your hair, the woman pricks your scalp, making you wince slightly. “You have a sharp tongue, M’lady. One that is best to be dulled,” she warns.

 

The nurse reaches for your hand and pulls you to your feet, flaming the fires within you. Touching you as if it is allowed, as if she’s there to be your confidant. Your second mother. The truth is simple though, you’re alone and she cannot make you feel otherwise. Alone and, yet, formidable.

 

The lady goes back to humming the dreadful tune from earlier, only making your resolve stronger.

 

You clench your fists to fight the temper that is sure to exude from your being. The woman pulls a golden veil over your head then grabs your clamped hands, “Remember who the real enemy is, my dear.”

 

Your gaze snaps to the woman’s eyes, shocked to find her creased eyes are colored like your own. Before compassion could take hold, you pull away, pivoting to look out the window as the birds sing. Desperately, you wish to sprout wings and leave this place.

 

The woman then continues to the door humming the tune as if it means something. She turns at the door back to face you. “Lang Lewe Vanir.”

 

Long live Vanaheim.

 

Your head swivels sharply only to find the door shut. The woman disappears, leaving you alone with only terrorizing memories.

 

 

xXxXx 

 

“I do not want to marry the Prince,” You spat to your father, folding arms over your chest.

 

“Sweetheart,” father sighed, sitting on his chair in the corner of the room. “Sometimes there are things you must do for the sake of your people. Even if you do not want to do it.”

 

You shook your head in utter disbelief. Tears welled, threatening to spill from your eyes. This wasn’t what you planned as a child. You planned for skinned knees and dirty hemlines, you imagined the woods and trees and isolated solace. Not Asgardian buildings and packed streets and political games. 

 

“Please do not make me,” you whispered.

 

When he moved and sat next to you on the bed, you fell into his side, finding comfort as his arms circled your shoulders. “I cannot make you do anything, but I can urge you to do what is right and this is it.” His hand smoothed over your hair and tilts your head to meet his eyes.

 

He looked tired. The skin around his faded eyes fold and crease like antique pages. In that moment, you didn’t think of your people. Of the Vanir who would prosper from this. You thought of him. Of the tiredness and age that had overwhelmed him in recent months. That was why you would do this.

 

“Do you truly think Thor would make a good king, father?”

 

His smile grew for a small moment, “I do.”

 

If only he said the opposite, if only he told you the truth. You would have been more careful then. And maybe, just maybe, then he’d still be alive and you wouldn’t be alone.

 

xXxXx 

 

 

Two rasps on the door make your nervous stomach plummet and a steely resolve take its place.

 

The door opens to reveal him. “They thought you would prefer to have a familiar face to deliver you.” The guard gestures, to himself. Your lips pull down as you stay rooted in place, hating the man in front of you.

 

He should not be here. He should be dead too.

 

“Ready, Princess?” He asks, oblivious to the violent demise you wish upon him and your title.

 

You were kept in a secret building, far from Court. As if your close proximity would be toxic. Like you could disrupt the natural order of Asgardian principles if you dared stay in the same halls as your future husband.

 

With one last glance in the mirror, you set your lips into a familiar frown and breeze past him ready to enter the Great Temple of Æsir.

 

Your hands grasped your dress if only to keep them from shaking. If they want you, they can have you, but they’d never know you. They’d have your name, your body, but they’d never have your soul. Vanaheim would know that, and no political agreement could assuage the unrest there. They would keep fighting.

 

The halls on the way out of your royal apartment are only lined with stones and tapestries, nothing like the halls you roamed as a child. Would you ever rove through your childhood home again? Most likely not.

 

You are escorted to an ornate carriage, locking you in like a caged bird.

 

A heady scent assaults your nose as you take in the plush green and gold velvet that surrounds you. The truth chokes you then: You are about to be property of an Odinson.

 

People line the streets on the way to the temple, waving uncontrollably and yelling your name over and over again.

 

When your carriage finally delivers you to the temple, and you wait for your disloyal escort to open the door. After a moment of fumbling with the keys, you are released from your cage. You exhale a breath and step outside only to hear that while some of the crowd cheers, others hiss.

 

Traitor.

 

They don’t know who the real traitors are.

 

The real traitors are in the Temple.

 

xXxXx 

 

“You’re beautiful,” Mother said, looking you over through the mirror, as her hands finished your braid. “I’ve never seen a more beautiful Princess in the world. Or woman for that matter.”

 

“You have to say that,” you smiled, rolling your eyes and turning away from your reflection to face her, wishing you had an ounce of her famed beauty.

 

“I cannot believe you agreed to this,” she stated, pride dripping from her face. You swallowed the fear that threatened to peel away your resolve. “You truly are your father’s daughter.”

 

Your eyes dropped to look past her out the window, shame creeping through you before glancing back her way. “I am your daughter too.” Still, the words stung with what was not said. If she had asked you, you’d have never consented.

 

A heavy silence fell upon you.

 

“He’s handsome, don’t you think?” She coyly said, raising a manicured eyebrow in your direction.

 

A heat flamed your cheeks. Thor was handsome. With flowing blonde hair, muscular arms, and sharp blue eyes, there was only one way to describe him -- unapproachably handsome. He truly was lightening, a specimen that attracted all eyes in the room. You would never be able to hide in plain sight again, at least not by his side. That alone suffocated you.

 

“Mother…” You trailed off, biting your lip to keep from laughing.

 

“You are lucky. Just think,” your mother chuckled, and upon understanding your awkward reaction, pushed an escaped lock of hair behind your ear. “You could be betrothed to his brother.”

 

Your gaze drops, thinking about the God of Mischief. If Thor was unapproachable, his brother was intimidating. Untrustworthy. Chaotic. An unexplainable shiver ran through you at the mere thought of being intimate with him in the way you would with Thor. And before you had a moment to delve into the meaning of your body’s reaction, your mother continued.

 

“Don’t worry, darling, your paths will rarely cross.”

 

xXxXx 

 

A choir announces your arrival as the doors to the temple open. Hundreds of Asgardians have gathered for what they believe to be a joyous celebration. If only.

 

There is no father to walk you down the aisle, no mother to fuss over your train, just you and your future waiting at the end of the pathway.

 

Each step you take causes your heart to pound. You see him there, looming in a gold horned helmet and an intricate patchwork of green and black leather. 

 

Intimidating. Chaotic. Untrustworthy. This is not who you were promised to marry. He is not Thor.

 

When you finally step in front of him, lifting your hand waiting for him to accept you, he barely spares you a glance before taking your palm in his.

 

A startling shudder runs through you at the first touch. His skin is ice, causing a spark to freeze its way through your skin.

 

He guides you up the alter, rotating so you are face to face.  Hastily, he pulls the other hand from your side so both of your hands are clasped in his. And as the Goddess of Oaths begins to list promises you are to swear, you chance a look at him. At Loki.

 

Loki does not look at you, not once during the entire ceremony. His resentment is evident; a clenched jaw, pursed lips, violent green eyes. It’s wafting off of him and you can do nothing but absorb it.

 

It mutates inside you until only bitterness is left in your mouth. Perhaps he was forced into this as much as you were. 

 

The Goddess summons a woven rope from air, a handfasting. Three chords are pleated: Burgundy for love, Gold for unity, and Green for fertility. She wraps the rope around your embraced hands, explaining its significance and ties it tightly. Like your hands, your lives are now bound together of your own free will.

 

Before you even know what is happening, Loki is emotionlessly listing commitments.

 

“I, Prince Loki of Asgard, God of Mischeif, Odinson,” he pauses, pinning a cold glance to Odin standing as witness to the side, then forces his head towards you again. “Pledge to provide and care for you in weariness and doubt. I will forsake all others, to respect you in strength and wisdom for my remaining days.”

 

As he concludes, some of the crowd whispers. No doubt surprised that the Prince, Trickster, God of Mischief, has actually condemned himself to a life with you. That he didn’t pawn his way out of this commitment.

 

“I,” you begin only to halt immediately, panic striking through you. Were you still royalty if your family was found guilty of treason? Were you still a crowned princess, or was the title ripped from you like your family was?

 

Suddenly, Loki’s hand squeezes yours, breaking you from your reverie. Your gaze locks on him, though he still looks past you, his features have softened slightly. “I pledge to obey and trust you in weariness and doubt. I will commit myself to you, forsaking all others in respect of your strength and wisdom for my remaining days.”

 

Your eyes drop to the ropes, when, by your surprise, the rope seemingly glistens as if it is absorbing the vows.

 

Odin steps forward and nimbly removes the binding with a flick of his wrist. You watch as Loki’s face hardens when his father’s hands hover over his own, tense and waiting for a touch that never comes.

 

His voice booms loudly through the walls, “Allow the Gods from Valhalla bless this union.”

 

With that cue, Loki removes his hands from yours and reaches for your veil. You hold your breath as fear returns, realizing for the first time how calm his touch made you. As he lifts the golden tulle over your head, you keep your eyes trained on his face waiting for him to look at you. When he finally does, his eyes gloss over with dullness. It is like he isn’t even in front of you.

 

Like you’re not in front of him. 

 

As Odin says the last condemning words, Loki’s chilled fingers grasp your chin and he tilts your head closer. When he leans down, he pauses a mere inch from your face and visibly swallows, allowing his eyes a moment to rove over your skin. Your tongue darts out to lick your lips. His breath fans against your mouth. Your eyelids shut automatically.

 

This will be easier in darkness.

 

For a second, you swear that Loki’s fingers trace a comforting design on your cheek. In truth, it was probably your imagination.

 

Then his lips slant over yours. Chilling. Chastely. Somewhere beyond this moment, a crowd begins to cheer and clap. Though, you’re too distracted to even lend them a thought.

 

His fingers press into your jaw, hard, imploring your mouth to move against his, but before you even get the chance to, he retreats and straightens, leaving you wanting. You release a stuttering breath as you open your eyes.

 

Then, he swiftly turns to face the crowd, pulling your hand in his and encouraging you to mimic his position. It gives you the first moment to look at them.  Cheering, crying, shocked.

 

You are one of them now.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

You’ve lost count of how many drinks Loki has had.

 

Though you began the feast by each other’s side, he has since moved to the far-right of hall drinking with a group of people surrounding him. His normally sullen face is alight with mischievous stories and the animated crowd surrounding him hang on his every detailed word. Your seat’s height at the head-table gives you the perfect vantage point to watch him. His green eyes are bright, his pale skin flushed, and his dark hair falls in unruly waves to his shoulders. It hits you now, your husband and you... are opposites.

 

While he continuously refills his goblet, your honey colored wine remains untouched. While he’s surrounded by people, you’re alone. While he hasn’t stopped speaking since the stroll to the Great Hall, you are partial to your silence.

 

You are happy to blissfully live at the edge of the crowd. More than.

 

Except now you’re anything but a shadow on the wall. The eyes in the hall dance to you every few moments, gauging you, judging you. Being the center of everyone’s attentions causes your stomach to knot in tangled threads. Their gazes are heavy, their whispers strike through your armor. And yet, it’s like you’re in a glass window, not one of them have approached you.

 

How much longer will this last?

 

A raucous laughter breaks you from your internal panic.

 

Loki is thriving off of the attention. Women close to him smile flirtatiously, caressing his arm, as he gives them all divided attention. Now that he’s married, he has become an alluring prize for any type of companion.

 

“My lady.”  You peer to your left, only to be disappointed by what you find.

 

Thor stands there, greeting you with a small, careful smile; as if he were approaching a wild animal.

 

“My prince,” you address him with a practiced frown of your own, refusing to stand from your chair.

 

He takes a seat on your right and you turn to face him. “You look radiant today, matrimony suits you,” he compliments.

 

The Prince’s words prompt a pit to form in your stomach. “You are too kind,” your response falls flat, taciturn. “You, and the Allfather.”

 

Your gaze finds Odin over Thor’s shoulder. He is seated in the highest chair at the center of the table with Frigga, the Allmother, at his side. She’s like you, a descendent of Vanaheim, a successful wedded alliance.

 

You doubt you will be as loved as she -- loved by the people, her children, her husband. As it is, you know Odin’s feelings towards Loki have always been lackluster, he’s always pushed your husband to the side and perched Thor on unreachable pedestals. You understand, Thor is kind, enthralling, protective, and harmless. Always comfortable with attention, and while Loki thrives under it, Thor is freely given it.

 

Thor sighs slowly at your reserved expression. “Surely you must know…” he begins lost in thought. “That if there was something I could have done to prevent this situation, I would have.”

 

Your parents’ ghosts swim in your head. Surely death is a solution to this hell -- he could have provided that for you too.

 

“Suddenly you’re above murder?” You ask, your eyes widening from shock as the words slip through your mouth. It was one thing to disrespect the future king in your head, it was a death sentence to do so out loud, surrounded by so many nobles. Maybe that is why you said it. Death would be easy. Still, death isn’t an option. You’re too important -- the future of Vanaheim is now married to an Asgardian Prince.

 

“Please forgive me,” you quickly amend. “I didn’t mean to- “

 

Thor’s hand covers your own and shakes his head, cutting you off. “There is nothing to forgive. If anything, my mercy…” he trails off when a shadow casts over you and an icy hand rests on your shoulder.

 

“Brother,” Thor says, removing his hand from yours and standing.

 

“Please continue,” Loki says with false pleasantries, applying weight to his grasp. Your head falls in submission to his presence, already wishing you could remove yourself from here.

 

“Have a drink with us, Loki,” Thor gestures to the pitcher on the table.

 

Loki ignores the comment, “What does my brother have to forgive?” Neither of you move to explain, which only makes Loki’s anger fester. “Speak!” He demands harshly, his voice raising along with his temper.

 

Thor begins to open his mouth when you answer, “Nothing,” you admit, hoping to assuage his anger, but still don’t look up from your lap. “I simply spoke out of turn.”

 

“How eloquently put,” he snarls.

 

Thor places a gentle hand on Loki’s arm to quiet him. “Calm yourself, brother. It was nothing but a pleasantry.”

 

Loki’s expression reeks of resentment and withdraws his hand from your shoulder. You release the breath you had no idea you were holding as Thor takes a step back from his brother. Loki reaches to the table for the pitcher and fills his cup, then turns to face the audience of people still in the Great Hall. 

 

“A toast,” he exclaims in a booming voice to the people. All gazes suddenly turn to you three. Loki’s hand casually returns to your shoulder, but in a similarly menacing way. “Stand, my sweet,” he insists and roughly pulls you out of your seat to stand next to him. His hand slinks to your waist taking a possessive hold of you, pulling you tightly to his side, nearly suffocating you. As your heart begins to race with anxiety, you refuse to let him know how he’s affecting you. “To my lovely wife, always speaking in an elegant, merciful decorum. And to my brother,” Loki pauses as tension grows in the air.

 

“Loki,” Thor warns quietly, giving his brother a dark look. Loki responds with a tighter grip on you, making you nearly shudder in his arms. Thor notices and immediately closes his mouth.

 

“To my brother, kindly comforting her, while I am once again given the villainous reputation.” He chuckles darkly before turning to you. “Even though he is the one who forced our futures onto this course.”

 

Suddenly, Odin stands menacingly, carefully surveilling his younger son. Loki sneers at him, with a callous glower, before turning his full attention to you again. “And finally, to our budding union. My love, I can only hope to live up to the monster you believe me to be. Perhaps, tonight, as we consummate our union.”

 

“Enough, Loki!” Odin bellows, dropping his fist to the table.

 

Loki doesn’t even spare him a glance as he speaks over the Allfather, caging you with his other hand on your neck and forcing you to look in his eyes, his anger, and your fear, grows with every spoken word. “And after our merciless coupling, after your mewling body lie in a spent heat on the bed, broken-in, tears spilling, think then of your Thor and his mercy.”

 

The hall remains silent as his raging breath fills the air between you. He chuckles slightly before downing his cup in one swig, then slams the cup back on the table. His hand then swiftly grabs your cup and hands it to you. You hesitantly take the glass from him.

 

“Drink,” Loki orders. He pushes your shaking hand to your lips and tilts it, forcing you to swallow.

 

The drink is too warm and sweet, almost making you gag, but you chug it anyway. Your eyes never leave Loki’s as his gaze narrows on your lips. Some of the liquid spills from the corners of your mouth and Loki follows the trail of it down your chin before looking back to your stare.

 

Four mere seconds later and your cup is emptied. Loki’s breath heaves as he rips the goblet from your hands and throws it to the ground, its shattering glass interrupting the silence. A silence that stretches. You dare not move. Afraid. What would he -they- do if you fled in this moment?

 

“Loki,” Frigga says calmly from Odin’s left and solemnly shakes her head. Loki faces his mother a sober look overpowering his dark features, as if he only now understands what he’s done.

 

He looks around the hall at the silent witnesses of his outburst. A menacing smile graces his lips and he laughs maliciously as if the whole tirade was a joke.

 

Frigga motions to her left and before you even have a second to regain composure, you are being escorted out of the Hall.

 

You look back only to find Frigga approaching Loki, then the door shuts.

 

xXxXx

 

“Thus, your daughter has consented?” Odin asked your father from his throne, before wandering his gaze over to you.

 

Father smiled from his knelt position. “She has, my King.”

 

Thor shifted uncomfortably from behind Odin, his blue eyes found your gaze and he sent you a comforting smile.  You returned it, as if that were first of many secrets between you.

 

Odin laughed, his chuckle thundered through the throne room. “This is splendid news, my friend.” Odin stood from his throne and gestured for father to stand. He grabs your father’s neck and pulled him into a tight hug. “Our children will reunite the bloodlines. Their child will sit on both the old throne and the new.” Your skin heated at the mention of future children; hopefully, they didn’t expect one so soon. “It will be a true king of our realms.”

 

Your father clasped his hand on Odin’s shoulder and pulled back to look him in the eye. “I look forward to it my friend.”

 

“Step forward my future daughter,” Odin said, finally.

 

You picked up the skirts of your dress with steady hands and strode forward. As you reached the Allfather, you realized that your gaze was locked to Thor’s. His blue eyes stared in yours, reading your thoughts that were plainly on your face -- a questionable future and calm determination to make your family proud.

 

Finally, Odin took your hands in his. “I prayed to all the Norns to one day have a daughter as beautiful as you. I am honored to have you joining my family.”

 

A grin graced your face as you curtsied, your palms remaining in his. “Thank you, my King.”

 

Odin then turns to face father, “Come my friend, let us begin the festivities.” He wrapped his arm around father’s shoulder and guided him out of the throne room, the two barely giving you or Thor a parting.

 

Thor coughed slightly, walking a short pathway to you. He stopped and bowed. As the God of Thunder pulled your left hand to his lips, his beard brushed against your delicate skin, sending a rush of fluttering butterflies through you.

 

A giggle somehow escaped your lips as he straitened and let out a chuckle of his own. “Ah,” he began, his face alight with carefree life as your eyes stuck to his. “Forgive me if that was forward. I meant no disrespect.”

 

You shook your head. “It wasn’t. After all, I feel we will grow to be more intimate than this very soon.”

 

Your eyes grew wide as the words slithered passed your mouth. Immediately, embarrassment and shock swept through you, unbelieving that you said that aloud. You bit your lip as a measure to keep from apologizing.

 

Thor too looked shocked but refused to drop your hand even as you tried to pull it from his grasp.

 

He leaned closer and your gaze swept to his lips, the same lips that had just softly caressed your skin. “My lady,” he started, leaning even closer. You wondered if he was to press them against your mouth, when suddenly a side entrance to the throne room opened.

 

Thor sharply shifted back and grinned largely. “Brother!”

 

You twisted around to see that Loki entered the room, burdened with a look of guarded sadness that quickly receded into one of false joy.

 

“I hear congratulations are in order.”

 

As he began to congratulate Thor on your engagement, you studied his face. Reserved and sharped, careful from years of being eclipsed in his brother’s greatness. In some ways, you felt the same, like you had lived your entire life in the shadow of what your parents had planned for you.

 

And when his eyes shifted to you, you knew he saw the same if even for a brief moment.

 

xXxXx

 

“Are you alright, my Lady?” The woman asks, carefully touching your arm.

 

You glance at her, her honey-blonde hair piled high in intricate braids. She looks vaguely familiar, like she is always on the frays of a feast, sitting near the lesser nobles. “I’m fine,” you smile tensely, then add, “Thank you.”

 

She nods in understanding, as if she knows you need the silence. She’s young, you decide, her skin radiant with youth and a desirable blush on her high cheekbones. She is true Æsir, unlike the woman from this morning.

 

The hallways are deserted as you make your way back to your chambers. The only sound coming from either of you are your steps echoing against the stones.

 

After navigating a maze of halls, you both enter what is to become your new bed chambers. The room is so large, it has different parts designated for alternative practices. A fireplace and sitting area, a correspondence desk, a four posted bed, all of which are decorated in golden hues and dark oak furniture.

 

You find a gown hanging from an elegant room divider. Its sheer white fabric brings a blush to your face as you realize that once you put the evening gown on, it would leave little to the imagination. That was probably its intention. Sadly, you knew no amount of beautiful fabric would make your husband see you as anything more than a piece to play with. You aren’t his princess, you are his property.

 

As if reading your thoughts, the maid walks around you, towards the fireplace, and fills a goblet with wine that was left for you on a table.

 

She straightens and hands the glass to you. Without a word, you down the drink in a very unlady-like fashion. If only mother could see you now.

 

“Join me,” you request. Handing the glass back to her and gesturing to the second glass on the table, likely meant for Loki’s imminent visit. “I do not think the Prince will be needing another drink.”

 

The girl’s eyebrows shoot up at that, before stifling a giggle.

 

“I don’t think it would be proper.” Still she turns and fills both glasses before keeping one for herself and giving you the other.

 

“What’s your name?” You ask, bringing the drink back to your lips, not caring anymore about being proper for what’s to come -- for your evening with the prince.

 

You already learned it would not be pleasant.

 

“Eira, my Lady. I’m to be one of your new handmaidens.”

 

You smile, “Well then, please call me-“

 

“I should really begin preparing the room.” She cuts you off, putting the drink down and walking towards the hearth. “Prince Loki does not sleep much. He is partial to a fire at night and I still have to prepare you for your evening.” Your stomach drops as you realize what you’ll be prepared for, but instead of letting that feeling overwhelm you; you inspire a steely resolve.

 

She ducks her head and flutters around the room, gathering the firewood that has been stocked by the fireplace. Carefully, she arranges them into a pyramid before lighting them ablaze.

 

You watch her, skeptically. How would she know the Prince’s preference? It’s not like she is around court often, this was your first time meeting her. Then it dawns on you.

 

“You are familiar with Loki’s night routines?”

 

She looks at you in fear and a blush warms its way to her cheeks. She clasps her hands in front of her as she stands in submission before you, as if waiting for you to berate her for being his courtesan.  

 

The elder woman this morning had warned her.

 

Do not expect too much. Even if his rumored reputation is true.

 

“I apologize my Lady, it ended when your betrothal was announced.”

 

Your eyelids close at her confession, realizing that you really are alone in this.  

 

So, you nod, she is not a friend, not a companion, she is only here to prepare you for something she has done before. Everyone around you is preparing you. That’s all there is.

 

She continues through the room, drawing down the bed, darkening the lights. You continue to sip the wine from your cup, lost in thoughts, and take a seat in front of the fireplace, staring at its flames. They dance high and warm your skin, burning your cheeks with a lick of each flicker. When you finally look to Eira, she pulls the sheer nightgown from the hanger. You fidget with your wedding gown, pulling at invisible strings as you wish to jump in the fire, become a part of it, burn away the past and smolder your future.

 

Instead, you take a sip as the bitter flavor travels down your throat. You do not taste it. “That’ll be all,” you tell her not bothering to stand, the wine has made you bold.

 

You don’t need the dress, you don’t want to please him. You want this over and if that means he needs to rip your wedding gown from your body and force himself inside you, then so be it, because you refuse to transform yourself for him.

 

“Would you like me to undo your hair?” She asks quietly, clearly aware of your demeanor change.

 

“That’ll be all,” you repeat, your tone solemn and cold, taking on a darker edge.

 

She curtsies then quickly leaves the room. And, finally, you are alone.

 

Not even a minute passes before there is another knock on the door. It opens before you even get a chance to react. Agitation grows within you as you realize they entered without your permission. Surely solace was a curtesy everyone deserved. You stand, but remain facing the fire, not giving the intruder a fragment of your attention. They don’t deserve it.

 

“What?” You ask before even chancing a glance to see who it is.

 

“My dear, I thought you’d be happier to see me.” 

 

 

Chapter Text


 

“My dear, I thought you’d be happier to see me.” Loki’s voice taunts from the doorway.

 

You spin to face him as your heart plummets. How quickly was he dismissed from the Great Hall? It felt like you had only just left there, and yet here he is, casually standing in your room. As if he hadn’t just spitefully announced to the realm how he intended to use you.

 

Loki remains dressed in formal garb, but his golden, horned helm is gone, allowing his raven hair to fall in a curtain around his face, nearly reaching his shoulders.

 

His sharp gaze and small grin mocks you. You refuse to let him know how nervous you are, how on edge; instead, you return his look with one pointed gaze of your own. 

 

“I apologize. I spoke out of turn,” you slyly echo your earlier sentiments. Only this time you mean it less given Loki’s outburst from earlier in the evening. You lift the wine to your lips and quirk an eyebrow, taking a sip as he watches you.

 

He nods to the wine dangling close to your lips. “I see you started without me.”

 

“There is more, no need to fret.” You drop the glass from your lips, feeling emboldened. “In fact, your lovely paramour made sure to have all of your needs met for tonight, she even made sure there would be a fire for you.”

 

Loki smirks slightly. “Ah, my paramour. Which one should I thank?” He asks cruelly, chuckling, even as his words cause an ache -- not from his open infidelity, but from what his words insinuated. You can feel the color draining from your face. You are just one of many, not even his choice. After he takes you tonight, he’ll continue on with whoever is next, only returning to use you.

 

He takes a step towards you, making your pulse quicken. Then, before you even have a chance to properly register his presence, he’s standing in front of you stealing the glass from your clutches, careful to not touch you.

 

“Fortunately, I have had enough.” Loki says, referencing to the drink, “I think you too are nearing your limit, that is if you actually intend on enjoying our evening together.”

 

He takes a sip, his eyes not leaving your own as he finishes the wine in one long pull. You dare not look away, entranced by the seafoam green in his eyes, and even though this is to mock you, to mortify you, it is highly erotic.

 

The way his orbs don’t leave yours as his lips fit tightly over the glass, the way his Adam’s apple ripples when swallowing the liquid. How, after he finishes, his tongue slithers out to capture the wine’s remnants at the corner of his lips.

 

He smirks when he sees your stupor.

 

“Enjoyment was not one of your promises,” you challenge him, lifting your chin.

 

“I prefer my woman wanting.” He tosses the glass to the table, then commands, taking half a step back, “Remove your dress.”

 

Your eyes widen at his demand, your heart pulsating against its cage.

 

He strides closer to you and your breath hitches in your throat as his chest grazes your own. You have to crane your neck to look him in the eyes. Reaching forward, he runs his hand over the back of your head. An unsettling wave of electricity works over you as Loki’s magic removes the veil pinned to your hair and unplaits your braids, leaving your locks in waves.

 

“I won’t ask again,” he warns.

 

He could easily take off your clothes with a movement of his hand; but, instead, he challenges you. A part of you is humiliated, the other part is on fire.

 

You reach behind and pull the laces from your back without any help, especially given that the laces had come loose during the day’s events. Had you not done this before, your movements would be awkward, but undressing alone was something you were used to.

 

With a bite your lip, the dress slips passed your shoulders and the garment pools at your feet, leaving you dressed in only a chemise and his scrutiny.

 

Loki’s so close, that you can feel his husky inhale as his eyes broaden and wander down your body. His tongue darts out to lick his lips, wolfishly.

 

Even though the fire burns just behind you, a cold draft from the rest of the room leaves a malicious trail of goosebumps up your arms and down your chest. Somehow, your body stays stoic, even as a you wrestle the urge to cover yourself with your arms. You refuse to let him see you like that, hiding, weak. You want to show him that you don’t care.

 

Because you don’t.

 

You don’t care about anything anymore.

 

He hums at your courage, arms at your side, head held high. “You really are a pet, aren’t you?” His voice is thick with desire. “Doing as I command.”

 

The corners of your lips settle in a frown, waiting for his instruction. Refusing to return his ridicule.

 

Noble ladies are composed.

 

Noble ladies are chaste.

 

Noble ladies are wholesome.

 

Noble ladies do not reach out to their husbands. They do not push him away or pull him closer, even though you wanted to do both those things.

 

It’s a disturbing, agitated feeling that warms across your skin. You want him, but you don't.  And so, the only solution that lay in front of you is to remain standing, in front of him, in only a scant shift, waiting for whatever he is going to do to you.

 

“Get on the bed,” he commands.

 

Shock ripples through you at this cold demand. Isn't he meant to guide you, respectfully navigate you through this? Doesn’t he know that even though strength is your façade, you are nervous. Scared.

 

He’s the God of Lies, he must know.

 

So, your look hardens. You take one step back, turn on your heel, and walk to the bed. Regretfully noting that he hasn’t even touched you.

 

However cruel he is, however unforgiving, the night will not last forever. You pull back the covers, ignoring any nerves that rock your body.

 

“No,” he stops you, rooted in the same aloof stance. “Lie on top of the covers.”

 

You pause, torn on what to do. You always believed marital relations took place under covers, in the dark. The wine threatens to reappear from your stomach as you drop the covers to the mattress, but you hold back the liquid, you already knew what tonight would be.

 

You dare not look back to him, humiliated as you squirm on top of the bed and rest there as still as a statue though your blood thrums with anxiety. Your arms rest awkwardly at your sides, as you extend your chin in defiance, staring above you.

 

A textured golden canopy decorates the wooden frame of your bed.

 

Your skin dances with goosebumps. A shadow covers you from the foot of the bed. You inhale a stuttering breath and release it in a rush, he is watching you. Watching your chest rise and fall, your body on display in stony silence.

 

“Look at me,” he’s so much closer than you thought. With one last breath, your eyes snap to him. His jacket is gone, leaving him in a tunic and pants. When he sees your attention has shifted from the ceiling, he removes his shirt in one fluid movement. Then his trousers are shed just as easily, leaving him nude.

 

Curiosity outweighs propriety as your stare leaves his to rove down his bared body. It starts with his chest, slim and lean, his pale skin is a canvas for the dancing candle light. Sinew muscles give way to a tapered waste, and when you stumble upon his maleness hanging softly, your gaze jumps back to his eyes.

 

The corners of his lips perk up, and he gives you a playful look. “Please continue,” he teases. He crawls on top of the bed, still not touching you. Then, he pauses and his fingers finally circle your ankle, moving your leg to the side so he can kneel between your thighs, causing your chemise to gather high. Your stomach drops at his first touch. His thighs resting between yours, a spot no other person has touched.

 

A blush simmers to your cheeks and you look back to the ceiling, that is until his hands hover over your shin. He drags a nimble finger up your inner thighs and under your shift. 

 

You peek a glance at him, as he gauges your reaction, fingertips playing with the edge of your underwear. Then he fists your shift and pushes it higher onto your hips. “Off.”

 

Lifting up your hips, your breath hitches as the skin of your legs intimately press against his waist, essentially resting across his thighs. Trying to buy one sentiment of dignity, you sit up ungracefully, lifting your shift over your head. Your arms cradle the garment to your chest, a frivolous armor against his penetrating gaze while keeping your own locked to the covers underneath you. “How modest you pretend to be.” His finger snaps the edge of your underwear, forcing you to acknowledge him. “Tell me, did you pretend like this with my brother?” His lips pull back in a sneer as he pushes his hair back. It falls in black tresses against his face. “Or was it honest back then?”

 

Confusion sweeps through you, as wrinkles form across your forehead. “I do not under-“

 

He reaches for your arms and pulls on them roughly, making you drop the dress to the side, leaving your chest nearly exposed.

 

“I don’t need your excuses,” he dismisses. Loki cages both your wrists in one grasp, as his fingers trace the edge of your bra, dancing down the valley of your chest. His hands dip under the material to cup your breast, kneading it expertly between his fingers. “No other woman has successfully trapped both brothers in her bed. Your parents would be proud, I am sure.” He pinches your nipple then, and as pleasure burns through you, his words cause tears to form behind your eyes.

 

Don’t think about them.

 

“I was never intimate with Thor,” you justify, finally looking him in the eye.

 

Loki scoffs as if he knows better, retracting his hand with one last squeeze.

 

You want to fight him, disparage him, humiliate him. Tell him the truth: that you have never been with anyone. Is it even worth it though? He was bound to find out shortly, when he took you roughly, painfully.

 

Then he pulls you closer, your wrists still trapped as his face burrows in the crook of your neck. He takes a deep breath, inhaling your scent, and you in turn do the same, trying to match him. You refuse to let him know how unsettled you feel. How… embarrassed. Your chests brush with each breath, his cold skin radiated through the fabric confining your breasts. Your nipples harden against his chest, deliciously sensitive to his chilled temperature. A soft groan escapes your lips, past guarded rationality.

 

He snickers and his tongue runs fatly against your throat. Leaving a scorched trail of desire before reaching your ear. He bites your lobe, a pleasurable pain radiating down your spine before he breathes hotly in your ear. “I will not be as delicate as him. You will be mine, writhing, begging me for release,” he vows wickedly. Then his free hand winds itself through your tresses and pulls your head back, exposing your throat.

 

Loki drops his mouth to your neck and kisses you intimately, coating you with his saliva, then he bites hard, sucking the skin between his lips marking you, making you his. A violent tremor works through you; surprisingly, your hips buck against a newly hard bulge between his.

 

He releases your throat, his fingers pirouetting in your hair before letting you go. He leans his forehead against yours, his eyes locked to your gaze. “Responsive little thing, aren’t you?”

 

You chance a glance down between you. And as saliva pools in your mouth, you swallow it thickly. You knew to an extent what a naked man looked like. You heard rumors from other ladies, their storied nights at the Vaneheim court. But this… it is different than you had anticipated - angrier looking, a glistening red tip, veined and straining for attention. And when you realize it wants your attention, a rush of heat flows through you.

 

Loki’s watches your assessment of him, no doubt seeing apprehension, bewilderment. When you lift your gaze back to him, you notice that his eyes have smoldered to burning coals, black as a looming storm’s sky. He grasps your hand, erotically licks your palm, then brings it to wrap around himself. He guides you into a steady measured motion, then he squeezes your hands tighter and removes his.

 

Your grasp remains still, feeling his weight, his heat, balanced in your clutches. It is hotter than the rest of him, you don’t know why you expected the opposite. “Keep going,” he instructs, his voice reaching a deep timbre and keeping his interest on you.

 

Experimentally, you grip him tighter and move your hand. A soft sigh passes through his lips as you twist your hand in a long pull, your nail tracing his ridged head. It jumps in your hand; and with each steady motion, twist of your wrist, he almost grows thicker, heavier, angrier. You pause for a moment, watching it react to you.

 

“No wonder my brother fought to maintain your betrothal. You look ravishingly innocent.” He says, before dipping his head low to take your clothed breast in his mouth. Before you could give his words thought, or think about the implication, he sucks your rigid nipple between his mouth, then without any warning, he bites hard.

 

A possessed groan escapes you. His hand snakes to your other breast, pinching, prodding, pulling your skin almost roughly, sending electric shots.

 

 As you increase the friction on his engorged member, a pooling sensation grows between your folds while his tongue continues to pebble your breast. He then moves to the other, licking, sucking, as the cool air dances across the wet fabric of your abandoned nipple.

 

Your hips grow a mind of their own, almost moving with your hand. Then, a hotness spreads across your skin when your hips grind against his member nestled between yours in the most delicious way. It’s like you have caught fire and the only thing that could temper it is a steady, pulsating pressure between your legs.

 

“Enough.” He pulls back from you, pushing your chest away from him and making you land on the bed. You pant, sweat gathering on your skin as you stay on your back. “The rest.” Without even specifying, you know he is telling you to remove the last remaining clothing.

 

With steady hands you detach the bra and push down your underwear, wriggling out of the material. Then, silence. A beat, two, three. You finally peek in his direction, only to see his gaze is locked on you, bouncing between the glistening juncture between your thighs and your breasts. His heavy stare is too much, too judgmental, you can practically hear him comparing you to other women; so, you lift your arms, covering your breasts from his view.

 

“No,” he says, pulling your arms away from your body. “Do not dare to hide yourself.”

 

He must think your skin is permanently tinted red, as blood rushes to your face again. His hand starts at your neck before making its way over your shoulders. Lightly hovering, goosebumps following its wake. Down your shoulders and over the side of your breast, along your ribs and hips, until finally stalling between your thighs.

 

You pray that you don’t shake, that you don’t let him know. His silence is petrifying. Then his fingers part your folds, tracing your nether lips. He hisses upon contact and a soundless breath escapes you as he gathers wetness and spreads it, circling your own engorged sex.

 

Then he unceremoniously sinks two fingers into you, and a painful whimper escapes your mouth. His gaze snaps up to you, concern etched across his face; so, you bite your bottom lip and screw your eyes tight. You don’t want him to see any tears well in your eyes.

 

He freezes his fingers. “Is it true? No other man has touched you?”

 

You release a stuttering breath then nodding. “I told you,” a gasp escapes your lips.

 

His fingers slip deeper into you, slightly stretching you. “Look at me,” his demand comes out softer, almost as if asking you.

 

You look at him then, really look at him -- his pale skin glistening, his raven hair pushed off his face, his sculpted chest heaving with silent breaths and his hand buried between your thighs.

 

He leans over you, his hand trapped amid your bodies, his other arm taking the brunt of his weight. Loki’s face is a few inches from you, and you realize for the first time, that his lips have not once touched yours.

 

You lick your lips in anticipation, looking at his. Thin, pink, nimble.

 

His tongue flicks against your lips then, sensually stimulating your own. Your mouth parts and his does the same. His tongue undulates again, this time sinking into your mouth and running it inside your bottom lip.

 

Then Loki presses your lips together. Hard, pliantly pushing yours apart with his tongue. His tongue enters your mouth in dominance, rolling it against your own. He tastes sweet and musky, a mix of liquor and male. His teeth nibble your lips as his left hand caresses your neck, tilting your head to give his tongue deeper access.

 

Your hands move to his shoulders, to his hair, perching your fingers in his curled tresses. A groan escapes you when his teeth bite down harder on your bottom lip. You pull on his hair in retribution, not realizing that his fingers have receded from inside you. He pulls his head back, watching your face as his two fingers dip back into you. Sinking one knuckle, two, three, then they retreat. An uncomfortable feeling gives way as his thumb begins circling your clit making your hips spring forward. His breath fans across your lips and his erection lays heavy across your lap.

 

“Tell me how you feel.” His fingers retreat then push back in. His teeth nip your lip, when you remain silent. “I won’t ask again.”

 

Your breath catches in your throat when his thumb presses harder against your clit, his knee pushing your legs farther apart to make room for his hips. His eyes studying your own.

 

“Good,” is all you can manage. Your hands pulling tighter on his hair.

 

“Let me tell you what I feel then.” He begins, his fingers pumping a bit faster then, winding you tighter. “Wet, and tight. Hugging my fingers in time with your throbbing heartbeat. I can’t wait to feel this around my cock.”

 

“Please,” you whisper delicately, your gaze searching his own.

 

He removes his fingers then, your eyes lidded with desire. Why did he stop?

 

You want to ask him, but instead bite your lip when he removes his fingers, wet with evidence of your desire, and brings them to his lips, sucking them. He groans, “Want to know what you taste like?” 

 

You lick your lips, almost nodding. But then his fingers violently push back into you, making your chest rise from the bed. He chuckles then, moving them in a steady rhythm, tightening a coil inside you.  His thumb circling your clit again, his lips scraping your jaw. “How do you feel?” He asks again and you shake your head in response and dig your nails into his scalp. Just when you think release will come, when he pinches the tip of your breast with his free hand. he stops immediately.

 

He brings his fingers, drenched in your juices, to your left nipple, smearing juices onto your skin.

 

“Loki…” You say quietly. Your hands move to his erection taking a firm hold of him. “Please,” you beg, unsure of what you’re asking for. You move your hand up and down his length once, twice. Then, his hips move against your hand, fucking it, the tip of his cock slipping between your folds then retreating. 

 

His cold hands cover yours, directing his erection between your folds, covering it in your wetness. “So wet,” he praises, “warm.”

 

Then, your combined hands, guide him to your dripping entrance.

 

He pushes softly into you, just the tip, and you tense immediately. He’s thicker than you imagined.

 

“Relax,” he advises, pushing deeper, your walls offering little resistance to his jutting member.

 

He leans over you again, taking your hands and interlacing your fingers. He cages both of your hands over your head, and just when all you can smell, all you can feel, is him, he snaps his hips flush against yours.

 

A cry wrenches itself from your throat and his mouth dips to your breast, licking the remnants of the juices he smeared against your skin. His tongue pulsing around your firm tip. You strain against his hands, but he keeps them grounded on the bed. You need to move, touch his hair, anything to distract you from the burning between your thighs. You hike your legs on his hips, interlocking your ankles around his back.

 

“Relax,” Loki repeats against your breast before leaning forward to kiss you again. His lips momentarily distract you, as he pulls his hips back slowly, then surges forward again.

 

He lets go of one of your hands, bringing his to your core, circling your clit again to stimulate a budding pleasure. You’re sickened to realize that there’s barely any pain now, instead, intense desire sweeps through you.

 

You immediately bring your hand to his back, digging your nails into his skin. A childish part of you doesn’t want him know you’re enjoying this. Your lips tangle with his, as he moves at a steadier pace, made easier by the slickness between your thighs.

 

When his fingers deftly circle your clit, you pull away from his mouth and pant. A string pulls from your core, making you throb.

 

“Feel that?” He asks, “Your sweet quim gripping me, pulsing, trying to milk me?”

 

You nod, your eyes growing wide when he pinches your clit making you cry out.

 

“This is mine.” He says, pushing into you at a harder pace. His skin slaps against yours as his pants caress your face, wet noises punctuating the air. There’s no pretending you don’t like this, don't want him.

 

You nod your head agreeing, losing control of your mind, body, giving him the reins to your being

 

Your back arches as his hand leaves your clit to pull your left leg higher on his hip. Suddenly his cock presses against a sweet spot deep within your core. With one last hard thrust, you throw your head back and let go, gasping. Flinging yourself off a cliff.

 

Loki’s hand clenches your jaw in his palm. Not daring to change his angle, he continues to hit that spot inside of you, his hip grinding against your clit. Stimulating you again. You don’t even have time to come down before you’re climbing another summit. You try to shake your head out of his grasp but he holds you in place. You don’t want to come again. You don’t want to enjoy this, but your body does. His arms around you. His sculpted chest pressed tightly against yours. His balls slapping against your skin. It’s all too much.

 

“Open your eyes and watch me as you come again.” He presses hard against your jaw, possibly leaving a bruise in its wake. “I want you to see who is doing this to you. Who is making your cunt pulse.”

 

Your eyes open at his voice. Deep, graveled, hard.

 

“Please,” you say, not knowing how he is manipulating your body so well. Not wanting to know how you could be so close after a mere few minutes. But, there you are, tighter than a bowstring, watching a bead trail down your husband’s cheek.

 

Then, when you least expect it, he groans, his pace suddenly coming uneven. “Come,” he grunts, as his hips stutter between your thighs at a bruising pace.

 

A swear on his lips, his uneven pace pressing against your clit, his jaw straining in almost pain. You follow his lead, silently coming a second time around him.

 

“Norns,” he says, burrowing his head in the crook of your neck biting down leaving another mark against the delicate skin, as he continues to pump his seed inside you.

 

The only sounds are pants and the crackling of the fireplace. Seconds bleed into minutes, as Loki still rests on top of you, his skin cooling yours.

 

Then he pushes off of you and stands, his eyes dancing across your skin.

 

You can barely push yourself up to your forearms to watch as he walks to the water basin on the other side of the room. His body is all muscle, his backside firm, his arms lean and powerful.

 

Grabbing a cloth, he cleans himself off. Then he turns returns to you, a small smirk on his face. He brings the cloth between your legs, cleaning your southern lips. A hint of blood mixed with come and seed stains the cloth, making you blush and your legs quiver.

 

He throws the cloth to the floor, before redressing himself with a wave of his hand.

 

Then with another movement, a wool night gown adorns your body.

 

“Sleep well, pet.” He says, before retreating from the bed.

 

“You’re not going to stay?” You ask, cringing as soon as the words leave your mouth.

 

Loki snickers, a smirk gracing his lips. “I’m afraid I have other business to attend to this evening. Reports to give, lovers to entertain,” he cruelly states, reminding you his infidelity. “Don’t fret, darling, I’ll be back for another round tomorrow evening. After all, I’m under strict orders to fill your womb as soon as possible.”

 

As he says the words, a bell chimes from beyond the palace, signaling midnight. Then, he departs unceremoniously, leaving you, as promised, mewling, spent on the bed. You somehow maneuver yourself under the covers.

 

And then, after the darkness surrounds you, as the new day begins, you finally let yourself cry.

 

After all, it was no longer your wedding day.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

You’re vaguely aware of a soreness between your legs as your violent dreams give way to consciousness.

 

Peeking through one eye, you watch Eira flutter around the room, sweeping the hearth, cleaning the chamber pot, filling the water basin. The room is still shrouded in darkness. She glides as silently as possible, seemingly out of respect for your rest. Then, the servant pads to the window curtains and opens them swiftly, as if a jarring brightness would be easier to wake to than the sound of her chores.

 

You sit up as the light floods your room, ignoring your body’s protests.

 

Eira turns to you. There’s a pensive, guarded look on her face, as if waiting to see if you’re going to punish the girl for her confession from the night prior. That she is, or was, Loki’s courtesan -- or one of them at least. But then you remember what she had told you: It ended when your betrothal was announced.

 

You study Eira for any signs that she joined Loki in his chambers after he left you. But your heart calms down with relief when you realize that she only seems well rested and vibrant. Her honey hair is pinned on top of her head, her skin nearly translucent, and her movements calm.

 

“Good morning, my Lady,” she curtsies formally. “I apologize for waking you, but the Allfather has announced that a breakfast feast will begin shortly. Your absence would be questioned.”

 

You ignore the disappointment clawing inside you, even though you should know better. On the morning after your wedding, you are not permitted rest - it is a celebration for everyone. “That’s quite alright.”

 

“Is there a particular gown you would like to wear?” Eira asks, turning around and heading to a garment rack inside an armoire. 

 

She pulls a gown from the closet. Cream fabric glistens in the sunlight, a shining satin with a green and gold cape attached to its shoulder. It’s beautiful and yet taunting, daring, with a plunging neckline. You’re instantly reminded of Loki, which makes you recall the night before. You stare at it from the bed lost in reverie -- of his lips pressed against yours, his cold fingers pressed in intimate places, his teeth biting your neck.

 

“Would you prefer another?” Eira asks solemnly, misunderstanding your silence and toying with the fabric. “I’m sorry if my choice was presumptuous.”

 

“No,” You shake your head, finally rising as gracefully a possible from the bed, still aware of your stiff, throbbing core. “It is lovely.” As you stand, you push hair away from your face and pad over to the wash tub. “I would prefer to have a bath first if there is time for it of course.”

 

“Of course, my Lady.” Eira turns to a large water pot that was toasting on the fire hearth. She brings it to the tub and pours it carefully. The steam rises from the basin as the hot water mixes with the room temperature liquid that was already there. She begins to pull your shift from your shoulders, but you wave her off.

 

“I can do this. Please continue what it is you need to do.”

 

You remove your evening dress, only slightly apprehensive of your nudity. Shedding clothes in front of other ladies was nothing, and after last night, you had a feeling your own modesty would cease to exist.

 

As you slip into the water, the heat envelopes your muscles. It loosens and calms you, and you slip your head underneath, uncaring what it would do to your hair. Hopefully, Eira would be able to rearrange it, but at this point, you refused to care. Opening your eyes under the water, you stare outward and seeing how the water blurred the ceiling tiles. You ignored the burning in your lungs in favor of the silence underneath the water -- it was beautiful. You felt… almost at peace. Like the water was shipping you home, to Vanaheim, to your parents, to Hel. How you wish they were here.

 

You finally pull yourself out of the water and take a gulp of air, there is no point in drowning. They’d find a way to revive you. 

 

You finish up the bath quickly, scrubbing your body until your skin is red and raw.

 

Then you stand, allowing Eira to cover you in a robe. She makes light conversation with you as she combs your hair and braids it elegantly in an abhorrent Asgardian style. You have no desire to direct her to change it, especially considering she’s continuing a conversation only encouraged by your own well-timed nod. She keeps half of it pulled back while letting the rest of it fall. That’s when you notice the bruises. Thick, dark bruises. Bites. Evidence from the night before.

 

Eira has noticed them too, her fingers hover over the fresh marks as if unsure what to do.

 

She lifts her gaze to search yours, light blue eyes filled with sadness, empathy. They glisten softly as she turns from your reflection. “Does it hurt, My Lady? Can I get you something for it? A salve?”

 

You shake your head. In full honesty, you hadn’t even known there were bruises. They didn’t hurt at all. “I’m quite alright,” you reassure her softly.

 

With a final nod, Eira smiles, “Perhaps we should rethink your dress?”

 

You laugh then, an un-lady-like bark, thinking of how bare your upper chest and neck would be in the dress she chose, strutting through the Great Hall, proudly wearing the Prince’s wounds on your skin. “I think you’re right.”

 

Her eyes light as she twists and finds another gown in the closet.

 

And this gown is exquisite.

 

As she pulls the dress out, you stand to face it. Your fingers delicately trace the fabric. A free-flowing satin skirt is synched together at the waist by glimmering, yet muted, crystals. The bodice is a beautiful beaded design that weaves to cover your breasts. Your shoulders will be bare and your upper chest will only be seen through a silver mesh fabric before the crystals came together again to hide any impurities on your neck.

 

And there are a few -- four impurities to be exact.

 

Thanks to him.

 

You quickly dress, allowing Eira to help lace your corset then slip the dress over your body.

 

It falls in a sweeping motion and dances around your form with every movement.

 

The dress is a statement, a declaration. It affirms something you’ve always known: You Are Royalty.

 

True, you have always been royalty, but now, you are Asgardian royalty. And the thought of other people seeing you in this, their eyes appraising or arbitrating you, judging you slithers through your mind. You could already feel the anxiety clawing up your throat.

 

You don’t want to leave your chambers.

 

But you will. You refuse to cower in your room like a frightened girl they believe you to be. You’re the heir to Vanaheim, wife to Loki Odinson. You are dangerous.

 

With that thought, you leave, Eira taking a step behind you.

 

When you finally reach the Great Hall doors, all you hear are loud conversations. Realizing a crowd has gathered for the morning, you take a deep breath in and push the doors open. With a head held high, you enter the hall, daring for people to look your way.

 

Silence spreads like wildfire.

 

Without sparing any of the attendees a glance, you walk to the head table. Your eyes remain on the empty two seats as far from Odin as possible. From the corner of your eye, you see the Allmother watching you, concern gracing her features as you barely manage to sit gracefully in your chair. At least no one could see the marks on your skin in this dress, even if your movements seemed stiff.

 

As you take your seat, the crowd begins to murmur, no doubt wondering where Loki is. Then as if a spell is lifted, people begin to talk again, some about trivial matters, others, no doubt, discussing you.

 

Of course, it is likely tradition for the couple to enter the Great Hall together the morning after. Of course, Loki is never one to maintain tradition.

 

A goblet is set in front of you along with a plate of delicacies -- fruit, meats.

 

“My daughter,” Frigga’s gentle voice greets as she takes the seat next to you.

 

You swallow the fruit, looking at the beautiful woman. “Allmother,” you say bowing your head slightly and averting your eyes.

 

“How are you, my dear?”

 

You smile, swallowing the truth. “I am well. Your family bestows great kindness upon me.”

 

Frigga gently touches your forearm, making you glance at her. “You are my family, dear.” Her eyes, kind and caring, pull at your heart-strings, nearly dragging a tear from yours with it. You long to drop into her arms, longing for any type of comfort, but you refrain. After all, these niceties were just empty words.

 

“Have you seen my son?”

 

You glance down at your plate, having no desire to even eat. Thinking about how fruits rot, age, deform with time. They decay - with bruises. “I have not seen him since last night.” A flush grows on your skin at the memory. “In my chambers,” you add, ensuring she knew that he partook in husband duties.

 

Frigga’s gaze hardens and her hand retreats. If she weren’t near, you would have missed the tension seared across her face. Her eyes wrinkle, her lips purse, it is both terrifying and amazing to witness. Unsure what to make of her reaction, you calmly bring another piece of fruit to your lips and take a deep breath.

 

“He was kind,” you whisper hoping to assuage the Queen’s worries and quiet temper.

 

She releases a breath as sadness overwhelms her, “You can leave the lies to my son. Stay well, daughter.” Then, she pushes back from her seat and stands, retreating back to Odin’s side, leaving you to a private breakfast and taking any hunger with her.

 

You continue to sit alone, counting the seconds and minutes until a suitable amount of time has passed. Loki never appears, even as people come, wait, anticipate his arrival, and leave forlornly. Disappointed. Longing for a scene. Longing for drama.

 

The only saving grace is that your new family has left you alone for some time. Thor lingers with his companions -- the Warriors Three -- not even paying you a word of good fortune. It is a relief honestly. The last thing you want is for your husband to walk in while Thor gives you attention. Odin remains at the head of the table, though left with matters to attend to. And the Allmother, while waiting with her Ladies-of-Court, seemed distant from the festivities.

 

Finally, after a time, and gaining Frigga’s approval, you excuse yourself.

 

Eyes follow you out of the halls, likely waiting until the door shut behind you to discuss your solitary and unsociable presence. You realize after some time, that Eira followed you as well. Her soft steps echo off the stone walls making you feel smothered and cornered.

 

“I was told you love gardens, my lady,” The handmaid begins from a step to your left. “Would you like to tour the Royal Commons? The Allmother tends to many of the plants herself.”

 

You pause for a second looking around the empty stone hallway. You refuse to go back to your room and hide. Refuse to avoid life. In your bedchambers, it is easy to pretend everything is as it was, but out here it is impossible, you are constantly affronted with your new life.

 

“I would love that,” you confess after some time.

 

As Eira leads the way, she tells you the story of the garden. You memorize the trail to the area as she confesses that it is enchanted by the Allmother. While they are only a small section of the Palace, once one enters, the gardens cluster into an area the size of the Black Forest -- with rolling hills, flowering plants, and even buildings. There are legends of people losing their way, lost for a century before finding their way out again. Imagining yourself in the garden for a hundred years, aimlessly traveling amongst lush plant life, is your personal form of Valhalla.

 

Before you know it, large marble cloisters give way to a courtyard full of hedges and flowers that bloom into a maze of green. The garden is alive and flourishing, pregnant with life.

 

You wish for nothing but to be alone in here. To lay amongst roses and idle the day away. “Leave me,” you command.

 

“My Lady,” Eira begins, “I do not think it wise to be alone so-“

 

“I did not ask for your opinion,” you tell her sharply. “I’m in a Royal Courtyard, not outside the palace. You have nothing to fear. I have nowhere to go nor a way to flee.”

 

After a long pause, the handmaiden curtsies. “As you wish,” then turns on her heal, scurrying away as if danger lay in the gardens.

 

Perhaps you are the danger.

 

You move forward, uncaring that the hems of your dress ruddy with dirt and grass stains. After wandering through hedges and emptying your thoughts, you find a pathway that leads to an enclosed garden. The only way to enter is through a stoned lianas archway that is adorned with flowering vines. You gather your skirts around you and walk through it, stepping down stone steps and entering larger alcove of overgrown plants and a decaying bath. Marble statues are fractured, and the trees are bare.

 

How long has it been since another stepped in here? It seems no one has cared for the area in nearly a millennium.

 

It is a ruin and, yet, you feel something akin to it. While in shambles, vines grow between the stones and tree branches sink into the mossy green water, it still is beautiful. It is simply lonely. You wish to spend the rest of your time here, wanting to keep it company, ensuring it was never alone again.

 

Moving closer to the bath, you stop at the water’s edge.

 

As the sun dances behind overgrown willow trees, you could imagine this area in its glory. Crystal blue water, rock so bright it gleams back at you, and hordes of people enjoying the water. The thought of it, of the beauty just waiting to be found, is serene and calming. A snapped twig wakes you from your daydream. You turn sharply to find a shadow at the entrance to the alcove.

 

xXxXx

 

“My wife,” father began, his voice carrying through his study. “You mustn’t worry yourself.”

 

How can I not? She is a child.”

 

You lay your hand on the door, pushing it open ever so slowly. A slight opening, nothing more than a sliver, gave you a full view of the room. Mother sat in the chair across from father’s desk. You could tell, even from just the rigid back of her head, that worry lines were creased across her features, all the while father gave her a lazy and teasing smile.

 

“A child who is well past the marrying age.”

 

Mother sighed and tapped her fingers against the desk. “I do not trust them.”

 

“You’d be a fool to, after Freya and the young one.”

 

Mother pulled her hands to her face, released a deep sigh and lowered her voice.

 

You put your ear against the door, holding your breath to hear their conversation. Who was Freya?

 

It was a name that did not sound the least bit familiar. 

 

“Why then promise her to them?” She began pulling on the chain around her neck, a familiar rose locket she adorned all the time. A wedding present from your grandmother promised to one day be yours.

 

Father let out a deep gruff, “I have my reasons.”

 

“Surely there is another way than using our daughter as a pawn in your chess match.” Mother argued, her voice edged with a venom.

 

“Vanaheim needs help,” Father said, his voice dropping again. “I have been talking with,” he paused then looked towards the door, scrutinizing the gap. You took a step back, trying to avoid his gaze.

 

And, as you stepped back, the floorboards groaned.

 

You bit your lower lip, knowing that they had to of heard it. Suddenly, there were footsteps walking to the door and it was thrown open.

 

“Father!” You greeted with a large smile.

 

Father chuckled and stepped to the side to let you enter. “Have you been eavesdropping daughter?”

 

“Perhaps,” you teased, walking in and taking a seat next to mother. You pulled her hand into yours and turned to her. “Was there something I should eavesdrop for?”

 

“You are too clever,” Father told you, his eyes blazing with an elegant pride. “It’d be best to dull yourself.”

 

You smiled back at him, delighting in his attention, and rested your head on Mothers' shoulder. You already dreaded the day they’ll leave court to return to Vanaheim. At least they’d only be a Bi-Frost journey away.

 

xXxXx

 

“Who’s there?” You call to the hunched form. You collect the skirts in your hand as a frown pulls at your lips and erratic heartbeats thrust blood through you. The small hairs on the back of your neck rise, triggering a warning deep in your soul. “Announce yourself!” You command, your voice booming with confidence that you do not possess. Taking a step back you prepare to run, scarcely realizing that the shadow is guarding the only way in and out of your area.

 

“Princess,” a familiar raspy voice greets. Taking a step from the shadows, you instantly recognize the woman as the old nurse who prepared you for your wedding.  “I apologize if I frightened you. ‘Tis hard to get time alone with you now that you have married.” Your eyebrows furrow, as your mind races to piece her words together. “You remember me, do you not?”

 

“I do.”

 

The elder gleams at you, taking another step with your honest confession. “And do you know who I am?”

 

“You are a wet nurse,” you surmise. “Probably for one of the Families at Court.”

 

“Aye, I was a wet nurse in my youth, but not in Asgard.”

 

The woman’s haunting smile, her rouged lips, her hair tied tightly back beneath a hood all seems Asgardian. She’s adopted their customs, their mannerisms, made herself seem like one of them. But her words, spoken in ancient Vanir, they were not something an Asgardian would mumble to a traitor of the crown. It would be too easy to be caught.

 

 Lang Lewe Vanir

 

“Enough with the riddles. Who are you?” You ask hastily.

 

“I was a friend of your father.”

 

Your back straightens, instantly, and your hands clench into painful fists when your nails dig into your palm. How dare she mention him. How dare she claim to be his friend. Where was she when his head was removed in a single swing? She was not there. His friends, allies, were not there. You were. Grasped tightly in large, talon clutches forced to remain impassive as he was stolen from you.

 

“You?” You spit, “He had no friends here. That was clear.”

 

The woman does not take any warning from your dark timbre; instead, she floats forward. While yesterday, she was old and haggard, aged bones stiffly faltering, today she has a youth blanketing her in fluid movements.

 

“There always has been, and always will be, allies of Vanaheim if you seek the right places. Draped in the shadows, budding in the light.” Before you even have a second to process her words, the woman is in front of you, gawping into your eyes and allowing you to view the truth in hers. She’s open, vulnerable, seeking you out as a form of comfort and salvation.

 

Your lips purse and you clench your jaw. Finally, you ask, “What do you want with me?”

 

The woman finally smiles, her soft hands cradle your face and trap you between them. “It is not what we want. It is what we offer.”

 

You swallow slick bile of fear that threatens to rise from your stomach and break a piece of your frosty exterior. “And what do you offer?”

 

“Revenge,” she states, calmly. A measured word that could crumble the ground you stand on. “There is a plan, one to avenge your father and mother, to restore Vanheim power to the true Princess. You.”

 

There’s a pause.

 

A buzzing in the distance.

 

A silent moment stretching for longer.

 

Your heart escalates in your chest, as blood thrums through your ears. This is treason. This has to be a trap. “Why would I want that?” Although you already knew the answer, you think of your father kneeling on the executioner’s block. You think of your mother lifeless in her room.

 

The woman takes a ragged breath. “Why would you not avenge them? Yourself?”

 

You take a sharp step back from the woman at the thought of another overhearing this conversation. Instead, you repeat your earlier question. “Who are you?”

 

“In due time you’ll find out. Do you accept to be part of this?”

 

“I cannot discuss this.” You take a step around her, mind racing with dangerous outcomes of this conversation, like if someone was to pass by. Or if another overheard you. You keep your back to her, dropping your head and inhale deeply. Concentrating on your breath, you exhale any of these possibilities from your mind. Banish them. You hadn’t agreed, hadn’t even consented to her speaking to you.

 

The woman makes a small noise and you stop in your path, but you refuse to circle back to her.

 

“I understand, Princess. It is a lot to consider. You have one night and one day to come to a final decision. Otherwise, the plan will move forward without you.”

 

With that statement, dismissal, you continue forward. Keeping a calm resolve, you pass through the archway. Then, once you are over the threshold and out of sight, you run, leaving the nurse, the ghosts, and the treasonous plots behind.

 

By the time you exit the garden, night has fallen. A thousand stars twinkle at you as you enter the castle, silently praying that today’s events were nothing but a dream. A horrid nightmare.

 

You know though, as you push your bedchamber’s door open, that couldn’t be true. And you have no idea what to do. Do you tell the Allfather? Do you join a hopeless rebellion? Or, do you just stay impassive, a complicit bystander as tragedy falls or rises in Asgard.

 

And, as you close the door, you collapse against it, finally letting your guard down. That is until a voice calls from the fireplace.

 

“And where have you been?” 

Chapter Text

 

And as you close the door, you collapse against it, finally letting your guard down. That is, until a voice calls from the fireplace. “And where have you disappeared to?”

 

“My Prince,” you breathe as your heart beats erratic paces. “What are you doing here?”

 

Loki is draped across the settee sofa with a book in his hands. Pale, unblemished, lean fingers mark a page and close the book before dropping it on the sofa next to him. You watch his hands flex; his graceful movements accentuate the veins popping from them. “I came to collect you for dinner but imagine my surprise when you were not here,” he explains, his voice taking on a languid mocking tone.

 

“I apologize if I kept you waiting.” Your stomach drops when Loki dramatically stands to his feet. As he begins walking your way, carefully ensuring his measured steps disrupt the silence in your room, you move backwards out of habit, knocking into the door. “I visited the Royal gardens this morning, I heard tales of their beauty.”

 

Loki’s smile is tight and his darkened eyes keep you locked in a trance, as he approaches you like a predator ready to attack. “And who granted you permission to visit my mother’s gardens?” You immediately try to burrow further into the door to create space between you, as if you possess the ability to pass through solid wood. You drop his gaze, carefully thinking of an explanation. “Who were you with, pet?”

 

“I…” you trail off, at a loss for words. You recall the garden - the woman - the proposition - the rebellion. Frustration grows inside you as you try to decide whether or not to tell him.

 

His hands, previously limp at his sides, tighten into fists as you remain silent, working through your decision. His head dances closer to you, momentarily distracting your train of thought and sense of danger. Unlike the night before, his breath smells fresh now, like spring. It is so unlike the mead from last night. It is drugging. Intoxicating. It’s making your body bold, craving carnal needs.

 

Though you are ashamed to admit this to even the darkest parts of your mind, your skin wants his breath caressing it. Your ears want his groans from above you. Your body wants to feel him inside you again, his lips discovering parts that no other has touched. And your feminine sex, engorged with the thoughts from the night before, wants his nimble fingers taunting your body in tight circles. And as the memories resurface, a slick heat blooms inside you.

 

Sickening.

 

You wonder if Loki enjoyed it, like you enjoyed it.

 

It sounded, felt like he relished it.

 

You want to hate him.

 

You pull yourself out of his confounding gaze, recognizing that even though your body may want his, you need to have a clear mind.

 

“I wasn’t with-”

 

Suddenly, like a snake uncoiling to a strike, his fist winds around your neck and slams your head against the wall. A loud crack and splintering pain shoot through your skull, erasing any thoughts of the night before. You try taking a breath only to find his grip was too tight. “Don’t lie to me,” he spits menacingly. He lifts you off your feet, holding you by just your neck, and presses his body closer to you.

 

His clutch loosens briefly enough for you to squeeze out, through a ragged wheeze, “I wasn’t.”

 

But then Loki’s hand tightens again, the beads of your dress poke into your neck, and your barely able to take a deep gulp of air before his clutches return to damaging pain. You slap your hand around his forearm and dig your nails into his green, cotton tunic, praying that it’s strong enough to dissuade him. Your toes barely reach the floor as he keeps you pinned against the door. You watch his eyes grow and his face contorts with fascination at the desperation in yours. You hadn’t realized until now, how much you wanted to live. Ironic, since this very morning, you wished to sink into the tub and never resurface.

 

Loki drops his head to the crook of your neck, before taking a deep inhale and letting his mouth drop to your skin. Then his breath trails a hot pathway to your ear, making you shiver, and hovers over it, whispering, “I can smell him on you.”

 

You shake your head, as tears fall, trying to pull his grasp from your neck as you begin to panic more. You can’t breathe. Can’t speak. Is this death? Your windpipe is held tightly, you can’t swallow an ounce of air, and you can feel your lungs start to scream for sustenance, something you haven’t denied them since a childhood dive in the water.

 

If this was death though, it was soft, bloodless. Similar to your mothers. “Eira,” you mouth a lie to him, hoping he understands. That’s who you were with, no one else.

 

Just as your eyes flutter shut, fading into an unquestionable, final darkness, Loki lets go and you fall to the wooden floor in a heap. You take a ragged breath in, a pain radiates from your throat. It hurts to take breathe. You move your mouth, trying to swallow thick saliva and tears. You dare not open your eyes. Everything is silent. Perhaps, you are dead.

 

A moment stretches to minutes as time idles by, when you finally open your eyes, you see he is still standing in front of you. He’s a monstrous mountain standing in front of an idle, helpless river, destined to a course predetermined for her.

 

He then pulls you up by your arm, steadying you in another firm grasp. How was it that a few minutes ago you were romanticizing him, his actions? Confusing bodily desires for something else.

 

You find footing, even though he is steadying you, and lean against the door, still trying to catch your breath and calm your rapid heartbeat.

 

Loki trails a hand across and suddenly the neck of your dress is gone. He hovers over your skin where an irate, red mark begins to form. Finally, you look at him, only to find his face is a mask looking at the imprints he left around your neck, from last night and now.

 

You try to read him, try to gauge the look shadowing across his pale green eyes, they are almost blue, you decide. Almost like Thor’s, if Thor could ever look cold and calculating and monstrous. If Thor could almost kill you over an imagined lie.

 

It was not imagined though, was it?

 

As his hand hovers over your irritated skin, his eyes shut slowly, as if in pain. Either from shame or arousal.

 

“The scent was familiar,” he divulges, as if that explains his actions. He reopens his eyes watches you. “I believed it belonged to another.” His hand grazes your cheek and wipes a tear, softly. As if you desire a comforting touch, like the tears are not a consequence of his exploit. Instead, you flinch from his cold touch. A heavy silence falls between you, thick enough to cloud rationality.

 

Your eyes harden as Loki’s hand cups your jaw, lifting your head to inspect his afflicted damage. The truth is, you are a boiling ocean receding and gathering into a giant surge readying to crash over him. You want him to realize you, to reckon you as the tidal wave you are.

 

For a second his disguise drops and Loki’s lips settle into a harsh scowl as his eyes rove over your expression, and all you want is to know what he’s thinking. Probably, appraising his work. Though, he doesn’t look smug enough for that, his expression does not echo a haughty sentiment. It’s something else. But in a calculated flash, his mask is back in place. Waiting for you to say something.

 

Then, he reaches to your skirts and pulls them up, as he leans his face closer. You dare not move, to not engage him in any type of tryst. You wanted him to leave. His hands travel up your thighs, drawing a pattern as his nose dances with yours, as his eyelids get heavy and watch your lips.

 

Chills form across your skin and his delicate fingertips make your stomach drop. They continue their climb bunching your dress as he continues his pathway, his breath hitches as his fingers reach the apex of your thighs. Your eyes look past him dancing along the scenery behind him.

 

And as his fingers slither beneath your chemise, beneath your undergarments, you’re humiliated to find your still slick with desire from the reverie of the night before. A dark chuckle escapes him.

 

“How fascinating, pet.” He breathes into you, pressing his hips against yours. “You enjoyed that.”

 

You snap back to reality.

 

You snap back to you.

 

“No.”

 

Without thinking, your hand strikes him. A loud slap reverberates through the room. Loki’s face swings in the direction your palm forced him to, and you push him away, reclaiming dignity.

 

The tidal wave crashes against the mountain.

 

Loki takes a step back, his hand, previously hidden beneath your skirt, touches the side of his face. He then runs his other hand through his hair, pushing it back, and looks at you in wonder. Your eyes must be as wide as his. Shocked that you actually slapped a Prince of Asgard.

 

Loki’s lips turn upward, threateningly. As if he knows a truth you have yet to discover. “Who is this creature?” He asks, appraising you from head to toe, “And where did she come from?” He walks closer to you and looks deeply in your eyes.

 

“You will not intimidate me into submission,” you tell him. Daring to equal his feral look.

 

His arm reaches out and he rests his hand against the door, leaning back over you. “You shouldn't make false claims.” He darkly snickers, and grasps both of your shoulders, turning you so his back was to the door.

 

Then, without another word, he opens the door and slips through it. Leaving you alone, exposed, and once again humiliated.

 

And even knowing that he could do whatever he wished to you, knowing none would come to your defense, you would slap him again.

 

xXxXx

 

Freya. That was the name father used in his study last week.

 

You needed to know who she was, curiosity was eating away at your resolve. 

 

Any library was a sanctuary. A safe place littered with stories and lessons. A second home. The Royal Library of Asgard was even more beautiful, with shelves in every nook and books shoved haphazardly onto all surfaces, following a maddening pattern that could only make sense to the most avid of readers.

 

Midgardian literature.

 

Alfheim legends.

 

Nividellir records.

 

You wandered through the shelves, mouth agape, while familiarizing yourself with the layout. There was nothing like this on Vanaheim. Have mother or father seen this? You finally stumbled upon a case that was devoted to Vanir history. 

 

You hastily grabbed a stack of books and found a table close to the book case, but far enough away that a person would have to search the grounds to find you.

 

You scanned pages, looking for a tale of a young girl, a tale of this Freya. Page after page. Nothing. You flipped quickly glazing over words when a cold presence radiates from behind you.

 

“You’re reading speed astounds me, Princess.” A dry voice jumbledthe air.

 

When you peered over your shoulder, careful to arrange your arms to hide what you were reading, you find Loki. You suppressed a shutter as an uncomfortable, guarded smile graced your lips. “My Prince,” you greeted.

 

Loki measuredly stepped around you, his hands behind his back as he took a seat across from yours. He swiped the book from under your arm and closed the book. He peered at it through half-lidded eyes and read aloud, “‘The History of Vanaheim vol. 7’ how… plebeian.”

 

You clenched your jaw to keep from saying something improper like you wished to. “Is there something you needed, My Prince?”

 

Loki gracefully placed the book on the table and slid it back to you. His gaze settled into one of damning curiosity. “You can start by saying my name.” He gestured for you to repeat your question.

 

“Is there something you needed, Loki?”

 

Prince Loki,” he corrected with a smile, though when you glowered at him, his smile dropped. He pursed his lips for a moment, then his eyes light with mischievous intent. “Is it not in best interests for us to be acquainted?”

 

“I thought we already were,” you told him plainly.

 

“Perhaps, I am proposing that we become more intimately acquainted.”

 

An uncomfortable heat bloomed across your cheeks, as your eyes dropped to the closed book in front of you. “I’m not sure I can appreciate your question.”

 

Loki smirked, “Oh, I’m sure you can.” His long fingers tap rhythmically on the table.

 

You had nothing to say to that, no witty comeback or snarky remark. Nothing to make you seem less flustered than you were at the prospect of intimacy with a man, a Prince. A Prince you were not betrothed to. When you finally look back to him, deciding it would be easier to swallow fear than to admit to fear, you notice his eyes have hardened to a mirthful black pool that matched his hair color.

 

It had to be a test. A trick to trap you in. He was an agent of mischief after all. 

 

“You flatter me,” you lied finally, maintaining eye contact even as his scowl deepened. “Fortunately, my intimate relations with your brother keep me more than satiated. I have no need to enter into an untoward dalliance with you.” Your heart paced erratically in your chest, even as you remain stoically staring at Loki.

 

“This is your answer?” He asked coldly, almost as if your answer was unbelievable, as if you were not to wed his brother. His eyes, no longer light or mirthful, take a cynical edge.

 

“I apologize if it was not what you had hoped for.”

 

“Are you mocking me?”

 

Your stomach dropped. “No,” you vehemently shook your head.

 

After a beat, a large toothy grin, possibly a sneer, graced his features and you shivered. But he simply tipped his head, “May I suggest you uncover the trivial depths inthe Asgardian Scrolls. Perhaps there you will find what you search so desperately for.”

 

With that, he stood quickly, gracefully, in one fluid motion, and retreated; his even, calculated steps echoed off the walls and punctuated the tense silence he left behind.

 

xXxXx

 

 

Time slips by and you wait for Eira to ready your chambers for bed. The moon reaches high in the sky, illuminating your room.

 

You wonder if the castle already knows.

 

You wonder if Loki will return, intending to punish you for insolence. It would be deserved.

 

And as minutes continue to pass by, you decide that sitting idly for guards to show up is useless. You look at yourself in the mirror and nearly gasp from the shock of what you see.

 

A bright bruise has spread across your once gentle neck. It’s hideous and stands out in rough patches of red and dark purple cascading across your skin. Even worse, your eyes are bloodshot, bright red contorts the color of your eyes to look unlike anything normal.

 

All that you realize by looking at yourself is this: you are hideous.

 

So, you turn away from your reflection and pull on a cloak, ensuring it is clasped around your throat hiding the fresh wounds from sight. You needed fresh air, a garden or some time away from a room that contains hazardous memories.

 

As you leave the door, you have no plan on where you intend to go. You roam, aimlessly. Perhaps the kitchens for food, because as a grumbling erupts from your stomach, you realize that you had not eaten since breakfast. Another part of you longed to retreat into parts of the castle others rarely do: the library, the observatory, the portrait hall.

 

Instead, you find yourself on a similar trail as before. Winding through halls and toward the Allmother’s gardens.

 

But as you continue down corridors, the more lost you get. The halls all look similar, with large pillars and stone walls, and they all connect in a labyrinth you have yet to learn. Finally, you come to a dead end and a doorway. Intrigued you walk closer, desperate to know what’s on the other side.

 

As you open the door, you look behind you to make sure no one is there, then you slip inside.

 

A magnificent room.

 

Greens, Golds, Blacks, decorated with elaborate furniture. A large staircase leads to what seems to be a personal library, perhaps a study even, as there are lines of bookcases.

 

You tiptoe up the stairs and to the book shelf, inspecting the titles there. Your fingers trace the wood shelves as you continue walking. On the opposite side of the room, another door leads to a balcony that overlooks the gardens, and farther past that, you can see rooftops and spiraling trees beyond the castle gates. The view is breathtaking. It’s miles of Asgard

 

You step onto the terrace, tugging the cape around your shoulders closer as the night air wafts over your skin. Resting your hands against the railing, you look over the garden, realizing that it is lit up by enchanted spherical lanterns. Your eyes study the gardens below you, you can hear the buzzing of bugs traveling across the garden. Then, there’s another noise. A masculine intake of breath. A familiar sound.

 

Then, you spot him, his pale skin and raven hair shining in the moonlight. Leaning against a large hedge, his dark eyes rove over a woman’s form as she stands naked in front of him, her dress pooled at her feet. Her skin gleams under the lights and Loki’s ravenous gaze. As his eyes watch her, his hands rub thoughtfully against his chin. Then, without warning, the girl reaches forward to Loki’s pants and begins undoing them in a familiar motion.

 

It is a sharp realization.

 

This is your husband, a man into coquetries. Is this what he wants from a wife, a woman bathing naked in moonlight to service him?

 

She drops to her knees and looks up at Loki as her hands rest against his pants.

 

Is this to be your life? Watching your husband do as he wants? Take what he wants?

 

Without even realizing it, a tear escapes you. Quickly you swat it away, frustrated with your fragile state, frustrated with your situation, frustrated with the years that are being taken from you.

 

Then, as if he can hear your thoughts, Loki looks up and spots you. His eyes narrow on the tears now running down your cheeks. His face is taut, angry, perhaps from being seen and interrupted.

 

Your hands grasp the railing as the woman begins to pull his pants down, and he watches you, as if trying to communicate something.

 

But you realize, he’s just reminding you of the truth. You are nothing to him.

 

And with that thought, that there is truly no one in the world who cares for you, makes you flee.

 

You run down the stairs and out the door, not even pausing as the cape catches on something. Before you have a second, you crash into a hard chest.

 

You look up and find Thor peering over you, his smile alight with life. His arms carefully grasp your shoulders, using you as a pedestal to straighten himself.

 

“Sister!” He bellows as if you were not in front of him, his cheeks ruddy and cerulean eyes perky from his evening activities. “Why are you roaming the halls so late?”

 

You smile tightly and move around him, “I have to go,” you tell him, trying to avoid his eye contact. Praying he cannot see tears that have left stains in their wake.

 

He jerks on your wrist suddenly, though it is gentler than you anticipated it would be. “What happened to your neck?” You chance a glance, his way, to find that his smile has dimmed and his eyes have grown soft. Your free hand touches your collar finally realizing that the cloak was missing, likely left behind in your hasty retreat. “What did my brother do?”

 

You shake your head and attempt slither out of his grasp, determined to continue on your escape. Anywhere was better than here.

 

“Brother,” a familiar voice says from behind you. “Thank you for finding my wife.”

 

You look at Thor, your muscles have frozen in place as your eyes widen, begging him to let go of you.

 

Thor’s pale eyebrows knit in frustration, his face ashen and mouth tense, as he looks between you and his brother. You take a deep breath and exhale, shaking your head in the smallest motion. From the pained expression he gives you, you can tell he knows the last thing you want is for him to make a scene.

 

“Loki…” he starts, his voice grave, and finally letting you go. “What have you done?”

 

Loki’s harsh gaze then falls upon you, watching you choke back tears as you push passed both brothers. Your lungs heave while your mind races to control itself. Pleasure and disappointment flicker through you when Loki does not even try to stop you with anything but a withering glare.

 

As you hastily pace down the corridors you continue to hear their conversation reverberating and surrounding you.

 

“Have you gone mad, Loki?” Thor asks lucidly, all evidence of his drunkenness gone.

 

“Perhaps you are,” Loki volleys back in spite, “if you recall, her family was ex-..”

 

“That doesn’t give you the right!”

 

“Oh, but it does. She is my wife after all, my puppet to play with, my strings to pull.”

 

You block out the rest of this torture and run, the skirts of your dress flutter behind you as you race down hallway after hallway. When suddenly, you find your original destination, great clusters, lush life. Luminescent bugs sparkle across the night sky and... soft crying in the distance.

 

You tiptoe towards it, realizing Loki’s conquest lay in waste on the garden floor, pulling at the tatters once called a dress. Your breathe catches in your throat. Her dark skin glows in the moonlight, soft and supple, her dark hair falls in ringlets past her shoulders. And her eyes, while red rimmed, are the lightest shade of grey you had ever seen.

 

Beautiful.

 

Sympathy and empathy shutter through you as you recall your own evening. While heated jealousy warms itself into your heart, you realize he preyed on her.

 

When she finally notices you, her shoulders tense.

 

“My Lady,” she begins, climbing to her feet and pulling the drab colored dress in her hands, stiffly curtsying. A white apron lays on the floor beneath her. “Please forgive my appearance, I was just on my way to the kitchens. Can I fetch you something?”

 

You raise a hand, effectively stopping her. “There is nothing to forgive and nothing I need. Is there something I can do for you?”

 

She quickly shakes her head and her shoulders begin to quiver. “You are too kind, my Lady. I should be going.”

 

You reach for the ground and pull up her apron, handing it to her. Her eyes widen and she takes a step back, shaking harder even as you let it hang between you. Then, she snipes it from your grasp, tying it around herself in a fluid, haste motion.

 

As she continues pass you, her shoulders hunched and head bowed, you realize how ashamed she must be.

 

“If he comes near you again, tell me.”

 

Her puffy eyes find you over her shoulder, lips turned down and cheeks stained red. She simply nods before continuing on.

 

Then you continue forward, realizing now why a part of you longed to come back. Realizing a mere few hours later that you had come to a decision.

 

And, as you enter the decrepit space you find the old nurse already waiting for you. Patiently, hands clasped in front of her.

 

Her eyes, colored so like your own, light when you enter and a small smile graces her lips. As if knowing you would be back so soon.

 

“I want revenge.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

“Are you sure?” The nurse tepidly asks, careful to keep her voice soft and subtle. Her eyes scrutinize you, as if your entire being lay bare for her to read.

 

“I am.”

 

As you continue forward, the woman takes a step back. She squints her eyes, assessing something past you, then nods her head.

 

“Stay there,” she advises. “This may feel odd.”

 

With that warning, she bows her head and a pale glow emits from her body. She lifts up her palms, and, suddenly, the air ripples in a vortex that erupts into different colors: a restless red, a blurred blue, and glimmering green, while a gust of wind whips your hair.

 

The leaves in the trees rustle, the water in the bath waves.

 

You squeeze your eyes shut to block out the dizzying landscape that flickers through the air. Nausea sweeps through you; if you dare to open your mouth, anything that is inside would violently spew out.

 

Then, everything stops and calmness spreads.

 

You open your eyes and your mouth drops open, immediately curiosity weaves across your consciousness. Everything has changed. Turning in circles, you see the woman smiling from the corner of your eyes, the shock must be evident on your face. Gone are the decrepit trees, overgrown hedges, and ashen tiles. The water is crystal blue, with a fountain spewing water into the night sky. The marble beneath your feet is so clean you can see your puzzled expression gaping back at you. The trees are trimmed and bright green, flowers and fruits dangling from low branches.

 

You spin to the woman, and before you can even ask the question, you realize for the first time that there are a lot more people around, patiently watching you, careful to not make a quick move as if you would strike them down if they dare to blink.

 

“What-What is this?” You stutter out, taking in the people around you.

 

A young girl snickers from your left. You realize then that she has the features of a light elf from Alfheim. Dark almond eyes, shining blonde hair, and tipped ears.

 

“Alwyn!” The nurse snaps.

 

The girl’s eyes go wide, though a small smile still draws from her lips. What is a light elf doing here?

 

Then, you notice that all those around you are from different realms. There’s even a dwarf of Nidavellir.

 

“I guess it’s time we introduced ourselves,” the woman says. “You can call me Freya.”

 

XxXxX

 

Princess!” A voice called, its familiar deep timbre reverberated down the stone halls.

 

You pause and motion to the Vanir guards that flank you, stilling them in your route to the Throne room.

 

“We should continue, My Princess,” Björn, the captain of the garrison advised in clear distaste.

 

You rolled your eyes at him and shook your head. Father could wait at least one minute longer. Turning around, you discovered Prince Thor taking long strides toward you.

 

You gave yourself a small moment to admire him. He truly was a specimen to behold and the fact that you were to marry him made your heart flutter.

 

“My Prince,” you greeted, as Thor stopped in front of you. His normally cheerful features were haunted with rigid, tense lines. You, in-turn, curtsied, with an unguarded and genuine grin. “I was just headed to the throne room to see my father. Would you care to join me?”

 

A shadow to your left grabbed your attention. The familiar silhouettes of Thor’s companions, the Warriors Three, moved along the walls, their hands grasping weapons. Almost as if they were circling your group. Your guards move subtly, their feet shuffling into a strategic alignment, realizing a possible threat.

 

When you glanced back to Thor, you re-assessed him. Your smile fading, when you recognized his demeanor, and you stood to full height.

 

“Princess,” Björn warned from behind you. “Go find your mother.”

 

You furrowed your eyebrows, noticing that Thor traded his typical daily garb for his battle armor, and in his hand was Mjönir, the Prince’s famous hammer. This was the first time you had seen it. Well, first time in person. You swallowed a heavy form of dread as you looked at the hulking metal, you had heard tales of the destruction it could cause. Leveling mountains in its wake if Thor wished it.

 

“Tell me, did you think your family would get away with it?” A feminine voice asked from your left, Lady Sif’s long sword glistened in the light.

 

“I am afraid to not-” You’re cut off by Thor’s heavy grip wrapping around your forearm and dragging you closer to him. You stumbled slightly from the force and surprise, unfamiliar with being treated with such disregard. “Unhand me.”

 

“We will escort you to the throne room.” He stated gruffly, tugging you again, though a flash of remorse flickered across his cerulean eyes. You tried pulling your wrist from his grasp only for him to tighten his hold.

 

Before you even recognized what was to happen, metal scraped and a heavy gaits shuffled behind you.

 

“Relinquish the Princess.” Björn dictated behind you, as his sword danced close to Thor’s leather chest plate.

 

Then Hel broke loose. Thor swung his hammer and drove the captain backward in a flash of lightening, pushing you to the ground as he used his other hand to make work of another man.

 

You scrambled to your feet quickly, a voice inside of you screaming for you to run. But you watched in horror as the men that were at your sides were cut down in graceful, languid blows.

 

“Go,” one of your guards shouted. You gave them one parting glance, the Warriors Three making quick work of each one, then you turned on your heel, gathering your skirt and racing down the hallways.

 

xXxXx

 

In total, there are seven people that have surrounded you, evaluating you.

 

Two Vanir, a pair of light elves, a dark elf, a dwarf, and one Æsir. Then, after introductions are made, Freya tells her story. A ghost that has haunted her since childhood, though has been left behind in history to die.

 

As a child, she grew up in the Vanaheim court - long before your time.

 

Freya was known for her beauty, her wit, her intellect. She was already nearing age of consent when her sister was born. As the girl grew older she too was known for her beauty and intelligence. But this girl had something else, a sort of naïveté that welcomed crooked, violent, and manipulative suitors. Freya was already promised to Asgard, and when the future Allfather came for her, he found her sister, aged into a beautiful Goddess.

 

“Before I knew it, Odin had twisted himself into Frigga’s heart. And my sister- my baby sister, believed the tales he told her. About our father, about me.” Frigga quiets for a moment, her hands begin to shake so she brings them to her mouth, tracing the age lines the puckered around her lips. Her eyes have grown heavy with memories. “My family could do nothing but let her go. She became queen, the Allmother. It hurt, of course, but I didn’t want power or to rule. I simply wanted a quiet life. Once Frigga was swept to Asgard, it was like we were just a figment of her imagination. A part of her past that she wanted no part of.” Freya takes a stuttering breath in, tenses her shoulders then exhales. “It was long before your time, I’m afraid. Most people have forgotten all about it.”

 

“That’s horrible,” you express after a few moments of silence.

 

Alwyn then declares, “The Allfather has done many terrible things.” You look at the light elf and her companion, Bruynn. “Many folk whisper about them, but are too petrified to actually do anything about it.”

 

“I was,” Bruynn agrees, his hand grazes through his beard as his eyes glaze over. “Until you.”

 

“Me?”

 

“You’ve given us hope that people will see,” Alwyn explains, her eyes growing round and glistening in the moonlight. “If the Allfather could do this to you, he would do it to anyone.”

 

“You’re mistaken. My parents were traitors,” you remind them. “There’s no love left for me in Asgard.”

 

“Traitors?” The Æsir answers from behind you. You peer over your shoulder to peek at him for the first time, but the shadows cover his face. “Is that what you truly believe?”

 

“Vídarr,” Freya warns, as the man steps into the light.

 

“Of course not,” you instigate boldly, scoffing at his mere suggestion. “It’s what they made the realms believe.”

 

The Æsir, Vídarr, scoffs and shakes his head. His light eyes and bright hair, would make him attractive to any woman, but his frigid, arrogant demeanor repulses you.

 

“We are not here to argue,” Freya cuts in and then takes your hand. “My dear, there are some things we must ask of you.” Your eyes grow wide and palms begin to swelter, though you remain still.

 

“Then ask.”

 

Freya smiles warmly, and in that grin, you see a resemblance to Frigga. Kind, caring, beautiful.

 

“First, you must never speak of this outside this alcove.”

 

“Why?”

 

“It’s enchanted,” Alwyn interrupts excitedly. “So, the Gatekeeper cannot see what happens in here. If you spoke outside of here, well… he’d be able to hear you.”

 

Heimdel. How did the all-seeing, all-hearing Asgardian escape your mind? He looked for treason, sniffed it out like a hound carefully waiting for plots be revealed. “How? How could you trick him?”

 

Freya smiles serenely, “Surely, you realize that Frigga’s powers developed from her Vanir lineage. It is why she is one of the strongest sorceresses in Asgard, why she was able to bless powers upon her son.”

 

Vídarr scoffs again at the mention of Loki.

 

You nod, “Of course, the Vanir were known for their enchantments.”

 

“Are,” the old woman corrects with a patient smile. “And who do you think taught her some of what she knows? You could be taught the same enchantments.”

 

You shake your head, “I possess no talent for sorcery. There have been no inclinations I could.”

 

“Aye,” the woman agrees. “But have you ever tried?”

 

Well, no. You have not. But that was more due to your parents’ aversion for it. The possibility of actually learning, actually practicing magic, brought a fleeing thought of pleasure to your mind.

 

“I have not,” you admit.

 

“Perhaps in time, you can learn.” She says warmly, then continues. “Dear child, there is something else we must ask of you. Something you must do.” Her voice grows grave and the corners of her lips pull down. Finally, she reaches for your hand and maintains a grasp on them, holding them steady, tightly, as if hoping that her own touch is enough to ground you to the conversation and prevent you from floating away.

 

“Anything,” you consent, tensing your shoulders and preparing for the worst.

 

“You must make the Dark Prince fall in love with you.”

 

You laugh, thinking it a joke. When no one else shares in your humor, your smile falters. “Loki loves nothing.”

 

“Everyone loves something,” Freya disagrees cautiously.

 

“Perhaps he loves mischief and destruction. But believing him able to care for me is foolish and unwise.”

 

“I told you she would not do it,” Vídarr taunts.

 

“Stop it, Vídarr,” Alwyn utters. “We will be with you through it, Princess. We will make sure no harm comes to you, swear it on the Nine.”

 

You shake your head at the mere possibility of what they are suggesting. The man just held you against the door by your neck, watched in cruel fascination as life slipped from you, as he tormented you. Watched your tear stained face pass him in the corridors, witnessed him use a kitchen maid for his own twisted pleasure.

 

“I wouldn’t even know how to begin.” You admit with a sad smile, “No one has ever loved me like that.”

 

“All of Vanaheim loves you, the rest of the Nine sympathize you.” Alwyn says softly, “Please, don’t despair.”

 

“He is an awful man,” you finally announce, honestly.

 

“They all are,” Freya declares, “At least he does not pretend to be a sheep.” When you say nothing more, and simply lower your eyes to the ground ignoring everyone around you, she continues, “If you are truly against this, we will not ask it of you. It is simply a request to help further our goal.”

 

“And what of the rest, surely I can know the plan if you ask this of me.”

 

Freya shakes her head, “The less you know, the more valuable you are. Trust in us, Princess. It is all we ask.” She then hands a piece of jewelry to you. You carefully accept the gift and look at it, realizing that it is your mother’s necklace, or something similar to it. Roses of Vanaheim intertwine into a locket. You grasp the metal tightly, not wavering as it digs into your palm, and nod.

 

“Okay,” you agree in a defeated whisper. “I will do it.”

 

Suddenly, all the people around you shrink, as if their plan hinged on your consent. Deep breaths litter the air as they take a step back, and walk to other areas of the bath, leaving you and Freya.

 

Freya comes near you and puts both her hands on your tense shoulders. “Calm, darling. Nothing will happen to you, by this I swear.” She looks into your eyes, fierce with her words. You almost believe her.

 

Though no one could promise you safety, not in this world.

 

She then summons a vial in her hands, carefully shielding it from others’ view. “I’m sure you know that the Allfather has demanded an heir from your union. Motherhood changes allegiances.”

 

“I do not plan on permitting him-“

 

“He does not need your consent to slither to your bed, he has been ordered by his father.” Freya cuts you off. “I have no doubt he resents Odin nearly as much as you. But still, this will prevent a child. One drop in your morning tea is all you need.”

 

You assess at the vial containing a clear liquid. You unscrew the cork and smell, recognizing the scents of lavenders and berries.

 

“If you need us, we will always be draped in the shadows.”

 

 “Budding in the light,” you continue, understanding dawning in your heart at her words.

 

Those are their code words, to summon them, to let others know who they are.

 

Frigga may have said you were her family, but you had a feeling that you had just been adopted into another.

 

Later in the night, just as you leave the garden, Vídarr stops you in your trail. He approaches you carefully, arms crossed at his chest. Then he steps close to you, leaning down so you were on the same level. His eyes lock to yours. “Do not submit to him. The God of Mischief loves chaos. Remaining impassive will do nothing to pique his interest.”

 

A frown settles on your lips. “I was taught that a wife should always submit to her husband.”

 

“And this man is a serpent, willing to strike back at any who allow him. You aren’t prey, you are his wife.”

 

“You seem to know him well,” You say, letting the rest of your question hang in the air.

 

Vídarr grins, as an unsettling glint graces his features. “I like to think he and I are similar, Princess.”

 

As you leave the garden nearly an hour later, you realize that two choices lay in front of you. Either you slink back to your room, obsessing over where to go from here. Or confront the problem now. While the words and comforts of the rebellion stay shrouded around you. While you have the poise and strength, the gumption to lay waste to him.

 

You’re weak, exhausted. Your skin raw and nerves frayed.

 

You slump back to your room as indecisiveness sweeps through. Every second you come to a new decision, even as you push open your door, there is a small voice telling you to find a way to him.

 

When you enter though, candles are lit, the fireplace is roaring and your bed has already been dressed down. Then, you see him there, his eyes watching the flames of the fireplace, and your heart stammers. Loki turns to face you, shadows covering half of his face.

 

“Princess,” Loki acknowledges, warily. He stands rigid, as you tread forward closer to him. Your hands grab your skirts like it is an armor, gathering your courage. How dare he be here after the events from earlier this evening. The air in your chambers is thick and cold. Unsafe. Walking closer to him makes your pulse race, your bruises ache, your body protest. How are you ever to be with him again?

 

How are you to make him fall in love with you?

 

Your voice is marble, hard, sharp, lacking empathy. “I hope I didn’t keep you waiting.”

 

A haunting smirk traces his lips. “I confess, it would be a lie to refute that I have been here for some time.”

 

“And I confess, I did not expect you to be here at all.”

 

Loki squints at you for a moment, then tilts his head. “I felt that I should check on you.”

 

Your lips form a snarl, “After you attacked me or after what I witnessed in the garden?”

 

Loki’s jaw clenches for a brief moment, likely holding back his temper. “You do not know what you saw.”

 

“I saw enough. Particularly when I found the maid on the garden soil, tears spilling down her cheeks and dress in tatters.”

 

Loki stalks closer to you. His eyes rove over your form, so you stand taller, measuring up to the woman you are. “So, I am just a monstrous beast then?”

 

“No. A beast can be tamed,” you snap. He stops moving and drowns you in cold, calculated attention. “But, please continue Liar God. Tell me that I am wrong, that I am stupid. A stupid Princess with stupid hopes who will let you beat and torture her.” Your hoarse voice hangs in the air as his eyes flicker at your words. Your throat constricts, dry and sore, the bruises fighting against your words. But, Loki says nothing, his lips pressed firmly together. “Or, has your silver tongue turned to lead?”

 

He finally comes close enough to touch you, but when he reaches out, his palm simply hovers over the bruises on your throat. You flinch, unable to hold on to your fabricated bravado, and his hand drops immediately. When you peek at him, his expression is guarded, careful. So, you continue to press your luck, let go of all the thoughts that have plagued you since your betrothal was announced.

 

“I am your wife,” you whisper, echoing Vídarr’s argument from earlier. Loki’s nostrils flare at your words, and you believe to hear his sharp inhale. “I know you do not love me that you never could. But I deserve your respect. I have done nothing to have lost it and everything to have gained it. And yet, you delight in my humiliation. Revel in my loneliness. You promised to respect me at the Alter before the Norns. Promised to forsake others. Yet you treat me, like… I don’t…” You finish lamely, your eyebrows wrinkling in confusion trying to make sense of your tirade and hold back tears. You will not let him see you cry. Never again. You swear it.

 

Silence spreads throughout the room, louder than your words. When you finally look back at Loki, you see his frown, his skin paler than normal, looking at you with a different type of regard that you have not seen since a time long ago.

 

After a few moments he takes a lock of your hair and tucks it behind your ear. A shiver passes through you at his nearness, though he is careful to not touch you. He notices your reaction as soon as it runs through you.

 

“I apologize,” he states finally, then leans forward his hands landing on your neck.

 

You tense immediately, your eyes growing wide as fearful voices ring through your head, warning you. As you begin to push him away, a soothing energy travels from his hands onto your skin. Suddenly, the discomfort is gone and you are able to breathe easier. No longer constricting yourself to shallow breaths, you inhale deeply. Your eyes and his are locked in a trance, as he prudently cures your throat.

 

You drop your gaze to the ground, try swallowing, amazed to find that it does not hurt. Loki moves forward then, his hand cupping your throat and his thumb softly padding over the skin, waking goosebumps in its path. When you glance back to him you notice that he is transfixed on you. He leans forward, his eyes examining your throat. Then, he straightens and moves past you, not giving a backward glance as he exits your bed chamber.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Three long days slink by.

 

Three long days of sitting in your room and pecking on the food brought to your chambers.

 

It exhausts you in the worst kind of way.

 

Your mind refuses to stop for even a moment. Every thought that enters your mind is one of exhilaration, and trepidation. Thoughts wander endlessly on what to do, how to act, even while your body remains still, perched on an arm chair or settee. Reveries run into ragged circles, digging trenches that you cannot escape. Particularly, when you think of Loki, waiting for his arrival. Determining if you anticipate it or dread it. Whether you will let him touch you, if he will want to touch you.

 

There was a moment on the second night when you heard footsteps stall outside your chambers. You thought it was him. Could have sworn he was about to enter. You strained your ears listening for a soft knock, but instead the person kept walking, as if they had merely stopped to recalibrate their way.

 

You look at the clear vial on your vanity and realize that you may never actually need it. That he may never touch you again, especially when you consider the look he gave you as he left your room that night. The dark shadow that laced his eyes told the truth: he was disgusted by you.

 

The God of Mischief would rather spend evenings with maids than you.

 

And you know, you should accept that. You know that you have accepted that - reveled in it even. But, the other part of your brain, the one that wants to see Asgard burn for your father, fall for your mother, knows that you need him to dance on the edge of chaos with you.

 

Who is this creature? He asked.

 

You know he wants someone uncouth, someone reckless, and you are everything but that.

 

So, you continue on. Even when three days pass again. When it has been a week since you have seen Loki. Since you have vowed to participate in a rebellion. When you no longer anticipate his arrival, when you barely see the royal family except for an odd meal they invite you to. When you eat to avoid speaking, rejoicing in your solitary confinement.

 

If they actually care, they would check on you, or at least that’s what you decide.

 

So, on the seventh day, you walk to the library. Having not been there in some time, you longed to curl in a plush nook. To discover a distant place between pages.

 

As you walk in, the thick, musty scent of books assaults you. It’s like walking into a storm. Old and foggy. The air blankets you, comforts you and makes you forget where you have been and what you have done.

 

It makes you forget what you have promised.

 

As you wander through the tall cases, you realize that too many possibilities lay in front of you. That the stories, legends, tales are endless. That the topics cover the expanse of the universe, that an endless wealth of knowledge rest just at your reach. So, you keep walking until something in the distance glitters for your attention. As you walk closer you realize it’s the Asgardian History Scrolls. The ones that Loki had thrown in your face to read on a day long ago.

 

Your fingertips dance over the covers, waiting for one of them to speak to you. But none do.

 

Therefore, you continue on, leaving the past behind. Before you know it, you come across a low-lit section. The aisles are nearly black and each book has a chain locked to its spine, as if no one is allowed to remove it from the shelf.

 

Inspecting the metal chain carefully, you tug on it to see if it will release. When the links don’t, you wedge the book off the shelf and open it, balancing it on the shelf and ignoring the cloud of dust that wafts off the pages. As your eyes scan the words, you recognize instantly that the writing is a mix of ancient Vanir and Æsir.

 

After some careful reading, you realize what this is. Your fingertips shake against the brittle pages, dragging along with your eyes as you read every word. You can feel the color drain from your face, even as your heart pounds in your chest.

 

The Goddess of Death is final and unwavering in her truth.

 

This is black magic. Blood magic. Magic to summon the Goddess of Death.

 

The first spell is an incantation to cheat death.

                                                                                                                         

The next is a resurrection.

 

The third is to bring death.

 

You know the stories. Death cannot be cheated, cannot be deciphered or understood. She takes you, and if she sends you back, you are different. If she sends you back the same… then she expects retribution of a different kind.

 

You close the book quickly and heave it back onto the shelf, trying to rid the incantations from your mind, and scamper away from the section.

 

But, later, as you nestle into a chair and read about the ancient Gods who came before you, who tricked and lied and played against the rules, a plot rampantly forms in your head. A small smile forms at your lips as it progresses and plays out in a delightful tragedy.

 

You shut the book in your lap and let it rest against your thighs, no longer able to read the words. Instead, your attention, your restless mind, is caught on an idea, looming shelves away, tucked into spell books. And what a grand idea it is.

 

xXxXx

 

Your blood thrummed as you raced farther through the palace, tracing familiar steps and not daring to slow down. The heavy footfalls echoed against the halls, though you dared not to look over your shoulder. Terrified that you would find one of the Warriors Three, or even Thor, behind you.

 

Could you make it before they caught up to you?

 

Your breath heaved with every stride, burning from the exertion. How long had it been since you ran wild in the forest? Were you truly so out of shape?

 

Finally, you rounded a corner, entering your family’s wing. After the events of earlier, it all seemed eerily quiet. Until you noticed a lithe silhouette standing at the end of the hallway just in front of the door to your parents’ chambers.

 

Dread sunk in your gut when you realized who it was.

 

You slowed your steps, carefully fixing your hair and calming yourself as Loki turned around.

 

“My Prince,” you greeted with false exuberance.

 

He bowed slightly, and you realized unlike his brother, Loki was dressed in his typical clothes instead of battle armor. “Princess.” You walked closer to him, carefully observing him, not daring to relax after what you had just witnessed. He angled his body to block you from the door just as you reach him. “I am to escort you to the throne room.”

 

“In due time.” You argued, “I need to speak to my mother.” Smiling tensely, you poorly attempted to maneuver around him.

 

His hand stretched out and tightly grasped your forearm. “I advise that you do not enter.”

 

You pulled out of his clutches, anger flaming a fire inside of you. “You forget yourself, my Prince. I am not yours to touch.”

 

He piqued an eyebrow at your words. “I believe it is you who forgets. Where you are and who you speak to.”

 

You take a step back and crane your neck to look into his mischievous eyes framed with dangerous intent. Your crimson painted lips pull back, bearing your teeth to the prince, nearly sneering at him. “Please excuse me.”

 

You moved around Loki, careful to not touch him. When he does not try to stop you again, you slipped through the door, careful to not open it fully, and slammed it behind you. Locking yourself inside and finally exhaling a deep breath.

 

 

xXxXx

 

As you walk into the Great Hall, you pause. Hordes of people are eating and drinking, as their loud, jovial conversations echo around you. Their elation is clear. For a second, you are taken aback. Looking around, many faces are unrecognizable, but some are familiar; ladies, warriors, and merchants alike celebrate.When you finally peer over at the head table, your knees wobble in realization. Sure, Thor and Frigga are there, even Odin. But worse, Loki’s sitting in the seat next to yours for the first time since your wedding feast. Or, what you expect is the first time since that night. A tendril of anxiety winds around you and threatens to stop your heart, but you push it away. Because, for one moment, for one glorious moment, you are able to study him without his attention on you.

 

Loki stabs the food on his plate with a scowl, though he doesn’t actually bring any of it to his lips, and blissfully ignores those around him. Until Thor says something to his brother that causes a chorus of laughter from around them. Loki mutters a return and sends his brother a dark glower. As if sensing he is being watched, the dark prince glances around the room and his eyes land on you.

 

You fight your racing heart and take a steading breath, as you start to walk to your seat. Most of the voices in the hall quiet to low murmurs, enraptured by your appearance. Loki stands as you approach and gracefully pulls your chair back, the legs not even making a sound against the stone floors. Perhaps this is why so many people are there. Loki and you have yet to make a public appearance since your wedding day. Surely all of Asgard is interested in your marriage. Surely. It is still new. For them, it is a cause of celebration, not a death sentence.

 

You take your seat, studying the food already spread out on the table.

 

“How nice of you to join us,” Loki utters plainly. The words seem sarcastic, and if his tone was not a soft rolling liquid, you’d believe he said it to mock you. But his voice is hesitant, leisurely, as if he’s afraid for others to hear him. “You look lovely.”

 

You doubt that, especially given that you have not been back to your chambers since early this morning. You peer at him from the corner of your eye, not daring to give him your attention, assessing if his statement is in jest or veracity. “Thank you, my Prince.”

 

A quietness spreads between you, even as the feast’s noise level rises back to a rowdy, celebratory roar. The thought of having to sit next to Loki for the entire meal sends a shiver down your spine. You lift the goblet of wine to your lips, keeping yourself busy and suppressing the anticipation burning within you.

 

Finally, just as you open your mouth to fill the silence, Thor leans over his brother to speak to you. “Did you miss us, My Lady?” Thor asks.

 

“Miss you?”

 

“Aye,” the God of Thunder nods, while confusion sweeps through you. “Luckily the hunt did not last as long as expected”

 

“The hunt?” You ask cautiously, sending him a confused look.

 

Then, Loki’s arm snakes around the back of your wooden chair and he leans closer, his lips touch the shell of your ear. “The hunt,” he whispers, as his breathy voice sends shivers down your spine. “To celebrate a consummated Royal marriage.” He then pulls away and turns to his brother.

 

You want to scoff at the barbaric ritual, instead a heat slinks its way onto your cheeks. Slaughtering a beast in celebration for your deflowering -- it is chauvinistic and primitive. And all these people are here to celebrate it. You’re sure they thought of it as a taming of a different type of beast.

 

“I see,” you smile, instead, reaching for the goblet of wine and taking a sip to steady yourself. “In truth, I had not even noticed your absence.”

 

Even though your eyes are trained on Thor’s face, you do not miss the corners of Loki’s lips twitch in amusement.

 

“Ah, My Lady, then my brother must be mishandling his husbandly duties,” Thor quips loud enough for the near tables to hear. People around you snicker at the Prince’s insinuation and Loki’s smirk drops again to a frown.

 

Loki’s jaw tenses and looks back to you. “Please forgive my brother, he has already done too much celebrating.”

 

“And what of you, My Prince? Have you done much celebrating?” You ask Loki, pulling the glass of wine again to your lips, though before you take a sip you continue your insinuation, “Perhaps in gardens, or hallways?”

 

Loki chuckles darkly. Instead of saying anything though, he pulls the pitcher of water to fill his cup and takes a sip.

 

“Unfortunately, my company has solely consisted of my brother, Lady Sif, and the Warriors three.” He gives you a pointed look before continuing, “There were no maids to seduce, as Lady Sif has not been a maiden for quite some time.”

 

You frown at his insinuation and glance at Lady Sif who has taken a seat near Thor. When she catches your stare, you dart your gaze to the food in front of you and begin to cut into the meat on your plate. As you begin eating you chance another glance at the female warrior, her fair complexion and long dark tresses are indubitably feminine, but her angular, supple frame speaks of long hours spent sparring. After giving her one last regard, your attention turns back to your food, chewing through thoughts and an uncharacteristic sense of jealousy. Perhaps it’s because Lady Sif has everything you ever dreamed of. Freedom. Freedom from expectations. From burden and responsibilities. But you also remember her with a sword in her hand, how she cut your house guard with ease. You wonder if Loki spoke in truth, though you know you could not trust a God of Lies. How would he even know something like that? Unless… no. You would not give him the satisfaction on spending more time considering his conquests.

 

As you continue to eat, you half-heartedly listen to the conversations around you. Thor’s tale of the hunt has amassed a large group around the table that hang on his every word. Finally, you play closer attention as his words seem to concern Loki more and more.

 

“We finally stumble upon the Frost Beast sleeping. And Fandral-“

 

“No. You’ll tell it wrong, Thor. See, I simply believed that we ought to give the beast a fighting chance.” Fandral, the blonde warrior in Thor’s trusted band, interjects. He snags a goblet from the table and waves it in the air, looking dramatically around the table. His arm slithers around a woman close to him and he says something in her ear before addressing the greater table. “So-”

 

“So,” Lady Sif cuts him off. “Fandral loudly howls at the she-Wolf which most definitely got its attention. Only its mate was in the den with it.”

 

“How was I supposed to know it would have company?”

 

“Perhaps,” Loki begins dryly, “Knowing it is mating season should have made you think twice.”

 

Fandral smirks at Loki, “You would know all about that.”As Fandral’s laughter rings out, the rest of the table snickers with him, giving you and Loki knowing looks. As if this relationship is something you’re actually happy to be a part of. As if, you are a loving couple.  

 

Norns, all you want to do is hide, tired of being the center of attention.

 

“And I assume the beast stood no chance for your hunting party?” The woman on Fandral’s arm asks.

 

“Imaginably for us, but for the newly wedded Prince here,” Fandral points to Loki. “He could barely kill the damned beasts.” Your gaze snaps to Loki, watching as his jaw tenses, clearly barely holding back his temper. A part of you is terrified, the other is fascinated that his seemingly calm demeanor is only disrupted by pursed lips when he believes no one is watching. “Alas, his tricks let him see another day.”

 

Fandral’s expression and tone, particularly in regard to Loki’s magic, sounds like an insult. That his magic is less than Fandral’s sword skills. You know magic is typically a woman’s weapon, but you have even heard tales of Loki’s expert mastery in the mystical arts. The blatant disregard for his fighting choice is clear.

 

Fandral takes a sip of his cup and immediately spits out his drink. As you keep your gaze on Fandral, you catch Loki lift one eyebrow, though he keeps his lips in a small frown. Looking at his cup, Fandral drops it to the table, glaring good naturedly at the younger Prince.

 

“And what do you call your fighting, Sir Fandral?” When all eyes turn to you, you realize that you spoke allowed. You sit up straighter, as if to ward off a critical scrutiny of those around you.

 

“I’m not sure I understand your question, My Lady.”

 

You coolly rephrase, “Would you say you have Thor’s brute force, since you have none of Loki’s tricks?”

 

“Well no-”

 

“Thus, you have a different sparring style altogether, one that is neither tricks nor force.”

 

“I’m an expert swordsman, My Lady.” He defends looking around the group of people as if your insinuation was ridiculous.

 

“The best of us with a blade,” Thor agrees, putting his cup in the air in a salute, the rest of the group follows suit.

 

“Yes,” you agree, as your memory treks back to the battle in the hallways.  “All I’m saying is that each of you fight differently, you have your sword, Thor has Mjolnir, and Loki has his siedr. Surely, you cannot believe that one is superior to the other.”

 

When Fandral just stares at you with a haunting smile on his lips, everyone stands perfectly still, dividing their attentions between you and an esteemed member of Thor’s band. “After all, Loki could easily switch your drink to poison without you being the wiser.” A small murmur begins in the group as Fandral simply laughs.

 

“My, how your new status has truly given you an opinion.” You look around the group, suddenly realizing what you said. Luckily, Odin and Frigga are on the other side of the room, oblivious to the debate taking place. “You’d know all about the poison though, wouldn’t you?”

 

Your eyes snap back to Fandral, realizing what he means and it takes everything in you to not think of your mother. So, instead you reach for your goblet and drink.

 

“Alright Fandral,” Thor interjects oblivious to the stunning coldness that has slithered through the group. “Enough.”

 

When you finally look to Loki, your breath stalls in your throat. His wary expression makes your throat dry, it’s like he believes you are a reckoning figure he has yet to decipher and quell, threatening to explode at the faintest words. His gaze darts to your hands which are fisted in your lap. And when he finally glances back to your eyes, his eyebrows furrow in deep thought.

 

Fandral laughs and the rest of the group joins in. Finally, he raises the same cup he discarded, and praises loudly, “To the newest silver-tongue. I am sure I speak for all of us when I say that I hope to one day see your fighting talents on the field.” He takes a sip of the cup, and you do not miss the disgust laced in his expression as he swallows.

 

You smile tensely at your new title and finally turn back to your food, but when a chilled, pale hand presses against yours it takes everything in you to not quickly pull away. It feels like a manacle, holding you down and taking your breath with you. You look to Loki, only to find his attention has turned to Thor, discussing some other matter. Finally, after a moment the hand pulls away and you can breathe again.

 

You eat a few more bites, before the food turns to lead in your stomach. You quietly resign yourself to thoughts of chains, poison, and tricks.  Finally, when you feel enough time has passed and people have moved on to new enthralling conversations, you push your chair back, ready to retreat from the Hall. You look around for Eira, only to notice she is still eating with the other ladies-of-court. Swallowing fear, you stand and push your chair back in. Before you can turn around, Loki stands suddenly.

 

He tucks his chair in and grabs you by the crook of your arm, escorting you from the hall. “I have been looking to leave since the moment I sat down,” he admits, uncaring that all eyes have turned to you two. “I loathe these events.”

 

You couldn’t say a word even if you wanted to, because for the third time tonight many prying eyes have once again have landed on you. Only this time, they know where you two are headed, it is like you are wearing a harlot’s gown instead of a Princess’. Many men give the Prince leering, knowing glances, while the women send repulsive glares to you.

 

As soon as the doors close behind you, you pull your arm from your husbands grasp. He barely gives you a glance before a smirk lands on his face. “You truly have no sense of self-preservation.”

 

You swivel your head to him, sharply regarding his expression only to find his face alight with humor. His hands swing at his sides, comfortable, while you tensely fold your arms across your chest. “I am afraid I don’t know what you mean.”

 

As you both walk back to your room, you wonder what the Prince will do to you now that you are alone for the first time since that night. Or, that’s what you have begun to reference the night he nearly killed you.

 

“I mean challenging Fandral the Dashing in front of all those witnesses. It was truly uncivilized of you.”

 

Your jaw drops as you turn forward, stewing in his words. You thought he’d at least be thankful for your interruption. “My Prince-”

 

“Loki.” He corrects. “There’s no need for formalities.”

 

Your eyebrows knit as you regard him. He seems calm, untroubled, unlike you have seen him in some time. You wonder how many seconds of this Loki you get before he changes to the man you have become far too familiar with. “I am sorry if I offended you.”

 

“You did no such thing,” Loki contradicts you, he puts his hand on the small of your back and it takes everything in you to not tense. He chuckles darkly, clearly you are not as good at swallowing your true feelings as you believe yourself to be. “It was lovely to have a pet lioness fighting my foes for me. I’m just not sure if Fandral will see it that way.”

 

“It just surprises me, is all.” When Loki sends you a confused look, you explain, “In Vanaheim, having magic is an envious thing, highly regarded, and yet, here they do not see it that way.” From the corner of your eye, you watch Loki give you a careful regard. “I know I was always envious of those who were able to practice.”

 

“It takes a patient person to practice sorcery,” Loki agrees.

 

“I wouldn’t know. Mother and father never let me try. Though I always longed to learn.” You glance at your feet as a feeling of sadness overtakes you. It was the first time you have mentioned them out loud to him. You wait for Loki’s inquisition -- did you know about the plot. Did you know what they would do? Do you wish they succeeded?

 

But it never comes. Instead, Loki leaves you to the ghosts in your head that kick up dreaded memories you long to forget. In fact, you miss when Loki’s hand drops from your back and return his position at his sides. But at least the ghosts distract you, distract you from your destination and over thinking it all. Before you know it though, you are in front of your chambers and Loki stops behind you as you open your door. When you step inside, you figure he will follow and take what is his, take as a husband so often does. Instead, as you peer over your shoulder, you notice he has stalled outside your doorway.

 

You take a step back to him, resting your hand on the door, “My Prince?” His eyes close slowly and he shakes his head. Finally, you give in and ask again, “Loki?”

 

His eyes open at his name and he swallows back whatever he was going to say.

 

Finally, you ask what has been on your mind since the library. "Would you teach me?"  

 

“Teach you?”

 

“Magic.” You bite your bottom lip and stare at him, waiting for him to laugh or leer at the hope crawling up your chest.

 

Instead, he just simply cocks his head and scrutinizes you from head to toe. “Why?”

 

Words catch in your throat, carefully realizing that you are standing in front of the God of Lies. A wrong word could make him suspicious. Your lips pull down in a grimace, even though your insides tangle into a mess of happiness and trepidation. It is a step in the right direction. A step as to what you promised Freya. Surely if he had to spend time with you, he would grow attached, and even Hel creatures grows attached to those they spend time with. It was a step into deeper treacherous waters.

 

“I’ve always wanted to.” You remind him lamely.

 

“Do you think it clever for me to arm you in such a way?” He asks, licking his lips almost sneering at you.

 

Words catch in your throat, at a loss of what to say. “I hadn’t thought of it that way.”

 

Loki squints at you, carefully regarding you. “Though, I suppose it would be humiliating for Fandral to call you to the battle field and have nothing but your skirts to defend you. I don’t know if I could survive any more of his taunting.”  You smile wryly at the picture he paints. Not even daring to utter another word. Loki’s eyes squint, as if for a brief moment he is able to read every thought passing through your head. “Fine,” he states. “I will do it.” 

 

You bite back a small and honest smile spreading on your lips. “Truly?”

 

He smirks slightly, but doesn’t answer. Instead, he takes a step back from the doorway. “Good evening, pet.” He turns on his heel, not sparring you another glance.

 

As you close the door and prepare for the night, you realize that Loki did not even try to enter. He did not even touch your hand or press himself, his lips, against you. You swallow thickly as you pull an evening gown over your head and touch your neck, tracing the faded bruises he once marked on your skin. Remembering the pain, he brought you. You shake your head, pushing thoughts of him from your head.

 

All you want is to see him bleed. You should not second guess his actions, second guess his intentions, wonder why he did not even try to touch you. You should be thankful.

 

You are thankful.

 

Pacing closer to the window, you realize for the first time that you have the same view as the study from last week.

 

Chapter Text

“What is this place?” You ask, peering around the vast, empty room. Warning bells chime and your muscles tense, but you will them away with sheer determination. If he intended to hurt you, he could do so anywhere. So, why would it be here?

 

Unless he knows.

 

Could he know?

 

Shaking the thoughts away, you look back to Loki. He faces away from you as he strides to the far side of the room. He’s dressed differently today, having traded his trademark green for a simple black tunic.

 

“A sparring room,” is all he provides.

 

You purse your lips in a contemplative confusion. “It doesn’t seem like a sparring room.” The other rooms you have seen are full of all different types of weaponry: swords, maces, knives. This room is barren. 

 

Loki chuckles and waves his hands, making the room brighten to an ethereal glow.  “It’s meant for a different type of sparring. I hardly think having weaponry at the tips of your fingers would make for a productive or safe environment.” He turns back to you and begins pacing closer to you as if a predator preparing to strike.

 

As your heart stutters, you manage to ask, “Safe for me? Or, you?”

 

Loki circles around you, assessing you from head to toe, before stopping nearly a foot from you. You hold your head higher, ignoring the voice advising you to shrink from his sharp scrutiny.

 

Why would you let him bring you here?

 

For the rebellion, you tell yourself. For father, for mother. For yourself.

 

“For both of us.” Loki then produces a small glass orb in his hand and tosses it nonchalantly in your direction. You easily catch the item and hold it in your palm. Lifting it to eye-level, you look into it skeptically. As you continue to peer through, Loki’s silhouette becomes a distorted slender figure. “It is a simple crystal relic.”

 

Your gaze snaps to him, “I don’t understand.”

 

“Do you not desire to learn magic?”

 

You stand straighter, letting your hand drop to your side. “You are teaching me here?”

 

Loki tilts his head to the side. “Where else would I teach you?”

 

Flashes of people practicing magic in the Vanaheim courtyards flickers through your mind. “Outside?”

 

“Perhaps, but the outdoors is littered with distractions. Pulling your siedr forward after years of it lying dormant will take apt focus. That,” he points to the ornament in your hand, “will help manifest any talents. An anchor”

 

“An anchor?” You survey the glass again, waiting for something to happen but it remains translucent.

 

“Do you know how one comes to possess their siedr?” Loki takes a step closer to you and plucks the ornament from your grasp. As soon as Loki pulls it in his hand the orb fills with a swirling, opaque green smoke. “It does not simply come, it has to be manifested and honed. A relic can help focus magic. For some it is a person, for others, it is an object. I figured this made the most sense for you.”

 

His words imply what you already know, but they still hurt. You have no one left.

 

“I thought anyone with Vanir blood can practice?”

 

Loki gives you a look that is unabashedly skeptical, causing you to feel foolish and uneducated. He hands the ornament back to you and the smoke instantly fades. You try, in vain, bring the color back, to summon anything.

 

“It’s not that simple.” Loki’s left hand gracefully circles around your wrist. Your eyes leave the object and look to him, noticing that his full attention has landed on the orb. On your hand. And as his fingers press firmly into your wrist, as they remind you that they are there, his eyes change to a hard, all-consuming darkness. His nostrils flare, his jaw tightens. That’s when you feel it. Or something. A tingling sensation that surges from his touch and into your bloodstream, coursing across your skin and seeping into your pores. Your eyes don’t leave him, even as a euphoric fire burns inside you. When you finally look down, you see that the orb has filled with a silver, glittering smoke that dances with streaks of green. As if your magic was enhanced by his touch. “It is a much more intimate practice.”

 

You glance back at him only to find his attention has moved to yours. To your eyes. For a brief moment, it's as if Loki can see into your being and untangle your thoughts. It's jarring. Unsettling. 

 

You feel exposed like he has peeled back your layers and rearranged them for his own sordid satisfaction. His eyes search yours, seawater green imploring something from you. It's too intimate. Too personal. Too close. 

 

You hastily pull your hand from his and the smoke dissipates turning the ball back to its original clear form. The fire inside of you quells, though some part of your mind desires for it to rage.

 

He pauses for one brief moment, dejection clear in his eyes. It's such a brief reaction that you nearly miss it. But, then his face hardens into his indifferent facade. “Now try lifting the orb.”

 

You lift it in your hand. It didn’t weigh heavier than before.

 

He chuckles, the corner of his lips slightly turned up. “No, levitate the object.”

 

“What?”

 

He sighs dramatically before explaining, “Telekinetically.”

 

You shut your mouth quickly, your eyebrows raising as you look at the orb, unsure of what to do. You couldn’t even conjure the smoke on your own, yet he expects you to lift it with your mind? “Just imagine the object lifting slowly. Desire it.”

 

Moments pass and nothing happens, so you glance back to him, watching his eyes analyzing your grip. Studying you.

 

You carefully close your eyes and try to fan the flames inside you, as if the smoke was an actual burning fire. But every time you reach for it, try and wrap your essence around it, the feeling flutters farther away as if it is sand between your fingertips. The harder you grasp it, the faster it slips through your clasp.

 

Then, his touch is on your wrist again, startling you, and the smoke is suddenly magnetic, careening back towards you. When you open your eyes, you see the orb is glowing again with a tangle of silver and green slowly hovering over your touch. “Hold onto that feeling,” he whispers as if a startling word will cause it to flee again. “And concentrate.”

 

You focus, straining your hands on the orb, as if you were holding onto a single strand that tries to slither from your grasp. Loki’s touch makes the fire rage, and you can feel perspiration growing on the brow of your lips as you desperately try to concentrate on the smoke. It swells and gushes against you. Burning you.

 

When his lean fingers slowly unwind from your skin and he begins to backtrack slowly towards the other side of the room, the smoke holds. For one moment, for two. Your muscles clench as a straining pain weaves from limb to limb. You wish for the object to move higher in the air. And the second you desire it is the second that the smoke disperses again.  

 

You release a breath, your chest heaving as Loki chuckles from across the room. Without thinking you snap your gaze to him, an unrestrained feral look that he matches with one of his own. His smile mocks you. “Perhaps my touch is your anchor.”

 

The thought is repulsive. Consequently, before you can think better, you violently hurl the orb back to him. Loki catches it in one fluid motion, as his smile grows. The ornament levitates in his hand and slowly makes its way back over to you. It dances adorned with green in front of your face, waiting for you. You pin him with a glare. “Take it,” his voice is darker. Harder. Almost quivering with restraint.

 

 You pull the orb from the air and hold it in your grasp. Then, you realize, “You’re trying to trick me.”

 

“I am not.”

 

You did not expect it to be easy, did not expect to have all of the secrets suddenly understanding. But you did not expect to need him. To need his touch to pull the magic from inside you. Is this typical?

 

Loki comes forward again and you take a step back. “I do not need your touch.”

 

His smile drops and his jaw tenses. That’s when you remember your place. Where you are, who you are with. You actually threw the orb at him.

 

“A wager then.” When you don’t answer and instead look at him with plain distaste, his eyes glower darker. You’re reminded of the man in your room. The imposing, looming figure of your nightmares. As your heart begins to race, your face does its best to remain calm. Then, his smile is back. The smile of a trickster, of pure mischief. “If you are unable to move the object without me, then I get to touch you whenever and wherever I please.”

 

You tremor at the sheer thought of those wiry hands hovering over your skin, on your neck, beneath your skirts, whenever he wishes. Your body would not be yours. But, you reason, it really is not your own anymore. He has already touched you in ways more violent and sensual than this. But every time he caresses your skin, you can’t breathe. And the thought of him touching you whenever he pleases makes your stomach churn.

 

“And what do I get?”

 

Loki pauses and cocks his head to the left. “What would you like.”

 

Your eyes shift to the ground, thinking of the possibilities. They are endless.

 

Autonomy.

 

Annulment.

 

Revenge.

 

You know to request those things would be ludicrous. Impossible. You would never be able to have them. But with him, you can get what you want. When your thoughts continue to churn through possibilities, his voice interrupts the silence.

 

“I will never touch you again,” he offers with a pause, then adds, “Unwantedly.”

 

Like you would ever desire his touch. You nearly tell him that, but instead, wisely hold your tongue.

 

“Do you consent?”

 

You glance at him, his pale skin, his seafoam eyes sharp with an elegant, regal look. “I get a week to practice.”

 

“I will allow you three days,” he barters.

 

Pulling your strength and gathering it like a raging storm, you nod. A large smile graces his features. “Until then.”

 

As he escorts you out back to your chambers, careful to not touch you, truly believing he will soon be able to do as he wishes, you can’t shake the mistake you just made.

 

xXxXx

 

You pressed your forehead against the door, feeling the hardwood against your skin. As you inhaled, the strong scent of pine filled your lungs. You listened for any sound on the other side of the door, but you heard only silence. You freed a soft sigh, at least Loki did not try to follow you into the room.

 

“My love,” your mother’s voice called from behind you.

 

You turned, finally releasing a sob, as you ran to your mother’s waiting open arms. They wound themselves around your frame as you collapsed into them, venting fear into your mother’s grip.

 

After giving yourself a moment, you pulled yourself together and out of her comforting embrace. “What is going on?” You asked her plainly, your eyes searching her own, noticing for the first time that they glistened with a drowning sadness that threatened to swallow her strength.

 

Mother took a lock of hair and pushed it behind your ear. “Odin has accused your father of treason.”

 

“It must be a mistake,” you shook your head in a panic. “Father is Odin’s closest friend, his ally. He would never betray him. We must do something.”

 

Mother shushed you, “Come, sit with me.” She pulled you by your shaking hands to a bench. “There is still so much for you to know about Court, about how dangerous it is here.” She sat, pivoting towards you. “Your father will be found guilty, as will I, as will you.”

 

“What? I haven’t…”

 

“It does not matter. You are our kin. Vanaheim’s rightful heir. Odin has taken his reign too far, made it too powerful. It is imbalanced with the rest of the realms. They are angry, my love. People are starving outside of Asgard, they are unhappy with their position. Your father aimed to bridge the divide, to stop this despicable inequality. He heard a conspiracy, he brought it to Odin as a way to make peace. It backfired.”

 

“I don’t understand.”

 

“It was about the youngest Prince.”

 

 “Loki?”

 

“He is not what you think he is,” Mother snapped. “He is not Asgardian.” You shook your head, barely able to comprehend any of your mother’s words. Loki was Asgardian, he was Æsir, he had powers. You had seen them multiple times on display at court. “Frigga was unable to have another child. She could not secure a spare heir. Yet somehow, Odin produced Loki.”

 

“So, he’s not Frigga’s, it is not uncommon for the Allfather to have children with more than one woman. That doesn’t make him less Asgardian, he’s still Odin’s.”

 

“He is not Odin's.” Your mother barked. “This was during the time of the Jötunn war.  When all the Æsir were at war with the Frost Giants. There was no time for that.”

 

“You’ve always said men make time for that sort of thing,” you teased her, trying to diffuse the situation.

 

“Listen to me!” The smile fell from your face at your mother’s pleading tone. Unexpectedly, there was a pounding sound and voices shouting from outside. You jolt upright at the booming sound. They were there. They found you. Your heart began to stammer in your chest and your blood pumped so loud you could barely hear anything around you. Would they kill you? You knew nothing of this, you had no part in it. They couldn’t hurt your family. You wouldn’t let them.

 

“There isn’t time.” Your mother looked at you with such a raw and pure emotion, it stole your breath.  

 

She reached behind her and pulled two small vials into her grasp. “Drink this,” she instructed, pulling the cork from the neck of the bottle, and wrapping your hand around it.

 

You look at it uncertainly, the sadness in her voice making the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. “What is it?”

 

Your mother paused, unscrewing her own glass. “They already have your father in the dungeons. We will not join him down there.”  

 

Your eyebrows knitted together, taking in the liquid’s ominous blue glow.  You glanced at her and watched her down the drink in one gulp. The pounding on the door grew louder, overtaking the quiet stillness in the room. You clutched the vial tighter, bringing it to your lips, but paused. You were paralyzed. Your mothers’ words glided through your head, and you tried to make sense of what was happening.  You had no idea, you couldn’t make sense of it. You couldn’t breathe. You were hyperventilating, seconds spreading to eternity.

 

“Drink it!” Your mother ordered. When you looked at her again, you notice blood beginning to trail down her nose.

 

“Mom?” You asked quietly, her skin losing its color and the veins on her face turning dark. She looked like death.

 

“You stupid girl.” She snarled. The cutting words stunned you, making you drop the vial on the ground in fear. It shattered into a million pieces, finally understanding what it was.

 

Poison.

 

She just drank poison.

 

As your mother fell to the ground, her body convulsing and twisting, you kneeled over her, watching the life drain from her face. Her eyes narrowing at you. “Mom,” you plead, holding her down, trying to stop the hemorrhaging that was now flowing from her mouth, her eyes, her nostrils. You look at your hands, seeing her blood decorating your own skin. “Mom, hold on. Please.” You cried, tears flowing freely from your soul.

 

“Help!” You yelled, barely registering the wood door splintering behind you. You watch your mother drown in a pool of her blood, lifeless eyes still staring at you.  “Please! Someone help her!”

 

Then pale, cold arms circled you, tugging you away from her, as your screams and sobs flowed freely. You barely even registered that it was a curtain of raven strands pressed against your cheek. Instead, you were entirely focused on the limp body in front of you.

 

You just watched your mother die.

 

xXxXx

 

Midnight chimes and you look to your reflection in the vanity mirror.

 

Your dress is dark, nearly black and you pull the hood of your cloak over your head. Resolve is hidden in your depths as you move forward. You refuse to let him win. He will never be able to touch you.

 

You silently stride down the halls, making your way to the Allmother’s garden, wrapped in shadows hoping that Freya is where you hope. As you walk outside, you pull the cloak tighter around you, stealthily moving through the cool air and the plant life.

 

Careful to look over your shoulder, you finally enter the alcove. As you step down the stones, the surroundings shifts around you, a sensation still foreign but now familiar enough to recognize. Magic. Strong magic.

 

You continue forward to find her tending a rose bush. Her hands carefully cup a red bulb.

 

“Hello child,” she greets without looking up, knowing instinctually that it is you. The older woman stands and turns to you, wiping her hands on the skirt of her dress though she leaves no dirt marks. After you push off your hood, she takes one look at your face. “You are troubled.”

 

She grasps your hands and you instantly melt. The tension disperses into the air. Releasing a small sigh, you admit, “I am.”

 

Freya pulls you to a stone bench and you both sit, facing each other. Before she prompts, before she even says a quiet word, you spew all of your thoughts.

 

And by the time you explain it all, Loki’s lessons, the deal, your own selfish beliefs that magic could help protect you, your pulse races.  You’re ashamed of the deal you had struck.

 

Freya looks at you with a calm, calculated regard. She then grasps your hand, and the next thing you know, the tempestuous frenzy of magic twists through you. As soon as you feel it, it is gone. Frey’s face grows ashen and heavy as seconds bleed by.

 

“There is little I can do,” she murmurs. 

 

You shake your head, “What do you mean?”

 

Frey reaches forward and tucks a lock of hair behind your ear, it reminds you of what mother used to do. A form of comfort. A piece of home. “Your magic is tethered together. I can try to influence it, but you may not be able to do much without him.”

 

“How is that possible?”

 

“It may have been a coincidence or fate, but more likely he bound you.”

 

Your breath catches in your throat. “Meaning, he deceived me.” 

 

Why would you think there was any other possibility? As if the God of Mischief would allow an even playing field between you.

 

Her hands, still wound around your own, suddenly tighten. Then a wave of magic, like a wall, crashes over you. It sends your mind tumbling back into a deep and endless fog. You lose your breath as if you had just run for hours. Her magic entwines in your being, spreading from limb to limb causing a viral war within you. You swallow hard, your heart thrumming with exertion.

 

Then, she sighs. “I have done what I could,” she begins as you pull your hands away, letting them perch on your stomach, trying to pull the fabric of your dress from your body. “It may be best to concede. Give him the power.”

 

Your gaze snaps to hers, shocked at what she admitted. Her lips are heavy, the lines of her face dark. She looks tired.

 

“You can’t mean that.”

 

You think back to all the things he’s done. The power balance that already exists between you. Freya sighs and you can feel her magic thrumming in your veins. “I have to go,” you say, your body unable to stay still. You stand suddenly, and the night air, though clear and cool, settles in your throat like sawdust.

 

She watches you go, barely bidding you a safe departure.

 

Weaving out of the bath, you pull the hood forward and hide. One part of you stands on edge from the magic coursing through your veins, while the other succumbs to its pull.

 

As you near the entrance, you slow to a stop. A heavy presence embraces you. Glancing around the garden, you don’t see anyone. So, you remove the hood and turn in a full circle. Still, there is no one, so you continue forward ignoring the feeling.

 

When you finally barricade yourself back in your chambers, you move back to the vanity. You sit at the boudoir and unclasp your cape. Then, take a deep breath as your eyes dance to the crystal orb taunting your attentions. You carefully reach forward and grasp the cool glass in your hand. Summoning the new and yet familiar feeling blazing inside you, you try to bring the smoke back. You focus on the orb, attempting to fill it, change its color, do anything to summon it.

 

It remains clear.

 

This is useless.

 

You find a restless sleep that night, tossing and turning as nightmares sift through your mind. Nightmares filled with anonymous touches and caresses on your skin, delicately tracing shapes that leave marks for all to see. Bruises that litter your skin until your whole being is battered and discolored to ugly hues of blue.

 

Violence. Poison. Blood.

 

Dreaming of the dead as if death could be undone.

 

The next morning, you wake in a pool of sweat. Your chemise and blankets stick to your form, suffocating you, weighing you down and trapping you to the mattress. Heavy lead forms in your stomach as you get up and open the curtains. The sun has only begun to rise, and all you feel is dread.

 

“My lady,” Eira greets as she enters the room with a tray in her clutches. “You’re already awake.”

 

You peer at her over your shoulder, though remain standing at the windowsill and nod in her direction. “It appears I am.”

 

She takes one look at your eyes, sunken with dark circles, at your unkempt hair, and your chapped lips. “Were you able to sleep?”

 

You turn away from the sunrise and go to the far side of your chambers to sit at the vanity.

 

“Very little,” you confess. Eira stands over you and hands you a steaming cup of liquid. You take it graciously and send her a smile.

 

Before you have the chance to ask, she tells you, “It is a family recipe. To calm yourself.”

 

You smile tightly and take a sip, allowing the soothing liquid to flow over your tongue. “It’s lovely, thank you.”

 

She smiles and gathers your hair, tying it in a comforting familiar style that you’ve grown accustomed too. “I was told the Prince will be coming this morning to see you.” When you take a deep breath, Eira’s begins to tease you. “I also hear he has begun to teach you magic.”

 

Your eyes narrow to hers, “Where did you hear such things?”

 

She blushes instantly, “Excuse me, my lady, there are rarely secrets at court.”

 

“For all any know, he is using me as targeting practice.”

 

Eira’s face grows grave, the smile and blush fading from her face. “The Allmother would never allow for such things.”

 

“Perhaps Frigga does not know.”

 

“The Allmother knows everything,” Eira disputes ardently. “Particularly when it comes to her sons.”

 

You think not. Especially when it comes to the younger of the two. Frigga likely has no idea what he is capable of, his anger and jealousy, his hands. Or, perhaps she does, and if she does know of Loki’s darkness, then that is even worse.

 

You smile, lightly, “Of course,” you nod. 

 

Eira’s cheerful smile returns, splitting her cheeks in two. “Now what to wear for such an occasion…” She turns her back on you and back to your wardrobe leaving you alone to your thoughts.

 

xXxXx

 

The orb refuses to do anything. Not even the outdoors could help you concentrate. Instead, every buzz and breeze distracted any concentration.

 

“It is good to see you outside.”

 

You rip your concentration from the glass in your hand and find Frigga standing behind you.

 

“My Queen,” You say quickly, pulling your skirts and curtseying slightly.

 

She pulls you up. “None of that,” she chastises. “You are family.” A small smile graces your lips. “I had heard you took a liking to my garden, but it is lovely to see you here.” 

 

You glance around and find that only a few people are in the garden though the weather is beautifully crisp. “The gardens are lovely.”

 

She smiles, finally removing her hand from your face and instead pulls your hand forward. “I see my son is teaching you.”

 

Your eyes drift to the orb in your hand and nod. “He is.”

 

“May I?” She asks, referring to the glass in your hand.

 

You give it to her, carefully depositing it in her outstretched palm. She pulls it forward and studies it. “I have not seen this since I gave it to Loki.” She says fondly, before handing it back to you with a kind gaze. “I remember how long it took him to fill that orb. He tortured over it for so long.”

 

Your smile drops suddenly. “How long?”
 

Her chuckle is as light as the crisp air. “A week. Perhaps two.”

 

Anger, flames, and hate rake through you with her admission. “A week,” you repeat, nearly spitting the words back at her.

 

And he only gave you three days.

 

“He was so young. It will not take you nearly as long.” She promises with a glimmer in her eyes.

 

“My Queen,” a guard calls from behind her. Frigga turns her head. “You are needed in the throne room.”

 

 She turns back to you and holds your face in her hands. Her curled blonde hair dancing in the breeze as she advises you calmly. Knowingly, even.

 

“I find that reminding myself of those I love helps summon a locked siedr. It reminds me of those I fight for.”

 

 

Chapter Text

A knock at the door sinks your heart and steals your breath.

 

You stare at the orb in your grasp for one last time, trying to make it move or fill with smoke. It does neither. Instead, it stays still and limp and clear. You want to cry, you want to scream. You want to do something, anything to stop this day from coming.

 

But still, you're here and there's nothing you can do to stop it. 

 

The knock grows impatient and hammers away in loud, quick procession. 

 

You sigh deeply and stand from your vanity, dressing into an indifferent facade as you pace towards the door. If you have to face him, you'll do it with stoicism.

 

And yet, when you open the door, you find Loki waiting with a haunting, smug grin on his face.

 

He is already celebrating.

 

“Ready, pet?” He asks, his victory laced voice taunting you.

 

You exhale a breath and move around him to close the door behind you. The orb clutched in your sweltering palm provides a lifeline.

 

Loki's dark chuckle wafts through the air, propelling you to walk ahead of him.

 

“I see you have been practicing,” he starts, taking easy, long strides to match your cadence. The Prince pulls your hand into his grip.  “Have you made progress?”

 

You look at your fragile hand in his, limp and paralyzed. A magnetic zap surges through you and nearly makes you sick.

 

You know exactly what he has done, how incompetent he has rendered you. Seidr gusts to the surface of your skin, lighting the orb into shades of green and silver. You refuse to answer him, refuse to bow to him; instead, you continue marching forward, praying for this to end. Observing your cold demeanor, he continues, “No matter, we shall see soon enough.”

                                                                                                                                

Loki guides you through the halls. Though none of them seem familiar, you thought he would bring you back to the sparring room from the other day. Instead, he guides you to a section of the castle you have yet to explore. When the air grows chilled, you hesitate for a mere second and fall one step behind him.

 

He shifts to look at you. His ebony eyebrows knit across his forehead in confusion when you ask, “Where are you taking me?”

 

“Do you not trust me?”

 

You fight a scoff, though you’re sure your expression has already betrayed you. As if you could ever trust him.

 

He doesn’t comment though, instead, he keeps walking and you follow him like the obedient wife you’ve been forced to become. Finally, after torturous silent moments, he stops.

 

It surprises you, when he reveals a small, albeit luscious green courtyard.

 

He takes a step back as you continue forward in awe. When you walk to the center of the yard, you kneel and touch the dewy ground, realizing this small garden is even grassier than the Allmother’s.

 

Before you can even ask, Loki offers, “You asked to be outside.”

 

You turn to him and carefully try to read his expression. Though it’s as jaded and tempered as ever.

 

“Thank you,” you say, for the first time genuinely meaning it. Perhaps in a parallel universe, you could have trusted him, but instead, you stand and turn stiffly. Afraid of why he would do something kind for you.

 

Of course, you already know. He controls you, controls your magic. You ignore the sinking feeling as he steps forward, his hands flexing at his sides. “Do not think it a kindness. This environment favors me. There are just so many possible distractions.” As he continues a torturous crawl forward, you fight the innate response to step back.

 

Instead, you grasp the orb tighter, anchoring you to this spot. You won’t let him intimidate you.

 

 “Perhaps, it favors me,” you say.

 

He chuckles darkly as if he knows something you do not. “Shall we begin then? Or, do you wish to admit defeat.”

 

You ignore the part of you that wants to throw the orb at his smug features and instead lift it forward to your eye level. You concentrate on the glass, ignoring Loki’s pestering gaze, ignoring his looming shadow on the edge of the courtyard.

 

You try to concentrate, but all you can think about is death and mayhem.  

 

You try to remember what Frigga advised you. Think of those you love. But you know the truth.

 

No friends, no family. The thought burns the edges of your soul, searing into any strong resolve you have.

 

There is no one you love. You barely even love yourself.

 

It is too much. And now, now you will have to lay complicit to what his desires, to what he wishes to do to you. Perhaps it’d be best. That’s what Freya wanted you to believe at least. She must have been trying to prepare you for this. For knowing that there was nothing you could do.

 

Or, perhaps Freya wanted you to lose, wanted you to fall into his clutches. Perhaps she wanted him to believe that he has power over you. Well, she'll be happy to know she is getting exactly what she desires. You will be his, used, distorted, bruised.

 

Before you can even register it, a tear falls down your cheek. No.

 

You swat the tear away and concentrate, focusing on the ornament in your grasp. You inhale, exhale, ignore everything but the glass. His tongue tuts, and your concentration crumbles with anxiety.

 

You imagine his hands: pale, long, and soft. You imagine him trailing lines along your skin. Decorating your body with any marks, bruises, or blemishes he wishes. Nausea rolls through your body at the thought, creating a domino effect: a throbbing head, numbing fingers, blurry vision. Fear. Anxiety. That's what is doing this to you.

 

Your eyes flutter shut, wishing for darkness to swallow you whole.

 

Fine.

 

You reopen them, letting go of everything, ready to admit defeat when you feel it. It begins with the hairs on the back of your neck: standing and prickling. So, you don’t even concentrate on it. A small voice whispers through your mind. Let go. So, you let go. Forget it. Forget him. Forget everything.

 

Then, a soft thrumming takes place in your heart and spreads with your blood, along your limbs and outward. Loki’s watching you, peculiarly. His eyes observing the orb in your hand, watching it shake as you stand as still as possible. His own posture is rigid and you barely register the bead of sweat that falls down his temple before your attention hones in on your hand.

 

The orb shoots forward, and as silver and green smoke fills its contents. It shines bright, hanging loosely in the air, proudly like a second sun. Your laughter rings throughout the otherwise deathly silent courtyard. Watching Loki’s face shift from absurd wonder to exasperation. His eyes dart to yours as he strides forward and plucks the dangling orb. Your silver color instantly fades.

 

He concentrates on the glass and his green fills it. Then he steps closer, quickly marching across the distance between you two. 

 

How?” He asks in an accusing, hard voice. His face dances uncomfortably close to yours, murky blue eyes burning with annoyance as he reaches forward to take your hand. You hastily step back.

 

 “We had a deal.” 

 

“You cheated.” He alleges, taking another step forward, though his hands remain at his sides. “How could I honor such a victory.”

 

You nearly snarl at him. “Why is it so surprising? Did you believe it impossible?”

 

Of course, he did. You can tell from his poignant gaze and pursed lips. Perhaps though, if you gave him one moment's notice you'd see other emotions swimming in them: pride, disbelief, hunger. But this is Prince Loki, the idea that he could feel anything other than violence and hatred is laughable.

 

He pins a hard glare your way, before the orb floats out of his hand and between your chests. “Again.” He demands, taking a step back. “Do it again.”

 

You blanch instantly. “A deal is a deal. You cannot make me do it until I can’t anymore.”

 

“Again.”

 

You grasp the glass, looking into it as you will for the smoke to come back. When nothing happens you sigh, anger festering just beneath your skin.

 

Finally, you admit with a sigh. “I don’t know how I did it.”

 

He takes another dangerous step forward, though asks in a quieter voice. “May I?”

 

You shake your head, unsure of what he’s asking. He gestures to your hand, carefully he reaches forward but stops before he grasps your wrist. You swallow harshly and shake your head, no. Your mind reeling, it’s a trick.

 

Then, his hand clasps your forehead and suddenly your brought back to moments ago. A surreal feel of déjà vu distorting your vision. You feel your dread, your body sagging under the belief that he had won. Images bombard your mind, reseeing everything from your point of view. This morning, last night, then, a bright flash brings you back to the present. 

 

When you open your eyes, you find Loki laying nearly 30 paces in front of you on the ground, as if he was thrown out of your head. He stands suddenly, his hands waving in a type of surrender. He then wipes his palms on his thighs. "How fascinating.”

 

Not for you. This is terrifying. What is Loki trying to do, see inside your head? And how did your seidr know to stop him? You feel a panic rising inside you. With this little probe, he could have unraveled the entirety of Freya's plot.

 

Finally, sure footprints echo through the courtyard. 

 

A guard appears behind Loki and you look over your husband's shoulder. The guard is young, cautiously regarding the two of you.

 

Loki turns, aware of the intruder, and snaps, “What?”

 

The boy quivers slightly at the irritation in the Prince’s voice. “The Allfather would like to see you in his study.” 

 

“Of course,” Loki mutters hotly, about to pace forward and leave you behind. 

 

“Sorry, my Prince. The Allfather requests the Princess’ presence. I’ve been given orders to take her there.”

 

“Me?” You ask, nearly dropping the orb in your hand. You walk forward so you are closer and able to study him. He looks normal enough, dressed in the familiar gold chainmail of Einherjar, the Allfather’s personal guard. 

 

“Aye,” He states cautiously, his eyes darting between the two of you.

 

Loki’s lips purse in irritation and rolls his eyes. “I’ll take her.”

 

“I’ve been given-”

 

“I heard you.” Loki spits venomously, pinning the guard with furiously narrowed eyes.  He then turns to you and holds out his hand, “Come pet. Father awaits.”

 

You look at it cautiously, then dart your gaze to his green eyes. He looks put together, though beneath the façade you can still see the Loki from two minutes ago, ready violate your mind.

 

Instead, you walk forward and say to the guard. “Shall we?”

 

The guard nods gallantly and turns on his heel to proceed walking down the halls to the Allfather’s chambers. After a moment you glance over your shoulder and see Loki pinning you with a mischievous, knowing smirk.

 

And as you continue down the halls, your skin burning from the last look he bestowed upon you. A familiar feeling of regret claws up your chest. You’ve made a grave mistake.

 

 

xXxXx

 

You shifted in Odin’s chair, preoccupied by the red stains on your hands. You stared at it, realizing whose blood it was. You pulled your dress, using the skirt to scrub the blood away. How could she do this to you? Why would she leave you alone here?

 

She didn’t leave you, a voice whispered in your head. You were supposed to die too.

 

The door creeks open and you stand, suddenly turning to find Odin strolling in. “Where is my father,” you questioned harshly as he passed you. “I wish to be taken to him.”

 

“All in time, child.” Odin stated, taking a seat at his desk. He folded his hands over his chest, studying you. “Sit,” he commanded.

 

You followed his order, panic swelling in your heart. This had to be a terrible night terror. There was no other possibility, how could mother be dead? How could she kill herse… you closed your eyes, trying to forget the look of her on the floor, empty eyes, pale skin, blood. No.

 

“Your family did a terrible thing.” You opened your eyes. “They have proved to have been traitors to the crown.”

 

“This must be a mistake,” you contradicted. “They would never do anything to hurt you, my King. My father loves you. He always says that you are the brother he never had. That you are a true and benevolent king.”

 

“Enough, child.”

 

You heard another person enter Odin’s study. When Thor’s golden head appeared, your stomach churned, realizing for the first time that your engagement to the prince would probably be broken. Recalling him cut through your house guard with little regard for life.

 

Thor nodded at his father, as a frown decorated his face. “It has been handled,” he told Odin.

 

“Good.” The Allfather turned back to you. “Your mother’s body has been sent back to Vanaheim. Your father is in the dungeons and will be taken care of.”

 

“Father, surely you do not need to -“

 

“The princess wishes to know, does she not?” Odin argued, watching you as you attempted to hold yourself together.

 

“I’m sure that if you send for my father, he will tell you the truth. This is all just a misunderstanding.”

 

Odin’s fist slammed against his desk, “Enough!” You froze as the Allfather stared at you, “Unless you would like to join your father in the dungeon.”

 

“Father, she knew nothing of it.” Thor reasoned behind him.

 

Odin skeptically watched you, “Is that true?”

 

Thor nodded his head, feeding you the line. “Yes, my King,” You agreed, not entirely understanding what was happening.

 

“Even if you are innocent of any wrong doings, how could I marry you to my eldest son?”

 

“I do not need to marry the Prince, my king. Send my father and I home.”

 

Odin laughed, his belly shaking from the exertion. “Do you believe your father will ever be able to go home again? You both will run back to Vanaheim and hatch another plot.”

 

“We won’t! I swear it,” you pleaded. 

 

“Perhaps there is another way, father.” Thor said, taking a seat next to you. He turned, his rough hands grasped your own, dwarfing them. “She should have a chance to prove her loyalty.” 

 

Odin seemed intrigued by his son and gestured for him to continue with the wave of a hand. “Do you know what your father claimed?” You shook your head, “He claimed before the realm that Loki is not my son.”

 

“Why would he say that?”

 

“Since when do the words of traitors make sense?” Odin asked rhetorically.

 

You closed your mouth, looking back at your hands in the Prince’s. You tried once more, pleading with Odin and swallowing a thick sadness that has taken up residence in your throat. “Please my king, if I could see my father, I could uncover why he would speak such a lie. Perhaps it was all a misunderstanding.”

 

“The only way you could see your father again is if you denounce his words to the court and...” Odin trailed off, inspecting your demeanor.

 

Your heart leapt in your chest at Odin’s announcement. “Anything, my king.” Anything to see him.

 

“You wouldn’t be able to marry Thor,” Odin said, shaking his head.

 

“I understand, my King.” You nodded. Anything. You brought your hands to your lips, letting them trace the chapped skin.

 

“And…” Odin smiled, “You will marry Loki.”

 

xXxXx

 

Your hands fidget in your lap as you watch the Allfather at his desk.

 

He’s scribbling on a scroll, silently, and not giving you the slightest of attention. Finally, he sets his quill down and looks at you.

 

Odin sits back in his chair and his eyes rove over your face. “You look well,” he compliments.

 

Your jaw tenses, you don’t feel particularly well, but you refuse to refute him. “Thank you, my King.”

 

His hand reaches to his chin and begins to run his fingers through his short, grey beard. He has aged significantly since you have been here. As if your family’s betrayal was more than a simple hardship, that it was actually something more. The lines on his face are drawn out and look like they are about to crumble into nothing. “Has my son been treating you well?”

 

You fight back the images that shift through your mind. Ones of striking hands, dubious intent, and absolute fear. “Yes,” you lie and bring a fake smile to your lips.

 

Odin responds with a deep gruff. “Frigga said you’d lie. Regardless, you have a duty to the people and will do what is necessary.”

 

“Of course,” You agree and look to your hands and resist the urge to continue fidgeting.

 

“You’ve done well. Acclimating, following orders.” He praises, reminding you of what you’ve given up for this…. Good fortune. “There are some matters that need dealing in Vanaheim. I thought you would like to take a trip.”

 

Your eyes snap to his, eyebrows raising in disbelief. “I get to go home,” you whisper with hope spasming in your chest.

 

Odin cocks his head, and in that moment the old man looks just like his younger son. “This is your home,” he reminds you coldly.

 

“Of course,” you sputter quickly, dropping your head. “I just mea-“

 

“I know what you meant.” He mutters. “Of course, others will be accompanying you. Including Loki. It’ll be good for you two to show the other realms how happy you are. My son has already been told of his duties there.”

 

Your heart sinks at that realization of what this is. It’s only a matter of diplomacy. To show the people that you are under their thumb. A puppet. The future of Vanheim dangling on rope strings controlled by Odin’s grasp.

 

You fight back the burning despair and crumbling hope. Not really knowing why you had believed you would be going home. Once again, you were broken down into a pile of ashes.

 

“I look forward to it.” You say finally, growing taller under Odin’s gaze.

 

“Good. You depart tomorrow.” He then picks up his quill from the desk and begins writing again. You sit still unsure of what to do until Odin looks up at you again “That is all.” He states with a dismissing tone. 

 

You get up and walk to the door, careful to make no noise. You turn the knob, ready to exit when Odin calls from behind you.  “Child?” You turn around and bite your lip, careful to guard your frustration from him. “Don’t disappoint me.”

 

His words are poignant, even when you exit his chambers and crawl leisurely to your chambers, unsure of where to go now.

 

How could you disappoint him? He has given you to his son to cement his status. To cement his place as the true king of Vanaheim. You shake your head and sigh, knowing you have no way to satisfy him. Instead, you walk aimlessly through the halls.

 

“And what did the Allfather want?”

 

You turn around to find Loki standing behind you.

 

“He told me of our impending trip to Vanaheim.”

 

Loki squints at you, careful to keep his distance though he stalks closer studying your demeaner. “And how do you feel about that?”

 

“Excited,” You tell him in a solemn voice that is anything but.

 

He chuckles as he paces closer. “I must admit, I was looking much more forward to it prior to losing our bet. There were so many possibilities…” He trails off, his hands clasped behind his back. Instead, he pivots your conversation. “We were not done with our lesson.”

 

He starts to circle around you, like a predator sizing you up and preparing to strike. As you crane your neck to follow his movements, he steps behind you, though still a stride away. You keep your head forward, refusing to turn to look at him, his breath leaving goosebumps along your neck. Surely this is meant to intimidate you.

 

“And what exactly was our lesson?” You question, your eyes closing as you take a deep breath and clench your hands into fists, doing anything to hold back the anger. “Besides to humiliate me.”

 

“To let go,” he reminds you sharply. Your eyes snap open at the familiar words. Said in this way… he almost sounds like the voice inside your head that guided you to victory. Exactly like the voice in the quad. When you remain silent, he offers, “To not over think this. You are thinking too much about it instead of just feeling the moment.” 

 

You bite back an angry retort, about to call him out on his lies. “Is that it? That’s the key to magic? To let go?” Your voice is hoarse and your eyebrows furrow across your forehead as your brain has stalled on his mantra. Did Loki help you in the courtyard? No, he would never. He just admitted to wanting to win for your trip to Vanaheim, to touch you, violate you, use you.

 

You can imagine his gaze on the back of your head cold and calculating. So, you turn around, wanting to face it and give him a taste of his own venom. But when you do, your surprised at how soft it is. Not at all what you expected.

 

He says, looking into your eyes and leaning his head closer to yours, “There is no key but practice and trust in yourself.”

 

You stay as still as possible. Not daring to break the electricity that has enveloped you, it’s all very intoxicating and exciting.

 

“I propose a deal,” he declares in a murmur.  When his features blaze with intent, you cautiously regard him. “In order to teach you, I have to give you parts of my magic, effectively making my own siedr weaker during the process. Thus, you must promise me one thing.”

 

A deep part of your soul rebels at his rationalization. That you would have to absorb his siedr to into your own. That was not how Freya said it would be. Something about his insinuation is vulgar, and vindictive. It seems wrong, vile. It makes you want to renounce your desire to learn all together. The idea of having a piece of Loki actually inside you.

 

But, as the sinking and anxious feeling drowns in your chest, you swallow it and the idea of quitting whole. “And what is your promise?”

 

“Promise to trust me.”

 

You scoff instantly, and spew a venomous truth before you can even contemplate such a feat, “How can I ever do such a thing?” You pick your chin up giving him a hard glare and effectively bringing your lips a whisper apart.

 

His jaw tightens, “I believe you can find a way.”

 

“Trust is earned, not blindly given.” When he continues to look at you in an unfazed gaze, calculating your response, you take a deep breath and promise, “I will never allow you to touch me again.”

 

At your vow, a small, sly smile floods his lips, as if your own promise is a deceitful irony and challenge that he will enjoy in overcoming. His eyes, though, they betray him when an elusive, almost vulnerable, shadow flickers through them.

 

“Never is a long time, pet. Do you agree?”

 

You pull your bottom lip between your teeth, biting them to hold yourself together. His eyes flicker down, honing in on the small movement between your teeth.

 

Darting your gaze from him, you pulling together your thoughts and convictions. You could never trust him, you know that. Trust is powerful and blinding. The question isn’t about trust, it is whether you could truly deceive him. Could you make him believe that your trust in him is genuine? Surely not, but what other choice do you have.

 

So, you nod, making a promise with the God of Mischief, Chaos, and Lies.

 

This could not end well.


 

Please let me know what you think! Kudos, Comments, Smoke Signals... Loki loves it all. 

Tumblr: Michelleleahhh

Chapter Text

Loki catches you when you stumble through the Bifrost.

 

Any other time, you’d be sick at the thought. But now, standing on Vanaheim soil, you almost lean into his touch to calm your disarrayed emotions. Almost.  As you hastily tear yourself from Loki’s clutches, his features flicker with an emotion you can’t begin to decipher before manufacturing an expression of shielded triviality. But you can’t be bothered with that right now.

 

You want to cry from elation, laugh from absurdity. Home.

 

You’re actually home.

 

A group of men stand to your left, hastily whispering in a small assembly as they stare with beady eyes. Finally, after they quiet, maintaining their gazes, one steps forward.

 

“My Prince, Princess,” he greets. “Welcome to Vanaheim.” Loki turns and nods to the man, his jaw tightening. Neither of you speak, you couldn’t if you wanted to. Instead, your eyes trail down the man’s body, trying to figure out who he is and why he looks unfamiliar. His pale green robes label him as a Vanir senator, his thin, whispers of grey hair tell you he is past his prime. Yet, with his age and status, you realize you don’t know him. Rather than introducing himself, the man continues, his gravelly voice growing louder with each word. “Shall we continue forward? We would like to show you the dining hall prior to the welcoming feast tonight. We thought it would be an excellent time to address the people before the festivities.”

 

Loki’s answers in a calculated, unimpressed voice, “Fine.”

 

You hold back a sigh and grit your teeth, falling behind as Loki and the group of advisors lead the way to a line of horse-drawn carriages waiting at the beginning of Tyr’s Bridge. Ten of them wait for you, standing in a uniform assembly. And at the head of the line, tall and gold and ornate is what you assume to be the royal carriage. The party pauses, you don’t, and instead hurry pass them. Even Loki.

 

They stop and stare as you pace forward, your steps quickening with each one you take. When you finally chance upon the carriage your hand reaches out for the knob, heart dropping when you realize how simply Asgardian it appears. You barely spare the two chestnut, gelding horses a glance. But as you open the door, your eyes catch a small crest on the door knob, a decadent and delicate design. A small resemblance of who you were. A small piece of you.

 

Your family crest.

 

A familiar sense of longing shoots through you when you realize what it means:

 

You’re home.

 

One hand hikes up your dress, as the other grips a metal bar to help yourself climb into the carriage. You shuffle along the plush, maroon bench and press your nose against the glass window. Large planes of green and trees are all you see. As you hear footsteps approach and laughter chiming from outside, the car dips and the door shuts.

 

You turn to see Loki sitting stiffly across from you, his hands threaded over his lap as he regards you with a look of solemn indifference.  His silence and gaze is unsettling, so you peer out the window. The shared quietness is only filled by people milling around and piling into the carriages.

 

Then, the car lurches forward, the horses being put to work.

 

“You touched me.” You say as you continue to stare out the window and study the steep valley beneath the bridge. As a main entryway to greater Vanaheim, the bridge is typically filled with people. But not today. Mist settles atop the river that cuts through two large cliffs far, far below. When the sun rays hits the gorge’s depths, you almost feel like you’re in a foggy dream.

 

“I beg your pardon?”

 

You finally tear your eyes from the scenery to glare at him. “When I landed in Vanaheim, you grabbed my arm. You broke your promise and touched me.”

 

Loki’s face hardens before his lips pull back in a sneer. “I suppose next time I’ll allow you fall.”

 

“It’d be appreciated,” you snap, turning your gaze back out the window, though not missing Loki’s angered face fall.

 

As the coach rocks and the horses’ hooves stomp along the narrow bridge, Loki sighs. “I apologize. I reacted before thinking.”

 

You decide to ignore his explanation and instead try to memorize every one of the few clouds in the sky. Finally, Loki defeatedly glides to the other side of the coach and peers out the opposite window. 

 

Honestly, you’re content with it. The awkward silence. If you have to be together in such close proximity, surely sitting on opposite sides of the carriage, staring at opposite views, is a way to defuse your situation. It would take the better part of an hour to get to the palace and you don’t plan on making small talk the entire trip.

 

The stagecoach crosses the bridge and begins winding through the forest path. The carriage darkens as the trees shade you from the sunlight and you have to strain your eyes to see more. The light from inside the couch makes it nearly impossible to see anything but your vivid reflection staring back at you. Still, you somehow make out details: Deep green moss, stags scurrying through the trees, birds chirping. After blinking a few times, all you can see is your smile. You bite your lip to hide it, afraid to show any happiness, refusing to let Loki see it. With that thought, your eyes, acting completely on their own, skate to him. From the window you can openly stare at him without his knowledge. You suppress thoughts of his beauty:  a defined jaw, hooked nose, inky hair spilling on his shoulders. A hardened, yet pensive, gaze. He is beautiful.

 

Then, his eyes find yours in the window. Your heart thumps wildly as you quickly avert your stare back to the forest. The trees. The wildlife. You tense, realizing that the light from the coach makes it impossible to see through. Making it impossible to not see that you’ve earned his full, undivided attention.

 

“It is beautiful,” he comments.

 

You don’t look away from the window, hoping to fool him into thinking you’re still looking at the scenery. “What is?”

 

“Vanaheim.”

 

“It is.”

 

“Though it is a bit difficult to enjoy the splendor from inside.”

 

“Not for me,” you argue. From the corner of your eyes, you see his lips pull into an unsettling smirk.

 

Loki fluidly maneuvers to your side of the coach. He sits directly in front of you and his long legs are on either side of yours. Then, his gaze, pretending to glance out of the window, intently watches your reflection. “Ah yes, it is much easier to admire from here.” You glare at him, turning to look at him straight on. He chuckles, still pretending to look out the window. “Tell me about these forests.”

  

His smile fades as he tears his gaze from the window to match your stare straight on. “Please.” His voice is much less playful, his gaze mirthless.

 

Stubbornly want to ignore him, but realize that the longer you take, the more annoying he’ll become. You release a stuttering breath dredging up memories of riding through the trees. Remembering a first kiss stolen among them.  Arryn. You shake your head and forget about him, instead focusing on the Prince in front of you. “I once got lost in them.” After releasing a small laugh, you see Loki’s gaze soften, waiting for you to tell him. Waiting to see if you will. You lick your lips, take a deep breath in. “I was barely able to ride when I plotted to run away.”

 

“How old were you?”

 

“Norns,” you smile and shake your head. “Not older than a child. I was angry at mother for making me study needlepoint. It is not proper for a princess to spend her days in the quarry.”” You imitate your mother, biting your lip as you remember how angry she was when they found you. Your throat tightens with the thought. With a sound cough, you dispel the sadness that washed over you. “So, I packed a wooden sword and two cookies and embarked horseback into the forest.”

 

“Brilliant plan.”

 

“It was.” You laugh, forgetting about propriety and anger and sadness. Loki smiles slightly too, his gaze enraptured on you.

 

“Where were you going?”

 

“Who knows? To live with a forest elf maybe,” you admit. “I somehow managed to travel in large circles for an afternoon. Father found me and brought me home.” Your smile fades. Your father. His large hands capturing your own and guiding your small horse back to the stables. His booming laughter when you threw a fit, stomping and fighting him. 

 

Loki must see the ghost on your face, must see your father’s memory now in the cramped carriage with you two, because his face draws down. “You must miss him.”

 

You swallow and pull a fake smile to your face, “He was a traitor.”

 

Loki’s mouth opens slightly, like he’s about to add to your comment before pausing. Then, he shakes his head, looking back at the window and his own reflection. The horses move faster and begin to ascend a tall slope. It throws you back in your seat like ragdoll, though Loki does not look the least bit affected by the change. As you get higher, the sun rays breaks through the trees. “I must admit, I didn’t think it would be this beautiful.”

 

You ignore the backhanded statement, instead focusing on his admiration of the landscape. “What did you think it’d be like, My -” He turns to you, piquing an eyebrow in your direction waiting to chastise you for using his title. You sigh biting it back, “Loki?”

 

My Loki, I rather like that,” he teases with a snake-like smirk, making a red heat slither to your cheeks.

 

“I confess I hadn’t given it much thought. Vanaheim always seemed like the dullest of all the realms.”

 

“Why?”

 

He scoffs, “Why wouldn’t I? All Vanaheim has been known for in the last millennium is their ruins. Besides, the Vanir are such,” he pauses, watching you carefully, “civilized people.”

 

“What does that mean?”

 

Loki nearly rolls his eyes, “Everything here is so ordered.”

 

“As opposed to chaos, mischief and murder.”

 

Loki ignores your jab, “How do you have any fun here?”

 

“I’m sure even you could think of something.” You smugly state, perching yourself on the edge of your seat.

 

“Please elaborate.”

 

You open your mouth to answer, when suddenly, the carriage shifts downhill making you fall. Loki’s hand shoots out to grasp you before pausing, remembering your comments from earlier. Instead, his large palm rests freely in the air as you tumble forward and land on your knees between his legs, your right-hand grasping onto his upper thigh. You pause, releasing a stuttering breath as a pain shoots through your knee. Holding back a quick retort, you realize why he didn’t prevent the fall. Maybe he was right. Perhaps, it would have been nicer if he caught you. You refuse to admit it to him.

 

When you chance a glance up at him through your eyelashes, Loki’s looks unhinged. You swallow thickly, caught in his stare like a cat and canary. His nostrils flare and his eyes darken, pupils dilating. It’s simply insinuating, screaming his thoughts. It makes your breath catch in your throat and your nails dig into the flesh of his leather pants. The carriage temperatures rise, making your blood boil to obscene temperatures and thrum with a foreign sense of want.

 

Just as Loki’s lids heavy, his stare drops to your hand, making yours follow. Your fingers are grasped tightly onto his thigh near his... well. You blush, hastily removing it. Rationality washes over you. Calm down.

 

He composes himself much quicker than you. “Ah, now I understand. Thank you for demonstrating.” Kneeling before him. So close to his…

 

You push yourself back into the seat, careful to smooth out the skirts of your dress and look at anything but Loki.

 

Norns. Was the seat always vibrating beneath you? You refuse to answer and instead push your hair behind your ear, trying to calm your flustering gaze.

 

Instead, you change the subject. “Who was that man outside?”

 

Loki’s eyebrow lifts, but he allows your reprieve. “Senator Lu∂inn?” You simply nod, your hands clenched tightly in your lap to keep yourself calm. “He was just a part of the welcoming committee. It seems that the people are very excited we are here.”

 

You snort, unable to hold it back. “I’m sure.”

 

Loki taps his fingers rhythmically against his leg. “They asked that we make a speech to calm the crowds. It appears there has been some… civil unrest in your family’s absence.”

 

“Oh,” you bite your lip. When Odin had mentioned duties, you didn’t actually believe they would have you and Loki speak to the Vanir as if their leader. Wouldn’t that undermine Odin? “I’m sure you are prepared.”

 

“Actually, I thought you would address them.”

 

“Me?” The fear begins to sweep through you as the carriage breaks through the forest. When you quickly glance out the window, you see the tall spikes of Vanaheim castle. Pointed roofs, stone walls, green hills. The light breaks through the towers in heughs of cosmic purple, pink, and blue. Like a trained thief, the absurd beauty of your home pilfers your breath.

 

Loki continues your conversation, unaware of the scene before you that has stolen your train of thought.  “You have nothing to fear, the people love you.”

 

“Hmmm?” You say, tearing your gaze from the window to look at him. Loki squints at you, his mouth tensing in a firm line, then pauses to look out the window, seeing Vanaheim castle for the first time.

 

Scattered around the land are runes from the war before. Old barbicans and walls decaying in disassembled disarray, but framing a pathway like a haunting tribute to the Vanir and Æsir war. But then the castle gates come, standing formidable, with lines of guards on either side of the pathway.

 

He turns back to you, his preferred veneer of uninterest in place. “As I said, the people adore you. There’s nothing to be nervous about.”

 

Right, the speech. The nerves return, but you force them away. “How could they see me as anything but a traitor.” You gasp, realizing what you said. “I only meant-”

 

“I know what you meant,” he cuts you off. You allow your gaze drop to his hands, noticing that they have fisted at his sides. “The people loved your father. He was… a good leader,” he forces out in a voice that is anything but understanding. “They know you were put in this position. Only a fool would believe you chose it willingly.”

 

“Do you truly believe that?”

 

His facade almost falls at your question. “Would you believe me either way?”

 

You smile sadly. No. You wouldn’t. How could you ever believe a God of Lies? “Then, I’ll be prepared,” you acquiesce, already thinking of the truth. You have no idea what you’ll say to these people. You already know how they’ll look at you. Angry. Lips pulled back in violent sneers. Your mother dead, your father dead. And instead of fighting back, you made a deal with the family from Hel. You sold the throne for your own safety. At least, that’s how they’ll see it. 

 

You should be dead.

 

“Good,” Loki says, just as the carriage stops.

 

The doors are opened by two porters. Loki emerges from it first, greeted by a wall of court advisors, constables, stewards, and more. Stoic guards line the way to the castle behind them, their faces forbidding lines of anger, likely wishing you had never come home. Loki turns around and holds his hand out for you. As you stare at it through the open door, knowing here you are still hidden in the shadows, you hesitate. Overcome with nerves, you weigh what to do. A polite facade, you’re sure. He stares at you, his mouth a tight line and jaw taut, but his eyes are glossed over in hope. Is he hoping that you take his hand? And the people, staring with pure distaste on their face. Well, you could use someone on your side.

 

Without a third thought, you take Loki’s hand, moving from the safety of the coach and into the inferno of menacing gazes.

 

Your gaze is stuck on the people judging you from eyes, and as the wind flushes over your shoulders, making you shiver, you see Loki’s face.  His lips are slack, his hair moving with the wind. Surprised.

 

Then, people begin bowing in front of you, falsely welcoming you home. But you see the truth behind there placated smiles, it’s the same ones you give to Loki and Odin and Thor. The mask of hatred. You remove your hand from Loki’s as your feet touch the gravel beneath your shoes. Loki, led by the group of advisors, paves his way inside the castle and you take a deep breath in, preparing for what you are sure will be an interesting evening.

 

xXxXx

 

When you enter your chambers, your devastated to realize that it is exactly the same. Soft shades of childhood are scattered around you, even as your new belongings have taken residence in places where adolescent memories once were. You try to remember the last time you were here. You can’t. Was it as you packed your finery, as you threw loose scrolls across the room, packing only your most treasured items?

 

You take your time, remembering, reading. Loitering around the chamber to lose yourself in memories. Gone are the simple trinkets given to you by your mother and father, replaced by Asgardian golds and silvers. A statement that even though you are in your home, you are still an extension of Asgard.

 

You spend the rest of the day practicing a half-hearted speech. Every time you begin to form your intent, a crawling sense of fear shudders through you and dispels any muse. Eira comes and goes, preparing your looks for the day. But not even her kind composure could settle you enough to form a decent idea.

 

After hours of toiling through terrible drafts, you’re ushered into a dress and sat in front of your vanity mirror. As Eira begins to pile your hair into an intricate Asgardian plaits, you still her hands with your own.

 

“May I,” You ask, eyes bearing into hers through the mirror in front of you.

 

Her smile grows as she nods her head and takes a step back, your hair falling as her hands no longer pin the tresses to your scalp. You quickly find a routine, fingers finding a familiar rhythm that weaves your hair into loops and patterns. You finish quickly, not missing Eira studying your every move with an unguarded look of fascination and awe.

 

She releases a breath when you finish, her eyes to roving over the craftsmanship. You look too pleased, remembering all the times that you’ve sat here and done the same thing. Remembering how much you missed the simple and familiar pleasure of dressing yourself, something you can’t miss until it is gone.

 

Eira looks in shock, likely never realizing you knew trivial beauty rituals. Perhaps in Asgard, noblewomen are never pressed to learn. Her mouth opens, when a knock interrupts. Her skirts flush along the stone floors as she rushes her way to the door and pulls it open in a swift movement. As you admire yourself in the mirror, you see Eira drop into a deep curtsey.

 

“My Prince,” she greets with a bowed head and flush, before pulling herself to full height. You stand, though continue to watch from the mirror as an anxiety washes over you.

 

You inspect her from their, seeing how the handmaid flutters her golden eyelashes at him, almost flirtatiously. Loki frowns, only making Eira smile wider, flashing her pearly teeth. It’s an infectious sort of grin that causes the corner of Loki’s lips to turn up from her carefree reaction.

 

But when Loki’s gaze turns to you, half of his head still in the shadows, his trademark scowl returns. You watch his eyes darken and leave a scorching trail down your body. Heat blooms in your belly as he makes their way back to your face and he takes a large step closer to you, barely giving Eira a second glance. Your heart stutters and your hands smooth out the imaginary lines on your dress. You take a calming breath. You bury the thoughts before you can even begin to dissect them. Instead, you busy your hands, and wandering feelings, by tousling your fingers through your hair.

 

When he is half a step behind you, a familiar glow emits from his hands as Loki conjures an elaborate emerald necklace, encrusted with stones that are swirling with your siedr. You stare at it for a moment, finally turning to face him, then glide your fingers along the gems, watching as silver and green smoke dances with life. Your gaze snaps to his, realizing how close you are and step back. Loki clears his throat and holds the trinket out. “I know that it may be unseemly, but it would please me if you would wear this.”

 

“What is it,” You ask skeptically, as the smoke continues to move.

 

“A necklace,” he smirks.

 

You frown, biting back an irritated sigh. Clearly, you know it is a necklace. But it is more than that. A necklace doesn’t move, it’s an object meant to lay still against a body.

 

“An enchanted necklace,” you correct him.

 

He doesn’t say anything and instead keeps it outstretched. Loki remains still, as you weigh the pros and cons of wearing the piece. He begins to lower it, his jaw tensing from rejection, when you finally, subtly, nod. You spin around and sweep the hair off your neck. It feels like eternity passes when Loki unclasps it, moving his arms around you to delicately place it on you. His eyes remain glued to you, as he finally lets it drop. You hold your breath and his hands still, your stares caught in an electric trance. You wait for him to caress the skin at the nape of your neck, to break his promise and touch you; your skin nearly recoils at the mere thought.

 

“It’s beautiful,” you compliment, as your hands come up to play with the gem. His eyes dip to the stone resting between your breasts, and, as if the smoke was tied to your heartbeat, it waves uncontrollably.

 

From the mirror you see Eira watching the two of you, her gaze bitter and cynical. It’s almost foreboding. Like daggers piercing through your skin. But knowing Eira, familiar with her selflessness and kindness, you ignore it. And when her eyes catch yours, her callous features melt away.

 

xXxXx

 

There are many more people than you anticipated. Nearly as many as the day you left for Asgard.

 

Nearly.

 

But these faces are a sea of anger, instead of elation, their lips pulled down with a fierce intensity. You stand opposite them, hands dangling at your sides ready to speak, to address them for the first time since your father’s death. But the anxiety crawls up your chest and into your throat, making you internally panic. 

 

You almost want to claim defeat, to resign and hide. To give up before you even had a chance to redeem yourself. Even if they don’t blame you, don’t see you as the person that killed their king, even if they see you as his daughter, as the child the country raised together, you still blame yourself.

 

You feel Loki standing over your shoulder, dressed in leather and metal, his traditional Asgardian dress diverting some of the attention. Even if the Vanir and Æsir are the same, even if their blood mixed long ago, blending them, you know that they look at the Liar God with contempt. With hate. Odinson.

 

“Vanaheim,” you greet them, voice quaking, still unsure of what you want to say and how to say it. “Thank you for having us.” Your voice catches in your throat as you watch their discontent grow. Realizing they had not invited you, that you had imposed yourself here. You swallow thickly, looking over them.

 

“I know the past months have been hard. That you have felt betrayed by Odin and his family.”

 

Before you can continue, a voice yells, “Traitor!”

 

Murmurs and discontent spread through the crowd as people begin to look amongst themselves, nodding to one another in agreement. Odin is a traitor, which makes you a traitor. The whispers grow and grow, louder with every word as they agree. You hear Loki take a step forward, his metal chiming with movement, and the crowd reacts. What a tedious position you are in, one wrong move and the entire room could unravel to a riot. There are enough people here to swarm you, and if the guards decided to abstain, if they hate you as much as the people, you would be swallowed whole.

 

But these are your people. Your mother’s people. Your father’s people. Not Odin’s. Not Loki’s. Yours.

 

“That is enough,” you command harshly, eyes widening from the tone in your voice. When you look down at yourself, you find a silver blaze encasing your skin. Your siedr blinding the entire hall of people. The crowd stills, watching. Contemplating. Barely recognizing the Princess in front of them.

 

“I protected you,” you tell them, your voice edged with conviction. “All of you. I married in Asgard as a way to ensure it. And this is how you welcome me home? How my people treat my sacrifices -- with contempt and hatred? You call me a traitor. Well, I wish that I could have been the traitor you believe me to be. That I could have turned my back on you and just ran from duty, but I couldn’t. My allegiances to you will not change. I promise you that. I will not betray you. But I will not betray Asgard either. Vanaheim is my home, I hope we can all remember that. As we begin the feast, take a moment to remember my father and mother, but also take a moment to hope for the future. That is all I want.”

 

As you finish, the crowd watches silently, scrutinizing your movements. Your racing heart begins to slow, realizing that you don’t even remember what you exactly said. The silver surrounding your body fades, and as you look back to Loki, you only find an awed and skeptical gaze.

 

You know though, you don’t regret it. Whatever you said, whatever it sparks, animosity or respect, you will not regret it. Soon they’ll know. Soon they’ll understand. When Asgard burns, when you destroy Odin and his sons, they’ll know you orchestrated it all.

 

xXxXx

 

Lines of meat fill the table, giving you apt variety to choose from as the people feast below you.

 

You still can’t decide what people thought of the speech, but it seems that the mob quieted, or quieted as much as a “celebratory” feast would allow. Booming laughter fills the room as you sit like stone perched above them, looking over the lines of tables below you.

 

After listening endlessly to the conversations around you, you finally glimpse over at Loki.

 

“Why did my siedr do that?” Loki pulls a glass to his lips to buy time, his eyes giving you his attention. His gaze falls to the necklace resting on your chest, realization makes your fingers reach for it. “The necklace,” you answer for him.

 

He nods carefully, “It’s a simple enhancement that’s meant to awaken dormant wishes. It was not meant to do that.”

 

You pause, before cautiously asking, “What was it meant to do?”

 

He smirks. His eyes scan your surroundings, noticing the many guests surveilling you two. As Loki leans closer his lips hovering just over your ear, he tells you, “I thought it would lower inhibitions for other bodily desires. I must have miscalculated your affections.”

 

You pull back, scowling. Of course. Tricks and schemes and lies. Loki merely chuckles and reaches back for the wine, taking a small sip of it. Warning bells chime as you watch him continue to drink. You mentally count the amount of drinks he has had. Yes, he is pleasant now, but you know well how a simple word could change everything. The man’s emotions, typically a balance of poise and recklessness, are always a second away from...

 

“Princess,” a tall, slender man approaches tearing you away from your thoughts. He bows deeply, one hand resting across his chest while the other hides behind his back. And as he straightens, his face shining in the light, you recognize him. Creamy pale skin, unruly blonde hair and piercing eyes that that echo of past stolen moments. A slight feeling dawns on you, warming over your face and flickering into a slow, unguarded smile. “May I welcome you home.”

 

“Arryn?” You ask incredulously. You laugh freely as your cheeks begin to hurt from the power of your grin. “What are you doing here?”

 

His eyes crinkle with amusement, “Did you think I would not come?”

 

 “I wasn’t sure,” you lie. In truth, he had not even crossed our mind but a fleeting memory of his lips on yours.

 

“You look lovely.” He compliments, the corners of his lips still turned up. “And that speech, a bit choppy, but your parents would have been proud.”

 

You duck your head as a blush warms your face. “I doubt that,” you disagree, feeling an arm slither onto the back of a chair. Loki’s clear intent makes Arryn’s eyes shift to your right. A flash of anger passes over his features from Loki’s possessive nature.

 

“Prince Loki,” he addresses primly, as the lighthearted amusement vacuums out of the conversation. “We are happy you could come to Vanaheim. We hope you are finding everything to your liking.” 

 

“So far.” Loki’s words are liquid venom.

 

“Will you join us?” You ask with desperate hope, leaning forward in your chair and away from Loki’s heavy presence. It’s hard to miss your husband’s violent gaze, but you do. Instead, you give Arryn all of your attention, suddenly praying that he’ll stay even though your mind tells you to forget it.  

 

“On any other occasion I would love to.” Arryn smiles sadly, “Unfortunately, I have to see to my father. His health isn’t what it used to be.”

 

“Of course,” your grin fades with worry. “I hope to see you soon.”

 

 “Perhaps tomorrow at the stables. We could go for a ride.”

 

“I would love that.”

 

“Likely not,” Loki interrupts. “There is a lot to be done.” You tense from the sheer coldness of his voice, something that does not escape Arryn’s notice.

 

 You bite your cheek, giving him a small look to discourage any protest. Your childhood friend bows again before stepping away from the table.

 

Just as the blonde turns his back, Loki’s arm drops and he resumes to eating. When you peek over at him, you see his chaotic, angry guise has returned. It sends violent waves your way, warning you to stay still and silent. But you don’t listen to it. Instead, you send him a small, tight smile, obviously pointed to appear indifferent to his rage and calm him. Trying to bring back the Prince from this afternoon, the one from your room, the one from moments ago. Hewas kind.

 

Though it must look as forced as you know it is, because Loki decides to ignore it by turning his back on you too. Without thinking, you rest your hand on his, hoping your touch means what it did earlier today.  

 

xXxXx

 

Sleep doesn’t come easy. Your bedroom is haunted with ghosts of what was. So, when a knock interrupts your frightful night, you don’t hesitate to get up.

 

The fireplace paints your room in dream-like heughs of red and orange as you make your way through the living quarters. The second you open it, Arryn storms passed you and stops in the center of the room his head hung low.

 

“Arryn?” You ask, your voice thick with sleep as you close the door behind you.

 

He spins, violently, his blonde hair swinging with the strength of his pivot. Your feet pause, before taking a step back when you see the look in his eyes. You know that look, it’s stared at you too often, to not know it. It looks like Loki. Unbriddled, raged. Waiting to take you.

 

“I needed to see you.” His voice is gravel beneath your feet. Deep. He takes a large step toward you, his beige tunic swinging with the effort of it. If you could move back again you would, but instead you’re pressed against the door.

 

“You need to leave.” You pull your hands into fists, hoping to stop them from shaking.

 

As he steps again, his tall, stocky frame leans over you. It reminds you of Thor, muscle mass. You never realized before how you despise it. It’s intimidating and thick, with veins that crawl under skin thrumming with anger.

 

“I can’t.” He argues, “Seeing you with him. It made me remember everything.”

 

“What are you talking about?”

 

“You should have married me.” His hand comes up to frame your face. “I loved you.”

 

You push his hand off of you. This is absurd. There’s no way this is real. But then his lips are on yours, fighting against you. They feel real, hard and wet and obstinate. Sloppy. You push him off of you, your fist striking him, his head swinging with effort.

 

“I’m married,” you spit. You wipe your mouth with the back of your hand.

 

“You aren’t happy. Don’t pretend you are.”

 

“It’s not about being happy. It’s about duty.”

 

Arryn scoffs, “Duty. What a romantic notion. I’ve seen you with him; you’re terrified of him.”

 

You think of Loki’s anger, his mouth twisted down and eyes flaming.

 

But you also remember his compassion at the altar. His sympathy for your parents. The way his gaze softens when he thinks you aren’t looking like in the carriage. The way he seeks you out, listens to your stories. The way he hasn’t pushed himself on you, at least not really, and not since that day. Even then, he stopped. A warm feeling grows in your chest, enchanting. Perhaps, he isn’t as terrible as you believe him to be, or as terrible as he wantsyou to believe he is. “I’m not,” you disagree, realizing it’s the truth. If you were scared of him, you wouldn’t argue with him like you do, wouldn’t stand up to him. You know the truth. Really, what is he going to do? He can't kill you, can't hurt you more than you've already been hurt. What more could he really do to you? “I’m not scared of him.”  

 

The way Arryn looks at you, nearly makes your skin crawl. But, then a green glow emits and blonde hair turns black; stocky frame turns sleek. And then, it’s Loki staring back at you. His trademark smirk in place as his arms frame your head. “You’re not?” He chuckles, as his tongue wets his lips.

 

You push him violently off of you anger burning in your chest. Violated. He lied. As always.  “Get out.”

 

“You don’t really want me to leave.” He says, leaning back over you. “Don’t lie to me.”

 

You watch his lips say the words, speaking to you, but all you feel inside you is this sudden burn of desire. Of want. You’re enthralled, your mind clouding over with something intangible. It smothers your rationality, making you swallow thickly and lean back against the door, heart thumping wildly as Loki’s head dips lower. He’s so close to you. So close. Your mind whispers the truth: want.

 

How is this for a truth:  You want him.

 

 You release a stuttering breath as his mouth hovers over yours. “Tell me to leave.”

 

Instead, your hands weave your head through his hair and pull his lips to yours ignoring the rational part of your brain that is begging you to stop. Pleading you to make him leave. His mouth collides with yours, his hands roaming all over your body, quickly, drawing you closer and pushing you away. His tongue slithering into your mouth. Then his hands fall to your rear, picking you up and pushing your nightgown up your legs and gathering to your waist. The cool air caresses your nether skin, just as Loki’s fingers decorate your rear with intricate patterns. You cross your legs behind his back, using his shoulders as leverage.

 

Your hands interlock around him, fingers toying with the curls at the nape of his neck, as his lips begin to kiss their way down your neck. Throwing your head back, you release a groan. Wanton. You’re absolutely wanton with lust. You move your hands to his pants, pulling the laces loose and push them down his hips roughly. Whatever is driving this, whatever spell you are blaming, is the perfect scapegoat. You refuse to actually believe this is your own desires. And when he’s free, when his lips make their way back up to your ear, nibbling on the shell, you pause for a moment. The fog lifting. His pants send shivers down your spine, his hips are flush against yours, his hard, warm member presses against your dripping entrance.

 

You pull back and look him in the eyes, realizing how you almost don’t feel anything right now. Everything except for him is soft and dull around the edges. He is a vibrant mess of colors and actions, feeling too real.

 

His eyes are vulnerable, scared. Deep colors of the ocean rolling with a storm. One of his hands comes up to your hair, pushing it off your cheek. “Tell me to stop,” Loki whispers. “Tell me to stop and I will.”

 

You’ve never seen him actually look at you like this. Like you are everything -- the sun and the moon. You simply shake your head and lean in, pressing your lips against his. He enters swiftly satisfying a deep, glutaral need. It’s beautiful, perfect, sending you souring high.

 

It wakes you up.

 

You gasp. Looking around your room, sweat pouring from your skin.

 

A dream.

 

It was just a dream.

 

You pant, your hand coming to press on your chest - your heartbeat racing wildly.

 

What in the world did you just… it seemed so real. So vivid. Your core throbs, feeling pleasantly sore. Your lips feel brutalized, plump from extraneous efforts. Still you know the truth. It wasn’t real.

 

 From across the room the necklace catches your eye, its gemstones burning brightly amid the dark room.

 

 

Chapter Text

It’s not that you’re avoiding Loki. It’s just that you refuse to look at him, or talk to him, or really even be near him.

The nightmare haunts you.

When you saw him for the first time after that night, your heart flew into a panic. The blood in your ears beat louder than the advisors guiding you through your first counsel, even though it was purely a nominal event. Welcome home, Princess. We need your expertise on these seemingly awful turn of events. It made you nearly roll your eyes when you were told of the squabbling sects of Rock Trolls. As if Rock Trolls did anything other than disagree over their ancestral borders.

But when Loki came in, sitting across from you and scrutinizing your every movement with blazing gazes, well… it made you panic. Made you fidget. Your hands pulled on invisible hems and soothed you’re already tame, braided hair. As if that could help.

And his look, the knowing glint in his eyes, made you paranoid. He barely looked anywhere else but at you, as if trying to strip you bare right there with his mind. As if he could know about your dream. Like he was there with you in your unconscious state. But that wasn’t possible, was it?

So, you hurried away, hiding in places he would and could never know existed. When dinner came, you feigned fatigue and illness. While childish, and most of Vanaheim likely praying for your timely demise, it gave you a moment to calm down. (And to relive the dream… though you were ashamed to.)

When you were forced to be in the same room as him, he seemed to have caught onto your modus operandi and lavished you in new attentions. His heated looks you chose to ignore, his constant presence you tried to avoid, his knowing smirk, well, it made you think he was purposefully trying to make you uncomfortable. Always passing you in the hallways, always there . And your response was to obviously avoid him. Childish. You are incredibly childish.   

If only you care enough to actually initiate contact.

It was a dream -- a nightmare. Nothing more.

But it wasn’t a nightmare, not really. Sure, your heart was racing when you woke up, sweat dripping down your hairline, but it wasn’t a terror sort of waking, it was pleasurable. For some odd, unbeknownst reason, you wanted him.

So, after a week of living in turmoil, of skating around his presence, you find yourself in the library.

And perhaps it is your curiosity, your absurd suspicion that brings you there. You haven’t ever heard of mutual dreams, but you have to know if he knows. The blind, rational part of your mind tells you to relax, calm down, that there is no way he knows and isn’t looking at you any different than he has in the past.

But the other part of you, the one that knows Loki, knows that he knows . And you don’t know if you could realistically look him in the eye if that is the case.

The Vanir library is quite similar to the Asgardian one, though instead of arbitrary books in ordered disarray, the Vanir library is methodical and clean. Likely, more attributed to the sheer lack of use. The main difference though, is that the Vanir cases stretch onto multiple floors, two, sometimes even three stories tall with only a slim, oak ladder able to reach the tallest of shelves.  

So, you find the shelves devoted to sourcery, and you slowly climb up the ladder, carefully placing your foot on each rung.

Of course , this section is one of the taller bookcases, you pause every few steps to find it.

Pyrokinesis? No.

Conjuration? No.

Necromancy? Absolutely not.

Psionic? Perhaps.

You pause, keeping on hand on the railing of the latter and leaning over to the left to grab the book in your sight. Stopping on the ladder, you loop one arm through the bar and leaf through the text. Your finger follows the table of contents before you find a small subsection about telepathy and dreams. Smirking slightly, you tuck the book under your arms and slowly begin to descend, when a small, dusted book captures your attention. It doesn’t really make sense, why you stop. But you do. And you reach for it, as if pulled by some part of you deep inside longing to read between the pages. You’re hands smooth over the spine, pushing the dust away and follow the etched words, Elenchus.

You grab it without a second thought.

“What a lovely view.”

You release a squeal, tightening your grip on the railing as the books and your stomach drop to the floor. When you peer below you, you see Loki looking down at the books, his lips pursed and fingers tapping at his sides. He looks like he’s deciding whether he should lean down to grab them, when they leap off the ground and dangle before them. His long fingers pluck them out of the air and stack them in his grip, though he looks at them in concentration, you can’t tell what he’s thinking.  

You take a deep breath in and rest your head against the wooden ladder as your heart rate calms down. One of these days you’re going to combust, you swear it.

“Oh dear, did I frighten you?”  

“What are you doing here?” You manage to get out, as the knuckles on your hands begin to turn white from the force of your grip.

“Is that anyway to greet me?”

Sighing, you begin to descend when your foot misses a step, making you slide down two rings on the ladder. You can feel Loki’s gaze on you, and choose to ignore it. “Careful,” he warns, his voice losing its playfulness.

You frown. Embarrassment brews inside of you, twisting and turning in violent shapes that makes you want to pull the largest book within your reach and drop it on him. Though, that would be useless. He’d catch it. Easily.

Norns, why are you suddenly nervous? Frightful of the stare you know is glued to you. You close your eyes and inhale, willing away the sweat on your palms as you begin to descend.

When both your feet find themselves on the stone ground, the tension seeps from you. Well some of it. The other half is still knotting your stomach into perverse tangles. Loki holds the books out to you, his smug smile in place when you carefully pull them from his grasp. You refuse to look him in the eye, instead, you hone in on the books now tightly held in your clutches and memorize every tattered marking on its cover.

“You know, pet, your curiosity in advanced magic truly is astounding.”

“How did you know I was here?” You ask, hugging the books to your chest, refusing to comment on your interest in them.

“What makes you think I knew?”

You glare at him, making sure he knows that you won’t fall for his evasive answer. He pauses for a moment, then sighs. “Sentiment,” he states in a measured tone. “Whenever something is bothering you, you tend to turn to usual habits. One of which is burrowing yourself in books.”

You tighten your grip on the edges of the book, “And as always, you enjoy exploiting it.”

Loki purses his lips, his eyes flashing with hurt before smoothing into a look of indifference. “Always.”

“Well, thank you once again for nearly killing me. Hopefully next time you will actually succeed. You push pass him, careful to not brush against his arm.

He laughs, openly, as he begins to tread next to you. “So, did you not want to continue your lessons, then?”

You stop and turn around, facing him, when you decide to test his knowledge. “And what could you possibly know about these things?”

“With Astral projection,” he begins, when the same voice from behind you interrupts. “A fair bit.” You swiftly spin on your heel, eyebrows rising when you find an identical Loki standing behind you. “Though, I’m sure you already knew that,” a voice from your left now finishes.

You take a step to the right, pivoting to face the newest duplicate head on and so all three Loki’s are in your sight. You mouth opens, shock weaving through. Wow… They look identical, down to the burning, amused look in their eyes. As you lift one of your hands to touch the manipulation now in front of you, you pause. Rationality making you think it through. Still, curiosity wins and you drive your hand forward strait toward his chest, waiting to feel the soft, fabric tunic beneath your fingers. When your palm passes through it like a ghost, the projection emits a green glow and fades away. A weird sensation passes through you, shivering up your spine and sending a smile to your eyes.  Huh. Fascinating.

“Unfortunately, it has limitations,” the one to the right says, while the one on your left, the original Loki, tilts his head and watches you curiously. “Only another astral projection can touch this form.”

You don’t mind his stare, or his words, as they surround you. You pique an eyebrow in the original’s direction while stepping to the right, lifting your hands to his face, wondering if his skin will feel differently than his chest. Will it be a chilled apparition, or the same odd sensation as before? As your palm finally reaches his cheek, you’re startled when you find his cool skin instead of a disappearing smoke.

Your breath catches in your throat when his hand comes to your wrist, holding your touch there. Swinging your head, you peer over your shoulder just in time to see what you believed to be the original Loki disappear. Shock warms through you. You barely even register that your hand is pressed against Loki, or that your wrist is in his clutches. But when your senses return, when you realize that you are pulled into Loki’s grasps, you pull yourself free.

“How?”

He smirks, “A slight of hand.” Your eyes darken from anger as his smirk turns into a beaming grin.   “You should pay closer attention.”

You nearly growl, pulling the books into both your hands and taking a step back.

“I confess, I do not know much about Elenchus though. Truth magic tends to be a bit difficult for a God of Lies to master.”

“Truth magic?”

Loki tilts his head, eyes roving over your rigid body, before settling his gaze on yours. It makes you think of the dream, like he is assessing you, watching you. “Elenchus otherwise known as omniscience. Being able to detect lies.”

How ironic it is that this book called out to you. You suppress a chortle, the wife to a God of Lies practicing truth magic.

You want to learn it.

“Perhaps that will be my specialty.” You then turn and walk forward.

“Do you not wish to continue your lessons, then?” He calls after you, desperation dripping from his tone. You peer over your shoulder, finding that he is gone. From the corner of your eye, you find him apparate in front of you. You gasp from the shock of it. He continues, relishing in your shock, “Or, are you still trying to avoid me like a child.”

You shake your head, “I’m not avoiding you.” Loki squints at you, his glower growing more exaggerated. “I’m not.”

“So, then we’ll continue to practice tomorrow.”

You bite your lip, heartbeat fluttering again, remembering how purely intimate the lessons have been. Apprehension weaves through you as you question why you are so afraid to be near him. His violent tendencies… no. He licks his lips, and your eyes can’t tear themselves away, thinking of how they felt in the dream.

You don’t trust yourself, not with a thrumming sense of want that is just under your skin.

But, Loki takes your hesitancy as acceptance and very nearly glows. “See you tomorrow pet.” He says and turns on his heal, disappearing with four long stalks.

He’s so dramatic.

xXxXx

You are nearly sick when Arryn enters the Great Hall. Your stomach shifts and nearly revolts with the memory of his lips on yours. It was a dream.

Though, a sinking part of you knows it was more than a dream.

Well… then, it was Loki.

Yes, that is likely true.

You feel Loki tense to your right when he sees the blonde enter as well. And worst of all, your husband’s gaze settle over you and focus on the empty seat to your left. It was left empty by Senator Ulfr who retired early with a belly full of meat and mead.

When Arynn sees you, he stumbles earnestly with an unguarded smile and flushed cheeks, joining you at the dais.

He says your name as he falls into the seat, the scent of liquor wafting off of him and assaulting your senses. It isn’t mead though, it is rougher, sharper. Hard liquor. His chiseled face looks young and carefree, although edged with a creased sense of integrity.

“Arryn,” you greet, sitting much straighter in your seat. From the corner of your eyes, you scan over Loki’s stony demeanor discussing something with a lord to his right, looking for any undercurrent of anger.

You don’t know why, but his disinterest bothers you. It shouldn’t. But it does. Instead, he is entirely focused on his conversation, as if it is the most important thing in the room. It could be for all you know. You can’t hear the discussion, can’t pretend to, but it creates a festering wound in your chest and the only way to heal it is with his undivided attention. And if it weren’t for his clenched fists and protruding knuckles, you’d think he doesn’t care. Your hand itches to reach for his hand, to smooth its worries, ensure he remains calm.

Everything around you dims, fading into nothingness as a prickled truth punctures your heavy, stuttering heart. When did you grow past your fear of him? When did it stop motivating you? Was it when he healed you? When he gave you part of his magic? When he healed you with a tinge of remorse in his eyes?

You break yourself out of the reverie, pushing it down to contemplate another time.

You don’t want to be thinking of Loki, of comforting him.

“How nice to see you,” you say to Arryn turning fully to him.

His cerulean eyes widen, before beaming wildly with straight teeth and full lips. He surveys the room from his seat, “So this is how us commoners look?”

You laugh, letting the confusion of your feelings for Loki shatter around you. “What do you mean?”

He spreads his arms pointing to the people below you. “A drunken sea of heads.” He lifts the carafe of wine and fills your cup before reaching for an empty glass and filling his.

“You think we actually give thoughts to commoners,” you playfully ask with a raised eyebrow.  

“Touché.” Arryn raises his glass and holds it out to you. Taking the goblet in your hand, you lift it and cheers him, before taking a heady gulp. “So, tell me about Asgard.”

You lick your lips, dropping the glass and inhibitions to the table. “What about it?”

Arryn leans forward. His large frame intrudes upon the pocket of space between you two. “How are the people? Are they as arrogant as we believe them to be?”

“I just told you: I don’t think of commoners.”

He laughs, making you smirk at your own joke. “Then how is court.”

Treacherous. Dangerous. An entangling weave that has you stuck between murderous thorns and plotting vines.

“Fashionable.” You admit with a deadpan tone

“I’m sure you love that.”

Enamored is the word I’d choose.”

Arryn takes another sip, as his finger points to you. “Do you remember, when you refused to bathe?”

“Yes.” You roll your eyes and bite back a smile. “And as I recall, you stuck tree sap in my hair.”

“Well, it finally got you in the baths.”

You bite back a smile, remembering how long you had to scrub the sticky substance from your hair. When you finally focus back on Arryn, you see him lick his lips, giving you a dark heavy regard likely remembering how the sap got in your hair. Wrestling in the hay, his heavy form on top of yours. You shake your head to clear the untoward thoughts, nothing ever happened with him. Not like that at least.

“I like your braids,” you compliment, gaze caressing the two Vanir-style braids on the side of his head. It reminds you of how your father would wear his hair on a special occasion, only his would have one braid. The rest of his hair is coiffed and spilling down the back of his neck.

He smiles happily and his thick fingers run against them. “I haven’t seen you at the stables.”

Willing a blush away, you open your mouth to explain yourself, when Loki’s voice cuts you off. “As you are unlikely to understand, we’ve been quite preoccupied.”

You turn to look over your shoulder, finding Loki has finally turned to the two of you. Without thinking, you push your chair back to include him in the conversation. 

“What is that meant to mean?” Arryn asks with turned down lips.

Loki dismisses him with a wave of his hand. “Commoners wouldn’t understand.”

Your mouth falls open, thrown by Loki’s cold behavior. “I think what Loki means,” you begin, trying to control the unraveling conversation. “Is that my time has just been absorbed with matters of state.”

 Arryn’s mouth turns down. “That’s a shame, you have always enjoyed riding.”

 A polite smile grows on your face, reminiscing of the freedom riding provides.  You shake your head, trying to swallow a shadowing sadness that has taken over you. “I still do.”

 From the corner of your eye, you see Loki’s lips press into a thin line, his ocean eyes surging with an ambiguous storm. “We’ve been busy,” he argues as if to defend himself.

 "Too busy to allow your wife to enjoy something?”

 You start, ready to express that you do not need Loki’s permission to do anything, when he interrupts you.

 “My wife has enjoyed plenty of rides recently.”  Your eyes widen automatically as you sharply swivel your attention to Loki. His face is a grim, serious line, but his eyes sparkle with mischievous intentions.

“She’s an accomplished rider.” Arryn nods, his eyes watching the two of you closely. Arryn’s drunkenness makes itself known in unfocused, glazed eyes. The tense smirk falters as you take a sip of liquor, praying it will quell your anxiety. Your friend continues, “I hope you find that I taught her well.”

The liquid sputters from your lips as you cough, the intimate, impolite conversation taking hold. Loki’s hand reaches to the small of your back, rubbing small, soothing circles to calm you down as his smile grows into a dangerous sort of grin. His touch repulses you. The two men talking about you as a conquest rather than a person, a princess. And just as Loki’s hands begin a hypnotic soothing circle, another’s foot begins to slide along your calf.

Liquor makes cowards courageous.

Both stares duel, your own anger festers. You are not a possession.  

Hastily, you push your chair back, give them both a heated look, and stand.

“Please excuse me.” You snap, and turn, knowing that Loki’s, Arryn’s, and the rest of the people in the room have focused their attentions on your dramatic display.

As you make your way out of the hall, you hear footsteps echoing behind you. Then, your name is called in a deep, swift tone.  

You don’t falter though, not until he is standing in front of you. You stop short, then swipe your hand forward, realizing that it is an apparition.

It disappears in a puff of green smoke, but you know he has caught up to you. So, you turn on your heel to face Loki, your lips pulling back in an awful sneer.

“You dare to follow me after that.”  

He halts for a second, as if he is afraid of you . Loki holds his hands in a sort of white flag, surrendering to you. “I confess that conversation may have gone awry.”

“May have?” You angrily spit. “Which part of it? The part that compared me to a broodmare, or when I was pawed as a possession rather than a person.”

“Pawed?” Loki asked, the glint in his eyes returning. ‘’Should I have let my wife choke in front of her people? In front of a man who dared to claim he had you before me? I’m sure the Vanir would have loved that, to let their princess choke as I pretend to not care.”

You pause, thinking of it from that point of view, then shake your head, “Don’t do that. You knew better.”  

“Did I?”

You itch to wipe the smug look off his face. “He’s a stable hand and you’re a prince.”

“Yes, and he needs to learn his place in the royal court.”

“Arryn’s been part of this court far longer than you.”  

“And yet, it seems he’s never learned his place.”

From far down the hall, a group of people laugh, their footfalls stumbling towards you. You shake your head and turn, continuing to walk to your bedchambers, when Loki falls in easy, long strides next to you. And while your breath exerts in powerful puffs, his is unbothered.

So, you continue forward, angrily passing through halls and corridors as Loki continues next to you. All you want to do is push him away. You want to humiliate him like he just did to you. Annoyance fills your chest as his smile grows with your every livid, punctuated step forward.

“Have you begun to ignore me again, then?” His voice is as light and playful as his every step.

Yes. You are. Careful to realize that if you do answer him that you are, in fact, not ignoring him. Instead, you keep your lips closed, biting your tongue.

He chuckles, and you grind your teeth. “I’ll take your silence as a yes.”

You sharply turn down the hall, making sure to give him no warning. Of course, he takes that in stride as well, his grin strengthening his resolve. The corridor has darker lighting than the one you came from, but you know this is the most direct path back to your chambers.

“If you wanted to corner me in a dark corridor, all you had to do was ask.”

You turn again, back into a main hall, when Loki’s step falters as he realizes how close he is to your rooms. Then his tread quickens, like he is coming unfurled. Desperate. His typical cool demeanor unwinding before the corner of your eyes.

“Surely, you realize he was in the wrong.”

You’re a prince, he’s a stable hand.

“He’s a commoner.”

He’s a friend.

“We could whip him, teach him his place.”

Finally you snap, nearly three paces from your door. Reaching out, you grab his leather jacket and push him against the stone walls, your fingers digging into the flesh of the garment. He grins conceitedly, his almost dimpled cheeks mocking you. Your gaze turns to pure, unbridled fire. If it could kill…

“That seemed to get your attention.”

“If you so much as touch Arryn…” You trail off, your lips pulling back to reveal your teeth.

“Ah, a soft spot for the boy. Should I be nervous?"

You quickly retort, “You know you shouldn’t.” Then, your eyes grow wide, swarming with distress, like you’ve gone and said too much.

Loki’s head lolls lazily back and peers at you through a half-lidded, blue gaze. “And why shouldn’t I?”

Your stomach plummets, realizing for the first time that you’re willingly pushing Loki against the wall, your body pressing him. A sour, and yet, mouth watering sense of want pulses through you.

You push off him, lips turning down. “You know why.” As you take a careful step back with a shake of your head, like it will knock some sense into you.

“Tell me.” His body following yours off of the wall.

Shaking your head again, you turn, walking back towards your rooms as Loki follows you.

“Tell me,” he badgers, his heavy presence behind you.

You reach for the door, ready to push it open even though you feel his breath on your neck.

“Tell me!” He bellows, his yell echoing down the hall.

Spinning around, the hair on the back of your neck stands up, a lost sense of fear crawling up your chest. His breath hurls from his mouth, panting as your entire body stands on edge, refusing to cower.

You tilt your chin. Power play. “Why?” You ask in a whisper. 

His head tilts, his eyes scrutinizing you. Both of your gazes hold in an angry hurricane. Your hand slithers back onto the doorknob, carefully twisting the metal. The scraping is so loud that it swirls between you. Loki’s nostrils flare as your chest heaves, and the tension between you two is so palpable, that even as the door begins creeks open behind you, neither of you look from the other. His eyes rage, yours whirl.

 You back-peddle, one foot behind the other. “Goodnight Loki.”

 “Enjoy the dreams.”  

 The breath catches in your throat as you turn back around, but he’s already gone, treading in long strides down the corridors.

 

Chapter Text

It was a rash decision, really. The decision that led you here. But, you refuse to let any guilt set in.

 

You inhale deeply and close your eyelids, listening to the melodies around you. Birds chirp, bugs fly, and the leaves rustle; you smile.

 

Finally, you reopen your eyes and peer around. The woods never looked so beautiful, so candescent. It made your heart familiarly ache in a dull throb that has become the norm. You grasp the reigns in your gloved hands tightly, barely wincing as the leather strap sharply bites into your skin. You concentrate on it. And you hope, hope that the physical pain will distract you from the emotional.

 

Reacting to you, Skuld shuffles. Her hooves mark the forest floor, breaking the cold ground with three steps ahead. You run a hand over the horse’s mane and lean forward so your body is flush against her, then calmly whisper in her ear.

 

Her ears flatten and she neighs in response, bowing her head in a quiet, subliminal submission.

 

When you sit up, your heals lightly press against her flesh, propelling her forward in a soft command. As the crisp wind rushes over your skin, you smile, and push her into a slow canter, further to the depths of the Light Forest. Though, normally lush and vibrant as emeralds, the turning season has made the forest dull. Dying greens and creamy browns are everywhere. It seems that the summer heat has finally given way to fall.

 

Still, the way the sunrays flutter through the trees calms you. The Light Forest has always been a sanctuary. Subtle and, yet, beautiful. Light dances through the trees, rays of jade, and rose, and periwinkle paint the woods in thick strokes. A misty fog has settled over the ground, and though you can’t see it, you hear twigs snap with every step forward.

 

A leaf from one of the trees dances in the wind and falls on your lap. You carefully pick it up and twirl the stem between your fingers. When you let it go, watching it drift haphazardly, you look back at your clothes.

 

Breeches.

 

You almost chuckle, imagining what your parents, or mother really, would say about your state of dress. Surely it’d be something like: A princess should never wear pants. Or: you should always ride side-saddle, it promotes a sense of modesty. Surely, if she saw you now, it’d be her admonishing gaze and her frowned lips staring at you from the thicket.

 

You release an unsteady breath. Forget it all, leave it be, lay it to rest under the fog.

 

Without a second thought, you trot faster, pushing Skuld past the familiar. Running away from the ghosts in your head, you let your last vestige of home drive you. She seems to know where she’s going anyway.

 

Her white mane ruffles with the effort, the muscles of her legs and torso move with an expertise. It’s incredible what animals can do.

 

You remember the day you picked Skuld. What was meant to be a broodmare became your own. Father was so proud you picked her, the glint in his eye shone so bright. Because when a dozen other animals stood proudly, she shrunk to the background. Lash marks decorated her snowy coat, a mark of her temperament and fire that rested underneath. A fire you are all familiar with. One that displayed her disobedience. All she was good for -- to breed. No. She would not be. Your sympathy outweighed rationality. And you chose her.

 

The handler said she couldn’t be trained. He was right, Skuld couldn’t be trained with a whip or deprivation, instead just acceptance. Let her be, and she came to you. The wild tamed her.

 

Father was proud.

 

So you named her after your once favorite Norn - future. Perhaps you shouldn’t play favorites with them, that’s probably why you’re where you are: orphaned, wedded, used and abused.

 

Before you realize it, you’re traveled further than intended. Now, you rest on the edge of lightness and darkness. A fine line, but all that sits in front of you is a thick ominous smaug. You steer Skuld to the left, passing parallel to the stark border. You wander down multiple paths.

 

Then, you’re in front of a cave. A familiar one.

 

You hike a leg off of Skuld and nimbly ease to the ground. You grasp her reins and pull her to a tall tree, tethering her to a close pond and side brush, allowing her to rest with sustenance.

 

Then you pull the dagger from your boot and tuck it carefully into the holster at your waist. Carefully, you fluff your shift, hiding any visible feminine curves and tuck any loose locks into a swift braid. You should look common now, disheveled, flushed, and common.

 

Not that you would see anyone here.

 

Considering the stables were left unattended and no guards patrolled the rolling hills, it seems the stars aligned to allow you the bliss of moving with anonymity.

 

You maneuver to the cave, peering in, knowing that wildlife could be hidden in its crevices, perhaps even a troll preparing for winter.

 

Without thinking, you call into the depths and cringe. If something is inside the cavern, it now knows you’re about to tread on its territory. Still, you deny the part of you that wants to turn back. The light barely floods into the dark cave, forcing you to adjust your eyesight to the darkness.

 

From deeper within, you hear water drip.

 

You continue forward, straining your eyes. Dewy moss covers the rock walls, but there’s nothing inside. Not an animal in sight. Soon, you’re treading down a dangerous and rocky path, carefully descending deeper into a pit. A skylight from above illuminates around you, some insects dance along the walls, their neon bodies providing a light in absurd colors.

 

This was foolish.

 

Then, you find the edge of a platform and sit on the rocky ground, your pants dampening from the moist dirt. And, you sigh. Beyond the platform from where you sit, is a deep waterfall. The rock falls steeply, and light floods in, creating an illuminating view. Dust dances and swirls in it as the water pours over an edge, creating a mist.

 

Your fingers dig into the pebbles underneath you, letting the dirt trap under your nails.

 

And you smile, laying back on the ground, letting the dirt collect in your hair and clothes. It’s not like anyone is here to judge. You lick your lips and stretch, letting the water lull you to an almost sleep.

 

But moments later, your ears pick up soft, careful footsteps. You pop up, crouching lowly and move to a rock on the far side.

 

You listen as the movements come closer in almost familiar dextrous footfalls, so careful not even let the pebbles slide. Pulling up your tunic, you grasp the shaft of the dagger and slowly pull it out. Not that you have much experience with these things, but hope a simple ambush would suffice. He would be surprised. You know he would be. It excites you, how he’d look at you with a dagger against his throat. When the limber shadow is at the mouth of the platform, you ready your racing heart. Use the galloping beats as motivation and pace. Then, you lunge forward, pushing the figure roughly against the opposite wall. It moves, easily, particularly given the dagger is biting into their throat. And when you finally pause to look at them, familiar features stare up at you.

 

Elfish features.

 

“Alwyn?” You ask incredulously. “What are you doing here?”

 

The light elf’s eyes dance brightly in a dazzling sort of excitement. It reminds you of the first time you met her, when Freya finally revealed herself in the garden those weeks ago. She looks bemused and confused at the same time. “Are you unhappy to see me?”

 

“I-Wha-No,” you stutter, “ No. I’m surprised is all.”

 

“I’m not really here.” She emphasizes, her childish features tugging a string in your heart.

 

You finally realize the dagger is still biting into her skin, so you drop it and tuck it back to where it belongs. “I thought you were someone else.”

 

“The Dark Prince.” Alwyn states factually

 

Your mouth opens to deny it, but you pause, eyebrows furrowing. “No.”

 

But you did. Is it weird that you almost hoped it was him? It is.  

 

Uncomfortable. Suddenly, you’re agitated, uncomfortable, and itchy; angry at the unwanted thought of him.

 

But Alwyn just smiles a sheepish grin that looks knowingly at you. “It’s okay, I won’t tell.” She pushes off the wall and maneuvers around you. Then she speaks carefully, “I haven’t seen you, and Freya was worried.”

 

Her mannerisms remind you of a child, small and unguarded, flamboyant expressions, striking you with platinum pixie hair. But her words, speak of an unfathomable understanding.

 

“Why would she be?”

 

Alwyn’s almond shaped eyes glisten with a neon blue. She smiles carefully. “You’ve been here, isolated, with Prince Loki. Some would argue it’s enough to sway a person’s allegiance.”

 

“Not mine,” you snap quickly, irritated.

 

“That’s what I said. You, out of all of us, have a reason to hate Odin-family.”

 

Alwyn sits and folds her legs, using her arms to hug the limbs closer to her chest. She rests her chin atop her knees, looking up at you. Her lips pull down and she scans over your form, likely covered in dirt. “You look different.”

 

You sit then, mirroring her position. “You mean dirty.”

 

“I would never call a Princess dirty.”

 

You smirk, and look at the waterfall in the distance. “Isn’t it beautiful here?”

 

“Yes.”

 

You glance back at her, wondering how everyone seems to know where you are before you even know. “How did you know where I was?”

 

“Freya!” Alwyn claims excitedly. “She has a tethering spell on you.”

 

You should feel violated, that she can know where you are at all times. Should feel smothered. But a part of you is happy to know that someone cares enough to check in on you. To worry for your location. That you’re actually wanted.

 

“Do not fear, though,” Alwyn continues when she sees your solemn face. “She doesn’t spy on you. She was just concerned.”

 

“Of course.” You pause and sigh, “Well, I’m fine... really. Though, the people seem to have forgotten I am theirs.”

 

“That is false.”

 

You smile, telling her about coming to Vanaheim, about the people who didn’t greet you. How they rioted when you spoke to them.

 

Alwyn claims you are wrong, that the people were reacting to Loki not you. Though you think of how the senators and council gave Loki their attentions above yours. You refuse to say that to Alwyn though, you don’t want to take up more of your time talking of Loki.

 

You wonder how mad he is. Whether he’s throwing a tantrum across the castle now, considering you woke before dawn and escaped. He likely came to your room, ready to begin a lesson. You imagine him knocking for minutes before Eira told him you are gone. Disappeared.

 

Eira. Would he blame her?

 

Would she try claiming him as retribution? A panic rises to your chest, wondering.

 

Surely, he would know you’d return.

 

Perhaps this was terribly rash. Foolish. Perhaps you’d never be allowed to leave again.

 

That is a silly, naive thought. He’s be angry, cross. His anger would burn hotly in his serpentine eyes and maybe even his hands, but he’d know you’d be back. It’s not like you could leave. Right? You have nowhere to go, nowhere to run to. And while he may not know it, you have an agenda to cross off your list. You have to return.

 

“Don’t worry,” Alwyn states. “He can’t find you here.”

 

Bless her.

 

She thinks that you’re still scared of him.

 

So you nod, careful to calm yourself before your true feelings are sniffed out. Whatever true feelings they are. It’s not like you actually care for him.

 

It was a trick of a dream. An amulet, you decide to blame.

 

“And why is that?” You decide to ask as a distraction.

 

“I told you, I’m not even really here. Freya has cast me here and created a shielding spell. Similar to the one in the garden.” Alwyn lifts her head, looking at cavern in front of her.

 

“That’s convenient.”

 

“Her magic is limitless.”

 

Huh.

 

If her magic is limitless, then why was she unable to help when Loki bound your magics together. You shake your head, trying to rid the thoughts. She did what she could, implanting some type of resistance within you. That’s probably why you were able to avoid his advances during your bet. And though his voice was eerily similar to what guided you to victory, you refuse to actually believe Loki let you win. Instead, using Freya as the catalyst, is a much easier to rationale. The alternative made your mind hurt with the possible paths and consequences.

 

“So you’re just here to check on me?” You look at her from the corner of your eye.

 

Her body stills suddenly, straightening mightily, as if she was caught in a lie. Then she folds over again, releasing the tension expertly. If you blinked, you’d have missed her initial reaction. She nods, though opens her mouth. “Though, there is something...”

 

“What is it?”

 

“Well, it is like I said, Freya is concerned that things are taking so long.” Then she carefully peers at you, softly, much more reserved. “She sent me to make sure you were not having second thoughts.”

 

“That’s it?” You ask, warily.

 

“Well…” Alwyn begins with a blush on her cheek, “Freya wanted to know if the the prince advanced upon you?”

 

You frown, lips digging a trench on your face. Defensive lines. “He hasn’t hurt me. Not physically at  least.” Though, the emotional turmoil you’ve been put through are another story.

 

Alwyn dips her head, cheeks flaming brighter in the picturesque light, “She meant in the way a husband approaches a wife.”

 

Now, it is your turn to blush. Blooming scarlet roses burn bright across your skin. “I am not sure.”

 

“Please explain.”

 

You look away from her, eyes studying the dirt path you are sitting on. The pebbles are small, hard. Digging into your skin when you rest your hand against it. “There was a dream.”

 

Alwyn visibly darkens, her eyebrows knitting across her forehead. “A dream?”

 

Defeatedly, you sigh. “He came to me, disguised, and tried forcing himself on me. But when I stopped him, he changed into his true form and...” You pause, realizing the dream tells more about your affections than his. That you were willing to take him, that you almost initiated it. No, you didn’t.

 

“And?”

 

“Well, there was this amulet that he gave me. It glowed the color of my siedr, and Loki said it was meant to lower certain... inhibitions .” You give Alwyn a knowing look your eyes peering into her crystal ones. “At first, I believed it was nothing more than a dream, but, it was oddly realistic. And it felt real. Then, last night he alluded to knowing about the dream, as if he was there himself.”

 

Alwyn’s eyes glaze over, like she is far away. Then she blinks rapidly, giving you a look. “That is odd.”

 

You swallow thickly, “Odd?”

 

“Yes.” Alwyn lifts her long fingers to her lips and taps them mathematically against the plush, pink skin. “I must discuss with Freya.” Then, she smiles fluidly, her being nearly glowing, “It seems that I must head back. Freya is calling.” The elf stands, “She sends love of course.”

 

“Of course,” you nod, standing, unsure what to make of her reaction. You simply push that to the back of your mind. Instead, the new thought running through you is too great to ignore, so you finally question her absence. “Why didn’t she come?”

 

Alwyn pauses, standing and shaking off the dirt. You don’t, you revel in the filth. You should be ashamed. “Freya is powerful, if she projected herself here, it could have caused a rippling in the cosmos too large to ignore. The Gatekeeper looks for these things. But, an elf, well, we pop around all the time. Ancient Gods... not so much.”

 

You don’t understand, but you let it go.

 

Alwyn curtsies, smiling, and disappears with a pop.

 

How odd indeed.

 

xXxXx

 

“He’s down there,” the guard said with a frown. “You’re granted twenty minutes.” Your hands clasped your stomach as you began to descend down the steep stairwell. “And Princess?” The guard called behind you, making you turn to glance at him. “Odin will be watching.”

 

With that, the guard turned and shut the door behind him.

 

You continued down, forcing your nerves away. Never in your life did you think you would be visiting the Allfather’s dungeons, and yet, here you were.

 

And there he was.

 

Your father sat on the floor, his ashen face was tight and lined. His face markeds with an unkempt beard, streaked with grey. His shoulder length hair matted into coarse knots, it was so unlike his typical polished appearance.

 

You swallowed thickly as you stepped closer to the clear box surrounding him. LIke a fish in a giant bowl, he was there as a decoration. Like all of Odin’s treasures, the King of Vanaheim taken as prisoner and given the largest, most ornate cell. It was also the most voyerstic. Planted there as a statement.

 

He sat on the floor, one leg laying out in front of him and the other folded closer to his chest. His head was thrown back against the wall of the cell and his eyes were closed as if in prayer.

 

Then, as your steps became louder on the stone beneath you, your father’s head lifted, piqued by a visitor.

 

His eyes narrowed when they saw you. “What are you doing here, girl?” His voice was thick and hoarse, like he hadn’t had anything to drink in days.

 

You stopped, hands tightening on your waist. “I’m here to see you.”

 

Tears climbed to your eyes when you realized how they have mistreated him. Well, all of that would change. All of it.

 

“I meant: why are you still alive?” The hurt look bellowed in your eyes so loud, your father must have seen it. He hung his head in defeat. “You should be dead. Your mother and I failed our parts and you will soon be orphaned. Offered to Odin on a silver platter. It would have been easier if you died.”

 

You shook your head violently, stepping forward. “That is not true.”

 

Father sighed, “Valhalla would have suited you better than being kept as Odin’s ornament.”

 

You looked at the translucent cell and the gold lines that zipped through it, listening to the thrumming energy. “I meant that I will not be an orphan, I have bargained with the Allfather. You will be released soon, I swear by the Norns.”

 

His eyes, like yours, level you with an interested glare. “What have you done?”

 

xXxXx

 

As you leave the cave, you realize twilight has dyed the sky.

 

And as the forest dances in hughes of darker blues and indigo, you pace quickly over to Skuld, but when you’re a step away, a metallic clunk sounds from under your feet.

  

You reach down and pick it up, looking at the silver bracelet and turning it in your hand. There are a few gems, dazzling bright blue, eerily similar to the color that shone in Alwyn’s eyes. But it isn’t animated; it is simply neon and blinding. The beautiful craftsmanship takes your breath away. So you cuff it onto your belt and continue untethering Skuld, even if you never wear it, perhaps you can gift it to Alwyn when you return to Asgard.

 

You pull her away from the tree and Skuld complies.

 

Then, you step forward and climb astride her. Your two legs rest on either side of the saddle as you feel the rough, cool leather through the wool pants. The air has dropped to cold temperatures, shivering up your spine and leaving a trail of goosebumps. It makes you pull a wool cape from a sack on the saddle. You hastily clasp it, and tug it around your form, tucking it around you to hold out the wind.

 

Then, you dig your heels into the horse, propelling her to a gallop, pushing her as fast as she can go. No matter how light these woods are, you don’t want to be here for nightfall. When you finally get closer to the treeline, you allow Skuld to slow to a canter. She appreciates the rest with a shake of her head, or that’s what you think.

 

The shake of her head turns violent, almost as if hastily searching for something around her. You run your hand down her mane, comforting her like you have so many times before. “You’re fine,” you whisper. “We’re almost home.”

 

You know she doesn’t understand, but your voice, soothing and careful, lets her know she’s not alone. But for the first time it doesn’t work. She continues to back peddle, neighing angrily. You remove your hands from the reins to twist on your seat and look around yourself, but you don’t see anything.

 

Then, Skuld rears, pulling back onto her strong, hind legs. You’re unprepared for it. So unprepared, that your falling backwards.

 

It’s an out of body experience, as the seconds tease into long minutes. You see yourself fall back behind Skuld, watch as she gallops away, wildly kicking up branches and leaves. Then, your body falls in a heap; backside first, and lands so violently that your head slams against the dirt bouncing from the sheer force behind it. Fiercely.

 

And finally, everything is black.

 

Chapter Text

Waking, tragically brings you back. Back to a world where your parents are dead, and you are nothing more than a pawn on a convoluted chessboard.

 

Night has fallen, and from somewhere deep in the forest, owls hoot and voices yell.

 

Your name rings in your ears.

 

You stand and fall against an old, winding tree. As your vision swims and rolls like a massive current, you bargain with yourself: you’re fine, you’ll be fine.

 

Heartbeat racing, you lift your left hand to grasp your aching head. When you touch a crusted wound that shoots pain down your back, you hastily pull back. As your vision strains against the darkness, you see dried blood staining your fingertips.

 

Night. It’s night. You’ve been gone a whole day, and no one knows where you are. Surely, Loki is angry. Enraged.

 

It sends a rolling liquid of emotions through you. Kneeling over, you heave and heave.  Dryly. There is nothing in your stomach to purge but a thick yellow bile that springs stinging tears to your eyes. You grasped the tree tightly like a lifeline as it holds you up. And you realize the single truth: you have to get back.

 

 

You stumble on shaking legs, maneuvering from tree to tree even as your head continues to pound.

 

And as the time passes you manage to clear the forest. You pause there, looking over the grounds. It’s smeared with people scouring the grounds, as orbs of light hang in front of them. They call your name. The guards hold spears, the people carry baskets. You call out for them, only to realize your throat is tight and constricting. It croaks instead of yells.

 

When a shadow covers you from behind, the hair on the back of your neck stands tall.

 

“You there,” a deep voice calls through the night. You turn, terrified and glad at the same time. They found you. You finally decide to smile and sigh, content with being escorted back. “Why have you stopped looking?”

 

Surely, he recognizes you, this man. His armor is Asgard’s, imprinted with a gold and silver sigil that is an intertwined knot representing Yggdrasil. Maybe he’s never met you, but surely one of the Asgardian guards would at least recognize you. Your mouth falls open. “I..” You begin, throat hurting and mouth dry.

 

“The Prince will not take your insolence likely, keep moving. The Princess must be found and you are wasting time.”

 

You nod and step forward only to crumble to the ground. He must not recognize you. Then again, you have literally been laying in dirt all day. Your clothes are dirty, your hair is disheveled. You made yourself appear common earlier. Perhaps you succeed too well.

 

The guard’s leg kicks out, shoving you with his boot and making you twist onto your back. “Get up.” Your shut your eyes, holding back another bout of sickness, and look at him from your back.

 

“Apologies.” You bite back the truth, not wanting him to be the person credited for finding the missing princess. You’d much rather get back without a fuss. Surely, it won’t be difficult. You memorize this man’s face, his thick jaw and square eyes when he gives you one last seering look. Memorize it for another day.

 

Then, you stand and begin to step out of the forest, assuage the anger building inside you.

 

You take a deep, steely breath to ready yourself.

 

A few minutes, you could hold yourself upright for a few minutes. So, a plot devices in your head. You’ll go up through the gates, if anyone recognizes you, you’ll admit to who you are. If they don’t you’ll climb through the castle and into your chambers. Surely it is fool proof.

 

Then again, you’re pretty sure anything would be fool proof after being thrown so violently from Skuld.

 

Skuld.

 

Your heart drops and decide to visit her tomorrow to ensure she is safe, not having the energy to now.

 

You step forward, one foot in front of the other.

 

Walking. It really isn’t that hard once you fall into a routine.

 

It takes longer on two legs than on Skuld’s back, but somehow you manage to get to the castle gates.

 

The guards are on edge, their postures rigid and faces tense, barely giving you any attention as you stumble into the inner sanctum of the castle. Perhaps they think you are a servant, or they’re too frightful to give you a piece of mind. If you aren’t found, surely Loki would vow a gruesome death to whoever he deemed responsible. You frown thinking of the innocents.

 

But you’re here, safe and kind of sound.

 

After more long minutes of climbing stairs and hallways, you get to your rooms. You enter swiftly, realizing, again, there are no guards posted at your door.

 

You sigh as you shut it. Your eyes dance around, all of your things are scattered and strewn around in disorganized chaos.

 

It is like someone rifled through your things, pulled everything apart in search of something so valuable that not an inch of your life was spared. You’ll clean it yourself in a few minutes. But now… now, you need to wipe the dirt off of yourself. Need to clean and soothe and calm the aching pains. You need water and rest.

 

You pass through your bower room and enter a private bath; a stone room with a grand, circular pool in the center. As you enter, a heated steam welcomes you. A natural spring under Vanaheim castle bubbles, keeping the water warm at all times. You smile as you begin to haphazardly undress. You peel off your shirt, realizing that sweat, dew, and, likely, blood have made it stick to your form.

 

When all of your clothes are off, you begin to undo your braid, wincing as your hands come across a large gash in your scalp. You bite your lip, shrink, and carefully let your tresses fall.

 

You swallow. Thickly. It hurts.

 

You catch your reflection in a claw-foot mirror and your eyes immediately widen. No wonder no one recognized you. Dark shades of black and blue have spread across your forehead. Your hair, even though spilling loose, is matted thickly. Like a nest. And your skin… well it’s quaked and gaunt, looking as if you haven’t slept in days.

 

Then you hear footfalls enter, your name called out in desperation and hope. Eira.

 

You breathe a sigh of relief.

 

“In here,” you call back, your throat itching with pain.

 

Modesty be damned, she’s seen your body far too many times to judge how you look now: nude and dewy.

 

Your throbbing head turns to hell. Pain. True, unfathomable and gritting pain. It’s like the real pain is just waking up. Like it’s been resting and waiting for the worst time to rear its head.

 

She rushes into the room, calling your name loudly. Wincing at the shrill volume, you step into the bath, carefully descending into the water. You hiss when the water envelopes your form.

 

You rest against one of the walls and sit as the hot water caresses your skin.

 

“My lady,” she nearly screeches. “Where have you been? The castle has been in uproar in search of you. The prince -”

 

“I am… quite alright,” you cut her off, lulling your head back, the hot water makes your head dizzy and consciousness thick. It’s fuzzy. You’re head has clouded from the steam. A dunk beneath the surface should help, or that’s what your mind whispers to you. So you dip underwater. You stay there for a second, sunken and weightless. You like being here. There’s no sound or pressure in your head.

 

But evidently your body doesn’t like that it lacks oxygen.

 

You push yourself to the surface, greedily sucking in air. When you do, you look around the bath, head pounding with each movement, and realize that you are alone again. Sighing, you sit on the ledge, reaching for a bar of soap only for it to slip between your fingers. The thought of moving to get it makes your head protest. You’re just so tired, eyelids longing to shut and sleep. So you do.

 

Then the door opens and footfalls you are far too familiar with storm through your room.

 

These were not the feathery steps of Eira. They were lithe, poignant, and measured strides.

 

“Where have you been,” he hisses to your back. You straighten, pulling your arms to your chest covering yourself. So much for modesty be damned.

 

You pause, thinking of what you should say and how to say it. An apology seems like a good place to start. You cough, “I’m sorry, I-“

 

“I don’t want your apologies.” He snarls, “Do you know what you have put your people through? Get out of there.”

 

You shut your eyes, growing heavy with each second that passes with you in the heated bath. “I didn’t mean… to… be late.”

 

Suddenly the grip of death grasps your arm. Cold. Tight. Suffocating. Nope, not death. It’s just Loki.

 

You’re pulled from the water sharply, sputtering nonsense and trying to cover yourself. He doesn’t give you a chance. Instead, he holds both of your shoulders in vice claw and shakes you so roughly it makes your head roll from side to side.

 

“Stop moving.”

 

“Let go of me,” You slur, trying to cover yourself.

 

Your hands protrude forward, swinging, pushing, lashing out at him. How dare he touch you. Why does he think he can touch you?

 

He huffs, more annoyed than angry, trying to gather your flailing limbs. “Stop. Moving,” he grits out. Loki’s voice is a razor, cutting through your foggy mind. It’s harsh and commanding and domineering. It makes tears spring to your eyes though you try your best to hold them in. Your hands reach his face, scratching him with the small nails you have, not really seeing or understanding what you are doing. He curses to himself, “Insolent wretch.” He gathers your hands, pinning them to his chest in triumph.

 

You don’t know why the tears pool and gather, they just do. And you blink rapidly, just dwelling of things you know will make you cry. On your mother’s perfume. Your father’s smile. It is pain that works through you when he tries to calm you down, when tears stream down your cheeks.

 

“Are you crying?” He asks like an accusation. It makes the tears come faster.

 

What is wrong with you? You shake your head, as tears leak faster.

 

He secures your hands in one grasp and uses the other to grasp under your chin, tilting your head up. “What is wrong with you?”

 

It’s like he can read your thoughts.

 

Your response is a thick hiccup, sniffling through tears. “...I don’t know,” you cry. “Alone and I don’t... trust.”

 

His eyebrows knit across his forehead as he looks down at you. You aren’t making any sense, you know you aren’t. But you can’t put into words what you’re thinking or feeling or experiencing. There’s just pain and jutting thoughts that ricochet through your brain. His free hand moves from your chin to the bruise blooming across your face, inspecting it blandly, before continuing over your head, cataloguing each superficial wound.

 

When his fingers touch the abrasion hidden beneath your hair, you wince and fresh tears spill over, remembering Skuld and hoping she’s okay. His eyes flicker with emotion. One you’ve seen before. Like confusion. Or fear?

 

“Shh,” he demands crisply. As if he is tormented by a feeling to comfort you and control you at the same time. “Explain what happened.”

 

You shake your head, blubbering, the entire day has a shiny type of newness around it, one you can’t recall exact specifics of. “Skuld-” you choke out.

 

He sighs in bitterness when you try to pull your hands from his grasp. “Calm yourself.”

 

And as he says the words an eerily calmness spreads through you, starting from the lesion on your head and spreading from limb to limb. Soon, the pain that was there, sharply echoing and throbbing, is a shell. When Loki removes his hand, you realize why it is gone. Realizing he has once again healed your wounds, only this time they weren’t from his own doing. You continue to cry, trying to wriggle your arms free. Because even though the pain is gone, your mind is still dazed and broken.

 

He doesn’t let you go though, he looks down at you with that same expression of bewilderment or worry, as your body begins to quake with sobs. “Please,” you whisper.

 

You don’t know what you’re asking for, but he seems to. Because even though he looks at you like a lowly vermin, like you are beneath him, he winds his free arm across your naked back.

 

It’s the feeling of rough leather on your skin that reminds you of your nakedness. But you don’t have much time to dwell on it, because even though his body is rigid, it still pulls you close. So close that your nose is pressed into his chest inhaling his scent deeply. Pine and snow. A rawness. It lulls you into a comfort even as tears slowly continue to fall.

 

Why are you still crying? Your pain is gone, other than a slight headache.

 

You stop moving, his body stays still as you mold yourself into his very being. Wrapping around every groove and plane until your entire body is so close you can feel him against the the expanse land of your skin. You turn your head to the side, sniffling, when you feel Loki relax slightly. It’s not much, just his shoulders rounding forward, but it is noticeable all the same.

 

You don’t know how long you stand like that, with the hot vapors from the bath calmly pulling you into a deep smog. But you do. It lasts so long that you can hear your own breaths even and your tears dissolve with the tension. You can also feel Loki calm, his own anxiety dissipating in the steam. And when he lets go of your arms, they stay pinned between your chests, your fingers splaying out, grasping onto the leather like an anchor.

 

And nimbly, he gathers you in his arms, pulling you and carrying you out of the room. Any worries for your nudity is gone when you’re suddenly dressed in a thick, wool garb that keeps you warm as you leave the sanctuary of the bathroom.

 

You hum, letting your head fall into the crook of his neck, your fingers still grasping his leather clad chest. You can only imagine the degrading look he’s giving you. But you try not to harbor on it. Because soon he’s resting you on top of your bed, thick covers pulled back to welcome your return. The bed dips below his weight on the edge of the bed. And when he covers you with a blanket, likely thinking you are blissfully unaware, you chance a peek up at him through lidded eyes.

 

Candlelight glistens throughout your chambers, giving your room a soft glow. And when you peer at Loki, his raven hair falling to his shoulders, face tense with a new emotion, he looks almost angelic. It’s odd, that your chest stammers in your chest when you see him like this. He licks his lips and stands. As he turns, you quickly reach for his cool hand, tightening your hold on him to stop his retreat.

 

He spins around, harshly, hair fanning with the turn of his head. You peer up at him, concerned when you see anger brewing just below his surface. But, before he can say something belittling, something grating, you whisper, “Stay.”

 

Loki’s face softens, very slightly, and returns in a hushed tone, “I don’t think that’s wi-”

 

“Please.” Your thoughts scatter, avoiding rationality, and your eyes droop in pure desperation.

 

His features give way to hesitance. Moments pass, he still looks down at you in contradiction. With a very faint nod, he steps forward.

 

You scoot over carefully, afraid that a jerking movement will make him turn back around. He reclines on top of the bed, and you can’t help the sinking feeling of disappointment. You don’t want to give that any thought though because it’s puzzling and slightly jarring. So instead you mold yourself to his side, using the edges of sleep as your scapegoat to wrap your arms around his stomach, and ignore your annoyance at the cover for hindering your efforts.

 

He sits stiffly, his hands resting carefully on his chest and body still. You snuggle your head onto his shoulder, taking a deep breath and finding his scent a comforting blanket to sleep under.

 

And just when you’re pulled into sleep, when a blissful darkness surrounds you, you think you feel one of his hands cover yours, drawing a lazy pattern on the back of it.

 

And you think his head turns, his nose burrowing into your damp hair, his lips pressed ever so lightly against your forehead. There is also a deep inhale, like he’s memorizing your scent.

 

And, when his lips pucker in an almost kiss , this is when you realize you’re likely dreaming.

 

xXxXx

 

You wake to daylight and a cold bed.

 

You should be thankful he left, you know you should be, but you can’t help but feel despondent. You wonder what he looks like in the morning, with his hair fanned on the pillow and face peaceful from slumber.

 

You imagine what he’d look like with his intensity smoothed in unconsciousness.

 

“Good morning, Princess,” Eira greets with an overly cheerful voice. She puts your breakfast tray near the fireplace, a large slice of honey bread, some nuts and fruit, and a steaming cup of tea.

 

Studying her, you realize her cheeriness sounds far too forced. “Good morning,” you return with a hoarse voice. You clear your throat, wondering if Loki was still here when she entered this morning, but don’t have the nerve to ask. Instead you settle on, “My apologies for yesterday.”

 

“Tis nothing to apologize for,” she smiles, starting a fire in the hearth. She looks casually over her shoulder as you stand and walk to your breakfast. “It’s the Prince you owe an apology to.”

 

Your heart does that fluttering thing again, the stuttering beats that make you forget you hate him. You collect yourself though, ignoring the feeling that jumps through you at the mention of him.

 

“The Prince?”

 

“Aye,” she nods, peeling back from the fireplace and onto her feat. “He was sick with worry.” You bite back a smile by taking a sip of tea. It’s then that you realize your room is all in order, cleaned and organized. It’s not at all the mess you saw when you entered yesterday. “Likely thought he lost his prized possession,” she teases in a very frozen tone. “Had the whole castle in uproar, storming through the grounds for you. You’d think pure Hel came for you, but alas you are here and unharmed.” She adds as an afterthought, “Of course, the Allfather would have his head if you disappeared.”

 

Of course, that is why he was worried.

 

He wasn’t actually worried for you . He was worried for himself.

 

You smile back at her, “Well, I’m here.”

 

Eira grins, moving to your wardrobe to pull a dress from the closet. “Thank the Norns for that.”

 

Norns.

 

Skuld.

 

“My horse,” your anxiety peaking again from forgetting Skuld. “I have to find her.”

 

Eira’s smile fades. And when she gives you that look. The pitying look you’ve grown acquainted with over the past few months. Your heart sinks. You’re afraid to ask, but you do anyway. “What?”

 

“It’s just,” she pauses. “I’m under orders to not let you leave.”

 

Your heart lights, you thought she was dead. Or gone. “By who?”

 

The answer is evident though, even without her tepid and yet smug look.

 

You scoff, and pull on the dress she readied for you, frustration fuming from your ears. Your anger plunging you head first into a red haze. You’d like to see them try and stop you.

 

When you get the dress on, you stumble to your door, ignoring Eira completely, missing her small smile at your intense vigor.

 

When you hasilty swing the door open, you are greeted with two guards posted on either side of the door. Their armor glistens in Vanir gold, marking their true heritage. As you stomp forward, head held high, one of them catches your wrist, pulling you back.

 

Before he can even say a word you send him a seering look. “Unhand me at once.”

 

“We’re und-”

 

“Under orders,” you finish for him. ”I know. And you dare to reprimand your Princess?” Just behind his helmet, you watch the guard’s eyes glaze over with a look of confliction. The other one tilts his head giving him a signal that dares to agree with you. “That’s what I thought.” You pull your wrist from his clutches and march past them, not missing the way his lips tug up into a light grin.

 

When you get the the stables, somehow managing trick your way passed three more sets of patrolling guards, you realize how much tighter the security is.

 

Still, no amount of disapproving glares, or apprehending clutches, deter you. And when you get to the stables, you stop short.

 

You see him there, beige breeches, cloth tailcoat, and gloved hand leading Skuld.

 

Loki doesn’t see you, as his hand strokes Skuld’s nuzzle, speaking softly to the creature as he tethers her to a post. His back is to you, as he begins pulling debris from her alabaster mane. But, you think he does hear you, or maybe feels you, because his back straightens into an imposing wall.

 

“I’ll have their heads.”

 


 

I hope you enjoyed this little ditty. I was pretty excited to write this one, but also extremely nervous. What did you think? Did I make Loki to OOC?

Kudos and comments make Loki feel.

Find me on Tumblr: Michelleleahhh

Chapter Text

“I’ll have their heads.”

 

“No, you won’t,” you disagree, taking a step into Skuld’s pen.

 

A young stable hands sees you, his innocent, blue eyes widen before vanishing into a different gated area. As if he was expecting an explosion. You take the moment to scan the stables, realizing that the normally bustling buildings are empty. Well, other than the child.

 

The stables are large, with twenty-four gated corrals of all different sizes that span across three buildings. Typically, there are nearly a hundred people milling around, towing animals, feed and supplies.

 

And the fact that they are empty… well, it sends a chill down your spine.

 

Loki spins on his heal, his coat swaying in the wind. His eyes narrow, “I won’t?”

 

You lick your lips, using a moment to think as Loki scowls. Your mind races, blood pumps, then you internally smirk. “No.”

 

“Are you testing me?” His face is carefully guarded, like he’s still deciding how to respond. His voice isn’t angry, his face isn’t deadly. You’re unsure of how to feel about it, whether to feel dread or ease. A small voice calls you silly, daft, deserving of all the terrible things that have happened to you if you truly don’t see the monster in front of you.

 

But, instead, you cock your head to the side and realize aloud, “You knew I’d come.”

 

“Did I?”

 

You think back to when he found you in the library. “Sentiment,” you remind him, echoing his own words.

 

“Insolent is more accurate,” he speaks in an overly dry tone that almost makes you smile.

 

You step towards Loki, his eyes narrowing on your every pace closer. “You found her.”

 

“Skuld,” he tests the name turning back to the animal. “Future. The perfect name for an animal like this.” As if hearing the comment, Skuld rears her head and struggles against her restraints. He pulls on her restraints delicately, making the mare bow her head in submission. Traitor. “Temperamental creature,” Loki mutters under his breath.

 

You sigh, imagining how hungry she must be, and reach down to a dense, wooden bucket near the corner of the confinement. You pull it into your arms, grapple with the weight, and struggle to bring it towards Skuld. Taking a deep inhale, you try and appear calm, but in truth you hold your breath and strain your arms to carry it. The handle rubs your skin as you tense all the muscles in your stomach. You feel clumsy and weak. But you bite your tongue and trek it over to your horse.

 

Loki rolls his eyes, so quickly that you almost miss it, and he takes the bucket from you in one hand, hoisting it simply before resting it on the ground in front of the animal.

 

Your eyes don’t miss the way his biceps flex, how he doesn’t struggle with the heavy pail. It reminds you of how they held you last night, how soundly you slept in his arms. You shake your head, quickly dismissing the thoughts. There’s no time for that.

 

“I should kill the creature for your insolence.”

 

And, your stomach drops at the possibility. “You wouldn’t.”

 

“I wouldn’t?” He asks with a lift of his chin. Defiant, with a glint in his eye. This, the twinkle in his eye, is a reaction that makes your breath stall.

 

Licking your lips, you take a moment to collect your thoughts. Loki’s hands tighten on the mare’s mane. He doesn’t miss the way your eyes flash with pain, it’s like he’stesting you.

 

“Please,” you whisper and clear your throat. “Please don’t.”

 

A small smirk spreads across his face. “And, pray tell, what is it worth to you.”

 

You furrow your eyebrows. What is it worth? It’s worth everything right now. It’s worth a hundred nights in Hel, a thousand days. An onslaught of painful memories that you are too familiar with. It’s worth anything. But, you don’t utter a word and look to the ground, studying Skuld’s hooves.

 

Loki’s scrutinizing you almost harshly now, with hardened seawater eyes. You shrug, realizing you have nothing to give that he can’t take freely. “Name your price.”

 

And just like that, the God’s mouth lifts crookedly. One half of his face smiling and whispering of devious intent. He purses his lips slowly then tilts his head to the side, “I’m sure we’ll come to some type of arrangement.” When you give him your full attention, you realize he has begun to pet Skuld’s long muzzle. He’s whispering a low, jumble of words that you can’t hear. “Boy,” Loki calls, then turns from the horse and back to you.

 

The stable hand from earlier peeks out of his hiding space, steps out of the shadows and into Skuld’s confines. “Yes, You’re Highness,” he greets, bowing stiffly. It’s an unpracticed sort of motion, as if it’s his first time addressing a member of the royal family.

 

“How is the saddle coming?”

 

The boy stands tall, looking over at you before giving Loki his full attention. “All done, Sire.”

 

“Perfect.” Loki strides forward past you and to the left. “Come, my dear. We have places to go.”

 

You look at the boy one more time, his black hair, porcelain skin, strikes an aching sense of familiarity that you can’t quite place. The two of you look over each other before you turn on your heal and follow Loki like a moth to a flame.

 

When you step outside of the stables you see a titanic horse standing to a post, grazing the grass around it. It’s a monstrous sort of creature, with six legs, and a midnight coat. A face that looks angry enough to kill anything that comes near it. And the saddle that is on its back is long, doubled. Intended for two instead of a sole rider.

 

You miss a step for a moment, your foot tripping over itself when the thought crosses your mind. “I’m not getting on that.”

 

“Of course, you are.” Loki says offhandedly, as he stops near the monstrosity. His lean hand reaches forward and passes over the creature with a loving sort of caress. When your feet remain rooted in place, he finally looks over his shoulder with an exaggerated sigh. “You can get on Sleipnir yourself, or I can throw you on him. Either way, we’re going for a ride.”

 

“Do you think it wise,” you say quickly. “For me to ride so soon after my fall.”

 

“I think it would be unwise to use that as an excuse.” 

 

When you remain in place, several steps away, Loki’s face falls. The deadly sort of temperament taking root on his lips. You think of Skuld behind you. He could kill her, easily, for no other reason than his own enjoyment. And yet, he didn’t. In fact, he did the opposite, going to find her. This is your price, you realize. So, you sigh, realizing how pointless it is for you to bargain.

 

You finally step closer so you are shoulder to shoulder with Loki, “I’m not properly dressed,” you argue in a defeated tone looking at your skirts. The monster, Sleipnir,is so tall that it dwarfs you. You can’t imagine getting on or off of it with ease.

 

“Is that all?”

 

And suddenly your dress is carved into pants, you corset loosened into a shirt. It’s an outfit that matches his, green and beige, the colors of a forest.

 

Your hands fly over your body, feeling the material that clings to your skin.

 

“Any other arguments?”

 

You lick your lips and shake your head. “Just a few,” you say.

 

When Loki doesn’t respond, you reach up to the harness, using the horn to tug yourself ungracefully into the saddle. You choose to ignore the cool hand that grasps your waist and hoists you into the seat. Without another moment of hesitation, Loki releases the creature, throwing the reins onto the Sleipnir’s neck.

 

He gracefully hauls himself into the saddle, settling just behind you. It’s agitating. But, you reason with yourself; without the his coat scraping your back, you wouldn’t be able to tell that he is there. He isn’t touching you.

 

But then his breath fans along your neck, making a chill spread across your skin.

 

And then his arms weave around your waist, pulling the reins from the monster’s neck and rest them on your spread legs.

 

And then, just then, the animal shifts, making Loki’s pinky delicately trail over your inner thigh. You hold your breath, knowing it was intentional, but have no way out of the situation.

 

There is a sharp inhale, as Loki keeps his hands there, barely touching you. So, you pull the reins into your grasp, tightly holding onto the leather strap.

 

Then he rustles behind you, shifting. “Apologies,” he whispers hotly, and completely unapologetically, in your ear. “I’m going to need to touch you.”

 

The answer is sharp. “What?”

 

You look at his hands there, not touching you, but intention clear. Does he truly intend...

 

He chuckles deeply then as if reading your thoughts. “Unless you want me to fall off.” He lifts his arms and threads them across your middle, his hands pressing into the fabric of your shirt. You hope he can’t feel your heart hammering in your chest.

 

He presses his nose against your scalp, his lip almost pressing there. When you don’t respond, he continues, “Do you?”

 

“Do I what?” You ask, realizing that you haven’t objected to his touch yet.

 

You can feel his solemn smile on the back of your head. “Do you want me to fall off?”

 

“I’m not sure,” you say honestly, making him laugh again. It’s not a real laughter, it’s guarded and dark. Like you’re just a humorous nuisance. It’s in that moment, you realize he’s letting you take control of the horse.

 

“That’s a start.”

 

xXxXx

 

“Is this…” You trail off in a question, pulling into a small village. The people mill around, parting for you and waving enthusiastically as you pass. Girls with flower crowns, men in formal garb, children with wooden idols.

 

“A Vetrnaetrfestival.” Loki nods, giving the people smiles.

 

Harvest has come and gone, and now winter is lurking around the corner.  And with winter comes Vetrnaetr, seven days of celebrating for a successful harvest and praying for short frost. It marks the beginning of Winter Solstice.

 

As Loki leads you through the small village, you can feel his charm plaiting through the people, leaving them dumbfounded and awestruck. You are immune.

 

Still, there’s a sense of familiarity in the town, with a wide main road filled with open market stalls, selling goods. As you pass through the main square you see the beginning of the court festivities, preparing for the likelihood of an impromptu harvest dance.

 

Loki ends the journey in a stable and he hikes his leg over the horse and lands agilely on his feet. When he offers you his hand you ignore it and instead use the horn as a guide. As you land on your feet, you hold back a grimace from stiffness striking through your limbs, likely from riding so hard.

 

Still, you brush off your pants and stretch your sore muscles before pirouetting around to look at the surroundings. Finally, you notice Loki striding purposefully towards the main road and you quickly remember to follow. You only slow when you’re greeted at the mouth of the road by a small welcoming party.

 

Loki’s eyes are bright, fighting against the wind that blows his hair off his shoulders. Even though you just rode for almost half a day, he looks perfectly assembled, ready for the festival, as if he just stepped out of his chambers. You on the other hand, well you’re sure you leave a lot to be desired with rumpled clothing and hair tangled into a raven’s nest.

 

“My Princess, My Prince,” an old and familiar man bows to you two. “You humble us with your appearance.” Your tongue tied when you see how time has not been friendly to Jarl Ulfrid. He looks ghostly, only whispers of the virile man you remember from childhood. The old Jarl reaches his hand forward towards you two. When Loki stares at it stoically, you reach forward.

 

Loki motions with a nod of his head and speaks with an air of distracted regality, “Thank you for extending us an invitation.”

 

You sneak a glance at your husband, your hands still clasped over the Jarl’s. Loki’s face remains stoic and fixed into hard lines, scanning the crowds of people that are surrounding you. Like he’s looking for someone. It was the first time you’ve heard of this invitation. And you don’t know whether you feel angry or excited at the prospect of spending your time at a Winterfest. Your mind echoing dark and honest questions: why are you here? 

 

You’re unsure of what to think, but then the ruler looks expectantly at you.

 

“Jarl Ulfrid,” you smile genuinely, not missing Loki’s surprise. “We look forward to the festivities.” You drop his hands.

 

The man’s eyes light with delight. “Of course, Princess. I’m sure you are exhausted from your journey; can we bring you to the Feasthall?”

 

“That would be appreciated,” Loki interjects for you. You glance at him, noticing how his eyes are betraying the kindness in his words. There’s a detached sort of preoccupation lining them. But, the chief shows no inclination of recognizing the chaos he has welcomed into his village. Instead, Ulfrid bows and leads your way to the main square.

 

As you and Loki walk, people line the streets, curtseying, bowing, giving you the respect that has been missing from inside the castle walls. It’s amazing to see how they look at you like they used to. Like you are theirs instead of Asgard's. 

 

The more faces you pass, the more an uneasy sort of feeling comes over you. Every girl you pass, no matter a servant or merchant is dressed formally. And you are clothed in riding attire. Disrespectful.

 

You nearly loop your arm through Loki’s to make him look at you. But instead your glance alone gives you his attention. “I feel underdressed,” you whisper harshly, blaming him for your predicament.

 

He squints, before letting his gaze rove over your body and then back to the crowd. “You’re fine,” he dismisses.

 

You frown at him, making his eyes light with a mocking humor. “Why are we here?”         

 

He cocks his head at you, smirking. “I thought you would love to be outside the castle.”

 

Your heart skips a beat, but your mind pays it no mind. “No, we’re here for a reason. What is it?”

 

“Consider it a romantic gesture,” Loki explains dryly, like it’s the most obvious and mundane truth.

 

In reality, the aching suspicion only grows when he continues to smile at the crowds, a charismatic facade that he only braves when his mind is reeling with something else. But, there’s little time to fret on it. You’re ushered onto a small dais overlooking the festivities. The long table is amply covered with a variety of food. Meat, cheeses, fruits. The amount of food that they have prepared for such a small village is truly indescribable.

 

So, you sit and eat your fill. And you wait. Wait patiently until you learn why you are here and what is planned, keeping an ear open to eavesdrop on the conversations around you. As, you are sure that there is an explanation. But it never comes. Or, maybe you miss it. Because Loki maintains a subdued appearance, watching the crowd closely, and you’re given the pleasure of enthralling the lesser nobles at the table. Stuck listening to their grievances and their exuberance, when you need to be listening to the man next to you. It’s exhausting to keep a wide, toothy smile. But you do, even while Loki skates by with offhanded, taciturn comments.

 

And during the conversation, you can’t stop sneaking glances at the markets, at the people milling around and buying all types of goods: alchemists, clothetiers, blacksmiths. It’s incredible the sheer amount that is taking place. You long to go, to look around and meet the people.

 

So, you shift your body to glance at Loki, only to find his attention is occupied by the Lord to his left. Judging from his thin, pursed lips you can’t help but think he’d be relieved to be interrupted

 

But when your hand reaches for his, he pulls back sharply giving you a grave look.

 

“What?” He asks harshly, his eyes flashing with warning.

 

You are taken aback for a moment, staring at Loki and waiting for a guise of guilt that never comes. You don’t know why you expected it. “I just… I just wanted to go look around stalls.”

 

Loki’s seawater eyes peer down like you are an insect: trivial, irritating. You feel a sense of shame creeping through you, though you don’t know why you feel it.

 

“Then go,” he snaps with impatience, before turning back to the man.

 

Insignificant. That’s all you feel. You quickly pull away from the table, scampering away with a tight smile and maneuver your way into the market. You curse yourself for the hurt that you feel.

 

At first, people gawk, watching you in fright and intrigue. Lowering themselves in a display of self-deprecating honor. It makes you slightly sick, but know your only response should be a gracious smile.

 

You step into a fine jeweler’s stall, pausing to let your fingers toy with the delicate material of a braided silver necklace. The owner rushes over, shoving it away and instead dropping a different necklace into your hands. You try and hand it back to him, having no coins to give him, but he just shakes his head.

 

“I insist, Princess. Please take it. There would be no greater honor than to have you wear this.” The man’s thick fingers press the necklace into your palm.

 

You turn the metal over in your hands, feeling the cool weight it. You look at the weaving pattern, looking at the intricate design dangling from the chain. You ask, “What is it?”

 

The keeper smiles knowingly, “The sigil of fertility of course. It is said that if you wear this, the Völva will smile upon you and give you the greatest gift of all wives.”

 

Your smile turns forced, when you glance at the man. Hope beams in his eyes as his hand closes your fingers over the trinket. “It would please me greatly to know I did my part in extending the Vanir line of succession.” The Vanir line. Your mind seethes with the thought. Does he actually believe this is the best thing for Vanaheim?  “After all, your child is the successor to Vanaheim, Princess.” 

 

Your child, he implies. Not Loki’s, not Thor’s, not Odin’s. Your child.

 

You smile, tightly looking at him and bowing your head in turn, clasping the necklace around the column of your neck. “It’s lovely. A gift too gracious. Thank you.”

 

The man nods, beaming at you in an authentic appreciation that you’ve longed for. Perhaps you did the right thing, no matter how vile you feel.

 

And you move on, given goods and jewels for nothing. It makes you uncomfortable, because soon your body is covered in commodities that you should have paid for. You feel like a thief, stealing their wares, but the merchants look at you like you’re their hope. It’s a debt no amount of coins can repay, but you feel lighter. Like each piece of kindness is slowly lightening the burden on your shoulders. Like the people in this village are carrying it with you.

 

When you get to a fine cloth shoppe, you step into it, looking over the fabrics. Lovely dyed clothes rest in spools in front of you, stacked high and perfectly assembled, each color bleeding into the other. When you spot a seafoam green silk, you’re reminded of Loki’s eyes.

 

Your smile falls when you think of his particular seething from earlier. Like you were a nuisance at the table rather than someone he is meant to respect.

 

All because you were going to touch his hand. You scoff unpleasantly, you were actually going to touch him. 

 

You can’t believe he actually let you leave the table. Without an escort at that. As if the incident yesterday is entirely forgotten. It’s almost like he wanted you gone. You pause for a moment. Stilling.

 

If he wanted you gone, that means something else is happening, something he doesn’t want you to know of. Or be a part of.

 

You shake your head, trying to shove away the inkling that your husband is up to something else. But your restless mind keeps running wild with the possibilities. The only thing you can count on is his devious intent. One that only ever laced with mischief, chaos, his own agenda. As if your touch would ruin the plot.

 

Your touch.

 

Touch.

 

What if that was one of his projections at the table? If you touched it, then it’d disappear.

 

You know he came with you; his arms were wrapped around your waist for most of the ride. When you got to the village though, he refused to take Ulfrid’s hand.

 

Suddenly, everything falls into place.

 

Your mouth dries. Realizing, this means he’s somewhere else, after something else. You back out of the stall, face falling likely into a sickly, pallid color.

 

You try to think of where he could be. At the stalls? No, he’s likely far gone from there.

 

Still, you don’t stop wandering down the pebble road and towards the stables. When you get back, you find his monstrous horse still posted to the outside grazing at the feed around him.

 

“Loki,” you call in a hushed tone. Though, you know it is fruitless to even think he is here.

 

The panic begins to surge within you, threatening to take hold. You can’t stop the possibilities of what he could be doing and the chaos he’s about to inflict on this innocent village. This poor, kind village.

 

No, you won’t let him. You take a damning and calming breath. You think back to the books you’ve read from the libraries, from the moments you have spent in your bedroom, pouring over the knowledge. Then, you close your eyes, letting your eyelashes fan over your cheeks. And you pull a tiny thread within you, thinking of him. Of his eyes, his chin, his scent. The siedr he planted would damn him. You are tethered together.

 

And you can feel him there, simmering on the edge of your being. So, you follow the pull inside you, meandering through streets until you find yourself on the edge of the festival and just outside of a large temple, shrined with idols.

 

You swallow thickly, looking at the foreboding circular monument.

 

Then, you move forward, stepping into the building. You’re barely inside, when your body is suddenly pushed flush against a far wall. Loki materializes in front of you out of air. His eyes warring with a sense of fury and amazement.

 

His look speaks the words he’s likely about to say. Frustration and anger simmering in his being.

 

"You wouldn't let me touch you," you manage to get out before his temper consumes him.

 

"Clever girl.” When you open your mouth, he presses his finger to your lips quieting you. “Be quiet,” he whispers harshly looking at you with a warning.

 

“Why,” you whisper defiantly against his grasp. “What are you doing here? Where were you just now? Why couldn’t I see you?”

 

Loki rolls his eyes, and his lips thin, looking at you with contempt and irritation. “Quiet,” he demands.

 

Suddenly footsteps pad against the stone, walking towards you two. Loki’s eyes narrow with worry, then his lips descend to the shell of your left ear. “Close your eyes,” he commands in an urgent whisper. “If you want to know where I was.”

 

And though you want to ignore him, just defy him all the more, you follow his instructions, knowing there may be a reason he’s so urgent now. Your eyes hesitantly close, and when you do a gust of wind whistles in your ears. “Imagine me,” he utters.

 

You peek open one lid, “What?” He’s gone. Disappeared, but you can still feel him pressed against you.

 

“Shut your eyes,” his voice is harsher, and for some unknown reason, you obediently listen. Then, his instructions are contradictory and confusing, unsure of what he’s actually telling you to do. “Take a breath in, release it, expand your lungs, let go of the air. Now think but don’t think at the same time.”

 

“Loki,” you growl impatiently. “You’re not making sense.”

 

“You’re not listening,” he hisses. The steps continue to echo closer.

 

So, you swallow thickly, thinking, and trying to notthink at the same time. Whatever that means. All you really want to do right now is strangle him.

 

“The only way to do what I just did, is to disappear completely, to vanish from this reality and into another. Just breathe anonymity, be and don’t be.” His voice is gentler now, wafting over you in lithe, harsh breathes. “Quickly.”

 

So, you do what he says. It feels like falling, like throwing yourself through a gust wind like jumping off a cliff. It’s emotional, an intricate rush of fragility that also feels like nothing. It’s a bleak suffering.

 

Does that make sense? No, it makes no sense.

 

Let go. A force inside you shatters into a thousand mosaic pieces. You hold onto that feeling, like a perpetual sense of release.

 

“Open your eyes,” his voice is clearer now. And when you do, the scene in front of you is like a distorted, glossy picture. Dull, and smeared, but you’re still inside the temple. The air is harder to breathe here. Wherever here is.

 

You glance at Loki for the first time and the breath stalls in your lungs. 

 

His skin is a paler tone, almost with undertones of blue and grey, his eyes are turquoise, almost neon and shouting, with ridges that travel just underneath them. Without thinking, you reach your hands up to trace them, only for your hand pass through his skin.

 

His eyes tenderly pass over your face, you wonder if you look as beautiful as he does.

 

But his lips pull down at the corners, “There is no corporeal matter here.”

 

“Oh,” you reply lamely, your mouth hanging open. Your chest begins to constrict, your breath laboring. “What’s happening?”

 

“It takes time to grow accustomed.” Loki ignores you, staring at the end of the hallway, watching as shadows get closer to where you are standing. 

 

“It hurts,” you speak, hand pressing over your chest. The air is thinner, harder to hold on to your thoughts and sense.

 

Loki’s face swings impatiently in your direction. You feel like you are suffocating. You look at him in fear, your eyebrows knitted over your forehead. “It hurts,” you repeat, your hand crawling up your throat. “What’s happening.”

 

Suddenly, Loki is in front of you, grabbing your wrist. So much for no corporeal matter. “Shush, concentrate.” He says, “We need to listen to them.”

 

“Them? Why can you touch me but I can’t touch you?”

 

“In due time, for now...” He puts his finger over his lips, effectively quieting you. And you can see his temper seeping out with a quick, clipped tone.

 

Then, Loki’s hand is over your mouth. His touch is easing your lungs, though you can feel a bead of sweat travel down your forehead. His eyes bear into yours, like giving you his own strength.

 

A man dressed in long, tattered robes turns the corner, peering into the hall you’re standing in. “No one’s here,” he calls over his shoulder.

 

“I swear I heard something,” a man steps behind him. You would recognize that face anywhere. Vídarr. One of the Freya’s revolutionaries from the garden. You see Loki visibly tense when he sees the man, his hands claw into your skin, making you whimper. Though, to your husband, it’s like you’re not even there.

 

“There’s nothing, sire.”

 

Vídarr looks over the hallway, not seeing you though you are plainly standing there. “Good, we must be careful.” Loki’s lips pull back into a sneer as Vídarr continues to peer into the hallway.  “I can’t stay long, not with him in the village. I thought the Jarl only invited her.”

 

Your heart begins to stammer, they’re talking about you. “He did, sire. I made sure of it. I don’t know why the Prince is here. Perhaps she invited him.”

 

Vídarr rolls his eyes, “I doubt that. This isn’t a love match, they can hardly stand each other. He probably interjected the invitation.”

 

Loki turns his head to inspect you, making your eyes growing wide with worry. You shake your head denying anything he is ready to accuse you of.

 

“And is there something you would like me to tell her?”

 

Loki’s eyes watch yours, you watch his, calming the fear that is rising in your chest and putting a disguise that you hope rings true. In a way, you have no idea what’s going on. You don’t know why he is in Vanaheim. You don’t know why he invited you here. You didn’t even know they invited you.

 

But you know Loki can feel the thrumming beats of your pulse beneath his fingertips. You can only hope he thinks you're scared of this situation, not of the truth he's so close to uncovering.

 

The Æsir considers at the priest, disdain etched on his face. “No. She must not know. In fact, do not even speak to her. She can never know the truth.”

 

“Perhaps it would be good to-”

 

“No,” Vídarr cuts him off stalking down the hall and opening the door. “There is nothing to be gained here. I must go.” Then with the closing of a door, Vídarr and the Gothi Priest are gone.

 

Then in a second, you’re back to reality. You suck in a deep breath, not realizing how oxygen deprived you felt.

 

But Loki stands there, staring at the place the men just were.

 

“You warned them,” he accuses over his shoulders, pointing his direction at you. “They heard you enter and stopped talking. You're in on it.”

 

Your breath hitches, “I didn’t know.”

 

He turns to peer down at you, then he grabs your hand and you’re instantly transported to the stables again.

 

You fall to your knees, a dizzy spell coming over you. A heady sense of nausea swims through your being. “I swear, I didn’t know. I just… I don’t know what that was about,” you plead breathe heaving, looking up at him, trying to catch your breath. “I only came for you because I thought you were going to hurt someone.”

 

His eyes flash with warning, “You thought wrong.” Loki walks to his horse, petting the onyx mane.

 

Hope blooms in your chest at his defeated tone, but you decide to switch the subject. “Where were we just now?”

 

His eyes roll towards the sky as he takes a deep breath in, then stares at you past his straight nose. Loki reaches down, his cool hand grasping yours and helping you to your feet. As much as you hate to admit it, his touch brings a sense of calm over you. Like he's forgotten about the business in the temple “Consider it a hidden pocket of reality.”

 

“So, no one could see us?” You ask with a cringe. Obviously, Vídarr and the priest had no idea you were eavesdropping, or who knows what would have happened.

 

But he doesn’t look at you with disrespect or disapproval, he looks at you almost like a confidant. “Not even Heimdal could see us while there.”

 

“Do you go there a lot?”

 

Loki smirks, looking at you knowingly. He cocks his raven head to the side, watching your eyes flicker with fear. “Quite often. I find it a wonderful place to think. You can see people’s true intentions there.”

 

You swallow thickly, staring into his eyes persuaded to confess. “I don’t know what that was about,” you rush out in a single breath.

 

“You don’t?” Loki looks at you like he’s seeing through you. And, you know he’s seeing through you.  

 

Your mouth falls open, but you have no idea what to say.

 

“I’m inclined to believe you, though you disappeared just yesterday without a trace. That’s quite a precarious situation to find yourself in.”

 

“It is,” you nod in honesty. “I know how it looks.”

 

Loki’s eyelids heavy as he looks at you, then he reaches out to the necklace dangling from your neck. “Interesting.” He takes your hand, “We should return to the festival before our hosts notice our disappearance.”

 

He pulls you behind him, stalking in quick strides towards the music. You stop, just on the edge of the festival. When Loki twirls you in his arm, you suddenly dressed in a gold gown. “There, now you are no longer underdressed,” he says in a bored tone, his hand gesturing to a lesser noble.

 

You smile genuinely at him, your fingers toying with the soft fabric. “Thank you.”

 

Just ahead of you, in the square of the village, a band has taken up. Pairs of people dance beneath the setting sun, laughing and spinning in joy. 

 

“If you wish to make up for yesterday's incident, go. Play the dutiful Princess. I have other matters to talk to the Jarl about.”

 

You peer at Loki, a lord coming to take your hanging hand. “You won’t join me?”

 

“Not today. There's a man I need to inquire about” You hide the frown on your face, and instead move forward, nodding to the lord, but your gaze still set on Loki as he steps purposefully towards the dais.

 

xXxXx

 

Later, when the sun has fully set and sprinkles of light litter the sky, you and Loki are escorted towards the stables.

 

You keep moving forward, even as Loki pauses at the beginning of the corrals. You pretend to pet Loki’s monstrosity, but in reality, you listen to your husband three steps behind you.

 

“Jarl,” Loki calls, bowing to the chief. "Thank you for extending the invitation."

 

Ulfrid steps forward, clasping Loki’s hand and bowing. “Thank you again, My Prince, for everything. We'll continue our discussions at the Winter Solstice”

  

Loki nods and strides towards you, untethering the animal. “You were impressive today,” he praises in a hushed tone. “I assume you used your siedr to find me.”

 

Your eyes grow wide, uncomfortable with his knowledge, but recover with a soft smile. “It appears I’m learning.”

 

“It appears I’m a good teacher.” He clicks his tongue and the horse stands obediently in front of you waiting.

 

“A little impatient,” you tease, recalling the way he snarled at you.

 

He looks down at you sharply, though instead of giving him a teasing smile, you swiftly pull yourself into the harness, careful to make sure your dress isn’t caught on the leather. You sit with two legs on one side.

 

His hands pass over your form, making dressed in riding clothes again. You then maneuver one legs so you are astride the saddle, giving him a small thank you.

 

He gets on effortlessly. “I think I have been very patient.”

 

You scoff, “In what way?”

 

Then, the dawning realization of what he means burns under your skin. His arms adjust you, pulling you so the two of you are molded together. The hard planes of his chest mold against your back, and the fleshy globes of your bottom are practically on top of him, nestled in his lap.

 

“In the way that most men are not with their wives,” he says over your shoulder, pulling the reins into his hands. He nods to the Jarl, before propelling Sleipnir forward. The snug intimacy of his body pressed against yours is effortless and unsettling. You have a hard time relaxing against him, particularly when you feel his masculinity pressed against you, stirring with life. “Don’t worry, wife. I’ll continue to wait until you come to me.”

 

“You will be waiting a long time,” you state without thinking. It’s is the first time he’s called you that without an audience.

 

Wife.

 

Like it actually means something to him.  

 

“Perhaps,” he starts, “But that will also be the day you realize you’re in love with me.”

  


 I'm quite nervous about the length of this one. Tell me, did it drag? Was it too confusing? What is Vídarr doing in Vanaheim?

 

I'm MichelleLeahhh on Tumblr

Chapter Text

 

 

That will also be the day you realize you’re in love with me.

 

You turn over in your bed, fluffing the pillows behind your head before falling back with an irritable sigh. His voice is so harrowing, distinct.

 

That will also be the day you realize you’re in love with me.

 

Haughty. Bastard.

 

Your befuddled mind won’t relax tonight. Then again, it was the same last night, and the one before that, and all the nights since that day.

 

Each evening is the same, giving you frustrating, fretful sleep, even though you spend the days active, practicing what you learned that day in the temple. The spell, though you loathe that word.

 

Sorcery is getting simpler. Well, not exactly simpler. But it is coming easier, like an agile muscle inside you that can flex for moments instead of seconds. You read books from the library, expanding your knowledge of the endless possibilities that it gives you.

 

Sometimes you last for a full two minutes, but you always end up sweaty, and heaving for breath, unable to keep the smile from your face. At least your learning. His lessons are actually working.

 

But at night, after, when the sweat is dried and your mind is spent, your memory rolls back to his words for some ungodly reason.

 

That will also be the day you realize you’re in love with me.

 

And then, you’re wide awake again.

 

Like he thinks you love him. Like you could love him. Someone who delights in chaos and mischief and pain.

 

Sometimes, you think you can smell him too. The scent of winter and pine. You wonder if he is ever here, watching you torment yourself into stupors. Thinking tirelessly every night, after practicing to stay longer and longer in that invisible void.

 

You’re going crazy.

 

He’s actually making you go crazy.

 

Clearly, you won’t be getting much sleep again tonight. You sigh, stand from your bed and walk to your vanity, perching yourself in a seat as you begin to brush through your hair. Each time the brush passes over your scalp, you try to think of anything but Loki. Mother, Father, anything. But it’s like Loki has slithered his way into your brain, folded into the crevices, and taken over your entire nervous system.

 

Your time in Vanaheim is dwindling, your due back in Asgard just after the winter solace. Perhaps that’s for the best, to go back and remember your promises to a secret rebellion. Though you loathe to go back, you’d much rather stay here, hidden, cherished. Wanted. You shake your head, pulling your hatred and vengeance to the forefront of your memory.

 

He must be toying with your emotions in some way. Like with the dream, using his own siedr to influence your feelings, because sometimes, sometimes, you don’t want to hurt him like you used to.

 

The two of you have spent more time together, in silence, or banter. Rarely in solidarity.

 

It’s almost, almost, like having a confidant.

 

But then he looks at you knowingly, like he’s aware of your promises and it makes your heart flutter.

 

He’s not stupid. He’s not. He’s incredibly intelligent. To a fault. And if you take a step back, you know he’d have to be if he didn’t suspect you in some way.

 

You’ve gathered the fragmented conversations from your visit to the Vertnaetr. While you don’t know everything, you figured out enough.

 

One, the invitation was for you to join the festival, not Loki. He just somehow got the letter.

 

Two, there was something Vídarr wanted to talk to you about, but couldn’t with Loki in attendance.

 

Three, you showed up at the place Vídarr was waiting for you. (Not that you knew he was going to be there, still making you look culpable.)

 

Four, Loki despised Vídarr.

 

Five... Five, the God of Lies watched you lie with his hand on your pulse point.

 

He has to know you are up to something, and he’ll be watching you much closer now. He is likely watching you right now from his concealed reality. You roll your eyes. Even if he is watching you, he can’t read your thoughts. You freeze.

 

Right?

 

No. He can’t, otherwise, you’re pretty sure you’d be dead by now.

 

Gods, he’s making you crazy and paranoid. You throw the brush onto the vanity and get back in bed.

 

It’s tiring, debilitating. Your mind catapulting from one danger to another and having no one to really turn to. Not even trusting yourself.

 

So, you think, try to think of a way to make Loki forget about the temple or a way to make him think you had no business in the temple. And you come up empty.

 

Then, once again, your reveries turn back to Loki and the perplexing, aggravating thought that you could ever love him.

 

xXxXx

 

“Do you have any idea the amount of stress that would put on the royal treasury?”

 

Loki blinks slowly from the head of the long, wooden table, his stoic face making your blood race, but it is your weary voice that cuts through the tense air of the court. “It would be an extravagant expense, but Jul is a lovely celebration for the people.”

 

“The People!” Lord Bárðr coughs, his round stomach rippling with the absurdity of the notion. “What have the people need a celebration for?”

 

You smile tightly and answer, “Correct me if I’m wrong, my Lord, but I believe it was always customary for the royal court to hold a Winter Solstice feast. It gives the people a chance to celebrate a new year full of possibilities.”

 

“Aye, that was routine.” The hefty man nods, his face ruddy with anger. “Before this court was beheaded and slid into Asgard’s bed like a common bitch.”

 

Silence follows. Booming, stifling silence. The group of men and women around you, shift subtly in their seats, looking anywhere but at Bárðr. Their thoughts are obviously in agreement though. The man was known for his temper and indiscretion, but this was another type of anger. One that is an honest, arduous stab of what is whispered behind your back. One that is meant to disarm, bully you into agreeing with him. With them.

 

You’re so tired of this, it’s not even worth defending yourself. Instead, you shut your eyes, a sleepy loneliness careening through you. No one to trust, no one to turn to. No one who wants you to live.

 

Until Loki’s dark laughter makes your eyes shoot open. “Care to elaborate my lord.” You look to him. Loki’s eyes are disarming, his smile is lethal.

 

Bárðr’s lips pull back in a sneer, his mind turning with all the weaponry he can wield in the form of words. But, just as his voice starts, the Lord begins to choke, his round cheeks turning the poisonous shade of Elderberries. His thick hands climb to his neck, clasping around the hefty column of it, clawing at his skin. The air around you drops five degrees, everyone watching the man expire into violent shades of purple. You pry yourself out of the shocking stupor.

 

“Stop,” you call out, hand slithering to Loki’s tense forearm, shaking him. “Please, stop.” You harshly whisper, eyes narrowing.

 

Loki gives you this gaze, one of repugnance and annoyance. And when your eyes are locked in a battle, you hear the choking Lord take an immense inhale.

 

“You’re lucky this common bitch would spare your life. I am not as merciful.” Bárðr head juts in an uncomfortable nodding motion, his face littered with a grimace. “Thank her.”

 

Bárðr’s bloodshot, blue eyes flitter between you and Loki before answering, “Thank you, my Princess.” His voice croaks just above a whisper.

 

“Are there any other grievances with a Winter Solstice feast, or will you fine people push forward as discussed?” When no one answers, Loki turns to the woman across from you. “Lady Brenna?”

 

“Yes, My Prince. The feast will be a burdenless expense.”

 

“Lovely, and Asgard looks forward to sharing the expense with Vanaheim. Let us know the cost and we will be sure to donate resources.”

 

And with that, the seven men and women stagger from the table and hurry out the door in fear.

 

You sag in your seat, and roll your neck, loosening the tense muscles. A trip to the library sounds divine, to lose yourself in pages and ink, perhaps curl in a chair and sleep. Then, you stand from the table, ignoring Loki when you head towards the door.

 

“Did I dismiss you?”

 

You lick your lips and turn back to Loki. He’s still sitting at the head of the table, leaning back into the chair and examining you. “I didn’t realize the Princess needed dismissal from her own court.”

 

Loki lifts one eyebrow at you. “Careful, pet. Odin is still the Regent of Vanaheim. We need to talk.”

 

Your pulse quickens, preparing yourself, swallowing thickly and armoring yourself in a calm disguise. “What of?”

 

“You look horrid.”

 

Your lips sink into a deep frown, “Thank you.”

 

He almost grins at you, instead he asks, “Are you sleeping?”

 

You instead retort, “Are you concerned?”

 

“While I would normally revel in my women reeking of exhaustion, I am aware that it is not of my own doing. And so, I am inquiring what is keeping you up at night.”

 

Oh, he’s in one of those moods. You smile, sweetly, tone dripping in sarcasm. “Are you sure you want to know?”

 

His answer is a tilt of his head as you take a step closer to him. Then, you twist the dormant energy around you. Drawing from the lights and the earth, you disappear completely.

 

You see him sitting there, watching you like he can see you. The decision is easy, you circle around the table, to his other side, standing there, closer than normal. Studying his thick, black eyelashes.

 

“Impressive,” he flatters the air. “And how long can you stay there? Shall we time you? I wager two minutes, three at most.”

 

You frown at his arrogant tone, not answering him. “I wager a dance at the Feast, a night in my arms if you will. That you won’t last longer than that.” Then his hand darts to his left, and clasps your arm. His pale, sharp gaze turns to you, pulling you closer to him and with a small tug of the energy around you, he joins you in the void.  “Do you accept?”

 

You pause, eyes growing wide, looking down at your arm, then back to him. “How did you know I was here instead of there?”

 

Loki rolls his eyes, “Really, pet. Do you think I couldn’t feel you, feel your skirts brush the matter around you? I thought you were brighter than that.” You pause, looking down at his hand grasping your arm, when you take your free hand and try and put it on top of his it disappears through him.

 

Your eyes narrow on his hands, “Teach me.”

 

Loki stands, making you take a step back so you weren’t pressed against each other. Not that it would have mattered, you can’t touch him. “What will I receive in return?”

 

“Why must you always bargain for something?”

 

He cocks his head to the side, devilishly explaining, “It is in my nature.”

 

“Your dance,” you answer after some time. You can feel the sweat dripping from your hairline, the air thinning around you. “Please,” you request, trying to hold on tighter. You tighten your mind and your resolve, as your cerebral muscles shake from fatigue.

 

He grins lecherously at you, dipping his head so you are at eye level. “You have to want to touch me.” You bite your lip, reaching your hand forward again only for it to do the same as before. “Desire it. Long for it.” You dart your gaze back to his, a heat scorching through you when you realize what he is saying.

 

But before you can try again, you’re thrown back into reality, heaving for air. He materializes in front of you with a smug smirk that only fills you with dread.

 

That night it’s not his words of love that keep you awake, it’s knowing that you will be spending an entire evening in his arms.

 

Dancing.

 

xXxXx

 

You’ve begun to realize your life is a pattern, a mundane, predictable pattern that has you sitting, once again, on a dais, overlooking the Jul festivities.

 

The Winter Solstice banquet is a typical, raucous affair attended by people from all over Vanaheim. Merchants, nobility, and even some scattered laborers litter the hall making it a cluttered and inclusive celebration. But given this is doubling as a farewell to you and Loki, people are more lively than normal.

 

Asgard has done its due diligence, sending delicacies and finances to help make the event more luxurious than normal. Long tables line the floor, with robust amounts of food. And a grand chandelier of lights float above. Some Vanir have begun pulling the tables towards the sides to open the dance floor. The musicians pick up a steady tempo as couples begin to sashay joyfully to the rhythm.

 

You watch Loki from the corner of your eye, he’s sitting back in his seat, both of his legs stretched out in front of him as he wears a comfortable, dazed smile. He began the evening wearing his ceremonial headpiece, but it has since been cast onto the table. His cheeks are rosy like a child flushed with their first drink. You can’t help but notice how endearing he looks like this.

 

When he looks to you, you quickly dart your gaze forward, sitting straight in your chair. The heart in your chest hammers away, your foot taps against the wood beneath it as an output of your anxiety.

 

He turns his attentive, unguarded gaze to rove over your hair. Eira piled your braids high tonight and let strands cascade like a waterfall. It made you notice how your hair has grown since leaving Asgard, like it flourished in Vanaheim’s air.

 

Loki leans forward, pushing a goblet towards you and fills it with a dark, amber liquid. “This is your event,” he acknowledges lowly. “You should be enjoying yourself.”

 

You smile crisply, before looking at the goblet and lifting it to your lips. You take a small sip before placing it back on the table. “What makes you think I’m not enjoying myself?”

 

He pivots his body to you, whispering in your ear, “Your body language. Tense shoulders, nearly clenched fists. It just radiates displeasure.”

 

You slouch to prove him wrong. “I am not displeased.” You’re annoyed.

 

During dinner, you've been dreadfully waiting for him to take your hand and force you into a dance. Then when people started growing restless, you thought he’d lead you to the makeshift ballroom floor to commence the second half of the evening. Instead, the commoners began a circular dance, clasping hands and turning, before breaking off into couples. And Loki just sat there, watching them with little attention, as you grew more and more irritated. Waiting. Waiting for that moment you have to fulfill your debt. It got under your skin, and festered, until you were so on edge you bit your lip and clenched your fists.

 

He’s right though, you should be enjoying yourself, celebrating with your people, not in a seat looking over them. Instead, you’re bitter, annoyed, and aggravated.

 

One half of Loki’s face lifts in a smile. Then he summons a clear vial into his hand and pours some of its contents into your cup. “There. Now drink,” he tells you.

 

A bark of laughter escapes as you push the glass away from you. “You must believe me incredibly dense.”

 

“You think I would poison my wife?” He asks lightly, almost like it’s an unbelievable joke.

 

“No, you can’t poison me. But you would enact a terrible prank at my expense,” you argue, pulling your shoulders back and giving him a kind smile for those around you.

 

His eyes glisten with amusement, before pouring some of the vial into his drink. “You are becoming far too suspicious.” Then he lifts his drink, clinks it with your glass and downs it in an exaggerated swig. His eyes land on your cup, still in front of you, untouched. Then, one eyebrow lifts, tempting you to drink it without words.

 

“Give me one reason why I should drink it.”

 

Loki’s appearance hardens. Then he sighs, and enlightens you, “It would make me happy.” Then he adds, “And it would end your complex misery.”

 

You frown. Though you’re dreading the dance he alluded to the other day, you’re not unhappy. No, you’re just on edge.

 

So, giving him one last look, you reach for the glass and bring it to your lips. You take a long pull, emptying half the glass, and carefully place the cup back on the table. The drink is so bitter, you have to physically hold back a grimace. Particularly given the fact that Loki’s attention is vigilantly watching you in the most peculiar way.

 

“Good.”

 

You frown at his praise and chase the sharp drink with a small cookie on the tray in front of you. It’s sweet. The buttery texture of the cookie lathers over your tongue. You lick your lips, still tasting the bitter drink, it’s left a sort of tingle, just there on the tip of your tongue. And the cookie tastes so sweet, you take another. Loki turns from you and says something to the man to his right, before pushing his chair back.

 

He holds his hand out to you. “Shall we join the revelry?”

 

You look at Loki’s long, dexterous fingers. His fingernails are perfectly manicured, knuckles and veins protruding from his skin. You want to run your lips over them. Or, even more depraved, trace them with your tongue and taste his skin. You wonder if he would let you, you lean your mouth forward before rearing back suddenly and turn to gape at him.

 

Well, you’re quite drunk. Your eyebrows furrow across your forehead. There’s a sort of glow around him, like a subtle light shining from behind him that gives Loki an ethereal shine.

 

You gaze up at him with wide eyes, “Must we?”

 

He blinks slowly, “Did you not want to?”

 

You glance back at the people dancing and you realize you do want to join them. They look happy, the girl’s skirts flounce as they twirl across the floors with their partners. The men laugh and sneak glances down their partners’ corsets. You want Loki to look at you like those men are looking at their partners.

 

Licking your lips, you take his hand lightheadedness coursing through you.

 

He escorts you to the floor, making the people part as you stumble behind him. They continue to smile, bow and courtesy when you pass you return their greeting with an unguarded grin of your own. The musicians slow their tempos as Loki’s arms slither around your waist and pulls you flush against him, leaving not an inch between your forms. It’s sinful, really. Sensuous. A depraved feeling routes through your limbs. When Loki takes your hand in his, folding his long fingers over it, you ignore the spark zipping through your head. Clouding you.

 

You hum with the lutes, looking at him. As the music begins, he guides you in a beautiful sort of movement that has you synced from the beginning. He’s an exceptional dancer and it captivates you from the second he begins. He makes you feel like a graceful, poised Vanir lady. Like a princess. Well, you area princess, in the arms of her prince.

 

Her prince? Your mind stutters, pulling you out of the crazy rambling.

 

“What is wrong?” You ask him dazed, realizing the odd thoughts weaving into your head. Like it is the most basic of your consciousnesses, broken down into simple, unguarded truths. You’re not thinking rationally, you’re just… thinking. Honestly. You despise it.

 

He sighs, and leans his head down to yours, “Nothing is wrong. Stop overthinking,” he speaks calmly and measuredly.

 

You want to trust him, but a part of you remains skeptical until he spins you in his arms. Then it’s like his magic surges through you, clouding you. It makes you throw your head back and laugh, and you don’t miss his small smile, his eyes bright. When he pulls you back in, he rests his cheek against you.

 

“I think it’s time we talked, pet.” He whispers into your ear with a smile, careful to keep your pace and his aligned. His hands dig into your back, keeping you pressed against him.

 

“About what,” you say against his cheek, suddenly wanting to rub against it. Would it be as soft as you remember it? It looks soft.

 

His lips turn into a grin, you can feel it against the shell of your ear. “I think you know.”

 

You are unable to understand his intent when feeling like this. Happy, lighthearted. So, you reply, “I don’t think I do.”

 

Loki tilts his head back, “A dangerous person was looking for you at Njorbær. He’s been exiled from three different realms, and yet he came to one of them looking for you.”

 

Your eyes flutter shut, before opening them. Njorbær the temple.“Mmmm, yes. It appears he was looking for me.”

 

“Why?” Loki questions harshly, sending your mind reeling. Why is he so mad suddenly?

 

You lick your lips, drunk on honesty, unable to lie, hating the thought of it. You, after all, are not a God of Lies. You don’t savor mischief, chaos, ruin.  “I don’t know why. I haven’t seen him since the gardens,”

 

“On Asgard?”

 

You nod, deciding to rub against his cheek. It is soft, but his jaw is quite angular, hard. You press your nose into his skin, snow, marble, pine. Fresh and sharp. Interesting.

 

“Why was he there?” He inquires again, his voice taking a much darker timber.

 

“I don’t know,” you sigh, “I don’t know him.”

 

“Who was he with?”

 

You lick your lips, her name on the tip of your tongue. Who? You see her face, an old maid, the one who dressed you. What is her name? Why can’t you remember her name?

 

“Tell me,” he snaps. And his tone breaks you.

 

The clouding clears for a moment, “What have you done?” You pull your head back, eyes narrowing in displeasure.

 

“What makes you think I have done something?”

 

“What?” You say, heart beating erratically. Concern etches through you, you’ve said too much. Have you said her name? What’s her name? Frigga? No, no, Frigga’s sister. Why do you feel so uninhabited? Drunk, you are drunk. That drink was strong, potent, laced. “What did you put in my drink?”

 

“Nothing I didn’t put in mine, pet.”

 

“I’m not a pet,” you snap.

 

He chuckles darkly, leaning his face back. “You are not.”

 

“What was it,” you press harder, the need to know eats away at you.

 

Loki licks his lip, like he’s trying to hold it in. “Elenchus.”

 

Your eyes harden, even as the cloudiness begins to seep back in. You understand then, saying the thoughts out loud before you can process them, “Truth, you drugged me with truth?” You want to sound angry, accusatory, you are both those things, but it’s also something else alighting your being. Something like praise. He’s so very clever, it makes your heart pound with excitement. He excites you. Infuriates you. Intoxicates you.

 

Loki’s lips press into a thin line, before shaking his head. “I didn’t drug you, I drugged us.” You know he’s telling the truth, that he’s forced to. But you also realize that he is incredibly more guarded than you, like he is choosing specifically vague words. After all, he knew what would happen, you had no idea.

 

“A God of Lies, forced to tell the truth,” you speak aloud. He’s made you tell the truth. But then again, he is forced to do the same. You can feel his brand of mischief seeping through you.

 

Loki hums, his lips dangling closer to yours “And a princess forced to tell her secrets. Who was he with?”

 

You lick your lips, thinking back to the gardens, for some reason it escapes you. You can’t really remember anything, well you can, but when you try to speak it, it gets muddled in your mind. Like it has been toyed with. “I don’t…I can’t...”

 

Why can’t you remember? Your eyes, filled with turmoil, peer up at his stony face. Tears pool in them, suddenly terrified that you are losing your mind. 

 

How is he always so composed? Composed and angry.

 

Your hand reaches over his skin, smoothing the harsh lines around his mouth. You want him looking at you like any other man would look at his wife.

 

Why do you desire such a thing?

 

You don’t want to think about that, it is troublesome, a tangled root trenched in your being, so you sigh softly. “You are very handsome, Loki.”

 

His seawater eyes light then, before guarding, “Why would you say such a thing?”

 

Why? Because you need him. You need him to love you. But you don’t really just need it. You also, kind of, want it. Yes, that’s it. “Because I want you to love me.”

 

He tilts his chin up, peering down at you in irritation. “Is that all?”

 

You shake your head. From somewhere far away, you hear the music slow into a silence. The people begin to clap and cheer, they want you to kiss. You acknowledge their cheering with private words, “They want us to kiss.” Loki doesn’t answer, doesn’t come closer, but he doesn’t let you go either. “Can you kiss me?”

 

His fingers dig into your back almost painfully. “I can.”

 

You glare at him and his chosen words. The serum has started to dissipate within you. Like it was a flash of drunkenness, like the music held you enchanted with it. Only lasting for a song, a minuscule moment in the night.

 

You remember his words from that day in the library. Truth magic tends to be a bit difficult for a God of Lies to master.

 

It couldn’t last very long, because he isn’t able to accurately wield it. Or hold it. Something to that effect. A man legendary for his powers, inefficient at truth magic, he’s told you that before, but you didn’t quite believe it.

 

He leans forward, stopping a breath away. “Do you want me to kiss you?”

 

You look up at him, the serum dripping casually through you, not as powerful as before. The answer is there though, just on the tip of your lips. But you don’t want to speak it out loud, because if you do, it could be the truth and it could be a lie, you don’t want to understand it. Instead, you just reach forward, shutting your eyelids and not missing the surprise etched on his face. And, you press your lips to his.

 

It’s a show for the people, you tell yourself. That makes it easier.

 

Like his word wife. Used to make something look like what it is not.

 

His lips are cold, and soft, and hard. Puckered and closed. There is no passion, for that you are thankful. You are unsure of what the passion would translate to. It’s one of those moments that your senses tunnel in on. You can hear his sharp inhale. Feel his fingers clawing you, taste the bitterness of the drink.

 

What you can’t hear, is the roar of the crowd around you. You realize you don’t want to hear them. You want this to be a moment between the two of you. Not a show.

 

That’s a poisoned sort of truth indeed.

 

When the music starts up again, Loki pulls back and twirls you. The music is faster then, and he guides you through the dance, expertly. He is a beautiful dancer, like a river coursing and path predetermined before it gets there. You enjoy the dance, though the two of you don’t speak. It’s like both of your minds are racing with the previous conversation, with the truth that was said in your minds and aloud.

 

And when the song ends and bleeds into another, he places you in the hands of someone else, he continues with another, his eyes never leaving your form. You feel drunk again, you realize.

 

But not on honesty, on a sort of bubbling happiness that you don’t want to name for fear that you’d float away. And though you should be angry that he drugged you, that he tried to manipulate you to tell him everything. You aren’t as bitter as you believed you would be. There’s something about his games, his way of testing you, that makes you feel significant. Like he wastes his days thinking of particular ways to unfold you, to learn you. Like you have touched his mind, just as he has infected yours.

 

And when the night blurs passed, when your feet begin to hurt, ache, with a sharp soreness, Loki escorts you back to your chambers.

 

The truth has seeped from your pores. You know he can’t trust you, know he doesn’t. He tried to extract the truth in the most vile way, and you need  him to trust you. But how can you make him trust you when there are so many things he can’t know? You need to give him something. Something to throw him off, that could explain your near breakdown while dancing. Your tears.

 

He knows the serum is gone, knows that you could be lying. He’ll probably anticipate you are. So, it needs to be truth and hope that rings out on your face.

 

You stop at your door. Once again, you realize how this echoes so many other moments with Loki. How he corners you alone just outside of your chambers. You continue to face the wood, afraid to turn around.

 

“I don’t know why he was looking for me.” You peek over your shoulders to see that Loki has stiffened into a rigid posture. It makes you turn to face him. “I haven’t been to that village since I was a child, and there’s nothing of importance there. It’s just a village, impoverished. My father went there once with me, to give them grains. He believed hungry peasants made for uncivil times.” You sigh, looking at the stone beneath your feet, studying his leather boots. “The last time I saw that man was that night.”

 

Thick lines of confusion trickle across his forehead and pool in his gaze. When he doesn’t say anything, you realize he doesn’t know what you mean. So, you reach for his hand and you bring it to your throat, demonstrating.

 

Understanding dawns in his eyes. Understanding and pain. His lids flutter closed in shame and disappointment like he wants to leave the burden of that night in the past. Like he doesn’t want to remember that night. He tries to pull his hand back, but you keep them there, so he can feel your pulse, steady and also brisk.

 

“I’m ashamed of that,” he says softly, letting his fingers trace your skin.

 

You swallow, ignoring the fear of his fingers on you. “You almost killed me.”

 

He pulls his hand back then, like your skin is scalding, burning temperatures. “I smelled him on you,”

 

Shock waves through you. So many questions tumble restlessly through you. “Why does that matter?”

 

Loki constructs a wall around him then, before letting his gaze trace over your face. “That is a story for another night.” And you realize that he will never tell you. He’ll never explain why Viídarr’s scent threw him into a frenzy, and there is only one way to find that out. You nod solemnly, vowing to find the truth. “One day, pet. Not tonight.”

 

“Why not tonight?”

 

“Because...” He trails off, suddenly gravely serious.

 

Before you can ask why this night matters, his hand slithers to your chin. He presses delicately, tilting your head up slowly until he pauses his lips a breath away. Then, he descends so slowly that you have minutes to close your eyes. But you can’t move, not even if you want to. You’re a statue in his grasp. His lips separate, kissing your lower lip, resting just softly against them. His cool breath fans over your skin then pulls back and presses them wetly against your upper lip. Cool, wintry wetness. His eyes bear into yours, watching.  

 

It’s too much, intrusive. You shut your eyes. And then, he pulls back. Your heart beats wildly in your chest, sinking when you think that he is leaving. But, before you can dwell on it, his mouth press over yours, long hands cradling the back of your skull, keeping you tilted just so. 

 

It’s not invasive, not destructive. It’s simple. Careful. A soft, serum filled with healing. Like he’s trying to wipe that night from your memory, trying to drive away the terrors he has inflicted upon you. He moves his mouth, slowly, continuing to kiss you through your stoic disposition.

 

And when he pulls back, you keep your eyes closed. It’s fear that catapults through you. Fear of how he is looking at you. You don't know how you feel. 

 

Minutes bleed by, likely waiting for you to look at him. But he doesn’t tell you to, doesn’t demand that you open your eyes, doesn’t try to force you. Instead, he simply whispers, “Goodnight, wife.”

 

And, when you open your eyes, he’s gone.

 


 

Ah, a kiss!! What did you think? Too rushed? ;)

Tumblr: MichelleLeahhh

Chapter Text

 

Thank you for the support.

It continues to astound me. Thank you so much.

 

 


 

“Asgard is on edge,” you comment to Eira, while looking at her in the mirror.

 

She smiles tightly, pulling your hair into a braid, and glances at you for a brief moment before returning her attention to the task at hand. “News of your disappearance in Vanaheim reached the Allfather. He was not pleased.”

 

You lick your lips, ignoring the tingling, ghostly sensation on your lips. Sometimes you can still feel him there.

 

“Is that why I’m being followed?”

 

The second you stepped off of the Bifrost, you came back to a strange, reinvigorated Asgard that swaddled you tightly in its clutches without a fear of suffocating you.

 

Eira shrugs her slim shoulders, “I’m unsure, but the Prince has apparently been reprimanded.”

 

You wince when Eira pulls particularly hard on a lock of hair. She mumbles a quick, seemingly false, apology, before regathering more and plaiting it in an up-do.

 

Well, that explains that.

 

You tried to ignore his absence. How he doesn’t address you publicly anymore, other than a stare. How he doesn’t materialize in the library by your side, doesn’t block your path in obvious, inorganic coincidence.

 

“Surely, he would have told Odin that it was a misunderstanding.”

 

“Was it?” She cocks her head to the side, eyes narrowing. You shut your mouth, giving her a cool, calculated gaze. It oddly reminds you of a gaze Loki would bestow on you when speaking out of turn. It makes you blink the gaze away, ashamed, taken aback. You’re better than him, and reducing Eira to a speck will not make you feel better.

 

But, she still sees it all the same and immediately begins backtracking. “I apologize, Princess. What I mean is that if it was a misunderstanding, I’m sure the Prince would have tried to reason with the Allfather. Apparently, Loki merely took his reprimanding without a contradiction. That’s what I’ve heard at least. And… In my experience… it’s a good thing that you haven’t seen him.”

 

“What does that mean?”

 

Fear flashes behind Eira’s eyes. “I meant no offense, or to speak out of turn.”

 

“And, yet, you did.” Her eyes grow wide, and the conscious inside you does the same. What have you become? You inhale deeply, calming the festering frustration mounting in your fingers. You need to leave. “I apologize Eira. You don’t need to explain.”

 

She nods stiffly, looking at your hair, fretting nervously. “What I mean my lady, is he looks forother  outlets when he’s been…” She trails off with a blush and a bit lip. “These are things a fine Lady should not speak of.”

 

You simply nod without a word. When he’s humiliated, he’s explosive, rash, and angry. You know this, and she knows it likely in the most intimate way a person could.

 

It infuriates you, angers you. You need to get out of your room.

 

“I think I’ll head back to the library today.”

 

“Again, My Lady?”

 

You give her a look that just silences her. She wouldn’t understand loneliness like you, and you just need something, anything to fill your void.

 

Because you’re never alone, but you’re always lonely. Eira couldn’t understand what it is doing to you. And the library, distracts you. It makes you ignore the barbed realization that you had gotten used to him. Ignore that he became a dependable constant.

 

So, you stand from the vanity and strut to the library, not missing the four armored guards that stick to your shadow, following you. Watching you.

 

You enter the library and slither to the back portion, nestling into a plush, backed bench, half of which is piled high with books on sorcery. Your books, or books you’ve been reading.

 

Every day, you come here, hide in the back, read, and learn.

 

And over time, you can stay in the void for extended time, you can materialize objects with desire. Even some incantations come easier.

 

See, who needs him, when you have yourself?

 

But you’re still lonely.

 

What you need, is to get back to the garden somehow. You need to talk to Freya, to remind yourself of your mother, your father, their extermination. Of your hatred for Asgard. And that with Freya on your side, you’re not alone.

 

But you can’t, not with people watching over you. A plot hatches in the corners of your mind. It will take time, and effort, and likely some upper lip, but you’ll get there.

 

Eventually.

 

So, one day, when you say you’re heading to the garden, Eira genuinely smiles at you.

 

“In this weather?” She asks with piqued interest, looking at the frosted window on the far wall. Then, shakes her head, “You do love the gardens.”

 

And you go, with the four guards, as always, three steps behind you.

 

When you reenter the enchanted gardens, the smell of winter invades your senses. It’s frigid. A jagged, freezing puff of air billows out of you with every exhale.

 

“It’s cold,” you acknowledge to the guards behind you, but unable to keep a smile from your face. “Feels lovely, doesn’t it?”

 

They don’t answer, they never answer. They do not even crack a smile.

 

You lick your lips, burrow into the enchanted jade cloak clasped across your shoulders, and pull the hood over your head to block out the wind.

 

As you head into the depths of the gardens, you realize most of the flowers have died. Except for the winter jasmines and dogwoods, they are still flowering beneath the winter frost. You tread lightly, careful to not pound the icy stones as you maze through the garden. When you come across a wooden bench, you sit there, pulling out a book and read.

 

The guards roll their eyes and grimace, but don’t say a word. What would they say? You’re still a Princess, and they can’t tell you where to go or what to do. They just need to make sure you don’t leave.

 

It takes an hour, but finally they begin to pace, desperately trying to ward off the cold. You pull an apple from your cloak and take a bite of it, careful to not give them attention.

 

They can’t know that you’re watching them like they’re watching you.

 

And then, they begin to mumble, hunger frustrating them as you eat delicately, slowly. Turning pages, barely comprehending what you are reading. Something about Midgard and their testy revolutions.  

 

“Princess,” one of them finally says after nearly two hours.

 

You look up, startled. “Yes,” you answer carefully, creasing the corner of the page you were reading.

 

“We should head back. It is far too cold to stay out here.”

 

You blink slowly and look at the book in your hands, running your fingers along the pages. Without glancing up at them, you question, “Are you telling a Princess what she should do?”

 

The guard’s face stills, like a stone. “We’re just quite cold, Princess. Surely giving us a reprieve would be kind.”

 

You close the books with a poignant thud. “Perhaps you should take a reprieve, Sir. I have no plans to leave the garden. The weather is delightful. And even if I were to leave, there’s no way to go without exiting through the castle. I’ll be fine here.”

 

And as if that makes perfect sense, the guards nod to each other, speaking softly. You reopen the book to pretend to read, straining your ears to pick up their words.

 

“Perhaps one of us should stay behind.”

 

“You should for suggesting it. It’s too cold to even think out here.”

 

“The Princess will die before she can get far in this weather.”

 

“The Allfather will never know.”

 

“What are the chances it will even happen today?”

 

“We can go. Stand just inside the halls by the entrance.”

 

“None of us will say a word.”

 

You smile softly, listening, silently, letting them decide on their own. Of course, they couldn’t stay out here. It took you weeks to master the spell you have on your cloak, and the wintry temperatures somehow still are seeping through.  

 

And they leave with a warning.

 

They’ll be back in one hour.

 

And that is more than enough time.

 

Though you still have to be weary of the pocket, to make sure he  isn’t watching you from it.

 

With a simple flex of your mind, you disappear into it and find that no one is there waiting. You reenter reality and stow the book back under your cloak into a concealed and nearly endless pocket.

 

If Loki was here, he’d be impressed with the fluid ease of your magic. A part of you longs to show him. You immediately burrow that into the pocket with the book.

 

You stand up and continue on.

 

Before you know it, you enter the familiar bath. Freya sits on a bench, just on the edge of the water with a hand clasped in her lap and eyes closed. When she hears your footsteps, one cerulean eye opens. She watches you approach and pats the bench next to her.

 

“There you are,” she greets, studying you. “You look different.”

 

You bite your lip, “My hair-”

 

“No,” she shakes her head. “It’s in your eyes. You’re skeptical of our cause.”

 

Your mouth falls open at that, shock dawning in your flesh when you realize… she’s right. You’re at a loss for what to say, why you are skeptical.

 

So, you tell her about everything, every emotion, every moment, every word that you have felt in Vanaheim. Except for the kiss, you don’t tell her about the kiss. You don’t know why. Why you need to keep that to yourself, and the truth is that his kiss burdens you the most. It is conflicting, like you’re harboring the memory for yourself in a cherished, older chest hidden beneath floorboards. If it’s not acknowledged, not mentioned, it means nothing.

 

Though, you still feel his mouth, chilly, pillowy, tingling.

 

You also neglect to tell her about the void. You don’t know why, but it’s there, in the form of whispering to not say anything.

 

“So, you wish to know about Vídarr?”

 

You shake your head, “I want to know why he was looking for me.”

 

Freya raises one, thin eyebrow, her thin lips pursed into a firm line. “That, I am afraid I cannot tell you.”

 

“Why not?” You ask harsher than intended.

 

Freya cocks her head, “Because it escapes my knowledge as well.”

 

“You don’t know why he was looking for me? That seems hard to believe.”

 

Freya takes a deep breath in, “I am afraid that his is an illustrious and convoluted story. What do you know of the stories of Skymir?”

 

“Just that he is the younger brother of Laufey, the King of Jotunheim.”

 

Freya waves the air, and suddenly the area around you is a frosted tundra. In the far distance, frozen trees burn, the ground quakes with the hammering march of armies, and the chorus of warrior’s echoes. The air has become so cold, it is like you’re wearing no cloak at all.

 

“What is this?” You question.

 

“This is the last battle of the Æsir-Jötun war.”

 

Your gaze snaps to Freya, she is looking at the war with a sort of delight. Like she is thrilled to watch it. Then, she turns to you, her stoic, motherly gaze back intact.  

 

You turn to the scene in front of you. The Jötunn Giants cross the ice, hordes of them in unorganized lines and no armor, running towards their death. They are bare chested carrying primitive weapons. Long, dull swords, wooden shields. Shining gold armor glints across the open field, and Odin rides on his monstrous horse, encouraging his soldiers. This will be a massacre, of that you are sure.

 

Then, a large, monstrosity pillages forward. He is covered with thick, muscled blue skin and a ferocious scowl on his face.

 

“That is Skymir.” Freya says, as the giant leads the pack behind him. “Laufey did not fight this day, he hid from the end like the frightened king he’s turned out to be.”

 

You watch as Skymir glides through the battle fronts, gracefully, brutally, tearing Odin’s army apart with simple swings of his sword. Before, he finally finds stops in his tracks, pointing his sword at the Allfather.

 

You’ve never seen Odin fight. Never heard much about the king’s skill. But you watch, with rapt interest, as he and Skymir dance with blades. Until, finally, Odin plunges his sword into Skymir.

 

You can’t hold back a gasp when the Jötunn prince smiles, looking at sword, and dissipates like one of Loki’s illusions. He then appears behind Odin, giving the King a ferocious grin.

 

Skymir lifts his spear, ready to burrow it and calls for the Allfather to turn. When he does, the Prince begins to propel the spear down, to burrow it in Odin’s exposed neck. But then a long lance pierces his chest from behind, making the Prince falter and giving Odin a chance to knock away the spear. Skymir falls to his knees, blood trickling down his chest, a snarl on his mouth as he lifts his hand to cover the wound.

 

The Allfather leans down, and whispers something into the Prince’s ear that makes him blanche. Then, the Allfather cuts off his head, letting it and his body fall to the ground in a heap. Behind the prince is Heimdall, looking at the king with heaping praise.

 

With that, the mirage goes away and the garden is in front of you again, a warmth reemerging to coddle you. “The armies surrendered mere minutes after and the next day, there was an armistice.”

 

“What does this have to do with Vídarr?” You ask, still staring in front of you.

 

Freya takes your hand and clasps yours in it, making you look at her. “Vídarr is Skymir’s son. He has despised Odin and his family since learning of this battle. It’s quite unjust to have killed the Prince like that. From behind, without him seeing his attacker first.  He grew up in Útgard, ready avenge his father and tried to usurp the throne. Laufey exiled him, many Jötunn just want peace and will do anything to keep Asgard away.”

 

“So, Vídarr is Jötunn.” You test the thought, still caught on reconciling the man you know with a frost giant. “Why does he look Asgardian?”

 

“You see his illusion,” Freya says softly. “Once exiled from Jötunheim, he fled to Asgard, infiltrated the court and tried to exact his revenge.”

 

“He failed,” you predict.

 

Freya nods, “He failed. His exploits were spoiled by none other than Loki.”

 

“By Loki,” you gasp. That is why Loki recognized him instantly, why Loki hates him. Why Loki suspected you the moment he mentioned you.  

 

“There is a belief, a prophecy of Asgard’s demise, and it can only be thwarted by the Dark Prince.”

 

You lick your lips, “Why not just kill Loki?”

 

Freya laughs, a bitter smile on her lips. “That would be extremely suspicious if Odin’s son was mysteriously killed.”

 

“There must be ways,” you argue. “A bar fight, a training session gone awry.”

 

“And where would that leave you?”

 

Your shut your mouth instantly, understanding. You take a hundred steps back, back to the beginning.

 

Your parents believed Loki to be Jotun, and tried to expose Odin for lying to the realm. Instead, they were charged with treason. So, you were betrothed to Loki as a way to keep you and Vanaheim in line. A brilliant move on Odin’s part, and troublesome for the plot Freya’s group hatched. If Loki were to die, it would be blamed on you, and you would be killed. Vanaheim would be passed to Odin.

 

You clench your fists, realizing for the first time exactly what you agreed to when promising yourself to Loki.

 

“You won’t kill Loki, because of me. Because Odin will blame me and take Vanaheim for himself.”

 

Freya smiles gravely, “Now you understand why it is so important to distract him. To give him no reason to suspect anything.”

You swallow thickly and nod. Perhaps, she was right to not tell you this at first.

 

It’s a new sort of burden that rests on your chest. But you’ll prove yourself.

 

A warning bell strikes, marking the time and you realize you have to go. Though it does not feel as though an hour passed, what other reason could there be for its striking.

 

And there’s still so much more you need to say, need to understand. But now, now you know more than ever that you need to distract him. If you want this to succeed like you do, if you want to exact revenge like you need to, then you need to keep him from learning the truth.

 

“I’ll be back soon,” you say to Freya, kissing the top of her head like you would to your mother.

 

She believed in you, and in turn you almost believed she was deceiving you. You almost believed she was wrong. That her deeds were corrupt.

 

“Princess,” she calls to you making you hesitate on the edge of the garden. “Stay safe, I fear for you.”

 

You smile softly, heart fluttering with her concern. And suddenly, the loneliness that you have been feeling mitigates inside you, lessens to a spec. You’re not alone. She cares for you, even if no one else does. So, you nod with an unguarded smile and flee out of the garden, passing through the magically sealed gateway.

 

Three bells chime from the tallest tower of the castle making you pause. That is not chime that marks a new hour, it’s a warning.

 

You pick up your skirts and hurry back to the main courtyard, slowing when you see him standing there. Tall, imposing, black hair flowing in the howling, biting wind.

 

He turns violently, hearing your slow, tepid approach. Nearly running to you, he painfully yanks your arm, drawing you closer to him. “Where have you been?”

 

Your mouth drops, surprised with his tone. “I was in the bac-”

 

“Don’t lie  to me,” he demands in a seething voice, as his grasp tightens.

 

In his absence, perhaps you romanticized him. Perhaps you forgot how irate, volatile Loki could be.

 

His dark hair shakes as he pulls you closer, until there is barely an inch between you.

 

“I’m not lying,” you snap back, trying to pull your forearm from his clutches. You pick your head up to look at him, his blue eyes swimming with specs of green. He looks at you in an almost sort of fear.

 

“We have to go,” He says suddenly, pulling you behind him.

 

“Go where?” He doesn’t answer though, not even when he manages to drag you through the entrance to the gardens and through the eerily empty hallways. “Where is everyone?”

 

Loki shakes his head, a sneer pulling his lips back in an angry growl. “You are truly, magnificently dull, you know that? To think…” he trails off, his voice gusts in uncomfortable rolling tides.

 

You hear trooping feet from somewhere down the hall. Like people are assembling. “Loki,” you plead dragging your feet to slow him down, your own temper rising with his.

 

Perhaps, it is your own vexation that’s makes you notice his appearance for the first time. That he’s dressed in leather and metal. Dressed in his battle armor. “What’s going on?” You finally ask harshly.

 

“Asgard is under attack,” he mumbles quickly, bringing you deeper into the castle.

 

“What?” You question, shocked. “By who?”

 

He spins on his heal, towering over you. You have to tilt your gaze to see him, he’s standing so tall. You never realized just how tall he is. “Who do you think?”

 

You furrow your eyebrows, “I don’t understand.”

 

“Oh, I’m sure you had no idea,” he says with sarcasm.

 

“Stop this!” You yell, baffled with his cryptic accusations. “I don’t know what you are saying.”

 

“Frost Giants somehow got through our defenses and they are in the castle, looking for something. Guess who is leading them.”

 

Vídarr.

 

You shake your head, eyes shocked. Large, wide.

 

“Tell me you didn’t know,” he pleads, like an allegation and a question. He almost looks... betrayed.

 

“Loki, I didn’t know. I don’t,  why are they here?”

 

His gaze snaps up suddenly, looking passed you, that’s when you hear a step reverberate off of the stone walls. Loki drops your arm, and clasps your shoulder, “How long can you last in the void?” He leans close to you, eyes bearing into yours.

 

“I don’t know, maybe twenty minutes.”

 

Relief washes over his face for a brief moment, before his guard is back in place. “Long enough to get back to your rooms, then.” You nod. Sure, if you ran fast enough. You are currently on the other side of the castle. “Go back there, quickly, and lock the doors. Don’t open them for anyone unless you know them.” His gaze snaps over your head when the air grows much colder. Your breath comes out in soft puffs of white air.

 

Loki pulls your shoulder, shuffling you behind him, and shields your body with his.

 

That’s when you see a Frost Giant at the end of the hallway, a dangerous smirk on its azure face. It is so much larger than you saw in the mirage. Wide, buff. Feral. Monstrous, really. With raised, tribal markings decorating its skin and soulless eyes.

 

“Loki,” it says with a cocky sentiment of familiarity.

 

“Vídarr,” Loki greets, materializing a dagger in his hand and a golden, horned helmet on his head.

 

You freeze, looking at the shunned Prince of Jötunheim for a moment, understanding weaving through you. Did Freya know minutes ago when you saw her that this was going to happen? Did she plan this?

 

Could you not have one moment without your faith in shreds?

 

“Let me guess… the attack on Odin’s treasures is the distraction,” Loki presumes, looking at the giant across the hall.

 

Vídarr tilts his head a dangerous glint in his eyes. “It seems that way.”

 

Loki nods, and you’re unable to see the calculated, treacherous leer on his face. “Run along now, pet. I’ll come for you when it’s over.”

 

“I’ll get to her, even if I have to kill you.”

 

Loki leers, “You’ve always thought too highly of yourself.”

 

“Do you have a scar? On your back?” Vídarr takes a step forward, giving you a quick glance before returning his gaze to Loki.

 

“God’s don’t scar as easily as beasts,” Loki states evenly. Then he looks over his shoulder, narrowing his gaze when he still sees you standing there.

 

“Loki,” you say softly, fear aching up your body, reminding you of another time you were in a hallway. The last time you ran from a fight. When the Warrior’s Three tore through your house-guard with simple, fluid flicks of their wrists.

 

He barely looks over his shoulder and Vídarr keeps his attention on the Prince of Asgard. Only pinning you with a sly glance or two as if trying to make you understand something.

 

It’s so quiet for the brief moment that you can hear your own breathing.

 

“Go,” Loki demands in an irritated voice.

 

And before you can think through it, you disappear from reality. You see concern, sadness, content, and then ferocity pass through Loki’s eyes. He is concerned, for you.

 

Protecting you.

 

He turns back to Vídarr, and materializes a second dagger. “Shall we?”

 

You turn on your heel, and begin to flee down the hall, but a deep need makes you pause for a second. You pivot to watch them, just on the edge of the hallway.

 

Just for a moment, to support him, watch him.

 

Which him… you don’t really know. Or, want to admit too.

 

Vídarr laughs, “That’ quite a trick you’ve taught her. You must actually love her if you are willing to give her part of your seidr.”

 

Loki chuckles darkly, in a ridiculous sort of way. “She’s the key to Vanaheim.” Loki speaks in a bored tone. “I’m just keeping her for the throne.” A longing slithers through you. It’s not like Loki would tell Vídarr how he feels about you. It’s not like he actually feels anything, anyway.

 

Vídarr nods. “And, heaven forbid, she were to actually choose her fate, she may just run from you and into my arms.” Loki doesn’t speak, and instead twirls the dagger in his fingers. “She’s pretty,” Vídarr comments, “Though, a bit timid. I would fuck her raw.”

 

Loki pitches a dagger at Vídarr’s throat. The Giant catches it easily, taking a step closer to your husband. “Ah, seems I hit a sore spot. Does she not trust you enough to actually invite you into her bed?” Your husband launches forward slicing through the air and making Vídarr jump back, a calculated smile on his face. He laughs, “This is too easy.”

 

More guards run down the hallways and you watch as they race towards the throne room. How many are here?

 

You hear a clatter and see that Vídarr and Loki are trading blows, beautifully slithering around each other, slicing the air and keeping calculated, careful paces from the other.

 

Your heart climbs to your throat when you see Vídarr lunge towards Loki, only to find it burry a hilt of his own dagger in one of his doubles.

 

“Tricks? Really?” The Giant taunts in annoyance. “I thought you were far better than that.”

 

Loki rolls his eyes from behind him, “Are we going to just talk?”

 

Then, your husband’s gaze finds yours like he can see you in the void, fear crossing his features. Vídarr spins and slashes his stomach.

 

Loki flies back, though the dagger rips through the leather and scrapes his skin. His hand flies to the wound, seeing it’s superficial and turns back to the fight at hand.

 

Your pulse is hammering inside you, spreading wildly from limb to limb.

 

You run.

 

Sprinting, weaving through hallways and back to your chambers. Fear and flight propelling you faster than you ever have in your life.

 

A part of you longs to turn around and fight, wanting to prove yourself as more than a frightened bird, perched in a cage. But panic propels you further from them and closer to your destination. You’d likely just distract Loki anyway, cause him an even worse injury.

 

Not that they would let him die. Perhaps, it was all just an act to test his feelings. To see if he would do something to protect you.

 

 Because, if he came for you himself, that means he’s protecting you for you. Right?

 

He was worried for you.

 

Not for Asgard.

 

You manage to get inside your chambers as a type of anxiety slithers through you, realizing then what Loki just did.

 

You pop into reality shutting the door in a harsh slam. And fall against it. Locking it quickly. You pant, breathe deeply, you’re safe.

 

And Loki will be safe to. You tell yourself.

 

He’ll be safe.

 

xXxXx

 

There’s three, patient knocks at your door. You don’t even ask before throwing it open widely, only for your heart to plummet when you find that Eira is staring back at you. Her face is pale with a slick sheen, numbing you.

 

Did something happen, something worse, to make her look like this?

 

She pushes past you and closes the door, throwing her arms around your neck.

 

Your eyes widen, and your body stills, shocked at her affection. Unsure of what it means. It’s been hours since you entered your chambers. Anything could have happened since you left Loki.

 

“Eira,” you say her name like a question, tepid and confused.

 

She immediately pulls away and transforms back into her typical, stoic decorum. “Apologies. I was worried,” she finally admits. “They stormed the castle so quickly, nearly a hundred of them.”

 

“What happened?” You press on.

 

Eira shakes her head and begins fluttering around the room, like nothing changed. Like it is just another night. “I don’t know. No one knows, or no one is saying anything.”

 

Then, when she doesn’t answer, you just need to know. “Where’s Loki? Is he okay?”

 

Eira pauses her movements, looking over her shoulder. It makes your heart beat erratically; did something happen to him?

 

“He’s fine,” she gets out after some time.

 

Your eyelids shut and you can feel every muscle in your body slump with a tingling sensation. “That’s good,” you sigh, nodding. It’s easy to write off your concern as nothing more than a debt, he did come for you after all.

 

“They were all killed,” Eira continues, putting a log into the fire. “Apparently, they were trying to get Fimbulwinter,” she says with a shrug, like it is just a silly prank. “The Casket of Ancient Winters. They’ve been trying to get it for years and bring an endless, brutal winter to Asgard.”

 

“I thought they were trying to get to me,” you say, remembering Vídarr’s words to Loki.

 

Eira almost laughs, “Why would they want you?”

 

You shut your mouth instantly. Her words, callous and harsh, are irrefutable.

 

“Because I’m the heir to Vanaheim.”

 

She stops then, looking at you with a certain glint in her eyes.

 

“Where’s Loki,” you ask her again, annoyed suddenly.

 

Eira turns fully to you, her body tense. “He’s in his chambers.”

 

You are a bit hurt that he didn’t come to see you, a bit shocked even. He seemed so genuinely concerned. But why would he, when you’ve given him no indication he’d be welcomed, that you would want to see him.

 

Perhaps, he thought you waited in the hall because he thought youwanted  to be taken.

 

Perhaps, he is hurt, ashamed. Something else altogether.

 

Eira looks a bit contrite, ashamed even. And all her appearance does is make you clench your fist and your resolve harden.

 

“Will you take me to him?”

 

She stills, “My lady, do you think it wise? It is late and surely the Prince...” she trails off at your hard look. Then she nods her head in understanding. “It will be my privilege to bring you.”

 

As she walks past you to open the doors, you grasp her wrist.

 

“When you and he,” you blush. She dips her head in shame, making herself smaller. “When you were together, was he violent?” You ask, needing to know what type of monster you are about to go willingly to. “Was he cruel?”

 

She frowns eyes glued to yours, before finally pulling herself to full height. “No, My Lady, At least not in a way that I had not welcomed.”

 

You do not understand what she means, what type of violence or cruelty could be welcomed in an intimate manner. I

 

And when you make your way through the halls, lit with torches on the stone walls, you realize Asgard is sleeping peacefully. Though you don’t understand how. How is there not more presence, not more alarms? You ask her.

 

“Odin is commanding all soldiers on the parameters of the castle,” Eira says in front of you, leading a way to Loki’s rooms.

 

It’s the first time you realize you’ve never been to them.

 

When the two of you reach his door, Eira pauses and turns in a fluid spin. “Why are you doing this?” She speaks plainly.

 

You know why.

 

Vídarr came for you.

And to Loki, no matter his faults, concerns, and unstable actions, you keep putting yourself in situations that are suspect. He would never trust you, not until you made him believe of your innocence.

 

And in order to do that, you would need to betray your own morals.

 

Or, that’s what you tell yourself.

 

It’s not as if you actually  want to be here.

 

You shake your head and instead step closer to Eira, reaching over her shoulder to knock on the door.

 

Standing at the doorway, letting seconds trickle by, you keep your eyes locked on your handmaid’s. Her honey hair falls in ringlets, slightly upturned nose wrinkles. It’s like she’s shocked you’re going through with this.

 

A part of you is too.

 

After a moment, his cold voice calls out. “Enter.”

 

You push her shoulders to the side, removing her from your path. 

 

“You should not wait for me. I may be some time.”

 


Come say hi: MichelleLeahhh

 This was supposed to be broken up into two parts, but I am so excited for the next chapter I just wanted to get there ASAP. 

I hope you are, too!

Any predictions for what's next?

Chapter Text

Thank you for all of the support. 

 


 

Enter.

 

His word was spoken with such regal demand that it latticed inside you. So, you pushed pass Eira and into Loki’s room, shutting the door behind you without looking at your handmaiden’s likely conflicted gaze. She would not understand why you’re doing this.

 

Part of you doesn’t either.

 

And when you finally give the room your attention, you pause.

 

You’ve never seen the inside of such an organized room. It’s shocking, actually. How neat everything is. Because even though the furniture is piled with books, and papers, and artifacts, the tops are uncluttered. Organized by shapes and colors, in perfectly uniform stacks. Manically.

 

It’s so very Loki. With moss colored walls, gold molding and high, scalloped archways that give way to open space. Around the room are all different bookshelves and mahogany desks.

 

Loki faces the fireplace, sitting on a plush sofa, with a glass dangling in his hand. He watches the flames flicker, the orange and red blaze striking the air around him making his silhouette all the more pronounced. His hair is dangling in almost greasy ringlets, clinging to his head with sweat or blood, you aren’t sure. And above the fireplace is an oil painting, depicting a raging storm, evoking turmoil and ease. A small raft floats between crescent waves. If you stare at it long enough, the picture would likely move.

 

“The tray is on the table,” he speaks finally, not turning to you in any regard. His voice drips with dismissal. “Take whatever you like and leave. I am in no mood for attentions.”

 

In front of you, and behind the sofa he is sitting on, is a mosaic table with two chairs tucked under it. And on top, a tray of food. Untouched. The silver board is covered with meats, cheeses, and fruits. A small, lavish selection of all types of food.

 

You pad over to it, softly and slowly. A barley stew on the tray has thickened, as if it had been sitting, waiting for consumption for a few hours.

 

Did he not eat?

 

You touch a green grape, feeling its tepid temperature.

 

His stoic, rigid back is a personification of agitation. Clearly, he wants to be alone.

 

Your frozen, rooted in this spot as he looks at the fire. You should leave. Regret rears its head, and you slap it away, remembering your promise.

 

“I couldn’t eat either,” you say then.

 

Loki’s head pivots, sharply. His eyes narrow when he finds you standing behind him.

 

But you don’t say a word, and neither does he. Instead, Loki brings the glass to his mouth, taking a long, final pull from the cup before tossing it onto the stout table by his side. He lifts an eyebrow, marred with a cut. “Why are you here?”

 

You are stuck, gazing at his judgmental scrutiny. “You said you’d come for me. And you didn’t.”

 

His eyes are heavy, with sleep or drunkenness. With some type of vulnerability that you don’t even want to begin to understand.

 

“Is that so?” He continues, “And I suppose, you were worried.”

 

You lick your lips and do everything to not cower under his stare.

 

“May I join you?” You ask carefully, looking at the odd angle he’s twisting to watch you.

 

He waves his hand as an invitation. It is the type of invitation that just is.  Does that make sense?

 

The kind of invitation that is so impassive and jaded, that you cannot help but feel you’ve overstepped. But, regardless, you walk around the furniture and sit in the edge of the cushioned sofa, facing him with tepid caution.

 

And he stares at you, eyes wild and guarded.

 

“I presume you wish to know if he is dead?”

 

Your eyebrows knit across your forehead. Actually, you have not thought about Vídarr’s survival. For the sake of Freya, for the revolution, you probably should have.

 

But you didn’t.

 

Interesting.

 

Loki sighs, and turns back to resume his dalliance with the fire. Then he mutters, almost to himself, “No matter, the vermin lives. Barely.”

 

There’s a stretch of silence, only crackling, fireplace could be heard. And everything is still except for the flickering flame.

 

And you don’t know why, but his defeated tone makes your heart thud. Almost like he’s a disappointment for letting the Frost Giant survive. If that’s what happened at least.

 

So, instead, you test his regret. “That was… diplomatic, of you.”

 

Loki tilts his head to the side, conceding to your compliment. If being diplomatic is a compliment. But then sighs, “It was stupid.” He reaches for the empty glass next to him, and with a simple look, it refills with a dark amber liquid. “Regardless, he now resides in the dungeons where he will live out the rest of his days.”

 

“Did you…” You pause, thinking through your words as Loki takes a sip of his glass, keeping his concentration on the fire. How do you ask Loki if it was his decision or his fathers? Do you really want to know, though? Of course, Loki would have wanted to kill Vídarr. There is clearly no love lost.

 

Which would mean it was Odin’s decision. And if it was the Allfather’s…

 

Why did your father die for treason, but allow another to be held captive?

 

“So, he won’t be executed?” Like my father?

 

Loki’s lips deepen into a frown then utters an impossible truth.

 

“He will not.” Loki states, finally. “He does not deserve the mercy of that.”

 

Your stomach drops, and it’s like the fire has muted.

 

Every particle in the room freezes into an icy flurry, cold like the blood running through Loki’s bones. Calculating. Indifferent. Savagely dismissing the pain that echoes inside you.

 

The room has turned grey.

 

“How dare you,” you seethe in a whisper.

 

And it’s then Loki realizes what he said, or realizes for the first time what you think of your father’s murder. “I know it may be difficult to comprehend, but your father’s death was a kindness.”

 

“He was my fathe-.”

 

“He was the King of Vanaheim,” he snaps over you, dousing your anger in thawing liquid. “Imagine if he were to live as Odin’s prisoner. To be kept as a living vestige in the gut of Asgard. There is nothing more disgraceful than that.”

 

“You’re romanticizing murder.”

 

Loki scoffs, “You are far too naive.”

 

If your eyes could kill, Loki’s skin would be peeling back layer by layer. Torturing the God of Mischief until he  prayed for mercy. For a  kindness.

 

When Loki looks at you though, he tapers slightly, speaking softly like approaching an alerted prey. “I know it is hard to understand, but one day you will. And until that day, I’ll continue to play the villain.”

 

You shut your mouth, then.

 

How does he do that?

 

Take your fury, disfigure, and reassemble it into another emotion altogether.  You hate him one moment, preparing to maim him. And the next, you are regretting the resentment that pulses through your veins.

 

“You think that I consider you a villain?”

 

The fire catches his eyes, glittering green. Giving you this slight regard before hiding it. He blinks slowly, lazily, before draining the liquor in his cup and licking the remnants from his lips.

 

“Anything less, and I’d be disappointed.” He tosses the cup back down and stands to pace closer to the fireplace. He crouches down, letting his hands graze closer to the dancing flames.

 

“I don’t,” you admit.

 

“Pity,” he states, devoid of any emotion.

 

“I think your lies, and deception, and tricks are all a front.” From your seat, the only thing you can see is Loki’s posture; how his spine straightens with your accusations. “You say crude words to keep people at a distance, like it’s a defense mechanism.”

 

“Is that so?”

 

“It is.”

 

He stands then, swiveling around and takes three composed strides so he towers over you. “I could take you now, anyway I want, without care for your well-being.”

 

You crane your neck to look up at him, your lips pursed. “You wouldn’t.”

 

“I would,” He grits out, “I have. To others before you.”

 

“But not to me,” you maintain.

 

“Not yet.”

 

You almost laugh, finding his sudden ire infatuating, but you hold it in and stand, making him retreat one small step from you. It gives you the space to look up at him, to study him closer.

 

“You’re not my villain, Loki. You saved me, today and before.” And though he is festering a predatory temper, you realize the truth. The truth is aching, comprehensive and heavy. “You’re the one who compelled me to live when I had no wish to.”

 

Because, that’s true isn’t it?

 

In some form, Loki was the catalyst to all of this. Without him in the equation, things may have been as they were planned: resigned to a life of a helpless victim.

 

But it was his rage, his fist, his venom that gave you the freefall to tangle with revenge.

 

And now, you’re anything but the victim.

 

In your eyes, anyway.

 

Victims, after all, resign themselves to loss. They don’t play treacherous games with high stakes. No, they just go through the motions and you refuse to be a bystander to your seemingly pre-determined fates.

 

And it is that pulsating thought that makes you stand on your toes and press your lips to his.

 

But, your words still him.

 

Freeze him.

 

Stop him.

 

And you keep your lips pressed against him. Flatten your chests together.

 

You pick your hands up to graze his hair.

 

It’s stiff, crusted.

 

You toy with the strands, letting the tousled curls scrape your fingertips.

 

When he doesn’t move you stop, pulling back slightly to look at him. His eyelids are closed, fluttered shut and graceful. His lips are sealed, pale and pink. A flicker of convoluted uncertainty crossing his features.

 

Why isn’t he kissing you back?

 

Why doesn’t he want you?

 

“Did I do something wrong?”

 

His eyelids open then, looking at you like… well, like something.

 

“No.”

 

“Then why-”

 

His hand slithers to the back of your head and brings your lips closer again, moving, raging against them.

 

Loki gathers you in his arms, supporting your weight so your toes only just graze the floor. And he maneuvers you so your bodies join in an incredibly, careful, delicate dance.

 

He sweeps and squeezes and snarls until your limbs are intertwined, until there is no end to you and no beginning to him. Like a woven vine that has plaited through a fence.

 

Your left hand is in his hair. Your right, holding his shoulder.

 

His left hand is around the small of your back. His right, cupping the back of your neck so his fingers just press your pulse point.

 

He lifts you so you have no choice but to hike your legs around his middle.

 

Wings are flapping somewhere inside your navel, fluttering and pulsing. It’s a strange feeling, equal parts nauseating and exciting.

 

You have to hold back a groan when his teeth worry your bottom lip and trail a kiss over jaw and to your ear. His breath comes in pants when his hands begin to wander and caress your form.

 

Your fingernails dig into his scalp.

 

“Is today, the day, pet?” He whispers, holding your weight in his arms and walking you slowly through his room.

 

Through the haziness spreading through you, you are still able to ask, “The day?”

 

“Have you fallen in love with me?”

 

You rear back to see him fully. At first glance, there’s mischief and arrogance. But, it is a mask.

 

Because you can also see the tense lines at the corner of his lips and the slight wrinkle across his forehead. Your mother called them worry lines. Vulnerability lines. And his eyes, glassy, his lungs still, like he’s holding his breath for your answer.

 

And your answer is simple.

 

It’s not the truth.

 

It’s not a lie.

 

It’s a kiss.

 

A peck, really. When you pull back, you answer his question with one of your own, “What do you think?”

 

“That’s not an answer,” he insists, lowering you down his body and onto your feet, preparing a defense already.

 

You glance to your left, taking in his manically tidy room. It’s not green, it’s beige, like the woods. Like the pelt of a bore. Soft, inviting. You try to focus on it, as a war fights inside you. A part of you condemns the thought of lying to him, another part reminds you of your promise to Freya.

 

“Don’t make me say it,” you whisper defeatedly with a deep, dying breath.

 

His hand reaches out, pulls your chin up to look in his eyes. His eyes search yours for one moment, two. They’re blue again, you notice. Clear, lucid, soft.

 

“I’m going to undress you now,” he declares.

 

And you nod, swallowing the thick feeling that is bubbling inside you. Those wings, propelling your heart to thump in your chest. Fear? No, it’s not exactly fear, though similar.

 

He turns you slowly in his arms, unlacing the back of your gown. You look at the wall in front of you, a soft hue of caramel. It’s calming.

 

When a gust of the cold wind hits your bare skin, you shiver. His chilly hand presses against your skin, slowly tracing the raised hairs. Before you can make sense of it, his lips press against the crook of your now bare neck.

 

His lips are soft, still, and cold.

 

Loki keeps his lips pressed against your bare skin as he manages to get the dress off of your form. He elegantly pushes it from your shoulders, down your waist and lets the fabric pool onto the floor. You hear his sharp inhale and he kisses up your neck. When he manages to pry his lips away, he pivots you so you are face to face.

 

You shiver from the cold.

 

He takes your hands and puts them on the edge of his shirt, manipulating your fingers so they grasp it. Then his hands slip away and you’re left with the fabric clutched in your hands, giving you the choice, the pace.

 

Slowly, you raise it inch by inch. The backs of your fingers ever so slightly graze his skin that stretches tight against the muscles of his abdomen. Taught muscle. Flexed. And the higher you get, the faster you move, pausing until he raises his arms over his head, and finally discards his tunic with your dress.

 

Your breath stalls when you see his skin, black and blue marbling over the expanse of his chest. You touch them, tracing the dark welts rippled with goosebumps.

 

A sudden rush of appreciation flows through you when you touch them. You know how hard it is for your kind to bruise, that any mark on Æsir skin was almost as powerful as a mountain crumbling, and here they are, marked across in the form of an illustration. You want to apologize. You want to thank him.

 

Not that you know what Vídarr wanted with you, but you still felt thankful.

 

That you he cared enough to protect you.

 

Because that’s what it meant, right? That even if Loki only wanted you for the crown, or for Vanaheim, that he protected you.

 

But, instead of trying to express your racing thoughts, you lean forward ad kiss the bruise over his left pectoral, and the contusion on his clavicle, and the swelling on his right rip.

 

He says your name, softly, like an embrace, making your eyes rove up his form.

 

Your hands drop to the drawstrings on his pants.

 

You pull them loose, steel a breath and push them over his hips, leaving him nearly nude before you. And his hands pull the chemise over your head, leaving you in the same condition.

 

He licks his lips and kisses you, backing you up until your knees hit the bed. You fall in a heap on the mattress, looking up at Loki’s statuesque body.

 

You lick your lips as a dull fire rages inside you.

 

“Crawl back,” he commands in a whisper, and you do as he suggested while Loki finishes undressing. You wriggle until your head hits the pillows, laying carefully on top of the covers, your hands grasping the soft duvet, your legs slightly parted. Without hesitation, Loki slinks onto all fours and advances over your body, removing your remaining undergarments. Then, he pulls your leg, kissing the inside of your thigh before resting it over his hip, then continues osculating up your navel, over your ribs, your breast, the crook of your shoulder, until his body covers the length of yours.

 

One of his arms folds next to your head, bearing his weight, as his other hand trails up and down your skin.

 

Loki leans down, his lips slanting over yours, wetly searching yours. His tongue dips into your mouth just as he begins to graze your southern lips.

 

“I should have been kinder our first time,” he says in between kisses, one long finger slipping between your folds and gathering your slickness. Because you are slick, wet. “Should have gone slower.” His finger traces up your slit and circles a tiny engorged, bud. With an unhurried, torturous rhythm, he circles it, smearing your juices around it. His tongue flickers out and licks your lips just before his mouth stretches over yours again. Murmuring, “I should have prepared you more.” One of his finger then enters you torturously slow. It begins a careful rhythm, streaming to and from. It’s uncomfortable at first, but it slowly gives way to a building sensation.

 

Your hands wrap around his body and graze the hard planes of his back. One them, with a daring mind of its own, cradles the back of his head, combing through his matted strands to keep him in place. One of your legs, with another mind, hikes over his hip, opening you up for his attentions. You wish your limbs would stop making wonton decisions. It’s very unbecoming.

 

But then he makes this delightful little groan that you swallow. And he adds another finger inside you, pushing through your silken channel with a purpose.

 

He pulls away then, his hand petting your hair away from your face. His eyes are hearts, souls, succumbing to something that he sees.

 

You can feel him hard against your hip. Heavy, hot skin announces his arousal. He wants you. It’s the first time you’ve really recognized that and a part of you swells, soars with it.

 

His fingers recede then and are replaced with the gentle press of a much wider appendage.

 

“I should have eased into you, inch by inch. Given you time to adjust.”

 

And his hips push forward, just an inch, before withdrawing.

 

“But I was too impatient, too angry from earlier that night. I just wanted to claim you in the most basic way a man can.”

 

He gathers your leg in his arm and tilts your pelvis up, giving his hipbone access to that aching spot. And he surges forward again, two inches, before retreating. Then three, then back out.

 

And so on, and so.

 

Until he is fully seated inside you. He breathes harshly, his fingers kneading your breast, plucking until stiff peaks are trapped between his grasp.

 

Tears gather in your eyes, though the pain isn’t as bad as the first time, you’re filled, surrounded by him. The firelight from his sitting room bleeds into here, painting the evening a glorious orange. His arm next to your head is nearly straining with effort, his bicep bulging to keep him from crushing you.

 

You tilt your head to the side and kiss the muscle. Nip the porcelain skin.

 

You writhe under him and a tear slips out. Not from pain though.

 

His thumb wipes it away, his eyebrows furrowing and before he can speak you interject, “I’m okay. Keep going.”

 

He licks his lips and then begins to move above you. “You are magnificently wet. Tight,” he groans. “And you’re mine, for eternity.”

 

Then he kisses you again, but not like the others. This one feels like a promise, a drugging sensation that spreads with each heartbeat. You open your eyes, even as he kisses you, demanding your lips into an intricate twirl, your tongue pirouetting, your teeth nibbling on each other.

 

And with your gaze, you can see his brow wrinkle, sweat accumulate on his hairline.

 

After a particularly jutting thrust, you groan, bowing off the bed. Loki gathers you in his arms moving you so he can leverage your hips and keep a harsher pace without hurting you. Because it doesn’t hurt, it’s divine. And it crescents.

 

Like a moon.

 

Shining against a very dark setting, bright and beautiful. Hopeful.

 

That’s how you feel when you arc to completion underneath him. From somewhere to your left, you hear a crash, like a glass breaking.

 

Your nails dig into the flesh of his back, your legs crossed at the ankles. Your breasts swaying with each of his hard thrusts as you settle back into the bed.

 

Because they are grinding savagely, but it feels so incredible, twisting inside of you.

 

His hips continue to tap that spot, driving you further into the unknown. And his hard cock is deeper than you thought it could be on the edge of your insides.

 

“Say my name.”

 

You bite your lip, moving your hips so they meet his. “Loki,” you say, as directed.

 

“Again.”

 

And you repeat, “Loki.”

 

His impales you unrefined, raw.

 

And, still, “Again.”

 

One more time, his name slips from your lips before your legs start to shake, your breath quivering.

 

And you fall apart again, and this time he says your name.

 

 


 

Annoy me at: MichelleLeahhh

Thank you for every sweet word, comment, interaction.

Please know this chapter troubled me so much I nearly didn't post it. 

I've rewritten it three or four times as is. I seriously hope you enjoy it. 

Let me know your thoughts.

 

Chapter Text

 

Thank you for everything <3

So pumped I'm seeing Endgame tomorrow! 

We're about halfway through now...


 

 

A faint, feathering sensation trails down your skin, like a wet butterfly dancing lower and lower. You lift a hand and swat it, but encounter ahead instead of an insect. You peek one eye open, the night before coming back to you in a rush of fragmented dreams and a dull throb between your legs.

 

Oddly enough, you haven’t felt this well rested since before your parents’ death.

 

“Good morning, pet.” Loki greets from your navel. You look down, embarrassment flooding through your consciousness when you find your naked body flooded in sunlight.

 

An expanse of skin, round breasts pointed towards the sky.

 

Immediately, you bring your arms to your chest and cross them, covering yourself with some type of modesty. You mumble a greeting, staring at the ceiling above you, trying to ignore that Loki has resumed pecking your stomach.

 

Then, a sharp bite draws your attention back to him.

 

“What?” You ask, glancing down at the crown of raven hair, realizing he was talking to you.

 

Instead of answering, he raises one eyebrow and maneuvers to sit back on his haunches, making the covers fall around him. It’s the first time you recognize he’s naked too. You snap your gaze back to the ceiling before you can ogle his already swelling member.

 

“Such modesty, even after our evening,” he drawls, letting his fingers draw soft designs on your skin. You bite your lip, knowing that he’s reviewing your naked form, but not daring to muster the courage and look at him. Until he says your name in a tranquil sentiment.

 

When you ignore him, looking at the shadows on the ceiling, he softly requests, “Look at me.”

 

You glimpse at him cautiously, carefully, keeping your eyes trained on his, not daring to peek lower. Though a part of you desperately itches too.

 

“It’s daylight,” you finally say. Like it explains everything to him.

 

He raises his eyebrows and pursed his lips like he is trying to hide a smile. “And?” When you don’t answer, he lets his hands circle your wrist. Long, lean fingers rest there, feeling your pulse race. His touch is so close to your chest. “Don’t tell me that your ladies led you to believe husbands only bed wives during the night.”

 

You bite your lips. They didn’t explicitly say that, you just thought  that’s what husbands do. It does not seem proper to do that  in the light when you can see everything.

 

“It’s not proper,” you utter, mortified.

 

He chuckles, carefully peels your hands from your breasts and places them next to your head.

 

He slithers up your body, hovering over you pressing his naked form against yours. You can feel his cool skin and carved muscles, mold to your form. He’s marble, hard, edged, and chilled.

 

“If you hide from me again, I will reprimand you.” He leans forward and draws one of your breasts into his mouth. Sucking on it, before biting hard. You breathe hitches, your hips flexing underneath him, opening for him, making him smile. “Ah. You would like that, wouldn’t you?”

 

Your eyes widen before he dips his head to resume his activities. He kisses your stiff peak, and draws it back between his lips, nibbling on it. He grasps it between his teeth and flicks his tongue, in a fluttering, fluid motion. Without thinking your legs shift until his body is nestled between your hips. You can feel his lips pull into a smile as one of his hands begins to play with your other breast. Tweaking the nipple between his nimble fingers. Calluses, likely from years of sparring, scratching it to an erect spire.

 

Your hands remain limp at your sides as your husband continues his assault, nibbling, sucking, licking. When your curiosity gets the better of you, you finally peek down at him. Seeing his eyes closed in concentration as his lips suckle you. Until, his eyelids flutter open as if feeling your leer, and making your gazes connect. He bites, harshly, then, and the pain seers through you, making you throb below. As if your breast was connected to your most intimate of places. And as his lips continue to work, you can feel the anticipation below you grow. In the light, you can see his skin flush, his lips swell with your skin between his teeth.

 

He finally pulls back, looking at his work, “Perfect.” He commends, then dips his head to your other breast. It makes you cry out and thrust your hips, searching for friction. And, sadly, no matter how you try to grind your hips, he keeps still, and just out of reach from that spot at the apex of your thighs.

 

You begin to lose track of time, as he keeps his attention on your breasts, playing you until your mind is numb with want, strung tight like a harp.

 

Then, without warning, he flips himself over so he is on his back and you are above him. Your hands land on his chest, catching yourself so you don’t fall onto him. But, Loki knocks them away, slithers one hand to your back and presses between your shoulder blades, resuming his attention to your aching mound.

 

From this angle, you can feel your wetness seeping through your folds and dripping onto his skin. As if thinking the same thing, he groans, his voice vibrating through your chest and sprinting to your core.

 

Finally, after what feels like hours of torture, he releases your stiff peak and pushes you so you're sitting atop him. He blinks slowly, looking up at you. Then, he takes both of your hands in his and kisses your knuckles before placing them on his chest.

 

You look down at him. The light flooding from the windows drowns your forms in light. His black hair pools against the pillows, like a crown, and his pristine, porcelain skin shines off of the sheets. And the way he looks up at you, eyes bright and glistening…

 

You swallow thickly and anchor your hands onto his chest.

 

“Go ahead,” he instructs, moving his hands so they bracket your hips.

 

“What?” You ask, confused. The wanton throbbing inside you swells at his form below you.

 

He pushes himself up and cages you in his arms. Kissing your lips, nipping them. “Take your pleasure,” he commands against them.

 

“I don’t…”

 

He silences you with another kiss and reclines slowly onto the sheets bringing you back down with him.

 

You can feel him hard against your entrance. And your hips, as if knowing what they want, begin to grind down on it. Pleasure shoots through you, making you groan, a white flash shooting through you.

 

“Beautiful,” he whispers, kissing your lips once more before hauling you back up. “Don’t think, just do what feels good.”

 

You sit above him, your wetness smearing across his cock, coating it in your juices. You tentatively oscillate your hips, shifting above him. The head of his sex catches on your clit, making you cry out. Sensitively.

 

One of his hands climbs to your chest, pulling on your nipple again, adding a second layer of stimulation as a painful pleasure surges. You gasp, needing more. Biting your lip, you look down at Loki, his eyes, shining a vibrant mix of colors in the sunlight, looking up at you. “Guide me inside you.”

 

Pushing up on your knees slightly, your thighs quake in anticipation. His hands fall from your breast and to your hips, his thumb passing over the skin slowly.

 

You hold him in your hand, feeling him like the first time. He hisses, lowly as if trying to hide his pleasure from you. But you want to hear more of his noises. You suddenly crave them. So, you tighten your grip, lewdly and begin to pump your hands, watching as the head of it releases a creamy, white liquid. He gasps, his hips following your hand.

 

Your heart swells with each of his labored breaths. Until you decide, you can’t take anymore. He wants you to do what feels good. So you do.

 

You guide him to your entrance, playing with your slit, gasping.

 

His hand covers yours. “Over your clit,” he directs, moving his head so it passes over that little nub that sends you into a dizzy spell. “Get me nice and wet.” You swivel your hips again at his words, the vapor of want distorting your virtue. Soon, he’s covered in your slick essence, the head of his member continuously passing over your clit. “Yes, that’s it,” he sighs, his voice three octaves lower than normal.

 

Then both of you guide him back to your entrance, and his hand falls away, circling your thighs.

 

And you line up your sexes, slowly lowering yourself, letting him stretch you, impale you. Ignoring the dull pain resonating from being filled this way. But taking your pleasure, as he said. And you’re able to pause and shift your hips, move until you are comfortable.

 

And before you know it, your hips are pressed snugly against each other. You tentatively begin to move your hips back and forth, until you find the spot where your clit is nudging against his hip bone. You move your hand, so it’s anchored on his chest, and begin to pull up on him, before falling over him again.

 

“Yes,” he groans through clenched teeth. “Just like that,” he coaxes you gently.

 

You groan, hearing his strained voice, grinding down so your clit passes over his skin. It feels amazing. Incredible. Like white, hot, liquid pouring over you and fanning your skin into embers.

 

“Look at you.” He praises. His veins constrict and muscles tighten with each movement. “So decisive. Taking your pleasure from my body. Do you like being in charge, pet?”

 

His voice, his words, topple inside of you.

 

You begin to move faster, following what your body wants, chasing that surf surging with his words. You stop moving up and down him and instead rut forward and back, your clit grating against his marble-like body. It’s like you’re a rubber band. Expanding, and stretching, until you snap. Crying out. You shutter, groaning over him, feeling liquid pool on his skin and stick to your thighs. You feel absolutely filthy. And heavenly.

 

He curses, and takes your hips in his hands, he holds you steady then leverages his hips, fucking up into you. Moving faster, and faster. Stretching your orgasm longer than it should last. You moan again, burrowing your head in the crook of his neck, biting the vein that’s popping there. You lick it, feeling it pulse, as his hips move faster. Then one hand glides into your hair, painfully ripping your head back from his neck and kissing you greedily.

 

Before you even realize, you’re back under him, his hips snapping into your hungrily. “Yes,” he groans from above you. Panting into your lips. Before you know it, he’s hitting a spot so deep, so crude, you feel like you are about to burst. It’s almost painful, and yet, it’s calming. Like he’s trying to find a hidden spot inside you, to stay there forever.

 

You don't know why, but the thought sends you into another dizzying, climax, groaning into his lips.

 

And he sucks them down, pistoning into you. You can feel him throb, swell, and release, finishing with final pulses of his hips. Everything is silent for a minute, still. Loki’s heaving chest and your pants litter the otherwise quiet air, sounding sharp and foreign after what you just experienced.

 

When Loki pulls out from your quivering channel and sits back to kneel between your legs, both of you groan. You don’t know how to explain the sound, but it rips from deep in your lungs like it was waiting for an escape.

 

Your husband looks at you for a moment, back in the position from earlier, gleaming at your spent heaving frame. You’re too exhausted to cover yourself from his eyes this time though. So, instead, You watch his eyes greedily rove over your frame as he calms himself. If this is his form of reprimanding, you’d lose all sense of virtue.

 

“Good morning, Loki,” you manage to say between breaths, lifting a hand to his chest. His heart thrums erratically under your fingertips, looking at you the most peculiar way.

 

Then he leans down to kiss you softly.

 

xXxXx

 

“Prince Loki has consented,” Odin said from his desk. He shuffled the disorganized pile of papers and didn’t spare you a glance. Instead, he focused on the array of pages that fell around him.

 

“That’s good,” you nodded, fingers grasping your dress as you watched his face, waiting for the moment he pardons your father.

 

“We’ll still need your father’s apology,” Odin reminded you.

 

“Of course.”

 

Your father already agreed, in his own, stoic and Kingly way. It was secured simply enough -- with a promise and tears. You made him promise not to leave you alone in the world because a life without him is unimaginably harrowing.

 

“And Vanaheim’s obedience.”

 

How were you ever to secure that? How could you make your people stand in line from a realm away? It’d be near impossible, and with your mother dead, your father in chains it’d be hard. But, if it meant your father’s survival, you would make it work. You’d have to.

 

Your lips pull down at the corners, looking at the pages. You couldn’t read the fine print from your seat, but you recognized the scribbles as fast, flourishing notes. Perhaps it was one of Odin’s famous spies from a realm far away. Perhaps from Alfheim.

 

Odin coughed, making you tear your eyes from the papers to his face, realizing that he was watching you. “There have been uprisings. Nothing too out of the ordinary, th-”

 

“Where?” You asked without waiting for his political spin.

 

“It matters not.” His voice was final, leaving you without the ability to respond.

 

So, you bit your lips, letting your fingers play with the fabric of your skirt. “Will I be able to see him?”

 

“Who?” Odin asked gruffly, his attention once again on the paper in front of him.

 

You let your eyelids flutter shut, his name was in the front of your mind, echoing, but you were unable to say it out loud. “My betrothed.”

 

“If you would like,” Odin offered. “I’d imagine he’s in the library.”

 

Your stomach plummeted at the idea of going to find him: the standoffish brother.

 

The Dark Prince.

 

You knew how he’d gotten his title, how he was the guarded of the two. Careful. Stoic. A known chameleon, able to always fade in and out of moments without reprimand. He terrified you in a way that was unexplainable. With his dark hair and foreboding nature. And the fact you were to spend the rest of your life with him was uncomforting, terrifying even. How were you to look him in the eye when all he did was make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

 

He was handsome and rough.

 

Eloquent and audacious.

 

Civil and snake-like.

 

A juxtaposition in every way that left you unable to fully understand his nature.

 

“So, I’m to seek him out? Like a commoner.”

 

The Allfather tensed, his one eye narrowed on you. “Would you rather me pull him from his activities to play matchmaker to you? I’m already bargaining my son’s hand and your father’s pardon. Now you wish for me to play whim to your desires?”

 

“I apologize,” you immediately said, your palms sweating under Odin’s gaze. “I’ll find him.”

 

“Good,” Odin nodded. “You can go. We’ll reconvene tomorrow in the Throne Room for official business.”

 

And you left, your feet padding out of the room quickly.

 

You did not go to find Loki.

 

The mere idea of doing that sent shivers up your spine.

 

xXxXx

 

When you enter your chambers, there’s food on the small drawing table and a steaming cup of tea. For the first time all morning, you think of nourishment. But before you give in to your growling hunger, you call out to the room.

 

And you wait. Patiently. To see if anyone responds.

 

Nothing.

 

There’s no sound.

 

You rush to your vanity, in search of the clear vile Freya gave you the night you pledged loyalty to her. What did she say when she forced the poison into your hand?

 

Motherhood changes alliances.

 

And you refuse to let that happen.

 

So, all you need to do is put one drop of this into your morning tea and any pregnancy will be simultaneously avoided.

 

It’s strange to think of the night you received it. Strange to remember how long ago it was. A part of you is ashamed to think of your naivete and blind loyalty. How at that moment, you signed your allegiance to a group you didn’t know of. But it worked out, thankfully. You were blessed in that.

 

Opening up one of the drawers, you see the vial nestled in the back. You grasp it, bring it to eye level, and look at the liquid. It’s clear. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think it was water or perfume. That’s likely what Freya intended for it to look like.

 

After you unscrew the top, you lift the lip of the glass to your nose and inhale deeply.

 

It’s a sharp scent, harsh. Unnaturally fragrant.

 

It doesn’t smell foul, but not particularly nice either. You tread over to the tea near your sitting area and put a small drop in your tea. The water turns white, cloudy, then dissipates in a swirl.

 

You’re so transfixed by the swirling liquid you don’t hear the door open, but you hear it shut. Without panic, you pull the vial into your grip and hide it behind your back. You turn on your heel to greet the intruder.

 

Eira stops in her tracks, looking at you with suspicion and dread. She’s carrying a woven brown basket. From where you’re standing  you see that it is filled with ribbons, trinkets, and other niceties.

 

“Good Morning, my Lady,” she speaks formally, carefully pausing from the doorway and curiously looking at the tea in your hand.

 

You take a sip of tea, ignoring the slightly fragrant taste that is now added in the liquid. You keep the cup’s handle tangled in your fingers, making it look like you’re enjoying the soothing, hot liquid when in reality you’re frozen in place. The hand behind your back clenches the vial.

 

“Good Morning, Eira,” you greet. “Would you mind starting a fire?” She cocks her head to the side and stares at you. Her eyes squint just at the edges, like testing you. So, you continue, “There’s a chill in the room that I’d like to chase away.”

 

After all, it is winter.

 

She smiles tightly, her pale pink lips pulling tightly on her chiseled, pointed face. “Of course,” she nods. Then, the handmaiden makes her way over to you, places the basket on the wooden table you’re standing at, and turns to the fireplace.

 

When she kneels on the floor and begins to pile logs into the stone alcove, you turn your back and head to the vanity, opening a drawer and hastily shoving the clear vile in. The teacup is still clutched in your grasp, so you take a sip, realizing that Eira could be watching you. To cover your tracks you pluck the first thing your fingers graze, throwing it on the top of the vanity. It clangs against the wood. Crisply.

 

You look down at what you pulled out. Realizing at that moment, that it was the necklace Loki gave to you. You trace your finger over it, noticing the gem spring to life in a swirling, dancing motion. An uninhabited, unsettling, feeling falls over you as you look at it. It’s weird like the gems are a magnet, longing for your touch.

 

But, instead of caressing the cool jewel, you look in the mirror.

 

You take a deep inhale and push back some of the tresses that frame your face. At least, there’s nothing to determine what you were up to last night. There are no bruises across your chest or neck, no pink tinted flesh or plump lips. In summation, you don’t look different. Though you feel a dull throb between your legs, it’s nothing Eira would be able to see. Relief surges through you at the thought.

 

You don’t know why you want to hide what you did last night. That you spent the night, the first peaceful night since your parents died, in his arms.

 

Loki is your husband, it’s only customary for a wife to spend the night with her husband. So why do you feel like Eira is judging you for it? And why do you feel like this morning, and last night, were deceptions in their most pure form?

 

But, more than that… why do you care what she thinks?

 

“The tea is lovely this morning,” you tell her, trying to be cordial and taking a sip of the liquid. The potion made the liquid thick and sweet, but it isn’t necessarily bad. You greedily suck it down as Eira brings the flames to life.

 

“I’m sure it’s soothing after your evening.” She comments, standing from the hearth and peering at the fire for a moment too long, before pivoting to glance back at you. Her blue eyes are pale and calm, though the tight lines around her eyes are a bit too forced to be as serene as she’s portraying.

 

You blush in acknowledgment, “I’m not sure how I should respond to that.”

 

“I’d suggest getting into the bath to soothe your muscles.” When your eyebrows knit across your forehead, Eira continues, “I drew one for you a bit earlier it should still be warm enough.”

 

“Thank you,” you say genuinely. You glance at the door across the room, wanting nothing more than to fall into a hot spring.

 

“I’ll bring you the breakfast tray if you’d like to get in.”

 

So, you go, open the door to your private bath chambers, and see that the formal circular bath has been filled. The circle could fit more people than you’d care to have in it, the grandness of it isn’t lost on you. But you step forward anyway, watching the steam that rises from it. The aromatic scents of Midgardian lavender and Vanir jasmine assault your senses in the most lulling way.

 

Without a moment’s hesitation, you remove the laces of your gown and haul the dress over your head, neatly folding it with care and placing it on the dry ledge of the bath.

 

You slip one foot past the heated surface, allowing the warmth to spread as you saunter into the liquid. Then, you fall into it. You rest against the tile, sitting on the small seat in the bath.

 

The door opens, and you hear Eira leave the small tray of food next to your head.

 

You glance up at her and begin to smile until you see her pause, her hands clenched tightly at her sides.

 

The hairs on the back of your neck stand when you see the look in her eyes. You don’t know how to describe it, how to explain the malicious intent that’s there, but it is, with daggers in her cerulean eyes.

 

And a moment later, with a subtle shake of her head, it’s gone. Her eyes turning from empty, pale blue to a deeper color like smooth skies. “Apologies, I’m not feeling well.” She admits, with a deep exhale. “Can I bring you anything else?”

 

“You should get some rest,” you tell her honestly. “I can care for myself.”

 

“You’re too gracious, my Lady. I’ll be fine.”

 

You smile softly, “If you insist.”

 

“I do,” she swears, stands, and walks out of the room with an air of confidence you wish you had.

 

She leaves the door open, and a part of you likes that. That you can still hear her milling around outside of the bath chambers. You turn in the bath and bring a piece of apple from the tray to your mouth. With one bite, your eyes close as you taste the sweet firmness of the fruit.

 

Then, there is a knock at your main room doors. It’s firm, harsh, and stately. You swallow thickly, listening carefully as Eira opens the door and greets whoever is there.“Her Royal Highness has been requested in the throne room.” The voice says roughly. “Is she here?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“The Allfather will be addressing court soon. He’s asked to make sure all the royal family attends.”

 

“She just got back, she needs rest.” You can hear how Eira’s voice grows with agitation and anger. It’s like her voice is the embodiment of what her eyes looked like moments ago. Cold, feral.

 

“There is no rest for her to be had after yesterday.”

 

There’s a soft pause, until Eira answers him, “Well, she’s in the baths.”

 

“Then I suggest you get her out  of the baths.” The man moves, armor clattering with movements. So, a guard has come to gather you.

 

A perishable feeling of dread overcomes you. Fear. It overcomes your limbs and pulls you back in time.

 

“Ensure she looks… the part. Prince Loki will come to retrieve her shortly.” And then there are the retreating sounds of footprints.


 

Hope you enjoyed!!

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Chapter Text

  

You remember the first time you stepped in the Throne room.

 

You gasped in awe.

 

It was a large, vast, and intimidating room with ceilings that hung so high you had to tilt your head all the way back to see them. The top was decorated with paintings that told tales of Odin’s accomplishments. Of glorious battles won and peace treaties signed.  

 

You trailed along the outer edges, viewing the statues embedded in the walls. Yggdrasil’s roots snared up towering pillars that were more pieces of art than structural necessities.

 

Within moments, you slithered through the standing gallery, along the aisle, up the formal staircase to inspect Odin's ample throne. From far away it looked regal, close up it was unseemly ornate with plush crimson cushions and golden spires jutting from the back of the seat. Rather than regal and stately, the throne appeared harsh and foreboding. You thought of Odin at that moment. Of the old man who sat upon it and how this chair was so perfectly catered to him.

 

Though it didn’t particularly appear enjoyable, a small part of yourself longed to lounge in it. Longing to taint something so very Asgardian with a piece of Vanaheim.

 

You pulled your hand away from the throne and took a step back, imploring common sense to take hold. Pacing along the dais, you realized it was wide enough to fit twenty people from one side to another. You paused in the far left of the platform, surveying the room. All of it was gold.  

 

The floor beneath you gleamed, the ceiling above sparkled, the columns shone.

 

Even the door on the opposite end of the hall, which was tall enough to give even Ymir passage, was aurorus.

 

Asgard had to be the picture of absolute refinement and wealth. Asgardians displayed their wealth for the realms like pigs. Affluence was never flaunted like this in Vanaheim.

 

From that far-left corner of the dais, you could see everything in the room. It was the perfect vantage point.

 

And that’s where you stood the day your father was executed.

 

xXxXx

 

When the entrance to the Throne Room comes into view, cement encases your feet. You freeze in place.

 

Loki, dressed in ceremonial garb, keeps strutting forward, unaware that you stopped. But when he does, he turns around to look at you, his eyebrows knit across his forehead and his mouth moves. You can hear him saying your name, but you can’t comprehend it.

 

You are too focused on the door. It’s small and wooden, with detailed brass handles that beg to be pulled. This is the private family entrance, not the formal one.

 

Loki steps back to you, but you’re too focused on the door to actually notice his concern.

 

“What is it?” He asks, tearing your concentration away.

 

You finally peel your eyes away from the door to look at Loki. “I haven’t been in there since…”

 

The corner of his lips fall, concern giving way to understanding. But he doesn’t offer you a reprieve, a nicety, or a chance to escape back to your room. No. His hand captures your wrist, tugging you forward without a care for your meager protests.

 

“Come,” he orders carefully.

 

You shake your head. “No.”

 

There are moments that you forget. Forget who you are and what you’ve been through. Forget the games you’re supposed to play with a smile. There are moments where every fiber of your being rebels, forgetting that you’re supposed to befriend your monstrous kidnappers.

 

In all honesty, it’s easier to pretend that you’re a cocooned in a jaded sense of comfort than actually face demons. He just makes it seem like that.

 

Especially when he looks at you like he is now, with rounded, seemingly honest green eyes.

 

“You can’t make me. Don’t make me, please.” You add on for measure, thinking maybe, just maybe you can sway him. The thought of entering that room, of seeing it again… you don’t want to think of such things. A tear slips past your shield as you try to retreat back to your rooms. It'd be safe there and far from here. Where you couldn't... where you didn't... you just remember the stench of blood, the nightmares that followed of blood spilling.

 

But, your pleas almost do the opposite. His jaw tightens, his back straightens, and his grip clenches your wrist tight enough to bruise.

 

“There comes a time where you have to face it,” he grumbles, coldly. Toughly, even. “If you let pain define you, you’ll lose yourself in it.” Then, he pulls you forward and through the door.

 

You almost laugh bitterly. For, what does Loki Odinson know of pain?

 

xXxXx

 


He was brought in through the accused entrance, at the opposite end of the throne room. Thirty Einherjar organized in neat rows of five followed your chained father down the mammoth aisle, their armor clattering with every step.

 

Hundreds of people gathered to witness the King of Vanaheim’s sentencing. They stood like cattle, herded into two sections on either side of the aisle your father stumbled down. Cowards. All of them. Circling like vultures in eager anticipation for a downfall. Some of them even wore smiles.

 

Your hands clasped tightly in front of your form, knuckles white.

 

He looked terrible.

 

Matted hair, soiled clothing. It broke your heart as he stumbled with hands and feet in chains.

 

And the room, while vast, large, and intimidating, was silent.

 

When he was finally brought to the front of the crowds, the Einherjar stopped. Each of them brought their hand to the hilt of their sword prepared to draw at a moment’s notice.

 

Odin sat astride his throne, legs sprawled wide, arms on either armrest. His left hand grasped the powerful and enchanted Gungnir, a spear created by the Dwarves of Nidavellir. He looked at your father through his one good eye and then scanned the crowd as the seconds bled by. Odin said your father’s name then followed it with a simple, accusatory question, “Do you know why you are here?” His voice boomed so loud that it was almost painful to listen to.

 

“Aye,” father responded, his face distorted into a grimace and voice sounding like gravel. “To stand trial and sentencing.”

 

“The charges against you are high treason, hearsay, and espionage.”

 

Again, he answered, “Aye.”

 

“What say you in defense?”

 

This was, of course, standard. Practiced protocol.

 

Father was given a script to read, a script to recite, to secure the Allfather’s mercy.

 

And your father stilled for a second, his gaze carefully remaining on Odin’s never sparing you a glance.

 

“As King of Vanaheim, protector of one of the Nine Realms, I was led to believe there was a threat in the house of Odin who would bring about Ragnarok.”

 

People began murmuring over your father's words. He paused, looking around as the people began shaking their heads, whispering. Odin lifted his spear and stomped it onto the ground. The noise waved through the crowd, reverberated off the walls loudly, and quieted the crowd instantly, mesmerizing them with the display of power.

 

Your heart dropped when you heard that word.

 

Ragnarok.

 

You hadn’t heard it since a child. When your tutor would try to scare you with the end of days.

 

Swallowing thickly, you realized there’s no way this was part of the script, but Odin looked intrigued. He slightly leaned forward, squinting his eyes to look at your father.

 

With a nod to the Allfather, your father continued. “I acted on behalf of the Nine Realms to uncover the truth, and give the people the knowledge they needed to understand the end of times could be upon them. I plotted to kill the False Prin-”

 

“Lies!” Odin bellowed over your father, his voice edged and eye growing so impossibly wide.

 

But your father continued and his voice grew louder, steadier, and more pronounced with every word said, “-ce of Asgard. I allied myself with those who know the truth and the secrets you harbor for only the benefit of yourself. I did what was just to save your people. The ones you so carelessly cast aside.”

 

Odin banged Gungir again, a wave of magic spreading through the room and silencing everyone. The Einherjar pulled on your father’s chains, making him stumble two steps back.

 

You released a shaking breath and your stomach rolled with the dark turn the sentencing took. It swirled and pitted, gnawing away at your rationality until it turned to shreds. It made the hair on the nape of your neck stand tall, whispering of an unforeseeable danger. Your hands numbed from the clenched fists.

 

He just admitted to trying to kill the Prince.

 

Mother used to advise you to hide your emotions, to wear a disguise on your face during critical times. But you could not. Not here, not during the monumental weight of this moment.

 

Your face grayed, your eyes dulled, and from the corner of your gaze, you see his on you.

 

Odin’s posture straightened as he leaned to the edge of the throne. “Your hearsay and lack of evidence are condemning.”

 

“The evidence is the words of prophecies against yours.”

 

“Your rage is damning.”

 

“My rage is at an inept and greedy ruler,” your father interjected.

 

“You would be a ruler of ruins if you could,” Odin spoke carefully, his lips turning down. “Your spite to bring about another Æsir-Vanir War in the name of Ragnarok is for not, my old friend.” He stood, using Gungir spear to gracefully tower over your father at the bottom of the staircase. Then, he nodded to the guards behind your father as his face pulled into a grim line.

 

They heaved and gathered father’s change until he was forced into a kneeling position.

 

Your breath and the room stilled. No one moved, no one dared take a breath.

 

“Your daughter has bargained for your life.” Your father’s eyes finally drifted to yours for the first time since he entered. “She has given her consent to marry my second son, Loki” Your father’s eyes drooped with grief. And you shook your head, knowing that he was relenting to a dismal fate.

 

“No,” you whispered so quietly that no one could hear you. But you channeled your feelings into your father, begging for him to hear you.

 

Don’t leave me.

 

It said.

 

And he blinked slowly, before peering back to Odin.

 

“They will rule Vanaheim justly,” the Allfather declared solemnly and stepped down one stair.

 

“No,” you said louder, finally seeing what was taking place.

 

Your father hung his head as Odin addressed the people. He said your father's names, his titles, his family histories. He said all the pleasantries, and as he did your heart, which was hastily plastered together with naivete shredded inside of you. It gushed and flooded you. It broke you.

 

And then Odin said his own name, his own titles, his own family histories. And it was followed with a simple, I sentence you to immediate execution.

 

The people began to shout loudly, some even cheering. All of them surprised at the treat of seeing an execution. They came for an admission of guilt, and they will leave with the beheading of the King of Vanaheim.

 

“No!” You shrieked, feeling the broken shards of your heart blister and stab you repeatedly. “Stop it, stop. You promised!” You never felt so naive, so unequivocally betrayed. These were to be your family? Liars. They were all liars. “Stop!”

 

Your father’s eyes closed in empathy, grief, or embarrassment. He bowed his head and Odin called for Thor. The heir to Asgard grimaced and his eyes swam with doubt. He, after all, was not the steadfast executioner. He was the Prince. And given this responsibility only meant that Odin was trying to reinforce a point.

 

What was that point other than a personal attack to you?

 

And you plead. And the tears began to fall. You called to Thor, your head shaking. He bowed his head as if trying to hide. Strong arms wrapped around your form, stilling you. It was then that you realized you were flailing, that you were running towards the scene.

 

And the crowd grew louder, clapped and cheered.

 

And then there was a voice in your ear, trying to lull you and calm you, but you bucked against them. They smelt like leather and metal. Rationally, you knew it was him, but, you refused to acknowledge it.

 

Thor took boisterous steps down. He traded his hammer, Mjolnir, for an executioner sword.

 

“Say your last prayers to the Norns,” Odin said, as Thor took his place next to your father.

 

His head was bowed, his neck bared.

 

And you couldn’t hear your father’s words over the crowd’s shouting, over your screams. Sobs wracked your frame as Thor raised the blade.

 

Fingers pressed against your temple. His long, lean, cold digits touched your skin as you continued to protest. You wanted to see, needed to. He was your father, not some common thief. He didn’t deserve this. They had to know he didn’t deserve this. 

 

Before the sword fell a green light flashed and you tumbled into a dark, uncomfortable void.

 

xXxXx


The room is the same as it was that day.

 

Just as cold.

 

Just as uncomfortable.

 

Just as crowded.

 

Only this time, the room isn’t filled with high ranking officials, it is filled with people from around the castle: stewards, servants, and the like. They’re unhappy. They want answers and you can feel their threatening discontent simmering through the room.

 

You and Loki stand to the left of the Allfather’s throne, Frigga and Thor to Odin’s immediate right.

 

You glance briefly at Loki, scrutinizing his stony demeanor.

 

“There was an attack on Asgard yesterday led by a small fraction of rebels,” Odin begins.

 

The people begin to whisper and shuffle around. Spreading lies and theories about what had happened. You don’t need to hear the words to hear the stories flourish. It’s evident in their eyes. Their greedy, serpentine eyes.

 

“We have taken care of the rebels from Jötunheim.”

 

The people began to shriek. Their distaste for the Frost Giants is evident.

 

You forgot how much they loathe them.

 

But, Odin continues, stomping his spear to command the crowds. “This was not an act of War. This was the decision of a small few who have since been eradicated. Their leader sits in the dungeons where he will remain for the rest of his days. Their coup was unsuccessful and their source of entry has been sealed. There is no need to worry or for panic. I have reopened the Bifrost and all business can be conducted as normal.”

 

All in all, you remain in the throne room for maybe an hour, but it feels like an eternity.

 

Your eyes still on the spot at the end of the stairs. You recall your father’s bent form. The cheers of the people.

 

But, there is no blood. Not that there would be after all this time. It’s been cleaned and the floor reflects gold. You’re sure that your face is stoic, schooled with indifference. You pretend that you don’t care, that you don’t remember. If you pretend for long enough, surely it could come true. And you try to hide the unbridled tears from your face.

 

But you can’t tear your eyes from the spot at the bottom of the steps. You imagine blood staining the Gold.

 

A hand slithers into yours.

 

You look at Loki, and though he doesn’t look at you, though he remains as imposing and statuesque as before, you can feel his hand clasping yours tightly.

 

It almost comforts you.

 

“The prisoner will not stand trial, nor will he be given the freedom to plead his case,” Odin adds as the people begin to calm.

 

After a few other call outs, he leaves followed by Frigga and Thor then Loki and you.

 

The castle’s people are dismissed to return to their daily routines, outwardly placated.

 

You enter into a smaller antechamber. With four walls lined with tapestry and a large, circular table in the center, you realize this is Odin’s private council room. He falls into a chair sighing.

 

He looks old.

 

Troubled.

 

And burdened.

 

Finally, Thor speaks, “I thought we couldn’t figure out how they got in.”

 

“We couldn’t,” Odin answers gruffly. He runs a hand across his face like trying to calm his temperament.

 

“Then why say we sealed it?” He asks.

 

Odin lifts his head to peer at you, noticing how your arm remains tucked in Loki’s even after coming into the private room. Then, he turns to his elder son. “It would do the people no good to admit that we could be attacked at any point. They’d be panicked. Our job is to keep the peace and if that means lying until we figure it out then so be it.”

 

You begrudgingly admit that Odin’s right. That Asgard would not return to normal until their fears were calmed.

 

“How do you think they got in?” Thor asks.

 

“A portal likely,” Loki answers in an obvious tone. “The better question is how they managed to get passed Heimdall without raising an alarm.”

 

You want to laugh, getting passed Heimdall isn’t as difficult as they believe it to be. There are holes. You remember Alwyn’s comments in the cave. That Heimdall looks for large rifts, but if Freya stowed them here one by one for some time. It would be minuscule spikes on a massive scale.

 

Freya could easily get by without alarming the Gatekeeper.

 

He would not notice a horde of Jötunn Giants entering if Freya really wanted to hide them.

 

You bite your lip. Freya isn’t evil, she wouldn’t sacrifice Vídarr like that. Or you. Or innocents.

 

Loki looks to his right, watching your face. You try to think less loudly.

 

“Perhaps we should discuss this at another time,” he speaks, turning back to his father.

 

You look at Odin’s drawn features, creased with age.

 

He looks confused and small and weak.

 

Your seidr, dormant inside you wakens and slicks up your arms and to your throat. It speaks without your mind’s approval, “What if they were already here.”

 

All eyes in the room swing to you. Particularly Odin’s, he watches you.

 

Why would you say that? Your heart beats radically in your chest as the sliver of seidr retreats. Tension sears across your forehead, as panic swells inside you.

 

You instantly shut your mouth as the tension in the room grows, theorizing what you mean.

 

Odin looks to his wife and his lips pull into a frown. Her eyes brim with understanding as her hand reaches out to clasp Odin’s wrinkled hand.

 

Then, the Allfather looks to Loki, “The Princess needs rest.”

 

Loki bows, and pulls you from the room.

 

But you don’t even care that you were dismissed so strategically. That you were expelled from Odin’s war room, still untrustworthy. You’re too caught up trying to understand what just happened.

 

You expect to be led to your personal chambers, but you are surprised when Loki brings you to the small courtyard from long ago.  The cold seeps through your dress. Surely, when Eira dressed you this morning, she did not intend for you to spend an extended period of time outdoors. With a few murmurs, you use your seidr to warm yourself.

 

You pause in the entrance way, just in front of one of the large columns.

 

“Do you remember this place,” he asks after dropping your arm. He continues forward, walking to one of the trees nestled in the far corners.

 

What was once luscious and green has turned ashen and barren. It’s really just grass with a few trees littered around the square.

 

You want to smile, but you can’t. Your thoughts are still stuck on your father’s trail and your seidr betraying you in Odin’s council room.  You would need to ask Freya what it was.

 

“Of course,” you say dully. “It’s where you brought me for our bet.”

 

He chuckles then, touching one of the dead branches on the tree. “Yes.”

 

“You let me win that day,” you accuse, crossing your arms over your chest, trying to your warmth close.

 

He turns to you, his cape fluttering in the cold air, “Why would you think that?”

 

You remember his face that day. How tense it was. His face concentrated on yours with beads of sweat trailing down his flushed skin. “Just a feeling,” you say.

 

Loki doesn’t respond though, instead, he unhooks the chain keeping his cape on his shoulder and brings it to you. He settles it over your shoulders, closing it to seal your heat. His pale eyes stay on the chain now clasped around your neck, his eyes roving down your body. “Not exactly,” he finally admits. “This place… it’s enchanted, to help enhance seidr.”

 

You arch an eyebrow at him. “Why would you bring me here then?”

 

“Because you didn’t trust your power.”

 

“What about the bet? Was that just an illusion to make it look like I had a choice?”

 

The Prince arches one of his eyebrows, “You needed something to fight for, your disdain for me was clear enough.”

 

You pull the cloak tighter on yourself, frowning. It’s true, you did despise him back then.  You still do, you remind yourself. You need to remember that. No matter what he says or does, he’s still part of the people who plotted your father’s murder.

 

Because that’s what it was. You realize it now.

 

No matter what your father said that day, he was never going to leave the throne room.

 

“Why are you telling me this?” Why would he bring you here now, in the freezing temperatures?

 

“I won’t always be able to protect you.” He says quietly, “If I had been even a few minutes later, he would have gotten you.”

 

You read into his words, not knowing what would have happened if Vídarr found you first. “You think they’ll come again.”

 

“My father trusts the Jötunn-Æsir treaty, I do not.” Loki pauses, bringing his hands to your cheek rubbing his thumb softly against it in swirling, comforting patterns. You almost press into his palm. “We’ll come here twice a week, I’ll expect you to have mastered each lesson by the next.” He takes a predatory step towards you, you retreat once, your back flattened against the stone column.

 

“And if I do not?” You ask, just to spite his suddenly austere attitude.

 

“I’m sure we’ll come to terms with an arrangement.” He grimly offers, like a burden, “Perhaps a kiss for each success.”

 

You arch an eyebrow, “How forward of you.” He leans over you. His face comes so close to yours that you can taste his breath; it reminds you of clean mint and heady earth. You pull back, putting space between your lips. “And for each failure?”

 

He smirks, his hand trailing up your dress, caging your waist in his large hands. “I’m sure we can think of something.”

 


 

I'm so sorry for the delay. I just wasn't feeling this chapter as much as I thought I would. I am trying to tiptoe around all the major plot holes. 

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As always, please kudos and comment, you know how I live for these things. 

 

Chapter Text

All your perfectly delivered lies

They don't fool me

You've been lonely, too long


 

“Again.”

 

You sigh, exhaustion setting in. Sweat pools in your shaking palms. You’ve been trying for over two weeks to master conjuration and all you’ve learned is that it’s nearly impossible. 

 

To make matters worse, it turns out Loki’s form of punishment is simply to work you into a shaking, quivering frenzy. It’s maddening.

 

“Again,” he repeats, this time harsher.  

 

With one last inhale, you mutter the runes he taught you.

 

A translucent silhouette of a book appears in your hand. You focus on it as another bead of sweat rolls down the back of your neck and gathers in your hairline. The spine transforms from grey to red, the weight increases in your grasp. It materializes into a corporeal object for one, brief moment before disappearing again.

 

You groan.

 

You really thought you had it that time.

 

Loki scoffs from a few steps away and you lift your eyes to meet his sneer. “Again,” he demands.

 

“I’m exhausted.”

 

“Do you think I care?”

 

“I’m not doing it again,” you argue. “I can’t.” Your head throbs, your body aches. In fact, you’re so weak that the very thought of having to put your thoughts into words makes you cringe.

 

“You can and you will.” Loki disagrees, “If you actually tried, yo-”

 

“I am trying!”

 

“You aren’t.” His voice is dry and humorless. Plain.  

 

You level him with a glare that’s so diseased and vile, Loki chuckles. His laughter makes you lift your lips, bearing your teeth for him in an empty snarl.

 

“Once more,” he bargains, gaze softening.

 

And with that little gaze, that little pout of his lips, you lose.

 

You don’t know why he can affect you like that.  When his green eye widen and his eyebrows soften, it sends a strange feeling through you. It’s the type of feeling that reminds you of childhood.

 

Though you fight it. You know that the feeling is simply a culmination of loneliness and survival. Solitude can drive a person mad. It can destroy their resolve, splinter their strength. Your body may feel something towards him, may crave his kindness and attention, but your mind knows better.

 

Even a villain can be idolized if in the company of monsters.

 

“What is in it for me?”

 

“Ah, a bargain.” The corner of his lips turn up, “What would you like?”

 

You bite your lip, mind racing with the possibilities. Then you think of something you’ve been longing for since Vanaheim, “A ride.”

 

Loki’s voice takes on a deep timbre, leisurely and sultry. “We could definitely arrange that.” A sensuous grin spreads across his face.

 

You roll your eyes. “That’s not what I’m talking about.”

 

His smile drops, realizing what you are insinuating. Likely, he is remembering that catastrophic day in Vanaheim, when you disappeared without a sign. “That… would be difficult to arrange.”

 

“Please,” you nearly beg. You didn’t know how bad you wanted this, how bad you needed it, until this very moment.

 

The idea of merely being free of the castle walls, of being in the wilderness, surrounded by great plains and forestry makes your heart swell. You take a step to him, closing the gap between you.

 

Your body is starving for this, for a taste of independence.

 

Asgard is so…. Developed. So busy. The city is bustling with sprawling buildings and hustling citizens. You long for Vanaheim, for the vibrant sound of wildlife buzzing with freedom.

 

Loki is quiet for longer than he should be, but you can see the tides of his emotions gathering and receding as he processes each feeling: hurt, anger, disbelief, and, the worst of all, suspicion.

 

“It doesn’t need to be today,” you begin, trying to assuage his reactions. “It could be any, but… just the idea of being free from the city for even a day.”

 

Loki’s frown deepens the more you speak; his eyes darken. “It can’t be today,” he reminds you. “We have the Ljósálfr feast.”

 

“Yes,” you nod, swallowing thickly and agreeing far too quickly. You knew that a representative from the Light Elves was coming, and yet, you tried to forget it altogether. The feast, for whatever reason just set an anxious feeling inside you. “Of course.” He doesn’t speak for a long time and you begin to fret. Why do you have to do this? Whenever he begins to trust you, whenever things are finally good, or as close to good as things can be, you go and ruin it. Stupid. You’re so stupid and naïve. You take one step back. “Forget it,” you shake your head, trying to hide your dejection.

 

Just when you close your eyes, bracing yourself to repeat the runes, Loki speaks, “I would have to accompany you.”

 

You snap your gaze open, disbelieving what you heard. “What?”

 

“And, it would need to be a day that I can take a break from duties after the Ljósálfar leave.”

 

“Of course.”

 

Loki nods stiffly, his jaw clenched, “Again.”

 

Your responding smile likely blinds him. It’s so wide and honest, that it even makes you feel uncomfortable.  But Loki pays it no mind, gives you no reprieve, he simply narrows his eyes on your form. “Open your palms.” 

 

You nearly laugh from his demeanor. But instead, you do as he asks. Instead, you forget about your day on horseback and instead focus on the task in front of you.

 

You think of the book, picture it in your mind. Murmuring the words, you think of the weight of it in your grasp and focus on the feeling of its cover, hard and etched with lettering.

 

You feel your seidr slick up your body towards your arms, straining in your hands and seeping from your fingertips. You open your eyes, concentrating so hard on the grooves of your palms your head feels as if it is going to explode into a million miniscule pieces.

 

But then, the unthinkable happens. The book appears just there, it’s heavy and real. You don’t let go of it, not until your fingers are able to fully grasp it, able to feel it. And then, your breathing slows, your seidr drops, and the book is still there.

 

Your eyes widen as you see the letters staring back at you: Elenchus.

 

You open the book, flipping through it, laughing impossibly when you see the object has appeared perfectly in your hands.

 

Elation. You feel pure elation. Then you quickly glance to Loki. He’s staring at the book in your hand. The small smile pulling at the corner of his lips betrays his amusement, either at the book you chose or your ability to finally conjure something properly.

 

In sunlight, this particular sunlight, Loki looks appealing.

 

Before he can comment on your success, before he can even utter a word to dispel your happiness, you drop the book in haste and manage to throw yourself into his arms, laughing into the wind as your feet kick up in the air.

 

Loki stiffens. His arms remain at his sides and his abdomen flexes. Still, you tighten your grasp around his neck as your euphoria swiftly shifts to fatigue. Your fingertips graze the hairs at the nape of his neck, the strands are silky and soft. The type of soft that is nearly sinful. The type of soft most women would kill for. Your nail scratches the skin there. When Loki inhales sharply you smile, you like shocking him.  

 

Exhaustion makes you do odd things, it makes you want things you shouldn’t want. Rationally speaking, anyway. Like wanting to taste his skin, or feel it pressed against you, or wanting to sleep right there: your arms around his neck, your feet dangling in the air, your face in the crook of his neck.

 

So, you close your eyes and press your lips to his skin, longing to just feel him there. And you refuse to deny yourself after succeeding in something that has plagued you for what feels like an eternity. 

 

Loki’s muscles soften, arms finally slipping around you and pulling you tighter against him. When his head subtly turns, just slightly enough, he presses his lips against the side of your head.

 

And the next thing you know, you’re asleep in his arms.

 

xXxXx

 

When you wake in your bed, a jarring sense of distrust weaves through you. But you are dressed, on top of your sheets, and in your personal chambers.

 

Loki is nowhere in sight.

 

You frown, thinking about how you initiated the contact between you and how you so readily fell asleep in his arms. You’ve never felt anything like that.

 

So comforted.

 

It doesn’t make any sense, how your body sagged with just his arms around you, how you felt happiness in his arms.

 

You don’t want to face him. Don’t want to look at him. Don’t want to see the smug look he’s likely to give you. And you definitely do not want to give the stirring feelings any thoughts. You’d rather stay here than have to confront your own feelings.

 

In fact, there’s an eerie feeling in your stomach at the thought of going to the Great Hall.

 

All of your wants, though, are for not. You couldn’t ignore him any more than you could escape your fate a year ago.

 

Has it really almost been a year?

 

How strange to think of where you are now and where you have been.

 

For all of the battles you’ve fought, all of the concessions you’ve made. All the promises you confessed and the lies you’ve dealt.

 

You wonder if your father would be proud to see you like this.

 

You doubt it.

 

How could anyone be proud of you?

 

Soon, Eira is in your room, preparing you for the feast. Dressing you in another gown, icy blue, with black gems patched like armor on your chest and shoulders.

 

You look harsh, brutal. Just as you feel you should. 

 

Eira flutters about behind you, pulling your hair into a harsh updo, all of the hair is swept from your face. She’s humming, her voice a high pitched, a familiar tone that allows your mind to gravitate to somewhere far from here. 

 

“You seem nervous,” she finally comments after some time, mistaking your silence for something it’s not.

 

You awkwardly smile and with a small shake of your head, you dismiss her. “I’m not.”

 

She doesn’t say another word, clearly not believing you, instead, she focuses on the task at hand.

 

The truth is: what have you to be nervous about? There is nothing anymore that could surprise you, nothing that could betray you, except for yourself. Yourself.

 

Your stupid, naïve, fragile self.

 

Agitation grows inside you as you feel the hatred and anger rise within you. As you feel the festering flaws in every pore of your face, every follicle of hair. You want to lift your fist and smash the mirror into a million pieces. The power rages inside of you, the loathing. It manifests into seidr. It infects you, distorts you.

 

And then there’s her. With the perfect Asgardian hair, eyes, and temper. Calm and regal. But, here she is, attending to you.

 

“What does it feel like?” You ask darkly before thinking it through.

 

Eira’s gaze lifts to yours in the mirror, “What does what feel like?”

 

You pause, a moment of clarity and sanity taking hold.

 

With a shake your head, you pull your wine glass to your lips, taking a sip and trying to calm the emotions inside you. You study the cup and look at the swirling auburn liquid. It’s like a hypnotist. It urges you to speak. Gives you a script to read. You pull your eyes from the liquid and to Eira. She’s focused on your hair again.

 

Does she feel as small as you?

 

Attending to her ex-lovers’ wife? Would she do it again? Would she sleep with him again given the outcome?

 

Would she be his whore?

 

“Never mind,” you say, looking her directly in her cerulean eyes, tightly smiling while willing away toxic thoughts.

 

She opens her mouth like she is about to speak, but then a knock at the door silences her.

 

Eira continues to stare, like an innocent lamb caught and waiting for slaughter. As if she could read your thoughts that curse her.

 

You nod your head, giving her reprieve to spin and pace towards the entrance. It’s odd, but you already know it is him. The door opens silently, and Eira greets your husband with a deep, submissive curtsey.

 

You scoff, eyeing them both through the mirror of the vanity.

 

“Leave us,” he says after a few niceties.

 

You turn your head around, anger simmering underneath your skin. He has no right to dismiss your handmaiden.

 

Eira flees, her dress billowing behind her.

 

And just when you open your mouth to argue, just when he is a step behind you, you notice for the first time that the left side of his hair is pulled back into an elaborate braid, similar to how your father would assemble his.

 

You gasp, forgetting all about your hatred, your vanity, and abhorrent thoughts. Instead, you’re shocked that he would wear his hair in such a way. “Your hair…”

 

Loki smirks knowingly and you stand, padding over to him. You inspect it carefully, noting how well plaited it is. Loki doesn’t say anything, though he tilts his head to give your scrutiny easier access. When your fingers reach out to trail along the laced strands, he visibly swallows and tenses at your close inspection. The muscles in his neck strain. He’s vulnerable and insecure. It’s almost endearing.

 

A smile almost threatens to burst from your lips, but you will it away. You try to ignore the feeling climbing in your chest, twisting and fluttering inside of you.

 

“Say something,” he finally speaks, looking anywhere but at you.

 

“What would you like me to say?”

 

His eyelids flutter shut and a sad smile pulls at his lips. “Do you like it?” His body is stiff and it puts you on edge.

 

“I do, but…” you trail off.

 

“But what?” He asks harshly. 

 

“You’re wearing one braid.” Loki twists his gaze to look at you. It’s questioning. Confused. You bite your lip again to stifle your laughter, dropping your hand from his hair. “Typically, a married man wears two braids to show that his life is entangled with another’s.”

 

One raven eyebrow arches over his eye. “Is that so?”

 

“It’s symbolic,” you say. “It’s meant to display selfless devotion.”

 

“Sounds like a lot of work.”

 

“It’s not with practice.”

 

Loki’s gaze is cautious, tepid, as he blinks slowly. Marble has more emotion than Loki’s face. Stoic, cold. This is how he looks at you.

 

Humiliation sweeps through you when you realize he isn’t talking about braiding his hair. Finally, he asks, “Do you know how to fix it?”

 

“I do.”

 

He nods, “Well, then if you would.” As he settles in the seat at your vanity, he turns to you expectantly and lifts his chin so the braid on the side of his head hits the light.

 

You pace to him, slowly, tepidly, shaken by his ever-changing behavior: insecure to confident in a mere moment.

 

Carefully, you mold yourself to his side and lift your hands to his hair. With deft fingers, you unweave the braid and re-weave it, gathering more hair as you go. During the tedious ten minutes it takes to braid his hair, you can feel his gaze. It roves from your eyes to your lips, to your chest, to your fingers. It makes fretful anticipation grow in your stomach and spread throughout your body.

 

It starts off as two separate braids, laced independently. But after a few plaits, they begin to knit together, strand by strand until one braid emerges and falls with the rest of his shoulder-length hair.

 

You admire it from behind, admire him.

 

“You’re decent at this,” he surmises, looking in the mirror.

 

“High praise.” You forcefully smile, thinking of all the times your mother taught you the steps to this very braid. “But, it is a Vanir custom.”

 

“You’d be surprised how many don’t know their own customs. Especially given your societal standing.”

 

You frown at his words, “Because I’m a princess, I should not know how to braid hair?”

 

Loki laughs gruffly, shaking his head. “That’s not what I meant.”

 

“Then what did you mean?” You do your best to not sound rude or unforgiving, but, it comes out that way regardless. 

 

As you go to take a step back, Loki catches your wrist. He circles it in his long grasp, “I meant that you are not like most Princesses.”

 

You swallow, eyes stuck to him for a brief moment.

 

His breath coats your wrist, cool in comparison to your rising body temperature. The desire swells into a friction that has you wanting to step closer, wanting to run your hand through his hair, wanting to press your wrist to his lips.

 

You want.

 

The tension crackles and his lips lean forward, kissing the skin in his grasp.

 

“I’m sure you say that to all of the Princesses,” you joke.

 

“Only the ones I marry,” he hums, pulling on your wrist so you have no choice but to step even closer.

 

Suddenly, he wraps his arms around your hips and shifts you so you’re perched on his lap. Taken by surprise, you release a small yelp and put your free hand on his shoulder to steady yourself.

 

“We’re going to be late,” you argue, trying to stop Loki as he leans up to kiss your neck. Your eyelids flutter shut when he nibbles softly the skin, licking and teasing it.

 

“We should skip it.”

 

“We cannot,” you argue. His hand begins to creep up from your waist to the back of your neck. He repays the favor from earlier, playing with the strands of your hair as he continues the assault on your skin. “Your family will be there.”

 

Loki shifts you in his arms, carefully moving you like a marionette. His hand plays with the laces of your gown. “They won’t care,” he mumbles, kissing a path to the valley of your breasts. He bites playfully and you can feel him swell underneath his pants.

 

This is going somewhere fast. The evening begins to trickle away into other possibilities, detouring into a very private, very indecent event. And you know, the more Loki touches, the more he maps with his lips and hands, the less likely you are to attend Odin’s feast.

 

Though ordinarily, you’d do anything to stay in your rooms, you know that staying here would not sit well with the family. Particularly when an embassy from far away is visiting.

 

And yet, you do the unthinkable, you shift until your legs so you straddle him. You move your hips, rubbing yourself against Loki and let your fingers crawl to his hair, pulling on the strands until his head is pulled back.

 

You startle yourself for a moment.

 

The idea of seeing him like this, under your command, makes your heart thump wildly. It’s a different sort of authority. It’s forceful. Poignant. He looks at you through half-lidded eyes, an encompassing, mischievous smile adorning his face. It makes a sharp twinge of pleasure rut through your body.

 

So, you lean over him, like you are going to kiss him but stop at the last moment. “I care.”

 

Loki can only be described as sin. Pure, unadulterated sin.

 

His fingertips, blasting with a coldness that makes your skin flame more, manage their way under your dress. He smiles when your legs begin to quake with anticipation as he trails his fingertips up your thighs.

 

When he manages under your chemise, you shake your head. “We are going to the feast.”

 

His hands finally manage to get to the juncture of your thigh and slips past your final barrier of clothing. Loki runs one finger along the seam of your lips and inhales when he encounters your slippery essence.

 

“Stop that,” you gasp. Catching his wrist in your hand, Loki looks up at you, the mirthfulness back in his eye as he dips one finger inside of you.

 

“Do you really want me to stop?”

 

You lick your lips, “Yes.”

 

“I very much loath when you lie to me.”

 

The tip of his middle finger swirls around your sensitive nub.

 

“Loki…” You try to sound cross, but instead, your hips shift forward, opening yourself up to him.

 

His eyes dilate and nostrils flare when you begin to swivel your hips on him, pleasure zips up your spine. And you groan.

 

Suddenly, he lifts you from his lap and sits you on the vanity. Loki stands in between your open legs, pressing himself deliciously against you. Long hands cage your cheeks and you can smell yourself on him, you’ve grown used to the smell of sex. Though, you should be more embarrassed. He leans forward, kissing you passionately. His tongue commanding yours, flicking yours to life.

 

When he pulls away, you keep your eyes closed waiting for the next onslaught of his sexual advances.

 

But instead, steps away from you.

 

“Shall we?”

 

When you instantly open your eyes, he chuckles.

 

“What?”

 

“I believe you said we are to attend the feast. I would hate to disappoint the Allmother and father.”

 

Your jaw drops when he begins to walk, smoothing out his clothes with a Cheshire grin on his face. He looks at you over his shoulder, expectantly, but you are stuck on the vanity. Dumbfounded.

 

After a moment, you huff and stand, stomp past him as you make your way out of your chambers.

 

Far too quickly, Loki manages to match your hurried pace to the Great Hall.

 

“You seem upset, pet. I thought you wanted to attend the Feast.” When you send him a withering stare, he merely chuckles again. Strolling next to you confidently. “That is, unless your desires have changed? All you have to do is say the word and we can change our evening plans.”

 

You clench your teeth, unwilling to give him the satisfaction. “They have not. I look forward to the Feast.”

 

Loki smirks, “And I am looking forward to after.”

 

The corner of your lips pull down, not amused by his flirting.

 

Your body thrums with want, though you refuse to give it any attention. Instead, you poorly attempt to focus on getting to your destination.

 

When you finally do enter the Great Hall, Loki manages to get his hand on the small of your back fanning the fire in your belly and lead you to the head table. Everyone is already seated except for Odin and the visiting Light-Elf.

 

You take two seats near Frigga, her eyes praising you and Loki as you enter.

 

“You are late,” she notes, raising an eyebrow at her son.

 

You look at Frigga, a flush heating you when you realize that despite your best efforts you still manage to arrive past the appropriate time.

 

“A prince is never late,” Loki responds, filling his cup and yours with wine. “Everyone else is simply early.”

 

When he fills Frigga’s cup, she smiles and shakes her head, her eyes praising at her son’s braids but not saying a word. Then, her blue eyes meet yours and give you insightful regard. She knows what the braids are. What they mean.

 

“Apologies, Frigga.” You cut in, “It was my delay.”

 

“Nonsense, I know my son.” She laughs.

 

Loki smirks, side-eyeing you.

 

You didn’t realize the Light-Elf representative would be Neldor.

 

With the signature silver hair and nearly translucent eyes, Neldor looks formidable and graceful next to Odin.  Though just as aged, with wrinkles around his face, he skin radiantly youthful in a way that is different from the Allfather.

 

Then again, Neldor only looks over the borders of Aflheim, he’s not the king.

 

The food is served, giving you a distraction from the pit that is quickly spiraling in your stomach.

 

The guest sits farther down the table, conversing with Odin intermittently. His shoulders are tense and mouth terse as the two begin to exchange a bit heatedly.

 

You don’t mean to stare, but you can’t stop. And when the Elf looks over at you, with a glare so heated, you quickly look down at your empty plate. You stay like that for a few moments, silent, and sneaking glances to Neldor, scrutinizing his every mannerism as an uneasy pit grows in your stomach.

 

Loki fills his cup, conversing with his mother and others that meander around you.

 

After nearly an hour of silent reveries, Loki’s hand slides up your thigh, squeezing it and trailing higher.

 

You look over at him, startled. His nose leans forward caressing your cheek and you can smell the wine wafting off of his breath. Clearly, he has had a few drinks.

 

You pivot your face so you can look into his glassy, yet lucid, eyes.

 

“Yes, Loki?” You tease, grasping his hand in your lap and stopping him before he can get to his clear destination.

 

But his voice is liquid. Soft and rolling so no one else can hear his question. “Are you wet, still?”

 

Your eyes widen, as you pull back. “Excuse me?”

 

 He smiles, slowly licking his lips as his pinky begins to shift up and down your thigh. He leans forward to your ear, “I’m still hard.”

 

You peer around you, seeing if anyone is noticing your interactions, but no one is looking your way.

 

“Hard from merely imagining all the wicked things we’ll be doing later.” He whispers, making your pleasure resurface from earlier. “Tell me, would you like my fingers first or will my cock suit you?”

 

Your answering thick swallow is from a swelling wave of panic and yearning.

 

His nose trails across your cheek so he can look you in the eyes. “Perhaps you will like my tongue licking you.”

 

Shock shoots through you. Of course, you are always used to Loki’s antics, this is something else altogether. And your body, shameful and degrading, pulsates and throbs under his sensuous stare.

 

He’s never suggested that before.  

 

“Mmm,” he groans, “I haven’t gotten to feel you come on my tongue and you were so good today, pet. You deserve a reward.”

 

“Loki,” you mumble, eyes falling down to his thin, pink lips. You want to feel his tongue on your skin.

 

“Tell me what you would prefer and it’ll be yours.”

 

And you are imagining the possibilities, his hand, his hips, his face between your thighs. And that feeling that you don’t want to pay a mind to, the fluttering butterflies that steal your breath.

 

But you never get the chance to answer.

 

Because, just when you open your mouth, an explosion erupts from the other side of the hall.

 

And then... all hell breaks loose.

 


Thank you for all of the support. I hope you are enjoying. 

Now that we are at Chapter 20... do you have a favorite scene so far?

Or, any theories about what's to come?
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Let me know ;) 

Chapter Text

It all begins with an explosion.  

 

The distant right wall crumbles as you stand from your seat, moving back before realizing there is nothing but the stone wall behind you. A dead end.

 

Swarms of frost-giants march into the room, tossing tables, chairs, and people haphazardly to get to the head table. Your eyes widen as another wall falls, stones collapsing into a thick smog.

 

Smoke smothers your throat. It reaches in like a hand, slithering down your esophagus and holds your voice hostage. You try to cough it out, try to wheeze a word, but it comes out silent and bitter.

 

Someone shoves the table onto its side so it acts as a barrier. In the chaos, Loki manages to pin you to the floor, cradling your head so you don’t crash against the stone. You begin to panic when the lights flicker, thrashing each limb. Convulsing.  

 

“Shhh,” Loki whispers for more coherent than he seemed only moments ago. “We are fine.”

 

You shake your head, trying to get out of his grasp and flee as any sane person would do. But he grasps you tighter, his hands digging into your skin. That’s when you notice that Loki has already managed to change into his armor. One of his hand maneuvers to your chest and presses on it to keep you pinned. The other materializes a dagger, twirling it in his fingers as his head cocks to the side.

 

“Left,” you hear Thor shout, striking Mjolnir, his enchanted hammer.  

 

Loki swiftly rises to his feet, dagger anchored in his hand. With a jutting motion, he pivots to his feet, and the weapon is gone, embedded in the chest of a frost giant. Then another is in his hand, and just as quickly, it’s disappeared. He’s like a river, smooth and precise in his movements. The muscles in his arms strain against their leather encasing, his breath exhales with small puffs, unaffected by the exertion. While Thor is moving with brute force, his brother is graceful and sophisticated in his movements. You sit up to watch him closer, transfixed on him.

 

Screams litter the air. Stampeding steps echo as people storm away from the Great Hall. You can hear bodies dropped to the floor, smell blood joining the smoke in the air.

 

You can barely see anything more than two feet in front of you.  

 

Loki drops back next to you as a spear clatters on the wall next to you. He chuckles, face beaming with dimples. You’ve never seen him look so… ferocious. Chaotic. Like he’s thriving off the anarchy as people continue to cry out.

 

When he turns to you with his sly smile taking up his whole face, it stutters. Pauses. Falls.  

 

Because all he sees is your fear: wide eyes, shaking palms, ashen face.

 

And like a winter’s sun: damaging to look at.

 

Gone is his revelry and in place is a seriousness that was missing. He opens his mouth, likely trying to assuage your fear, but his words are cut off before he can.

 

“Loki, on your right,” Thor calls.

 

Loki looks behind you and to his brother with a grim look on his face.  With a subtle shake of his head, your husband turns back to you.

 

“Come,” he commands, holding out his hand for you to grasp.

 

You simply look at it. Long and pale, spidery and thin.  You long to escape, to take it and run, but he can’t leave. It’s selfish of you to make him.

 

A hurricane rages inside the hall, violent and teeming with the dripping sounds of screams.

 

A giant manages to jump over the barricade, but Loki is faster. He makes quick work of the warrior, slitting his throat and blood oozes down azure skin. The body drops, eyes still open and dull. Your heart thumps wildly as you look at the giant.

 

Death.

 

You haven’t seen it up close in some time.

 

“Now,” he grates, pulling on your wrist. As you stand, the smoke begins to clear and you can see the people cornered to one side, the giants moving around barbaric and strong. Picking them off, one by one, as the Einherjar try to fight their way through the massive wall of tall, blue bodies.

 

As you follow Loki, you think of the victims below, the servants who were likely looking forward to a large meal in their bellies. The maids who are able to take a break from their duties.  

 

Of Eira.

 

You see her there, honey hair glimmering in the dim light. Her face is horror. Eyes glistening, hanging jaw. She’s stuck in a herded group of people, unable to get out as they’re cornered to the wall. You’re scared for her, too. The snake-like hatred from earlier, the one that slithered up your body and out your mouth was so wrong. So odd. So, unlike you.

 

You pull on Loki’s wrist, trying to stop your trek forward. He merely snarls at you, lifting his mouth and almost snapping. This is cowardly, you realize. Escaping, fleeing, as the masses take the brunt of the invasion.

 

“Stop,” You manage to yell over the screams. And for whatever reason, Loki does. He slows and turns to you with wild eyes. “Eira,” you say, hoping he can hear you.

 

He does, his eyes scamper to the servants. “She’ll be fine.” He mutters pulling you forward.

 

You tug his wrist harder than intended. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think Loki almost stumbled back to you. But he’s far too elegant for such an action. Instead, he spins on his heel, shifting you subtly behind a large column as the storm rages on. His nostrils flare, and eyes shoot sharp daggers at you.

 

“Are you daft? This is no place for you to be.”

 

You look around yourself, seeing the nightmare surrounding you. “I know, but you need to stay.”

 

Loki’s oceanwater eyes soften before he scoffs in irritation. “Thor’s here, this will be over shortly.”

 

And as if saying the words weren’t condemning enough, a fresh wave of Jötunn reinforcements enter the halls, blowing passed the Einherjar. Mechanically. Easily. And they trek directly towards the crowned prince. The Warriors Three and Lady Sif have begun to shout at each other, directing specific orders to one another. Fandral, Hogun, and Volstagg manage to fight back a large group of giants as Lady Sif frees a group of trapped servants. Then, she is thrown to the other side of the hall, slams her head and drops in a heap.

 

Loki looks around himself, shock imprinted across his chiseled face.

 

“You have to stay,” you repeat as the wreckage rages on.  

 

He slams his hand next to your head, ferocity across his face. Loki pulls your face in between his large hands. He gazes into your eyes as if trying to read your thoughts. Then, he sighs in defeat.

 

“Take the servant’s entrance,” Loki directs, authoritatively. You look to the corner of the dais and see the hidden door. To anyone else, it would look like a wooden panel, but you know better. “Then get to somewhere safe, not to your chambers that’ll be the first place anyone would look for you. Go somewhere else, the library or the gardens and hide. I’ll find you after.” He takes your hand and puts one of his daggers into it. He manipulates your fingers so they clasp over the metallic shaft.

 

You look down at it. The green gems, the silver hilt. It’s grotesque and oddly beautiful. You swallow thickly as you study the weapon in your hand. Because, you know that if it came down to it, you would have no idea how to wield such an armament. You have no aim, no skill. When you glace back to Loki, you see he’s looking at you with the same level of intensity as before.

 

Finally, you concede, “The gardens,” you say.

 

He nods and pulls away from you. Before you can overthink it, you pull him back to you and kiss him briefly on the lips. He pulls back, shocked. Then, very slowly, the grin sneaks back onto his face. The manically, depraved smile that chills you. As Loki steps away, a spear hurtles towards him, you begin to scream, seeing it before he can. But with a quick reflex, he catches it in his hand and catapults it into another giant’s body.

 

He uses his seidr, using violent tricks to trap the giants, throw them across the hall, summoning daggers into blue-skinned throats and limbs.

 

With one last glance, you turn, carefully, looking before you stumble hastily over to the secret door. You shove it open using far more force than necessary. But, your whole body is alight with a type of fright that overwhelms you.

 

You close the door and fall against it briefly, taking a few seconds to catch your breath and settle your racing heartbeat. You pull the dagger back to your eye level, imploring for it to do something in your hand.

 

It does nothing. Instead, it mocks you with its inertness, gleaming and still.

 

After staring at it for far too long, you decide to stuff the knife down the corset of your dress. It manages to fit perfectly between your breasts, the blade just slightly pressing into your skin. A door opens from down the hallway and it is followed by the thundering stomps of Frost Giants.

 

You quickly draw your seidr and jump into the void, hidden away from their sight. Not a moment too soon, you realize, as they hurdle around, sacking the halls, hurtling towards the throne room.

 

Curiosity advises you to follow them. But you ignore it, thinking rationally. You need to be rational. You need to get somewhere safe. The gardens, the library. Anywhere.

 

Still, your mind rages on with a million questions and no way to answer them: Why are they here? Are they here for you like Loki thought? Here for revenge? For Vídarr?

 

The only way to find out, the voice returns inside you, is to follow them.

 

For a moment, you’re stuck on that pulsating thought. In a haze, your one-foot steps forward to do as it says. To follow them. 

 

It’s an infection that rises inside of you, that spreads with every beat of your heart. It’s like a flower petal in a severe wind storm, drifting into a pre-determined path that it has no choice but to follow. This voice that echoes is paving away your sanity. And then, more steps echo, people scream, stones fall.

 

It wakes you from that haze.

 

You shake your head, and before that thought can try to come back, you turn and head in the opposite direction.

 

You manage to stay in the void for longer than before. It’s strengthened. Your tiny seidr inside of you has managed to flex and grow from your training with Loki.

 

When you get to the gardens, it’s eerily quiet. You listen for anything, but all you hear is the familiar sound of nature. It is as if the chaos inside the castle has yet to reach your sanctuary. A sigh manages to release from between your lips. Loki was right, it was better to not go back to your rooms, to instead hide in the Allmother’s gardens.

 

After all, hadn’t Eira once told tales of people who were lost inside for centuries?

 

You pop back into reality, relaxing. You close your eyes as you let your body sag and release the stress that it encountered moments ago.

 

The bitter, winter wind begins to fan across your skin. You mutter a quick spell and your body temperature rises to acclimate to the cold weather, draining you even further.

 

You take slow, long steps into the garden, milling around and admiring the tranquility. Your mind wonders back to the Great Hall, longing to be back there. Wondering what is happening, if the dust has settled, if the invasion has retreated.

 

Sensibly, though, you know there’s no way you’d be able to help. You’d only be in the way. A liability. A nuisance. What kind of help could you offer? Dark thoughts begin to seep in your head again, trudging through the emptiness inside of you.

 

You should visit Freya. See her, hide with her. At least it’d be someone to talk to. Someone that could take your mind off of the war raging inside.  

 

As you spin to head towards the secret alcove, you gasp.

 

A large Frost Giant has entered the garden. His blue skin is marked with white swirling markings and two black horns jut from his head.

 

There are many lies told of them, lies that Asgard has spread. But, you know the truth. After all, the first Queen of Vanaheim was of Jötunn descent. Only one of Asgard’s spewings is true of Frost Giants: they run cold, able to torture their opponents with a simple, icy touch.  

 

Their skin isn’t blue because they’re cursed, it’s to hide in the frost. Their raised markings aren’t vile incantations, they are markings of their tribes. Their eyes aren’t like burning embers because they can kill you with a look, it’s to see when eternal darkness has shrouded Jötunheim.

 

But the horns on the head, those are only for a select few. For the royal lineage.

 

Your stomach drops, when you realize that you’re looking at Vídarr.

 

“Princess,” he greets, with a snarling smile on his lips.

 

You take a step back, as the hair on the back of your neck rises in a warning. “How did you get out?”

 

He scoffs, and then his cerulean skin fades back to creamy tones. You’re staring back at the Vídarr you know, with Asgardian looks: arrogant and handsome. “Do you really think I was ever locked in?”

 

You don’t answer and instead plot a way out, eyes spanning the garden for a quick exit.  

 

“You are very predictable,” he begins instead of waiting for your response. “Running back to Freya for protection.”

 

“Are you here to see her?”

 

“No,” he shakes his head. “I’m here for you.”

 

Your eyes dart to him, heart stuttering in the cavity of your chest. “What do you want from me?”

 

“Want? I don’t want anything from you.” Vídarr’s eyebrows furrow across his forehead. “I’m here to rescue you.” He speaks the words as if it is the most obvious statement. He runs a hand through his blonde hair and takes a step forward. Does he think that you feel safer with him in his Asgardian form? That you would actually trust him? He’s arrogant. His arrogance will be his downfall, you decide. You’ll use that.

 

You step to the side, careful to make sure there is still enough space between you. His answer is a chuckle.

 

“Amusing,” he mutters under his breath. “I’m beginning to think you don’t trust me.”

 

“Did you plan this?” You ask, looking around the gardens, but trying to keep him distracted.

 

“How could I? I was locked in a cell.” You shake your head, hearing twigs rustle in the wind.  “Though, I am appreciative of my dear Uncle’s army coming for me.”

 

As you circle him, you see an arched hedge on your left. You could run to it. From there, though, where would you go?  

 

“I would not do that,” Vídarr advises. “It’s a dead end.”

 

“Your army is killing hundreds of innocents.”

 

“Innocents? Name an innocent Asgardian, I beg you.” When you don’t answer, he raises his eyebrows. “As I thought.”

 

You frown, that violent feeling inside of you rising again with the stuttering heartbeats, like a dark voice echoing in the crevices of your mind. The feeling acts as a shield, taking over your thoughts and cutting off your rationality like a circling serpent.  

 

“Come with me,” he says, holding out a hand and taking another pace closer.  

 

 “I’m not coming with you,” it says.

 

This gets his attention as his smile drops. He snaps, “You would rather stay here?”

 

You would.

 

You’d rather have control over your path than another person deciding your thoughts.

 

Asgard may be impure, may be convoluted. It may have plots, and schemes, and be shrouded in dark, symbolic lies. But, no matter the dangers, or the deceptions, or the conspiracies. At least here, you know that you can’t trust anyone, you know your place. You know your path.

 

“I have a purpose here.”

 

He laughs then, his skin transforming back to his birth form. “A purpose?” He snaps forward, latching his hand around your throat. “You actually believe that wretched witch? You believe she cares for you -- that any of them actually care for you? They’d sooner see you dead than protect you.”

 

You grasp his skin and with a powerful flex of magic, you burn his wrist. He loosens his grip and you push him with a white flash of your seidr, sending him hurtling back. He lands on his back as you circle around him, hurtling towards the exit.

 

Before you can get far, Vídarr is back on his feet and his hand manages to snake into your locks. “That was impressive. Did Loki teach you that?”

 

You don’t answer, instead, you try to call on your seidr again, though it’s exhausted. The Prince is one step ahead of you though, he jostles your head, knocking your concentration. Pain radiates through your skull. “Tell me, are you starting to care for him? Has he managed to get between your legs yet?”

 

You slam your head back, hitting him just under his chin. He simply laughs.

 

Before your thoughts catch up with your actions, you reach for the dagger hidden between your breasts. It cuts your skin as you unsheathe it, but you don’t even feel it over the desperate anger manipulating your movements.

 

Quickly, you scrape it against his skin, a trickle of blood drips from the small cut. He drops your hair, hissing at the wound. The next thing you know, his hand is grabbing you and throwing you to the ground.

 

“Is this what you want?” He asks violently, pulling at your legs, and dragging you across the courtyard towards a hedge. You continue to thrash on the ground, fear clawing with the tangled ferocity inside of you. “Do you just long for other people to decide your fate, to be put in your place?”

 

You shake your head as you watch Vídarr’s calm composure slip. You steady your breathing as your skin scrapes against the stones of the courtyard, you summon your courage, terror, and determination. You send a blast and he’s on the ground.

 

You scramble to your feet, a shoe falling off in the haste. This is not what you thought would happen. You thought you were on his side, that he was a part of the solution, not another problem.

 

And as you stare down at him, shock clearly on his face. Betrayal carved in his eyes with something else that you can’t quite place.

 

In a quick move, Vídarr sweeps his long legs out, making you fall onto your back. Your head snaps against the stone and your vision blurs for a moment. The next thing you know, Vídarr is on top of you, his hands closing around your neck.

 

Is he trying to kill you? You can’t tell.

 

There’s a softness in his eyes. But his hands are there, around your neck, like he’s ready to pull the life from you.

 

You remember that feeling, the death that has come from you. From cold hands that circled your throat before. Vídarr’s hands almost feel like his right now. They feel like death.

 

Before you know what you are doing, before your vision is able to articulate what you are seeing, you lift your arm and thrust the dagger into his chest.

 

His eyes widen, red and sorrowful, gaping down at you like it was impossible. Like you were not supposed to be able to do that.

 

You remove the dagger, blood spurts out. You look at it, unfazed as you see his skin slowly grey. Vídarr falls to the side, and you manage to get on top of him. He struggles underneath you, trying to get you off of him. Instead, you stab him again.

 

And again.

 

And again.

 

Repeatedly.

 

It becomes a sweet repetition as you watch the man die underneath you.

 

And after… when your thoughts dawdle, when your heart slows, when your lungs catch up with your breaths, you look down at what you’ve done. At the blood on your hands, on your dress. You drop the dagger, it clatters on the stones. A panic billows inside of you.

 

He deserved it.

 

No. That doesn’t make it okay.

 

He would have done the same to you.

 

You don’t know that.

You curl your knees to your chest, rocking back and forth as you stare at the blood pooling around his body. Bloody hands cradle against your chest.

 

What have you done?

 

You stare at him, not even realizing when the evening trickles to midnight. When the bell rings; when the wind howls.

 

Hours bleed away as the thoughts rage inside your head. Your body begins to shake from the cold, and still, you don’t feel it.

 

You hear steps, but you don’t at the same time.

 

Suddenly there’s a hand on your shoulder.

 

You turn violently, reaching for the dagger.

 

But you’re stopped. You thrash against the arms that are trying to cage you, to calm you, to pin you down.

 

No. You don’t even realize your screaming until the voice is in your ear.

 

“It’s me,” the voice says. “It’s just me.”

 

You blink a dozen times, trying to see anything but blood and death. After moments, you see Loki. “It’s just me,” he repeats, his black hair matted.  You shake your head, heart thumping and brought back to that feeling.

 

He looks passed you for a moment, seeing the body and back to you.  “Calm yourself.”

 

You launch yourself into his arms, longing for anything to cling to. Oddly enough, you are happy that he is here. And even odder, tears begin to fall.

 

His hand runs up and down your back, as you stare past him. As your vision begins to cloud, you choke out broken sobs into the crook of his neck. You can feel your body trembling and quivering in his embrace.  

 

Loki gathers you, his arms circling your back and under your legs, lifting you effortlessly. You keep your head looking over his shoulder and when the body comes into sight, you see grey. Smoke. Death.

 

You memorize it, letting this feeling of immense guilt take root inside you.

 

What have you done?

 

Loki manages to carry you back into the castle, the acrid scent of death in the air as he mazes through the stone hallways.

 

When you pass through a door, you realize you aren’t in your own chambers, instead, you’re in his.

 

He doesn’t stop in his entranceway, doesn’t stall in his bedroom. Instead, he brings you to his privy chambers and sits you on a large, gold countertop.

 

When he tries to pull away from you, you lock your arms around his neck, nestling your head back into his chest.

 

He tries to wrench your wrists at the same time he begins to run water, but you shake your head.

 

Then he says your name, softly. “You have to let go.”

 

So, you do, you release your hold. Loki peels you away and takes your hands.

 

You can’t look at them, but you see them.

 

Red. Blood.

 

Death.

 

He delicately brings a washcloth to your palms, softly wiping away the remnants of your evening. Wiping away Vídarr’s life.

 

He’s jarringly silent.

 

The room is soundless.

 

It makes you long for crumbling walls and screams. It makes you long for biting sarcasm and playfulness. It makes you long for warmth.

 

He scrubs away the blood, but you still see it. Still see your tainted, scarlet skin.

 

You take the rag and begin to rub against your hand, harder, rougher. Your knuckles, your fingers. One by one, you brush the fabric over yourself.

 

Loki tries to take it away, but you hold onto it tighter. Anxiety claws inside of you, nesting into your chest, fluffing the straw semblance of composure.

 

Because your face is drawn, empty. Your lips are pulled down on the edges, your eyes blank, as you continue to rub your skin raw.

 

And Loki, he watches, lets you have this moment.

 

Until you begin to bleed.

 

It makes you scrape harder, not feeling the pain as you try to get rid of the new seeping blood.

 

Finally, he cracks. He rips the cloth away from you, even as you shake your head.

 

“No,” you scramble, reaching back for it.  

 

He mutters under his breath as he throws the rag on the other side of the room and takes your wrists into his cold grasp. “Stop it.”

 

“No!”

 

Finally, the tears fall again, the emptiness is back inside you wallowing with shame.

 

You killed someone.

 

Someone who claimed they wanted to protect you.

 

Claimed.  The voice whispers like a snake inside you.

 

After what feels like hours, you calm with Loki’s death grip holding you. His harsh breath filters through the air, battering against the silence. He looks like sorrow. Round eyes, tense mouth, lined forehead.

 

You look down at yourself, the blood-spattered along your dress. It was a pretty dress. Now, it’s a canvas for death.

 

Finally, you utter the thought, “I killed someone.”

 

Loki shakes his head, lips pulled into a deep frown. “He was a traitor.”

 

“That doesn’t make it okay.”

 

Your mouth is dry, cracked. As you say the words, you taste blood, like your mouth has begun to gush. Guilt. You finally understand that tangling web inside of you. It’s guilt.  

 

And it makes you decide that you are no better than your captors.

 

“You’re in shock,” Loki acknowledges. “With time, you’ll realize that you did what was necessary.”

 

One fat tear rolls down your cheek and Loki’s chilling thumb wipes it away. You bite your lip, trying to stop from crying again. Who knew you had so many tears?

 

“We have to talk,” he finally notes after time.

 

You manage to nod, though a conversation is the last thing on your mind. You look at your skirts, stiff and caked. “Can I change first?”

 

Loki blinks slowly and looks down at your dress. “Of course,” he steps away from you and helps you down from the counter.

 

You gingerly follow him, crossing your arms over your chest as you enter his bedroom.

 

You expect he’ll produce a shift or that he’ll already have something here for you. Instead, Loki hands you one of his soft chemises. You pull it into your clutches, carefully feeling the smooth material under your palm. Then, he politely turns away, heading back from where you came.

 

As you change, your dress cracks and rustles stiffly. But, you manage. You slip the top over your head, noticing that it is surprisingly modest for being one of Loki’s shirts. Perhaps you’ve never noticed how tall he is or, perhaps, it is enchanted to fully cover you.

 

You aren’t sure.

 

Instead, you pace to the far side of his room, looking out the window and onto Asgard’s streets.

 

If it weren’t for swirling stacks of smoke, you’d have no idea the castle was attacked. When you hear the water run in the other room, you move into his bed, climbing in and under the covers, oddly comforted by the scent that filters in. Ice and forestry. It’s calming. You turn onto your side, looking at the window from the bed, studying the oddly peaceful city.  

 

Floorboards creek from the other side of the bed, but you can’t take your eyes from the glass.

 

The bed dips under Loki’s form and you can feel his eyes on the back of your head.

 

You wish he’d wrap his arms around you, wanting to feel his weight. It’s like an anchor, mumbling poetic promises of purity.

 

Everything will be okay.

 

It’s okay.

 

You’re fine.

 

But Loki doesn’t comfort. He doesn’t make false pretenses.

 

He never says things he doesn’t know.

 

Still, you want to feel him and wipe away this aching loneliness.

 

But he doesn’t move, he lays there just behind you.

 

So, you move. You maneuver to your other side to stare at him. When he opens his mouth to say something, you shift closer, snaking your arms around his body and burrow your nose into his skin.

 

Trees. Frost. Security.

 

He tenses, his muscles going taught as you press your form against him. You aren’t shocked by his demeanor. Because, even through your intimate nights, they never really end with his arms around your form. Still, you stay like that, pressed against him to secure your calmness.  

 

And all is silent. You didn’t realize how exhausted you were. How sleep pulls on the edges of your mind. From the brink of sleep, Loki finally relaxes against you. His arms slowly wind around you and his fingers curl into your hair, his other hand wanders up and down your back in a soothing gesture.

 

Then, just as darkness finally takes hold, he speaks.

 

“They retreated,” he whispers, his hand pressing against your upper back. “We’ll be leaving for Jötunheim in the morning. Odin has declared war."

 

“We?” you mumble through the haze of sleep.

 

“Thor and I.”

 

Not you. 

 

The thought of being without him wakes you with a dousing feeling of unease. 

 

And oddly enough, you don't know how you feel about that.

 


 

Holy-Loki long update. 

Tumblr: MichelleLeahhh

I was not able to edit this as much as I'd have liked, but hope you were able to look past any flaws.

Please let me know your thoughts.

You make me smile with every comment, kudo, and reaction.

 

 

Chapter Text

When you wake up hours later, Loki’s chambers are dressed in hues of dawn: reds, pinks, and oranges. And, in this serene atmosphere that is adorned with a new day’s beginning, you forget about the previous night’s darkest hour. It slips from your mind like quicksand, focused on a single thought: Loki. 

 

You peek open one eye to search for him.

 

His shadow shrouds the bed, lean and rigid in form. When you find him standing at the foot of his mattress, you see that he is dressed in black and green battle armor. Thick furs adorn the top collar, likely to keep him warm in the freezing Jötun temperatures.

 

As if sensing your waking, Loki turns around, frowning at you in distaste. “You should be asleep.”

 

You bite your lip at his cold tone and decide to pay it no mind.  “What time is it?” you ask, voice thick with sleep.

 

Loki turns his head, black hair swaying, as he looks out the window. “It’s just dawn.”

 

“You’re leaving now?”

 

He sighs, “Yes.”

 

“For how long?”

 

Your heart stutters when he replies with a simple, “For as long as it takes.”

 

You can’t be sad to see him go -- you can’t. In honesty though, it’s less of an can’t and more of a refuse. Because to admit that you are sad with his leaving could be dangerous. Instead, you huff and bury that thought.

 

It’ll be good for you.

 

His leave will make your time more peaceful, more centered on you. No distractions, no conflicts, no amorous evenings.

 

 Just you.

 

Loki makes his way over to your side of the bed and sits on the edge. He runs one gloved hand down your cheek. The soft leather makes you smile up at him.

 

For a brief moment, he looks forlorn, vulnerable, and contemplative, then it is gone in a flash. When he speaks though, his voice is so overly dramatic that you almost laugh. “Will you think of me?”

 

 “Only if necessary,” you deadpan, holding back a teasing smile.

 

He sulks, eyes smiling. “You know, Asgardian wives reassure their husbands as they prepare for war. I could perish in Jötunheim’s frost.”

 

“Well, I am not Asgardian and I am not lucky enough for that to happen.”

 

“No,” he chuckles in agreement with less of a joke in his voice, “You most certainly are not.” Loki peers down at you, seawater eyes looking for an imaginary flaw. After a moment, he leans down, lips pressing chastely against your forehead.

 

Upon contact, your eyelids flutter shut and you are reminded of your mother, of your father, of safety. When he pulls back, you let your fingers burrow into his hair for a moment. You bring his lips back to yours, pouring everything your feeling into them.

 

Gratefulness for the night before.

 

Fear for what’s to come.

 

Maybe, even sadness to see him go. Though you still can’t be sad to see him leave.

 

He kisses you back, tentatively and softly.

 

When Loki wrenches away, he swiftly stands from the bed and paces back to the vanity, pulling his gold-horned helm on.

 

“When is your formal departure?” You ask, watching him put the final touches on his armor. “I assume it’s customary of Asgardian wives to watch their husband’s leave.”

 

“There’s no need,” he dismisses, pulling at his clothes for a moment.

 

You nod even though he can’t see you.

 

For some reason, the thought of not being there when he leaves sends a sad tremor through you. Your seidr begins to burn again with that specific, all-consuming spark. It’s that heady feeling in your gut that swells and ebbs like a tide, manipulating your insides so you feel how it wishes you to. Like with Odin, like with Eira, like with… you w think his name.

 

You distract yourself from the gloomy thought of death by focusing on Loki. He takes long strides across the room hand reaching for the doorknob when your seidr rises to your throat daring you to speak a thought you weren’t sure you could even think. 

 

“Loki,” you call, biting your lip. You crawl to your knees, stooping at the center of the bed as your hands wring the comforter, feeling quite unsettled. 

 

He pauses and turns to look at you.

 

“Be safe,” you say.

 

He piques one eyebrow in your direction, his gaze glowing with a mirthfulness. “Only if necessary,” he parrots back to you.

 

With that, he exits, his cape flowing behind him majestically.

 

He’s gone for four moments, before your heart begins to clench in an unfamiliar way.

 

It takes over your chest, stammering ruefully as the moments pass by in Loki’s empty chambers. You sprawl around in the bed, unable to fully settle in his suddenly far too large and much too quiet room. You can smell him still, like a frosty pine tree. It makes you even more uncomfortable and lonely, wishing he told you when they will officially depart so you could be there.

 

And as the thought of seeing him enters your mind, you realize you need to watch his leave. It’s closure.

 

So, with that, you stand and pull on one of Loki’s robes that is just modest enough to cover you.

 

As you exit his chambers, you are struck by how silent the halls are. Though you’re thankful for that given your state of dress.

 

The service floors must be bustling with servants as they gather supplies for the warriors: rationing mealie, packaging ale, gathering weaponry. The Allfather is likely strategizing with his generals, as the warriors ready themselves for battle. The Allmother must be preparing the healers with remedies and herbs to help with all types of ailments they’ll uncover on foreign territory.

 

And as you enter into the library, you try to think of what Loki is doing. Is he bickering with his brother, teasing him mercilessly as he readies his horse? No, he was in too somber a mood to act in such a way.

 

You climb one of the spiraling staircases that leads to a small view-tower of the courtyard. And as you count each step, you try to think of what your husband must be doing. Practicing seidr? Sulking silently? Rolling his eyes at each of Thor’s ridiculous proclamations?

 

When you finally get half way up the tower, you come across a wooden door. With a powerful shove, you push it open. The winter wind rushes into the tower, rustling your clothes and tangling in your hair. It’s refreshing. You pass through the entryway on steady, determined footfalls.

 

The outside is a simple, wooden platform with a stone half-wall that circles all sides of the tower. If you had time, you might have walked around it, familiarize yourself with the all of Asgard’s breathtaking views.

 

Instead, you take four small steps to the edge of the platform and stand on your toes too look over the tops of the railing. Hoping they haven’t already left.

 

Lining the immense courtyard in perfectly assembled rows is a large portion of Asgard’s army. Clearly, Odin wanted to show force. The fact he was able to gather such a profound group in such a short time is really astounding.

 

Their gold armor glints in the sunlight as each soldier stands still, waiting for orders. You watch in awe as they stand like statues, shields in their arms and a sword on their bodies.

 

Finally, the grand entrance to the courtyard opens, the large doors echoing across the outside as Odin, Frigga, Thor and then Loki enter. It’s amazing from this height how different Loki looks from the family. All of them with fair hair and polite smiles. Loki with his raven, fatalist features.

 

As they pass numerous people, Loki nods but does not smile like his family. Finally, they get to the top of the rows. Odin clasps Thor’s arm, his face serious as the God of Thunder nods. But it’s not his face that makes you think, it is Frigga’s. She pulls her younger son’s pale cheeks into her hands and gazes into his eyes so deeply that it almost makes you look away.

 

It’s a moment almost too intimate to witness.                      

 

Loki nods at his mother, his hand covering hers on his cheek as he responds to something. Even from where you stand, you can see Frigga’s eyes brimming with tears. She takes a step back as Odin cuts in, patting his son’s back in an almost uncomfortable fashion.

 

Your heart aches in discomfort as Loki bows his head to his father. It’s painful to see, to be reminded of Loki’s true allegiance. Sometimes, when it’s just the two of you, it’s possible to pretend something else.

 

Finally, a bell blares around the courtyard and the brothers climb to their horses.

 

As Loki readies the horse’s reins he looks around, like he is hoping to find something, but only disappointment reigns on his face. 

 

When he begins to turn to exit to the Bifrost, he scans the view towers.

 

The moment he sees you, it’s like you’re struck by lightning. A bolt of electricity and excitement strums through you when Loki watches you. Your nails dig into the stone railing as you try to communicate the hope brimming inside of you. He smiles, briefly, before tilting his head and turning confidently on his horse.

 

You try to memorize this look. A light mirthfulness in awestruck features as he and Thor lead the armies down the Bifrost. You watch.

 

He never looks back.

 

And a small piece of you knows why you needed to watch him leave: he may not return.

 

xXxXx

 

“Ah, there you are,” a light voice chimes from the entryway.

 

You pick your head up from The History of Jötunheim’s Wars and pull the cloak across your shoulders tighter.

 

Your eyes widen when you see Frigga standing at the entrance to Loki’s private gardens. Quickly, you jolt from the bench you were sitting on and snap the book shut. “Allmother,” you greet.

 

“You are a difficult one to track down.” Frigga smiles at you, calmly, as she paces forward. She gestures for you to sit and gracefully perches herself on the bench. “The History of Jötunheim’s Wars  what a seemingly dull topic.”

 

You gingerly take a seat next to her and run your hand over the cover of the book. “I’ve read worse.” Frigga holds out her hand and you hesitantly place the book in her palm. 

 

She flips through the pages, quickly scanning the crusty pages as she speaks, “My son did say you have an impressive appetite for reading.” When you immediately stiffen, she looks at you from the corner of her eye and smiles. “Oh, don’t look so shocked. Loki can say pleasant things every once and a while.” She sighs, adding, “Though, they are typically followed with a negative comment.” She chuckles as she hands the book back to you.

 

You’ve never thought of Loki’s interactions with Frigga. It’s hard to picture. The quiet son having serious conversations with his mother… about you. It must have come up, but the fact he would speak of you makes you smile.

 

You miss him.

 

You can now admit that you actually miss Loki. Now that he’s gone. Now that you don’t have to say it to him, that you don’t have to see him every day.

 

The past few weeks without him have been dull, drum, and repetitive.

 

You go to the library and find a book, nestle into a corner there or in the gardens, read. Then maybe, just maybe you’ll seek out Freya. But even that has become a rarity.

 

It’s not that you don’t want to see Freya, it’s just that when you do, you find that you have to confront what you did.

 

You killed someone.

 

However necessary it was. You still struggle to come to terms with it. And seeing Freya, thinking that she even may have orchestrated the attack frustrates you. You can’t ask her of such a thing, can’t ask her if she was behind it.

 

You don’t want to know.

 

People died. Hundreds of people.

 

And you killed someone.

 

If you ever had a hand in such a thing… you don’t want to know.

 

Instead, you ask Frigga, “Have you heard from him?”

 

“Not directly,” she answers. “I am assured they are fine though.”

 

You nod, biting your lip afraid to ask the next question. “How long do you think he’ll be gone?”

 

Frigga’s hand reaches out to yours. Her touch is soothing. And when you look at her, at her calm blue eyes and her gracefully composed face, you realize there is only one reason you could be scared to ask. “I cannot assume it will be long. These quarrels usually pass.”

 

You smile tightly, removing your hand from hers. Quarrels.

 

Is that all this was? A dispute? Disagreement?

 

How ridiculous it sounded out loud. How utterly trivial.

 

Here you were, burdened with guilt, with shame, and the rest of Asgard moves on without a shred of remorse.

 

When Frigga says your name, your brought back to reality and to her.

 

It is said that Frigga studied with the Völva, ancient women who are able to see some snippets of the future.  

 

But you don’t believe in such things. At least, not that Frigga is an all-powerful seer.

 

Because if Frigga could see the future, then she’d know of your treacheries. And if she knows of them she has done nothing to stop them.

 

It’s useless to think of such things.

 

“Are you happy?”

 

You furrow your eyebrows at her question, taken off guard.

 

“Happiness is subjective,” you say.

 

Her long, elegant fingers grasp your chin and tilt your gaze to hers. She watches you for a moment, studying your reaction.  “But you care for him.” Your mouth falls open as your stomach drops, unsure of the intent of her assertion.

 

You pull out of her grasp, uncomfortable with her persistent stare.  

 

She adds, “It’s okay to care for him even if you don’t trust him. He cares for you, though he may not always show it.”

 

Do you care for him? Are you able to admit such a thing? Such sad, devastating truth.

 

You bite your lip as tears begin to gather in your eyes, refusing to acknowledge the churning emotions inside of you. “I apologize, Allomother.” You whisper, shutting your eyes to calm yourself.

 

Her hand closes around your shoulder and you can feel her seidr seep into your skin. It pacifies you nearly instantly. When you open your eyes, you see the concern in her features lacing around her sky-colored eyes. “I’m sorry for upsetting you.”

 

“You didn’t. I fear I am just exhausted.”

 

Frigga nods, running her hands through the ends of your hair. It’s another soothing and yet off-putting maneuver.

 

“I came to ask if you would be so kind as to join me for dinner. Perhaps tomorrow would suit you better?”

 

You sigh, wanting to turn her down. Instead, “I would love that.”  

 

xXxXx

 

A dull fire is the only light in your chambers.

 

As you curl onto the cold ground just in front of the simmering flames, you lift the cup of wine in one hand and take a small sip of the bitter liquid. With the other hand, you pull the book from earlier into your lap.

 

Frigga was right, it is a terrible read.

 

But that’s not why you have it.

 

The spine cracks as it opens. The text is so old that the pages are tinted with yellow hues. And when you pull out the first page, you unfold it carefully. It expands into a large map of Jötunheim, likely outdated, likely wrong. But all the same, you let your finger trail over the map, tracing the rivers, mountains, and planes that are visible on it.

 

You touch the small black dot that marks Utgaard, simply trying to feel Loki through the pages. Such things are ridiculous. After all, you are more than mere finger lengths apart from him.

 

With an inhale, you pour your seidr into the map, trying to see if you can use it to open some type of window to him. Maybe even just call his presence to the top of the page.

 

Not that you believe you’d be successful.

 

You haven’t actually attempted to try such a thing, but even if you could see him for a brief, singular moment, perhaps this aching inside you would finally subside. It’s been days since you’ve slept peacefully. An uncomfortable, foreboding feeling has taken residence in your gut, the same type of feeling you felt as you left Vanaheim with your parents a long time ago.

 

And, as you thought, nothing happens.

 

So, instead, you let your mind concoct imaginary reunions full of memories to use as markers for the future.

 

You close the book, burrowing yourself in a fictitious reverie.

 

How will he act when he sees you? With mischievous eyes and a small smirk likely.

 

Will Loki kiss you? Of course, he will. He’ll probably pull you into his chambers and take you without hesitation, whispering feral words into your ear.

 

You blush at the thought. Blood racing at the mere thoughts of his actions.

 

Perhaps Frigga is right; perhaps he does care for you.

 

And perhaps, she is right in assuming you truly care for him.

 

You sigh as you drop the book to the floor and crawl into your bed, coiling around a pillow.

 

You almost hope you dream of him tonight.

 


Tumblr: MichelleLeahhh

I'm very, very tempted to write the next chapter from Loki's POV, but I don't want to reveal anything that's about to happen. In fact, there are a few chapters I'd love to see from his POV. Would there be any interest from my dear readers, perhaps a series of one-shots?

As always, Loki thrives on kudos and comments. 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

I keep a record of the wreckage of my life. 

 


 

 

There’s a book in Asgard’s library. You’ve dreamt about it in passing before.

 

But tonight, it calls for you. Taunting. Haunting. Tempting, you to find it. 

 

It speaks in an evocative smoky tone, with a broken dialect and thick accent. It’s almost difficult to understand, but you’re able to make out just enough.  

 

The cover is midnight, with a thick layer of dust casing its shell, and it is shackled to a decrepit wooden bookcase. It hasn’t been read, hasn’t been seen, hasn’t been remembered since it was dropped there generations ago.  

 

And yet, it’s in your dreams. 

 

Calling out for you. 

 

So, when you awake, you scamper through the large library into a concealed, unlit area to find it. 

 

Just like a spirit, it is there, just where you dreamt it was. In a quick flash of light, you break the chain with a simple enchantment. One that Loki would be impressed with. 

 

And when you get it to the corner of the library, when you huddle into a seat and curl your feet beneath you, you realize what it is. 

 

You pause, your fingers running over the cover, the pages.  

 

The tome is ancient: the runes are in a near-forgotten vernacular, the pages are brittle from time and heavy with burden. It feels powerful in your hands, as a humming charm spiraling from it and into your bloodstream.

 

And as you mouth the words, it tastes forbidden. 

 

Metallic and psychedelic. 

 

Tart and bitter. 

 

Drunk and sober. 

 

When you finish reading every sordid detail, you wonder how this book is able to exist. How it’s been down here the whole time just waiting to be exploited. It makes you sick. 

 

It’s a prophecy. 

 

No, it merely claims to be

 

Your logical mind tries to bridge the gaps: it’s too vague, too open-ended to be useful. It can’t be accurate, it can’t be here for anyone to read. The Allfather would never allow it -- right?

 

Still, Ragnarok is there, etched between the words and brought to a vivid, sordid life. So obviously nigh and still distorted in the horizon with no clarity. It’s honest and twisted and it echoes the past few months. 

 

Ragnarok or the great battle for life and death. It’s all here, in the text, spinning a tale that’s far too familiar.  

 

A broken Jotunn prince, lied to and expelled from his home, strikes a deal with a Vanir Princess. Her world was destroyed at the words of the Allfather, so she belittles herself to find a place in enemy territory. Together, they build a snare that grows far too wild to be controlled until the nine realms perish. 

 

And you can see how you’ve played a role, so delicately intricate in helping the plans come to life. 

 

The prince will be killed and Ragnarok will officially be unavoidable. 

 

You killed Vídarr. 

 

Then, the universe will perish in Surtur’s flames. Asgard will be a ravished pile of scorched buildings, Yggdrasil’s trunk will cave, the Norns will cease. 

 

And a purer world will begin again. 

 

This is no longer a game. No longer a sport to avenge your family. 

 

No, this is much larger than you, much larger than anything you could have foreseen.  

 

You were a pawn. You were used and manipulated to form an attack you had no idea you were part of. 

 

And the only way to make it okay, to even try and fix it, is to implicate yourself. 

 

Right? 

 

You’d have to tell the Allfather, where to find Freya and how to capture her. Exploit her weak points. 

 

As you begin to plot how to stop her a small shadow trails over you - startling you. You quickly snap the book shut, tearing your teary gaze from the pages and to the person’s face, using your seidr to hide this book from the other’s gaze. 

 

“Alwyn,” you gasp.

 

“I have found you,” she smiles hovering over you. “What are you reading?” 

 

You glance down at the book in your grasp, noticing that the cover is a piece of literature. “A folktale.” You smile tersely at the elf, “Terribly droll.” 

 

“Midgardian?” She asks with a youthful happiness. Her regard steals your breath in wonderment. 

 

Does she know? 

 

Does she know the cards you’ve dealt to the universe? Was she part of the whole thing? 

 

This tiny elf, child-like and harmless. Was she an orchestrator or just part of the orchestra? You wonder. You want to ask, want to know, want to uncover the truth. 

 

That would be foolish. Stupid. 

 

You can’t do that. 

 

Instead, you swallow back the truth and lie. “Yes.” 

 

 She falls into a cross-legged heap on the floor and stares up at you. Her fingers begin to strum with the strands of the carpet underneath her, dragging her nails through the fabric in a near rhythm. You can’t tear your eyes from it. 

 

“Freya would like to see you tonight.” 

 

That name has become terrifying. It sends a shiver through you. 

 

“I can’t.” 

 

“Why?” Alwyn’s question is genuine and concerned. 

 

You lick your lips though your mouth is dry.  “I am joining the Allmother for dinner.” 

 

Alwyn pauses her playing and looks at you for a moment with judgment like she’ gauging something. Eyes fall to the book in your grasp as she quietly stands. “I’m sure you’d be able to see her after?” Her question is not a question at all. 

 

You open your mouth, then close it again, dredging up any possible excuse that you could think of. Except, there is none. 

 

How many times have you seen Freya at night, when the castle was asleep? 

 

So, you swallow the fear, and excuses, and hate, and you look at Alwyn with a promise. “Of course, I’ll be there tonight. I may just be later than expected.” 

 

Alwyn’s instant smile is blinding. “Freya will be most pleased.” 

 

You’re sure she is. 

 

Later in the day, you send word to Frigga to confirm you’ll be in her chambers. You pray she still would like you to join her and also praying that she won’t. 

 

If she confirms, you’ll have to tell her. You’ll have to tell her about what you’ve done, the promise you’ve made with Freya, about how her own sister has plotted the death of millions, billions. And now it is unstoppable.  

 

The prince will be killed and Ragnarok will officially be unavoidable. 

 

And this is all because of you. All of them will hate you, and they will smile as they bring the executioner’s blade upon your neck. Or they may just burn you alive, starve you to death. 

 

No. 

 

They wouldn’t want to bring attention to you. They wouldn’t want to tell the people about what you have set in motion. You would be quietly kept in Asgard’s dungeons, never thought about again. 

 

Unless… you can stop it without them. Perhaps, you can figure out a solution without Frigga, or Odin, or Loki knowing. You now know exactly what Freya’s angle is and how she’s planning to bring Asgard’s end. 

 

She promised she’d bring Odin down, you just never realized she’d bring all the Nine down with her. 

 

Before you undress for the baths, you receive Frigga’s confirmation for dinner. And that’s when the plot comes easier, when it takes a shape. 

 

As you ease into the steaming water, as you rub your skin raw, cleaning off the tragedies of the day, you think. 

 

Because -- the easiest place to think is in the bath: Stripped of extravagance, exposed in a steamy air of emotions, and sunken in a pool of solitude. 

 

Usually here, in the hot, rolling liquid, you wondered what would have happened if you left with Vìdarr. If you took his hand and ran.

 

Where would you have gone? 

 

Perhaps Jötunheim, where you’d be miserable in a frozen tundra and caves. 

 

Perhaps Midgard, where you’d be starving for finery amongst common villages. 

 

Or even Muspeilheim.

 

But in reality, you’d probably be locked somewhere else, being used in another way. Maybe crueler, possibly kinder. Regardless, you’d be used. That’s why at times, when you think about that night, about what you did, you are okay with it.

 

And then other times your mind whispers about why what you did was not even close to okay.

 

Tonight, your regret is larger than it ever had been. But in the hot baths, you register that there is no good that can come from regret, it’s a useless emotion. 

 

No. 

 

Tonight, you dress in silk armed with wits and cognizance. 

 

For the first time in a long time, you’re aware -- you’re seeing everything in its truest form. 

 

And they should be scared. 

 

xXxXx

 

Frigga’s chambers are like home. They’re a mixture of your rooms and Loki’s. Her rooms smell like Vanaheim’s perfumed and crisp air but are showered with relics, and papers, and books scattered about in uniform chaos. 

 

Dinner is less of a meal, and more like tea, with a bowl of soup and a few desserts to fill your stomach. It’s a good thing though, you don’t know if you can actually eat. Not with the discovery of earlier hanging over your mind.

 

And Frigga is so sincere it hurts you. Her eyes glow, her eyebrows arch with interest and kindness. 

 

The two of you eat in an almost silence. 

 

She chats idly, dredging up memories of her childhood that paint a far too clean picture. You used to think of Frigga as kind and beautiful and peaceful, but now you wonder. Knowing her husband, her sons, her sister, is she truly as kind as she would want people to think? 

 

“Tell me about your family.” You beg, tearing a pastry into pieces. 

 

Frigga pause for a moment sitting back in her seat. “My family?” 

 

You nod, looking at her carefully across the table. “From when you were a child.”

 

“I haven’t thought of them for a long time.” 

 

“Why?” You ask, far too quickly. 

 

“It is sometimes easier to forget the past. It can be onerous.” Your eyebrows furrow across your forehead as you look at her. Suddenly she is less composed, less positive. She sighs as she pours herself another cup of tea. “What I mean… is that we have a way of refurbishing the past and fooling ourselves into thinking it was better than it was. We paint over the troublesome aspects because sometimes pain dulls with time. So, I try not to think of them and focus on my present.” 

 

“Are they still alive?” You need to know her opinions on Freya.

 

Frigga’s laugh chimes, “In a way. People are always alive in your memory.”  

 

You see Freya in her now. Their pretty way of speaking about something and nothing at the same time. 

 

It’s frustrating. 

 

You pivot the conversation, “Have you heard from Loki?” 

 

“I have, actually. It came this morning.” She stands from the table and walks to her desk in another room and grabs a thrice folded letter. When she returns she places it on the table in front of you. “He asks of you.” 

 

 You pull it into your hand and when you open it, the pretense inside of you is fatally wounded. 

 

 His handwriting is something between elegance and hurried scratches. Your eyes quickly read the page, noting how your name is mentioned twice. One time it’s just to ask about you -- about how you are. 

 

The other time is to give you his… regards. 

 

You smile, hearing his speech, smelling his scent, and seeing his look as he is writing this. 

 

It sends a feeling of longing inside you.

 

Then, you hand it back to Frigga, careful to hide the emotions swirling inside you. But, when your eyes meet the Allmother’s, you know that she recognizes exactly what you are thinking and that makes your heartache more. 

 

When you leave Frigga’s chambers, you tread heavily and slowly to the garden. With each step forward, you prepare yourself: a fake smile, a charming lie, and then you’re ready to dance with the devil herself.  

 

“My dear,” Freya calls when you enter the cloister, the decaying garden transforming into a beautiful vista. “I have missed you.” She sits on a bench surveying the bath in front of her as the light from the moon and stars bounce off of the waters. 

 

“I’m here now,” you say standing in front of her. She pats the seat next to her and you sit, your skin crawling as the cold wind flutters through your hair. 

 

A quietness spreads as you watch the garden and her eyes stare at you. When you finally sit back in the seat, resting your arms on your lap, she speaks. 

 

“So, now you know.” She states evenly, “I can feel your seidr boiling with rage.” 

 

You snap your gaze to her, mind blanking instantly. “I don’t-“

 

“Don’t lie, you may have married a lie-smith, but I know your tells.” Freya sighs, “I do not intend to bring Ragnarok, this will end before we get there.”  

 

Your heart stutters, your pulse quickens, your stomach churns. She knows your tells? Fine. 

 

“I don’t believe you.” 

 

She smiles instantly, she looks calculating, cold, and cruel. “Good. That means you’re learning.” 

 

“I killed Vídarr, it is inevitable now.” 

 

“That’s the thing with prophecies, child ,” she spits. “You cannot presume to know what they mean. They are so unclear that you will ruin the future to undo what is done.”

 

You frown at her, “Do they know?”

 

“Who?” 

 

“The rest of them, Alwyn, Bjö-“

 

“No.” Freya snaps. “And they do not need   to know.”  

 

You lift your jaw and look at the garden in front of you. Even in winter, Freya’s all-compassing seidr has kept the plants alive and thriving with Spring beauty. 

 

“You’re lying to them,” you whisper. “You’re taking advantage of their devotion.”

 

“I am not. I’m fulfilling what they want. I’m bringing Asgard’s end.” 

 

“At the expense of everything else.” 

 

Thunder crackles from next to you. Freya’s body has alighted with a rolling type of electricity that rivals Thor’s hammer. Then in a flash, it’s gone. 

 

“It’s easy to cast me as the villain, but you’re the murderer.” 

 

Her words are unpalatable and candid. You are the murderer . You killed Vídarr, you started this. This is on you.

 

And that’s why you need to be the one to stop it. 

 

You open your mouth, then close it again. There’s nothing you can say to make Freya see otherwise. 

 

But moments later, as the wind rustles and the moon shimmers, bells ring from the main gates. You quickly stand, looking at the watchtower in the distance. Guards rush around the platform and then disappear from view, clearly headed for the main entrance to the castle. 

 

You take a moment, then sudden need cascades through you. There’s an army entering Asgard. A large army if the sounds are any indication. You slowly turn to look at Freya, anger growing inside you. “What have you done?”

 

Her gaze is skeptical as it stares into your eyes, “This is not my doing.”

 

She wouldn’t own up to it even if it were. 

 

You hear a stampede of footfalls, so many have come to the gates and none of Asgard’s forces are here to defend the city. Without another thought, you turn around, heading to find Frigga and see what you can do to help. There has to be something. Anything.

 

As you turn on your heel, Freya grasps your forearm. Her long nails dig into your skin forcing you to look back to her. Her eyes are vulnerable and her skin aged a hundred years in one conversation. It’s like she needs you to trust her like she’d do anything at that moment to make you believe her. “Trust me, all I want is Asgard’s ruin. I do not wish to end the worlds.” 

 

And though you want to pretend with her, though you long to burrow your head beneath the sand, you speak the truth. 

 

“I have to go.” 

 

You race back, finding your way through the castle. Servants scurry about, lighting candles in the halls and shuffling objects from room to room. 

 

With little affection, you grab a young maid by her arm. “What is happening?” 

 

She looks at you with trembling lips and wide eyes, frozen by your directness. “T-T-They’re back,” she manages to finally stutter out after a few moments. 

 

Your heart pounds in your chest, imagining the Jötunn giants from before, not daring to think it could be anything else. “They?” 

 

“The princes,” she clarifies, coughing to clear her throat. She then speaks clearer, “The princes are back.” 

 

You grip drops from her and she runs along, sweeping through the hallway and around the corner. 

 

Loki? Loki’s back. He’s home, entering through the gates. Your chest flames with an emotion you don’t want to think about. It’s not love, not hate, but something else it feels a bit like spring. Fresh and airy. 

 

And you stand there as if waiting for a sign of what to do. That very same moment, a bell rings from outside. 

 

And you know, you want to see him -- need to see him. After all, he brings a chaotic sort of consistency that has been missing since he left. And upon your discover today, his timing couldn’t have been better. 

 

xXxXx

 

It’s a long trail from the gardens to the Great Hall, where the large encampment will post themselves and you make it there in what feels like minutes. Your breath heaves and sweat gathers in your hairline when you stumble upon the room. 

 

Just as you are about to push open the door, your name is called from behind you. You inhale deeply as you turn around, finding Frigga waving you over. 

 

She takes your hands in hers, clasping them tightly with tears in her eyes. “They’re in Odin’s council rooms.” 

 

She leads you by your hand, carefully holding onto you. 

 

“Is it over?” You ask, foolishly. 

 

She looks over her shoulder, her eyes filled with a heavy emotion that you can practically taste. “These things are never over.” 

 

“Then why are they back?”

 

“There was an attack, many were injured, but I believe a peace branch was planted.” 

 

War is disgusting. It’s brutal and has no end. That you know. The Vanir and the Æsir have been fighting for thousands of years and there is still an unsettling discord between them. Even before Odin executed your family. That is why you were brought here in the first place. 

 

To bring about a second peace. 

 

And look where that brought you… 

 

But war, with blood and death, steals innocence. Innocents. It kills and maims and destroys all the good things in life.

 

It should have been a warning for you, but it wasn’t. 

 

The images of injured soldiers, people, sons, daughters, flashes in your mind. You were part of the reason this happened. 

 

“How many?”  

 

“Fandral, for one,” Frigga comments in passing, weaving around a corner. Her voice gets dark then, “But… many.” Then, she adds quietly as if to herself, “One is too many.” 

 

You think of Thor’s friend, the best with a blade , “Will he live?”

 

“The healers are doing their work and we will pray.” 

 

She stops at the door and you maneuver around her, ready to enter, not caring whether or not it is your place. 

 

Loki is on the other side of the door. 

 

But, Frigga stops you. Her hand covers yours on the knob and peeling it away from the brass handle. You glance at her, pausing at her distressed appearance. 

 

It ricochets through you and makes head hurt and heart thump wildly. This isn’t the look of a mother who is elated to see her sons return, who has missed them and can’t wait to have them in their arms.

 

No, this is the look of a mother who is torn on how to feel, who is in pain. 

 

“Was he hurt?” 

 

Her eyes soften then as she exhales. “No, my dear.” But, her voice makes you feel worse. “War changes men. He may not be the same man who left you.” 

 

“What do you mean by that?” 

 

She pauses then, forming words on her tongue. But before she can get them out, the door opens. 

 

“There you are,” Odin announces gruffly from the doorway, then turns and hobbles towards the main table, calling over his shoulder, “Get inside.” 

 

Frigga looks at him, then back to you. When you begin to step over the threshold she stops you. “Remember that he loves you,” she whispers in a rushed breath. 

 

And then she passes you, entering, the wrought emotions in her eyes hidden as she hurries over to her sons. 

 

You see Loki from the doorway, sitting in one of Odin’s council chairs and staring at his hand. 

 

When he looks up at his mother,  you think his eyes will brighten with love, but he only looks lost. Then his eyes find yours, and the look is so hateful and brutal, it steals your breath.

 

This is not the look of a man who loves you. 

 

This is the look of a man who despises you

 


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Apologies for the long delay, I hope you enjoyed this chapter.