“Really Loki, you may not be heir to the throne as Thor is, but you still have a duty as second heir to marry,” Odin gruffed as he lifted the goblet to his mouth. “What will our people and the other kingdoms say when they see you unwed?”
“Nothing as they should mind their own business,” Loki hissed as he tried to not stab his apple tart as he cut a piece.
This was the fifth breakfast that his father had brought the damned ‘marital duty’ into the conversation. That isn’t counting four training sessions, six lunches, seven scholarly lessons, twelve of his blessed reading sessions, and twenty dinners.
“Loki!” Odin hissed as he slammed his cup down. “You are almost twenty one! You should have a partner!”
“Thor’s thirty years old and he isn’t married! You didn’t even push for him to marry!” Loki hissed right back as he slammed his fork down. “He still isn’t married!”
He felt a twinge of guilt as Thor flushed a little while gulping a bite of bread. But he mostly felt anger as he knew that although the two rings on Thor’s hand weren’t wedding rings, they were promise rings.
“Thor has his partners! Both of whom he is promised to!” Odin countered as Loki grit his teeth. “He is late but at least he was dating at twenty one!”
“Sleeping with them is not the same as dating. If it is, then I have dated as plenty as Thor,” Loki hissed, grinning in satisfaction in Thor’s choking and Odin’s growing fury. “I do not and will not marry!”
“You will!” Odin yelled. “I know suitors have sent gifts, and I know you’ve rejected each and everyone of them!”
Loki froze with his fork in the air. He had been getting court offers, each describing his beauty and comparing them to the object. About how their union would be advantageous, how they would be honored to marry into the family. But that was it.
Nothing about him. Nothing of wanting to learn about his likes, dislikes, who he was. All they wanted was someone beautiful and the power that came with the marriage. “I didn’t want them! I won’t choose any of them!”
“If you don’t choose, then I will choose for you!” Odin warned. “It is difficult enough to persuade the people that you aren’t evil with your magic, it will be harder to fight those accusations and the slander they will say if you aren’t married!”
Loki’s breath hitched at the mention of his magic, clenching his hands as he dropped his gaze to the table. “Mother did not think magic was evil,” he whispered.
The two at the table and the servants froze at the mention of their late queen. “Loki,” Odin sighed as he ran his hand over his face.
“That I was evil!” Loki hissed as anger boiled beneath his skin. “She would’ve let me wait! She would’ve let me choose when and who to marry!” He stood abruptly before rushing out of the dining hall.
“Loki! You come back! LOKI!” He ignored his father’s calls and rushed out towards the forest. He tried to ignore the pain he felt as the servants turned away from him in fear as his green magic curled and flickered in his hands.
“Damn you father!” Loki screamed as he swung the magic towards a tree. “Damn you! Damn you! Damn you!” he hissed as he threw dagger after dagger into the trunk.
There was a twig snap and he spun, next dagger in hand as he pressed it to the annoyance’s neck.
“I knew I’d find you here,” Thor sighed as he calmly moved Loki’s dagger away from his neck. “Loki-”
“Don’t try to tell me to marry, like I said you still aren’t,” Loki huffed as he threw the dagger into the trunk before sitting in the small space where there weren’t any daggers.
“No, but I’ve been courting them for two years,” Thor hummed as he carefully sat on the ground close to Loki and carefully took out one of the daggers. “Besides, you know we want-”
“Yes, yes, you, Bruce and Brunnhilde want a summer wedding in the night by the lake,” Loki scoffed as he watched Thor carve a heart with ‘TBB’ in the center. “You disgust me,” he murmured.
“You know Hilde prefers Hilde, Brunn, or Valkyrie. She’ll punch you if she hears you call her by her full name,” Thor reminded before chuckling as he shrugged. “That’s fine… But I hope you feel the same for whoever you chose. When you choose them.”
Loki snorted as he took out a dagger and started carving a snake. “I’ll call her booze hag then,” he snickered before frowning at the reminder of his problems. “As if I have a choice on when I could choose them or who since I will not choose anyone in less than a month.”
Thor hummed as he added two horns on the snake, reminiscent of the two small horns on Loki’s crown. “What if you could?” he quietly asked.
That made Loki pause before his eyes narrowed as he scanned Thor. “What are you saying? I can delay the marriage?” he softly asked.
“In a way,” Thor murmured as he glanced up at Loki. “I don’t know if you know, but mother and father were forbidden to marry each other. Father’s parents wanted him to marry a princess from another kingdom and someone without magic. On mother’s side, her parents wanted her to marry someone who accepted her for her magic and someone she loved.”
“No, I didn’t,” Loki hummed but it made sense. She had pushed for changes in the marital laws, that’s exactly why Thor was able to marry the peasant scientist Bruce and highly respected, current royal guard captain Valkyrie. “What did they do?”
“Well, mother said she’d marry whomever presented her a golden apple. And father said that he would only marry the fairest noble woman in the land,” Thor hummed as he leaned against the trunk. “So, father had a servant make an apple tart and presented it to her with a bag full of gold.”
Thor paused, glancing at Loki who was listening attentively. “Thus with her new money, mother was technically a noble, and as you know she is fair, so the two had fulfilled their requirements. Father’s parents were furious, but Odin reminded them of the conditions that they had agreed upon and they were allowed to marry,” he finished.
“Thor, that is a pleasant story and makes me understand why mother loved apple tarts, but what does that have to do with my situation?” Loki growled in frustration as he carved an apple. “Their little game allowed them to marry, but I want to delay mine!”
“Exactly! Create your own game brother! You have a silver tongue and are great with magic! Come up with something!” “Thor beamed as he elbowed Loki.
Loki scoffed as he pushed Thor back but rolled the idea in his head. “Thor, you’re not the oaf everyone thinks you are,” he murmured.
“Thank you, I think,” Thor grumbled before he watched as Loki stood up. “You’re ready?”
“Yes, I think I’ve come up with my game,” Loki smirked as he made the daggers disappear. “Let’s go to father and deliver the great news,” he chuckled mischievously.
“Great!” Thor beamed, hopping up before grunting as Loki quickly hugged him. “Aw, love you too brother,” he whispered as he patted Loki’s back.
“Tell anyone I did that and I’ll stab you,” Loki hissed and hurried away from the chortling Thor. “I’m serious!”
Thor just laughed harder on the journey back. It wasn’t until they passed the large golden doors that the laughter died into silence. Loki glanced back in annoyance as Thor moved closer to him the closer they were to the throne room. But his hand gently grabbed Thor’s sleeve as they stepped in.
“I see you’ve returned after your episode,” Odin scoffed from the throne as his eye flickered between the two. “Thor, you may go.”
“Actually father, I would like to stay,” Thor hummed, standing tall under Odin’s glare. Something he wouldn’t have done years ago.
“Odin,” Loki called the attention back to him. “You are right, I should marry soon. In fact, I am willing to offer my hand to anyone in the kingdom and beyond. Under my conditions and requirements.”
Odin narrowed his eyes as he scrutinized Loki. “And what are your conditions and requirements?”
“I will announce them when you are ready,” Loki hummed, raising his eyebrows with a neutral expression as he knew if tried for innocent, Odin would have rejected the idea immediately.
“Fine, we shall have you announce this evening,” Odin hummed as he scanned Loki. “But only if you promise it isn’t for you to say or do something that will make you seem undesirable.”
“I promise,” Loki hummed with a nod. Odin scrutinized him more before sighing as he waved his hand. “Thank you,” he chirped as he spun on his heel and pushed for Thor to follow.
“What will you do?” Thor whispered as he glanced back at their father then at Loki.
“You’ll see,” Loki hummed as he used magic to make a copy of a key to his room in his hand. He fully concentrated on this next part.
“What does that do?” Thor asked, watching curiously as a metal chain formed before slipping through the key’s hole.
“That my brother, is an indestructible metal that will only unlock if I drop my magic and allow the person to take the key,” Loki smugly answered, watching Thor’s eyes light in understanding.
“This is why you’re a great witch,” Thor snorted fondly as he patted Loki’s shoulder and led them down the hall.
“Not a witch, a sorcerer,” Loki scoffed but allowed Thor to pat him.
“Same thing,” Thor huffed before laughing as Loki formed a dagger in his hand.
“It isn’t!” Loki hissed, chasing his brother down the halls just as they used to when they were kids.
Hours later, and once Thor’s stomach was stitched, it was time for Loki’s announcement.
“My children,” Odin called out to the citizens, lifting his hands as everyone cheered. “My second child has an announcement for hand in marriage.”
Instantaneously, there were murmurs as everyone glanced around. They all silenced as Odin nodded for Loki to step forward.
Loki took a deep breath as he scanned the courtyard before clearing his throat. “As you know, I will be twenty-one in a month. The age of which I should marry as my father oh so kindly reminds me of,” he spoke in a sickeningly sweet tone.
Not that any seemed to notice. His eyes narrowed as he saw many listening attentively, watching him with hunger in their eyes. “Loki,” Odin’s voice softly hissed from behind him.
“Right,” Loki cleared his throat. “Well, I’ve decided to open my hand for anyone. For the person to marry me they will need to give me a key,” he quickly raised his hand before the crowd could get too loud.
His eyes flickered behind him as he used a bit of illusion magic to make it seem that a cat jumped from beside his feet to the balcony railing. “I will grant my hand to the one who enters my room,” he said as he ‘placed’ the key around the cat’s neck. “My familiar is the key’s guard. Grab the key, and you have my hand. Understand?”
There were shouts of affirmation as Loki gave a tight smile before he spun on his heel. He smirked triumphantly as he walked past his silently fuming father. His ‘familiar’ hopped down the balcony to follow him before dissipating as they stepped into the castle.
“That was wonderful Loki!” Thor chuckled as he clapped Loki’s shoulder and wrapped his arm around his shoulder. “I told you-”
“What was that?!” Odin’s voice boomed as he stormed into the room. “You said you would not do anything to make you seem undesirable!”
“But I haven’t,” Loki scoffed as he waved his hand. “I merely put a game for my hand, just as you and mother had.”
Odin stiffened before his head snapped to Thor. His second eldest however didn’t meet his eye as he whistled. “That was different,” he hissed.
“How?” Loki scoffed again as he put the key around his neck.
“We wanted to marry, you do not,” Odin hissed before marching forward as he grabbed the key and shook it in Loki’s face. “The cat does not exist, so how is this game fair? You promised you’d marry-”
“I promised that I would do nothing undesirable, and yet the people seem to desire me plenty by their response,” Loki corrected as he snatched the key back and huffed. “Whatever. I’m leaving.”
“Loki! Don’t you walk away!” Odin shouted but Loki rolled his eyes as he turned the hall before shifting into a sleek black cat. “LOKI!” He raced towards the kitchen and snickered as he swiftly grabbed a piece of sausage.
‘Take that Odin,’ Loki thought to himself as he hopped off the counter. He strolled out into the garden to enjoy a nice meal and nap.
The sun felt perfect today. It wasn’t too hot, and there was a perfect amount of shade under his favorite ash tree. He stretched out, cracking any knots from his back before curling up. ‘I win,’ he snickered as he ate the sausage.
He curled up, ready to fall asleep before his ear twitched at the softest of noises. Normally, he would’ve chalked it to the wind, but this sounded slow. As if something, or someone was trying to sneak up on him.
Loki barely opened his eyes, squinting to look asleep but he was able to see the man that was trying to sneak up on him from behind.
“Gotcha!” The man shouted as he pounced. But Loki was faster. He bolted as soon as the man’s left foot had shifted. “Hey! Come back!”
Loki did not go back obviously. He grit his teeth as the man ran after him before skidding to a stop when he almost ran into a guard. Or rather captain of the guard.
“Loki?” Valkyrie murmured as she scanned the cat. She knew he was able to transform, but she hadn’t seen it before. Her eyes then flickered to the man who paled when he saw who the cat was in front of. “Ey! You shouldn’t be on castle grounds!”
“B-But-” The man wasn’t able to finish his sentence as Valkyrie easily lifted him from the front of his shirt before throwing him over the castle’s walls.
Loki blinked before cackling as the man landed face down in a mud puddle. ‘Serves him right,’ he thought as the man sputtered.
“Pheh! Mangy cat! It’s not even worth the effort,” he hissed. Loki’s ears perked at his words.
‘Not worth the effort eh?’ Loki hummed as his tail flickered before him before hissing as Valkyrie picked him up by his scruff. His claws swiped at her, but she held him far enough that he wasn’t able to get a scratch on her.
“I’m going to have to up the guards because of your game,” Valkyrie huffed as she held him at eye level. She let him down before walking to no doubt do her duty of protecting the castle and its inhabitants.
Loki scoffed as he licked his paw before gently grooming himself as he thought about the man’s words. Maybe, just maybe if he played his cards right, by the end of this, no one will try to ask him for his hand. Then he’d be able to delay the marriage and his father wouldn’t be able to go back as Loki would still have the key.
‘I’m so brilliant,’ Loki snickered as he hopped onto the castle walls. ‘Time for some mischief.’
And what sweet mischief he caused. Loki cackled as he ran from the people, watching as they’d tire or fall into mud puddles that would magically appear. He glared at those who tried to bribe him with scraps, enjoying the fear in their eyes as he simply flexed his claws at them.
‘Keep trying you oaf,’ he snickered as he watched someone try to climb the tree he was currently sitting at.
This went on for days. Just as planned, many gave up when they saw that his ‘familiar’ didn’t show any interest in them or escaped so easily while they suffered by falling into a puddle.
However, there were those who kept trying. Loki grit his teeth as he watched one of his current chasers throw a hook up the tree he was currently sitting on.
‘Cheater,’ he thought as the woman grinned triumphantly at her ingenious plan. ‘Fine, if you get to use all sorts of tools to your advantage, then so can I.’
He felt nothing but pure satisfaction as he watched her face flush red with anger as he jumped and shifted into a raven. He cawed at her before flying off.
Soon after that, news that the familiar was magical made a significant drop of those still trying to grab the key. Still, there were those who were persistent.
New traps were made as were the bribes. Sometimes, some of the competitors would even work in groups to try and capture him.
‘This is getting a little difficult,’ Loki thought as he peered from out of the lake to the group that had chased him there.
Thankfully, after an hour, they turned to leave. Well half did. ‘I can work with that,’ he hummed as he dove under the water.
Using a bit of illusion magic, he made the ‘seal’ pop back up as if staring back while he swam around the sliff.
‘Ugh,’ he thought as he crawled out of the water and shifted back into his cat form. ‘This is starting to get draining,’ he grumbled as he walked to the forest. His tail flickered in annoyance as he hopped over a tree’s roots. ‘Maybe I’ll take a break tomorrow. Regenerate some magic,’ he thought.
His train of thoughts were stopped as he heard a gasp coming from his right. Loki’s head snapped to the right as emerald green eyes peered into chocolate brown eyes. The eyes then flickered to the key.
“You’re the cat!” the boy whispered a little loudly. Well he wasn’t a boy. He looked to be a year or two younger than Loki.
He wore glasses but red goggles with black lenses sat atop unruly curly brown hair. The goggles seemed to have multiple sized glasses, no doubt to magnify something.
His eyes were almost doe like but they had a sharpness to them. A slightly crooked nose as if it’s been broken with freckles scattered all over the bridge of his nose and cheeks. His lower lip was busted, but it looked to be healing.
He wore a red long sleeved button up shirt with his sleeves rolled up and a blue leather vest on with black laces. His pants were also blue but had red patches sewn on them and seemed to be covered in soot.
Over his shoulder was a bag filled with bottles, both empty and filled with different kinds of liquids and herbs. On his belt there were also vials and no doubt his gloves, which Loki was confused on why he wasn’t wearing as the boy was carrying a crate in one arm and a barrel in the other.
Loki couldn’t really tell what was in them as his eyes met the other’s again. Neither moved as the boy chewed his lip before wincing as his teeth touched his cut.
“Um, so I will… I live this way, not that you’d remember or understand- Unless you do understand? If you do then sorry, but um know that I’m moving this way because I’m going home, not because you know. I swear,” the boy awkwardly rambled as he shifted to the right.
Loki of course kept him in his sight, but as sworn, he kept his distance. If anything, the boy seemed to have put more distance between him and Loki. As if he should be the one to keep Loki in sight.
“Right, well um this has been…. Something… And I bet you’re going to continue doing your pranks and having fun so… Goodbye!” he shouted as he quickly turned and scurried out of there.
Loki blinked again as he watched the boy practically run away from him. His eyes narrowed as he watched him, waiting to see if he’d turn around but no. In a few minutes, the boy was gone as he hurried away from him.
‘Probably hates magic or something,’ he thought bitterly before huffing as he continued home.
He crawled into the castle’s garden through a small gap in the gates. ‘He’d be lucky to have the key, not that he’ll ever get it,’ he humphed as he trudged up to his room.
“Whatever,” Loki scoffed as he transformed back into his human form and laid in his bed. He yawned as he pulled his blanket over his head and curled up. “Just another point to me,” he murmured.
The entire next day, Loki spent it in bed. Replenishing his magic. The only time he’d get up was for meals, the toilet, to brush his hair and teeth, and for a soothing bath.
It wasn’t until it was time for bed, that his relaxing day was ruined. “Oh yes do come in,” Loki scoffed as Odin let himself in.
“I am your father and king, I do as I please,” Odin huffed as he raised an eyebrow at him. “Has anyone gotten the key?”
“As you can see, it’s still around my neck so no. Still unmarried I’m afraid,” Loki hummed innocently, biting his smirk down as Odin clenched his jaw.
“And you still reject the suitors who send you courting gifts?”
“Of course. As I said, only the one who has the key will have my hand.”
“And has anyone come close to having the key?”
“Maybe,” Loki hummed as he laid back in bed. “You will find out if and when someone has the key. Good night.”
Odin glared at him, shaking his head at the dismissal. “As your birthday is coming up, your brother wanted to know if you wanted a party or to skulk in here? Or perhaps you want to terrorize those who wish to grab the key some more?”
“Oh, all of the above,” Loki chuckled before wincing as Odin slammed his fist on Loki’s nightstand. “What?” he asked, cursing the slight shake in his voice.
“What you’re doing isn’t fair,” Odin hissed and pointed at the key. “Someone has to get the key!”
“I’m doing what’s fair! People try to catch me, I won’t just lie down and let anyone take it! I said I’ll guard it and I’m guarding it!” Loki hissed right back.
“What you’re doing is making people stop asking for your hand!” Odin countered as Loki shrugged.
“It isn’t my fault they can’t deal with me or my magic,” Loki scoffed and pulled the blanket over his head.
“Ugh, you are such a child,” Odin growled as he threw his hands in the air and stormed out of the room.
“Well you’re no better,” Loki grumbled angrily as he glared at the wall. ‘Tomorrow, I’ll be even worse then,’ he huffed.