You’ve given up hope of getting out of this cave before morning, so the two of you lay against a wall, his cloak over both your shoulders, watching the snow pile up outside. His eyes are closed, he’s dozing, exhausted from the drain on his magic and his body. Your arm drapes across his waist pulled tight, like you’re keeping him as close to you as you can.
He feels possessed by you from within and without. You're in his blood, compelling him, directing the nature of his thoughts. And you’re on the outside, holding him to your chest, covetous in your embrace. He feels wanted and oh Fates how long has it been since he’s felt that?
You have no great revelations now that you're on the other side of your virginity. You haven’t been gifted with any secret knowledge. You haven’t changed. You don’t feel any different aside from an ache in your thighs, but that feels no different from being in the saddle too long. However that ache is accompanied by the most wonderful calm you’ve ever felt, a happy warmth, like a candle’s been lit inside your chest, heat and light suffusing your skin.
But most of that peace, that happiness, has to do with the arm around your waist. The steady breathing of the man next to you.
Mine he calls you. My Princess.
You like that. You feel possessed but not owned. Like there’s a place for you, where you belong, in the space between his left arm and his right. Where you are now.
You nestle closer to him, whispering. “How did you find me?”
He won’t tell you exactly how, he won’t mention the picture of you in his mind, of how beautiful you were made of light. He won’t tell you of the heart freezing terror he felt when that light blew out. He’s a coward, he knows it.
He holds your hand up, watching the pink pearl and gold bracelet slide down your arm.
“And if you hadn’t given me this, how would you have found me?”
He doesn’t know how to answer this one outside of ‘upending the earth’, so he deflects, dissembles, trades truth for sarcasm because the truth is a weapon that can always be used against him.
“You’re no damsel, you would have figured it out.”
You snort. “Or frozen to death.”
“Perhaps. Are you warm enough?”
You snuggle a little closer. “I could always be warmer.”
“Thor will be here when the snow relents.”
“If it relents.”
“It will, all this will be gone by morning.”
“The Northlands are strange.”
“As are the Low Countries.”
“Thank you, Loki. So much.”
“You saved my life again.”
“If I hadn’t,” He murmurs, holding you tighter. “The little filly would have drowned us all in her incessant tears. Stop talking, rest.”
You kiss his shoulder. He’s clothed again but he still thinks he can feel the heat of your lips through the leather. “My mouth next time.”
He hears your soft, tired giggle, feels you shift, feels you lay a light peck on his lips before returning to his side.
“Finish your story.”
“You tell me to stop talking and rest, and now you tell me to finish my story?”
“Indulge me. Finish telling me of the Horse God. He fell in love, yes? Then what?”
“Haven’t you been indulged enough?”
You’ve got cheek, mamae says it came from your father but he says it came from her. Regardless of where it came from, Loki is quick with his movements. He’s kissing you again, growling as he does. “Oh my sweet little princess, with you I would test the limits of overindulgence.”
You fidget a bit next to him, desirous of being his eager test partner and also very willing to finish your story. You know it well, it’s your favorite, along with every other romantic in your country. “Are you sure, you’ll probably think it’s stupid.”
“It’ll be better than listening to the horse snore.”
“Leave him be, he’s had an exhausting day!”
“Please isn’t in your vocabulary is it?”
“No, but I know it’s in yours.”
He laughs as he feels you curl into yourself, hiding your face in his shoulder. You don’t turn red but you still blush.
“Fine. Crimson Rabbit, being such a prize, was sought by every warrior in my kingdom. Some tried, all failed. He did not accept the bridle of one who was not worthy and the particularly arrogant or those who tried to be crafty in their capture of him met gruesome ends. The ‘Crimson’ part of his name only came much later.”
“I see. Se’risa said your steed is his heir. I can see why. I suppose I owe him a carrot or two. Keeping you alive as he did.”
You nod. “Anise candies. That’s what he likes.”
Loki will grow the beast an anise bush when they return.
“Anyway, after building such a reputation, the Crimson Rabbit was free to run about the country unmolested and feared by all. Until one day.”
“He met a princess.”
You smile against him. “Yes. She was engaged in battle, her horse had been killed out from under her. She was making her last stand, prepared to die. She was dreadfully wounded, swinging her Crescent Halberd. At the time, our land was torn apart by factions and war. This Princess was the vassal of a powerful warlord. Her liegelord betrayed her, led her into a trap to die, fearful she would gain too much power. Crimson Rabbit was impressed by her strength, touched by her devotion to her fallen mount. He aided her, and saved her life. From then on he wore no bridle but hers. Bore her into battle and to victory so many times that she became a warlord in her own right. She united the land, and eventually became its queen.”
“She paid homage to the horse that saved her life and aided her for so long. She slept in the stables with him, shared her spoils with him. She treated him not as a beast of burden but as her equal, and because she was the only to ever do so, he fell in love with her.”
“Princess, I’ll have you know I’ll suffer no rivals, especially a four-legged one. Should your horse be so inclined…” Loki makes a slicing motion across his neck, intent plain. You shake your head, your laugh turning into a long yawn.
“This Princess took no lovers, devoted only to her people and her cause, but even still she was lonely. Crimson Rabbit sought to ease her heartache but didn’t know how. He prayed to the stars for help and they granted him a boon.”
“What was it?”
“They made him human. She taught him kingship and he taught her the language of horses. And from that union two children were born. A horse and a woman. The woman birthed a line of monarchs and the horse sired the families of steeds we have been stewards of for so long, from where Cephalus was sprung.”
“And yourself . I’m not so wrong then to call you horse princess.”
“I have a name.” You remind him, grumbling.
“I know. I still prefer mine.”
He lets you rest, not so concerned now about you being cold. You’re asleep when he says it, murmurs it into your hair. One day when he’s not so cowardly, he’ll tell you to your face, let you hear it from his mouth the way no other before you has. Oh he’s uttered it before, to calm hysterics or reassure one lover when confronted with another. But for you, he’s willing to tell you true.
But not yet. Not just yet.
Thor is frozen solid, has icicles growing from his hair and nose. He is particularly put out to find his brother--after a frantic search through a night of relentless sleet--warm and cozy, flushed faced and snuggled up to you who apparently smiles in your sleep.
He can only guess why.
But Thor is a gentleman--in front of ladies anyway--he keeps his comments to himself during the ride back noting the way his brother gives you his cloak and has to hold the side of his armor closed with his hand; the ties are cut. It could be the work of the bandits you spoke about yes, but he knows his brother. Smiles like that don’t come after that kind of battle.
You barely make it out of the stirrups and onto the ground before Se’risa attacks you. Blubbering a hysterical pidgin of your language and the common one, she cries, relieved you’re back and safe. Niti is there too, similarly relieved.
“So what happened?”
“Cephalus ran, I got lost, I fought off some bandits and the Princes found me later.”
Niti narrows her eyes, peering at you so hard you’re convinced her eyes can ferret out the parts of the story you left out.
“Okay Princess,” Niti nods before bursting into hysterical tears. “I thought we were friends! You’re supposed to tell me ev.ry.thing.” Niti sobers up immediately, her tears drying before they fall.
‘Later’ you mouth as the King and Queen approach.
You make a formal apology at the foot of Odin’s throne, expressing your grief for causing such a stir and your thanks for the Princes who found you.
“You look good in green, my dear.” Frigga muses afterwards, fussing over the emerald and black cape that’s still draped over you. “It suits you. Such a pretty color on you to, accenting your natural glow.”
You fail spectacularly at coming up with an excuse or a polite response to Frigga’s compliment. Between Niti and Frigga you’re pretty sure everyone knows or will know soon.
“I have the most delightful idea. I'll have a dress made in those colors for you.”
“Don't..” You stutter knowing damn well your protests will mean less than nothing to this determined mother. “Don't trouble…”
Frigga knows too, and cuts you off before you can refuse.
“Nonsense, no trouble at all. In fact…” Frigga waves her son over, Loki of course, and is pleased to watch you struggle between wanting to melt into him and freeze away from him lest you give too much away.
But both your faces (yes even her Loki’s because she’s known that boy all his life, he can hide from everyone else but her) give away the game.
“You summoned me mother?”
“Loki, I have a mind to throw a banquet tomorrow to celebrate the Princess’s safe return. Since she is the guest of honor, and you her gallant savior, I’d like you to escort her.”
Frigga knows it’s a bit much. You’ve already proven you don’t really need her help to ‘move things along’ as it were. And she’s not really on the grandbaby warpath.
Just just wants to see you two happy and together.
But only a little bit.
Never let it be said Loki didn’t get his mischief honest.