He spends the rest of the day barking orders, sending his sorcerers fleeing to brew the potions and scribe the runes they’ll need for battle. He shuffles, drags his feet back to his quarters, his exhaustion making him forget that he’s thought of you all day and how he’ll tell you that he’s riding for war in a week.
You remind him by being in his room when he gets there.
He ignores you, keeps shuffling past you, bits and pieces of his armor magically melting off him as he passes by.
“Loki,” you call again. “Talk to me.”
He doesn’t. He disappears into his marble and gold bathing chamber, dropping a curtain behind him, knowing, expecting, (hoping), you’ll charge in after him.
“Damnit Loki talk to me!”
You do, silly girl.
“What?” He addresses you stitchless, half a leg into the bath. Your heart speeds up, tearing your mind in two. Of whether you wish to give him a little privacy or…
No. Don’t let him intimidate you. Not this time.
So instead of asking, you tell him.
“I’m going with you.”
He pulls that foot out of the tub and assaults you with his full attention. “Say that again.”
“I’m going with you. If you think I’m letting the war party ride without me…”
The mute spell is his favorite today, he uses it again on you.
“First: how do you know?”
You answer him without a voice, giving him a flat expression, he doesn’t even need to read your lips. “Of course she would tell you. Well, regardless of what you think, you’re not.”
Don’t make me.
Make you what!
To keep you here, I’m not above injuring you.
You’ll have to kill me.
He stops himself before he replies with a canned and pre-planned ‘I will’.
“Don’t be foolish.”
He gives you your voice back. “I’m not.”
“We don’t need you.”
“The Hel you don’t! Did you forget what I was before here?”
The puts his finger to his chin. “An ill tempered, violent, ill humored…”
“A cavalry commander! Idiot.”
“And we already have a cavalry and a commander.”
You laugh so incredibly hard it embarasses the prince, makes him defend his father’s army out of hand on pride alone.
His pitiful defenses make you laugh harder, doubling over, embarrassing him enough to forget how pretty he thinks your laughs are.
He switches tactics from practicality to guilt, invoking Niti, Se’risa, his “poor, lonely mother”.
You stop laughing, face twisting up in a memory that gets easier to bear the less you have to remember it. Today it pricks sharp, stinging enough to draw blood from your heart.
You remember the last time you left a mother alone.
“Let me put it to you like this then: the last time those I loved rode for war without me, they didn’t come back. You won’t stop me because I’m not letting that happen again.”
Loki sneers, he's not wholly moved by your passion, or at the very least he's not letting his overflowing heart show on his face. He resigns to your obstinance with little more than a heavy sigh. Then he magicks your clothes away so he can pull you into his bath, into his arms, into him, into bliss.
“So be it horse girl.”
You petition the King the next day, kneeling before him, offering to the King your shiny new spear commissioned from the rude smithy.
The princes are there with their mother, flanking the throne. You're hoping it's for support, hoping Loki hasn't convinced them to form a last second coup against you.
You ask the king from your bended knee to join him. You offer him your spear, letting it rest in your open hands for him to take. He lets it remain there, untouched making the gesture awkward and increasingly uncomfortable. Making you also awkward and increasingly uncomfortable.
“Are you even well? Not to long ago you were almost killed.”
You glare at the King’s feet, not daring to meet his eye for whatever impertinence he might see in yours. You place your spear to the side but remain bowed on the marble floor. Deference is not humility and you let the king know that in your tone.
“Less to do with my ability and more with my perception. If I'd known my life was on the line from the start that fight would have ended the same but earlier.”
Odin leans on his throne, elbow digging into the red armrests. “Your arrogance isn't injured that's for sure.”
Loki huffs but keeps silent. Anything he has to say wouldn't help you, coming from him it'd be more likely to damn you in his father's eye. But you don't require his help.
“It's only arrogance if I do it. Were it either of your sons or your lords you'd praise them for confidence.”
He feels your grin, your face is turned from his, yet he feels it all the same. He adds his own, especially when his father starts shouting. You two are almost nothing alike, yet you take joy in similar things.
Angering those who underestimate you?
Highest on the list of pleasures.
“Are you here to petition me girl or anger me?”
“Are they mutually exclusive? I have a talent you need and…”
Stars he's tired of you. He shouts over your argument.
“I already have mounted troops with a commander!”
“I know, it explains why you came to my mother whenever you needed a true cavalry.”
The thought stops you.
“Will you….be calling on Fa’D... them ?”
“No. The southern barbarians are not yet fully pacified. Your uncle will guard that front lest Asgard be open to attack. The horses I take will be my own.”
You let that breath go, grateful for the good news. Fa’Dan or Fa’Rey’s presence wouldn't be enough to deter you, but you're glad you don't have to learn how to play nice with them just yet. “Then let me accompany them.”
Odin’s mouth opens to deny you even though knows he you'd be a valuable addition. He wouldn't protest so much if it weren’t for the looks Loki’s giving you, giving him. Like he'd love nothing more than to reverse your places, to make him the beggar and you the queen.
“Do you know what you're asking for Princess?” Frigga understands your urgency, and while she'd rather keep you here, she also understands a battlefield might be a safer place for you. You'd be away from Ylva, although… if she's wrong about her, you'd now also be in the perfect place for a staged murder.
“My Lady Frigga forgets, and perhaps the Lord Odin as well, but I've been in war before. Were it not my mother's intervention and insistence I would have ridden with you in the last one.”
And your life would have taken a very different turn. You break your gaze from the clawed foot of the King’s throne and dare to steal a glance at your prince.
You don't know how to rationalize these feelings. You regret and you don't regret.
You would rather have your mother and your home. Always.
But you're glad of what losing both has brought you.
Gifts you won't leave unprotected.
“My own two hands and four hooves could have prevented her death, and nothing anyone tells me can convince me otherwise. Her best were not there for her. Her best would not have failed her. There's only one of me but I am still your best on four hooves and I will not fail you .”
Odin shifts again, uncomfortable. He looks like a man who already made his decision before you ever spoke. But now, to hear you speak, that decision grows harder and harder to justify. “Princess your devotion is appreciated but…”
“My Lord Odin, I'm not asking for a command. You don't even have to put me with the cavalry, I’ll shovel the horse shit if it please you. All I'm asking is not to be left behind again.”
He has a soft spot for warriors and his wife, both of which suffer assaults as he recalls your mother’s fierceness in your voice and as Frigga’s own voice screeches across his consciousness.
If you don’t let this girl fight I swear to you---!
“Commander Torbjorn is getting old.” Odin huffs thoughtfully, saving as much of his face as he can. “Fine. Report to him. Distinguish yourself and the appointment may be made permanent. Will you be ready in time?”