~BEFORE WE LEAVE~
“So we’re going to Jotunheim next?” you inquired to Loki as the two of you started your way out of the hall of knowledge. You held onto Loki’s hand and you went, trying to keep up the appearance that everything was fine. Odin’s words still haunted your mind, but you didn’t want to believe him.
Loki nodded slowly, though he didn’t’ seem too keen on the idea, despite having long since known that this was going to come.
You noticed his unease, but understanding that there were things about Jotunheim that affected him, you decided not to go down the road of “are you alright about this” for once. Even if you had dared to ask what about that realm truly troubled him (you had your guesses), you didn’t know that you had the strength to listen, assuming he told you anything. This was just one of those times that it would be better, for the both of you, to pretend that everything was alright even if everything wasn’t.
“Did you find anything more about the seal?” you inquired as the two of you continued walking, having nothing else that you could think of saying, and the awkward silence being even worse.
Loki gave a soft sigh and shook his head. “There is little information on any of the seals, but the seal in Jotunheim is one that would have even less record,” he answered.
“Why?” you inquired, glad there was some question to distract you from your thoughts.
“Can’t you imagine it?” Loki asked back. “Someone like Thor stumbles across information of an Asgardian seal in Jotunheim, determines that he must see it, goes to Jotunheim, and the next great war between the realms is instigated.”
“Someone like Thor?” you repeated, noting, as you always did, that lingering distain that came in his voice.
Loki remained silent, glancing to you from the corner of his eye. He knew what you were doing, and he wasn’t in the mood for a lecture. “You know what I mean,” he corrected, hoping that he could get out of you attempting to guilt him at least once. “He has made his mistakes in the past,” he added.
“So have you,” you said quietly as you looked up at him, your eyes gentle and hopeful – the most honest emotion you had shown to him tonight. “But we shouldn’t be judged on our past mistakes, or else we’re confined to the path that we’ve always trod.”
Loki raised his eyebrows curiously at hearing your words. “You’re being somewhat poetic, __________,” he said with a soft smirk. “And do you not judge a person upon their past mistakes?”
You shook your head slightly. “I try not to,” you answered, holding tighter to his hand and leaning against his arm a little. “If I did, then I wouldn’t trust you.”
Loki smiled again, looking you over with a fondness in his gaze as you both walked. “Our search in Jotunheim may be more difficult than Nidavellir or Midgard. I expect we may be there for longer, though we may be fortunate yet.”
You nodded slowly, staring at the ground for a few moments. “When do you want to leave?” you inquired.
“You’ll need better clothes before we leave,” he replied as he thought. “Jotunheim is far colder than anything you’ve ever felt before, and I’ll not let you have gone through all that we have only to die of frostbite.”
You gave a faintly amused smile. “So you do worry about me?” you teased playfully as you looked up at him. “So I’ll get some better clothes…then what?”
Loki shook his head. “I suppose that will all depend on you,” he replied. “Your clothes will be ready in the morning, but do you desire to stay here for longer?”
You paused, knowing your answer but not wanting to give it to him so quickly. No, there was no reason to stay in Asgard any longer than needed, and personally, you wanted to be as far away from Asgard as you could be right now. “No…” you answered slowly, shaking your head. “We can leave tomorrow, if that’s possible. I have no reason to stay.”
Loki nodded, though he turned towards you and studied you closely. “Are you sure there is nothing wrong?” he inquired gently.
You gave a soft laugh as you continued walking. “You seem adamant in asking me that,” you relied. “Do you think there’s something wrong? Are you really that worried?”
Loki had an unamused look as he followed after you. “I’ll not take you to Jotunheim if there is something that could hinder you from staying focused,” he answered.
You stopped walking abruptly and turned to face him, your hands on his wrists as you looked up into his emerald eyes. “I am fine, Loki,” you assured him. “Are there things on my mind right now? Yes. Am I worried about what’s going to happen? Yes. But I won’t be distracted when we are in Jotunheim, alright?”
Loki studied you for a few moments, unconvinced that everything you said was true. But he didn’t know if it was something to press you for. If he knew anything about the girl he found in the Abyss, it was that you always had a lot on your mind, even if you tried to pretend like you didn’t.
“Very well,” he agreed, sliding his arm around your waist and kissing your cheek as you resumed walking. “Perhaps we could have an early start tomorrow,” he suggested as the two of you arrived at his chambers. “If you’re so eager to continue.”
You nodded slowly as you followed him inside. “Yeah, okay,” you agreed, hoping that you hadn’t showing too much of your confused emotions. Having so much time with Loki, and especially so much time alone with him, you felt that he was someone you could confide in, but you didn’t know if you should. What would you tell him? Not only was there the scars on his body that you still worried about, but now there was your own problem…a problem, that if not handled right, would eat away at the trust you had for him.
Seeing how late it already was, and not wanting to leave Loki with any more chances to see that things were in fact, not alright with you, you changed clothes and crawled into bed rather quickly, laying on your side and burying your face in the pillows. You sighed deeply and closed your eyes, pretending that you tired enough to be asleep in minutes.
Keeping your eyes closed as you heard (and felt) Loki climb into bed next to you was incredibly difficult, especially as he slid is arm around you gently. You wanted to be closer to him. You wanted to turn and burry your had against his shoulder, safe in his embrace if you even dared to cry (and that was a very likely possibility right now). Even knowing what your past was, you didn’t have the memory of it, and you felt as alone, if not more so, than you had before. You had known people in the past, even if you were as “goal oriented” as Odin had made it seem. But now, none of those people knew you…and their lives must not have been affected by it much, else they could have questioned why something felt amiss.
It hurt to feel forgotten, to be unknown in the place that had been your home. What was worse, you couldn’t even remember it yourself, and that was a pain worse than the rest. Had you had friends? Had you had a lover? Was there anyone who would have well and truly missed you? You had been one to do Odin’s bidding, but if that had been the whole point to your existence, then what would you do now? What would you do once this insane quest was all over?
You still had him, didn’t you? You told yourself that you did as you felt his sender fingers entwine in yours, but Odin’s seed of doubt was now planted in your mind. What if Loki was involved with everything? What would happen to him, to you? You were scared to think of a moment that you would have to confront him, assuming that Odin was right. Loki was many things, and you didn’t doubt he was capable of something as horrid as unleashing Mangog, but you still held to the hope that he was not past redemption. No one, unless dead, could be completely past redemption.
An hour went by, and then another, and you were still wide awake, lying in bed next to the now sleeping trickster. You had tried to push your questioning thoughts of Odin’s words out of your mind, but that only left room for your other concerns about Loki to take place. Ever since you had seen his scars, you had noticed little moments where he appeared to be not at full strength. Occasionally he would wince, and sometimes he was not as quick about moving certain ways (though his reflexes were still sharper than anyone else you knew). You knew what had caused those scars to start with, but you were worried that something about it was still affecting him. And if something still hurt, you wished that he could be healed…but you couldn’t think of how that could be done. Not all of Loki’s wounds were physical.
At last too frustrated that you couldn’t sleep, you slid out of bed quickly, careful to not disturb Loki. The last thing you needed was him waking up (which sometimes happened almost instantly) and giving you a long lecture about how you shouldn’t go out of the chambers alone, or that you were still in need of rest. As much as Loki had the ability to be one of the most annoying and arrogant men you’d ever met, he was still rather protective of you in a way that made you feel like there was at least someone that genuinely cared about you…even if he didn’t exactly say it in a straightforward way.
Still, for this once, Loki remained asleep, which was a relief to you as you slid a dark, floor length jacket sort of thing over your shirt, tying it closed as you slipped out of the chambers quickly, so quickly that you even forgot to wear any shoes. Well, you didn’t intend to leave the palace, so what would it matter?
Walking through the dark halls, you had little thought of where you intended to go, just letting your body take you to somewhere that you felt was comfortable. This walk took you a fair ways through the palace, to a row of open balconies. Along this open hall was a small corner of a balcony with a rather comfortable couch, and a view that, surprisingly, did not overlook the city. This view was that of the mountains beyond the city; the tall, jagged things that stood in silence, watching the life of the realm through the ages. You smiled as you stepped closer to this balcony, for the first time since coming to Asgard, feeling at ease. You were such a small piece of the universe, but for the time being, you knew that you were undeniably important. But what would happen when your moment faded? What would become of you when this was over?
You enjoyed the serenity here for a while longer, until you were are aware of a person’s presence behind you.
“__________?” A low, gentle voice said from behind you. “What are you doing out here?”
Sensing that this person was not a threat, you turned your head slightly to see Thor walking towards you, and you relented a soft smile. “You know, I’m beginning to think I’ll only ever see you when I have a problem,” you replied teasingly. “It seems that’s the only time you and I ever talk.”
Thor gave a slight smile and nodded as he stepped closer to you. “I wish there were more pleasant times that we could talk, though I never intended to only speak with you when you have trouble,” he paused as he studied you, seeing the pain, sadness, and confusion in your eyes. “What troubles you, _______?” he inquired gently.
You gave a soft laugh beside yourself. “It’s…nothing,” you replied, looking up to him, knowing he would not believe your lie. “I’m just worried about Loki, that’s all.”
“Has he given you cause to worry?” Thor asked.
“Not entirely,” you answered slowly, lowered your gaze. “But there’s so much that he isn’t telling me, about what we’re doing and what he’s been through. I know he trusts me more than most, and you insist he cares for me, but I don’t know what to do.”
Thor gave an understanding nod as he took your hands gently and looked into your eyes. “Do you know why I do not come to you very often?” he asked.
You shook your head slowly.
“It is because you are always with Loki,” he continued, smiling gently. “Loki likes to believe he is impervious to the world. He hides every emotion and every thought, unless he wishes to be cruel, and he has shut everyone out from who he is. Loki is not the same brother I once had, but he is still my brother, and some things never change.”
“What does that have to do with me?” you asked, confused.
Thor’s smile broadened. “I see the most of the Loki I knew when I see him with you,” he explained. “He is still cunning, sly, and mischievous, but the malice in his eyes is gone, and he looks at you like he would do anything to protect you. He hides all that when he is around anyone else, which is why I choose my moments around him carefully.” He paused, looking out at the mountains as well as he released your hands. “I still love Loki, but I know that I am not the one that can help him. For the time being, if nothing else, that is your job.”
You sighed deeply. “But what am I supposed to do? I don’t understand…”
“Continue to do as you have been,” Thor answered. “What is that Midgardian saying? ‘Rome was not built in a day’? Loki cannot be helped all at once. He needs time if anything is to be done, and you must have the patience to remain with him, if you truly wish to help him.”
You nodded slowly. “I do want to help him,” you answered.
Thor smiled again. “You are good for him, ________.”
You smiled softly as you glanced to the couch next to you, suddenly feeling tired enough to sleep, and why not sleep here? “Thank you, Thor,” you said, gently touching his arm as you stepped away from him and leaned against the couch.
“Are you going to stay here for the night?” Thor inquired curiously.
“At least for a little while,” you answered with a shrug. “It’s so beautiful here, and peaceful.”
Thor nodded agreeing before bowing his head. “Then I’ll leave you to rest, __________. Good night.” He stepped away from you and left the balcony, leaving you to the silence of the night, where you at last found your rest.
Upon leaving you where you were, Thor retraced his steps through the palace, back to Loki’s chambers. He had clearly seen how tired you were, and he was certain that by the time he returned, you would be fast asleep. As he neared Loki’s chambers, he knocked on the door heavily, swinging it open before waiting for admittance. “Loki,” he called into the dark chamber.
“What?” came the growling snarl of one very tired and now aggravated trickster. There was a green shimmer in the darkness, and instantly, the torches and fireplace were lit. Loki stood by the bed, his shirt off and hair disheveled, looking at Thor with a murderous glare.
The amusement of seeing his brother this way set aside, Thor kept a somber (though not aggressive) look on his face as he remained in the doorway. “Come with me,” he said quickly.
Loki raised his eyebrows questioningly, seeing no reason why he should do so. “Why?” he asked.
Knowing that now wasn’t a time to bicker about who questioning whom, Thor answered. “You should come and collect _______,” he said.
Loki immediately looked over his shoulder, at last noticing that you were not in bed. “Where is she?” he asked quickly as he grabbed his shirt and slid it on as he walked towards the door.
“Do not worry, she is well,” Thor insisted. “Just follow me.”
While under any other circumstance Loki might not have been so willing, seeing as you were involved, he consented without question. Thor led him down the halls and back to the balcony where you remained, curled with your arms around your chest, fast asleep on the couch.
Loki’s irritable look faded the moment he saw you there, asleep and looking like an innocent child who hides when they are scared. With your hair falling across your face and blowing gently with each breath you took, you looked angelic to him. “What is she doing out here?” he inquired in an undertone as he looked to Thor.
Thor shook his head. “She couldn’t sleep, I’d imagine,” he answered. “But I thought it best to not let her stay out here all night.”
Loki nodded, stepping forward to collect you, sliding his arms around you as he lifted you from the couch. You stirred from your sleep a little, just enough to rest your head against his shoulder comfortable. “Thank you,” he said quietly (and with some reluctance) to Thor as he walked past. Thor only nodded silently as he watched his brother carry you away.
Back through the halls once more, Loki returned you to his chambers, gently laying you down in the bed. By this point, it would have likely taken an army to wake you, so he didn’t have to worry about being too incredibly quiet. With gentle strokes, he brushed your hair from your face. “What could trouble your sleep so much?” he whispered, studying your every detail with a mesmerizing gaze. At last he kissed you before walking around to the other side of the bed and sliding in next to you, sighing heavily. With traveling to Jotunheim being your next destination, Loki had enough on his mind, but even then, he couldn’t help but worry about you.