Of Fire and Ice

I’m taking it slow
Feeding my flame
Shuffling the cards of your game
And just in time
In the right place
Suddenly I will play my ace

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13. Chapter Thirteen

Night fell on the cabin quickly. The sky darkened and a strong chill crept inside so that even the hot burning stove couldn’t keep the inside warm. Loki sat in his place on the bed, wrapped in furs as he fought against the chill. He watched Bridget work in the small kitchen. She cleared away the plants and attempted to repair part of the roof before making canned soup on the hot stove.

They didn’t speak, though Loki still had many questions. Whenever he started to ask them she would shush him and tell him to rest. Finally, she returned to him with a bowl of red hot soup. He moved to take it and flinched as the pain shot up from his arm.

“How are you feeling?” she asked, still holding onto the bowl.

“The pain seems to grow over time,” he admitted.

“It’s healing.”

“Is it always like this?” He wrapped his hands around the hot bowl and rested it on his lap.

“Much worse actually. Humans don’t survive most bullet wounds. That’s the point of them. You were lucky to be struck in the arm.”

“I am human now.” She sat down beside him and checked the bandages.

“You are many things,” she said, “But human is not one of them. And you never will be.” She peeled back the cloth and examined the healing wound on his arm. “What happened to your brother when Odin had him banished?” Loki swirled the spoon inside of the bowl. It was hot against his legs but he did not remove it.

“He met a woman.”

“You know that’s not what I meant. How did he regain his power?”

“I killed him.”

“And he what? Came back from the dead? Or never died at all?” He turned his head to her face as she replaced the bandages and met his eyes.

“I’ve never been certain that he was really dead at all,” he admitted. She smiled, almost kindly.

“You injured him, yes. Because his defenses were weakened. But he was still of Asgard and he will always be of Asgard. Odin is not so powerful that he could change a person’s species. No one has that kind of power. Or you would not be a frost giant. You have been weakened by a uniquely powerful enchantment. But it is only an illusion. And I can help you break free of it.”

Loki could feel the heat of the bowl rising in his lap with every word that she spoke; until it became nearly unbearable on his skin. He tossed the bowl away from him, shattering it against the old wood floor. The hot red liquid steamed in the cold air and seeped into the spaces between the slats of wood. And the woman smiled as she moved her hand over the length of his shoulders and gripped the other side.

“There is a reason I brought you to a place so cold, Prince,” she spoke on that hot breath in his ear. “That kind of cold would have killed a human. Slowly. That kind of cold could have killed me. But not you. It was cold, because the illusion of humanity made you feel it. But it did not harm you. And there is a reason you can feel me burn so hot against you. I am only warm. But to you, I am fire. Because you are ice. And together we are the most powerful forces in all the nine realms.

“The knowledge and power is still inside of you. You have never forgotten how to twist and bend reality to your will. When we were under attack earlier today, I was able to break through the illusion just enough to use your magic. Do you truly believe I am strong enough to transport the both of us over such a great distance on my own? I can only travel in short distances. That was your power combined with mine, Loki. Magic still exists inside of you just like the ice in your veins.” He turned his head toward her again so that they were only centimeters apart and he could feel the heat of her lips.

“And you think you are stronger than I am?” he asked. She smiled again.

“I know more tricks than you. But you are a king and I am a sorceress. I am fire and you are ice. You can freeze me as quickly as I can burn you. You need only remember how.”

“And does that frighten you?”

“I have lived in this realm for a very long time. There isn’t much left that can frighten me.”

“And how can you trust me once I have what I want?” She laughed and ran her hot fingers through his raven black hair.

“I will never trust you,” she replied. “You will forever be my opposite. But great things happen when fire and ice come together.” She slipped away from him and stood to her feet just before him. Then she held out her hands, which appeared warm and pink even in the icy air. “I will show you,” she said. He reluctantly slid his hands into hers, knowing that they would burn as badly as the soup he had tossed to the floor. He stood, wincing from the pain and looked down at her.

“Tell me of Asgard,” she instructed. “Of your chambers. Tell me of the colors and the warmth.”

So he did. He told her of the ways the floors shone like bronze in the sunlight. How the hearth stood large and tall before his massive bed, which stood on a raised platform. He told her of the gold and green sheets. Of the furs and tapestries and the vast windows that he liked to keep open only at night when Asgard grew cold.

As he spoke, the room began to appear. First the floors of the cabin shone like bronze. The iron stove turned into a large and roaring hearth. The uncomfortable and unused bed grew larger and the moth eaten blankets shimmered in green and gold and warm white furs. And when he finished describing his bedchamber to her, he found himself standing in it. The only light came from the fire in the warm hearth, glimmering off of the floors. He could no longer smell the scent of must and misuse. Instead he could smell the burning pine and the herbs his mother used to throw into the fires to calm his dreams at night.

He looked away from the woman before him to study the room. It was exactly as he remembered it. Every color, every shadow, and every scent. But even though it felt like he was standing inside his room again, he knew that it was only an illusion.

“It’s beautiful,” she told him as she looked over the unfamiliar chambers. But his mouth was set in a thin straight line.

He removed his hands from hers and stepped away. Even the sound of his feet against the floor tapped just the way he remembered. He turned back to her, feeling the weight of furs on his shoulders and the large golden horns of his helmet. She stood where he had left her, just beside the platform that stepped up to his bed. Her coat and clothes had turned into a shimmering green gown. Her blood red curls had been tamed into neat braids at the back of her head. She looked like a queen, he thought. Not a sorceress.

“It’s not real,” he said, hating the pain that weighed heavy on his chest. He hoped that she could not hear it in his voice, but he was certain that she had.

“No,” she said as she stepped toward him. The scales of her green gown shimmered in the firelight as she walked. “But it could be.”

“And what will you gain from it?” he asked. “You could have found another way into that building. You did not need me for that.” Her smile grew wider, and though it was the smile he was familiar with, he knew it was an illusion too. It was too perfect, he realized. And he wondered if the face she had shown him was really her face at all.

“This all belonged to my mother once,” she said as she circled around the large room. She gestured toward the windows, where the lights of the city twinkled like stars beyond the sheer drapes. “Odin took it from her. Her only crime was love for my father. Her crime was me. The half-breed. Her punishment was Midgard.”

“I was right. It is Asgard you want.” She shook her head as she approached him again. He could see the fire dancing in the black depths of her irises.

“No, Loki. I was sent to Midgard for a crime I did not commit. I was forced into a marriage I did not want to secure a union I did not support. I bore a son. A single candle flame in all the darkness. And Odin had him killed. It is not Asgard I want. You can keep his throne and his crown. I will help you get it. All I want in return is his head.”

He smiled then and closed the space between them. Her body burned, even in the illusion, but he did not recoil from it. He gripped her shoulders and slid the shimmering green gown off of her skin. She moved her hands up his chest and into the furs that he wore on his shoulders.

“A head for a crown,” he murmured, as he looked over her bare shoulders. He knew the gown was an illusion and likely her skin was as well. But he hoped the illusion didn’t fade because he had no desire to make love to her in a rundown old cabin in the woods. “I suppose I will have to think of something else to decorate my mantle with,” he decided as he waved a hand toward the burning hearth.

She smiled and pressed her lips against his. He pulled her toward the platform that led to his bed and he thought of how dreadfully shameful it was that she would not live long enough to see Odin’s head when he separated it from his neck.

...

I'm BACK!

I was really super preoccupied with my Bucky story, and now that it's finished I can concentrate on OTHER THINGS HOLY FUCK I'M GLAD.

So, the first part of this chapter was written like a year ago and then I just added the rest like 10 minutes ago. So yay! I can get back to work on this. Updates may not be regular until I get the story finished, because that's generally how I like to do things, but I'm going to try to get it finished so yeah.

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