By The Willow Shade

A summoning gone surprisingly right leads a wayward god and a teenage girl down a road neither imagined they would walk, sparking an unlikely apprenticeship and an even unlikelier friendship. But can either survive when faced with the scrutiny and interference of misunderstanding minds?

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2. Chapter 1

    Willow furrowed her brow in concentration and the energy flowed between her pale hands and into the surrounding space, creating the illusion of a lush meadow around her and her teacher complete with a breeze and the sound of critters roving around in the grass. It had been four months since Loki began teaching her to wield seidr, and she had progressed much farther than he had expected. She reminded him of himself, and not just because of her skill and quick learning; she was as socially withdrawn as he had been at her age, and her abnormalities often earned her the rejection and ridicule of her peers. Since learning that even her own family tended to shun and/or ignore her, Loki had taken it upon himself to be a sort of brotherly figure.

 

    Not that he would admit to it, of course. He had a reputation to uphold, after all.

 

    “Well done, Willow. At this rate you should be able to maintain more complex illusions for a longer amount of time soon.” He praised as his student let the illusion fade, walking around to stand in front of her. Willow beamed widely, swelling with pride at her accomplishment. “You should rest now; we’ve done enough for one day.”

 

    “Aw, come on; one more?” Willow pleaded, giving him her best puppy eyes.

 

    “Willow; you know the rules.” Loki replied sternly, exercising his willpower to not give in to her expression.

He often wondered if she didn’t perhaps have hypnotic abilities of some degree; she had managed to convince him to do quite a bit with those eyes alone.

 

    “Fine.” Willow huffed with a pout, her shoulders slumping in defeat.

 

    When Loki agreed to become her teacher he set up a few rules; he would teach her only what he deemed appropriate at the pace he determined based on her skill and he reserved the right to end the lessons whenever he considered she had exerted herself enough for one day, among others. Willow usually didn’t protest unless the lesson of the day was particularly fun, and sometimes he even indulged her a bit if he thought she could handle it, but the illusion she had performed today was no easy feat for a somewhat novice and she had already tried it three times; he knew for a fact that she was tired.

 

    “Tomorrow is another day, lítið einn.” Loki assured, ruffling her hair affectionately.

 

    “One of these days, I’m gonna look up what it is you’re always calling me; and then I’m probably gonna punch you, because I get the feeling it’s not something I’ll like.” Willow commented, batting his hand away and brushing her newly-cut bangs out of her eyes.

 

    Loki chuckled then turned her around by the shoulders and pushed her gently towards the stairs leading out of the basement of her house. “Go and finish your homework. I know you haven’t, so do not try to tell me otherwise.”

 

    “Ugh, fine, mom.” Willow replied childishly, and began to ascend the steps sluggishly in an attempt to delay the inevitable.

 

    Loki let out a laugh. “That might have been insulting, were it not accurate.”

 

    “Yeah, yeah.” Willow dismissed, then stopped and blinked as his words truly registered. “Wait, what?”

She turned to face him but he was already gone, leaving her to continue on her way wondering whether he was serious or if he was just messing with her.

 

 

    With the curse of homework taken care of (gods, how she hated math) Willow made herself a snack of assorted finger foods she managed to scrounge up (she really needed to do some shopping) then took a nap to replenish the energy she had used in the day’s activities. When she awoke it was dark out and she was hanging half off her bed, tangled in both her sheets and her hair, which took some - embarrassing and occasionally painful - manoeuvring to get out of; once she accomplished that she promptly fell off the bed with a yelp.

 

    Good thing Loki wasn’t here to see that one. She thought in relief, knowing the god wouldn’t let it go away anytime soon. She got up with a groan and stretched, rubbing her eyes in the process, then dragged herself to her dresser and threw on an oversized green sweater and some grey pyjama pants. She then made her way downstairs to find that her parents weren’t home yet, so she went into the kitchen to see if she could find some dinner. Really need to go shopping.

 

    With an annoyed sigh Willow walked to the phone and picked it up, looking through the list of take-out numbers next to it and deciding on pizza; once she placed her order she went upstairs to her parents’ bedroom and grabbed some cash out of the ‘emergency’ stash her dad kept in one of his drawers (in reality used mostly to pay for private online chatrooms Willow had accidentally found out about one day and sorely wished she hadn’t) and went back downstairs to the living room to watch some TV while she waited for her food to arrive.

Finally, the doorbell rang, and Willow all but flew to the door, standing on the tips of her toes to look through the peephole (although, really; what kind of burglar/kidnapper/murderer/rapist rings the doorbell?) before opening the door and taking and paying for her dinner and heading back inside. She set the box down on the kitchen counter and wolfed down two slices before she went to the fridge and took out a bottle of water to wash them down with, drinking down half the contents in one gulp.

 

    She was three fourths of a way through her third slice while watching an old movie about some sea-slug monster-things (she still wasn’t quite sure what the things were meant to be) when she heard the front door open, her mom walking into the room a short while later.

 

    “There’s no food; I bought pizza.” Willow said with her mouth full as she half turned to face her mother.

 

    “Where’d you get money for pizza?” Her mother asked suspiciously.

 

    “Silence is golden, mother.” Willow said with a grin then she turned her attention back to the screen.

Her mom looked at her oddly but said nothing, then walked away into the kitchen, coming out a little later with a plate in one hand and a bottle of water in the other and telling Willow she was going to be in her office and was not to be disturbed. Willow hummed distractedly and her mother shook her head and walked away.

 

    When the movie was over Willow turned the TV off and went upstairs to her bedroom, finding Loki casually lounging on her bed reading through one of her notebooks.

 

    “Midgardian public education is so very lacking.” He commented as she closed the door. “But I suppose it’s better than it was two centuries ago.”

 

    “I’ll take your word on that.” Willow replied, walking over to the bed and throwing herself diagonally on top of him lazily, resting her head on his chest and curling her legs under her against his side. Loki moved a hand to stroke her hair, as though he were petting a cat. “Not that I mind seeing you again, but why are you here again?”

 

    “Sanctuary.” Loki replied vaguely. “Where is your mother? I saw her car outside.”

 

    “She’s in her office, talking to her boyfriend.” Willow replied.

 

    Loki hummed. “And your father?”

 

    “Probably out with one of his girlfriends.” Willow replied.

 

    “Pathetic.” Loki commented distastefully.

 

    “You’re telling me.” Willow agreed then lifted her head to look at him. “You wouldn’t happen to be free tomorrow, would you?”

 

    “That would depend on what for.” Loki replied, setting her notebook down on the floor.

 

    “I need to go grocery shopping. Be easier with a little help.” She said, looking at him a bit hopefully.

 

    “So you want a pack-mule.” Loki scoffed. “I suppose I could be convinced.”

 

    “Name your price.” Willow challenged, though she already knew what he was going to ask for.

 

    Loki pretended to give it some thought. “Three days.”

 

    Willow looked at him incredulously. “For grocery shopping? No way! One day.”

 

    “I could be pursuing far more entertaining things than accompanying a mortal child on such a mundane task.” Loki defended with mock-haughtiness.

 

    “Like what?” Willow asked with a scoff. Loki grinned wolfishly and her eyes widened in realisation. “Ew, no, never mind; I don’t wanna know.”

 

    Loki laughed. “My, aren’t you pretty when you blush.” He teased.

 

    “I’m not blushing!” Willow retorted childishly, knowing very well that she was and that, with her skin-tone, he would be able to see it from a mile away let alone less than a foot from her.

 

    “Whatever you say, Willow, dear.” He said. “Just for the laugh I’ll compromise; two days.”

 

 

    Willow hid her face in his chest in embarrassment. “Fine!”

  

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