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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11. Chapter 10

    The next five days were spent mostly in Loki’s chambers barring dinnertime, alternating between practical lessons and Loki simply explaining things and reading to her from his books on the subject when Willow needed rest; as well as enjoying each other’s company, with Loki telling her of his childhood and the trouble he and Thor got themselves into. By the sixth day, however, Willow’s curiosity got the better of her and when Thor stopped by she asked him if he would show her around the palace, seeing as Loki still couldn’t leave his chambers. Thor happily agreed while Loki only reluctantly accepted it; he knew the Thunderer would never let anything happen to Willow, but he still didn’t like the idea overmuch. They would likely meet with Thor’s friends and he wasn’t comfortable with her being around them, save maybe Volstagg.

 

    Thor led Willow through hallways at a leisurely pace, letting her take in her surroundings with wide eyes full of wonder, occasionally pointing out various rooms and telling her of his and Loki’s childhood and teenaged exploits within. They had been heading out to the courtyards so Thor could show her the gardens when they met with a slender blonde woman dressed in green. She smiled at Thor, who regarded her somewhat coolly, and then her eyes looked Willow from head to toe; taking in the shades upon her face to protect her eyes, her emerald green tank top, black long fingerless gloves, black ankle-length maxi skirt, and black combat boots with something of a sneer.

 

    “So you are Loki’s new pet?” The woman said disdainfully. “They get younger every time.”

 

    Thor opened his mouth to respond, but Willow beat him to it; eyeing the woman in much the same way. “Let’s see; blonde hair, green eyes, bitchy attitude... You must be Amora.” She crossed her arms and shifted her weight from one foot to another. “Still chasing after one of the few guys who want nothing to do with you, huh?”

 

    Amora bristled. “It figures Loki’s little harlot would have no manners.” She spat.

 

    “That is enough, Amora.” Thor warned then added, “And she is nothing of the kind.”

 

    “Well; if he said so, it simply must be true.” Amora replied sarcastically.

 

    “I said enough, Amora.” Thor repeated more forcefully.

 

    Amora huffed then gave a too-sweet smile. “But of course, my prince.”

With that, she glared at Willow once more, turned and continued on her way.

 

    When she was gone Willow turned to Thor exasperatedly. “You know; I don’t really care what she thinks, but why does everybody immediately assume that? Is it really that hard to believe that Loki and I are just friends?!”

 

    “It is rather difficult to believe that Loki has friends, to be honest.” Thor replied with a slight laugh. “But I for one made no such assumptions; you are practically a child, no offense, and I know my brother well enough to know he would never even think to see you as anything more than that.” He placed a hand on Willow’s shoulder and leaned down slightly. “And even if he did; he would certainly not pursue it before you were of age.”

 

    At that Willow grimaced. “Oh, dude, ew, no. No. No. Don’t even say that; that’s disturbing.”

 

    Thor laughed. “I am only stating what I know to be true.”

 

    “Then kindly keep information like that to yourself.” Willow replied, swatting his hand away. “Now I believe you promised me gardens.”

 

    Thor chuckled. “Indeed I did, fair maiden.” He offered his arm to her with a grin. “Shall we?”

 

    Willow giggled at the double meaning of the adjective then placed her hand in the crook of his elbow. “We shall.”

 

 

    Loki stood on the balcony of his bedchambers, which overlooked one of the gardens, leaning against the railing; a small smile upturning his lips as he watched the scene bellow. He had figured Thor would take Willow to the gardens as she had expressed a liking for the outdoors one of the times Thor had visited Loki’s chambers, and it was clear to see even from a distance that the girl was very much enjoying the scenery. He felt a twinge of regret and anger that he couldn’t be the one to show her but he quickly stamped it down; he wasn’t going to let his temper ruin things. He had to be patient, for both their sakes.

 

    Sensing someone in the room Loki adopted his usual mask of indifference and turned to greet his visitor. “Allfather. She isn’t here.”

 

    “I’m aware.” Odin replied, stepping further into the room. “I came to speak with you, my son.”

 

    “I am not your son.” Loki retorted stonily.

 

    Odin sighed. “I know you do not believe it, but what I did, I did for your own good and hers.”

 

    “Yes, clearly abandoning her to her abusive parents did wonders for her well-being.” Loki replied sarcastically.

 

    “From what Heimdall told me, she spent very little time in her own home, as you gave her the key to yours.” Odin remarked and Loki blinked in surprise. “Did you think you would be the only one to ask Heimdall to keep an eye on her? I didn’t miss or ignore how distraught she was at your separation; had it been necessary I would have sent for her to be brought here sooner.”

 

    “Why would you care?” Loki asked suspiciously.

 

    Odin huffed slightly. “I may not always have been a good one, but I am still a father; I am not immune to a child’s distress.”

 

    Loki considered the reply for a moment then turned back to the balcony. “Say what you wish to say and leave me be; I have to plan Willow’s next lesson.” He said impassively.

 

    “I am considering granting you a greater measure of freedom.” Odin declared.

 

    Loki looked over shoulder a bit. “How much greater?”

 

    “You would be allowed from here to the library, the courtyard, and the training grounds.” Odin replied.

 

    “I see...” Loki said, outwardly appearing unmoved. “And what would such consideration cost me, exactly?”

 

    “Introspection.” Odin replied simply, and then he turned and left; leaving Loki to wonder just what that meant.

 

 

    After a thorough exploration of the courtyards and several of the gardens Thor had offered to show Willow the training grounds, but she declined in favour of returning to Loki’s chambers for some much needed lunch. As soon as she walked through the doors to Loki’s sitting room, she rushed over to the table he sat before and launched herself onto the seat across from him then excitedly told him about everything she’d seen while they ate. Loki listened to her intently, the small smile never leaving his face.

 

    When she was finished Loki spoke. “I might soon be able to show you the things you missed...”

 

    “What do you mean?” Willow asked curiously through a mouthful of roasted boar (which she had developed quite a liking to).

 

    “Swallow first.” Loki admonished, still trying to rid her of that particular habit. “Odin stopped by earlier. He claimed he was considering allowing me to leave these chambers.”

 

    Willow swallowed. “Really? Cool.”

 

    Loki hummed. “That would depend on whether or not I can pay his price.”

 

    “Which is...?” Willow asked.

 

    “I have no idea.” Loki replied.

 

    “O... kay...” Willow said bemusedly. “Well; what did he actually say?”

 

    “He said his price was ‘introspection’.” Loki replied. “But I’ve no idea what exactly it is he wants me to think over.”

 

    “Huh. Well, that’s not helpful at all.” Willow huffed. She picked at a piece of fruit she’d randomly picked up. “What were you talking about before?”

 

    “You.” Loki replied.

 

    “Me? Why?” Willow asked confusedly.

 

    “I may have express discontent over his decision to send you home alone.” Loki replied vaguely.

 

    “Oh. Ohh...” Willow said, seeming to come to a realisation.

 

    “What?” Loki asked curiously.

 

    “Family.” Willow replied. Loki raised an eyebrow and she elaborated. “That’s what he wants you to think about; family. Your family.”

 

    “He knows perfectly well how I feel about my ‘family’.” He spat out the word bitterly.

 

    “Does he?” Willow pressed. “Do you?”

 

    “Most of the family I had is dead.” Loki replied coolly.

 

    “Loki, you do realise that to hate someone, they have to still have a place in your heart; right?” Willow asked. Loki looked away and Willow sighed. “Well; I think I need a bath.” She declared then stood and walked over to the door leading out of the room, where she stopped and looked over her shoulder. “And if you really hate someone that badly; you don’t try so hard to get their attention.”

 

 

    Loki looked towards the door as Willow walked out then stood and went over to the nearest window. He looked out to the horizon and considered Willow’s words; they reminded him of something Frigga had told him once centuries ago, when he had been particularly angry at being brushed aside yet again. He closed his eyes and sighed deeply, realising unravelling his true thoughts and feelings would likely take a while.

  

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