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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13. Chapter 12

    There weren’t many choices in life that Willow regretted, but her latest one was certainly one of them. As she ran through the streets of Asgard, trying not to collide with anything or anyone, she wondered what in all the worlds had possessed her to do what she had.

 

    It had begun harmlessly enough; she’d woken up, taken a bath and had her breakfast with Loki as usual, and then decided that she wanted to explore the palace after her first lessons. Loki hadn’t been too happy about her wandering alone, but there really wasn’t much of a reason not to let her aside from his own general worries that he wasn’t about to tell her of; she’d never let it go if she knew. Most of the people she passed by eyed her curiously - and some of the noblewomen frowned at the loosely-fitting green tunic (that she may or may not have stolen from Loki and altered to fit her) and the black jean shorts she wore - but otherwise paid her little mind; the guards only bothering to acknowledge her when she tried to go into rooms that were off limits to the general public.

 

    Eventually she found her way to the library (and flirted with the idea of moving in there for life), where she spent the next four hours. That was when she found a book tucked away in a seemingly little-travelled corner; it was large and heavy, clearly very old but well cared for, and practically hummed with power. As she skimmed through the pages Willow realised it was a spellbook.

 

    She considered putting it back. She really did.

 

    Instead she kept reading, eventually coming upon a teleportation spell. She thought about it for all of thirty seconds before taking the book to an even more secluded corner of the library and reading through what she needed to do several times. When she thought she had it she set the book down and stepped back; concentrating, she called up her energy and set it to work shaping that of the world around her, willing it to move her across the room.

 

    That had been the plan, anyway...

 

    To say she overshot would be an understatement akin to saying the ocean is a bit of water. Her first indication that something had gone wrong was the bright sunlight that assaulted her vision even through her closed eyelids, causing her to yelp slightly and lose her concentration, which in turn launched her backwards and onto the floor quite painfully. She opened her eyes, shielding them from the overhead glare with her hands and dearly wishing she had her sunglasses with her, and looked around, finding herself in what seemed to be a park of some kind.

 

    Oh, way to go, genius. Willow scolded herself as she got up and dusted herself off. When her eyes adjusted to the brightness as much as they could she began to walk, intending to find her way back to the palace.

 

    She hadn’t been walking for ten minutes when she bumped into what felt like a wall as she turned a corner. It was in fact a man, a warrior she’d seen every night she had dinner in the feast hall; one she had caught staring at her in a way that made her very uncomfortable more than once.

 

    “Well, well; what have we here?” The man - Erling, she remembered his name was - commented to his two companions, a malicious grin upturning his lips.

 

    “I was not aware pets were allowed to roam freely so far from their masters.” One of the other men - Hákon - added with a sneer.

 

    “Perhaps our esteemed prince is done with this one.” The other - Snorri - suggested, eyeing Willow like prey.

 

    Willow was no fool, she knew exactly how dangerous the situation could turn if she didn’t act quickly, and so she did. Bracing herself against the pain it would inevitably bring, she raised her hands and conjured a ball of light which she threw on the ground between her and the men; the effect as it hit the street was similar to that of a flash grenade. As soon as she had let go she turned and ran away as fast as she could, which, given the practise she had at it, was quite fast; she could hear them behind her, cursing and shouting after her, but she ignored it and focused on escaping.

 

    She turned a corner and just barely dodged some baskets on the floor, but in her haste to evade them ran straight into someone else, her momentum sending her backwards to the floor. Looking up, Willow faced a rather large, brow haired woman who looked at her with concern colouring her features.

 

    “Oh, dear; are you alright?” The woman asked as she offered a hand to help Willow up. She looked her over and recognition dawned on her face. “I know of you; you are Willow, are you not? Loki’s d-... guest?” She corrected herself hastily, not that Willow noticed in her current state.

 

    “How did you know?” Willow asked as she looked around nervously.

 

    “My husband, Volstagg, has mentioned you. I am Hildegund.” The woman introduced herself. “What is the matter?”

 

    Willow was about to reply when she spotted the men she ran from, clearly none-too-pleased and heading straight for her. Hildegund frowned and grabbed Willow’s arm, pulling the girl behind her as the warriors walked up to them.

 

    “Hildegund.” Erling greeted. “This does not concern you; our business is with Loki’s little whore.”

 

    “I make it my concern. You should be ashamed of yourselves; bullying a child.” Hildegund snapped, squaring her shoulders and glaring at them. “Off with you all, or my husband will hear of this.”

 

    The men glared for a moment then turned and walked away, knowing better than to risk it. As soon as they were far enough away Willow let out a breath of relief, nearly collapsing onto her knees if not for Hildegund’s steadying hands.

 

    “Thank you so much.” Willow managed to say after a moment.

 

    “It’s alright.” Hildegund soothed, drawing Willow into a comforting hug. “Now come; you can rest in my home while you tell me what exactly you are doing so far from the palace all by yourself.”

 

 

    Loki was worried. That much was obvious, which spoke to just how worried the usually reserved Trickster actually was. But he hadn’t seen Willow in hours and when Thor dropped by he told him he hadn’t seen her at all that day, after which Loki tried scrying for her and found he couldn’t find her. Thor suggested she might be with Odin as an explanation and offered to check. When he returned with news that their father hadn’t seen her all day either he figured his brother would not take it well, and was not disappointed. Loki immediately stormed out of his chambers, unheeding of Thor’s warning that he technically wasn’t allowed to yet, and headed straight for the council room where the king was.

 

    Odin didn’t seem particularly surprised when Loki burst into the room without announcement with Thor trailing behind; he figured it might happen after being questioned about Willow’s whereabouts. He was mildly surprised by the openly worried expression on his youngest’s face, though; Loki hardly ever let his true feelings show, after all.

 

    “Have the centuries of lessons in etiquette been lost on you both, that you would not even bother to knock?” Odin asked conversationally as he waved the others present in the room away.

 

    “I did try to stop him.” Thor was quick to say, raising his hands and showing his father the frostbite Loki had given him when he’d tried to stop him by force.

 

    “I see.” Odin replied before turning to Loki. “I assume this is about Willow.” He more stated that asked.

 

    “She’s not in the palace anymore; I can feel it. I need to find her.” Loki spoke quickly.

 

    “You were not to leave your chambers.” Odin reminded.

 

    “Well, then send me back to the dungeons if you want, just let me find her first.” Loki practically pleaded.

 

    Odin raised an eyebrow. “Why?”

 

    “What?” Loki asked, looking at him as though he’d gone mad.

 

    “Why should I allow this?” Odin asked simply.

 

    “She... she could be anywhere. She could be hurt!” Loki exclaimed.

 

    “Why is this so important to you?” Odin pressed.

 

    “Because I love her!” Loki yelled, taking both of them aback. “I need her, and the thought of not having her in my life is worse than any form of torture. Is that what you want to hear??” Loki began to pace. “That when I look at her smile, I see Vali and Narfi? That when I think of what she has endured, I see Hela and Fenrir and Jörmungandr? I need her to be safe. I can’t lose her.” He paused and looked at Odin dolefully. “I can’t lose another child.”

 

    Not a moment later, two ravens flew into the room and perched on Odin’s shoulders; after a bit, he nodded once then turned back to Loki. “I sent out Huginn and Muninn when Thor came here earlier; she is safe, on her way back with Volstagg.”

 

    Loki let out the breath he hadn’t realised he’d been holding and his shoulders slumped slightly in relief. “Good.” He managed. “Good.”

 

    “If you leave now, you could just meet her at the doors.” Odin commented mildly.

 

    Loki blinked at him in surprise then turned and left, a still somewhat stunned Thor following after him. Odin huffed a slight laugh and shook his head; he could almost hear Frigga commenting on how stubborn they all were when it came to admitting their feelings.

  

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