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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14. Chapter 13

    Loki hadn’t quite made it to the front doors of the palace before Willow and Volstagg got there, but when he did meet them he all but ran to Willow, who did break into a sprint and met him halfway, and pulled her into an almost crushing hug. Willow didn’t mind the depletion of oxygen; she was just happy to be back. When he stepped back Loki seemed to suddenly realise there were other people present; he took hold of Willow’s hand and practically dragged her back to his chambers in silence, face completely blank, and once there he spoke only to ask Willow what had happened.

 

    After she’d explained things he stood before the fireplace with his back to her in silence for a long while. Long enough to make her a little nervous. “Loki?” Willow asked hesitantly.

 

    “Did it not occur to you that I hadn’t taught you spells like that one for a reason?” Loki finally spoke, his voice eerily calm. “Teleportation is highly advanced, highly dangerous magick. Even I haven’t fully mastered it.” He turned around and faced her with a stern expression. “When I agreed to teach you; I made it very clear that there were rules. Among them that I would decide what was safe for you to learn. Safe, Willow; do you understand what that means?”

 

    Willow looked down guiltily and Loki walked over to her, hands clasped behind his back.

 

    “Now how, in all the Nine and beyond, could it occur to you to ignore my every warning and do something so incredibly stupid?” Loki snapped and Willow flinched at his tone. “You could have gotten yourself killed; are you aware of that? Worse, even. What were you thinking?” He continued, concern softening his voice some.

 

    “I’m sorry. Loki; I’m so sorry.” Willow managed in a choked voice looking up at him with tearful eyes.

 

    At that all the anger fled Loki and he took Willow’s face in his hands and kissed the top of her head before wrapping her in his arms. “I know you are, lítið einn. I know.” He murmured. “Just don’t... don’t ever do something like this again. I know what I’m doing; trust me to decide what you attempt when.”

 

    “I will.” Willow promised, returning the hug tightly.

 

    “You scared me half to death, just so you know.” Loki added with a slight somewhat forced laugh.

 

    “Sorry.”

 

    “I know.” He ran his fingers through her hair, pressing another kiss to her head. “You have no idea what you’ve done to me, pet.” He said almost absently.

 

    Willow turned her head up to look at him somewhat confusedly. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

 

    “When I think about you in danger, my heart stops and a dread I have not felt in centuries overcomes me. You have no idea how important you are to me, Willow.” Loki admitted, earning a somewhat stunned blink. “It would kill me inside to lose you. You’re all I have left.”

 

    “Am I?” Willow asked with a slightly raised eyebrow. “Am I really?”

 

    Loki opened his mouth to argue then sighed. “Well, very nearly.” He conceded.

 

    “Better.”

 

    Loki rolled his eyes. “Why are you so very insistent?”

 

    “Because.” Willow replied with a shrug. “My parents don’t give a damn about me; never have.” She continued simply and Loki’s eye twitched slightly at how matter-of-fact she was about it. “But your family does care. They may seriously suck at showing it most times, but they care. I just don’t think you should throw that away.”

 

    “Now you sound like mother.” Loki scoffed, letting go of her and stepping back.

 

    “Has it occurred to you that maybe she knew what she was talking about?” Willow teased, poking his ribs, to which he retaliated by pushing her head.

 

    “I’ll make an effort. But I am not a very forgiving person, and there is a lot to forgive.” Loki said at length then wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her to the direction of her bedchambers. “You need a bath; you’re covered in dirt.”

 

    Willow scoffed indignantly. “You didn’t seem to care ten minutes ago.”

 

    “I was a little preoccupied making sure you were in one piece.” Loki replied simply. He looked down at her again and paused, frowning slightly. “Is that one of my shirts?”

 

    Willow looked up at him like a deer caught in headlights. “Define ‘yours’...”

 

    Loki closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose, sighing deeply. “Just... go bathe.” He said at length, pushing her forward gently.

 

 

    Thor knocked on the door to the antechamber of Loki’s hall before walking in, only to find Loki apparently waiting for him on one of the couches. He opened his mouth to ask how Willow was doing but his brother clearly had other things on his mind.

 

    “What does Odin intend to do about Erling and his thralls?” Loki demanded to know.

 

    “They aren’t his...” Thor began then thought better of it and walked up to the couch but didn’t sit down; he had a feeling he would soon wear out his tentative welcome. “From what Volstagg told me, Willow was unharmed, wasn’t she?”

 

    Loki’s mouth formed a flat line and Thor mentally braced himself for an outburst. “So, nothing then?” Loki’s voice was calm, which only worried Thor more.

 

    “I didn’t say that.”

 

    “What, then? A stern warning?” Loki asked mockingly. “After all there was no harm done.”

 

    “Loki, I only meant that it’s not so simple a matter.” Thor tried to explain, once again wishing his father would deliver his own messages for a change.

 

    “It’s simple enough to me.”

 

    “It is not.” Thor insisted. “They may have chased her halfway across the market, but there is no way to prove what intentions Erling and his th-,” He stopped just short from using Loki’s own words, causing a corner of the latter’s lips to twitch upwards for a second, “His friends actually had.”

 

    “Give me three minutes.” Loki suggested almost conversationally with a vicious glint in his eyes.

 

    “If it were up to me...” Thor half-muttered. He looked over to the door leading to Willow’s bedchamber. “How is she?”

 

    “Almost as though nothing at all happened.” Loki replied, following his brother’s gaze. “This is far from the first time she’s been in danger; she’s not one to dwell. She’s actually more upset about breaking my rules.”

 

    “I take it you had some words to say about it?”

 

    Loki frowned. “I may have been overly harsh.”

 

    Thor looked back at Loki with a raised eyebrow. “You’re worried about being too harsh? You? I have truly heard it all now.” He teased, earning a glare that he laughed at. “If you were too harsh, I’m sure she’ll understand that you were merely worried.”

 

    Loki shook his head. “That’s not the point.”

 

    “What is then?”

 

    Loki hesitated for a moment then glanced back at Willow’s door before sitting forward and resting his forearms on his knees. “You’ve never met her parents. They don’t care about her; worse, they see her as a burden, a disturbance. The way they treat her...”

 

    “You are not them, brother; she knows that.” Thor said, moving to sit next to Loki. “It is obvious she loves you. You are the first person she goes to for help or comfort, she is clearly happiest around you.”

 

    Loki thought Thor’s words over for a while then started chuckling quietly, looking down. Thor looked at him curiously, wondering what he could have said that was so amusing. He was about to ask when quite suddenly Loki sat up, turned to him and hugged him. Thor sat there stunned for a few moments before tentatively returning the hug; when they parted Loki was grinning.

 

    “What was that for?” Thor asked, both glad and baffled at once.

 

    “You’re an idiot.” Loki replied gladly. Thor opened his mouth to protest but Loki cut him off. “But you’re my idiot.”

 

    Thor blinked in shock. “I... am?” He asked hesitantly.

 

    “We’ve done so much to each other... But you’ve never stopped being it.” Loki admitted honestly, looking down at his hands. “I wanted to stop caring. For so long, I tried; I thought it was better that way.” He looked back up at Thor with an openness to his expression the Thunderer had not seen in a very long time. “I can’t do it. I will never stop loving you, brother; even when I hate you.”

 

    For a while Thor was silent, not quite believing what he’d just heard, but then he found his voice again. “I am sorry, Loki, for every hurt I caused you in my carelessness. I remember well how you looked up to me when we were children, and I am sorry I pushed you away. It does not excuse the things you have done, but I understand them.” He placed a hand on Loki’s shoulder and looked his brother straight in the eyes. “I will try to be a better brother, if you will let me.”

 

    Loki returned the gesture. “I suppose I could try to be less difficult; so that you can keep up, of course.” He replied with smirk. Thor rolled his eyes and shoved him away with a scoff, causing Loki to laugh.

  

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