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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5. Chapter 4

    Willow stood before Loki in an empty field wearing the most unamused expression he had ever seen on her. He couldn’t really blame her though; after informing her that he was taking her to Asgard, he’d scrutinised her from head to toe and decided her current outfit was not appropriate enough then he proceeded to change her clothes over and over with his seidr until he was satisfied.

 

    “Who even cares? I’m only gonna be there for a day!” She had cried out at the fourth wave of magick.

 

    “First impressions are very important, lítið einn.” He had replied distractedly as he paced in a circle around her, inspecting.

 

    When he was finally satisfied - settling on a royal purple floor-lengthed dress with a modest neckline and long flowing sleeves slit up to the elbows, but letting her keep her knee-high black boots underneath - he worked on her hair, tying it back off her face with a series of intricate braids and letting the rest hang loose down her back, and drove them to a deserted field just out of town then dragged her through it until they reached the very centre about half a mile in.

 

    “Don’t sulk; you look lovely.” Loki said as they stopped walking and he turned to face her.

 

    “I feel violated.” Willow replied with a pout, crossing her arms at her chest.

Loki rolled his eyes and moved closer to her, wrapping his arms around her and telling her to hold on tight.

 

    “Keep your eyes closed; it’s very bright.” He warned, moving a hand to the back of her head once she did and cradling her face against his chest to shield her. When he was sure the Bifrost wouldn’t blind her, he turned his head up to the sky. “Heimdall; open the Bifrost.”

 

    Willow couldn’t see a thing - eyes closed tight and faced pressed to Loki’s chest and all - as they travelled through the portal, but she heard it all around her and made a mental note to try and find a spell that would protect her photosensitive eyes while she was in Asgard. Loki had told her that he didn’t know any, but admitted that he had never really thought to look, having no need for one himself.

 

    When they reached their destination Loki released her and slowly stepped back once she had done the same. “Is it safe?” Willow asked.

 

    “More or less.” Loki replied.

Willow slowly opened her eyes, blinking as her vision cleared to its usual, slightly unfocused state. She looked around curiously until her eyes landed on Heimdall, who was observing her with a slight smile upturning a corner of his lips.

 

    “We meet at last, Willow Elizabeth Stranton.” He greeted with a slight bow. “I am Heimdall; Gatekeeper of Asgard and Watchman to the Nine Realms.”

 

    “Hi.” Willow greeted shyly, shifting somewhat awkwardly.

 

    “Come; let’s get this over with so I can take you home.” Loki cut in, grabbing one of her hands and walking away with her.

 

    Willow wave slightly at Heimdall, who inclined his head towards her, and let Loki lead her out of the domed room. Outside Willow stopped in her tracks suddenly as her eyes landed on the colourful bridge beneath her feet, stumbling forward a few steps as Loki caught on to the fact and stopped walking himself. He sighed slightly, having had a feeling that would happen, and waited patiently while Willow examined the bridge delightedly; smiling a bit when she giggled as the colours shifted when she moved.

 

    “Willow, as much as I am enjoying this; we really should keep moving.” Loki said after he let her have a moment.

 

    “R-right!” Willow replied, straightening up; an embarrassed blush spreading across her face.

He led her forward and towards a waiting horse. Willow momentarily admired its lovely grey colour before her eyes were drawn to its legs - all eight of them - and her steps faltered slightly. Loki noticed and squeezed her hand slightly, getting her attention; he smiled encouragingly and she continued along until they were right up to the impressive animal.

 

    “Willow; this, as you have probably guessed, is Sleipnir.” Loki introduced, placing his free hand on the stallion’s forehead and stroking it affectionately before talking to him softly. “Sleipnir; this is Willow. She is mine; treat her kindly.”

Sleipnir nodded, snorting slightly, then stepped forward and nuzzled Loki’s neck, earning a laugh from the god as he patted his neck. Once the greetings were done Loki helped Willow up onto the saddle, choosing not to admonish her for hiking up her skirt to her thighs so she could sit more comfortably, and then climbed up behind her; grabbing the reins, he coaxed Sleipnir forward in a slow trot so as to not jostle the inexperienced rider before him too much.

 

    “I gotta ask...” Willow began after a while. “Isn’t Sleipnir supposed to be Odin’s horse?”

 

    “He is; yes.” Loki replied with a smirk Willow couldn’t see.

 

    “And he just... let you borrow him, no problem?” Willow asked.

 

    “Not at all.” Loki replied, his smirk widening. “But I have every right to visit my son whenever I choose.”

Willow’s thoughts ground to a halt and she turned around as best she could to look up at him in shock.

 

    “You were serious. That story’s true?!” Willow exclaimed.

 

    “Well, that part is; the rest happened a bit differently than your myths.” Loki replied with a shrug, thoroughly amused by her reaction.

It had been the second of three reasons he had chosen Sleipnir for this particular ride; the first had been a desire to see him, and the third was the possibility of annoying Odin.

 

    “But you did give birth to him?” Willow asked. Loki nodded and she gaped slightly. “How?!”

 

    “I was a mare at the time.” Loki reminded.

 

    “That’s still a lot of legs!” Willow said, pointing down at the appendages in question.

 

    “I never said it was easy.” Loki replied, wincing slightly at the memory.

While he would never regret his child; that particular experience was not one he was overly keen on repeating.

 

    “Wait; does that mean the rest of the stories about your kids are true, too?” Willow asked, now very curious.

 

    “That will cost you a week.” Loki replied guardedly.

 

    Willow frowned, turning back to face forward. “You know you can just say you don’t wanna talk about it, right?”

 

    “Fine; I don’t want to talk about it.” Loki retorted.

 

 

    The rest of the ride to the palace was made in silence, and once there Loki returned Sleipnir to his stall personally while Willow stood outside the stables before they headed inside and made their way through the halls. Willow looked around a bit but stuck close to Loki, clinging to his arm as though he’d disappear if she let go.

 

    When they reached the doors to the throne room, Loki turned to her. “Do not speak until spoken to, and watch your words when you do.”

 

    “Got it.” Willow replied then took a deep breath as they turned back to the doors.

Loki offered his arm to her again and Willow slipped her hand into the crook of his elbow; after another steadying breath, Loki led the way inside.

 

    As they walked down the hall and up to the stairs leading to the throne Loki groaned internally when he noticed that not only was Thor also there, but so were Sif and the Warriors Three. As if he didn’t have enough to worry about. Willow, of course, picked up on his tension immediately, which only served to make her nervous.

 

    When they reached the throne, Fandral spoke up before anyone else could. “So this is the mortal? Bit young for you, isn’t she?”

 

    “Oh, for the love of...” Willow huffed, slapping her forehead onto her palm exasperatedly.

 

    “For Valhalla’s sake; she’s a child!” Loki added indignantly.

 

    “My mistake.” Fandral replied with a laugh, raising his hands in surrender.

 

    “Enough. Step forward, child of Midgard.” Odin called. Willow bit her bottom lip slightly then let go of Loki and walked up to the bottom stair; looking up at the king with wide open eyes. Odin briefly recalled a time when he had called Loki before him when was about her age to address some misdeed of his, then brought his mind back to the present. “The reason I have had you brought before me is because it has come to my knowledge that Loki has been training you in the ways of seidr wielding, and as Allfather it is my duty to ascertain that you will not pose a threat to any of the Nine Realms.”

Willow blinked at him for a moment as his words sunk in. He thought she might be dangerous? Her? To say the idea was bizarre would be an understatement.

 

    “Are you kidding me? The only thing I’m a threat to is food. I’m practically harmless!” Willow blurted out before she could stop herself. “Well, except for that one guy in third grade. But he wouldn’t stop pulling my hair, so I’d say that punch was well deserved.” She added a bit more quietly.

 

 

    Silence met her words as those present regarded her with varying degrees of surprise and amusement while behind her Loki sighed deeply and buried his face in his hand.

  

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