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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6. Chapter 5

    Willow shifted self-consciously after she noticed everyone was staring at her, crossing her arms at her chest defensively when she heard a few sniggers. She hadn’t meant for that little outburst; she just couldn’t understand how anyone could think a girl like her could actually pose a threat to anything, even with what she’d learned from Loki. She wasn’t even that good, really. At least, so she thought. And now because of her big mouth everyone was staring at her and laughing.

 

    But then, what had she expected?

 

    “If that is the case, then we have little to discuss.” Odin replied after a moment. “I am, however, curious as to what bargains you have struck with Loki.”

 

    “Not much to tell.” Willow replied with a shrug, trying to ignore the slight burning in her eyes. “He teaches me magick, as long as I follow his instructions completely.”

 

    “I see. And what instructions would those be?” Odin asked.

 

    “Just... the lesson. Whatever we’re doing that day.” Willow replied, not sure what he wanted to hear.

 

    “And the cost to you?” Odin pried.

 

    “Nothing?” Willow replied confusedly.

 

    “I find it difficult to believe that Loki would provide such a service with nothing to gain for himself.” Odin said sceptically.

 

    “Well, I don’t know; I can’t exactly read his mind!” Willow cried out, wrapping her arms tighter around herself and shifting on her feet again.

 

    “You realise you could simply ask me that, don’t you?” Loki interjected, having had enough. He moved to stand next to Willow and placed a hand on her shoulder reassuringly before turning back to Odin. “And if you must know; what I get from teaching Willow is pleasant company and an excuse to be away from all of you.”

 

    “And I should trust this to be true?” Odin asked.

 

    “I truly don’t give a damn either way.” Loki replied.

 

    “Perhaps you should, if you wish to continue with this arrangement.” Odin warned.

 

    “And I am expected to trust you to leave it be?” Loki countered bitterly, moving up a few steps. “Why would you? After all, when have you ever cared about my contentment?”

 

    “I always cared, Loki; until your contentment hinged on wreaking havoc across the realms!” Odin replied.

 

    “Liar!” Loki spat angrily, taking them all by surprise.

 

    “Brother...” Thor tried to interject.

 

    “Don’t. You. Dare.” Loki warned venomously, effectively silencing Thor.

 

    “Loki.” Willow called, moving up to him and placing her hand on his arm.

Loki looked down at her, registering the worry in her violet eyes, then drew in a deep breath through his nose and exhaled slowly through his mouth.

 

    Looking back to Odin, Loki spoke evenly. “I don’t care what you believe of this because it holds no meaning; you will do what you will regardless, and so will I. But I will give fair warning; it would be pointless to try and stop me.”

 

    Odin eyed him for a moment, weighing his words. “Why do you care so much for this mortal child?”

 

    “Why not?” Loki asked back.

 

    Odin thought for a while, reviewing what he knew and considering his options. Meanwhile, Willow’s mind was in turmoil, running through many scenarios of how this could play out and none of them ending well. She didn’t want to lose Loki; he was the only person she had ever met who hadn’t singled her out and ridiculed her for her oddities. More than that, he took care of her; she hadn’t missed how he always made sure that she ate, or how he helped her with schoolwork, or how he always had soothing words for her whenever her day had been particularly trying.

 

    He did everything for her that her own parents never had.

 

    Odin seemed to reach a decision and spoke, his voice carrying easily throughout the room. “Loki; you expressly went against my wishes to stay away from Midgard. That cannot remain unpunished. Furthermore, you kept your tutelage of this mortal concealed knowing well that I would not simply overlook it. For this, you will be confined to your chambers until further notice.”

Loki clenched his jaw but said nothing; he had actually expected worse. This punishment reminded him of what he used to get for his pranks as a child. However, it seemed that Odin was not quite finished speaking yet.

“As for you, young lady...” Odin began, turning his attention to Willow, who visibly tensed. “I will need time to observe and decide whether you are safe to leave be. However Loki was quite insistent that you be returned home today so as to not interfere with your education and I am inclined to agree. If memory serves, you will be having some time away for the summer soon, yes?”

 

    “Y-yeah...” Willow replied, barely above a whisper. “In two weeks; I get two months off.”

 

    Odin nodded. “In two weeks, you will be brought to this realm again that I may set this matter to rest for good.”

 

    “But, what about...?” Willow trailed off and looked at Loki.

 

    “I have made my decision in that matter.” Odin replied. “Loki is not to leave Asgard under any circumstances.”

 

    “So I can’t see him for two weeks?” Willow asked somewhat shakily.

 

    “It is for the best.” Odin replied, seemingly unfazed by the fact that Willow seemed to be on the verge of tears and Loki looked as though he had just been slapped.

 

 

    With that they were dismissed, with Loki being allowed out of the palace this once to take Willow home after explaining that she wouldn’t be able to get there on her own. Heimdall offered Willow a sympathetic look before sending them on their way, knowing things would be getting difficult for her soon.

Once they were back on Midgard, Loki shapeshifted into his female form and drove Willow home. As they stood before the house they heard the sounds of arguing coming from within and Willow sighed heavily, dreading having to deal with that on top of everything. Loki placed a hand on her shoulder and squeezed lightly, hating having to leave her to this; she thought of one last thing she could offer, though it certainly would never be enough, and dug the key to her house out of a pocket.

 

    Loki took Willow’s hand and pressed the key to her palm then closed her fingers over it. “Here. I taught you how to check the wards; the house is yours whenever you need it.”

Willow’s bottom lip quivered slightly but she was determined not to cry in front of Loki. She nodded, not trusting her voice, and Loki reached forward and wrapped her arms around her tightly; it simultaneously broke her heart and made her proud to see her little Willow trying to stay strong. She pressed a kiss to the top of the fair-haired girl’s head then reluctantly stood back.

“I have to go now.” Loki said, her voice wavering just a fraction. “But know that I will never leave you, lítið einn.”

 

    And with that Loki turned, got back into her car and drove away. Willow watched her go then took a deep breath and walked into her house. She stood in the entryway for a moment before going upstairs to her room quickly, ignoring her parents’ voices. Once inside she locked the door and leaned on it. As the full weight of her new reality - temporary though it was - bore down on her, Willow slid down to the floor; she brought her knees up to her chest and, hugging them tightly, broke into sobs.

 

 

    Loki stepped off the Bifrost portal numbly, staring off to the horizon blankly. He had known that being separated from Willow would hurt, but he didn’t think it would be that bad. The look on her face as he left her was clear in his mind, and likely would be for some time. Without really thinking, he conjured a large orb of energy over his palm and willed it to show him Willow’s room, knowing that’s where she’d be. The image that came into focus forced a choked sound that was almost a whimper from his throat and he waved the orb away.

 

    Looking up, he faced Heimdall. “I owe you favours, but I would ask one more.”

 

    “We have our differences, Trickster, but for her sake I will keep you informed.” Heimdall replied solemnly.

 

Loki bowed his head in thanks and left for the palace, all the while his hatred for Odin seething inside him, threatening to boil over.

  

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