Chapter 15: Christmas Eve
“Sweetheart!” My mom was in her living room, reading a book, when I appeared. I didn’t lose my balance this time, but the Bifrost still took a lot out of me.
“Merry Christmas mom.” I hugged her as she rushed up. I had kind of missed my mom. If I was honest, I forgot about earth while I was in Asgard. Every so often, the thought of my mom came up, and she was the only reason I came back to earth. I knew eventually, my mom wouldn’t be here anymore. I knew I would live longer than her, just by being Halfling and by being on Asgard. It was sad, but it was the way of life.
“How are you? How I are things going in Asgard?” She spoke rapidly. My mom had always been a fast talker. “Oh, I’m so happy you’re home!”
I laughed. “I am doing fine mom. Things are going great.”
“Come, sit down. I’ve made gingerbread cookies.” She sat me down on the couch, while bustling to the kitchen. “I thought I’d make some for you. I just had a feeling you would come home.”
I smiled to that. “I’m going to go change.” I told her. I got up and walked to my room, looking around. It was the same as it was before I left: Purple comforter on the bed, my bulletin board full of random pictures of stuff I found inspiring, bookshelf filled, closet a bit messy. I opened the closet more to pull out a pair of skinny jeans, a grey tank top and a long knit green sweater. I put on some socks too, remembering that it was cold here. “What day is it mom?” I called to her as I changed. I was very curious to know. I lost track of the date at some point in Asgard.
“It’s the twenty-fourth sweetie.” She called back. So I had made it just on time. Perfect. I finished changing and heard the telephone ring. My hearing was definitely sharper since being on Asgard. I was nosey, so I kept listening in. I could hear a male voice on the other line.
“James! I’m glad you called.” I heard my mom say, lowering her voice. “I’m afraid we’re going to have to cancel tonight. My daughter just surprised me by coming home for Christmas…yes…yes…Well, I don’t know how long she plans on staying…we can always go out the day after tomorrow…alright. See you then James.” I could tell by her tone of voice that this James wasn’t just anybody on the phone.
I walked out quietly, before creeping up to my mom in the kitchen. It had been something I used to do when I realised just how quiet I could be. “Who’s James?” I asked, in a normal volume, since it was so quiet.
My mom jumped a bit, before shaking her head, smiling. “I’ve gotten used to you not doing that.” She offered me a plate of cookies. I took one, biting into it. It was delicious, spice and sugar.
“Who’s James?” I repeated.
She sighed. “James is a man I’ve started seeing.” She smiled, and I could tell she liked him. I used to get upset when Christi, my mom’s friend, used to try and get her to start dating again. That was back when I figured my father would come back to live with us. I knew my parents loved each other, but I wasn’t old enough to know that it was okay for my mom to move on. She shouldn’t have to spend the rest of her life alone because my father couldn’t stay.
I was happy for her. “If you were supposed to go out with him tonight, its fine mom. I do not mind much.” I could stay in and pick out the books I wanted to bring back to Asgard.
“Have you noticed you go from speaking formally to speaking normally?” My mom said, chuckling.
“Loki tends to point it out.” I said casually. I wonder what Loki is doing right now, I thought.
“Who’s Loki?” She asked, her interest piquing. Great, I thought, now I have to tell her about him. Not that I minded talking about Loki, but I didn’t want too much coming out…like the fact that I liked him.
“He’s a friend.” I tried to sound indifferent. “He teaches me magic, and he taught me how to ride.”
“Is he cute?” I wanted to stop the conversation there.
“So are you going out with James the day after tomorrow?” I changed the topic. Enough about my love life, which was currently non-existent between Loki and I.
“Yes, I think I will. We were supposed to go for a movie tonight, but I want to spend some time with my own daughter.” I nodded, going back to the living room, looking for a good book to read. “You didn’t answer my question.” My mom remarked as I left. I rolled my eyes. I didn’t plan on answering it. Because the truth was I thought Loki was incredibly attractive. Saying he was cute was an insult.
I shut what seemed to be the thousandth book, the snap echoing through the library. I couldn’t find what I was looking for in that book either. Or perhaps what I was looking for was there, and my concentration issues were getting in the way. I got up and paced.
She hasn’t been gone too long, I thought. But lack of time does not mean lack of danger. I couldn’t stop thinking about Noelle being on Midgard on her own. For four days. I might have been overreacting, but I didn’t like the thought of her without any safety.
Just admit it Loki. You fear for her safety because her attacker is still alive and well. Knowing the man who tried to kill Noelle was still alive and possibly still held a grudge bothered me. What if he found out, by some way, that she was on Midgard? What if he saw her? It didn’t ease my mind knowing she had arms training either. No one was with her, and if he brought more men to help kill her this time? She would surely die. Or come back to Asgard more severely injured than before.
I also felt guilty for not being able to take her to the Bifrost. I didn’t want to see her leave, nor encourage her to believe I was falling for her. It was a lie, but I had to keep it, as much as I didn’t want to. I lied to her.
I lied to many people. I lied to my father, to Thor, the warriors three, Sif. I could lie to anyone, and be believed. It was quite a gift. And I never felt guilty for lying to anyone. Except to Noelle. She was different. When I told her I was meeting Father…I shuddered, thinking of how her eyes looked a little sad, but understanding.
She was so understanding. She trusted me, believed me. She probably believed I would never lie to her. And I did. I felt like an idiot for lying to her. I felt exactly like people described liars: ugly, nasty, like the word. I didn’t want to ever lie to her again. Ever. I couldn’t.
“Restless?” Father’s voice boomed in the library. He was one of the few who could sneak up on me. I was actually so caught off guard that I jumped.
“Just a tad.” I answered, rolling my shoulders. Father never came to the royal library. He had his own, which was better supplied and more restricted than this one.
“You worry for her.” He said with a knowing look. He walked into the library, gazing about the shelves of books. He probably didn’t recognise half of them, since he probably hadn’t been here in a century or so.
“For whom?” I pretended I did not know. It was better I told myself I wanted nothing more than friendship from Noelle. At first, my plan was to keep our relationship strictly teacher-student. But I realised I could not do that. I could not simply let go immediately, just as she probably couldn’t. I would keep a respectable, friendly, distance with Noelle. Eventually, she would find affection elsewhere. Even though I did not want her to. I still held affections for her.
“For Lady Noelle, your Halfling.” He said smoothly, uninterested.
“She is not my Halfling, Father. She is her own.” I tried to sound cold, uncaring. It was usually so easy to do. But we were on a sensitive topic.
“But I suspect she will not be. Soon enough you two will not be able to dance around each other. One of you will stop this little game.”
“There is no game to play.” I felt hollow saying those words.
“Loki.” He stopped, and I looked up at him. “Go to Midgard. Keep her safe.”
Damn. “What gave you the idea I want to go to Midgard, Father?” Has my silver tongue lost its sheen?
“Loki, we both know it is where you wish to be.” He said, looking at me, seeing through my façade. “I will not tell Thor.” He chuckled. I was caught completely off guard. It must have shown on my face, because Odin continued to laugh at me. “I see more than you think Loki.”
I thought of what he had just given me permission to do. To go to Midgard, to protect Noelle. I should not go. If I go tearing after her in Midgard, she will suspect my feelings for her. Which could not happen. But I so wanted to. I wanted to ensure she was safe. And I had to admit, I was feeling…strange, since her departure. I had never felt this before. I could not stop thinking of her, wishing for her presence, wondering just how I would get by for four days.
“Should you decide to go, Heimdall will be waiting.” Father said, turning to leave.
“I…That will not be required.” I said curtly, before I could change my decision. I had to stay with what I had decided: not become involved with Noelle romantically.
“He shall wait anyway.” Father said before leaving the library.
I sighed. If Father could see it, how obvious were my feelings for her? Return to your books Loki. Just return to your books and studies. Four days will pass swiftly enough. I walked over to the magic section, pulling out a large volume of treasures and relics in the strange language of Nilfheim. Nilfheim was renowned for their knowledge of the history is realms. Perhaps Noelle would be willing to learn the language when she returns…
Stop thinking of her. I thought flippantly. I flipped through the pages, spotting the ones I knew: Bor’s staff, the casket of ancient winters. I kept flipping through, my eyes catching random words across the pages. My eyes wandered, uninterested, until I reached a section I had not read before, flipping past it to the end of the pages. I thought for a moment, flipping back to the page that caught my attention. Running my finger over the page, I read aloud.
“The…Amaranth.” I found myself captivated by it. There were many depictions of the Amaranth, all shaped as flowers. Why is this? I thought.
The Amaranth has no particular shape or form. The sole regularity in its shape is how it seems to take shape of a flower each transformation.
Hm...Interesting. I studied the page, remembering it, continuing to read. This would keep me entertained for four days.
A little later…
I threw the book onto the ground, my anger taking over. Nothing had changed! Though I had learned much from the book, my every thought was becoming entangled with the thought of old gold, silk-like hair, eyes as deep as the night sky, and musical laughter, calling my name. I will not go to Midgard. I will absolutely NOT go to Midgard. I growled in annoyance, before deciding what to do. I threw the doors open to the library, walking swiftly. If father knows so much, perhaps he can answer me this.
I reached the throne room, pushing the golden doors open. Father was where he always was, sitting on his throne, all knowing. He was speaking with a guard, too concentrated on what he was saying to notice I had stormed into the throne room.
Odin stopped talking to the guard when he saw I had started climbing the first steps to the throne. “Yes Loki?” He looked amused. Of course he was; I had stormed into the throne room like an idiot to ask him the most ridiculous question I had ever asked him. But I had to know.
“May we have a word?” I gritted my teeth in embarrassment. “In private.” Odin dismissed the guard, motioning me to speak. “Will…will this go away?”
“Will what go away Loki?” He asked calmly. As if he doesn’t now.
“I cannot stop thinking of her. Will this eventually stop?” I felt like an idiot, a little boy, instead of a man almost finished growing. I had never felt this way before, ever. It was starting to make me wonder if I really was losing my wits.
He only chuckled. “I am afraid I cannot answer that. Perhaps when she returns.”
“That is four days from now.”
“Then I suggest you endure and wait, or…” He smiled. “Go to her.”
I thought for a second. I had tried waiting and enduring. It was not working. If that was the only way to not feel these things, the only way to ensure her safety, to end this madness of my mind and emotions, then I would do it.
“I’m going to Midgard.” I said, turning and storming out of the throne room.
As I left, I could hear him laughing at me.