Chapter 17: Christmas morning
I was back in Asgard. Only, it wasn’t Asgard, much more spectacular. I was in this strange realm, in a forest surrounded by trees, lying in a clearing. The flowers surrounding me in full bloom, scarfing the ground with color. I was lying across the flowers, their scent so sweet and their petals soft. I felt so relaxed, so safe.
I looked to my right, seeing Loki lying next to me. His face was inches from mine, whispering to me, though I couldn’t hear a word he said. He smiled to me, his beautiful green gem-like eyes lighting up, leaning in closer to me.
This must be a dream…
“Noelle.” He whispered to me. “Noelle, you must awaken.” I smiled, this was so weird. Wasn’t I awake already? Wasn’t this real?
My body shook just then, a tremor spiking through it. I looked back at Loki, still lying next to me, getting impossibly closer each passing moment. He didn’t seem to even feel the tremor…I relaxed again closing my eyes.
The tremor shook me again, this time much more violently. What was going on?
I woke up, nearly jumping out of my skin to see a disheveled looking Loki hovering over me. It was only a dream…I haven’t dreamt something so pretty in, well, forever. It all seemed so real, the forest, the flowers, Loki. I even felt the textures around me, could smell the flowers. This was the most vivid, lucid dream I had ever experienced.
“Have you finally awoken?” Loki asked impatiently. It took me a moment to register the question, before flopping back down into bed, rolling to my side and pulling the covers slightly over my head. This was not how I had wanted to wake up on Christmas morning.
Oh, right. It’s Christmas! I had completely forgotten it was Christmas morning with the wakeup call I received. “Yes, I am awake Loki. Merry Christmas.” It wasn’t the cheeriest greeting, but I was doing my best.
“Merry merry to you as well, now please awaken! You mother will not allow me to break my fast until you rise from bed!” I pulled the cover off my head to see the funniest sight: Loki sitting on my bed with his arms crossed over his chest, the most impatient, crabby face I have ever seen.
I laughed out loud. “Loki, you can’t expect me to just get up as soon as I open my eyes. Give me a moment.” I closed my eyes to relax, planning on getting out of bed slowly. Jumping out of bed was not something I liked to do. Even if it was Christmas. Loki just sighed unhappily and waited patiently. I could feel his eyes on me the whole time, waiting. After two minutes, I had had enough of his crabbiness and just got out of bed. Loki is definitely not a morning person.
When I pulled my feet out from under the covers and placed them on the floor, Loki jumped of my bed and pulled me up the rest of the way, hurrying me. He must have been that hungry, to be pulling me around to get some food. It was then that I realized what Loki was wearing: a pair of plaid sleep pants, and that was all he was wearing. Now, with the light streaming in from the window and the doorway, I could see Loki’s sculpted chest and broad shoulders. It really hit me how pale he was in stark contrast with his ebony hair.
He noticed me staring and though the crabby attitude left his face, the stoic expression remained. “Your...your mother brought me clothing this morning.” I wondered where my mother had gotten clothes for Loki when I realized she must have kept some of my dad’s clothes. It was the only explanation, since it was Christmas day and I was pretty sure all stores were closed.
Though Loki looked incredibly mouth-watering in the plaid pants, which were still a little big and hung low on his hips, adding to the image of perfection, he looked a little uncomfortable in the clothing. Either he just wasn’t used to the clothing or the fabric, or I had a creepy expression on my face while I observed him.
I snapped out of my daze, realizing that I too was hungry. “Let’s go eat.” I walked out of my room, motioning Loki to follow me. Before leaving my room, out of the corner of my eye I saw him reach for a shirt folded on the cot and put it on. I stopped to watch, then turned around and kept walking before he could notice me staring at him. The smell of sausages filled the whole apartment, making me even hungrier by the minute. I entered the kitchen to see my mom standing by the stove, sipping coffee and making scrambled eggs. “Merry Christmas sleepy head.” She said, serving the eggs on three plates.
“Merry Christmas mom.” I smiled, happy to be eating my mom’s breakfast again. I took a seat at the table, and my mom placed sausages, home fries, toast, and my plate of eggs in front of me. I happily went to load my plate when my mom gently smacked my hand away.
“Wait for you friend.” She chastised. “I made him wait until you got out of bed.” I huffed, waiting for Loki to saunter into the kitchen, wishing us a good morning. So now he chose to have a positive attitude. But I guess he had to keep up the charm with my mom to stay here. My mom served him his plate of eggs while I reached for the sausages first and started to pile my plate. Loki followed my lead, looking a little unsure about the food in front of him. My mom sat down, and chuckled a bit, watching Loki pile a little bit of everything on his plate. “This here is home-fries.” She began to explain to him. My mom was so at ease while she explained to him what each dish was, what was in them. But she had lived with my dad for a year before I was born. I was sure she had to explain a few things to him, like Midgardian food.
After she explained food to him, Loki looked a little more at ease. As we all ate, my mom asked Loki all sorts of questions about himself, Asgard and telling stories about my childhood on earth. I guess she was taking full advantage of having royalty at her table, enjoying her food. Even after we finished, they were still talking while I finished the dishes. “Are you ready to open presents?” My mom asked, standing up and looking between the both of us.
I nodded and motioned to Loki to follow my mom and I as we walked into the living room. My mom left to her room to bring out Christmas gifts. We didn’t usually put up a Christmas tree, since we didn’t have much room in the apartment to store it. My mom just brought the presents out on Christmas day. I suddenly remembered the gift I was going to give to my mom.
“I’ll be right back.” I said, leaving Loki standing in the living room by himself. I hurried to my room, pulling the cloth wrapped necklace from my underwear drawer.
“Hm, is that where you store all precious items?” Loki was suddenly peering over my shoulder. Damn, he was quiet! I quickly shut my drawer before he could see any more of its contents.
“Nosy.” I muttered, turning around to face him. I gave him a glare, which softened when I saw the smile he was giving me. It was a teasing smile, his white teeth showing, his lips looking very kissable. I resisted getting in closer to him, moving around him and heading back to the living room, Loki not trailing far behind. My mom was sitting on the couch when we got back, holding two square boxes wrapped in pretty Christmas paper.
“Here you both are.” She said, handing Loki and I each a box. I traded with my mom, giving her the necklace wrapped in cloth.
“I didn’t have time to wrap your gift mom, but I hope you like it.” I watched as she unfolded the cloth and gasped, looking up at me.
“Where did you get this? It’s stunning!” She held the ruby necklace, one hand holding the gold chain and the other cupping the ruby, holding it up to the light to see it twinkle. It was indeed a beautiful necklace, but red had never been one of my favourite colors. I knew my mom loved red, and would wear it more than the matching emerald one I had.
I shrugged. “In my chambers on Asgard, daddy left me a jewelry box. I can’t possibly keep them all, and the red made me think of you. I just figured you’d like a piece of Asgard, and me.” I smiled and leaned in to intercept her hug.
“Thank you sweetie.” She whispered in my hair. “No open yours!” She urged me, letting me go. “You too Loki!” She told him. I ripped the wrapping paper, hearing Loki do the same. As I pulled the paper off, I was able to read the title of the book. It had a dark cover, the title engraved in it.
“The Prose Edda!” I shouted, pulling the book close. I looked over to see Loki had the same thing. He was already flipping through it, looking amused.
“I knew you wanted it.” My mom smiled warmly. “When I went to pick it up at the store, something told me to grab two.”
I quickly began flipping through the pages eagerly. The Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda are two Old Norse books that held nearly all the mythological works belonging to the Vikings. I had quite a few books on Vikings and Old Norse, considering my heritage, but for some reason I never owned the either the Prose Edda or the Poetic Edda. It would definitely be coming to Asgard with me. “These stories…they are of us?” Loki questioned, an amused smile on his face.
I nodded. “You were once worshipped as Gods by a people called the Norse, or the Vikings. They are a lot like Asgardians. Anyways, they wrote stories and myths about Asgard.”
He nodded. “This will be an interesting read. Thank you for your kindness.” Loki said cordially to my mother. Then he turned to me. “I have something for you.” Loki swirled his hands in front of him, making a book appear out of thin air. He held it out to me, smiling. I took it, reading it over.
“The complete guide to useful magic.” I read aloud, my smile growing.
“I thought you would want a book of your own. It also serves as a lesson plan.” Loki turned to my mother. “I have been instructing your daughter in magic. She is quite talented.” He explained. I blushed at the compliment, flipping through the book.
“Wait.” I said, realizing something very important. “Loki…I didn’t get you anything.” I frowned, feeling terrible. “I’m sorry Loki! If I had known you were going to be here…” I trailed off, looking down. I felt so embarrassed. Loki’s first Christmas and I ruined it!
Loki shrugged. “Do not be sad. You can always give me a gift some other time.” He winked and I blushed again. I met his piercing gaze and he met mine. Every time I looked into Loki’s eyes, I felt like he was looking straight into my soul, like he knew and understood me in ways other people couldn’t.
“Well, I think I’ll go start up on making dinner. It looks like there will be four of us tonight.” Mom clapped her hands, getting up to get out of her pajamas.
“Yes, us three and Christi will be joining us.” And with that my mom left to change and cook.
Loki gave me a puzzled look. “Joining us for what?” Who is this Christi?”
I sighed. “On Christmas day, we usually have a traditional dinner with family. And my mom invites her friend, Christi.”
“I see. So there are more festivities?”
I nodded. “That’s why I said I would be a few days.” I probably wouldn’t be doing anything tomorrow but enjoying being home for the day. “I might not stay for four days exactly though.”
Loki just sat back on the couch, putting his arms around his head, settling in. “Well, I am in no hurry. We could practice your magic? Try something in the book?” He suggested.
I smiled. Might as well practice. Unless my mom called me for help, I wasn’t doing anything else. I picked up the book and flipped through to the first pages, immediately selecting the one with the illustration of a palm holding flames. “This one.” Loki smiled, and we began our lesson.
It’s been hours since we first started my lesson on conjuring flames. It really didn’t have much use beyond entertainment and as a flashlight, but it was still cool to learn. Now that I could do it, Loki and I were conjuring them up, screwing around with them.
I threw my purple flame to Loki, who caught it from the chair across the room, and threw it back. I laughed, catching it in my palm and making it disappear. The flame would light objects on fire if they touched, but was cool and light in my palms.
“Noelle, what are you throwing in the house?” My mom popped her head into the living room. I don’t blame her for wondering what all the commotion was about; Loki and I had gone from quietly teaching, to complete silence for concentration, to arguing about what I was doing wrong, to cheering my success, to laughing and talking quietly. She had probably heard us in the kitchen.
“Fire.” I said casually, snapping my fingers and conjuring the purple flames. She gasped as I played with the fire.
“I have been supervising her.” Loki assured my mom.
“Mom, if I burn something, Loki can fix it.” I assured her. She rolled her eyes.
“Just please do not throw fire around in my house Noelle. I mean it.” She chastised me, and I extinguished the flame. I mean, it is her house, and she is letting Loki stay here on short notice. “And please get ready for dinner, Christi will be here in an hour.”
I sighed, getting up. I had to think of a lie to tell Christie. “Mom, what does Christie think about me not being here for a month?”
“She thinks you’ve gone away abroad for a job. I haven’t said where yet.” She called out.
“Alright.” I sighed, looking at Loki, thinking up a good cover story for him. “We’ll say that I went to…England. And Loki is my friend from England…who is here because…” I trailed off.
“I am here because my family is away for the celebrations and I could not go with them.” Loki finished for me.
“Right.” I agreed. “Now, we have to find something for you to wear.” Loki had been dressed in the sleep pants and the sleep shirt since he woke up.
“Go find something in your father’s boxes.” My mom called from the kitchen. “When you’re finished getting ready I need you to come watch the food for me while I get prettied up.” I motioned for Loki to follow me as I went to the linen closet. I opened it and pulled out two cardboard boxes full of my father’s old clothing. I don’t know why we kept them, but it’s a good thing we did, or Loki would have to wear his Asgardian clothes and that would be extremely difficult to explain to Christi.
I opened a box and rifled through the contents. A lot of this stuff was from the late 90’s, so I had to dig a bit to find something somewhat modern. I finally unearthed a pair of dress pants for Loki to wear, and I belt, since the jeans could be big on him. I threw them at Loki and he caught them, looking at them with interest. I rummaged a bit more to find two button down long sleeved shirts in dark green and dark blue. I held them up to Loki. “Pick one.”
He took the green one from my hand. “Alright. Do you want to shower first?”
“What do I want to do?” I had to remember to explain a lot to Loki. Asgard didn’t have showers.
“Okay. I’ll go shower, then you can bathe.” I figured it would just be easier for him to take a bath and keep him in his comfort zone. “I’ll let you know when I finish showering. I’ll be quick.” I smiled at him, and went to the bathroom. I started the water, and undressed quickly, hopping in. After all this time of baths, it felt weird taking a shower. I thoroughly lathered myself with my scented body soap, rinsed and reluctantly got out from the warm water. I dried myself off, and put my special apple scented leave-in conditioner in my hair. After wrapping a towel around me and tucking it securely in the front, I opened the door. Peeking my head out, Loki was nowhere in sight. I stepped out further from the bathroom and peeked in to the living room, sighing in relief when I saw Loki sitting in the living room reading his copy of Prose Edda.
“You can go bathe now Loki.” I called to him, and hurried to my room to change. I closed the door and moved Loki’s cot to open my closet, unsure of what to wear. It was Christmas dinner, so I probably should dress nice, but I didn’t want to be decked out in a dress, even though I wore them all the time in Asgard. I kept pushing the hangers back and forth, looking for the perfect outfit. I finally found a pretty pale blue blouse. Pulling it out, I dug through my closet, searching for my pair of black dress pants. After putting the blouse and pants on, I put on some black socks. I had enough time to glance in the mirror before I heard a knock on my door.
“Come in.” I said, still looking in the mirror, wondering what to wear with my outfit. When the door opened I looked up to see Loki standing there, wearing the green button down shirt and black dress pants. He looked really good in them, attractive and charming. It threw me off to see Loki dress so normally on earth. It wasn’t something I had expected. “You look nice.” I said, trying to sound casual.
He raised an eyebrow. “You look lovely as well.” I blushed. Just as I was going to break the silence forming, I heard the din of the doorbell. Loki looked around, obviously surprised at the random sound. I laughed at his expression. “What in the nine realms was that?”
I giggled. “It’s the doorbell. It’s a little button outside our door that people push to let us know they’ve arrived to see us.” I explained. “It’s probably Christie. Come on.”
The doorbell rang again, and I picked up the pace a bit to reach the door. Christie was notorious for blaring the bell a million times until the door opened. I reached the door knob and yanked it open, revealing the tall, short brown haired Christie. Her warm brown eyes widened in surprise at seeing me. “Noelle! Merry Christmas girlie!” Christie wrapped me in a hug, rocking me side to side. “I didn’t expect you to be back! How are you?” She was talking a mile a minute, asking me questions about where I was, what I was doing there.
“I brought wine.” She said, pulling a bottle from a shopping bag she was holding. It was after I took the bottle and thanked her that I noticed a young woman standing behind Christie, a bored look on her face. Oh no. I thought. It can’t be her. My worst fear was confirmed when Christie turned and beckoned the girl forward. “You remember my niece, Layla?” Layla put her hand up in a peace sign, saying nothing, the bored look never leaving her face.
“I remember Layla.” I gave her a fake smile. I remember you, alright. Layla was Christie’s niece, who lived with Christie from time to time. From what I knew, Layla had an on/off relationship with her parents. She wouldn’t talk to them for weeks and would live with her aunt. Layla had dropped out of community college, didn’t have a job and never paid Christie back for anything, always asking her for money. And she was a spoiled, immature, rude brat to everyone she met.
After a few moments of small talk between us, I saw Layla straighten up, and plaster a bright, enthusiastic smile on her face. I turned to see just who she was googly eyeing when she pushed past me and stuck her hand out to Loki. “Hey, I didn’t see you there! I’m Layla. And who are you?” She purred.
“I am Loki.” He took her hand to shake. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes when Loki used that persuasive, tempting tone. Layla held on to his hand while she pointed out how unusual his name was. I felt a pang of jealousy when she squeezed his hand. She’s known him for five freaking minutes, and she’s already holding his hand! Loki gave no indication of trying to pry his hand away either, which bothered me more. She smiled and twirled her light brown hair, batting her eyes. What a flirt. It didn’t help that my mom had joined us, conversing and hugging Christie while I stood there awkwardly in the middle of two conversations, my annoyance and jealousy growing.
If this was how the whole evening would go, I couldn’t guarantee I could play nice with Layla. Or Loki, if he kept flirting back.