Chapter 32: Changed
I woke up to the sound of silence and an empty bed. That’s romantic…I sighed and rolled over, wishing Loki was here. Last night had been…indescribable. I was right. Loki was definitely good in bed. More than good. Amazing. Just thinking about it made me ache to see him, kiss him, touch him.
‘Where are you Loki?’ I reached over to the side table to grab my necklace and put it on. I still wore it every day since Loki first gave it to me.
‘In a war council meeting, deciding what to do about Jotunheim.’ He sounded bored, but he felt happy that I had been thinking of him. ‘I am truly sorry I couldn’t stay with you this morning. But showing up late on my second day isn’t ideal.’
I sighed. ‘I’m sure someone would have come to wake you up.’
‘I wouldn’t want that either. A king is supposed to be chaste until marriage. I just could wait no longer.’
I nodded, though he couldn’t see me. ‘I’ll be around the palace if you need something.’ Then I was alone again. I didn’t know what I’d get up to today around here. Everything was so out of it, with Thor gone and the potential war approaching. Everyone was stressed and worried. And now Loki was king.
I didn’t know what to think or feel. On the one hand, I was happy for him. Happy that he was happy that he was where he wanted to be. I was proud of him. But I wasn’t sure what that meant for us. Would it change our relationship?
Loki had just told me he was supposed to be chaste until marriage. So even though he had been married before, he still had to wait until he was married again, or risk scandal. We would also never have the same alone time like we used to. Loki couldn’t simply sneak off to be with me anymore. We had to be more formal to each other, make more public appearances. And I wasn’t sure if I liked that. Loki was already acting differently around me. I touched the necklace at my neck, remembering the feelings of that perfect day. Those feelings were still there, but I felt distant from Loki. Like he pushed me away. Would we ever be back to that happy, honeymoon place?
And then I had to think about the future. What if Thor didn’t come back? Or took a long time to come back? Loki would be king longer. Frigga already had doubts about Odin waking up. What if Loki was crowned king over Thor permanently? I didn’t know if he would be able to marry me. Sure, I was a noble. But I don’t know how people would react to having a Halfling as a queen, and their heirs being a quarter human.
Would Loki even be able to have kids as king? He was full Frost Giant, with a spell over him. Would that spell pass on to his kids? It must have when he had Nari. Would it happen again? Before, it all seemed just minor details, things I didn’t think about. I didn’t need to think about them, because Loki wasn’t going to be in the public eye much as a prince. But as king, these things were huge. I didn’t know if I would be able to cope with all this.
Then again, it wasn’t like I was getting married to Loki. He didn’t ask.
I was in the library, practicing illusions. There was no one out in the yard who wanted to spar for fun, only to train for war. So, I was using one of the text books I had found to teach myself on making illusions around me. I was picturing having a guard pacing in front of me. Simple enough, I had seen guards pacing a million times. I concentrated harder, picturing the smaller details of the image in my mind; the golden walls, a door way behind the guard, perhaps. Golden horned helmet. Armour details.
I opened my eyes to see the illusion in front of me. It covered a great deal of the room, but it wasn’t as life-like as I was hoping. It seemed…transparent. See through, unconvincing. I sighed, wondering how to make it look real. There was no point in casting illusions if they looked fake.
I watched the library doors open, seeing four figures approaching me. My illusion hid their features, but not their voices. “Where have you been? We’ve been searching for you!” Sif sounded pissed.
I watched Fandral walk through my illusion, amused. “I think you need practice.” He saw the flaws of the illusion just as I did.
I smirked. “Maybe you should actually see how hard it is.” I waved my hand, willing it to go away. The image dissipated. “As to where I’ve been, I’ve been here all morning.”
“Where were you last night? With our king?” Sif obviously didn’t approve of Loki being king. Her tone gave it all away.
“I was for a bit.” I lied. I wasn’t sure what they would think if I told them what we were up to last night. I was trying to keep Loki out of trouble. “Why?”
“Our king.” She spat venomously. “Has forbidden Thor’s return.”
I let the news sunk in. Honestly, I hadn’t thought about Loki bringing Thor back. I didn’t think he could undo something like that. I figured Odin would prevent that happening without his consent. “When did you guys ask him?”
“Yesterday evening. He refused to bring his own brother back.” Sif looked ready to kick something. I was a little ticked as well.
“He never mentioned anything to me.” I sat down in a comfy chair.
“You would think he would.” Fandral said thoughtfully. “We were hoping you could influence him. He listens to you.”
“Did he say why he couldn’t bring Thor back?” I was trying to see if there was a good reason that he said no. I was hoping there was a good reason he would say no.
“He claims his first command cannot be to undo the previous king’s last.” Volstag had finally said something. “And I must admit, this is true. The Allfather made it clear Thor was banished. Should he awaken, Thor could simply be banished again.”
“I don’t know what I can do.” Loki seemed to have made up his mind. He had denied his friends their wish for Thor to come home. I didn’t think he would give me much more leniency. “I won’t be dealing with Loki, the man I love. When I go to ask him, I will be speaking with Loki the King.”
“But he loves you! He’ll listen to you.” Sif was starting to get to me. Her tone was incredibly insulting. Just because Loki and I were in love didn’t mean I was responsible for his commands and orders.
“The Allfather loves his queen, but banished his son all the same!” I stood up. “Loki isn’t making decisions based on my happiness. He’s making his decisions based on the good of the realm. But I’ll go see him, if it makes you feel better.” I turned on my heel and left the room.
“Or he’s afraid Thor will take his throne.” Someone muttered when they thought I wasn’t listening. I ignored it and kept walking. I was exhausted. Could we not have one day of peace here? It didn’t help that we were all tense, ready for a fight between us and Jotunheim. I had no idea how we were to avoid that fight. Laufey was bloodthirsty, wanting war.
I wondered how Loki felt about that. Did Laufey know Loki was his son? Either he didn’t know (which I doubted) or he did and was hell bent on fighting us. The last battle between Jotunheim and Asgard lasted a long, long time. Many warriors on either side died. And yeah, we won. But it was a hard won victory.
I could feel Loki close by, outside. I was glad that I was able to find him so quick with us being bound. I hurried my steps, wanting to see him, to find out what was happening. I felt him get farther from me, going faster and faster, and I chased on. When I looked up to see where my feet had taken me, I found I was outside, near the stables. He must have gone for a ride.
Disappointment hit me like a rock. I was hoping to speak with Loki, smooth things over, find out what’s what. But when I felt the growing ache in my heart, I really just longed to be with Loki. I felt the stress of everything that had happened in less than a week, watching it all fly by in my mind. Thor’s banishment. Flash. Loki’s true self. Loki becoming king. Flash. War with Jotunheim. The last one was what scared me the most. I wasn’t afraid of battle, but this war made my stomach weak. My father lived through that battle. He never spoke of it, and if by chance he did, there was a shiver in his voice.
I felt something wet on my cheek and I looked up to see it had begun raining. It was raining in Asgard. I felt like the weather was reflecting my mood, everyone’s mood. I felt my feet shuffle, before taking a step, one after the other, into the gardens where Loki and I used to walk before everything happened. It felt like years had passed since we strolled here, happy and laughing. And it was odd to see how much things had changed within days. What I would give to have those days back. To have everything back to normal.
I kept walking, not really paying attention to where I was going. I didn’t care. I just wanted to be outside, and have my only worry be my dress getting soaked. I wanted to forget everything for a bit. It made me wish Loki was with me. I missed him. I missed us. He’s been acting different around me ever since he found out who he was. I wished he could understand that it didn’t matter if he was a Frost Giant or a Light Elf or Asgardian. I loved him anyways.
Speaking of Loki… I reached out, searching for him. But something was off. I could feel him, but faintly. As if a veil had been drawn between us. I tried to communicate with him, but found my mind being blocked from him. What was he doing? Where was he? I continued searching, wondering if he was purposely blocking me, or if he was hurt. If he was busy he would have told me. Wouldn’t he?
I let my mind drift, shutting my eyes. I had read about how to do this before, and I hoped it worked. Loki mind melded all the time, why couldn’t I? I let myself relax, focussing on Loki. Ignoring the rain, pitter pattering around me. I fought the urge to breathe as deeply as I had been before, breathing as shallow as I could. Loki. Loki where are you? Let me in.
I felt a tug, and let myself go, willing myself to be one with what was about to happen. I watched the cosmos, stars and galaxies gleam around me, as I was rushed forward. So Loki had gone to another realm. I watched as a realm sped towards me, rushing me to the ground. Where was I? It looked dark and dreary here. And cold. Snow and ice was all I could see, a vast tundra. I’ve never been here before.
I felt the tug again, leading me along. I followed, letting myself be guided by the other half of my soul, tied to Loki. It led me past tall towers, ruins. Past creatures, tall and blue. Like Loki’s skin…I’m in Jotunheim. Suddenly, I felt myself follow faster, trying to get to Loki faster. He could be hurt. He might need help…I reached an antechamber, where a giant of a man sat on a large throne. Laufey. I looked around the room, my gaze being guided, searching. Loki. He was standing in front of Laufey, smiling, talking. What? I didn’t understand.
Suddenly, I heard a harsh, guttural growl. A figure was standing across the room, oblivious to everyone save me, hooded in a dark cloak. The man from my nightmare. He looked at me, and I felt pure horror as he began to advance to me, his hand outstretched to me. It was my nightmare. It was more than that.
I panicked, pulling back, out of Loki’s mind, away from the beast in the cloak. I scrambled, feeling my head spin and my throat burn. Trying to escape, to get away. Just before he got close enough to grab me, it all went black.
The first thing I was aware of was the spinning. My whole world was spinning. My throat burned. I must have been screaming. Why was I screaming? I couldn’t remember why I was screaming, or what made me scream. I shivered, realizing I was wet, my clothing soaked. Why was I outside? I couldn’t remember much…
I tried to think back to what I was doing beforehand. I was arguing with Sif…and she wanted me to talk to Loki… I went to find Loki. I tried to remember more. I went outside to find him…my head started to hurt when I tried to remember after that point. I only came up with blanks, and it made me wonder what the hell I had done to block my memory. Either I had been cursed, or I was messing with something that was cursed.
I shivered violently, deciding I should get up from the ground and go inside. I’ll run myself a bath. Maybe I’ll send for something warm to drink. I would cuddle up and try and remember what I was doing when I was warm and dry. Maybe it’ll be easier to think if I’m not shivering every second.
I picked myself up and began to make my way up the stairs to the castle. I kept going until I heard a shout, mentally and physically. I turned, but I already knew who it was. Loki. I stood where I was, too cold to move. But I was very, very happy to see him. “What are you doing outside in the rain?” His steps were with purpose. “How long have you been out here?”
“I-I don’t know.” I stuttered. “I was looking for you.” I was relieved to see him. I did remember before I blacked out that I had wanted to see him. I missed him desperately.
“Darling, let’s get you inside.” He wrapped his arms around me, and I buried my head in his shoulder. I felt the air shift, and when I looked up again, I was in my room. Loki quickly stripped me down, leaving me naked, looking me up and down. When he finally returned from fantasy land, he turned and went to start me a bath. I followed him, getting into the bath tub while it was filling.
“Why were you searching for me?” Loki asked. I watched as he began to undress as well.
“Sif wanted me to talk to you. So, I was looking for you. And then I couldn’t find you.” My head hurt again.
“Love, what’s wrong?” Loki slipped in the tub, pulling me to him. The water was warm, and Loki sharing his body heat was warming me up at a good rate.
“I can’t remember after I went outside. I was screaming and my head hurts when I think of it…I don’t know what happened.” My voice broke, and I felt Loki run a damp hand through my hair.
“Shhh. It’s alright. You don’t know what you were doing that could have caused this?” He kissed the top of my head.
“No…I don’t remember at all.” He sighed. “Where were you?”
He stopped running his hand through my hair for a moment, before continuing the action. “I was meeting with the council.”
“Then why did it feel like you were far? It felt like there was a veil between us.” I started to remember a bit before I blacked out. My head throbbed, but I tried to push through it. Something or someone didn’t want me to remember.
“I don’t know what you are talking about.” I could hear the lie in his voice.
“Loki, don’t. Tell me the truth.” When he didn’t reply I stood up to get out of the tub.
“I was in Jotunheim. I was trying to discuss a peace treaty with Laufey.” He had a hand on my waist, and when I looked back he was turned towards me, his arm outstretched and his eyes pleading.
“Why didn’t you just tell me? Loki, what’s happening? You’re so distant with me now. It’s like you flipped a switch on me. After Thor’s coronation everything about us changed.” I didn’t understand anything anymore. Nothing made sense to me. “And why did you refuse our friend’s request to have Thor come home? I’ve got them breathing down my neck to find out why, because they can’t see the sense in it.”
“Darling-” He got up out of the tub, but I didn’t stop. I was too wound up, too fed up.
“Why do I feel like I’m looking at a different person when I look at you Loki? Why the hell did my memory blank when I was looking for you? What are you hiding?” I reached for him mentally, wondering what was happening in his mind.
“Enough, you need to rest.” I felt his hands grab my shoulders, but I didn’t stop. I felt my mind meld with his, searching for something. My memories were blank, but there was something that felt familiar about doing this. I felt him resist, felt myself being restrained.
And then I saw it. The cloaked figure from my nightmare. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen him. I thought. I’ve seen him before…
‘Enough!’ I heard Loki’s voice mingled with a guttural, raspy voice. Then pain, scorching pain.
I saw a flash of Loki’s face before me. “Noelle, darling, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to, I’m sorry, it wasn’t me…” And then it was dark again.