I woke up early, and actually felt refreshed from the sleep I had. Each morning had been like this: I would wake up bright and early, ready for the day. I would actually enjoy getting out of bed and hopping to it. It had been a while since I had felt like this consecutively. It made me wonder if the feeling would last.
My rooms were bathed in sunlight, and it made me smile. Today seemed like a beautiful day, and it made me feel more excited. I pulled back the covers and rolled out of bed to get ready for the day. I needed to see Loki early in the morning, or he would be antsy all afternoon. I had been seeing him once every day, sometimes twice, depending on his mood. If it was a good day, one long visit was usually enough. If it was a bad day, well, short visits were all that I could handle, and I always came back to see if he had gotten any better.
It was like we were falling into some sort of bizarre routine with Jekyll and Hyde, and it seemed like Jekyll was starting to win more often. More often than not, Loki behaved, though I didn’t doubt the wheels in his mind were spinning, trying to find a way out. But who could blame him? Loki was almost like a child with ADHD. You couldn’t make him sit still in that cell for thousands of years and expect compliance.
I finished dressing and opened the door silently. Guards were patrolling up and down the halls, looking tired and a little grumpy. In the main part of the palace people were silently mingling, going to breakfast, or whatever else people do early in the morning.
Nobody knew I was seeing Loki, and I was keeping it that way. My friends all slept in, so they assumed I did too. If they knew I was seeing a criminal, they would disapprove. If they knew I was seeing Loki, well, they would crucify me.
I ate breakfast quickly, grabbing a loaf of bread and a little bit of honey for Loki. He got prison food, which was usually plain oatmeal in the mornings. I’m sure Odin had to draw the line somewhere when it came to Loki’s comfort.
Disappearing back into my rooms, I quickly cast the incantation. The spell was drilled into my memory now, after having used it so much. I felt the familiar feeling of magic all around me, exhilarating me. I always felt a little jittery like this before I saw Loki. I guess it was the hope that he was getting better mixed with the fact that he really was back, and he might be innocent of his crimes.
The scenery warped around me, and I closed my eyes to keep from getting motion sick. When I opened them, I was met with the intense green eyes I loved. They watched me from across the room, and I felt my skin tingle from it.
I put my hands on my hips. “Okay Loki. What kind of day are we having today?” I asked him. It was how I greeted him now. It was safer for my feelings if I let him decide the mood. If I greeted him with a big smile and a kiss, he might snap at me if he’s feeling particularly Hyde.
“I haven’t decided yet.” He mumbled, approaching me. “The battle is ongoing.” He gave me a smirk, and I felt a bit of relief. Smiling was good.
It was hard to describe what Loki was going through. I could only really understand it when he was calm and himself, since that was the only time I could reach his mind. When he wasn’t himself, he was gone from me. I had no idea what went through his mind, who or what he was fighting. I only half understood the situation, at best.
“Well let me know if it’s safe.” I crossed my arms over my chest.
“It’s safe, love.” Loki gave me a sad smile. Every day, no matter who he was, no matter what extreme he became, he regretted hurting me. I tried to shrug it off, to joke about it. But it never worked. He didn’t forgive himself yet. I hoped he would, just so he could stop beating himself up over this.
“Good.” Was all I said, before moving in to embrace him. He was being pleasant, which was a sign of him winning today.
Loki’s arms held me tight to him, nearly crushing me. The soft material of his tunic brush my cheek, and I could feel his hand move to my hair.
We spent the morning laying in his bed, staring at the ceiling or each other. Sometimes a hand would gently brush a cheek, a thumb would brush a pair of lips, a hand through hair. It was all fairly innocent touches. Though I knew Loki and I had been past that barrier before, it was honestly just nice to sit and be with him. I felt safe, and at home with my head on his chest. I felt whole and my soul was intact when I was around him. It was normalcy for us, just to lay down and just enjoy each other’s company.
And goodness knows normalcy was needed here, for the both of us.
A while earlier…
Jane and Thor were surrounded by police officers, their weapons drawn at Jane.
“This woman is unwell.” Thor stated to the nervous officer, his baton raised behind his head.
“She’s dangerous.” He sputtered out. As Thor made sure Jane was alright, he turned to the officer, his face intimidating.
“So am I.” The officer radioed for backup, but before he could finish speaking, Jane had her arms around Thor, and in a flash of light, they were gone.
I had just left Loki, who had been in a good mood the entire morning. I hoped it would last all day. I smiled, glad he was starting to really get control over his mind…or at least that’s what it seemed like.
I watched Asgardians hurrying around, going about their business. It was when I saw the distressed faces of Fandral waiting outside the throne room that I stopped to speak to him.
“What is it?” I’d never seen him so worried, so grim. I was waiting for him to tell me who died.
“It’s Thor.” Fandral leaned against the wall. He looked aged.
“What’s wrong with Thor?” My eyes grew big and I began to worry. Was he sick? No, he couldn’t get sick. Was he injured? Was he poisoned? Did he fall into a coma?
“Nothing. He is completely fine. It’s his human.” So something was wrong with Jane…
“Jane’s here? Is she sick?” If Thor thought he needed bring Jane here, it must be bad. My mind immediately went to cancer. Was Jane dying?
“You could say that.” He ran a hand over his face. “She…she seems to possess the Aether…”
“The what?” I had never heard of the Aether…it sounded like an illness to me…
“It’s…” He sighed. “Go talk to Thor about it. He’s out and about with her.” Fandral just shook his head and walked away, leaving me confused. What the hell was the Aether? Why did Jane have it? If it’s so dangerous, why not just give it to us? Why did she have to be here? There were too many questioned I needed answers to.
I decided to go find Thor and see what this was all about. I stopped guards, officials and palace councillors, asking them to direct me to Thor. It took me a while, and a lot of wrong turns before I found him waiting outside of a spare bedroom.
“I’ve been looking all over the nine realms for you!” I point an accusing finger at him when I spot him, standing around in the hall. He opened his mouth to speak, but I wouldn’t let him. “What the hell is an Aether, and why does Jane have one? Fandral wouldn’t tell me a thing!”
Thor blinked a few times before answering me. “The Aether is one of the infinity stones. Why Jane has it, we don’t know. The Aether was supposedly destroyed thousands of years ago by my grandfather.”
I let my mind process this. “Okay, well why can’t she just give it to us? What’s a power stone?”
“Why do you have so many questions?” Thor chuckled. “The Aether isn’t solid. It’s a free flowing, fluid like object. Her body is keeping it, like a shell, a container. The Aether needs something to latch onto before it leaves her body, or feel safe to come out. The problem is that Jane’s body can’t hold the Aether forever. Its power will consume her.”
“So it has a mind of its own?” This was starting to sound like a Harry Potter Horcrux here.
He nodded. “It does.”
“Well, your father will sort it out.” I had no doubt Odin was already working on a solution.
“He will, hopefully. The power stones are relics that contain unreal amounts of power. The Tessaract happens to be one. Another one is the Amaranth, though that one has been lost for centuries. They stones are kept apart, but together-” I was leaning in closer to hear when Thor stopped, the door in front of us opening.
A pretty woman came out, wearing a bronze-gold dress. She had brown hair and tan skin, with brown eyes. She was smiling, though there was concern in her eyes. I glanced to see Thor looking at her with love in his eyes, a stupid smile plastered on his face. So this was Jane Foster.
I couldn’t help but feel happy for him. Thor had really missed Jane, and having her here, in his home had to make him happy. “Thor, don’t be rude.” I chastised him lightly.
“Noelle, this is Jane Foster. Jane, this is my sister, Noelle.” I smiled at her, surprised Thor called me his sister. He felt like a brother to me, and maybe in an alternate, better reality he would’ve been my brother-in-law.
“It’s very nice to finally meet you, Jane. Thor’s told me a lot about you.” I smiled, before opening my arms and hugging her. I couldn’t help it. She made Thor happy, which made me happy. I liked her already.
“Hi.” She sounded nervous, and awkward. I let go of her, realizing I was freaking her out.
“Sorry. I’m a touchy-feely person. I’ve never been able to fix that.” It felt great to speak to a human again.
“Oh. It’s okay. I’ve got a friend like you.” She smiled shyly.
“Where are you guys off to?” I asked them. They probably wanted alone time, but I wanted to get to know Jane.
“I was going to show Jane the view from the south balcony.” Thor said. He looked over to Jane and smiled.
“Oh. Well, I’ll walk with you for a bit. I think I’ll go out to the training yard, do some warm ups.” I was totally third wheeling.
I walked with them until we reached my rooms, where I said goodbye and left them, hoping to see them later.
“She doesn’t talk like you.” Jane noticed as they kept walking. She glanced over her shoulder to make sure Noelle didn’t hear her. She didn’t want to offend Thor’s sister.
“She is only half Asgardian. Her mother is human, and she was raised on Earth. She has lived with us for two years.”
“So…she’s your half-sister?”
Thor shook his head, realizing why Jane was confused. “She is of no relation to me. I simply think of her as a sister…” He trailed off. He had always thought one day Noelle would be his sister. Everyone had thought that one day she would join the royal family.
“She seems really nice. And kind.” Jane remarked, noticing Thor go quiet.
“She is. She has been more…optimistic lately. I am glad for it. I was worried for her.” Thor knew Noelle’s mood change was due to her sneaking in to see Loki. He had no idea how she did it, but she never got caught.
“Because before I was banished to Earth, my brother had confessed to me his plans of marrying her.” Thor smiled sadly, and Jane didn’t know what to say.
It felt like a lifetime ago that his brother had burst into his room, telling him that he planned to ask Noelle for her hand on the day of his coronation. Thor had been so overjoyed, that he had immediately blessed their union. He had so looked forward to a sister.
But that day had gone so horribly. Instead of proposing to his love, his soul mate, Loki had accompanied Thor to Jotunheim, only to find out he was a Frost Giant. As far as Thor knew, Noelle never suspected he was going to propose.
She would never know.