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Winter’s Victim Chapter 68

Loki went straight to Thor once he got back to Asgard. There was something going on here and he wanted, needed, to know what. 
Thor and Odin were in the throne room, talking when Loki burst into the room. They looked up at him and saw that he was angry enough to kill. 

“Did you have another fight with Queen Vara?” Thor asked his brother smiling as he walked up to him.

“Yes, no… sort of.” He said, stopping in front of Thor.
“I saw her children.” Loki said, looking at Thor and then to Odin.
“Both of them.” he said, hoping that his subtle hint would crack them, but it didn’t. He sighed; he needed to be more direct.

“Yes, so?” Odin asked, standing up from his chair and walking over to Thor and Loki.

“So, you know exactly what I saw when I looked into the face of that little… Isa.” He said to Thor, using her name for the first time. 
Thor hung his head and sighed. Loki had figured it out. Ten years on and it was all for nothing. 

“Why can’t I remember having children with her?” Loki asked looking to Thor and then Odin. 

“Where would you get that idea from?” Odin asked him, trying to lie to him again. 

“Princess Isa looks just like me. And she can manipulate ice, just like I can.” He said to Odin, stepping past Thor and up to Odin. 
“She is part Frost Giant. And there is only one Frost Giant that could sleep with Vara and not kill her in the process.” Loki said, thinking the way he always had, one step ahead of everyone else. 

Odin looked to Thor who had turned to face them. Thor nodded to Odin, telling him that it was time to tell Loki the truth. Odin sighed and looked at back at Loki.

“You and Vara were once married and you had two children with her. Eldur, the blue dragon and Isa, the heiress to the throne of Muspelheim.” Odin said to Loki, beginning to tell him what had been kept from him all these years.

Loki nodded, taking in the information. Not only were he and Vara lovers, they are also married. But why couldn’t he remember anything.

“Why can’t I remember anything?” he asked Odin softly. 

“Vara asked me to wipe out all you memories pertaining to her, so you would not run away to Muspelheim. So you would stay here, where we could keep an eye on you.” Odin explained to him the painful moment when Vara had made that decision. 

“Why?” Loki asked, his heart breaking for someone he didn’t know in his head, but clearly his heart had known her all along. 

“She said that she didn’t want to leave you hurting, so if she never existed to you, you wouldn’t hurt.” Odin explained to his son sincerely. 
That didn’t make sense to Loki at all. He frowned and looked at Odin, his mind in overdrive again. 

“Why would she think I would hurt?” he asked Odin. 
Thor stepped up beside him and put his hand on his shoulder. Loki looked to his left and at Thor. 

“She wanted to stay with you. She truly did. But that would have left Muspelheim without a leader.” Thor said looking to Odin, who nodded to him to tell Loki the whole story. Thor knew that Loki would hate him for this, but it was the right thing to do.

“I wanted to forge an alliance with Vara. A permanent one. I was planning to have a child with her. A child with my and her bloodline and that child could be the next king or queen of Muspelheim.” Thor said softly to his brother. 

“Whereby insuring peace and preventing Ragnarök.” Loki completed his thinking and looked at him.
“Did you?” Loki asked Thor. 
Thor shook his head and looked at Loki. 

“She refused and went back to Muspelheim to lead her people herself.” Thor said to him. 
“She said that she couldn’t hurt you that much.” He added, squeezing Loki’s shoulder lightly. 
Loki nodded to him. It was a lot to take in, but he was keeping up so far.

“How many years ago was this?” Loki asked, looking down at the ground, hanging his head. 

“A decade, brother.” Thor said to him. 
Loki looked up at him with shock evident on his face. All this time, he had known something was wrong. All this time he had a hole in his heart that had been ripped out, and nothing could replace his family, no matter how hard he tried.

“So for the past 10 years, I’ve been living here, in a web of lies made to protect me from hurt when all she’s been doing is hurting?” Loki asked them and they both nodded sadly to him. 
“I’ve never heard of anyone taking on pain to spare another.” Loki said, thinking, looking at the ground. 

“She loved you, and she would do anything to make sure you were safe and happy. Even if it meant leaving you and making me cast a spell on you to forget about her.” Odin explained to him, reaching out and placing his hand on Loki’s free shoulder, squeezing slightly. 

“I know nothing about her.” Loki said sadly, thinking about how wonderful it must have been to live with that wit and intelligence day to day. 
He looked up at his brother and father.
“I don’t even know if I loved her.” Loki said sadly and softly. 

“You broke out the dungeons to get to her and Eldur in Muspelheim. Then when I came to bring you back, she broke into Asgard and came to rescue you.” Thor said to him, putting in a quick nutshell the lengths they had gone to, to be together. 

“And?” Loki asked him, wanting to know more.

“You could have left with her and Eldur, but you stayed here, to stop sanctions being put on Muspelheim.” Thor said, looking at Odin.

“You stayed to save her.” Odin said to him, smiling. 

“So we both did stupid things to save the other.” Loki said, chuckling at how dense love made him sound.
They heard footsteps behind them, and Loki and Thor turned to see Frigga walking in and up to them.

“We all do stupid things for the ones we love.” She smiled at Loki and took hold of his hand. 

“I don’t even know where to start to win her back.” Loki said, looking to meet his mother’s eyes. 

“Forget about it and about her.” Thor said to him. 
Loki turned and looked at Thor and frowned. Surely now that he knew, he had to get back to that place where he and Vara and the children were a family again.

“We have been living the past ten years in peace and that will continue.” Thor said to him, putting on his serious business mask now. 
“You won’t be allowed to go back to live with her on Muspelheim and she won’t be allowed to come here.” Thor added, despite his parent’s glaring eyes. 

“At least not until the girl is old enough to take the throne.” Thor said, looking to Odin and Frigga. 
They had grown tired of all the lies, surely, they thought, Thor had too, but they forgot that Thor had a kingdom to think about now. 
“And even then, Vara might not want to come back.” Thor said, looking at Loki. 

“Why?” Loki asked him, frowning. 
Why would she not what to get out of Muspelheim. She had called it a hell hole once or twice. 
“Why?” Loki asked him again. 

“She might have moved on.” Thor said to him, knowing full well that Vara hadn’t moved on. 
Her heart would always belong to Loki. Loki thought back and remembered her wearing a ring on her finger. She had moved on. 

“She has.” Loki said, looking at the ground.
“She was wearing a ring every time I met with her. It’s silver with a blue stone in the centre.
“She’s married another. I saw the ring with my own eyes.” he said sadly looking at Thor.

Odin sighed held out his had. With his magic, he recalled Loki’s ring from the bottom of the ocean. The silver filigree ring appeared in his palm and he looked at Loki. 

“Did it look similar to this?” Odin asked Loki and Loki nodded. 
He reached over and took the ring in his fingers and lifted it to get a better look at it.

“Yes. Where did you get a copy?” Loki asked, looking at Odin. 

“This is your wedding ring, Loki.” Frigga said, hugging him side on. 

“But, we don’t wear rings.” Loki said, remembering his previous two marriages.

“True, but you asked me to make this one, saying that this would be your last wedding.” She said to him, copying his words exactly. 
“And if Vara is still wearing the matching one, then she still loves you.” She smiled at Loki, giving him permission to go after her. 
Loki smiled suddenly and turned and walked to the door. He was going after her and he was going to win her back. 

“Brother!” Thor called out after him. 
Loki turned and looked at him. 

“The deal still stands. You will not be allowed to leave Asgard and she won’t be allowed here.” Thor said to him, walking up to Loki. 
Loki sighed and walked up to Thor.

“Please be lenient brother.” Loki began to plead his case to Thor. 
“At very least, I want to know my children.” He said, looking at Thor and putting on the brotherly charm he had always used when they were children.

“Oh, just go.” Frigga said to Loki from behind Thor. 
Thor turned and looked at her, giving Loki time to get away. Loki blew her a kiss and then he rushed off to the Bifrost.

“Mother, what have you done?” Thor asked, walking up to her.

“I have sat back and watched the three of you dance around the laws for too long.” She smiled at Thor. 
“Loki and Vara deserve to be happy.” She said, looking to Odin and then to Thor.
“And we all know Loki hasn’t been happy without her.” she said, looking at the two of them again.
“Whether he can remember her or not, she owns his heart.” She said, walking past Thor and towards the door.
“And besides, I want to meet my grand children.” She said, not turning back to look at them again. 

“That would be wonderful.” Odin said, shrugging. 
Thor looked at him in disbelief. 
“Sometimes a king needs to be able to right the wrongs and accept that he was wrong.” Odin said, putting his hand on Thor’s shoulder. 

“Don’t keep them apart a second longer. Please Thor. Your brother has waited long enough to be happy.” Odin said to Thor, before walking out after Frigga.

Maybe he was right, maybe he should grant them happiness, like he promised he would do on their wedding day.

A commission I paid Pearflower on DA to do for me. It’s from the last chapter of Wintermorph. Loki and Vara in his Manhattan apartment, relaxing with a bottle of red wine and cuddling on the couch. Looking forward to the rest of their lives together.

Picture copyrighted to Pearflower
Vara copyrighted to me.
Loki copyrighted to Marvel.

Knew you the second you set foot on my property, kid. Even young as you were, how could I not?Folks want to blame someone for gals like us. ‘Her daddy was unkind’ or ‘some fella broke her heart’…Hogwash. You and me’ve always been like this. Always a little removed. Always…dreaming. Of higher, further, faster…more. Always more. We came into the world spittin’ mad, running full bore…To or from what, I ain’t never been able to tell. Over the years, I’ve come to think of these particular traits as the shared attributes of a chosen people…the Lord put us here to punch holes in the sky. And when a soul is born with that kind of purpose…It’ll damn sure find a way. We’re gonna get where we’re going, you and me. Death and indignity be damned…we’ll get there…And we’ll be the stars we were always meant to be.
 Captain Marvel #1 (2012) by Kelly Sue DeConnick (via deathandindignitybedamned)

Winter’s Victim Chapter 67

The following month, she waited for him and the shipment. There was this strange feeling in the air. Everything was quiet and there was a sense of dread hanging thick in the air around Vara. Something was coming and she had a feeling the huge mask she had been forced to wear over these past ten years, was about to be shattered.

Loki arrived on schedule, as usual, and he had managed to piece together what he knew. She had been to Asgard and to his quarters in the main palace, both of them. She was lying about being there and she was keeping the children from him. He had seen the dragon and his eerily familiar blue scales gave him an idea of who his and his sister’s father was. Now he just needed to push her just that little bit more till she cracked. But he had to take it carefully. He might be close to prying the flesh from this clam, but she could very easily snap shut and take his hand with her. 

But this was the day; this was the day she was going to crack. One way or another. He was even prepared for a bit of pillow talk if need be. He had already seen that she was lusting after him under her porcelain mask. She drew in a deep breath as he strode up her triumphantly with a huge smirk on his lips. She smirked back; he thought he had broken her. Well she had news for him. He reached her and they continued to walk to the pergola, but she had something different in mind for him today. She was going to make him sweat under all his layers of black leather and silver tricks. 

“Not today, how about I show you my palace, from the outside, of course.” She smiled to him, throwing him for a loop. 
He stopped and looked at her. She was onto him and throwing him a curve ball. Not that he worried, he could handle it. 

“Seeing as you were nice enough to paint me a beautiful picture of your palace last time.” she smiled at him, and blinking her red eyes at him. How could he refuse such a request? 

“Of course.” He smiled back at her. 
She smiled and nodded, before turning on her heel and heading in the opposite direction. He walked quickly to catch up with her as she began to explain the history of the palace.

“This is the original palace of Muspelheim, every member of our royal family has stayed here, since the beginning.” She said to him, looking at his face. 
The little sweat drops on his temple gave away that he was feeling the heat.
He would have to start using his ice manipulation powers soon to stay cool, forcing his hand.
He nodded and looked at the black stone of the palace. 

“I seem to be attached to this place, as if I’ve lived here before.” He said, looking back at her. 
This threw her for a loop. Was he starting to have flashes of their old life? How long until he regained them all and realised the truth. 

“Well, I can assure you, you have never lived here, as long as I’ve been alive though.” She smiled, adding in the last little bit so that if he was having flashbacks, she would be spared his anger. 

“Everything here seems familiar to me. Since the first day I was here.” he said, looking around the landscape. It did seem very familiar to him. 

“Perhaps you shouldn’t come here anymore. The fumes of Central Volcano seem to make you hallucinate.” She said to him, as they continued to walk around the palace. 
He chuckled and nodded, agreeing slightly that the fumes did make him a little light-headed. 

“Perhaps.” He said, looking at her. 

All this time she had managed to keep both Eldur and Isa away from him, thinking that it might trigger a memory and cause a landslide of memories of their shared life. Or that perhaps he might see himself in Isa in the same way Thor did. 10 years she had been lying, and it was all about to come to a screeching halt at the rounding of the next corner. 

Isa and Eldur had not heard the Bifrost and were at the back of the palace, practicing their magic. On particular that day, they were practising their ice manipulations and casting. 
Vara led Loki round to the back of the palace, thinking that they were long gone and the ice had melted by now. But she was wrong. 

They rounded the corner and walked right into the lesson, with the two of them holding spires of ice in their palms. Vara stopped but not soon enough to stop Loki from seeing them holding the ice. They saw him behind her and they both dropped the ice. They stood looking at each other in bewilderment for a few moments. Eldur then began to snap back and he ushered Isa into the palace. But it was too late; Loki had seen the colour of her eyes, ghostly against her skin tone. Blue as the ocean, as blue as his. But the ice was what caught his attention first.

“Where did they learn that?” he asked Vara, turning and looking at her.

Vara looked at him with wide eyes. Now she could only dig a deeper hole for herself to be buried in eventually, or she could tell him the truth. 

And she was tired of lying. 

“It’s a skill they inherited from their father.” She said to him, giving him the truth. 
They had inherited it from their father, him.
He was getting more and more suspicious about those two. He wanted to know the truth, now.

“They have the same father, right?” he asked her, just to confirm his idea. 
She nodded and looked at him.

“Yes.” she reiterated to him. 

“Was…” he stopped. 
Such a thought was crazy. Surely it wasn’t possible, was it?

“Is their father a Frost Giant?” he asked her, looking at the melting spires of ice on the ground.

“I… I don’t know…” she lied to him. 
He wasn’t buying it. He turned to her and placed his hands on her shoulders, squeezing gently but firmly. 

“I know you’re lying.” He said, looking her right in her eyes. 

“I, can’t tell you.” She said, dropping her head and looking at the ground. 

“Why not?” he asked, shaking her lightly, making her look up at him again.

“You should go now. Before things get very complicated.” She said, pulling free from his grasp and looking at his confused expression. 

She then walked off to where Isa and Eldur had disappeared into the palace. He stood there, thinking about what he had seen. It was clearly ice they were conjuring. The dragon had blue scales with blood red eyes, and the girl had her mother’s skin, but with blue eyes and slightly wavy hair. Those blue eyes haunted him. He saw himself reflecting in her eyes, and in her visage. 

He focused his mind on her eyes and suddenly, an image appeared in his mind. 

He was standing in the waves of his own private beach. He was holding Vara in his arms. She was wearing a white dress, the colour of prisoners. She was happy and laughing as he spun her around in the water, holding her aloft. He was happy too, for once, and those feelings flooded his being with so much force, it almost brought him out of the memory. Then suddenly a huge wave snuck up on them and knocked them to their feet, sending them sprawling into the water. He watched as Vara surfaced a few seconds later, her hair wet and tangled, hanging over her face and eyes. Even though she was wet and bedraggled, she was beautiful and radiant. He rose up out of the water, and she frowned at him. 

“You okay?” he heard himself say to her, looking at her, wiping the water off his forehead and into his hairline. She smiled sweetly and nodded.

“I’m fine.” she smiled, reaching out for his hand. He reached out and took hold of it, standing up and then helping her up, only to see her underwear showing through her now soaked dress. 

“I think it’s time to go back home now.” he suggested to her only to have her pout at him.

“Home… home… his home, her home, their home.” The words reverberated in his head as he came back to his senses. What was this magical time, this beautiful day they had shared, was it magic, was she tricking him, or was it a memory he had no recollection of creating with her. 

It could only be a memory. It felt so real. All the love he felt for her came flooding back in one huge wave, like the one that had knocked them off their feet.

Then, as if everything, all the puzzle pieces he had been collecting, clipped into each other, it all made sense and he saw the whole picture. 
He looked back to where they had disappeared into the palace and couldn’t believe it. 

That girl was his daughter. 

On that realisation, he rushed after them, rounding the corner and running into the palace, seeing them talking in hushed tones in the middle of the throne room. He rushed up to the three of them, and pushed into the group, right up to Vara, ignoring the dragon and the girl. 

“Are they my children?” he asked her, exasperated from the sudden rush and the potential realisation. He held her gaze as she looked at him and sighed.

“Eldur, Isa, please leave us.” She asked them, without looking at them. 
They nodded and walked off out of the palace. Eldur was too big to go into the palace, so he could only go out, followed by his sister.
Being the children of Loki however, as soon as they were out of sight, they turned, hid behind the wall, and listened in on their conversation.

“No, they are not.” Vara said to Loki, lying to him again.
“I have never been with you, so they cannot be your children.” She said, weaving a more intricate lie. 

“You are a very bad liar.” He said, stepping closer to her. This is where she feared for her safety and stepped back from him.

“It’s none of your business who their father is.” She said to him, stopping to face his wrath. 
It’s what she deserved after all.

“If those are not my children, then why does the girl look like me?” he asked her, pointing back at Isa and Eldur unknowingly. 

“Isa.” She corrected him.
“Her name is Isa.” She said to him, knowing that the game was over now. 

He had to think about all the languages he had learnt as a child. He remembered vaguely that Isa is an old language form is ice.

“Why would you name a Fire Giant after ice?” He asked her, stepping closer to her. 
She gasped and had a hard time telling him. For ten years she had kept a lid on all her emotions, and now, they were gushing to the surface, threatening to force their way out. 

“How do you even know what ice is, living on a volcano.” He asked her, stepping closer. 
She gasped for air and dropped her gaze down at the ground. She didn’t know how to answer that.

In that moment, everything changed, and he knew he was right. He had two other children he didn’t know about. But how, this wasn’t possible. 

“How do I know you and why do you have my children here with you?” he asked her, thinking at first that she had taken them from their mother. 

“Because we were once lovers.” She whispered to him, looking at the ground. 
“We had them together.” She said, looking up at his shocked face. 

She looked over to where the children were leaning around the edge of the wall. She waved her hand at them and gestured for them to leave. They quickly disappeared behind the wall and plastered themselves to the stone, making as if they were gone. 

He lifted his hands and ran them through his now cut medium length hair. He turned and began to pace away from her while she stood quietly and waited for it all to sink in. She only hoped that Odin could redo the spell. He then turned and walked back toward her. 

“Why don’t I remember anything about them or you?” he asked her very animatedly and loudly. 
But he wasn’t quite shouting, not yet anyway. 

“I was obviously not very memorable.” She said to him, putting on her cool mask again.
“You should leave now, and forget about us… again. We are happy just to be left alone.” She said, looking at him as he began to think about how he could have missed something as important as this. 

He had been lusting after her for months, years even, and now, she told him that he was the father of her children, and her husband. How? How could this have happened?
She turned and walked towards the steps, climbing them and disappearing into her room. 

Loki was left standing alone in the throne room, thinking about everything. What were lies, what was real? At what point, did everything change? Then he heard the heavy footfalls of Eldur and the whisper-like footfalls of Isa as they walked into the throne room behind him. He turned and looked at them, as they stood looking at him. It was as if he was seeing them for the first time, being born into his world, and he loved them fiercely already.

“Do you know anything you should tell me?” he asked them, putting a soft edge on his voice for them. 

They both shook their heads at him. Everything had been said. They didn’t want to implicate Thor, or risk history repeating itself.
Loki took in a deep breath and walked towards them, not knowing what to expect. He knew the dragon had a temper, but the girl might have been more volatile. Isa was working hard to control her feelings but as he walked up to them, she couldn’t anymore. 

She broke into a run and rushed at him, tears running down her face. She thumped against him and locked her arms around his waist, hugging him tightly. 
Loki was taken aback by this and stopped. He looked down at the little girl hugging him and weeping. Eldur walked up to him and lowered his head for Loki to touch his nose. Loki looked up at him and did just that, just as he did back when he knew him, lifting his right hand and gently placed it on his nose. 

“I’m sorry I don’t remember anything. And that it took me so long to find out that you are my children.” He said, looking at the little girl, who was now looking up at him with her big blue eyes. 
Seeing them so close now, he could see why Vara had kept her away from him. They really did look a lot like his. 

“But now that I know, I’ll make an effort to see you more often.” He smiled at the two of them.

He pried Isa gently away from him and walked out past Eldur. He wanted to spend more time with them but he needed to know why he didn’t remember them or Vara. He would have remembered, unless someone had tampered with his mind. He should have remembered. 
He walked back to the Bifrost, where the men were waiting for him. He said nothing to them as he arrived.

Vara watched from her balcony as the Bifrost descended and pulled them all back to Asgard. Now she had a chance to talk to Eldur and Isa and see what they were thinking right now. She turned and walked to the door, opened it and made her way down to the throne room, where Eldur and Isa were standing looking at each other in a complete bewilderment. For ten years, they had managed to keep this huge secret from him, and now it had all crumbled and the truth had been revealed. 

“Guys…” Vara said, coming down the steps to join up with them. 
They stopped talking and looked at her as she reached the bottom landing and walked up to them.
“Are you okay?” she asked, putting hand of Isa’s shoulder and looking at her and then at Eldur. 

They nodded to her. They had wanted to tell him ages ago that he was their father, but Vara had forbid it. Vara sighed and looked at little Isa, who was smiling from ear to ear. Vara had hoped that the spell would last long enough that, by the time he had found out, she was dead. But it seemed that the spell had begun to wane. Even before he had seen Isa and Eldur with the ice, he had said that he felt at home here. Ten years almost to the day, since she left Asgard, he had uncovered everything.

“Now that he knows, he’ll want to see us.” Eldur said in his deep, silky adult dragon voice.

“I want to see him too, mom.” Isa said, happily to Vara. 
Vara looked down at her hugging her hip and she smiled.
“I can’t wait.” She added to Vara and smiled wider.

“Very well. You can see him if you want to.” she said, looking at Eldur too. 
“But I think he will be livid at me for many years to come. I can’t accompany you when you meet with him.” she smiled at the two of them. 

Isa squealed in joy and jumped around a little. Eldur nodded to her. He was happy to accept that compromise. He had missed Loki terribly since he had been captured by Thor all those years ago. He was just glad to have his father back, even if it meant they weren’t the happy family they were a few years ago.

Winter’s Victim Chapter 66

The following month, the delivery came over right on schedule and Vara waited patiently for both the shipment and for Loki. She had promised she would be there and with Isa and Eldur out of the way, she was safe do what she wanted with Loki. Within the boundaries that Thor had set up of course. 

She saw him walk out of the dust cloud and towards her and as soon as he reached her, she turned and walked to the pergola, with him at her side. They sat down in their usual places and they stared at each other for a moment or two.

“So, what do you want to talk about?” she asked him. 
Now that he had had time to reflect on the past trips, he had realised that he had been too forceful about seducing her. He had to let it happen in its own time, and judging by the time that they almost kissed, it would happen soon of its own accord. He just needed to be patient.

“I was thinking that maybe you don’t know enough about me, and that’s why you’re scared of me.” he said to her, smiling.

“I’m not scared of you.” She said to him, countering his argument.

“Your daughter must be getting it from somewhere. My money is on you.” He said to her. To keep the lie alive she had to agree with him, or risk exposing the truth. 
She nodded to him, looking away.

“I was taught not to trust any man, but of late, I’m finding I don’t trust anyone.” She said to him. 
He smiled and nodded. He was right about taking it slow. After all, it’s not as if they were both going to die soon. He also felt like he had dug deep enough into her psyche and she had given him all that she was willing to share with him. He felt like he had hit a brick wall and she wasn’t going anywhere, so he had decided to share his life with her.

“You said last time that you didn’t like Thor.” He said to her. 
She looked at him with wide eyes, hoping he hadn’t said anything to Thor. It was surely common knowledge by now that she didn’t like Thor, but if he actually heard the words, the shipment was in jeopardy. 

“Did you tell him?” she asked him quickly, but he shook his head and smiled at her. 

“No. What happens here stays here. I haven’t told him about the almost kiss either.” He smirked at her. 
She nodded, blushing slightly.

“Well, 12 or so years ago, I didn’t like him that much either, in fact, we got into this massive fight.” he said to her, leaning back against the pillar at his back.

“About?” she asked him, already knowing the answer.

“My father’s approval, of all things.” He chuckled at how stupid it must have sounded. 
It was strange; he had never referred to Odin as his father when she was with him. It was a nice change.

“The fight was so bad that we broke the Bifrost.” He said, looking down at the ground in shame.

“Sorry, what, you broke, the Bifrost?” she asked him. 
He nodded and smirked, looking up at her.

“The observatory went tumbling down into the abyss of space. Thor and I were left hanging off the edge, when our father pulled us up.” He explained to her, beginning to fidget. 
“Anyway, we had to rebuild the Bifrost to be able to could keep on travelling and helping other realms. Which we did, with the help of some workers, but Thor and I did most of the heavy lifting.” He said, leaving out the part where he could now lift Mjölnir.

“It sounds like a lot of work.” She said to him.

“That’s what I said, but then my mother told me of your plight, and Thor and I agreed, we couldn’t just leave you all here to starve.” He smiled at her and she smiled back. 
It was nice to know that Thor and Frigga had at least thought of her from time to time. 

“Have you ever been to Asgard?” he asked her. 
She looked at him suddenly with wide eyes but then she put her poker face back on.

“No.” she said to him. 
“Tell me about it.” she urged him on, knowing to keep him talking to avoid another fight, or engage in a romantic escapade.

“Well.” He said, smiling and looking out over the distance.
“It’s beautiful. The night sky is encrusted with all the galaxies of Yggdrasill, like huge gems glinting in the sunlight.” He smiled, thinking back.

“The city in which we live is populated by people who live in huge golden towers. There are green and blossoming gardens and fountains everywhere.” He went on explaining. She smiled and thought back to Asgard. By what he was explaining, nothing had changed.
“My mother has this splendid rose garden. And there is a pergola… a little like this one…” he said, looking around. 
She had to distract him quickly.

“Do you have a palace of your own, you know, like all the writings say?” she asked him. He looked at her and for second, she could see the cogs turning and working in his head. Then he smiled.

“I do. It’s a glorious floating and spiralling palace on a cliff that looks out over the ocean.” He smiled at her, explaining the lay of his palace.

“Tell me more.” She smiled, remembering that magical palace. 
The sights and sounds and experiences she had made there would last her a lifetime. 

“If the wind is blowing just right and the tide is high, if you stand on the balcony, you can feel and taste the ocean spray on your lips.” he smiled, reaching up and touching his lips. 

“What does it taste like?” she asked him, referring to the spray. 
Although she knew, she needed to act like she didn’t.

“Salty.” He chuckled at her, but mostly at himself for not realising she didn’t know what an ocean was.

She nodded and looked dreamily at him. It was enchanting to hear him talk about the palace that she had once called home. She loved that ocean spray, especially in the morning. Those three years of her life she had shared with him had taken her to Midgard, and Asgard and back again. She would never forget it, and as long as he was there to relay the stories to her, she was sure to remember the memories, even if he didn’t. 

“I also have a suite in the main palace. Left top pillar to my parents.” He said, looking at her dreamy eyed expression. 
There was something to these places, something she held dear.

“When I woke up from the fight with Thor 12 years ago, my room in the main palace and even my own palace, when I was well enough to move home, had this strange smell in it.” he said to her coming to his point slightly.

“Was it an unpleasant smell?” she asked him, not realising that the one thing she had not prepared for, was her scent lingering in their home. 
She realised too late that it was probably her smell, and that he smelt it right now. 

“No, it smelt like, vanilla, a Midgardian spice, honeyed mead and seduction, but it was different from anything I have ever smelt. There is no place in Asgard that shares the scent of my room and palace. I still haven’t managed to get rid of it.” he said, looking at her face for changes.
There is was; a little twitch as she shifted her weight and averted her eyes from his. All he had to do was get close enough to her again to see if his theory was right.

“I wondered what it could be, until I came here.” he said, moving closer to her and she didn’t notice.

“How so?” she asked, still wondering if her scent could linger for nearly 10 years. 

“I have only smelt it once outside of Asgard. Every now and then I get slight whiffs, but only once for sure.” He said, moving closer to her. 

“Where, here?” she asked, turning and looking at him, seeing him suddenly so close to her she could see the little green flecks in his blue eyes. 

She gasped and blushed, trying to move away from him. But he reached up and grasped her upper arm in his grasp. She looked at his hand and then back at his eyes. She shook her head, denying what she thought. He had figured it out. He knew who she was to him and he was just playing along now, trying to catch her in a lie.

“The day I propositioned you, remember it? You had that scent all over you.” He said, leaning closer to her with his eyes closed. 

She turned her head away from him as he leaned in to her neck and drew in a long breath through his nose. There it was, the sweet mystery scent that drove him crazy for years and years. He was right. It was her scent. 

“Now I’ll ask you again, have you ever been to Asgard?” he said, opening his eyes and smirking at her, but not moving away from her a single inch.

She swallowed hard and looked at him, holding his gaze for what felt like forever. She could feel her heart begin to race and her head begin to swim. She was right. He did know something was up. It seemed she was not as good a liar as what she had thought.

“PRINCE LOKI!” the guard called out to him. 
He looked at him standing off in the distance. This was her chance to get away. She pulled her arm from his tender but firm grasp and stood up suddenly, with her back turned to him.

“See you next time.” she said, without looking at him. 
Then she suddenly rushed off back into her palace. 

“DAMN IT!” Loki shouted as he stood up and walked back to the Bifrost. 

He was so close. He had her, he had caught her in the lie and she was about to confess to him. Then he smiled to himself. Her reaction only confirmed his suspicions. She had been to Asgard before. She had been in both his room in the main palace and his palace. But why didn’t he know about it? Did she know some kind of magic that hid her from sight, like his? Or was there something else going on here?

Winter’s Victim Chapter 65

The next month rolled around as per usual, and as usual, Vara was waiting, but Eldur wasn’t there this time. The shipment arrived, dropping down into the dust bowl ahead of her and then so did Loki. He didn’t stop to talk to his men this time, but walked right up to Vara. He noticed the lack of flapping wings above him and looked up, curiously. Why wasn’t he here? Every time they made a delivery, he was here.

“Your son sleeping in late today?” he asked her, stopping in front of her. 

“No, he’s been redeployed to another assignment.” She said coldly to him. 
She hadn’t forgotten how he had tricked her and scared the living daylights out of her. 
“He’s protecting his sister this time. Hopefully a fully grown dragon is enough to deter you from going after her.” she said, looking blankly ahead of her at the shipment.
“Even if it didn’t, I’ve sent them away to another part of the realm. You won’t find them.” she added, smiling inwardly at her own plan.

“About last time…” he said, beginning to apologise. 
She looked at him, the hurt in her eyes evident from the first glance. He was taken aback by this, he had no idea what he did would hurt her so badly. But why, was the other burning question.

“Even if you apologise, I won’t trust you again.” she said, before looking back at the shipment. 

“Can we please just get out of this heat and talk about this?” he asked, gesturing to the pergola again. 
She looked at him, up and down, before she turned and walked angrily to the pergola. 

She set her staff down on the seat, walked a few steps forward and then she turned to face him as he walked in after her. She was exasperated and her anger was boiling just under her surface, her cuts just pin stripes on her skin for the moment. 

“Do you think this is a game, Loki?” she asked him, placing her hands on her hips.

“I do actually.” He smiled, musing at her anger. 

“WELL IT’S NOT!” she shouted at him, her red cuts popping into view suddenly at his arrogance. 
He stepped back and stared at her as she caught her breath.

“This is my family. The only thing I still have left to fight for, do you understand?” she asked him, seeing that he was beginning to take this seriously. 
He nodded to her once, not having realised that it had affected her this deeply. 

“You have no idea what I gave up to have a normal life with them.” she said, crossing her arms over her chest and beginning to pace back and forth in front of him.
“I gave up my husband, another realm, security, love, everything. For that little girl.” She said, watching his face.
“This is not a game. This is my life. And when you come here and play with me like this…” she said, trailing off not really wanting to hurt him. She breathed in deeply and relaxed slightly.
“I have to be the one to pick up the pieces. Not you.” She said, stopping in front of him.
“And if you’re trying to seduce me, you’re doing it wrong.” She said, looking him up and down.
“Scaring my daughter, is not the way to do it.” she said, stepping back and going back to her seat. 
She sat down and hung her head in her hands.

“Are you done ranting, can I say something now?” he asked her, looking at her sitting down. 

“Not if you’re not going to apologise.” She said, not looking at him. 
He sat down and moved closer to her. He took hold of her hand and she looked at it before looking up to meet his eyes.

“I’m truly sorry, for any damage I caused.” He said sincerely to her. 
She sighed and looked at him, looking for the tell tale signs of a Loki lie. He wasn’t lying.
“I am, to say the least, very interested in you.” He whispered softly to her. 
She blinked and was taken aback by his honesty at this stage of the game.
“That’s why I wanted to meet the little girl. I want to get to know her, to win your heart and affections.” He said, placing his other hand over hers, sandwiching her hand in between his. 
“I know that you have children, I know that it’s a package deal that I need to accept if I want you. You come with the children, and they with you.” He said, explaining to her what is motive was.
“But I fear, in trying to win your heart by winning their trust, I may have done irreversible damage.” He said, letting go of her hand and leaning back against the pillar. 

“You scared the hell out of me.” she said to him. 
He turned his head and looked at her.
“If you knew the full story, you would understand why I’m so protective of her. And my son. They resemble their father, and I fear that you will think less of me if you know who he is.” She said to him, hoping he wouldn’t push for an answer of who he was.
But she was wrong.

“Who is he?” he asked her, looking at her. 
She frowned and shook her head.

“I can’t tell you.” She said to him.

“But, I must know him, or else you wouldn’t be worried about me thinking less of you. Correct?” he asked her and she nodded.

“You do know him. But I will never speak his name to you. Know that right now, before you start obsessing.” She said, leaning back against the pillar at her back.
“So change the subject, please.” she asked him. 
He nodded, and there was something that he was interested in asking her, and it had nothing to do with her children. 

“What are you planning, in terms of trying to get your people to be self-sufficient?” he asked her, looking at the men as they unpacked the shipment. 
She looked at him and watched as he turned and looked back at her. The only thing she could do was shrug. She had no plan, no way out. The deal with Thor for supplies was the only way of keeping her people alive.

“I don’t know why, but nothing grows here but Fire Giants.” She said to him, looking at the ground.
“And Bilgesnipe. If not for them, my people would have starved a millennia ago.” She said, looking back up at him. 
“I don’t know how to help my people.” She said honestly to him.
“If not for you Asgardians, we would all die of starvation.” She said, holding his gaze. 
“I’m worried about our alliance, being nothing but a shaky agreement between two people who don’t really like each other.” She said, looking back at the ground. 
She was also starting to fidget. Maybe having a child with Thor would have given her race a better chance of a guaranteed supply of food.

“Are you referring to Thor?” he asked her and she nodded.
“Why?” he asked her. 
As far as he knew, Thor was the golden child, and could do no wrong. She was the first person he had met who didn’t like him.

“He has done some really rotten things to me in the past, forcing me to leave my husband behind and return to this hell hole to lead my people.” She said, looking at him.
“If I had a choice, a real choice, I would have stayed with my husband. But Thor made that impossible.” She said, looking into his blue eyes.

“Is your husband the father of both your children?” he asked her, straying into hallowed ground again, but she would allow it. 

“He is.” She replied to him. 

“Then how is it that the girl is mortal and the boy was a dragon?” he asked her, having wondered that for a long time. 

“I don’t know. But that’s how it is.” She said to him. 
She could only play dumb. She couldn’t tell him that she had gone to Asgard and Isa had been conceived in Asgard while he wore the mask.
He could see that things weren’t going to go much further. She needed time to relax and reflect on his apology. He stood up suddenly and she looked at him.

“I’ll take my leave now.” he said, looking down at her.
“Please accept my apology. It is sincere.” He said, bowing to her.
“Farewell Vara.” He said to her, and an unspoken question filled the air even though he didn’t ask it. He wanted to know the name of her husband. From all the things he had seen and experienced here in Muspelheim, he must have been Asgardian. The marble roses, the pergola, the recognition on her face when he brought her the honey mead, Frigga knowing her, Thor knowing her before he came here, everything. She must be married to an Asgardian. But who, who would have the genetics to produce both a normal child and a dragon?

“Till next time.” she said to him, confirming that she would be here waiting for him. 

He smiled and stood up right again. He then turned and walked off back to his men. They disappeared into the Bifrost and Vara sighed. This time had gone better than last time. At least he had stopped asking about Isa and she knew why he tried to get to her. He was just trying to get to know her, like any prospective stepfather would. She wondered what he would do it he found out that they were in fact his children and that she had kept them from him. Would he understand her position, or would he kill her? Would the pain of losing his children and her keeping them away override his love for her? If it was still there. Either way, she was beginning to wish she had never made the deal she had with Thor. Maybe if she had a child with Thor, things would have been different. What difference could nine months make in a timeless space of love and acceptance. Maybe she had chosen wrong. Maybe she should have chosen Loki after all.

Winter’s Victim Chapter 64

The following month, she waited, as usual, for him. The shipment came through and she watched as he dropped down right after. She smiled and then watched as he spoke to the guards. She wondered what he was saying to them.

“Take your time men.” He said, before he looked over at Vara and smiled. 
“I need you to buy some time for me.” he said to them, keeping his eyes firmly locked on Vara.

They all knew what he was planning, but none of them wanted to speak up. They would let his brother to deal with him. They agreed and slowly began unpacking the shipment.
Loki strode up to Vara as she stood waiting for him like a stone pillar watching over them. 

“Queen Vara.” He greeted her with a smile and a slight bow. 
She inclined her head to him, hiding her smile.

“Prince Loki.” she said softly. 
He stood up right and gestured to the pergola again.

“Shall we pick up where we left off?” he smiled to her. 
She smirked wickedly and shook her head. 

“You know the deal. But we can continue talking.” She said, walking off to the pergola. He followed her, watching her movement as she walked. He didn’t know how old she was, but she was lithe in the manner in which she walked. Her husband was a lucky man for sure, having had her at least twice. She turned to look at him before she sat down in her spot. She placed her staff beside her on the seat and looked up at him. He had stopped at the doorway and was staring at her. He was surely thinking of way to trick her like he had last time.

“It won’t work you know.” She said suddenly to him, seeing him leaning against the pillar closest to him. 
He frowned and pushed off from the pillar, walking towards his seat.

“Whatever do you mean?” he asked, sitting down and looking at her. 

“Your tricks.” She said to him. 
She didn’t want to tell him, but if there one person who knew his tricks well, it was her.

“I wasn’t planning on tricking you.” He said, leaning back against the pillar at his back. She giggled and he smiled, hearing her magical chimes again.

“Like last time.” she said, looking at him. 
He was still smiling, she trusted him enough to laugh around him, and set her staff down. He was making progress. He then frowned, focusing on what she had said. She needed to elaborate for him.

“I told you I didn’t want to talk about my parents, but you got me talking about my father anyway.” She explained to him. 
He smiled and crossed his arms over his chest. 

“That was no trick; you did that all on your own.” He smiled at her. 
She chuckled and nodded. Maybe she did. Maybe on some level she longed for the days and nights she and Loki had stayed up talking about simple things that made them laugh, and things that made them angry. Maybe she longed for their connection. A space where she could tell him anything. Not maybe, she did miss it.

“Perhaps.” She smiled at him. 
“But I know of your tricks now, so you won’t fool me again.” she said to him. 
Last time, she had forgotten just how sneaky he could be. She would be more careful this time and not give him anything that could trigger the memories. 
He nodded and inched closer to her side.

“May I ask you a question?” he asked her, stopping at her side. 
She looked down and saw that he was too close for comfort so she inched a little away from him.

“Of course.” She said, looking up at his enchanting blue eyes. 

“Your children, the dragon and the girl.” He said to her. 
She wanted to gasp. How did he know about Isa? Had he caught a glimpse of her, or did Vara not do a good job at hiding her. But she couldn’t show her surprise to him, and give him a scent to lock onto. 

“Yes, what about them?” she asked, looking up at Eldur, flying above them.

“The dragon does security rounds when we come, and I can understand that. He is a dragon after all.” He said to her, working up to his question.
“But the girl, why do you keep her from the Bifrost site when we come?” he asked her, looking into her red eyes.

“Why is this the first time I know that you know that I have a daughter?” she countered with her own question. 

“No, no. You first.” He said to her, watching her reactions. 
He knew there was something strange about that little girl and that the queen was working very hard to keep him from her. The question was, why. 

“She is shy, and as a younger child, she was scared by the stories of Asgardians. She fears you and thus, stays away from you when you come over.” She said to him, weaving a perfectly logical lie to cover the truth. She had to keep him away from Isa and vice versa. If he were to see her eye colour, he would know something was astray here. She was after all, the only Fire Giant with blue eyes in this realm. He nodded accepting the lie, but there was more to the story.

“There is something that you’re not telling me.” he said to her, closing the gap between them by inching closer to her. 
She nodded subconsciously, but then realised she was about to tell him he had a daughter and son with her. She looked up at him to see his triumphant grin. 

“I knew it.” he said, looking at her intensely. 
She frowned and feigned ignorance.

“What?” she asked him.

“There is something about that little girl that you don’t want me to see.” He said, pointing to the palace. 
“What is it?” he asked her. 
She shook her head and stood up, walking to the opposite side of the pergola.

“She’s just scared of you, Loki. There is nothing I’m hiding.” She said, her back turned to him, seeing the outline of her daughter hiding in the shadows, watching them talking. It brought her a little joy to see her mother and father talking. She always spied on them, keeping to the shadows, just like Vara did, when she first saw Loki in the throne room, all those years ago.

“She has no reason to be afraid of me. Call her out and I’ll show her.” Loki said, standing up and walking up behind her confidently. 
Vara said nothing, but heard him walking up behind her. What was he trying to do, why was he so interested in Isa. 
She shook her head and mouthed to Isa to run and hide. She saw her disappear up the steps and presumably towards her room.

“No.” Vara said, defiantly.

“Call her.” Loki commanded yet again. 
He was right up behind her now, breathing down her neck. Vara turned slowly and looked at him. 

“I will not.” she said slowly and threateningly to him again. 
He didn’t know just how close he was to being burnt, but if he needed to learn that, then so be it. 

“She will stay safe in that palace. You will have to go through me to get to her.” she threatened him again. 
“And trust me; you are hopelessly outmatched against me in this realm.” She smiled at him.

“Oh really. I guess you don’t know all my tricks then.” He said, before shimmering out of her sight with a slightly green tinge. 
She gasped and stepped back. That wasn’t his normal warping ability. It was something else. 

“MOM!” she heard Isa scream suddenly from her room. 

She turned swiftly and looked for him. There he was, making his way up the steps to the living level of the palace. Her heart stopped. She had to keep Isa safe, even from her own father. She grabbed her staff, burst into a sprint, running out of the pergola and into the palace after him. She sprinted up to under the landing of the top steps and just as he reached it above her, she jumped up from the ground floor, landing in front of him a story up and blocking his path, her staff pointed at him. 

“Do not make me use this.” She said to him, slightly begging. 
Loki smiled and looked past her to the second room down the hall. The only door that was closed.

“Come out little girl. I won’t hurt you.” He said loudly so that Isa would hear him.

“You’re not convincing her.” she said to him, keeping her eyes locked on his face.
He looked at Vara and realised just how serious his misstep had been. 

“I’m sorry, but it seems this has all been taken way too seriously.” He said, stepping back, his hands held up.

“You have no idea what you have done. I will do everything in my power to protect my daughter from the thing that scares her.” she said, lifting the staff to his head and activating the diamond, making it glow a furious cherry red. 
“Even if it means killing you.” She said to him. 
He was going to look for any signs of weakness now. She just had to hold her nerve.
He did just that and looked for a blink, a flutter of a lie. There was none. 

“You would kill an Asgardian prince, the brother of the king, to protect your daughter?” He asked her and she nodded at once. 

“Without thinking twice.” She said, lying convincingly again. 
He looked her up and down and then back down the hall to the close door. He was so close to understanding the truth about that little girl. But it seemed that the last line of defence was the strongest. 

“Fine.” he said, stepping back onto the first step.
“You win. I’ll not press the issue about your daughter again.” he said, turning and walking back down the steps and onto the ground floor. 

She watched him as he walked out of the palace and back out to his men. This conversation was over. As soon as he was out of sight, she dropped the staff and her legs buckled under her, before she tumbled down to her knees on the floor in a heap, breathing heavily, shaken to her very core. She heard the door open and tiny little feet walk up behind her. 

“Mom?” Isa asked her, placing her little hand on her shoulder. 
Vara placed her hand on Isa’s and sighed heavily.

“You’re safe my love.” She whimpered to Isa. 
Isa came round her and Vara looked up at her. She smiled when she saw Isa’s big blue eyes looking down at her. 

“Dad wasn’t going to hurt me, was he?” Isa asked, sitting down in Vara’s lap. 
Vara looked at her and then wrapped her arms around her, pulling her into a hug. 

“He could, he doesn’t know you’re his daughter.” Vara whispered to her, hugging her tightly as the tears streamed down her face. 

Down below, Loki was watching them embrace. He had been there since the little girl had come out of her room and walked up behind Vara. Unfortunately he was too far away to hear what they were saying. 

There was something strange about this little girl. Her mother had a warm undertone, no matter how pale she was, but this little girl had a cool, almost blue undertone to her skin. Her hair was also not as full and bouncy as Vara’s. It was long, slightly curly and super glossy. He walked away leaving them to their peace, heading back to his men. He would find out what was strange about that little girl, one way or another. 

Vara let them leave under Eldur’s watchful eye. At least she knew Loki could never corrupt him. She would have to find alternative arrangements as far as Isa and the delivery of the shipment was concerned. This was too close. He was but a few meters away from finding out the truth.

Winter’s Victim Chapter 63

The following month, he did bring her that honey mead that he knew she would love. 
She looked like she one to have a bit of a sweet tooth, as he did, and he loved the stuff. Surely she would too.

“Please accept this gift from me. I think you’ll enjoy this.” He said, gesturing to the guard behind him, carrying a large amphora of something. 

“What is it?” she asked him, stepping up to the guard and opening the amphora. 
She peeked inside and it was clearly mead, but it was thicker and smelled sweeter, as well as being deeper in colour than normal. It was the honey mead she loved back in Asgard, how did he know? Had he remember that she loved it, or was he taking a gamble, trying to sweeten her mood, literally? 

“Honey mead.” He smiled to her, dismissing the guard back to his normal duties of unpacking the shipment. 

“This is not enough for my people.” She said to him, worried that this was all he brought.

“No, you misunderstand me. The usual number for your people is here.” He said, pointing to the shipment.
“This is for you, exclusively.” He smiled his sweet smile to her. 
She sighed and smiled back.

“Thank you. But I can’t accept this and you know it.” she said to him, putting the lid back on the amphora.

“Why not?” he asked her, not knowing why she couldn’t accept it. What had he done wrong now, he wondered.

“I think you feel that maybe you can buy my affections with expensive mead and honeyed words. You can’t.” she explained to him. 
And now he understood. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust men, she didn’t trust him. 

“I’m not trying to buy anything. I know that sometimes when Thor and my father has had a long day of ruling, they like to relax with the best mead is Asgard. I was hoping it would have the same effect for you, and maybe even ease you into those dreams that evade you so. That’s all. It’s all innocent intentions, I assure you.” He smiled at her. 

She looked at him, looking for signs in his face that he was lying. She knew him so well that she could tell, even after all these years, if he was lying. He wasn’t. He didn’t expect anything in return for this wonderful mead. She smiled at him, feeling at ease.

“Okay. Then I’ll accept it. Thank you.” She smiled to him. 

“But I do expect a little thing in return.” He smiled suddenly and she taken aback, had she missed the sign of his lie. Had she lost her touch?

“I knew it.” she said, standing up right and looking at him, her hands on her hips.

“Come talk with me.” he said, gesturing to the pergola off in the distance. 

His pergola that he didn’t know about. She looked off and then back at him. She nodded to him and walked off. He followed her shortly, walking up to the white marble pergola. She entered it and sat down in her usual place, watching him walk in after her. As if he knew somehow, he sat down in exactly that same place he always did. She blinked at the strange occurrence but then blew it off. 

“My mother wanted to know if the rock worked for you?” he asked her settling in.
She nodded and leaned back on her pillar.

“It did. Did you thank her for me?” she asked him, looking over at him. 
He nodded and watched the men unpack.

“I did. She was glad you accepted it. She had a feeling you would send it back.” he said to her and she nodded.
He then looked off at the two mausoleums off in the distance, made of the same stone as the pergola it appeared.

“I’m sorry to pry, but are those tombs?” he asked, pointing to them.
She looked to where he was pointing, her mother and father’s mausoleums.

“Mausoleums, actually. For my mother and father.” She said, looking at him.
“I don’t wish to talk about them.” she said to him, countering his question before he had even asked it. 
He looked at her, wondering how she knew he was going to ask about them. He would leave that for another time. 

“And this delightful pergola. It’s not something I’ve seen anywhere else, but Asgard and Midgard.” He said, looking up at the beautiful carvings, vines and roses carved into the pillars and across the ceiling. He was sure roses would die here, so how did she know what they looked like. 

“My father had travelled to many realms, and one day when he came back, he ordered this to be made.” She said, touching the seat next to her.

“But it’s more Asgardian than Midgardian. And definitely not Muspelian.” He asked her and she nodded.

“I guess he must have been to Asgard at some stage of his life. I was very young when it was built, and he never talked to me about his quests.” She covered quickly and convincingly. 
She looked down and began to fidget.
“He never talked to me about much really.” She whispered, hoping he wouldn’t hear, but he did.

“Not much of a loving father, was he?” he said, leaning back against the pillar behind him. 

“No.” she shook her head.
“See this scar.” She said, lifting her top up and showing him a large scar that ran over her right hip. 
He was taken aback by the paleness of her skin, and then how silky it appeared. Then he looked at the scar itself. The angry purple blemish that still looked painful. It made his heart ach that such a beauty had to suffer through her pain. He also noted other smaller scars, ones that looked like battle scars. They looked newer too.

“He did this to me.” she said to him, looking at the scar herself. 
He reached out with his hand and looked up at her.

“May I?” he asked, holding her gaze. 
She nodded and watched as his fingertips made their way over to her skin. He touched her and it sent shivers down her back, nearly causing her to react, but she kept it under a lid. He ran his fingertips slowly over the scar, feeling the deep scar tissue under the angry purple scar. It must have been a deep wound, nearly claiming her life. He was glad now that Surtr had very bad aim.

“Why?” he asked, resting his hand palm down on her hip absentmindedly. 
She didn’t know why he had done that, and to be honest, neither did he. It just felt right, but she was just so glad to feel his touch again, so she wasn’t complaining. 

“When my mother died, he began looking for suitors for me, saying he couldn’t look after me. But he just wanted me gone. For whatever reason.” She said, looking at him.
“Anyway.” She said, swallowing hard and getting flustered by his touch, which he still had not removed. 
She looked down at his hand on her hip and she flushed bright red. 

“I… uh… told him that I didn’t want to get married just for the sake of getting married. He told me I wasn’t ready to fight for myself, so I needed a man, a husband to fight for me. I told him he was wrong and he challenged me to a fight.” she said, looking down at his hand and then back up at his eyes. 
He held her gaze just like he used to and she gasped inwardly, struggling for breath.

“And you know me, I don’t back down. So I accepted.” She said, forgetting that he didn’t know her. 
She wrote it off and acted normal, as not to alert him to her mistake. 
“He won, of course, but I put up a good fight. Until he stabbed me.” she said, lowering her top. 
He pulled his hand away from her skin and stared at her. 
“He nearly killed me, and that’s the day I knew, he didn’t love me.” she said blankly, attaching no feelings talking of her father. 

“And the suitors?” he asked her. 

“They came knocking, in their hordes and droves. But luckily they were all freaked out by my paleness. None of them wanted me and I, none of them either.” She smiled.
“Big hulking creatures with arms like tree trunks and size inferiority complexes. No thank you, that’s not my type.” She said, giggling and looking at him. 
He laughed and looked at her giggling. It was the first time he had heard it. It sounded magical.

“And what is your type?” he asked her. 
She looked up at him and held his gaze.

“Quiet, confident, intelligent…” she said, subconsciously leaning towards him with a dreamy look in her eyes. He smiled. This was it; he had chipped away enough ice to seduce her.

“PRINCE LOKI!” a guard shouted to him just as he began to lean in for a kiss. 
Suddenly both of them realised what they were doing and they pulled away from each other, like two schoolchildren that had been caught. 
“PRINCE LOKI!” the guard shouted to him again.
He sighed and stood up.

“HERE!” Loki shouted to him. 
The guard looked over at him and nodded.

“We’re done Sir, we can leave.” The guard said, walking off. 
Loki nodded and looked down at Vara sitting to his right. 

“Next time, we can pick up where we left off?” he asked her. 
She looked up at him. Her breath was a shaky as her fingers; the anticipation of that kiss had been building for so many years in her body. She wanted him so badly in that moment, but she had to hide it from him. She stood up and held his gaze.

“We can’t.” she whispered to him.

“We can. In time.” he said, reaching down and grasping her hand. 
He lifted it to his lips and tenderly kissed it. He breathed in and smelled that familiar but strange smell that he knew belonged to her. 

“Till next time.” he whispered, looking deep into her eyes and holding the gaze. 
Then he swiftly walked off, leaving her reeling in the pergola. She watched as they left and sighed. It had been so close that time. Just a few more seconds and she would have kissed him. She wanted to. She watched as her maids carried the amphorae of mead into the palace and blushed quietly to herself.

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