You couldn’t believe it had come to this. Never in your life had you ever imagined that such a thing could happen to you, but now you were being led none too gently, chained at the wrists and ankles and surrounded by big, burly, heavily armoured Asgardians, to what was likely going to be your own execution, if Loki had anything to say about it.
Loki. Your eyes filled with hot tears when you thought of the handsome raven-haired prince, who had looked at you with such tenderness in his beautiful emerald eyes only moments ago, the same eyes that were now as cold and cruel as shards of ice.
Lady Sif had tried to warn you about him. She had told you of his mischievous tricks, but even she could not have prepared you for the way he had twisted the truth and your trust into a blade, thrusting it mercilessly through your fragile heart, a heart that had just begun to hope that perhaps there was something more between you and him than just friendship.
In hindsight, you wished the Frost Giants had ended your life back in Helheim. You thought about the sad farewell that passed between you and Lukas, and wondered what had become of him. Maybe you’d be seeing him again sooner than you expected. At least his concern for you had been genuine. You no longer knew if anything you and Loki had shared had been real.
The warriors stopped quite suddenly, pulling you up short by your shackles and forcing you roughly to your knees in a submissive bow. When you looked up, you saw the reason.
Riding towards you was none other than Odin Allfather, flanked by Thor, Lady Sif, and the Warriors Three. Odin rode a large white stallion, and he was dressed in full armour, gleaming gold from head to toe. The others were heavily armoured as well.
“Allfather!” Tyr called out, dropping to a knee in the customary show of respect. “We have captured the traitor, and await your orders.”
“And what of my son?” Odin asked, peering around at the soldiers.
“I am here as well, Father.” Loki dismounted and stepped out into the open, kneeling like Tyr. As he rose, he looked sideways at you for a second, and your gazes met. He quickly looked away, and you lowered your head, fighting tears once more.
“It is good to see you uninjured,” Odin commented, nodding gravely at his youngest son. “I have received reports of Jotuns in Helheim, but I suppose you were already aware of this?”
“Yes,” Loki confirmed. “My daughter had thought to make a deal with them, trading the girl in return for her kingdom’s safety.”
“And what do the Jotuns want with the girl?” Thor asked, scrutinizing you with all of the old suspicion that he had shown when you had first arrived in Asgard’s halls.
“How should I know?” Loki shrugged, as if the reason was unimportant. “Of course, being that she is an enemy to Asgard, I could not allow the Jotuns to take her away. I immobilized their warriors with magic and escaped with the prisoner, but I expect this isn’t the last we’ve seen of them.”
“And what of Queen Hel?” Lady Sif spoke up, tightening her grip on her reins as her horse shifted restlessly. “I do not know if I like the idea of her making deals with the Frost Giants. Up until now she has remained a loyal friend to Asgard.”
“I will deal with my daughter,” Loki said stiffly.
“It is not just your daughter that has my concern,” Odin cut in, and you saw the uneasy glance he cast Loki before continuing. “As you may have noticed, I am not riding Sleipnir.”
Loki’s eyes widened in realization as he looked first from the white stallion, and then to the Allfather’s bearded face. Immediately you saw panic flicker across his usually composed features.
“Where is my son?” he questioned, stepping forward. “Has Sleipnir not returned yet?”
“Sleipnir was taken, brother,” Thor said grimly. “He never made it back to Asgard. Heimdall saw everything.”
“Who?” Loki croaked, his stony expression shattering. “Who took him?”
Thor exchanged a glance with Odin, and finally the Allfather answered.
“What?” Loki stepped back, horror in his eyes. “But why?”
“We do not know,” Lady Sif said softly, carefully controlling her tone so as not to further upset the prince. “We thought perhaps you would be able to shed some light on the situation.”
“I-I don’t know,” Loki faltered, and his gaze fell on you again, flickering over your trembling form. He looked so lost and distraught that for a moment you nearly forgot his betrayal and longed to run to him, but his next words were quick to dispel that moment of weakness.
“Leverage,” he whispered. “The Jotuns needed leverage. They knew I would fight to recapture the girl, and decided to plan ahead in case I succeeded. They want a trade.”
It was just as Fenrir had said, “If I know them, they’ve already figured out a way to bring you to your knees. All it would take is just a little leverage in the right place.”
Perhaps the Great Wolf had known all along. You couldn’t believe he wouldn’t say anything to protect his own brother, but then again they definitely weren’t your typical family. If Fenrir was anything like Loki, and you were beginning to think they were more alike than you originally believed, he didn’t care one way or another as long as it didn’t affect him adversely. Like father, like son. You felt nauseous.
“So you plan to trade her for Sleipnir?” Lady Sif spoke up, her tone almost accusing. “You would hand over an enemy of Asgard to the Jotuns, without any idea why they want her in the first place?”
“Do you have any better ideas, Lady Sif?” Loki snapped, whirling on her in anger. “Sleipnir is my offspring! I will not allow him to be murdered by those filthy Frost Giants! And anyway, they don’t want the girl alive. In fact, if it weren’t for my arrival in Helheim, they would have executed her on the spot. Ask her yourself, if you think you can believe anything she says.”
You almost had a retort for this, but realized it was pointless to argue. Who were they more likely to believe, their own prince or a stranger with a dangerous reputation?
“Enough!” Odin said, silencing everyone. “There will be no trading until we first meet with the Jotun King and see if there isn’t some other agreement we can come to. Until then no harm shall come to the girl. She will be put under constant guard and confined to her chambers.” You sighed with relief, grateful that at least Odin didn’t seem to completely hate you.
“But my King,” Fandral interrupted with a nervous laugh. You had nearly forgotten the Warriors Three, they had been so silent. “You can’t seriously mean to allow this wench to continue to eat and sleep amongst the rest of us? I mean, she’s dangerous! You saw what she did to Loki!”
“She seems to be perfectly harmless at the moment,” Odin said, giving Fandral a stern glance. “And precautions will be taken. If you are so worried, you can be the first to guard her.”
Fandral sputtered for a moment but fell silent in defeat. You glared at them all. For all their show of being your friends before, they had turned on you just as much as Loki, and it hurt. It hurt badly. For a moment you wished you had memorized more spells, perhaps something a little more harmful than a flight spell.
“It may be wise to find a way to silence her tongue,” Loki commented almost casually, as if reading your thoughts. “There’s no telling what harm she could do with words.” His sideways glance made you think of a few particularly nasty ones.
“It shall be done,” Odin agreed. “We shall return to Asgard, and I shall contact King Laufey. Sleipnir will be returned to us, and the girl shall be dealt with according to her crimes.”
With this, he turned his horse and gave the signal to the others, and they rode off. You were lifted onto a horse to ride with two warriors on either side, holding your reins. Nobody spoke a word to you as you set off, bound once more for the shining city.
If you had been paying attention, however, you may have noticed Loki glancing at you, and you may have seen the anguish in his eyes. But you were avoiding looking at the lying prince, as you now hated him as much as you might have loved him.