Loki had been a bit bemused when Miss Potts had taken the photograph of the three of them—Stark, Loki, and Svanhild. Stark had the most obnoxious frames made, which read TEAM STARK in large red letters. He said it was something to do with matching his Iron Man suit. Loki didn’t understand Stark’s obsession with the thing.
The photograph now sat next to Loki’s bed in Asgard. He’d placed a spell on it so that only he might see it. When Svanhild got old enough he would place an enchantment on it so that she could see the picture, too, and remember her sire. To everyone else it would seem like a beautiful crystal.
Now was an amusing time on Asgard. Thor had decided that he wished to be married so that he may have younglings of his own. He had looked about him and thought that the Lady Brunhilde would be the most suitable choice of wife. The problem was that he did not know how to approach her, as she was a Valkyrie and not the typical maiden. Lady Sif, who seemed to be a confidante, was also angry at the turn of events.
Loki, finally deciding to take matters into his own hands, found Brunhilde on the battlefield looking for brave souls to take to Valhalla.
“Liesmith,” she greeted, sneaking another soul from its body.
“Valkyrie,” he returned.
“Speak your mind,” she said after they had walked together for several long minutes.
“Is there a reason why you object my brother’s suit?” Loki asked, straight to the point.
“I never said I objected,” she responded.
“You do not respond.”
“I never will.” Her brown hair fell about her in braids, making her angular features seem harsher.
“And that would be because–?” he inquired.
She paused. “Many are not aware of this, but the nine Valkyries are the daughters of Voton.”
Loki paused. Voton was a name for Odin. He did the math. He was just over a three millennia old. “But you cannot be above a thousand years of age,” he finally stated in confusion.
“I will celebrate that year in the next two decades,” she responded.
The meaning of her words sunk in. The All Father had been unfaithful to the queen. And it had been during his adolescence. He had had no idea. Thor, of course, was just as much in the dark.
“Thank you, good lady,” he said. “I will tell Thor of your disinterest.”
Brunhilde turned to him. “I spoke of it only to you because you are a sorcerer and a liesmith. You can turn words to your advantage.”
“I would not have ever told Thor.”
“Of course. Thor will never be told, at least not from my lips,” he promised her. Then he faded away from the battlefield and returned to the palace.
It was some days before he sought Thor out, having come up with an appropriate plan. He found him sparring with the Warriors Three, Lady Sif looking on. He came to stand beside her but the two did not exchange words. When the fight was finally over, Thor came up to his brother with a large smile on his face. “I did not expect you, Brother.”
“I come with tidings,” he greeted. “Perhaps you would care to go to Mother’s garden?”
The two silently made their way across the palace, Thor greeting those they came across, Loki a shadow by his side.
“These are not glad tidings, I take it,” Thor said when they were under the fig tree.
“Alas, no,” Loki agreed, sweeping his cloak around him as he sat down. “I have spoken to the Lady Brunhilde, Brother.”
Thor made to speak, but Loki quelled him with a glance.
“It was well I did. She was too stunned with your magnificence as a warrior to tell you what she told me.” It would be good to stroke his ego while breaking his expectations.
“Then what did she say, Brother? Tell me everything.”
“She is a shieldmaiden and has taken a vow of chastity.” Such things were rumored, so Thor would believe it. “She does not mean to break it.”
“Not even for a prince of her realm?” Thor asked incredulously.
“Not even for that.”
The two lapsed into silence, until finally Thor spoke. “I wish a child.”
“I know,” Loki sympathized. “Perhaps you should look to those who are more motherly and are not warriors or shieldmaidens.” That would leave out Sif, but he was thinking of his brother’s happiness.
“Is that what your Midgardian is? Motherly?”
Loki thought on Stark and how good he was with Svanhild. How he put her in tiny outfits and tucked in into bed so carefully or how he would hold her for hours, gently bouncing her while he told her stories.
“Strangely, yes, though I would not have thought it.” He smiled. It had been almost three months since he had seen his Midgardian. It was perhaps time for him to return to Midgard with his bundle of joy in tow.
“You obviously hold some affection for this Midgardian. How can you bear to be apart from him?” Thor asked, clearly confused.
“He is of Midgard. I am of Asgard. I do not like pretending to be Midgardian for long periods of time.”
Thor nodded. “Then whom shall I marry?”
“None of the maidens you know are candidates?” Loki, of course, referred to all the women that Thor had bedded.
His brother shook his head. “No, none of them were queen material. It was why I was so interested in Brunhilde. She would have made a fearsome queen.”
Loki sat there and thought. “Jarnsaxa,” he finally said. “Of course, she has eight unmarried sisters, but she is the comeliest and the most modest.”
“Jarnsaxa. But is she fit to be queen?”
“You’ll never know until you begin to court her,” Loki pointed out. “I doubt that you would want me to court her for you.”
“No, of course not,” Thor muttered. “Jarnsaxa.”
“Jarnsaxa,” Loki agreed.
Thor smiled at him largely. “I shall let you know how it fares, Brother.” He stood and stretched. “I think I should perhaps go to the lady.”
“Or perhaps you could wait for the feast tonight if she is here,” Loki pointed out.
“No, I should show my interest in a more personal way,” Thor disagreed. “And I shall bring her wildflowers. I could not do that with Brunhilde.”
Then with a laugh he was gone. Loki smiled to himself. He had made Thor happy. If only Jarnsaxa could live up to this potential.
He saw Jarnsaxa two evenings later. Loki had brought out Svanhild to the private dining chambers where only royalty and their guests might eat, and he was surprised when a statuesque beauty with brown hair that fell like waves down to the small of her back came up to him and smiled at him—or, rather, his daughter. “I had heard of the beautiful Princess Svanhild,” she greeted. “But I hadn’t realized she was so precious.” Jarnsaxa held out a long finger to the baby, which was happily taken with much cooing. “You’re such a dear. Prince Loki,” she said, turning her ice blue eyes upward, “I was sorry to hear of your loss. I am certain that Svanhild’s sire died with valor and feasts even now in Valhalla.”
She stood to her full height and her eyes were almost level with Loki’s. She would make an imposing figure next to Thor. Loki had chosen well for his brother.
A glint of something in Jarnsaxa’s eyes told him that she knew something more than she was letting on.
Loki arched a brow. “I have spoken to a Valkyrie, and she has assured me it is so,” he replied with an unusual solemnity.
Jarnsaxa had reached out and with a nod from Loki was brushing her hand through Svanhild’s locks. “You have been truly been blessed to have a child—a reminder of him who you loved most and a gift in her own right.”
She turned and bowed to Queen Frigga, the goddess of marriage and fertility.
“Truly blessed, Prince Loki. I hope that one day I am likewise blessed.”
Loki nodded to her. “I am sure your prayers will be heard.”
Thor came in then, Mjolnir clasped to his side, dressed in full regalia with his red cape sweeping about him. “Good!” he boomed. “You two have become acquainted. Lady Jarnsaxa was reading poetry to me all afternoon, Loki.”
“A feat for any Aesir,” Loki commented. “Thor has never been one for poetry.”
“It was like music falling from her mouth,” Thor protested and Jarnsaxa blushed. “Is she not beautiful, Brother?”
Indeed, she was. She was far from Thor’s usual type and Jarnsaxa’s clear eyes showed that she knew this as a fact. Loki looked at her hard. Yes, she knew that she was playing for the long run. She was not a stupid maiden. Far from it. She perhaps had the mettle it took to be queen.
“I think the lady does not need any compliments to know her own beauty,” Loki replied archly. He kissed Svanhild’s head. “Have you introduced her to Mother and Father?”
“No, not yet, Brother,” Thor replied bashfully. “Come, Jarnsaxa. The Allfather and his queen are kind and not so fearsome as their reputations would suggest.”
Jarnsaxa, however, was far from looking nervous or afraid. “It would be my pleasure to meet your parents, Prince Thor.” She winked at Loki, as if they held the secret together. “Prince Loki, Princess Svanhild,” she said in farewell.
Loki watched her go. Her dark hair against Thor’s gold was a striking sight. She was dressed in the wools of the gentry who never came to court but instead lived off of the land. If Loki remembered correctly, her family’s estate was just a few miles from the capital’s outskirts, but they had never been one for politics or royal favors. It was the rare occasion that one saw any of the sisters at a feast and that was only if they were visiting their brother Heimdall.
Thor took Jarnaxa’s dark skinned hand in his own and lifted it up to his lips just before he turned and introduced her to his waiting parents. Loki could see the approval in the Allfather’s eyes and the hesitant hope in his mother’s.
Yes, this would go well, indeed.
That night, knowing that all was well in Asgard, he wrapped Svanhild up warmly and brought out the small bag full of Midgardian diapers and a bottle, which he carried with him while on Midgard. Thor was waiting for him outside his doors when they opened.
“I thought you would be leaving, Brother,” he said into the dark halls.
Loki, genuinely surprised, ushered him inside and closed the door. Some conversations were meant for privacy.
“I trust that you saw Jarnsaxa back to her estate?” Loki began, sitting down while still holding Svanhild in his arms. He whispered sweet nothings to her although he knew that she was fast asleep. He had seen to that.
“Of course, Brother,” Thor answered. “I thank you for thinking of her. She is absolutely lovely.”
“Just lovely?” Loki teased. “She is, of course, not the type of maiden you usually pursue.”
“No,” Thor agreed slowly. “Perhaps that is what I need. Mother and Father liked her.”
“Yes, they seemed to.” Loki looked back down at Svanhild.
“Loki,” Thor pressed.
He did not look up.
“Loki. I know you are going to visit Svanhild’s sire.”
“And what of it?” Loki asked, his voice flippant and slippery. He looked up and caught Thor’s gaze. “What of it, Brother?”
“You always go when you view the castle as quiet or that something is set right. And you set things right between myself and Jarnsaxa.”
Loki sat still, waiting to see if there was a point.
“I wish to go with you.”
Ah, there it was.
“You cannot,” Loki argued. “You know nothing of Midgard, of my life on Midgard. You would say my name.”
“And what crime would that be, Brother?”
“There, Thor and Loki are gods from legend, Brother,” Loki seethed. “We cannot simply show up.”
“Then how do you do it?”
“The Midgardians think I am a wealthy mortal who goes by an alias,” Loki explained. “I have never mentioned a brother,” this was not quite true, but Thor didn’t need to know. “I have never mentioned family. I have never mentioned a country. It has taken me centuries for me to move among the Midgardians. You cannot simply decide to go without questions being asked.” Loki looked back down at Svanhild when he was certain his point was made.
“You have met Jarnsaxa,” Thor argued.
“Whom you also met two days ago,” Loki snapped back, his words like barbs. “She is Asgardian. Svanhild’s sire is of a different realm. Thor, trust my judgment. Was I not right about Jarnsaxa? Will I not also be right in this?”
Thor looked at him steadily for several long minutes. “At least let me walk you out of the palace.”
Loki smiled. “That I can gladly do.”
The brothers walked along the halls quietly, Loki not bothering to stay in the shadows knowing that his brother’s presence would stall any questions. They parted ways without words and then Loki was gone, down the long road to Midgard.
He appeared once again in Los Angeles and shimmered into a suit. Without bothering with security, he walked directly to Miss Potts’ office. She was quite startled when he walked past her secretary and straight in front of her. She was on the phone. “Tony,” she said with a grin. “You’ll never guess who’s here.”
She handed over the phone with a wink and Loki accepted it, handing Svanhild off to her.
“Pepper?” he heard Stark’s voice ask. “Pepper, I told you, I’m kind of in the middle of some test runs and—“
“Stark, stop your incessant prattling,” Loki greeted.
Stark immediately sucked in a breath.
“I see I got your attention,” Loki laughed. “I’m in rather a good mood. I may have just found my brother a wife.”
Miss Potts looked at him sideways and he realized how much it sounded like an arranged marriage.
“He’s quite smitten with her,” Loki continued into the silence. “I told you he wanted a youngling of his own.”
“Maj—“ It was the only word that Stark spoke and it caused Loki to smile.
“Are you in Malibu? Svanhild and I could get a hote—“
“Absolutely not,” Stark said, coming back to himself. “You’re coming back here. You’re always coming back to my home unless you have some objection.”
“None,” Loki promised.
“All right. Then put Pepper on.”
Loki took the phone away from his ear and handed it back to Pepper Potts. She took it smoothly and after a short conversation was picking up files from on top of her desk. “Have you eaten?” she asked.
“No,” Loki answered, “but I’m not hungry.”
“We can stop on the way if you change your mind,” Pepper promised him. She ushered Loki out after handing back Svanhild (“It would be a publicity nightmare if someone caught a picture of me holding a baby”). He found himself in the same car and being driven out of Los Angeles and toward Malibu.
When they were almost there, Pepper got a call. It was quick, to the point, and Pepper told the driver to go to the lower bay.
“What’s wrong?” Loki asked. He was now feeding Svanhild something called baby formula. She seemed to like it well enough.
“Tony has guests. He didn’t think you’d want them to see Svanhild.”
“No, definitely not,” Loki agreed curtly. He thought immediately back to the dinner where Svanhild had been proudly on display with Jarnsaxa genuinely fawning over her.
The lower bay brought them to the bottom level of the mansion. Miss Potts led them to a concrete door where she was having her retina scanned. Loki was then ushered into what seemed to be a bay of cars. There were at least a dozen.
“JARVIS,” Miss Potts said and the voice-activated AI came online.
“Miss Potts, Magician, Young Mistress.”
Loki didn’t much like JARVIS. He had spent about fifteen minutes trying to convince it that both he and Svanhild were midgardian or “human.” Stark had apologized and said it was a glitch but hadn’t been able to fix it. Finally, Stark had to shut off JARVIS from taking Loki and Svanhild’s vitals at all. It was the only way to solve the problem.
Miss Potts cleared her throat. “How long ‘til he leaves, JARVIS?”
“It is uncertain, Miss Potts,” JARVIS responded. “Mr. Stark has been trying to get him to leave for the past twenty minutes.”
“Oh, this is just,” Miss Potts muttered under her breath. “On screen.”
Loki looked up to see a projected image of Stark, reclining and eating pizza, with a larger and older man doing the same. Svanhild looked up and, upon seeing Stark, reached for him. “No, little one,” Loki cooed in Asgardian. “Soon.”
Miss Potts looked at him from the corner of her eyes. “Right.” She went up the stairs and, a few minutes later, appeared on screen. “Tony! Obadiah!” she greeted.
“Pepper! Here to join the party?” Stark asked.
“Sadly, no. You know what your doctor said. I’m only here to drop your medication off. I don’t want to get infected. Obadiah, have you been inoculated?”
“Uh, no.” This Obadiah wiped his mouth with a napkin.
“Then you should come with me.—Tony, your medicine is down with your cars.” She took Obadiah by the arm and led him out. It took a few minutes but he was soon on his way.
As soon as the two of them were out of the house, Loki could see Tony rip away from the camera. Two minutes later, he came rushing down the stairs and threw himself into Loki’s arms, careful not to jostle the baby. “You came back.”
“And I remembered to say ‘farewell’ last time.”
“How long can you stay?” Stark asked, pulling away.
Loki kissed him. “Two days at most.”
“Yes, and,” Loki pointed to what appeared to be an iron arm lying on the table, “what is that?”
Stark looked over to where he was pointing and seemed a little panicked. “Nothing. A project I’m working on.”
“I’m trusting that this—project—will not hurt Svanhild or take away from the small amount of time she has to spend with her sire.” He handed a happy Svanhild over to Stark who took her gladly.
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” he said, bouncing her up and down. “It can wait. Anything can wait for my swan princess.”
He went up the stairs and Loki followed him. “Swan Princess? That’s a ballet.”
“I know.” Stark sounded offended. “I have been to the ballet before, Maj.”
“The White Swan is trapped as a swan until her prince can rescue her. Svanhild will need no such assistance.”
That night Stark held Loki down, kissing him deeply. “No, I want to take care of you. You and Svanhild. Why won’t you let me?”
“It’s not that simple, Stark,” Loki said with resignation. “You cannot traverse where I am from, and I cannot be missing for too long.” He did not want to be suspected—he could not be suspected. No one must doubt that Svanhild was a full Asgardian, however “monstrous” her original appearance was. She was too dear to him. He might visit Midgard with her as he may any realm, but he could not be seen to have a favorite there or any real reason for tarrying.
“Why can’t I come and meet your family?” Stark whined, running a hand up Loki’s smooth chest. “I’m sure they’ll love me.”
“I doubt they will,” Loki muttered, though his mind turned to Thor and wondered what he would think of the Midgardian, what he would think of Midgard in general. One day he was sure his brother would follow him …
His eyes widened.
Surely Thor wouldn’t have ….
But of course he would.
Loki sat up in bed. “I have to go to Norway,” he said, throwing off the covers. Cool air met his skin and he breathed in deeply. Norway was where all Asgardians went—and Thor was sure to follow the old ways, suspecting that Loki may have as well.
“JARVIS,” Loki called. “Bring me newsfeeds of Norway. I need to know of any—I don’t know the word—sudden variations in weather.”
Stark sat up and looked at Loki strangely. “Maj, what are you—?”
Loki shushed him just as JARVIS’s voice came online. “There was one approximately three hours ago, south of Oslo.” He showed a picture of a vortex descending from the heavens and then disappearing just as quickly.
Loki cursed his luck. He turned to Stark and kissed him long and hard. “Take care of Svanhild.” He turned and walked through the door, disappearing to the site of the vortex. He knew that Stark would follow him and find nothing but air.
“Brother!” was the first thing he heard when he blinked into the darkness that was Norway. It seemed Thor had not gone far.
“I told you not to come to Midgard,” Loki said testily.
“Aye, but I had to see this realm for myself. I could not in all conscience—“
“Spare me your platitudes. I was enjoying myself halfway across the world.”
“With your lover?”
Loki merely arched an eyebrow at him. Thor had come in a long Tunic and cloak, looking like a prince who was at ease in the situation, neither fighting nor perhaps feasting. Loki was wearing a Midgardian suit and a warm coat for the northern air.
“You should not have come,” Loki stated.
“Where is Svanhild?”
“I cannot say with Heimdall watching us.” Loki doubted the sentinel of Asgard would fail to watch the prince who was also now suitor to one of his nine sisters. “You put us at great risk.”
Thor looked confused but then nodded. “Heimdall, I would speak with my brother alone,” he called out to the heavens.
Immediately, Loki felt that the watcher’s gaze had moved on from him. “I thank you, Brother.”
“If I can give you comfort, then I shall,” Thor promised. “Now, where is this lover?”
“With Svanhild. I do not think it prudent that you should meet.”
“Nonsense! I am your older brother.”
Loki could see that he would not be deterred. “If we do this, you must swear to only call me ‘Brother’ and never by my given name.”
“If it is a condition, then it is one that I will gladly follow.”
“And there must be no mention of Asgard, or of Father being king or we princes of the realm. Here I am simply the ‘Magician’, one who can make money from seemingly nothing.”
“There is not magic in this realm?”
“No, instead there is something called science.” Loki doubted that Thor would be able to grasp the concept with a day’s visit, but at least he would know the name of the difference.
“And what have you told this lover of me? What is his name?”
“Stark. Tony Stark.—And I have said you are a high ranking official in the army.”
“So, here I am also a warrior. It is fitting.”
“Am I not always right, Brother?” Loki asked archly, and Thor could only chuckle.
“Fine, take me to your Tony Stark and to Svanhild.”
Loki sighed. He held out his hand. “It is warmer there,” he warned, and with that, they were gone.
… and this is all I have! I wrote this, wow, around Summer 2013 just after Iron Man 3 came out. Svanhild has always have a special place in my heart, and I couldn’t quite leave her to rot any longer on my external harddrive.
Thoughts on how this could continue? Pure hatred that I left it there? Leave a comment below! -cen