"Now, see, all we've got left to do is make absolutely certain that Mother hears not a single word of this- yes, Hela, that means you- until exactly the right moment." The five children are quick to nod enthusiastically, and solemn 'yes, Papa's aren't slow to follow. Loki grins, nodding his approval.
A door opens at the other end of the house, and the huddle of heads shoot towards the noise. Footsteps sound in the hallway leading to the kitchen.
"Vali, love, I didn't find any 'urgent business' to deal with in the garden- I'm still a bit confused, if you could only give me something a tad more specific-" Sigyn's voice cuts off suddenly as she appears in the doorway, seeing Loki and the children clustered on the tile floor, most of them clearly trying their best not to smile. Silence reigns for a moment.
"Hello, yes?" Sigyn asks. "Anyone care to explain?" The dreaded eyebrow is raised, and Fenrir tugs on his father's shirt, urging him to do something before a clearly-distressed Jormungand cracks.
Loki stands fluidly, Hela beginning to giggle. "Explain?" He asks her, eyes flashing an innocent green. "What would we need to explain?"
Sigyn slowly places her hands on her hips, looking at him. Long curls of blonde hair had blown out of her bun from her time outside. Hela's muffled laughter begins to grow louder, Vali's own giggles joining in. A smile tugs at Sigyn's own lips.
"Guys, we need a plan B," Loki murmurs out of the corner of his mouth, eyes not leaving Sigyn's, "I can't keep this up for much longer."
Narvi's hands leave Loki's left pant leg, peaking around and attempting to look as serious as possible. Sigyn's eyes leave her husband's to divert her full attention to him, and when Loki whispers his quiet, 'thanks,' nobody manages to contain their laughter.
"Mama," Narvi says, "we can't tell you. It's a secret."
Sigyn kneels, holding out her arms, and Narvi bounds into them. "A secret?" She repeats, adjusting herself to let him sit on her lap.
Narvi nods enthusiastically. "You're gonna love it!"
"Narvi!" Scandalized shouts echo throughout the room.
"Oops." Narvi looks a little guilty. "That was a secret too."
Sigyn hums. "I see." Her eyes flicker pointedly towards her husband. "And this 'surprise' wouldn't have to do with the milkman's wardrobe, would it?" She sighs. "Or the neighbors' gardens? Or the climate in this area?"
Loki grins, his, 'please, that was last week,' expression on his face. "Nope, this one's just for you." Vali smiles wildly in agreement.
"And exactly how long will I have to wait until I can see this surprise?" Sigyn asks, patting down Narvi's unruly hair.
Narvi looks questioningly behind him. "Papa?" He asks.
Loki consults the tiny faces around him. "What do all of you think? Is it time to set the final step of the plan in action?" He gets eager tugs at his clothing and encouraging whispers as his response. He looks up at his wife. "Ready? Go!" The entire group disappears, giggling, and Sigyn is left with only Narvi and herself in the kitchen. She casts her eyes briefly to the ceiling, pondering her life decisions that led her to this point.
Narvi climbs off of her lap, pulling at the the sleeve of her dress. "Come on, mama!"
Sigyn stands, following Narvi's lead. "Where are we going, love?" She asks. "Papa didn't do anything naughty, did he?"
"Oh, no, no, mama." Narvi says, earnestly. "It's my job to lead you!"
"Lead me where?"
Narvi stops, suddenly, arms reaching up high to turn the doorknob. Sigyn guides him with her own hands, helping him turn it. "Thanks, mama," Narvi says as the door opens, quickly taking her hand and carefully pulling her down the stairs.
The basement?" Sigyn asks curiously. "There are only dusty boxes down there, honeybee."
Narvi, unperturbed, continues to climb down the stairs. "This way, mama!"
As they reach the bottom, Sigyn's eyes struggle to adjust to the dark. Narvi sneezes.
"Would you like to light a candle?" Sigyn asks, gently, as he begins to lead her again.
"Nope." Narvi says, diligently walking to the other end of the room. "It's okay. Papa says he made sure I wouldn't trip." Sigyn smiles at the sentiment, before Narvi exclaims, "Here!"
They've stopped at the far wall, but all Sigyn can see in the dark are a bunch of boxes. Oh, and a spider. Brilliant. "Here?" Sigyn repeats.
Narvi taps her excitedly and points downwards. "There!" And oh, now she sees it: the outline of what looks to be a trapdoor. Bending down, four arms lift it up- and Sigyn has to close her eyes against the golden light that floods into the room. Blinking, she sees a ladder perched against a wall, leading even further downwards.
Narvi reaches out, and, almost practiced, carefully climbs down to the floor below. Sigyn's fingers grip the wood hard. "Narvi?" She calls.
"Your turn, mama!" Narvi calls, smiling up at her. His face and hair are framed with golden light.
Sigyn extends an arm, grabbing a rung of the ladder and swinging a foot down to rest on another. In another moment, she lands gently onto the mysterious she's-certain-didn't-exist-yesterday floor. Turning around, she jumps as she sees Fenrir, not Narvi, waiting patiently. "Ready, mama?" He asks, grinning.
"Where's your brother?" She asks, looking behind him, but all she sees is hallway and golden light.
He shrugs. "With papa. It's my turn, now." Fenrir smiles, turning. "Follow me!" He calls. Sigyn does, and she is subjected yet again to some more twisting and turning. It's not long before the boy stops and turns around to face her. Sigyn frowns, looking about. Did they have a destination at all?
"We're here!" Fenrir exclaims. "Are you ready?"
"I haven't been told what to become ready for!" Sigyn says. Fenrir laughs, before turning around and running away. Sigyn follows, rounding the corner, and has to cover her mouth with her hand.
"Surprise!" A chorus of tiny voices echos throughout the large- and by large, she means gigantic- room. Sigyn blinks slowly, looking up. It's filled to the brim with books.
"How-" Sigyn sputters. They aren't that far underground, surely. How was this not visible above ground?
A hand touches her elbow. "A little trick I had some help with." Loki speaks in her ear.
"D'you like your library?" Jormungand asks.
"We remembered how you said there wasn't much place to put books in the house," Hela said at the same time.
"I helped pick out some!" Vali said proudly. "There's an entire magic section!"
"Papa let us choose the chairs and tables, too." Fenrir added. "They're really comfy- Narvi fell asleep in one when we were picking them out."
"I did not!" Came the indignant response. "I helped too!"
"Yeah, by sleeping." Fenrir says.
"Unbelievable." Sigyn whispers, eyes wide, unable to say much else.
Loki kisses her temple. "I'm glad you think so."