Hiemdal sighed in exasperation when Thor and Loki came back to Asgard, dragging a dying mortal with them. But, he asked no questions, and welcomed them back to Asgard. Loki didn’t even turn his head in Heimdal’s direction, but handed Sophia to Thor, who took off to the healers, using his hammer to take the quickest way: flying.
Loki began the walk to the healers, running as quickly as he could. When he arrived, Sophia was already in the Soul Forge. He watched as her energy floated and swirled above her body. He had never thought about it before, but he now realized that, in his eyes, the sight was quite beautiful. Her energy restlessly flickered and darted above her, like a fire burning. There wasn’t much of it.
Thor was standing at Sophia’s head, pensive. Loki came to his side,
“How is she?”
“She is stable for now. Weak, but stable. The only thing I am concerned for, is that Odin may throw her out. Heimdal will undoubtedly alert him of her presence.” He leaned towards Loki, but didn’t look away from Sophia.
“As is his duty.” Loki nodded.
“How are we to convince him to let Sophia stay?” Thor turned to Loki. Loki looked at Thor, then back at Sophia,
“I think…” he paused, as if measuring his words, “I think, she may be able to.”
Thor raised an eyebrow, and pointed to Sophia, “You think, that this mortal will be able to convince Odin to let her stay here?”
Loki shrugged, “well, yes.”
Thor chuckled and shook his head, “I wish I could trust you.”
Loki looked at the floor, then at Thor, “Do you believe I love Sophia?”
“Yes.” Thor looked straight forward, “I can find no other reason for you to be so desperate for her safety that you would go so far as to offer yourself. I still cannot fully believe it but… I believe that evidence will present itself soon enough.” He nodded and let his eyes fall to the floor.
“Then trust that.”
Thor turned to Loki. His green, piercing eyes were serious, not mischievous or playful. They were steady, as if searching him, penetrating him to find how he truly felt, to find what he truly believed. It made him feel uneasy, and he turned back to Sophia. Soon after, Loki looked on the girl as well. They were silent for a long time, not wanting to leave her side as the healers worked their magic. The fire above her did not grow any brighter. One of the healers made a comment that Sophia’s energy was a bit different from any she had seen. Of course, it may be that she was only mortal, but the energy seemed more energetic, almost. It was like a dying fire, the kind that slowly diminishes, but still flickers with defiance, as if fighting to continue burning. The thought that Sophia was fighting to live comforted Loki.
Then Sif and Frigga entered. Both the brothers were startled, but relaxed when they saw that Odin was not with them. Sif seemed confused. Thor pulled her to the side and talked with her. Loki and Frigga’s eyes met. He averted his gaze back to Sophia. Again, he noticed how unlike herself she seemed in death, so submissive. He didn’t notice that Frigga was next to him. Not until she spoke, anyway.
“How did you meet the mortal?” she asked.
“When I was brought to earth, she was assigned to keep watch over me while the Avengers were away in another realm.” He answered.
“I see. And so beauty has tamed the beast.” She smiled lovingly on him. Loki chuckled and closed his eyes briefly, deep in thought.
“I suppose you could put it like that.” He said softly. They were quiet for a while.
“How did she come to be like this?” She asked.
“Defending me.” Loki had resigned himself to that fact.
“And now you blame yourself. That you weren’t able to protect her.” Frigga said matter-of-factly.
Loki sighed and didn’t answer. They both knew she was right. Why say it aloud? Frigga laughed gently and took his hand,
“If you believe she loved you, then you have to trust her that she did what she believed to right. That’s all she can do. That’s all any of us can do. It’s what you’re doing right now.”
Loki didn’t look up. Frigga took his other hand and turned him towards her so she could see his eyes,
“I know you will not give up until she is either healed, or dead. I know you don’t want her to die, none of us do. But she has already made a difference in you. I see it.”
“She won’t die. She can’t die. If she dies I’ll…” Loki let his head fall and closed his eyes. Frigga pulled him into her and comforted him as he cried into her shoulder like she had done so many times before. She marveled at how this human had somehow been able to soften his seemingly frozen heart.
Thor smiled softly as he watched the scene. He knew he shouldn’t eavesdrop, but he couldn’t help himself, and in the end, he was glad he did. He was confident that he never would have seen this side of his brother, had his mother not shown it to him.
Finally the girl stirred,
“Loki…” she muttered. Loki fell silent and pulled himself from his mother. Looking down on her, he saw that she was restlessly moving. She turned her head, but never opened her eyes. She raised her knee, but let it fall again.
“Loki?” she asked again. He smiled through tears and gently brushed his thumb along her cheek,
“I’m here, love.” He whispered. As soon as he touched her, the fire above her flared up, gaining strength. The occurrence was strange, and all of the healers looked at each other in wonder. When he drew his hand back, the fire died down again, but it wasn’t quite so dim as before.
“Loki!” she restlessly cried.
“Shh.” This time, he took her hand, and again, the fire gained strength.
No one was quite sure what was happening, least of all Loki himself. He looked to the healers as to what he should do. They were talking amongst themselves. Loki didn’t let go of Sophia’s hand, but looked on her with concern. Her labored breathing concerned him, but she seemed to be thinking, as if she were fighting back death consciously, as if she were trying to wake. He squeezed her hand and silently encouraged her.
“Perhaps the All-Father would know of this anomaly.” A healer said. Loki jerked his head up to find who had uttered the statement.
“No.” He said firmly, “Odin cannot know that she is here.” He nodded at Sophia.
“Loki, what if he can save her?” Thor came beside Loki.
“But he won’t!” Loki hissed, coming in between Thor and Sophia, “You said it yourself, Odin will cast Sophia back to earth, to die!”
“And how, my son, could you be so sure of this conclusion?”
Loki snapped his eyes to the entrance just in time to see Odin enter the room. Loki immediately dropped Sophia’s hand and moved in between Odin and the Soul Forge.
“Then tell me, Father.” He spat the name as an insult, “Would you spare her life?”
Odin didn’t respond, but turned to the healers. They began speaking too low for Loki to hear. Sophia, however, had begun whimpering his name again. He reluctantly came to her side and took her hand again. The thought that Odin may take Sophia away from him filled him with so much rage, he could see his arm shake as he clutched Sophia’s hand. He reached out and smoothed the tangled hair to her head. Filled and overflowing with emotion, he bent over and tenderly kissed her forehead.
Thor and Frigga saw this. They looked at one another, and Frigga left to talk with Odin. Thor continued to watch his brother brood over the mortal girl. Sif watched the girl with curiosity. What was it in mortals that so captured the hearts of the Odinson brothers? The question puzzled her, but she was patient.