Somewhere Over Bifrost
Getting Away With Mischief #2
Across the Bifrost
“Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high, there’s a land that I heard of, beyond the Midgardian skies,” ~Loki
New York City
“Dad, I can’t find my iPod!” Hunter yelled, as he searched for it in his room.
Loki groaned and finished packing his extra-large backpack with some Midgardian clothing, pajamas, his first aid kit and several kinds of snacks and canned food in case the children disliked or had problems digesting the food on Asgard. He also put in some children’s Tylenol, Benadryl, and a bottle of Motrin. While most Asgardian remedies worked on mortals, Loki was taking no chances that his kids might be allergic to something.
He was fairly certain his mother and her army of castle seamstresses had been busy in the weeks prior to this trip sewing clothing for all of his family. Still, there were certain Midgardian items his children and he preferred to wear, and their pajamas were at the top of the list, as well as underclothes. Loki would wear his Asgardian Quest outfit when he crossed over the Bifrost, and he would transform his children’s outfits into something that Asgardians would wear before he called Heimdall.
“Did you look under the bed?” he called back. “Maybe you would find it if you cleaned the demolition zone that’s your room!
“I just cleaned it last week,” his son answered.
Loki rolled his eyes. “And then you went and had friends over and now it looks like the city dump.”
“Aww, Dad! It’s not that bad.”
“Until mold starts growing on the dishes under the bed,” Loki muttered, and stuck in a few paperbacks along with a few spellbooks, then zipped it closed.
"Papa, are you sure we can't go with you?" Mischief asked as she hopped on the bed and settled on the backpack,
"I'm sorry, Kit, but no," Loki said in cat speak.
"Well, we don't know if Asgardian food would agree with you or Odin and we would be sad if something would happen to you."
"I thought you wanted to go stay with Granny Mandy ," Odin said.
"I do, but I want to see Bestefar and Bestemor, too," she said and placed her chin down on her paws. Loki scratched her ears as he smiled and she made a soft purring sound.
"They're sad that you two can't come with us, too. But Mandy said she has some really fun things planned," Loki said.
"Yeah. she said we're going to the dog park and you're going to a kitty spa. Whatever that is. And we get to sleep on her bed at night," Odin said.
"She said I was going to get a nice green ribbon after my bath," Mischief said with a proud look. Loki had introduced her to baths and she found she liked the feel of water on her fur, but she needed special earplugs to keep water out of her ears.
"Then let’s get you into your crates,” Loki said and they headed out of the room.
Max used the green crayon as he scribbled lines on the paper and drew crooked circles. He used a black crayon to make odd shaped shadows as he placed the crayons down and looked at the drawing. He shivered as he placed the paper down and looked at the bottom drawer to his dresser. He walked to the dresser when he opened the drawer and removed an old show box. He carried the shoe box to the table when he opened the lid and placed the paper in the shoe box. There were other pieces of paper in the shoe box and the drawings were dark. He didn't know why he drew them, but he only did when he had a bad dream and it felt like it made the bad dreams go away if he drew them. Closing the lid, he placed the shoe box away then closed the drawer and sat against the dresser.
"Hey, Max. You ok?" Sam asked as she appeared in the doorway.
"Yeah," he said with a nod.
"Need some help packing?"
"Yeah," he said and Sam walked in the room and helped Max pack his backpack.
Frigga watched the servants while they fluffed the pillows and straightened the bedding in the room where Vince and Nate would be sleeping and she hoped Loki would like the special bed and bathtub Odin had made for Nate. She had heard some servants' concerns about how a child who could not walk, run or ride was able to survive, let alone thrive, and Frigga smiled while thinking of Nate sailing down the grand hallways in his wheelchair. Shaking her head, she left the room as she walked down the hallway then stopped when she saw Odin walking closer.
"How goes it?" Odin asked.
"Everything is ready," Frigga said and took his hand. "I still can't believe our grandchildren are going to be here soon."
"No offense, Darling, but I still can't believe we have grandchildren. It seems like it was only yesterday we had to deal with Thor and Loki as toddlers," Odin said.
"Don't remind me," she said with a laugh and slid her arms around his and they walked down the hallway.
Loki finished putting the cat and dog in their crates to bring over to Mandy’s house along with their food, treats, toys, and other paraphernalia then he went to check on how Nate and Vince were doing packing up their things for the trip. Tony had modified the Magic Bullet so it did not need to be charged, it now had some new type of batteries in it that lasted over a year before they needed to be recharged. Loki had invented a spell to keep all their electronics charged while in Asgard, so Nate’s tablet and his, Sam, and Hunter’s phones could remain on indefinitely. Of course, they could not get their internet where they were going, so any pictures and videos would have to be saved to their devices to up load later once they returned home.
“How are you two doing in here?” he asked his sons.
“We’re good, Dad,” Nate said cheerily, as he folded his favorite pair of Star Wars pajamas and put them in his backpack. “Dad, do I need to bring my shampoo and conditioner or do they have all that in Asgard?”
Vince rolled his eyes. “No, they don’t Nate. They just use perfume like the French did back during the Renaissance.”
“I was just asking!”
“Boys, stop bickering. Vince, that was a good question. Yes, we do have those things, but if you want to bring your own, you can, Nate. It’ll be one less thing your body will need to adjust to.”
“Dad, do they have facilities for disabled people?” Nate asked worriedly.
“Your grandmother and grandfather have put them in for you,” Loki reassured him. “They even had the Horsemaster make you a special saddle like the one you used at the ranch so you can ride with us.”
Nate smiled. “And I can meet my brother Slepiner too!”
Loki grinned back. “That’s right. Your grandmother says Sleph will be there to greet us when we come off the Bifrost.”
“What about Fenris and Jormungdr?”
“I’m sure they will be around also. Although your brother Jorgy doesn’t like crowds and he prefers to be down at the seashore where he can swim in the waves most of the time.”
“Are they always a sea serpent, a wolf, and a horse?” Vince wanted to know.
“No, but they do prefer their shift forms to their human one most times. However, I think they won’t mind spending time in their human form in order to play with you.” Loki explained.
“How old are they?” Nate asked. “I mean, I know they’re old cause they’re Asgardian like you, but what’s the equivalent in Earth years?”
Loki thought for a moment. “Well . . .let me see. In Earth years Sleipner would be around twenty. Jorgy and Fenris aren’t yet of age, which is eighteen. Jorgy is seventeen and has about four months till he is of age. Fenris is the youngest, he is sixteen.”
“Cool! If they lived here, Jorgy could have his driver’s license and so could Sleph!” Vince declared.
“And I would be telling everyone to stay off the road!” Loki laughed.
"Do you think Jorgy will take us swimming?" Nate asked.
"He said he would," Loki said then headed for the door, turned and looked at them. "Hurry up. We're leaving soon."
"Ok, Dad," the boys said at the same time and he walked down the hallway. He made a little grunt when Aleta walked into him and he knelt down to look at her.
"Where are you going in such a rush, spark?" he asked.
"I can't find my crown!" Aleta said, near tears.
"Now, there is no need to get so upset," he said as he stood up and took her hand. "Let's play our game. Where did you last see it?"
"It was on my head!"
Loki tried not to laugh as he shook his head and rolled his eyes.
"Were you wearing it this morning?"
"Yeah. I had it on at breakfast."
"Did you have it on when you were packing?"
"No, but I did have it on when I went to....," she said then ran into the bathroom. She came out a few seconds later and was wearing the helmet Loki made her. "It was on the top of the toilet!"
"Good. Do you need any help packing?"
"Nope," Aleta said and went into her room.
Mystic barked while Mandy slowly walked to the door and smiled when she saw Loki standing on the porch. She opened the door after hushing Mystic as Loki gave her a grin and she moved back to let him in. He brought in the crates and the overnight bag with Mischief and Odin's things then knelt down and opened the crates.
"Thank you for looking after them while we're away," Loki said .
"Oh, I am more than happy to. Besides, Mystic would be lonely if they had stayed at a kennel," Mandy said while Odin sniffed the carpet and Mystic nudged him.
"No peeing on the carpet," Mystic scolded.
"I wasn't going to pee," Odin said with a snobby look. "I'm house trained."
"Then what are you sniffing at?"
"The carpet doesn't smell like last time."
"Oh. Mandy had the carpets cleaned the other day. Took me a while to get used to the smell."
Mandy smiled at how well Odin and Mystic get along when she knelt down and picked up Mischief, lightly stroking her fur.
"Now, where are you going again?" Mandy asked.
"We're going to Norway with my brother to visit our parents for the summer," Loki said.
"Oh, that sounds wonderful! I'm sure they are going to love seeing the children," Mandy said then a sad look came over her face. "I know how much I miss my grandchildren."
"Yes, well, you know my children think of you as their grandmother."
"I know, Dear. Now, have you stopped the mail and the newspapers?"
"Did you pack your passports?"
"Yes," he said with a nod, but tried not to smile about them not really needing passports.
"Have you packed enough things for the children to do on the long flight?"
"Then you better get going," Mandy said and gave him a hug after placing Mischief down onto the floor. He gently rubbed her back then moved back and headed for the door. He gave her a wave as she closed the door and he walked down the front walk. A part of him wished he could take her to Asgard with them as he sighed and headed down the pavement.
The next day, the van headed down the street while music played over the radio and Loki tapped his fingers on the steering wheel. Thor was going to meet them at the Avengers mansion, but Loki wasn't sure when they would arrive due to the normal New York traffic,
"Dad, what's taking so long?" Vince asked.
"There appears to be glue on the street and the traffic is stuck," Loki said and Sam laughed.
"Really?!" Max asked, sitting up so he could look out the window.
"Daddy's teasing," Aleta said and Max frowned.
"Sorry, Imp," Loki said when something hit the roof of the van and he looked up.
"Whoa! It's Spiderman!" Sam said when she saw the Web Slinger hop onto the roof of the car in front of them and he turned to wave at them.
"He is so cool!" Vince said and Nate nodded.
"I heard he's really a kid," Hunter said as he looked up from his tablet.
"I don't think Dad would let us go out dressed like that and fight bad guys though," Belle said.
"You got that right," Loki thought and puffed out a breath of air as the traffic started moving again.
A short time later the van pulled up to the front of the Avengers Mansion while Thor waved at them and Loki parked the van.
"Well timed, Brother. I was about to come look for you," Thor said. Loki was still getting used to Thor's short hair as he got out of the van and walked to his older brother.
"Sorry. We got caught in traffic," Loki said while the children got out of the van and Max ran to Thor.
"Uncle Thor! We saw Spiderman!" Max said as Thor lifted him up and smiled.
"You did?!" Thor asked, lifting Max into the air and Max laughed.
"Yes, he used the roof of the van as a springboard," Loki said.
"It was really cool," Max said as they headed for the kids and Thor placed Max on his shoulders.
"Sorry I missed it," Thor said then looked at the backpacks. "Are you sure you packed enough?"
"Yes," Loki said as he helped Aleta place her Disney Princess backpack on and Thor placed Max on the ground.
After they got the backpacks on and checked to see if they left anything in the van, Loki looked up at the sky when he sighed and held Max tightly in his arms.
"Heimdall, open Bifrost! Now!" Loki called out and the sky grew dark. Suddenly a bright light appeared as the portal opened and they vanished in the bright light.
The colors swirled around them while all the kids except Hunter smiled and their hair blew around in the wind. They arrived with a soft thud when Hunter went onto his knees and vomited.
"Ewwwwwwww!" Aleta said while Loki placed Max down and walked to his son. He knelt down next to Hunter as he rubbed Hunter's back and Heimdall looked at them.
"Is he alright?" Heimdall asked.
"Yeah. I'm....fine," Hunter said while Loki helped him to his feet then Loki waved his hand to remove the vomit. "Sorry, Dad."
"There is no need to be sorry," Loki said as he gently patted Hunter's back.
"Aye, most tend to get ill after their first time traveling Bifrost," Thor said.
"If I remember correctly, the Foster woman got sick all over you after her first visit," Heimdall said and the kids giggled.
"You never told me this, brother," Loki said and Thor sighed, rolling his eyes. "Now, allow me to introduce my children."
Loki introduced them and each one said hello, but he was shocked with what Aleta said to Heimdall.
In almost perfect Norse she asked, “Do you have a ten-inch penis?”
"Aleta Lenore! Where did you hear that?!" Loki gasped and she gave him a confused look.
"Uncle Thor said it meant "have a nice day". Why?" Aleta asked and Loki saw Thor was halfway across Bifrost.
"By the Nine, I am going to kill him," Loki thought when Heimdall softly laughed and Loki frowned. "What is so funny?"
"It made my day," Heimdall said.
"I wish I could say the same. My kids are determined to make me drop dead of embarrassment."
"No, they just keep you on your toes," Heimdall laughed when Max pulled on his tunic and Heimdall looked down at him. "Yes, Little One?"
"If you can see everything, then can you see us go potty?" Max asked and Luke face palmed himself.
"Maximus Laufeyson! See what I mean?!" Loki asked.
"I tend to look at something else, Maximus. But I did see you share your last pancake with your sister this morning. That was very nice," Heimdall said.
"Sharing is caring. Daddy says so," Max said with a smile.
"Indeed," Heimdall said when he saw what Vince was doing and his eyes slightly widened. "Loki, your brave son is too close to the edge of Bifrost."
Vince was walking dangerously close to the edge of the rainbow bridge while looking down at the void and Loki felt his heart catch in his chest. Quickly, Loki ran over and grabbed Vince by the collar and Vince yelped.
"Vincent Laufeyson, WHAT are you doing?! Do you want to fall forever?!" he demanded.
"I would fall forever?! Really?! What is it like?!" Vince asked, looking down at the void.
"You aren't going to find out! Now come back over here and stop making me have heart failure!"
"Okay! Okay!" Vince said and walked to him.
They said their goodbyes while they walked along the rainbow bridge and Sam smiled.
"Wow! It looks like Mario Kart," Sam said.
"Yes, but there is nothing to catch you if you fall off," Loki said, glaring at Vince.
"How is this bridge in the middle of nothing?" Serena asked and did a quick math equation. "What's holding it up?"
"Who cares!? It's magic!" Nate said.
"Race, everyone?!" Sam asked.
"Don't any of you dare!" Loki said and they sighed. A few minutes later, they arrived at the Golden City of Asgard and Belle's eyes went wide.
"Look at that castle!" Belle said and Loki smiled down at his daughter.
The castle glittered in the noonday sun, like something out of a fairytale, but with longer spires and it seemed to float upon the air, though this was an illusion. As Loki stepped off the Bifrost, he saw Thor speaking with the welcoming committee Frigga had sent.
Among the group of nobles was a beautiful silver gray steed with a flowing silver mane and tail braided with bells and green ribbons. There were shiny dapples upon his glossy coat and as he stood, he shifted his eight hooves restlessly, his dish-shaped head with extra large nostrils drinking in the wind. His ears pricked when he saw Loki and he flung up his head and neighed a greeting. His eyes were a brilliant liquid brown.
“Hello, Father!” Sleipner neighed. He trotted out from the group to greet his parent, his eight legs making him appear to glide above the earth.
“Hello, Sleph!” Loki answered in Equus and hugged his son. “How have you been keeping?”
“I am well. And happy you are finally here and I can meet my younger siblings.”
“Well, there they are,” Loki laughed and pointed behind him.
Sleipner looked at the children filing off the bridge. He spied Nate and whickered softly. “Father, what happened to my brother? Why is he in that hover chair?”
“That is Nate. He was in an accident when he was six and he lost the use of his legs. The chair is how he walks now.”
“Oh. Is that where he lost his parents?”
“Yes. It was a tragedy. Nate’s parents were good people, they were both attorneys. They were coming back from vacation when a drunk driver hit them. They were killed and Nate was hurt. He is the only one of my children who actually had good parents before he came to Second Chance. The others . . . did not come from good homes. Some were abandoned or given up as babies, while others, like Sam, Hunter, and Belle were thrown out of their homes or sent to live at the orphanages because their parent passed away and no one wanted them.”
“I know what it’s like to have a parent not want you,” remarked a teen boy with long wavy black hair and amber eyes. He appeared to be about sixteen, lean and well-muscled, wearing a dark green tunic with a silver double serpent on the left breast and dark brown leather pants and boots.
Loki turned. “Hello, Fenris!” He hugged his younger son. “You’re looking well. You look like you’ve grown another inch.”
Fenris smiled. “Hello, Father. Bestemor says I am growing like a weed. Finally!”
Loki laughed and ruffled his hair. “I remember when I thought I would always be smaller than my brothers. Well, I’m not quite as big as your Uncle Thor but I am taller than Balder.”
Fenris smirked. “I’m sure that keeps him awake at night. Weeping into his pillow.”
His father grinned. “I see that you still have that saucy mouth, Master Sass.” He shook a playful finger at him.
Sleph whinnied. “You will never get rid of that sarcastic tongue of his, Father.”
Fenris snorted. “Father likes me with my sassy tongue. He would not know what to do with me if I behaved.”
“You got that right,” Loki chuckled. “Go and meet your brothers and sisters.”
Fenris suddenly looked wary, his amber eyes troubled. “Father . . . you know that mortals tell unflattering stories of me. That I am some monster wolf that eats children and kills people.”
“I know, son. But your Laufeyson siblings know they are just stories.” Loki said soothingly.
“Even so, Father, I do not want them to fear me.” Fenris sighed. “Would it be all right if I don’t tell them who I am at first? Just until they get to know me?”
Loki frowned. “Fen, you know I don’t like lying.”
“Yes, Father. But it’s not really lying. Just not telling them the whole truth at once. I promise I will reveal my identity after a week. Please, sir?” He gave his father pleading puppydog eyes.
Loki felt his resolve crumbling like wet sand when a wave crashes over it. “Oh very well. But only till the end of the week, mind.”
“Thank you, Father,” Fenris beamed at him. “You won’t be disappointed.” He followed Sleipner to greet his new siblings, wondering if he would have anything in common with them.
Loki smiled at his Asgardian sons before walking over to Thor and tapping him on the shoulder.
Thor turned and looked at him. “Yes, brother?”
Loki gave him a Look. “So since when does this,” he repeated the phrase Aleta had used to Heimdall, “mean ‘have a nice day’?”
Thor flushed. “Errr . . . I had to tell her something, Loki!”
“The something you should have told her was not repeat it!” his brother scolded.
“I did! I never intended for her to learn that. But she heard me singing when we were camping and I was a little drunk. I did not even know she remembered anything until the next morning when she repeated it. I told her to forget it, Loki.”
Loki rolled his eyes. “Thor, telling Aleta to forget something is like telling an elephant to forget where you hid peanuts. She never forgets anything. And then she asked Heimdall!”
Thor laughed. “She did?”
Loki glared at him.
“Sorry. But that must have made his day.” Thor grinned guiltily.
Loki chuckled. “It did. Next time watch what you say around my kids, okay?”
“Yes, Loki.” Thor sighed.
Hunter came off the Bifrost, his stomach still a bit unsettled, to see a boy of about sixteen standing on the path before him. He looked familiar, but Hunter quickly put it down to disorientation and the fact the boy had dark hair like his father. He smiled and held out a hand. “Hi. I’m Hunter Laufeyson.”
The boy smiled back and took his hand. “Hello. I am Fen. Welcome to Asgard, Hunter. I am someone that Prince Loki knows well and he has asked me to show you around the city and the palace.”
“Sounds cool. Do you work in the palace?”
“In a manner of speaking,” Fen said softly. “I know the palace and the city below it and the forest blindfolded. The Queen has sent a welcoming committee.” He indicated the nobles and Thor and Loki beside them.
“Who are they?”
“The tall one with the red and blue tunic with the sword and tree badge is Lord Agomar. Lord Tavic is next to him in the yellow tunic with the blue shirt and the leopard badge. Then the small man is Lord Merrow, in the dark maroon tunic and the salmon and river badge. They are all on the Council of the King.”
“Oh, so I guess they’re pretty important,” Hunter mused.
Fenris nodded. “Yes. They support King Odin.”
Hooves sounded on the road and Hunter looked up and his eyes went wide.
“Oh man! Is that Sleipner?”
Fenris grinned. “It is. He is in his horse form now.”
Hunter blinked. “His horse form? But I thought . . . oh that’s right. Dad told us he was a shifter like him. Not like the myths where they say he is a magic horse.”
“Prince Sleipner does have some magic in his horse form,” Fenris acknowledged, just catching himself before he called his elder brother by his nickname. “He can run on air when he chooses and on water too. And he is faster than any ordinary horse. He serves as King Odin’s steed when the king asks him to.”
Hunter frowned. “But isn’t that kind of . . .demeaning? I mean, he’s the king’s grandson.”
Fenris shook his head. “No. Sleipner considers it an honor to serve the king. And King Odin honors him by choosing him as his royal steed. When he is in horse shape. Sometimes he is not, and then you can find him in the stables, caring for the royal horses and healing those who are injured. Prince Sleipner is a talented horse healer.”
Hunter eyed Sleipner. “Can he understand me in that shape? Dad can, but I don’t know if that’s true for all shifters.”
“Most shifters can understand when spoken to, because they keep their minds when they shift. They simply cannot speak the way they would when in human form.” Fenris explained.
“Okay,” Hunter said. “I probably should go and say hello, but maybe I’ll wait since my brothers and sisters seem to be ahead of me.”
“You can greet him in awhile,” Fenris agreed.
“What are my other brothers like? Jormungandr and Fenris? Do you know them?”
Fenris concealed a grin. “I do,” he answered. “Prince Jorgy, as he prefers to be called, enjoys swimming and hiking and fishing. He prefers to spend his time down on the beach in the ocean, usually in his sea serpent form, though he can swim well in either form. He also likes to surf. He learned that on Midgard.”
“He’s been down to Earth?” Hunter gaped at him.
“Several times. He has been to a place called California and learned to ride the waves there on a fiberglass board. He brought the board back and taught a few others who enjoy such things how to surf and how to make a board like it.”
Hunter grinned. “I’ve never been there, but I’ve heard it’s pretty awesome. I would like to go one day.” He looked at the welcoming committee. “Is Jorgy there?”
“No. He was away swimming deep in the ocean when the king called for us to meet you. But I am sure he will be back for supper tonight and you can meet him then. He usually dines with the royal family in their special dining room.”
“I can’t wait to talk to him about surfing in California.” He glanced around. “What about Fenris?” he spoke that name in a hushed almost reverent tone.
One raven brow quirked up. “Oh, he’s around somewhere. Probably hunting,” he replied in an offhand tone.
“In his wolf form?”
“Most likely. He can hunt in either form, but he prefers his wolf shape.”
“Have you seen his wolf shape?” Hunter asked in awed tones.
“I have,” again his brother fought to keep from smirking. “He is a huge gray wolf with silver markings on his muzzle and head, and black tipped ears and a black tail tip. His legs shade to silver on his paws. He is quite handsome.”
“How big is he? Like a house?”
“A house!” Fenris howled in mirth. “Oh sweet Valhalla on a ski sled! No, he is about the size of a small mountain pony. Which is big enough for a wolf.”
“Can his howl freeze people in their tracks?”
“Uh, only if they’re very old or children,” he smirks. “No, he might be huge but his howl is like a regular wolf’s, only much louder. Is that the stories they tell upon Midgard?”
Hunter flushed. “Uh, some of them, yeah. And some of the myths say that he can’t be bound by anything but a special chain made by the sound of a cat’s footfall, the sinews of a bear, the breath of a fish, a maiden’s beard, the roots of a mountain and bird spit or something like that. It was called Gleipner.”
“Sounds disgusting. How is that supposed to hold anything?”
“It was magic. Designed by a dwarf, I think.”
Fenris rolled his eyes. “Yes, like a dwarf could forge that.” He snorted. “What else does this story say?”
Hunter thought for a moment. “Uh that Fenris bites off Tyr’s hand when he won’t be freed from the chain and that it holds till Ragnarok when he breaks free and kills Odin.”
“What? That is . .. ludicrous!” Fenris coughed. “In the first place, Tyr is Odin’s general and he already had lost his hand in a battle against Svartalfheim ages ago. Also Odin is Fenris’ grandfather and there is no way Fenris would break the codes of family honor and murder his kin. He may be a wolf shifter but he is not a monster.”
“Chill, dude,” Hunter said softly. “It’s just a myth, we know it’s not real. Dad says half the stories about him are wrong or are twisted around to make him look like a bad guy.”
“Forgive me,” Fenris heaved a sigh. “It’s just . . . I know Prince Fenris personally and he would never do anything like that.” See, Father, this is why I wanted to remain anonymous for now. Because of all the lies they tell about me.
Sleipner trotted toward his younger siblings when Aleta smiled and her eyes went wide.
"Greetings," Sleipner neighed and wondered if they understood him.
"Daddy, is this Sleipner?" Max asked.
"Yes, it is," Loki said while walking closer and Sleipner looked at him. "Son, this is Aleta and this is Max."
Sleipner looked at Max when he blinked then shook his head at the strange feeling he got from Max.
"Can they understand me?" Sleipner asked.
Loki shook his head. "Well, Belle may eventually, because she is a Lorekeeper, but the others won't. Vince is a Ghost Speaker and Aleta a Seer, but none of them have AllSpeak, Sleph."
"What is he saying, Daddy?" Aleta asked.
"He just wants to know if you can understand him. I told him that you don't know AllSpeak."
"I wish I could talk to him. He's really handsome."
"Thank you, Little Sister," Sleipner said with a nod.
"He said thank you," Loki said and Sleipner lowered his head so she could hug him.
"Does it take a long time for him to get his shoes on in the morning?" Max asked and Loki smiled.
"Yes, it does, Little Brother," Sleipner said with a small laugh.
"Yes, it does." Loki translated.
"Does it hurt?" Max asked.
"No, it doesn't hurt. My hooves are like a thick finger or toenail and I don't feel anything," Sleipner explained and Loki translated.
"That's good," Max said and hugged him.
"Father, Max looks just like he was one of your blood," his eldest son remarked in surprise.
"I have been told that," Loki said, looking at Max.
"No, Sleph. He does bear a remarkable resemblance to me but I adopted him from the same orphanage I did all the rest of my kids. Max was . . . he was badly abused by his mother, who was a . . . lady of the night. On his birth certificate and adoption papers it says Father Unknown. Given her profession she probably didn't know who sired him. And frankly, I don't give a damn. Max is MY son now, and if he looks like me, so much the better."
"I agree, Father," he said and gently nudged Max.
"Where is Fenris, Daddy?" Max asked.
"Yeah, we want to meet him!" Aleta said, looking around as she tried to find him.
"Oh, he is around here somewhere," Loki said as he looked at Fenris and Hunter.
"Who is that talking with Hunter?" Max asked.
"That is a friend of mine. He's going to show us around while we're here."
"Let's go say hi," Aleta said and she and Max ran off.
"Why didn't you tell them that was Fenris, Father?" Sleipner asked.
"Fen asked me not to," Loki explained. He told Sleipner about Fenris' request and how he would reveal the truth a week from now.
"Why do mortals tell such stories?"
"I don't know," Loki said then looked around for his third son.
"Where is Jormungandr?"
"He went swimming," Sleipner said with a shake of his head. "He said he'll be back for supper."
"Ah," Loki said then walked over to Hunter and Fenris and Hunter was holding Aleta in his arms. "Hello, Fen."
“Greetings, my prince,” Fenris said, his tone respectful. He gave Loki a short bow.
"Have my youngest been bothering you?"
"No. In fact, they are quite pleasant."
"Wait until you get to know them," Loki teased, but Fenris frowned.
Would they hurt me if they knew the truth? Fenris thought.
"Daaaaaaaddy!" Aleta said and rolled her eyes.
"You two do tend to get into trouble," Hunter said and tickled Max. Max giggled and squirmed in his arms and Hunter raised him high over his head. "Right, Imp?!"
"Would you mind showing my children around for a week?" Loki asked. 'If you aren't busy with other duties that is?"
"Not at all, sir," Fenris replied. "I am done with my tutors for the summer, so I am free to do what I choose."
"You have to go to school during the summer?" Max asked.
"Yes," Fenris said with a nod.
"That's mean! Summer’s for playing and going on vacation!" Aleta said and crossed her arms over her chest.
Fenris grinned. " I shall have to tell Master Utred that next time he tells me to study my algebra."
Loki rolled his eyes with a shake of his head when the rest of the children walked over and Fenris looked at them.
Belle nudged Sam and whispered, "Holy moley! He's even hotter than Tom!"
Sam blushed. "Please don't remind me. But you're right, He is REALLY hot. Like supermodel hot."
"Fen, this is my oldest, Samantha," Loki said and Fen bowed.
"Hello," Fen said with a smooth tone and Sam smiled.
"Hello," Sam said.
"You met Hunter," Loki said and Fenris nodded. "This is Belle, Lucy and Serena."
"Hello," Belle said.
"Hi," Lucy said.
"Hi," Serena said and Fenris nodded.
"You've met Aleta and Max. This is Vince and Nate," Loki said and Fenris looked at Nate’s hoverchair.
"Father, why is he in that hoverchair?" Fenris whispered in AllSpeak and Loki explained. Nodding, Fenris made a bow and Sam almost melted at his smile. "It is a pleasure to meet all of you."
"Sorry to interrupt, Brother," Thor said then smiled when he saw Fenris. "Ah, hello, Fen..."
He lightly grunted before he could finish his nephew's name and gave Loki a stern look.
"Greetings, My Prince," Fenris said with a bow.
"Is there something you wanted?" Loki asked.
"Oh," Thor said with a look which asked him what was going on then nodded. "We need to go to the castle. Father and Mother are waiting."
"Yes, let’s go," Loki said then turned and looked at the children. "No running."
"Sure, Dad," Sam said and nearly fainted when Fenris brushed some hair out of his eyes.
Aleta was peering curiously at his tunic and asked, “Why does your shirt have the double snake on it? That’s Daddy’s symbol.”
“You’re right, spark,” Loki praised. “That is my House badge. Here on Asgard, we three princes all have our own households and our own House badges. Uncle Thor has a hammer for his and Uncle Balder has a sword with a crown beneath it. Anyone you see wearing green with this symbol means they are in my household and they work for me.”
"Oh. We thought it meant he was a member of Slytherin," Vince said and Nate giggled.
"What is Slytherin?" Fenris asked.
"By the Nine," Loki sighed and explained. Fenris softly laughed at the idea of a magical school while they walked along and he started to feel a little more at ease.
Aleta tugged on Loki’s tunic sleeve. “Daddy, can I ride Sleph?”
“Well, that’s up to your brother,” Loki told her.
“I wanna ride too,” Max chimed in.
Sleipner looked at them when he lowered himself down so Thor and Loki could place them on his back then he carefully stood up.
"Giddy up!" Aleta said.
"What does that mean?" Sleipner asked.
"It means she wants you to move," Loki said then looked at her. "What do you say?"
"Please," she said and Sleipner started walking.
“Hold onto his mane, Aleta, but don’t pull it,” Loki instructed.
“Okay, Daddy.” She carefully took Sleph’s mane in her hands.
“I will be careful, Father, do not worry,” Sleph reassured him.
"I know you will," Loki said and they headed for the castle. Some of the guards stared at Loki and the children as they walked through the gate and headed for the grand doors.
"Is there a problem?!" Thor asked with a stern look.
"No, sire," one of the guards said and the other shook his head.
As they passed through the complex towards the throne room, the curtains over a window at the infirmary twitched aside and a woman's face peered out. She had golden hair and deep blue-green eyes, and she would have been beautiful but for the unsightly scar that marred her left cheek. She sighed in longing as Loki walked by, her eyes riveted to him.
He has returned, she thought and her heart beat excitedly. Then a voice from within called her name and she sighed and withdrew.
The Einherjar stood on either side of the grand doors as Loki and Thor nodded and the Einherjar opened the huge doors carved with gold and silver. Trumpets flared as they walked in the throne room and the children's eyes widened.
Odin sat on the high throne while Huginn and Muninn sat on the top of the throne and Frigga sat on the smaller throne next to him.
"Greetings," Odin said as they came to a stop in front of the throne and Thor, Loki, Hunter, Fenris, Max, Vince and Sleipnir, who had changed into his Aesir form, knelt down on one knee. Odin look at Nate, who smiled, when he nodded and motioned with his hand for them to stand.
"Greetings, Father," Thor said then looked at Frigga. "Mother."
"Greetings, Father," Loki said,"Mother."
Odin smiled warmly at them. "My sons have returned to Asgard. And brought my Midgardian grandchildren too. Your mother has made ready rooms for you all in the west wing of the palace, down the corridor from our chambers. Loki, we have given you your old room, but refurnished it. Thor, your room remains the same. We will give you time to unpack before we have supper in our private dining room."
"Yes, Father," Thor said.
"Thank you, Father," Loki said.
"Daddy, look at the ravens," Aleta whispered loudly and some of the people in the room softly laughed.
"These are Huginn (thought) and Muninn (memory)," Odin said.
"Huginn is his thoughts and Muninn is his memory," Belle said.
"Can we touch them?" Max asked. "Please?"
Behind Max, Fenris' lips quivered. Now there's a master of the puppydog look! I do not think even Bestefar can resist that.
"Of course," Odin said. Loki whistled as the ravens took flight then landed in front of the toddlers. The black feathers shimmered in the torchlight while Aleta and Max watched them move closer and tilted their heads side to side.
"Greetings," Huginn said.
"Salutations," Muninn said.
Hi," Aleta said.
"Hello," Max said.
"Is it alright if we pet you?"
"Yes, that would be fine," Muninn said.
"Just don't pull on my feathers," Huginn said.
"We won't," Max said.
"That's rude," Aleta said.
Loki smiled while watching his youngest gently pat the ravens and Max giggled when Muninn lightly butted his head against Max' chest.
The ravens went from one child to the other when they looked at Belle then looked at each other.
"Greetings, Lorekeeper," Huginn said with a nod.
"You know I'm a Lorekeeper?" Belle asked.
"Oh, yes," Muninn said.
"Though you are still young," Huginn said.
"Of course she is, Feather Brain!" Muninn said with a sigh and rolled its eyes. "I swear. You need glasses."
"Oh, like you don't?! Who nearly flew into a wall this morning?!"
"I did not!"
The ravens started cawing and squawking as their wings rose and Aleta and Max ran to Loki.
"Enough!" Odin's voice boomed and the ravens lowered their heads.
"Someone's going to get a time out," Max whispered and Loki smiled down at him.
"Well, he started it," Huginn said,
"You're the one who called her too young."
"Yes, but I knew she was young. You thought I didn't know that."
"I said enough!" Odin said.
"Sorry," they said together and Thor and Loki tried hard not to laugh.
“Familiars!” Odin sighed and the ravens flew back to perch on the back of his throne.
“We love you, Odin!” they singsonged and everyone brust out laughing.
Bowing, Thor and Loki turned as they led the children to the great doors and they left the room.
"I can't believe we're really here," Serena said to Lucy as they walked down the corridor.
"Isn't it like ten kinds of awesome?" her golden-haired sister asked.
Serena nodded, her pale hair drifting about her like frost.
I can't believe that Fen is so hot he could melt ice cream! Sam thought dreamily.
"Do you think we'll see Valkyries?" Lucy asked.
"I don't know," Sam said.
"The Valkyries are no more," Fenris said sadly. "They all perished defending Asgard from Surtur's hordes two centuries ago. Their loss is mourned greatly."
"Oh," Lucy said in a small voice.
"Lucy wants to be one," Belle said.
Fenris smiled sadly. “Long ago, many girls of Asgard dreamed that. But since they are gone, there are no new ones to take their place. Even their steeds are gone, they died when their riders did. But you can still see the sacred field where the horses used to graze.”
"This place is huge," Nate said. "How do you not get lost?"
"I have a great sense of direction," he said. And a good sense of smell, he thought.
"Maybe we should have a map?" Belle said.
"I will have one drawn up for you," Fenris said when they came to a long hallway and he smiled. "This leads to your rooms."
"Whoa! Imagine skateboarding down that!" Vince said with wide eyes.
"No," Loki said with a stern look.
"Aww, Dad!" his daredevil son sighed.
Fenris led them down the hallway when they came to the first door and he looked at them.
"This is your room, Hunter," Fenris said and opened the door.
"Whoa!" Hunter said as he walked in the room and placed the backpack down on the floor. Fenris closed the door while Hunter looked around then was startled by the two young girls in his room. Both were beautiful and were wearing white gowns bearing the silver double serpent, but one had long black hair and the other had short blonde hair. "Who are you two?"
"We are your servants, I am Elkie and this is Helgi," Elkie said and Helgi curtsied.
"You mean you're going to clean up after me and stuff?"
"Yes," Helgi said.
"Sweet!" Hunter said and smiled. I think I’m really gonna like it here!