“Run!” screamed the young prince as he dashed out of the room. You immediately followed him, and quickly found yourself chased by a handful of guards in armour. You were quick, but not as much as Loki who was far away in front you, while behind you, the guards kept coming in closer and closer. Fear ran through your veins and yet, you were beaming with joy. Barely outside of the castle, you jumped and sat on the guardrail, and let yourself slide down the flight of stairs. Loki was waiting for you near the last step, reaching impatiently for your hand. You grabbed his, and he immediately pulled you away, and the both of you started running across the city.
The guards lost you as you mingled in the impenetrable crowd that roamed the market. You slowed down your pace, making sure no one was following you. As you walked by a fresh fruits and vegetables stand, you let your hand jump upon the glistening red and green apples. And just before you reached the end of the row of fruits, you swiftly seized one.
“I saw you.” said Loki with a glimmer of amusement in his piercing green eyes.
“But he did not” you replied, pointing to the oblivious merchant.
As you were about to plunge your teeth into the juicy apple, the boy snatched the fruit away from your hand and took that first bite you longed for not a second ago. “Not fair. That’s mine.” you protested.
Loki smirked and took another bite, defying you with his malicious eyes.
“You can’t steal what’s already stolen.” he stated. His chin was dripping with the sweet nectar as he savored every bite of the fruit that shall be yours.
“No, but I can kick what has not been kicked yet.” you answered.
“Oh I’d like to see you try.” he exclaimed before eagerly running away.
You watched the boy disappeared into the packed crowd and started racing after him. You pushed people with your elbows, screaming a rude “Coming through!”. Citizens of Asgard glared at you and the young prince shoving them aside, but none dared stand in your way. Loki noticed how you were catching up to him, and as you extanded your hand to grab his shoulder, he vanished into thin air, leaving only a thin veil of light emerald flakes behind him.
“Not fair!” you yelled in the middle of the market square.
As the sun set slowly, you walked home alone. At this hour, most of the children were already in the safe heaven of their houses, but you always loved to take your time getting back to yours. Moreover, your parents did not mind you being a bit late for supper, because every time you did, your arms were full of treats for them. Most of the times you would lie to them, pretending you’d been helping some merchants, and in return they gave you some of their goods. As for the other times when you simply told them the truth, part of them chose not to believe you.
This day, you managed to snatch some carrots and eggplants, two cakes and even a pound of meat you did not recognize but stole anyway. The streets got emptier as you reached the far side of the city.
Finally, you saw the East gate still open as if waiting for your return. Beyond the gates, the horizon started to be filled with wide fields and trees.You were leaving the glorious golden city behind you, humming some random tune that popped into your head, when you noticed another set of footsteps hitting the pavement alongside yours. There was no need for you to turn and check as you already knew who it was.
Loki was walking next to you, like he did almost every evening with a content look upon his boyish face. You had fun today. But then, you always did. The tall guard called Selby, was laying against the wall and gleefully nodded as you approached. “I see you were busy today.” he laughed, eyeing your arms full. You looked ridiculous with your head barely above what you carried. But as it was, you forgot to steal a basket. “Got to feed the family.” you smiled at him.
You liked Selby very much. He was a tall, square-shouldered man, with laughing hazel‑eyes that often made you blush. Beside his pleasing appearance, you liked him because he never was one to lecture you about how a young girl should behave herself, unlike every other adults – your parents included – you knew. He seemed not to care very much about most of the rules, like the fact that he never wore his golden helmet, letting his wavy brown hair free instead. Or the fact that his spear always rested upon the wall next to him instead of being safely held inside his grip. He was some sort of free spirit that always let get away with murder. However, there was one rule he never joked about.
“My prince.” he said and lightly bowed his head. Loki scowled at him, never liking to be reminded of his royal position. “You know the deal.”
“Yes, yes.” dismissed the boy annoyingly. “I see you tomorrow?” he asked turning to you.
You offered him a big smile that he couldn’t not return to you. “Will you turn into a snake?” you asked joyful, almost jumping on your feet.
“Maybe.” he teased.
“Could we prank your brother again?”
“Always!” he answered proud as a peacock.
Loki usually left before you even crossed the gate, but this time, he gave you something before you left. A glistening red and green apple like the one he stole from you earlier this afternoon. Then, as he also did earlier, the boy disappeared in a puff of green smoke.
Selby was looking at you, his big and bright hazel‑eyes upon your face. You felt your cheek reddened as he smiled at you. “You are bound to get in trouble one day. You know that, right?” he said casually, picking the apple from the load on your arms. He brought it next to his full lips, and opened his mouth ready to take a bite when you reminded him that the fruit was yours. You sounded almost threatening, with your frown and your eyes that sent invisible daggers in his direction. Selby winked at you, and put the fruit at its place before mocking a bow. “My lady!”
“I’m no lady!”
“And should you never become one. It would not suit you one bit.” he laughed.
He wished you goodnight as you walked past him and went on your way home.
It was not a long walk from there, but you were exhausted from your day chasing yourfriend all around the city. You welcomed the soft caress of the green grass against the sole of your bare and dirty feet. You dug your toes into the warm blade of grass with each step. Behind you blasted the call of the night horn, soon followed by the familiar sound of the gates closing. You turned around, and took one last look at Asgard. In its very centre stood the grand palace. Its highest towers shining under the last glint of sunshine will soon glimmer under the pale rays of the moon. You wondered how it must feel to be living behind those golden walls, to have everything you wish for and how marvelous it must be to sleep in a good bed for once. But when you turned back, you embraced the endless horizon and smelled the warm perfume of the fields. You chased your silly dreams and wonders away and left the massive and crushing palace behind you. There, you walked the pathway you knew like the back of your hand and enjoyed the simple sensation of freedom as your bare feet was one with the earth and guided you back to the shabby house where you lived.
You knocked on the door with one foot, unable to open it with your little arms full of stolen food and entered the warmth of your home.
Many years later
“Run!” screamed Loki from behind.
“Not again.” you sighed rolling your eyes.
But there was no time to complain. As the prince reached you, he forcefully grabbed your hand and pulled you after him.
“Why is it we are always running?”
“Did you do your part?” he asked with a mischievous smile.
You returned it, with an evil flash in your eyes that matched his. He knew you did. You always did. Since the two of you were children, ever fleeing, your pranks became more and more daring. Or dangerous, depending of whom were to judge. You heard a loud crash, and instinctively hunched your shoulders. The sound of the hooves against the bright marble of the floor was deafening, forcing you to shout so he could hear you.
“Turn right!” you warned.
“I think I know my own house better than you.” Loki smirked.
“I said turn right!” He glanced at you.
You immediately spotted the guards hurrying down the hallway, closing in on you two. They were not supposed to come this way. You both looked frantically around, and you decided to turn around, stretching his arms as you still held hands.
“Are you insane? We can’t go back that way!” complained Loki.
“Would you please trust me on this?” you pleaded.
The main doors were three corridors away and if you turned around now, you will most likely catch up with the horses Loki let loose a few minutes ago. But what about the one you already set free? If your calculations were correct you will meet the horses right about...
“NOW!” you screamed.
Loki followed your lead, let go of your hand and grabbed the neck of Alsvin. He nimbly hopped on its back. But as your reflexes were not even close to Loki’s, you missed your shot. You watched as your friend galloped away on the sun’s horse, followed by its brother Arkvakr. You cursed between your teeth, but the guards gave you no time to think. So you acted.
Mani’s horse should not be that far out. At the thought of it, you heard a series of screams followed by the crash of numerous dishes and fragile objects. You triumphally smirked, but now was not the time to dwell on your success. You changed direction at the last second, escaping the grasp of an angered guard. And there it was, uncontrollable and crazed by the screams that followed its erratic cavalcade. The cart fastened behind it bounced and banged against the walls and furnitures on its way. Then, the horse overtook you, and you jumped without a second thought. You seized the reins with your hands and took control of the race as much as you could. The main doors were still open thanks to Loki’s spell and guards were struggling to close them before the horses led by Loki.
“Faster! Faster!” you ordered the horse.
And as you shook the reins, it obeyed. Despite you closing the distance, you still had Loki’s back in front of you. The race was definitely not part of the plan, but you welcomed this new spontaneous addition with a gleeful laugh. Loki glanced at you from above his shoulder and grinned devilishly. I am going to wipe that smug off your face, little snake, you swore to yourself.
The suns blinded you for a crucial second. You blinked to get your vision a little less blurry. And then, you noticed them. The stairs of the palace. Oh no! A wave of panic crushed you as your mind went racing faster than the horse. What should I do? It was too late to slow this rapid goer, moreover, you knew the chariot would not survive a rapid descent of the steps. There was only one option left. You coiled the leather reins around your hands, making sure you had a good grip. Then, you took a deep breath, filling your lungs with the warm afternoon air and shouted “Fly!”
Alsvinder turned a hear towards you and kicked the floor with its hooves. At first, you closed your eyes, dreading the chaotic descent that would uninevitably lead you to your death. But when you finally opened them, their was nothing but blue sky and white clouds around you. It was breathtaking, or perhaps you were unsure if you could breath normally ever again. But then, you leant over the chariot before quickly stepping back. That’s mighty high, you realized terrified and exhilarated at the same time. Beaneath your feet spread a view of Asgard few could claim to have seen, so you gave it another try. The landscape was marvellous. Luxuriant gardens, colourful trees and the wide turquoise river caught your eyes. From above, you saw everyone and everything. That was when you spotted Loki, racing through the busy streets of the merchant district, bringing nothing but mayhem wherever he led the horses.
You called for him from the flying cart. He raised his head, confused at first, but then you noticed the look in his eyes. That mix of jealousy and envy was ever priceless to you.
“Not fair!” you heard him grumble.
“See you at the finish line, little snake!” You waved at him and barked at Alsvinder to accelerate.
“Have you any idea of what you have done today?” shouted Odin, his voice echoing against the almost empty throne room.
“Horse ridding?” suggested mischievously Loki.
You could not help but giggle at his banter. Even Frigga, allowed herself a thin smile to run across her soft face. But Odin, the High One, was not amused. You stood both kneeling, your hands on your laps and facing down. Loki’s hair had grown much since he was just a boy, and today it conveniently hid him from the wrath of his father. Yours on the other hand, were plaited on the side, leaving you vulnerable to His fury gaze.
“You are a prince of Asgard.” Odin reminded his son. “When do you plan on acting like one?”
Never, would be his truthful answer. But Loki was never one to tell it, especially to his father. He was too young to be thinking about throne and royal duties. You, obviously were not concern by such matters, even though your parents had their own expectations. But a humbler birth often meant humbler dreams.
“I’m glad you are not the eldest, otherwise I would worry for my kingdom.”
“You would be dead if that meant I were king.”
“Enough!” yelled Odin, striking the ground with his golden staff. You could have sworn the walls just shook and frankly, a feeling of fear was slowly taking you over.
“I was too indulgent with you and your brother but it has come to an end. You had gone too far Loki. At least, Thor isn’t ruining the palace and everything around it!”
As the High One kept on rambling, you checked on Loki besides you. He was barely listening, eyeing everything around him but his father. When his green eyes met yours, he winked and mouthed something along the line of “I will get my revenge.” You slightly shook your head and repressed a chuckle. Even in this position of submission, at the feet of the King of Asgard and protector of the nine realms, Loki seemed to care about nothing that came out his father’s mouth. You knew him well enough to see that he was already planning a way to get back at you as wounded his pride. Never would he let you get away with it. At the thought of it, you smiled, and wondered what his next move could be.
“As to you, young lady.” your heart almost skipped a beat when you heard Odin talking directly to you, which he seldom did. “I have never approved of you. But my wife here, thought you were a good influence on my son.” He chuckled eyeing you with obvious contempt.
You bow your head low but next to you, Loki clenched his hands into tight fists resting on his thighs. You whispered his name, in a calm voice, hoping it would ease the tension.
“I don’t want to see you anywhere near my son ever again. If I do, I should banish you from the city altogether. From the realm, if need be.”
“Father!” Loki protested as the same time as his mother called for her king.
“Surely you do not mean it.” Frigga added.
“You have shielded him from his duties for far too long. It is time for him to take his responsibilities. But he can not do so with this bumpkin always at his side.”
At the insult, Loki jumped on his feet, straight as an arrow and eyes burning with a cold fury. He was nothing but cold fury that meant to defend your honour, to defy his father in your name. yet, you refused to let him go through with his reckless plan.
“As your grace demands.” you replied bending your knee and bowing your head lower.
Loki was baffled, standing with his mouth open, out of words for once. He reached out for you, almost afraid you would disappear in a puff of smoke, as he often did.
“Don’t worry, little snake.” you whispered as you turn your back to Odin and Frigga. “We will find a way.”
“Say your goodbyes now, Loki.” ordered Odin eager to end the conversation.
“I will see you again.” promised Loki, his long and cool fingers around your wrist, reluctant to let go of you.
You put your hand on his and soon his grip relaxed.
“I trust that you will.” you answered with an confident smile.