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The one who was not supposed to exist

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Skírnir Aevalur was not an honourable man, but even he was not as heart-less. He had worked himself up to become the Ljósálfar ambassador for Asgard, a position many would die for. But the job came with many secrets, some kept for the good of the realm and others born out of selfish actions or mistakes. Today a new secret was brought to his attention, one he had to swear never to tell a soul about. He was ordered by the king of Vanaheim, the father of a new lord of Alfheim, to get rid of the evidence, but as the candles started to burn low he found himself incapable of moving a muscle. His life was being threatened and in order to save it, he had to do the most despicable thing. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes. He could do it easily. One swift movement of his blade and it would be done, but for some reason he couldn’t bring himself to pick up his dagger and kill the girl.

She was fast asleep in a bunch of silken blankets. She was not even a day old and apparently her presence was already dangerous. The Vanir king hadn’t told him why she had to die, but it was obvious it was of immense importance to the king. If he were to take the girl’s life, he would accompany prince Frey to the Bifrost and become the new ambassador for his son. He would be transported to Asgard while prince Frey and his company would go to Alfheim. He was Ljósálfar by birth, but because of his smuggler’s past, he was exiled and found his way to Vanaheim where he became a close confident to king Njörðr. The position of ambassador was one of great wealth and respect, but king Njörðr even promised him to become the ambassador for Asgard! He would receive living quarters in the palace of Asgard and would sit in the dining hall with the Allfather himself.

Surely he would do anything to gain such favour and normally he wouldn’t have backed out of anything. No job was too dirty for Skírnir Aevalur. That was until the little girl wrapped up in the blue silks had opened her eyes and had looked at him. They were big and pleading, but the colour was the thing that truly made his heart skip a beat. It was even more brilliant a colour than the most beautiful sapphires he had seen around the queen’s neck. They were mesmerising and an iron fist clenched his heart at the thought of seeing the light leave those beautiful eyes. He sighed for the hundredth time as he opened his eyes again to look at the sleeping girl. He had been here for hours and still he hadn’t picked up his dagger.

He couldn’t do it, he suddenly realised, but if he didn’t, he wouldn’t receive the highest position of ambassador. He would just remain an up-turned smuggler and a thief. Even though he now lived at the court in Vanaheim, his hunger for ambition hadn’t stopped. In fact it had only increased and this position would be the cherry on top of a well-baked cake. But still he could not do it. He sighed one more time, unwrapped the sleeping girl and laid her down at the bottom of the closet. He then grabbed a blanket from the bed and wrapped her in it before shutting the doors, grabbing his dagger and leaving the room. He knew what to do and if his plan worked, he would have all that he desired, but if it didn’t he would most likely be hunted down.

He quickly found what he was looking for and followed the noise all the way to the back of the tavern that was closest to his hiding place. A black dog was tied up to await his owner, whom was surely drinking his fill in the Tavern. Most of the townspeople were celebrating Ostara and were either at home with their family or at the tavern with friends. Maybe the owner wouldn’t even remember that a dog was waiting for him. He kneeled down, wrapped the dog in the blue silks and slid its throat in one clean cut. The dog whimpered just once before falling limb in his hands. Once he was satisfied with the blood soaking the silks he unwrapped them and dragged the lifeless body of the dog under some bushes. He then left and went back to his original hiding place. The girl was still sleeping when he opened the closet doors as if she had no care in the world. He sat back down at the desk and wrote a letter for the king, then grabbed a box and dropped the soaked silks into it before sealing the box off. Before the dawn crept over Vanaheim, the king had received the evidence of the murder and Skírnir received a pardon to excuse his previous crimes, a noble title and the order to accompany prince Frey to the Bifrost.

The girl, who was still wrapped up in the blanket he had given to her, was left on a doorstep of a family of weavers. He didn’t know much about them, only that they were childless and that they were weavers, but that was enough for him to calm his mind, that at least the girl wouldn’t grow up as a slave. He placed a note between the folds of her blanket for her new caretakers to find, threatening them to take care of her. With one last glance at the girl and a muttered ‘good luck’, he left to fulfil his new duty as ambassador and soon the girl was all but forgotten.


 

Chapter Text

Chapter 2: The evaluation


 

“Wake up!” Was the first thing you heard in the morning. Like so many mornings before, your mother woke you up out of the blue while screaming your name. With a growl you rolled onto your stomach. You did not want to do this. Ever since the accident, your parents had become distant and cold. You couldn’t blame them really, but still it hurt you that they no longer wanted to have you close by. Normally you would train with your parents in the arts of embroidery, weaving and sketching, but that all changed when the accident occurred and escalated even more when your little brother was born. Now all that they wanted you to do was behave and not draw any attention to yourself. That proofed to be very difficult. You had the bluest eyes, golden hair that flowed in waves to your waist, faint freckles on the bridge of your nose and your waist was shaping up to be a perfect hourglass.


“Wake up, child! You don’t want to be late!” Your mother screamed again and you knew you couldn’t lie around anymore. With a grunt you got up and silently said goodbye to your bedroom. There was a chance that you would return, but with the upcoming wedding, that change was incredibly slim. You walked over to the kitchen and sat yourself down at the table.


“Have you packed your things already?” Your mother asked while keeping her eyes on the sausages she was frying in a pan.
“Yes I have, mother.” You said while playing with a loose strand of your nightgown.
“Good. It’s an honour to work at the palace and only the best are chosen. You should be happy your father was able to get his hands on an application form.”
Yes, I am over the moon with happiness.’ You thought gloomy.

In truth you were scared to death. You didn’t like embroidery, but you did love to sketch various ideas for new tapestries, carpets and even dresses. You helped around the house and ever since your little brother was born, you did most of it, but a life as a maid is something different entirely. You would have to share your room with many, therefor privacy was none-existent. You didn’t know one soul there and you had heard various rumours that the nobles at court took certain liberties with the maids. Your life as a weaver’s daughter was not ideal, but it was the life you had always known and you didn’t want to give that up just yet. You would have to leave your friends behind too. If you were hired as a maid, you would get one week free every two months, but that was hardly enough. Besides they all had their own duties too. You were still rather heart-sick after you all had left Vanaheim with various other merchants to look for a better future. Your parents were used to all the moving as they had done so more than once.


“This is what you need to be prepared for, liten blomst, if you ever hope to become a weaver yourself.” Your father had told you once. “As long as people are interested and buy your goods, you can stay, but there always comes a day when they no longer do so and then you have to find a new people, a new home and a new start.”


Your parents never got attached to a place, however, you knew that Asgard was different. Both your parents were born here on the realm eternal and leaving Vanaheim behind only to return back to Asgard, had seemed to bring out a smile on both of their faces. Even when the Bifrost got destroyed by a fight that the crown prince had vigilantly put a stop to when he came back from the time he had spent on Midgard, your parents hadn’t seemed to be bothered much to be trapped here.


“Sister!” Your brother’s voice tore you away from your gloomy thoughts as he ran towards you. He was always happy around you, which would make him the only one in this family. Arfi was a bundle of sunshine, loved everything and everyone and everything and everyone loved him in return.
“Good morning, little brother!” You said with a smile as you hugged him tight.
“Hey! I’m not so little anymore!” He squealed as you tickled him on his sides.
“Alright, enough. Sit down and eat, the both of you.” Your mother said, but this time she smiled. She always did when Arfi was there. “Where is your father?”
“Oh, he’s arguing with Ulle about the wool again.” Arfi said as he stuffed two sausages in his mouth at once.
“Well, he shouldn’t overprice his goods.” Your mother deadpanned.

 
“So, are you excited to go to the capital?” Arfi asked while stuffing down the rest of his breakfast.
“I am.” That was the only thing you could manage to say. You didn’t want to lie to your little brother, but neither could you tell him the truth. You didn’t want to leave him behind, but what choice did you have? Your parents had chosen this path for you and you couldn’t refuse them. Your brother didn’t understand what this little trip to the capital meant. Either you would be hired as a maid and leave your family to live at the palace or you would be send home and your parents would find you a man to marry. Either way, your life was at a crossroads and you had no idea what to expect.

You tried to eat your breakfast in silence, but you couldn’t get one bite down, not after that particular train of thought. Eventually, after your father had barged into the kitchen and had eaten all of the sausages, You all left for the docks where a skift was waiting for you. Normally you would take the horse and the cart you used for the markets to go to the capital, but that would take hours, so your father had paid the master of the docks a little extra to arrange a skift. The captain told you to hang on tight before he steered the Skift into the air and then in the direction of the palace. Instead of flying over the fields and the little villages, you flew over the river and soon you couldn’t tell where your house had stood.

The air up here is even colder than on the ground, you thought, as you shivered. The golden palace seemed to grow with every passing second as you crept closer and closer. Your heart began to beat faster. This wasn’t your first time going to the capital, no, you had done so a hundredth times over. This time however, you wouldn’t be there shouting different prices at the people on the market to buy your goods. This time you would be a good yourself.

When the captain finally lowered the skift at the docks just outside the palace’s walls, you let go of a breath you didn’t even know you were holding. You thanked the captain with a small voice and followed your parents to the western gatehouse.
“State your business.” One of the Einherjar by the gate said.
“We have come to accompany our daughter to her carreer evaluation, regarding the position of palace maid.” Your father said proudly as he puffed his chest up a bit. The Einherjar however looked over to you and pretty much undressed you with his eyes. You blushed and hid a little behind your mother to escape the guard’s gaze.
“Very well.” He eventually said and soon the gate was opened and your family was offered access to the palace.

As soon as you came out the other end of the gate you were met with the most magnificent sight you had ever beheld. The nobles of the court were having their own market, but instead of fish, meats and various greens, they sold jewellery, beautiful silken gowns and amazingly scented bath oils. It was clear that your weaver’s family did not belong here. It was almost like you had stepped into an entirely new world. You all remained still for a moment as you all gazed at the scene before you, but eventually your father cleared his throat and led you all to an entrance of a side-building.


“Excuse me, good sir, but where might we find the servant-wing where the evaluations are taking place?” Your father asked an Einherjar who was passing by.
“You’re in luck, I was just heading there myself.” Without another word you all followed the guard through various halls. You tried to remember the way you were going, but that proved to be very difficult. You took a left than a right, left, left, straight, down, right, left, up, …. You quickly gave up, but eventually you did arrive at your destination.


“Vott. These people have come for an evaluation regarding the position of maid.” The guard you had followed said to another guard, who simply gave a nod and opened the door. When you went inside you were greeted by a large woman whom had a notebook in her hand and was scribbling something down.
“And who might you be?” She asked you after a moment.
“I am Hroald Gunnulfsson and my daughter wishes to become a palace maid.” Your father said as he pushed you a little forward so the larger woman could look at you.


I didn’t know I had ‘wished’ for this or that I ever was allowed to wish anything at all. You thought and seriously tried to not roll your eyes.
“My, aren’t you a pretty one.” The lady muttered as she came closer and took your chin between two fingers. “Tell me, are you still pure, girl?” She asked which made you blush. That was an incredibly rude thing to ask.
“She is. She also just had her coming of age ceremony.” Your father said.
“Hmm. How old are you girl?”
“She’s-“
“I asked her. Tell me, dear, how old are you? Or are you mute?” The woman was making you angry. First she asks you something incredibly rude and now she was insulting you.
“I am not mute and my name is not girl.” You replied and pulled the larger woman’s hand away from your chin.


“How dare you? Apologise immediately!” Your mother cried, but the larger woman only laughed.
“You are a feisty one! Yes, I think the palace would be better off with a servant like you. Follow me, my dear.” She said and for a moment you didn’t do anything. Was this some sort of test? And you had succeeded? You were pulled back from your thoughts when your mother gave you a push to follow the bigger woman. You were lead into a different, smaller room where a desk and two chairs stood.
“Take a seat.” The woman said as she sat herself down at the desk. “Now tell me, what are your qualities?”
“My qualities?” The woman rolled her eyes.
“Surely you’ve not come here to become a maid, for the palace might I add, without any sort of experience?”
“I… I helped mother all the time with the chores and when my brother was born, I pretty much cooked, cleaned and did the laundry all by myself.”
“Can you read or write?”
“Yes, I can do both. I am also good at math. I used to keep track of the gains and losses of my family’s business.”
“Good. I’m sure we can do something with that. Would you say that you have an organised mind?”
“If you mean by that, that I like to keep things clean and well-placed, then yes, I do have an organised mind.”


“I might have a position for you, but I must first talk to the people whom are concerned. If they refuse, I still want you to become a kitchen maid.” She said as she got up.
“Does this mean that I am-“
“Yes, you’re hired. I trust you know that from now on you’ll live here at the palace at the servant-wing?” you nodded your head. “Good. Then I suppose it’s time for me to introduce myself. My name is Rydigg Hedindottir and I am the head of the kitchen maids. You’re very lucky you had this evuluation with me, otherwise Dalla would have had you stationed as a cleaning or chambermaid. Today you’re off duty to spend the rest of the day as you like, but your duty to the palace begins tomorrow. I will instruct another maid to show you around and show where the kitchens are where you will report to me first thing in the morning so I can give you your chores for the day. I also want you for another position, but I first need to speak with the archivist about it. If he agrees to your service, you will report to him thrice a week and on those days you will not be required in the kitchens. Is all this clear?”
“Yes, my lady.” That made Rydigg laugh hard.


“Not ‘my lady’, dear. Ma’am is good enough.” She smiled and then shouted “Djúpvitr!” A tall girl with beautiful brown hair came into the room.
“Yes, ma’am?”
“Show Svinnr here where she will be staying and working. Introduce her to the others as well and answer all her questions.” Rydigg instructed and with a curtesy Djúpvitr took you by the hand and left the room.


“So, how does it feel to be hired as a palace maid?” Djúpvitr said and to your relief she sounded sincere and kind.
“To be honest, I thought I would have been send home with a few lashings for speaking out of turn to the head maid.” Djúpvitr giggled.
“I did the same thing at my evaluation. You know, Rydigg is the only one who hires boys and girls who show a little backbone. She says that servants need that, especially those who serve people of noble blood. If you had done something like that with Dalla or Vigdis, you would never have heard the end of it!”


“So, you are a kitchen maid too?”
“That I am. I have been that for 50 years now. I’m not going to lie, it is hard work and rather tedious in the beginning. They don’t trust you with real food at the start, so you’re forced to wash the dishes day in day out. You do get some cooking lessons to make sure you don’t screw up a dish for the nobles, let alone the royal family, but I have never gone further than cleaning the vegetables or plucking the poultry and I have been here for 50 years! Well, at least I’m not a chambermaid.” She added with a smile.
“Why? Is that a bad thing?”
“Oh, as a position it is the best you can have. All you have to do is keep a chamber clean for a noble that has been appointed to you! But those maids are the worst brats around here. They themselves act like they are of noble blood! Most of them even end up in some sort of relationship with their nobles, but that always ends horribly. Either they have fallen madly in love with them, while the noble has not or the noble grows tired of them and has them sacked and replaced by another. It’s great for gossip around here, but other than that it’s a horrible reality.”


“I thought for a second that I would become a chambermaid when Rydigg asked me if I… was still pure.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that! She always asks people that to get a rise out of them! Although I have heard a rumour that some nobles have the audacity to specifically ask for untouched maidens to clean their rooms, but hey! That’s none of our concern given that we are not chambermaids.” Djúpvitr reassured you and strangely enough you actually felt better.
“Rydigg also told me she wanted me for another position, but she first needed to speak with the archivist?” Djúpvitr stopped in her tracks and looked at you with big eyes.


“Norns, Svinnr! She wants you to become Blekk Surtsson’s help?”
“Is that bad? And that’s not my real name.” You said.
“No, he’s only the most boring man in all the nine realms! He is as old as Asgard herself and probably smells like it too.” She said as she wrinkled her nose. “Oh, besides, Rydigg always gives her maids nicknames. My real name is Torunn, but she calls me Djúpvitr, because I’m resourceful. You must have been quick on your feet for your nickname to be something resembling ‘swiftly’.” She explained.
“But is he horrible too?” You asked with a trembling voice, completely ignoring the explanation of the names. You were just a little bit terrified by the way Djúpvitr’s eyes had expanded at the mention of the archivist to think of anything else.


“Not that I know off. Most of the helps he has had, ended up in the library or as some sort of book-searchers in the other realms. I heard that the last help ended up as a teacher on Vanaheim, but what exactly did you say for Rydigg to see you as a possible candidate for this position?” You thought back on your evaluation, but it had gone so quickly that you could hardly remember saying anything to receive such a position.
“I told her I could read and write?” You tried and Djúpvitr nodded.
“Well, that makes you unique among all the other maids. I know a few who can, but most of us don’t.”
“Oh.” Was all you could say. You had a feeling Djúpvitr was also talking about herself.
“Here we are.” Djúpvitr eventually said after walking in silence for a while. She pushed open a door and you were met with rows on rows of beds. “These are the sleeping chambers you’ll be at. If good old Blekk decides you are worthy to be his help, I’m sure you’ll receive quarters closer to the archives, for now you’ll sleep here.” Djúpvitr lead you through the various rows of beds all the way to the back of the room.


“This will be your bed.” She said as she pointed to the last bed in the room that was under a small window. “Now, all your stuff has been brought to Rydigg. You see, as a maid, you are not allowed to have your own stuff. You will wear what they grant you, eat what they give you and do as they tell you. They tell everyone that you are allowed to bring your stuff here, just to make sure you don’t get the feeling you’re a slave, but let’s face it, the only difference between a slave and a maid here is that we get paid just enough to not be considered as one.” You looked at her quizzingly. She had seemed quite happy to be a maid before, but now she was telling you that you were all basically slaves?
“Oh, don’t see it as something bad! I’m just being real with you. I have met so many girls who had this romantic fantasy about this job. They all expected to be treated with more respect than they would normally receive in whatever village they had come from, but none of that came true. You work hard and most of the time no one even notices you exist. At least you have a roof above your head, food in your belly and medical assistance when you’re feeling poorly.”

“Can I ask you something, Djúpvitr?” You asked as you sat yourself down on your new shaggy bed.
“Sure anything.” Djúpvitr said as she too sat down beside you.
“Why did you apply for this profession?” That made her laugh, but it didn’t reach her eyes. She looked rather sad than joyous.
“Like many girls here, my life was a disaster before I came here. My father was a drunk and whenever he came home, he sought my mom out to beat her. On the nights he couldn’t find her, he found me. We had a small bakery with our own windmill. One day I was going to take over the bakery myself, but I was sick of the various beatings my father dealt to both my mother and I. He also used up all our savings to spend on ale and whores. Eventually after my mother died of a sickness, I packed my bags and came to the capital. After a few days of just wandering through the streets, I heard some girls talking about becoming maids and I followed them home. I stole one of the girls application forms and got myself the job.”


“Wow. You’re very honest, Djúpvitr. Thank you for that.” Djúpvitr looked at you quizzingly.
“Not many people have been honest with you, I take it?” You shook your head. “Well, you don’t have to tell me your life story just yet, but I do hope you can trust me. This world is a harsh one and we maids have to stick together.” She said as she gently bumped her shoulder to yours.

The rest of the day you spend with your family. You were allowed to walk the public gardens and you took full advantage of that. By the end of the day you were forced to say goodbye to them. It was heart-breaking to see your little brother’s pained expression. He only thought you were all going to visit the capital, but now it was also clear to him that it was never just a visit. You promised him to come back home in two months, but that made your little brother cry even harder. That night you went to bed with a hollow feeling in your chest.


 

Chapter Text

Chapter 3: Blekk Sturluson


 

“Wake up you lazy rats!” Screamed a severe looking woman as she walked into your sleeping courters. “Chambermaids report to me in 5 minutes, the rest of you wake up and run along to your posts!” She screamed again and then disappeared into a different room.
“Who was that?” You asked Djúpvitr who slept two beds away from you.
“That was the lovely Vigdis. She’s responsible for the chambermaids and she takes great pride in that. Every morning she finds it necessary to shout about it, lest anyone forget.” Djúpvitr chuckled as she climbed out of bed and stretched.
“You’re just jealous you’re not a chamber maid yourself.” A girl who slept on one of the beds between you said.


“Are you talking about yourself now, Luta? A shame your trysts with lord Fandral didn’t earn you such a position.” Djúpvitr replied and the poor girl’s face lost all its colour, but she didn’t reply back. “Come, Svinnr. It’s time for you to meet the rest of the kitchen rats.” Djúpvitr said joyously and took you by the hand to lead you to the kitchens. Rydigg was already handing out orders to various people when you arrived. When she glanced over to the two of you, she called you over.
“Djúpvitr, you’ll go with Ange and Arnvid to collect the newly arrived supplies. Count the sacks of flour as well and this time make sure that the amount is the same as we had agreed upon. We ordered 42 of them. Once you’re done with that, you can start helping the bakers with the pies and breads.” Djúpvitr nodded with a ‘yes ma’am’ and took off with the two other girls. Then Rydigg turned her attention to you. “You were supposed to help with picking out the herbs and drying them, but for some reason lord Blekk decided he wanted to test your abilities right away. Egil will escort you to the archives. When lord Blekk is done with you, I want you to report back to me.”
“Yes ma’am.” You repeated what Djúpvitr had said. Rydigg nodded and turned her attention to another girl who had walked in.


“Are you the girl I am to escort to lord Blekk?” A tall Einherjar with sandy blond hair asked with a friendly smile.
“Yes, that’ll be me. Everyone I’ve met so far called me Svinnr.” You replied and to your great surprise the Einherjar grabbed your hand gently and placed a kiss on your knuckles.
“A pleasure, Svinnr. I am Egil Helgison and I am charged with the protection of the public library and the archives.” He replied with a smile. He then lead you outside of the kitchens and into the darker halls.
“Can I ask you something, sir Helgison?”
“Egil, please. And of course, you can ask me anything.”
“What is lord Blekk like?” You asked him with a bit of a blush. You didn’t want Egil to think you cowardly for already having doubts about your duties and employer.


“Lord Blekk is an honest man and generous to those who are generous to him. I wouldn’t necessary call him a kind man, but he certainly has his qualities. He likes to test his helps, especially when they are female. I don’t know why, but he seems to have a dislike towards the female sex, but don’t let that get you down. Lord Blekk appreciates spirit and hunger for knowledge above all else, so as long as you are willing to learn, he will treat you well.” You remained quiet. The fact that lord Blekk had a dislike for women was already a bad start, but if Egil was right and he appreciated hunger for knowledge, you might be able to survive. You didn’t dare to admit it to Djúpvitr, but you were quite excited to work at the archives. The archivist had knowledge over so many things people had forgotten about or had never even known about. Knowledge over all the nine realms, secrets of long lost kings and queens, artefacts with ancient powers and books as old as time itself. And now you would have access to them as well or at least you hoped you would. You were just thinking about being able to study the craftmanship of the Dwarves when Egil came to a stop by a door.


“Here we are.” He said as he pushed the door open and motioned for you to go inside. Just before you wanted to take the first step, Egil stopped you by grabbing you gently by the arm. “Don’t worry if he gives you a rough time. He always does that to see how resilient his helps are. Don’t give in to your anger, alright?” You nodded, but it was clear to see that Egil did not buy your portrayed self-assurance. “You like books, don’t you?” This time when you nodded, you didn’t have to fake its honesty. “Well, look at it this way. These archives are linked with the library. If you show enough resilience he will allow you to go there to read during your breaks.” You thanked the guard with a smile, which he gladly returned and walked down the stairs with more confidence.

It felt like you were walking down a tomb. The air was cold and pregnant with dust and the smell of old parchment and wax. The torches on the walls were sparse which made it look like you were descending down a pitch black hole. When you finally reached the even floor and your eyes had adjusted to the dim light, you were surrounded by various desks stacked with scrolls, books and leather bindings. You were in complete awe of the place. A smile crept up your face which escalated into a big grin as you gave your eyes the pleasure to witness the beauty of all the knowledge that laid before you. You were so lost in thought that you didn’t notice the tear rolling down your cheek nor the man watching your reaction with interest. When he finally decided he had seen enough, he cleared his throat which startled you.


“I take it you are to be the new help.” It was more a statement than a question.
“I am if you’ll have me.” You replied as you lowered your eyes to the ground as a sign of your servitude. Blekk Sturluson was indeed a very old man, but he seemed to be in great condition. He wore traditional Asgardian clothes as was he’s right, given that he was of noble birth. The most peculiar thing about lord Blekk, however, were his eyes. They were the colour of a stormy sky and held so much power, strength and wisdom.
“Rydigg told me you could read, write and do math.”
“Yes, I can my lord.”
“How so? Did you receive some form of education?” This made you blush, which lord Sturluson noticed. “Answer me, girl.”
“I’m sorry, I haven’t had an education, my lord.”
“Then how?” You took a deep breath to stall the situation a bit. You didn’t know whether it was wise to tell him the truth or not.


“A lot of traders live in the village I grew up in, because it’s located at the docks of the Fosselv. One of these traders handled in books from all over the realms and when he had caught me looking through a book, he thought I had come to steal it. He quickly realised I couldn’t read, but was looking at the various pictures to get some idea of what the book was about. I guess he felt pity for my situation, so he decided to teach me. Every day I would go to him to practice. He even gifted me a few books. I am forever grateful to him for allowing me the opportunity to learn and to give me the ability to discover my hunger for knowledge.” You thought the whole ‘hunger for knowledge’ would be a great way to get into lord Blekk’s good books, but his face remained unreadable as if your story hadn’t affected him in any way.
“Rydigg told me you just had your coming of age ceremony, is this true?” He asked after a long moment of silence.
“That is correct, my lord.” You said and to your surprise lord Blekk’s eyes widened.
“By the Norns, girl! Just of age and your thrown into this world!” You didn’t know how to respond to that, so you lowered your eyes once more to the ground. “Well, since Rydigg has forced yourself onto me, I see no other option than to allow you to prove yourself worthy of the position of help. Today I want you to sit next to me and show me your skills. If they proof satisfactory, I will allow you to handle the notes for various book-traders to add to the collection. I also want you to start on an inventory on the collection of artefacts.”
“Yes, my lord.”

And so your first day as help to the respected archivist started. He made you run around for no reason whatsoever to fetch this and that, things he clearly didn’t need in the first place. He was also displeased at the slow pace you had with your writing, but then when you moved faster, he was displeased by the look of the sloppy inked words. He made you count the amount of scrolls he had in a large chest that stood by his bed in an alcove. When you had reported to him that there were 72 scrolls, he didn’t believe you and made you count them again and again until he finally admitted that there were indeed 72 scrolls in the chest. He made you sort one of the bookcases in alphabetic order, only for you to resort them on topics, just like they had been before you had touched them in the first place. To conclude your day in other words: Lord Blekk Sturluson was a tyrant whom clearly didn’t like one thing about his new help.


“Girl, you can go back to the servants-wing now. I no longer need you.” Lord Blekk said after hours of pestering you about everything he could criticize you for. You nodded and turned to leave when he called after you again. “Tell Rydigg I will be needing your service tomorrow as well.” You nodded again, but this time with a small smile on your face.
Well, apparently he doesn’t think me as useless as he made me feel all day.
“Thank you, my lord.” You said with a smile and turned around to climb the stairs back to Egil to escort you to the kitchens to report to Rydigg. Strangely enough you felt happy. Blekk had been awful to you all day, but you had still been able to gaze into some scrolls and books. The list of books lord Blekk had ordered you to make, proofed to be very interesting as well.

This went on for two weeks. You would go to the archives, get pestered, leave and report to Rydigg about your day only to repeat the process again the next day. It was on the third week that Rydigg informed you lord Blekk had officially appointed you as his help. You were over the moon, especially because Egil had told you lord Blekk had never had a female help that lasted through the first week. You were humming softly when you found yourself cleaning out the cupboard of artefacts from Alfheim. They were delicate little trinkets, some even thousands of years old. You were so far in thought that you didn’t hear lord Blekk approach you, nor did you anticipate him scaring you by yelling your given name. You jumped and nearly knocked over the cupboard, but as soon as you saw the first trinket falling to the ground, you flicked your hand and slowed down its fall. As soon as you had done it, you realised you were in a lot of trouble. Tears came to your eyes as you thought of how short your time here had been, that was until lord Blekk opened his mouth and spoke.


“Are you just going to stand around like that, girl, or are you going to bring me the scrolls I asked you about?” He said with that harsh voice of his.
“W-what?”
“Don’t gulp like a fish like so. Where are the scrolls?” You were shocked. Every child who was born on Asgard and showed abilities in seidr needed to be reported and educated. Not doing so was against the law and therefor punishable by hundredths of years in the dungeon. It was rare for Asgardians to show natural and raw talent for seidr, that’s why they needed to be monitored and educated to control their abilities and that was also why the punishment on keeping it a secret was so high. And here you were, preforming seidr in front of a man sworn to be loyal to the crown. There was no way he hadn’t seen it, he couldn’t have missed it! And yet it seemed lord Blekk’s face was not the only thing that was aging, his eyes were getting cloudy as well as it would seem.
“I’m sorry, my lord, I’m afraid I feel quite unwell. I have placed the scrolls on your desk, next to the books on the healing properties of Yarrow.” For some reason when you looked up at lord Blekk you thought you could see concern in his eyes, but then when he blinked his face became unreadable once more. You weren’t even sure you had seen it at all.

“Good. Why don’t you take the rest of the day off? Go to the library and read something, like I know you have been dying to do. Perhaps that will help you to lift your spirits for I will require your service again tomorrow and no excuse will be made forgivable.” He gave you a curt nod and for the first time, you felt a warmth spreading through your chest for the man. He was very calm and collected, but he was also compassionate and perhaps even kind.
“Thank you, my lord.” You said and left the archives to do just as he had said, go and read.

You were just losing yourself in a book when a throat was being cleared. When you looked up from your book you saw a man standing there dressed in greens and blacks. He didn’t look very happy.
“What are you doing here?”
“Excuse me, I didn’t see you there, sir. I don’t mean to be disrespectful.” The man’s eyebrows went up in surprise.
“I had no idea that maids were allowed free time during their shifts. Nor did I know servants could read.” The man said mockingly.
“I assure you, my lord, I have permission to be here.” You said defensively. You then puffed your chest up a bit and spoke proudly. “I am Lord Blekk’s new help.”
“Oh my, you’re Blekk’s new pet? I always thought he had a thing for boys, but you seem to proof me wrong.” He chuckled, but your anger grew. Before you could answer though, the man continued. “I’m also no ‘sir.” He said. He came closer and you could clearly see a pair of emerald green eyes and raven black hair framing a pale face. By the look of his clothes this man was indeed a noble, but you hadn’t come across anyone who took offense to being referred to as sir.
“Excuse me, I admit I’m not familiar with all the proper titles yet. How would you like me to address you?” You asked politely, but that only seemed to anger the man more.
“Don’t you know who I am?” he asked rather shocked and irritated. You suddenly felt embarrassed, you had no idea who this man was.


“Forgive me, but I do not. I’m new here.” You said while looking at your feet.
“I would expect a girl whose eyes widen with such genuine interest when reading a book to actually have read the histories of Asgard at the very least.” He said with pure irritation in his voice. And that’s when you snapped.  
“I would have if I was given access to those books! Sorry for disturbing you, my lord, I will take my leave now and bother you no more with my simple mind.” You said hatefully to the man and turned around without waiting for a reply. You knew it was wrong the moment you had said that, but you hadn’t been doing anything wrong! Everything was fine before this man decided to be an ass about nothing at all.


“GIRL! How dare you leave without asking for permission! Who do you think you are!” he yelled at you. You turned your head around and yelled back.
“I go by the name Svinnr and I am lord Blekk’s official help!” The man’s eyebrows went up in surprise, but before he could shout or say anything else, another voice yelled.
“Svinnr!” Egil yelled as he strode into sight. “Lord Blekk asked me to come and find you. He said it was important.” He said as he came closer. “My prince.” He said as he bowed before the man you had been screaming at earlier. Now you were truly dead. You had been screaming at the prince of Asgard and not just a prince, but the dark prince. No wonder you hadn’t recognised him! It was known that prince Loki kept mostly to himself, living more like a ghost than a person. Egil looked at you expectantly. You nodded and curtsied for the prince before following Egil, just before you could take another step however, the prince called your name.
“Give lord Blekk my greetings, Svinnr and I’m sure we’ll meet again.” He said with a big smirk that gave you the shivers.


 

Chapter Text

Chapter 4: Egil's family


 

“I thought I had the day off?” You asked Egil as you left the library. Desperate to take your mind of the prince and his smirk that promised nothing good.
“You have, but lord Blekk asked me to make sure you were alright. He told me you had a tiring day.” You huffed, but did not reply to his statement. Tiring was not the word you would use to describe how your day had gone. Not only had you risked everything by using seidr in front of your employer, but now you had also yelled at the man who was feared by all. In your defence, you had no idea what the dark prince looked like. Prince Thor was easy to spot and all the girls talked about him, but the dark prince was hardly ever spoken a word about. There was even a rumour that prince Loki had gone insane a few years ago.

“I’m sorry you had to run into the prince.” Egil said after a moment to try and change the topic to get some sort of reaction out of you and when you looked up at him, you could see worry in his eyes.
“I…. It wasn’t that bad.”
“You don’t have to lie to me, Svinnr. I saw how you were trembling.” He said softly.
“Yes, well, that’s what you get when someone is that intimidating. In truth, though, I was mostly angry at him for insulting lord Blekk and his awful attitude. I was trying really hard not to punch that smirk of his face.” That made Egil laugh. “But I did yell at him and I don’t know what to do now. He’s the dark prince after all.” You went silent for a long time while you walked through various halls.


“Tell me dear, would you like to have dinner with me?” You looked at him quizzingly.
“Surely, I am expected to eat with the other servants like I always do.”
“For any other day you would be correct, but this is your free day, isn’t it? You can do whatever you want to.” He said with a warm smile, one which you couldn’t help but return.
“It might be my free day, but what about you?”
“Oh, don’t worry. While lord Blekk ordered me to look after you, Serk was ordered to take my place at the doors.” You groaned softly at that. You did not like Serk at all. Every time he was on duty he would either embarrass you or shamelessly flirt with you. He had gone as far as to explain in detail the route to his chambers and the things you would do together when you would arrive at his doorstep. While Serk was a shameless bastard, Edgard was the one you really disliked. In all the time you had gone to the archives and back to the servants wing, he had not uttered one word to you. He didn’t have to, because his eyes told you just how much he despised you. You didn’t know why he felt this way, but the silent treatment and his enormous size were doing nothing other than make you nervous and frightened. Out of the three, Egil was the only one you were always happy to see.


“Where would you like to go? We could have dinner here at the palace in the lower dining hall, we could go to a tavern in the city or I could show you the soldier’s barracks and take our dinner there?”
“Do you know any good taverns in the city?” You asked with an excited voice. You might have been to the capital hundredths of times, but you had never gone anywhere other than the markets.
“I can see you have made your choice.” He chuckled and grabbed your hand to drag you outside, through the gardens. “I hope you’re not afraid of horses, my lady.”
“What?”
“Surely you don’t want to walk all the way to the tavern?” He asked curiously.


“Well,…. No, but I didn’t know guards were allowed horses.” That made Egil chuckle again.
“While some guards are gifted horses after their training, others have no need of them. I would be one of the latter, given that I am an indoor guard and therefor don’t need a horse. But my last name has earned me some privileges.” He said with a beaming smile.
“You’re of noble blood!” You said in shock. You would never have guessed! It did explain why he seemed to be more civilized than his colleagues, but then why was he not a part of the royal guard or the royal army?


“I can almost feel all the questions oozing out of your ears, dear.” He suddenly said. “While I am of noble birth, I am only the fifth son and while my eldest brother will inherit everything and my second eldest brother will marry a beautiful noble lady, I am free of all duties. I’ve always wanted to be an einherjar and I am happy with my position as it is.” You were looking at the man with such fondness that you had completely lost track of time. Before you knew it you had arrived at the soldiers’ stables. Egil had already called out to a stable boy to bring him his horse when he turned his attention back to you.
“I know it’s not proper, but I do hope you’re not opposed to sharing a horse?”
“Oh, no. that’s fine. I wouldn’t know how to ride one anyway.”
“Well, when you get another day off, make sure to find me so that I can teach you.”

You didn’t know why Egil was being so kind to you, but it felt good. There was just one other person who had ever showed you the same kind of kindness that Egil was doing right now and that was the book-seller from your old village. Thinking back on Alvi and his sweet little family made your heart swell with happiness and soon a tear escaped its prison and rolled down your cheek.
“Have I said something wrong?” Egil asked with such concern that it only made you more weak and soon other tears started falling as you quietly sobbed. As you closed your eyes you could feel Egil’s arms surrounding you and pulling you against his armoured chest. He soothed you with sweet words and soft caresses on your back. 


“I’m sorry, dear. I didn’t mean to upset you.” He said quietly against your temple. Finally you found your voice back.
“Don’t apologize, you buffoon. I’m not upset, I’m just really happy you’re here and treating me so kindly.” Egil chuckled at your taunt and squeezed you more tightly against him, then he let out a long and dramatic sigh.
“Then, I suppose I’ll have to start treating you poorly from now on, given that my kindness will only ruin my armour with your tears.” He said with amusement clearly evident in his voice. You laughed and gave his chest a soft swat.


“Get me to that tavern, before I decide to steal your sword and ruin your armour with a few holes in it.” That made Egil laugh louddly, but he did what you asked of him and helped you onto his horse before mounting it himself. You rode to the city in a comfortable silence and reached the tavern just before your stomach made its presence known with a rumbling sound which made you blush and Egil smirk. The tavern was already filled with various people drinking, eating or making merry and the whole place felt incredibly warm. You had expected people to look at you both quizzingly, but none seemed to pay any attention to you, which felt nice. Even though you were wearing your grey servant-dress, you didn’t feel like one in here. In fact you felt like everyone else, normal and in need of a drink, a hot meal and some good company.


“So tell me, Svinnr, how is it being lord Blekk’s new help?” Egil asked after ordering for you both a meal and some ale. Technically you weren’t allowed to drink any alcoholic beverages from your father, but no one seemed to care around here in the tavern.
“It’s great whenever lord Blekk decides to leave me be and not pester me about little things. It was however very kind of him to give me this day off. I believe he’s slowly growing to like me.”
“Norns forbid! I must congratulate you though. The last girl who had been chosen to be his help, decided cleaning chamber pots for the rest of her life was preferable than working one more minute under lord Blekk.”
“Well at least she didn’t die.” Egil looked at you with a confused expression on his face. “Serk told me this story about a few servants who had mysteriously disappeared a few centuries ago and that lord Blekk kept their skulls in his vanity cabinet.” Egil pulled up his nose and grunted.


“Don’t ever believe a word that comes out of Serk’s mouth. To be honest, Svinnr, I don’t like the way he threats you.” You just shrugged.
“I think he’s just bored and therefor sees flirting with me as some sort of entertainment. Edgard is the one who truly scares me.” Just saying his name made a shiver run down your spine. Egil wanted to say something else, but just then a woman came to your table to bring your food. You had told Egil beforehand that you didn’t know much of the food you could get in the capital, so that he could order for you both and you were glad to have said so, because the food that was being shoved under your noses smelled divine.


“Remind me again of what it is I’m about to devour.”
“Well, my dear uncultured girl, this is Lapskaus. A stew made out of various meats and turnips inside of a bowl of bread. You’ll love it, I know you will.” He wasn’t wrong. The meal was incredibly rich in flavour and you ate with vigour. After you’d had your fill you talked and talked and you quickly hang on every word Egil said as he spoke of his training and the various adventures that came with being a young guard. He was just about to finish a glorious tale where he and some comrades were unravelling the whereabouts of a mysteriously disappeared cart, when the door of the tavern swung open with such force that everyone quickly turned their gaze upon it. A big, bulky red-haired man walked in followed by two other men.


“Ward! Your best ale if you please!” Shouted the redhaired man. You could hear Egil grunt loudly at the sight of the newcomers, but what displeased him so, you did not understand. That was until one of the men looked in the direction of your table and smiled as if he had known you for years.
“Little brother!” He shouted as he walked over. Apparently it was true that he had known one of you for years.
“Fandral.” Egil said without the warmth his words would normally have. The man, Fandral, huffed but made no further comment on his brother’s tone. “Aren’t you going to introduce me?”
“Fandral, this is lord Blekk’s new help Svinnr. Svinnr this is my older brother Fandral.” Egil said after a long sigh. He also stopped looking you in the eyes.


“Oh, nice to meet you lord Fandral.” You said with a smile that quickly turned into an expression of slight shock when Fandral grabbed hold of your hand and kissed your knuckles ever so gently.
“The pleasure is all mine.” He said while flashing you a brilliant smile that had caused many ladies to swoon before. You briefly thought back on Luta who had been sharing Fandral’s bed for a few nights in the hope to get a promotion to his personal chamber maid, but she was still seen carrying buckets of water up and down the halls as a cleaning lady. “I must say dear brother, I had never suspected you to be capable of catching the eye of a goddess.” Fandral carried on and even though you didn’t want to, your cheeks flushed bright red.


“Don’t joke about such titles, Fandral.” Egil said with a tone that bordered on hostile. You quickly changed topics.
“Egil has been kind enough to show me this tavern and introduce me to new and delicious food.”
“Did he now?” Fandral chuckled and slapped his brother hard on the back. “Isn’t he a marvellous man?” He didn’t wait for a response as he simply sat himself down at your table. “Now tell me, fair maiden, what have you done to warm old Blekk’s heart so that he has decided to keep you in his service?” Your cheeks heated up again, but now it wasn’t just out of embarrassment. You were getting angry. What was wrong with these men that they thought so evil of both lord Blekk and you?
“Don’t answer that, Svinnr. He just loves to jest and fool around with people.” Egil said reassuringly, but Fandral simply tutted.
“Now, now, brother. Let the lady speak for herself.” That was it. That was all the bratty behaviour you could tolerate from this man.


“I’m sorry, lord Fandral, but I’m afraid you are mistaken. I am not a lady, but a servant as you can so clearly see and to answer your earlier question in honesty, I did not do anything out of the ordinary to gain my position as Lord Blekk’s new help. Although I understand you have a different understanding of what would and would not be considered ordinary or appropriate. Furthermore your brother has indeed been a marvellous man, an adjective I wouldn’t be so prone to describe you however, my lord.” You finished and to your great joy you could see a proud smile on Egil’s face and a look of shock on Fandral’s. You were pretty sure he hadn’t had much experience with being turned down by a woman.


“My, my, had I known you were this silver-tongued I would have provoked you more.” A voice said and when you turned to see whom it belonged to, the whole world stopped and held in its breath. Prince Loki and his older brother Thor were standing by your table with the two other men lord Fandral had accompanied.
“Who’s your friend, Fandral?” Prince Thor asked, clearly choosing to speak to the older brother rather than the younger one, who was actually your friend.
“This beautiful fire is the lady Svinnr.” He proclaimed and his voice still sounded shocked, but also a bit hoarser.
“Well, lovely Svinnr, I am prince Thor, as you might as well know, and these are Volstagg and Hogun. My brother Loki you seem to have already met.” Thor said as he too grabbed your hand and kissed it gently. You however kept your eyes to the ground. It was not right for a servant to look any high nobles into the eyes. You had made an exception with Fandral because you knew you were safe with Egil around and he truly was being unbearable, but Thor and Loki were of royal blood and therefor you could definitely not look them in the eyes let alone speak so carelessly to them.

“And Egil, I’m glad to see you’re in good health.” Thor went on.
“Thank you, my prince. I wish we could stay and make merry with all of you, but I am still under lord Blekk’s orders and he has asked me to make sure Svinnr is well and taken care off. Right now, I am afraid I will have to escort her back to the servant-wing so she can rest.” Egil said as he stood up and gave you an encouraging look.
“She looks to be well and a pleasant night with friends can only make her better.” The red-haired man who Thor had introduced as Volstagg said. He actually looked as if he genuinely meant his words and his smile seemed to be friendly as well.


“Any other night, my friend, but Svinnr has been feeling rather poorly today and I would not like to receive a scolding from lord Blekk for returning his help feeling worse than before.” He chuckled but his mirth didn’t reach his eyes.
“Well, I don’t wish to get you both in trouble.” Volstagg said and you were certain that he had actually meant it. He then bid you both a good night. His companion Hogun hadn’t said a word all night and he seemed content to keep it that way. You curtsied for all the lords and did an even deeper curtesy for the two princes. Everyone had seemed to accept your departure. All but one, who was smirking from ear to ear as you righted yourself again.


“I am pleased to have seen you again and on such short notice.” He chuckled, but then he leaned in closer to whisper into your ear. “I am already looking forward to the next time.” 


 

Chapter Text

Chapter 5: The esteemed ambassador


 

“Explain to me, girl, how you have managed to get not only one but two requests to become a personal servant?” Blekk Sturluson yelled as he smacked the request forms on the desk you were using to write some notes for the librarian. “I didn’t give you the day off just so you can flirt your way to a better pay check!”
“I’m sorry, my lord! I never meant to-“
“I don’t have the patience to hear your excuses! By the Norns, girl, if it had only been lord Fandral, I wouldn’t be as upset. The Norns know that man only thinks with what’s between his legs. But the ambassador?! How in all of Yggdrasil, have you managed to get his attention?!”

Your eyes widened at that. You had expected the prince to have done so as some kind of sick joke. You had asked Djúpvitr about the prince when you had returned back to the servants-wing after working for lord Blekk. She had explained that prince Loki had definitely earned his title of black prince. He was dangerous, mysterious and a master of witchcraft. She even said that he was accused of being a shape-shifter, which was one of the most difficult aspects of seidr. You had been absolutely sure that by morning lord Blekk would either send you home or an army of Einherjar would drag you down to the dungeons for speaking so carelessly to a prince, but now it seemed that lord Blekk had been agitated by something else entirely.


“Please, my lord. I swear I didn’t do anything! I wanted to become your help, not a personal servant to anyone! Please, I haven’t spoken a word to any ambassador.” Lord Blekk sighed loudly before sitting himself down on the desk with a thud.
“I can’t tell you how insulted I am for this request to demand such a thing. He knows full well that you are under my employment! Things such as these are to be expected from lord Fandral, but I had hoped for a little more respect from a man as celebrated as the Ljósálfar ambassador.” Lord Blekk pretty much spat the words.


“Isn’t there anything you can do, my lord?” You asked a bit panicked.
“Don’t assume I am without power, child! Don’t look to me for protection! This was your fault in the first place! What did you do yesterday?” Lord Blekk was beyond reason. He shouted at the top of his lungs while his face reddened with each passing syllable that fell from his lips.
“I-I accompanied lord Egil to a tavern to enjoy a hot meal. He was trying to cheer me up and make me feel better to resume my work in the morning. Please my lord, I swear I didn’t do anything! I don’t want to be a chamber maid! I want to remain your help and stay here in the archives!” You were sobbing by the end. “I didn’t even want to be a maid.” You mumbled out before losing control over your sobs. To your utter surprise you felt arms reluctantly come around you a moment later and hold you while lord Blekk’s deep voice uttered words of comfort.


“I shouldn’t have yelled at you, you’re only a child. You must understand however that attracting attention to yourself is not going to be in your favour. Especially where people of high nobility are concerned. The Ljósálfar ambassador is not to meddle with.” A shiver ran down your spine at the thought. Djúpvitr had explained that prince Thor was quite known among the maids, same for Fandral and a bunch of other nobles, but never had she ever mentioned an ambassador. You felt lord Blekk’s arms tighten around you in a protective manner.
“You don’t have to concern yourself with this for now. I will take care of it, I promise. To be honest, I am reluctant to lose my help so soon. You clearly have a love for knowledge that I don’t wish to see being wasted as a chambermaid to that poor excuse of an elf.” You nodded and couldn’t help but feel relieved and happy that lord Blekk seemed to care for your wellbeing. He held you until you had calmed down significantly.

“Now if you would please get me that book on the chronicles of the Dark Elves from Svartalheim and copy it.” He said when he let go of you. For the rest of the day you kept yourself busy with copying down the words of the book that was already falling apart. You had no idea what time it was, given that the archives were always dark and under the ground so sunlight could not reach it. You figured it had to be hours given the pain in your neck when lord Blekk finally told you, you had done enough for the day. You curtsied for lord Blekk and were about to leave when he stopped you.


“Where are you going?” You looked at him confused.
“To the kitchens to report to lady Rydigg and then to the servant-wing to sleep?”
“No. Egil will escort you to the library where you will stay. You can sleep on one of the couches, but you will not leave the library. Is that understood?” By the tone of his voice it was clear that he would not tolerate any arguments.
“Yes, my lord.” You said while looking at the ground, but that seemed to displease lord Blekk as he sighed loudly.
“I’m not punishing you, Svinnr. I just assume that the ambassador will not be overly happy when you don’t show up at his door in a bit. My guess is that he will come and find you at the servant-wing or at least on your way to the archives the following morning. The library is connected with these archives, however, and therefore you will be safer to move from there to here without having to face him on your own. Don’t make the mistake to think you won’t have to see him, because you will. Only I will be talking to him and I do not want you to intervene. You will stand behind me and lower your eyes, but that’s it. Do you understand?”
“I do, my lord.” You said, Looking at your feet a bit awkwardly. What else were you supposed to say or do?


“EGIL!” Lord Blekk suddenly yelled with such force that you were positive you had heard a few books fall to the ground. You didn’t hear the doors open, but before you knew it Egil was standing at the bottom of the stairs with a concerned look in his eyes.
“You called for me, my lord?”
“I want you to escort Svinnr to the library where she will stay with you come morning. Then you are to escort her back here.” Lord Egil bowed his head slightly and then looked at you.
“I thank you, my lord. You’re a good man.” You quickly said and before he could reply you turned around and followed lord Egil down the hidden door to the library.   


“What happened? I heard lord Blekk shouting.” He said when he had closed the door behind you.
“He had good reason to do so. Apparently both lord Fandral and the Ljósálfar ambassador want me as their personal servant.” Egil looked taken aback, but then his face changed from surprise to anger.
“He has not agreed to give you away, has he?”
“What? No! of course not! He wants to help. You are to escort me to the library so I can sleep there. He believes the ambassador will come and look for me in the morning and he wants to make sure I don’t have to face him on my own.” Egil clearly relaxed after that.

 
“I take it you’re not very keen on switching career paths?” Egil said with amusement in his tone. Bless the Norns for Egil and his humour even in serious situations. Even though you tried not to show your own amusement, you couldn’t help but smirk.
“You’re just jealous that no one offered you the job.” You shared a small laugh, but you both knew just how bad this situation could become.
“How are you really, Svinnr?” He asked after a while.
“I don’t know, Egil. I-I don’t understand what the ambassador would want with me. I am also scared for lord Blekk. He was very upset when the ambassador requested me, his help, to become his personal servant, but I fear he might get in trouble for standing up to him and not give him what he wants. Although it would be a lie if I said I wasn’t relieved that lord Blekk wouldn’t just give me up.”
“I admire your honesty, Svinnr. I hope you know that I will not allow any harm to come to you or lord Blekk.”
“I know. You’re a true friend, Egil.”

That night you couldn’t find sleep, no matter how hard you tried. At one point you even considered using your seidr to cast a sleeping spell on yourself, but eventually you chose to remain awake and stare into the flames of the fireplace. Egil kept watch at the door of the library to give you some privacy while you slept, but since that wasn’t going to happen, you got up and roamed the various aisles of books. After a while of looking around the aisle dedicated to seidr, you returned to your comfy couch with a handful of books on different kinds of spells. You picked up the book you had been reading when prince Loki decided to barge into your personal space. You really wanted to learn as much as you could about seidr, because it was dangerous not to be able to control it and in order to control it you had to use it. You read the spell to levitate objects again and memorised the runes, you then concentrated for a minute to relax your body and mind. When you reopened your eyes and repeated the runes in your mind, the book of spells levitated in the air where it hovered a few inches above the table. You said the runes for the counter spell and with a soft thud the book returned to the table. Proud with yourself you skipped a few pages to read how to levitate bigger objects and hold them in the air for longer.

This you kept doing until you had mastered all the spells, tips and tricks that the book had to offer. You were more than exhausted and felt drained, but at least now you wouldn’t be at risk of unleashing uncontrollable seidr for a little while longer. You were just about to crawl back under your blankets that rested atop a royal blue form-less couch when the sun crept up behind the hills and coloured the library orange. There was no point in going back to sleep now. With a flick of your hand you made the books return to their original places, just in time for Egil to enter your section of the library.


“Good morning, Svinnr. Lord Blekk wishes me to escort you back to the archives where you will take your breakfast with him and then…. Well, you know what will come next. I’ll be there as well, so don’t worry and I’m sure lord Blekk will give lord Skírnir a piece of his mind.” Egil said with a smile, but it didn’t reach his eyes. He looked just as awful as you probably did, with purple bags under his eyes and an unhealthy pale complexion. You followed Egil through the hidden passageway back to the archives where you were met by lord Blekk who was already seated at a makeshift table loaded with various fruits, breads and meats.


“Good morning, my dear. Take a seat and eat.” Lord Blekk greeted you surprisingly happy.
“Good morning, my lord.” You replied back and were shocked at how hoarse your voice sounded. Lord Blekk noticed and when he looked at you, you could see something akin to pity in his eyes.
“Don’t worry, Svinnr, I will take care of this. I know I don’t always show it, but I have become fond of my little help and I wouldn’t want to give up on you so quickly.” He said and you nodded.
“I thank you for your kind words, my lord.” Lord Blekk gazed at you again with such pity that you couldn’t bring yourself to meet his eyes, so instead you lowered them and looked at your empty plate. Lord Blekk sighed but said nothing else. He then motioned for both of you to eat and so you did, all in an uncomfortable silence. You were just about to drink your second glass of milk, when you could hear the creaking of old doors. You quickly glanced at lord Blekk who stood up and gave you a reassuring smile. He then motioned for you to stand up as well, lower your eyes and move to the side, just out of sight. A few seconds later Edgard and a tall man with platina-blond hair and slightly pointed ears descended the stairs.


“My lord, ambassador Skírnir demanded entry and wouldn’t go away.” Edgard said with his emotionless voice which received a scowl from the ambassador.
“No matter. Thank you Edgard, you can go now.” Edgard gave a small bow, turned around and reclimbed the stairs.
“Lord Blekk, it has been a while.” The ambassador said as he stepped forward and shook lord Blekk’s hand. You just felt uneasy. This man, this ambassador, had a voice as slick as an eel and as treacherous as a snake. The smile he gave was also anything but genuine.
“The pleasure’s all mine, esteemed ambassador. Tell me, to what do I own this pleasure?”
“Oh, Blekk. I think you know very well why I’m here.”
“Enlighten me.” There was a pause where they both just stared at each other, but then the ambassador chuckled.


“I have been told you have a new help. A maiden whom can read and write. The odds of a servant to have a talent for it is already low, but a girl? Now that is truly rare. At least it is so here on Asgard. Makes one wonder where she might have learned to do so.”
“From an innocent source it would seem. A bookseller with a kind heart, but surely my help’s history is not what brought you here.” The ambassador chuckled again.
“In a sense it did, but mostly I am here because you didn’t deliver on my request.” A pin-dropped silence followed.
“May I remind you that the girl in question has recently been named my help officially. Therefor she is under my employment and I decide whether or not she takes on extra work and right now I have decided she will work for me and only for me.”


“How terribly selfish of you, Blekk. I was afraid you were going to be this way, although I must admit that it still surprises me. Never mind, I have already asked for the kings permission to settle this… little argument we’re having. Listen, old friend, I’m a reasonable man. I know I requested for your help to become my personal servant, but in truth I only wish to borrow her for a little while. I am being swamped with letters and I have to arrange my own wedding as well. On top of that prince Frey and his court wish to hold the greatest hunting trip the nine realms have ever seen. He keeps going on about a golden boar that has allegedly been spotted in his woods or something. Never mind, I will not bore you with the details. The fact remains that I find myself with too much work and in dire need of assistance, assistance that your little help can provide.” Another hard silence followed.


“I need her here, Skírnir. She’s copying a very important book.”
“I’m sure her writings will still be here when she returns, now about the kings permission. I have it here with me.” The ambassador handed lord Blekk a letter which he opened and quickly read. 
“I see. However I wish to add a few things.”
“Go on.” The ambassador said as he sat himself down with a huff.
“One. She will sleep in the servants-wing and not in your side-room. Two. She will report to me daily, as soon as she leaves your study. And three. She will be escorted by one of my guards at all times.” The ambassador chuckled again.


“My, my. So protective. If I didn’t know any better I would think you don’t trust me at all. Would it make you feel any better if I were to promise not to lay a finger on your little servant?” You couldn’t see lord Blekk’s face, but you could almost feel the anger radiating off of him.
“Do you agree to these terms?” He said, not taking the bait.
“Oh, why not. It’s only a week or so after all. Now tell me, where is this lovely creature you keep hidden in this gloomy cave?”
“Svinnr! Come here.” Lord Blekk shouted and ever so slowly you crept into view. You had heard the entire conversation and knew what was about to happen now. You kept your eyes on the ground, but the ambassador was not having any of that.


“Look at me, girl.” Reluctantly you slowly lifted your eyes to meet Skírnir’s gaze. His eyes widened a bit at the sight of you which made you only more afraid.
“By the Norns, those eyes.” He muttered more to himself than anyone else in the room.
“Skírnir.” Lord Blekk said to break the ambassador’s trance and to tamper your fear a bit. “Now that we have come to an agreement, I must ask you to leave. We still have a lot of work to do.”
“But of course. I will leave you to it and child.” He waited until you met his eyes and when you did, he flashed you a smile that didn’t reach his eyes at all. “Your duties start tomorrow morning. You will go to my apartments to await your instructions.” You lowered your eyes again, but nodded. The ambassador gave some sort of mocking bow towards lord Blekk before ascending the stairs and leaving the archives. As soon as you heard the creaking of the old doors, you let go of a breath you didn’t know you were holding.


“Sit down, Svinnr.” Lord Blekk said softly as he quickly grabbed a glass and poured it full of water. “I know you don’t want to, but I’m afraid we don’t have a choice.” He said after you had drained the glass in greedy gulps. “The letter he showed me was authentic, bearing the king’s seal. Egil will be by your side at all times, I promise you that. And if he as much as glares at you, I want you to tell me when you come back to report to me, so that I can put a stop to this farce. I’m sorry, girl, but I promise you that you will be safe at all times.”
“I-it’s alright. There was nothing you could have done to decline his request and I appreciate the added terms. I will be fine.” 


 

Chapter Text

Chapter 6: Lord Fandral's favour


 

“So, little one, what was your name again?” Lord Skírnir asked from behind his desk while looking down at you as you sat in front of him.
“Svinnr, my lord.” You tried to make your voice not sound so squeaky, but that was easier said than done when you were this afraid.
“An exciting name for an exciting girl. Now tell me about this bookseller who taught you how to write and read.”
“He… he lived by the river and collected books to distribute them to various libraries or the study rooms of noble families. He even sold certain books to different schools for a lower price. He thought me a thief when we first met, but he quickly came to realise my curiosity for the written word.”
“And what river are you speaking of?”
“The Fosselv, my lord. That’s on Vanaheim.” You added, not really knowing if the ambassador would otherwise know it.


“Oh, I know, my dear. I used to live at the court of the Vanir king, but now I am in the service of his son who has taken residence on Alfheim. That’s where I was born, but I was too adventurous for my own good and left. A bit like yourself it would seem, because now you’re here. In the realm eternal. Tell me, how did that come to pass?”
“My parents are weavers. They move to wherever they can find people to buy their goods. Business in Vanaheim was not going so well anymore and so they decided to move on and live here. Both my parents are Æsir from birth, so they adjusted quite quickly to our new life.” Lord Skírnir looked pensive for a while as he rubbed his finger over his lips.


“But you didn’t?” The question made your eyes widen. You didn’t want to give so much away to him.
“It’s different as are all new things.” That made lord Skírnir laugh.
“Spoken like a true diplomate! Neither telling the truth nor a lie. Very clever, girl. I can see now why good old Blekk has taken such an interest in you and why you’re named Svinnr. Now, enough chit-chat. I want you to sort all the letters I have received and all the incoming ones, reply to the least important ones, and most importantly, I want you to help me with this cursed wedding. Make up the invites, send word to the best dressers to example their goods here at the palace, arrange for the biggest cake the nine have ever seen and so on. I want you to assist my bride as well. Provide her with everything she might wish for, but keep an eye on the expenses will you.”

A wedding planner. You had been stolen away from all your books and ancient trinkets to become a wedding planner.
At least it isn’t Fandral I’m serving right now.” You thought as you bowed your head at lord Skírnir and sat down at a desk that had clearly been set up for you. It was way smaller than the mahogany desk that lord Skírnir was sitting at, but it would do. You began with sorting out all the incoming letters from rate of importance. You then replied to the least important ones and left the others for lord Skírnir to reply to. You were just penning down a letter to someone by the name Gresskar who had trouble getting his pumpkins across the border due to a problem with his papers when lord Skírnir stretched his arms and legs out with a heavy sigh.


“You can go and fetch me my lunch now.” He said as he gazed at you with a boring look in his eyes. “And ask for a portion for two, so you can have your lunch here as well and ask for a flask of gyldne bær.” With an “At once, my lord.” You got up and left lord Skírnir’s study for the kitchens with a smile. You might run into Djúpvitr there and you might even have a second to talk.
“Wow, you look happy.” Said Egil who stood by the door. “Lord Skírnir’s treating you nice, then?
“He is. For now anyway, but in truth I’m smiling because I might walk into a friend of mine on my way to the kitchens.” You said happily.
“Damn the bastard.” Egil muttered angrily as he fell into step with you.
“What’s wrong?”
“I’m sure lord Blekk meant for you to either eat with him at the archives or for you to take your meals with the other servants.”
“Oh.” You hadn’t thought about that. Now that you came to think of it, lord Skírnir did seem rather smug when he told you to fetch lunch for two. You hoped lord Blekk wouldn’t be too angry when you would go back to the archives to report to him later that day.


“So, who’s this friend of yours?” Egil asked to change topics.
“Her name’s Djúpvitr and she’s a servant as well. She helped me settle down and she works in the kitchens where I was supposed to work too before lord Blekk decided he wanted to test my abilities to become his new help.” You chuckled happily. You then began to tell Egil about your interview with Rydigg and Djúpvitr’s way of describing the different sorts of maids. When you entered the kitchens with big smiles plastered on your faces, you asked Rydigg herself for a portion for two to bring back to lord Skírnir’s chambers. You then looked around in search for your friend, when you suddenly felt yourself being pulled away by your arm. Before you could see who was being so rough with you, you were pushed into a quiet alcove and a voice spoke.


“Look who has come back to mingle amongst us commoners.” Djúpvitr said smugly before hugging you tightly. “Has good old Blekk finally tired off you?”
“Actually, Djúpvitr, you have the pleasure of speaking to the officially proclaimed help of the esteemed archivist.” 
“Oh, my.” Djúpvitr chuckled as she curtsied in a very theatrical manner. “What a pleasure it is, indeed!”
“And what have you been up to today?”
“Well you are not the only one who got promoted. I am now officially proclaimed as potato-handler!” You laughed loudly before mimicking Djúpvitr’s curtesy. “What brings you here though? Don’t you normally eat with the old goat?”
“First of all, he’s not an old goat so don’t call him so and second, I am helping ambassador Skírnir out with his wedding and am to take his lunch to him.”


“Oh.” Djúpvitr said and her face went gloomy. “Be careful around that one. He used to be a smuggler, but for some reason he found himself securing the position of ambassador. Makes one wonder about his honesty. But forget about him and tell me, who’s the hot shadow you have brought along?” Djúpvitr asked as she pointed at Egil who awkwardly stood a distance away from you. Not close enough to hear your conversation, but not too far away either to come to your rescue when you would need it. You smiled and pulled your friend away from the alcove and walked towards Egil who turned his head at your approach.


“Djúpvitr, I want to introduce you to my shadow and good friend Egil. Egil this Djúpvitr, the friend I was talking about earlier.”
“Pleased to meet you.” Egil said as he grabbed Djúpvitr’s hand and kissed it gently.
“Well, the pleasure is all mine.” Djúpvitr replied with reddened cheeks.
“Djúpvitr! You don’t get paid to flirt with the Einherjar! Get back to work!” Another kitchen maid yelled. By the colour of her dress it was clear to see that she was one of Rydigg’s goons who terrorised the other maids simply because they were supposedly ‘better’ than them.
“Well, it was nice so long it lasted. I will see you tonight, right?”
“Yes, don’t worry, I still sleep in the servant-wing.” With that Djúpvitr squeezed your hand and went back to work.


“Order lunch for two, lord Skírnir!” yet another kitchen maid yelled and you quickly took the plate in your hands and left the kitchens to go back to said lord. You had just rounded the corner from the kitchens towards the dining hall, when you remembered the gyldne bær wine.
“Wait here, I’ll get it for you.” Egil said as he quickly left to fetch it in the kitchens. He had only been gone a few moments when a servant strode into the same hallway you were standing in. When she spotted you, she paused for a moment and then quickened her pace.


“YOU!” The servant screeched into your face. “YOU FUCKING SLUT!” she yelled as she pushed you against the wall. You were shocked. You had never seen this servant before and there was nothing you could do to deflect her attack as your hands were full with the plate of lunch for yourself and lord Skírnir. By the force of the push the plate slipped and spilled everywhere on your dress. Even the hot creamy mushroom soup that burned you through your dress, but the servant wasn’t done yet.
“How dare you?! I have worked my ass off and you take everything away from me just like that?! How did you do it, huh?! Did you satisfy him?! Roll onto your back and let him take you, you fucking whore!?” The servant was still screaming and spit drizzled everywhere with every word she spat out. She looked positively deranged with eyes that were budging out of their sockets, her face a mix of purple and deep red and her whole body trembling with anger. You felt your seidr beg for release to defend yourself, but you knew you could not give into it, so you tried with all your might not to move, say or feel as the other girl kept screaming, pushing and even hitting you. When the girl realised you weren’t responding whatsoever, she changed tactics and full on released all her anger upon you. She kicked you hard in the stomach, so you fell on the ground with your face in the shards of glass and ceramic. She then even picked up a shard and was about to stab you with it, when a voice called out.


“WHAT’S THE MEANING OF THIS?!” Yelled the voice as hard and cold as a whip.
“Your highness, I… we- we were just-“
“Enough. Get off her.” The voice said icy and you swore that you felt the room grow colder. You didn’t dare to open your eyes, not only because you were afraid of the glass, but also because you were winching from the pain in your stomach.


“Svinnr?” The voice asked shocked. Now you definitely knew who your rescuer was and you softly began to sob. You didn’t know whether having prince Loki here was in your favour or not, but at least he had stopped the assault. “Shh, it’s alright. Let me help you.” He sounded a little pained, but that might have very well beeen your own mind playing tricks on you. He pulled you up in a sitting position with your back against the wall. “Open your eyes, Svinnr.” He said softly as he kept his hand on your shoulder to keep you steady. The first thing you saw was Loki and his emerald green eyes peering at you. His gaze, however, suddenly turned cold.
“Tell me what happened and this time the truth.” He said sharply and for a split second you didn’t know what to do or say before you realised he wasn’t addressing you even though he kept his eyes fixed on your face.


“I-I… she…”
“Get on with it wench!” He suddenly snapped as he turned his head to glare at the other servant. You could see that she was trembling and this time it wasn’t out of anger, but purely out of fear.
“She has gained my master’s favour. Now he only talks about her and even asked for her to be his new chambermaid.” The servant said as she kept her eyes fixed on the ground, trying to avoid prince Loki’s gaze. He snapped his head back towards you to look at you instead with a cold glare.
“Is this true?”


“No.” You didn’t know where you found the strength nor the courage to keep this man’s gaze, but you suddenly felt very defensive. You didn’t ask for any of this and you were sick to hear the accusation in prince Loki’s voice. “I don’t even know her. I don’t know which master she serves, nor do I care.” You hissed and a range of different emotions flickered in Loki’s eyes before his face became stoic again.
“Careful girl, I understand your anger but that does not excuse insolence.” He said, but his voice lacked the iciness he had displayed a few moments before. He then turned his attention back to the other servant. “As for you, you have viciously attacked another servant purely out of jealousy and will therefor receive ten lashes. To remind you that a romance between a servant and a noble is not only scandalous but also nothing more than a fantasy, you will receive said lashings from none other than your master himself.” The girl gasped while tears silently formed at the corners of her eyes. “What’s the name of your master?” Prince Loki asked and the girl took a moment to answer and even then her voice trembled.
“Lord Fandral, your highness.” As soon as she had said this, prince Loki’s head turned back towards you with a hateful glare.


“I see.” He spat. “Now leave.” The girl curtsied and fled the hallway, leaving you alone with a fuming prince. “Care to elaborate why Fandral’s little wench would accuse you of such vile things?” Again you felt defensive and looked prince Loki in the eye without hesitation.
“Because lord Fandral requested my services without consulting her about it first, I believe.” Now it was prince Loki who was trembling with anger.


“Don’t play games with me, girl! Is that where you were going just now? Carrying a plate of lunch for your new master? I’m surprised lord Blekk has already tired of you so soon.” Now you were getting really angry as you felt your seidr pushing for release, but you tempered it down with all your might.
“Lord Blekk has turned lord Fandral’s request down nor do I wish to become his chambermaid either. I was carrying lunch for ambassador Skírnir, actually, who I’m helping with his wedding arrangements.”
“Don’t presume you can lie to me, girl.” He said, but he didn’t look so sure anymore.
“I’m not lying.” Loki looked you up and down as if he was sizing you up or looking for a lie. He then seemed to remember the state you were in, as he conjured up a handkerchief to clean your face from a cut that had been made from the glass you had fallen into.


“It’s not deep.” He said absentmindedly as if he was talking more to himself than to you. He then lowered his hand and looked at you with a soft expression on his face. “I can heal it for you if you wish.” You looked at him for a moment trying to see whether you could trust him or not. He was after all the dark prince. The more you remained silent the more Loki’s expression began to change to worried, guarded and even disgusted, but before he could say anything you nodded and his face changed back to a soft expression. He placed his hand carefully on your cheek and as soon as you felt his skin make contact with yours, a warmth spreading there, you hitched a breath. It felt like your own seidr made some sort of spurt and you were worried that prince Loki had felt the same. He was looking at you weirdly and you thought his breath had hitched for a second there as well, but you weren’t sure. You hoped that this was a normal procedure for healing magic, but by the look of him, you weren’t so sure of that either. When he lowered his hand again, he opened his mouth to say something but was interrupted by Egil striding into view.


“What has happened here?” He asked to no one in particular as he took in the sight before him. And what a sight that must have been. A silver plate scattered around the floor, a servant with a bloodied cheek and a reeking dress and above all the dark prince crouched down at her side.
“It’s alright, Egil. I’m fine.” You said to reassure him, but prince Loki wasn’t having any of it.
“Where were you?!” He asked, no, demanded angrily. Egil was clearly taken aback.
“I-I went back to the kitchens to get the wine lord Skírnir had requested.” Prince Loki looked back at you with a slightly remorseful look, but then it turned stoic again.
See, I told you I wasn’t lying.”
“And you left her on her own.” He stated.
“I’m sorry.” Egil said, now also looking at you. “I know I shouldn’t have, but I thought I would be only a second. I didn’t want you to carry that heavy plate to the kitchens and back just to get the wine.”
“It’s alright Egil. I know you meant well.” You said with a smile as you tried to stand up. Your stomach still hurt and you prayed to the Norns you weren’t bleeding internally. When the two men saw you flinch, they took a step closer to help you, but you held up your hand to signal you were fine. They both looked a bit sheepish.


“Egil, go fetch another lunch. One for three and bring it to lord Skírnir’s apartments. I’ll escort the lady there myself.” Prince Loki stated and for a second Egil looked to be struggling. After a while he simply nodded and left with one last apologetic glance at you. Prince Loki then offered you his arm, which you took with slightly trembling fingers.
“Are you afraid of me?” Loki asked with a voice that betrayed nothing. His eyes were also fixed on the hallway before him.
“I’m still a little shocked, that’s all.” You replied as you both started to walk.


“That girl will get what she deserves, don’t worry.” He said. “As will Fandral.” He nearly hissed out the name. You looked up at him in surprise. “If you’re not interested in his advances, he should give up and leave you in peace.” He said and looked down at you quizzingly. “Unless you are-“
“I’m not.” You quickly answered and then looked away quickly. You had already spoken too carelessly to the prince today, but not letting him finish was exceptionally rude. Prince Loki however didn’t seem to mind as he made no comment about it.


“So tell me, how did you end up serving lord Skírnir?”
“He asked lord Blekk for my servitude, which he was going to decline, but lord Skírnir was clever and had already arranged for a royal pardon. Lord Blekk had no choice but to accept.” You then began to chuckle which made Loki look at you in confusion. “Lord Blekk didn’t accept just like that, however. He made certain conditions to make sure I would remain safe. He’s a good man and a good master.” You said fondly, before looking away embarrassed for saying so out loud.
“Well, lord Blekk is fortunate for his help to think so highly of him.” He then went quiet for a bit before opening his mouth again in a softer voice. “And is lord Skírnir treating you alright?”
“He is. Today’s my first day, but he seems… nice.” You said sheepishly, not knowing what else to say really.
“I’m glad to hear that.” You then walked on in silence, but for some reason it didn’t feel uncomfortable at all.

When you arrived at the door of Skírnir’s study, you attentively raised your hand and knocked on the polished wood.
“Come in.” A voice was heard and prince Loki pushed the door open for you to enter only to slip inside behind you.
“Took you long enough, girl. I asked for your help to speed up the process not delay it.” Skírnir said without looking up from the scroll he was reading. You wanted to answer, but before you had uttered a single letter, prince Loki beat you to it.
“The girl is not to blame, lord Skírnir.” Loki said and in a flash lord Skírnir was on his feet and his eyes off the scroll.


“Your highness! It’s an honour to have you here.” He said and then seemed to remember your presence in the room. “She didn’t disturb you, did she?”
“Not at all. In fact she made an otherwise boring day a little more exciting.” He said as he looked down on you with a mischievous smirk. Lord Skírnir seemed a bit confused so prince Loki decided to explain what had happened. The ambassador seemed to be unhappy by the way his servant had been treated, but he also seemed to be a little detached. After prince Loki’s tale, lord Skírnir gave you leave to change clothes and clean up a bit. You were thankful you could finally step out of your uncomfortable dress and smiled a little which Loki caught you doing. When you were done washing your hair and changing clothes in lord Skírnir’s fancy bathroom, you walked back into the living quarters to return to the study when prince Loki, lord Skírnir, Egil and a servant girl walked into the room.


“You look lovely, dear.” Lord Skírnir said, but he sounded a bit angry and his smile didn’t reach his eyes. Prince Loki too seemed a little bit too smug. It made you wonder what they had been talking about when you had left to clean yourself up. Egil and the servant quickly disappeared again after placing the plates on the table. You, too, didn’t know what to do. Leave or stay, sit or stand by lord Skírnir? In the end the decision was made for you.
“Sit down, Svinnr.” Lord Skírnir said and motioned for you to sit next to him, which you did to Loki’s great displeasure. “Tell me have you ever had gyldne bær wine before, girl?” Lord Skírnir asked with a smile as he poured three glasses full of said wine.
“No my lord, I don’t think I have.” You said honestly.


“A shame, it’s quite a delicacy on Vanaheim. Tell me, do you know why they call it gyldne bær wine?”
“Because it’s made from golden berries?” You asked shyly which earned you a snort from prince Loki.
“Essentially you are correct, but there is another reason.” He said as he finished the last glass and distributed them amongst the three of you. “You see, the berries only grow on Vanir soil, so when a merchant went to Asgard to sell his Vanir goods thousands of years ago, the Asgardians were baffled by its taste and asked for more. They developed such a taste for it that Vanaheim grew rich on the sales of wine alone. Thus bringing a whole new meaning to the ‘golden berries’.” He finished the story with a mischievous smirk while his eyes darted to prince Loki.


“Let’s raise a toast to this fine gathering of realms. Me representing Alfheim, the prince for Asgard and our lovely Svinnr as Vanaheim.” He said while lifting his glass. Prince Loki however turned his attention to you.
“You’re Vanir?” He asked surprised.
“I was born there, your highness, but both my parents are Æsir.” You replied, but that seemed to confuse Loki even more.
“Are you sure?” He asked. “What kind of question is that?!” You thought angrily, which prince Loki seemed to have picked up on quickly. “Forgive me, it’s just… you look very Vanir.” He said. You didn’t even know what that was supposed to mean, but you nodded nonetheless. You all then raised your glasses and began to eat.

Mostly the conversation went on between the ambassador and the prince while you listened attentively, without showing too much of your eagerness in the different topics they were discussing. Soon enough though the prince began asking politely about the wedding and all of a sudden you were included back into the conversation, though still you said as close to nothing. The wine tasted divine though, but quickly made you light in the head so you kept to only one glass while the men finished the bottle between them. When you had all finished your food and talked a little more, prince Loki stood up and said he had other duties to attend to. He then turned to You.


“The servant will be punished, not to worry. As for your safety, if anything were to arise, I order you to come to me immediately so I can put a stop to it.” He said seriously.
“Of course, your highness.” You said with a curtesy. “Thank you.” And to your surprise the prince gave you the smallest of smiles. A genuine one. He then left and you were once again alone with lord Skírnir.
“Interesting development, I must say.” He said with a glass full of an Asgardian red this time.


“I’m afraid I don’t follow, my lord?” You asked confused which earned you a snort from him.
“I’m sure you don’t, but in time you will. For now let’s say the prince has taken a new interest in you and only time will tell if that is favourable for you. My guess, it won’t, given that the prince is incredibly selfish, but what do I know, hmm?” He said almost accusingly which only made you more confused.


 

Chapter Text

Chapter 7: The Allmother


 

When You had finally finished your first day of work with lord Skírnir, you felt relieved it had gone rather well, despite being attacked, having dinner with the prince and lord Skírnir confusing you to oblivion. You still felt like it could have gone worse. So did lord Blekk think when you went back to him to discuss the day. He listened carefully and even showed anger when you told him about the servant, yet he too felt uncomfortable with the idea of prince Loki taking an interest in you.


“Be careful whom you place your trust in, Svinnr. The prince didn’t receive his various titles on a whim, no, he earned them. I am remember all his different shenanigans and though some were harmless others were not. He destroyed quite a few friendships and made everyone else weary of him. He also keeps mostly to himself and that’s what frightens most: the fact that they don’t know what he’s up to.”


“Thank you for telling me this, my lord. I will be vigilant around him, yet I must say that he seemed genuinely concerned about my welfare.”
“I wasn’t there so I can’t speak of the honesty of the prince in this situation, but to speak from my own personal experience, honesty is not a trait the prince is known for.” He said soberly. “I don’t wish to scare you, dear, I just feel like you ought to know. Now, I’m sure you’re very tired, so why don’t you go to the servant-wing to sleep?” He offered and your heart warmed a bit as you realised he was making an effort to take your mind slightly off the prince.


“Thank you, my lord and I bid you a good night’s rest.” You said with a curtsy and left the archives with Egil to go back to the servant-wing. Egil was rather quiet, but you blamed it on the whole situation that had occurred and remained silent. In all honesty, you were also too tired to talk about it. When you finally left him at the door of the servant-wing so he could go back to his own sleeping place, you were pinned down by so many disapproving gazes. Some of the maids even looked ready to pounce on you at any given moment.


“Don’t you people have something better to do?” Called Djúpvitr as she approached you and placed herself in front of you, challenging the others to say or do something. Some of them turned away while others now looked at the both of you with murderous glares.


“I’ve heard your friend has caused Thyri to be flogged by her own master.” A servant you only vaguely knew, said.
“Thyri probably got herself in trouble by her foolishness which is her own goddamn fault.” Djúpvitr said with venom dripping from every word.
“She had lord Fandral’s favour! Why would he do such a thing to her?” Another servant piped up. “Prince Loki ordered it and I’ve heard from Tola who spoke to Hildirid who overheard Asvor and Svan talking that the prince only did so because he was bewitched by her!” She said while pointing at you.


“Oh? Svinnr is a witch now? This story just gets better and better! Next you’re going to tell me that prince Thor is in fact a Bilgesnipe with stomach ache who was transformed into a prince by kissing the luscious lips of our very own Svinnr.” Djúpvitr said dramatically. The servant who had spoken huffed but remained quiet. “Instead of coming to your own stupid conclusions like cackling dumb hens, why don’t you listen to whatever Svinnr has to say, huh? Isn’t that an idea?”


“They clearly don’t want to hear it, Djúpvitr, but thanks for standing up for me.” You told your friend who was still fuming with anger. “I will tell you though.” You whispered and dragged Djúpvitr to your bed to sit down. You then told the whole story while the servants closest to you either huffed, got up and left or stayed quiet and did nothing at all.


“Shit, Svinnr. This is bad.” Djúpvitr said and to your surprise she had a pained expression on her face. Normally she would spawn her opinion everywhere and you had definitely thought she would be excited to hear your story, but this pained and dulled out expression made your stomach turn.


“What’s wrong, Djúpvitr?” You asked, almost too afraid to hear the answer.
“Svinnr, attracting attention is all some of these brainless maids want, but not where the dark prince is concerned. No one wants to gain his favour, no one. Sure, he has had several maids before, but there’s a reason why you never hear from them. While all of them brag about being bedded by prince Thor, no one ever does so with prince Loki. Not much is known about him, only that chaos follows him wherever he goes. I do not want you to find yourself in such a situation. He’s a dangerous man and now that he knows your name and has helped you, he will remember and I don’t think that means anything good for you.” Djúpvitr warned and you sighed.


“Lord Blekk said something similar. That I should not trust him, but still I cannot help but feel grateful he was there. He helped me while otherwise that maid might have seriously injured me.”
“Yes, well, don’t expect him to care.”
“But, Djúpvitr, he… he told me that if ever there was something amiss I could go to him and he would put a stop to it.” You said and Djúpvitr looked at you again with that pained expression.


“Asked you or ordered you? Has it ever occurred to you that he would say something like that to make you dependant on him? He wants you to go to him to manipulate you into trusting him. You’re a pretty girl, Svinnr, he might be more subtle than Fandral, but he’s still a man. I believe they want the same thing, only they have different ways of getting it. He wants you to come willingly to him, I’m sure of it.” She said and a shiver ran down your spine.

What if Djúpvitr was right and you were already being played by the prince? What if he was such a master of emotions that he was able to send false signals, making you believe he was being genuine, while in reality…. This was getting too much for you to process.


“I’m really tired, Djúpvitr. Let’s stop talking about the prince and turn in for the night?” Djúpvitr nodded but still looked rather solemn. That night you hardly got any sleep and the following day would be a restless one too.

“You look awful, girl.” Lord Skírnir told you as soon as you walked into his study the following day. “That’s what no sleep does to someone.” You thought gloomy. “Have you already eaten something girl?” He asked and you shook your head. “You can have the rest of my breakfast, but this will be the only time I allow it.” He said with an angry undertone. You quickly shoved the leftovers in your face and swallowed it down with a glass of milk before turning to your little desk to begin your work. “Once you’re done with sending out the invites, I want you to go to my future wife to pen down all of her desires.” Lord Skírnir said.

“Yes, my lord.” You said and began your work.

After an hour or two you realised just how big this wedding was going to be. The list of invites from Asgard alone was already too much, but when you saw the one from Alfheim your hand began to ache just by looking at all the names. Eventually lord Skírnir told you, you could leave the one from Vanaheim and Alfheim for the next day, so that you could spent your remaining day with his wife. You felt relieved. Spending hours bent over a desk scribbling away the same thing over and over again turned out to be rather a dull affair, so this would be something different.

Only, the future wife turned out to be an absolute brat that thought of you as her personal slave. Her idea of a dress was borderline insane and you felt bad for whoever had to make it. The colour theme also sounded weird with the bride and bridesmaids dressed in raspberry pink dresses or something similar and the groom with his closest friends in shades of mint green or darker. The food that she wanted to have served also sounded strange in your ears with dishes you had never heard of and when you asked about them, the bride either huffed in frustration or explained in detail what it was and how it was cooked. Most of it was very traditional and made your stomach turn, so you refrained from asking any more questions concerning the food. Eventually the bride needed a break and decided to go and visit the other highborn ladies in the queen’s tearoom. Svala Arfastdottir took you with her and showed you off as some sort of priced horse while all the other ladies praised her on her new servant even though you weren’t hers to begin with.


“She can read and write as well and helps my future husband with the arrangement of our wedding.” The other women gasped and told her of their jealousy for such a valuable servant. Some even dropped that title and called you a slave. You had to endure all of their ridiculous banter and dull conversations with clenched teeth until a friendly voice woke you out of your angry trance.
"I really need to get my anger under control."  You thought. "It will kill me one day, I’m sure."
“What’s your name, girl?” A beautiful woman with golden hair and warm blue eyes asked with a smile.
“Svinnr, my lady.” You said and for some reason you mimicked her smile and felt surprisingly at ease.


“No! Bad, girl!” Lady Svala said as she screeched at you like you were a dog that had done something wrong. “I’m sorry, my queen, she hasn’t been properly trained yet.” She said addressing the beautiful woman who chuckled slightly.
“Oh, Norns!” You pretty much mentally slapped yourself. “First I don’t recognise the dark prince and now the queen!”
“No need for apologies, lady Svala. I’m sure the girl meant well.”
“I apologise, my queen.” You said when the queen looked back up at you.
“No harm done, Svinnr.” She said with that warm smile once more. “Now tell me, where might I have heard that name before?”


“I… I am lord Blekk’s new help.” You stated and you could see lady Svala bristling in the corner of your eyes as the other ladies looked at her with amused expressions.
“Ah, I see. And how did you come into lady Svala’s service?” She asked and you beamed at her. You knew what the queen was doing and it delighted you all the more.


“Lord Blekk has struck an accord with lord Skírnir where I would help him with the arrangements for his wedding.” You said proudly, but couldn’t help but add something for good measure. “After that I will return back to lord Blekk’s service at the archives.” The look of embarrassment on lady Svala’s face was definitely worth it, but the look the queen gave you was even better. She looked both parts delighted and mischievous as if she was silently praising you for catching up so quickly.


“Oh, how wonderful and where are you from, dear?” She asked.
“I was born in Elvekjøtt, a small village at the banks of the Fosselv on Vanaheim. But my parents, being weavers, decided to move back to Asgard to start a new business here.” You quickly summarised.
“Have you been here long then, child?”
“About thirty years now, my queen.” You said sadly and then quickly changed your expression, but the queen had already seen the sadness.


“You miss it.” It wasn’t even a question.
“I do, my queen.” You then realised who you were complaining about. “Not to say that Asgard isn’t beautiful and great.” You all but squealed out like a mouse.
“Don’t worry, my dear. I spend most of my life on Vanaheim as well and I still miss the golden fields and the azure lakes.” She said and your love for the queen grew with every passing second.


“Where are you from, my queen?” You asked excitedly before you could hold your own tongue. In the meanwhile the ladies at the table darted their eyes from the queen to you and back, not sure how to feel about this kind of friendly conversation between their queen and a mere servant.


“I was born at the palace actually. You see, king Njörðr was named king by the court of high nobles,  but before his reign my father acted as its king. The name Fjörgynn may ring a bell?” You nodded. You had read about him before, once or twice. “My father is still to this day the longest reigning king in all the nine realms, although I must say my husband has made it a point to take that place for himself.” The ladies all giggled at that, while you regarded the queen with pure fascination. “Will king Njörðr attend the wedding, Svala?” The queen suddenly asked lady Svala who had been left to choke on her bitterness.


“I believe my husband intends to invite him, just as he will prince Frey.” She said.
“Oh, then I better pray to the Norns that he won’t give Thor any ideas on going on some kind of dangerous adventure.” The queen said with a warm smile and again all the ladies giggled. You even found yourself smirking as well. You had read quite a few letters prince Frey had sent lord Skírnir to brag about his conquests back on Alfheim. You had even been allowed to reply to one of them because lord Skírnir deemed it unimportant.


“What has you smiling so, my dear?” The queen asked and you felt your cheeks redden instantly. You quickly glanced at lady Svala, but she was looking disinterested at her glass.


“I… Lord Skírnir had me read some letters to respond to some of them. And I was allowed to write one back to the prince.” You answered timidly and felt your cheeks redden even more if that was even possible. All eyes were on you before the queen smirked mischievously.


“What did you talk about?” She asked and you couldn’t help but chuckle.
“Prince Frey was telling a vivid story about winning a bet with his master of the treasury and now he owns the prince a horse and a new bow. I praised the prince on winning the bet and even suggested to request a Mirkwood bow, given that they were used in the days of old by the light elves of Ljósálfheimr.” You said with a smile.

“I’m actually looking forward to his reply.” You added a bit nervously, but still proud that you had the courage to say so out loud. The queen smiled happily at your excitement and free way of speaking. She even had a warm glint in her eyes as if they were filled with adoration and affection.


 

Chapter Text

Chapter 8: The wedding


 

A whole month. A whole damning month you had spent with the bride and groom even though you were only supposed to stay for a week or two. You thanked your lucky stars however when you received your first monthly break after the first two weeks with the couple to go home for a whole week. Your mother and father seemed to be somewhat happy to see you, but then again they had always been some sort of distant. At least they had become that way after the accident. Your brother had been angry with you for a full day, before giving into his desire to play around with his big sister. You had bought him a little stjarna to place on his bedside table to light up his room in the dark. He was over the moon by it and hid it from your parents, only having told his sister of his fear of the dark.

The goodbye on the last day hadn’t been as heart-breaking as the last one, because now your brother knew you were definitely coming back and no one lied to him this time. You however still felt horrible leaving him behind, especially after you had told him about Egil the Einherjar, the warriors three and the princes. His poor head was filled with hopes and dreams of one day meeting them all and if you were being honest with yourself, you dreamt of seeing your brother’s eyes widen at the sight of the palace and the brave princes and soldiers protecting it all. As soon as you had gotten on the skift back to the palace and you saw your village disappear, you had felt a great dread knowing your days with the couple were not over yet. And here you were, two weeks later and finally the wedding would be over soon. After that you would be free to return back to lord Blekk and all your books and trinkets you had come to love so dearly.


“Svinnr?! Where did you put that jewellery box with the Elessar necklace and earrings?!” Lady Svala screamed from her bathroom while an army of bridesmaids and servants surrounded her to get her dressed and ready for her wedding. You sighed and got up to tell her once again that the box was waiting for her in the bottom drawer of her vanity table. You too were dressed as the personal servants that were now busy fashioning their lady’s hair. Even though you absolutely hated the harsh colours that the bride had chosen for her bridesmaids, you felt rather comfortable in your dress of a lighter pink colour. Your hair had also been styled into a long braid with little sparkling jewels entwined into it, just like the other servants. You felt rather bad that you were being put on display as a servant to the house of Aevalur when you were in fact under the service of lord Blekk who would also be attending the feast.

He had told you beforehand that he didn’t mind that much, not after you had told him of the non-matching colours and having to wear something similar. He and Egil had even laughed at your sour mood. You did however decide to slightly bend the rules on the otherwise strict rules on attire and attach a brooch in the form of a book. Egil had had it made for you especially as a sort of apology for laughing at your expensive. It had been silly, you both knew it, but the brooch was in fact incredibly thoughtful and so you would wear it for Egil, lord Blekk and yourself. Your confidence and courage had received a boost in the last few weeks and it had all to do with the various rumours that were being spread.

Djúpvitr and you kept laughing at some of them while others even made your skin crawl. The effect was the same nonetheless. Most of the other servants, male or female, stayed out of your way and stopped harassing you. It had everything to do with the mystery of why prince Loki had stepped in and helped a mere servant. One rumour said you had bewitched him and now the prince was at your beck and call. Another said prince Loki wasn’t actually there and you had tricked lord Fandral in hurting the other girl. But the rumour that was the most popular nowadays was the one where Loki became so jealous of lord Fandral’s request of making you his new chambermaid, that he latched out on the other servant and punished her for not only attacking what was his, but also for suggesting his plaything would betray him in such a vile way.

No one wanted to hear the story from you so the rumours would always exist and the prince either ignored them, refused to indulge in them or he simply didn’t know they existed. Either way the prince remained silent and every time you ran into him when you were on your way carrying plates of lunch or dinner for lord Skírnir, his wife or yourself, the prince simply smiled at you but never said a thing other than a “good day” and a “good evening”. And even though that was all he did, the servants who had seen him do so told everyone about it with the needed exaggerations of course. One servant claimed to have seen the prince whisper dirty thoughts into your ear while another swore to have seen him brush against you to quickly caress your breast. All of these rumours resulted in you being considered dangerous as well as the biggest whore of the serving staff, even though you were probably one of the only virgins still among said staff.


“Alright! Is everyone ready?” Lady Svala said and woke you up from your daydreaming. “Hrefna! Pull up your dress! You’re not going out there with me while you’re looking like that!” Lady Hrefna’s cheeks reddened as she quickly adjusted her dress and took her place among the other bridesmaids. A moment later a knock on the door was heard and Svala’s father walked in. He was also dressed in green, but not the mint-green colour that lord Skírnir was planning on wearing, no, he wore a dark forest green tunic with silver details and armour.
“It’s time, my dear to meet your husband.” The father said and the bride beamed a big smile at him. You were sure that lady Svala and lord Skírnir were a bit more acquainted than her father seemed to think, nevertheless was this an arranged marriage between two noble households to solidify an agreement, wealth or an alliance.


“I’m ready father.” Lady Svala said and took his arm to guide her out of her own apartments and into the corridors in the direction of the throne room where the allfather would solidify their union. The bride was followed by her army of bridesmaids and behind them came the servants. Their job would consist of smiling and throwing little flowers when the bride would take that long walk down the aisle to join her husband in the front, at the bottom steps of the throne. You were actually quite excited. Not only was this the very first wedding you would attend to, but you would also meet so many different beings from all over the realm. Elves, Vanir, Æsir and even some dwarves from Svartalfheim. The one you were looking most forward to see, was prince Frey.

In the weeks you had spent with lord Skírnir, you had send and received various letters from the prince. He had actually listened to you and had now in his possession a real Mirkwood longbow which he was going to bring along to the feast. He had asked how the wedding was going along and if he needed help arranging it. That’s when you had told him lord Skírnir already had an assistant to help him out, without really revealing that said assistant was actually writing him the letters instead of lord Skírnir himself. The last letter you had received from him told you about all his plans to throw the biggest Ostara feast the nine had ever seen. He even went so far as to say he was going to invite some Jotnar over. Mountain giants and storm giants only of course, although it sounded more of a question the way he said it as if he was still debating whether bringing frost giants and rock giants would be considered as a bad idea.

When you all finally arrived at the throne room and the doors opened up for you, you were greeted with the biggest mass of people you had ever seen gathered into one place. The throne room itself was huge! You knew that the allfather, the queen, the princes and the groom were waiting at the end of the room, but as far as you could see, there simply was no end. Soft music started playing as lady Svala and her father slowly crept through the path between the mass. You and the other maids threw flowers from your little baskets after the bride. You tried with all your might to look for a familiar face among the crowd, but you didn’t really know that many people and there might as well be thousands of others between them. You wondered if lord Blekk would also be dressed in green. The closer you got to the throne the more vibrant the colour scheme became. Men and women here wore blues, reds, yellows and purples to create a pretty rainbow as you walked passed them. You were just questioning if they had gotten the memo for the greens and pinks, when you realised that most of them had pointy ears and long platina hair.

“The light elves!” You thought excitedly. When you looked up to see how far the throne still was, you were met with the most brilliant of all sights. The royal family standing on the goldens steps of the throne of Asgard, the throne of all the nine realms. The Allfather was clad in gold armour with a crimson red cape and a golden helmet. In his hand he had the great golden staff Gungnir. The queen was a step down from him, wearing a deep blue dress with a silver breastplate and silver vambraces. On top of her head she wore a silver band filled with little diamonds that caught the light with every move she made. The princes too were wearing their best. Prince Thor was clad in a simpler version of the allfather’s attire. Instead of gold, Thor’s armour was mostly silver and his helmet had smaller feathers than his father’s. Prince Loki however was wearing gold armour, but not the crimson red that both his father and his brother seemed to prefer. He wore an emerald green cape and a golden horned helmet that added a few inches to his height.


“As if he wasn’t big enough already.” You mused to yourself. They simply looked royal, there was no question about that. Lord Skírnir wasn’t looking bad either, even though you didn’t necessarily like the mint-green of his tunic, it actually seemed to suit him beautifully. When Lady Svala had kissed her father on the cheeks and climbed the steps to her husband alone, the whole room went silent. Your job was now over as you followed the other servants to the side. You did however catch prince Loki’s eye and felt your cheeks flush hot when he winked at you with a smirk plastered on his face.


“We have gathered here to unite these two people in marriage. Their decision to marry has not been entered into lightly and today they publicly declare their private devotion to each other. The essence of this commitment is the acceptance of each other in entirety, as lover, companion, and friend. A good and balanced relationship is one in which neither person is overpowered nor absorbed by the other, one in which neither person is possessive of the other, one in which both give their love freely and without jealousy. Marriage, ideally, is a sharing of responsibilities, hopes, and dreams. It takes a special effort to grow together, survive hard times, and be loving and unselfish.” The allfather began with a booming voice that filled the entire room and then paused for a moment.


“Do you both pledge to share your lives openly with one another, and to speak the truth in love? Do you promise to honour and tenderly care for one another, cherish and encourage each other, stand together, through sorrows and joys, hardships and triumphs for all the days of your lives?” The allfather asked as he took one hand from the groom and one hand from the bride to place them together in his own.
“We do.” Lord Skírnir and lady Svala said together.
“Do you pledge to share your love and the joys of your marriage with all those around you, so that they may learn from your love and be encouraged to grow in their own lives?” The allfather asked as he bound their hands together with silk that seemed to be glowing.
“We do.” The couple said again and the silk shone brighter, before disappearing altogether and leaving behind two rings.


“May these rings be blessed as a symbol of your union. As often as either of you look upon these rings, may you not only be reminded of this moment, but also of the vows you have made and the strength of your commitment to each other.” The allfather spoke as he gave the couple each of the rings. Lord Skírnir grabbed lady Svala’s hand and slipped the ring on her finger. After that lady Svala did the same with lord Skírnir. “Go now in peace and live in love, sharing the most precious gifts you have the gifts of your lives united. And may your days be long in this universe. I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride.” Odin declared and Skírnir did not wait one moment to seal his wife’s lips with his own. The whole room busted with loud applause and cheering as the two showed their love for each other in full view of all the realms. And now came what everyone was actually waiting for, the wedding feast. The bride and groom went back to their now shared apartments (which were actually lord Skírnir’s apartments), to change outfits and freshen up to join everyone at the dining hall.


“Are you Svinnr?” A woman clad in a red dress asked as she stepped towards you. She had gorgeous blond hair fashioned into a complicated braid on top of her head.
“I am, my lady.” You said as you curtsied for her.
“Good. Now if you would please follow me, the queen has demanded your presence.” The woman said and before you could utter a “what”, she turned around and walked away. You quickly followed behind her as you were curious to see what the queen would want from you. “Don’t be nervous, girl. The queen seemed quite taken with you at one of her the tea-gatherings. I’m lady Fulla by the way, but you can call me by my name only.” The woman said with a warm smile that mimicked the queen’s.
“Oh,… are you sure? I know it’s not proper for a ser-“
“I’m a lady in waiting to the queen. In a sense that makes me a servant too. Even the queen and king serve the realms, so don’t tell me it’s not proper for a servant to call another servant by name.” Lady Fulla said with a smirk. You smirked too. Fulla seemed every bit as wild as Djúpvitr and you loved it.

“Is this your first wedding?” Fulla asked.
“It is, yes. I really tried to look out for the dwarves from Svartalfheim, but there were so many people!” You said in wonder which earned you a chuckle from Fulla.
“You’ll see them soon enough, but let me tell you a little secret.” She said as she started to whisper so you had to come closer. “They’re only dwarves in name. They are of the exact height as ourselves.” Fulla said with a laugh as she saw your bewildered face.
“But, then why are they called that?” You asked.


“They were given that name by both the rock giants and the light elves. Rock giants, well, they’re giant and the light elves are also bigger than your average Asgardian or Midgardian. They simply named them so, because they were smaller than them.” She said, but then quickly added something else. “They also hate them, so it was meant to disgrace them, only the rest of the realm took over the name and now it’s considered an honour to have it.” You were just thinking to remember to read a new book on the dwarves from Svartalfheim when you arrived at the queen’s chambers. Fulla pushed open the doors and trotted inside as if these were her own rooms.


“Ah, Fulla!” The queen called as she spotted the both of you. “And you have brought Svinnr with you.” She beamed as she came to greet you. “You look lovely, my dear.” The queen said as she kissed you on the cheeks which instantly reddened.
“My queen, it is you who is truly lovely. Your presence brightens every room you walk into.” You replied with the deepest curtsy you could master. The queen chuckled.
“You see, Fulla? Now that’s a compliment.” She told her with a bright smile. Fulla only rolled her eyes, but she too kept her smile plastered on her face.
“Oh, please. The girl is new and therefor needs to say nice things.” Fulla replied.
“Speaking of new. Was this your first wedding, Svinnr?”
“It was, your majesty.”
“And what were your thoughts on it?” She asked as she guided you towards a table in one of her side rooms.


“She was busy looking around for dwarves.” Fulla supplied as she sat herself down on the queen’s right, to leave the left open for you.
“Oh? And what did you think of them?” The queen asked.
“I didn’t see any. I also didn’t know they were the same size as us, not until Fulla told me so.” You said honestly. “The wedding ceremony was very lovely though.”
“Yes and I see you have broken protocol by wearing that brooch.” The queen said as she pointed to your chest. Once again you felt your cheeks redden.
“I… I thought it was a nice touch. I might have helped lord Skírnir and his wife out with this wedding, but I’m still lord Blekk’s help.” You said nervously, not really knowing whether you were in trouble or not.
“That you are. Lord Blekk seemed rather pleased when he saw you wearing it.” The queen said and instantly your spirits were lifted. “Now, tell me, have you got anything to wear for the feast?”


“I… I thought I wasn’t allowed to attend the-“
“Oh, no, you’re not.” Fulla said.
“I thought as much. That’s why I have had a dress made for you.” The queen said. “Fulla, dear, will you please get the dress?” The queen asked and Fulla left the table only to come back with a sapphire blue dress that perfectly matched the colour of your eyes. “What do you think, dear?” The queen asked after a moment of silence. You were speechless. You hardly ever got presents and this dress must have cost more than your parent’s house! More importantly it was gifted to you by the queen herself! A servant being gifted by the queen?!


“It is beautiful, your majesty.” You said with a voice full of raw emotion as a single tear rolled down your cheek. You were so fixated by the dress that you missed the warm look the queen was shooting you.


 

Chapter Text

Chapter 9: Prince Frey


 

You were walking behind the king and queen, amongst her ladies in waiting. You felt amazing in your gown and for once in your life you could simply forget about all your worries and just live in the moment. Lord Blekk was the first to approach you after bowing to the king and queen who soon walked to their seats.
“Svinnr, how lovely you look.” He said as he smiled down on you. “And thank you for wearing that brooch.”
“Oh, no problem. I think it actually fits this dress rather well.” You said happily.


“Speaking of the dress, how did you get your hands on such fine material?” You looked quite delighted when you bent in closer to whisper in his ear. “The queen gave it to me.” You told him and he smirked at you with nothing more than the kind of affection a father would have over his child.
“I was hoping lady Svala would give you leave to attend the feast.” He said.
“Actually, the queen invited me.” At that lord Blekk grimaced.


“After all that work and you’re not even allowed to attend the feast?” He hissed. “Well, at least the queen out rules everyone, so they will have to bear the fact that you’re here anyway.”
“Well, if it isn’t the loveliest maiden in all of Asgard.” A voice spoke and as you turned to see who it was, you weren’t surprised to find lord Fandral with a vile smile on his face.
“Lord Fandral.” You greeted with a quick curtsy.
“What do you want, Fandral?” Asked lord Blekk who was anything but pleased to see the man.
“Good of you to ask, Blekk. I want a dance.”
“I’m flattered, boy, but you’re not my type.” Lord Blekk deadpanned to your great surprise. All this time with him and never had he made one such joke! Lord Fandral too seemed surprised to hear such a thing from coming from the old man as he simply gaped at him in shock.


“What a great night this is!” A loud voice boomed with a laugh that shook the furniture inside the hall. Prince Thor came into view, wearing a slightly more comfortable kind of the armour he wore at the ceremony. “This must be the first time I have ever seen you be unsuccessful, dear Fandral.” He laughed and then he slammed a hand on lord Fandral’s shoulder with such force that he took an involuntary step forward so as not to fall.
“My prince.” Lord Blekk said with a bow which you quickly followed up with a deep curtsy.
“Thor.” Fandral said with a smile, but it didn’t reach his eyes at all.


“Come, Svinnr. Let us sit down.” Lord Blekk muttered so only you could hear. Prince Thor didn’t seem to notice you were even standing there, so you nodded and left with your employer.
“Tell me, since when did the queen take notice of you?”
“We spoke at a tea party lady Svala had taken me to.”
“Well, I’m glad she has taken a liking to you.” He said as he guided you towards a table at the foot of the usual spot of the royal family, also known as the ‘high table’. Tonight, and only tonight, the newlyweds would take a seat with the royal family as a sign of respect and celebration in their union. Lord Blekk took a seat and gestured for you to take the one next to him.
“I’m not sure if that’s allowed, my lord.” You said. Afterall servants were not allowed to celebrate with all the nobles, they were only here to work.


“Oh, please, girl. You were not allowed to come here in the first place, so why not add to the list of rules you have already broken and enjoy yourself?” Lord Blekk seemed to be in high spirits tonight which made you wonder if he had always been this nice and fun or that perhaps he was drunk. He gave you a genuine smile though, so you sat down beside him and acted as if you were not a servant, but some sort of lady. “I take it you have never been to a noble wedding before.” It wasn’t even a question, but you still shook your head to confirm it for him. “Well, right now everyone is socialising, but as soon as the bride and groom walk in, they will all take their seats to enjoy the banquet. After that comes the dancing, drinking and scandal.”
“What do you mean by scandal?”
“Prince Thor and his friends usually participate in various drinking games or bets. Then you have many nobles who suddenly disappear into little alcoves and well…. A fight or two may break out or a heated argument. It’s quite interesting to see the effects of ale on people.” You smirked at that and began asking lord Blekk whether dwarves or elves would suffer the same effects or not.

You were so engaged in carefree conversation that you almost missed the newlyweds walking into the hall. You both stood up from your seats and applauded with the rest before sitting back down and wait for the first course to be served. During the whole banquet lord Blekk told you about the different kinds of food you were eating after you had confessed to him you hardly recognised anything. You were just enjoying some Røkelaks og egg when you let your eyes roam over the people seated at the high table. The king and queen were easy to spot of course, same for the princes and the newlyweds, but the man sitting next to the queen and lord Skírnir looked unfamiliar. You hitched a breath when you realised who he probably was. Prince Frey.

As if lord Skírnir had heard the sharp-intake, he turned and spotted you seated next to lord Blekk. He smiled and leaned into his companion to whisper something in his ear. Prince Frey then turned his head as well to look at you and you swore you could have seen his eyes widen. You then quickly looked away and spotted prince Loki looking at you as well, only he seemed deep in thought as if he was looking right through you.

“What’s wrong, Svinnr?” Lord Blekk asked after you had spent a good ten minutes playing around with the pudding on your plate. You couldn’t eat. Not while you could feel the burning gaze of eyes on you. You didn’t know whether it was lord Skírnir, prince Loki or prince Frey, but it was maddening and you didn’t dare to look at the high table anymore. You were about to tell lord Blekk that you needed some air or something along those lines when someone interrupted that plan.


“I am very pleased to see you here, girl. Although I must say I am surprised. My wife didn’t want me to allow you to attend the feast and now she is a bit angry with me.” Lord Skírnir said with a half-smile. “Never mind. I want to introduce you to someone.” He said and held out his hand for you to take. You glanced at lord Blekk who was shooting daggers at lord Skírnir, but when he saw that you were silently asking for his permission or his guidance, he nodded and gave a small smile. You returned it and took lord Skírnir’s hand to get up and follow him to wherever he wanted to lead you.
“My prince!” Lord Skírnir suddenly yelled and then there he was. Prince Frey with his golden hair, perfectly trimmed golden beard and gentle light blue eyes. “This is the girl I was talking about.” Lord Skírnir said and pretty much pushed you forward to stand in front of the prince.


“It’s a pleasure to meet you, my prince.” You said after you had made a deep curtsy. The prince looked baffled, but you didn’t know why. He then looked at lord Skírnir.
“I think your wife needs you, Skírnir.” The prince said with a voice that was made out of the softest velvet. You all looked up to see lady Svala looking incredibly bored while another lady kept talking to her or rather at her.
“Ah, I see. I will rescue the damsel in distress then.” Lord Skírnir said before going back to the high table and sit with his wife.


“The pleasure is all mine, my lady.” The prince suddenly said and for a second you looked confused before realising you had told him something similar a few moments ago. He then took your hand in his and softly raised it towards his mouth to kiss it gently. “My ambassador told me that you were his assistant for a while.”
“Yes, I was, my prince.” You said and begged the Norns your cheeks weren’t as red as you thought they were.


“Was he a tyrant?” He asked seriously, before he began chuckling at seeing your face. “Don’t worry, I won’t tell. You can be honest with me.” He said and for some reason you wanted to believe him.
“I learned a lot under his employment.” You told him, not wanting to reveal too much to lord Skírnir’s employer, but neither wanting to lie about it. Lord Frey gave you a big smile.
“That could mean anything, little one.” He said before going serious again. “What is your name?”
“Svinnr, my prince.” He remained silent and gave you some sort of strange look. The best way to describe it was the face of betrayal, but you weren’t sure why he would look so.


“Prince Frey.” A cold voice said and before you had turned your head in the direction of the voice, you could already guess whom it was from. Prince Loki stood there looking smug, but his eyes were as hard and cold as ice. Prince Frey seemed to be shaken out of his little reverie when prince Loki said his name. He only gave a firm nod to greet him, but that didn’t seem to bother prince Loki as he soon diverted his attention to you. “I want to dance with you.” It wasn’t a question, just a simple order you couldn’t say no to or there would certainly be consequences. You quickly dropped down in a curtsy and was about to follow prince Loki to the other couples dancing in the middle of the hall, when you felt a hand fall down on your shoulder to stop you in your tracks.


“You can say no if you don’t want to, Svinnr.” Prince Frey said and you froze. This wasn’t going to end well. Prince Loki turned around and looked absolutely murderous.
“She agreed to the dance.” Prince Loki all but hissed.
“Yes, but only because it was an order.” Prince Frey said and you could feel his hand pulling on you to move you slightly behind him. Prince Loki too noticed the movement and seemed to boil all the more with anger.


“Please, it’s alright.” You said as you gently peeled prince Frey’s hand from your shoulder. “I’d love to dance with you, my prince.” You said while barley looking prince Loki in the eye. He still looked awfully angry and without another word he grabbed your hand and dragged you across the hall to the dance floor. Even though you felt him trembling with anger, his grip on your wrist wasn’t harsh but neither was it gentle. You were so focussed on putting a stop to a possible murder that you only now realised you could hardy dance, let alone dance any fancy ones. There was a huge difference between being able to freely move with the music than dancing where certain rules are involved.
“M-my prince?” You asked with a trembling voice. Loki had come to a stop while other couples danced around you both.


“What?” He nearly spat at you.
“I… I don’t know how….” His face suddenly softened and you thought you could even identify a smile on his face. 
“Don’t worry, little one.” He said as he came closer and laid his hand on the small of your back. “All you have to do is follow my lead.” He said and then he gently pulled your hand in his. When you placed your other hand on his upper arm he chuckled and replaced it on his shoulder. He then began to move swiftly over the dancefloor. You were quickly tripping over his feet and felt your whole face heat up with embarrassment. Not only were you failing at making the right steps, but you were doing so dancing with a prince while his parents and half of the realm was watching.

“Don’t look at your feet. Look at me.” Prince Loki said and now you could simply feel the heat from your cheeks go all the way down to your neck. As if this wasn’t bad enough and now you had to look into his piercing eyes. You took a deep breath and lifted your gaze to meet his and when you did so you were met with a beautiful smile on his pale face. “Now listen to the music and feel my direction. You’ll see they go hand in hand.” You nodded and tried to focus, but then after a while you found out that when you didn’t focus at all you could simply feel where you needed to place the next step or when a twirl was coming around. And just like that you were no longer stumbling and were even enjoying the dance. Even if it was with the dark prince. Eventually the dance ended with one last twirl, but the prince kept his hand locked on the small of your back and for a split second you though you even felt him splay his fingers over it.


“Would you like another dance?” His voice sounded a bit more rougher than before and the look he was giving you was even more intense than it had ever been before. “With me?” He added even more hoarser. You looked at him quizzingly. Was he just trying to be polite? Why else did he sound and look so weird? Or did he simply wanted you to say yes to him without him having to order you? His eyes kept flicking between your own as if he was trying to read you or look for any signals he might find in them.
“I would love to, my prince.” You finally decided to say even though it sounded less confident than you would have liked it. His eyes expanded even more and he pulled you closer to him. You danced and danced. After a while you no longer noticed when one dance ended and another began. It was almost like you both were in your own little world. Eventually after the fourth or maybe even the fifth dance, you were interrupted by another couple.


“My prince, I would be honoured to have the next dance with you.” Lady Svala said to prince Loki as she let go of prince Frey’s hand. Prince Loki looked displeased and said nothing. Then he turned his attention back to you and kissed your hand softly, letting his lips linger on your knuckles for a while longer than was proper.
“I will come find you for another round.” He promised with a smug smile and then took lady Svala’s hand to guide her into the dance.


“Quite a strange man, don’t you agree?” Prince Frey asked. “What’s your opinion on him?” Not only was that a very vague question, it was also highly improper to answer it. Prince Frey seemed to realise you were conflicted to answer and simply laughed. “Oh, come now, my lady! Surely all ladies of the court indulge in gossip?” Now you simply looked hurt. Was this some sort of joke? Surely lord Skírnir or lady Svala would have told him you were but a servant.
“I’m no lady, my prince.” You said while straightening your back. Now he looked shocked and hurt himself.


“Surely you jest?”
“I assure you, I am not jesting.” You said defensively. “As a matter of fact I am lord Blekk Sturluson’s help at the archives. Helping ambassador Skírnir had only been temporary and after the feast I will return to my original duties.” The look prince Frey was giving you was one of a beaten dog, which strangely enough only angered you further.


“If I have offended you in any way, I apologise.” He said with a voice full of remorse. You were both silent for a moment, both a little lost for words as it would seem. “How about a walk in the gardens?” He finally asked you.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea, my prince.” You muttered. “Prince Loki might become angry when he can’t find me for his promised dance.” As soon as the words had left your mouth, you regretted them. Not only were you disrespecting prince Loki by discussing him so carelessly, but now you also made yourself look weak at being scared of what the dark prince might do. Prince Frey’s face constricted and his eyes suddenly turned icy.


“Does he frighten you?” He asked. “Did he hurt you?”
“No! No, my prince. He has never done anything to hurt me! I just… I don’t want him to get angry and direct that at you.” Now you truly sounded dull and stupid, but for some reason prince Frey’s face changed completely to a softened expression.
“I’m honoured that you worry so over me, my sweet, but I assure you that I have known Loki for all his life. I can protect myself from him.” You couldn’t help yourself but return the warm smile he was sending your way.


“Svinnr!” Prince Loki called and quickly placed his hand on your waist to pull you to his side. Awkwardly trailing behind him was lady Svala who quickly left to find another dance partner. “Everything alright?” He asked as he scanned your face.
“I think I should take my leave now.” You said and regretted you couldn’t stay any longer, but the rivalry between the two princes was getting a bit too much. Besides lord Blekk wouldn’t excuse a night of feasting for a lack of concentration at work. Loki squeezed you a little tighter.


“Stay. I can speak with Blekk so that you can have tomorrow off.” He suggested which made you strangely happy, yet you had missed your copying of the chronicles of the Dark Elves from Svartalheim and were actually looking forward to working with lord Blekk again.
“I’m honoured you would do such a thing for me, my prince, however I do wish to proof myself worthy of being lord Blekk’ help.” Loki gave you a strange look that you couldn’t quite place, but he didn’t seem displeased, angry or smug which could only mean something good in your books.
“Lord Blekk is lucky to have such a loyal help.” Prince Frey supplied and instantly Loki’s face changed as he looked at the other prince with an icy glare.


“Yes, he certainly is.” Prince Loki said rather detached. “Let me escort you back to the servant-wing.”
“Oh, you don’t have to-“
“I won’t allow you to go on your own.”
“I’ll escort you, Svinnr.” Egil’s voice sounded and you felt great relief at seeing your friend’s face.
“Egil!” You said happily before giving the man a hug. As soon as you let go of him, you felt Loki immediately replacing his hand to the small of your back.


“My prince.” Egil said, bowing deeply for prince Loki and then repeating the process for prince Frey.
“And who might you be?” Prince Frey asked.
“I’m Egil Helgisson, brother of Fandral the dashing and guard to the library and archives. I have been charged by lord Blekk to keep an eye out for Svinnr and protect her.”
“Yes, well you didn’t do much protecting when she was assaulted by your brother’s harlot.” Loki hissed. Egil looked angry, but even more so, he looked remorseful and guilt-ridden.
“It wasn’t your fault, Egil. I always feel safe with you around and I hope you know that.” You said and he looked slightly more confident.


“What is this about being assaulted?” Prince Frey asked angrily.
“She was attacked by a jealous little wench, but not to worry, I punished her for it.” Prince Loki answered smugly as he caressed your back soothingly.
“So, do you want me to escort you back to the servant-wing, Svinnr?” Asked Egil completely ignoring prince Loki.
“If you don’t mind, my lord.”
“Of course not, sweetling and it’s Egil.” He said before remembering the hostile company he was in. “My prince.” He said stiffly as he bowed once again before prince Loki and prince Frey.


“Egil.” Replied Loki icily.
“Make sure she gets there safely, Egil.” Prince Frey replied, sounding strangely happy.
“Good night, my prince.” You said as you curtsied for prince Loki.
“Good night, my dear.” He said as he kissed your hand softly.
“Good night, my prince.” You repeated as you curtsied for the Vanir prince as well.
“Good night.” He said as he too kissed your hand. “Darling.” He said softly and then let go of your hand.


 

Chapter Text

Chapter 10: Prince Hreiðmarr


 

“So, did you enjoy your first noble wedding feast?” Lord Blekk asked as he popped another piece of hardboiled egg into his mouth.
“I did. I only regret I couldn’t stay longer to watch the effects of ale as you have told me about.” Lord Blekk chuckled.
“It was quite the spectacle. Although I too regret you couldn’t stay longer, I wish to congratulate you on your quick thinking, however. It was better to leave than letting the situation escalate between the princes.”
“Thank you, my lord.”
“Lord Fandral missed your presence as well.” Lord Blekk joked. “He even sang about you, until prince Frey got angry and demanded him to show more respect.” The scene lord Blekk had painted made you laugh. A drunken lord Fandral standing on a table singing his heart out while prince Frey boiled with anger. 

"I wish to discuss something with you, Svinnr.” Lord Blekk said after a moment of comfortable silence.
“What’s wrong?” You asked a bit panicked at the change of topics.
“Nothing, my dear, I only wish to discuss your sleeping arrangements.” Now you were truly confused. “For now you sleep with the other servants in the servant-wing, but Egil and I came to a conclusion that perhaps it would be better if you had your own room.”
“My own room?”
“Yes. At first I thought a room at the library would suffice given that it would be close by, but all of them are already been taken by other servants or librarians. I then realised, it would perhaps be better if you simply stayed at my own apartments, since I rarely use them myself.” Your eyes widened. Lord Blekk was planning on given you free roam over his very own apartments? “They’re close by as well, not so much as the library would have been, but still closer than the servant-wing. If you accept than I do want you to keep the place clean and if I were to receive guests when I’m there, I want you to join us as well.”

 
“Are you… are you sure, my lord?” Lord Blekk only laughed at that.
“I am, my dear. Besides something needs to be done about the little enemies you have made along the way. That servant who attacked you will not be the last.” He warned.
“Won’t this provoke the others more?”
“Oh, I’m sure it will. Jealousy is one of the strongest emotions amongst the servants and I am sure that this development while arouse many a rumour, but the point is that you are safe in my quarters. If I grant you access to my apartments and even let you live there, you will be able to enjoy the privileges that come with it. You can have food be brought to you, order the chambermaids around, invite guests,… Although I must say that inviting guests over can only be done with my explicit permission. I will also appoint Egil as your personal guard.”


“I’m honoured you think me worthy of staying at your apartments.” You replied with as much adoration and gratitude you could master. Lord Blekk reached over the table to pat your hand gently.
“No one is more worthier.” He said honestly. “Now, back to your copying! It has been untouched for far too long.” He said seriously again, but his eyes betrayed his amusement. You got up and quickly went to work. By the end of the day, you only needed to copy 30 more pages and you would be finished. When Lord Blekk told you, you could retire for the day, you shot up from your seat. You would finally get to see his apartments and even live in them! You thanked lord Blekk once again and bid him a good night before running up the stairs to meet Egil at the doors.


“Is this the new lady of the house of Sturluson that I see?” Egil greeted you teasingly.
“Indeed it is. And am I looking at the new head of my personal guard?” You teased him back.
“That you are.” He said while puffing up his chest dramatically which made you laugh. “Come, my lady! Let me escort you to your new housing.” He gave you his arm which you gladly took. Lord Blekk’s apartments were indeed not so far away from the archives. Only two hallways, whereas the servant-wing was close to seven hallways away. When lord Egil opened the doors for you and gave you the key of them for safekeeping, you were awed by the sight before you. You had expected lord Blekk to somehow have very messy apartments, but the floors were polished and the dark wood of the furniture in the seating chamber seemed to glow. The seats and couches were covered in a deep blue velvet and in the corner was a beautiful marble statue of a cloaked woman. Lord Blekk even had plants on the windowsills which added to the homely feeling of it all. You quickly walked into a room on the left and found a marvellous study that resembled the one of lord Skírnir, only lord Blekk’s collection of books was enormous.

Three of the four walls were packed with bookshelves and here and there piles of books were seen on the ground. You murmured a soft ‘wow’, before retracing your steps to the sitting room to explore the next room on the left, which turned out to be some sort of small bedroom. You assumed this is where a chambermaid would normally sleep. Even though this room was rather bare and not as big as the others you had seen, it was still bigger than your own bedroom back at home. When you came back to try the rooms on the right you found Lord Blekk’s bedroom with a huge four-poster bed and a luxurious bathroom with a bath that was more like a swimming pool given its size. All this luxury and lord Blekk had no problem at all for sharing it with a common girl? You felt tears pricking at the corner of your eyes, but you refused to let them fall. You were over the moon with joy for lord Blekk’s generosity and the life he was allowing you to have.


“Are you alright, Svinnr?” Egil asked as he stepped into the bathroom.
“I am. I’m just… I can’t believe he’s allowing me to have this.” You said honestly as you felt Egil step closer, turn you around and drape his arms around you.
“He respects you and your talents. You are of great value to him and he wishes for you to only have the best. I believe he came to see you as a daughter. The Norns know he hasn’t been blessed with children of his own.”
“I’m so happy to have met all of you.” You said as you squeezed Egil a little tighter. Egil was just about to say something, when he was interrupted by a soft meow. When you pulled away to see where the sound was coming from, you found a fluffy black cat staring at you with piercing green eyes.


“Well, hello there.” You said as you crouched to the floor and stretched your hand out for the cat to sniff. He did so and then gave it a tentative lick before snuggling his head against it.
“It seems to like you.” Egil said as he too crouched down to pat the cat, but it hissed at him as soon as he touched it. “Not so much me.” He chuckled.
“Is this lord Blekk’s cat?” You asked as you patted the cat some more while it purred happily.
“I don’t know. He didn’t say anything about a cat. In fact it would surprise me if he even liked animals.”
“Do you think he’ll mind if I kept it?” You asked with big pleading eyes as you scooped the cat up in your arms.


“If you plan on giving him that look, I’m sure he’ll allow it instantly.” Egil joked which made you laugh. You hugged the cat closer to your chest while scratching it under its chin.
“Any suggestions on names?” You asked Egil.
“Well, given that he doesn’t like me one bit, how about Serk?” He joked.
“No. This cat while not be associated with that vile man.”
“Alright, alright, I was only joking.” Egil chuckled. “Maybe you can settle on a name you came across in one of your books?” You thought hard about a name and came up with one you had only recently read about.


“Hreiðmarr.” You said and the cat purred while giving you a lick on your chin. “He likes it!”
“Well, that’s settled then. Hreiðmarr it is.” Egil said as he placed his hand on the small of your back to guide you back into the sitting room. “Why Hreiðmarr? Does it mean something?”


“Not that I know, actually. He was a proclaimed hero of the Dökkálfar who was said to have saved Svartalheim from ruin by tricking the light elves from Ljosalfheim, before it was named Alfheim. This was many eons ago, but Hreiðmarr would have been the very first shapeshifter to have ever existed in all of the nine realms. He used to experiment quite a lot with seidr and ended up inventing hundreds of different spells even before the Vanir decided to train and use magic themselves. You see, everyone thinks the Vanir were the original seidr-wielders, but they were not. The Ljósálfar did so long before them and used it to build vast palaces, music, statues, ships and so on. Hreiðmarr had heard about the Ljósálfar’s skill with an invisible source of power and swore his people to bring it to their world. So he spoke with various merchants from the fields of light and was gifted books on seidr. He studied them and managed to change his appearance to that of a light-elf. He then travelled all the way to Alfheim to study seidr at their university and quickly became the most powerful seidr-wielder in all the nine realms, but the Ljósálfar became suspicious as to his intentions. They had him followed and quickly came to the conclusion that he was not a light-elf, but before they could put him to justice, Hreiðmarr disappeared. No one ever saw him again, but in the meantime palace after palace was being built under the dark surface of Svartalheim. After the incident with Hreiðmarr, the light elves closed their borders for thousands of years and felt such shame they had been tricked that they hardly practised seidr anymore, allowing another realm to pass their expertise and to this day the Vanir are still known as the greatest seidr-wielders.”


“And what of the Dökkálfar? Aren’t they supposed to be the greatest seidr-wielders with the knowledge they were gifted by Hreiðmarr?” Egil asked as he sat himself down on the big blue coach.
“You would think so, yes, but the Dökkálfar are cunning. They had managed to trick the Ljósálfar into sharing their most precious secrets and I believe they have learned to keep a low profile on their own secrets. While the Vanir are openly displaying their skill in seidr, the Dökkálfar remain mysterious. Yet, their craftmanship is unparalleled in all of the nine and their mines cannot be found unless you are a true Døkkálfr. It’d say the Vanir are the most powerful seidr-wielders that we know off, but the skill that the Dökkálfar honed over all those years could be even more powerful than seidr alone.”
“Well, that’s not at all concerning.” Egil snorted. You laughed and then began telling him about the Dökkálfar or dark elves being the same as the dwarves from Svartalheim, that it was a name given to them in hate.

It was late when Egil left your apartments with the promise of keeping you safe while he guarded your door. You placed the now sleeping cat onto the coach softly before leaving to take a bath. You opened up every vile you could find on the shelves by the tub, until you found one that smelled like Yasmine and honey and dripped a few drops into the bathwater before lowering yourself into it. It felt divine to take a bath once more, given that the servants were only allowed a shower every few days. Now, you didn’t have to listen to anyone when and how long you could take to clean yourself. You closed your eyes and submerged yourself under the water. You then opened your eyes once more and opened your hands to use your seidr to form a spectacle of light under the surface of the water. You changed the colour from moss-green to deep purple to blood-red before turning it into gold. When you were out of breath you lifted yourself to break through the water barrier. You were met with piercing green eyes that were staring at you intensely.


“Tell me, Hreiðmarr, did you use to walk into lord Blekk’ bath time as well?” You joked while the cat kept staring at you. He was sitting in front of the edge of the tub that was built into the floor on the opposite side of you. “I can’t believe I’m allowed to do this. You know, back home, my brother and I would jump into the drinking trough of the cows from farmer Kare and pretend we were some high nobles taking a bath in their huge castle and we ordered the cows to get us things.” You said with a smile at the fond memory. “Of course the cows never did anything other than moo and farmer Kare always chased us down the fields for trespassing his property.” Hreiðmarr meowed loudly and came a little closer. You looked as he slowly patted closer as if he was scared you were going to trick him and pull him into the water.

“I’m not going to hurt you, little Hreiðmarr.” You then chuckled at your own words. The book you were copying spoke very highly of their national hero and here you were calling a scared little cat after him. “What I wouldn’t give to talk to the real Hreiðmarr. He might have tricked the Ljósálfar, but he didn’t use all the knowledge for evil. He only wanted to learn and help his people. At least that’s what the Dökkálfar make him come across. What’s so wrong about wanting to learn seidr?” You asked to no one in particular. The thought made you sad which you quickly used to your advantage.

You lifted your hands and concentrated on the image in your mind. With a flowing movement of your right hand the water began to swirl upwards and formed two horses galloping. You then changed it into a bird flying on the wind. The water began to tremble after a while, so you lowered your hands which made the water come splashing back down into the tub. When you looked back at the spot where the cat had been sitting, you saw him looking at you with widened eyes as if he had not expected to be treated to such a show.


 

Chapter Text

Chapter 11: Imbolc


 

You woke up in your new bed and for the first time in your entire life you understood the definition of being well rested. Out of respect for lord Blekk, you had slept in the second bedroom and not in his own bed, although you must admit that you were curious as to what waking up there would feel like. His matrass had to be so much better than the one you were currently lying on, you were sure of it, but you would not satisfy that curiosity. You stretched out and opened your eyes to be greeted by the soft orange light of the rising sun, the sound of birds singing and the piercing green eyes of prince Hreiðmarr staring at you while lying on his side. Yes, you could definitely get used to this life. 


“Good morning, prince Hreiðmarr.” You said with a smile as you stretched your hand out to scratch his belly. The cat rolled onto his back, so you had easier access, while purring loudly. “I should probably get ready to go to the archives for breakfast with lord Blekk.” You said as the cat used his paws to trap your hand securely on his soft belly. You laughed softly at his antics, but eventually got up from the bed and headed towards the bathroom. You prepared yourself a bath and walked back to your bedroom to grab the grey servant dress you always wore. Prince Hreiðmarr was no longer laying on your bed, in fact you couldn’t see him anywhere.

Maybe he went on a hunt for his own breakfast.” You thought as you went back to the bathroom to turn off the tab and pretty much jump into the tub. When you were washed and your hair fashioned into a braid your mother had once taught you to make, you went on your way to the archives accompanied by Egil who immediately asked after your first night as a princess. You laughed at the notion and told him of prince Hreiðmarr  being the prince you woke up next to. When you arrived at the archives and you had thanked Egil, you descended the stairs to be greeted by a smiling lord Blekk.


“There she is.” He said happily as he sat himself down at the makeshift table. You did the same and also gave him a big smile.
“Here I am.” You replied just as happy as he was.
“How does it feel to live a life of a noble?” He teased while spreading butter over his toast.
“I know I shouldn’t, but I could really get used to it.” You giggled as you grabbed a pear from the basket of fruit. “Especially the swimming pool.”
“You mean the bathtub?” He chuckled.
“Yes, that’s the one.” You both laughed and continued your breakfast before returning to your work.

You were happy to be back at the archives. You didn’t mind working with the ambassador, but working for his wife had proven to be rather difficult to like. At least now you were back to your own desk where you could work in peace and quiet. You had finished copying the chronicles of the Dark Elves from Svartalheim which had proven to be very interesting. In the two weeks that followed you had copied another book on the ancient city that had once stood proudly on the plains of Vigrid with the frost giant Ymir as its king. On your own request you were now copying a half-eaten book on king Ymir’s murder by king Odin’s grandfather Buri, resulting in the ever-existing animosity between the two realms. You were just penning down a chapter on prince Bergelmir’s escape to Utgard to make it his new capital thus creating the realm that was now known as Jotunheim, when lord Blekk cleared his throat to get your attention. You looked up from your book and lowered your pen to see lord Blekk standing there next to Rydigg, the head of the kitchens.


“Good afternoon, girl.” Rydigg said to you.
“Good afternoon, ma’am.” You said as you stood and curtsied for her.
“I have come to demand your assistance in the kitchens tomorrow and I want you to serve the nobles tomorrow night at the feast as well.” You looked at her quizzingly, which Rydigg picked up on as she rolled her eyes. “Don’t look at me like that, girl. You were supposed to serve the nobles at lord Skírnir’s wedding, but you somehow got excused from your duties by the queen. Tomorrow night will be different however and we will need every servant we can get our hands on.”

Rydigg then turned to lord Blekk. “Vigdis, the old tart, was of the opinion that the chambermaids weren’t made to do ‘regular servant work’, can you believe it?” She did not wait for an answer. “As if the other servants are not already doing so much more work than those little bitches. I told her that and luckily Dalla took my side and now they will know what working hard truly means.” Rydigg complained. She then turned her attention back to you. “I have heard you are the reason why Thyri was flogged by her master.” She said and you looked slightly guilty. You didn’t feel any love for the girl, because you were sure that she had wanted to kill you with that shard, but receiving ten lashes must have been extremely painful.

Rydigg however didn’t seem to think so.
“Good. She deserved it and at least now she keeps her abnormally large mouth shut for once. Anyway, I want you to report to me first thing in the morning and after the feast you can return back to your books.” Rydigg said and without waiting for a reply from you or lord Blekk, she turned around and ascended the stairs to leave the archives. 
“She continues to amaze me, that woman.” Lord Blekk muttered while shaking his head and walking back to his own desk.

The next morning, you pretty much jumped out of bed which startled prince Hreiðmarr as he screeched angrily and jumped into the air. He must have crept into your bedroom and decided to sleep next to you, because you couldn’t remember him being there when you had gone to bed.
“Sorry.” You said softly and patted his head gently. You then went into the bathroom and quickly cleaned and dressed yourself. You also ate some fruits from the fruit bowl on the table to give you strength for what was going to be a long and hard day. You then bid prince Hreiðmarr farewell and closed the door behind you before running down the halls. Egil had received a well-deserved vacation for working overtime to protect you. He was staying at his family’s estate somewhere up in the hills and would return in a week, or so he had told you in his latest letter.

The kitchens were already swamped with various servants, some even wearing brown dresses showing their station as cleaning maids. You tried to find Djúpvitr in the mass, but that proofed to be futile. You would probably see her anyhow today, so you walked through the mass to find Rydigg standing on some sort of stool screaming out orders. When the larger woman spotted you, she called out your name.
“You are on bakery-duty! Go to the bakery to receive further orders!” Rydigg yelled and you quickly disappeared into the direction of the bakery, at least you hopped you were going the right way. Eventually you decided to ask someone just to be sure.


“Excuse me.” You said to a passing servant with a round face and a small nose. “Is this the right way to the bakery?” You asked her. The servant looked you up and down with angry little eyes.
“Yes it is, now get to work.” She said and you quickened your pace to get away from her. When you arrived at the bakery you were met with the delicious smell of freshly baked bread and tarts.
“Are you, Svinnr?” An angry-looking woman with a white dress asked. You recognised her from somewhere but you couldn’t remember from where exactly.
“I am, ma’am.”
“Good. You will help with the filling for the Blod kaker and once that is done I want you to help prepare the Kornmjölsgröt and hollow out the bread so they can be filled with Nässelsoppa later on.” The servant said and you went to work with the others on the custard to fill the Blod kaker with.

The amount of eggs alone that they were going to use was enough to feed your village for a whole harsh winter. The whisking of the yolks with the cornflour, sugar and vanilla required the strength of four servants and sadly one of them was you, who was struggling to not break a sweat over the giant pot. Two other servants came to your side and gently poured in litre after litre of hot milk into the mixture. After that the mixture was poured into a large saucepan where two servants kept watch over it and stirred it until it thickened. The other servants went back to their bowls and started on the preparation of the fruits and berries.

When lunchtime came you were all allowed a quick bite before having to return back to your duties. You were finished with helping on the Blod kaker, but you preferred that job over the one you were doing now. You had to help prepare the Kornmjölsgröt, which smelled and looked a lot like vomit. All you had to do was stir in a huge pot full of the stuff and add water when it became too thick, but the look of it all made your stomach twist and turn. It took more than three hours for it to be done and even though others had added a few berries and a cherry sauce, it still looked horrible. You then went to the back of the bakery to be greeted by Djúpvitr who was working hard on kneading dough with various other servants who were cramped close together at a wooden bench of sorts.

Djúpvitr gave you a smile, but quickly returned to her work with the outmost concentration. You didn’t mind, you knew that Djúpvitr had always worked in her family’s bakery and that she actually loved doing the hard work. You went to the shelves with the dark breads that had to be hollowed out and began the work. All the residue bread was going to be used in some sort of bread pudding or other recipes. Just half an hour before the banquet would start, you were ordered to stop whatever you were doing and go to the showers to clean yourself and get dressed in a new servants-dress. You quickly did so and left the bakery to run towards the showers. You grabbed a soap bar that smelled like lavender and stripped out of your clothes to get under the water. You were one of the first servants to have arrived here so you had the choice between the different soap bars, something the other servants had noticed as they too walked in to get themselves clean.


“Who took the lavender soap?” A girl demanded to know. By the look of her dress and the material it was made out of, she was clearly a chambermaid to some lord or lady.
“You can have it in just a moment.” You said which earned you an animalistic sort of  grunt and an unfriendly glare from the girl.
“Who do you think you are, girl?!” She screeched and before you could answer, she spoke again. “Oh, wait, no, you don’t have to tell me. You’re the girl who feels herself so special as if she too was graced with the position of a highly placed chamber maid! I must say I am impressed. Most girls take years, even decades to earn some sort of affection from someone of noble birth, but you get it done in only a few weeks. Do your parents know that they have raised a whore instead of a daughter?!” The girl was practically deranged.


“Oh, don’t worry. I would never feel the same way as a chambermaid as highly placed as you. Pinned high against the wall with some kind of noble between my legs, that is.” You said back sweetly and threw the servant the bar of soap. You didn’t need this. You hadn’t done anything these chambermaids were accusing you off, but if they wanted to believe their own fabricated stories and be petty about it because they were jealous, then that was fine with you. The girl you had thrown the soap bar at was approaching you in angry steps, but you had pulled on your dress before she could reach you and left the showers without a scratch.

When you walked into the dining hall with various trays of food in your hands to be served to the lords and ladies you were met with loud applause. The allfather must have finished a speech, because as the applause started to go down a little, you could see the king sitting himself back down with a smug smile on his face. You quickly lowered your eyes as you set down the plates on one of the tables, showing your servitude to all the nobles. The food smelled delicious and you tried your best not to make the loud grumbling sound of your stomach that obvious. You kept moving in between the kitchens and the bigger dining hall to carry plate after plate of food to pile on the long tables for the nobles to feast on, but the thing you mostly did was either fetch more mugs filled with ale or fill their goblets full of wine from a heavy silver pitcher.


“Another!” A bearded man with a belly as round as a barrel yelled out loud after smacking his mug onto the stone floor. As quickly as you could, you went for another mug which was filled to the brim with ale and went to bring it to the lord.
“Aye, I say you’re a pretty one.” He all but slurred out his words. They had been feasting for about two hours now and some of the lords were evidently getting quite drunk. The woman who sat beside the man send him a hateful glare and you wondered if she was perhaps his wife.
“Go on, girl, others need attending to.” She said and even though her voice was soft, her eyes were filled with anger. Another man at a table further away yelled for a refill, so you grabbed the pitcher and quickly went to help him. This man was worse. Instead of just saying whatever came up in his mind, he all but undressed you with his eyes. It was so intense that your hands began to shake and you ended up spilling some of the wine onto his hand.


“I’m so sorry, my lord.” You quickly said as you grabbed for a napkin to dep his hand clean, but before you could even reach for one, he all but dragged you into his lap while the others at the table cheered and clapped. “My lord, please!” You squealed as the man kept you firmly perched on his lap and left sloppy kisses on the side of your neck.
“More wine!” Another man yelled and you tried your hardest to get out of the man’s lap.


“I’m sorry, my lord, but the prince has requested her to serve the royal table.” A male servant, whom you didn’t recognise nor had seen approaching you, said. The lord grunted, but eventually let go of you. The male servant helped you to steady yourself back onto your feet and you thanked him with as much gratitude you could muster to sound through your shaky voice. He smiled at you and then left to serve another table, while you slowly crept up to the high table were the royal family was. When you were close enough, you could see the queen give you a small encouraging smile which gave you the strength to straighten your back and walk the last few feet with confidence.


“Wine.” Prince Loki said without Looking at you. You wondered whether he was the prince who had asked for your servitude of the royal table which was actually the responsibility of a servant by the name of Kadlin. He didn’t look very invested in the story his brother Thor was telling, but neither did he look angry or smug, which were the moods that you had come to associate with him. Your hands were still shaking when you poured his glass full of wine, but luckily you didn’t spill anything this time, although you thought you saw prince Loki glance your way once or twice.
“So what do you think?” Prince Thor asked his brother.


“About what?”
“Were you even listening?” Now prince Loki did look smug as a smirk formed on his face. Prince Thor rolled his eyes at him. “I was asking about your opinion on the commission of the elven blades that prince Frey was talking about earlier today.” As if on cue prince Frey called for more wine and quickly waved Kadlin away. “Kadlin won’t become my best friend anytime soon, by the way she’s giving me the stinky eye.” You thought as the girl all but stomped her way to the back of the high table to await orders from one of the royals who needed her.


“How are you, Svinnr?” Asked prince Frey as you filled his glass with a smile.
“I’m good, my prince.” You said softly and the prince smiled warmly at you.
“That man didn’t hurt you, did he?” your breath hitched.
“N-no, I was just a little frightened.” You quickly replied. You could hardly tell the prince that the man had been shamelessly groping you, he was a noble lord after all. Prince Frey however looked conflicted as if multiple emotions were battling inside him.
“I hope you know you can trust me.” He all but pleaded.


“Wine.” Prince Loki suddenly called before you could even come up with something to say to prince Frey. You gave him a quick curtsy before returning to prince Loki with the pitcher of wine still clutched in your hand. When he held out his glass for you to refill, you could see that half of the contents you had poured him before was still there.
“What were you discussing with Frey?” Prince Loki asked as he kept his eyes pointed before him, watching the other nobles enjoying the feast.
“He asked after my wellbeing, my prince.”
“And what did you tell him?” He asked after a moment.
“I told him I was good.” You said with a soft smile on your lips.
“Good.” Prince Loki muttered.


That was pretty much how the feast went until it came to a close early into the morning. You kept running from one prince to the other while the other prince, Thor, munched away at his dinner undisturbed. When prince Thor had stood up and left with his friends to who-knows-where, there had only been a handful of people left in the dining hall. Prince Loki and prince Frey had gone with prince Thor, but not after they had both bid you a good night. An hour after they had left, you and the other servants had managed to get the last drunk out of the hall to get it cleaned and rearranged for the morning meal which was only an hour or two away. You were busy cleaning one of the tables when your name was being called. When you looked up to see who needed you, you were met with an angry-looking Kadlin who was flanked by a dozen other servants you hardly even knew.


“What in all of Yggdrasil are you playing at, girl?” She said hatefully.
“I beg your pardon?” A servant on Kadlin’s left laughed without mirth.
“Oh, you will be begging, alright.” She said as all of them came closer to trap you in. It went dead quiet as they all stood there, waiting for someone to deal the first blow and that quickly came. Someone pushed you forward while another smacked some kind of rag that was wrapped around a bar of soap on your forehead. Then they all started beating you with similar weapons. Some of them even used their legs and feet to stomp you in the stomach or your chest.

The last thing you saw before everything went black was a cleaning maid’s boot making contact with your face and the loud, cracking sound of something breaking.


 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 12: Healing


 

The first thing you became aware of was a pain that slowly, but surely crept up your limbs and into your core, the second was a rustling sound you could hear somewhere around you. As soon as you managed to open your eyes, you cringed in pain.
What the hell happened in order to feel like this?” You asked yourself, before images of hateful glares and something akin to clubs flooded your brain. The rustling sound came back and a blurry figure came into view. For a second you thought it had to be one of the servants, come to finish you off, but when you felt a slight pressure on your hand and a concerned and familiar voice speak, you felt like you could breathe again.


“Norns, girl. You gave us all quite a scare.” An old man said as he held your hand and sat by your side on a chair or something like that you assumed. You couldn’t really see much, except for blurry shapes and even that seemed to be too much for your brain to handle as it was begging you to close your eyes again, but you forced them to remain open just as you forced your voice to break free from your throat.
“What?” Was all that came out of you and it sounded so quiet and strained that you cringed by the sound alone. The man quickly stood up and the sound of water being poured filled your ears. He then brought the glass or something to your lips and helped you drink. Never in your life would you think water would taste this divine, but by the Norns it did!


“To answer your question, you were attacked by a clan of upset servants who pretty much left you for dead. Luckily your friend, erm… Djúp? No, Djúpvi?”
“Djúpvitr” You screeched. Remembering having a friend by that name.
“Yes, that’s the one. Now keep your mouth shut and listen. She found you and alerted Rydigg who alerted the other heads Dalla and Vigdis as well as the king. He was outraged that servants under the crown would act in such a vicious way and ordered the palace guards to find out who were responsible. I, of course, was also brought to the attention of my help’s condition and I have been checking on you for almost a week now.”

Then the man’s voice became soft and even pained. “Svinnr, I thought you were dead. When I arrived here at the healers’ wing, your dress was covered with blood and you looked so pale. Your lungs kept giving out and prince Loki spend the whole night pouring his seidr into you to heal your worst injuries. I had never seen him like that before, so… so out of control. He kept shouting commands and prevented others from touching you unless he knew that they weren’t going to hurt you. I’m sure he will come to check on you later. If it were up to him, he wouldn’t have even left your bedside, but the king and queen quickly reminded him of his duties as a prince. Ever since then he comes in here once or twice a day to stay by your side.”


“Water.” You screeched once more and you felt your energy plummeting quickly, but you couldn’t close your eyes yet. Not after that story. All the names the man had said and all the things that had happened were hard to process. Especially since you hardly remembered anything. Eventually you lost the war against your own body and fell back into the darkness without even realising it.

When you opened your eyes again, your vision was better than before as you could vaguely make out your surroundings. Everything still had some kind of blurry edge to it, but at least you could make out the shapes for what they were and you quickly realised that you were not in the healers’ wing anymore, but a bedroom that felt familiar. Your throat felt even more like sandpaper and you tried to turn your head to see if there was a glass of water or something along those lines on the bedside table, but the movement made you wince in pain.


“Shhh, don’t move.” A smooth voice said.
“Water.” You sounded like a dying person who was living her final moments after spending months in a scorching desert without a single drop of water. Again you heard the pouring sound and then you felt the cold glass press against your lips. You winced at the pain it caused you to have water poured down your sore throat, but at the same time it was soothing and you couldn’t get enough of it.


“Thanks.” You managed to croak out after you had your fill. “What happened?” Even though your eyesight wasn’t as great as it normally was, you thought you could see the man’s face constricting as if all kinds of different emotions were trying to win the upper hand. He remained silent and eventually settled for a facial expression that was as hard as a rock.


“They attacked you.” He began and his voice sounded both accusing and hateful. “And you were all alone.” His voice and its tone were getting too much for you, but when you tried to burry yourself further under the blankets, you realised that you couldn’t move.

“Why can’t I move?!” You squealed in horror and panic.
“Stop, you’ll hurt yourself!” He said as he shot up from his sitting position and rushed to hold you down. “Svinnr, please! Stop trashing about!” But you were beyond reason by now. Your vision was getting blurry too which only made you panic even more.


“HELP!” You finally screamed even though it hurt to strain your throat so. “I CAN’T MOVE!” You heard the door being slammed open as more people rushed into the room, but instead of helping you they all yanked you down onto the matrass to keep you still. That was until a hand moved to your forehead and your whole world went black.

The next time you opened your eyes, you were all alone.
“You’re awake.” A cold voice stated.
Not that alone, it would seem.”
“Who?” The man came closer for you to look at him. He had black hair that was smoothed to the back and big emerald green eyes that were gazing down on you. 

“Do you know who I am?” He asked gently. You racked your brain, because he looked so familiar, but no name came up in your head. “I understand if you-“
“Loki!” You blurted out, being absolutely sure that that was the man’s name. His eyes went soft and you even spotted his lips quirking up a bit.


“That’s correct. And what is your name?” You did remember that so you told him, only he looked a bit weird when you did so. He opened his mouth to say something, but was then interrupted by the door opening and someone sighing deeply.


“You were supposed to call me when she awakened.” A woman said as she approached your bed. “How are you feeling, dear.” She asked you with a warm smile. She didn’t look familiar, but strangely enough that didn’t worry you, because she looked quite friendly and harmless. You grunted in response to her question which made her chuckle a little.


“You’re probably wondering what is going on.” It wasn’t a question yet you still nodded your head slightly to confirm it for her. “Well, let me tell you. You were attacked by an angry group of servants who have mostly been hunted down and locked into the dungeons to await their trial. You broke three ribs, your left arm, cracked your eye socket and terribly bruised both of your legs. Your right one has a large fracture just under the knee. Furthermore you are suffering from a concussion, so don’t feel bad for not remembering things or being sensitive to light and sounds. Can you tell me where we are now?”


“Asgard.”
“Yes, that’s right. And what is your name?” Rolling your eyes hurt you quickly found out, so you pretty much groaned out your name.
“Indeed. And do you know your profession?” You tried to remember you really did, but all you could remember were books and ink.
“Librarian?” You tried, not at all that confident. The woman nodded and scribbled something down.


“That will do for now. Let me introduce myself. I am Eir, the head of the healers and I have been charged with your care. We have wrapped your arm, leg and head carefully to get your bones to heal properly. Once every four days we will come in here and rub your leg in with a salve to heal the bruises, we will also do this on your ribs, given that we can’t wrap them.” You nodded your head.


“Thank you.” You muttered as the woman smiled down at you.
“Don’t worry, dear. And now you should rest.” Eir said and then turned to prince Loki. “And we should leave you to it.” Prince Loki snorted.
“Alright, Eir, as you wish.” He then turned to you. “I will visit you again, soon.”

The amount of time you spent awake began to increase and you quickly realised just how much lord Blekk, prince Loki and prince Frey visited you. Even the ambassador and the queen had found time to visit. Your concussion had been pretty bad, but with the help of Eir and her group of healers they had managed to clear the fog mostly, however your ribs, arm, legs and eye socket needed more time to heal and so you were stuck inside lord Blekk’s bedroom until the bones had mended themselves once more. Today prince Frey was sitting by your bed, reading you a story that was famous on Vanaheim and had been a favourite from your childhood. He was just telling you about the wicked elven maiden, when a soft meow was heard and a cat jumped onto your bed.


“Hreiðmarr!” You exclaimed happily while prince Frey shot you a curious look.
“I don’t think Eir would be happy with this furball leaving cat hair all around.” Prince Frey chuckled.
“Well, what Eir doesn’t know, can’t hurt her.” You said while shooting him a mischievous smirk and picking up the cat to snuggle with. Prince Frey chuckled and reached out to pat the cat as well. Prince Hreiðmarr however wasn’t having any of it as he hissed at him.


“He still doesn’t seem to like me, my lady.” You laughed at that.
“Yes, Hreiðmarr has a difficult personality and is quite picky with his people.” You said as you scratched him under his chin. “At least he has stopped clawing at you.”


“Well, can’t argue with that.” He said as he placed the book on your bedside table. “Let’s discus something else. I have heard your family has been here?” He inquired and you groaned in response. Yes, your family had been here. But apart from your brother jumping on your bed and actually being happy to see you alive and well, your parents were distant and quiet. Perhaps the presence of prince Loki hovering over you made them feel on edge, or the fact that you were sleeping in a bedroom that was almost the size of their house. Yet it felt like they were disappointed to have been called over to the palace to see you were awake and doing ‘just fine’.


“Yes they were here. They promised my little brother and I that they would come back next week.”
“You don’t really sound excited by that, if you don’t mind me saying so.” You sighed and absentmindedly stroked Hreiðmarr’s back as he purred loudly.


“My parents are not really… fond of me.” You finally mumbled out after a moment or two. Prince Frey gave you a pained expression as he gazed deeply into your eyes.
“What makes you say that?”
“I don’t know how to explain it, but my parents act very differently with my brother than with me. When my brother fell down an old trap in the forest once and hurt his head, my mother hovered over him for weeks, but I nearly died and she hardly even seemed disturbed by that.” You said sadly. Before prince Frey could say anything else, the door opened and lord Blekk came into view with Egil walking behind him. You wanted to squeal in happiness when you saw him, but he looked dreadful and hurt as he had his eyes on the floor, defeated.


“The furball is back, I see.” Lord Blekk said as he approached you and patted Hreiðmarr on the head. “And prince Frey, how are you today?” Lord Blekk asked as he sat himself down on the other chair.
“I’m well, Blekk and please, you can call me Frey outside the court.” He said and Blekk nodded with a smile.


“Egil.” You said, ignoring the two men and focussing solely on your friend. “Come here.” Egil came closer and then slummed down on his knees at your bed.
“I am so sorry, Svinnr.” He said with so much pain in his voice that the tears immediately shot in your eyes.


“No, this isn’t your fault, Egil.” You pleaded with him while you clasped his hand in yours.
“But I wasn’t there to protect you.” He said and he finally looked up at you, though his eyes were bloodshot and puffy. “You could have died and I wasn’t there to help.” He added sadly.


“No, Egil, …. You are here now and I couldn’t be happier.” You said tearfully. “Now come here, you idiot, and give me a hug.” You both chuckled even though it sounded more sad than happy, but he did do what you asked of him as he hugged you close and pretty much squeezed Hreiðmarr between the both of you. You let each other go at the sound of a throat being cleared.


“Is that any way to speak to a noble, girl?” Lord Blekk said a little bit uncomfortable as he shot prince Frey a quick glance as if he was afraid the prince would take offence to your care-free way of speaking.
“You’re right, I apologize my lord. I didn’t mean any offence by it.” You said but you couldn’t quite hide your smile.


“None was taken, dear.” Prince Frey spoke before Egil could say anything and then smiled warmly at you as he stood up. “I will take my leave now, but if you need me, you know I’m at your back and call.” He said and then he kissed your right hand and left your bedchamber.


“I still can’t believe how much that man has changed.” Lord Blekk said after the door had been closed behind the prince. “I remember him as a lad, long before the Asgardian princes could even walk and he was the most desired bachelor in the nine. Perhaps he still is, given that he hasn’t married yet, but back in the day he was even worse than Fandral.” He mused fondly at the memory.
“He’s a good man and has a lot of interesting stories to tell.” You supplied. “He also tells me a lot of Alfheim and his inhabitants.”


“I don’t really trust him.” Egil said and both you and lord Blekk turned to look at him. He however sighed and sat himself down in the chair prince Frey had abandoned. “Don’t you find it strange that he is so close to you? I mean no offense to you, Svinnr, but you are supposed to be seen as a mere servant. Yet he was immediately charmed by you at Skírnir’s wedding even though he had just met you.”


“He believed I was a lady of the court.” You chuckled at the memory.
“Still, it worries me that he and prince Loki have taken such an interest in you. It’s great to have such powerful friends, but it makes me wonder what they want in return from you.” A shiver ran down your spine. What Egil was saying was true, after all lord Blekk and Djúpvitr had said something similar. You didn’t really want to think that they might expect something from you the more you got indebted to them. You were silent for a moment or two, getting lost in your gloomy thoughts, until Hreiðmarr licked your cheek and nuzzled his head under your chin.


“Can I ask you something, lord Blekk?” You said, completely changing topics because the thought of the princes wanting more than friendship was getting depressing and frightening.
“Of course, my dear.”
“I was wondering if you would perhaps allow me to resume my-“
“No.” He suddenly cut you off.

“Although I must say that it pleases me greatly to see you so eager to return to copying books, I cannot let you. Not only because your brain is supposedly still a little bit fuzzy, but mostly because Eir frightens me so and she will be cross when I let you work while you’re supposed to be resting.” You pouted at him even though you knew it was childish. Lord Blekk snorted and gently patted your hand. “Pouting won’t get you anywhere, dear. However, I hate to see you so distraught so I will bring in some books you can read.” You beamed up at him.
“Thank you, lord Blekk!”

Then suddenly a commotion was heard outside and a guard called out.
“Stand aside for the Allfather!” He yelled and a moment later the door to your bedchamber opened and the man himself walked in while Hreiðmarr jumped out of your arms and hid under the bed. Lord Blekk and Egil both stood up and then bowed as the king walked passed them.


“I’m glad to see that the healers have managed to clear your head enough for questioning.” The Allfather said and sat himself down in the seat Egil had occupied just a second ago.

“Lord Blekk, lord Egil, you are dismissed.” And with the departure of both men and the sound of the door shutting behind them, you were left alone with the king of the nine realms and his piercing blue eye.


 

Chapter Text

Chapter 13: A friendship doomed to fail


 

“I’m going to ask you some questions, girl, and I want you to answer them to the best of your ability.” The Allfather said while you trembled under your piles of blankets. “I would also advise you to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. Lying to your king is a serious crime and one that is considered futile, given that I know exactly when being lied to.” You nodded after a moment of uncomfortable staring on the king’s part.


“What has brought you here to the palace?”
“I….” You began, but realised that his threat of not telling him the whole truth would be futile, might actually very well be true. “My parents decided it was the best course of action in my future life to sustain myself. My father managed to get his hands on an application form on the position of a palace maid and my mother wanted me to apply, so I did.” The king was staring again. “It was working as a maid at the palace or getting a marriage arranged for me.” You added and he nodded, satisfied with your answer.


“How did your father manage to get his hands on an application form? As I understand it, your parents are simple weavers.”
“Yes, they are. I don’t know how he did it. He never told me, but one day he came home carrying the paper work.”
“And your parents, their birth certificate shows they are both Aesir.” It wasn’t a question, but then why was he telling you this?
“Yes they are. They were both born here, but then moved around after they got married and began weaving together. They moved around all the time. They started in Asgard, moved to Alfheim then Vanaheim and now they’re back here again.”

He sat up straighter in his chair and clasped his hands before him. “Why would the other servants hate you so much?” You took a long time to answer, just so you could take a moment to breathe.
“Lord Fandral is probably the most popular lord in the realm and various maids try to seduce him to secure themselves a future, but little do they know that they are the ones being seduced. They like the idea of him, I guess, and when he turns his gaze upon someone else, then that someone becomes competition that needs to be removed. Apparently I am competition given that lord Fandral demanded me to become his chambermaid even though I am lord Blekk’s official help. I told them that as well, but they refused to listen and decided to believe their own petty lies. I was attacked a few weeks ago by lord Fandral’s actual chambermaid, but before she could seriously harm me, your son stopped her and later on she got punished for it. I believe that when the other servants heard about the lashings, they all agreed it had been my fault and so the hatred grew even more with this as a result.” You finished and pointed at your broken arm. The king nodded and then sighed loudly.


“You’re saying that these servants attacked you purely out of jealousy and nothing more?” He asked, clearly not believing it himself.
“I can’t see why else they would do it. I hardly know any of the other servants working here and I have no wealth for them to steal or debts for them to collect, your majesty.”
“And you didn’t seduce lord Fandral or said anything to him that might compromise his chambermaid?” That was just uncalled for.
“I would never do such a thing, your majesty. Lord Fandral noticed me, I not him and even so I never wanted the position of chambermaid. I am quite content with being lord Blekk’s help as it is.” The king was silent for a moment as he seemed to size you up.


“What do you remember of that night?”
“I was told to help in the bakery and later on serve the tables at the feast. When they told me I was free to shower and dress before the service would begin, I pretty much ran there to be the first under the shower. Apparently some chambermaid was upset that I had grabbed the lavender soap before her and she made a disgusting scene of insulting me in front of the others. I might have returned the favour, but I left before things got ugly. Then during the service, things were fine and everyone was doing what they were supposed to be doing. Until…”
“Until what?” How were you supposed to say this? You could hardly complain about the disgusting manner some nobles had treated not only you, but other maids as well. “Speak freely, child.” The king added and you took a deep breath.


“Until some drunk nobleman started to grope me. I couldn’t get away, even though I tried and then another servant came to my rescue by telling the noble I was requested to serve the royal table.” The king looked a little confused at that.
“I didn’t give the order.” He deadpanned. “And the royal table is the duty of Kadlin.”
“Yes and she was not all too happy with me being there. I believe prince Frey had sent the servant with the order, your majesty.”
“Prince Frey might be a prince, but he has no say over the servants of Asgard. What happened next?”


“After prince Thor and his friends left and we had managed to get the last noble out of the dining hall, I started cleaning the tables with a few other servants. I didn’t see or hear the group approach me, but when they made themselves known, all the other servants had gone away. I don’t know if they knew what was going to happen or if they were just told to stay away.”
“And this group of servants, do you remember who they were?”
“Only a few, your majesty. Kadlin was the leader.”  You said without emotion as you looked at the wall in front of you.


“I see.” He said with an even tone as if it didn’t bother him that the maid that was assigned to serve the royal table, was in fact a possible murderess. “That will be all for today. Kadlin will be arrested and brought for questioning. If she cooperates and gives us the names of all the other servants that were involved in this act, she will receive a more favourable punishment. Whether or not she decides to speak, there will be a trial. For that I want you to be present to be called up as a witness regardless of the state you are in.” He said and then stood up. “You did well, girl, but now I advise you to rest.” He said and to your surprise he didn’t sound as angry as he did before.


“Thank you, your majesty.” You murmured and bowed your head in respect. He had gone before you had lifted your head again. You took a deep breath and then the door suddenly burst open again and you screamed.


“Calm down, girl!” Prince Frey chuckled as he clasped his hand over your mouth. “It’s only me. What happened?” He asked while you were still trying to catch your breath. “Why was the Allfather here?” He asked again after you weren’t immediately replying.
“H-he came to question me about the night of the feast.” You said with a tiny voice. “Could you please give me some water?” Prince Frey quickly grabbed the pitcher and filled a glass which he gave to you. You downed its contents in one go.
“Did he frighten you?” The prince asked after a moment of silence where you simply stared at your empty glass.


“What? No, my prince.”
“Then why are you trembling?” He asked with a furrowed brow as he sat himself down in the seat the king had just used.
“I was just shocked to see him.” You said, but prince Frey seemed even more confused than before. “Up close.” You added quietly and when you heard the prince’s laugh, your cheeks instantly flushed bright red.


“My, you are a strange little thing, aren’t you.” He chuckled, but then turned silent as he kept staring at you. “Svinnr?” He asked and to your utter surprise his voice sounded soft and maybe even pained.
“Yes, my prince?” You asked with a raised brow.
“I’m really sorry for what happened to you.” Now his eyes stopped meeting yours as if he was ashamed.


“My prince, it wasn’t your fault.”
“Frey.” He suddenly said.
“What?” You murmured out before you even realised you had said anything.
“I wish for you to call me by my name.”


“I… I can’t. It’s not proper.” He grabbed your hand gently and gave a reassuring squeeze.
“It is when I give you permission.” He said with a smile, but it didn’t reach his eyes. In fact his eyes were filled with pain, remorse and maybe even guilt. “We are friends, are we not?” Were you friends? True enough, prince Frey had been friendly with you and you had even felt at ease the first time you spoke with him, but did that mean anything? It’s not like a friendship between a noble, let alone a prince, and a mere maid was perceived as normal. You couldn’t just tell him about your day and complain to him about your work or the people you met, because that wasn’t your place to do so. There would always be a rift between you.


“I wish we could be.” You said with a small voice as you kept your eyes lowered, not really wanting to see the hurt in his eyes.
“Svinnr, look at me.” He said quietly as he came closer and gently lifted your chin up with two fingers. “I care for you.” He breathed. “Never doubt that I don’t.” He then let go off your chin and looked away. After a long time of painful silence where he hardly moved at all, he turned his head back to gaze at you. “I’m leaving soon. Back to Alfheim to prepare for Ostara.” He said with a emotionless voice, but then his eyes softened again. “Do you celebrate Ostara, Svinnr?”
“Of course, my prince. I was born on that day.” You sounded happy for one second, before Prince Frey took a sharp intake of breath. You couldn’t take this anymore. Etiquette and social hierarchy be damned! Something was troubling him and you wanted to know what, because he always had this hurt look in his eyes and it was simply unnerving.


“My prince, I’m sorry for asking, but is something wrong?” He looked a little surprised as his eyes darted around the room awkwardly.
“Why do you ask?” You huffed.
“You have this hurt look in your eyes whenever we speak and your behaviour towards me is simply strange. You have known me for all but a month, you don’t know anything about me, yet you wish me to call you by your name and see you as a friend? I wish we could, but I’m nothing and you are a prince. I don’t know anything about you either and it hurts me to constantly ask myself whether you are genuinely friendly towards me or if you are working up to something. I don’t know why you have taken such interest in me, but it scares me to death sometimes. Other times I couldn’t be happier that you would deem me worthy to be considered as your friend, but I cannot watch that hurt in your eyes and not wonder whether you are hiding something, if you are hurting or if you feel guilty about something.”

You told him and took a deep breath before continuing. “I want to trust you, I do, but if we can’t tell each other how we are feeling or what we’re going through then this ‘friendship’ is doomed to fail.” You pretty much breathed out and then suddenly realised just to whom you were ranting. “Forgive me, my prince.” You said while trying hard not to look at him. “I didn’t mean any disrespect.” Prince Frey remained silent and as far as you could have told, his body remained still as well. Suddenly you became aware of how quiet it truly was and your discomfort grew with every passing second of it. You knew you should have kept your mouth shut, but prince Frey’s behaviour was concerning, maybe even more so than prince Loki’s. At least prince Loki didn’t have this weird look of hurt, concern or whatever it was in his eyes like prince Frey did. You were just about to say something to at least create some sort of noise to break the unbearable silence, when the door to your bedroom opened and the queen, followed by Fulla and another girl, entered.


“Prince Frey.” The queen said happily and maybe even a bit surprised. “I’m happy to see you here. Though I must confess that I believed you to be busy packing for your return to Alfheim.”
“You are right of course, my queen, but I managed to find a spare moment to visit my friend.” That shocked both you, the queen, Fulla and the girl who had kept her eyes lowered at the ground until this point.


“Well, I am happy to see Svinnr to have such valuable friends around her.” The queen beamed, but then she turned serious. “Not everyone would share the same sentiment as me, though. It’s best not to show your friendship in public, lest it be turned into scandalous rumours and gossip. It’s exactly this kind of display that will provoke the other servants so.” Well, there it was. The queen had just said exactly the same as to what you had told prince Frey a few seconds prior to her arrival.
“They are just jealous that they will never have what Svinnr has.” Prince Frey said and everyone went quiet again.


“And what’s that, if you don’t mind my asking?” The queen asked after a few moments of intense staring between her and Prince Frey. The latter seemed to be struggling as if he had never meant to say anything in the first place. 
“A kind heart.” He eventually managed to get out. He then cleared his throat and stood up, bidding you all a good day and promising to visit you later in the evening. When he left, it was Fulla who cleared the silence.


“Well that was… something.” She said and then came forward to sit on your bed, next to your injured leg.
Tell me about it.” You thought, but you kept your lips pursed tightly as to not say it out loud.
“Anyway.” Fulla continued. “We have brought you a present or as I like to call it a get-well-soon-after-being-beaten-up-by-some-crazy-personnel-who-are-also-your-coworkers-we-have-hired-gift.” She deadpanned and you couldn’t help but snicker at that while the queen gave her a reprimanding yet amused look.


“No matter what you like to call it, Fulla, Snotra is still a human being and is here to help.” She said while gesturing for the young girl, Snotra apparently, to come forward.
“I.. I don’t understand, my queen.” You said rather confused and you could hear Fulla snort.
“Snotra here, has come to the palace only recently to become a maid. She’s from the same village as you actually and I believe she might do well as help.” Now you were truly confused. A maid serving another maid? That was something you had never heard of happing before and you were pretty sure that Sontra hadn’t either by the look of her anxious posture. The queen seemed to understand your silence and confused look.


“I understand that this is confusing to you, but your injuries are pretty grave. Your concussion might be better right now, but bones need time to heal, dear. Snotra will help you move about when you’re able to and keep the place tidy for lord Blekk. She is after all lord Blekk’s chambermaid and not yours.” She said with a mischievous smirk which only resulted in a big smile of your own.
“But apart from the duties she shares with the other chambermaids, poor Snotra will be saddled up with your mouthy attitude.” Fulla added and this time you truly laughed.


 

Chapter Text

Chapter 14: Glitnir, the hall of justice


 

Having Snotra around proofed to be a glorious idea from the queen. It was exactly what you had needed. It wasn’t that you didn’t have any visitors, but they couldn’t stick around for long as they all had their own duties and lives to attend to. Djúpvitr too tried to visit you as often as she could as she snuck out of the servant wing or the kitchens during her breaks with the others. But even her short visits didn’t stop you from being bored the rest of the days. Prince Frey too was shortening his visits, because he would soon leave for Alfheim and had a lot of preparations to make, especially since some of the people he had come with wanted to stay a while longer here at the palace.

There’s only so much you can do while being forced to stay in your bed. Snotra had been shy at first, but as soon as you had assured her about five times that she wouldn’t get in trouble by gossiping, you had finally managed to get her to talk. And that’s exactly what you were doing right now, while she was eating a peach and lying next to you on the bed.


“I mean if Drifa was smart about it, she would keep her mouth shut and simply go to Dalla. But I will bet this month’s earnings that she will simply confront Arnora about it and have them both cleaning out the dungeons for a year or two.”
“Norns, would she truly do so? I mean I’ve heard quite a few things about the dungeons and I would try to avoid that as much as possible.” Snotra nodded while taking another bite of her peach.
“My thoughts exactly. I’m pretty sure the dungeons work with some kind of list as well. Every time a servant is send down there to clean it, they end up cleaning it again sometime later, again and again. As long as you remain unnoticed and behave, your name is more likely not going to end up on that list.”


“How do you know that?”
“Because it makes sense.” Snotra said and ate the last of the peach. She had just gotten up to throw the pit away when the doors opened and an einherjar walked in.
“It is time.” He said and then looked at Snotra, standing frozen by your bedside. “Make her presentable. Once you’re done, knock on the door. You have five minutes.” He said and then turned around and closed the door behind him to leave both you and Snotra behind, equally trembling. It was finally there, then. The trial. For the past week they had been trying to find all of the maids responsible and even some male servants had been arrested. The allfather had warned you that he would have you dragged or carried to the trial, but attend it, you would without a doubt.


“At least your mother bought you a new dress to wear.” Snotra said, trying to get both your nerves under control.
“No.” You said while she helped you into a sitting position. “I’m going to wear my servant dress. That way I’ll show everyone that I am just like the other maids, no different. I think I will get more sympathy like that, besides it is a statement that will not go unnoticed.”
“You’re right. The servant dress it is then.” Snotra beamed at you and helped you dress and braid your hair in a simple plait. When you were finally presentable, Snotra walked to the door and knocked to signal the einherjar to come back in and help you with the crutches. This was the first time, you were out of bed and even though that might have delighted you, the reason for it made you more than nervous. You had thought that perhaps the allfather would have given you advance notice, so you would be able to prepare yourself, but of course he had not and now you had no idea what to expect.


“Can you walk?” The einherjar asked while looking hesitantly at the way you were holding the crutches.
“I have never done this before.” You said feeling a little defensive at the way he was looking you up and down as if he was doubting you. To be honest, you had no idea how to work with these things and the fact that you had a broken arm and some broken ribs did nothing to approve your situation.
“Perhaps, it is better to use the chair? Or that I carry you?” The Einherjar asked as he approached you slowly. You knew he was right, but you would be damned if you entered the hall of justice as a weak little thing in the arms of an einherjar you didn’t even know.


“The chair it is.” You mumbled and the einherjar moved to grab it and help you in it. Once you were comfortable, he pushed the wheelchair out of the room and out of lord Blekk’s apartments, that you now called home. Three other einherjar were waiting outside and joined your side as you were pushed through the corridors. You had just passed the throne room when a figure approached your group of escorts from another corridor. When the figure stepped out of the shadows and was close enough to see his face, you immediately recognised him.


“Give us a moment.” Prince Loki said without looking at any of the einherjar.
“I’m afraid we can’t do that, my prince. The allfather ordered us to escort the maid straight to Glitnir for the trial.” That got prince Loki’s attention as he glared at the einherjar who had spoken with a look that would make any man shiver with fear.
“And you will escort her there, but not before you have given us a moment.” He said with an monotone voice, but that just made him sound more menacing. Your escort party all looked at each other with uncertain glances before the leader bowed for the prince and left with the others behind him to stand further away to await the prince’s approval to continue their escort of you.


“How are you?” The prince asked which made you furrow your brows. He had looked so murderous just to ask you how you were doing? He seemed to understand your silence and confused expression as he chuckled. “I’m only asking to ease into the conversation I had planned to have with you.” He said with a big smirk.
“What conversation?” You asked not answering his original question. The prince sighed, but kept his amused smile on his face.
“I wanted to offer you some advice on how to behave during the trial.” You huffed. Your brain couldn’t handle any tips and tricks at the moment, because you were simply too nervous to remember any of them.


“You will be asked to share your story. Make it as detailed as you can. That way you will reduce the amount of questions they will ask you later.” He said and then let his eyes rove over your body. “I must say the servant dress is a great touch. Very clever. It’s very important how people see you. The servants will expect you to be dressed like a noble and by dressing up like them, you make a clear statement. You would also do good to be pushed inside the hall of justice in your wheelchair, to show just how terribly injured you are. The jury consists mostly of old nobles of the court and they are prone to be sympathetic to helpless little girls. The allfather however, who will be passing his judgement, is not so easily persuaded. While the jury will plead in your favour as soon as you turn your sweet, pain-stricken, eyes on them, he will not be moved in the slightest. He’s all about strength and therefor you will have to pull yourself together to walk the last few feet to the witness chair where you will tell your story and answer some questions. This might help the allfather to make his questions a little less harsh.”


“Why are you helping me?” You mumbled out before you even realised you had said anything. You didn’t mean to say it out loud, but you were most definitely thinking about it. Why was he helping you? You were nothing to him, no one. Yet here he was, looking out for you and even giving you tips on how best to survive the trial. He looked taken aback by your question and even hurt. He clenched his jaw and you saw his expression change to an icy one.


“As pathetic as you are, you were nearly killed by even more pathetic creatures. I may be wicked, but even I will not stand by and watch an innocent get slaughtered for nothing, even if you may not believe so.” Now you were the one who was hurt.
“My prince, that’s not what-“
“I don’t want to hear it.” He hissed in your face. “I’m helping you without any alternative motives, simply because I want to. I thought you to be clever enough to not believe in rumours or gossip, but here you are treating me as the rest of them! Like the dark prince they all claim me to be.” You were truly shocked at the harsh words and his cold eyes.


“Please, I didn’t mean-“ He interrupted you again as he lowered his face inches away from your own. You could see the little flecks of blue in his emerald green eyes and feel his cold breath on your skin.
“If I were you I would be careful, little one. After all I am the most powerful seidr-wielder in all of Asgard and it would be a shame if anyone else found out about there being another one like me in their midst, wouldn’t it?” Your breath hitched in your throat and you were pretty sure you felt all the blood drain out of your body.

He knew. And what was stopping him to tell his father, the king, about your secret. The prince had an evil smile on his face, but his eyes were empty of any kind of emotion. You were close to tears. You had been working so hard for all these years to keep your seidr hidden and yet, prince Loki knew about it without you ever suspecting a thing. How the hell did he even find out?


Please.” You pleaded with a broken voice. The prince only snickered and called the guards over to continue their escort.
“Keep your grovelling and pleading for the jury, they love that sort of act.” He said hatefully while you were left heartbroken.


“I thought you to be different.” You whispered, more to yourself than anyone else. “I was wrong.” You didn’t even mean to actually say it, but it happened and the prince gave you an awfully hurt look as if he had been struck. A tear rolled down your cheek as an einherjar pushed your chair away from the corridor and into the direction of Glitnir where the trial would take place.

When the doors were opened and you were pushed inside by your escort, your breath was taken away. If you thought the throne room was magnificent than the hall of justice was truly indescribably beautiful. The hall was long with golden pillars and a ceiling completely inlayed with silver that mirrored the light that fell in through gigantic marble windows. The floor too seemed to be shining as if you were walking on the surface of a pool of milk. People were either sitting on a raised podium between the pillars or sitting on the ground. You noticed that the people who had seats were dressed more elaborately than the ones sitting on the ground. You assumed that some of these people had to be relatives of some of the accused which made a shiver run down your spine as their eyes kept following every move you made.

Like the prince had said the jury seemed to be sympathetic for your situation as their eyes were filled with pity as you rolled closer to them. To your surprise however you spotted prince Loki, prince Frey and prince Thor there as well. The former had his eyes on you, but his expression was unreadable while the latter seemed bored to no end.


How in all of Yggdrasil did prince Loki get here while he had just been hissing at me a second ago?” You asked yourself and even thought that perhaps you were going mad. The stage in front of you looked threatening with the king on a high wooden chair and the jury around him. But no matter how threatening that sight might have looked, it evaporated as soon as you locked eyes with the very maids who had nearly killed you a few weeks ago. They were openly shooting daggers at you which was not going to improve their situation at all, given that everyone could see them doing it.


“Stop.” You said to the einherjar who was pushing your chair forward. He looked quizzingly at you. “I will walk the rest of the way.” You told him and you thought you saw a tiny movement at the edges of his mouth. He helped you get out of the chair and once your feet were on the ground and you felt the coldness of the marble through your casket and slipper, you took a deep breath, dreading what you were going to do now. The first step you took was horrible as a pain shot through your leg, but you clenched your fists and set your jaw. You were not going to show any weakness, at least not right now. After the trial you were free to growl in pain, but that had to wait.

The second step was as bad as the first, but still you kept going and going until you reached the three-step stairs to the bench. You didn’t know whether the silence in the hall was helping or not. For one thing you could pretend you were the only person in here, but for another it made you self-conscious about the slow pace you were going. Eventually you managed to plop yourself down on the hard wooden chair and adjust your leg, so it hopefully wouldn’t be throbbing as much. You had just taken a deep breath through your nose when a man with a booming voice spoke and asked your name which you gave.


“How did you get into the palace’s service?.” He asked next. If he was going to ask the same questions as the allfather had asked you before, then this wouldn’t be so bad.
“My father managed to get an application form for the position of maid. I travelled with my family to the capital to have an evaluation to which I was hired later on as a kitchen maid by the lady Rydigg.”
“And is that your current position?”


“No. I am the help of the esteemed archivist of the palace, lord Blekk.”
“And how did you manage to obtain this position?”
“During my evaluation with Rydigg, she asked me whether I could read or write. I told her I could do both and that I was capable of math as well. She then told me that she would consult with lord Blekk about my position and the next day I was send to the archives to try for my abilities. He eventually appointed me as his official help.” You heard one of the maids huff at this.
“Is all this true, lord Blekk?” The man asked and your eyes immediately shot up to look for him admits the jury, but then his voice came from your right. There he was, sitting on one of the seats of the raised platform.


“It is. Rydigg told me she had a girl who was gifted with the word and if I would be interested to  have her around as my help. I told her I needed to see her talents and was surprised with the efficiency of her work and her eagerness to learn. I appointed her as my help because of that.”
“Thank you lord Blekk.” The man continued while lord Blekk kept his eyes fixed on him, rather than look at you. “Now tell us what happened with Thyri, lord Fandral’s former chambermaid.”
“She attacked me in the corridor when I was on my way to lord Skírnir’s apartments with his lunch.”
“And the reason for this?” You took a deep breath before continuing.
“She accused me falsely of… fornicating with her master.” Noise broke free in the hall as people whispered to each other or gasped at the statement.


“And you say these allegations are false?”
“Yes. Lord Fandral asked lord Blekk to make me his chambermaid, which lord Blekk refused. Thyri however was cross that her master would shove her aside for another and blamed me for this. When she saw me walking down the corridor she cussed at me and used violence. Eventually she stopped when…”
“When?” You gulped down the lump in your suddenly very dry throat.
“When prince Loki noticed the commotion.” More mumbling was heard from the crowd.
“Is this all true, my prince?” Prince Loki stood up and looked you straight in the eyes.


“It is. When I found her, she was lying face down in a pile of glass and porcelain with the other maid kicking her. I later on told lord Fandral to punish his chambermaid, which he did with ten lashings.”
“Thank you, my prince.” The man said and prince Loki sat back down, never breaking his eye contact with you. “Tell us what happened at the Imbolc feast, Kadlin.”
“I was serving the royal table, my lord, as is my duty. Then suddenly she comes to serve the princes while she was only supposed to serve the nobles at the lower tables. I will admit, I was a little cross for sharing my work with another, especially such honourable work as serving the royal house of Asgard. But I didn’t act on my anger, I never would. I simply let her serve the princes while I kept the queen and king’s goblets full at all times. When the royals left and I was done with cleaning the high table, I simply left.” She said and you gritted your teeth at her lies. She was the leader of the band of maids who attacked you and then left you for dead.


“And how do you plead?” The man asked the other maids. They all looked at each other before one of them spoke. You seemed to remember her as the one who had laughed in your face before the attack began.
“We were serving the nobles at the lower tables, my lord, just as she was. Although we don’t sit in a lord’s lap, drinking from his own goblet while we’re at work.” She said and another round of loud gasps was heard from the crowd. “She was rather drunk. Please, noble lords of the jury, don’t be too hard on her, it was after all her very first feast and perhaps she forgot that maids are not to behave like so.”


“You’re lying.” Prince Loki suddenly said as he stood up with force. “She was not drunk and she was clearly uncomfortable with how that vile man was treating her. That’s why I asked a servant to tell her to serve the royal table instead. She was clearly frightened as she kept trembling while pouring the wine. It would be wise, girl, to tell the truth from now on as I can tell when you are being dishonest. I would advise you all to cooperate for lying to your king is a serious crime.” The prince said with his trademark smirk and you could clearly see the girl pale and crumble under his gaze. The other maids too seemed to be uncomfortable as they started shifting on their seats.


“How do you say the night of the feast went?” The man asked you next. You took another deep breath before you delved into the long story of how you ended up being so badly injured. Djúpvitr too was dragged into the story as she explained the state in which she found you in. Things got sour however when you told everyone present that you recognise the maids who had definitely attacked you.
“She’s lying!” “I wasn’t there.” “No, it must be someone who looked like me.” Were some of the things the maids said in their defence, but they weren’t all that convincing.


“I will pass my judgement now!” The king roared and the entire hall went silent. “This could have ended in murder and given that the victim was found all alone, bleeding out, I will judge this case as I would a successful murder. Let it be known in all of Yggdrasil that acts of such violence will not go unpunished! Kadlin Eyjolfdottir, because you were described as the leader of this you will be punished with a fine of 500 gullkrónur and furthermore be banished from Asgardian soil for all eternity. You are no longer a citizen of Asgard!” He said and banged Gungnir on the ground while the whole room broke out in loud noise with the underlining pleading of Kadlin.

“Grima Grisdottir for dealing the first blow you will be fined 400 gullkrónur and be banished from Asgard for a millennium.” Again the allfather banged his golden spear onto the floor and the noise intensified. He raised his hand to silence the crowd once more before passing the rest of his judgement. “The rest of you are equally guilty to this vile crime and therefor you will all receive the same punishment as your companions in blood.

I sentence you all to 600 years of imprisonment in the palace’s dungeons. Once that time is over you will leave the capital and never set foot here again.” And that was it then. Judgement was passed over your abusers. You should have felt happy or something along those lines, weren’t you? But all you could feel was dread and it continued to ache your heart long after you had left the hall.


 

Chapter Text

Chapter 15: Trusting the god of mischief


 

With the group of maids all punished, you felt a little safer regarding possible attacks, but it changed nothing for the anxiety you still felt. Prince Loki knew and that kept plaguing your mind. As soon as the trial was over and you were escorted back to your chambers and left alone, the sobbing began. How did he even find out? You had been so careful not to show anything, even refrained from using it when you were attacked in the corridor, but still he found out. You had no idea what to do now. It wasn’t as if you could escape your room and make a run for it, get your family and find some place safe. You were still in bed with a stupid fractured leg, broken ribs, a broken arm and a smashed-in eye socket.

They were healing fine and soon you would be able to walk around freely again, but would that be soon enough? There was nowhere to run and you knew that too. You were angry, angry beyond measure at the prince and more so at yourself, but for some reason the emotion that was the strongest was that of raw hurt. You felt utterly betrayed and you didn’t understand why you were feeling so. It wasn’t as if prince Loki and you had been friends, but for what it was worth, you had felt relatively safe with him for a while. You had tried to be scared of him, especially after everyone had warned you of him, but for some reason he had never given you a reason to really mistrust him, but now you just felt like an absolute fool.

He didn’t save you that day, because he was being chivalrous, no, it simply was his duty as a prince to protect his people. Those dances at the wedding also meant nothing. If you even recalled correctly he had demanded it of you, rather than ask you. Prince Frey had been right about that. Then there was the rivalry between prince Loki and prince Frey and you didn’t even want to know what prince Loki’s motives for that were. It all came to the same conclusion, once again you hadn’t listened to anyone and got hurt. You felt tears welling up in your eyes again and the first sob broke loose when the door opened and there he stood, the man of your nightmares, prince Loki.


“You’re sad.” He simply stated with his cold voice and you couldn’t help but huff. “Why?” He asked after a long moment of silence in which you were pretty sure he was waiting for you to say something. Again you pursed your lips together. Honestly, the nerve of this man. He knew exactly why you were crying. The prince sighed and approached your bed. When he simply stood there at the edge, you sneaked a peek at him and saw that he seemed to be struggling with himself. Eventually he plopped down next to your injured leg and a shot of anxiety crept inside your heart.


“I haven’t told the allfather if that is what upsets you so.” He stated and you kept feeling his gaze burning holes into you, but you stubbornly kept your eyes focused on the wrinkles of the sheets in your lap. He sighed once again and his hand shot up to rank it through his hair, you assumed. “Please, Svinnr, I don’t… I don’t want you to be afraid of me.” Again you said nothing while you felt the prince shift uncomfortably on the bed.

“You intrigued me when I first saw you. A lonely maid propped up on a windowsill with a heavy book in her hands. Servants, let alone maids, who can read are very rare here. Once that was different, when lesser nobles were servants of the royal family, but my mother thought it would be better to create jobs for the people who needed them and send out application forms all over Asgard. When I saw you sitting there, I thought you were just trying to make sense of the runes or images in the book, but your eyes were darting over the pages as if you truly knew what they meant. I decided to scare you a little, because that’s who I am, the god of mischief and a maid is always an easy target. Yet you held your ground without any fear. Such stupidity and bravery, but yet there had to be intelligence as well for you to spend your free day in the library, reading.” He snorted, but after a moment he turned serious again.

“I could have had you punished for your cheek, but I refrained from that. I wanted to see how far you were willing to go, so I decided to make you my little test subject. And then when I saw you again and you were politely being rude to Fandral by giving him a piece of your mind, I admit I was… baffled. In my experience girls like you fawn over Fandral like bitches in heat, especially when he shows them some kind of attention. But not you. You defended your friend with grace and without a shadow of a doubt as if you had no care what it could cost you, you simply stood up for him because you wanted to and because it felt right.” He fell silent and when you lifted your eyes to look at him, you saw him scratching his palm while his eyes were no longer pointed at you, but at the door.

“No one ever did something like that for me and I wanted what that guard had. More importantly I wanted it from you. I didn’t really know how to proceed however, so I kept my distance. That was until that maid attacked you. I was filled with so much anger for someone to be attacking you, but when she told me you had Fandral’s favour, I turned it all against you. I thought I had terribly misjudged you and that you were just like all the others, but you surprised me once again by telling the truth with such a bite to your voice. At the wedding feast I wanted you all to myself, but Frey was keeping you from me and it angered me to see how easy it was for you to smile at him, when you hardly ever did that with me.” His head turned back to you and your eyes locked. You didn’t know what his eyes were telling you, but at least they weren’t cold.


“Two days ago, when I approached you in the corridor to give you some advice on the trial, I was taken aback by your question. I was working so hard to win your trust, but that question made me believe that I would never have it. You simply couldn’t get over the reputation and names I have received throughout the years and it angered me. You were in no position to judge me and so I… I latched out and decided to hurt and frighten you simply because I could and wanted to.” He shifted a bit closer and to your surprise you could see something akin to apprehension in his eyes. “Svinnr, I have known about your seidr for a while now, but I will not tell another soul about it. I promise.” His eyes darted between yours as if he was waiting for an answer or a signal to show itself in them. A long moment passed in which you both remained quiet and after a while longer, prince Loki’s eyes turned sad as he retreated a bit.

“Please say something.” He all but pleaded and even though you had promised yourself to hold on to your anger and not let this get to you, it did and it made your heart bleed. You didn’t trust him, you couldn’t. You were simply too confused and hurt for it. He knew the secret that could mean your and your family’s ruin if he ever told anyone, you hardly knew him and he had a rotten reputation for being unreliable. You lifted your eyes once more and met his.


“How did you find out?” You asked, not wanting to delve into the whole trust-conversation. He kept looking at you and you swore you could feel him burning holes into your very soul.
“I suspected it when I healed that cut on your cheek. It felt as if my seidr was attaching itself to another magical source. And then when I heard that a maid was beaten to an inch from her life, I grew concerned that they might have spoken of you. And when I went down the healing wing and saw you there, incredibly pale and soaked in bloody rags, I took the healing with seidr upon myself. There was no mistaking that your seidr latched itself with mine then and helped heal your body quicker. It was weak, but it was clearly there.” He spoke ever so softly as if he was talking to a frightened or cornered animal. It did nothing good for your nerves, though.


“Why haven’t you told the allfather?” You asked next and again he started scratching his hand while looking away at the door with a sigh. It took him a while to speak again as well.
“Because I am a selfish being.” He admitted with a clenched jaw. “I wanted to know why you were hiding it. My theory is that your parents have never even reported your talent for it, for why else would you not be studying at the royal school of seidr to learn how to use and control it. It didn’t make sense for you to work as a maid here without anyone else knowing about it.” You nodded and took a few shallow breaths before asking your next question.


“What are you planning to do with this information?” You managed to get out without making your voice tremble. Prince Loki however looked a little shocked and even hurt at hearing your question.
“Nothing.” He said softly and leaned in a bit closer while his fingers brushed over yours. “I promise you, Svinnr, that your secret will be safe with me.” And then you couldn’t hold your tears back anymore as you started crying openly. “Oh, Svinnr.” The prince whispered and ever so slowly closed the gap so he could place his arms around you gently. His hold on you was not strong as if he was giving you the option to push him away if you felt uncomfortable in any way.

You couldn’t help but lean into him and burry your face in the fabric of his shirt, hoping to simply disappear. He smelled good, like leather and lemons and you gladly breathed it all in. You had felt so alone for such a long time and even though the thought frightened you, it also felt relieving to know you could share your secret with someone at the very least. The prince stroked your back soothingly as you continued to soak his shirt with your tears. When you had finally calmed down, he gently pushed you away a little so he could look at you.

“I wish to help you, Svinnr.” He said softly and then looked a little apprehensive. “If you would allow me to, that is.”
“Help me how?” He simply chuckled at that as he spread his arms wide.
“You are looking at the most powerful seidr-wielder in all of Asgard, possibly in all of the nine.” You gulped at him like a fish. Was he trying to tell you that he wanted to… teach you? He laughed after he had seen the expression on your face.
“Are you saying what I think you’re saying.”
“That depends on what you’re thinking, my dear.” And there it was again, his trademark smirk.


“Please don’t.” You mumbled. He might be able to change moods in a blink of an eye, but you couldn’t. He seemed to catch onto that, as he softened his expression and grabbed hold of your hand.
“Not using seidr is dangerous, as I’m sure you know. I can help you practise and perfect it, teach you some spells and help you with your concentration.” He offered and squeezed your hand for good measure. You looked at him with teary eyes.
“What if someone finds out?” You whispered. “I will only cause you trouble, my prince.”
“Are you forgetting who I am? I am trouble in the flesh and if I don’t want anyone to find out, then no one will. It’s as simple as that.”
“But-“
“No.” He whispered in your ear as he pulled you into another embrace. “No more questions. I have already decided to help you and I promise to protect you.” He squeezed you gently against him. “Do you trust me?” He whispered and all sense aside your mouth ran its course as it always did.
“Yes.” And even though everyone had warned you about him and you too had your doubts about him, this, for some reason, felt right.

 You didn’t know how long you stayed there, trapped in prince Loki’s gentle embrace, but you did know how embarrassed you felt when prince Frey cleared his throat to announce his presence.
“I never took you for a sentimental soul, Loki.” He said as you and prince Loki let go of each other, even though the prince kept his hand on your arm.
“And I always thought that knocking on doors before entering was considered to be common decency.” That made prince Frey chuckle as he sat himself down in the chair next to the bed. “What do you want, Frey?”


“I came to say goodbye and see how Svinnr was doing.”
“Goodbye?” You said surprised.
“Yes, my sweet. I told you I was going back to Alfheim and that day has now come, but I didn’t want to leave you behind without saying goodbye and also without inviting you.”


“Invite me?”
“Ostara. It will be the greatest feast you have ever seen and before that there’s a hunt where friends from all over the nine will be present.”
“Prince Frey, I-“
“Please, dear, just call me Frey.” You felt prince Loki’s grip on your arm tighten. You were quiet for a long time while prince Frey kept burning holes into your head with his piercing gaze.


“Frey…, I don’t think I’m allowed to go even if I wanted to.”
“You have my royal permission.” He chuckled and then his face softened as he came closer to you, as if he just realised you had puffy red eyes and tearstained cheeks. “What’s wrong, darling?” He asked as he cupped your cheek, completely ignoring prince Loki who had flinched as soon as prince Frey had touched your skin.


“It’s nothing. I… I’m still overwhelmed by everything.” You said and even though you felt horrible for not telling the whole truth, you weren’t openly lying either.
“I see.” He said as he sat himself down on the other side of the bed and kept his hand on your cheek. “All the more reason for a break, hm?”
“What about lord Blekk? I can’t –“
“I will talk to him.” Prince Loki suddenly spoke up and when your eyes locked, the softness in his eyes had been replaced by an unreadable look. “Ostara is still a few weeks away.”
“See? And what better way to celebrate your birthday than with me?” Frey said with a big smile while stroking your cheek gently.


“Your birthday.” Loki whispered more to himself than anyone else in the room. He took a deep breath, grabbed hold of your hand and placed a soft kiss on your knuckles. “I must go now, I’m afraid.” He said as he got up from your bed and turned his back to you, but for some reason he remained still without making any move to leave. Eventually he turned back around. “I will speak to lord Blekk, Svinnr, not to worry.” And then he vanished in a puff of green smoke.


“What were you talking about earlier?” Prince Frey asked after a moment with a soft voice. You took a deep breath and shook your head.
“I… I don’t want to talk about it.” You said and then remembered that you had been ranting at him how you two could never be friends if you couldn’t openly talk to one another. “Not at the moment, I mean.” You added and cringed at the words. Really, what the hell were you doing? Your whole situation was getting way too complicated.

On one hand there was prince Frey, who for some reason wanted to be your friend while he kept looking awfully pained whenever you would talk to him. And then there was prince Loki who was the mere definition of complicated and in the centre of it all there was you, a little peasant girl who wasn’t even here out of her own volition. You didn’t want to lie to prince Frey, because you actually liked him and wanted to be his friend, but how could you ever? And prince Loki? Why in all the nine did he want to help you anyway? It couldn’t simply be because he wanted your defence of him, could it? You took another deep breath before lifting your eyes to meet Frey’s sky-blue ones that were, once again, filled with some kind of pain-stricken emotion.


“You really want to invite me to Alfheim?” You asked to completely switch topics.
“I do, Svinnr. I wish to show you the Silverwood and the dark lakes. I also know that you have been reading about the Dökkálfar and the Jötnar and have been dying to meet them. And of course some Ljósálfar never hurt, but then again the first light elf you ever met, was Skírnir, so I understand that the Ljósálfar might no longer be of interest to you.” That made you laugh and prince Frey’s face also lit up as he revelled at the sound of it. “There you go. I hated to leave Asgard without hearing your laugh once more.” He of course had to make it weird. He seemed to realise his mistake too late as you cleared your throat and continued the conversation.


“Are you planning on inviting any Dökkálfar or Jötnar?” You asked while fidgeting with the casket on your arm.
“I am. Two princes from Svartalheim and a noble brother and sister from Jotunheim. They will join us on the hunt as well.”


“Us? I can’t even ride a horse properly, let alone operate a bow and arrow.” Prince Frey only chuckled as he placed the hand that was originally on your cheek to the back of your neck to pull you a bit closer.
“I will teach you and I promise you, you will be safe at all times, my dear, never fret.”


 

Chapter Text

Chapter 16: Léttfeti


 

Even though you were not supposed to, you actually missed prince Frey or just Frey as he wanted you to call him by his first name alone. You were also excited by his invitation even though lord Blekk wasn’t all that happy as he stormed into your (or technically his) bedroom one afternoon.
“Care to explain why prince Loki graced me with a royal visit today?” He seethed as Snotra quickly fled the room and closed the door behind her.


“I’m sorry, my lord. It just… you see prince Frey invited me to-“
“Invited you?  The nerve of the man!” He grumbled loudly as he placed his hands on his waist in exasperation. “You do realise what kind of rumours this may cause? A prince to invite a young, beautiful maiden to his estate in full view of everyone? Do I truly have to remind you of prince Frey’s reputation being worse than Fandral’s at one point?”


“I know.” You said defeated while looking down at the sheets in your lap. “I know.” Lord Blekk sighed loudly as he sat himself down in the seat next to your bed with a thud.
“Damn the day you’ve gotten acquainted with either prince. I hardly managed to get rid of prince Loki as he reminded me of my duty to the palace and the fact you lay here, broken and in need of some time off.” Your eyes snapped up at him as hope filled your chest. He seemed to read your face like one of his many books as he lifted a finger to scold you with it. “Don’t give me that look, girl. I am very angry with you for not asking me yourself. I would have shaken you until you forgot this silly endeavour, but now that you unleashed your guard dog upon me…. That boy has always been blessed with a silver tongue.” He sighed again and this time he looked defeated.


“So….” You started but you were too anxious to finish that sentence. Lord Blekk however gave a loud snort.
“So, I’m allowing you to go on this trip.” He said and you squealed in delight. You grabbed for lord Blekk’s hand and gave it a squeeze.
“Thank you, my lord! Thank you so much! How can I ever-“
“Don’t finish that sentence either.” He said seriously, but his eyes were filled with amusement. “I will allow you to go, but not as prince Frey’s guest. You will go as my representative in search for important books, artefacts, maps and so on. You will not tell anyone about your personal invitation, is that clear?”


“Yes, very clear.” You couldn’t help but smile brightly. You were going to Alfheim! Alfheim! The realm of the light elves, the most beautiful woods and structures the nine had to offer even though Asgard and Vanaheim kept saying that they held that reputation. Now you were going to be able to put that to the test. Maybe you should get your hands on some kind of journal to write down your findings on your adventures. You would also travel by the Bifröst that had been fixed for just under a decade now and see all the villages and the roaring sea as it fell over the edge of the world. You were just mussing about meeting the gatekeeper and ask him questions on his sight, when a terrifying thought struck you.


“By the Norns, I will have to ride a horse!” You screeched in horror not even realising you revealed your thoughts out loud. The sound of lord Blekk’s loud laughter brought you to that realisation quickly, however.
“That you will, my dear.” He said after whipping a tear out of the corner of his eye.
“But, I-I don’t know how!” Well, great. You were finally able to do what you had always wanted to do - travel and explore, but you were pretty sure that prince Loki would rethink this endeavour when he found out you couldn’t even ride a horse. Hadn’t prince Frey said he would teach you? Well, even if he had, it didn’t help you much now.


“I would say ‘let me teach you’, but Eir forbade me to ride any kind of animal four centuries ago.” He chuckled to himself. You however looked horrified. What in the Nine were you going to do? You couldn’t ask prince Loki for private lessons, now could you? No, no, you couldn’t, you most definitely could not!


“Egil!” You suddenly squealed in delight. “He can teach me, right?” You asked with hopeful eyes.
“I’m sure he will if you ask him.” Lord blekk said with a smile as he rose from his seat. “I’ll tell him to drop by, but right now I have to go back to the books that you have neglected.”
“Thank you, my lord. Truly.” You said and with a smile he left your bedroom. Not much later, maybe half an hour, Egil walked in looking a bit sheepish.


“You wanted to see me, Svinnr?”
“Yes! I wish to take you up on an offer you made.” He looked at you confused as he plopped down in the seat next to your bed.
“Just to be sure, what offer are we speaking off?”
“You teaching me how to ride a horse.” You said and Egil laughed.
“I can’t believe you remembered that.” He said while he kept chuckling. “Alright, I’ll do it, but tell me, why the sudden interest?”


“Lord Blekk wants me to join the princes to Alfheim to celebrate Ostara and he is allowing me to go as his representative to find books, artefacts and so on. But in order to travel I need-“
“To be able to ride a horse.” He finished for you. “To be honest, Svinnr, I’m surprised that lord Blekk is allowing this. You are still recovering and such a trip can’t be good for you. Besides, as we have just established, you can’t ride a horse. No offence, but if I were lord Blekk I wouldn’t allow any of this.”
“Well, you’re not and you’re going to help me with my horse-problem.” You said, a little disappointed that he didn’t share the same enthusiasm as you were. He sighed and scratched his head.
“When will they take of your bandages?” He asked to take your mind of it or at least so you thought.


“Tomorrow.”
“Well, as soon as they’re off and Eir gives her permission for you to begin your lessons, then I will help you, but no sooner than that.” You nodded fiercely, glad that he would help you nevertheless. “How did you even get lord Blekk’s permission?”
“I believe he felt bad for what happened to me and I also think he wants me to enjoy the greatest feast ever to be held as prince Frey likes to claim. I guess it was a combination of those two for him to allow me to go eventually.” You shrugged.

In truth you didn’t really understand why prince Frey had invited you either, but you were simply too happy to see more of Yggdrasil to care. Egil stayed around while he told you about his day and the fact that he had won a bet against Edvard that resulted in him grunting out a few words, none of them gracious, but words none the less. You always wondered if Edvard even knew how to speak, since all you ever gotten out of him was either silence or some kind of growls and grunts. Sometimes you imagined him being a bear that was simply dressed up as a guard and when you told Egil about this you both laughed. Egil stayed with you for the rest of the day.

He even stayed around for dinner as you told Snotra to fetch dinner for three so she could join you as well. Even though your bandages would come off the next day and you were told to stay in bed to unsure the speedy recovery, you still got up from your bed and stumbled into the living quarters to plop down at the dinner table. You had stayed in bed for a month now, even though you were unconscious the first week of it. You just needed to move otherwise you would go insane. After the trial you had also managed to figure out how the crutches worked, at least after some tries that earned you a few more bruises. None of it mattered though. Soon you would be released from your prison and then it was only a matter of time before you could wander through the famous Silverwood with its gigantic silver trees that reached all the way to tickle the clouds.

 


 

 

“No.” Eir told you and your heart sunk.
“What do you mean ‘no’?” Eir sighed as she continued to cut the casket to free your arm.
“Your injuries are not to be taken so lightly, child. Do I have to remind you of the fact you could have perished?” You huffed and shook your head. No one needed to remind you of that fact, yet everyone kept doing so. Lord Blekk, Egil, …. Even ambassador Skírnir who came to visit you just before he left with prince Frey had reminded you! And now there was the lady Eir.


“Isn’t exercise supposed to be good for you?” You tried even though you knew you had no chance against Eir. She chuckled as she removed the casket from your arm and helped you bend it.
“Does it hurt when I move it like so?” She asked and you shook your head. It actually felt great to feel the air on your skin once more. “I appreciate your spirit, Svinnr and you are right, exercise is good for the muscles, joints and even the soul. But your leg hasn’t seen any action for a month now. It’s weak and what if you fell from the horse? You’re simply too fragile.”


“But my leg has seen action. I walked to the witness bench at the trial and I have been using my crutches. Besides, isn’t the horse doing most of the work?” That truly made Eir laugh as she moved over to cut through the casket on your leg.
“Right you are again, but you are supposedly in charge of said beast. If you make a wrong move or it gets spooked then you need your legs, arms and wits to remain safe. I think you’re highly underestimating this endeavour. This is not some short trip, Svinnr. You will be travelling for days, meaning that you will be in the saddle for hours on end. Have you ever experienced something like that?” You shook your head again. “In the centuries I have tended to various warriors, I have seen many wounds caused by sitting too long in the saddle. You also don’t have a horse and a bond is essential to assure safe travels.”


“But,…. Can’t you allow me to try? If I manage not to fall off the first few times, then that must mean I have some talent for it, yes? Besides I grew up with a horse that still pulls the cart of goods to the markets. She liked me, I promise.” Again Eir chuckled as she moved your leg and bend your knee all while watching you attentively for any signs of discomfort. “Lord Egil would be with me at all times to make sure I’m safe. Please, lady Eir, let me try.” You did your best to give her the most irresistible puppy eyes you could muster. Eir sighed as she let go of your leg.


“Your arm and leg seem to be in good condition, but I’m not sure about your ribs and your eye socket. I suggest you to wear nothing restricting around your chest, so no corsets.” You snorted. Corsets were only worn by people of noble birth anyway. “I will also rebandage your head. As for your little project, I understand that you don’t want to give up. I will allow you to try-“ You squealed with happiness at her words. “-but if lord Egil doesn’t think you are ready for such an adventure then you will not go.” You nodded fiercely and reached over to hug Eir tightly. It was actually funny for Egil to set terms on Eir’s opinion and Eir on Egil’s. It didn’t matter. One more test, which you were going to pass even if you had to feed your soul to Jörmungandr, and then you were on your way to Alfheim.

As soon as Eir had rebandaged your head and confirmed you to be healthy otherwise, Snotra helped you into the dress your mother had gotten you on her last visit and you left lord Blekk’s apartments to visit him at the archives. (and hopefully find Egil) You weren’t in luck as you spotted Serk in front of the doors to the archives. Still you plastered a smile on your face and approached him.


“Good morning, Serk.” You said and were immediately greeted by a sly smirk.
“Well, well, Svinnr. I thought I would never get to see that sweet little face of yours again.”
“The world is not done with me yet it would seem. Say, can you let me pass to see lord Blekk and could you also tell me where lord Egil is?”
“But of course, anything for my darling girl. And Egil is guarding the library if I’m not mistaking.” You thanked Serk and quickly slipped behind the doors to get away from his leering eyes. You hadn’t missed him, but you had most definitely missed the archives and its esteemed archivist. You quickly descended the stairs, ignoring the slight pain you still felt in your leg, and looked around for lord Blekk.

You quickly found him at one of the desks, snoring away while his right cheek was lying on top of an atlas from Niflheim. You chuckled to yourself and walked over to his bed inside an alcove to grab a pillow for him. You also left a note to tell him you had visited and were now free to wander about according to lady Eir. You then walked over to the passageway that connected the archives with the library and followed it all the way to the end. People didn’t really seem to care that you had just come out of nowhere as the librarians kept themselves busy with placing books to their right places on the shelves. You walked through the aisles until you reached the main doors and slipped outside to scare your friend.


“By the Norns, Svinnr! Do that again and I will be the one to need lady Eir.” Egil chuckled as he hugged you tightly.
“I’m sorry. I just couldn’t help myself.” You replied with a bright smile on your face as you snuggled a little closer to him. “Speaking of not being able to help myself, I have managed to persuade lady Eir to give horseback riding lessons a try.” He pulled you slightly out of his embrace to look at you with a big grin and a look in his eyes that resembled something akin to adoration and affection. 
“You continue to amaze me, little one. Did you come and find me simply to tell me that or because you wanted to use your persuading powers on me to start your lessons right away?” Now it was you who chuckled.


“Has anyone ever told you how amazing you are?” Egil simply laughed at that.
“Vott!” He suddenly yelled and a guard who you seemed to remember from somewhere, turned around. “Could you take over my shift for today? I will take over two of yours in return.” The other guard sighed and then nodded.
“Fine, but I want you to take two nightshifts.” Egil nodded and then grabbed you by the hand to escort you outside. You remembered the way to the soldiers’ stables only vaguely and it had already been dark the last time you were here, so it came to no surprise that the mere size of the structure baffled you. Instead of calling for a stable boy like last time, Egil took you inside where you were greeted by various horses tucked away safely into their own stable. He knew exactly where he was going as he walked past ten stables and took a turn to the left, another three stables you passed before you came to a stop.


“Alright, lesson one: bonding. I want you to approach Léttfeti and pat him.” You nodded and looked the horse straight into its eyes. Léttfeti was a beauty with long silver manes and intelligent blue eyes that were watching every move you made. You held out your hand for the horse to sniff. It did so and soon it put its own muzzle into your hand as you patted him gladly. “You’re a natural.” Egil said as he too came over to pat the horse. “Lesson number two: grooming.” He said and handed you a brush. Even though this was not really what you were expecting your horse lessons to entail, it was rather soothing to simply pat and get to know the horse. You quickly found out that Léttfeti couldn’t get enough of pats on the side of his neck, but he absolutely hated it to be touched on his belly.

Once he was brushed clean and Egil was happy with the result you moved on to lesson number three: saddling. Now this proofed to be a real ordeal. All the straps, bits of iron and leather seemed to be rather uncomfortable for the horse even though Egil kept telling you that horses didn’t mind as much. You thought differently and kept close watch on Léttfeti for any signs of discomfort as you adjusted the saddle and bridle. Once you were done, Egil told you to undress. He had laughed at your expression of instant shock and embarrassment before clarifying that ridding in a dress was highly improper and also unpractical. You didn’t own any trousers, not only because you were a mere servant, but also because women here never seemed to wear them.

Eventually one of the stable boys managed to find some trousers which were too big for you and were riddled with holes. Once you had put them on and presented yourself to Egil, he had laughed for a good ten minutes and you still caught him chuckling from time to time long after you had mounted Léttfeti and Egil had guided the horse by the rope in a circle.


“You know what? The next time I hear you laugh at me, I will sneak into your room, steal all your clothes and only leave dresses behind for you to wear.” You heard Egil laugh once more.
“I’m sorry, my sweet, but you look like such a lost little lamb in those trousers. It’s absolutely adorable.” You huffed, but you couldn’t help the smile from plastering itself onto your face.
“How long have we been doing this now?”
“About an hour or three.”
“I want to try it myself now. I think I can make Léttfeti halt and walk all by myself. Plus getting him into a trot.” Egil Looked unsure as he made Léttfeti halt.


“Are you sure?” He asked and you nodded. He then removed the rope from Léttfeti’s halter and adjusted your grip on the reigns. He then stepped back and gave you a firm nod. You smiled and clicked your tongue while giving a small tap with your heels. He answered immediately as he began walking. You kept the reigns short to keep Léttfeti’s head high as you made him move into a large circle. Then you made him go to the right and a bit later tun him back around, pretty much putting on a show for Egil. You then held in the reigns and the magnificent stallion came to a stop.


“Very good, Svinnr, very good.” Egil praised you as he came closer to pat Léttfeti on the side of his neck. “Now the trot. If you can do that we will have lunch and after that I’ll teach you how to gallop.” You beamed at him as you clicked your tongue once more to get Léttfeti to move. You then moved forward into the saddle to indicate that you wanted to go faster and like the good boy he is, Léttfeti indulged you and moved into a trot. You made two circles before halting him again.


“Giving your girl riding lessons, I see, brother.” A voice spoke and you didn’t even have to lift your eyes to meet his in order to know who was speaking. What did surprise you however was the fact that lord Fandral had not come alone. Lord Volstagg, lord Hogun, the two princes and the lady Sif were all seated upon their own horses that stood a few feet away from the horse track you were using.
“Brother.” Egil said icy. “My lords, my lady, your highness, your highness.” He addressed everyone which you did too after him.
“Why don’t you two lovebirds join us on a little hunt, hm?” Lord Fandral continued as he moved his horse closer.


“Forgive us if we pass on such an adventure. Svinnr has only just been released by the lady Eir and I’m afraid it is too soon for her to indulge in such a dangerous sport.” Egil said and you were glad that he didn’t bring up the fact that you were just beginning to learn how to ride.
“Then why don’t you join us, good Egil?” Asked lord Volstagg and even though you knew Egil didn’t like his brother all that much, you could see longing in his eyes. You knew he loved adventures, riding fast and that he even secretly admired the warriors three.


“You can go with them if you want to, Egil.” You said to him even though you didn’t really want him to leave you behind. He seemed to be struggling.
“Are you sure? I can stay if you-“
“Go ahead. I know you want to. See it as compensation for stealing you away from your duties like I did.” He gave you a warm smile as he came over to squeeze your hand.
“Thank you, my sweet. Although I don’t ever want to be compensated for you stealing me away.” You chuckled while he helped you down of his horse before he mounted Léttfeti himself. He gave you one more smile before following the rest down the path in the direction of the woods. You sighed and rubbed your hands absentmindedly on your hole-infested trousers.


“What were you doing?” That smooth voice you would recognise anywhere said and as you turned your head you were indeed greeted by prince Loki standing there next to his horse.
“We… we were just…” Prince Loki lifted an eyebrow and you sighed, giving up. Honestly what was the point coming up with lies when speaking to someone who is known to be a master of them. “I asked lord Egil to help me with riding lessons.” Prince Loki didn’t look very amused even though you were absolutely certain that he would mock you with it.


“Why not ask me?” He eventually said with an icy tone, yet his eyes betrayed nothing. You were confused. In all honesty this man was just plain confusing. A moment passed in which you tried to figure out what was going on with him as he kept staring at you, waiting for an answer. “I thought you said you trusted me.” He eventually said and this time his eyes looked angry and maybe even indifferent if that made any sense at all.
“I do.” You said and you shocked yourself when you realised that you truly meant that as well. “I was just…”
“What?”


“Embarrassed, alright? I was embarrassed to ask you, because you managed to persuade lord Blekk to allow me on this endeavour while I cannot even ride a horse properly.” You said exasperated. His eyes however softened as a smirk formed on his face.
“No need to be embarrassed by it. I had to learn how to ride once too, you know.” You rolled your eyes at that.


“Yes, but not right before you went on an adventure of a lifetime. Besides you learned how to ride as a child.” You said before realising yet again that you were speaking too carelessly to people who were way above you. “Your highness.” You added for good measure. He chuckled as he moved closer with his beautiful black horse in tow.


“Skeiðbrimir, Svinnr. Svinnr, Skeiðbrimir.” He introduced you to his horse. “Now let us resume your lessons, shall we.”  It wasn’t even a question. Prince Loki’s horse looked more than intimidating with his angry eyes, jet black manes, tail and body and above all his immense form.
“I can’t ride that.” You spoke before you even had the change to think. Prince Loki however took no offence as he laughed while your cheeks reddened.


“You can and you will.” He eventually said as he waved his hand to beckon you closer. You however stayed put. His black steed was gigantic and clearly bred for royalty. You simply couldn’t ride him, not only because he frightens you so, but also because this had been your very first time on a horse and Loki’s steed seemed reluctant to have you on his back.

“What’s wrong?” You gave prince Loki an uncertain look and he rolled his eyes. “If it makes you feel any better, I promise not to let anything happen to you. Now come here so you can mount him.”

You reluctantly stepped closer to him and as soon you were in his reach, he grabbed you by the waist and hoisted you up so you could place your foot in the stirrup. You felt uncomfortable in the saddle and you prayed to the Norns you would not fall off Loki’s horse given that your ribs would surely break again.

“Now show me what you have learned so far under that boy’s guidance.” Prince Loki said as you grabbed hold of the reins.
“His name is Egil.” You said with confidence and without waiting for a reply, you clicked your tongue and tapped your heels into Skeiðbrimir’s flanks. The horse neighed angrily, but he did respond to you as he started walking away from the prince. You made a circle before you halted him once more. Prince Loki gave you a quizzical look as if he was waiting for you to do something spectacular.


“Is this all?” He asked eventually while you bit your lip. You knew you could trot as well and perhaps even gallop, although you were yet to do so on Léttfeti, but you were anxious to risk it with a horse you didn’t know and was this high above the ground.
“The lady Eir told me not to risk anything given that my ribs and eye socket still need to heal properly. Besides, I have just been released from the healers wing.”
“I didn’t take you for someone who follows the rules, Svinnr.” Prince Loki said with amusement laced into his voice. “Now I want to see you preform a perfect trot before we move on to galloping.” You sighed and pushed your heels back into the horse’s flanks to make him move before you clicked your tongue and shifted in the saddle to make him go faster.

The rest of the day you practised with the biggest horse you had ever seen and even though he had seemed dangerous at first, you quickly felt yourself relax in the saddle as he followed every order you gave to perfection. Prince Loki too, behaved exemplary as he guided you through his lessons. Not once did you feel as if you didn’t belong here or that you were a mere servant. Prince Loki too seemed to forget for a moment that he was in fact a prince and was not supposed to spend his time with a maid as he laughed and made you laugh in return. 


 

Chapter Text

Chapter 17: Bifröst


 

“And you have packed everything?” Lord Blekk asked for maybe the tenth time as you sat with him for breakfast at the archives.
“I have, my lord.” You said with a smile as you grabbed for another roll of sugar bread.
“Sleeping bag? Compass? Drinking skin?”
“All of them are packed.” Lord Blekk sighed and took a reluctant bite of his buttered toast.
“And you have consulted Eir like I have asked you to?”


“I have and she gave me her permission to join the travel party to Alfheim.” You said and then gave lord Blekk a knowing look. “As I am sure you already know.” There was no doubt in your mind that lord Blekk had gone and asked lady Eir herself on your condition.
“Fine.” He grumbled and dropped his toast, before he pointed a finger at your chest. “Wear that brooch at all times so people know who you are and do not get in your way.” You nodded your head while taking another bite.


“Of course, my lord.”
“Now take another roll of bread or some fruit. You will need your strength for the long ride.” That reminded you of something you had wanted to ask him.
“Lord Blekk? Do you perhaps have a map of Alfheim? I would like to know the route we are going.” His eyes widened at that. 


“I knew you would forget about something! By the Norns, girl, how are you supposed to travel without a map?” You felt a little irritated at that. It’s not as if you had forgotten, you just assumed that only the princes were allowed to have one, given that they were leading this travel party.
“The princes have one and they’re leading this-“
“And what if you got lost? Don’t forget that this is your very first expedition or adventure as you like to call it. You need a map at all times, Svinnr.” He then got up and shuffled towards a chest full of scrolls, all the while mumbling to himself. When he finally found what he was looking for you had already finished your breakfast and were cleaning up the table.


“Here it is.” He said as he spread the map over the part you had just cleaned. “The place Heimdall will drop you all off is here.” He said and pointed to what looked like open fields. “Grænir Reitir. The ever green fields. Ýdalir or the hall of Ullr will be your first stop. Then you depart along the Dökkar Varnir to reach Andlang, the stronghold of lord Folduin Naeyra. I shouldn’t be telling you this, because I place myself above gossip, but since that you have met ambassador Skírnir, I think I can excuse this for one time. Lord Folduin is the one who had him banished from Alfheim by consulting the king in private. That’s why the ambassador avoids this place like the plague.”


“But doesn’t he have to pass there every time he visits prince Frey’s court?”
“Theoretically yes, but there are other roads as well. He mostly travels by less busier routes and sleeps at local inns. The lords and the royal family of Alfheim are not thrilled with the ambassador’s presence and definitely not with prince Frey’s choice to appoint a convict as his most trusted servant. Although ‘most trusted’ are big words, especially where ambassador Skírnir is concerned.” He cleared his throat and continued dragging his finger across the map until it stopped at another black dot with the name Vídbláin above it. “This is the residence of Prince Frey, where the feast will take place.”


“Do you perhaps know where the Silverwood is?” Lord Blekk gave you a confused look, so you clarified. “Prince Frey spoke of showing me the Silverwood and I admit to be quite excited to see it as I have read about it and its unparalleled beauty.”
“Well, you’re in luck. Ýdalir lies at the heart of the The Silverwood or Terth skógur.” To proof this fact he pointed to the dot with the name Ýdalir above it and you could see little trees drawn around it with the name Terth skógur. He then rolled up the map and gave it to you. “Do not lose it.”


“I won’t, I promise.” You said and took the map from him with a smile. You then did something that neither of you had expected you to do, you opened your arms and hugged him tightly. It took lord Blekk a moment to get over his shock, but once he did, he returned your embrace with gentle arms that held you close. When you let go of each other you both had a smile on your face.


“Good luck, little one and safe travels.” You were taken aback and also quite saddened that he was already saying his goodbyes to you. Did this mean that he wasn’t going to see you off at the gates of the Bifröst? He seemed to understand the sudden fall of your smile and the sadness that must have showed itself into your eyes as he snorted.

“Don’t worry, Svinnr, I’ll be there to see you off, but I’m afraid I won’t be able to be so open with you there. I have a reputation to uphold as a grumpy old man, you see.” That made you laugh. Truly it was hilarious to think that you were once afraid of this man, while he had been so good to you. It had all been part of this act he had taken upon himself.
“Well in that case, would my lord allow it if I too spoke openly with him now?” He nodded his head with a smile.
“You may.”


“I thank you for the map, this opportunity, the apartments, the care, the protection, the guidance and above all your friendship. You are a good man, lord Blekk and I am so lucky and overjoyed to have met you and have you believe in me.” He grabbed hold of your hand and gave it a squeeze. Even though you both worked with books every day and penned down thousands of words, in this moment you both didn’t need any more words to understand. With a parting smile and another hug, you left the archives to go to your apartments once more to pick up your things and go to the soldiers’ stables to get Léttfeti saddled up. It didn’t come as a surprise when you spotted Egil in front of your door.


“On Guarding duty, I see.” You said as you approached him. He turned his head to watch you come closer with a big smile on his face.
“Actually, I made room for you in my busy schedule to help you with your things and also with Léttfeti.” You gave him a beaming smile as you thanked him and let him into your apartments to get your stuff. “Have you packed everything?” He asked and you couldn’t help but laugh. “What? What is so amusing?”
“Nothing, only that lord Blekk has asked me that same question over and over again.” You chuckled and he did so as well. “I have only one more thing to pack, though and that is this map.”
“And that’s it? Did you pack your insanely scandalous trousers too?” He asked and you hit him playfully on the chest while he laughed.


“As a matter of fact, I did.” You both laughed. When the queen had heard that you were going on this trip and therefor going to ride a horse, she had a dressmaker send to you who kept mumbling about it not being proper for a girl to wear such scandalous things. She kept going on about the fact that it followed the curve of your legs and left nothing to the imagination. You disagreed, but you never told her that to her face. Eventually she managed to create two different trousers. One in some kind of soft material for the hot weather and another one out of leather to keep you dry when it was raining. That’s all you managed to get out of her where trousers were concerned. She did however complain less when she began creating the dress you were going to wear for Ostara. You told her you were fine with wearing the dress your mother had given to you, but she wouldn’t have any of it. And that’s how you ended up with a beautiful purple silken dress that now lay carefully wrapped in paper at the bottom of your travel bag.

Egil took the heavy travel bag from your hands and swung it over his shoulder while you kept your rolled up sleeping bag under your arm.
“How much did you pack, Svinnr? It weighs as much as an adult sea serpent.” Egil said which made you blush a little. Maybe you did pack more things then were necessary, but then again you might need the books when you had to set up camp somewhere in the woods to block out your mind from hearing scary noises. You followed Egil out of your apartments, into the halls and all the way outside. It was still dark and early as the princes had ordered to leave at first light, but you could see that the time of your departure was slowly creeping closer as the sky was slightly lighter than it was before. Egil and you were just following the path to the stables when you ran into the princes themselves. 


“Ah, I’m glad to see that our little adventurer is up and getting ready for departure!” You expected prince Loki being the one to address you, but no, it was the crown prince with his booming voice. You had never spoken to him apart from that one night at the tavern and you had thought that he hardly even remembered you existed. You must have been staring for too long as everyone looked at you.
“Yes, your highness.” You didn’t really know what else to say and if you were being honest with yourself, you couldn’t even remember what he had said because you were a little too busy being shocked about the fact that he had spoken to you at all. “I’m glad to be part of this adventure.” You added a little awkwardly.


“And what an adventure it shall be! Mother said you are Vanir, so travelling must be in your blood.” Actually you weren’t really Vanir, you might have been born there but none of your parents had Vanir blood. You, however, didn’t tell the prince that. Instead you gave him an awkward smile and a tiny nod.
“I certainly wish to see Alfheim for I have heard and read so much about it.” It was true that you had pretty much forsaken any other topics of books as you ‘prepared’ yourself for Alfheim. You had been so pumped for this adventure that you would have been utterly heartbroken if Egil had deemed you unready for it, but this past week had showed him that you were in fact more than ready. You still couldn’t believe you were going and it made you smile like an absolute madwoman every time you thought about it.


“I can tell by the way you are smiling so brightly!” Thor beamed and patted you on your shoulder. You believed he held himself back to be more gentle towards you, because you had seen what his pats on the back could do to someone. “Come! Let’s venture towards the stables to ready the horses.” He said and began walking away. Egil and you exchanged a smile as you followed the two princes down the path towards the stables, only to come to a halt a little later. The soldiers’ stables were to the left, but the princes kept going straight. Prince Loki was the first to realise Egil and you had stopped following them.


“Why have you stopped?” He asked which made prince Thor turn around and look at you as well.
“I’m sorry, your highness. It’s just… the soldiers’ stables are to the left.” You said with uncertain eyes which you quickly lowered to the ground. You still had a little trouble speaking to any noble let alone a royal.
“And why would you want to go there?” Prince Loki asked and you could feel Egil shifting a bit beside you.
“My horse is there and I am going to lend it to her, your highness.” Egil supplied while adjusting your travel bag on his shoulder. A moment of silence passed in which you could feel prince Loki’s eyes on you.


“No. That won’t be needed. You can have a horse from the royal stables.” Now you did look up to meet his eyes. Was he being serious?
“Thank you, your highness, but if it’s alright with you, … I’d rather ride with Léttfeti since we have bonded a bit over time.” You didn’t really know what his eyes were telling you nor his posture, but it was sending shivers down your spine. A moment of intense staring on his part went by before he opened his mouth again.


“Fine.” Was all he said in a monotone voice as he turned back around and walked away with his brother. You didn’t know what to make of it. Was it wrong of you to turn his offer down? Was this some kind of breach in etiquette? After all when a prince or someone of nobility offered you something, weren’t you supposed to always accept it?


“Come on, little one.” Egil said and his voice brought you back to reality. You followed him down the path to the left, all the way to the soldiers’ stables were you were greeted by a stable boy who was already readying Léttfeti who neighed happily at your approach.
“Hello, beautiful.” You said as you patted his muzzle affectionately. You and Egil then helped the stable boy with adjusting the last straps and tying up your travel bag and sleeping bag to the saddle. Once everything was in place and Egil was contented with the result, you grabbed for Léttfeti’s reigns to guide him outside.


“Wait.” Egil said and when you turned to look at him, he looked a bit sheepish and maybe even nervous.
“What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. I just wished to give you something.” You let go of the reigns, trusting Léttfeti to not stray off, and approached Egil. “I wanted to give you this.” He said and held out a leather belt with a dagger attached to it. You could tell that it was his, given that his name was carved into the handle.


“Egil, …. I-I can’t take this.” You said a little bit more emotional than you wanted to show.
“But I want you to have it.” He said. “Please, Svinnr. Then I can sleep a little easier once you’re gone, knowing you can defend yourself if you have to.” He too sounded emotional, so instead of awkwardly taking his gift while supressing the flood of tears, you took a step closer and hugged him tightly. He immediately returned the embrace with as much vigour as he squeezed you tightly against his chest. You stayed there for a while, safe and sound in the caring arms of your dear friend.


“Thank you, Egil. If it means so much to you then I will wear it always.” You said and as an answer you received a kiss on your temple.
“Promise me to be safe on your travels, Svinnr.” He said with a soft voice that simply made you feel so warm and cared for.
“I promise, Egil. I won’t do anything rash.” That however made him laugh.
“When have you ever done something that wasn’t rash?” Now you too laughed.
“Shut up you and just hold me.”

When the sky had turned a beautiful orange and the first signs of the sun were visible, you found yourself at the gates of the Bifröst bridge on Léttfeti’s back surrounded by various Einherjar, nobles and even some servants. The warriors three, the princes and even the queen were there as well, saying their goodbyes to the king who had bid you all a safe journey. You had manged to spot lord Blekk among the crowd of people with some sort of proud glint in his eyes as he waved at you. Egil was there too, patting Léttfeti and giving him an apple. The surprise of the day however was Rydigg who had come down to see you off and had even brought you a giant flatbread for along the way.


“Compliments of Djúpvitr.” She had said with a mischievous smirk which had made you laugh. Eventually prince Thor gave the signal to move out and so with one last glance at Egil, Rydigg and lord Blekk you spurred Léttfeti to take the first step towards adventure.


“First time on the Bifröst bridge?” A voice asked and when you looked to whom it might belong, you were once again shocked. The lady Sif was beside you and greeted you with a smile.
“Y-yes.” You all but stuttered. “How did you tell?”
“I had the same look of wonder in my eyes the first time I walked over it.” She said with a smile which you gladly returned. “It is quite something isn’t it?”
“Yes it is. I never thought I would get the change to walk over it one day.”
“And yet here you are. I must say I’m happy that there’s another woman joining our company for once.” That made you frown.


“Surely I haven’t been the only one to have accompanied you for so many years?” Sif only chuckled.
“You’re right, but either they hid themselves away in carriages or they rode side-saddle, because they were all of the opinion that a lady should never ride like a man, let alone wear trousers.” That made you laugh. It was good to see another woman who hardly gave any thought to expectations, traditions and proper etiquette.


“Well, in that case I am happy not being the only woman to share such fondness for scandal.” You thought perhaps that your jest was a little too risky, but when Sif laughed you felt a great relief for finding another possible friend. It was true that apart from Sif, the queen, Fulla and you there were no other women present. Perhaps the nobles didn’t feel like bringing their wives, but surely they too were allowed to celebrate Ostara? The queen seemed to have that idea as she had left her own husband at the palace to celebrate ‘the greatest Ostara feast the nine have ever seen’, as prince Frey had promised. She rode in a carriage even though something told you that she too would have loved to ride a horse like you and Sif were. Unfortunately she was the queen and a queen’s life was never her own. She had to hold herself to these forms of tradition and etiquette to become the very face of modesty for her people.

It saddened you that she couldn’t simply be herself even though she played her role without any flaws. You sighed and turned your attention back to the lady Sif and asked her about her first time on the Bifröst and where she had gone to. She was just indulging you with a story about the time she had to rescue lord Volstagg from getting stung by giant killer-bees on Vanaheim because he had disturbed their nest to get to the heavenly honey, when you heard the roaring of the sea falling off the edge of Asgard. You had always wanted to see this! The dark blue water fell into nothing but clouds of purple, green, pink and black. The edge of the world! And you were going beyond it on this bridge that was fabricated out of the same colours as below. Even though you felt the sun on you, the stars here were visible and you wondered what they might look like at night.

All of your daydreaming stopped when you walked underneath a golden dome that you hadn’t even realised was there because you had kept your gaze fixed on the roaring sea below and the stars and all the beautiful colours on the side of the bridge. The dome was huge, but that wasn’t what made you hold in your breath. It was the man standing in the middle of it, the man you knew to be the gatekeeper whose gaze saw all. Heimdall.


“Morning, travellers.” He said and you pretty much melted for his voice was the most soothing thing you had ever heard. It was so deep and relaxing that you felt it in the deepest of your core and your very soul.
“Morning, good Heimdall.” Prince Thor beamed. “How fares Alfheim?”
“It’s going to be hot today as it has been for a while now. I predict the temperature will continue to rise.”
“Well, we best be ready for it.” Thor said as he let that information get to him.
“Good Heimdall, what of prince Frey?” The queen asked as she poked her head out of the drapes of the carriage she was in.


“Prince Frey has been informed of your departure. He will await you at Andlang, my queen.”
“Thank you, Heimdall.” The prince nudged his horse a bit forwards then and was quickly followed by the others who all awaited what was to come.


“If you feel nervous, it’s okay to close your eyes.” Sif whispered to you and you looked slightly confused until an unspeakable force seemed to pull you forwards as soon as Heimdall had sheathed his sword into a golden something. And in a blink of an eye the golden dome had disappeared and vibrant colours surrounded you, Léttfeti and the rest of the party as you kept going faster and faster. You wanted to scream, but your body seemed to be frozen as it ignored every command you gave it all the while your eyes remained open to let all the colours consume you completely.


 

Chapter Text

Chapter 18: Grænir Reitir


The first thing you became aware of was the heat on your skin, the second was the sound of foreign birds signing and the third was the fact that your eyes were firmly closed. As soon as you opened them, you regretted it. It felt as if you had lost your stomach on the way and it was rapidly catching up on you. You pressed your lips together and hoped that the Norns would save you some kind of dignity and not let you puke in front of the whole travel party. You focused on your breathing, in out, in out. And when you thought it was safe enough, that you were out of the danger zone, the realisation hit you like a tidal wave.

You had done it. This was Alfheim and you had just travelled with the Bifröst! You couldn’t help but let a barely audible ‘wow’ escape from your lips. The sight before you was more than gorgeous. It looked like you had walked into one of the tapestries that hung in the corridors of the palace, but instead of it being frozen in time, this place was bustling with life. The birds that flew over your head and filled the hot air with their song, were vibrant in colour and had the most intriguing shapes, the air was filled with a sweet aroma that you couldn’t quite place and the green fields before you seemed to be endless as they stretched as far as the eye could see.


“Gorgeous, isn’t it?” A voice next to you said and when you turned your head, another realisation hit you. Lady Sif had been talking to you ever since you left the palace and she was now looking at you with a knowing smirk on her face.
“I… I don’t know what to say.” You all but mumbled.
“Then don’t. To be honest I’m surprised to see you so awed. Most people don’t have time for that as they’re too busy emptying their stomachs.” You blushed and sheepishly looked away. “Ah, I see. Well at least you managed to keep it safely inside.” Sif said and you could almost hear the amusement in her voice.


“Let’s move out!” Prince Thor suddenly shouted and the whole train of horses began to move.
“Have you been here before, lady Sif?” You asked after you had spurred Léttfeti on to move as well.
“I have, but then we went to the mountains to visit the royal family. It’s the same road as we’re taking now, only difference is that we’re stopping at prince Frey’s residence and not venture any further.” She then looked at you with a warm smile. “You may call me Sif if you like, Svinnr.” You really were on a role with all the nobles granting you certain privileges.


“I’d like that, my lady. I mean, Sif.” You tried to hide your embarrassment by chuckling and you were happy to see that Sif was smiling too. “So you have met the royal family of Alfheim?”


“Oh yes. Nuvian Faelamin, the king of Alfheim, is simply royalty in the flesh. He always has his head held high and walks so graciously that you would think he’s floating over the floor. His wife is from Nifflheim. Don’t ask how their marriage got arranged, because I don’t know and the rest of the nine don’t seem to understand the union either. Móðguðr is a giantess with tattoos all over her body. She paints the half of her face blue most of the time, which is some sort of tradition on Nifflheim. Their four children are as different as night and day. Malon is the eldest. She will probably join us on the hunt, given that she has quite the talent for it. Where her father is the face of royalty, she is the face of freedom. She has her own estate that’s populated by women only. I belief she had her inspiration taken from the Valkyries of Asgard. Then there is Tassarion. He’s the court’s favourite, but don’t let that fool you. He’s as thick as a bilgesnipe and as treacherous as a Margygur. Then there is Arlayna who’s head is filled with dreams of having the greatest collection of dresses and jewellery the nine have ever seen. Olavaris is the youngest and just likes to play and steal tarts from the kitchens.” That was a lot and you were stunned by her carefree way of speaking. Sif was of noble birth, so she could permit herself some form of carelessness, but surely not when speaking of a royal family?


“Will all of them be present at the feast?” You asked.
“I’m not sure. Olavaris might be too young to attend and his mother might stay behind with him, but the others would probably be there.”
Well there goes the change to meet someone from Nifflheim.” You thought with a grimace.
“And the places we’re going to stay at? What are they like?” Sif gave you a mischievous look as her mouth twitched up into a smirk.
“That is for you to find out, of course.”

You shifted in the saddle for perhaps the fourth time. You had been travelling for hours and the beautiful rolling hills that had you in awe when you had first arrived, were now frustrating you. They truly were stretching as far as the eye could see given that the sight before you hadn’t changed one bit in all the time the horses had strutted forward. You wondered if perhaps some evil wizard had laid a curse on the land, but then you shook your head in disbelief. Maybe you were simply going mad. It was incredibly hot which made your shirt and trousers cling to your body, you were bored ever since Sif was called over by lord Volstagg to ride beside him and none of Egil’s lessons had prepared you for the horrible raw feeling of your bum being in the saddle for hours.

You shifted once more to relief some of the pain, but you knew it was futile. If you were able to distract yourself it wouldn’t be as bad, but given that the scenery had been the same for hours you had nothing to distract you with. You had thought about grabbing the notebook you had bought with some of the money you had gotten from your second pay check, to sketch some of the birds you saw, but you were afraid that Léttfeti might stray from the group without you knowing about it until it was already too late. You had tried to focus on the soft thudding of Léttfeti’s feet on the dirt road between the green fields, but that only seemed to lull you to sleep which was even more dangerous than the distraction of the notebook.

So here you were, reeking of sweat, bored to pieces and with increasing pain in your bum. You hadn’t even noticed one of the nobles nudging his horse to ride closer to you, nor the looks his friends were giving him.


“I’m happy to see that a Valkyrie has chosen to accompany us on this journey.” The man said with a puffed up chest as he rode elegantly on his beautiful steed. He however, looked anything but elegant or beautiful. His clothes were ill-fitting and seemed rather worn out, his hair was greasy and his face had scars from pox or something alike. The worst thing about him though was his tactless flirting. It had been obvious as soon as he approached you what his intentions were.


“I’m sorry, my lord. I think you have someone else in mind given that I am in no way a Valkyrie.” The man faked his surprise at hearing your words.
“Well forgive me for thinking so, my lady, but your beauty is out of this world so I thought I might have died and you were here to bring me to Valhalla.” You couldn’t help but cringe. This must have been the worst line a man had ever used on you. He was also much older than you which made it even more perverted.


“The lady is not interested, Hunbogi. I suggest you keep your impressive ways of wooing a woman for the feast.” A cold voice spoke and you immediately knew who the owner of it was. Hunbogi looked horrified as the colour drained out of his face as he bowed for the prince before nudging his horse to join his group of friends.


“Thank you for saving me, my prince.” You told prince Loki with a smile which he returned in a barely detectable twitch of his lips.
“How are you liking Alfheim so far?” You shifted once more in the saddle.
“I didn’t expect it to be so hot.” That made him chuckle.
“You grew up on Vanaheim, Svinnr.” He said while shaking his head in disbelief. He was right of course. The temperature on Vanaheim was always fluctuating between warm and hot, so you should be used to this kind of heat. Yet it felt different, as if this hot weather was somehow unbearable compared to the one from your homeland.


“Do you know where we are exactly, my prince?”
“Grænir Reitir. The ever green fields.”
“Yes, well, they sure seem to go on forever.” When prince Loki laughed almost all the heads of the travel party turned your way as if they had never heard him do so before. But by the look of their horror-struck and confused faces, that might very well be true. After all prince Loki was feared by all and seeing someone who is supposedly evil and mad doing something so mundane didn’t make any sense at all. An involuntary pang shot through your chest when you saw the prince become aware of the stares and then turned stoic again.


“These are holy fields.” He explained with joy absent from his voice. “They’re probably fertile, but no one is allowed to farm on them given that so many lost their lives here millennia ago due to a battle that lasted exactly one hundred days. This was in the time when Ljósálfheim was at war with itself, because two powerful families had the same ambition: winning the throne.”


“What happened?” You couldn’t help yourself but ask. You had never heard of such a battle and you desperately wanted to know more. The prince didn’t seem to be offended by your prying as the corners of his lips twitched upwards once more.


“Well, in the beginning the two families deceived each other constantly. The Erbella family was older and noble many years before the Faelamin’s, who had pretty much bought their way into nobility. With their wealth the Faelamin’s managed to climb the social ladder all the way up to the top. They made it difficult for other nobles by enforcing various laws that were not in their favour, for example placing a heavier tax on them. The Erbella’s quickly found support among other high born families to make it difficult for the Faelamin’s instead. This went on for many years until one day the Erbella family managed to kill the brother of the current head of the Faelamin family. They had tried to kill him too, but he managed to escape and with his survival he managed to get the support of the people who turned against the other family all at once. The Erbella family was destroyed. The remaining members who were far removed cousins of the core family were banished and all their possessions were confiscated.” Prince Loki explained.

“The last stand of the Erbella’s took place here, when all the distant cousins had managed to raise an army. They believed they would be offered support from some of the noble families that had lost a great deal when the Faelamin’s had gotten the upper hand, but alas, most of them had already declared themselves loyal to the house of Faelamin and others were planning on doing so in the near future. They all found their deaths on these grounds and as a reminder of the absolute power of the royal family, these fields are to remain uncultivated for all eternity.”


“How long was this ago?”
“Oh, many, many years ago, little one.” He leaned closer to you, so that he could whisper for only you to hear. “They say that if you listen closely, you can still hear the wailing, screaming and whimpering of the soldiers who found their graves here.” A shiver went down your spine as you listened closely. You focused your gaze on the fields and when a breeze fanned over your face, you heard them. It was faint, but you were sure you heard a piercing scream and some whimpering in the distance. You shrieked and nearly jumped out of the saddle when you felt a hand on your back. Prince Loki laughed loudly and you quickly felt your cheeks redden with embarrassment as all the others had turned their heads once again to look at you. How foolish you had been to listen to anything the trickster had said.


“Brother!” Prince Thor suddenly roared as he trotted his horse closer. “What did you do?” He all but hissed. Prince Loki’s smile had disappeared as soon as Thor had yelled and he looked absolutely murderous as he glared at the crown prince.
Nothing.” He spat as he nudged his horse to leave your side and gallop to the front of the party. Prince Thor sighed and closed his eyes for a second before turning his head to glare at the people who had stopped their horses and were looking at the two of you with confused, angry and scared faces.


“Did I give the order for you to halt?” He said with clear authority in his voice and everyone quickly nudged their horses to move along again. Thor sighed once more and rubbed a hand against his forehead.
“I’m sorry, girl. Loki, he’s …. Well it’s no secret that my brother loves his tricks.” Prince Thor said and he actually looked sorry.


“It’s… alright, my prince. Besides, it’s not your fault. I was the one who was foolish enough to be tricked as easily as that.” You chuckled a bit nervously to lessen the tension. The crown prince gave you a warm smile as he patted your back soothingly.
“Well, know that I won’t stand for him using you for sport.” Your cheeks reddened even more. That sounded every bit as wrong as the twisted prince himself.


“Thank you, my prince.” You managed to get out. Prince Thor gave you another warm smile and was about to leave, but that didn’t really sit right with you. Afterall prince Loki hadn’t really done anything bad.

“My prince?” Prince Thor turned his head again to look at you. “It was harmless really. Prince Loki hasn’t done anything wrong.” Prince Thor looked very much as confused as you felt, before he gave you a firm nod and trotted his horse back to the front.

As soon as he was far enough away from you, you let out a deep breath. You had just defended the trickster, the dark prince, the silver tongue, the mad son of Odin! And you did so against his own brother, the crown prince of Asgard. Yet if felt right given that he truly hadn’t done anything bad.


“Maybe”, You thought, “Maybe, the evil one isn’t as evil as everyone thinks.” 

 


 

Chapter Text

Hreif Vatn gistihús


 

You didn’t see much of prince Loki after he had turned away angrily to the front of the travel party, were he still was. You had seen prince Thor try to get some conversation going with him, but it hadn’t looked like he was responding to anything his brother was saying, so eventually prince Thor had given up and rode with the warriors three instead. Which left you striding along on Léttfeti’s back at the tail of the party. You didn’t know the men that were ridding beside you nor did you know if it would be considered rude if you began talking to them, so you had kept your mouth shut for the better part of the hour that had gone by.

But as soon as you spotted a difference in scenery, you couldn’t help but sit up straighter and strain your neck to look above the heads in front of you. The ever green fields were finally coming to an end and in the distance you could see something puffy and white rising in the air. Smoke perhaps and where there was smoke there had to be a village! You couldn’t help yourself from leaning into the man ridding closest to you. He was an older fellow, but he rode with such excellence that you had no doubt that his strength hadn’t lessened with the years.


“Excuse me sir, but do you know if we are close to any villages?” The man looked at you quizzingly before he too looked over the heads before him to see the puffy substance rising up in the air.
“Ah, we must be close to the tea village! I thought we wouldn’t reach it before sunset, but we did leave earlier than usual.” His voice sounded a bit grating, but his eyes were kind.
“So, you have been here before?”


“Oh, many times, child! I have attended more feasts than I can count and I am proud to say that I am a welcome face at king Njörðr’s court.” He gave you a proud smile. “He’s prince Frey’s father. The king of Vanaheim and what a man he is!” You chuckled a bit to yourself.

He didn’t have to explain who king Njörðr was to you, given that he had been your king for a while until you moved to Asgard. Of course king Odin was the king of all and all the other kings had to answer to him, but that hadn’t stopped them from building their kingdoms in their own image. That’s why Vanaheim had different laws than Alfheim for example, apart from the Asgardian constitution that was followed by all of the nine realms. “Have you ever been to Vanaheim, dear?” The man asked with a hopeful look in his eyes.
“I have, sir. In fact I was born there.” His eyes widened and just like that you had found yourself into a long conversation about your homeland all without either of you knowing the other’s name.

You were just telling him that you had only recently found out about the double meaning of the golden berries of Vanaheim when you reached the village. It was small with a tick white wall around it for protection. The gates were out of wood, but instead of them being brown, they had painted them white to match the wall. When the gates opened to let your party enter you were struck with a feeling of nostalgia even though this village didn’t necessarily look as resembling as the one you grew up in back on Vanaheim, it still reminded you of it somehow.

Perhaps it was the skewed, homely houses that were build out of wood and painted in various colours or the children running around the streets while chasing away the flocks of chickens. You didn’t know nor did you care for the warmth that spread through your heart felt too divine to dwell on questions of its origin. Prince Thor led the party through the streets all the way up to a big building that stood out of all the others. While the houses you had seen so far had their facades painted in soft colours, this building was painted in a rich blue with big glass windows on the top floors. Prince Thor dismounted his horse and went inside, only to return a moment later with a balding man with pointy ears.


“Well met my lords and ladies!” The man shouted with a big smile on his face. “The stables are to the right and I will personally make sure that your horses are well taken care of. Please follow my son Folas, while I prepare dinner for you.” The man gave another big smile and a slight bow before getting back inside. The party suddenly moved again to go to the stables even though you hadn’t seen the son the man had spoken of who was going to take you all there. You figured why when you dismounted Léttfeti to tie him up to a pole under a thatched roof.

The son was just a small boy who was eagerly helping prince Thor with taking the saddle of his steed’s back. When he was done he walked over to prince Loki who sent him such a hateful glare that the boy quickly moved over to others who might need his help more. The carriage of the queen was given its own shed while the horses were taken to the stables to be fed and watered. You took the saddle from Léttfeti’s back and patted him on the side of his neck like you knew he loved. He nuzzled your back with his snout as he neighed happily which made you smile.


“You seem to have a very lovely companion there, dear.” A warm and pleasant voice said and you knew instantly who it was. The mother of all, queen Frigga.
“I think so as well, my queen.” You said as you patted Léttfeti’s muzzle softly before kissing his head tenderly.


“Come, dear. Let’s get inside.” The queen said warmly so you kissed Léttfeti’s head one more time before grabbing your travel bag and following the queen to the main building. There was a signboard that hung above the entrance that said ‘Hreif Vatn Gistihús’ in elegant golden writing on a crimson red background.


“Hreif Vatn?” You asked the queen who stepped over the threshold and into the inn.
“Yes. The village is called enchanted water, because most of the villagers are tea farmers. You will see the tea fields tomorrow morning when we leave for the Silverwood.” She then chuckled. “I always admired the Ljósálfar for their way of describing things so eloquently. They are very philosophical.” You didn’t really know what to say to that so you nodded your head and followed her all the way to the counter where a big, muscular elf was cleaning some mugs.


“I believe the lady Fulla has ordered a room for us.” The queen said to the man whose eyes suddenly widened with recognition.
“But of course, my queen! Right this way, my queen.” He quickly stepped from behind the bar and kept bowing as he motioned for her to follow him. You couldn’t help but let a smile escape at the man’s nervousness for meeting the queen and having her speak to him. That was until said queen turned to look at you and spoke. 


“Come along, Svinnr.”
“Bu, I-“
“You’ll be staying with me and Fulla of course.” The queen said with such a warm smile that immediately kept you from protesting, but then again you were but a commoner. You had no place sharing a room with her majesty and lady Fulla. The queen seemed to notice your internal struggle as she cocked her head slightly to gaze at you like one would do while looking at a cute fluffy bunny. “We’re women, dear and having you share a room with men you hardly know is highly inappropriate.” Well, you hadn’t thought about that, you realised and your cheeks reddened with embarrassment. Before you knew it you had taken a step forward followed quickly by another one. The queen’s smile widened as she turned around to follow the elf up the stairs to your room.

Fulla was already there, grabbing a nightgown from a bag when you entered. You had expected a little more luxury for this being the room given to the allmother, but it looked rather plain. Everything was carved out of wood. The beds, the small table, the closet in the corner, the floor and the walls, …. There was another door that probably led to a bathroom and you wondered whether it would also be carved out of wood just like the bedroom was.  


“Choose your bed, but not this one because I have already claimed it as my own.” Fulla said with a smile as you stepped inside so the man could close the door with a final bow. You looked at the queen to give her the choice of beds instead of yourself.
“Well, let me just take the middle one.” She said and walked over to sit upon it to test it out. You were left with the bed next to the window which reminded you somehow of your bed at the servants-wing.

“Don’t unpack anything unnecessary for we are set to leave again tomorrow morning.” You hesitated to ask, but the queen did seem like she had travelled this way before, so you forced yourself to speak.
“Do you know when we will reach the Silverwood, my queen?”
“I believe we will reach it somewhere in the afternoon, but I hope we will reach Ýdallir before the night falls. The Silverwood is beautiful at day but treacherous at night.” The queen warned and you sat yourself down on your own bed.


“Have you travelled there before? At night I mean?” You asked and then remembered once more that you were speaking too freely. “My queen.” You quickly added which made both the allmother and Fulla chuckle.


“I have, yes. On all the times I have accompanied my husband and my sons to Alfheim, I always felt more at ease when we reached Ýdallir well before it truly had gone dark. You see the Silverwood has trees that are very unique to the nine, even to Alfheim. Terth Skógur is the only forest that has them and by the Norns are they a sight to behold. Their bark is smooth and silver in colour which twinkles when the sunlight reaches them, but their height is truly extraordinary. They would make a rock giant look like an ant! It’s exactly that which makes the forest so dangerous and notorious throughout the nine. Many souls have been seen wandering into it, never to be seen again. The smooth silver bark reflects whatever bit of light it can reach at night which can play with your mind if you’re not careful. Men have wasted away in it, not knowing if what they have seen is real, or even possible.” You went quiet after that. Even Fulla had stopped trashing about with her bag. You had looked forward to see the mighty Silverwood, but the queen’s wisdom made you unsure of that. You didn’t want to get lost in a forest where people had gone mad or had lost their way, never to be seen again.

You were still a bit gloomy when you had come downstairs to join lady Sif for dinner. The queen and Fulla were going to eat their dinner in your shared room and had given you permission to join the others downstairs with encouraging smiles.


“What has you looking so down, girl?” Lord Volstagg asked as he turned his bearded face and friendly eyes your way.
“I-what?” He laughed loudly at your speechlessness.
“By the Norns, girl! You have been staring down your bowl of Kokt Svinmålla for the last five minutes!” He slapped you on your back with such force that you slammed forward against the table with a loud thud.


“For goodness sake, Volstagg! Does she look like she has the strength of a warrior?” Sif said as she helped you back on your seat. You knew it wasn’t meant as an insult, but for some reason it still stung a bit to be regarded as weak.
“My apologies, girl. I got a little carried away.” Lord Volstagg apologised as he lifted his mug as if to say that the ale was at fault here.


“That’s alright, my lord. No harm done.” You weren’t so sure about that, given that your ribs were still healing and being slammed into a hard surface wasn’t exactly helping along the process.
“Have a drink on me as a way of apology.” He suggested and your eyes widened. You had had a small sip of ale from Sif’s mug, but it had been so much stronger than the ale you had drunk with Egil at that tavern, so you had refrained from ordering your own mug. But here lord Volstagg was, offering you a drink which you could hardly refuse.


“I thank you my lord, but that’s really not nece-“
“Ward! Another round of your best ale!” Lord Volstagg shouted as he slammed his mug onto the wooden floor where it shattered into a million pieces, before you could finish your sentence, completely ignoring your look of horror. “I’m paying!” All the men from the travel party sheered and raised their mugs. Soon enough the ward, the slightly balding elf, came to your table to bring new mugs filled to the brim with ale. One for every person at your table which included you. You swallowed the lump that had formed in your suddenly very dry throat while looking at the mug that had been placed before you.

Maybe one mug wouldn’t be as bad as you thought. Lord Volstagg and Thor had been drinking for a long while now and they seemed to be relatively fine. You looked around the table. Fandral was fine, Thor was a bit red in the face, but still fine, Hogun seemed to be untouched by whatever he had been drinking, Sif was fine, Volstagg was on the same page as Thor, …. You gathered your courage and raised your mug like the others and took a swing of your ale, which you could immediately feel rising up to your head.

The ale itself was sweet and cool which made you take another sip of the drink, quickly followed by another one. You liked cider more, especially the one you had drunk at the capital once when you had helped your parents with the sale of some carpets and tapestries. Your dinner all but forgotten, your mind began to wander to the Silverwood once more. Maybe it wouldn’t be as bad as the queen had warned you about. The forest would be scary, yes, but it would also be magnificent.

What had the allmother said again? That the Silverwood was unique in the nine? You took another swing of your ale. There had been something about a giant too. A giant being an ant. At that thought you laughed and nearly spat out your mouthful of ale. You quickly began to develop a taste for the drink as Volstagg ordered you another one after showing you how to smash the mug just right to make it shatter. It took you another round to get it right and by that point you had begun to blabber uncontrollably to the others great amusement.


“No, no, hear me out! My mother used to tell me that elves got such pointy ears because they never listened to their mothers and they kept pulling on their ears to make them listen!” The whole table roared with laughter until it suddenly became very quiet again.
“I think you have had enough.” A silky voice spoke and you giggled because you immediately knew who it must have been that was standing behind you.


“Brother!” Prince Thor suddenly yelled as he threw his hands in the air. “Take a seat and make merry with us!” Prince Thor seemed to be eager to have his brother at his side, but that would make him the only one as you saw all the other smiles fade as the men shifted on their seats.


“Yes, your highness! The ale is really good here!” You said and you were proud to have said anything at all. If it weren’t for the intoxication you probably would have kept your silence and missed out on the shocked expressions on the other faces.


“I stand corrected. I know you have had enough.” He sounded the same, but the slight twitch at the corners of his mouth and the glint in his eyes betrayed his amusement. You giggled once more as you turned your attention to the whole table.
“My father would be furious if he saw me like this! He always says that ale makes people stupid, but he forgot to mention how much fun it is!” Again laughter was heard at the table, but it was less in volume than it was before. It almost felt as if they were unsure whether they should laugh or not.


“Your father is a wise man, dear, for speaking such wisdom. Now let me give you some wise words as well: go to bed.” Prince Loki said and the table went quiet again. Now you could simply feel the uncomfortableness radiating from your drinking companions.
“Let the girl have some fun, Loki.” Lord Volstagg spoke and gave you another slap on the back, yet this time it was less forceful. The amusement in prince Loki’s eyes disappeared completely as he glared at Volstagg.


“Was this idiotic idea to get a little girl drunk, yours, Volstagg?”
Oh no. This is not going to end well.” You thought as lord Volstagg rose from his chair to return prince Loki’s icy glare.
“Idiotic idea you say? And that’s coming from the man who scared the girl to death on the way here!” Prince Loki laughed, but it was forced and there was no trace of mirth in it.


“It amazes me how surprised you still are that I like my tricks. After all the Midgardians have baptised me as the god of mischief, have they not?”
“Mischief, yes, not malice! Which would have been more fitting!” Prince Loki’s posture changed in a mere second as he looked absolutely murderous, ready to pounce on lord Volstagg at any moment.


“Careful. I’m still your prince and I will not tolerate insolence a second time.” The way he said it made you shiver and the tension in the room became more unbearable by the second. It almost felt as if the whole room was holding in its breath. Lord Volstagg too was quiet, but he kept his eyes locked on the prince, neither of them wanting to back down. You couldn’t keep your eyes off of them as they had their stare-down.

That was until you swallowed wrongly and a hiccup broke loose from your lips. When prince Loki’s eyes fell on you, you felt your cheeks burn up. Honestly the tension was so extreme and you had gone and ruined it by being a fool in front of everyone. Yet, prince Loki’s gaze softened.


“I believe Loki is right. It’s time for bed, girl.” Prince Thor spoke up. “I’ll escort you back to your room.”
“Oh. No need, my prince. It’s not far.” You quickly said and got up from your seat. That was a horrible mistake. It felt as if your entire body had forgotten it had legs and what they were used for. Your knees wobbled and your first step was not like you had anticipated in your mind as you all but stumbled forward into prince Loki’s chest. He grabbed your arm to keep you upright and you heard a gasp go around the table. You didn’t know why exactly it angered you, but it did and before you knew it you had expressed your not-so-humble opinion about it.


“What in all of Yggdrasil is wrong with all of you? What did you think was going to happen? That he would slice my throat because I fell on him in my drunken state?” Everyone’s eyes were on you and you could see them widen at your comment. “He’s helping in case you haven’t figured it out yet.” You murmured more to yourself than anyone else. You then sauntered with great effort towards the stairs to begin what looked like an impossible task: climb the steps all the way to the third floor. You heard a chuckle as you nearly fell face first because you misjudged the distance between the floor and the first step.


“You’re going to hurt yourself like that, little one.” You huffed at that.
“Please, I still remember how stairs work thank you very much.”
“Doesn’t look like it.” You send him a hateful glare and tried again. You made it three steps before you slipped and fell hard on your chest. The pain that shot through your ribs made you hiss. Even though your brain was all foggy and malfunctioning, you just knew that you would be feeling this even worse come morning. You were focusing so hard to keep the tears at bay that were threatening to fall, that you hardly felt it when strong arms hoisted you up. It was only when you started moving that you realised what had just happened and who was now keeping you firmly against his chest as he carried you up the stairs.

Prince Loki. The Dark prince, trickster, evil one and all of those other terrible and terrifying names. You could hardly believe it and you wondered whether this was something your drunk brain had fabricated or if this was real. When prince Loki laid you down in your bed by the window and tucked you in, you couldn’t help but say one more thing now that the intoxication was still making you brave.


“I don’t believe you’re very good at being dark and evil, Loki.” You muttered and if you hadn’t been this drunk you might have been better at reading his expression.


 

Chapter Text

Chapter 20: Timburmennsku


 

You felt like goblins had manged to slip inside your room unnoticed in the night to stab you multiple times in the head and the ribs. You simply felt like death and each breath you took, each movement you made, had you groaning in pain. You heard someone laugh and even though that sound had once made you happy, right now all it did was worsen your headache.


“Have fun, did we?” You recognised it as Fulla’s voice, but you refused to open your eyes. For some reason you knew it was going to be worse than travelling with the Bifröst and you had hardly been able to keep your stomach from emptying itself back then. “Amusing as it is to see you like this, we do have to get ready for departure.” You grunted in response and heard the awful creaking of a door.


“Has she woken up yet?” That was the queen’s voice, given the gentle tones like a lovely ballade.
“She has, but I’m not sure if she’s still with us or if she has passed on to Valhalla.” Fulla chuckled again. You slowly opened your eyes and saw the whole room turn into a blurry combination of shapes and the orange morning light. You felt your stomach protest fiercely as you tried to rise into a sitting position.


“Oh, dear.” You heard the queen mutter as she sat herself down on your bed and helped you rise. “Here, drink this.” She said as she handed you a vial with some sort of thick liquid in it.
“What?” You groaned and only realised then how awfully dry your throat was. You took the vial from her hands and downed its contents in one go. That was a mistake as the liquid was of such an odd texture that your whole mind and body protested to swallow it. Your mind, however, was too slow as the contents of the potion were already on their way to your stomach before you started gaging.


“What in the Nine was that?” You managed to sputter out while you coughed and trashed about like an animal. When you manged to get yourself under control again, you did feel much better than before. The blurriness was gone, the headache was still there but it felt less like someone had put needles in your brain and your stomach didn’t seem as upset as it was before.


“That, my dear, is Timburmennsku. A potion to cure the negative effects of a heavy night of drinking. The vial came with a note.” She said with such a big smile that instantly warmed you up as she handed you the folded piece of paper. The queen gave you a soft pat on the shoulder before she stood up again to pick up her brush on her bedside table to go through her golden locks. You made yourself a little more comfortable in your bed before unfolding the piece of paper.

Little one,

I hope you are not feeling too poorly after your very first drinking endeavour with Asgard’s finest alcoholics. In case you feel a bit queasy, I have provided you with a potion to sooth your ailment. Drink it all. I suggest to do so in one go for you might not want to take that second gulp. Once you feel better again, I would be grateful if you had breakfast with me.

Your prince

Well that was unexpected.


“Do we still have time for breakfast?” You asked.
“If you get dressed now, then yes.” Fulla answered, so you got out of bed and rushed into the bathroom with your clothes from the previous day. You smiled a little to yourself as you discovered that the bathroom was indeed carved out of wood just like the bedroom was. You quickly washed yourself before you took off your nightgown, only to realise it wasn’t a nightgown at all. Your eyes widened as you let the fabric slip through your fingers.

It was a green linen shirt and it was plain to see that it was made for a man, a man from high nobility given the excellent quality of it. You had slept, you realised with horror, in prince Loki’s shirt! When had you put it on? Did he help you with it? Oh, Norns, had he undressed you in the night? No, that couldn’t be true, given that his mother was sleeping right next to you. Oh, Norns! His mother, the queen, had seen you walk over to the bathroom wearing her son’s shirt! A knock on the door startled you.


“Svinnr? Everything alright?” The queen asked.
“Y-yes, my queen! I’ll be just a moment!” You hoped the queen hadn’t noticed. You quickly put on your own shirt and trousers before tucking the green one into a ball and opening the door. The queen stood there giving you a concerned look.


“Are you sure you’re alright? You look like you might have a fever.” She said before reaching out to touch your forehead with her hand.
“N-no, my queen. Thank you for the concern, but I… I’m fine.” You said and quickly went over to your travel bag to throw the green shirt into it so no one could see you had it in your possession.
“Well then, let’s have breakfast.” Fulla piped up and you looked at your feet. What were you supposed to do now? You couldn’t refuse the queen for having breakfast with her, but prince Loki would be angry at you if you didn’t show up at his door.


“What’s wrong, Svinnr?” The queen asked and gave you a look that said that you better be honest.
“I, err, prince Loki wishes to have breakfast with me, but I understand if you-“
“Go ahead, dear. I know how grumpy my son can be if his wishes are not granted.” She gave you a warm smile which you happily returned.
“Thank you, my queen.” And with a ‘have a pleasant morning’ to both of them, you left your shared rooms with your travel bag to seek out prince Loki. You asked a pacing Einherjar where you might find him and he told you where his shared rooms with prince Thor were. You followed his directions to the point you stopped at a wooden door that looked just like the one from your own shared rooms. You took a deep breath and knocked on the wood.


“Enter.” Came a muffled voice. Tentatively you opened the door to slip inside only to freeze in your tracks. Prince Thor’s chest was bare as he walked around the room followed by two servants.
“Girl? What are you doing here?” He asked as he looked at you with a raised brow. Your cheeks flushed red and you felt the heat rise all the way down to your chest. You heard noise from the bathroom as prince Loki stormed out to look at you as well.


“Svinnr.” He addressed you with his cool and silky voice.
“I… good morning, my princes. I-I thought… I will go now.” You couldn’t handle this. You had no idea what you were saying and it was better to simply leave than to endure this awkward encounter a moment longer.


“No, stay.” Prince Loki said as he took a step forward to block your view from prince Thor’s impressive torso. He then glared at his brother who quickly put on his shirt and left the room to get his own breakfast, quickly followed by the two servants. Once they were gone, you let go of a breath you didn’t know you had been holding.


“I thought you weren’t coming anymore.” Prince Loki spoke after a long moment of uncomfortable silence.
“I… I’m sorry, I came here right after I read your note. Thank you for the potion. It worked wonders.” You snorted and to your great relief the tension lessened instantly.


“Come and sit with me.” Prince Loki said as he gestured towards the table. You quickly followed him and dropped your bag next to the closet before sitting yourself down. Prince Loki waved his hand and a basket of sweet breads appeared on the table, quickly followed by a bottle of gyldne bær wine, some jars of jam and a basket of fruit.


“Wow.” You couldn’t quite stop yourself from admiring his seidr. He seemed to enjoy it anyway as he puffed up his chest a bit while a grin spread widely over his face.
“Help yourself.” You didn’t have to be told twice as you quickly grabbed for a sweet roll and a pear.
“How did you do that? Did you summon it from somewhere?” He chuckled as he too grabbed for a sweet roll and a jar of yellow jam.
“I did. In fact it comes from the kitchens of this very inn. Except for the wine.” He said it as if it was the easiest thing in the world.


“And where did the wine come from, then?” You said before taking a bite of the sweet roll in your hand. You moaned in delight at discovering it was still warm from the oven.
“From a dimensional pocket. I always put things in there for if an occasion arrives where I need them, I simply have them with me.”


“And in what occasion would you need to have gyldne bær wine with you?” You chuckled.
“When I’m in the company of a beautiful Vanir lady, of course.” You almost chocked on your piece of bread before prince Loki began to laugh. “I’m only jesting, little one. I brought it with me because I have developed a taste for it.” He explained and you were able to breathe again. Honestly this man was going to be the death of you one day. Both of you ate in a comfortable silence after that, occasionally talking about this and that until prince Loki leaned back in his seat with a satisfied sigh.


“Do you have breakfast with that einherjar friend of yours sometimes?”
“Egil? Uh, no. I usually eat with lord Blekk at the archives.” He nodded his head.
“It was very nice of him to lend you his horse.” You didn’t know where this conversation was going, but something told you it wasn’t anything good.
“Yes, I think so as well.” You then began to chuckle. “He wasn’t very happy when I told him I was allowed to go on this journey. He said it was too soon for me to do anything given that my body was still healing, but I managed to persuade him anyway.”


“Well, I’m glad.” He said and then leaned closer to lock his eyes with your own in an intense stare. “Does he know about your secret?”
“What? No! Of course not!” You were a bit shocked by his question.
“So, I am the only one?” You pursed your lips and nodded. “Good.” He suddenly said with a smirk. “The less people know about it, the safer you are. Very clever, Svinnr. Although I must admit that I am a bit surprised you haven’t told another soul about it. I had expected this… Egil boy to have known about it at the very least.” The way he had spat your friend’s name angered you.


“With all due respect, your highness, but I would appreciate it if you spoke about my friend with more care.” He chuckled and then raised his hands in a mocking way to indicate his surrender.
“I am so very sorry, my lady. Do forgive me my impudence.” He was simply mocking you now and so you huffed out a breath and got up from your seat all while glaring at the man before you hatefully. His eyes widened and his smirk instantly disappeared, but you didn’t care. You turned your back and took a step towards the door to leave this stupid room and its stupid occupier.


“Forgive me.” Prince Loki suddenly said which stopped you in your tracks. “I was disrespectful and I apologise for it.” You turned around and saw that the prince looked rather apprehensive as he scratched the inside of his hand. You sighed and sat yourself down, but you kept your glare anything but friendly. “Do you still wish for me to help you?”
“Yes.”


“Well, we’re probably going to spend the night at the Silverwood. I wish to see how you use your seidr there, so I can come up with a plan with the best way to train you.” A shiver went down your spine. Spend the night at the spooky forest the queen had warned you about yesterday? “What’s wrong?” Prince Loki asked and then the expression on his face turned stoic. “Have you changed your mind on letting me help you?”


“No, it’s not that.” You quickly said because he seemed like he was struggling to keep his anger at bay.
“Then what is it?” Oh by the Norns, what a fine trap you had managed to set up for yourself. You couldn’t tell him that spending the night in the Silverwood was actually scaring you! He would mock you for being childish! Maybe you could tell him some clever lie, but then again he was known as the liesmith! He seemed to realise you were struggling internally as you felt a hand grab your own before giving it a little squeeze. “I won’t mock you, Svinnr. You have my word.” The look he was giving you was so intense that you felt all your defences crumble to pieces. Still you lowered your eyes to watch your hand fidgeting with the fabric of your shirt in your lap.  


“I’m just… The queen told me about the Silverwood at night and how… I’m just afraid of the unknown I guess.” You struggled to get out, but you managed to say it all the same.
“Svinnr, look at me.” He spoke ever so softly and when you met his gaze it was friendly and maybe even adoring. “You shouldn’t be ashamed of being afraid nor for telling me about it. The Silverwood is indeed dangerous, but we have travelled through it hundredths of times before. You’re safe with us.” He suddenly seemed very determent when he gave your hand another squeeze. “You’re safe with me.”


“Thank you, my prince.” You said and squeezed his hand in return. He however seemed like you had struck him as pain filled his eyes.
“You may call me by my name, Svinnr.” You wanted to protest, but he lifted his hand for you to be silent. “Not in public of course for that might cause trouble for the both of us, but when it’s just you and me, I want you to call me by my name.” You smiled and nodded your head. He mimicked your smile and let go of your hand. “Now that we have established that, I suggest we leave for I am sure my brother will barge in here any moment now.” You chuckled and got up from your seat.


“Thank you, my prin-I mean Loki, for breakfast and the wine from Vanaheim.”
“No trouble, my dear.” You felt your cheeks redden involuntary and decided to fetch your travel bag rather than look prince Loki in the eyes. You then remembered something and turned towards him again.


“I have your shirt.” You blurted out. “I-I have brought it with me.” You quickly added.
“Keep it.” You looked confused. Didn’t he want it back? It sure looked and felt expensive. Such a fine piece of fabric would be wasted on you. “I have many others like it.” You bit your lip and nodded. There were other questions inside your head, but you were simply too shy to voice them out loud. Besides, asking a prince whether or not they had undressed you without your permission to put on their sleeping shirt, might be seen as offensive. You followed Loki out of the room to go downstairs to catch prince Thor marching up the stairs.


“Finally! What were you two doing that took you so long, little brother?” By the way prince Thor was smirking, you gathered he was suggesting something scandalous. Loki confirmed that as he grunted and pushed his brother aside.
“Don’t be daft, Thor.” He spat as he walked past his brother to descend the stairs. Prince Thor however sighed and looked a little hurt. You didn’t really know what to do. Follow Loki? But then you would have to pass prince Thor and that seemed to be a little rude, but you couldn’t stay here either.


“He hasn’t always been like that, you know.” Prince Thor suddenly spoke up.
“My prince?” You asked a little confused as he locked his eyes with yours.
“Loki. He hasn’t always been like that. Cold and harsh, I mean.” You were lost for words. What were you even supposed to say to that? Was he expecting an answer or was he just saying that because he wanted to let it out somehow. Prince Thor sighed deeply before he shook his head and gave you a smile as if he had just realised that he had told you something he hadn’t really wanted to share. “Come along, girl. Adventure awaits!” He beamed and walked you down the stairs and to the stables where Léttfeti stood saddled and ready to go.

You thanked the stable boy and tried your best to mount Léttfeti gracefully. You would never get to lady Sif’s level, but you did manage to get on his back in one go.
“There she is!” A voice called out to you as your rode out of the stables to join the others of the party. Lord Volstagg was giving you the widest smile you had ever seen while he waved his hand as an indication for you to come closer. “I wish for you to ride beside me.” You were a little taken aback by that. You hadn’t talked much with lord Volstagg, but then again you hardly remembered anything of the previous night. For all you knew you might have had some sort of deep conversation with the man for hours and hours.


“I would be honoured, my lord.” You nudged Léttfeti to trot next to lord Volstagg as all of you left the little village to resume your journey. Once again the sight before you was that of endless green fields, but other than last time, you could spot people moving about them. These must have been the tea fields the queen had spoken off as you remembered her telling you the villagers were meanly tea farmers. You took a deep breath and a smile formed on your lips as you could smell the sweet aromas coming from the fields.


“Have you tried their tea, my lord?” You asked lord Volstagg as you pointed to the fields in front of you.
“Oh, yes, of course! Haven’t you?”
“Unfortunately no.” He gave you a knowing look as he elbowed you.
“Too busy drinking ale, right?” It wasn’t even a question as he roared with laughter at seeing your reddened cheeks. “To be honest I’m surprised to see you so shy given that last night you indulge everyone with one story after the other!”


“Oh, Norns. I hope I haven’t said anything to offend anyone.”
“The owner of the inn didn’t look too pleased when you told everyone that elven ears were pointy because their mothers pulled on them for their children to listen to them!” Great. That’s why the balding elf had given you such a glare when you had left. You were glad with lord Volstagg’s company though as he told you of various battles, all of which they had come out victorious of course. He had been to every part of the nine realms. Asgard, Midgard, Vanaheim, Alfheim, Nifflheim, Svartalfheim, Jotunheim, Hellheim and even Muspelheim. He had been to them all! Accompanied by the two other warriors to make the Warriors Three, the lady Sif and of course prince Thor who had always been the leader of the group.

Prince Loki accompanied them too from time to time, but by the tone of voice lord Volstagg used whenever he spoke about the younger prince, you gathered he didn’t like him all that much.