This chapter is shorter than the others, however, it was one of the most difficult to write. I also wanted to get it out after so many requests. Please let me know what you think (in depth), reviews motivate me to write. Without them I tend to think no one's interested.
The silence woke her. War, magical or muggle, was marked by anguished shrieks and the tangy scent of blood. Death followed silence, which marked the beginning of battles and lingered amongst the corpses. Silence reigned just before she and the others were attacked in the Department of Mysteries, it fell over the ballroom, just before Bellatrix offered her to Greyback, and it followed them into the Final Battle. She knew the lesson all too well: silence predicated death.
Hermione forcibly wrenched her eyes open, only to discover that she was lying in a bed centered in a luxurious room, instead of a partially destroyed American city. The opulence of the room was beyond anything she'd ever seen, including the gothic overtures of Malfoy Manor, and when she had snuck into Buckingham Palace, as a child. Despite her surprise at her change in location, she forced herself to sit up.
The lack of pain encouraged her to clamber out of the large bed, grace be damned, and silently summon her wand. Her befuddlement grew when it promptly zoomed into her hand from an adjacent nightstand. Knowing she should be grateful to have her wand, Hermione couldn't help, but feel insulted by the lack of security measures. Had no one truly attempted to disarm her?
Did she really appear so weak that she didn't warrant even a single guard? Not even Loki would make such an assumption.
The intrusive compliment of the Norse God had her frowning. What did she know about Loki's practices regarding prisoners? Her level of confidence regarding his habits concerned her, though she knew there was no time to dwell on it..
She focused on her current circumstances and cast a homenum revelio charm only to find herself perturbed when it showed nothing. Creeping towards the door, she pressed her ear against it, straining to hear anything. As a precaution she started casting spells to hide any trace of her presence. Once she was satisfied with her defensive concealment charms, she vanished the door while casting an illusionment charm on the now empty space.
She could see two guards standing on the other side of the open doorway. Neither reacted to her magic or provided any hint that they'd noticed something was amiss. Hermione cast both a disillusionment and silencing spells upon herself rather than risk letting them discover her. Drawing in a deep breath, Hermione grinned to herself before she chose the move that Harry would have, and stepped forward into the hallway.
Despite the precarious situation, she couldn't help wondering why her homenum revelio spell didn't affect them. Instead she started down the hallway, walking as though she knew exactly where she was traveling, which concerned her. Instead of dwelling on those fears, she marveled at the beauty surrounding her, despite her heightened apprehension. The opulence of the halls she was currently exploring were extravagant, yet did not cross into the realm of overindulgence. She focused on her breathing, knowing that remaining calm was imperative to a successful escape. What she wasn't expecting was to hear his voice.
"Your devotion has never been in doubt, but not even I estimated it ran this high. Certainly this exceeds the most creative assassination of an Asgardian King." His voice rang out from behind her, and before she pivoted Hermione knew it was Loki. He looked far more content than when they met in Tony's apartment, although he gazed at her with a similar intensity.
"I beg your pardon?" She asked matching the cordial tone he had struck with her. He grinned at her, as he drew nearer before clarifying.
"Surely you remember the last time my brother saw you prancing around the palace in your night clothes." Loki said with a chuckle as he gestured towards her. "I have never seen Thor's cheeks colored that brightly red."
"At least," Loki paused grinning, "Not since Mother chastised him in front of the entire court, for his advances with the barmaids." Despite the image of Thor's mother lecturing him about impropriety, Hermione's first concern was the accusation of being dressed inappropriately, and looked down at her clothes only to feel baffled. She was wearing a dress, which had a modest neckline and reached her knees. While she was examining her clothes, Loki stepped within reach so he could slip an arm around her waist to pull her against him.
"I do not share my brother's fright of Midgardian standards of modesty," he said before kissing the shell of her ear. So shocked by his actions, Hermione didn't react at all. When Loki pulled back, he gave her an appraising look, which she presumed to say that he knew she wasn't falling for his antics. When she continued to remain silent, Loki persisted.
"Witchling, always, you were adamant that I'd hate the throne, yet, now you're trying to force me to succeed my brother?"
"You are mad," Hermione finally managed to say in spite of the grin Loki was giving her. Her response only served to make him tilt his head before he spoke.
"Are you well?" He finally asked her. She forced herself to nod, despite her dry throat and the confusion she was attempting to sift through. How much time had she lost? What happened and why did Loki believe they were married? Her silence seemed to have concerned him enough to have the Norse God cup her face and examine her.
While he stared into her eyes, and she stared back, Hermione was surprised at how much affection bled from him towards her. What had changed? Before she could ask or he could continue his interrogation, they were interrupted by a girlish shriek of delight.
"Uncle Thor won't let me ride the horses!" She stared downward, wide eyed, at the small toddler who was looking upward with abundant affection as she tried to climb up Hermione's legs. After her shock, Hermione's instincts, as Teddy's godmother kicked in, and she lifted the little girl upwards. Moments later, she jumped into a defensive position behind Loki, in order to shield the child, as a thunderous sound emitted from the direction she had come from. A terribly loud sounding voice followed.
"Rose!" The little girl cringed into Hermione, before she whispered how upset Uncle Thor was with her. Before Hermione could ask why she was in trouble, the Norse God appeared.
"You can't keep running away!" he bellowed as he rounded the corner. Catching sight of Hermione, the blonde turned bright red, and forgot his previous endeavour.
"Sister! You aren't presentable!" he exclaimed, clasping his hand over his eyes, causing Hermione to again look down at her attire, this time around the small child she was holding.
"You can't see anything," she muttered petulantly; surprised when Loki started laughing. The exasperated look on Thor's face wasn't lost on either of them.
"Brother, so often, must I implore you to convince your wife to dress appropriately?" Thor asked, looking at Loki clearly exasperated. "There is no doubt why Mother blessed you with an early gift, with such clothes on your wife."
Despite Hermione's confusion, she bristled angrily as she clutched the young toddler closer towards her.
"I find that she looks like a goddess," Loki answered, clearly catching the protective motion Hermione had emitted. "Besides, brother, surely Jane has shown you similar Midgardian customs?" The protective streak in Hermione was satisfied when Thor's cheeks once turned dark red at Loki's statement. The Avenger attempted to clear his throat and straighten his spine before speaking again, a clear tactic that Hermione recognized right off.
"Mother will -"
"Freya will allow me anything," Hermione interrupted. "I provided her first grandchild, and it's evident that I will be producing the next several. Surely you have benefited from this, Thor. Why are you so concerned with my wardrobe when it wards off your Mother's nesting tendencies, in regards to you and Jane?"
Hermione hadn't believed it possible, but the Norse god in front of her looked even more horrified at her questions. Before she could continue or Thor could respond, Loki spoke.
"Perhaps you should catch up, brother," Loki teased. "Surely, Mother has suggested it to you and Queen Jane?"
"You have brought ruin to my court," Thor muttered under his breath while rubbing a hand over his brow. "You insisted on Lady Granger returning, and joining our family, which has only served to torture me in all circumstances. The only salvation is the little shadow you've provided me with."
"Uncle Thor!" The toddler squealed at the nickname.
"Sounds like you're brooding," Loki said hugging Hermione tightly, while leaning over to kiss the small toddler on her head. "Surely you don't fear providing an heir to your throne." Rather than answer, Thor glared at the two of them and turned on his heel. In seconds, the little girl was squirming in Hermione's arms until she lowered her to the ground. Instantly, the girl was clumsily running after the blonde Norse God, after a quick, "Bye Mummy!"
Hermione watched as Thor slowed his pace until the girl caught up to him so he could swing her upwards, eliciting a delighted squeal from her, before setting her on his shoulders.
"Witchling,"Loki softly called from behind her. She ignored him, choosing to instead focus on the captivating little girl that looked so similar to her and Loki. He didn't stop repeating her name, however, and as the image of Thor carrying a little girl faded from her vision, Loki's voice grew louder. She wasn't expecting her vision to begin dimming, however, when her ears filled with metal screeches and the sound of crumbling stone, Hermione started suspecting she was returning to her world.