THE GOD KING
Summary: *AU* Unexpectedly, Earth finds peace under Loki's rule, yet there's tension—like the calm before a storm. Acting as an ambassador on behalf of the Wizarding World, Hermione hopes to convince Loki to return political power to the world's governments. She soon realizes she may be in over her head when it becomes clear she'll need more than words to sway him.
"But it just makes sense," Hermione said with a heavy sigh. Shaking her head, she took a calming sip of her tea. It wasn't often Kingsley called her and Harry into his office at this time of day, but she always knew one thing for certain—tea with the Minister of Magic always meant a discussion they were surely not going to like.
Despite that they were the youngest members of his council, based on their combined war record alone, and their close personal ties with him, Kingsley often sought private word with them before bringing particularly troubling issues to the larger floor of the Wizengamot, itself. The seeming favoritism wasn't exactly a matter of common knowledge, so sharing tea with friends had struck him as the perfect cover for these impromptu meetings.
Harry set down his cup against its saucer with a noisy clatter and turned to look at her. "Hermione . . . by all accounts, the man is loopy. I mean, c'mon, there's a character in mythology named after him who's the god of mischief, for fuck's sake. And, oh, yes, let's not forget . . . he's Asgardian! They're frighteningly god-like. I wouldn't want to see that temper flare if you crossed him!"
She set aside her cup, as well, and pinched tiredly between her brows. Really, this wasn't the sort of discussion she was hoping to have today. After Loki bullied the world's governments into surrendering power to him, strangely, unexpectedly, the global stage had become peaceful. Perhaps because of how he'd taken control, perhaps because humanity was not accustomed to peace, but something was brewing, just under the surface. She was certain every nation, everywhere, could feel the tension. Like they were all just waiting for something bad to happen and bring their utopia down around their ears.
The Wizarding world had been largely unaffected by this change in world leadership. Mostly likely, because the world's governments had no current, factual knowledge of magical society, outside of antiquated rumblings that sounded no more sane, or believable, than whispers of Illuminati.
But Loki was clever, and ancient, and of course, not one to sit idle, if the rumors of his curiosity and energetic behavior were true. He had rule, but she could not imagine someone like him would be content with peace, unless he had something to occupy his time. Like, say, poking at Earth's forgotten mysteries.
And while the Wizarding world was largely unchanged by the quiet upheaval outside it's metaphorical borders, they were not unaware of the possible effects, either. They closed ranks, drawing Muggle-borns and their families further into the fold. Such a move was unprecedented—but then, so was the Earth having a king.
Hermione could not help but think that at some point, in some way, Loki would learn of their world. And she did not imagine it would bode well for anyone if a man like that felt information had been deliberately withheld from him.
"I understand it doesn't seem wise," she said with a shake of her head, and—at Harry's bug-eyed look of disbelief—another sigh, "and does seem possibly dangerous, but it would be more dangerous for this . . . this god-king to feel our world has betrayed him, somehow. The only way to stop that from happening is to reveal ourselves to him, before he can learn of us some other way."
Nodding, Kingsley stood from his desk and began to pace. "A revelation of this scale would require repeal of the Statute of Secrecy. I don't think the Wizengamot would let this pass."
Her shoulders drooped. "I hear you, but the entire point of the Statute is for the protection of our world and those within it. There will be no point to it if it, instead, is the thing endangering us."
She was more than aware of the meaning behind the look Harry and Kingsley exchanged, then. It didn't help that it seemed a look as though neither of them were aware she was bloody well staring right at them.
"Oh, don't you two make that face. I'm being the most logical person in this room!" Hermione slumped back in her arm chair. "I'm not suggesting we repeal the Statute, not wholly, anyway—we consider this a special case. Some sort of agreement—a meeting, but only with a stipulation that the world, at large, not be made aware of our existence."
Frowning thoughtfully, Kingsley touched a fist to his chin. "Hmm."
"Seems to me, with his reputation, making him aware our existence is a secret he's being let in on will have him all the more willing to hear us out."
Harry lowered his gaze to the floor as he shook his head. "I hate when you make so much sense. But why does it have to be you who acts as ambassador?"
A small, almost sad half-grin curving her lips, she reached out, placing her hand over her best friend's. Giving his fingers a gentle squeeze, she said, "Because you just heard everything I've said, right? I've studied all available information regarding observations of his personality and behavior. I can gauge how he thinks, and how he may respond to things. You forget, I'd be Ravenclaw if I were better at thinking outside the box . . . ."
Harry sighed and nodded. "And Slytherin if you were pure-blood, I know." That bit he tacked on wasn't ever a widely-stated sentiment—Slytherin House was still much, and unfairly, maligned in the Wizarding world. However, Hermione's thirst for knowledge, her drive to be the best at whatever she studied, her willingness to even research, and dabble in, the Dark arts simply to understand them and have an upper hand, did place her within the realm of Slytherin House's sought-after traits.
Kingsley rolled his eyes and pretended he hadn't heard that last bit.
"Look," she said, turning in her seat so she was more fully facing both wizards. "I can handle myself, you both know that. And I can talk my way out of sticky situations, thanks very much. I know what's on the line, and am fully versed in the politics of both the Muggle world and the Wizarding World. My parents never crossed borders when we closed ranks, so they're still out there, living in Loki's Midgardian Utopia. There's no one in our world more invested in getting that man to see sense than me."
Again, they exchanged that look she was rather growing to despise.
"If you want to send an attachment with me, fine." She schooled her features, squaring her shoulders as she sat up perfectly straight. "But you're going to find there is no one in the Ministry more suited to play our world's ambassador to the king than me."
"Shit," Harry said in a hissing whisper. She was right, but then she knew she was right, and if there was anything Harry hated more than Hermione simply being right, it was when she full-well knew it. Damnable witch, if she wasn't his best friend, he might give her a good smack for being so annoyingly aware of her own correctness.
"Okay, Hermione." Kingsley turned, folding his arms across his chest as he held her gaze. The scowl that tinged his features was for show, she knew, trying to impress upon her the graveness of the matter, as though it was news to her. "I'll bring this to the Wizengamot floor first thing tomorrow morning."
Harry reclaimed his tea cup, finishing it in one long swig. "Only one thing to do now. Well, if they let this happen, that is." He set the cup down one final time and turned to meet Hermione's gaze. "Figuring out how to tell the literal king of the world, 'by the way, witches and wizards exist, and some of them are coming to meet you.'"
She thought on that for only a moment—something of clearly magical design would be sure to win over someone like Loki. Funny how it was actually making her think of something right out of Star Wars, though.
Loki huffed out an aggravated sigh, barely refraining from rolling his eyes at the knock on his door. It wasn't as though he'd retired to his study for peace and quiet, or something of the sort. And dear sweet heavens, he despised his secretary—the man was a blithering idiot, even by Midgardian standards. But, really, the only reason Loki kept him around was because it made the populace happy.
Scowling he shook his head at himself. This was what he got for promising to be a benevolent ruler, he supposed. Doing things that made them feel at ease, even if it gave him a bit of a headache, most days.
The man opened the door, immediately dropping to one knee before daring to cross the threshold. Well, certainly, Loki was benevolent, but he had standards of conduct.
"Rise and enter."
Nodding, the secretary hurried forward, presenting him with a parcel.
"What is this?"
"It's been scanned, Highness. The package is perfectly safe. I . . . am afraid I don't know what it is. It's addressed directly to you, rather than the palace. I didn't think you'd want me to violate your privacy."
Loki forced a grin as he accepted the simple brown paper-wrapped box. "On your head be it if this is something which causes me harm."
Swallowing hard the man—oh, what was his name again? Something abysmally Midgardian, Jeff, maybe?—nodded. He was, of course, frozen to the spot as he waited for direction.
With a shake of his head, Loki sliced through the paper and dropped it aside, revealing a plain oak container. Lifting the lid cautiously, he peeked in, spying a scroll.
He arched a brow. A scroll? How positively quaint!
But that was not what intrigued him, no. On the inside of the lid, words appeared for only a moment—just long enough for him to read—and then vanished.
For the eyes of the King, alone.
Snapping shut the box, and rather enjoying the way the sudden, sharp sound made what-was-his-name jump a little, Loki looked up. "Away with you."
The man bowed. "Of course, Highness."
Loki smirked as he watched his secretary scurry away. Since claiming leadership of Midgard, he'd not committed a single violent act against its people. What kept them obedient was the display he'd put on in attaining that leadership. Imagined punishments seemed so much better for keeping order than preemptive admonishments, it appeared.
When the door was soundly closed, Loki conjured an illusion, a simple barrier between himself and the door. Anyone to peek in would only see him seated at his desk, perusing an absolutely unexceptional scroll.
Setting down the box, he removed the lid. For a few heartbeats, he simply stared at the scroll, before carefully lifting it from its container.
As he unfurled it, a sliver of what appeared to be stained glass slipped free and slid into his palm, as though he'd been waiting to catch it. His brows drawing upward, he turned his gaze to the scroll. There as only one line in the entire thing. All this presentation, for what?
Speak your name into the glass.
He was overcome with a sudden, unsettling sensation—wondering if someone was playing a trick on him. But, if that were so, he'd have an excuse to make them pay for trying to make the King of Midgard look foolish.
Holding sliver close to his lips, he said, "I am Loki of Asgard."
At first, nothing happened. Then, from the corner of his eye, he noticed a shifting in the ink on the scroll.
Set the glass upon the floor.
Loki could not help a breathy, surprised chuckle. This was certainly interesting.
Turning his chair, he set the glass on the carpet before his feet. The gleaming surface appeared to ripple and shimmer. He glanced toward the scroll—it was now completely blank. He would reserve his feeling of amazement until he'd seen what this was all about.
Up from the glass shot a projection; something about it, however, struck him odd. This was not some sort of holographic technology. But that could only mean it was . . . .
Magic? But how? Midgardians did not possess this type of power.
The image of a young woman stood before him, her features tinted red by the color of the glass. She had large, dark eyes that caught him off-guard, as they appeared both innocent, and as though they held worlds of knowledge.
She offered a smile that was confident, yes, but somewhat unsteady. He thought she was probably wondering how she was being received.
"Loki, King of Midgard," she said, her voice clear, but a little hollow, he would guess due to the bizarre recording convention. "I have a message for your ears, alone. However, what I tell you must be kept in the strictest confidence. If you cannot abide this, then this communication ends here. If you can, please, touch the glass to convey your agreement."
Again, Loki could not help a chuckle. He rather liked this little game, it was intriguing.
And he did like secrets.
Leaning down, he swept his fingers across the glass. He didn't know if it was good timing, or the sender was somehow able to perceive his actions, but it was not until he was sitting back, once more, that she spoke.
"My name is Hermione Granger, and I greet you as an ambassador of the Wizarding world. We apologize that we did not reveal ourselves to you, sooner, but there are strict regulations governing how, and when, we reveal our existence to outsiders."
His brow furrowed, his eyes wide with mingled awe and curiosity as he echoed the words, "Wizarding world?"
"I, and a small attachment of officials from our Ministry, request an audience with you. However, just as this communication must be kept in the strictest confidence, so too, must our true identities and purpose be kept. If you cannot abide this, this communication ends here."
She grew quiet, appearing to watch him expectantly. He only furrowed his brow as he held her translucent gaze. Then, she rolled her eyes and jutted her chin toward the floor—in the direction of the glass.
The show of spirit brought another smirk to his lips, even as he nodded. "Oh, of course." He leaned forward to touch the glass, again.
"We can no longer sit idly by, pretending as though we are so separate from the world which you govern. At your earliest convenience, we would arrange a visit to your palace, so we may discuss the state of Midgard's affairs, and answer any questions you might have, at length."
Propping his elbow on the arm of his chair, he rested his chin against his fist. Surely, he could think of some explanation to cover their visit. Any number of countries could send dignitaries to discuss the needs of their nation with him.
"Understand that should we, at any time, feel our secrecy, or safety, threatened, we will immediately terminate contact with you, and it will be as though this message was never sent." Her features took on an absolute no-nonsense expression as she said this. Clearly this was not the first time she'd spoken on behalf of protecting her kin. "Consider this not a threat, only a warning, should our trust be betrayed, you will never find us. If you wish to know us, you must meet our terms."
He arched a brow, wondering where it was they were hiding. He almost wasted time wondering how they would make it so that it would be as though this message was never sent, or that they could ensure that he would not be able to locate them, somehow, but then, he answered his own question with one, simple, word.
"And so ends this communication. If you agree to our terms, please speak the date and time you wish us to arrive into the glass. I assure you, the information will reach us."
With those words, she vanished from sight.
For a strained moment, Loki simply gaped at the now-empty space before him. Giving himself a shake, he bent to retrieve the glass.
"One week from today, at ten o'clock. I shall greet you personally, Ambassador Granger."
The surface of the glass rippled once more, before splintering. Before his eyes, into smaller and smaller pieces it broke, until it was no more than a pile of glittering red dust upon his palm.
Turning toward his desk, he once more propped up his elbow and rested his chin against his fist. He opened this other hand, allowing the fine crimson grains to spill out.
"How interesting this should be," he whispered, a grin curving his lips.
Hermione felt ridiculous—clad in fine dress robes that could easily be mistaken for a formal gown. Yes, yes, keep up appearances. They were to be King Loki's guests for a week, and she knew she had to present herself to the best of her ability as a shining example of the Wizarding world . . . . But, really, she'd much rather be in jeans and trainers, than heels and a bloody dress that's sole purpose seemed to be reminding her that she had cleavage. That, and tripping her up every third step, of course.
"Stop fidgeting," Harry said as they passed through the gates and started up a winding drive that led to the gleaming gold and white palace one could see for kilometers.
"Seriously, Granger." The voice of Draco Malfoy was unwelcome at that moment—of course, they were on far better terms with him since working in the Ministry together, post-War, but Hermione did not need his nonsense, just now, with Harry already admonishing her. "You're going to make the rest of us antsy."
"Oh, yes, Malfoy, because we all know how I typically strive to set you at ease."
Draco was gracious enough to snicker at that.
Honestly, Hermione'd wished that their group would've been larger, but the decision to keep it small seemed wiser—less attention-grabbing. One representative, each, for the half-bloods, pure-bloods, and Muggle-borns had seemed ideal, by everyone's count. While Hermione and Harry had both asked for Neville, their old friend had his hands full trying out newly discovered healing techniques that might help his parents.
They could not possibly pull him away from such a cause. So, Draco, it was.
As they neared the unnecessarily wide steps of the palace, the three took stock of the grounds. Committing to memory as much detail as they could, noting possible hiding places to Apparate to, if such became necessary. Escape routes were a priority, no matter where they were, or the reason.
Hermione'd studied as much of the layout as she could from photographs and news segments—getting one's hands on blueprints of Loki's palace had proved an impossible feat. She'd hated the fact that the first thing she'd thought upon seeing Loki's face on the telly was that he was actually quite nice to look at.
Rubbish. He was a megalomaniacal alien who'd just so happened to convince the people of earth that he could care for them better than they'd cared for themselves.
That he seemed to prove his claim correct was entirely beside the point.
As they drew closer, she noted a tall, lean figure upon the bottom step. After a moment, she realized the lone individual, garbed in what strongly resembled black leather robes with green trim and gold accents, was Loki. Well, he had said he'd greet her personally, after all.
No guards—well, really, he was a super-humanly strong and agile godlike being. She supposed it was ridiculous to think he would feel he needed creatures he could probably tear through like tissue paper to protect him.
A smile curved his lips as he moved down that final step, his gaze unerringly capturing hers. "Ambassador Granger," he said, his tone carefully pitched.
Hermione'd heard him speak in televised interviews, but she'd not heard his voice sound quite like this. Something like a gravelly purr—was he doing that on purpose?
Forcing a grin, she curtsied, aware of Draco and Harry following suit as they bowed. "Your Highness," she said as she straightened—though, her full height didn't seem very tall just now, even in heels, with how he towered over her. "May I introduce Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy. Thank you for agreeing to meet with us."
His green eyes skittered over each wizard in acknowledgement before returning to hers. "Of course. Midgardian custom, I understand." To her surprise, he reached out, catching her hand in his own. Leaning down as he lifted her hand, he brushed his lips against the back.
Oh, dear Lord, she thought, forcing a gulp down her throat.
She could swear something just a hint wicked slipped into his expression as his raised his head, meeting her gaze, once more.
"Anything for you, Ambassador," he said as he dropped her hand.
Oh, no. There was definitely something there in his expression—in the tone of his voice, and the look in his eyes. Something that set off a blush in her cheeks that she desperately tried to ignore.
"If you will all kindly follow me." He pivoted on his heel and started up the steps, without so much as a backward glance.
Giving herself a sobering shake, Hermione trailed after him. He was probably just testing her—seeing what it would take, how easy it would be, to wriggle out of her more about the Wizarding world than she might be willing to share.
Yes, that was it. It could only have to do with the situation, and their respective places in it.
Harry and Draco fell into step a few paces behind Hermione. Harry did not like that little exchange, at all. He knew she could take care of herself—hell, she could take care of half of Wizarding Britain on her own, if pressed—but that never stopped him from being over-protective.
"Did you see that?" he said to Malfoy in a hushed tone.
Draco turned his head, pinning Harry with a dubious gaze as they continued along. "People on the moon could've seen that."
Harry scowled, looking surprisingly rather Malfoy-like for a moment, there. "I don't like it."
"Oh, don't get your knickers in a twist," Draco said, watching ahead of them as Loki slowed his pace to walk beside Hermione. "King of the bloody world fancying Granger? This could work to our advantage."
The other wizard nearly halted in his tracks as he glared at Draco.
Draco arched a brow. "What?"
Harry shook his head, a thoughtful frown tugging at his lips as he turned his attention forward. "Thank you for so effortlessly reminding me why I so strongly dislike most pure-bloods."