Chapter Twenty-Three

It was Loki's first day at his job and so Hermione went to the bookstore. She sat at her desk, scanning the books. She then milled about the shelves, helping out the customers. A few hours in, after she aided a portly man searching for knitting patterns, she saw a particular red head at the entrance to her office. Her friend smiled, holding up a sack that undoubtedly held lunch.

"Hello, Ginny," she greeted, making their way into her office.

Ginny dropped the sack onto her desk, Hermione rushing to make room, pushing the books and papers to the side in a neat pile. "Thanks for lunch, Gin. I didn't know you were coming."

Ginny plopped herself into a spare chair, taking out a cup of noodles. "I have my motives," she said mysteriously.

"About Loki," she guessed.

"I'm happy for you, Hermione..."


"Are you seriously considering binding yourself to him?"

Hermione took a deep breath, steadying herself. "Yes."


That shocked her. "Good?"

Ginny rolled her eyes. "Did you think that we wouldn't be supportive? Look, I'm not going to pretend like I understand any of this. I don't know anything about Asgard - or even much of Loki for that matter, but every time you looked at him, you had this look on your face... You never had that with anyone. You always do everything for everyone else. Maybe it's time you did something for yourself. You've been alone for a long time."

She wasn't quite sure how to react to that, but while she wouldn't admit it, she had been lonely and their acceptance mattered. They all knew once she was bound, she would live long after them. She knew she was only on that planet for one lifetime and when nothing was left for her, she would leave for Asgard. That idea was painful, but being without Loki was not optional. She wanted him and it was the price was willing to pay: To live, to move to Asgard. He was worth it.

"Thank you, Ginny."

"Whatever for?"

"For all that you and your family have done for me."

"I think you've done more for us. And Harry agrees, by the way. He asked me to check in with you because he didn't want to leave Loki unattended."

"I haven't heard news of the Ministry being set on fire so I'll take that as things going well," she said and Ginny laughed.

When they finished, Ginny returned to the pitch, and Hermione went about the rest of her day. She was glad when she returned home, the balls of her feet aching from reaching up for books. It would have been easier if she could wave her wand, but many of the people that visited were muggles and she couldn't risk it.

She relaxed on the couch, kicking off her trainers, and placing her feet on the coffee table. She magically poured herself a glass of red wine and just as she took her first sip, a green light was cast over the room.

Harry and Loki stumbled through. Disgusted, Loki was brushing soot off the Ministry robe Harry made him wear. She even had to admit that he looked ridiculous wearing it, but perhaps that was due to seeing him in either muggle or Asgardian wear. Seeing him in a black robe with the M.O.M symbol on the front was odd to say the least.

Harry looked positively mad. "Your - Whatever he is..." He trailed off, his face a mask of anger.

Hermione thought it was a good time to take a very long drink from her glass. She then sighed and asked, "what happened?"

"Ask him!" Harry stormed off to the kitchen, and she could hear him in the fridge. Apparently everyone needed alcohol that night.

"Loki, what did you do," she asked calmly.

Before he could answer, Harry returned, a Firewhiskey in hand, pointing at the god angrily. "He wanted to teach them how to throw knives!"

Hermione suppressed a smile. "What did you think he was going to teach them, Harry? He's doesn't use a wand."

"He threw a knife at Poole!"

She gasped. "You told me you wouldn't stab anyone!"

"I didn't stab him, I threw it -"

"Between his legs. Hermione, between his legs. Poole nearly wet himself."

"Why," she asked Loki, in the same even and calm voice.

"He said that learning muggle tools was not useful. I showed him I could throw quicker than he could draw his wand."

She grimaced. "It could have been worse. Honestly, Harry, it was his first day. It's not like anyone was splinched."

"That's not all. Richardson said that none of this was practical so Loki took him to Jounatheim!"

Hermione gawked at him. "You took a young wizard to see Frost Giants?"

Loki looked lazily over at her, not a bit repentant. "This world may be under protection, but it is not a guarantee that they won't try to invade. I taught him a valuable lesson."

Harry was breathing hard, "Richardson went into shock and has frostbite!"

"Are you fired," she asked Loki.

Harry guffawed, answering for him, "no, he's not fired, but he will be if he keeps this up."

Hermione placed her hand on Loki's. "Next time, teach them defensive moves. No magic, no teleporting them anywhere, and no knife throwing."

"If you wish," he agreed, sounding bored with the idea.

"There you go," Hermione said encouragingly to her friend, who did not appear at all impressed.

He shrugged tiredly. "Fine. Now I just have to convince everyone that I didn't hire a crazy person."

"Thank you, Harry."

"Yeah," he groaned, downing the last of his Firewhiskey, throwing it in the bin in the kitchen. He gave a last threatening glare to Loki before he went through the Floo.

Hermione stared at Loki, shaking her head. "You had to cause trouble, didn't you?" She wasn't angry, not at all. A trickster god teaching Aurors? How could that have not gone wrong? The only reason she allowed it was knowing that Harry was there watching after them.

The corner of his mouth turned up. "It's what I do."

"Behave at work?"

"For you," he relented.

She put down her glass and rested her head against his shoulder. She chewed her bottom lip thoughtfully. "If you don't like it here, if you want to leave and return to Asgard, I understand."

He chuckled. "Wherever you are, is where I'll be."

"I want you to be happy, Loki."

"This is your life, beloved, I will live it as you will live mine. As long as you are at my side, I am happy."

Hermione swelled. She knew true joy had always evaded the god, so the thought that she could bring any to him was enough to satisfy her. She sat up, and embraced him around the middle, tightly, her ear pressed against his chest.

"Are you happy, Hermione?" His tone belied something more, something more worrying.

She nodded. She was happy. Their life, their future, it wasn't what she expected, but it was what she wanted.

"Then I must ask, where do I stand with you?"

"Where you stand," she questioned, pulling away.

Loki stood, stepping away, leaving her there coldly. "It may have escaped your notice that I confessed my love for you many nights ago."

Hermione sucked in her lips, wetting them. "Oh," she uttered. She hadn't said the words back. "I thought you knew how I felt..."

"Is it wrong to desire to hear them? Your actions speak for you, but your words are not meaningless."

She took a deep breath, standing, and resting her hands on the back of his neck. She brought him down to her and gently kissed him. "I love you," the syllables played on his lips.

Swiftly, he retreated and lowered himself to his knees. His hands slid down her jean-clad legs, resting on the back of her knees. Throwing his head back, he searched her eyes.

"Bind yourself to me."

Hermione sucked in a breath of shock. "Yes."

A/N: This is it! Thank you!