Not Quite a God
Fanart by the amazingly talented and entirely generous Christytrekkie. This can be found at Fanart, Fear Not the Multiverse on Twisting the Hellmouth. She also created various versions of the banner (SO COOL!) and
how Lenore looked like at the New Year's Eve ball in Italy and how Lenore looked like at the Valhalla dinner party. YAY! Thank you so much Christy! ps:everyone should check out her work and leave a review! :)
May 12, 1912
Lenore let out a scream of frustration as she threw her world map into the fireplace. It hit the fire with a crackle and the flames quickly tore into the parchment; she watched it burn with ambivalence.
For the last week Lenore had been attempting numerous location spells and all manners of scrying, but nothing was working. It was almost, in a way, like how she was never able to find her brother. Fergus had the ability to cloak himself and each time she had looked for him in the past, back when she needed to demand Loki's locket back, her spells hit a brick wall. Now, the same thing was happening.
She knew what this meant, of course. Someone was blocking her.
The question was who. Lenore had discussed the situation at length with Loki, but neither of them were able to discern a likely solution. Her brother, perhaps? But, no. He had no interest in her vampire comrades and harbored no ill will towards her; if anything Fergus knew that Lenore was still angry since she last saw him in 1892 when he refused to turn over Loki's locket.
The hollow sound of a knock against the front door startled Lenore out of her thoughts. She shot it a suspicious look because Loki was visiting Odin and she wasn't expecting guests; to be honest any guests were always Loki's friends or family. Ever since her clan had left her all Lenore had was Loki – although she did count Angel as a friend but he made his own way in the world with little interaction with her.
Lenore made her way to the thick wooden door braced with brass plates, and opened it apprehensively. However, she smiled when she saw her guest.
"Hel! How are you?" Lenore greeted warmly as she ushered Loki's daughter inside. Hel's midnight hair was pulled back into a casual upsweep and she wore an ironically sunny yellow dress – after all, one often doesn't expect the Norse goddess of the Underworld to dress cheerfully. "I like your dress, by the way."
Hel's lips curled up slightly as she took a seat on the couch. She rarely displayed emotion but the goddess had a very funny dark sense of humor. "It was a present from Father. He demanded that I wear it at least once."
"Loki does have good taste in clothes, for a male," Lenore chuckled as she closed the door and took a seat across from Hel.
"For others, yes. For himself, seldom," Hel smirked. "His fur coats can be rather boorish."
Lenore laughed. "I think it's a rather nice lumberjack-mountain man style."
Hel shook her head in amusement.
"Can I get you something to drink or eat, Hel?"
"No, Lenore, I'm fine at the moment. I just came by to look for Father." Hel glanced around the dwelling and then she turned back to Lenore. "Is he here?"
"No, Odin invited him to Asgard for a night of drinking," Lenore replied with a wry grin. She had not been pleased to have Loki leave, because she needed his help in scrying for Eli, but the bond between the two gods was strong. Multiple times she had noticed that when Odin demanded that Loki do something, he did. Frankly, she didn't quite understand it – Loki was far more, albeit secretly, powerful – but she knew that Odin was responsible for hiding Loki when he first left Heaven. She supposed there was some sort of loyalty there that she did not understand, and that maybe she never would.
"Ah." Hel sat back with a dejected expression.
"Is everything okay?" Lenore asked in concern.
Hel gave her a weary look. "I just wanted to speak to him. The anniversary of Jörmungandr's death approaches and I've been besieged by dreams as of late."
Loki never mentioned his deceased children – Jörmungandr by the hand of Heracles, Narfi at the bespelled hands of Váli, and Váli by his own hand. Lenore had not been aware that Jörmungandr's death had occurred around this time.
"Well, you can talk to me, you know," Lenore offered. There was something about the haunted look in the goddesses' eyes that made Lenore want to comfort her. They were not great friends but they had gotten fairly close in the last year and a half.
"No, Lenore, that is okay," Hel said with a forced smile. She pushed a lock of black hair behind her ear. "I know my Father has probably not spoken of his past very much and I don't want to give you such a burden.
"Hel, really, it's okay," Lenore comforted as she laid her hand over the goddess'. "What's troubling you?"
"I don't think you would find them comforting," Hel warned in a guarded tone.
"Try me," Lenore prodded softly.
Hel sighed. "I keep dreaming of my family as it once was, before Jörmungandr's death and my mother's suicide." She smiled slightly. "My parents were so in love and regardless of our deformities; they showered us love as well."
Lenore nodded and pushed her own emotions down. She had rarely heard about Loki's first wife, Angrboda, but knew the giantess had killed herself after her son Jörmungandr's murder. After that, Odin had arranged a marriage between Loki and his daughter Sigyn. However, she had heard that while the marriage to Sigyn was loveless, the marriage to Angrboda had not been. While all of this occurred centuries and centuries ago, it still did make Lenore feel uncomfortable.
Regardless, that was neither here nor there. This was about Hel.
"I cannot imagine what you must be going through with the loss of your brother," Lenore commented softly. Her thoughts drifted to Fergus and Lenore supposed she didn't have it much better. While her brother may be 'alive' in a sense they had not seen each in twenty years and she doubted they would ever become close again – unless she decided again to immerse herself in wicked ways.
Hel's dark eyes shined under the warm glow of the fireplace as her shoulders tensed. "I am the goddess of the afterlife but my role was only in guiding the souls of our Nordic worshipers. My power has waned under the zealous Christian missionaries, but even at my full strength I could not reclaim any of my brother's souls." She sighed. "They are lost in Purgatory."
Lenore glanced at her in surprise. "I thought that was just for demons?" And for her.
As Hel shook her head a strand of black hair fell gracefully from her up-do. "For any supernatural creature, including the gods. It's why we fear death so much."
Lenore nodded distractedly. She didn't plan on dying by any means but she knew that it would likely happen one day – after all, she was rather unlucky when it came to attracting evil attention. What worried her about death was not only to be rejected by Heaven but to be forever sundered by Gabriel. But now…if Purgatory was for all supernatural creatures – perhaps even angels – she wondered if perhaps they would be reunited again.
May 19, 1912
As day wore on, Lenore found herself blinking back sleep as she sat at her desk and perused spell books. Almost two weeks had passed and she still had been unable to find Eli using a location spell. Heck, even her sources were coming up empty. Depression was beginning to settle over her like a thick fog and she was feeling hopeless. If she couldn't find Eli then he would die. No matter the schism that formed after the battle against Bilquis, Eli would always be her friend. More so, she despised the idea of never seeing him again before hearing his forgiveness.
And, to be frank, Lenore had come to a stark revelation after the vision of Eli's death – she was lonely. Oh sure, Loki and Hel and the others were great. Loki was even better than great! But no matter how much love she had for him and the warmth she felt towards his family, they were still hisfamily. Not hers. Her family was her vampire clan and fifty-two years of separation had hollowed out a part of her heart that begged to be filled.
"Hey babe!" Loki called out cheerfully.
Lenore looked up from her books to see he had entered the study with a wide grin. He was dressed in brown breeches and a brightly colored shirt that clashed with the leopard fur cape he wore across his shoulders. Honestly, she thought with a smirk, it was like he was born for Vegas.
"Hi Loki," Lenore answered back with a weak smile. She was exhausted and didn't know if she could handle Loki's energy at the moment.
"Good news," Loki grinned as he walked over to brush his lips across hers. "Láilá just gave birth to a litter of pups!"
"Really?" Lenore responded with enthusiasm. Láilá was the female alpha of this generation of wolves and this was the first time she had been pregnant. Traditionally Loki and Lenore visited the pack and Loki blessed the pups and healed mother if the birth had given her any great trouble. Although Lenore was tired and stressed she couldn't help but be excited now – she always loved spending time with the pack.
Jumping from her chair, Lenore grabbed Loki's hand. "Let's go," she grinned.
A joyful smile lit up Loki's face. "To see you smile like that, I'd go anywhere you wanted," he promised sincerely. Although his tone was light she could hear the deep seriousness of his promise and it made her blush.
"Love you," Lenore whispered before leaning forward to kiss Loki. She had been so busy these last couple weeks that they hadn't spent much time together and she suddenly regretted that. His scent of evergreen trees and woods made her stomach curl and she delighted in the feel of his lips on hers. She lightly ran her tongue over his lips and she sighed as the kiss deepened.
"You know," Loki said between deep breaths. "We don't have to see the pack right now…"
Lenore laughed and nibbled his earlobe playfully. "Later. We can't ruin a tradition just for the sake of our hormones," she said in a husky voice.
"Or," Loki piped up with a mischievous smile, "We could start a new tradition. Like, the alpha wolf has her first litter, we have lots and lots of sex, and then I bless the new 'lil pups."
"You are ridiculous," Lenore giggled with a roll of her eyes. She began to lead him by the hand. "C'mon. Tradition now, sex later."
"As you wish, my lady," Loki smiled as they began their walk into the woods.
June 19, 1912
The darkness that surrounded Lenore was soothing. With her eyes closed as she sat cross-legged on the forest floor, her hearing was enhanced. The rustle of leaves crackling back and forth in the wintry night provided for a base to the symphony song of the outdoors. Wolves racing, their feet striking the rain-soaked earth in unison, sent out vibrations through the ground that raced up her spine. A raven's call echoed through the night. There were other sounds of life teeming through the forest and Lenore opened her mind up to them as she meditated.
Life passed like this for many hours as she sought to concentrate on the world around her, instead of the world within her. Namely, her bloodlust.
It had been four weeks since she last fed; the longest she had gone without was one week. Suffice it to say, this trial had proven arduous.
It wasn't that she couldn't feed. If she so desired, Lenore could. But this was a test. Her efforts at Eli consistently failed and a 'fast' of blood was the only option she could think of. Fasting was a proven method for both the religious and magical communities and Lenore prayed that God would grant her a shred of mercy if she proved herself.
Right now she was at her breaking point. One side of her thought she should ignore the sounds of the very tempting blood-filled forest animals, but she knew she needed to incorporate all of the world in this process or else she would snap at the next blood-filled creature that walked by.
Already she had to cut Loki off of any intimacy – even though he was an angel/trickster god he was still filled with something pumping through his veins (although she wasn't quite sure what) and even that was tempting to her now. He, of course, professed that she could never overpower him and he could protect himself, and please oh please couldn't they have sex.
He is positively insatiable, Lenore thought with a grin.
Something struck her mind, a new presence that loomed over the forest. Startled, Lenore raised her head to see the stars blocked from the night sky. Squinting overhead, she saw…Santa Claus?
Stifling a giggle – one that was slightly nervous because new beings in her and Loki's home did not always bode well for them – she stood up for a clearer look. There were eight four-legged creatures flying overhead. They looked like…reindeer….or horses? And each horse bore a rider.
And they were sailing over to the foot of Loki's mountain.
Unsure of what to expect, Lenore raced through the forest. As she passed through the forests she heard the crunch of dirt as the heavy creatures landed in unison. Only a moment passed before the wolf pack let out their warning howl to Loki that other supernatural creatures were in the vicinity.
Stepping into the clearing, Lenore realized that Odin, atop his mighty steed (and Loki's son) Sleipnir, was the person leading the group of eight. Upon a closer look she saw his two wolves, Geri and Freki, stood on either side of him. The other people were unfamiliar…well most of them, anyway. She instantly recognized the strong jaw and handsome features of Baldur, the god she had met almost two years ago at Odin's Yule blót.
Apprehension filled her stomach and she prayed that Baldur wasn't here to start trouble. She and Loki were happy and adjusting fairly well to the fact that Loki's three children (Hel, Sleipnir, and Fenrir) and Odin visited so often. They were more or less a dysfunctional family…she didn't want Baldur to start trouble. The two of them had 'made-up' at Odin's blót and they had not heard from Baldur since – which was just fine with them.
The door to their mountain home creaked open and Loki's silhouette filled the doorway. "Odin," he greeted after a moment of surveying the sudden party on his front lawn. "What brings you?"
Lenore hung back amongst the trees, hidden in shadow. She knew she should be a good hostess and greet them all, but she also knew she was a hair away from burying her teeth into warm flesh. It did not help that there was a stray thought flying around her head that these enchanted flying horses would likely be especially tasty.
Uhh, but not Sleipnir. Nope, definitely not Loki's son…
"It has been decades since the last Wild Hunt, Loki. I thought it was time to take it up again, near the Summer Solstice, and I invite you and Lenore to join me," Odin stated. His hulking frame was covered with a cloak made from a grizzly bear and his long grey beard billowed gently in the wind.
The Wild Hunt? Lenore was unfamiliar with the term but was quite sure it couldn't be good – not if it was a pastime for pagan gods.
Loki's eyes flitted towards Lenore, finding her easily in the shadows of the trees, before settling back on Odin. "Er, now's not a good time, Odin. We're a bit busy. Maybe another time?"
Odin's back was to Lenore but she could see his back stiffen. "I do not like to be turned down, Loki," he replied in a darkly disappointed tone.
"Yes Loki, come show off your skills," Baldur called from atop his horse. His handsome face produced a cruel smile. "Of course, we all know the Wild Hunt is not for cowards," he added snarkily.
In the fireplace light spilling out of the doorway, Lenore saw Loki's expression harden as he sneered at Baldur. "I must say I'm surprised to see you here. Aren't you afraid you'll break a nail, God of Love?"
Growling, Baldur hopped off his horse, falling ankle deep into the snow. Odin whirled around, his single eye glaring at his son as he held up a hand. "Do not be quarrelsome, my son."
Baldur just glowered before finally climbing atop his steed.
Odin turned back to Loki. "I never take no for an answer, Loki. I have always looked forward to seeing Lenore in battle, after all the stories I've heard of her."
Lenore slunk further back into the shadows. She wasn't an idiot – whatever it was they hunted, they certainly went about killing somethingon the Wild Hunt. Be it human or demon, Lenore had to abstain or else she risked losing herself again, as she had began almost fifty years ago with her unleashed bloodlust and then just ceased only twenty-six years ago.
Not to mention she had killed Déshèng only a few months ago…that quenching of life had been powerful, but it had disgusted her instead of thrilling her as death once had. Under no circumstances could she go with Odin and enter that lifestyle again.
"You know Lenore's living a peaceful life now," Loki said diplomatically. "The Wild Hunt isn't for her."
Something crackled in the air…tension, power…a rough mixture of both, Lenore decided as she watched Odin's spine straighten. "This is not a request, my blood brother," Odin rumbled. I desire the company of you and your consort."
Loki's head cocked to the side as he examined Odin. His amber eyes lit up with a sudden ferocity as he answered Odin. "Ask of me what you will, but Lenore is not beholden to you."
Odin answered in a calculated, hushed, tone. "She is yours. What is yours is mine. Or have you forgotten what you pledged so long ago when I let you into our pantheon?"
Fear and worry struck Lenore's heart as she heard the threat in Odin's voice. She knew that her lover had run away from Heaven and disguised himself as a pagan god; Loki had joined Odin's pantheon, after the latter had sworn the former as his blood brother in front of all the gods. Now she wondered what the extent of Loki's pledge had been, and if Odin's words were true. A shiver of trepidation ran through her and Lenore debated on entering the discussion.
The bloodlust coursing through her body made Lenore more apt to make hasty decisions, so a split second later she was stepping forward into the clearing.
"Odin," Lenore greeted as she approached them. Her voice was crisp and cold as the winter wind that rustled through the nearby woods. "Was that a threat against my lover that I heard you made?" She asked the question innocently but her voice carried a note of anger.
Inwardly, Lenore knew she needed to control herself and understood that she was putting herself in a bad situation, but that knowledge failed to control her tongue.
Odin's face lit up at the sight of her, although there was something about his eye that appeared off, a type of look she had never witnessed before. To be frank, tonight's ordeal was already decidedly odd because Odin had never taken such an authoritative role with them before.
Well, except for that one time when he interrupted their time together and ordered Loki to come to his blot...
"Lenore, how are you my dear?" Odin's dark eye examined her, and he began to frown. "You look quite unnourished my dear. Haven't you been feeding?"
Lenore knew that her skin was tightening closer to her bones and her face appeared gaunt, but she had forgotten that until Odin pointed it out. "I am fasting, Odin."
"Why?" Odin asked in puzzlement.
"For a spell," Lenore answered. She would not answer him further – whatever was shifting in regards to his attitude towards them, she did not desire to give him further ammunition.
Odin paused and gave her a thoughtful look. "That is rather uncommon for a vampire. I am surprised you have lasted," he remarked.
Lenore shrugged. She could try to explain herself but she doubted a being like Odin would even understand anyways. "Yes, well as you can see I am unable to attend your Wild Hunt." Her eyes flashed as part of her self-control was lost. "And I would greatly prefer it if you did not treat me like Loki's property, ordering him to let me attend your gathering."
Odin, for his part, reacted as if her were embarrassed. Gone was his steely expression that he had given Loki earlier; now he gazed at her like an indulgent grandparent. "My apologies, Lenore. At my age I can be rather impatient. I was merely hoping you would join us on our hunt."
"She doesn't hunt anymore, Odin, so leave her be," Loki warned. He approached Lenore and wrapped her against his body; his body heat warmed her greatly.
Scoffing, Odin rolled his eye and turned to Lenore. "It must be frustrating to have Loki answer for you all of the time, my dear."
Pressing her cheek against Loki's shoulder, Lenore responded. "He's right, Odin. I gave up that life."
Odin stared at them, his eye alternating between Loki and Lenore, before finally he shrugged. "Perhaps another time."
"Doubtful," Loki answered.
The Norse god smiled then, a thin and secretive smile. "Farewell, you two. I shall see you at the Solstice celebration tomorrow, yes?"
Loki nodded and Odin released a wider smile before he returned to Sleipnir and ordered his group back to the skies. Once they were gone Lenore turned to Loki with a bewildered expression. "What was that about?"
Loki sighed and led Lenore back inside their home. "Odin enjoys attempts at controlling people," was all he said after a lengthy pause.
"What does that mean?" Lenore prodded.
Turning to her with a melancholy look, Loki shrugged as he began walking back towards their dwelling. "He and I…we're complicated. The Solstice is a difficult time of the year for him and me."
Turning her head to the side, Lenore gave him a closer look as she followed him. "What happened?"
Sighing, Loki leaned against the door frame to their home. Amber eyes glanced everywhere but her face. "It's a deeply held secret. None of the other gods know."
Her fingers trailed down the side of his face and stopped under his chin. Lenore understood secrets and knew that Loki could not discuss his angelic past due to various oaths and bindings, but she couldn't understand why he did not feel comfortable discussing a pagan god secret. "Tell me. I know so many secrets about the gods already, what does one about Odin matter?"
Loki let out a hollow laugh and met her eyes with a guilty look. "Because Odin's not quite a god."
Many thanks to the loyal readers out there who have been following this story for so long. I do apologize at the length of wait for updates but as this story gets closer to the end my writer's block keeps stumbling me.
Feedback is welcome. Gracias!