A/N: Hello one and all! My aim was to write a Christmas-sy one shot with a good dose of Loki/Herja and - thankfully - it has been completed at last! And on Christmas Eve no less! Yay!
BIG thanks to all who reviewed the last one shot: TheWickedHeart, The Yoshinator, Fuchsia Grasshopper, Shadow Realm Triforce, MayFairy, MissOblivion, Cc72788187 and two wonderful Guests!
Also to all the above reviewers: I am hugely sorry that I haven't replied to you all individually; I usually do (and will continue to!) but I have been swamped with another fic and pesky dissertation work! So, apologies for that but rest assured that I LOVE YOU ALL!
Chapter context: Herja is living at the palace but she and Loki are still dancing around one another.
When Loki woke, he felt like Thor was inside his head, summoning thunder and lightning and generally making a nuisance of himself.
He winced at the sunlight leaking through the shutters of his chambers and groaned. He fumbled for the edge of the covers and pushed them off him. He swung his legs out and his feet slapped onto the cold floor. He rubbed his eyes and yawned widely before standing a little shakily. Loki didn't make a habit of drinking as heavily as he had the night before but Thor had insisted that they should all spend the evening in each others' company. It is a time for family, after all. And naturally, to Thor, that meant drinking as much as possible.
Loki couldn't deny that it had been immense fun. It had been a long time since he had seen his father so happy and carefree and Loki had enjoyed watching them all getting steadily louder the more they drank.
Or course, it hadn't just been Loki's parents and brother had been at the feast. Frigga had invited as many advisors as she could and insisted they bring their families along with them. As well as the advisors, Frigga also invited some friends of the family and their relations from far and wide. It had been quite the reunion for everyone.
And now Loki felt like he was paying the price. Curse Thor and his insistence that another goblet of mead wouldn't hurt.
But Loki's fondest memory of the night hadn't been anything to do with his family. To his (very pleasant) surprise, Frigga had also invited Herja to the feast and Loki had felt his stomach flip when she wandered in, resplendent in midnight blue, and sat next to him, grinning at Thor opposite. Loki spent the evening on edge and feeling an odd heat down his left side – the side she sat on – but it was the most wonderful nerves he had ever felt. He was overly conscious of any move she made; any slight brush of her shoulder and against his and wondered how she remained so unaffected by their brief contact. He wondered if he would see her today at all or whether he would after wait now until after Yule.
Loki grinned as he splashed cold water over his face and took a deep breath before he threw open his shutters, flinched as the light hit his eyes. He rummaged around in his dresser but turned abruptly when the door to his chambers banged open. Naturally, it was Thor.
"Brother, today is Yule!" Thor exclaimed, coming to a sharp stop in front of Loki.
"I know." Loki replied, wondering if his brother had gone simple. "We were celebrating it only last night."
"Yes, yes." Thor waved a hand. "Of that I am aware. But it seems I have forgotten gifts."
"Oh, have you?" This was nothing new to Loki; he was accustom to receiving very little from Thor on birthdays and Yule.
"I do not suppose you could aid me in getting some last moment gifts...could you?"
Loki sighed. Why did he have an incline this was coming? He knew he should probably stop helping him in situations like this but he had always felt it would be horribly awkward when their parents presented Thor with gifts and he had none to give them in return. Loki knew he would just end up giving in so he thought he may as well consent now and save them the run around.
"Very well. For whom must you buy for?"
"Mother, Father, the Warriors Three, Sif and Herja. Oh, and you." Thor added with a grin.
Loki rolled his eyes but smirked. "Off to market for us then, brother."
Thor grinned. "I knew you would not let me down!"
Spending all Yule morning in the market watching Thor flirt mercilessly with the stall women was not part of Loki's plan. But, in hindsight, he should have seen it coming. Whenever Loki visited the traders' market, he could pass by relatively anonymously with only a few stopping and watching their prince go by. When Thor visited however, he hardly walked three steps before he was stopped and cooed over by women young and old.
Loki left his brother to it and perused the stalls alone, smiling at the traders behind them. He found a trinket box he knew his mother would like, a heavy tome on Midgardian myths he was sure his father did not have but he was still searching for Herja's present.
Thor had managed to buy new weapons for Sif and the Warriors Three, something Loki was exceedingly thankful for due to the fact that he felt he could offer little advice on gifts for them. He moved along to the other stalls and was about to pass the small jeweller's table in favour for the larger, grander one when he stopped suddenly.
On a small, dark green velvet cushion lay a pale gold necklace. It wasn't nearly as spectacular as some of the jewels worn by the other women in the palace – in fact, it wasn't bejewelled at all – but Loki liked it all the same. The gold wasn't bulky, it was crafted thin and delicate and it had been divided into several pieces, then rejoined together loosely and a small gold leaf adorned the end of each piece.
Thor tore himself away from the women and was about to bypass the small stall in favour of the larger one but Loki stopped him with a hand on his arm.
"Brother, I suggest this necklace for Herja."
Thor squinted at it and made a face. "It is very plain." Then he noticed the trader watching them and flushed. "Forgive me, I meant no offence. I was just thinking of buying something a little more...showy."
Loki snorted. "Like you? Thor, you forget that not everyone wishes to be quite as flamboyant as you. Herja will like this, I assure you."
Thor frowned and thought for a moment. "You swear?"
"I swear it."
"Very well." Thor conceded and Loki let out a sigh of relief. "But if she does not take to it, I shall reveal that you aided me in its purchase."
Yule was the usual rowdy but intimate affair. Dinner with just his parents and Thor was becoming less and less common and Loki was glad that, at Yule at least, they still managed to spend time together.
Loki was sure that Thor spent all of Yule drunk. And oddly he didn't mind at all. His brother's sunny disposition was overflowing (as was his goblet) and Loki found it infectious; so infectious that he didn't even mind when his parents thanked Thor deeply for the presents he had given them and he puffed out his chest.
Loki merely raised an eyebrow and snorted quietly.
To his surprise, Thor said, "Actually mother, father...Loki aided me in buying them."
Odin just chuckled and shook his head and Frigga rolled her eyes. "Oh, we know that Thor." Her mouth quirked into a smile. "That is why Loki always has the more expensive present."
Thor spluttered and Loki laughed heartily, enjoying his elder brother's outraged expression. He watched as Thor demanded to know if it was true as Odin tried to pacify him by offering more and more food which Thor took but it did not stop his tirade about how unjust it was for Loki to receive more than him. Frigga just winked at her youngest son across the table and drank from her own goblet. Loki wondered if some his mischief had rubbed off on her.
Suddenly, a servant appeared carrying a chair to the table and placing it between Loki and Thor. They both looked at it.
"What is this?" Thor asked his parents.
"We have a guest for our Yule dinner this year." Frigga responded as she poured herself another goblet of wine.
Loki felt his heart sink. While he enjoyed the conversation of some of his father's friends and advisors, he was overly fond of the idea that they could be joining his family for dinner. This was a time when Loki liked to forget that they were royals, forget his rivalry with Thor and forget his desire to gain respect from his father and to just enjoy being a family. This was the one day that Loki could pretend that his family was normal and he did not want someone here who could ruin that.
The doors opened and Loki had never experienced such a sudden change of heart in his whole life.
Herja entered, beaming at all of them as her deep red dress billowed out behind her. Loki caught a glint of gold around her neck as she sat down.
"It is wonderful to have you dine with us, my dear." Frigga said sincerely and reached across to grasp Herja's hand briefly.
"Thank you." She said and subtly elbowed Thor who was chomping loudly next to her. "It is an honour to be invited."
Loki immediately handed her a goblet and filled it with wine; he felt himself blush when she turned that dazzling smile on him. He sat back as she began jesting with Thor and spotted his mother winking at him again.
This time, Loki wondered if perhaps he had gleamed some of his mischief from his step mother instead.
The Yule evening ended, as it usually did, with Loki half carrying his brother up to his chambers.
"Yooou know...you are a very..." Thor coughed. "A very fine brother. A FINE BROTHER INDEED!" He bellowed suddenly, making Loki wince and his ear sting. Thor dissolved into a fit of bellowing laughter and Loki couldn't stop himself joining in.
But just as they reached the final step of the last set of stairs, Thor wobbled dangerously.
"Ah!" Thor was pushed back onto his feet and Loki glanced over his shoulder to see Herja grinning. "There you are, Thor. Be careful on this last step."
Thor lifted his leg up needlessly high and nearly fell forwards when his foot came into contact with the ground a lot later than he had thought. Loki heard Herja snigger and he laughed as Thor stumbled again.
"No!" Thor mewled pathetically. "Do not laugh at me! You mock me!"
"Yes we do!" Loki said with a grin as Herja lifted Thor's other arm and dropped it over her shoulders, keeping him upright and wedged between her and Loki.
"Why? Why do you mock me so? My brother and my best friend! You are too...too cruel!" His eyes closed for a long while and he refused to walk, leaning heavily on both of them.
"Thor?" Herja asked tentatively.
"What?" He sprang to life again and his torso moved a little too quickly for his legs, making him nearly fall flat on his face. Loki and Herja caught him just in time and Loki felt a bolt of excitement shoot through him when Herja's hand brushed over his. "THERE!" Thor bellowed again. "THERE ARE MY CHAMBERS!"
"Yes, yes." Loki agreed hastily. "Just hush, Thor. Others are trying to sleep."
It took a long time to get Thor into bed.
Whenever they convinced him that it was time for him to sleep, he would rise again, proclaiming that he needed to go and visit his brother. Then Loki would remind him that he was already here and that, if there was anything he really needed to discuss, they could discuss it now. Upon which, Thor would insist there was nothing and then would allow himself to be settled in bed before going through it all again.
After the sixth of this charade, even Thor appear to get bored and finally settled but not before insisting that he remove all his clothes. Herja made his face and decided to leave at that point, telling Thor she had no desire to see him without his clothes. Loki managed to convince his brother that merely removing his boots and shirt would be more than adequate for sleeping and – at long last – Thor slept.
Loki sighed in relief and tip toed towards the door, only stopping to look back when Thor began snuffling and snoring. He grinned, opened the door and closed it behind him quietly.
He was surprised to Herja was waiting outside for him.
She smiled when she saw him and asked, "Is Thor asleep at last?"
"He is." Loki said with much happiness.
"Good." There was moment's pause and Loki wondered if she was going to say anything else or whether she was waiting for him to speak. But eventually she continued, "I just wanted to thank you."
Loki was thrown. "Thank me? For what are you thanking me for?"
Her elegant fingers plucked up the gold necklace and held it. "For this."
Loki felt his throat go dry. "I did not give you that; Thor did."
"Oh, I know. But I know it was you who suggested it."
He felt his cheeks burn and realised he could no longer feign confusion. "Uh...yes, it was. I saw you in the market not long ago and I noticed that you admired it. When Thor asked me to aid him in buying a gift for you, I remembered."
She smiled again and brushed her thumb over the necklace before letting it drop back against her skin where it nestled just above her breasts. Loki told himself not to look.
"Well, thank you. If you had not noticed, then who knows what awful item Thor would have given me?" She bit her lip and looked at him with a glint in her eye. Loki had a feeling that he would either hate or love whatever she said next. Thankfully, it seemed fortune was shining upon him. "In fact, I was thinking that I could perhaps replay you for finding me such a wonderful present."
"You were?" Loki cursed his lack of wit but his ability to think disappeared when she stepped close to him, her fingers twining themselves with his.
"Yes. But I confess I do not know what you would like."
He could feel her light breath on his skin and he lifted one hand to brush a piece of golden hair away from her face. He smiled, satisfied, when she shivered. He let his fingertips caress hers again and felt all the air leave his lungs as she stood on tip toes and brushed her lips over his gently before she pulled away, grinning.
"You tease me." He murmured, pulling her closer with a strong arm around her waist. "And I do not like to be teased."
His other hand came to rest on the back of her head and before she could say anything, he crushed his lips against hers, his fingers curling into her hair when she moaned softly into his mouth. He nearly jumped when her teeth pulled roughly at his bottom lip and he let out a growl.
"BROTHER!" A sudden shout came from inside Thor's chambers, making them pull apart quickly. "BROTHER! I DO NOT FEEL WELL AT ALL!"
Loki groaned and Herja giggled, rubbing her swollen lips with a delicate finger. He sighed, knowing the moment was gone but still joyous that it had happened nonetheless.
"BROTHER! BROTHER, I KNOW YOU CAN HEAR ME! I THINK I MAY NEED A BUCKET OF SOME SORT – " Thor sentence remained incomplete as he was cut off by the sound of a retch and an awful splatter.
Loki squeezed his eyes shut, wondering if he wished hard enough this could all just go away. Herja rubbed his arm gently, smiling.
"I should leave you to look after him." She said, sounding a combination of amused and disappointed. She turned on her heel and headed back towards the stairs down to the floor below where her chambers resided. Just before she disappeared from view, she gave him a smile and said, "Goodnight, Loki."
And then she was gone, leaving Loki standing alone in the corridor, his heart hammering in his chest.
Loki just smiled. Knowing he could see her again and knowing that he wasn't alone with these could get him through anything, even looking after his drunken brother. After all, surely this was what Yule was all about: being with who you loved.
So, there we are! A little Christmas one shot with Herja/Loki to boot!
Please leave a review and - most importantly - have a wonderful Christmas! :)