A very heartfelt thank you for all the lovely comments and favs you've all given since last chapter! It helps so much to get them!

This chapter has been written and rewritten several times. I've had such a hard time trying to get it to come together. Still not happy with it but realize that I need to get it out there so the story can progress. So I really hope its okay.

PLEASE NOTE: This chapter takes a step back to Loki's thoughts as Jane is sleeping. It makes reference to some of the older chapters and what he's thinking about events that have already taken place. So I hope everyone remembers the previous chapters well enough. ;)

Unwilling Heart: Chapter 15

Loki had been lost in thought for hours in the darkness of his shared quarters with Jane Foster. He remained seated, unmoving, from his place on the floor, farthest away from the bed where Miss Foster currently slumbered. He was attentive to his captive's soft steady breathing as it reached his keen ears through the inky blackness of the room.

She had been sleeping for a good few hours, though Loki was acutely aware that it had taken some time for rest to finally claim her. Drained as she was he had expected her to slip into unconsciousness immediately. But as the last echoes of their voices had faded there had been no audible indication of her motioning to place herself under the blankets of the small cot. Only stillness.

She sat stationary for what had seemed like ages, likely afraid of what Loki's intentions for her were once her guard was dropped. He hadn't moved a muscle, doing nothing to give her concern that he would advance upon her. Yet she remained motionless for so long he had begun to muse that her intent was to await his decent into dreams. Perhaps then she would foolishly attempt an attack upon him.

Loki thought to advise her against such a plan before she attempted it – amusing though it would be to see her try. Ultimately, he found the warning unnecessary at the sound of the creaking cot and rustling blankets. Though she seemed to move gently upon the surface of the bed, slowly repositioning herself, the metal frame screeched treacherously beneath her. As her slight body ceased it's careful movements, Loki observed a subtle quickening to her breathing pattern. Though her intent in laying down must have been to find some amount of relaxation, the interruption of silence seemed to have put her further on edge.

Mischief coursing through his veins as always, Loki considered disturbing the silence once again, a calculated movement in her direction to give form to her obvious fears. But instead the muscles of his lithe body seemed to compress, mindful not to make any movements that would unsettle her further. He had toyed with her enough for the day. Best to allow her mind it's rest, if only so he could witness her renewed struggles against her predicament in the morning.

It was not long after that her breathing gradually calmed, slowing it's pace to a steady rhythm. Fatigue had finally snatched her into it's waiting arms, mercifully cradling her for the night.

That had been hours ago.

The hours since then Loki had spent in concentration upon Jane's soft breaths, his own breathing subconsciously matching her pace.

He shook his head. If his intent was to do her harm in the privacy of this room did she expect that staying awake all night would stop him? He supposed he couldn't fault her mistrust. Whatever assurances he might give her, she had no more reason to trust him than anyone did. But his assertions that she remain with him in the night for her own protection had been no word of a lie. It was truth Loki spoke when he claimed that at least for the present time, he meant her no bodily harm. How ironic that was, when upon his arrival to Midgard she was the one human with the most to fear from him. As circumstances had played out, she was now the one being in this realm - or anywhere, really - who was safest from him. At least until he presented her to Thor. Still, the irony of it almost made him laugh.

A slight rustling of voluminous fabric indicated Jane shifting in her sleep. He mused that her dreams this night must be rather vivid and idly wondered what she saw as she repositioned under the crisp white blanket.

She was fortunate he had allowed her use of the bed and intentionally seated himself some distance away from it. Loki had shown her a small courtesy in that action, allowing her to rest comfortably without his overwhelming presence bearing down upon her.

Loki shifted slightly in his current seated position. How much more amusing it would have been to leave her no choice but to sleep in the closest proximity to him. It had briefly occurred to him upon entering their quarters that he could have allowed her to take her place on the small bed, settling in beside her before she could raise her voice to protest. He wouldn't have touched her, of course. In fact he had previously assured her that his hands would not venture towards her without welcome. It was a promise he intended to keep, for he knew that affected as she was by the love spell it would be her that ached for him. And what delight it would have been to lay beside her teasing at her desire, yet doing nothing to encourage it. Their bodies huddled together in so compact a space, their combined warmth combating the chill of the surrounding caverns, it would have been sweet agony to her. The tendrils of magic snaked around her heart would have tightened their grip at so intimate a position. If Thor's influence upon her was not stamped out already, such a scenario would have surely laid it to waste.

And yet he hadn't entertained the idea for long, immediately placing her belongings on the bed and distancing himself from her for her own comfort. He recalled that she had looked relieved by his actions and was pleased by her appreciation of his small mercy. He was coming to realize that he needed to show her some amount of mercy from time to time, least she break before she could truly be useful to him. He recalled that she had collapsed before they entered the room. As they ventured through the maze of hallways towards their quarters her body had given way, sending her slender frame stumbling to the ground. It was then Loki saw that he needed to have at least some amount of care with her or all of his efforts would be for naught.

Midgardians. Their spirits could withstand more than their frail bodies. Loki had manipulated the minds of many over time, and he had to admit she was holding up rather well, fighting him at every turn. But where her mind stayed strong her body would only take the strain for so long. Reluctantly, he noted that he needed to be mindful of such things.

None the less, her apprehension of him was justified. For while he would inflict no physical harm on her for now he was thoroughly delighting in the games he was playing upon both her mind and heart. It had been long since he had indulged in such entertainment. And in addition to his enjoyment of this game the academic in him was finding extreme fascination in seeing a love spell at work. Such forms of magic he had read about on countless occasions, but never found need or opportunity to practice.

The corners of Loki's thin lips raised skyward. Magic had always excited him, though it was a venture that none around him ever seemed to appreciate. But to Loki, one of the greatest and most honest joys in his life had always been in gaining knowledge, particularly of all things magical. He knew that performing the love spell would be fascinating. But he had not been prepared for the familiar excitement of seeing new magic at work. It was rather nostalgic, beckoning to memories of testing his abilities, alone in the palace garden with a spell book in hand. He recalled the warm joy he had felt each time his magic radiated within his core, bubbling within him and traveling to his finger tips. So pure and natural this phenomenon was to him, manifesting itself in ways he had never imagined it could.

Loki felt longing tugging upon his tainted heart.

This was the first positive memory he had recalled since... he could not recollect the last emotion he had felt which had been birthed from positive memories. A slight smile curved his lips, though in the darkness none could see how the expression radiated his sculpted features.

He supposed in a way he had Miss Foster to thank for this forgotten feeling of contentment. For he never would have attempted this unexplored magic had it not been for her insight about holding control over mind and not heart. He never would have attempted the spell had she not stood tall and fearless when he had arrived to kill her.

Loki had to admit, he was impressed by her strength of mind. He suspected that most would have already crumbled into despair and hopelessness upon being placed in so desperate a situation. And though the signs of weariness on her were becoming increasingly evident, there was still steel in her eyes and a sharp bite to her comments. Even when he had found her hiding from him, alone in a desolate corner of her prison, shoulders slumped and eyes red from frustrated tears, she still turned to stone at his approach. Upon his arrival her swollen eyes were the only evidence of her break down, her composure had immediately regained it's footing. She feared him, only because she was intelligent enough to know that she should, but at no point had she cowered from him.

If all humans held her resolve his conquest of Midgard would be more of a challenge than he anticipated.

And yet...

He suspected that perhaps she was a rarity among her own kind. For he had seen few on Midgard who possessed such heart. Barton was one of them, perhaps even Fury, but they had the bearings of warriors to support their bravery. In a way they were not unlike the warriors of Asgard who found bravado as an accessory to brute strength.

Jane was different. It was clear to both Loki and his captive that he held enough power in his smallest finger to end her existence without effort. She held little ability to defend herself even from the more violent members of her own kind, let alone him. It would have been more prudent for her to cower before him, to beg for his favor. Yet she continued to defy him, to use her words as weapons and the fire in her eyes as a shield.

This little human was brave indeed. It was easy to find bravado so long as one was conditioned for such things, as any warrior would be. True bravery was facing the impossible without hope or means of defense, yet refusing to sacrifice pride for fear. Jane Foster had displayed this trait from the very moment he encountered her and continued to do so.

But it wasn't just her sharp comments or bravery that had Loki pondering Jane Foster so intently. He was downright baffled by her reaction to the love spell. Fascinating though it was to observe the spell's effects, he had to admit her reaction was not what he had expected.

He had placed the spell on her as she laid unconscious in the very same bed which cradled her now. And afterwards he had recovered his strength while waiting for her to rouse and lay eyes upon him. She had done just that, her eyes seeming reluctant to leave him. But after... after that she had been resistant... seeming almost unaffected. When she had tried to escape the confines of the room, believing him to be asleep, he surprised her by halting her progress through the door. He then held her captive for a short time in his arms, expecting that the love spell would force her to yield to him then and there. But she did something he did not expect, she did not fall into his arms or succumb to the closeness of their bodies.

She asked him to let her go.

Love spells were no trivial sort of magic. Asgadians and many other beings across the nine realms – all stronger than humans – had fallen to this brand of magic before it had been outlawed. From what he had read of the effects, obsessive feelings of love were almost immediate. Yearnings for both emotional and physical relief could not be ignored by the strongest of individuals.

He had expected Jane Foster's mind to rebel, indeed he had counted upon her conflict as part of her slow torture. But she initially seemed to reject the spell entirely, so much so that Loki had been worried that he had somehow made an error performing it.

And so he had been testing her. Hurling rather crass, unsubtle comments to gage her reactions. Though her typical response was an immediate pink hue to her cheeks, she never failed to react with indignation to any teasing remarks he subjected her to. It was amusing, as well as impressive. Stronger beings than her would have given in to such remarks by the caster of a love spell. If he had performed the spell on anyone else he suspected that such comments would have chipped away at all restraint, resulting in a rather passionate end to the night.

Not so with Jane Foster. Not so at all.

He had finally been convinced of the spell's success when he relentlessly pushed her to admit that her affection for Thor had faded. Though he had forced her to confront her hearts new desire, she still fought against the physical urges that the spell created.

It was no small feat to show such resistance to such powerful magic, though it would no doubt claim her entirely with time. But Loki could not deny, that at least as far as humans went, there was something special about this one. Even Thor, dim and vacant as he could be, had clearly clued in to this fact.

Loki's head raised as Jane sighed softly in her sleep thinking for a moment that perhaps she had awoken. She had not, her steady deep intakes of air not breaking rhythm.

How many hours had it been since she had finally dozed off? Loki was not sure, lost in though as he had been... lost in thought, he realized, about her. He blinked. His entire night had been concentrated entirely on Miss Foster.

Thoughts swarming like flies within his mind was not uncommon. Though his normal trains of thought usually gravitated towards Asgard, towards his false family. His pensive musings typically led to familiar rage that flowed through him like scolding magma. His longing towards a life long gone festered his broken heart to the point of physical pain. His head normally swam with an onslaught of furious reflections. Each night unearthed memories that had taken on new light with the revelation of his true heritage.

And though Loki fed off of his pain, indeed used it to his advantage, fueling his pursuit of glorious purpose, this night he felt calm. The sensation was foreign, though not unpleasant. And he felt it because this night his musings had not traveled to his burning jealousy of Thor, nor of Odin's betrayal and lies. This night Loki had not focused on the nauseating revulsion he normally felt toward his disguised icy flesh.

This night Loki's thoughts had been focused only on the tiny mortal who shared his room with him. Breathing in pace with her own breaths, he felt a strange calmness. Unbidden, he suddenly felt a desire to move towards her, to look upon the face of the object of his nightlong musings. He suddenly wished to feel the warmth of soft breaths that had been his company these past hours.

But he stayed his movements, shifting only slightly in his place but making no real attempt to indulge this baffling new urge. Instead he closed his eyes, ebony lashes resting upon his cheeks, and continued to breath with her. Air filled his lungs like cooling water, her calm breaths a slow running river.

How unfamiliar this was. Was this what serenity felt like?

Loki allowed himself to enjoy the new sensation, ridding intrusive thoughts of Thor and Asgard and betrayal that threatened to storm his mind. It would be acceptable, for this one night, to indulge in a moment of peace, would it not? Just a brief moment to allow the poison of betrayal to be a forgotten thing. A fragment of a distance past that could not touch him. He could renew his anger in the morning, continue to use her like a pawn on a chess board when she awoke.

For now she was a comfort – a surprising one, surely – but a comfort no less.

It seemed that Miss Foster was a pleasant distraction. Since her capture he had commended his creativity in crafting a plan for her that was not so simple as death. But those thoughts had taken on a new dimension in the past few hours as he considered his brother's mortal love. He was actually finding himself relieved that he hadn't killed her as he had initially intended. Her bravery and sharp mind had saved her from his wrath, and he was pleased with the turn of events.

Perhaps he would consider keeping her alive even after using her to break Thor's spirit. Perhaps.

His eyes opened as she stirred once again in her sleep. The metal frame of the creaking bed disturbing the calm of the room. Her stirrings did not cease, an agitated moan escaping her lips. Whatever dream her mind had chosen to entertain her with was seemingly disagreeable to her. Loki pondered upon what was causing her such unrest when a sigh escaped her, followed by a soft utterance of his name.

Loki grinned, of course she would be dreaming of him. No doubt that would be a nightly occurrence while the spell was still in place. Fortunately, his name whispered on her breath was not entirely unappealing.

She continued to shift in her sleep, calling for him as she stirred. Her feminine voice took on a desperate tone the more she spoke, until she was nearly sobbing his name into the darkness. Without warning her body jerked, resulting in a sharp creak of the bed before she shot awake desperately screaming for him.

"LOKI?"

Rapid, sharp, frantic breaths followed her scream and Loki actually found himself startled. His slender fingers waved through the empty air in front of him, magic tingling the tips of his fingers as he illuminated the single light of the room. Loki saw Jane's hands fly to her eyes, shielding them from the sudden brightness.

He was uncommonly speechless, his body rigid. He had not given the matter thought before she had fallen asleep, but it was to be expected that she would dream of him. The magic he had placed in her unsuspecting body would not allow her thoughts to stray from him even in sleep. But her calling him so desperately... it had unnerved him in a way. He had not expected the frantic tone to her voice. It almost reminded him of free falling from the rainbow bridge, Thor's frenzied screams following him as he plummeted.

He shook his head.

She began to fumble for an explanation, "Um...I... I was just calling to see if you were still in the room. It... it was so dark, I couldn't tell if anyone was still in here."

He raised a brow at her feeble attempt to rationalize her reaction to her dream, but said nothing in response. His chest felt tight and he didn't trust himself to speak. Yes, her dreaming of him was expected, but she had caught him off guard. Damn her. So long it had been since he had heard his name spoken by another without trace of hostility or apprehension. He had not expected to suddenly be treated to tender recitations of his name, followed by a desperate cry of it. Even if it was Thor's little pet mortal who had said it, and even if she was under the influence of the love spell... it was simply... unexpected.

He was further shocked when the smallest of smiles graced her lips, her head immediately dropping to regard her own hands. His brows knit with confusion, pondering what she could possibly be smiling about. Perhaps it was an embarrassed reaction on her part.

But he could not help but note that such an expression had not touched her features since they had met. He had seen apprehension, anger, resentment, confusion, but certainly no smiles. Unbidden, Loki lamented the fact that she had bowed so quickly to hide her face. His mind began to gather that the smile had been quite pretty on her, but he quelled the idea before it could take shape. Surely there was no loveliness to be found with these mortals.

"I'm sorry I woke you..." her voice mercifully broke the direction of thought that his mind was taking.

He continued to regard her from his place on the ground, distracted as he spoke, "I wasn't sleeping, I don't require as much sleep as you mortals do..."

"Well then," she amended her statement, "I'm sorry I disturbed you..."

He did not reply, idly taking in her movements with curious eyes. She shifted uncomfortably in her seated position on the bed. Lightly shaking fingers smoothed disheveled strands of hair on her crown. He watched the movement of her fingers through her molasses brown stands, his eyes occasionally resting on her face, watching her watch him.

Her head bowed once again at the eye contact and she softly uttered, "Please, stop staring at me..."

Loki blinked. He was annoyed with himself for being so thrown by the manner of her awakening that he was at a loss for words. He remedied that by throwing one of his unsubtly suggestive comments at her, once again testing the boundaries of the love spell. "Does my attention cause you discomfort, Miss Foster? My apologies, it's simply been some time since I've had a woman scream my name."

He was pleased when her cheeks turned cherry, and amused by her hardened expression once she caught her bearings.

In a huff she swung her feet over the bed, slipping into her footwear. "You did say that I wasn't confined to this room during the day." She didn't wait for an answer before continuing "If you'll excuse me..." And with that she grabbed her belongings and barged out of the door.

Loki almost laughed, shaking his head at her feistiness as she disappeared from his view. Once again he had thrown comments at her that should have enticed the reaction of the love spell. And once again she brushed it off with indignation and anger.

Loki chuckled, speaking aloud though she was no longer there to hear it. "Well done, Miss Foster. Well done."


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