Elliot left Langley to the task of delivering the news of Loki's whereabouts to Thor. She would have done it herself, but she had a feeling she would lose her temper. She barely managed to keep a straight face after thanking Caralho for his help.
He left me because he thinks I'm weak. That theory repeated itself in her mind, on a loop, during the ride back to the palace. The scar that she felt proud of now felt like a mark of shame. She wished then that she had worn something with sleeves to hide the demon-shaped handprint.
She had a permanent scowl etched on her face as she stomped from her chambers downstairs to the gardens. The very first thing she did (besides greeting her handmaiden), was to grab her bow and arrows. She ignored the feeling of tightness in her upper arm as she released bow after bow. At first her aim was off, but after a few tries, she found her rhythm again, and three bows sunk right into the red circle.
It was her hatred for Loki, for betraying her, that fueled her desire to shoot again. After a while, she began to imagine that the red circle was Loki, and that nearly made her chuckle.
He could he leave me because I was weak? she thought to herself, angrily pulling another bow from her quiver. I am not weak. That was the truest statement she'd ever made. Prior to Asgard, before Loki, before the Tesseract, she had accepted that she would be the weaker one, especially in the physical sense. But then Loki arrived, and he tested her mental strength, and she overcame it. Physically, she fought against Elves, and survived.
So who was he to judge her strength? If he was going to leave her, couldn't it have been for a better reason? As she released each arrow, she came up with her own reasons. Loki would have been right to fly off if she'd insulted him because he was a Frost Giant. Fine. That made sense. Flying off the handle because he thinks she's weak, and a burden? Absolutely not. That's called not owning up to your responsibilities.
I promised you, Elliot thought, nocking another arrow on her bow. She pulled the string tighter than usual, the texture digging into the skin of her fingertips. I promised you I would help you. You need saving, not me.
Several splintered arrows later, Elliot left her small corner of the garden and found herself standing near an open window that overlooked the Sea of Mist. Her fingers curled gently on the smooth windowsill as she watched the waves of the sea lap gently at the jagged rock below. Only a few weeks ago she stood here with Frigga, listening as she recounted the story of Aksel, the first mortal to enter Asgard, and of his tragic death.
The air was beginning to cool, a gentle reminder that nightfall was soon approaching. The city had begun to quiet down; families were ushering their little ones into their homes, fires were being put out, and stablemasters were tending to their livestock before the day's end.
Elliot felt a sick, worried feeling growing in the pit of her stomach. The sensation that something else was coming to a end swept over her, and she licked her dry lips, desperate to ignore the nausea that was threatening to overtake her. She blinked, unaware that she'd been staring out at the sea for almost fifteen minutes.
Well, she had every right to be worried. She'd just learned that Loki was practically on a suicide mission. Traveling to the land of the Dark Elves, alone? In the time that she had to herself, Elliot made the archives her second home and read up on the other worlds as much as she could. The Dark Elves and the Asgardians always had a sort of uneasy truce - as long as one didn't disturb the other, then there was no reason to break the peace.
Loki could break that peace.
She was a buzz of nerves, nearly ready to jump out of her own skin and fly away to find Loki herself. Elliot forced herself to move away from the window - something, anything to keep herself moving before she ran to Heimdall - and began to walk back to her chambers. By now her feet knew the way up to the residential part of the palace, strictly reserved for royalty although Elliot was the sole exception.
Several times she had been called "Princess" by the children of Asgard, shouted at her as she rode through the streets on her own or with Langley, and she threw a quick smile in their direction for their benefit, but chuckled to herself after the fact - she was no princess. Sure, she could call herself a warrior - she did fight dozens of elves after all - but princess was going too far. Besides, being a Princess came with many duties, as she'd learned after a marathon reading session, and engaging in them wasn't on her to-do list.
She was sure that the idea of adopting her into the family had entered Frigga's mind once or twice, but Elliot was keen to put that idea to rest quickly. The last thing she wanted was to be adopted into the royal family after having kissed the rebellious prince several times. Considering how neither Frigga or Thor knew about that piece of information, she thought it best to keep to herself.
The moment that thought entered her mind, she heard a deep voice call her name from behind, and she turned just as Thor was rounding the corner. He raised one hand, awkwardly - which was so unlike him - and quickened his pace to reach her. Elliot smiled at him for his benefit. "Hi, Thor."
"I've been looking for you. Where have you been?"
"Just getting some practicing in. What's wrong?"
Thor lowered his eyes. "Langley informed me of your news. I'm very sorry to hear that. It must have been painful to hear."
"Sorry? Why are you sorry?" Her tone was sharper than she thought, and she nearly dropped a few apologies once Thor lifted his head to meet her gaze. "Loki decided to act like a fool, and rush off to the Dark Elves. It's not my problem." Elliot rolled her shoulders, as if shake off the pain of abandonment.
Thor extended one of his large hands and covered both of hers. He squeezed them gently, once, and when he looked at her, his eyes were full of sorrow. "I know you claimed it your duty to help him, but he does not want to be helped, and that hurts. Please understand - I know how you feel."
Of course he would. Thor risked his life to come to Earth for Loki's sake, only to learn that his brother had risked his life to wreak havoc if it meant having a seat on the throne. Elliot's fingers twitched a little inside Thor's hands, and he dropped his. "You are not alone."
She let out a deep breath. "Thank you, I guess."
"What will you do now?"
"He either heard me or he didn't. I would go chasing after that damned trickster myself, but I've got a slightly disabled arm, and I have no idea how to navigate the world of the Dark Elves. Is it even safe?"
"Not particularly, no. Which is why I wish Loki hadn't gone there. We are not very friendly with each other. The only thing keeping our relationship stable is the agreement to lock away the Tesseract until the end of time," Thor responded. "I would go after him myself, but I must stay with my mother and look after the Allfather."
Something in Elliot's chest tightened. "Why? What's wrong with him? Is it the Odinsleep?"
Thor shook his head. "No, we don't believe so, but he has been ill as of late. He has suffered so much from this family for quite from time, and I'm worried that he has had too much. He has been bedridden for days. Mother and I worry that if he falls into the Odinsleep, it will be for the last time."
Elliot bounced on the balls of her feet. "These past few times, it's been because of Loki, hasn't it?"
"Yes, it has. But Loki didn't understand what he was doing. He was just confused," replied Thor, his face set in determination. "It wasn't his fault."
It was so typical of Thor to defend Loki in almost everything he did. Loki was his brother, no matter what he did. Even after he nearly destroyed the city of New York, he still believed that there was some good in him. Elliot understood him alright - she was a younger sister, and always looked up to Katie no matter what.
"So what will you do now?" Thor continued, lowering his head to catch her lowered gaze. "Will you go after him?"
"You think I should?" Elliot met his eyes with arched eyebrows.
"I believe that someone should, and it certainly can't be me because I have to remain by my father's side. I believe that you are our best option."
"You know, I'm not one hundred percent sure I want to go after him," Elliot said, her eyes narrowing. "Because he let a fire demon get his hands on me and leave this thing on my shoulder. Because he left me since he couldn't handle the responsibility. If he wants to go running off to save his ass on his own, fine. I have better things to do."
"Like..." Elliot trailed off, thinking of something. "Practicing my archery."
"You're one of the best archer's Asgard has ever had, your archery skills are rival to our palace archers, and you know it. Elliot, you mustn't let Loki's actions affect you so much. Loki is afraid, and he needs someone at his side." Thor rubbed the back of his neck, fidgeting. "I would, if I could. But I can't. And he needs you."
"I would be willing to gather the others for your assistance, if you decide that you need it. Heimdall can easily be summoned."
"This is no longer a simple request between friends, Elliot," added Thor, effectively cutting her off. "Loki must be found. It's a matter of avoiding a second war between worlds."
"Fine!" Elliot threw her hands into the air, knowing that he would cut her off if she protested again. "Fine, I'll go find Loki. I don't want to, but fine."
An easy, smug smile curled on Thor's lips, and she knew that he'd won the battle, for now.
"No," her handmaiden repeated, her eyes narrowing at Elliot. She stood in the center of Elliot's chambers, her arms crossed, one of her gowns thrown over her shoulder. "You will not."
"I don't necessarily have a choice in the matter. Thor asked me to go because he can't."
"Then have him send one of our mages, or another warrior! Why you, Lady Elliot? Loki has caused you nothing but trouble," Eira stated, her eyes falling to the mark on her shoulder for emphasis. "You have better things to do."
"Like what?" Elliot asked her, chuckling without humor as she walked to her dresser. "Stand around and shoot bows all day? I have nothing to do, Eira. This is something to do."
"Yes," she agreed, her voice sarcastic. "Chase down the magician who nearly let fire demons take you. Who nearly let Thanos and his followers skin you. Lady Elliot, I beg you - please reconsider." Her voice softened, and Elliot turned around, setting her bow and arrows on the bed. She took in the tremblings of Eira's bottom lip with surprise.
"Lady Elliot, you have nearly lost your life one time too many," her handmaiden continued in a hush, taking a few steps forward. "I beg you, stay. Allow the others to tend to this situation while you heal." Eira tucked a strand of hair behind her face nervously. "I...I was hoping that perhaps I could begin to train you to be...well, to begin the search for a husband."
Elliot's lips quirked upwards into a smile. "You want me to get married?"
Eira's eyebrows came together. "Well, yes. You are an eligible maiden, and of marrying and childbearing age. It seems only the natural thing to do from here."
"Can we try to agree on a compromise?" Elliot suggested, scratching her neck, feeling uncomfortable. "I know you don't want to go, and honestly, I don't want to go because I agree with you. Loki has gotten me almost killed too many times. But I have to go. If Loki does anything out of line, anything at all, he could start a second war. He's gone off to the land of the Dark Elves, and you and I both know we aren't friends," she added. "This isn't...me wanting to save his life. We're saving Asgard, and its people."
For a minute, she smiled - she sounded like an Asgardian.
Eira seemed to understand, and her face fell. She nodded once, solemn. "Of course."
"But I wanted to say that once we come back, I give you my word - you can dress me up in gowns and play with my hair all you like. I should be out of Loki's hair once we bring him back. I promise. And I'm bringing the whole gang - Volstagg, Fandral, and Sif. We'll be safe."
That seemed to please Eira, and she nodded eagerly. "Of course, Lady Elliot. That's very agreeable."
Elliot sighed with relief, glad that she had temporarily made Eira happy. The last time her handmaiden begged her not to leave, she ignored her, and almost ended their friendship in the process. At least this time she didn't royally screw things over. For a minute, Elliot almost felt like her old self, the one who thought things out logically, not with her heart.
a/n: I AM A BAD AUTHOR AND I AM VERY SORRY.
school overwhelmed me and i'm working 40 hours a week, but i managed to find time to get something written. i apologize to those who were waiting for an update, hopefully i won't fall so behind on my fics ever again. thank you to those who stuck around, and to those who are discovering this story, i hope you have enjoyed it so far and continue to do so.
next chapter up soon AND I MEAN SOON.
thank you everyone!
and to my co-author of Twisted Logic - SOON. AND I MEAN SOON.