Exiled. He was exiled.

Exiled and worst of all, not even permanently.

He was left with a shred of hope, a meager amount of foolish optimism, tied to, of all things, a flower.

An enchanted rose, left to wilt and die petal by petal until he was trapped, drowning in his blue chill until the end of time; because death would not come quickly, would not be an easy release from his punishment, his 'penance'.

Loki shivered.

It was eternally cold in this (this monstrous, horrible, twisted) form, but only because he let himself be, if he let himself use the bite of the chill to remind himself that once, once, he lived in the form of Aesir, and so he could return. The ice and the rose became talismans of hope; or, perhaps, cruel reminders of his undeniable fate.

He lives in a castle. A mansion, perhaps, Loki thinks, is more apt to describe it in Midgard's less then refined terms.

But it is a fortress to him, keeping the people away from him and him away from the people. He is not sure who this arrangement is meant to protect.

He requires no food, as frost giants, he presumes, live off of rath and chaos and blood and war, drinking revenge like wine.

But still food appears in his kitchen and does not spoil. Meats, wines, meads, anything he could ever think of, sent with notes of well-wishes from Thor. He has no interest in the food, however, and leaves it to his imaginary rot. It is comforting to pretend that Thor's gifts were rotting in the kitchen.

He can not, however, ignore the most gracious offering of all.

A library.

Filled to the brim of books that he's never seen or read, and even though it's been three months, he has read only a drastically small portion.

Four months, and still the portion of books he has not read vastly outweighs the portion he has, but a complication arises.

The complication?

A girl. A human girl.

Dressed in a yellow shirt with white lace brim, and long brown hair that reached past her shoulders. She wears black glasses and a full smile, and announces through the door that Thor has sent her to be a house maid.

Though, those are far from the words she used.

'Babysitter' might have entered the one-sided conversation, as well as 'large financial compensation'.

But he know what she is for. Why Thor has hired her.

He knows just as well as Loki that the rose is wilting, falling petal by petal and turning brown as he speaks and reads his books.

He has not told her what he looks like, then, he concludes, if she is still believes that mere money was a worthy atonement.

So he opens the door.

Her reaction was...not as expected.

She paused, one hand frozen in a knocking position, mouth only slightly open.

"You're blue." She said, although not scared or shocked, as if it was perfectly normal to be a blue person. "Like a smurf." She noted.

"Congratulations, you have eyesight." Loki says, eyes in a slow blink. "You might also tell Thor, on your way back, not to send anyone else."

He begins to shut the rich, mahogany door when, suddenly there is a rather inconvenient foot stuck inbetween it, dressed in blue flats and completely ruining the function of a door.

"No way, Papa Smurf." The girl says, shaking her head. "I'm an unpaid intern, buddy. I'm not letting that much money walk away just 'cause you look like Jack Frost. The old one, not the hot animated one."

She lets herself in, after that one.

The first week is...odd.

He does not hate her company as he fully expected himself too.

Day one is spent with her staying in her room (a full hallway from his) and him in his library. As do the second and third, only straying out during meal times to beg him to eat with her because 'Thor told him too' and 'She might not get paid.'

So goes the next week, and the week thereafter, until finally she snaps at him and doesn't ask anymore, not even to enquire, with casual concern, if he has eaten at all.

But the fourth week, she wonders in to the library for the first time and gasps, running her hands against the thousands of books that neither of them have ever heard of, a smile in her lips.

Loki looks up from a his book and watches her, briefly, and judges her trustworthiness by how gentle her fingers glide, how contently she flips the pages, how focused, entranced she is in the words on them.

After she is not an hour reading, but already a quarter of the way through the book, he smiles.

It is he who invites her to dinner that night.

The sixth week there is snow. Quite a lot of snow.

And Darcy (he can't remember when he learned her name was Darcy, only that eventually, they actually exchanged names.) begs him to go out in it, to have a snowball fight.

And (only because she won't leave him alone, mind) he bends.

And they throw snowballs and he laughs and he can't remember the last time he's laughed because of anyone and not out of spite.

They each build a fort, and Loki spares some magic, to make his completely impenetrable. (It's quite awhile before Darcy notices this, and when she does, it's followed by a tackle that rival's Thor's, pushing them both deep in too the white snow. Loki should be cold, freezing, but for once while he's been there, does not let himself feel it. Instead he laughed, and his red eyes met her brown ones, her glasses buried somewhere in the snow beneath them. He breathed, quietly, and then a moment later, before he can do anything, Darcy had bent her head down, hair falling in snow around them, and her lips meet his, and kisses him gently, testing him, and then he props himself up on his elbows and kisses her back and they are so focused on the other, they don't notice the thrum of magic, and Loki doesn't notice his skin turning creamy or his body growing warmer

all he notices is her)

a/n review if you can!