Hey there everyone, sorry I haven't updated in ages – things have been pretty hectic lately! This chapter is more of a minor plot chapter but it's important to me because it looks into Harmony's mind-set as a slave, which I think can sometimes be put to the side when really it's one of the most important things in the story.
Hope you enjoy :) And please read the note at the bottom!
It was not often that Loki found himself intrigued with a particular individual. There was no one really that exceptional to hold his attention so closely for long. Yet, he found himself watching Harmony whenever he caught a glimpse of her, just going about her daily duties and services to his brother. Each day, he'd noticed her become a little brighter; the shining twinkle of her eyes was gradually pushing through the tarnished, bleak brown of her mourning and misery. And for that, he was honestly glad. At least Thor had to be doing something right, at least his misplaced affections were allowing her to heal.
She never saw him when he saw her, always so busy and focused to notice him lurking silently through the corridors, behind the pillars, in the shadows. He saw her differently than how he had before. It felt like he knew a different side of her - it was a side he would probably never experience personally, but it was still strange to find such a side in her. Before that night, he couldn't quite comprehend Harmony in an erotic, intimate, dare he say romantic, situation. It had all been real though; he'd seen it with his own eyes and there was no denying it.
Somehow her aura had altered. Nothing was missing, only something awakened.
Loki had seen everything he'd needed to see to be certain of his assumptions; instead of distancing himself from his slave, however callously or kindly, Thor was growing closer and more intimate with her still. Loki watched the girl with sympathy, nearly pity. The closer the crowned Prince of Asgard became to her, the deeper and harder it'd hurt when he would have to marry for duty, be torn away from her; or if their…affair was discovered. He had no intention of telling the All Father or anyone at all, not after receiving Thor's promise. The act would cost him his life, and he had no intention of losing his head, or limbs, either. Though at the same time, he wanted to tell someone, use his knowledge as power.
He found he didn't want Harmony to be hurt, foolishly sentimental perhaps, but still he felt it. Better to have them broken apart sooner rather than later and save the girl a huge amount of more suffering and loneliness. The higher they climbed, the harder they would fall and the fall might end up breaking the young maiden. Had there been a reasonable, real chance for Thor and Harmony's union then Loki would have not interfered.
Only, it was clear to him that that chance didn't exist for them. It could ruin their futures, and the future of Asgard too. It was too complex, too problematic.
The feeling of helplessness wasn't one Loki felt often, neither was it one he enjoyed. There had to be a way to spread the two apart without risking his neck and causing as little pain to the young maiden as possible.
The more he watched her, the more he closely took in her physical features. Small and fragile, even for a mortal, nothing had changed. She had rather pale, creamy skin, identifying her clearly as a house/domestic slave, not one that laboured in the heat under the sun. Even from a distance, her flesh looked soft to the touch.
Her hair was a striking colour. A deep reddish chestnut brown that no one else seemed to possess, making her a little more unique amongst those surrounding her. It seemed to glint and glitter in the strong rays of the sunlight, and it shaped her youthful, pale face in seemingly endless curls, ringlets both big and small. The smaller ones were mostly around her face while the larger ones were those which cascaded down her narrow back and over her bony shoulders. Loki briefly pictured how far it would reach if it was soaking wet – would probably weigh her down a bit.
She had elfin features, high fine cheekbones and a delicate jaw, a petite roundish nose and soft, reasonably plump lips; a little fay face. Those large eyes of hers were also rather striking. They were complemented by eyebrows that gradually grew thinner the further away from the centre of her face they became, and they left her with a naturally gentle, if not timid expression. Their colour was a rare variation of the most common eye colour amongst mortals, like deep honey chocolaty diamonds, not murky at all but as clear as cut dark amber glass. An even darker chocolate ring encircled both her irises, flicks and specs of darker honey and brown, near black, scattered the expanse that was so easy to get lost in.
She was not beautiful in the traditional Asgardian way but there was no doubt about it – she was something especially lovely to look upon.
Loki's quiet focus was suddenly disrupted at the sound of heavy footsteps approaching. Smoothly, he stepped further back into his shadows, and managed to capture a glimpse of the passers-by. Thor, Odin and a small number of military generals and strategists strode through the same corridor, flanked by a pair of guards for good measure. The raven haired God saw a rapid change in demeanour in Harmony as her master passed her. She really was under his thrall. Others thought nothing of it; her head was lowered, eyes submissive and glancing up every few moments, her body stiffened in wariness of those around her. But Loki saw more.
Her eyes fluttered, lips parted and he could tell she had become breathless. Even though Thor did not turn his gaze upon her, probably to hold up pretence, Harmony watched him go, actually stopping her work, the yearning and desire sparkling in her eyes, utterly infatuated. Thor did certainly know how to entice females, to make them burn for him, beg to serve and obey him. And the Nine Realms knew damn well that he got his way.
Meetings with the military council were always a little tedious. Thor greatly appreciated the strategic arts of battle, admired the skilful tactics and the clever, sharp minds of those in the council. He himself had become a rather impressive asset to the council, often devising a mixture of cunning and blunt strategies that always proved effective. He'd learnt a number of tricks and ideas over his many years, allowing him to sometimes be one or two steps ahead of his enemies. Planning wars and battles brought out Thor's more cunning, sly side.
He felt content in the company of experienced warriors and tacticians; their minds worked alike and they were never held back by some bumbling imbecile, soft with morals and void of realism. Many of them fought the battles together as well as planning them out and had much battle history between them.
However, planning a battle did not have quite the same delicious, dark appeal as fighting the battle. It didn't make his blood race in the same way or the power surge through his body. It only seemed to tempt him and start to wind him up, yearning for the thrill of war.
Though, this time, there was someone else on his mind. When he'd passed his slave, his neck muscles had been pulling to catch a glimpse of her, always eager to take in as much of her as physically possible. This particular meeting seemed to almost drone on, and Thor found his body becoming apprehensive. His fingers curled tightly against the wood of the large round table on which their battle plans were concocted. Luckily the wood wasn't in his grasp or it would have splintered and shattered.
The muscles in his legs tingled, longing to move, and the urge to shuffle was gnawing away at his limbs. Thor was not a patient man and now it was running thin. He even detected a slight strain in his voice as he discussed the upcoming battle with the others, his words starting to rush over his lips.
One or two of the council members had picked up on the Prince's unusual mannerisms but said nothing in unease of provoking him in any way possible. It wasn't until his father noticed that someone questioned the prince.
"You seem uneasy, my son," Odin observed, voice completely steady, and slightly to the relief of those who were curious but too wary to ask themselves. "Is something on your mind?"
Thor lifted his gaze to his father's, a temper lurking beneath the sapphire. All the eyes on him only succeeded in agitating him more. Some wished the All Father had said nothing; no one ever looked forward to one of Prince Thor's moods or tempers, and the All Father was one of the only people who didn't tread on egg shells when the Thunderer wasn't in a jovial mood.
"Nothing, father," Thor replied with disciplined smoothness to his deep voice. He made a convincing grin, "I am eager to see this plan in action." There was truth in that, and they all seemed to buy it.
"I understand, sire," one of the braver councillors nodded. "At least we will not have to wait too long. The enemy are grouping and should launch their attack as soon as they believe themselves ready." His nerves were calmed when Thor gave him a good natured smile.
"I sometimes wonder why they continue to try," the Lady Sif interjected.
"They provide us with good sport," Thor smirked, glancing sideways.
Sif returned his mischievous expression, her clean white teeth showing in her smile.
"They certainly have spirit and determination, however misplaced or not," the warrior maiden said. A few others muttered in agreement, believing it to be a commendable trait to be able to appreciate assets of the enemy.
Meanwhile, Odin watched his eldest son, concern woven into his face. Still Thor saw battle as a game, enemies as his toys and playthings and he did not show concern for the loss of lives they would face. Whether Thor felt such a loss inside or not, he did not show it. It would only lead to the assumption that he cared little for the loss of others because he himself was close to invincible. A great king knew how to show compassion to others and take care of his people, without falling into the trap of caring too much, but it seemed to Odin that Thor still needed to learn to care at all.
By the time the military council departed, Thor felt like he could jump a hundred feet in the air to relieve all the tension prickling through his body. He was not sure of the time of day, or where his mortal would be now. The corridor around him was empty and silent. Halting suddenly, Thor sniffed the air.
The exact scent he was hoping for wafted into his nostrils, and something stirred in his chest as he rounded to the direction of the unmistakable aroma, pupils dilating. It filled him again with his next breath. Closing his eyes, Thor let it overwhelm him in a way which was both soothing and endearing. Before his eyes had even fully opened, his legs were already on the move, footsteps purposefully loud for now so everyone would know he was coming.
Thor followed the scent like a bloodhound, breathing in every time it grew faint as though he'd been starved of oxygen. She wasn't far. Soon he'd get her. But, of course, he'd have a little fun with her before that part…
Finishing up with her duties for the daytime, Harmony decided to take the longer route back to her master's quarters from the other end of the palace because it was far quieter than the shorter way. She felt loose and light now that she had nothing to carry in her scrawny arms as she pitter-pattered on her way. On this route, Harmony saw three, perhaps four or five people each time, and each one ignored her.
As she walked, the only sound was her own footsteps, now that she was completely alone. She hoped Thor would be in his chambers; she hadn't been able to get him out of her head. Any hope of that had vanished when she'd seen him earlier that afternoon. It had been so simple – he was just walking, yet it was mesmerizing. The air of dominance, authority and power about him never failed to make her heart flutter and shiver. She could never do what he did; she could never walk with her head high or her shoulders back like that; she could never look at those around her in the eye as if she were their equal, furthermore their superior; she could never stride with such confidence and dominance that inspired awe, respect and fear.
When had her footsteps become so loud?
With a little gasp, she looked hastily over her shoulder, flicking her long messy hair away, to see who was on her tail. But there was no one there. She was still all alone.
Eyes narrowed, she scanned the passage closely, checking for any tiny movement, only to find none at all. Kept on her guard, she turned slowly and continued walking. It was probably someone walking down a different corridor close to her, she tried to rationalise with herself. But if that were true, then that other person's footsteps would not have stopped precisely when hers had.
With the hair on her neck on end, she purposefully kept her footing as light as she could, and to her ears, it made barely any noise at all so it couldn't have been her with such loud steps.
All remained quiet as Harmony reached the corner of that particular passage. She turned the corner with added caution, heart tight in her chest, waiting.
Like an explosion in her ears, the footsteps sounded again, close this time, like drums, ricocheting off the stone walls.
Jerking violently, Harmony lurched back a step to catch this follower of hers on the move. There was nowhere for them to hide. And yet, still, there was no one there. How was that possible? Footsteps that loud could not have been far away enough to be out of sight. All was silent again.
Harmony was beginning to get frightened. She was being followed by someone. Hunted.
Only her luck seemed to be that bad, she always seemed to attract bad attention and trouble.
Her breath quivered on her lips as she waited for something or someone to spring out of nowhere at her or to hear movement, and it only made her more anxious when she was greeted with nothing but silence. Adrenaline pumped through her blood, allowing her to make a swift turn and hurry away, but she did not run. Running or bolting triggered the chase, walking quickly kept the predator at bay, for a while at least. She felt a burn up her legs, using muscles she never usually put much strain on. And just as she'd dreaded, Harmony heard the footsteps, loud and impending, coming up behind her.
She was almost too scared to dare to look over her shoulder. When she did, nobody was ever there, but now the footsteps never stopped, not even when she did.
At the end of another passage, Harmony looked back, half expecting to see nothing and half expecting to see something right in front of her. Neither came to pass. Instead, at the other end of the passage, there was a shadow.
Briefly, she stopped to get a proper look at this shadow before it rounded on her. It was a man's shadow, a large man's. It was difficult to pick out many distinguishing features from the odd angle, other than his obvious height and bulk – there were a very great number of tall, muscular Asgardian men. What gave them away were their mannerisms. After a few moments, Harmony realised.
On one hand, she was relieved. At least it wasn't a murderer or something along those lines, she didn't need to worry about dying horrifically anymore. On the other hand, her fear was not entirely subsiding; it was being interspersed with thrill and desire. The Beast was out to get her and she promised herself she'd be ready for it.
Her heart was still frozen in her chest and she feared her legs would have rooted to the spot too, but before she could fully comprehend her next actions, her body was running ahead of her thoughts. Still she did not run, it was too risky.
Harmony was starting to feel the burn up her legs, refusing to let herself slow or stop. She couldn't give up now; it'd only just begun.
Turning another corner, the slave changed her original route to one that would take her on a slightly busier detour. That would add some more fun for him, after all, it was her duty to serve and please. The footsteps seemed to be growing closer and closer however when she summoned enough courage to look back, their owner was never there, a shadow at most.
A few more people were around her now, creating a partial shield between her and the impending shadow, a tiny bit of protection. And they were too wrapped up in their own lives and duties to spare a second glance at the hurrying mortal, who was clearly in some form of panic, and if they had been listening they could have heard her frantic heartbeat as if it were their own. It was the shadow they noticed.
Each and every nerve in her body was on guard and waiting, each bone and muscle vigilant, begging to bolt with all the speed she could muster, trying to reason with her mind with adrenaline. Turning briefly again, Harmony caught a tiny glimpse of her hunter. Mostly blocked by Asgardian servants and guards, and her limited line of vision, she did not see much of him but there was no uncertainty that it was him. She hadn't seen his face, for which she was glad.
Never look a hunter in the eyes.
It ignited the chase and inevitable loss of life for helpless prey.
Blood pumping in her ears, Harmony tried to work out what to do next. What might throw him off, or make it more entertaining for him? She was inches away from crumbling under her body's desire to bolt, afraid that she would do so without being able to think about it. He'd catch her then…
A shiver coursed through her at the thought. What would happen when he caught her? Many possibilities extended themselves in her mind, but it mostly came down to what sort of mood he was in – practically everything else depended on that. By the reality of the hunt, Harmony could stab a pretty good guess at what sort of mood the Beast might be in. It released a drug of thrill, fear and excitement into her system.
The crowds were thinning out and in a quick change, there was almost no one around anymore like rabbits having fled to the safety of their warrens. There was nothing between her and him now. Nothing but empty ground. She couldn't bring herself to look back now.
Fear rising, Harmony's mind began to go cloudy. The heavy steps in her ears were drilling into her sanity, never stopping, pushing her to the edge before her physical control suddenly snapped.
Wiry arms pumping at her sides, Harmony sprinted down whatever path was presented before her, unable to plan or think as her instincts overwhelmed her. The footsteps of her predator quickened, not yet running.
Her pathetic mortal stamina betrayed her all too quickly. Uncomfortably hot and out of breath, Harmony searched frantically for some form of escape, trembling with anxiety and fatigue. There was barely any time. He was coming, he was close.
Sucking in a deep breath, Harmony forced herself to run a little further, wishing and begging for a place to hide. The frustration of helplessness made her want to start crying; it was too much to just give up. She had to push on a bit more. It'd disappoint him if she just stopped now.
A sudden idea popped into her head. She double checked her surroundings to be fully sure of where in the palace she was. Fuelled with a small burst of adrenaline, Harmony sprang into action, knowing exactly where to head so she might have a chance of hiding.
Down in one little corner of the palace, there was an old store room that was rarely used so empty for the majority of the time. Filled with all sorts of things, it was the perfect place for a little mouse to hide away. With haste, but as quietly as she could, Harmony pulled open the store room door with a moment's glance behind her to see the shadow swiftly approaching. A tiny whimper left her as she scurried through the door, closing it with as much care as her shaking hands could handle.
She now stood at the top of a spiral staircase, poorly lit by one or two candles so she could only just about find her way without tripping and breaking her neck. Light on her feet, Harmony pitter-pattered down the staircase into the storeroom itself, which was not that well lit either. Her breaths were light and rapid, movements sudden and cautious, her eyes desperately searching for a good place to conceal herself. She worked her way into the room, weaving in and out of numerous objects, large and small. She was sure that any second the door would open and it would all be over.
With every moment that ticked on, she became ever more apprehensive, terror making the edges of her sense and rationality start to crumble. What usually happened to slaves who fled and hid?
Making her way to the far back corner of the room, Harmony found a single bed turned on its side and a cloth hung from the ceiling, resting on the upturned side of the bed. She could hide behind that!
Very close by was a chest and a small bookcase, and she pulled them next to the bed, creating a better barrier of protection, caging her hiding position. She grabbed anything that she could lift, bits of small furniture, broken slabs of wood, old sheets and cloths, anything she could get her hands on in close range.
Then, midway back to her hideaway, Harmony's keen ears picked up the sound of dangerously slow approaching steps.
He'd found her.
Making a noise between a gasp and squeak, Harmony bolted again into her hiding place, heart pummelling against her ribs. She got down low, curling inwards on herself. She brought her knees up tightly to her torso, holding herself in a grip so tight that her knuckles turned white. Close to crying, she covered her mouth with her hand to shut herself up.
He was coming. Oh, god, he was coming.
But as frightened as she was, Harmony still felt thrill and a spark of desire.
The storage room door opened slowly, painfully slowly with a terrible creak to go with it, and Harmony's blood ran cold.
"Harmony…come out, come out wherever you are…"
Thanks for reading, please leave a review!
I still have a few major things in the plot to cover which include:
Harmony and her family
Harmony finding out about why she was made Thor's slave
Odin finding Thor a suitable bride and Queen
Harmony and Thor's relationship + the God's Bond
Loki's research into the Binding Law
All of these will be included at some point but feel free to let me know if there is any one of those you'd like me to focus on next and any possible ideas you might have :)
Updates might be a little slow so in the meantime, feel free to go read my other stories and please leave a review for them as well!
Love and hugs xxx