A/N- So... Crawling out of the shadows from more than 2 months away from here... I owe you guys a huge apology for updates taking so long! I said I'd continue it though, and I will. I hope I don't disappoint- I'm usually a perfectionist with chapter updates, and I haven't had time to make sure this is absolutely perfect. Sorry to Jess, my proofreader- I wanted to update asap (it's been too long!) and just went for it without you!
Thank you for everyone's reviews- finally reached 100! As for the last chapter's reviews, I'd like to thank BlueEarings, caitreylove, bvalenzuela1, tennismaniac19, Loki's Only Love, butterflyscythe7, Milo21, Koszmar, camilleRomance, amaya, DarkGhostGizmo, deadcrayon, Gyoro and Ururun, electronicclash, div2994, Kojichan.x, ruerue123, RhizOneill, Eithne9, fan-de-carlisle-cullen, alexceasar, Musicalfan2012, Ebony10, jaquelinelittle, CaribbeanTrinidadian, LeprechaunGreen, and Guests!
On a happier, non-Thor related note, I want to rub it in that I'm going to be meeting Benedict Cumberbatch next week at a con! Unbelievably excited!
Anyway, back to Chapter 10!
Loki squinted at the dim light from outside, his hand coming up to shield his eyes. He sighed when he realised it was only a guard, timidly opening the door as if he were a dangerous dog ready to bite. He slouched in the corner like his prison was nothing, but these walls held two years of painful memories. Two years of having his brain scooped out and his memories put in a blender until they resembled coarse, black bile. Two years of psychological torture. Well, he thought grimly. Only one and a half. They had realised six months into his sentence that their physical methods were ineffective and they had gradually moved on to bigger, better things.
He sat in a small puddle of his own blood, stripped of his armour, wearing a thin green tunic over an even thinner shirt. His feet lay bare and shoeless, his toes curled as if he could feel the cold. He scoffed at the thought. He was a frost giant, and the cold couldn't touch him. But it didn't stop him from feeling a sliver of hopelessness at his current condition, taken away from the goings on upstairs where he walked around more freely, but not entirely unshackled.
The guards had tortured him earlier, as he lay defenceless; admitting they had wanted him back in here just to vent their hate. The guards were usually as bad as the torturers, and so Loki eyed the man in his cell with trepidation, a silent cautiousness.
"You lied." The guard said.
Loki sighed. So he was a talker, was he? "I am known to do that, yes."
Loki rolled his eyes and looked down at the floor, noticing the fraying hemline of his tunic, the golden threads hanging loosely. He didn't notice the change of the man's voice to a higher feminine tone, or the shift from armoured Asgardian to slender female. Her long golden hair, braided, fell gracefully down her back as she looked down at the broken prince at her feet.
"You lied." She repeated, waiting for him to look up at her.
Loki didn't even bother moving. "Idunn." He acknowledged her dully, still playing with the golden thread in his long fingers. "How nice of you to visit. You could've done without the theatrics, though. You have no audience here."
"How nice of you to try and deceive me, Loki. Do you think I wouldn't notice?" She scoffed as she finally met his eyes, only to see him look down again.
"I thought it would take longer, I admit."
"I am used to your deception, Loki Odinson-"
"Friggason." He cut her off, deciding his surname was the pressing matter here.
She took a deep breath, trying to keep her anger under control. "It matters not what you call yourself. I thought it strange when you came to me, asking to exchange your lies for a mere mortal's life. I was right to be suspicious, wasn't I?"
Loki sighed. "Regardless, it did not work."
"Regardless, the price still stands." She leant close to his slouched form, her voice now a whisper. "Your lies. Or the mortal dies, this second."
Loki stood up suddenly, Idunn shrinking back in surprise. His face was unreadable, but she saw his now-frail form tense, his body far from ease. A twinkle of panic in his eyes made her smile slightly.
"Are you hard of hearing, Idunn? She hasn't woken."
"Do you want to gamble her life? Besides," she paced up and down, "she will awaken. Apples always work. And if you say no, I will be glad to end her life myself."
He paused, thinking through the alternatives. He could wriggle his way out of this deal, but he had never been concerned for a mortal's life before. Now that Darcy's life was in the balance he was reluctant to even try to find a way out.
"If I have your word, my… my 'lying tongue' is yours." He said it quietly, reluctantly, backed into a corner.
Idunn stopped her pacing and smiled, exhaling heavily. "Thank you. And if I find you're hiding behind your magic again, I will find her and stop her heart without fail. I promise you that."
"Wait." He said. "What do you benefit from this?"
Idunn looked at him like he had lost his mind. He wondered if he had. "I serve Asgard as much as the Allfather. You have caused enough pain, and yet you continue to scheme more. It is not every day you find Loki Friggason in your debt."
"Why not take my magic?" He could do more damage with his magic than he could with his lies, but he was confused why Idunn had picked the latter.
"Your magic cannot be given, like a sword or knife. It is like Thor's Mjolnir- it is yours and yours only. It is your own mind, your ability. And it is learnt. If I took it away from you, nothing would stop you from learning again. Lying is different."
Idunn stopped and sighed. "I will allow you one last lie, though. Your trickery in the Orchard has cost you another payment-"
Loki opened his mouth and began to protest, when she cut him off.
"Yes. You lied to me. And so you must lie to them. Tell them you poisoned the mortal, Loki. And I will ensure that will be your last and only lie."
With that she disappeared, leaving Loki confused and hopelessly angry. He saw no exchange, but he could feel the weight lifted, akin to when Thor relieved him of Mjolnir's pressure on his chest on the Rainbow Bridge. It wasn't a nice relief, if he was honest. He felt lighter, but with that lightness came emptiness. What was his life without his lies and tricks to shield himself? His armour felt like it had been ripped off, and for a minute, Loki touched his lips, remembering the needle that had once pierced them, sewing them painfully together. He realised that this was the least painful method, at least, with the same goal. Why did they insist on taking his voice away?
No longer the God of Mischief and Lies, he sunk down in his now empty cell, landing in a heap with a thunk of his body against hard, cold stone. His voice echoed in the empty space.
"I feel cold."
That definitely wasn't a lie.
Darcy awoke again to someone sobbing by her bedside. Happy sobbing, she noted, confused. Peeling her eyes open, she found her bedside had an audience including the likes of Jane, Thor, and Sif. Even Frigga was sat beside her, frowning. A heavy stone rested on Darcy's skin, the necklace that Sif had given her felt weighty around her neck. She squirmed under the covers, suddenly cold. She thought of home in her waking moment earlier, wishing she was back. But when she glanced around at her audience, she realised, with a disappointed pang that she was still in Asgard. God, she missed her room.
The tubes and wires that had surrounded her earlier had gone, and she felt a lot freer in her movements. Her first instinct was to sit up and face the crying Jane, who held on to her hand like a vice, squeezing her fingers.
"Ugh." She groaned, her free hand going to her face, where she was sure she looked like death warmed up. She ran a hand through her greasy hair cautiously, feeling conscious of the eyes watching her intently. Jane stopped her sobbing, her smile stretched wide across her narrow face as she kept her tears under control.
She coughed, clearing her throat. "What happened?"
She saw Jane and Thor exchange a confused glance at her lack of seriousness. "We were going to ask you that." Jane piped up. She broke the awkward silence that followed this, giving her friend a tight hug.
"Ugh, Jane, don't hug me. I'm hideous." Darcy pulled a face, but Jane just squeezed her tighter.
"I'm so glad you're awake. I thought…" She looked at her with concern.
"I'd died? Me too. What even…?" Her cheeks blushed bright, burning red as she remembered the last moments before she'd blacked out. Those green eyes. Those lips. That voice. And oddly, that strange, hurt look on his face when she had pulled away from him. "Where's…?" She stopped, silly questions filling her brain. Not here, not in front of Thor and the others. Darcy cleared her throat as if it would clear her mind. Jane didn't even notice the blush.
"Someone poisoned you, Darce. We were back home, dropping my parents off, then Thor and I went to Vanaheimr, and a messenger said you were in Asgard, comatose." Jane poured her a glass of water and handed it to her, watching her gulp it down.
"How long was I out?" She put the glass down on the side, empty.
"About two weeks."
"Two? Wow. I knew I could sleep, but…" She shrugged as her voice became a mumble. "Hibernating."
Jane managed a chuckle, and both were met with blank looks from the Asgardians at her bedside.
"So how am I awake if someone poisoned me? I presume you caught the bastard?" Darcy stretched, feeling her joints click and muscles stretch.
Frigga answered, her tone stiff and concerned. She glanced at the others. "May Lady Darcy and I have a moment, please?"
Thor looked at his mother with concern. "But mother…" He stopped and trailed off at her look, dragging Jane out, followed by a suspicious-looking Sif.
Darcy's eyebrows furrowed in confusion, and suddenly she felt nervous, on edge. "What's going on?"
"Darcy." Frigga took Darcy's hand in hers. Darcy flinched at the strange contact from the Queen, and she wondered why she was even concerned about her. "I know this may be hard to hear, but I have consulted with the aides, and they are convinced you are no longer mortal. You are Aesir, woken by what I can only presume is an Apple we Asgardians are gifted at birth with. The poison in your veins was a human poison, harmless to Aesir."
Darcy froze, her mind flooding with realisation, casting out the worry she had felt earlier. She was one of them now. She didn't know whether she was meant to be angry or sad about this. Her head was full of too many questions. Apples? Aesir? Immortal?
She saw the discomfort in Frigga's face when she squeezed her hand tightly, wordlessly, her long nails making red marks in Frigga's otherwise flawless skin. There was a pause, a deafening silence, as she figured out what her mind wanted to say. Darcy-esque, she dropped Frigga's hand and finally replied the way she always did: with humour. She began to laugh manically.
"Ha. That's hilarious." Darcy couldn't stop herself laughing, even though she knew it wasn't a joke. "Me, Aesir. Ha. Yeah, right."
Frigga looked at her with worry and waited until the shaking of laughter became tears. She curled up, her knees drawn up to her chest under the covers. She held her head in her hands, and hid her face from Frigga. It wasn't everyday Darcy had a mental breakdown in front of interdimensional royalty.
"Do the others know?" She found herself muttering, her voice muffled from beneath her hands.
Frigga shook her head, her graceful blonde curls shaking from side to side. "It is your choice to tell them, Darcy. That is why I asked them to leave. They believe you awoke from the workings of Asgardian skills."
"Can we reverse it?" She asked hopefully, her head perking up as she pulled her blanket around her for comfort, like a small child.
Frigga looked at her, sympathy in her eyes.
"That'll be a no then." She laughed darkly. "This wasn't meant to happen. I came for Jane's wedding, then to go home again. I should've gone with Jane's parents whilst I had the chance. But no, I had to stay didn't I?" She found herself muttering under her breath. Frigga put a comforting hand on hers.
"Who gave me the… Apple-thing?" She asked, screwing up her face, trying to remember what had woken her.
"We are currently searching for the protector and keeper of the Orchard and the Apples within. She has taken… a leave of absence, as you may put it. When she returns, we will know."
A long silence followed this as Darcy nodded, playing with the gem around her neck absentmindedly.
"At least I'm alive, right?" She said with a scoff. "What happens now?"
"You may go home, but your people may realise you do not age or die, so you may call Asgard your home if you so choose to. You are more than welcome here, Darcy." She smiled reassuringly.
Darcy didn't even think before responding. "I want to go home. Don't- don't tell Jane about me, okay? Or the others."
"Darcy-" Frigga warned.
"-I know. I'll… I'll return here when my… my time is up, or whatever."
Frigga nodded. "Your passage will be arranged accordingly."
"Got it." Darcy suddenly felt sick, as a sharp pain in her stomach rose up to her throat. Aesir couldn't be sick could they? As Darcy leant over the side of her bed and lurched forward, she figured that they absolutely could.
A/N: Hope I didn't disappoint. I'll update as soon as I can... I have a vague idea where this is going... I think.. :)
Til next time!