Prologue

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"I solemnly swear that I am up to no good

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"I solemnly swear that I am up to no good." -J.K. Rowling

*

             "For the last time, I don't have any secret information that would be valuable to you," Annaka snaps. Odin frowns. " If you need information on Jotunheim, ask your goddamn son."

                "He is not my true—"

                "I know he's adopted," Annaka interrupts him.

                Odin clenches his jaw. "You ought to learn some manners, especially if you want to live."

                "Death." Annaka grins. "What a mysterious prospect."

                "I am done questioning this one," Odin tells a guard. "Take her to the dungeons." He turns his attention to Annaka before the guards guide her away. "Pray to the gods that I'm merciful."

                Annaka can't restrain a full smile. "I only have one god—his name is Death, and we're best friends."

*

                "What are you in for?" A voice from behind Annaka asks. She turns her head enough to see the figure out of her peripheral vision.

                "War prisoner," she states. "What about you?"

                "I blew up my brother's bedroom."

                Annaka turns around completely and recognizes the man behind the glass wall. He's sitting cross-legged, knees against the glass. "Loki Laufeyson."

                "Hello," he responds. "What shall I call you?"

                "Annaka."

                "Lovely name." Loki gives her a lazy smile. "War prisoner? Did Odin truly invade Jotunheim?"

                "He did," she replies, mimicking his sitting posture. "I lived. Unlike most of them."

                Loki frowns. "You're a frost giant?" Annaka nods. "Me too."

                "I know."

                "Did he kill Laufey?"

                "Laufey died in battle years ago," Annaka informs him. "But he killed the one who replaced him."

                "He was my father, Laufey."

                "Obviously."

                Loki grins again. "Women frost giants are few these days."

                "You don't have to tell me that." After Loki doesn't answer, she asks, "How long have you been here?"

                "Only a few hours. I'll be released at the end of the night after I promise to never do it again." His tone suggests this kind of punishment is a regularity for him on Asgard. "What about you?"

                "I don't know," Annaka admits. "I think Odin will have me executed."

                Loki's eyes, which had fluttered shut at some point in the conversation, snap open. "I won't let him."

                Annaka narrows her eyes. "Why?"

                "To allow that to happen to my own kind would almost be familicide."

                "We're not related."

                "I won't let him kill you." Loki stands. "I'll argue for a life sentence."

                Annaka smirks. "Good luck. I'm on his bad side."

                "As am I."

*

                "There's no need to put more blood on your hands," Loki reasons—well, attempts to—with Odin. "Just let her go."

                "And let her make more of her kind?" Loki winces. "No. I won't allow it. She'll start a revolution with the remaining frost giants and attack Asgard."

                "I doubt it," Loki says. "Mother, reason with your husband."

                Frigga only purses her lips.

                Odin lifts a hand. Loki can tell he's been thinking. "I'll make you a deal, Loki."

                "Go on."

                "The girl may live," he says. "But she has to remain here."

                "In the dungeons? That's called a life sentence, Odin." Loki smiles mischievously.

                "I am giving her a chance just like the one I gave you," he snaps. "She can live here in the castle amongst us, but if she puts one toe out of line, it's back to the dungeons and possibly her death sentence."

                "But if she behaves, she lives?" Odin nods. "I'll let her out myself."

                "Loki," Odin calls when he's almost out the door. "If in order to live she needs to be civil, I suggest you stay away from her."

*

                "You can't be serious." Annaka crosses her arms. "That's insane."

                "Not once I win over their realm and rule them all," Loki adds. "It will work. The Chitauri have waited a long time for this, as have I." 

                "You'll be imprisoned for life," Annaka says, "or worse. Odin will have your head if you do this—why can't you just stop?"

                Loki grips her hands. "It's my only chance to rule on a throne. The one that belonged to me was ripped away. You know that."

                "Yes, but—"

                "Come with me. Rule with me."

                Annaka frowns. "You know I won't. Not on a throne that's not deservedly mine." Annaka looks at her reflection in Loki's silver and green armor. She's different than she was all those years ago as a new prisoner. She's grown in mind, body, and love for Asgard and Loki.

                "I knew you would say that," Loki admits. "I'll come back for you. Maybe then, you'll have changed your mind."

                "Don't get yourself killed," she adds before he leaves. "I'd rather have you alive but imprisoned than dead." Loki doesn't respond, just kisses her softly.

                After he's gone and about to take the portal to Earth, he stops. Looking down at his armor, he frowns and changes the silver to gold. He wants to remember her eyes.

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