A woman. There was a woman wearing a blue cloak, very much like your own. She was straddling Loki's lap, wrapped in his arms, sharing a passionate kiss with the enthroned prince. You hadn't seen her face. You hadn't needed to.
You leaned against the wall, shock, and sorrow, and dismay clamoring in your brain. You had known you couldn't have him, of course you had known. But you had thought that his rejection would come gently, politely. He would tell you he was sorry, but he just couldn't return your feelings. That it would never work out. You were two different species, who lived on different time scales. No one's fault.
Not this...brutal confirmation that, not only was there never hope to begin with, but that you simply didn't even know the man. You had no idea there was someone in his life. He had never mentioned, never even hinted at the possibility.
Well, it was none of your business, was it?
You wandered the halls, aimless. Now that the shock was fading, the hurt was setting in. How could you have been that foolish? You hadn't even been worthy of a decent human man, how could you have, for even a minute, thought you could mean anything to a god-prince?
And what had he been playing at all this time? Being so caring, so earnest, calling you all those pet names. He did call servants 'dear' sometimes, but you had recently been upgraded to 'darling'. What was that about, if he'd already had someone to squeeze?
You found yourself in a secluded alcove, empty of the usual palace bustle, and broke down into tears. This was so stupid. You were an adult, you shouldn't be sobbing over a man like a child. You'd told yourself when you left Todd, that you would never cry over a man again.
But you'd known that was a lie even then.
You lost time there, just venting your pain. You still had his handkerchief, and you used it viciously, to remove the messy evidence of that pain, trying to restore a mask of composure.
Okay, okay. You were calm now. You were calm. Deep breaths.
Thor and Heimdall rushed past; huge thudding presences that startled you, destroying that fragile composure.
Heimdall skidded to a halt, his head snapping in your direction. He grabbed Thor and hauled him back, pointing you out.
“W-what's going on?” You asked quietly.
“Is she her?” Thor muttered.
“Yes.” Heimdall answered.
Thor strode up to you purposefully, and in your fragile state, you cowered back from him. He was so big, how had you not noticed? Taut with urgency, he placed one huge hand on either of your shoulders, and leaned down to look you in the eye.
“Are you all right? I see you have left your chair behind, but your eyes are very red.”
“I just got a shock, that's all.” You said in a hushed voice. “I'll be fine with a little bit of time.”
“Have you seen Loki?”
You hung your head. “Yeah. But we shouldn't interrupt him right now. He's...with someone. A lady.”
His fingers tightened around your shoulders. “You saw her, and you just left him there?”
“W-well I wasn't gonna join in!”
Heimdall tapped his bicep. “She does not know.”
Thor released you. “Loki has no lady. That creature has been spreading illness and mayhem throughout my kingdom. We think she's an angry huldra. A creature that can mesmerize and drain the life from people.”
“The construction workers!” You gasped.
“Yes. You saw him in the throne room?”
“Yeah. They were...pretty involved.”
“We are going.” He scooped you up. “You are going to stay where I can see you.”
The three of you raced back to the throne room, throwing the doors open for a violent interruption of the illicit liaison.
Loki slumped in his throne, still and pallid, his hands dangling at his sides. You threw yourself from Thors' grasp, as the assailant turned to face your trio.
It was you.
Your face, your hair, your clothes, your cloak. But her eyes were aglow with power, and a cow's tail swished back and forth under the blue cloak.
Your shock was broken at the sound of Thor's bellow, replaced by fury. How dare she? How dare this creature hurt all those people, and steal your face to hurt your prince?
You pointed to the opposite end of the throne room, the rage within you flinging power in a net to envelop her. The very next moment, she was across the room, swaying in dizziness from the sudden teleportation.
You staggered. You had never teleported anything that big, nor anything alive before. Heimdall drew his sword and charged the disoriented creature, while Thor rushed to his enthroned brother, with you in tow.
Loki didn't move, not when his brother shouted at him, not when he shook him. He was cold when you placed your hand to his cheek.
“He's not dead.” You said, as much to reassure yourself as Thor. “I'd feel it. I know I would. My hand. Our hands.”
The mark was still there.
You had an idea.
“If she could take it away, I can give it back.” You whispered, climbing into his lap. The creature went down with a wound to her stomach, Heimdall binding her hands as she laughed on the floor, shedding no blood.
You took Loki's cold hand, lacing your fingers with his, squeezing your palms together to activate the mark. As magic buzzed through you, you carefully pressed your lips to his, concentrating on pushing power into him. You felt it feed into him, a trickle at first, then he began drawing it into himself, a draining pull that you couldn't stop.
Just as darkness began to fuzz the edges of your vision, his eyes flew open and stared into your own. Weakly, you drew away, smiling, ready to greet him back to the world.
You had done it. You had saved him. You could hardly breathe.
He flung you violently off of him and, if Thor had not been there to catch you, you would have smashed into the floor again. Loki came down on top of you with impossible speed, holding a knife to your throat.
“Where is she?” He snarled into your face. “Bitch! Did you kill her?”
“Loki, wait-” Thor began.
“This isn't her, Thor!” Loki cut him off. “Do not let her fool you. This is some foul spirit who has stolen her face!”
“Loki.” The enraged prince followed his brother's gaze across the throne room, to where Heimdall stood guarding the bound creature. Her illusion was failing, mixing your features with those of others, and those of a cow. She let out a grating laugh.
“I knew I should have killed her first. I had the chance. But she committed no crime against me. A shame you did not murder her then and there. I would find much satisfaction, were she to be dead by your hands, and only then you behold me and realize. The pain it would cause you. The anguish would nearly match my own.”
“You...you're Huldrafolk, aren't you?” Loki breathed in disbelief.
“And you destroyed my home.” She spat. “I curse you, and everyone who did your bidding!”
“The stone in the road. It all makes sense now.”
“What are you talking about?” Thor wondered.
“Road crew quarter 73. There was a boulder in the way of their construction, so I bid them move it out of the way, but they broke it in the moving.”
“The humans have greater sense!” The huldra exclaimed. “They leave us be. But I remember Asgardian arrogance. I thought you all left long ago. Curse your return, for the lives of your men remain in me. Your life remains in me, and when you burn through the meager power she has granted you, you will waste away alongside her. Though I may die from lack of home, I take all your lives with me! I have my revenge.”
Loki stood, stalking toward the prone huldra, menace in his steps. Her laugh choked off as he grabbed her by the throat and hauled her roughly upright.
“You have something of mine.” He hissed. Then he forced his mouth over hers, and began to draw from her what she had taken from him.
The huldra struggled, eyes wide, feet kicking, but could not break away. The sight turned your stomach, the violence against this bound enemy, who still wore parts of your face.
Thor cursed quietly; even Heimdall seemed effected. Loki dropped the gasping huldra to the floor, like a discarded water bottle. He turned back to you, glowing with vitality, and you tried to squirm away as he approached, trembling with terror and disgust, arousal and shame.
“And I,” He knelt beside you and took you from Thor's arms, into his own. “I have something of yours.”
You were too weak to protest his capture of your mouth, too weak to kick your feet in mirror of the huldra's struggle. He breathed your life back into you, flooding you with power, as gentle with you as he had been cruel to her.
The second you had the strength to do so, you shoved him away from you, breaking the perverse kiss, and rushing to the prone huldra's side.
“____, what-” He spluttered.
“You live in a rock, right? And we broke it, and you'll die without it?” You asked her. She nodded weakly. “And you only did all this because we've effectively murdered you?” Another nod. “What if we could fix your rock?”
She cracked a broken smile. “You cannot. That's impossible.”
“You're like, thousands of years old, right? Have you ever heard of concrete?”
She shook her head. Behind you, Loki and Thor broke into a heated, whispered discussion in Asgardian.
“We can fix your rock. We can get all the pieces, and cement them back together. Then you won't have to do all this.”
“You are a strange human. Do you really think you can do this?” She whispered.
“It seems to me like we're the ones who owe you.” You said.
“I remind you that she killed a man.” Loki snapped. “She tried to kill more. She tried to kill me.”
“And look at her now.” You shot back. “Yeah, maybe she should have come and told us we'd done something wrong, but she probably thought she couldn't. She didn't know we could fix it. Sounds like you guys have a bad reputation from the last time you were here, and from what you just did, I think I can see why!”
“What I did-” Thor lay his hand on his brother's arm to cut him off. “Very well. We shall repair her stone. You have saved my life, and I owe you a boon for it. If you wish to use it to save hers, so be it.”
“Thank you, your Highness.” You said, and Loki's brows knitted in confusion at your tone. “Huldra, is it possible to give the workers their lives back, so they can fix your home? I'm sure if they had known you were in there, they wouldn't have messed with it.”
“Yes, I've kept them.” The Huldra agreed.
“Even the dead man? You can give him back his life?”
“I kept it.” She confirmed.
“Then let's do this!”
The next few hours were a march of small miracles. The Huldra returned every bit of life she had taken, reuniting families. The situation was explained, and in gratitude, and no small bit of consternation, they went straight to work, gathering up all the chunks of broken stone, discarded at the side of the road, and dipping into the concrete supply.
At your suggestion, they began reassembling them in the area that would become the front courtyard of the courthouse they planned on building at Buridag.
“It's about justice, right?” You'd asked. “Instead of only punishment? Justice as a benefit, instead of just a reaction?”
Loki seemed incredibly proud, and extremely keyed up, and just a touched miffed at your cold shoulder towards him. You really hadn't liked what you'd seen today, and when you got back to the palace complex, you'd gone straight to your room. You declined dinner, declined company, and went right to bed, cuddling your stuffed Bulbasaur for comfort.