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Masters of Thunder

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Centuries ago, Darcy had discovered Asgard with bright eyes and bated breath. She had loved the place and marveled at Queen Frida’s grace. Still innocent and candid, her head had been filled with stories about Prince Thor and the rumors of their eventual betrothal. She had left disillusioned.

Under the golden roof of the palace, she remembered those moments. She wasn’t prepubescent anymore, she was a Princess of Olympus, and yet it was easy to be impressed by one of the most prosperous civilization of the galaxy. A civilization that she’ll someday be a part of, as per the contract recently concluded between Zeus and Odin.  

“Lord Uranus, Ladies Theia and Hebe, it’s our greatest pleasure to welcome you to Asgard,” the Allfather announced with open arms.

Darcy bowed slowly, looking through her eyelashes as her protector and ancestor embraced their host. Uranus-Erik was a scholar, not a warrior, and Odin knew it well enough to control his strength. By her side, her chaperone and best friend, Theia-Jane, greeted the Queen Frida by holding hands.

Darcy raised her eyes to Prince Thor’s face and studied his expression. She remembered a handsome man who had taken her breath away, a cocky smile that had quickened her heartbeat, and a dismissive glance that had tightened her throat. Thor was even more gorgeous than she remembered, if that was possible, but he seemed… calmer, more mature, less arrogant… His smile was softer and welcoming. Her shoulders relaxed as her heart raced again.

“My lady,” he said, bowing, “it’s a pleasure to see you after all these years. You have grown well.”

Darcy genuflected slightly. “The pleasure is mine, my lord. Time has favored you as well.”

“Hebe,” Erik called, holding a hand to her. She took it to hide the slight tremor of his fingers. Her great grandfather was weakened. He should be sitting, but appearances were a priority in politics.

She curtsied for the royal couple and smiled politely at their compliments, returning them eagerly to Lady Frigga.

They were finally invited to take place for the banquet in their honor. Thor led her to her seat, before taking place opposite her. Jane was on her right, encouraging. Unfortunately, they had the displeasure to see Loki at Thor’s side. Darcy ignored his malicious smirk and favored the Warriors Three and Lady Sif with polite nods and smiles.

As they ate, Darcy managed to strike up a conversation with her intended: “I heard you traveled a lot these last years, my lord. How is Midgard?”

“Midgard’s doing well, my lady, and I was pleasantly surprised by their development.”

“Do they still follow the old religions?”

“No, not anymore. They’re no more than myths.”

“I’m glad to hear it. Their stories were a little strange I admit, with all those incestuous relationships going on. Mother’s still pretty upset they pretended she’s Dad’s sister. It’s… disturbing.”

“But they got most of it right,” Loki interrupted – as he always did. “How are your numerous half-siblings?”

“Loki,” Thor sighed, but – as usual – he didn’t say more.

Darcy gritted her teeth and reminded herself she wasn’t going to let him get at her. She wasn’t a child anymore. “Pretty well, thank you. How is your crotch?” She sipped her wine delicately, being as nonchalant as possible. She could feel Jane holding back her smirk and, on her left, Lady Sif wasn’t even bothering to.

Apparently, the time she had shot lightning at Loki after he had upset her was as popular here as on Olympus. Good to know. Her father was always delighted by this particular story. When she had been afraid to leave home for her first trip on Asgard, he had given her one of his personal weapons. It was a much smaller, much lighter version of his feared and famous Thunderbolts, but he had been truly pleased to hear she had made “good use” of it. Mother hadn’t been so approving until Darcy told her how mean Loki had been, then she had given her candy.

“Does your father finally allow you access to anything more than a child’s toy?” Loki shot back, apparently unperturbed.

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Darcy turned her attention back to Thor. “Could you tell us more about your travels?”

As Thor obliged her, Darcy relaxed a little, glad he was answering positively. He had been so distant and patronizing before, preferring to spend time with his friends to train rather than take the time to get to know his intended. She had felt insignificant with her little crush, and Loki had stepped right into that.

Considering how much more serene and self-confident in a quieter, more subdued way, he seemed, she guessed she wasn’t the only one having grown up. She was glad for it. She had feared she would grow to hate him, in this strange “love you / hate you” way that her mother had for her cheating husband. That had never seemed really healthy to her but, when she had pondered over her own feelings, she had seen the seeds of such sentiments. They only led to bitterness, and she despised that taste. She was a sweet kind of girl all the way… And Thor seemed sweeter than ever. Even his haircut with long hair and a little ponytail was attractive.

As always, Darcy could count on Jane to ask the smart questions at the right times, carrying on the conversation. Unfortunately, she had to stop herself from fidgeting when the conversation became a little too smart for her. She knew that Loki knew. He was staring at her like a bloody hound, and she could see him opening his mouth for a scathing comment…

“Hebe.”

She quickly looked up to see Thor’s calm smile. “Darcy,” she said quickly, “please, just call me Darcy.” Olympians had two first names, one for public use and one for friends. To be offered the use of the second one was a show of trust but, really, it was implicit that Thor, as her future husband, could use it without asking. He had never hesitated before.

“Darcy,” he corrected himself, “is something bothering you?”

“I–” She played with her fork before deciding to be honest. “What’s… the Tesseract?”

“A fair question, my lady,” he simply said before explaining, helped by Jane.

Considering that her father had an Infinity Stone well hidden on Olympus, Darcy knew enough about them to be able to participate to the conversation and felt more at ease.

When the time came for dancing, she eagerly waited for Thor to ask her, but he was engrossed in conversation, Loki drawing his attention as much as he could. Darcy leaned towards her best friend and murmured: “Am I supposed to wait forever?”

Jane, her dear chaperone, hesitated before answering: “Well, technically speaking, you’re not betrothed yet. It wouldn’t be insulting if you danced with someone else…”

Darcy didn’t need to hear more. She put down her glass and stood up, drawing everyone’s attention around. She turned to Fandral, who was sitting just after Hogun on Sif’s other side. “My lord, would you help me remember your traditional dances’ steps? I’m afraid it has been a long time since I practiced…”

“Of course my lady, it would be my honor.” Fandral immediately stood up, always ready to dance, just as she remembered. He offered her his hand and led her to the dancefloor. With a hand on her waist, he smiled impishly and remarked: “Now, look at that, the Allfather is glaring at his sons. You have managed to get them in trouble.” Darcy raised her chin, ready to defend herself, but Fandral shook his head. “It’s not a slight, my lady. You did well, taking the initiative.”

Darcy relaxed and smiled back. “How are you and your friends, my lord? Lady Sif seemed happier, or is it my imagination?” Considering Sif had glared at her during their first meeting, the change was significant.

“Ah, that would have something to do with her engagement to Hogun.”

“Truly? That is marvelous news!” Darcy beamed. She might be a bit selfish, since she was aware that Sif had been Thor’s lover (at least the first time they had met). She looked back at the table and noticed how close they were to each other. “They make a beautiful couple, I can see it now.”

“Indeed. A couple of grim warriors, really fitting,” Fandral teased.

She poked him but her lopsided smile mirrored his. “When is their wedding due?”

“Undefined. They insisted to wait after Thor’s. And, talking about him, look who’s coming…”

The music was changing to a tune more intimate as Thor stepped forward and tilted his head at her: “My lady, would you do me the honor of this dance?”

“Of course. Thank you so much, Lord Fandral.” The warrior winked at her behind Thor’s back and gracefully stepped away.

Thor’s large hands cupped hers. “Twice now I have been remiss in my duties to you, my lady. I apologize.”

“If duty is the only thing that motivates your actions, our betrothal will be a sad one, my lord.”

He smiled softly. “I met a child, some years ago, and I’ve been told I hurt her. But she grew as a lovely young woman, and I’d like to have the opportunity to know her before I could blunder once again.”

Darcy slowly relaxed, letting the tension she had felt as he began to speak fade away. She smiled and nodded. “I’d like that too.” His arm wrapped more tightly around her waist as the music’s tempo increased, and she was pleasantly surprised when he lifted her effortlessly for a twirl. He was an excellent dancer, and their first dance together was followed by four more, until she couldn’t bear her shoes anymore.

He brought her to a balcony for a breath of fresh air. Here, they talked about each other pasts and passions. Darcy sat on the railing, swinging her legs, and felt free to tease Thor about being banished to Midgard.

He smiled and took her hand in his when she tried to play with his hair, kissing it softly. “We both matured greatly,” he noted. “I understand better today why the Allfather insists our people need to be united by a wedding, and I believe you do too.”

She nodded slowly, solemn. “Father and Elder Uranus say that Thanos is a serious threat that too many people underestimate. But our planets have been allied for two millenniums now, since the Titans War ended on Olympus, I’m not sure why a wedding is so necessary.”

“Thanos is persuasive. He corrupted my brother once. No more than the most solid links will guarantee a trustful and sincere alliance. Of all your siblings, you’re rumored to be Zeus’ favorite.”

Darcy shrugged and looked down at her hands. That was what people said, but she wasn’t really convinced by it. Her father seemed more attentive to her half-siblings most of the time – he certainly loved Athena dearly – but, of course, a bastard couldn’t be married to the future King of Asgard.

“He gave you one of his personal weapons, didn’t he? I heard Ares was quite jealous.”

She grinned a little. “He was green with envy,” she admitted, “but father said it was only fitting that the intended of Mjölnir’s bearer would have his own thunderbolt at disposal.”

“He wouldn’t have lend it to anyone he didn’t deem worthy.”

“I suppose… He did train me personally for five days before letting me go. It’s the longest time I have ever spent in his presence.” He had been protective, attentive and sweet, a rare treat. “… but shooting Loki in the crotch was entirely my idea.”

Thor laughed heartily and squeezed her hand. “I remember. My brother was quite tight-lipped about what he said to upset you so. Even mother refused to heal him since he so clearly offended you. She likes you.”

Darcy smiled. “I’m glad. I like her too. She was really sweet to me.”

He nodded. “She reproached me my behavior then, and she was right. I didn’t give you a chance. I was wrong. Our betrothal is set to take place in three days. Will you allow me to court you until then?”

“I– Of course.” She stammered, caught unaware.

Thor smiled and kissed her hand. As he led her inside for more wine, Darcy smoothed out her long sky blue dress. He leaned down to kiss her temple and whispered: “You’re gorgeous.” She walked inside with a pleased smile and a blush.

When they took back their seats, Odin, Frigga and Uranus’ stares were on them, approving. Darcy dared to smile at the queen and was pleased to receive one wide smile in return.

Maybe this betrothal will be easier than she thought.

 

*

 

“She’s the sweetest thing ever, Jane!”

“How are you going to call her?”

“Artemis!”

“No, Darcy. You can’t call your cat by your sister’s name.”

“You’re right, Artemis is a snob. I don’t want this little ball of fluff to snob me. Mnemosyne?”

“How does naming her after my sister is better?”

“It’s so hard naming a cat! Why can’t I call her Most-Beautiful-Creature-I’ve-Ever-Seen?”

“By all means, be my guest, if you want so much to embarrass yourself in front of your intended.”

“Alright, alright… Ambrosia?”

“You want to call her after some food?”

“Well, it’s the best food in the universe…”

“…It could be worse, I guess.”

“It’s decided! You, my lovely little kitten, are now named Ambrosia!” Darcy beamed and lifted her new pet above her head, charmed by her soft grey fur, her blue eyes and her cuteness. “Asgardians have the best courtship gifts ever,” she remarked, cradling the kitten carefully.

“I take it you like my present?”

Jane and Darcy stood up at the sight of Thor walking into the palace’s garden. He was in casual clothes, a cloak draped around his shoulders and a fond smile on his lips.

“I love it! She’s cute and affectionate.”

“Mother helped me chose. One of her favorite cat gave birth recently. This kitten is part of her litter.”

“The Queen’s cats are rumored to be huge,” Jane remarked.

“They’re. They reach Mother’s hip.”

Darcy’s eyes widened. She looked at her pet with a new appreciation. Ambroisa was already as big as an adult common cat, but Darcy hadn't realize how significant it was. “Don’t grow too quickly Ambrosia, alright? I like being able to lift you.” She dropped a kiss on the kitten’s head and looked up at Thor. “It’s a marvelous gift. Thank you and please thank your mother for me too.”

He nodded. “If your afternoon is free, I’d like to show you our planetarium. You’ll find some improvements since your last visit, Lady Theia.”

Jane perked up, and Darcy chuckled. “Ooh, you said one of the big words! It’s over, I lost her. Lead the way, my lord.”

Thor offered his arms to both of them, and they conversed contently until they reached the Astronomy Center. Jane then walked ahead of them, fascinated by a million of details which Darcy understood nothing about.

“I know what you did,” Darcy said with a lopsided smile. They weren’t alone and yet her chaperone was away from hearing range. There was also the fact that Jane was her best friend, and Thor just scored high points by thinking about her happiness.

Thor didn’t bother to deny anything. “Lady Theia is easy to please. Her passions are well known. You’re more mysterious.”

“Am I?” Darcy raised an eyebrow, surprised.

“You’re not a scientist and yet you often go with Lady Theia and Lord Uranus on their trips. You’re not a fighter and yet your father gave you a prized weapon. You’re not a diplomat and yet your counsel is said to be favored by both of your parents, and your presence at every reception is expected. You’re not an artist either, but some said you inspired many of them…”

At that, Darcy straightened up. “If you’re referring to rumors concerning my virtue–”

“I don’t.” Thor stopped their stroll and faced her, pushing away some strands of hair from her shoulder to better look at her eyes. “I don’t think much of those rumors and, even if I did, I would be a hypocrite by reproaching you paramours.”

“Good,” Darcy managed to answer before clearing her throat. “That being said… I don’t– I never had any… paramours. Well, nothing serious,” she explained nervously, looking down at Ambrosia and petting her to calm herself. The kitten was playing with the folds of her shining blue dress.

With a knuckle under her chin, Thor raised her head. She stared at his lopsided smile.

“I’m afraid it’s very possessive of me to say, but I’m glad to hear it.” He leaned forward to kiss her forehead. “I have the urge to teach you as much as you’d let me in the matters of the heart,” he admitted, taking a step back but raising her free hand to kiss it lightly.

Trying to contain her blush was impossible. Darcy quickly changed the subject. “Concerning your prior subject, I’d say that I’m multifaceted and polyvalent. I never excelled in anything, but I never liked to be labeled ever. I like to learn about new things, and I like to be useful. So, when someone says I can help, I go and I do my best.”

He nodded and they resumed their stroll. “It’s a mindset I can appreciate. Your willingness to learn about Asgard hasn’t gone unnoticed.”

“Oh, did I bother anyone? Jane says I’m always asking questions, but she can talk, she isn’t much better when she starts.”

“You didn’t. Fandral told me you listened to Volstagg patiently, and it’s a feat most impressive.”

“Oh, I love food. Well, I admit the part about mead got a little bit boring after a few minutes – I mean how many types have you here, really? – but I succeeded in distracting him with his kids after that. It’s nothing I haven’t had to deal with on Olympus,” she explained.

“He speaks very highly of you, now. This means that most of Asgard will hear about you soon.”

“Is he a gossip?”

“The worst, but don’t let him hear that.” He winked, and Darcy chuckled.

 

*

The day after, Darcy was walking around the palace grounds and wandered near the Bifrost Gate. “Hello?” she called under the dome.

“Good morning Lady Darcy,” Heimdall greeted her, startling her as he appeared behind her.

“Heimdall! Hi! Just who I was looking for! How are you?”

“I am well,” the all-seeing man answered simply.

Darcy restrained herself from rolling her eyes. Trying to strike up a conversation with this guy was a pain. “Well, I don’t want to bother you, I was just curious. I heard the Bifrost had been broken and finally recently rebuilt?”

Heimdall nodded slowly. “You’re correct.”

“It has been a great cause of chaos among the realms,” she noted walking to the observatory’s door. Although her people mostly traveled by spaceships, she had used the Bifrost once, when Thor had reluctantly bring her along for a peaceful trip with his friends, at his mother’s demand.

“Indeed,” Heimdall replied. She couldn’t tell if he was just laconic or unwilling to share any more information with her.

She sighed and decided to put her cards on the table. “My father asked me to ensure it runs smoothly.”

“It does. The Tesseract fixed any damage. It is now just as strong as it was before.”

Darcy nodded and hummed, looking at the long stone bridge used to support the first part of the energy beam produced in the observatory when it was activated.

The wind from the sea blew softly, playing with her hair and her white dress as she studied everything and compared it to her memories. It’s not that her father or herself didn’t trust the Asgardians on this matter, but it was an important tool for peace.

“Is everything to your satisfaction, my lady?”

She startled and spun around to see Thor stepping beside Heimdall. She had discovered since yesterday that the fair-headed warrior could be discreet when he wanted to. With the soft soles he favored in the palace, it wasn’t the first time she hadn’t heard him approach.

Convinced that she might have displeased her hosts by distrusting them, she cleared her throat as a light blush colored her cheeks. “Yes, yes, absolutely. I’m sorry to have bothered you, Heimdall.”

“Not at all, my lady,” the keeper of the Bifrost bowed slightly as she walked past. “I wish you a good engagement.”

“Thank you!”

Thor walked beside her but stopped when they left the observatory. They were on a parapet overlooking the sea, the wind blowing their hair around their faces.

She chose to speak first: “I’m sorry Thor, I know it wasn’t very respectful but…”

He stopped her with a hand on her cheek, his thumbs stroking her cheekbone lightly. “All is right, my lady. We know you didn’t mean anything by it. That being said, you could have simply asked for a journey by the Bifrost,” he pointed out with a gentle smile.

She blushed and fidgeted. “Yes, I could have done that but… hum… I was bored,” she blurted out, “and it sounded fun to investigate on my own.”

Thor laughed and put an arm around her bare shoulders to protect her from the wind. “I take it our training wasn’t to your satisfaction?”

“It was fun watching Lady Sif and you pummel each other for the first ten minutes, but then it became a little bit repetitive…” His chuckles gave her enough bravado to add: “If you had been bare-chested, maybe…”

He broke into another peal of laughter, his hand gently squeezing her shoulder. “I’ll take it into consideration,” he promised. “Where is Lady Theia?”

“In the planetarium. Where else? I told you what a wonderfully bad idea that was.”

“In that case… Would you care about a walk on the beach, my lady?”

She smiled appreciatively and nodded. “Would you tell me more about Midgard? And that Man of Iron who can fly?”

His hand went to her waist and his cloak on her shoulders as they took a walk. His scent surrounded her while his warm voice depicted his adventures in another world. As they watched the sea and compared tales of different cultures, his hand fell from her waist and intertwined with her fingers. The touch warmed her in more ways than one.

 

*

 

Darcy breathed in the night air, appreciating the smells coming from the flowerbeds and the light breeze brushing her hair. She shifted a little closer to Thor, her head on his shoulder and her bare toes under his ankles. He looked down at her and smiled softly.

“Are you cold?”

“A little.”

He unknotted his cloak, put an arm around her shoulders to let her nestle against his side and draped the cloak around them both.

“It’s so quiet here, and the view is beautiful. I understand why you like it so much,” she said dreamily.

“I remember Olympus being a beautiful city too.”

“Yes but, most often, there are clouds between the palace and the city, since it’s so high on the mountain, and there aren’t so many lights… That’s what I noticed my first night here, the lights…”

“It’s not good for stars watching,” Jane reminded her. Her chaperone was sitting near the guardrail of the balcony, but she was looking at the sky, not the city.

“Most lights turn off at midnight,” Thor offered kindly. “You’ll have a great view of the stars from here, better than from your rooms.”

“Oh, can we stay Jane?”

“I suppose so. We don’t need to wake up early tomorrow.”

Darcy raised her fist in victory and cuddled closer to Thor, looking up to meet his gaze as he stroked her hair with a soft smile. He was warm and reassuring. Resting by his side wasn’t a hardship, but someone woke up from her nap and suddenly jumped on Darcy’s stomach. “Outch! Ambrosia!”

Her kitten immediately sauntered away, grabbing Darcy’s silk scarf in her mouth and running away with it. “Oh no, not the scarf, you little devil! Thor, you didn’t warn me this cat’s breed was so mischievous!”

Her intended laughed good-naturally as she ran inside after her cat. She had to be cunning to take back her scarf without it being torn away, and then they were playing a game of tug-of-war with a spare bit of clothing.

Thor walked in. “Is that one of my shirt?”

Darcy grinned innocently at him. “You don’t mind right? It was already damaged anyway.”

He laughed, shook his head and came closer. Immediately, Ambrosia dropped the shirt to try and climb what she probably took for a very good looking tree. Thor poked her head and chastised her for the use of claws. The kitten immediately retracted them and meowed to be picked up. Thor indulged her. Darcy crossed her arms. “I don’t know if I should be jealous of her or you…” she admitted very seriously.

Thor grinned and held his arm out. When she snuggled against him, he murmured “here, take her” and, as she did, he adjusted her in his arms. He sat down on the sofa behind him, and she sat on his lap with the kitten safe against her. His arms went around her waist, his head rested against her ear, and he dropped a light kiss on her neck. She shivered pleasantly, warmed by his touch and Ambrosia’s content purr. He kept on nuzzling and kissing her neck, softly, between small pauses, until Jane called for them.

As she lied beside Thor to watch the stars, Darcy had never felt so content in her own skin. She fell asleep on her intended’s shoulder and barely woke up when he carried her back to her rooms.

 

*

 

The evening of their engagement ceremony, Darcy was held back when Ambrosia decided to sneak out of her rooms. With a sigh, she hastened after her despite her tight long white and gold dress. Once she had caught her, she turned around and immediately froze when she found herself face to face to Loki. She knew he was still serving his sentence after what he did on Midgard. He was only allowed to leave his cell prison for the official parties and for that he was supposed to be guarded. She couldn’t see anyone else around, which was worrying. She petted her kitten to calm herself. Probably reacting to her mistress’ unease, Ambrosia bared her fangs.

“You’re going to be late,” Loki stated, stone-faced.

“Indeed, so, excuse me…” She walked past him. He appeared several feet in front of her. An illusion. She gritted her teeth and continued to ignore him as she put Ambrosia back in her rooms and closed the door.

He didn’t need her input to talk. “The chubby little girl grew up well. You’re still lacking any sort of grace inherent to the first Olympians though, no wonder that Thor is more interested in your great-aunt.”

“What?” Darcy spluttered, despite her decision to ignore him and hurry.

“She’s way older than him, of course, there’s that,” Loki continued, ignoring her, “but then, she doesn’t look like it, right? Thanks to you, I believe. Your well-kept secret, the mysterious Fountain of Youth… And she has the benefit of intelligence…” He looked at her up and down with disdain. “And… everything else.”

Her cheeks were burning with embarrassment and rage. She tried to think of a way to get rid of him, but he was worse than a leech.

“Brother.” Darcy startled and Loki gritted his teeth as Thor appeared. “Leave, and do not try to sow chaos once again for this evening. Mother pleaded for you to be here. She will be disappointed.”

Loki looked like he had swallowed a lemon before he disappeared. Thor stopped in front of Darcy, studying her carefully. His stance was rigid, he looked guarded. “My brother’s partly right.”

“About what, my lord?”

“My feelings for Lady Theia.” Darcy felt her heart broke and promptly looked down at her hands to hide the coming tears. “There was a time when he knew everything about me. Unfortunately, that time has passed,” Thor continued, relentless. He took Darcy’s hands in his and raised her chin with one finger. Darcy kept looking down in hope to stop her tears. “I have always admired Lady Theia for her wisdom and her passion, and I always will. I harbored feelings for her for a long time, but not anymore.” He brushed her cheek and took away a few tears with his thumb. “I’m aware she has no interests in romantic and carnal relationships, and I have made my peace with it. Since our betrothal has been decided, I have been determined to uphold it at the best of my abilities. I kept my heart open and, now, it’s branded with your name, if you’ll have it.”

Left speechless by Thor’s confession, Darcy gaped at him, eyes wide and shining. “Are you… are you sincere?”

“I am. I have much affection and respect for you, your humor, your willingness and your sharp mind.” He kissed the back of her hand before turning it over to kiss the inside of her wrist. “And I much desire you and your company.”

She shivered as he looked up to her, the intensity of his gaze leaving her dazzled. She closed her eyes to inhale a calming breath. “Then, we should… go and make it official.”

At her approval, Thor stepped closer and leaned his forehead against hers. They breathed the same air in silence for a moment before he kissed her temple, her cheek and her nose. Then his lips brushed hers, soft and tentative. She tilted her head to egg him on. His hands came to her waist as he deepened their first kiss slowly. Darcy had to hang on to him, and she couldn’t stop a small whimper when his lips parted from hers. He nuzzled her nose gently. “Thank you.” She could read a lot in those two words, probably because they meant a lot for Thor too. “We should hasten,” he noted.

“I would love to, but this stupid dress forces me to take only small steps, it’s annoyi–eep!” She held tightly onto Thor’s neck while he adjusted her in his arms for a bridal carry. Although she appreciated her elevated point of view, she laughed and nudged his shoulder. “That was not an invitation to carry me, you show-off!”

The smile he gave her had this little spark of smugness she remembered, mixed to a tenderness that gave her shivers. She snuggled against him, felling lighthearted and warm all over.

Chapter Text

“Yeah, I heard you Cap. Can we come back to the fact that Thor is getting hitched?”

“Clint,” Steve sighed.

“Well, excuse me Steve, but it’s not every day I’m invited to a royal wedding. I’m allowed to hyperventilate about that! Like, a wedding, on its own, is new and terrifying, but a royal one… No, I think I’ll have to decline Thor, I’m bound to fuck it up otherwise.”

Clint couldn’t turn from his pilot seat, but he could feel the stares of his teammates on the back of his head. They were judging him, and that was fucking unfair! Thor came back from Asgard to help them clean up after the SHIELD blow-up and, as an afterthought, mentioned they were invited to his wedding with a Greek princess. What the hell?! Now, if he had said “I need help to fight a Greek princess”, Clint was his man, no questions asked, but to attend a wedding? That was terrifying!

“That is sad news, my friend,” Thor answered. “My fiancée was looking forward to meeting each and every one of you after I told her of our battle together.”

Clint gave a forced laugh. “Yeah, I’m sure I’m not counted in this.”

“On the contrary, she greatly appreciated the tale of Loki falling because of one of your exploding arrows. She would be disappointed by your absence.”

“Disappointing a lady, a princess, and the future wife of a friend at that, is bad form, Clint,” Steve noted. He had that tone, the one he used to pretend he was a model of candor when he was teasing you and mocking you with every inch of his Brooklyn heritage, the bastard.

Clint could hear Sam laugh under his breath. “Wilson can take my place. You said she liked flying people, like Iron Man, right, Thor? He’ll show-off for you.”

“Oh, no, I’m not invited,” Sam quickly said, shaking his hands.

“Of course you are, my friend. We have fought well together these last weeks, I would be honored to have you by my side during these celebrations,” Thor announced while clasping Sam’s shoulder.

Clint snickered at Sam’s alarmed look as he thanked the asgardian. Served him right! “Alright, Cap, we’re here!” The three men stepped forward to look above his shoulders as Clint lowered the quinjet in a meadow. Before they dropped under the tree line, they could see a small farmhouse in the distance. “Are you sure it’s here? It’s the middle of nowhere. Why would a Hydra big shot come here?”

“Trying to lay low?” Sam suggested. “It took us time to pinpoint him. There was no info on him in the previous Hydra bases, as if he went off-grid.”

“It’s possible,” Steve admitted, stone-faced, “Maria said he fled the Triskelion at the start of our offensive. He didn’t fight like the rest of Hydra, but Rumlow’s dangerous. Stay alert.”

“Cap, it’s four against one,” Clint pointed out as he turned off the engine while keeping the quinjet cloaked.

“That we know of.”

 

*

 

Surefooted, Thor walked calmly through the undergrowth. Midgard had so many diverse sceneries. This forest certainly was much different from the New Mexico desert where he had landed a few years ago. Midgard had seemed far from welcoming at the time, especially when those SHIELD agents had gotten involved. Though his opinion of Midgard had been low at first, people like Agent Coulson and Clint Barton had made it… interesting. Steve Rogers, however, had been the one to convince him of the worth of Midgardians. To see him so troubled nowadays was disconcerting.

They were surrounding the house of their target. Clint had climbed a tree a few steps prior, and Thor was walking closer to the front door while staying covered.

As a noise came from the sky, the archer was the first to ask: “Guys, what the hell is that?”

Thor looked up at a small aircraft leaving stealth mode and appearing above the house. He faltered in his steps. “This… is an Olympian ship,” he answered, confounded.

“Olympian… like your fiancée?”

“Yes.”

“Why is it here, Thor?” Steve asked.

That was a damn good question, Thor thought as he squinted with anticipation at the descending ship. “I do not know. Olympians have agreed centuries ago to stay away from Midgard. The agreement is in full force, strengthened by my engagement.”

“Guys,” Sam interrupted, “Rumlow is leaving the house. He’s walking out of the front door, and he doesn’t look surprised at all by the alien spaceship on his porch.”

The aircraft landed, and its engine turned off.

“Do not engage,” Thor ordered (temporary forgetting he was not in charge of this mission until Steve agreed a few seconds later), “I have to assess the situation.”

Their target was waiting as a door opened to the side of the shuttle. When she came out, her long brown hair flying in the air as she jumped in the waiting arms of Brock Rumlow for an enthusiastic hug, Thor’s grip on Mjölnir tightened and his jaw clenched.

“Thor? Do you recognize her?” Steve asked.

“Yes. She… is my fiancée, Princess Hebe.”

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Clint blurted out. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I do not know, but I’ll find out,” Thor growled.

Ignoring Steve’s objection, the Asgardian prince walked to the hugging couple with long strides. The traitor to Steve was the first to catch sight of him, and he immediately shifted to protect Darcy, awakening another wave of anger in Thor (though he couldn’t pinpoint exactly why).

“Go back inside, Dee,” Rumlow said.

Darcy turned to see what had worried her companion, and her light blue eyes widened as Thor stopped a few steps away. “Thor!” Rumlow tried to push her back inside the ship, but she lightly slapped his hand away. “Don’t be silly, Brock, he’s my fiancé.”

“Yeah, and he’s not here alone. Humans are trigger-happy. Stay under cover.”

Thor watched them silently, keeping his emotions bottled inside as he tried to make sense of the situation. Though they were undoubtedly close, their body language didn’t seem to refer to a carnal relationship and he – foolishly perhaps – chose to believe Darcy wouldn’t betray him in that way, not when she had candidly admitted never having any serious paramours. “My lady, you have some explaining to do,” he stated in a strained voice.

Darcy had conceded to her companion by stepping back just inside the shuttle. “Yes, yes, I know, we’re not supposed to be on Midgard, but I swear it’s not…”

Thor shook his head. “You should address why you associate with a criminal wanted by my teammates first.”

“What?” Darcy looked back to Rumlow, frowning at him. “What is this about?”

The soldier simply shrugged. “Yeah, I might have pissed off a people or two.”

“You–? Really, Brock?! Dad is gonna be pissed, again.”

“Do I look like I care? If I have to do his dirty work, I do it my way.”

Before their argument could go on, Thor interrupted with his deduction: “This man is your brother.”

“Oh, yes, of course! Did you think–?” She blinked at him. Though Thor had relaxed a bit, Darcy read him easily and shook her head. “No, no, this is Ares, my older brother. He was sent to Midgard on our father’s orders, Thor. I don’t know what happened, but he’s not dangerous…” Brock snorted. She glared at him and insisted: “Well, he’s not now because he’ll behave.”

Brock shrugged. “If I must. Tell your friends to come out, Thor Odinson, I won’t fight them. My sister’s puppy eyes are a weapon of mass destruction,” he mocked. When she tried to step forward to hit him, he pushed her back and covered her. “And, as I said, I’m wary of a random shot.”

 

Thor gave his teammates the all clear and relayed what he had been told when Steve stepped forward.

“What does that mean?” The leader immediately asked, eyeing the two Olympians distrustfully. “Why did an alien help Hydra?”

Darcy pulled on her brother’s hand before he could say a word. “Is it him?” she whispered so low that only Thor and Steve probably managed to hear her. Brock nodded in answer.

She stepped out of the ship and rose to her full height before nodding to the midgardians. “First, let me do the proper introductions – bear with me, I know it’s boring and long, but if my mother learns I didn’t do this well, I’ll hear about it for years. I’m Hebe, second daughter of Zeus, fiancée to Thor of Asgard and diplomatic representative of the Olympian people. This is my brother, Ares, first son of Zeus or, as you may know him, Brock. It is my understanding that he has wrong you in some way, and it’ll be my duty to see this wrong corrected, however you’ll probably need to know why he was here in the first place.”

Arms crossed in front of him, Steve nodded with a heavy frown. “I would like to hear it."

“Are you familiar with Heracles?”

“He’s a hero in Greek mythology, a demi-god, son of Zeus, who carried out twelve labors.”

“As in most myths, there is a part of truth and a part of fairytales. Heracles is not one person but a project which, by the time the Olympians left Midgard, had seen twelve successful results.”

Steve shifted uneasily and exchanged a glance with Sam. The Falcon was the one to ask: “Are we talking about human experimentations?”

“Yes,” Brock replied brusquely. “There were twelve Heracles. Each one of them received Zeus’ blood and became super-humans. I’m here because you, Cap, are the thirteenth Heracles. Congrats.”

Darcy sighed loudly and glared at her brother for his abrupt announcement. Steve looked like he had been struck by lightning, speechless for a few moments.

“Wow, wow, slow down,” Clint interrupted, raising a hand. “I thought Cap is Cap because of Project Rebirth, which happened like… seventy years ago.”

Thor stared at Darcy as she shifted and pointedly didn’t look at him. “My lady,” he said sternly.

She sighed. “Yes, alright. Dad… King Zeus came on Midgard at the time. He had heard about this war going on…”

“World War two,” Brock offered as he leaned against the ship, arms crossed, apparently relaxed.

“… and he–”

“–had a spat with mum, another one…”

With her hands on her hips, Darcy turned to glower at her brother. He smirked at her. “Shut up, you’re so not helping. I was saying: he thought he could help–”

“– play –”

Darcy’s hand struck out faster than a human eye could see. Lightning came from her wrist, giving a light electric shock to Brock who winced slightly. “I said shut up,” she snapped, clearly at the end of her patience.

“What you’re trying to say,” Steve interrupted, “is that Doctor Erskine was the Greek god of thunder in disguise, and the serum he gave me was his own blood… That’s what you’re saying?”

“Basically… yes.”

Steve gripped his belt tightly. “Alright... I will… handle this later. What does this have to do with him?” He pointed his chin at Brock.

“Zeus left Midgard soon after you became a Heracles to… reduce the risk to be detected,” Darcy explained, glancing briefly at Thor. “Some time later, he learned what happened to you, and he was… pissed. Recently, when he heard that you might be alive, he sent Brock to make sure that you were fine.”

Ares rubbed the place where he had been struck and sighed. “Yeah, I got the thankless job, as usual. Hydra was obviously the biggest threat, so I got in. Keep your enemies closer, and all that jazz. I got out as soon as I was sure you had everything in hands.”

“We worked together for months, why didn’t you ever tell me about them?!” Steve asked aggressively as he took a step forward.

“I had my orders: to keep you alive, that’s all. I wasn’t here to do your job, Cap. Your planet, your problem.”

“You helped Hydra. You worked for them!”

“Well, the part I like about being in charge is letting others do all the work.”

“So what… You just let them killed innocent people while you took a nap?”

Brock laughed harshly. “Don’t be naïve Cap. You want to blame me for not stepping in? That’s fine, go on. But like I said, your planet, your people, your problem. If we were stepping in all the time, you’d still be worshipping those you call aliens as if they were gods. What’s your preference? Want to call me God? It has been a damn long time since I didn’t hear it.” He shut up when Darcy nudged him.

“In light of the explanations given to you, do you still have something to reproach my brother?” Darcy asked formally.

Steve stayed silent for a long time, glancing at his friends as he pondered before sighing: “He’s a real asshole.”

Darcy burst into laughter and leaned against Brock’s shoulder while he rolled his eyes. “Yes, he is,” she agreed.

“If you’re of good faith, you won’t see any problem in telling us everything you know about Hydra,” Steve added, looking directly at Brock, arms crossed.

The Olympian shrugged. “Guess not.”

 

While his teammates followed Ares inside the house, Thor stayed put, staring at Darcy until she turned to him with a bashful smile.

“Thor, I’m so sorry.”

“I don’t blame you,” he assured her calmly.

She shook her head. “This is such a mess. Dad had done so well for centuries, and then he came back here.” She sighed heavily.

Thor stepped forward and put a light hand on her shoulder. “I won’t judge him. This is to be discussed between your father and mine.”

She nodded and looked up to ask hopefully: “You… are not angry with me, then?”

“I am not.” Drawing her closer, he kissed her softly, no more than their lips brushing each other.

She hummed and sucked lightly on his bottom lip. “I missed you,” she admitted, putting her arms around his neck.

“Did you?” He stroked her cheek and smiled at her.

“Yes. I agreed to come and get Brock because I wanted to see Midgard, it reminds me of you… and also because I couldn't listen to my mother and sisters talking about every detail of the wedding anymore, they were driving me crazy!”

He chuckled. “I understand the feeling. I was quite glad to learn my friends could use my help here.”

“It’s maddening. There’s still more than one year left!” she whined before an idea came to her, and she straightened. “Oh, can I stay with you here?”

He smiled softly. “I’m afraid it might not be a good idea at the moment.”

“I guess so,” she sighed before leaning against him, her head against his shoulder. A noise drew their attention to the inside of the ship. Ambrosia appeared in the doorway, and Darcy bent down to lift the kitten and kiss her thick grey fur. “Finished your nap, did you? Such a fierce bodyguard you are, darling,” Darcy teased. “She insists to follow me everywhere, but she sleeps more than anything,” she told Thor.

They stepped inside the ship. Olympian designs were refined, with a lot of white, gold and blue. Their spaceships looked like a work of art, and their shuttles even offered a small couch. That’s where they sat down, Thor putting down Mjölnir beside him before opening his arms for Darcy to snuggle in.

As they caught up with each other, Darcy’s lively expressions reminded Thor why he had fallen for her. When she was a young teen, her bubbly personality had seemed annoyingly naïve to the brash warrior he had been. Now, with a dose of wisdom, a measure of sagacity and a touch of sarcasm, she was just a pleasure to be with.

“Are you listening?” she asked, poking him on the forehead.

“I am,” he assured with a soft smile, “I’m glad to hear your people are doing well, but forgive me…” He stroked the soft skin under her bright blue eyes. “… I just remembered how mesmerizing you were.”

She laughed softly and poked his chin. “My brothers and father should learn a few things from you, to get out of trouble.”

Thor hummed softly, his cheek sliding against hers until he kissed her temple. “I’m just saying the truth.”

She tilted her head to catch his lips, and their embrace tightened as they kissed lengthily. Her hands played with his hair. Even when they pulled apart, she stared at the golden locks sliding between her fingers. “I like your hair,” she admitted softly.

He smiled, a little lopsided. “Is that so?”

She nodded and hummed.

With a hand on her cheek, he seized her lips for a more passionate and sensual kiss that left her breathless. “I like all of you,” he replied, “but you have the most beautiful eyes…” He kissed her brow. “… and lips.” He pecked her mouth again and led her in an openmouthed and playful kiss.

A tap against metal drew their attention to the door, where Brock was waiting. “Not sorry to interrupt,” he said, “but it’s lunch time.”

Darcy sighed loudly as they stood up.

Thor murmured: “He’s very protective of you.”

“He is. He always looked after me,” she explained as they walked out of the ship. She turned around and clung to Brock’s neck with an arm, ignoring his groan. “When I was born, he was not even a teen yet, but he always got in brawls, it annoyed our dad to no end. The story says that, when Ares took me in his arms for the first time, I started to laugh. So, Zeus said ‘This is Hebe, may she bring smiles to our family, chase the screams away, and bless us with her laughter for eternity. Make sure it will be so, my son, for her love will be the most precious thing you could wish for.’ Do I tell that right, brother?”

Brock rolled his eyes. “Yeah, he’s good with words like that. It helps him to manipulate everyone at will. More to the point, what the hell is that?” He pointed to the mass of fur in her arms.

Darcy hugged her kitten closer. “It’s Ambrosia! Thor gave her to me as a courting gift. It’s their tradition. She’s gorgeous, isn’t she?”

Brock stared at Thor, wide-eyed: “You gave her a pet? You fool! She can’t even care for a fish!”

Darcy stomped on his foot. “Don’t you dare! I was seven hundred years old!” She looked up to Thor quickly. “Don’t listen to him, I take good care of Ambrosia. Jane made sure I know how!”

“I do not doubt you, my lady,” Thor assured her.

“If The Aunt did, then the thing is saved… until Artemis’ dogs smell her,” Brock said.

Darcy smiled impishly. “About that. They did. And you know what? Ambrosia hissed and spat at them so much that they are scared of her. They fled like they had dad’s eagles chasing them!”

“You’re kidding.” Brock stared at Ambrosia like he was reevaluating her.

“I’m not! It was hilarious! You should have seen Artemis’ face, she was gaping! She asked if she could pet this ‘fierce Asgardian feline’. I think she’ll beg Queen Frigga for one of her own. I hope she won’t say yes.”

“She won’t. Skogkatten aren’t meant to leave Asgard. You’re the exception, for you’ll return,” Thor assured her.

Darcy beamed and rocked Ambrosia.

Brock smirked. “Good. She’s too used to get everything she wants.”

Thor was aware there was some sort of contention between Zeus and Hera’s children and their half-siblings. His mother had explained that it came from two things: firstly from Hera’s aversion for her husband’s bastards, proofs of his infidelity that she was obliged to bear since he welcomed them in their household, and secondly from the freedom that those illegitimate children received since they had no official duties to uphold. The benefits of royalty without the downsides. Yes, Thor could see how such a thing would be dangerous and sowed some resentment, even in Darcy’s light heart.

 

His teammates and he had come here expecting a fight, but they ate lunch in a relatively good atmosphere. They talked good-naturedly, staying away from the Hydra subject, mostly comparing mythology and real history. As Thor learned about midgardian myths, Darcy and Brock seemed to have fun destroying some legends and confirming some others.

“I still can’t believe I met Zeus,” Steve mumbled with a hand rubbing the back of his head.

“Was he a dick?” Brock asked.

“No! Doctor Erskine was a great man.”

“Then you didn’t meet Zeus, you only met who he meant to show you. Zeus is a dick.”

“Brock!” Darcy objected.

“What?” He spread his hands. “Are you going to tell me I’m wrong?”

She tilted her head and made a face. “Well… He’s an asshole… sixty percent of the time,” she admitted with a sigh.

“I always thought all Greek divinities were basically assholes to be honest,” Sam commented, playing with a beer.

“Then you basically got it right, except for my baby sister, but since she’s betrothed to an Asgardian I’m going to pretend she’s not included in your statement or I’ll be obliged to punch you.”

“No, of course not!” Sam quickly assured, glancing at Thor more worriedly than at Brock.

Thor smiled indulgently. His fiancée was too busy playing with Ambrosia to take offense and looking at her being so peaceful appeased the asgardian just as much.

Sam concluded: “No offense but I never heard about a Hebe before today.”

“That would be because she was… what… seven hundred years old when we left Midgard?”

“More or less, yes. My memories are blurry, at best,” Darcy answered distractedly.

Thor chuckled softly at his friends bemused faces. “For an appropriate approximation, you might divide an Olympian or Asgardian age by a hundred,” he told them.

“Right,” Clint drawled, “and you are?”

“Three thousand four hundred, approximately,” Thor replied.

“Three thousand nine hundred, though that’s not how we count our ages,” Brock added while he played with a knife.

“I never felt so old and so young at the same time,” Sam mumbled.

Steve snorted and shrugged. “I’m ninety six and thirty years old. You get used to it.”

 

*

 

At the end of the day, the Olympians were preparing to leave Earth when Thor’s fiancée walked up to Clint. She was gorgeous in pristine white clothes, and he had carefully stayed away until now. He was feeling awkward.

“Hi,” she said with a wide grin. “Thor told me you might not be able to come to our wedding. It’s so sad! I was looking forward to seeing you compete with the twins – Artemis and Apollo, they’re our best archers, it would be so great if you could take them down a notch or two – and to hear about your exploits. And I wanted to show you–"

“I’m sorry,” he interrupted, wishing he could flee. “I’m just not… very comfortable with…”

“Aristocracy? It’s fine. The ceremonies are long and boring, I admit, but you’re not obligated to be there for them – unlike me, oh by Gaia, this will be looong days – you can just come to the party afterwards and stay for a few days to visit Asgard! Thor promised to show me the best places, you could join us. What do you think?” Her eyes were impossibly wide and bright. Was that a super-power? An Olympian feature?

“Uh… sure…” He mumbled.

“Brilliant!” She hugged him tightly, leaving him dumbfounded when she moved back. “I look forward to it!” She walked away to jump in Thor’s arms. “He said yes!”

“Puppy eyes,” Brock murmured as he passed by, “a very dangerous weapon.”

 

As they walked back to the quinjet sometime later, Clint hissed at Thor: “You sic your fiancée on me!”

Thor smirked. “A good strategist picks his battles and sends his most apt warrior.”

“It was a low blow.”

“Maybe,” he agreed cheerfully, “but I refuse to be bereft of your company during this occasion, my friend.”

That… was oddly touching.

Chapter Text

“I’m so bored.”

Thor looked away from his father and the long speech he and King Zeus were giving to the crowd gathered for this royal wedding (such an alliance between two of the greatest planets in this part of the galaxy was an event only seen once a millennia; Asgard was the center of the world for at least a week). On his right, his fiancée was a breathtaking sight currently hiding a yawn behind her long sleeves.

“Do you think everyone is asleep yet?” she whispered to him. “Maybe if we walk away right now and get married on the sly they won’t even notice?”

Thor didn’t even bother trying to hide his smile, his formal attire was so fitting he wouldn’t be able to use the same trick as his beloved anyway. “I’m afraid your mother keeps a sharp eye on us.” He had met Queen Hera for the first time the day before, and she was as severe he had imagined her to be.

Darcy groaned. “She knows me too well.” With a sigh, she lowered her sleeve and gave her best impression of the perfect Princess she could be when she wanted to.

A few minutes later, Thor glanced again at her and smirked. “You’re plotting something.”

“I’m just thinking about the wellbeing of those poor people standing under the sun…”

“Of course.”

“…and your friends, coming here from Midgard for the first time and being bored to death… That poor Clint Barton is going to hate me.”

“He won’t. I made sure that they were all quite comfortable.”

Darcy wet her lips and barely fidgeted. They had been standing unmoving for about an hour now. Thor perfectly understood his betrothed’s feeling. This was getting a bit longish. He glanced back at her and watched the tip of her fingers playing with the white fabric of her dress. It was embroidered with gold. Pearls and jewels were sewed into it. She had told him it was the heaviest dress she ever had to wear, and she also had to bear the headdress of flowers and gold keeping her hair in an intricate bun. She was a magnificent sight… and she was wearing down.

“Do it.”

She glanced at him with a raised eyebrow.

“Whatever you’re planning to do, do it,” he repeated.

Her regal expression wavered with a hint of surprise. “You have no idea what I’m thinking of… what if I want to put your father’s cape on fire?”

He smirked again. “Do it. I trust you.”

“You’re mad.”

“My lady, you’re forgetting with whom I was raised.”

Their fathers finally quieted down and announced the betrothed.

Darcy was first. She was expected to walk down the stairs slowly, at a regal pace, and then go to the front of the balcony to greet the crowd. Then it would be Thor’s turn. Together, they were supposed to lighten a huge torch, to symbolize… so many things that Thor had lost count of. Only then the true wedding ceremony would start.

As Darcy took her first step, she glanced back at him. He nodded slightly. She turned back to watch her steps. Slowly, she walked down. Her picture was plastered on screens all around the great square, relayed in every Asgardians’ home and beyond. Everyone was worried about a misstep, Darcy included.

Yet, she had only walked down ten steps before she suddenly grabbed the sides of her dress and rushed forward, racing down the stairs under the horrified eyes of her mother. The princess was nearly flying, like a cloud sliding down the stone, and her smile was blinding. As she passed by the gathered Asgardians and Olympians parties on each side of her path, she was laughing freely. She was raising her hands by her sides. That’s when Thor understood what she had in mind. He laughed too and adjusted his grip on Mjolnir.

Darcy’s hands were lighting up as she joined them before her. She stopped a few feet away from the torch and its stock of wood, crackling hands pointed on it. Lightning surged from her hands and struck the wood.

Thor raised Mjolnir and called its power. Thunder rumbled and a thunderbolt struck down to kindle the sparks Darcy had produced. As the wood took fire and rose into a blaze, the Crown Prince of Asgard flew down to join his betrothed. The crowd erupted in cheers.

Thor opened his arms to embrace Darcy and whispered to her: “That was perfect.”

“You won’t say that when mom will deafen us with wails about ruining the ceremony,” she replied, but she had a wide grin and her eyes were shining brightly.

“Your father is on our side, he may spare us this eventuality,” Thor noted.

Indeed, the Olympian King was laughing heartily, with his hands on his hips and his head thrown back. “That’s my princess!” He shouted before slapping Ares on the shoulder to balance himself through his hilarity. Ares was rolling his eyes at his father, but he sent an approving smirk to Darcy and Thor.

 

After that, the ceremony was a formality. Odin (he had rolled his eyes at his son but, after raising Loki, he was blasé; Frigga was smiling) had gotten the message and quickened the pace, regal allure be damned.

When they stepped inside the palace accompanied by the crowd’s cheers, Loki was waiting for them in the shadows. Thor felt Darcy tense under his hand.

Loki was staring at his sister-in-law intently, evaluating her. “I might have misjudged you,” he noted thoughtfully before smirking at them both. “Quite a spectacular entrance. You missed them, didn’t you, brother?”

Thor relaxed slightly and grinned. “I might have.”

“Well…” Loki nodded slowly, watching them standing close, with Thor’s hand on Darcy’s hip, before he bowed slightly. “Congratulations brother. My Lady… all my condolences.”

They laughed good-naturedly, and Darcy relaxed against her husband’s side. This simple moment shared between the three of them filled Thor with more joy than even the exchange of their vows.

“I… really need to get out of this dress,” Darcy suddenly announced before glancing over her shoulder. “Maybe if I hurry up, I’ll change in the evening gown quickly enough that I could escape mom.”

“Good luck,” Thor whispered, kissing her lips chastely before letting her go. Raising her skirts to be able to run, Darcy dashed away. Thor turned his attention to his brother. “I’m sorry you won’t be able to join us.”

Loki shook his head and waved to the guards staying in the shadows. “I have sufficient company. You know parties are more your cup of tea than mine, brother, and I have a feeling that if I showed my face to this one, I would end up with an arrow between the eyes.”

Clint wasn’t going to forgive him anytime soon, that was for sure. It was one of the many reasons his brother wasn’t welcome to the celebrations.

“Nonetheless, I’m grateful you came today. Your presence means a lot to me, brother, thank you.” Thor stepped forward to clasp his shoulder.

Loki nodded slightly before shrugging. “Why wouldn’t I have wanted to see the day you got shackled by politics to a meaningless fate? This is fun.”

Thor burst into laughter and threw his arm around Loki’s shoulders. “Please, brother! That speech was anything but fun.”

Loki groaned loudly. They merrily complained about the bad habits of Odin.

 

*

 

An hour later, Thor had managed to free himself from any political guests to join his friends. Midgardians and Asgardians were getting along, especially Lady Sif and Natasha, which was good to see.

However, when he caught sight of Lady Theia coming up the stairs from the garden, he was reminded that someone important was still missing. He went to meet her. “My lady, did you see Darcy?”

“As a matter of fact, I did,” Jane sighed, opening her wide and heavy cloak with a majestic wave of her arm, revealing the young woman who was hiding under. She had put on a much lighter bridal dress, who fit her perfectly and flattered her assets.

“Mother isn't around?” Darcy asked, watching her surroundings. “No. Perfect! Thanks, Jane, you're the best.”

Thor laughed and caught his wife by the waist to hold her. “You were hiding,” he teased her.

“I'm hoping the lecture won't be as bad once she tasted the wine.”

“A tactical choice, I see. Come, both of you, I shall introduce you to my friends.” He led them toward the chatty group, pleased to see that such different people were able to learn, talk and celebrate together. It was a good omen for the future and their inevitable fight against Thanos.