The breeze she caught lifted her up and had her soaring above the city, feathers feeling every vibration in the air and letting her know when to shift her wings or tail feathers. She rode the wind, owning it and reveling in being alone on wing. As she flew across the city to her meeting place, the woman inside the feathers knew to be careful. While owls were seen in the city, she knew she was a little large for the species she was pretending to be.
Catching a good breeze, the owl flew to the park on the edge of the city. She took her time checking the area out, making mock runs at small rodents that would run when they saw her. Anyone watching would think she was just any other owl, note her large size and move on. Letting out a loud cry, she mocked catching and eating a small field mouse. Looking the area over, she noted a birder in the bushes and actually had to start eating the mouse she caught. The woman inside the owl mourned the loss and gagged on the thought of eating something that wasn’t cooked.
Finishing her meal, she took wing again and flew to another area of the park, performing the same check she had at the previous spot. When she was satisfied that no one was there, she changed forms under a tree. The woman who emerged from the owl’s shape was taller than normal, at five-foot-eight and had short brown hair. Her eyes were a golden-brown and she gave off the vibe that while she was kind and motherly, she would not be toyed with.
The woman shook out the cloth of the deep purple dress she wore and started walking. Her back was ram-rod straight, she held herself like a queen as she made her way out of the park. The noise of nails clicking behind her made her pause for a second, then smiled when a familiar wolf came around the corner.
“Hello, Brother,” She said softly.
The wolf bowed to her, then changed shape into a man. His wolf’s reddish-brown fur became a head of auburn hair. The muzzle of the wolf changed in to a face that while long, held light-green eyes that laughed at some private joke. He shook out the jacket of his dark green suit and looked her over.
“I’m impressed with you, Sister. Only a month and you look as though you’ve belonged with us for a millennium,” he said.
She smiled at him and held out her arms.
“I missed you too, Loki,” she murmured into his ear as he hugged her.
“Not as much as I have,” he replied.
She laughed. It was an old joke, one that had been going on since she was old enough to understand that her playmates were real.
“I do love you, Brother,” she tossed back with a grin and hooked her arm through his. “Let’s go see what the Old Man has for us tonight.”
“Be careful, if he hears that he’s likely to take offense,” Loki warned as they walked along.
“He can take offense as he likes, I only tell the truth. He knew that when he gifted me,” she relied in a clipped tone that let him know she was not pleased with the man that they spoke of.
Loki laughed. “You are one of us. That attitude of yours is hilarious.”
“As long as you find me funny and not one to toy with, I’ll keep myself.”
“I couldn’t toy with you now. You’re too precious to me. The only one who’s consistently on my side.”
“Logically, letting those photos leak of that movie star was a perfect check for his personality. Himself won’t see that, of course. He only knows that we’re not supposed to meddle,” she stopped and looked up at him. “The woman in the photos, however, did not deserve it. You’ll remember that the next time, I hope?”
Loki laughed again when she referred to his latest prank.
“See? You’re my sister, not my bedroom playmate. To toy with you now would be a disservice to the both of us.”
“You still haven’t responded to my question. I’ll let it go for now, but you have to remember that there are some people who don’t deserve to be outed like that. Do better.”
He hunched his shoulders at the chastising. “You always expect too much of me.”
“I expect more because I know you can do more,” she said as she stopped walking and looked up at him. “You can do more and do better. I’m disappointed you let the innocent get caught in that mess.”
When he went to speak, she held up a hand.
“Collateral damage, I know. You could have blurred her face, but chose not to. You made her an example when she didn’t need to be one for loving the wrong man.”
He closed his mouth and looked her over.
“That’s a better chastising than He ever would have given me,” he said with a bow.
“I love you, Loki. You’re family. Even if you are a knuckle head,” she said with a smile and tugged on his arm. “Come on, we’re going to be late and I wish to see my husband.”
They walked along until a giant bear came ambling toward them. They stopped again and waited, neither one of them raising much alarm at the sight of the huge creature. She smiled up at Loki when the bear changed shape in to a man of powerful height, topping over six-two with a bright head of red hair. A beard was under laughing blue eyes and when he held out his arms to her, she laughed and ran in to them.
“Hermod! I thought you weren’t coming?” She said as he enveloped her in a huge hug.
“Miss the chance to see my new favorite sister? Never,” he said. “How are you, Nor?”
She smiled up at him. “Much better. How are the kids?”
He laughed and regaled her with tales of his children as the finished the walk to the meeting. They stood outside the 1800’s manse, whose red brick was covered in ivy. The marble statuary that covered the building laughed down at her as she studied the shape. She snorted with disgust.
“Not much for subtlety, is he?”
Both men laughed so hard they bent over.
“I’m so glad you said it and not me,” Loki said when he got his breath back.
“Truth, honesty and clear-thinking. That’s our Nor,” Hermod said as he clapped a hand on her shoulder.
She smiled up at both men. It didn’t matter if she wore heels or not, they still towered over her.
“I can’t imagine what you’d do without me to make your lives interesting. I imagine you’d still be lying to each other,” she mused.
Both men shrugged. It was true she forced them to talk things over and clear the air. They were better friends now than they’d ever been.
“So, the All-father sent the two of you to escort me. It makes me think that he doesn’t trust me to be alone,” she said as she made her way across the street and up to the house.
The men followed behind her silently.
“He has his reasons,” Hermod said.
“Most of which are bullshit,” she replied over her shoulder as she opened the door and walked in.
A servant met them and took them to the living room, which was already crowded with family of every shape and size. There was only one that mattered though, and he was standing off to the side, brooding in to his glass.
“Ah, young love,” Loki said as he caught on to who she was staring at.
Elbowing Loki in the stomach and leaving him there, Hermod laughing at him, and she headed for the dark-haired man in the corner with the deep blue eyes. She loved those eyes. She could get lost in them for hours as they lay in their rooms at home. When he looked up, she smiled brightly. He lost his brooding air and set his glass down before coming to her.
He cupped her face and looked down in to her eyes as she looked up at him. When he bent to kiss her, she smiled and closed her eyes, leaning in to him as they came together.
“You go away all together too often for me,” he said softly.
“I was only gone two days to visit my mother,” she replied as she kissed him again.
“Too long and too often.”
“Five minutes is too long for you,” she replied.
He laughed. “I’m not that bad,”
She raised an eye brown and opened an eye to look at him. He had the sense to look embarrassed.
“Okay, I am that bad.”
She laughed softly and tugged him down. “If I didn’t know you better, I’d be worried you’d be one of those men I hear on the news while I’m in Midguard.”
“Never, you’re too precious to me,” He said as he scooped her up. She laughed as he dumped them both in to a recliner.
There were smiles from the family scattered around the room who saw them together in the chair. Nods of approval when she caught their eye. It felt good to be wanted by not only family, but a man who loved her unconditionally. When he ran his hand through her short brown hair, she smiled up at him. Leaning in, she nuzzled his ear.
“I have something I need to tell you.”
“Can it wait?”
“Do we need to go into another room?”
“If we do, we’ll be lynched,” she replied. “but you have to promise not to say anything just yet. If he drops bad news on us tonight, we’ll need the pick me up after.”
He tucked her in closer and kissed her temple.
“You’re pregnant,” he murmured.
He laughed and kissed her hard. Heads turned to them, gave a puzzled look and then turned away. Before questions could be asked, two people walked in and the room fell silent. Nor looked over and nodded to the woman when she caught her eye. The woman with the golden hair smiled at her and winked.
“Frigga and I want you all to know how happy we are to have you here to celebrate the wedding of Tyr and Nor several months ago, as well as her ascension,” the Old Man said to the crowd.
There was a round of applause and congratulations.
“We also would like to announce their impending pregnancy,” he said.
Nor jerked in Tyr’s arms and he laughed. A louder round of applause and whooping followed. As they filed over to give their congratulations, there were several crude jokes from the men and soft praises from the women. Nor looked up at Tyr and smiled down at her. They eventually dispersed as Odin and Frigga came over. Frigga held out her hands and Nor gripped them tight.
“I’m so happy for you, darling. Do you know what it is?”
“Twins,” she replied.
Frigga smiled back at her. “Even better.”
“Good job, young lady,” Odin said.
Nor stiffened at the tone of voice he used and her smile was tense.
“Thank you, All-Father.”
His attention went back to Tyr and she relaxed a little against him. Tyr looked down at her and smiled, running his hand over her back.
“My friend, good job as well. I’m sure they’ll be sons,” Odin said.
“I’ll be happy with whatever they are, Odin. You know that,” he said, standing up for her and the babies she carried.
“I’m just glad she kept her vows and they’re not His,” Odin replied.
Nor’s eyes narrowed at the man in front of her and she opened her mouth to speak, but Tyr’s hand on her back went to her shoulder and gripped it tight. Before Tyr could speak, Loki stepped up and stood next to her.
“Be very careful with what you say about my Sister. I’m very protective of her,” Loki said softly. There was enough edge in his voice to have Odin’s eyebrows raising in surprise.
“I meant no offense,”
“I’m taking it,” she said.
Odin looked down at her, even more surprised that she spoke.
“I’m tired of constantly being suspected of infidelity because I claim Loki as my brother. I’m taking the offense, on his and my behalf. I’ve kept my vows. On the day I took them, he vowed to me that he would be a brother to me,” the edge in her voice had Odin stepping back and Frigga smiling brightly at her.
She felt Loki put his arm around her and Volstagg dropped a hand on to her other shoulder.
“I built a family here, All-Father. I’m not likely to let go of that so easily by breaking a vow I took and still take very seriously,” she said. She stepped out of the embrace of her family. “If you’ll excuse me, I wish to lay down. The air in here has become very foul and I’m likely to swoon.”
She stepped away from the group and made her way out of the room in silence. A servant appeared as she made her way down the hall to the front door and redirected her to a bedroom where she could lay down. As she stepped in to the room, Loki was already there.
“Of all the people, I think you would know better than to claim offense.”
“He deserved it. I’m tired of the suspicion. I expect you are too,” she said as she made her way over to him and turned. “Zipper, please.”
Loki unzipped the back of her dress and she stepped in to the closet. Five minutes of cursing and fumbling later, she stepped out again, dressed in pajamas. Loki raised an eyebrow at her.
“I wasn’t lying when I said I wasn’t feeling well, I just used it as an excuse to slap at him,” she said as she sank down on to the sofa that was pushed against one wall.
A knock on the door stopped Loki from saying anything else.
“Come in,” Nor said.
Frigga stepped into the room. She looked it and them over and looked surprised.
“Well, certainly not the scene I wanted to walk in on. The two of you look as though you’re going to bed together,” she stopped them before they could retort. “I said looked. I know the nature of your relationship.”
Nor settled in to the sofa and Loki scooped up a blanket, dropping it on to her lap.
“Before you catch a chill and Tyr yells at me for it,” he said when she raised an eye brow.
Laughing, Nor spread the blanket over her legs. Frigga watched them both.
“I’m glad to see you’re both acting like this. I would actually think you meant what you said about taking offense.”
“Oh, I meant it. I’ll place formal charges in the morning. Tonight, I’m just too tired. Carrying twins will do that to a person.”
Frigga shook her head and sighed. “Reconsider in the morning, Nor. Enough people saw what happened tonight for you to be satisfied. I’m sure they’ll congratulate you for standing up to him.”
“I meant what I said, Frigga. I’m tired of the suspicion. The babies I carry are Tyr’s. He’s the only man I’ve been with since taking my vows.”
“I know that, Nor. The slap he gave you tonight was not entirely yours. It was to Tyr as well, who’s currently torn between fuming at Odin for being an ass and proud of you for not taking it.”
Nor laughed. “He was pretty angry, wasn’t he? I’m sure he’ll do something about it in the morning.”
Frigga’s smile was thin. “You’re young yet. You don’t realize how precarious your position is,”
Nor went silent and looked at her. “I’m acutely aware of just how thin the spot I’m in is. If I take formal charges, there’s a chance that I could lose everything. If I let it go, he’s likely to do it again. Next time, it might even be worse. Loki can’t level the charges because it was the truth, even though it was a slap to the face.”
Frigga nodded and Nor continued.
“Tyr could level the charges, but since he was the wronged party the last time; He’d look petty. Odin knew exactly what he was going when he insulted me tonight. He didn’t expect me to slap back. That was his mistake. I am no one’s play toy.”
Frigga looked her over, Loki standing at her side.
“I think you’re exactly what was needed within this family. Someone who knows her position, uses it and always tells the truth. They don’t know what to do with you,” she said.
Loki snorted and Frigga looked at him.
“They expect lies. When they get someone who tells only the truth, they don’t know what to do with her. It’s why I hang around.”
“and here I thought it was my charming personality,” Nor said wryly.
Loki laughed. “That too,”
Frigga smiled at them both.
“Loki’s charmed because you don’t hold back. He’s protective because you call him brother and mean it. You treat him like you would your own blood kin.”
“He is my brother. He’s accepted for who he is, even if I do think he’s a bonehead sometimes.”
Loki laughed and kissed her hair. “I’m going to get your husband. I’ll be back.”
Nor watched him leave with a smile on her face. When the door closed behind him, she looked at Frigga.
“He’s embarrassed and near tears that he doesn’t want anyone to see,” she murmured.
“Accepted. He’s so full of love for you. Almost as much as his own wife.”
“He’s family, Frigga. Just as you and the rest are. I claimed you all the minute Tyr brought me inside your circle. I love you all. Even Himself, though he can’t see it.”
Frigga came over and kissed her forehead. “I love you too, little one. I’ll leave before Tyr gets here. I know the two of you will want to celebrate.”
Nor smiled up at her. “Thank you.”
Frigga smiled and left, just as Tyr went to open the door. He was a little surprised at finding her there.
“I’m just leaving, I needed a word with my new sister about tonight’s events.”
Tyr shook his head. “I’ve already taken care of it. Go back to the party little sister, I’m for my wife.”
Frigga patted his arm and left. Tyr came in and closed the door behind himself. He walked over to Nor and sank down beside her.
“Just where Loki said he left you,” Tyr said as Nor moved over so she was curled into his arms. “I would ask though, that you not ask him to do your zippers.”
Nor smiled and nuzzled his neck. “You should have seen the look of horror on his face when I asked. It was priceless.”
Tyr laughed. “No wonder the two of you get along so well. You’re constantly pulling crap on each other.”
“Well, he is fun to do that with. You’re more fun though.”
“How am I more fun?”
“Come to bed with me and I’ll show you.”
“Now that’s an invitation that I’ll never refuse,” he said as he stood up with her in his arms and strode over to the bed.
Nor waved a hand and turned out the lights as Tyr undressed. He climbed in to bed and pulled her close, neither one getting much sleep at all.