“we’ve been nothing but friends for our whole lives but then we played seven minutes in heaven on a dare and now i think i might actually be in love with you” au plus Lokane pretty please
A/N: So, you probably were thinking you’d get a High School or College AU. But instead, I’m giving you a Medieval AU. (Don’t ask. My muse never makes any sense.) I hope you enjoy it anyway!
The first time they met, he teased her about her freckles and she stuck her tongue out at him. His brother let out a hearty laugh, even his mother was amused. But Loki scowled. How dare the scrawny creature with straw braids defy him, a prince. What was she, but a starving, dirty urchin taken in as the royal astronomer’s newest charge? Loki decided then and there to have nothing more to do with Jane.
But she was always underfoot. Mother thought it best that the girl sat in on his and Thor’s lessons. After all, if she meant to apprentice with Selvig, then she would need a proper education. Loki didn’t feel so magnanimous. He did his best to hinder her efforts. Cutting the tips of her quills. Locking her in her rooms and laughing at the furious tirade she unleashed on him later when she managed to escape. She tried so very hard to be intimidating, but he couldn’t keep his eyes off of the brambles in her hair from having to shimmy down the vines outside of her window.
It wasn’t only language, letters, numbers, and histories that Jane learned alongside the princes. It was music and riding and swordplay. When Loki complained about Jane being in the practice yards to his mother, asking what point there was for the girl to learn the weapon, his mother rose from her throne, drawing her own blade from its scabbard. “Choose your next words carefully, my son,” she warned, looking every bit the terrifying Warrior Queen who protected this kingdom at his father’s side. Loki left without further protest.
The girl was clever, Loki grudgingly admitted. Annoyingly clever. He put more effort into his studies, spent more time in practice because it galled him that a peasant could come close to surpassing in skill and intellect a boy of noble birth. She challenged him even in swordplay; what she lacked in brute force, she made up with a cunning that rivaled Loki’s.
As the years passed, he was less given to wild pranks. They seemed an unnecessary endeavor when a well-placed comment could do the trick easily enough. He reveled in the bright crimson of her cheeks, the stuttering invectives she would shoot back at him that never quite hit the mark. No, not never. There were times when her words were like a dagger slipping between his ribs, they would leave him so breathless. Later, when his shock and anger receded, he discovered a filament of reluctant admiration. But it didn’t mean he liked the wisp.
Both he and Thor grew taller; Jane didn’t. Jane’s freckles faded. She stopped wearing her long locks in braids, and Loki studiously ignored the other changes occurring in her body. Instead, he made sport out of raising her ire with witty rejoinders that only she understood. (His brother, though not a fool, lacked a passion for the finer points of their education.) Loki secretly delighted in her equally devious retorts, and he engaged her more often.
There were other games—once innocent but had matured as the players aged. He remembered when Fandral introduced the game of Maiden Favors to their growing circle of companions. Jane had drawn Loki as her knight, and he taunted her, tapping his cheek in cavalier expectation of the kiss she was to place there. She marched up to him, drew her fist back, and punched him in the mouth before storming off. He licked the blood from his lips and laughed. She couldn’t be entreated to play the game again. (He thought about her when the rules changed from a simple brush of lips against cheek to a something more heated. He wondered if she would taste different than the buxom serving girl who slanted her mouth over his in a sloppy kiss.)
He became interested in astronomy when Mother declared their formal education complete. His days were now spent at court, in council meetings, learning the intricacies of politics. There were delegations to neighboring kingdoms, land disputes, trade agreements—all things Thor found insufferably dull. All things Loki found fascinating. A smile, a simple misdirection, a lie spoken among a dozen truths—this was all it took to manipulate your opponent. He liked the challenge, though it often paled in comparison to the clash of wits he once had with Jane.
(He didn’t miss her. He’d never say so.)
He found himself climbing the tower steps late one evening after his return from a particularly fruitless trip to Jotunheim. The mountain men were gnashing their teeth about some imagined slight or another from Asgard, and not even Loki’s silver tongue could placate their anger. War was likely inevitable in the coming years. Thor would be glad of it, and Loki was inclined to agree. He was exhausted, but still his feet led him up, up, up toward Jane. He’d been gone for nigh on a month. Had her skills in wordplay dulled in his absence? (Was she as pretty as his memory swore she’d always been?)
She didn’t turn when he entered the makeshift laboratory, her attention on one of the many telescopes fastened to the parapet. In her lap was a leather bound book with notes scribbled in her nearly illegible hand. She’d never bothered to master penmanship, considering it a frivolous pursuit better left to the pampered nobility. Out of spite, Loki had made a point of becoming more adept in the art than even the palace scribes.
“Saturn is rising,” she said, clearly thinking him to be her mentor.
He grinned, closing the distance between them in stealthy footfalls and bending as close to her ear as he could without startling her. “And what does that portend, oh wise one?”
She jumped at his nearness, round eyes going narrow when they met his. “Loki,” she said, her mouth slashing in a thin line. “When did you return?”
“Only just,” he replied, stepping back from her. He’d forgotten the scent of honeysuckle and cinnamon in her hair, and he was overpowered by it.
“You’re hale and whole.” With a ghost of a smirk, she looked him over. “I take that to mean you managed not to offend our northern friends.”
He made a sardonic noise. “Yes, somehow I escaped being turned over their spits—much to your disappointment, I’m sure.”
“Well, I’ve always said you’d be good in a stew with a little potato and carrots,” she quipped. “A bit gamey, perhaps, but you’d do in a pinch.”
He cocked his head, let his gaze sweep over her with a calculated appreciation. (The effort wasn’t as difficult as it should have been.) “My dear Jane,” he murmured. “Any time you want to eat me, I’ll be glad to offer you a feast.” He’d never said anything so salacious to her before, but they were no longer adolescents. Innuendo was merely another facet in banter like theirs, wasn’t it?
But she didn’t have a scathing retort. She stared at him, throat bobbing in a deep swallow, and he’d count it as a win if the air between them wasn’t charged so oddly. (And he realized that a victory might entail something entirely different in this new game. Did he want to play? Would she?)
“Show me Saturn,” he demanded to dispel the strange tension. Always a demand. Never a request. He was a prince of Asgard, after all.
She rolled her eyes. “It’s a wonder they let you out of your cage when you lack any social grace.”
He laughed as he dragged a stool near hers, relieved that he hadn’t irrevocably damaged the unusual bond they shared. “Rules are so terribly boring. Admit it: your life would be drab without me.”
“I admit that I accomplish so much more when you’re gone,” she replied, leaning forward to adjust the eyepiece of the telescope.
“What else are you to do with your time when your favorite prince is away?” He gave her a winning smile. “Of course, I wouldn’t be opposed to you pining after me like a damsel trapped in a tower. Oh, that’s right. You already are.”
She smacked his arm—not too hard. “You would swoon like one of those tittering courtiers if I were to ever lay my affection at your feet.”
“It’s all I live for.”
When he finally descended the stone staircase to his chamber hours later, sleep came fitfully. He dreamt of her tangled in his sheets, diminutive body pressed into his.
War was, in fact, inevitable. The Jotuns marched from their strongholds in the mountains toward Asgard, razing villages in their path like a swarm of locusts. The unspeakable acts they committed could not go unanswered for long, and soon Thor and Loki were preparing to lead the king’s army to the frontlines. The night before their trek toward battle, a banquet was held in their honor. The celebration moved later to a tavern where Fandral, with a wench on each arm, drunkenly suggested a final game of Maiden Favors. He waggled his brows with lascivious meaning when he explained that the maidens could choose what favor they wanted to give. Loki captured Jane’s wrist when she began to sneak off.
“Jane volunteers to go first,” he said to the rest of the group. She glowered at him.
Fandral pulled a small pouch from inside his waistcoat and emptied a set of dice on the table. “Gentlemen, you know your numbers.”
Loki licked his lips as Jane picked up a die and tossed it across the wooden tabletop. It tumbled against Volstagg’s tankard and came to a rest with two dots showing on top. Two was Loki’s number.
Jane’s expression went even flatter. “Anything I want to give?” she confirmed with Fandral. On his nod, she turned to Loki, and he steeled himself for another blow. She stared at him for a heartbeat before doing something entirely unexpected.
She kissed him.
It was brief, a bare brush of her mouth over his, but it was enough. He was hardly aware of the cheers around them, the pounding of Thor’s fist against the table. What was this witchcraft that something so fleeting and pure could make him an invalid?
“As I said,” she breathed, not unaffected, “swooning like a silly courtier.”
That brought Loki back to life. He threaded a hand through her hair to prevent her retreat. “My turn.”
His kiss wasn’t virtuous. His kiss was hunger and ache and a desperate need he hadn’t known before now. He was merciless. (As a prince of Asgard was expected to be.) His bones and sinew awakened in a firestorm of desire that would not be easily quenched. But by the gods, he would try.
When they broke apart, her eyes were wide, glassy with fear and something else. She excused herself, fleeing the party before he could rise out of his chair. Thor clapped him on the back, congratulated him on a worthy display. It took Loki another twenty minutes to disentangle himself from the festivities.
Jane wasn’t in her tower. She wasn’t in her rooms, and frustration and dread threatened to overtake him as he searched the palace. He found her in the practice yards, hidden in shadow as she sat on one of the benches, knees drawn to her chest. In the wan light of the moon, she looked like the girl whose braids he used to pull.
But she wasn’t a girl. He wasn’t a boy.
“If you’ve come to gloat,” she said, attempting in vain to sound indignant, “then get on with it. I have no patience for your antics tonight, Loki.”
A dozen acerbic remarks scramble to the tip of his tongue, but he swallowed them back. None would get him what he wanted. He crossed to her in lazy steps, gathered her hands in his, and pulled her up to him—into him. A protest rose in her throat, but it didn’t make it past her lips as he devoured her. She was his. He was hers. He murmured these truths against her mouth and she relaxed into him.
The next morning, he remained in his bed as long as he could, arms wrapped around her petite form as she slumbered on his chest. He woke her before he left for his campaign, made her swear fidelity to him even as he gave her the same promise. He would return to her and only her.
Because who was she, this mere orphan, but everything to a prince.