"What’s this?" Jane asked, her eyes lighting up. She picked up the grapefruit-size orb and stared at it intensely, then laughed with delight as it began to emit a soft, golden glow.
"Do you truly not recognize it?" Thor asked with a smile. Her eyes narrowed, playfully suspicious, and he chuckled. Jane Foster was magnificently fierce! "In Midgard, you would call this a ‘lightbulb.’" Jane dropped the globe in surprise. Thor caught it deftly and replaced it on its stand, and offered Jane his arm. "Shall we continue? I’m sure there are many other things you’d like to see." She smiled ruefully and walked on her own alongside him.
Oh, what a wonderful woman she was! Fierce as Sif, kind as Frigga, and more wise (if that were possible - Thor didn’t want to think about it too much) than even his father, in some ways. Jane was perfect, flitting about with all of the Midgardians’ usual speed. It was fate which had brought them together, the greatest fate in the Nine Realms.
A crash echoed off the columns in the hall ahead. Jane reached absently for Thor, who took her hand gently and drew her to a stop. “Stay here,” he said. “I am sure it is nothing, but I will take a look to make sure of it. I do not want you to be injured, Jane Foster.”
Before he could investigate, though, the source of the noise became apparent. Loki sauntered around one of the near columns, a lazy grin on his face, looking for all the world like the king of all cats.
"Ah, brother!" he cried. "How marvelous! I had hoped to find you - there’s someone I’d like you to meet!" His eyes darted to Jane, who Thor was surprised to see was just behind him, glaring. "Ms Foster, it is a pleasure." Jane said nothing, merely stared coldly at the man who had tried so hard to destroy her world.
"As you will." He gestured, and a tall, slender young woman walked from behind the column to join him. Her eyes were brown and wide, but there was no fear in them. Thor’s own eyes narrowed.
"What is the meaning of this, Loki? You know Father’s edicts regarding Midgardians in Asgard." Loki raised an eyebrow and glanced significantly at Jane, whose glare grew even frostier. After a moment, Loki took the woman’s hand and led her forward.
"Brother, it is my distinct pleasure to present Queen Susan Pevensie, the Gentle, of Narnia, by way of London." Loki gave a flourishing bow, and Susan courtsied deeply, perfectly, easily, as though she’d been raised in the courts of Asgard.
"My lady," Thor replied with a less elaborate bow. "I am Thor, son of Odin, King of Asgard."
"Please, call me Susan," she said. Her voice was full and rich and low, and there was something musical in it, and something which said with certainty that Thor was an equal to her. She must be a powerful woman in this… Narnia, Loki had called it?
"I will ask you again, brother. Why is she here?" Susan looked to Loki with something like hope in her eyes. Thor had an inkling of things then, a moment of particular clarity. "Have you told her you love her?"
"For someone as stereotypically heroic as you, Thor, you are woefully unromantic," Loki replied. "And no, I have told her no such thing. One cannot love without trust, and the Lady Susan and I have just met." His voice lowered to a loud whisper. "You see, brother, I have told her all about you, and about Jane Foster. She is eager to see someone from her world - it seems she’s been hidden in a lion’s tower for decades!" Susan smiled cautiously at Jane, who nodded and smiled back.
"More importantly, though, brother, I wanted to prove to your father that you were not the only royal son who could attract a Midgardian girl with a plain name. Queen Susan is my guest, at the moment, and I hope that one day, she will agree to be my bride. We will be Loki and Susan, and Thor and Jane. Plain and grand, all in one. Asgard’s princes should have nothing but the best, and these two have succeeded in their lives despite their unremarkable names." The tomcat grin was back on Loki’s face.
Jane and Susan’s faces were perfectly blank. Jane’s eyes blazed like an inferno, though, and Susan’s had become twin frozen lakes. The two women looked at each other and, though they said nothing, they clearly were of one mind. Jane looked up at Thor expectantly.
Mjolnir hung from his belt, as always. It was a simple matter, really, and everything happened all at once. In one motion, he closed the distance between himself and his brother and swept upward with the great hammer. It took Loki under the chin. Thor watched as his brother sailed through the air and came to a crashing halt against one of the huge stone columns lining the hall. Only those who were worthy could wield the enchanted hammer, but Mjolnir had seemed to act on its own in striking Loki for his remark. Thor shook his head and replaced it on his belt.
He turned to Susan, whose face was now open disbelief. “I did not mean to frighten you, my lady,” he said sheepishly. Loki was not stirring. “I will leave you to your own counsel as regards my brother, my lady, but I will also caution you that Loki is only ever interested in Loki. Anyone else is a pawn in his schemes.”
"Thank you for your consideration," Susan replied. "I… I must go to him now. He will need assistance." Jane started toward her, but Susan waved her away.
"If you will be in the city for a few days, we should arrange a meeting," Jane said instead. "I’d be glad to have some normal company for a change." Susan smiled in reply.
"It would be my pleasure. Thank you, miss."
"Please. Call me Jane."
"Thank you, Jane." Jane hadn’t spent her life at any type of court and had only education from movies for it, but she gave a teetering little curtsy before she turned back to Thor. "Let’s continue, then, shall we? I’m sure there are more than just lightbulbs waiting to be discovered." They walked down the hall, arm in arm, together.
Susan turned from watching them to looking at Loki, huddled on the floor where he’d landed. Her suspicions were growing stronger by the minute. What had she gotten herself into? Who was Loki, truly?
Anything, though, would be better than the chains in which Aslan had placed her. She padded softly across the hall to Loki and cradled his head in her lap. “Wake soon, sir,” she said softly. “There is much to see here, and you will show it all to me.”