Tea, crumpets, and makeovers—they're not just for little girls anymore~ Loki
The day of the tea party dawned bright and early, Loki thought as he sipped his second cup of Dark Magic while watching the sunrise. Since becoming a parent to nine unwanted (except by him) orphans had taught him the necessity of rising early so he could have time to himself to relax. Relaxation was all important to maintaining your sanity, a fact he had learned very well over the last three years. So he allowed himself to bask in the serenity of the moment, enjoying the panorama of colors in the sky and the peaceful sound of silence.
Soon enough, that silence would be broken by the children waking up for school—only his two youngest were not school age yet—but right now they were all still blissfully in the realm of slumber. The god leaned back on the sofa and tucked his long legs under him in a classic lotus pose. Then he began to meditate, letting the soothing mantras center and focus his awareness—both within and without. His magic flared, stirred, then glided back into his mind, gathering in a still pool waiting to be used.
He remained that way for the better part of a hour, only emerging from his trance when he heard the sound of feet tromping down the hall and the slam of the bathroom door. Then he came back to the now, and rose gracefully to his feet, entering the kitchen to start the breakfast he had set out before drinking his coffee—which today was French toast with bananas, cinnamon, and maple bacon. Loki had a love affair with maple bacon, adoring the sweet salty taste, and his children did too, so he made it often.
Soon enough the aroma of it lured Sam, his oldest daughter/son, Hunter, Belle, Serena, Nathan, Vince, Lucy, and Maximus into the kitchen. All of them greeted their parent with their usual affection, some with mumbled good mornings, the younger ones with a hug. Sam, who today had dyed the tips of his hair blue, got everyone's preferred beverage and Belle set the table. Each of the children had specific chores of the day—said chores rotated each week and were posted upon a color coded chart. Hunter got all the lunches together, putting them in their appropriate backpacks.
Loki looked over from flipping the French toast and said, "Do you all have anything I need to sign before you go to school? Permission slips, homework?"
"I'm good," Sam answered.
"You already signed mine," Serena reminded him. She was Loki's fey child, delicate looking as spun glass, with platinum hair she dyed different colors and eyes the shade of a midnight ocean. She was eight that year.
"Dad, I have band practice," Lucy reminded him. "I'll take the bus home though."
"Okay, but if you get out later than four, call me," he agreed. The school provided transportation for extra curricular activities, but Loki wasn't too fond of his kids using at certain hours.
Loki brought the platter of French toast and bacon to the table, saying as he set it down, "Belle, watch your book before you get syrup on it," to his bookworm, who was currently reading The Saga of Brunhilda in its original tongue. Belle was not just a bookworm, she was also a mage, one who had Lorekeeper abilities, meaning she could recite and remember anything she read or heard, no matter what language it was in. Her frightful intelligence had caused the orphanage managers to label her a freak and odd, her outbursts of magic had terrified them and led to them labeling her "an incurable misfit" among other things. She had been the first child Loki had adopted, her magic calling attention to his own.
The others had followed in rapid succession, each with their own unique issues, and backgrounds. Some had called the God of Mischief crazy for adopting so many children, and said he was doomed to failure, but time had proven all the naysayers, one of whom had been his brother, wrong. Loki's little family thrived, in no small part due to the shapeshifting god's unique ability to understand, empathize, and seek solutions outside the box. As Serena had put it so succinctly one day in an assignment asking what they liked best about their mom or dad, "My dad loves us even when we're bad, and he doesn't expect us to be perfect and that makes all the difference. He loves us just the way we are."
Belle looked up from her book, her dark eyes sparkling. She had long curly hair the color of a walnut that accented her pixie face. "Don't worry, Dad. I put a shield charm on the pages."
Loki patted her shoulder. "That's my girl," he said approvingly.
"Belle damage a book?" Hunter laughed. "That's like a priest spitting on his altar."
He speared three pieces of French toast, and five pieces of bacon, and devoured them hungrily.
"Jeez! Breathe once in awhile," Sam remarked. "You act like you haven't eaten for a year."
"I'm hungry! Lemme alone," his brother muttered. The twelve-year-old was lean as coursing hound, with shaggy black hair, the uptilted eyes of his Asian mother, and he wore a silver eternity knot in one ear and a leather jacket with a wolf on the back of it. Before coming to live with Loki, Hunter had been a member of the gang Fenris, and had been known for his quick hands, vicious right hook, and fiery temper. He was no longer a member, or a delinquent, due to Loki's persuasion, but he had never forgotten what it was to go hungry.
"Maybe he's trying out for the out eat Uncle Thor contest?" Lucy suggested. She was a blond with huge sea green eyes, the third youngest, at five.
"Hunter couldn't out eat Uncle Thor," objected Vince, who was seven, a stocky boy with wheat colored hair and hazel eyes. "I don't even think Dad could."
Loki chuckled. "No? You'd be surprised."
"Yes, he could," Sam argued. "It's in the myth of Thor and Loki in Jotunheim."
"Not everything in the myths is true, Sam," Belle stated. "Some of it's just stories."
"But that one's true, right, Dad?"
"Most of it, yes. But I don't have time right now to point out the reality." He did a quick head count—and came up one short. "Where's Aleta?"
"She was still sleeping," Max told him. "I tried to wake her but she wouldn't get up."
Loki frowned. Aleta was normally up with the birds, like her name. "All right. Finish eating. I'm going to go check on your sister."
Concerned, Loki teleported over to Aleta's room, wondering if his artistic little Seer was coming down with something. Normally Aleta woke him up, by bouncing on his stomach. Luckily Loki's stomach muscles were tougher than the average mortal's, or else he might have ended up throwing up from his three-year-old's enthusiastic wake-up call.
"Aleta?" he called, opening the door to her room. "Alskling, are you okay?"
Her little rose pink canopied bed was empty, the covers rumpled and askew. He turned to see where she had gone, and heard her little voice coming from his bedroom. "Aleta?"
Three strides took him to his room, where he found his wayward little imp parading about his room wearing a green tea towel tied to her neck, carrying a glittery plastic wand, which she pointed at the array of stuffed animals and dolls lined up on the floor before her, and ordered dramatically, "Kneel! I am the Princess of Asgard! You were made to be ruled!"
The sight nearly made him laugh out loud, it was so adorable . . . until he saw that she was wearing his helmet, which was of course ten times too large and kept falling over her eyes. She reached up with one chubby hand and nearly impaled her finger on the end of one horn.
"Ahem! Aleta Lenore Laufeyson, what do you think you're doing?" he asked softly, his tone stiff with disapproval.
His daughter shoved the helmet back and peered up at him. "Hi, Daddy! I'm 'tending to be a princess an' all my subjects hafta kneel when I walk by." She indicated her dolls, which she had knocked down as she marched. She gave him a crooked grin that would have melted a fire giant's heart.
Fortunately, Loki was a frost giant. "Well, Princess Aleta, you seem to have touched something that doesn't belong to you." He indicated his helmet, which was now hanging down her back, the horns touching the carpet.
"But Daddy—I was just borrowing it," she pouted.
He raised an eyebrow. "Did you ask me?"
"Umm . . . no . . ." she lowered her eyes to her gold fabric slippers, which were now digging a hole in his carpet.
He quickly pasted a disappointed Look on his face. He knew how to do that very well, having been the recipient of countless Looks himself as a child. Among other things. "What have I told you about touching my things, little miss?"
She bit her lip, her expressive gray eyes shimmering with tears. "But I needed it! You can't play princess of Asgard without it!"
He went down on one knee, saying gravely, "We've talked about this before, Aleta. Why don't I want you touching my helmet?"
"Umm . . . cause it's . . . umm . . . pointy an' I could fall an' hurt myself," she recited.
He nodded. "And what else?"
"Umm . . . umm . . . I don't know . . ."
"Oh, I think you do, little scamp. How do you think I feel knowing you went and took my helmet?"
"Not very happy," she muttered to the carpet.
"Very good," he nodded. "Just like you'd feel if I did this—" he gestured and all of her stuffed animals and dolls flew into the air and then landed on the rug in a heap.
"Hey!" she squawked in protest. "You messed 'em all up!" She gave him a scowl then whined, "I don't like it when you touch my stuff, Daddy."
"And I don't like it when you touch my helmet," he reiterated. "Understand?"
"Uh huh," looking utterly woebegone, she came over to him, almost tripping over her towel cape, the helmet sliding forward to cover her eyes.
He bit his lip hard. "Well?" he forced himself to maintain that disappointed demeanor, though he really longed to laugh at the sight of his little imp in his too big helmet.
"M'sorry!" She went to take the helmet off, and he quickly grabbed it before she could scratch herself. "Am I in trouble?"
"You ought to be," he said, sending the helmet back to its stand. "I ought to call off that tea party—"
"Noo!" she wailed, tears splashing down her cheeks.
He held up a hand. "But I won't . . . as long as you promise me to never ever touch my things without asking again."
"I promise!" she threw herself at him.
He hugged her tightly. "You'll keep that promise, won't you, Aleta? Because a princess always keeps her word."
She nodded rapidly. "I'll 'member."
He kissed the top of her head. "All's forgiven." He set her down. "Now why don't you come and eat breakfast? I made French toast and bacon."
"Yummy!" she cheered. Then she glanced back at her dolls. "Now how am I gonna be the princess?" she asked in aggrieved tones.
"Maybe you could use this instead?" Loki snapped his fingers and a small replica of his helmet appeared, made of soft fabric, with a large pink jewel in the center and the words Loki's Princess embroidered on the sides. I'm such a pushover! But I can't bear to see her unhappy.
"For me?" she cried, as he placed it on her dark hair. "Thank you, Daddy! It's so beautiful!"
"Just like you," he said, and tweaked her nose. "C'mon, let's go eat. I'm starving."
He bowed and gestured to the door. "After you, Princess Aleta."
She processed regally from the room, the tea towel dragging on the floor, her glittery wand held before her.
Laufeyson, you are SO much trouble when she gets older! More trouble than you've ever been in your whole life!
All that morning Loki was kept busy fixing the dining room for the tea party. He made sure the tablecloth was freshly ironed, the crystal and gold vase filled with fresh cut roses and each place set with mismatched china, which was how they held tea in Victorian times. He lined up all the treats Samantha and Aleta had baked on the buffet, adding others he had baked that morning also. Knowing Thor, they needed the extra, and enough so he could bring some back to share with the other Avengers. Loki made sure to keep two plates of various treats for the other kids as well, so they didn't feel left out.
Aleta kept running in and out, getting underfoot, and asking, "Is Uncle Thor here yet? Is he?"
Loki rubbed his forehead. "How many times have you asked me that now? Five hundred?"
"Daddy! You know I can't count so high!"
"Okay, it feels like five hundred," he amended. "Why don't you keep watch out the window and tell me when you see him coming up the sidewalk?"
"Oo-kay!" she yelled, her voice echoing off the high ceilings.
Loki winced. By the time she grew up he was either going to be deaf or addicted to Prozac. Probably both.
He went to get one last tray of macaroons out of the oven when he heard Aleta yodel, "Daddy! Uncle Thor's he—ee—re!"
"I hear you, spark," he called back as the doorbell rang. "And so does half of Manhattan."
Anyone who thought little girls were quiet and biddable had never met Aleta, he thought wryly. She could give a firecracker noise lessons.
"Uncle Thor! Uncle Thor!" chorused his two children as Thor opened the door and lifted both kids in his arms for a bear hug.
Loki smiled, listening to the merriment while he transferred cookies to a tray.
"Are you ready for my tea party, Uncle Thor?" Aleta asked.
"Indeed, Princess Aleta. Is that a new crown on your head?"
"Uh huh! Daddy gave it to me!" she declared proudly.
"Yeah, after she took his helmet without asking," Max reminded.
"Tattletale!" Aleta snapped.
"Enough, scamps. Let's not quarrel, I hear enough of that from your uncles at the mansion," Thor interrupted. "Max, show me where I can put my helm."
"Over here. On the hat rack next to the protective runes," Max declared.
Loki froze with a cookie half on the tray. Protective runes? What runes?
Moments later he heard Thor's voice boom. "Loki! You'd better come out here!"
"What happened now?" the Master of Mischief sighed. He walked into the den.
"Daddy, Max drawed all over the wall!" Aleta announced with all the relish of a judge condemning a murderer.
Loki's eyes went wide as he took in one wall, the one nearest the door, whose soft beige and evergreen stripes were now covered with elementary Norse runes in colorful magic marker. "Maximus, what the—" he quickly bit off the swear word he was about to utter.
"Loki, you allow your children to deface their home?" Thor queried. "Father would never have allowed—"
"Thor, please don't tell me what our father would have done," Loki said swiftly.
"But when you did the same to the feast hall—"
"Thor!" Loki growled. "I don't need you reminding me, I know. But I'm not Father, now let me handle this."
"Ooo you're in trouble!" Aleta hissed.
"Shut up!" Max sniffled.
"Daddy, Max told me to shut up!"
"Aleta, hush!" her father ordered. "It's my turn to talk." He looked at his son. "Max, care to explain this?"
His small son, who ironically looked the most like him, said quietly, "Dad, I wasn't drawing on the wall—"
"Loki, he's lying," Thor interrupted.
Loki shot him a sizzling glance. "Thor, you shush too! Maximus, what do you mean? Aren't those drawings?"
"No. They're runes of protection. I drew them so no villains could come into the house and kidnap us. See—there's algiz and kaunaz and eiwaz . . ." Max recited, pointing out the runes for protection, magic, and fire and then the name rune—Laufeyson combined with the rune for inheritance or family—othila.
The runes were crudely drawn but they were recognizable, and especially for a mere four year old, were quite an achievement. "I see. So you were trying to protect us? You didn't think my wards were enough?"
Max shook his head. "Aleta said she Saw Bad People trying to find us . . . so I just . . . wanted to help." He looked crestfallen.
"You should have asked me first," Loki reprimanded gently.
"I forgot. Are you mad?" his son sniffled.
"No . . . just surprised. Next time ask first."
"Okay. Can we go and have the tea party now? I'm hungry," Max said wistfully.
"Go and sit down at the table," Loki waved him off. "You too, princess."
They scampered off and Thor just gaped at his brother. "That's it? You're not going to punish the boy?"
"No, Thor. He didn't do anything worthy of being punished. He was trying to protect his family. His execution wasn't the best but his heart was in the right place. Besides, it's just magic marker—it'll wash off."
"Father would have—"
"By the Nine, Thor, don't tell me what Father would have done," Loki growled, his emerald eyes flashing with pain and anger. "You forget, brother, I still bear marks from that incident! For doing the same thing as my son."
Thor gaped at him. "I never . . . why didn't you say something . . .?"
"What good would it have done? You would have agreed with him!" Loki hissed. "You and him—both two peas in a pod. Both ever ready to ascribe nasty motives to me and never ask me why I did something to begin with." He shook his head. "I'm done with this conversation."
"End of discussion," he cut off the Thunder God with an icy glance. "This is my house and my son and I'll decide who gets punished around here. I learned to pick my battles, Thor, and this is not worth getting mad over. Go and sit down, you're here for a party not to bring up the past. I'll get the tea."
As Loki returned to the kitchen to retrieve the small pots of different tea, Thor looked after him sadly. I wasn't going to agree with him, Loki. I was going to apologize for misunderstanding.
Then he went to sit down, luckily Loki had a special chair sized for his large frame and not one of those skimpy ones like the fancy teashops in Manhattan. One of those would have broken to kindling beneath him.
Loki returned with the tea, a smile gracing his lips, their disagreement forgotten, and the tea party proceeded without a hitch. There were three kinds of tea—Yorkshire Gold, Oolong Citrus, and White Dragon Peach. There was honey, sugar lumps, lemon and milk to put in it.
They all laughed when Max put six sugars in his cup and Loki twitted, "Want some tea with your sugar?"
They all ate the finger foods—besides chocolate chip muffins, cookies, Reeses brownies, fudge macaroons, blueberry and cinnamon scones, lemon curd, and lingonberry jam with sweet cream cheese, Loki had also made water cress and cheese sandwiches, cucumber with chives and mayo, ham salad on pumpernickel, and pimento cheese on wheat.
Thor stared at the little sandwiches. "Loki, these are hardly a mouthful each! Do mortals eat like birds at these parties?"
"No, but . . . well . . . it's like a snack before dinner. Go ahead, I made enough."
Thor ate two trays of all the sandwiches, and most of the baked goods on all the trays.
"See?" Max nudged Aleta. "Toldja nobody can out eat Uncle Thor."
"Daddy ate the rest," she argued. The children had each picked their favorite treats and sandwiches before the adults and drank two cups of tea each.
"Let me just bring these dishes into the kitchen," Loki said slyly. "Aleta, why don't you show your uncle the new shirt you made with your Bedazzler?" he encouraged.
"Okay! Lemme get it!" she jumped off the chair to run into her room. "I maked a shirt like I maked Daddy's cape!"
"Ah . . . your daddy's cape . . . it was . . . very glittery," Thor said tactfully.
"Yeah. It was too sparkly," agreed Max. "Hey, you wanna see what I made in art class? Dad took us to this place where they taught us to make pottery and stuff outta clay and I made a bottle."
"I would like that very much, Max."
"Be right back!" his nephew said, and then he too took off.
Thor watched in amusement. These children move like . . . what's the expression Tony uses? Greased lightning.
Soon Max was back, eagerly showing his uncle his little potion bottle, which had green, gold, and red stripes on it. "Look!"
Thor took the tiny bottle carefully and examined it. "This is marvelous, Max," he said honestly. The little boy beamed, reminding the Thunder god of his brother as a child, the resemblance was striking. If I didn't know better I would think this boy truly is Loki's son. But he knew none of the children were related by blood to his brother. Not that it mattered. Loki was forever saying that love created ties deeper than blood.
Aleta returned with the shirt and began to discuss makeovers with Thor.
Loki nearly died laughing carrying the dishes into the kitchen. By the Nine, spark! Give your uncle a makeover!
"Aleta . . . I don't think this make over is something a warrior would do," Thor began.
"Uh huh. Sam says the old British warriors wore makeup. And they braided their hair," Aleta informed him.
"Yeah and the Vikings did too," Max put in.
"Uh . . . err . . . well . . ." Thor coughed.
"Oh, come on, Thor. You're not afraid to have your hair braided, are you?" Loki teased.
"Afraid? I am not!" Thor blustered. "It's just . . . it might be unmanly."
"Dad let Aleta braid his hair," Max told him.
"Yeah but . . . he's a magician . . ."
"So? You saying I'm not a man?"
"Sometimes you aren't."
"What's that got to do with the price of tea in China?" Loki snapped. "Never mind, Aleta. Your uncle is scared a few braids are gonna wreck his hero image."
"Loki! I did not!" Thor objected. "Fine. You may give me two braids, little niece."
"To start," Loki whispered gleefully. He handed Aleta a comb and some beaded leather ties.
While his daughter began to comb out Thor's blonde hair, Loki returned to gathering up the dishes.
It was then that Max accidentally knocked over his potion bottle . . . which contained a few drops of a powerful sleeping elixir. He had poured a little in from what remained in the cauldron when Belle had helped brew some sleeping potion as part of her magic lesson earlier that week, unknown to either mage.
The clear potion dripped onto the remainder of Thor's scone, soaking quickly into the pastry.
"Uh, Uncle Thor—" Max began, but Thor didn't hear him as he was busy talking to Aleta.
The boy watched in alarm as his uncle promptly picked up the scone and gulped it down.
Aleta had just finished one braid when Thor suddenly tilted his head forward and fell asleep on his hand. "Huh? Max, he fell asleep!"
"I know . . . umm . . . it's kinda my fault . . .I spilled some of my magic potion in his scone . . ."
Aleta shrugged. "Maybe that's okay. Daddy always says he wants a nap in the middle of the day, so . . ."
"I hope he doesn't get mad," Max said worriedly.
"It was an accident. You don't get in trouble for that," Aleta pointed out. "Now help me do his hair."
"Do what? More braids?"
"And the hair dye. Look, we have all these colors . . ." she displayed her kit of rainbow washable hair dye.
"Neat! I'll do this side," Max said, and took the green bottle.
Soon the slumbering Thunder God sported braids in every color of the rainbow.
"Pretty!" Aleta clapped her hands. "Now we gotta do his nails. What color should we paint 'em?"
Max looked thoughtful. "Red and blue. He wears those colors all the time."
"Okay. Here's the blue paint." She handed her brother some blue sparkly polish and the two children carefully painted each nail.
"Now we need to decorate his cape n' armor." Aleta picked up the Bedazzler.
"'Kay. I'll do the armor," Max announced. "You do his cape."
He took some more hair dye and began to draw some more runes on Thor's armor—in dayglo orange, blue, and green. Then he added some stickers that he found inside the case—of purple ponies and pink butterflies.
Aleta carefully drew a heart on Thor's red cape in dazzling diamond studs. She put an arrow through it and then added a flower and wrote Luv Ya! When she was done the cape sparkled like a thousand stars. Pleased, she went and got Thor's winged helmet and used the Bedazzler to outline the wings in gold studs.
"Hey, we forgot Mjolnir," Max reminded her.
"Ooops!" she cried, and went and wove some sparkly pink and purple ribbons around the handle, with beads. Then she added some stickers—puffy pink hearts and unicorns.
"Is he done?" Max asked uncertainly.
Aleta studied her uncle. "Yup! He's ready!" she gave her brother a high five.
"Kids, what are you—Yggdragsil's Roots!" Loki gasped upon seeing the makeover his intrepid artists had given the mighty Avenger.
He clapped a hand over his mouth, trying to smother the giggles emerging from between his lips.
"Daddy, Uncle Thor fell asleep so I gave him a makeover. Isn't he pretty?"
"Uh huh . . . he's . . . he's . . . brilliant . . ." gasped the God of Mischief.
He quickly snapped several pictures with his phone of the comatose Avenger with his rainbow cornrowed hair, his blindingly picturesque armor, the heart cape, the glittery helmet and best of all Mjolnir covered with pink and purple ribbons and puffy pink hearts and unicorns.
He quickly typed Thor Meets the Rainbow Connection and sent it off to Tony's email.
Then he lost it and doubled over laughing hysterically.
Aleta stared at him. "Daddy? Why are you laughing?"
"Your uncle . . . he . . . it's . . ." he abruptly dissolved into giggles again.
Max grinned. "Grown-ups!" Then they both started laughing too, because hearing their father's mellifluous laughter was infectious.
Loki swore he had never laughed so much in all his millennia of existence. He laughed until tears ran down his cheeks, he laughed so much he worried he might lose control of his bladder. But every time he thought he was under control, he had only to glance at his brother—the Mighty Glittery God of Thunder—and he started howling with laughter all over again.
Then he realized something. "Uh . . . Aleta . . . why is Uncle Thor asleep?"
"Cause he ate a sleepy scone Max made him."
"I didn't mean it!" Max cried, then told his father about the spilled potion.
"Oh, is that all? That will wear off in about . . . ten minutes. Let's get him a mirror so he can see how lovely he looks," Loki smirked and fetched a large full length floor mirror which he set in front of the Thunder God.
Thor began to stir and Aleta yelled, "It's time to rise and shine and say hello to Mr. Sun!"
Thor nearly jumped out of his boots. "Wha-!"
"That's my wake up song. Daddy sings it when my sisters and brothers won't wake up for school," his small niece told him. "It always works."
"Loki, that's horrible," Thor grumbled. "Are the braids finished?"
"Take a look," Loki urged.
"Loki, why are you smirking?" Thor asked suspiciously.
"Uncle Thor, I wanna know how you like my makeover," Aleta began sweetly.
Loki suddenly had a coughing fit. "'Scuse me . . . I need a drink." He ran into the kitchen.
Thor sighed and glanced at his reflection in the mirror.
The next sound heard on the block was screaming.