Iduun paced the floors of the chamber as Jane dug through a massive chest of clothes in the corner of the grand room. Every so often, she would hold up an article of clothing to her body, shake her head, and continue her search. Her anxious handmaiden, meanwhile, resumed her protests.
"You've not had enough time to recover, My Lady!" Iduun exclaimed - for the third time, Jane noted with a bemused smirk. "My Lord Loki has insisted you remain here for several more nights!"
She paused from her barrage against the chest and turned to face the handmaiden, holding a silver dress to her chest. She almost felt sorry for her. Iduun's face was white, her lips pressed into a disapproving frown, and her hands twisted nervously in front of her robes. Jane had grown rather fond of the older woman, and while her disposition was slightly more anxious than her own, she attributed it to being in Loki's service, and she attempted to grow closer to Iduun.
Still, as fond as she was of the woman, Jane knew she simply couldn't remain in these chambers for another day. The strength from her dreams and from Loki's words had given her hope, and the hope could not be permitted to linger and die.
"Iduun," she responded calmly, "Please understand. I need to leave - it is the Feast of Futures...Loki, if Loki doesn't have the chance tonight, I'm not sure..."
"She offered a small smile and nodded slightly at Iduun, attempting to calm her nerves. Jane could see the inner battle raging inside her handmaiden as she continued pacing the room, her slightly clammy skin appearing agitated beneath the light streaming forth from the white ceiling. She was weighing her words. Finally, Iduun turned to face her.
"I am not pleased," she began, "But I will allow you to leave."
Jane grinned and lept toward her handmaiden to offer a hug, but was stopped when Iduun raised a hand and continued speaking.
"You will have two hours to spend at the Feast. I will escort you there, and when your time has finished, I will bring you back. Is this acceptable?"/p
p style="max-height: 999999px; font-family: Verdana, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 13px;"Her eyebrows shot into her forehead and her smile fell from her face.
"I was hoping for some measure of freedom..."
She was shocked when Iduun laughed, not harsh or biting, but full of genuine amusement.
"Do you honestly believe, after seeing your illness today, that Prince Loki will allow you anywhere near anywhere without a full contingent of guards and healers?" She laughed again, regaining her breath before continuing. "Be happy that I am allowing this."
Jane sighed, but eventually nodded her consent. Two hours spent at the Feast was vastly more important than two more hours barred in these chambers. She turned back to the clothes chest, lightly rummaging through its contents.
"Those are all old garments," Iduun remarked from behind her. "You will not find any clothes that might fit you in there."
"I am aware," she responded quietly. "But I didn't have time for a fitting. I assume that Loki won't care too much as long as I'm in his colors."
Iduun laughed softly.
"They will all drag on the floor behind you, My Lady."
Jane turned to gaze at her with raised eyebrows./
"Help me, then," she snapped, her patience running thin.
Iduun cringed slightly at her harshness. She sighed. She found herself becoming more irritable as of late; she had attributed it to the growing darkness at her mind and at Asgard's borders, but still, she had no right taking out her nerves out on Iduun. She had been nothing but helpful - almost a friend. She cast down her eyes.
"I'm sorry," she said quietly.
"There is nothing to forgive; you have been through many ordeals as of late," Iduun offered a smile. "Come, let us find you some clothing." She paused. "You look like him, you know. When you raise your eyebrows in surprise, you look exactly like him."
Jane said nothing, but returned to the chest./
They finally decided upon a simple silver robe, slashed with green, that billowed around Jane's feet and that slipped tightly over her hands. She glared at Iduun as she began to laugh, but even Jane couldn't help but smile at the absurdity of her appearance. Still, she needed fresh and beautiful garments for the Feast. After pulling her hair into a tight braid and allowing the handmaiden to place a band of silver across her head she nodded at Iduun, and the two exited the quarters, making their slow way to the Feast. Jane was not prepared for the lingering pain in her stomach, and walked with a slow limp toward their destination. At her side, Iduun frowned slightly.
"Do you need to return?" she asked, her voice nervous and full of concern./
Jane waved a hand.
"I am fine. My legs are simply stiff."
Her handmaiden said nothing, but slowed her pace and gently took Jane's arm, supporting and guiding her through hallways and corridors of twisting white marble and glowing lights. They passed a few courtiers, but received no comments. Jane felt the illness growing greater, and when she was prepared to return to her quarters, Iduun stopped in front of a great pair of birch doors that towered above even the handmaiden's tall frame, beyond which could be heard sounds of laughter and dancing of a party already in motion.
"The entrance to the feast," she said softly. She turned to look at her. "Are you ready?"
Jane nodded her head and smiled.
"I am fine, Iduun. Thank you for everything," she touched her fingers to her forehead in a gesture of thanks and respect. "Two hours?"
"Two hours," she replied; and bowing deeply, the woman opened the doors with a firm push.
Jane glanced up; a great excitement formed in her stomach, and she walked through the open massive frame. The sight inside was incredible, and Jane couldn't help but gasp slightly. The room was brightly lit, with a constant aura of starlight gleaming within the massive hall. Every Asgardian of royal blood was here, it seemed, and Jane suddenly felt inadequate beneath their gazes, gazes that hardly touched upon her before moving on, before seeking out the eyes of their loved ones.
"Incredible," she breathed, her eyes wide with amazement.
"It is, isn't it?"
The voice echoed softly beside her, and Jane jumped slightly, finding Loki standing mere feet from her location. Iduun had strangely and silently disappeared.
The prince was radiant, resplendent in silver and starlight. His black cloak, shimmering with something Jane couldn't understand, wrapped about his lithe but powerful frame. Black hair, it too strangely shining beneath the moonlight, was slicked back in the style Jane was beginning to love. And eyes, deep eyes, danced over her form with an obvious pleasure.
She bowed deeply.
They danced. Jane pushed aside all thoughts of illness as they spun around the floor, their feet hardly touching the ground, their eyes never leaving each others'. She grew weak, and the prince led her out upon the balcony where beneath a sky shimmering with stars that threatened to spill over and wrap the world in light, he kissed her.
There was something that happened, Jane remembered that much. She remembered kneeling before Odin in the place of honor, to the left of Loki and to the right of Thor. She remembered Sif grasping her hand as they separated and took their places, and she recalled feeling no shock as the warrior woman took her kneeling place beside the God of Thunder. There were words, many words, from Odin and from priests and priestesses, accompanied by slight actions of massive importance from the couples seeking the blessings of forces far beyond their own godliness. There was a flash from a silver ribbon, a kiss upon the hands, the sprinkling of water upon their heads.
And then Loki was bringing her home to her chambers, and the darkness in the loneliness of her room only reminded her of him, and she was happy.
But by the early hours of the morning, all things would be lost.