It wasn't easy being a princess, especially when you had Thor and Loki for older brothers.
Mother and Father said I was a surprise, they didn't think they were to have any more children. So my birth was celebrated all throughout the realm, people from far and wide came to see the unexpected princess. That only made it all the harder, growing up with the expectations of an entire kingdom of what I should be.
Thor and Loki were the best big brothers a girl could ask for. Thor was the embodiment of an overprotective big brother. He took great joy in showing me off to all his friends, he claimed I was the most beautiful in all of Asgard. At his insistence I was never left without some form of protection. He and Loki, with Father's approval personally picked out a bodyguard who stayed with me at all times. He called me Lille, meaning little one. It was his favorite pet name for me, he always called me that unless ceremony called for my given name.
Loki on the other hand was the reason I got into trouble, he showed me all the things Mother taught him about magic. I helped him plan many of the tricks played on Thor and the unfortunate place guards. He called me his little dreamer, saying I was always lost in daydreams. Loki found great joy in my amazement of his gift with magic, but he never bothered to teach me. He thought it too dangerous for me, it was one of the things he and Thor agreed on completely.
Being the first Asgardian princess, I was treated like a porcelain doll that might break at any moment. It was hurtful that they thought I was so precious that I was unable to do anything that could even be considered dangerous. I knew it was only out of love but secretly I dreamed of doing all the thing they had forbade me to do.
As much as they tried to hide it, it was obvious to all that my parents had favorites. Thor was favored by Father, they had much in common. He took much joy in teaching Thor the ways of combat and how a king was to act. Loki was Mother's chosen one, she loved Loki's inclination for magic. It was an unusual gift and she found an apprentice in him. I know my family loved me ever so much but at times it felt like I was only a jewel that needed polishing, a prize to be looked at. Never loved for my true self, never anyone's favorite.
It seemed that I had a talent for magic as well, but Mother and Father were against me learning. They were overly protective of me, for good reason I suppose. Several years before Thor was born they had another child, a girl. For some reason she was born sickly and didn't live a week after her birth. So my parents had always feared something would happen to me, telling my brothers to protect me with their lives. I loved my family but they never let me do anything that could endanger me.
That didn't keep me from practicing magic in secret though, I was nowhere as advanced as my brother but considering I had no teacher I was doing quite well. Decades upon decades of teaching myself and I was able to many of the things Loki could. If only he would teach me then I would really advance.
After years and years of close calls and near misses to go out and practice magic and weaponry, I was finally found out.
It was when both Thor and Loki caught me in the dead of night practicing with my throwing daggers that I had had enough. Given to me for protection and ceremonial purposes only, it was unexpected for me to want to actually learn how to use them. I snuck out to the target range most every night and no one ever noticed my absence. But that night was one of the rare times they were working together to plan a trick on the captain of the guard, it must have required some preparation so they inadvertently saw me in the training arena.
So focused on keeping my aim true, I never heard them coming. Tonight was the night I would hit the center every time, I hadn't missed yet. As I drew my arm back to throw the last dagger, a hand grabbed my wrist.
"Lille, what are you doing?!"
Whirling around, I met the horrified and shocked faces of my brothers. I rolled my eyes at them.
"What does it look like brother?"
Sputtering he turned to Loki for some explanation.
"Annalise, what do you think you are doing? In the middle of night no less!"
He must have been very angry with me, neither Loki nor Thor ever called me by my full name. I ripped my arm our Thor's grasp and before they could stop me I threw the little dagger, I smiled as it hit center. Then I turned back to them, a victorious grin on my face.
"That, brother dear is what I was doing. I must say, I've gotten quite good."
The shock had quickly melted into white hot fury.
"You could have injured yourself or been attacked! Neither of us would have been here to help you!"
Before I could reply, Loki continued where Thor left off.
"And furthermore, you are here alone! Against the direct order of Father to never go anywhere without your guard Vali!"
Again I had no time to reply, Thor plowed right on.
"Did you even think of how we would feel if anything had happened to you? I would never forgive myself if you were hurt and I was not there to protect you."
They glanced at one another and then spoke in unison.
"We forbid from coming here again!"
I was livid, how dare they take this from me! Both must have been expecting me to accept their edict like the meek and mild princess I was supposed to be. So the surprise on their faces when I lashed out at them would have been funny if I weren't so mad.
"No, you both treat me like I'm going to fall to pieces any moment, you forget I too am Aesir! Annalise Odinsdottir, my title, given to me at birth is goddess of protection and healing! I am not weak or breakable, like you seem to think. If you really loved me, you wouldn't stifle me to the point of going behind you backs."
I had never yelled at them before and understandably they were in a state of shock at my words. For a moment I felt hope in my heart that they would understand and change their ways. But that hope died as quickly as it came when both of them glared at me.
"We do this out of love Lille, you were not meant for this. Vail will be informed that he is not to let you leave your room at night."
Loki and I had always been closer, so I looked at him pleadingly. However his hard gaze did not waver.
"Thor is right, you cannot ever do this again. I will not worry Mother unnecessarily, so we will not tell anyone of this but it is not to happen again. Do you understand?"
I will always love my brothers with all of my being but at that particular second I loathed them. Instead of seeing how trapped and smothered I felt, they only saw their little sister who didn't know what she was talking about. My true self invisible to who I had hoped could see.
I narrowed my eyes, willing away the tears that wanted to fall.
"Very well, if that is your wish."
Both of them smiled at me and moved closer as if to hug me. I snarled at them and pushed them away.
"Don't, you wouldn't want to break me; not any more than you already have that is. If you wish no one to know of this, then fine! But no Asgardian will ever truly know their princess, just as you do not really know your sister. You say you do this out of love, if that is how you love me I'd rather you not love me at all."
I could tell my words hurt them, but that was my intention. As I started to walk away Thor called out to me.
"Anna, wait! We mean no harm, we only wish to keep you safe."
Finally letting a lone tear slide down my cheek, I turned back to them.
"Please brothers, leave me be. I wish to be alone right now."
Loki reached out and put his hand on my shoulder.
"Don't be angry little dreamer, we only want what is best for you."
My anger had faded and now I only felt pain at the way my brothers thought of me. I sighed and looked up at my brothers.
"I know and I love you for it. But did you ever think that what you want is not what I want?"
With that I left, not wanting to hear them list the reasons why they knew better. Slowly I walked back to my room, glancing at Vali my faithful guard whom I had magically put to sleep. After I closed my door I lifted the enchantment, not wanting him to get in trouble. That night I slept fitfully, crying myself to sleep.
The next morning, I found a bouquet of my favorite flowers in front of my door, next to it was a beautiful piece of polished alexandrite made into a necklace. Loki's magical fingerprint was all over the necklace and Thor knew how I loved that particular flower. Sighing I turned to Vali who stood vigilantly next to my door.
"Good morning Vali. Would you find me a vase to put these in? I will wait here until you return."
He nodded, smiling at me.
"A good morning to you as well milady. I will be right back with a vase."
I watched as he left to find me something to put the flowers in, for a brief minute I thought about leaving without him. Deciding against it, I picked up the gem. My anger had faded somewhat overnight, the only thing I felt now was a deep disappointment. I suppose it was nice of them to try and apologize, but I was still hurt by their decision. All I really wanted to do was throw the necklace out a window along with the flowers, either that or set them on fire with my magic. But before I could do anything with them Vali returned.
"As you requested."
Silently I took the vase from him, wrapping the necklace around the vase and putting the flowers in it. Then I placed the vase in front of the connecting chamber my handmaiden lived in, it would be a nice surprise for her.
"Thank you Vali, I suppose I should go to breakfast before my brothers come looking for me."
He fell into step beside me, after a moment he frowned and stopped me.
"Excuse my asking but you seem upset. Is there anything I can do for you?"
I smiled softly at him, Vali had always been so kind to me.
"Nothing much, I had a disagreement with my brothers last night. I just feel a bit down-hearted this morning, it will pass."
His frown deepened.
"I apologize for asking princess. If there is anything I can do…"
An idea coming to me, I nodded.
"Actually there is, later this morning I would like to go outside the palace. And if at all possible, without my brothers knowledge. If you would accompany me I'd would appreciate it."
A smile crossed his face.
"Of course princess, it would be my honor. Your brothers will never know you were gone."
Excited at the prospect of getting away from the palace, I grinned at him.
"Thank you Vali."
My smiled dropped as we entered the dining hall and I saw Thor and Loki. They were both looking at me, Thor smiling like nothing had happened and Loki with a bit of dread in his eyes. Loki was the smarter of the two, of course it would be him to realize I would not so easily forgive them.
Instead of sitting in-between my brothers like I had done since I had been old enough to sit there, I sat across from them next to Mother.
"Good morning Father, Mother."
Both smiled warmly at me, as they did every day.
"Good morning Anna. Why are you not sitting with your brothers today?"
Looking over at my siblings, I tried my best not to glare.
"I just wanted a change, is that alright Mother?"
Slightly surprised she put a hand on my shoulder.
"Perfectly fine dear, I was merely curious."
As the meal progressed, I didn't speak to Loki or Thor purposely. If I had to, it was short and to the point. I could tell Mother knew something was wrong, but she didn't say anything. I finished first and as soon I got permission to leave I made my way out. The voice of my Mother scolding Thor and Loki could be heard as soon as I stepped out of the dining hall.
"What have you done to upset your sister?! She looked positively miserable this morning."
I stood outside the door for a moment, wondering what they could possibly say without revealing what happened last night.
"Lille is angry with us because w-"
I peaked around the corner just in time to see Loki step on Thor's foot and interrupt him.
"We played a trick on her. Isn't that right Thor?"
Catching on, Thor nodded.
"Yes, she did not take kindly to it."
Mother stared at both of them for a moment.
"It would take more than that to anger Annalise, but if that is the story you say is true I believe you. Go apologize right now, before she disappears in the library."
I took that as my cue to leave, but they spotted me before I could get away. I nodded to Vali, who was waiting outside the dining hall.
"As soon as my brothers leave we can go."
He want to stand at the end of the hallway, so as to give us some privacy. Seconds later they caught up to me, flanking me on both sides. Sighing I stopped and looked up at them.
"What do you want?"
"Did you not receive our gifts?"
Beginning to get angry again, I pinched the bridge of my nose.
"Yes, my handmaiden thanks you. Now may I leave?"
I started to walk away but they stopped me.
"Why are you being this way Anna?"
Getting fed up, I brushed them off.
"Why indeed Loki? Have you never considered that this could have been prevented?"
He raised a brow.
"How do you think that sister?"
I smiled tightly.
"Did you ever think that all the supposed danger I was putting myself in could have been avoided if you had ever bothered to teach me yourselves? Loki I've asked you for many years to tutor me in magic. Every time you said no, I devoted an hour of trying to learn on my own. I encountered more danger trying to conjure fire, create duplicates of myself, and other such illusions than I ever would have if I had a proper teacher instead of forgotten musty spellbooks. And you Thor, if you had ever bothered to show me the proper way to throw a knife I wouldn't have learned all the ways not to do it."
I waved my hands and let the glamor charm fall away, showing several spidery scars from knife cuts as well as a few small burns from failed magical endeavors.
Their eyes grew wide, faces pale.
"Lille why did you not go to the healers?"
I looked down at my hands in pride.
"They were reminders, something to motivate me to try harder until I got it right."
Loki took my hand in his, examining the burns and scars.
"Why did you not say anything? I would have helped you."
I laughed bitterly.
"Would you though? Would you not have had the same reaction you did last night?"
For the first time in many years I had struck my silver-tonged brother speechless. Thor looked like he wanted to break something after seeing my scars and Loki seemed furious with himself upon seeing the magical scorch marks.
"If that is all, I will be going now."
Neither said anything so I took my leave. Glad to be away from my thick-sculled brothers, I headed for my room to get a cloak. After grabbing a fur lined hooded cape I joined Vali and left the palace for the first time in much too long.
Upon my request we strolled through the city streets, I wanted to see everything. Upon his insistence I kept my hood up, Vali was willing to go anywhere I wanted.
After a bit of just walking around, I headed toward the city marketplace. It was buzzing with people, only at royal gatherings had I seen so many in one place. There was much to see, I had trouble taking it all in at one time. The vendors hawking their wares, precious gems sparkling in the sunlight, mothers calling for children, customers haggling for the best price, and of course the smell of freshly baked goods.
It was amazing, I loved the citizens of Asgard they were so full of life, this would have to become a weekly habit.
I stayed in the market for several hours, until I finally started to feel overwhelmed by everything. I really enjoyed being around the people, but I was beginning to get hot and Vali refused to let me take off the hood. As I was getting ready to leave a small figure bumped into me, causing me to stumble backwards. Fast as a whip Vali reached forward and kept me from falling, his other hand on his sword ready to defend me at a moment's notice. I looked down to see who had run into me and sitting on the ground was a young girl. Brushing Vali off, I knelt down to get a better look.
"Oh dear, are you alright?"
She looked up, tears in her eyes. It looked like she'd scraped her knee in the fall.
"I'm so sorry miss! I didn't mean to run into you."
I smiled at her, she really was a pretty little girl. Blonde hair and bright blue eyes were a common trait in Asgard, but her eyes were a pretty dark brown matched with a deep chestnut unruly mane.
"It's alright, but it looks like you've hurt yourself. Let me help."
I put my hand on her knee and let the magic flow through me. Healing came easily to me, it was my title after all. She gasped and looked at her now perfectly fine knee and then back to me.
"You...you just fixed it! Are you a goddess?"
Every royal when born was given a title, a domain to rule over. Thor was god of the storm and victorious battle. Loki was god of mischief and trickery, he was also known as god of lies. We never called ourselves god and goddesses but the mortals on Midgard coined it for us. It just stuck around, instead of being a noble person you were given the title of god or goddess.
I grinned and put a finger to my lips.
"Yes, but you mustn't tell anyone. What is your name little one?"
A brilliant smile came across her face.
"I won't tell, I promise. My name is Kari."
Standing up I waved my hand, a small stone woven into a necklet appearing. Carved on it was runes spelling out her name.
"Well Kari, I'm afraid I have to go. Here I want you to have this."
I handed her the simple piece of jewelry as I moved to leave. To my surprise Kari threw her skinny arms around my waist.
"Thank you milady! I will treasure it always."
I watched as she ran off into the crowd until I finally turned away to leave. As Vali and I headed back to the palace, I was stopped by the sudden urge to look at the bifrost. Many years back, I rode with Father down the rainbow bridge. It was a sight I've never forgotten, and today I wanted to see it again.
As we reached the edge, I could see a figure at the end. It was Heimdall guardian of Asgard, owner of the Farsight. For some reason I had the feeling he wanted to speak with me, intrigued I took a step forward. Making a snap decision I looked at Vali.
"I'm going to speak with Heimdall. Wait here for me, I'll be back shortly."
Immediately he began to protest.
"Milady no! The Allfather gave me orders never to leave your side unless he or one of his sons was with you."
Frowning, I folded my arms.
"You will be able to see me the entire time. Do you not trust the Guardian?"
His eyes darted to where Heimdall stood and then back to me.
"It is not that princess. I feel that I would be letting the Allfather down."
I rolled my eyes.
"I assure you, you will in no way let him down. I will return as quickly as I can."
He looked as though he was going to object but then he sighed.
"Very well, I will wait here for you."
I returned my attention to the lone figure and concentrated. I was amateur at best when it came to teleporting, but the bridge was miles long. So hoping for the best I let the magic free and aimed for the end of the bridge. When I opened my eyes I was yards from the observatory, Heimdall standing tall in front of it. Now that I was here, I didn't know what to say.
"You wished to speak with me?"
His gaze never faltered from the vast expanse of space as he spoke.
"I did. It has been some time since I last saw the princess of Asgard in person."
I opened my mouth to reply but he cut me off.
"I've seen your struggles, you feel lonely and overlooked."
The anger and hurt I felt last night and this morning came flooding back. He was right, that was exactly how I felt.
"Yes! Father prefers Thor and Mother favors Loki. I am invisible until needed, left in the shadows for my own protection. I'm no one's favorite."
I looked down at the colorful bridge, not wanting him to see the tear slide down my face.
"That is not true."
Glancing up, I saw that he was now looking directly at me.
"You are beloved by the people, the light of Asgard they call you. The child you helped today will never forget what you did, you were named Healer and Protector for a reason."
The corner of my lips twitched upwards.
He smiled, his face becoming warm.
"I know, I see it all."
A feeling of affection spread through me, a genuine smile on my face.
"Thank you Heimdall, I needed to hear that today."
Just as I closed my eyes and started to let loose the magic needed to return me to Vali, he spoke again.
"Princess, you have always been my favorite."
When I opened my eyes, I was at the other end of the bridge. I hadn't realized how much energy it would take, I needed to practice more often. Thankfully Vali caught my arm when I stumbled forward.
"Are you alright milady?"
Feeling rather dizzy I smiled at him.
"Yes, I'm wonderful."
After making sure I wouldn't fall he let go of my arm.
"Did you speak with Heimdall?"
I started to walk back to the palace, Vali falling into step beside me.
"Yes, I did. Thank you for coming out with me today, I'm feeling much better."
"Anything for you milady."
For the rest of the way back we fell into a comfortable silence, I couldn't stop smiling.
It was only when we arrived back and I saw both of my brothers waiting at the gates did my smile start to drop. I turned to Vali, stopping before they spotted me.
"I think I can manage from here."
Before he could dispute my decision I motioned to the two idiots waiting for me. He smiled and patted my shoulder.
"Good luck princess."
As he left, I sighed as I approached the gates. Maybe I could sneak past them, I still had enough energy to make myself invisible. Quickly I snapped my fingers and I felt the ripple of magic cover me, rendering me undetectable. Tip-toeing I tried my best to get past without them noticing me. I almost bumped into Thor, who was pacing back and forth.
"She has been gone all day. When do you think she will be back?"
"I do not know brother, Anna is ver-"
Loki stopped suddenly and turned to look in my direction. I froze hoping he couldn't feel my presence.
"You are going to have to better than that if you want to fool me."
He waved his hand and my illusion shattered. I gasped at the sudden loss of cover, it hurt when the illusion was broken.
"Lille! Where have you been?"
Refusing to let my siblings ruin my day, I looked at them coolly.
"Out, now if you'll excuse me."
Loki reached out and grabbed my hand before I could slide past him.
"Anna wait, there is a better way to conceal yourself."
I pulled my hand away and turned around to look at him, raising a brow.
I'd never seen my trickster brother look remorseful before, the sincerity on his face was odd.
"And…if you want I could show you."
Loki elbowed Thor in the ribs prompting him to step forward.
"Ah, if there is anything you haven't already learned through your own trial and error I will be out in the training grounds tomorrow. I'd be glad to teach you."
Taken aback I couldn't say a thing. Seeing my astonishment Loki smiled.
"I'll only say this once, I was wrong Anna. I was blinded in my need for your safety, I never considered what you might want. That it might not be what I did, for that I am sorry."
Not to be outdone Thor took my hand.
"I only ever wanted to see you safe and happy. It seems my desire to keep you safe caused me to bring you sadness, can you forgive me Lille?"
I blinked, still in shock of what they'd just said. Was this real?
"I-I don't know what to say."
"Say you forgive us little dreamer."
Their words finally sunk in and I was ecstatic, throwing my arms around him I hugged him tightly. I heard him chuckle as he wrapped his arms around my slight frame.
I pulled back and looked up at him, beaming.
"Of course I forgive you!"
Thor cleared his throat, grabbing my attention.
"Am I also forgi-"
Laughing I grabbed his arm and tugged him towards me and Loki.
"Oh come here you!"
Much to Loki's discomfort Thor squeezed us together in a bone-crushing hug.
"I am so glad you are no longer angry with us Lille!"
Loki scowled and wiggled his way out of Thor's embrace, leaving only me. I rolled my eyes, would they ever get along?
"Don't ruin this for me Loki, play nice for once."
His lips teased a smile.
"Maybe just this once, for you."
I smiled as the chill that always accompanied my trickster brother enveloped me. I leaned into the hug, Loki didn't often show his affection for me in this fashion so I enjoyed it while I could. Sandwiched between my brothers, I felt happier than I had in decades. Finally letting go, Thor ruffled my hair and grinned at me.
"Thank you brothers, I thought I was to continue being invisible forever."
Thor frowned and Loki narrowed his eyes.
"You are anything but invisible Lille."
Putting his hands on my shoulders, Loki forced me to look him in the eyes.
"Why would you ever think that that you were invisible?"
I tried to pull away from his piercing stare, but he was having none of that.
"Answer me Anna. Why do you think that?"
Very uncomfortable, I sighed. When Loki wanted something there wasn't much that made him stop.
"If you must know, after years of being in the background it just became normal to think that. I've never been allowed to do much of anything, so I came to the conclusion that I was not all that important. Invisible, in the shadows."
Loki's grip on my shoulders had become rather tight, he only let go after seeing my distress. I could tell he was upset, Loki always paced when he was unhappy. I squeaked in surprise when Thor grabbed me in another crushing hug.
"Never! You have never been and never will be invisible, you shine too bright."
Abruptly halting his rapid curricular stalking, Loki turned back to look at Thor.
"It seems our sister is the only thing we can ever agree on brother."
Then he focused his gaze on me, glaring slightly.
"I don't ever want to hear you say that you're invisible again. You are much too important to think that. Do you understand?"
"I think so, you may have to remind me though."
"Good, now then if I'm to teach you there will be some rules and boundaries."
Thor threw an arm around Loki, much to his chagrin.
"Yes, I agree. When you are practicing with me we will use wooden or blunt blades. We should probably start with simple forms and defensive maneuvers."
Shrugging out from under Thor's arm, glowering all the while, Loki nodded in agreement.
"Hmm, yes. I won't have you doing anything too complicated or dangerous without my presence. And of course we would start with the basics."
I rolled my eyes, I guess some things never change. It will be fun surprising them with all that I already know.
As they started to bicker about when my lessons would start, I began to walk away. It was only when I was all the way down the hallway and almost around the corner did they notice.
"Lille wait! Tell Loki that you are going to have lessons with me first."
Glancing back over my shoulder, I saw the two of them racing down the hall.
"Come back Anna, tell this great oaf you are to study with me before him."
I grinned, waiting until they reached me.
"No, she likes me better. Therefore Lille will be my student before you."
Loki growled, a sneer on his face.
"I think not, my little dreamer would much rather be my pupil than yours! Learning magic is much more interesting that swinging around a sharp piece of metal."
It seemed this had just turned into an extension of their never-ending argument of which one of them was my favorite. Ever since I could remember they had been fighting, each one saying that he was my favorite. I just didn't have the heart to tell them I didn't have a favorite, they seemed to enjoy it too much.
I cleared my throat, catching their attention.
"Tell this buffoon I am righ-"
"Will you let our daft, pretentious brother kno-"
I couldn't help myself, I started laughing at them. It was quite humorous to see the two princes squabbling, resorting to name calling.
"Enough you two! I think by now you would know better than to assume what I think. I want to learn from both of you, but once again you underestimate me. Do remember I've been teaching myself for many years."
Both of them looked abashed, Thor more so than Loki. I was getting tired, my trip out was more exhausting than I thought.
"I think I will retire to my rooms. Tell Mother and Father I was tired and had dinner brought to me, I'll see you both in the morning."
Thor looked down at me with the big blue eyes that no one could ever deny.
"But Lille, who do you wish to train with first?"
Smirking, I started walking down the hall calling over my shoulder.
"I guess that depends on who gets there first. Goodnight brothers."
Without turning around I could hear them start arguing. I smiled as I entered my room, for the first time I was looking forward to what the next day held.
I no longer felt so invisible.