I had, for the record, intended to write it, but it didn't quite fit into the book anywhere, and it would've been unnecessary if it had. The story didn't need it, and the readers already know, I think, what Thor is capable of, even if the woman in this scene doesn't. Yet. Of course, now that I've written it for this fest, I maybe know why my subconscious wrote it out of the novel. That is to say, I am unimpressed with my work. See for yourself though!
Thor's gaze swept over the long coat she wore, stopping at the hat and scarf. He shook his head and took the cloak from his own shoulders, draping it around her and tucking it beneath her chin. Fur lined and immense, she could not imagine where they were going that she would need something so warm.
"Trust me," he said, as if reading her mind. "You'll want it. As it is, it will be all I can do to keep your nose from freezing off your face."
"Won't you need something to keep warm?"
He shook his head. "I was born for cold weather and tempests. And if I hadn't been, Jötunheim inured me to the worst of it."
"It was a world of Ice. Like Niflheim, but not. Where the Frost Giants lived."
"Your people killed them?"
A shadow passed over his features and he looked away. "If you want to see what I can do, there's only one place where it will be safe enough."
Thor held out his hand, still not meeting her eyes. She took it, wishing he hadn't made her wear gloves. She loved the feel of her hand in his, warm and dry and calloused, and the reassurance would have gone a long way to dispel the chill in her bones from his response. He would not have changed the subject if he had not done most of the slaughtering himself.
Then the world around her shimmered, static skating across her exposed skin, and the ground beneath her feet turned to ice and snow. Her body slammed into a brick wall of cold air, crystallizing her nose hairs with her first breath and searing her lungs. She stumbled from the shock, and Thor caught her, pulling the full cloak more snugly around her body and tucking her face against his chest. Her body shuddered.
"I'm sorry," he said into her hair. "Maybe this wasn't a good idea. I should take you back before you freeze to death."
"N-no." She shivered. "I w-want to s-see."
He half-laughed, half-sighed. "Well you won't see anything if your eyes are shut."
She swallowed and forced herself to blink. Ice crystals caught at her eyelashes, and she shivered again, but at least her eyeballs didn't feel as though they were frozen. Yet.
"H-how long w-will it t-take?"
"As long as you can stand it, I suppose." He rubbed his hands together behind her back and then pressed them against her cheeks. Sunlight on a warm day rushed over her skin, sinking into her stomach, and her teeth stopped chattering.
She sighed, looking up. "Oh, that's much better."
"Mmm." His eyes burned with white fire, the pupils and irises gone. "Look at the sky. It's not nearly as impressive if you don't see it before and after."
She turned, lifting the fur cloak up to breathe through and tilting her head back. The sky was so blue and clear it didn't even seem real. Had he brought her to Antarctica? Everything was blue and white, blending together into shadow and glaring sunlight.
"Now watch," he said.
Vapor and ice collected around them, sucked from the air and rising up in white sheets and swirls of fog, refracting rainbows across the snow. The innocent film gathered into clouds, gradually shifting from crystal to pale goose feather grey, floating up higher, then gunmetal black. The sky turned a sickly green.
"Whatever happens, do not step away from my side or out of my hold. Do you understand me?"
She nodded. As if she could have if she wanted to.
The wind howled in eddies around them, whipping the hem of the cloak against her legs. She was grateful for the fur now, and the warmth of his body behind her. Unnaturally hot, really, almost burning, even through the cloak and her coat. He wrapped an arm around her body, pulling her closer, and she did not resist.
The clouds thickened and the snow reflected the green hue of what sky was left. Snowflakes began to blow, melting against her eyelashes.
And then the clouds began to spin.
At first, she thought it was only her own vision playing tricks on her, but the depression that formed and dropped like a boot toward the ice changed her mind. Lightning flashed and crackled like fireworks, thunder booming so loud on its tail that the ground shook beneath her feet. Huge fissures opened up in the ice around them from the sheer force of the sound. The funnel cloud, whirling faster and faster and growing as it spun, reached down, enclosing them in its center.
The wind roared against her eardrums. Forgetting to keep her nose and face covered with the fur cloak, she pressed her hands over her ears, desperate to block out the noise. The moisture from her breath wicked away so quickly into the air, it didn't have time to freeze on her face. The tornado tugged the scarf tight at her throat, tearing at the cloak.
She clung to Thor's arm, solid and steel hard. He stood impervious to the storm around them, and when she glanced back over her shoulder, she saw his hair did not even lift in the wind, though his feet were braced and his jaw tightened. The white light of his eyes had turned flame blue.
Raindrops began to fall, then halted before her eyes, disappearing into the cloud again. Bigger and thicker drops reformed, falling further, but they did not make it to the ground before they evaporated. Hail. She was actually seeing hail form in the center of the tornado. How was that even possible?
"Keep your ears covered and shut your eyes!" Thor shouted over the wind.
She did not need to be told twice. The roaring grew louder, and for a moment she felt as though the ground had been lifted out from under her. The wind kept pulling at her limbs, trying to tear her hands free from her head, sandpapering her face, and if it hadn't been for his arm keeping her in place, she was certain she would have been blown away altogether.
She sagged back against him, her knees giving out when it stopped. The cold fell over her again almost as quickly. She opened her eyes a slit, then wider, watching the tornado dance away, leaving craters and chasms in the snow. Thor lifted her by the waist, setting her on the edge of a cliff of blue ice that had not been there a moment before. He vaulted up beside her as she began shivering again and pulled her back against his body.
"I didn't dare let the hail start falling on your head, even if it was warmer in the storm. Have you seen enough?"
Her body shuddered, fingers of cold reaching through the cloak to wrap around her limbs. "H-how c-come it's s-so c-cold?"
"Shock mostly, I expect." He rubbed her arms, then nodded to the storm. "Say the word and it ends. I'll have you warmed up again in a heartbeat."
She took a deep breath, the air so cold it burned her lungs and made her cough. The tornado spun, placidly throwing hail and lightning and rain across the barren landscape, the sky pine black with clouds above it. Never mind that rain had no business falling in Antarctica to begin with.
"Th-this is j-just a t-taste, isn't it?"
"Yes," he said. "I could swamp the earth if I wished to, but at least here no one will be harmed by the exercise. Perhaps a scientist somewhere will notice the clouds and the strange weather pattern, but the odds are against it, and by the time it can be reported it will be gone again."
She shivered. "I've s-seen enough."
The tornado flew apart at once, lightning forking into the snow and sending up steam. The thunder cracked on top of it, tripping her heartbeat. And then it was gone, a hard wind sweeping the displaced ice and snow back into the holes the storm had dug. Thor took her by the hand, and for the first time, the feeling of static and electricity over her skin came as a relief.
The grey stone of Asgard had never looked so warm.
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