Fynn wasn't expecting a strange boy to suddenly appear in her room. Then again, she wasn't expecting much of anything to happen at all. It had been one of those summer days where absolutely nothing interesting had happened at all, and where there was no sign of anything interesting happening anytime soon. The temperature had remained at a scorching 83 degrees all day, with no clouds or breeze. The sky had remained the same pastel-blue since sunrise.
Fynn hated those summer days. She hated that strange feeling, as if the world had been paused mid-second and left there. She also hated the heat, since it forced her to sweat it out in her trademark gray cardigan. It had been her friend's, and now it was hers -- a gift. Fynn hadn't gone a day without it for years, and she certainly wasn't going to start because of some weather (even if it lasted for a quarter of the year).
In an effort to cheer herself up, Fynn had made a trip to the craft store. She'd been the only person in the store around lunchtime, poking through the paints with an indecisive eye. And now, eyeing her walls, Fynn was about to put those paints to good use. All of her walls were soon going to be transformed into a magical forest somewhere far away, starting with the sunrise and ending under a full moon. Fynn had already penciled out the rough sketch on the newly white walls, and was dipping her paintbrush in her pallete for the first time when --
"Strange," somebody said behind her. "I would've thought you'd add unicorns or something. Not... dwarves and the small-sprites and the jotun."
Fynn spun around, a "Do you mind?" already springing to her lips.
"It's missing something, though," a young boy mused behind her. He was leaning over Fynn's shoulder, staring intently at the pencil sketch. His black hair, cut jagged and lopsided, completely covered one eye, but the other shone bright blue.
"I said, do you mind?" Fynn snapped, flicking her paintbrush at the boy. The dark blue paint splattered everywhere and, yelping, the boy fled to the other side of the room.
"You're not supposed to see me," he hissed to her. "How can you see me?"
"With my eyes?"
"Oh, great. She can hear me, too."
"I could be lip-reading," Fynn said, setting down her paints and crossing her arms.
"Take my invisibility talisman, Loki. It obviously works perfectly, since it's only a few thousand years old," the boy parrots.
"You're name is Loki?" Fynn asks. "Really?"
"Loki Lokison the 23rd," the boy says angrily. "Don't laugh."
Fynn bites down on the laughter. "I'm Fynn Ward," she says. "So, tell me.... Loki. What are you doing in my house?"
Loki blinks at her. "Hiding from your neighbor's dog. Apparently he's friends with a distant relative and he won't leave me alone. So I ran."
"And ended up in here because I had the window open," Fynn says slowly. "Because I wanted the get the paint smells out."
"I suppose so? Anyway, I should probably go. I think the dog's gone," Loki says. He makes a move to exit out the window again, but Fynn stops him.
"Maybe come back soon? I mean, this painting isn't going to be done overnight. And I think it's missing something, too," she says. She's smiling, and Loki's smiling back at her. They stand there for a moment, grinning like idiots.
"Knock next time!" Fynn yelps as the strange boy jumps back out her window into the growing dusk.
"Have you figured out what's missing?" Loki asks, sitting cross-legged on Fynn's bed. She sets down her brush, satisfied with how the tress are coming along, and turns to face him.
"Well, I talked to my folks, and they said no painting is complete without a border?"
Fynn considers this.
"They're really old-fashioned, though," Loki adds hastily. "I don't know about their advice."
"No, they're right," Fynns says. "Runes, maybe?"
"You could tell a story!" Loki yelps. He launches himself off the bed in a single bound, and stands next to Fynn. "I love stories."
"So do I. But I don't know runes that well," Fynn says regretfully. "So maybe that was a bad idea."
"No, it's a great idea! I can help. My family is pretty good at runic languages," Loki says. "But.... they don't travel much, so you'd have to come over to see them."
"Maybe another day?"
Somehow, to a loner like Fynn, Loki has become a friend.
Loki has claimed his own corner of the room before too long. It's where he always sits, watching Fynn paint. He talks to her, too, but he seems to understand the value of silence. Fynn likes that about him.
"You know, I wasn't really supposed to be painting my room," Fynn admits, changing out her brushes. "But I started drawing on the walls one day, and that was the end of that ban."
"Really? That easy, huh?"
They sit for a while, until Fynn asks, "So does the dog still chase you around?"
She's gotten to see it, now. A tiny little fuzzball with abnormal speed, it chases after Loki with an insane gleam in its eyes.
"Yeah," Loki admits. "It won't stop."
Fynn nods to herself. "It's too short to reach the window ledge," she says. "Even though it can jump really high."
"Lucky me," says Loki. "Otherwise I wouldn't have met a friend."
Something inside Fynn glows at that, and she finds herself smiling as she turns back to the wall.
"This one's Isa, or ice," Loki says, sketching out a rune on a blank sheet of paper. "And Fe, for wealth. Those are all I can remember off the top of my head, though."
"Wow," Fynn breathes out, tracing the lines with her finger. "And your family knows thousands of these?"
"They can definitely translate the story," Loki confirms. "So, want to come?"
Fynn looks at him, smiling. Over the past three months, he's become closer to her than any other friend she's ever had. Something in her just.... trusts him. So she nods, says, "Sure."
"Okay, take my hand," Loki says.
Fynn grasps his hand, the paint stains still on her palm from her last round of tree leaves. His hand is warm and steady in hers - comforting.
"Now, close your eyes," Loki says. "This part's weird."
Fynn doesn't understand how they're getting out the window with their eyes closed, but she closes hers anyways. Trust goes both ways - Loki's been trusting her to provide a safe place. She can trust him on this.
The world lurches out from under her feet. Gravity multiplies a hundred-fold and collapses in on itself. And when Loki finally taps her on the shoulder and says, "Okay, we're here." they're not in Fynn's room anymore. They're not on Earth anymore.
A golden palace stands before them, stretching on behind strong stone walls carved with millions of runes. The stars overhead glow brightly, sharing the sky will a beautiful full moon.
"So.... uh.... yeah," Loki says, awkwardly rubbing the back of his neck. "This is where I live. Asgard."
"Surprise of the century," Fynn says tightly. But she gives Loki a smile, anyways. He's apologetic, and awkward as ever.
"Okay, so let's meet your family," she says. "Right?"
"Yeah," Loki says. "Sorry about..... -" he flaps his free hand at the palace, "- not telling you. I was scared. You're the first friend I've ever had."
"As long as we agree to no more surprise secrets?"
They start walking forward together, as friends. The girl in the gray cardigan and the boy who doesn't quite fit.