look at it omg
Tom Hiddleston - Empire Magazine.
[ April, 2021 issue. ]
Pictures taken by Steve Schofield.
In honour of the new Loki trailer
Tom Hiddleston by Steve Schofield for Empire Magazine - April, 2021 issue.
ao3 | masterlist
summary: fleeing from your village and a beast in the woods, you are saved from a storm by a shadowy figure you may regret meeting.
warnings: 18+, injury, mentions of violence, non-sexual dub-con
Vibes: vampire!au, hurt/comfort but with Tension, emotional hurt/comfort, mild whump, NNAVD (Not Nosferatu Approved Vampire Depictions)
a/n: okay!!!! this has gone quickly from a monster-sized one-shot to a little 3 or 4 part piece, so hopefully that’s okay lmao. also shoutout to @divine-mistake who is the sweetest and got me back into writing for loki, divine can be blamed for everything that’s about to happen here (also go love her loki series it’s amazing) 💚🖤 anyway here it is, hope y’all enjoy, take care and stay safe darlings ❤️❤️✨✨
You should never have dared to leave the town limits, no matter what would have become of you there. Dealing with the taunting, the threats, the mutters of “witch”, would have been better than running through the forest, alone, your skirt catching at the underbrush as you fail to ignore the growls behind you.
You don’t know what the creature is. It’s hulking and furious, and that’s all that matters to you as you gasp, bursting through the trees. The skeletal branches scratch at your arms and face, leaving behind streaks of blooming, warm stinging that contrasts with the freezing cold all around you.
The lumbering enormous creature behind you growls again, and the sound rolls through your chest like a thunderclap. Your breath hitches, fear seizing you, and you lunge forward, away from its snapping jaws.
You feel the hot breath of the creature along your back, and the graze of its fangs against your cascading, muddy skirts. It drags you backwards for just a moment before you yank the fabric out of its grip, stumbling to the ground in the process. Your palms strike the dirt hard, and you wince and hiss in pain as you crawl forwards, determined to get away.
“Please.” The word comes out of you in a hoarse cry, and you twist on your back to squint through the darkness, unable to make out the beast’s face in the shadows cloaking the night. “Please, I -”
You should never have left, you should never have left. A great, wet nose rams against your side, sending you sprawling on your back in the dirt, nettles tangling in your hair and your skirts. You feel a rope of thick, hot saliva drip onto your exposed calf, and you choke on a broken whimper.
You do not hold back your cries when its jaws close around your leg.
Thrashing from side to side, clawing at the ground, you try and rip yourself from its sharp grip. Agony lances through your calf, bright and blinding, shockwaves rippling through your body as you try to move while still between the creature’s teeth. When it flings you to the side and you go tumbling along the ground, you don’t waste time using your momentum to stumble to your feet, limping away from it as fast as you can - though that isn’t very fast at all.
It’s playing with you, you realize with sickening dread clenching your stomach. It’s playing with its food.
You’re still limping along, shoving your way through the dark and the trees and the mud and the sharp, angry throb in your leg, when the growling is cut off with a sudden high-pitched whine. The movement behind you ceases, and you take a breath, listening for a split second before you’re breaking into a run.
Thundering growl returning, you can hear the creature racing after you, something else flitting through the cacophony of its predatory sounds: something lighter, a rustling and then another whine, interruptions of the symphony being composed for your demise.
When the ground gives way beneath you, and the rumbling growl is replaced with the overwhelming rush of the river, you hardly notice. Your vision is already going blacker than the night that will claim you.
The world around you is a hazy blur, trees tipping on their sides, climbing along the rain-soaked ground next to you. You try to turn your head, but find that gravity is working against you; your limbs are too heavy to lift, your blinks slowing, beginning to shield you from whatever horrors are coming to claim you now. The pale smudge of moonlight is all you can see before you fall completely in on yourself, a soft “please” dissolving on your tongue before it can fully escape you.
Soft. You’re laying on something soft, something that’s curling around you, holding every inch of you as your limbs slowly but surely stretch out, blinding reaching through the overwhelming softness, searching for your surroundings.
The rush of the water, cold, reaching right through you like you’ve turned to a ghost, your breaths stopped short by the river that floods you -
You sit up with a sharp gasp, like you’re checking to make sure you can still take those. When your lungs expand, they don’t want to stop; your breaths come fast and shallow, your chest both too full to take more but too empty to stop reaching for it. Your fingers clench in the softness that once cocooned you, and you freeze.
You’re sitting in a magnificent bed, your hands curled in the thick, luxurious blankets draped over its surface. You’re dressed only in your underclothes, your The room beyond the bed is decked out in swaths of deep, rich emerald - velvet, silk, satin, linen - and shining brass and gold decor. The room is a mess, clutter building up on the grand mahogany desk and the many, many bookshelves, which tower over you splayed out in the middle of the bed, casting shadows across your prone, trembling form. A fire crackles away in the enormous grate, and the flames leap and dance against the shadows.
Where the hell are you?
There’s no sound, and no movement; you can’t see anyone else in the bedroom, thank god. But somehow, the prospect of getting off of the bed sends a thrill of fear shooting through you. The stillness is somehow more intimidating than the previous chaos; at least you knew where you stood with the beast chasing you through the woods.
The beast. The woods. The river, the cold all around you -
A shudder runs through your body, and you grip the blanket tighter as you shiver. Someone must have pulled you from the river, escaped the beast as they carried you to . . . wherever this place is. But who would stop to save you? Who would have even known you were out there?
The dark wood floor is chilly under the bare soles of your feet and you wince as you slide off the enormous bed, abandoning the warmth of the blankets and linens behind you as you creep across the bedroom to the door. Despite the slight limp in your injured leg, your footsteps are mercifully quiet, and you hold your breath when you turn the doorknob. You wait for the ominous creak, the telltale sign of your attempted escape - but nothing comes. It’s as quiet as your footsteps, the door gliding open with only the faint whoosh of cold air it displaces.
The hallway beyond the bedroom looms before you, a yawning void of shadow, freedom or doom you cannot yet tell. Rocking on your heels, your gaze darts to the writing desk with all its clutter in your instinctive search for a candlestick. If you bring a light with you, perhaps the darkness won’t seem as consuming as it does right now. You steal away to the desk, hands shaking slightly, as you scramble for something to help you. An old burnished brass candlestick rests atop a pile of books, a little heavy but better than nothing at all. And then, like a winking little gift from a guardian angel, you spot it: a letter opener, polished silver, a beautiful handle, wickedly sharp. You snatch it up before you realize you want to take it with you, fingers closing around the carved handle like your most primal instinct. It’s smooth and cool under your touch, and you tighten your grip on it. It makes you feel the barest rush of power, of control. It feels like the choice to survive.
“I hope you’re not planning on robbing your rescuer.”
A shriek, rasping and dry, tears itself from your throat as you whirl on your heel, the writing desk and all its cluttered treasure rattling behind you.
He’s beautiful. A smooth, porcelain complexion, features crafted delicate and ethereal, the arch of his brow and the slick curl of his pale mouth hinting at something elfin, a nobler god touched by a corruptive, wicked thing. Pale eyes glitter at you from across the room, raven hair curling slightly from the damp, one lock tucked behind an ear that shimmers with elegant golden jewelry, and his long, slender hands are braced against the edge of the bookshelf behind him, revealing the billowing sweep of his white linen shirt, the collar loose around his graceful collarbones, buttons half undone. You don’t even have the good sense to be embarrassed when you catch sight of his pants, tight black leather that doesn’t leave much to the imagination.
“Who are you?” Your voice trembles, but it has nothing on the shaking in your knees, visible even beneath the still-damp linen of your chemise, clinging to your unsteady legs.
The man - god? elf? demon? angel? - lets his piercing gaze drift lower, raking over your prone form, and you shiver violently. Your hand is growing numb around the hilt of the letter opener, but you don’t dare let it go.
“I think a better question, dove, is who you are.” His voice is a caress of whispering, rasping tenderness, a sound that snakes around you and tugs. “Because I would love to know who I’ve so graciously brought into my home.”
“I -” You can’t seem to make your mouth work, the words sticking somewhere in the back of your throat. I want to leave. I need to leave. Why did you bring me here? Why can’t I stop looking into your eyes?
“I was hoping we could have a civil discussion,” he says, and there’s a lilting, rich baritone buried under the softness of his words, just waiting to come out and ring through the air. He takes a single step forward, and his bare foot is silent on the wooden floor. “And find out more about one another. I promise -”
That’s when you catch it: the shine of the crackling firelight on his fingernails, and the sharpened tips of them, dark and tapered and dangerous as knives, you can tell just from looking. When you manage to tear your gaze from his nails - claws claws claws - you find the sharp glint of his eyes no longer pale and icy, but a sudden flash of darkness that threatens to swallow his sclera whole.
Your shriek rips through the still air of the bedroom, and you nearly topple backwards over the writing desk in your frantic need to get as far from him as you can. You know those eyes, those claws, and what they mean for someone like you - alone, no one coming to look for her, no one to hear you scream.
“Oh, really,” he snaps, eyes - now completely void, awash in pitch darkness - narrowing into a glare that pierces right through your chest, a cold arrow of fear, “the eyes are what’s going to frighten you? That’s all it’s going to take? I thought I’d picked up a stray made of much sterner stuff than that.”
Before you can take another ragged breath, his mouth spreads wide in a grin so vivacious that it almost instills life back into his pale face - and reveals the pair of razor-sharp, milky white canines that threaten to cut into his lower lip when he pulls it into his mouth for a moment to wet it, the flesh soon shining under the monstrous smile he wears.
“Is this too much?” He asks, a note of simpering mockery in his voice. “Hm, little dove?”
The letter opener is a blur of silver as you hold it between yourself and the monster bearing down upon you. You clutch it in both hands, trying to keep your trembling under control, and plant your feet apart, standing as steady as you can.
“Stay away from me.” You try for a snarl, but it comes out as a plea. “I’m warning you.”
“Oh, you’re warning me?” He laughs, black eyes rolling as he surveys your (presumably final) stand. “I was wondering what you were sneaking around looking for. Do you feel safer with that between us?”
“Yes,” you say, swallowing against the dry panic in your throat. “Because I’ll - I won’t hesitate.”
“Hesitate to what, exactly? Open my mail? Perhaps give me a paper-cut afterwards?” His face is alight with amusement as he takes another step forwards, casual as ever. “The possibilities truly are endless.”
“Do not come any closer,” you hiss, your lower back scraping along the edge of the writing desk as you shuffle sideways, searching desperately for a path to freedom. The door isn’t far, but how fast can he move? You haven’t seen him do so beyond those slow, deliberate steps towards you - oh, and he’s taking another one now, and you flinch violently against one of the bedposts in your haste to stay clear of his reach. He’s standing hardly five feet from you now; you can almost imagine you feel his breaths, cold and slow, brushing against the exposed skin of your shoulder, your goosebump-riddled chest.
“Oh, please, darling, you’ll hurt yourself -” he begins, and you push forward with the letter-opener, driving it on like a mythic sword of olde. As though this flimsy little blade can protect you from the ancient power that thrums in this stranger’s every movement.
But his eyes widen and his hands raise, palms spread open in the air as he watches the tip of the knife dance before his face, shaking with your nerves and your fumbling as you try and maneuver around him.
“Alright,” he murmurs, gaze sliding smoothly along the brief length of the letter-opener and up to your face, locking eyes with you; his mouth curls into a little frown, the slightest pinch marring the marble of his forehead. “You needn’t get violent.”
“What are you?” You ask, the question stumbling from your mouth.
A single twitch in his jaw as he watches you, hands still in the air, knife still poised to strike. “I think you know.”
And without another word, you plunge the letter-opener forwards. It slices right through the thin fabric of his loose shirt, and embeds itself in the hollow of his right collarbone. You pull back, and the blade comes with you, loosing from his flesh with a heavy schlick.
The blood that paints the letter-opener is thin, too bright a ruby to be human, almost glimmering in the firelight. It stains the linen it cut through, a tiny patch of red, and that is all. The wound does not bleed. The monster cannot be cut in any way that matters.
“Well, that’s this shirt ruined, I suppose.”
You don’t see where his expression goes from the bewilderment you’d coaxed out; your feet are already carrying you right out the bedroom door, into the yawning void of shadow beyond, plunging directly into the darkness. The hallway is long, and you run with your fingertips trailing along the wallpaper, which crinkles and slips in its delicate luxury under your touch. Your feet trip on the rug at the end of the hall and you go crashing into the banister of the staircase, your heart beating straight through your ribcage as you struggle to right yourself.
“This whole display really isn’t necessary -”
You interrupt his words with a shocked yelp, slamming your back against the wall, letter-opener stretched out before you, utterly useless, a child’s talisman meant to sweep away nightmares.
He’s standing very close to you, and you can’t tell if you just didn’t hear his footsteps or if he made no sound at all, if he simply willed himself before you, a phantom whose delighted, horrifying grin tells you that he knows you cannot escape. How do you outrun shadows in the dead of the night?
“What do you think I’m going to do to you?” His head tilts ever so slightly as he speaks, eyes roving over your face, searching you for something. You don’t want to give it to him, and you look away, gaze darting to the floor. His bare feet are pale in the weak moonlight drifting from the high windows that bookend the hallway. You can see the telltale glow of distant candlelight creeping along the thick carpet of the staircase. Beckoning, promising. You try to breathe and think at the same time.
“I don’t . . .” your voice is half-failing you, and you grip the letter-opener tighter. “I don’t know, but - stay back.”
His smile twists, curling downwards, though it doesn’t reach a frown; he seems to cling to his delight, his interest in each of your tiny movements. He reaches forward with an experimental touch, and your every muscle seizes as one porcelain fingertip traces the length of the blade, gathering that bright blood. He examines it for a moment before cleaning it off on the wallpaper, but it’s too dark in the hall for you to see the stain it leaves behind.
“Why bother? You realize it won’t do you any good.” His eyes are back on you, and the darkness is beginning to retract from them, the whites of his eyes returning gradually. “It cannot protect you.”
You strike fast, with all your might; your sweat-slick palm slips a little on the smooth handle of the knife, but it sinks home in his throat. You tug it out with a broken gasp, and swing again, opening wounds in his chest, leaving a gash open across his bicep. You push, knife buried in what should be his heart, and throw yourself forward with your momentum. Pale hands are reaching for you, and you shrink away, your feet unstable on the plush carpet -
You plummet, taking the stairs the hard way. The blows are distant, a means to an end, as you tumble down them, hands scrambling for purchase, but they leave behind aches that bloom throughout you as you roll to a stop at the bottom of the stairs. Then you’re on your hands and knees, shuddering and blinking back tears at the pain tearing through you, scrabbling to make it across the grand foyer that is still bathed in shadow, the candlelight faint and drifting in from another room. You strain for the door handle, yanking it open as you propel yourself onto your feet, ready to sprint -
And you’re met with a downpour, the clap of thunder, the blinding strike of lightning. The rain peppers you as you stand on the doorstep, staring out into the storming, churning night, and a low rumble sweeps through the air and sets your hairs standing on end. A growl, predatory and daunting.
But something clatters behind you and it sets you stumbling forward, the rain pelting across your face, stealing your sight as you slip and stumble on the drenched stone walkway, puddles swallowing your bare feet, freezing you to the bone almost instantly.
Turning, you see his lithe figure leaning against the doorway, a pale hand clutching at his side. his eyes are pale once more, though the darkness begins to consume his icy irises when another growl rips through the courtyard.
“Dove,” he says, and his voice carries through the rain, that baritone emerging to send it ringing through your chest, echoing in time with your hammering heart. “You’re frightened, that’s quite clear. But - come inside. Please.”
It’s the pound of enormous paws on the ground - a vibration you feel in your feet, slamming up through your legs and right into your throat - that coaxes you towards the doorway. When he smiles at you again, his canines have returned to normal, and he takes steps backward in tandem with yours, allowing you entry and space.
Once the door is closed softly behind you, shutting out the storm and the beast and the overwhelming night, you sink right to the floor, your knees hitting the wood panelling hard. You register it somewhere, but can only watch as this creature approaches you with slow, almost nervous steps. He crouches, bringing his face level with yours, and you press your lips together but fail to hold back the whimper that bubbles up from within you.
“You . . . I’ve been a little mean, I believe.” He starts gently, brow knitted together as he surveys the damage wrought by your escape attempt. His wounds do not bleed, and you cannot look at them without shame and humiliation rising up in you like bile. “I did not realize how . . . seriously you would take an escape attempt. Most of my guests give up around the ballistraude, honestly, and that’s usually where I can have a conversation with them without the need for . . . unpleasantness.” He gives his tattered sleeve a little flick, and you flinch hard enough for his frown to return. “But you - well, if you hadn’t hurt yourself quite this badly, I might be impressed by your efforts.”
“Was that not impressive?” You whisper, and he stills. “I - I’m not going to let you - you won’t do anything to me, I won’t - I can do more. I can find a way to hurt you.”
“I’m sure you can.” When his mouth quirks into a half-smile, you can’t help but notice how sad it is, the first expression that you think he hasn’t calculated since you awoke. “And you gave a valiant effort, truly. But you’re hurt, dove.” He rises, the steadiness of a godly statue as he gets onto his feet. “No harm will come to you here. You have my word.”
His hand extends like a descending beam of moonlight, slender fingers outstretched and waiting to tangle with yours. You stare up at him, your own hands clenching and unclenching over the wooden floorboards, your options towering over you.
“And your word - it’s worth something?”
His laugh is music, dancing on the air in the foyer as he watches you try to read him. “Contrary to popular belief, yes. It certainly can be.”
Can be. You feel close to worrying dents into the floor with your fingertips, but you can’t bring yourself to move while that uncertain half-promise is still ringing in your ears. He could choose not to harm you. He may keep his word.
He is whatever - whatever creature he revealed himself to be. A monster. A child of the night.
“How do I know you won’t?” You ask, mouth trembling, and his fingers retract just an inch or two. “You’re a - you - a ch-child of the night - one of the . . .”
“Oh, darling, you can say it,” he urges, eyes bright as he regards you at his feet. “Come now, you know the word.”
“Vampire.” It whispers out of you, a dying breath of air in a mausoleum, and you shudder.
“There. Much better to have it in the open, don’t you think?” His fingertips dance along the curve of your chin and you flinch, eyes squeezing shut, as he tips your head up, his grip feather-light on your skin; when you dare to open your eyes, he’s studying your face like an expert in an art gallery, meticulous and captivated by something intangible. “And I know what you are - and what they called you.”
“I don’t -”
“I know a witch when I see one, darling. Or at least, what your little townsfolk would call a witch.” His smile is razor-sharp and glimmering, and he probably feels the movement in your throat as you try to swallow down your fear. “Running you out of town was a bit of an overreaction - and for what? A pretty little thing whose greatest threat to them was feeling a storm before it came? Coaxing animals out of the henhouse with a few words? Sensing sickness before it could set it, become fatal?” His head tilts as he watches you, his fingers cool and soft on your jaw as he moves your head a bare inch to the left. “They ran out something rather useful.”
“I’m not a thing,” you whisper, and his light ministrations still. “I’m not a thing. I’m a person, I - I’m not a thing.”
“No,” he murmurs. “I suppose you’re not. To be a thing would be to have a master. And you,” he dips his head down, drawing closer as he examines your face, “don’t seem the type to stand that.”
“That’s good, dove. That sort of fire suits you.” His fingertip drags along your temple and you wince, pulling away, as he shakes his head. “But you really are quite hurt - and soaked, all over again. I won’t harm you, darling, but do come upstairs and let me warm you up.” His smile is just on the soft side of crooked as he locks those pale eyes with yours.
“I promise not to bite.”
The bedroom is grand, grander than you noticed in your panic, as he - the vampire - flicks his fingers and light springs up along the candles that crowd the room, a gentle golden hue illuminating every last corner.
“You should really sit down,” he says over his shoulder, focused as he is on rifling through a cupboard nearby. “You oughtn’t stand on that leg for very long.”
You can only nod, a single, shaky gesture, before perching yourself on the edge of his enormous mattress, your legs barely touching the floor with how tall it is. The blankets are soft beneath you, and beckon you to fall back into their embrace, but you are locked in your position as you watch the vampire warily flit about his shelves.
“Introductions are likely in order at this point,” he declares as he finally turns to face you, brow pinched as he studies you. “I would so love to know your name.”
“I - I don’t -”
“I’m not like the fae folk.” His voice is hushed as he glides across the room, movements so graceful you barely catch sight of them. “I cannot use your name against you.”
“Then I want yours first.” The words come out of you unbidden, a sudden rush of courage pushing them forward. His smile curls crooked again, looking almost human in the warmth of the candlelight.
“Loki.” He shifts to stand in front of you, setting a little bundle of something on the bed next to you. He’s tall enough to lean over you, shadow casting along your body, and his teeth gleam white when he smirks. “And yours?”
You take a long breath and exhale, trying to push away your nerves as you do. “Y/N.” Your voice is small, a little frail, but you manage to say it without breaking entirely. “Y/N Y/L/N.”
“Hm.” His fingers are soft along the back of your hand, slowly unclenching it from the blanket, and trailing along your forearm. “A good name for someone who would threaten a vampire with his own letter-opener. Strong.” He pauses, hand drifting up to your jaw, tilting your head to expose the side of your face to the brunt of the candlelight. “I didn’t get a chance to clean you up after returning - would it be alright if I did so now?” He holds up the small glass bottle and gives it a little shake, his fingernails tapping along the glass. They’ve returned to normal now, and your eyes track their movement in your peripheral. “It’s only witch hazel.”
“. . . Fine.” You purse your lips, trying to stay as still as possible as the creature - Loki - carefully soaks a length of fine, pale rose linen in the witch hazel solution. He braces his long fingers along your jaw, keeping you steady as he gently dabs at the scratches that decorate your cheek and temple.
When he reaches the deeper gash on your temple you let out a hiss, and he frowns, pulling away. “Some of them will sting a bit, yes. Unfortunate.” You can’t tell if he means what he’s saying, but you hope he does. The glint in his eye, still unreadable, cautions you against this hope, however. “I suppose you can handle the rest - you can see your own legs, I presume?”
He laughs when you take the linen from him with a hesitant snatch, and turns back to the assortment of tinctures and balms he had pulled from his cupboards.
“I can dress your leg,” he says quietly, eyes darting from the phial in his hand to the wound marking your calf, which is pulsing with an aching throb you’ve almost grown used to. “It’ll become infected otherwise.”
“I don’t . . .” You trail off, staring down at the angry, blood-clotted bite mark, before looking up at Loki through your eyelashes. “You won’t . . . the blood won’t . . . bother you?”
“Bother me?” He’s grinning again, though there’s something practiced about this one. “Oh, dove, it would take a lot more than a nasty thing like that to make me lose control, I promise. Think a little more highly of me, I beg of you.”
“My apologies for not being - being comfortable with a . . .”
“A vampire, darling,” Loki interjects, and your pursed frown deepens.
“A vampire touching me,” you finish, gaze hard and trained on him as he rifles through his supplies. “You’re not exactly known for being trustworthy.”
“Nor are witches known for needing saving,” Loki remarks lightly, unspooling a long strip of that same rosy linen. “Aren’t we a pair of individualists.”
“I’m not a witch,” you snap, though it tastes like a lie. It carries the bitterness of one, the knowledge of what your fate might have been had you stayed in your hamlet.
“Whatever you say,” Loki shrugs, gesturing to your legs with a flick of his elegant fingers. “This would be much easier if you were to lay down.”
“You don’t feel like kneeling?” You ask, heart racing as his gaze snaps right to yours.
“Oh,” he murmurs after a long, tense moment, “I was right to pull you from that beast’s jaws, wasn’t I?”
You wait another minute, Loki silent and you fidgeting under his stare, before you finally haul yourself onto the bed, settling back against the fluffed pillows that line the headboard. You flinch as your wounded calf drags along the fabric, and before you know it Loki is lifting it in one hand, draping a cloth onto the mattress below for it to rest on, clean and cool against the burning bite marks.
“More witch hazel,” he notes, dampening a fresh piece of linen with the tincture, “so this will sting a fair bit. Just try to relax, darling - I promise not to take advantage of it.” His little wink is so distracting that you hardly notice as he starts to clean the wounds, the sting of it distant as you take in the profile of this being slowly working through your injury as you lay draped across his bed. The memory of the snapping jaws of that beast run through the back of your mind, and you shiver.
“What - what is that thing?” You ask quietly, as he discards the linen swab and unscrews a copper tin. The sickly-sweet smell of its contents is strong enough to reach you from a few feet away. “The beast?”
“An old . . . acquaintance,” he says slowly, a smirk curling his mouth. “We used to know each other, you could say. Usually, he isn’t quite so violent, but . . . sometimes people will rile him up intentionally, something will spark his interest.” His eyes flicker to you, and you feel your face warm under the intensity of his gaze, the proximity of his hands to your bare legs. Your chemise has ridden up considerably, rumpled around your knees as he cleaned your wounds. “I think you certainly count as being of interest, Y/N.”
The balm he applies is thick and creamy, but you hardly feel the sudden cold of it; you’re too focused on the feeling of Loki’s hands, massaging the paste into your wounds in slow, methodical circles, firm but not enough to be painful. You bite back a sigh as his hands finally leave your calf, and feel a flash of bewilderment run through you. Why would you want this vampire’s hands on you any longer than necessary? But then he’s raising your calf and wrapping it in that soft rosy linen, tight but not aching. His fingers are delicate on your skin, and you shiver at the brush of them as he secures the bandages with a meticulous little knot. As he finally lowers your leg back to the cloth he laid out, you’re sure your face is on fire, your ears and neck splotched with heat.
“I have towels,” Loki says gently, trailing a fingertip along your bandaged shin before pulling away from you entirely; the touch remains, the ghost of connection. “If you’d like to dry off a bit before you change.”
“Change?” You ask, pulling yourself upright, and he gives you another of those off-handed shrugs.
“I have clothes you may like. Old gifts, friends’ garments, you know. How do you feel about silk?”
“I - I’ve never - I mean -”
“Hmm,” he taps on his mouth with one fingertip, studying you up and down, “Nevermind that. I think I have something that may fit you . . . although I can’t promise you modesty. There isn’t much bother for that in this house.”
You’ve barely managed to pull yourself up by the time Loki is sweeping to the other side of the bedroom, opening an ornate armoire and pushing through hanging garments. Your feet hit the floor and he pauses for the slightest moment, but after you stand still, just watching, he resumes his search.
“It’s not much,” he says at last, closing the armoire with a firm snap, “but it will likely do for the night. It’s dry, which can’t be said for the rest of your things.”
The nightgown is a soft cotton, plain cream, lacking any adornment; the richness is all in the quality of fabric, the strength of the stitching, the handful of pearl buttons. It’s loose, billowy, and the neckline could swallow you whole. You look from the garment in your hands to Loki, leaning carefully against the edge of the mattress, awaiting your response. A thank you, probably.
“I - what if it doesn’t fit?” You ask, fingers twisting in the cotton.
“Then I’ll be an absolute gentleman,” Loki grins, “and promise not to look too closely.”
You make Loki turn around so you can change, which mostly involves stammered threats on your part and Loki spinning on his heel to face the bookshelves, chuckling under his breath.
The nightgown is big on you, and hangs precariously off one shoulder. You run your palms along your thighs, the fabric smooth and delicate against your touch, and give a little cough. “You - I’m changed. It’s alright.”
When Loki turns back around with a small flourish, you can barely stand to look him in the eye. But his gaze does not stray very far, coming to rest solidly on your face, taking your expression in, his smile softening from that razor-sharp amusement.
“It looks lovely,” he says.
“You aren’t even looking at it.”
“I don’t have to. It looks lovely on me, I’m sure it can make even the most bedraggled, beast-attacked witch seem enchanting.”
“Not a witch,” you mumble through a huffed sigh, and Loki chuckles again.
“Certainly. Not a witch. Just a woman who would have been killed as one. Very different, as we all know.”
You scowl, and that scowl deepens as Loki starts pulling back the covers on the bed. “What’re you doing?”
“Heading to bed, darling,” he says without turning back, “what does it look like?”
“But - is there a couch or - or a chaise - where do you expect me to stay?”
“I didn’t think you would want to sleep at all.” His smile is all teeth as he turns, the points of his canines making the barest appearance as his icy eyes shimmer at you. “Given the company, and all.”
Your breath catches and you stumble back a bit, your lower back hitting the edge of the writing desk. Loki’s smile dims somewhat as he slips away from the bed, revealing a path for you to enter.
“There is a guest room I can use for the night, if you’re so worried,” he says, backing away from the bed the closer you creep towards it. “Just down the hall, dove - if you need anything.”
“I’m sure.” Loki reaches the bedroom door, his slender hand lingering on the doorknob as he watches you curl your fist into one of the thick blankets, still not in bed. A flick of his wrist, and the candles extinguish, leaving only the crackling fire to light the room. The shadows cage you in once more, and you shudder.
“You ought to get some rest,” Loki murmurs, that rasping, quiet note returning to his voice. His eyes are glinting pinpricks in the darkness as he starts to shut the door. “At least consider it.”
And then he’s gone, and you hold your breath, waiting for silence to descend on the hallway before you move through the bedroom. You crumple loose parchment and use the fireplace to smoulder the tip, and relight each candle with shaking fingers, casting that golden hue on the room - although it doesn’t seem as bright as before.
When you finally curl up on Loki’s enormous four-poster bed, blankets piled over your trembling form, you refuse to close your eyes. You stay propped up against the headboard, looking out at every corner of the room, eyes moving to the door every few moments, waiting for movement. But nothing comes, and you stare out at a danger that does not arrive.
“Don’t tell me you slept like that all night.”
You flinch, reaching for something to steady yourself, and find your hands grasping not the blankets tangled around you, but the silky, deep emerald shirtfront of the vampire that dressed your wounds just last night.
“Afraid not,” Loki says with a shake of his head as you slam yourself backwards onto the mattress, jerking your hands away from him as though burned. He frowns, smoothing out the creases in his shirt, before looking back down at you. “My capacity for holiness was revoked many years ago, darling.”
“C-could you move back?” Your voice is rusty with disuse, and there’s a horrible crick in your neck from where it angled awkwardly in your sleep. You fell asleep, here, in the home of a vampire, after promising yourself you would keep an eye out for danger.
Loki acquiesces quickly, and hovers by the foot of the bed as you unscrunch yourself from your protective position, stretching your limbs while trying not to look too comfortable in this space. The wound in your leg stings a bit as you move it, but does feel much better than last night.
“Is - is it morning?” You ask, rubbing at a pillow crease in your cheek.
“Yes.” Loki’s eyes are on the motion of your hand on your face, and he flicks a gesture to the far wall without looking away from you. “Although I’m afraid it isn’t much better out there.”
You chance a glimpse in his gestured direction, and see the pounding of the rain through the thick, time-warped panes of an enormous window. The sky is a dark, rumbling blue, the crash of the Atlantic come ashore as it ravages the countryside and surrounding woods with pummeling winds. You bite your lower lip, staring out at the vast storm. Daylight is barely visible; you almost don’t believe Loki’s claim that the sun has tried, and seemingly failed, to rise.
When you turn your gaze back onto him, Loki is standing just a little closer to you than before. His fingers are tapping lightly on the blanket, inching towards you, and you push yourself hastily to the other side of the bed. He pauses, cocking one eyebrow, as you scramble to avoid his reach.
“I was wondering if I could take a look at the bite on your calf, see if it’s healing alright.”
His request is so reasonable that it infuriates you. You don’t know the first thing about healing or medicine, so you can’t judge your own wound very well. You recall his little speech from last night - can sense illness before it can set it - and glance towards your bandaged calf with a frown. It feels fine, and the creeping sensation that Loki is somehow aware of isn’t present either.
“It feels fine,” you say shortly, and his hands raise in defense.
“Very well, I’m relieved that it’s feeling better.” His eyes are sparkling with amusement as you clamber off the opposite side of the bed, feet landing solidly on the wooden floor; the soft thud is a reassuring sound to your ears. “Would you care for tea?”
“I’m not hungry.” Your stomach aches from emptiness - your last meal of bread and apples feels like a lifetime ago now - but you clamp your mouth shut, standing your ground on this claim.
“If you insist,” Loki shrugs. “Though it would be better for you to have something in your stomach. Reviving, and all that. Good for people who’ve recently escaped death - or so I’ve heard.”
The mention of reviving and food makes your heart pause, and you eye Loki as he fiddles with a book on his writing desk nearby, not looking at you at all. The stance is too casual, his sudden nonchalance disturbing. At least the careful, calculating Loki is understandable; you know what he wants. Or do you?
“Do you . . . did you bring me here . . . for that?” The words trip out of you, clumsy and uncomfortable, your throat working around the fear in them.
Loki glances up at you, eyes shining Arctic blue from beneath his thick, dark lashes. His hand freezes where it was flipping through a novel, and his mouth curls grimly. “For what?”
“You know,” you hurl at him, arms closing protectively around your middle, as if you’re holding the pieces of yourself together while the monster watches you. “You know what I mean. Did you bring me here to - to feed on me?”
It’s the hitch in your voice that catches Loki’s attention it seems, as he closes the novel and turns to face you in a single fluid motion. His hands are braced on the bedspread, eyes boring into yours like he’s trying to stare right inside of you.
“I gave you my word that no harm will come to you here,” he says intently, “and I meant that. I . . . I did not bring you here for that purpose.”
“But you have done it,” you interrupt him, lower lip trembling. “You’ve brought people here to - to feed and kill and -”
“I did not bring you here to kill you.” Loki’s words cut right through your stammered panic, and you curl further in on yourself. “I . . . I have not brought anyone here to feed on in a very long time, Y/N. And I have not killed to feed in even longer.” He tries for a smile, though it’s half-hearted, clearly a rehearsed little smirk. “I have little interest in angry mobs of villagers, pitchforks and torches. You understand, I’m sure.”
“No one’s coming for me,” you snap. “You said it yourself, no one wants -”
“And yet you’re alive.” Loki is making his way around the bed now, and pauses when you shrink backwards, towards the corner of the bedroom. The door is so far away, you would never make it in time. Your chest is collapsing in on itself as you try to breathe. “You’re alive, little dove, because I am not interested in killing you. Quite the opposite, really. I -”
This is the first time Loki has stumbled in his words. He has paused, he has considered, he has weighed his options. But he has not stumbled. His mouth moves silently for a moment before he sighs, head dropping forwards, watching you through melancholy, hooded eyes.
“I wanted to save you. At first, it was a courtesy - Fenrir cannot be allowed to kill anyone he sees fit, including stray humans - but then . . . you. The letter-opener.” He takes a tentative step closer and you still, the gravity of his tone pleading with you to wait. “The promise that you could hurt me. The fact that I believed you, without a shadow of a doubt.” His mouth twitches, not reaching a smile, and he abandons the attempt. “I’d like to know you, Y/N Y/L/N. And if you’ll allow me, I’d like to begin with tea.”
When his hand meets your jaw, you close your eyes, waiting for him to strike. It must be a ruse, mustn’t it? Lowering your defenses, intimidating you into letting him approach . . . Your fingernails dig into your forearms, and you let out the breath you’ve been holding.
“Darling, could you open your eyes for me? Please?”
“You - you won’t kill me?” You whisper.
Loki’s laugh is soft, barely a breath, and there’s an air of sadness that hangs over it which snakes around your heartstrings. He seems to be good at that, too; he keeps plucking at them, long, slender fingers making quick work of your frightened insides, evoking sympathy even when he’s terrifying you. It’s strange and the thought of it leaves a queasy feeling in your stomach.
“I won’t. You have my word, dove: I won’t hurt you.”
Your eyelids open gradually, revealing the bedroom just as it had been. Some part of you had worried the world would be irrevocably different each time you opened your eyes in this place, suddenly plunging you into the dark, torturous dungeon you expected of a vampire. But it stayed warm and swathed in rich textures and colour, the fireplace crackling away and the bedding rumpled from your forgotten dreaming.
Loki is right before you, hardly a foot from your face, and smiles with one side of his mouth; his teeth shine bright white behind the pale curve of his lips, and you can’t help but chance a glance at his canines. They look normal now, human; you wonder why they come out when they do, if he can control it.
“Your thoughts are going a mile a minute,” Loki murmurs, his hand descending from your jawline to rest over one of yours. His touch is cool and soft, his palm entirely uncalloused. His fingers fit around your palm nicely, not too tight, not restrictive or demanding. “Do you not like tea?”
“I - I like tea.” You pause, frowning. “Do you like tea?”
“Oh, darling, I adored it in life,” he grins, and turns to begin the journey from the bedroom. He moves you along behind him in an insistent but gentle march, your arm stretched out and linking the two of you together as you pad along behind him, trying to keep up with the grace of his long, easy strides. “And what sort of host would I be if I had nothing to offer guests? Especially guests so in need of something reviving.”
“You could have drowned last night,” Loki says, looking to you over his shoulder, one eyebrow raised in question. “Do you remember your flight through the woods?”
“I -” The beast’s jaws, snapping at your heels, clamping over your calf, tossing you through the air like a ragdoll. You swallow, feeling unsteady as your calf gives a particularly wicked twinge. “Yes, I remember.”
“Good, I’m not sure how I would have fixed it if you hadn’t.” Loki swept the bedroom door shut behind the two of you, closing you off from the comfort of the bed and the fireplace, and opening up the rest of the mysterious manor house to your exploration. “Shall we?”
When he offers you his arm, you stay rooted to the spot, hand locked in his fingers. Loki’s jaw twitches and he studies you for a long, tense moment, before the two of you are making your way down the hall. You take the stairs carefully, leaning on him when your leg remains stiff and aching.
Loki may be the politest gentleman you’ve met in years, and the truth of that makes you want to laugh or cry, or both. Instead, you let him lead you to the kitchen for tea.
“It’s lady grey,” Loki had said when he placed the cup and saucer before you, the pot steaming deliciously on the table. “It’s the favourite of an old friend - I hope it helps warm you.”
It’s perfectly-steeped tea, and each tentative sip is a delightful burst of warmth and flavour as you sit at Loki’s dining table, perched precariously on the edge of the carved wooden chair. The dining room is grand, its ceiling high and walls papered over in a pattern of curling greenery. The china cup between your fingers is delicate and you almost want to set it down, for fear of shattering it in your shaky grip. The storm rages on outside, howling against the windows that peek at you from just beyond the door to the kitchen, which Loki comes gliding through with a pleased smirk.
“The tea is . . . satisfactory?”
You nod, and set the cup down on its saucer with a gentle clink; your hands go to the edge of the table, the velvety bronze fabric pinched between your fingers as you lock eyes with Loki. He lowers himself into the seat across from yours, leaning forward to balance his elbows on the tabletop, long fingers folding together as he stares back at your penetrating (and hopefully not frightened) gaze.
“What exactly are your intentions?” You ask, lifting your chin, channeling as much courage as you can into the question.
Loki, for his part, hardly bats an eye at the question. He just smiles, slow and sure, and surveys you for a moment before speaking in a low, deliberate tone. “I beg your pardon?”
“Your - your intentions,” you snap, hands fisting in the tablecloth, “what are they? Beyond tea, what do you plan to - to do with me?” You swallow, and catch his eyes as they dart to your throat, watching the movement. “You keep saying you won’t harm me -”
“And I won’t,” Loki says, drawing a frown through your fear.
“Then what? Do you plan to keep me here as your - your captive? Am I meant to be a source of amusement for you?”
“You are meant,” Loki says slowly, brow drawing into a stormy frown of his own, “to drink your tea.”
“And what happens to me after the tea?!”
“I doubt I could make you do anything,” he says dismissively, leaning back against his chair. “Although I daresay you don’t have many options available to you, do you?”
Your face warms, and definitely not from the tea or any “reviving.” You draw yourself in close, seeking the comfort of knowing where everything is, keeping yourself tucked together where you can’t be grabbed. “What d’you mean by that?”
“You fled from your little village because they thought you were a monster, didn’t you? You nearly died last night, eaten by a beast in the woods. You have no money, no clothes, no food, no drink - do you even have any family to go to? Friends willing to take you in? If you do, they’re worlds away from here, aren’t they?”
The air in the dining room is growing colder, the storm outside rumbling straight through the walls and shaking you. Your breaths are tight and sharp, and you press your arms firmly around your middle, staring, enraptured, as Loki continues.
“So, you have nowhere to go, and nothing to survive on in these parts, do you?”
“I - I can - I’ll -”
His head tilts to the side as he watches you, fingers tapping out a slow rhythm on the tabletop. There’s that little note of tragedy in his eyes again, aimed at you. “Do you?”
“No.” The word is half-sob when it comes out of you, and you bite back more as you try to hold yourself together. He’s right: no one in your village wants you around, no one would protect you. No family, no friends, no food or clothes or money. Just an unfortunate little soul with an unfortunate little gift that got you nowhere and nothing.
Except here. It got you here, sitting across the dining table from a vampire, having tea and crying.
“Which is why I think you might like to stay.”
“W-what?” Your voice croaks on the word, and Loki’s mouth twists to one side, somewhere between a frown and a pout as he slowly rises from his seat and starts making his way around the dining table. You can only watch him, head tilted to stare up into those icy blue eyes as he approaches, stopping to lean one hand on the back of your chair.
“I get lonely here,” he says with a tiny shrug, rolling his eyes as if at himself. “Silly, I know, but there it is. I don’t get visitors often, and when I do . . . well, they aren’t exactly friends of mine. So, if you stay here, I think it could be mutually beneficial.”
“I . . .” You’re at a loss, not because of the dawning horror in you, but the resignation, the exhaustion that pulls at your bones as Loki’s fingertip nudges the underside of your chin, keeping your eyes on him as you try to think.
“You wouldn’t . . . you wouldn’t kill me?”
“I swear to you, for the first of presumably thousands of times,” Loki laughs, leaning ever closer to your face, “I won’t harm you. And, at the risk of provoking the cosmos, neither will anyone else while you’re here. You’ll be perfectly safe.”
Perfectly safe. His words are certain, like an enchantment being invoked, a commandment. You feel your head start to dip in a nod before you’ve even thought to reply.
“Alright, I’ll . . . I’ll stay. If you’d like me to.”
When Loki smiles, it’s a baring of teeth.
Loki: What’s a word that’s mixed between ‘sad’ and ‘mad’?
Vision: Disgruntled, Miserable, desolated—
Loki has not been betrayed. From the new Tom Hiddleston interview with Empire:
I trusted them [Louis D’Esposito, Marvel co-president, and Disney chair Bob Iger]. There was no creative hesitation in me. I just said “I don’t want to break it. I don’t want to break him.” I’d hate to dilute what we’ve already done, but I can confidently tell you I don’t think we have. And I’m joined by all these amazing people. Kate Herron [the show’s director] had so many extraordinary ideas and such a deep knowledge of the MCU and the character from the comics, and all the things that hadn’t been looked at. Kevin Wright [producer] had some great ideas. Michael Waldron [head writer] had some extraordinary ideas. And it didn’t even feel like the same experience. It feels like a new experience.
Herron knows the MCU and the comics. She is not like Waititi, who dismissed everything which came before him because he didn’t care about the character. These people care about Loki. They care about his history.
It will be okay.
Sigyn: When Loki and I go the movies, he always tries to guess the ending of the movie. And he always guesses that the main character has been dead the whole time. Even when we saw Ratatouille.
ngl to y’all but I’m missing my wife rn
I don't normally like to post wholeass spoilers to this blog, but I need to follow up on this post. I said toward the end of it that I expect Loki's story to get a big kick in the ass this summer, because Marvel is not going to let him sit idle in the comics while he blows up the streaming ecosystem.
But today's issue of Thor concluded the Prey arc, in which Donald Blake loses his fucking mind. Loki played a minor role in the beginning of this arc in Thor #735, where he was the first person unfortunate enough to cross Blake's path after Thor released him from limbo. It... went poorly.
After this, Loki was pretty much gone for much of the rest of the arc, but he came back today playing a fairly significant role.
Spoilers for Thor #740 start here.
So, Donald has spent the last few issues going on a psyscho killer murder spree, taking down anyone who's ever weilded Mjolnir. He's furious at having been forgotten by Thor, Odin, and everyone else, and like, honestly? Being trapped in limbo for years will do that to anyone. And I do think this was just a great way for Marvel to acknowledge the fact that they appear to have straight up forgotten he ever existed, so they gave Thor this great "forgot about Dre" moment in character.
It all culminates on the Bifrost, in front of Galactus' stupid giant head, with a show down between Don and all of Asgard, as well as a few allies who got caught in the crossfire. And we got this really cool visual of Odin and Loki standing side by side, Thor inhabiting the Destroyer between them, all of them ready to throw down.
And I love this line from Loki, because it serves to remind us that while he has been trying to be better, he is still cold and cruel at his centre. He's been the subject of Odin's beatdowns countless times. He knows what it feels like, and he's all but begging to see it happen to person who is, for all intents and purposes, just one more broken son of Odin—one more brother who is a disappointment, worn out of his original purpose and cast aside like he means nothing.
Loki knows how that feels. But equally, it's nice not being the subject of that for once.
Pretty much everyone is done with Blake's shit. The fight isn't much of a fight, because let's be real, it's one dude throwing a temper tantrum against an entire pantheon of badasses, plus a Sorcerer Supreme. He goes down pretty quickly, honestly. As he should. But it's not over here.
Don's lost. And that was probably his goal; suicide by Odin. And it probably would have played out this way had Odin kept his fucking mouth shut and just got on with it. But back in Avengers #695, Loki is very frank about his relationship with his parents. He's a disappointment to all of them, and he knows this.
So when Odin starts talking shit about Blake, Loki's attitude change immediately. He was down with watching Blake get a cosmic spanking, but this is going entirely too far.
The amount of brainspace Donald and Thor share is wishy-washy, but he absolutely knows who Loki is, and all the horrible things he's done. And now he comes back and finds that not only is Loki sitting on a throne, but fighting alongside Thor and Odin. The absolute pain and outrage of seeing this—seeing Loki be welcomed into the fold after everything he's done—while Don was banished to limbo for the crime of being created would have only fuelled his murderous rampage. How actually fucking dare Odin forgive Loki, and then condemn Blake to death for being a "mistake." Even if Blake wanted death, holy shit, Odin. You don't have to just say it out loud like that what in the fuck, old man?
And it gives us this wonderful moment where Thor and Loki are united in their stance.
While Blake's begging for death, both Thor and Loki are telling Odin to stop. These two are never on the same page about anything, even when they're on the same side. So this little moment where they wholly unite against their father was just great. Neither of them are above killing a motherfucker, but a thread that has remained constant for a while is that bizarre sibling mindset of "I'm the only one allowed to murder my brother." And here it is again, with both of them recognising Don as one more eternally fucked up son of Odin. It's probably a crime to be a son of Odin at this point, all things considered, but not one worth of death.
And then we have Thor even giving word to all of this, in his uniquely psychologically disturbed way.
And now we've got Loki over here, just watching on like for fuck's sake, Thor. Because it's not fun anymore. Before Don was begging for death, and before Odin was wholesale willing to provide it, this was just one more smackdown on the rainbow bridge. But he obviously sees a lot of himself in Donald; both of them made who and what they are by Odin's endless meddling, and then cast aside, abused and forgotten. Loki's tantrum lasted about forty years; Donald's lasted six issues. But they are still the same, and on some level, Loki clearly respects this.
Which is ultimately what makes him the only person able to handle this.
He knows what it's like to be forced into this family, used, and thrown right back out. His entire reaction to this scene on the Bifrost reeks of projection, but he's not wrong. He's just been given a mirror to the darkest part of his character, all of his evil deeds played out in a montage sequence of Blake's destruction. Destruction that was borne of pain and hurt and resentment. Loki's been trying to be better, and he makes his mistakes and fucks around like the best of them, but he's trying. And now he sees his carbon copy bounded and begging for death on the ground, and this becomes his problem to solve. Not Thor's. Not Odin's. Because Loki alone can empathise with whatever Don is going through.
In another post recently, I talked about how Loki has been given everything he wanted, and hates it. He was programmed to crave power, and now that he has it, it's the worst thing in the world. He doesn't want to be king. He hates being king. I feel like the only reason the hasn't renounced it yet is because every time he tries to renounce his God of Lies title and become something else, it never sticks. The new label gets forgotten, and he's shoved back into the box he's been trying to escape.
But maybe... maybe he hasn't been doing it right. Maybe the reason he's been unable to change his own narrative is because he's been throwing it out there into the void, with nothing for it to grab hold of. Maybe what Donald needs is some of the thing that's helped put Loki in the place he is now. Maybe Don just needs to get what he wanted for a while.
If Donald wants to be Thor's troublemaking brother, then why not give him the full title? Maybe now that Loki has given the title away, instead of casting it aside, it will have something to stick to, and be able to grow. And maybe he's made an enemy for both himself and Thor in the process.
And maybe—just maybe—Loki has finally freed himself from the box other people keep trying to shove him into. He wants to be the God of Stories, to be able to change and shape narratives to suit his whims. And as far as shifting narratives go, this is a huge one. If this works, and he has done what he intended, he has just created an entirely new god, and made room for himself to go off and do something else.
The series comes out in two months. That's about eight issues away. Eight issues is room for one more arc; a little more exposition, a few more character moments. But when I said in my post a while back that I expect something to happen for Loki this summer, I stand by that more than ever.
And part of me worries they're going to kill him.
The Mischief Maker
— Tom Hiddleston for Empire magazine
Hail to the Dweller in Sigyn’s Embrace Hail to the Wolf’s Father Hail to the Wanderer’s Friend Bless and walk with us this day
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Empire Magazine June 2021 [my scans]