Hi everyone! Welcome to my first ever fan fiction. Words really can't express the complicated emotions I have about that, but it's been an incredible experience so far. I'm excited to put this out there and see what people think.

If you've been here before and are wondering what happened to the other chapters, I decided to take down the original and resubmitted my better-edited versions. I'm constantly reading and rewriting, so I reserve the right to change it when it works. :)

This story takes place during "The Avengers" timeline, but it veers off in it's own direction after Loki's first appearance. I guess it's AU in that way. Regardless, I did my best to be accurate about what was canon to that point.

I'd love to hear your thoughts - thank you, and enjoy!

- Rose

"It's incredible how, when you're in the wrong place at the right time, your life can change forever, without your knowledge or permission. One event that you could have never predicted changes the course of your life instantly, like a stream breaking its banks and heading in a different direction, suddenly and violently. And then everything you thought your life would be - all your plans, all your dreams, everything you had worked for up to that point – fades and twists into something different. Something strange and exciting and terrifying and wonderful. And in that one moment, in that one split second between your old life and your new...you are reborn."

"Astrid...ASTRID! Wake up!"

Astrid groaned and rolled over on the bed. The soft down comforter blocked out the frigid cold in her room, but she could feel it at the edges of the blanket. She tucked her limbs further into the warm bubble her body created, hoping to stave off the unrelenting chill for a few more minutes. She would have fallen back asleep if Karine hadn't pulled the entire comforter off the bed and, by proxy, off of Astrid. "Let's GO!" yelled Karine. "We are NOT going to miss the biggest event we've ever been invited to because you won't get out of bed!" Astrid cried out and instantly curled up in the fetal position to protect herself from the freezing air. That was Germany for you - cold, grey, unforgiving...even in May. Karine! What the hell?!" Astrid whined, "I'm awake! Give me back the blanket!"

Karine was already dressed, and she defiantly held the blanket out of Astrid's reach. "Look, I know it's Saturday and you are REALLY great at sleeping in, but if you had just woken up when the alarm went off, you wouldn't NEED this blanket right now." She smirked, and her dark brown eyes glinted with mischief. "Maybe I should just let you go to the gala in your pajamas. I'm sure that would make a great impression." Karine stuck her nose in the air and made a face like she just smelled a fish, "Oooh, Ms. Skarsgaard," she impersonated, "I'm afraid you are quite utterly out of dress!"

Astrid finally opened her eyes, blue and fiery, and she glared at Karine, pushing herself into a sitting position on the bed. Her toes touched the icy floor, and she recoiled, groaning in discomfort. "Doesn't this place have a heater?" she half-yawned, stretching one hand high in the air and rubbing her eyes with the other. She stood and made light, quick steps over to the mat in front of her wardrobe, then began digging through the hanging clothes. "I mean, shit, we pay enough to rent this place...why is it always FREEZING?!"

Karine threw the blanket haphazardly back onto the mattress - she wasn't one to make beds, anyway - then turned back to Astrid and sat down, waiting for her to ask the inevitable question. Astrid pulled a worn, dark red sweater out of the mess of clothes, the white letters slightly fraying where they were embroidered onto the front. Even though it was old, her Harvard sweatshirt always made her comfortable. And since this would be her last year attending before starting her Ph.D, it felt...nostalgic. "I mean, seriously, I know Heidelberg is more expensive than some places in Germany...but no heater? Come on..." She quickly pulled on two slipper socks and some warm fleece pajama bottoms, while Karine waited patiently and silently, the smirk betraying the building pressure of laughter, though Astrid was still too sleepy to notice.

"So, what time is it, anyway?" Astrid asked lethargically, turning to face Karine.

Karine couldn't hold it back anymore. "ONE O'CLOCK!" she burst. Astrid's eyes went wide with surprise, then anxiety. "ONE?! Oh my god oh my god oh my god. How the hell did I sleep that late!? There's no way I can get ready in time!" She spun to her wardrobe and clawed through the hangers, pulling out a formal black dress and a pair of stockings, Karine chuckled and leaned forward. "Well, you should have no trouble staying awake tonight, at least."

"How am I going to get my hair and make-up done in...God, how much time do we have?"

"Two hours before we have to get in the limo." Karine answered, still chuckling to herself, "But it's about an hour and a half drive to Stuttgart...you could do your makeup in the car..."

"I am NOT meeting Benedikt and Nicolaus without make-up on! What kind of a date would that be?! Oh God...!" Astrid threw the gown and stockings down on the bed next to Karine, then turned and grabbed her towel. "I need to take a shower...QUICKLY. I hope there's hot water..."

Karine grinned again, and yelled at Astrid as she ran down the hall, "Wouldn't bet on it!"