Loki stands for quite some time after Thor is gone, staring out over the valley. The conversation with his brother has left him... settled, and confused, and oddly grateful. He had never allowed himself to speculate on what their eventual reunion might be like, but he certainly would not have expected it to turn out this way if he had. It is... something of a relief to realise that the Thor who tried to teach him their mother’s fighting style, who looked at pictures in books he wasn’t interested in solely because Loki liked them, who dragged him along on adventures because he liked having everyone he loved with him, is the true Thor. He has grown out of the spoiled, wrathful creature he had been and, following the cyclical nature of all things, has become the boy he once was, tempered by experience and wisdom.
Loki hopes the same can be said to be true for himself. He thinks it can. He is, after all, once more living in a library, if on a slightly more permanent basis than was true when he was a boy. He is certainly wiser. He does have more experience, and he supposes that the hard knot of grief in his chest counts as tempering.
He breathes carefully around it. He does not think that Thor will betray his whereabouts, and having a link to his old life is... not necessarily a bad thing. He does still think fondly of Frigga, and while he and Thor’s companions have certainly had their differences he has some good memories of them as well. For all that they betrayed him to go find Thor, with the clarity of hindsight Loki can admit that he wasn’t a very good king. Not that Thor would have been better, at that point, but then Asgard does not necessarily have a tradition of good kings.
Odin’s decision to leave the Casket with him is a surprising one. Although it probably gives him a way to find Loki should he ever use it, he will still then be finding a Loki armed with the Casket of Ancient Winters, which as a reasonably powerful sorcerer he would be very adept at using. He is too angry, too betrayed by Odin to forgive him for what he did to Loki’s family, and maybe Odin does not deserve forgiveness, but it strikes him that giving Loki the means to defend his new home might possibly be a particularly All-Father form of apology.
Loki closes his eyes.
It is rare for the All-Father to visit one of his sons in their chambers, and Odin looks duly discomfited by it now. Loki stands warily in the center as Odin paces awkwardly past the bookshelf.
“You are well?”
“Yes, Father,” Loki says. His ribs ache from that morning’s practice and he can barely move one of his shoulders, but he is well enough and bitterly aware that complaining will not do anything to make the situation better.
“And your rest, you sleep well?”
“Yes, Father.” It does no good to complain of nightmares. They are in Loki’s head, and his to deal with. Odin would only be disappointed if he knew Loki could not handle them, and Odin’s disappointment is something Loki takes a great deal of care to avoid. It is almost as bad as Odin’s anger.
Odin pauses to pluck an artifact from the bookshelf. “Thor tells me your progress is satisfactory.”
“Thank you, Father.”
“Well.” He puts the artifact back down. “That is all good. I will leave you to your studies.”
“Father.” The words slips out before Loki can call it back. He winces but hides it quickly when Odin turns back to look at him.
Loki wavers. On the one hand, the question might anger his father. On the other it might provide him with information that he desperately needs.
“Have I done something wrong? To displease you?”
A strange mix of emotions crosses Odin’s face, quickly buried.
“No, Loki. You have done nothing wrong. I will see you at dinner.”
Loki opens his eyes, and breathes. There is much about the conversation with Thor that he must think over. Odin is but a small part of it. There are so many tangles in his life, in his past, things that he cannot categorise and dissect. He could be a lifetime sorting it all out, and Loki’s lifetime has the potential to be very long indeed.
There is a rustle of grass behind him as Poppy steps closer.
“How are you doing, kiddo?”
“I am... fine,” Loki says. “It was good to see Thor. Better than I expected, although I confess that I am not sure where to go from here.”
Poppy slips an arm around his waist. “Who says you have to go anywhere?”