Silence reigned over the once golden city now turned to a frozen war-zone. Asgard was in ruin, its people turned to gruesome frozen statues of women clutching their children, attempting to shield them from the horrors about while cowering in corners. Warriors lay slain and rotting in the streets alongside their frost giant foes.
Asgard had been at war with Jotunheim for far too long and the death toll was starting to reach startling numbers on both sides. Odin sighed and hugged his fur cloak tighter around his shoulders, waiting anxiously for his guest to arrive to his tattered tent. It was a bit of a long shot, but he hoped this summit would end the bloodshed once and for all.
A sound of rushed footsteps crunching through snow broke through Odin’s racing thoughts.
“All-Father, Laufey and his second are here to see you.” He panted, his breath making little white puffs in the frozen hair.
Odin looked up from his many maps and battle plans, looking over at the young messenger. He was young, a fair faced healer who tended to the many injured in battle. The many years of hardship had made a once beautiful young face turn hard and sturdy. One so young should not be looking so old.
“Thank you. Send him in, quickly now!”
Odin snapped, sending the young healer skittering away. Not long after the messenger left did Laufey arrive, followed closely by his second in command; A rather young looking Jotun who bared a striking resemblance to Laufey himself. His son no doubt. Laufey and his son ducked low to enter the king’s tent and forced to sit cross legged on the ground, still towering over Odin by at least a foot.
“All-Father.” Laufey growled out slowly, flexing his hands upon his folded knees while his oldest son, Helblindi, took his place beside his father.
“Thank you for agreeing to meet with me Laufey. This would be your son I take it?” He bowed respectfully to them both.
Helblindi said noting, his posture stiff and unwelcoming of any kind words the All-Father had to offer while Laufey himself would waste no time with pleasantries.
“Are you prepared to discuss the terms of Asgards surrender?”
His people were growing weaker and more weary as the days dragged on, the little Aesir putting up a greater fight then he had originally thought they would. He was not in the mood to waste any time on this matter. Odin kept his face neutral, not saying anything right away as he thought over his next words carefully.
“I was thinking more in terms of a truce, something we can both find to benefit from.” He offered slowly, frowning when Helblindi let out a loud bark of inappropriate laughter. Laufey pursed his lips and narrowed his eyes at Odin.
“Why would I agree to that? We have advanced far into your city and claimed most of it as our own. We are at great advantage and we can win. You will all be wiped out and Asgard will belong to the ice giants. However, if you surrender and swear fealty to me, I will spare your lives and allow you all to live as servants of Jotunheim.”
A terrible smirk came across Laufey’s face when he thought of how it would feel to have Asgard finally under his subjection. His smirk faltered when Odin chuckled softly and shook his head.
“You may have taken my eye, Laufey, but I am not blind. I see how your people weaken and tire. We have cut off your food supplies, have we not, and your medicine? You have come far into Asgard it is true, but it will prove to be your undoing in the end. You could continue your assault, but your numbers will fail you eventually.”
Odin finished with a defiant raise of his chin. Helblindi was seething by his father's side, fists clenched painfully upon his knees but Laufey remained calm. He tapped a finger to his lips and stared the All-Father down with a critical eye. He knew Odin was an experienced battle-master and to expect to get anything by him was a mistake, one even Laufey could find humor in and gave a little chuckle of his own.
“You are perceptive Raven King, but I see things too. I see your people growing smaller in numbers as well, and while you seem to be doing a well enough job of taking down my giants it still would require three to four of them to bring down just one. Your numbers shrink at a far greater rate than ours will. We can easily out wait you.”
An uneasy silence fell over the three, Odin and Laufey never breaking eye contact while Helblindi started to feel like he was being left out of some kind of silent conversation. Odin was the first to break the silence, his breath appearing in the cold.
“Perhaps you are right... but what if I am? Are you prepared to run that risk? What of your people, what of your son’s Laufey? Are you willing to risk them?” Odin asked seriously, brow knitted in worry.
“Do not speak of my sons! Each would gladly lay down their lives for their king and their home!” He snarled, shoulders tensing. However... his mind could not help but think back to his infant son on Jotunheim... Laufey had not seen Loki since he had been born; both himself and Fárbauti had to be called back to war just after his mate had finished birthing the tiniest of all giants.
The crease in Laufey’s brow became deeper as he thought of his fallen mate and how tired everything had made him lately. After another moment of silence on Laufey’s part, he finally looked back to the waiting Odin.
“What did you have in mind for this truce of yours?”
“Father no! We have them begging for mercy, do not yield to this old man and his sentimental tricks!” Helblindi snarled, nearly standing to his feet and bursting through the top of the tent. Laufey put his hand on his son’s shoulder and gripped it tightly.
“Silence boy, you do not know of what you speak... Odin may be the king of our enemy but there is a reason he is called ‘All-Father’.” Laufey spoke in a quiet voice, sliding red eyes back to regard Odin evenly. “Truly a father to all, including the Jotun. What father wants to witness his children being slaughtered in droves? I tire of this as well. Býleistr grows by the day and I have yet to spend a single moment with my youngest since he was born... I will hear you Odin, tell me what it is you would ask.”
Laufey spoke with an air of great command giving no room for his oldest son to protest the proceedings further. Odin let out a long, weary, breath that made his shoulders fall and his face age decades over the span of a few seconds, seeming as if a great weight was being lifted.
“Thank you Highness. As I spoke of before, I would find peace between us through a truce. Your people will withdraw from Asgard and Asgards men will stand down. The conditions of this truce would include barring the Aesir from entering Jotunheim but keeping the Jotun from Asgard. We shall never intrude on you again, King Laufey... all we would ask is a token of good faith and we will present one of our own.”
Laufey listened to this idea with a small nod. He did not like the idea of simply walking away empty handed... he would need something of great value to placate him.
“Alright. Say we agree to this... what would Asgard ask of us as a show of good faith?”
“We would ask that you relinquish your casket to us and we-” Odin did not get to finish his thought before both Helblindi and Laufey broke into uncontrollable laughter.
Helblindi held his stomach and Laufey put a hand on his son’s shoulder to settle him.
“Have you gone mad?! You would ask us of your greatest treasure and power in this treaty? What could you possibly offer that would be even close to nearly a fraction of our caskets worth?” Laufey could not contain the little chuckles, holding a hand to his lips to try to cover them.
Odin, ever calm just straightened his back. “Myself of course... I would offer myself as your thrall in reparations.”
The laughter ceased immediately. When Laufey and his son said noting he continued.
“Asgards power rests with its king as Jotunheim power rests in your casket. I offer our power in exchange for yours, to put our kingdoms at an even level.” He explained, making vague gestures with his hands.
It was rather intriguing offer, he had to admit. Oh how many times did Laufey imagine having the king of the Aesir at his feet, pouring his wine in his great halls. He tapped his lips and thought it over carefully, but something was not sitting right with him.
“Your offer is very tempting All-Father, but you are so old... If I were to take you to Jotunheim with me you would succumb to the cold with in the week! And even if you managed to survive, how long could I expect service from you then, without your precious golden apples you will just continue to age and wither away. However, I do enjoy the idea of a royal Aesir under my command...” He trailed off, his cruel smirk creeping back onto his face.
Odin frowned, not liking the way Laufey’s tone had dropped and his eyes took on a mischievous glint.
“Offer your first son to me instead, and I will give you my world’s most precious tool.”
A gust of icy wind ripped through their tent but nothing could be colder than Laufey’s words. Odin stood silent, keeping his face passive but his voice broke just the slightest bit when he spoke.
“Thor is an innocent in all this Ice King... he is not to be involved.”
Even Helblindi seemed confused by his father's request, how was a child any better than an old man? Laufey was undeterred by both their stares.
He shrugged, “In war there are no innocents, your boy will be dragged into this someday just as all of mine will be... but I offer a chance to spare your family a gruesome death and end this war... I would take your son in your place, I am sure he carries a small part of you within himself, therefore, he would hold the power of Asgard. A far better substitute than an old man.” He finished with a small smirk at Odin who was becoming gradually more tense as time went on.
It was all Odin could to keep calm while his family was basically being threatened. However, Laufey’s words were not lies on this. Every day it became harder to force back the Jotun people from the palace where his pregnant wife and young child remain held up and what if Laufey was right? What if the palace was stormed and Frigga, Thor, and his unborn child were slain in the mix up?
Odin wanted nothing more than to spare his family the horrors of this war, and Laufey was willing to stop under this arrangement, but was he willing to let his firstborn son be the sacrifice to achieve this?
“You are a father Laufey, surely you can see how cruel it would be to tear an innocent from his mother and home?” He tried to appeal to the other king’s better nature as a father rather than a warlord.
Laufey only laughed, narrowing his eyes and hissing venomously at the old man. “Do not speak of depriving children from their families when it was you who killed my mate, Helblindi’s sire, in battle. My oldest must forever carry that memory while my youngest will never know his face!”
His voice began to rise and take on an increasingly aggressive tone.
“Father!” Helblindi’s voice broke through Laufey’s temporary madness and he calmed himself once more.
“It is not just the treaty that makes me ask this of you All-Father. You owe me and my family for killing my mate.” His voice was a near whisper as he folded his hands neatly across his lap.
At this, Odin was speechless. In the heat of battle, he would shamefully admit that all Jotun look the same in his eyes, it was possible that he had killed the other kings mate. Thoughtfully, Odin stroked his beard and closed his one good eye.
“Do you intend to kill him? My son?” He asked quietly, his voice growing weak.
Laufey did not smirk, or laugh or hiss this time. “While my intentions toward your son are my own, I will confess that I do not intend him harm.” His voice was just as quiet.
Odin’s face twitched but betrayed no emotion.
“Very well... Should it end this senseless war between us then I shall offer to you, my first born son in exchange for your casket.” His voice sounded very far away to his own ears.
Laufey nodded, face serious as he made to get up. “It is agreed then. At first light tomorrow, I will exchange my casket for your son. If there is anything you wish him to be gifted with before we depart, make sure it is sturdy, the ice is rather unforgiving.”
Laufey gestured for his son to follow as he left the tent, both Jotun leaving Odin alone with his thoughts. What had he just agreed to?
Sunrise was far too soon for Odin, even having spent all night with his wife and child. Frigga could only weep when Odin told her what had to be done. She was a wise woman and saw the greater good of course, but she was still a mother and her heart broke. She had insisted on going with Odin despite his protests and worry for their unborn child.
Frigga had none of it, and accompanied her husband to the meeting place, holding little Thor close to her breast. As they approached the meeting place, a large shadow came into view on the horizon.
Laufey had arrived well before the sun had rose, standing patiently while his eldest son stood by his side. They both looked up at the sound of approaching footsteps, both briefly confused by Frigga’s presence but the sight of the bundle in her arms brought understanding. Frigga stopped a few paces behind her husband, clutching Thor tightly as he gazed upon the beastly visage of Laufey.
She wanted to run away suddenly, vanish away into the surrounding forests with little Thor and hide him from such a monster! Odin sensed his wife’s distress and went back to put an arm around her shoulders, walking her forward a few paces, feeling her shoulders tense further when Laufey met them halfway with some sort of box in his massive hands.
“All father... You have brought what we agreed upon.” He noted, red eyes settling on the cloth covered child.
Odin nodded, keeping his suddenly seething wife in check.
“As have you... Please... let us be done and end this war.” Odin bit out a bitterly. He shared his wife’s tension and wanted to just get it over with, not drag this pain out further.
Laufey just grunted and carefully held out one hand for the child while his other offered the casket.
“Place the boy in my hand, then I will relinquish the casket.” He instructed, tone flat.
Odin nodded, carefully putting his wife forward so she may let her own son go. She bit her lip and approached Laufey slowly, eying his enormous paw and suddenly envisioning her small child squirming and screaming in his frozen grip. Frigga paused and pulled her son back before she could lay him in Laufey’s hand, making him grunt in displeasure.
“Please...” She begged quietly, trying to beseech to Laufey’s better nature but she would not find mercy now.
Laufey looked to Odin but saw the pain across the king’s face and knew he would do nothing to control his mate. Laufey looked back to Frigga and held his hand steady.
“Place the boy in my hand and I will relinquish my casket, end this war. Pleas...” He growled, his patients at its limit.
Frigga could only whimper and bite her trembling lip as she carefully laid her still sleeping son into the giant’s palm. Laufey made a contented noise and passed off the casket to Odin with far more ease and carefully cradling the boy to his chest. For his part, Thor remained oddly silent and still during the transaction, not so much as a single whimper from the child which struck the giant king as odd.
“What is wrong with him?” He asked as he lifted back the cloth from the boys sleeping face, marveling how the son of the All-father could be so small and frail.
Frigga could only turn to her husband and press her face to his chest, trying to suppress her sobs. Odin hugged his wife tight and turned to Laufey. “Nothing is wrong with him... He was given a sleeping draught so as not to alarm him during all of this...” He suddenly startled when he saw Laufey’s hand reach for Thor’s pink cheeks, immediately thinking of the way Jotun touch’s wound burn their skin.
Laufey looked up, smirking when he saw Odin’s line of sight. “Peace Odin, as I promised, the boy will not be harmed.” He drove his point home when the backs of his fingers passed over the warm flesh harmlessly, Thor barely making a noise.
Rather than burn the small child, Laufey’s touch did something else. Thor’s soft baby pink skin shimmered and turned a brilliant shade of azure blue, his golden curls fading into a soft snowy white. Odin and Frigga looked upon the scene with strained faces, Odin’s knuckles white as he gripped the casket close to his chest.
Helblindi came up behind his father and peered over his shoulder at their new charge, wrinkling his nose. Even with a frost giants glamor he still looked very much the Odinson. Helblindi could only scoff and turn away, wanting nothing to do with the boy.
Laufey just rolled his eyes at his oldest son, focusing on Thor and his new appearance. He hated to admit it, but the young Odinson looked good in Jotun blue and bearing the marks of Laufey’s house upon his body. Thor would serve his new purpose beautifully, causing Laufey to smile gently and stroke the baby’s cheek.
Frigga watched from her husband’s side, both of them seeming to have been forgotten by Laufey as he carefully caressed over their son with a gentleness that Frigga would have believed impossible for such a beastly looking man to possess. Without thinking she rushed over to the giant king and clutched his wolf fur cloak, tugging on it like a child begging for a mother's attention.
“Pleas King... At least tell me what is to become of him... You promised him safety, but will he become a slave in your house?” She whispered, eyes still brimming with tears.
Laufey regarded her evenly, not even bothering to shake her off his cloak. “Of a sort... He is just a little older then my youngest child... he will serve as a companion to him as they grow and when he is old enough, he will be consort to my Loki.” He explained, finally pulling his cloak from Frigga’s grip and turning to leave.
She whimpered and fell to her knees, carefully placing a hand on her slightly protruding stomach. Odin rushed to clutch her shoulders and shield her face from the sight of Laufey retreating with their first born son.
As promised, Laufey called a full withdraw from Asgard with his new little treasure held close to his chest.
Before they were even half way back to the palace, Thor began to stir, the sleeping draught having worn off. Thor gave a particularly powerful cry that startled a few of Laufey’s escorts, even making him jump just a little before laughing.
“He is strong.” Laufey commented, shushing the infant gently.
A few other Jotun laughed uneasily and kept their distance. Laufey knew the decision to leave Asgard with the Kings son was not a popular one, even with his own son.
‘You are a fool father! We had them backed into a corner, we could have won!’ He recalled his son’s voice in his mind.
‘We could not! At best we throw ourselves at them and bring them down with us but then what? Bylster, Loki... left alone and guarded with our weakest! I am sure the storm giants sit in waiting for such an opportunity... then what? My heir, your future king, will fall before he even has a chance! No... this is the best course of action, the other realms will know the score and dare not intrude upon us and Loki will be able to fulfill his destiny with the son of our greatest enemy at his call.’
Helblindi attempted to argue further but Laufey would hear none of it, and a harsh backhand silenced further protests and left a rather uneasy tension between Laufey and his son. However he was unconcerned and focused on Thor instead. His first course of action was to locate a source of food for the child, knowing the frost giant glamour would protect him from the ice and cold but would do little for the child's appetite. Thor would need to be slowly introduced to a Jotun diet as he grew, but in the meantime he would need to locate milk. Since Jotun children subsisted off of meat and a little blood from their parents from the start, finding such a thing would not be easy.
No sooner had they arrived in the palace did Laufey order his hunters to find a nursing mother wolf and bring her and the pups back to the palace. It only took a few hours for the hunters to do as asked, being under the threat of death tended to light a fire under anyone’s backside. Unfortunately, in those hours it took the hunters to locate what Laufey had ordered, Thor’s hunger cries reached critical volume.
In his frustration to silence the boy, Laufey considered breaking his promise not to harm him and throw him against the wall if only to spare him the shrill wailing. After the milk was quickly gathered and bite wounds were treated to, Laufey fed the newest little addition to his house personally, cradling Thor close and holding the makeshift bottle to his lips. With the wailing now stopped, Laufey was finding his new charge a lot more pleasant.
With Thor now quiet and eating happily, Laufey took the moment to relax into his throne, the weight of the day seeming to collapses upon him all at once. He almost had not noticed when Býleistr slipped into the throne room and stepped up to his father’s side, peering over to examine what Laufey held in his lap. He scrunched up his face as he eyed over the strange looking creature.
“What is that father?” His young son asked, oblivious to the facts that Laufey had just returned from the fronts of a vicious war.
If there was one thing Laufey loved about his middle son, it was his sweet simple mindedness. Laufey placed his hand upon his middle child's head and rubbed it affectionately.
“A gift for your younger brother. His name is Thor and you will treat him as you would Loki.” He spoke gently, so as not to disturb a finally peaceful Thor.
Býleistr made a face at his father then looked back to the sleeping baby.
“How unfair, Loki gets all the gifts... “ He pouted, reaching over to gently poke his black claws against Thor's cheek curiously, slipping his fingers over the baby's snowy hair.
Laufey laughed a little and discarded the empty bottle casually.
“You did very good while I was away and took good care of your little brother. Rest assure, my Býleistr, you will be rewarded.”
The middle child beamed at his father, flashing sharp white teeth in his excitement. “It is good to have you home father, and with a new little brother... hm, what is he eating?”
Laufey chuckled and shrugged. “Wolf's milk. Thor is from a different place then us.”
Byleistr looked amazed and disgusted at the same time. “Wolf's milk! How strange, will he always have to eat such disgusting things?” He made a face but did not stop his curious petting of Thor's silvery hair.
“No my son, it is just for a little while.” Laufey assured. His middle son seemed satisfied enough with this answer and spent the rest of the feeding time sitting and talking with his father. Occasionally he would ask about Thor or answer questions Laufey had about Loki.
Once Thor fed and calm once more, Laufey had Býleistr lead him to his youngest’s room so he may let the two little ones meet and finally get some rest. He would address his people formally tomorrow and explain to them the circumstances of the truce and his plans for the future, but for now, he wanted to spend time with his most precious child.
Loki's room well reflected how treasured he was. With fine furs and jewels adorning nearly every surface surrounding the crib in which the littlest of all giants lay. Laufey smiled as he looked down upon his small child asleep amongst the furs. How perfect he looked, his little gem... the true heart of this world. Thor squirmed in his arm, making the ice king give a little growl as he laid him down beside his own son.
What a beautiful contrast they made, Loki with his raven black hair standing out sharply against Thor's snow white. At the very least, the Odinson would make a handsome accessory to his son when they grew. Both babies cooed gently, opening their bright red eyes and gazing upon each other for the first time.
Thor blinked curiously at Loki and Loki back at him. Both boys suddenly smiled and giggled, waving their little fists. Laufey gave a little smile, putting a hand on Býleistr's back as he came to peer over and watched the two interact for the first time.
“They like each other.” Býleistr pointed out happily, watching his younger brother closely.
Laufey nodded and hummed, frowning when Loki gave a shrill cry as Thor gripping a fistful of his black hair and pulled. He separated the two easily enough and once Loki's hair was free he seemed to calm down and forgive quickly enough. Býleistr laughed a little at the exchange and looked to his father.
“Little Thor is strong!” He grinned, reaching in to poke and prod at his new brother, who giggled and turned his attentions to Byleistr, reaching up for him.
“He is nothing more than an unwelcome burden.” Hissed a voice from the back.
Helblindi leaned in the door's frame, glaring in the direction of the crib. Laufey turned to his eldest, glaring back.
“Helblindi, I believe I told you to retire to your room for the evening... what are you doing here?” He growled out.
“I just came to see how my new... brother... was making out... seems he has settled in quick enough.” The eldest son muttered bitterly, approaching the crib to stare down at the two. His lips curled back in disgust. He already believed his youngest sibling to be a mockery to the Jotun people, having him be the chosen heir only made the insult that much worse.
Now there were two of them.
“You will leave them be Helblindi... now go and rest. You will need to be at my side tomorrow when we address the people.” Laufey snapped, grabbing his son's wrist before he could reach into the crib.
In battle, there was no one Laufey would trust more. Helblindi was a great officer and a powerful fighter but Laufey was not blind to his oldster’s child’s jealousy and ambition, he often suspected that Helblindi might try to harm his infant brother if only to force his father into giving him the throne some day.
Rather than cause a fight, Helblindi just snorted and wrenched his hand away before taking his leave. Laufey watched as his son left, eyes narrowed suspiciously before looking back to Býleistr who was busy playing with both the boys.
“You really love them Býleistr?” He asked, placing a hand on his mid child's back.
“Yes father, I love them so much!” Býleistr grinned up at his father, holding baby Loki carefully to his chest.
Laufey smiled and nodded. “You are a good son Býleistr... watch them closely for me, guard them from any who would harm them.”
Býleistr perked up and nodded eagerly. “Yes father! I will. I will protect them.”
Laufey grinned and leaned down to give his son a kiss on the head. “Good Býleistr, good... now take good care of them... If Thor is hungry, tell the servants. They will know what to give him. Now I must rest.”With that, Laufey bid his son goodnight after that, heading for his own chambers.
With his father gone, Býleistr lowered Loki back into the crib with Thor, cooing at them both.
“Do not worry little brothers, I will protect you both.” He whispered into their crib, making both boys giggle and reach for their bigger brother.
“Loki, Thor! Where are you hiding?!” Byleistr cried desperately as he ran through the halls of the palace. Curse those two and their games!
From their hiding spot, two little Jotun's giggled quietly. Thor had to cover his mouth to keep from laughing out when he saw Byleistr run past, practically flipping over tables to find them. It would not work of course, Loki had been practicing this cloaking spell for some time now and could keep them invisible for a pretty long time if they held still.
At least if Loki could keep himself from giggling as well.
“Hush Loki, he will find us-” Thor did not finish as a blanket of fur was suddenly tossed over them both, quickly bundling up and lifting the two from the ground.
“I found you terrible beasts! Do you know how long I have been looking for you two!?” Byleistr growled at the squirming, struggling bag, giving it a shake.
The only response was two squeals of delight and the bag rustling harder. Býleistr just rolled his eyes as he took the sack into the boys shared room and deposited the bundle non to gently upon the bed. Loki and Thor rolled out upon the furs, still giggling like mad at their elder brother’s expense.
“You both try my patients greatly today... for once, please stay put and study your scrolls until supper... Father will be returning home from the hunt tonight and I want him to see I was able to keep track of you two for more then an hour!” He sighed, sitting at the edge of the bed, hanging his head in exhaustion.
The giggling stopped as the youngest of the brothers looked to each other for a moment before getting up and crawling over their giant sibling.
“We are sorry to cause you such distress, brother. It was only play... we shall be good for the rest of the evening.” Loki cooed, hanging off one of Býleistr’s horn while Thor crawled into his lap, both seeming just as innocent as they could be, blinking their ruby red eyes.
Býleistr stared at them skeptically for a moment before sighing and grabbing both boys to flip them over on to the bed, making their giggling start up once again.
“I will believe it when I see it...” He rolled his eyes but grinned. “Now study... I have my own things I need to do before supper. I will fetch you then.”
Ignoring their whines of protest, Býleistr removed himself from their room, shutting the door behind him and locking it... just to be sure. With their elder brother gone, Loki and Thor sighed and went to gather the scrolls they were supposed to be studying, spreading them out on their over sized bed, each taking one to read, legs crossed.
After about 20 minutes into quite study time, Thor throws his scroll to the ground and flops onto the thick fur pillows.
“Alright, I am done with this already.” He groaned, rolling onto his side with a pout. Loki only laughed and shook his head.
“We have barley started, it can’t all be playing and physical training you know... we are supposed to actually know things, Thor.” Loki grinned, throwing his pillow at Thor's face. Thor laughed and caught it before crawling over and sitting by Loki's side, resting his head against his shoulder.
“No one expects me to know anything Loki... you will be the king some day and will know enough for the both of us. I'll just be there is all.” Thor said quietly, reading over Loki's shoulder. Loki frowned at Thor's tone and closed up the scroll so he could turn and look at his adopted sibling and future mate closely.
“Thor. Father says that we will need to rule together... a destined pair... the sun.” He paused to tug at Thor's silvery snow hair. “And moon.” Loki gestured to himself, a big grin on his young face. “And that means we are both expected to know the same information. Now come on, you can study off mine if you want... I will even read for you!”
Thor stared at his brother closely for a moment before his own face broke into a bright smile. “Alright Loki. Studying is not so bad when you read to me anyway.” He grinned, getting comfortable at Loki's side. Studying went on uninterrupted after that. Thor listened quietly while Loki read off Jotun history.
Laufey arrived hours later, back from a rather successful hunt that wound ensure his house eats for the next few nights for sure. Even a king had to hunt his own meals upon Jotunheim. He had servants take the giant boar away and have it prepared while his band were rewarded much deserved rest and a chance to clean up before the meal would be prepared.
On his way back to his chambers, Laufey took a small detour to Loki and Thor's shared room, if only to save his own worry that they had managed to slip away from Býleistr once again. As the years went on, Loki became increasingly clever with his magic while Thor became stronger and more agile. Býleistr was starting to lose control and it was becoming apparent the two would be ready to go on their own hunt soon enough.
He slipped into their room quietly, after pausing with a raised eye brow at the thick ice lock cast over the door handles... obviously placed by Býleistr to keep his charges in one place for once. Laufey just sighed and waved a hand over the thick ice, causing it to recede into noting and slipped inside.
When he found his boys asleep together amongst the piles of scrolls they had been given to study, it warmed his normally cool heart and eased out the stiffness in his shoulders. He approached them quietly, shifting aside the various pieces of parchment to sit at the edge and carefully pull them into his lap. Even at an age where a normal Jotun would nearly be his father’s height, Thor and Loki could still fit easily on one leg each and still have room.
“Oh my precious treasures...” He sighed as he watched them sleep, curling up easily enough.
Laufey brushed fingers over Loki's silky black hair and repeated the motion over Thor's starlight silver, giving pause. It had taken a long time for Laufey to find love for the former Odinson. As a baby, Thor was louder than any Jotun child and required special care to grow strong as he was... and as hard as he tried, Laufey could only see his hated enemy in the child's face. One day, however, when Thor was just starting to walk about on his own and speak in carefully constructed sentences, did he approach Laufey on his own.
Laufey could recall with perfectly clarity when Thor had reached for him and called out to him as father with such a look of absolute trust and love in his false red eyes. It was then he realized that the ultimate punishment of this transaction was the hurt Odin must feel, knowing his first born child would never love him like this. After that, Laufey found loving the adopted Aesir much easier and made a point to treat him as highly as he did Loki, all the while feeling the gate keepers intense gaze upon his home.
All the more satisfying.
Thor stirred suddenly and fluttered his gemstone eyes open. He yawned and sat up, not seeming to notice his change in position till he realized his bed was moving slightly and he looked up, grinning widely when he met Laufey's gaze.
“Father, you’re back! You smell really bad.” He laughed, moving to stand so he could get a little closer, reaching for the blood resting on Laufey's cheek.
Thor would not understand Laufey's tight, cruel smile, and simply dismissed it off as an expression of exhaustion. He reached as high as he could to wipe the boar’s blood from his father’s cheek, his own grin getting wilder.
“Did you kill something big and dangerous? With lots of teeth and claws?” he asked, eager to hear the heroic story.
Laufey laughed and gave the false little giant a careful pat on the back and looked him over with a strange sense of pride. Even though Thor was not his real son (something that had been explained to Thor a long time ago) Laufey could not help but feel that the fierce little warrior fit in better than his own destined heir. Loki had many talents and more charm then any creature in all the nine realms, but Thor had that spirit that Laufey liked to see in his men and own sons.
“No claws I am afraid, but big enough teeth. I shall have a necklace carved for you if you wish, out of the tusks of the giant boar.” The giant king offered, chuckling when Thor nodded his head enthusiastically.
“Soon Father, Loki and I will bring back our own beast and I will have something made for you in your honor.” Thor announced proudly, puffing up his chest and giving Laufey a serious look.
Laufey smiled and put a hand on Thor's shoulder, nearly engulfing him in his palm. “You are very strong little one, I have no doubt of your claim and I know the norns gifted me with something very special and perfect to protect the future king.” He reached over to run his fingers over Loki's hair once again. “However my eager child, your hunt might be a few years off yet.” Even if Loki and Thor were nearing the proper age... they were still quite small.
Thor groaned and rolled his eyes. “You are no fun, just like him.” He grinned and went to nudge Loki with his foot. Loki grunted and sat up quickly with a snort, making Thor and the giant king laugh a little.
“Oh! Father you are back... um. How was the hunt?” Loki asked around a yawn.
Laufey just sighed and removed both children from his lap and stood up.
“I will tell the whole story over the feast tonight, but for now I would like you both to get ready. Býleistr will escort you both when it is time but be ready soon... and pick up your things.” He gestured to the scrolls lying on the floor and the pillows that had been tossed around.
He chose to selectively ignore the rolling of two sets of red eyes and take his leave, listening as the two began to argue over who had to pick up what and what belonged to whom.
The feast had been a loud and joyous affair as most successful hunt feats were. Everyone listened to Laufey's tale and ate plenty of the thick meat and downed much sweet wine to go along with it. By the end of such an event, it was no wonder Thor and Loki were barely able to keep their eyes open. They were carried back to their room and dressed down for bed before being left alone, Thor snoring happily on his back while Loki squirmed to the far end of the bed to try and muffle as much of the noise as possible.
Sometime during the night, the snoring stopped and for some reason, it was the silence that woke Loki. He lifted his head and looked over at the spot were Thor usually lay and found it empty. Alarmed, he quickly got out of bed and waved a hand over an orb of ice he kept nearby, causing it to light up in a low glow that illuminated the room. Before he could get to the door and alert a guard, he finally noticed Thor sitting in the far end of the room by the windowsill, staring out into the distance towards the mountains with his knees drawn to his chest.
It was such an odd position for Thor to be in. Thor was always trying to be bigger than he was, even challenging Helblindi to fights he knew he could not win just because he knew how their eldest brother despised them so; but to see Thor curled up and looking so small... it was freighting. Loki grabbed a fine leather blanket from the bed and wrapped it around his shoulders before approaching the prone figure in the low light of the room.
Thor did not look at him when he got near, so instead, Loki took the empty space next to him.
“What troubles you, brother?” He asked quietly, hugging the blanket tighter. No response was given for a moment, Thor turning to look over at his nervous little brother closely.
“Loki... Do you ever wonder where I came from?” He whispered, eyes wide and clutching his knees tighter.
Loki blinked. “You came from... Fenrir... the wolf of the sun... remember the story father told us? Fenrir found our world worthy to have the golden sun back and gifted our family with you to be that golden sun... you were a gift from a god... as I was.” He offered, biting his lip. “It is why we are destined to be mates some day. To lead our world into a new golden age... when we are old enough of course.” Loki gave a nervous giggle only to have it die in his throat when Thor did not even so much as crack a smile.
Thor sighed and looked back out across the barren wasteland. “I know what father has told us... but... Helblindi... he... he tells me that it is a lie... that I do not truly belong here.” He hugged his knees tighter. “That I am noting but some unwanted mutation father took pity on.” His lip started to tremble but before a single tear could be shed, Loki was wrapping him up in a tight hug.
“Don't listen to anything Helblindi says... He is jealous and cruel. You would not believe the things he tells me when no one is listening.” His grip tightened. “Just ignore him. Father loves you, and Býleistr, and me. We do not need him.”
This time, Thor smiled just a little bit. “Thanks Loki, you always know how to make me feel better.” Loki grinned back, having to wipe his own tears away before they fell.
“Lets go back to bed... your snoring is what keeps me asleep it seems.” He grinned, tugging Thor back to their shared bed.
Thor nodded and crawled in when Loki did, slipping under the thick furs and leathers snugly. Normally, Loki would shift to the far end of the bed where he could block out some of Thor's noise, but for the moment, he curled up right beside him.
“Sing that strange song Thor... the one from your dream.” He sighed through a yawn, closing his eyes and waited patiently.
It took Thor a moment to remember the words, but when he did, he started to sing softly. It was a funny song in a language they did not understand, but it was still beautiful and soothing. Thor fell asleep before he could finish the song but Loki was long gone before he was. Both boys now safely back asleep, they did not notice a pair strange creatures perched upon their windowsill.
Beady black eyes watched them closely while black wings fluttered silently. Huginn and Muninn did not stay long, just long enough to gather all the information their master sought before fluttering away silently into the night.