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As the Moon Will Always Envy the Sun

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He waits for the sun to rise every night they keep him in his prison.

It's not, of course, that he likes the sun. As the Moon will always envy the Sun, he, who is made of shadow, will always desire the light. The heat of the sun's rays on his skin, the trickle of warmth that worms its way into his blood, only ever halfway: it's envy he feels for those who can feel it fully.

He sleeps often these days. After all, there isn't much to do in this room, set high above the ground with windows just too small for him to fit through. He doesn't care much to look out over the sun-drenched world he doesn't belong to, never could hope to be part of. The golden spires, the luscious lands, the beautiful people: they are little more than splotches and smudges beneath his prison. It is better to close his eyes, cocoon himself in darkness, and dream.

And yet, he still wakes to watch the sunrise, to feel the ghost of warmth over his frozen skin. Every morning without fail, he goes to a window and looks out over the gold-burnished ground, watches the sunlight chase away the stars. It's like he's compelled to, as he once was to pretend to be part of this world, and that, more than anything else, begins to force him to heal.

 

When he was a boy, a very young boy, Loki then-Odinson fell from a third floor balcony over the east gardens. He doesn't actually remember the incident, having been barely able to clamber to his own feet from a babe's crawl, but he's heard the story told of how, instead of almost certain death or disfigurement, he remained unharmed while the garden ground turned to a thousand thick, twining vines that cushioned his fall. Seiðr had always run through his veins, deeper and perhaps more basic than even his innate affliation with the frozen wasteland of Jotunheim.

He thinks about this sometimes, when his dreams turn towards ice and cold and coagulated blood, when he dreams of falling and space and time. Jotunheim, he wonders. What he would have been if he had known, if he would have won on the Bifröst or down on Midgard or perhaps long before that in some other way and other time. He does not shy away from such thoughts; there is no point in doing so. Possibilities, endless contemplation: there is not much else to do in his tower.

Absently, where the pad of his fingers met his nails, he traces the runes carved into the walls of his prison. It is a dark night, the skies stormy and lit by only irregular flashes of lightning. Thor must be on Asgard; it does not storm like this when his brother is away. Thunder booms, and Loki feels himself smile, forefinger stroking, plucking the knot where one thread of seiðr weaves into the next. It ripples under his touch, twanging against the high hum of his most natural talent.

"What are you arguing about now?" he whispers to the air, watching the shadows flash and shudder as lightning cracks open the sky. "What does Odin Allfather say to his wayward son?"

And beneath his fingers, he feels the threads of the weaving begin to fray.

 

Patience was something Loki then-and-now-no-longer-Odinson learned at a young age. He is not certain, but he suspects it was much younger than most other children learned it. There had never been any age-mates for him to compare himself to as he had been (or was still?) a prince. Only Thor had been someone he could compare himself to in any legitimate sense, and they had always been so different and so close despite it all. It was not so much the difference as the closeness that did it: Loki had always hoped that, if he waited long enough, tried hard enough, they would be equals. That, more than anything else, had taught him patience.

It's storming outside, but that is no longer unusual. It storms more and more these days, and the sun is able to peek through the dark clouds less and less. Sometimes, when he tires of picking at the increasingly weak seiðr of his prison, he picks one of the tiny windows to gaze out over the golden land, at how the disconnect between King and Son has soured the beauty and made slush of the fields. There will be poor harvests for the lower lands, Loki knows, for there the soil is finer and the seeds easily drowned. The torrential rains will have loosened rocks high in the mountains, and, come the mild Asgardian winter in a moon cycle, there will be avalanches of weakened ground beneath the additional weight of snow. Many people will die and loose their livelihoods, their families shattered or scattered in a hideous mirror of their royalty's fate.

And, now, only when his thoughts stray that far (and stray they do, as they always have), he turns away from the window, lies down on the large bed that occupies the middle of the room, and dreams.

 

If Loki is honest with himself (and that is difficult, moreso than anything else in the many worlds and universes), he can't say with any ounce of certainty when was the last time he was happy.

Oh, yes, he's certain that he was happy at one point in time, perhaps when he was a child, or maybe further back when he was truly young, little more than a babe. His memory of the years before he started walking in the shadows more than in the light is foggy; whether because of the shadows themselves or his own subconscious inability to deal with the dissonance is unclear. He knows he was not an unhappy child. He was serious, of course, at least in comparison to Thor, and he had been troublesome, his joy in mischief and pranks a strange combination with his disposition towards seriousness. It was the darkness, though, that had made the combination become odd, poisonous even; Loki is able to admit at least that to himself.

Outside his prison, rain beats down from heavy, nearly black clouds. It has been like this for almost a week now, and Loki finds himself, in the moments when he is not asleep or tearing apart the last of the seiðr that binds him here, wondering at the ferocity of his brother's rage, painted so clear around him. Thor never was one to hold onto anger; no, that had been Loki, who lately finds it difficult to feel anything besides passing fascination with the world around him. Imprisoned as he is in isolation, he has no way of guessing exactly what it is that has caused such a change in Thor's temperament. There is, after all, no precedence of Thor in a continual temper. Not even the horrors that Loki had tried to commit had earned such enduring ire.

"What have you done?" he asks the air, the frayed edges of seiðr threads dangling around him, tinging the edges of his gaze whenever he opens his eyes.

No answer comes, not that he actually expected one. He isn't even sure to whom the question was directed to, if it was Odin or Thor or even himself. He has a million thoughts every minute, each with a thousand or more threads and variables playing out for him to chase and weave or shred apart. It's been so long (ages, long before he became an adult) since he could think this way, carefully yet freely, completely uninterrupted. He had forgotten how wonderful it feels to just be able to think.

He had forgotten that it makes him feel happy.

 

It's not so much that he wants to escape, Loki decides; it's that he wants to be free.

Free of the tower with its tiny windows and its breezeless air. Free of Asgard and its people and his not-family. Free to roam where he pleases, to think when and how he wants, whenever he wishes.

Free, Loki decides.

He wants to be free.

 

He looks out over the low lands from the shadow of an ash tree. Fields of trees and crops, all seeming to swim in mud and puddles of brackish dirt and drowned worms. The sun is out, although dark clouds already have begun to roll on the horizon, and the air is chill with winter's breath. Loki reaches out, turns a drenched, sagging cornstalk in his hands. Many will starve this winter. He dwells on that thought for a long moment, absentminedly stroking the dying cornstalk under his fingers.

When Loki was between a child and adult, awkward and always feeling like he was not quite right somehow, deep down inside, he'd walked through a rift in space and time and fallen into a world of heat and color. It was one of the first times he'd tried to walk between worlds, and he'd only gotten halfway that time, stalled by a misconstruction of runes and seiðr threads. But, in that moment, failure that the attempt was, he'd heard voices in a language not of Asgard or any of the other Nine Realms, and he'd known, with blinding, consuming certainty, that he was close, that he was almost there.

He hadn't stopped then to think about what was "there" exactly. He'd been young and impulsive; serious, yes, but not careful. Loki has never been careful. He's meticulous and detail-orientated but never has he been one to pause when he saw something that he wanted or desired. In that, he and Thor are not so different. Thor barrels into everything, obvious and an elephant in every room, impossible to ignore. Loki seeps into that same room, stains the walls and lurks in the cut of the carpet or groves in the floor. They both get what they want, even if it isn't how they wanted it.

He walks through the shadows of the houses, of the ruined farms and orchards and rotting fields. Part of Loki questions why he's looking at this. After all, he is free now, and no one any the wiser. The faster he flees this place, this world that is itself a prison, the faster he can do something else, anything else than what he has always done and been. The other part, the quieter part that only the isolation of his tower allowed him to indulge, wonders at the destruction of the land, of the coming suffering of the people, at the scars it all will leave when spring comes again.

Loki smiles, and the air tastes like premature death. This isn't being happy, he knows. Far from it. Loki is only happy when he is to himself, belongingly only to his thoughts that are all his own. To sleep, to dream: these are things that drive him, that excite him, that fill him with happiness. But sleeping and dreaming alone will not give him freedom, his deepest, most coveted desire, the thing that he chases to fill his existence with heat and color and beauty. No, freedom comes from shadows that only live where there is sun, is only grasped with his thoughts at his command and seiðr at his fingertips.

He steps once, twice, towards the heat and color, to where the shadows line all the walls and fill the groves, onto the path between worlds, a drowning land withered in his wake.

He is Loki no-one's-son, and he does not need to be happy to be free.