It was tiny. It was helpless. All it did was cry if it wasn't held. Loki couldn't figure out what in the Nine Worlds Thor had been thinking when he dropped the whelp in Loki's lap. Loki wanted nothing to do with the damn thing.
He held it by the scruff of its neck, keeping it at arm's length while he trudged down the stairs from his bedchamber. At the door to the corridor, Loki barely spared a glance toward the guard standing watch outside before dropping the pup onto the stone ground, slamming the door shut before it had a chance to spring back up and follow him back in. Before he was even halfway up the stairs, he could hear it wailing already, high and piercing, and without end. Still, Loki ignored it and continued back up to the comfort of his bed. But even buried beneath the furs and blankets, he could hear the pup's wails grow into banshee shrieks as it sat alone in the corridor. Having assumed the guard would eventually grow tired of the noise as well, and dispatch the animal, Loki closed his eyes and tried to sleep, but the wailing never stopped.
Dragging his hands down his face, Loki growled loudly before climbing back out of bed to once more trudge down the stairs. He threw the door open, looking down at the little black ball of fur that screamed murder at his feet. He had expected it to run back in after him, but it stayed exactly where he had left it, still making as much noise as it could.
"What?" Loki demanded at it, nudging it with his foot so that it fell over. But still, it stayed put, managing to get even louder. "What the Hel do you want? Shut up," he demanded, struggling to resist kicking into the far wall.
"My lord, I believe it's blind," the guard beside the door said suddenly.
Loki quickly looked over at him, surprised that the man could speak at all. And then the words that had been spoken finally hit him, and Loki threw his hands up in despair. "Why?" He picked the wolf pup up again and thrust it into the unsuspecting guard's hands. "Drown it," he ordered.
"They're all blind at birth," the guard said awkwardly.
Loki realised he knew that, but through the haze of an unending headache, it was information that he had completely forgotten.
"I'm certain Thor must have paid a fortune for it, my lord."
Loki glared at the guard, and then at the pup as it quieted down. A slowly forming idea began to rise, though it lacked enough substance to present itself as any more than a feeling of dread about the animal. Somehow, he thought that should anything happen to it, something would surely happen to Loki in return. He grudgingly snatched the pup back, holding it awkwardly at its haunches.
"Send for something. I don't know," he said, at his wit's end and unable to think at all. "Someone who knows what to do with this thing."
Slamming the door behind him once more, Loki took the pup upstairs and tossed it onto his bed. Immediately, it began to wail again.
"Oh, that didn't hurt," Loki scolded it.
He climbed into bed as well, paying little attention to where the pup was as he crawled into the middle and wrapped himself up tightly in his furs. Whining frantically now, the pup began to move, pawing at Loki through the blankets and hopping around aimlessly. It didn't stop until it managed to crawl under the blankets with Loki and wedged itself under his arm. Once settled, the pup quieted almost immediately, and Loki could feel it drifting off to sleep. The closeness of the animal made Loki feel almost hot, and its wet nose pressed against his skin made him want to pull the pup out and toss it across the room. The only thing keeping him from doing so was the certain knowledge that it would begin wailing again. He tried to ignore it, wanting little more than to go to sleep and be rid of the headache that had plagued him for far too long.
Soon, he could hear the door to his bedchamber slowly open, raising his ire all over again. Throwing the furs back, Loki sat up to glare at the intruder, taking some small pleasure at watching the man jump back and struggle not to run in terror at the sight of a Jötun before him.
"What?" Loki spat.
The man held a small bowl and a towel, and tried to gesture with them both. "You–You called for me, my lord," he said. "For your pup."
Loki had already forgotten he'd even said that, and deeply regretted it. He reached under the furs and pulled the pup out, offering it sharply to the hound master. The man slowly stepped forward, sitting the bowl on top of the bookshelf beside Loki's bed before taking the pup and setting it down gently.
"If it's blind, it's unweaned," he said, avoiding eye contact with Loki. He picked up the small towel and dipped it into the bowl of milk he'd brought. "But that means it'll be easier to train later on. Jötunn wolves imprint. It'll think you're its mother and do anything you tell it to."
Loki considered this implication as he watched the hound master convince the pup to take the milk from the soaked corner of the towel. It drank eagerly, and soon the hound master had to resoak the towel and offer it again. When the pup drank the towel dry a second time, the hound master handed it off to Loki. Glaring tiredly at him, Loki took the towel and did as he'd been shown, soaking the corner in the milk before sticking it right up against the pup's nose. The pup took the towel almost immediately, shuffling just a little closer to Loki.
"I'll leave you to it then, my lord," the hound master said, clearly all too eager to get out. Loki watched him leave, waiting until the door to his bedchamber was shut.
"I'm not your mother," he said to the pup, taking the towel away to resoak it once more.
The pup grew at an alarming rate. When its eyes opened to reveal a blue the same shade as the ice on Jötunheimr, the pup was already twice the size it had been when Thor first dropped it in Loki's bed. Loki had given up one headache for another as he began having to chase the animal down before it destroyed any of his possessions. Though, the hound master had been wrong. The wolf pup didn't do a damn thing he told it to. All it was interested in doing was chewing up his books and shitting on his rugs. After finding yet another destroyed tome in the pup's jaws, Loki picked the pup up by its neck, struggling to hold onto it with one hand. Shouting hadn't worked, nor had hitting the pup with the ruined object, and he certainly couldn't reason with the creature. Frustrated and out of any other ideas, he treated it like the pup would have expected its mother to, and bit down on its snout. The pup whined sharply and jerked away out of Loki's grip, skittering away to hide under the bed. Sighing, Loki picked up the ruined book, and tried very hard not to outright murder the pup at the realisation that it had eaten one of the only books Loki had ever found on dark elf magic. But, it turned out Thor had paid a lot of gold for the animal, and Loki knew that if he spurned that gift and killed the pup, their father would have far too much to say about the matter.
"I hate you," he said instead, throwing the book onto the shelf near his bed so he might try to at least salvage some of the information from it. It wasn't like there were any more dark elves around to write a new one.
Loki had thought weaning the pup would be impossible. It turned its nose up at anything Loki presented to it, even after Loki had stopped offering it any milk. It followed at Loki's heels anywhere he went, constantly plaguing him with a quiet whine that never stopped. Sick of trying to feed his moronic pet, Loki crept down to the kitchens to see what he could steal, and to see if the temptation of a room full of food would spark something of an instinct in the animal. But it just sat down and watched him as he snooped around. There were several large deer being roasted over the fires, which eventually managed to tempt Loki. He took his dagger and sliced a piece of meat from one of the animals as soon as one of the kitchen maids returned.
"What are you doing? Get out of there!" she shouted, swatting at Loki even as she tripped over his wolf pup on the floor. "I don't care who you are! Go on!" she continued.
Laughing, Loki let himself be chased away, stopping only a few feet from the kitchens to sit down on the floor and enjoy his spoils. Almost at once, the pup rushed up and snatched the venison from Loki's teeth, and had swallowed it before Loki could even fight back.
"You filthy mongrel!" he shouted, swinging a fist out anyway.
The pup dodged out of the way and pranced off down the hall, only to return a few moments later to stick his snout practically down Loki's throat, looking for more.
"Get off," Loki said, pushing him away.
Fenrir did understand him, he realised. Not fully, but he wasn't like the wolves his father kept, either. It was a slow realisation, that came every time he learned a new trick Loki hadn't intended to teach him. New tricks, like how to sneak up on Baldur and knock him down, or how to steal things from people when they weren't looking. Loki never did seek out the owners, but instead let Fenrir keep his own trophy mound, full of odd sandals, empty mugs, and inexplicably, someone's sword. Only once had Loki been less than pleased to see his thief pet bring something home, when he trotted into Loki's bedchamber with one of Frigga's shawls in his mouth.
"Oh, no. You are giving that back," Loki said, leaping up and expecting to have to wrestle for it.
He wasn't exactly surprised when Fenrir turned and fled, going down the stairs and pawing the large doors open faster than Loki could keep up. He chased Fenrir through the halls, not realising until they rounded the corner to Frigga's chambers. Loki caught up with him only as he dropped the shawl at Frigga's feet, where she sat at her loom, and put his head on her knee.
"I didn't realise you'd adopted a magpie as well," Frigga said as she bent to pick up the shawl.
Loki buried his face in both his hands. "I'm sorry. He..."
"Is encouraged. I know," Frigga said, running her hand over Fenrir's head.
Loki had begun to think that Fenrir might never stop growing. On all fours, he was nearly as tall as Loki was standing. He still slept in the bed with Loki, only now, he completely buried Loki beneath a living mountain of fur. And he followed Loki everywhere. Anywhere Loki went, he had a giant, black shadow at his heels, listening in and giving his opinions in the form of snorts of huffs and growls. And Loki would have been lying if he said he didn't enjoy the wary respect he seemed to pull from everyone, now facing a Jötunn wolf that seemed to do anything Loki told it to do.
Of course, only when he wanted to show off, Loki couldn't help but notice. Getting Fenrir to do anything while it was just the two of them was still nigh impossible half the time. But as gifts went, he did have to admit that the wolf was by far his favourite in a very long time. A fact which he made sure Thor knew at every opportunity, by sending Fenrir after him to tackle him to the ground. For the most part, Thor took it in stride, laughing and playing along. Their father, however, seemed to miss the fun in it.
Odin had become very good at cornering Loki over the years, and now seemed to revel in it every time he managed to get Loki in a place he couldn't run away. And this was no exception.
"For the last time, Loki. That thing belongs in the kennels," Odin demanded.
It wouldn't be the last time, because Loki still had no intention of sending Fenrir out there. He grabbed Fenrir around the chest, holding him upright like a child would hold a stuffed bear, and gaped.
"No," he said. "He's not a common mongrel. And besides. I need him," he said.
"You don't need to go around terrorising others," Odin said.
"If this is about Baldur, he started it," Loki argued, letting Fenrir down again.
"This is about you keeping an animal far too big to be kept inside," Odin barked angrily.
Loki wanted to flinch, but he resisted. "I see. So it's all right when you do it?" he asked.
"Don't be disingenuous, boy. But if you want to be treated like an animal, I can see that it happens," Odin said coldly.
"Actually, I'm rather enjoying being treated like a person for once, thanks," Loki said.
Odin glared at him with his one remaining eye. "Take it to the kennels, or I'll have someone do it for you," he said before turning to leave.
Loki watched him go, waiting until he was out of sight before looking down at Fenrir. Loki wasn't going to take him to the kennels, because he knew nobody else would be willing to get close enough to try to take him away.