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yet our roots remain as one

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“Loki!”

He had planned on using the confusion caused by whatever was going on to escape. There would be no better time; he could not stand another moment longer in Asgard, to be looked down upon by Odin. He would rather have been banished to the dungeon, to have been treated as the lowest of the low among those who had chosen to go against the man who had once been his father, to be pitied by the woman who had once been his mother than to have what he had now, to wander the halls of Asgard with no magic and face the looks of those whose trust he had betrayed, who would never look at him as more than the vilest of beings, and know that this was the mercy granted to him because he was loved.

No, it was best to depart Asgard, to leave behind the comfortable prison and find refuge from the Chitauri elsewhere, somewhere where he was not reminded of what could have been, what was never to be. But at the sound of Frigga’s voice, he paused in his escape and waited. “Yes?” he asked.

“I have promised Thor I would keep Jane safe,” she said. “And I have promised your father I would do the same.” He bristled at the mention of Odin being referred to as his father, but he held back on commenting. Despite the fact to Odin he threw back his lineage in his face, he clung desperately to the fact that even still, Frigga was still his mother, and always would be. “I need your help.”

He nodded slowly. “What do you need me to do?” he asked.

“Set a scene, that the intruders will fall for, to buy us some time,” Frigga said. “It’s dangerous, but I trust you can fend for yourself.” She pulled out her blade and pressed the hilt into his hands. “It requires illusory magic.”

“But Odin bound my magic,” Loki said.

“I have ways of unbinding it,” she replied. “Now quickly. We must get to my chambers.” He nodded, following her quickly to her chambers. Frigga explained the plan as they moved. It was a risky one, all relying on the dark elves not having anything to break it. He didn’t frankly care if Thor’s harlot got away unscathed, but it was important to Frigga that she not break her oath, and that made it important to him. Once they got in the room they set the scene. Frigga unbound his magic and he made the illusion of Jane Foster in the corner, and then set the illusion on himself that he was her. After a moment she leaned forward and pressed a kiss to his forehead, caressing his cheek. “Be brave, my son.”

He nodded. “And you, Mother,” he said softly, eliciting a fond smile from her before she exited the room. And then, he was left to wait. It was not long before the doors burst open and the leader of the dark elves strode in. “Stand down, creature, and you may still survive this,” he said in her voice. He sounded close enough to his mother that it would only be noticeable to someone who knew Frigga well. He moved around the fountain as the illusion of Jane moved away. His skills with magic to create illusions that moved of their own volition were unmatched, and this was child’s play, really.

“I have survived worse, woman,” the elf replied, striding towards him on the other side of the fountain.

“Who are you?” Loki asked, holding his mother’s blade loosely by his side, but not so loosely that he wasn’t ready to attack. He wanted to appear as though he was on his guard but not jumping at the bit to attack. Just enough to not put the unwanted visitor on the defensive. Let him get comfortable with thinking he had the upper hand.

“I am Malekith, and I would have what is mine,” Malekith said, moving just in front of him, almost within striking distance. Good. Loki risked a glance at the illusion of Jane and then willed it to move, and when Malekith moved towards it he struck, slashing the blade upwards towards the face. Malekith drew his own blade but Loki disarmed him with his next move and slashed again, mimicking the style of his mother that he knew well from sparring with her when Thor had gone off with Odin when they were children. He knew his mother’s style as well as he knew his own.

It was soon that he had the knife to Malekith’s throat, but then he saw Malekith glance to his right and he knew he had underestimated his opponent, that there was someone else in the room with them. He made a move to thrust at them with his mother’s blade but it wasn’t a good thrust and it was knocked away, and soon a large hand was wrapped around his throat and he was being lifted up off of the ground. When the monstrous elf shifted its hold to lower him back down he took the opportunity to have the Jane illusion move to draw Malekith away from him and the monstrosity holding him by the back of the neck. “You have taken something, child,” Malekith said to the illusion as he approached it. “Give it back.”

Malekith approached the illusion and touched it, and then it shimmered out of existence. At that point Loki let the illusion on himself shimmer out of existence, causing the dumb oaf holding him to let go out of surprise. “Not what you were expecting?” Loki asked smugly.

Malekith turned, glaring at Loki. “What treachery is this?”

“You will find that the girl you are looking for is safely out of reach,” Loki said. “She is well beyond your touch, and no amount of tearing this palace apart will avail you.”

Malekith advanced on him. “Where is the Aether?” he asked, rage humming at the edge of his voice.

“Not anywhere on Asgard,” Loki said before the giant elf looped his arm around Loki’s throat.

“A smart tongue will not make the pain any less tolerable,” Malekith said, standing in front of him as the door opened again. Loki looked over Malekith’s shoulders to see Odin standing there, Gungnir drawn.

“Loki,” he said quietly, his uncovered eye wide.

“So that is your name,” Malekith said, turning back to Loki. “And who is this man? Your father, perhaps?”

“He is not my father,” Loki gasped out. “He is no father of mine.”

“I am Odin, King of Asgard,” Odin said, moving further into the room, weapon at the ready. “If it is revenge against Asgard that you seek--”

“Revenge?” Malekith interjected incredulously. “Do you truly believe that I care about Asgard?”

“Twas my father who put an end to your kind,” Odin said. He stood nearly in front of Malekith.

“Is that what he told you?” Malekith said, sounding almost amused. Then he took a few steps forward and spoke again, all traces of amusement gone from his voice. “You know what I want. Give it to me.”

“Release him,” Odin said, gesturing with Gungnir to Loki. Loki looked at Odin with slightly wide eyes, surprised. When did All-Father care for him enough to ask for his safety? Surely it was only for Frigga’s sake. “Release my son.”

A slow smile spread on Malekith’s face, the type of smile that meant he knew he had a very powerful bargaining chip. But the only thing that was on Loki’s face now was utter shock. After all this time, after the utter disdain that he had thrown at Odin, at Thor and yes, even at Frigga at times, why did Odin refer to him as his son? Why did Odin give this bit of weakness to his enemy? “You fool,” Loki said quietly, so quietly that he was almost unsure whether he had said it aloud.

“Give it to me, or watch your son die,” Malekith said, moving towards Odin. “You must ask yourself, as I did once, what are you prepared to sacrifice for what you believe?”

Odin looked past Malekith to Loki, studying him. Loki could almost see the thoughts going in Odin’s head, could almost see it written on his face, the foolish thought, the stupid one, the one that said if there were to be a sacrifice made today it would not be him, nor Thor, nor Frigga. No, if there were to be a sacrifice tonight, it would be Odin himself. “No,” Loki said as he saw Odin tighten his grip on Gungnir, before he saw the glint in the old warrior’s eye. “No!”

But it was too late. Odin rushed past Malekith towards the elf holding Loki to him, and once the elf saw him rushing to him, Gungnir aimed directly at him he tossed Loki aside and brandished his weapon, quite easily sliding it into the weak spot in Odin’s armor just as his spear sank into the weak spot of its armor. The two of them sank to the ground as Malekith made a disgusted sound. “Such a wasted sacrifice,” he said before a bolt of lightning came from the side to hit him in the face.

Loki didn’t care about that, though. He moved to pull his father away from the dying elf as Thor took care of Malekith and went to Odin’s side. He didn’t care that he had denied the forced lineage between them; with this dying action Odin had proved, once and for all, that he was truly his father. He ignored the blood seeping from the wound and staining his garments as he cradled him upon his lap. “Why did you do that?” Loki asked quietly.

“You...are my son,” Odin said. “You may deny it, but you are. To let you be murdered for the folly of my father would be reprehensible.”

Loki rested his hands over Odin’s on his chest as the sounds of more footsteps filled the room. He didn’t care who had joined them, whether it was his mother or Jane or servants or anyone else. “You made a foolish decision,” Loki replied, his voice cracking slightly at the weight of the emotion it held.

“I made the right decision,” Odin said, his voice growing quieter. “It is my duty, to protect my children.”

“Then consider your duty fulfilled...Father,” Loki said as he felt Odin’s chest rise and fall one last time before it stayed still. He could hear a wail of grief and then Frigga was beside him, throwing herself over Odin and weeping over his lifeless form. Loki reached forward to comfort her after a moment’s hesitation, worried she might push him away for being the cause of his death, but she reached up and grasped his hand tightly for comfort. He then turned and saw Thor standing to the side with Jane nearby, his face grim and struck with the enormity of the loss he had suffered.

He no longer wanted to escape, no longer wanted to run from what he had felt was the gilded prison he was in, the prison that held nothing but contempt and scorn and pity. By Odin’s sacrifice, he knew that he had family here, even if he had been loathe to acknowledge it, even if he had pushed them away. They had not given up on him. They would have sacrificed all for him, and in point of fact, one did. And he would honour that sacrifice. As he saw the look in Thor’s eye that Malekith would pay for what he had done he knew that he would be joining his brother on that quest, and when it came time to sink the blade into Malekith’s body he would be the one to do so, in honour of Odin Borson, the All-Father, King of Asgard.

The man who had saved him when his own kind had left him to die.

His father.

And Malekith should be very very afraid.