It is known that the norns weave the web of fate. This has always been, and it will be so for till end of days.
But sometimes the norns are displeased by what they have woven, and will take the heavy scissors they use to cut men’s lives and cut the weave itself. Then, from the remains, they will reweave it anew, making something different. Sometimes, just to see what will happen.
They might even decide they liked the original better, and undo the weave once more.
Let us explore one of the re-weaves, as impassive as the Norns.
The king is in his counting house, the queen is in her garden.
And the princes of Asgard?
Well… that’s where it gets complicated.
Let us tell the story as it is woven, up until the moment heavy scissors cut the weave. Then, we shall explore a re-weave… one that, in the end, did not come to pass. For we all already know what came to pass.
But for now - The queen is in the garden, eating bread and honey.
And one of her sons has something he needs to say...
“Mother.” there was something peculiar in the voice, a note she had never heard before, and Frigga put down her plate and looked up.
“Loki, dear” she smiled at her youngest, who had his trademark smirk firmly in place but the eyes were everything but smiling. Knowing him as well as she did, she could see the apprehension well hidden in his gaze.
“I need to talk to you.” A quick glance to the maids told the rest; in private, mother, please.
“Let us walk” Frigga decided swiftly as she stood up, adjusting her shawl. Side by side, they disappeared down the nearest path, not heading anywhere in particular but away from curious ears.
As they walked, Frigga studied her son. He was so much like her, even though he had none of her blood. He had her moods, her cunning, her thoughtful, inquisitive nature. He was prone to secrets, quick to anger, and always had some mischief brewing. Just like her, when she was young.
But now he couldn’t meet her eyes, fidgeting under her gaze as if he was afraid of how he’d be received. He wore a tunic that was too large for him, she noted; one of Thor’s, if the embroidery along the edges were any indication. She had noticed him wearing them lately, almost disappearing in the too large shirts. As if he was hiding.
Eventually they came to stop by a little fountain that sent fresh water cascading into a little rock pool. It was one of Loki’s favourite places in her gardens; when he was little, she would often find him splashing in it.
“Please, child, tell me what troubles you.” Frigga said gently, turning the full weight of her mother’s worry on her son.
At that moment, he looked impossibly young as his lips started to tremble.
“I don’t know how” he said finally, “you mustn’t think I am lying.”
And that was a valid concern, Frigga knew. Silver-tongue, liesmith, honey-trap. All of it was true, what they whispered about her youngest. But she had always been able to tell when he was untruthful, and she could tell now. At least she liked to think so.
“I will not” she promised, giving him an encouraging smile. He looked down at the little rock pool.
“I used to splash in this pond” he said, disturbing the serene surface with the toe of his boot, “I told Thor it was mine, and he mustn’t have it, not the gardens. He could have the rest of Asgard.”
Frigga remembered. How her eldest had scowled and pouted and called for his mother.
“Aye. and that he may have everything but that which was yours, unless you gave it to him.”
Loki laughed, but there was no joy in it. He took a step back from the waters.
“He made me kiss him to seal my word.” He said, shaking his head slowly.
“You were children” Frigga smiled, fond. They had been so sweet.
“And now we are children no more.”
“You will always be children to me.”
Loki glanced at her, green eyes apprehensive.
“We… have always done that.” he confessed, shyly. “A kiss to seal a vow.”
Frigga nodded slowly, not understanding his line of thought.
“You are very close” she agreed.
Loki’s hands moved like restless birds, a gesture she knew as him being lost for words. It was a gesture she saw less and less, these days.
They stood in silence, and she watched the flowers that she loved sway gently back and forth in the soft breeze. She wondered what he was thinking. There was a time when she had been able to tell just from the stiffness of his shoulders.
She could hear him draw a shuddering breath, and turned to him again. Waiting. Wondering if he was finally ready to tell her what was troubling him.
“Thor and I… we…” and once more his hands fluttered. But this time, she did not come to his rescue. Merely waited. “We have made vows.” he admitted, finally.
She frowned, not quite understanding what he was attempting to tell her.
Loki’s fluttering hands stilled, clenched.
“And we have sealed them, like when we were children. And I… I have given him what was mine.”
Frigga stared at him, horrified understanding slowly dawning.
“What did you give him, Loki?” She asked, her voice low and emotionless. She did not want to hear the answer.
But he gave it anyway.
Let us leave them there, momentarily, and speak of fate. For fate is a fickle thing, up until the moment it is woven into the grand design. The thread will shift and twist, as slippery as sand.
For instance, a young prince can flee Asgard, alone and lost, and wander further than he has ever dared. He can find himself in cold lands, the lands of the Ice Giants, and seek refuge in the home of a witch-woman on the edge of a small village.
Angrboda, for so is her name, will take him in - and take the unborn from his body and place a curse in its stead. For such is her magic; foul and dark, it gives nothing without taking of equal or greater measure. The young prince knows not the nature of the curse, but accepts it, knowing it lies only in his womb and not on the rest of him.
He will never know the nature of Angrboda’s curse, but we know that it is this: each soul that springs from his womb shall be monstrous, and as beasts shall ye know them. They shall be damned for daring to have sprung from cursed flesh, and eternally will they suffer for their existence.
Neither does he know, when he at last returns to Asgard, that that which he leaves behind lives. It is a half life, a cursed life, but life nonetheless. A life in shadows, half here and half… elsewhere.
He does not know that the child will grow up to become the Queen of the Dead. Not yet. He will learn, in time. Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.
And yet, we are not quite at the moment where the weave changes, where the scissors cut, where fate is rewritten. First, a queen must speak words she never thought she had it in her heart to utter.
The word ripped through the tranquility like a bolt of lightning, even though it was barely whispered. It ruined everything, Frigga felt as the earth disappeared beneath her feet. Suddenly, so many things made sense. She remembered, and she understood. The glances. The secretive smiles. The eldest son’s devotion to the youngest. The whispers. Her eyes strayed of their own volition to the oversized shirt, hiding her youngest son’s body from her searching gaze.
It was impossible, it must be. And yet, was it not she who had comforted Loki during his first monthly bleeding, when he cried his confusion into her shoulder?
“Mother” he begged, “say something.”
But Frigga stared at his abdomen as if she was staring into the depths of Muspelheim and did not speak. Se could not speak, for what words were there?
“Please” Loki’s eyes were wide with fear. “I know not what to do. I haven’t told anyone, not even Thor-”
Frigga’s hand was in the air before she sensed it moving, striking his cheek with all the fury of a devastated mother.
And then she uttered words that came from somewhere deep inside her, words she hadn’t known she was able of speaking. Words she regretted the moment she said them, but by then it was too late. Cruel, horrible words she didn’t mean and would never be able to recant.
“Do not dare to speak his name, you filthy jotun whore. ”
And all Asgard’s horses and all Asgard’s men
Cannot put what was broken, together again.