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The Loss of a Child

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Farbauti hummed under his breath, picking toys from the ground and replacing them in the toy chest at the foot of the prince's bed. Loki himself remained fast asleep, accustomed to Farbauti's presence in his rooms. Every few minutes the disguised Jotnar would look up at the sleeping boy, a sad smile on his lips. It had been pure luck that Farbauti had discovered his son's location so quickly after his banishment, and Farbauti had wasted no time in manipulating the Aesir to gain entrance to the Palace.

Sighing, the former royal consort stood to his Aesir form's full height. Loki was a messy child, not yet old enough to understand that toys should not be thrown. Stepping over to his sleeping child, Farbauti sat down on the bed. Loki mumbled in his sleep, shuffling closer to his Sire. Farbauti smiled, reaching out to stroke Loki's cheek. The toddler's brow furrowed, his little face scrunching up.

"So like your Dam already," Farbauti chuckled. "Serious all the time." Loki took after Laufey far more than himself. It was an endearing trait, but it did nothing to alleviate Farbauti's heartbreak at his mate's rejection.

The tot looked just like Laufey, even as an Aesir. He had his Dam's high cheekbones and wide lips, and his eyes held the same mischievous gleam Farbauti had fallen in love with in his youth. The only thing he seemed to have inherited from his father was his cooler disposition, Laufey's legendary temper missing from the child. In personality Loki took equally from his parents, with his mischievous tricks and love of games coming from his Dam and his tenderness and insatiable curiosity from his Sire.

Loki would have gotten along well with his elder brothers, Farbauti mused. Helblindi would have been delighted by the tiny child, doting on him as he had Byleistr. Byleistr in return would have been relieved to no longer be the youngest child, to have someone else take his parent's paranoid attention. It was a pity the brothers would never have a chance to meet.

The tot was a dvedr, a dwarf Jotnar, and as such would never be allowed within the royal family. For millenium Jotunheim been ruled by the religious northern clans with the royal family of clan Thrissur at the helm. The northerners believed the birth of a dvedr to be an omen of death, an avatar of evil spirits come to rain destruction on the realm. Even as the son of Laufey-King himself, Loptr would not be spared.

Farbauti, hailing from the more pragmatic southern clans, never believed the priesthood’s slander of dvedr and had been horrified when the healer removed the tiny babe from Laufey's bed. With a word from Laufey the boy had been whisked away. Farbauti had screamed in terror, ignoring his bed ridden mate's calls to chase after his son.

He barely left the delivery room before the servant disappeared out of sight, slipping into one of the hundreds of secret servants halls in the castle. His child was gone, abandoned by his dam and failed by his sire before he was even an hour old.

Nothing Laufey had said or done made him forgive his mate or forget his child, so when the Aesir attacked the northern temple that night, Farbauti left to repel the invaders. He arrived too late to save the bulk of Laufey’s forces, but he managed to rescue a small contingent trapped by the Aesir and send them back to the palace. Farbauti snuck through the temple, arriving at its heart to see Odin pick up his infant son.

The Jotun had been prepared to jump into the heart of the Aesir forces to rescue his babe, but Odin’s gentle word stayed his hand. Instead of engaging the Aesir in suicidal battle, he followed them out of the temple, watching Odin call upon the Gatekeeper and disappear with his child.

He returned to the castle without fanfare, purposely avoiding the servants Laufey sent to find him. He ended up in the eastern wing, standing inside his middle child’s nursery. Býleistr was fast sleep in his cradle, clutching his favorite blanket to his chest. Farbauti remained in the nursery, watching over his son until Laufey stormed in, fury etched into his handsome face.

The ensuing fight was something burned into Farbauti’s memory for the rest of his days, where his beloved mate cursed his name and banished him from their realm for cowardice. Without being allowed to even say goodbye to his children, Farbauti had been forced through a Path, banished for four hundred rotations of Jotunheim’s sun.  

"How fares Loki?"

Farbauti looked up from his son's face, unsurprised to see Frigga standing in the doorway. "He sleeps soundly. He has not stirred since he was put to bed," Farbauti answered, a pleased smile making its way across his face.

"Good. Our son has always been the easier child, I only wish Thor took more after his brother," the Asgardian queen said, smiling at Loki.

Farbauti chuckled. "It is only natural. He has caused me such trouble already in his short life, he ought to behave in at least this small way."

Frigga nodded, stepping into the nursery. She crossed the room with characteristic elegance, pausing at the foot of the bed. "And you, Farbauti? How do you fair?" she asked, voice soft.

He paused, regarding his unexpected ally. Frigga discovered his deception before he had even stepped foot in the palace, but the Vanir woman had failed to alert the Aesir to his presence. To an extent he understood her reasoning. She empathized with the child that had twice been stolen from him, seeing some of herself in both Sire and child.

It was no secret Asgard's queen was taken as a hostage from Vanenheim, but Farbauti would have thought she would have revealed him for her elder son's safety. He was a renowned warrior, having killed hundreds of Aesir in the war. His name was cursed throughout Asgard as a rabid warrior, bloodthirsty and merciless in the service of his King. Frigga had taken him in without a word, employing him as the Aesir maid known as Heilda. She had allowed him to be his son's wet nurse and nanny, taking care of Loki whenever the queen was busy with court affairs or her other son. Over the two hundred years he had stayed in Asgard he had developed a sort of friendship with Frigga, bonding over their shared son and their similar circumstance.

"I continue on," he said, "my heart longs for my home and my other children as sharply as ever, but I find easy solstice here."

Frigga nodded, her gaze drifting to Loki. “He is a wonderful child, I could not have asked for a better second son,” she said.

Farbauti chuckled, a easy smile finding its way onto his face. “He is, I only wish his Dam could appreciate him as much as you,” he said, stroking Loptr’s face.

The queen nodded. “Perhaps one day Laufey will come to recognize the loss he brought upon himself,” she said.

Farbauti sighed. “Perhaps.”

Two-hundred years later on the final day of his exile Farbauti pressed a kiss to Loptr's forehead slipped through a Path. He resumed his role as royal consort with barely a word. Fury and relief filled his chest in equal parts as Laufey took him back into their chambers, a kiss pressed to his lips and regretful words whispered into his ear. He embraced his elder sons, shuddering away his love and longing for his youngest babe in the deepest recesses of his mind.

Farbauti did not see his Loptr for another two thousand years, only seeing him in time to watch his beloved son stab his mate and King through the heart.