Actions

Work Header

A New Beginning

Chapter Text

“Puny annoying god; stay down!” The Hulk roared. The sound echoed unpleasantly in his already pounding head, and hurt Loki’s ears. It seemed to take forever before the Hulk generously left Loki in peace with his thoughts. He surprised Loki by jumping out the window with another loud yell, then mercifully all was quiet. The sounds of the battle were muted by the ringing in Loki’s ears. Loki shook his head to clear it, instantly regretting it. Forcing himself to concentrate, he took a deep breath and took stock of the situation.

Frankly, he was shocked to still be alive. He lay in a heap on Stark’s ridiculous living room floor, where the green monster hand unceremoniously dropped him like so much unwanted trash. Splinters of wood dug into his skin. Surprisingly, he hadn’t been pushed directly through the floor.

A part of him was mortified that the Hulk had been able to throw a god as powerful as Loki around like a doll. If his father was to see him now, he would turn from him in disgust. A true warrior of Asgard would never allow himself to be so easily defeated, not even by a gigantic rage monster. Not that it matters. I’ll never be good enough in his eyes, Loki thought bitterly. After all, if it hadn’t been for his father, he wouldn't be in this situation to begin with.

Loki forced his thoughts back to the present; now was not the time to dwell on the past. In truth he should be grateful; he was thinking clearly for the first time in months, finally free of Thanos’ mind control. He had suffered much pain and sorrow at the Other’s hands.

It seemed all he’d needed to break free was a hard hit to the head. Loki couldn’t help but be a bit amused by his current circumstances. How was this even his life? It was like a badly written epic. He smiled slightly at the thought, but it turned into a wince as he struggled slowly to his feet, ignoring his various injuries.

There was urgent work to be done. This was his disaster to clean up. He could not allow the humans to be subjugated. Humans might be primitive and backward, but they didn't deserve to be enslaved. Walking out onto the gauntlet, he looked up to see the enemy streaming through the portal. The portal needed to be closed as quickly as possible. It was their only hope. Loki had no intention of dying on Midgard.

Carefully, he gathered his magic around him and flew up to the roof where the Doctor he had enslaved was monitoring the Tesseract. Loki was making his way toward the Tesseract when out of nowhere the Black Widow came flying toward him, almost catching him off guard.

Loki raised a hand and stopped her in midair.

Damn all the luck, he did not have the magic to waste battling this woman. He admired her strength and power, but the norns knew she had been a constant thorn in his side. Even while suspended in midair and totally at his mercy, she glared at him fiercely, and he had no doubt that if looks could kill, he’d be dead where he stood.

He looked Natasha Romanoff in the eye as he spoke.

“I know I have given you every reason to distrust me, but you must believe me when I say I am here to help. We are in more danger than you realize. I do not have the strength to hold you for long. Soon you will be free. I was forced to come here against my will. I was under Thanos’ thrall. I was his puppet.”

Natasha snorted in disbelief. “You’re right, I don’t believe you. This is just another of your tricks.”

Loki wanted to scream in frustration. “You must listen. I am being honest with you. Did you not notice that many of my actions where ridiculously theatrical? Why did I simply not take what I wanted? I assure you, I had the power.” or did you mean “I assumed you knew I had the power”

Natasha gave a short, humorless laugh. “I just assumed you were an inept drama queen.” She said with a smirk.

Loki ground his teeth in annoyance, but he didn't rise to her taunting. He couldn't afford to let his anger rule him. “I fought the power as much as I could. I had few choices, but I did what I could to thwart my own plans. I even allowed myself to be captured, but eventually, my need to complete my task overwhelmed me. I assure you there was some part of me that wished to be stopped.”

His power began to fluctuate, and his hold on his captive began to weaken. He didn't dare try to strengthen the spell, needing to conserve what magic he had left.

He could see the knowledge of her impending freedom light her eyes, and she began to try to break his hold, valiantly struggling against his power.

Without further warning, the spell released and Natasha tumbled to the ground. Before Loki could make a move, she had recovered and rolled away from him. In the blink of an eye, she was back on her feet. The scepter held tightly in her hand was pointed directly at his heart.

Loki stared at her in disbelief. How had she turned the tables on him so quickly?

She raised the scepter as if to strike him with it. Loki felt his desperation grow. She could do him a great deal of damage. The scepter would respond to her thoughts, though she did not know it. How could he convince her?

He held up his hands in surrender. “I will not fight you. I am the only one who can close the portal permanently. The Tesseract was not meant to be meddled with in this manner. It is a powerful object, far beyond your comprehension. If the Tesseract unleashes its full power, there will be no one who will be able to control it. This entire planet will be decimated by the strength of its power.” He hoped his words adequately conveyed his sincerity, since he had no proof.

She frowned at him menacingly. Loki was sure all was lost. However, before she could speak, there was a loud roll of thunder and then Thor stood between them, in front of Natasha, protectively, but his attention was firmly on Loki.

“Brother, I will not allow you to harm my shield sister. This time I will stop you. I will no longer allow our familial bond to stay my hand.” Thor could not hide the pain he was feeling. Loki knew his brother did not wish to hurt him.

Loki was so happy to see his brother that he didn’t even have the urge to roll his eyes at his brother’s pontificating and posturing. He felt true hope for the first time. Surely, his brother could be made to believe him. Thor was not the brightest of men, but his loyalty was unparalleled.

“Thor, you know me. You know I don’t desire to rule over this disgusting planet. We are gods. The humans do not deserve our guidance or our protection. However, no one deserves to be invaded and enslaved. I may not share your affinity for these mortals, but I will help you rescue them from my unwitting actions.” He willed Thor to believe him.

Both Avengers continued to stare at him in disbelief, but Loki could see a faint hope in his brother’s eyes.

“Look at me, brother,” he pleaded quietly. “You know me better than anyone else. I only wish to fix my mistakes. Please let me. Then I will leave and bother you no longer.”

Thor looked into his eyes, and then he smiled and reached out and pulled Loki into a hug. His ribs creaked in his brother’s grip.

“I believe your intentions are honorable, brother. I am pleased you have returned to your senses. I cannot wait to take you home. Father and Mother will also be pleased.”

Loki flinched, and Thor frowned at him in concern. “Brother…” he began hesitantly, but Natasha cut him off.

Natasha cleared her throat. They turned to look at her; she was watching them warily. Clearly, she was still ready to fight the moment she deemed it necessary. “Not that this isn’t touching, but we have more pressing matters to deal with. Aliens, remember? Apparently, we’re running out of time.” Her voice was hard with anger and distrust.

Thor looked at her, his eyes shining with sincerity. “I believe Loki speaks the truth, and that we should allow him to stop the Tesseract. I will watch him carefully. If he lies I will deal with him swiftly, and I will not be lenient, I promise you. ”

Natasha glared at him. She didn't look happy, but she sighed. “Fine, it’s not like we have any other options. I’ll let you turn it off. If you betray us, I will kill you, very slowly and painfully.”

He couldn’t help but smile at her. What audacity to threaten him this way. She really was delightful. He remembered the horrible things he’d said to her while she interrogated him. Perhaps once his work was complete, she would allow him to apologize. The Black Widow was not someone he wanted for an enemy.

He held his hand out for the scepter, and she reluctantly handed it to him. Walking over to the Tesseract, he carefully began funneling the power back into the Gem. It was a bomb waiting to go off; the power had to be turned down slowly and steadily. It took great concentration and all the strength he had left to accomplish his task; he dared not fail. He only hoped that if he lost consciousness that his idiotic brother would catch him before he hit the ground. His head couldn't take anymore knocks today.

***

Loki looked around, confused. He was lying on a hammock in one of the gardens on Asgard, but he had no idea how he’d come to be here. This garden had always been one of his favorite places. He had many pleasant memories of playing in these gardens as a boy. They had been a peaceful oasis, where he could be alone. He could feel the light breeze against his face, smell the flowers, and hear the gentle trickle of water in a nearby fountain. The hammock beneath him felt entirely real.

Was this one of Thanos’ tricks? Perhaps everything that had happened had been one of the Other’s attempts to torture Loki on his Master’s behalf. He had taken sadistic delight in seeing Loki suffer by playing with his mind, tricking him into believing he was safe only to rip it away and leave only agony behind. There were many moments when Loki thought he would lose his sanity completely. Loki felt a stab of fear.

However, his senses told him this was no dream. His surroundings felt completely real. Often memory was inaccurate, and he had learned to see through some of the Other’s illusions, but this was different. The last thing he remembered was closing the portal on Midgard, and then there was nothing. How had he come to be here?

Taking stock of his physical state, he realized that he was completely healed, and he could feel his magic once again thrumming under his skin. He was really home, as unbelievable as it seemed. His heart filled with joy; he'd never thought to see Asgard again. There was so much he wanted to do. He turned his face up, enjoying the warmth of the sun on his skin.

Then he heard a familiar and beloved voice call his name. He looked up to see his mother walking toward him. Hardly believing his eyes, he stood as she reached him. She was smiling, and there were tears in her eyes.

“My darling boy, I am so happy to see you looking so well. I have been so worried. After you fell, your brother and I looked for you, but we could find no trace of you. I feared the worst.” His mother looked at him tenderly.

In the next moment, he found himself wrapped in his mother’s arms. He stiffened with surprise but then relaxed, returning the hug, feeling truly safe for the first time in what felt like years. It was such a wonderfully familiar feeling. “Mother, please tell me it’s really you, and not some cruel joke.”

Frigga pulled back to look at him. She was still smiling, but he could see the concern in her eyes. “I found you in a cell on Midgard. But don't worry, no one will even realize that you are gone. I will return you there. It’s me. I promise you, this is quite real."

Loki was not surprised. Of course they had imprisoned him. Humans were such an ungrateful lot.

"For months you have been hidden from my magic, but tonight I found you easily. I was shocked to find you on Midgard, and so severely hurt. I brought you here, so that I could heal you, and so that we could talk in peace. Tell me, what has happened to you?” she asked, looking at him expectantly.

“It is a long story,” Loki admitted reluctantly. He did not want his mother to know what he had suffered, but he knew her well enough to know she would not stop until she had uncovered the truth. He and Thor had gotten their stubbornness from her. “Come, let us sit and be comfortable,” he invited. Leading her to a nearby bench, they sat together. He filled her in on what had been done to him. When he was done, she was crying openly.

“I am so sorry for your suffering, my son. I know fighting the Other’s hold on you was painful, but I am so proud of you for not giving in. I always knew that there is a great strength in you.”

Loki took her hand and clasped it between his own, hating to see her so upset. He spoke from his heart in hopes of easing her anguish and reassuring her of his future intentions.

“Mother, please don’t cry. I know I have not always been a son you could be proud of. I have been selfish and cruel, always thinking of myself. My need for power. Before the Other took complete control of my mind, I had a great deal of time to think about my choices and my mistakes. This experience has taught me much. I have been exposed to true evil, and it has reminded me of what is really important in life.”

Frigga simply stared at him for several seconds and then she let out a joyful laugh. Loki could only stare in return. It had been a long time since his mother had laughed so openly in his presence.

“My son, you have no idea how happy you’ve made me. I have waited such a long time to hear you say these words. I knew one day you would discover what you are truly capable of. I had hoped you would become the good man I always saw in you as a boy.”

Loki could hear the love and pride in her voice, and he felt tears fill his own eyes. He had hurt her so often in the past. He had been so angry, and he’d taken it out on all those around him, but especially his mother. It was true that his father often hurt him, treating him more like an unwanted burden than a beloved son.

Odin had never hidden his preference for Thor, often pitting the two boys against one another in competitions. The ultimate prize had always been Odin’s approval, but somehow Loki had always fallen short. As far as his father was concerned he would always be useless. His mother had tried to make up for his father’s poor treatment, but Loki had pushed her away.

“I am sorry for the way I treated you in the past. I was selfish. I hope you can forgive me, and that we can become closer once again.”

She shook her head. “There is no need for you to apologize. I am the one with much to atone for; I know how much your father hurt you. In truth, I did nothing to stop him. I was weak, and I allowed myself to be ordered about like a servant. I let my husband rule my actions in the misguided belief that his will must not be defied. I was taught to play the dutiful wife. I fulfilled my role even though I knew it was wrong,” she said sadly. She looked away.

He could not bear to see her suffering so. It was up to him to ease her pain, and heal the rift between them.

“I will make you a deal,” he said earnestly. “We will forgive each other our past mistakes, and begin again. I do not wish to lose you. You and Thor are my family. I love you both, though if you ever tell Thor I said that I will deny it, and set his cape on fire for his impudence,” he threatened, but he knew his mother could hear the amusement in his voice.

Frigga let out another watery laugh, and Loki was grateful to see her mood improving once again.

“I wish you wouldn’t torment your brother so. He has a good heart, and there is nothing he wouldn’t do for you,” she scolded gently.

Loki wasn’t as certain; his brother had often turned a blind eye to the bullying and derision Loki had endured, but he chose not to say so. He didn't wish to upset his mother further.

Despite the lightness of her tone, Loki was disturbed to see shadows still lingered in her eyes.

He squeezed her hand gently to regain her attention. “Mother, is something wrong?” he asked quietly.

She sighed and looked down at their hands. “There is something I must tell you, and I fear you will turn from me in disgust once you know what I have done.”

Loki was confused and alarmed. “I can’t imagine what you have done that would make me turn on you now. Please, you can tell me anything. I will listen and help you if I can,” he said earnestly. He gave his mother an imploring look, willing her to speak.

“It is time for you to know the truth. You must understand, I thought I was doing what was best. You had become cold and had a terrible temper. Still do, if I’m not mistaken.” Loki could only nod in acknowledgement He was often emotional, and needed to learn to control his temper.

“I could not see you caring for another. Your father assured me we were doing the right thing and I let him convince me. I let his assurance assuage my guilt. I did not mean to hurt you.”

Her eyes pleaded with him, begging for his understanding. Whatever had happened, whatever his parents had done, it must be terrible, indeed. His father’s motives could never be trusted, and anything he thought best would surely cause Loki pain.

Loki felt himself go cold. Suddenly filled with a deep dread, knowing the next few minutes would change his whole life. He held his breath as he waited for her to speak, bracing himself for the coming blow.

His mother took a deep breath. “You have a son,” Frigga said quietly. “Your father and I hid him from you, many years ago.”

Loki could only stare at her in shocked disbelief. Her words echoed in his head. However, try as he might, they refused to make sense. He would know if he had a child. Unless- the thought was too terrible to contemplate.

“Mother, please tell me you didn’t,” Loki begged. His mother could not have betrayed him in such a manner; it was not possible.

She nodded. Her face was deathly pale. Loki wanted to shake the truth from her.

“We removed all traces of the boy and his mother from your memory. Then we gave him a new identity and hid him away. I know we have committed an unforgivable crime, and I can only hope that someday you will be able to forgive me.”

Loki felt a tidal wave of rage overtake him as the meaning of her words sunk in. Standing, he turned away in an effort to gain control of himself, unable to look at her, afraid that he might actually hurt her in his anger. A son. He had a child, out there somewhere, a child who had no idea who he was. Under the anger, there was pain, but also a feeling of fierce joy. There was a small part of him that could understand why his mother had thought he wouldn't be able to care for the boy. He might have agreed with her reasons, but that did not make the betrayal hurt any less.

It didn't matter now. All that mattered was that he had a son to find. He only hoped that his child would allow him to be part of his life. Frigga continued speaking.

“His mother is a good woman. I’m sure the boy grew up safe and happy. I made sure she would care for him properly, I promise you.”

He could hear the desperate pleading in her voice. Clearly, she was trying to placate him.

Glaring, he turned back to her. She seemed to shrink in on herself at the expression she saw on his face. Loki couldn't bring himself to care.

“Where is he?” he demanded coldly. “Where is the son you stole from me?” He spoke calmly, but underneath his emotions were rampaging.

Frigga hesitated, and Loki felt his worry begin to rise. What was she reluctant to tell him now? Surely, nothing could be as bad as the crimes she had already admitted to him.

“You will tell me this instant! Or I will tear all of the nine realms apart until I find him. I promise you. I will let no one keep me from him.” He clenched his hands into fists, his nails digging into his palms, but Loki barely noticed.

Her face was still pale, and she looked so very sad, but again Loki refused to be moved. She couldn't meet his eyes. “He is on Midgard,” she finally admitted softly.

Loki felt his blood run cold. His son had grown up in that dirty, dangerous realm? It couldn't be true.

“He is in England,” Frigga continued in the same soft tone. “His mother married, and she gave the child her husband’s name. Your son is called Harry Potter.” 

Loki sat down again. “You will tell me everything you know about him," he ordered in a hard tone. He would not meet his son unprepared.

 

***

Loki made his way carefully out of Asgard. Avoiding his father’s patrols was surprisingly easy. Thankfully, a few of his back doors were still in operation, so he didn't have to ask Frigga for help. Loki’s mind was reeling with all the information she had given him. There was a great deal for him to take in.

After all, it wasn’t every day a man discovered he had an adult son he’d never known anything about. His son. The idea still felt foreign and unreal to him. He'd always been far too self-involved to care for another; he’d never really wanted to be a father. However, now that he knew his son existed, he couldn’t help but feel cautiously optimistic. He'd been alone for a very long time.

The thought of having a family was very appealing. Perhaps he was even a grandfather. He knew he would make an excellent grandparent. After all, who knew better how to spoil a child than the God of Mischief and Chaos? If anyone knew how to have fun, it was Loki.

He longed to see his son immediately. Unfortunately, his mother hadn’t known where to find Harry. Loki had been furious when he realized his parents hadn’t even bothered to keep track of their only grandchild. There’s no way they would have abandoned Thor’s child, he was sure.

As far as Loki was concerned, it was simply more proof that his parents had never really loved him like a son. He hated to think of his child also suffering from their neglect. However, if his mother was to be believed, it was for the best that his father had chosen to ignore the child.

The most incredible and infuriating portion of their conversation kept replaying in his mind, in a never-ending loop.

His mother faced his anger with a quiet well-practiced dignity. She looks quite regal, even when admitting to her crimes, he thought snidely.

Her face was tear streaked and pale. Her pain filled eyes begged him to forgive her, begged him to understand, but he remained unmoved.

“I didn’t have a choice,” she insisted. “I was sure your son would be better off with his mortal parent. It was all I could do to convince your father not to kill him,” she’d explained.

It felt like a punch to the gut. Loki stared at her in disbelief before his anger began to rise once again.

“Why would Odin want my son dead?” he demanded. “My son was just a baby. What fault could Odin find with him?”

“I’m not sure. He was furious, of course,” she admitted.

Her voice sounded steadier now. She was growing calmer, becoming lost in her memories. “Ranted about you tarnishing the family honor. Our bedroom furnishings took the brunt of his anger. He was careful not to show his feelings outside our private rooms. He insisted no one could suspect anything about your indiscretion.” She twisted her hands, giving away her true restlessness.

Loki snorted in derision. As if his father hadn’t had dozens, if not hundreds, of affairs in his lifetime. He was truly a hypocrite.

 However, Frigga chose to ignore him and continued speaking in the same measured tone.

“If I hadn’t known better I would have said he was afraid. At first, I thought he feared the scandal that an illegitimate child might cause, but later I realized that it was your son that scared him. Why, I have no idea. But he was determined that the child never come into contact with anyone on Asgard. His mother had to swear an oath on her magic they would never leave Midgard. It was the only way he would allow them to live.”

The conversation still didn’t make any sense to him. The All-Father couldn’t be afraid of a baby. It was unbelievable. Loki could hardly credit it, but his mother had insisted it was the truth. However, she was unable to give him any more information no matter how much he probed. He had no choice but to believe her. Could it have something to do with Loki’s true heritage? It was a mystery he’d have to think more about later. If necessary, he would confront his father. He had to know if his son would need to be protected from Odin’s wrath in the future.

Frigga had also reluctantly admitted that she couldn’t lift the block on his memory without Odin’s permission, as the spell was tied to Odin’s magic. The revelation had made Loki grind his teeth in frustration. Not being able to remember his son’s mother was galling. How had they met? Had she been a good person? Had he loved her? He had so many questions he wanted to ask her. Perhaps once he found his son he’d get a chance to ask them.

Once safely out of Asgard, he made his way to Midgard. Without the bridge to aid him, it took far more magic than normal. Luckily, he was at full strength. Then he made his way to his cell, which was surprisingly located in one of the labs in Stark Tower. Apparently, Shield Headquarters had been severely damaged during the battle. Loki couldn’t help but smile vindictively at the thought. Those morons at Shield deserved that and more.

Making himself invisible, he entered the lab. His mother’s projection of him was lying in the center of a cell that had clearly been created to hold the Hulk. Reaching out, he felt his mother’s familiar magic make contact with his own. Once the sensation would have been comforting, but now all he felt was a stab of pain. How long it would take for the pain of his mother’s betrayal to fade?

She hurt me so, yet I still think of her as Mother and not Frigga. Learning not to love her will be difficult, he admitted to himself. Sighing in frustration, he forced himself to return to his task. There was no time to waste; his new family waited. He grinned to himself.

It was surprisingly easy to enter the cell. If he’d woken in here, even wounded, it would not have been able to hold him. That was unexpected. He would have thought that Thor would be helping the mortals contain him; even Thor should have been able to see this would not be adequate to hold someone of Loki’s power.

Loki wanted to make sure that his mother’s spell would hold for the foreseeable future. It would be best to keep the mortals busy for the moment. Not for his own sake; it would be easier to look for his son without the threat of Shield and particularly his brother making himself a nuisance. He didn’t want his son or his son’s family getting drawn into Loki’s problems.

He quickly lent his power to the illusion, his magic mingling easily with his mother’s. Once he was satisfied, he turned to leave. Just then, his brother and the Black Widow entered the room.

Loki decided to stay and listen. One never knew when useful information might be overheard.

The two Avengers stared at Loki inside the cell for several seconds, before Thor finally spoke.

“I am most displeased with my brother’s treatment. Fury insists on keeping my brother locked in this cell. Loki has committed many crimes against your people, it's true, but he proved himself to be a good man in the end. He is injured, and I will not soon forget a child of Asgard being denied the medical care that his people can provide. I have warned Fury, he is courting war with my people.”

Natasha nodded. “I understand. It isn’t Fury’s fault. Our World Council is insisting we continue to hold him. I’ll never like your brother. I think he’s a pompous ass, but I agree this is wrong. If you decide to take action, I promise to lend a hand. Stark would probably help too. He’s still pouting like a child because Fury won’t let him run some tests. He’s dying to learn more about magic.” Natasha grinned as she spoke of Tony’s unhappiness.

Thor nodded once, regally, and then bowed to Natasha before speaking again.

“I am still considering the appropriate action, as I hope that your government will see reason. I thank you for your offer of assistance, Shield Sister. The sons of Odin will be in your debt. I will call on you if necessary.”

Natasha nodded and left. Thor stayed behind, taking a seat in a chair located outside Loki’s cell. Apparently, he was prepared to keep Loki company.

Loki was shocked by the conversation and his brother's apparent concern for Loki’s well-being. Thor had never been willing to defend him in the past, yet he was willing to risk war with the Midgardians on Loki’s behalf. Despite his surprise, Loki couldn’t help but be moved. Perhaps his mother was right, and his brother really did love him. He pushed the thought away; he had suffered too many shocks recently. He really couldn’t bear any more.

Still, this posed a problem. He couldn’t have his brother ruining his plans. Loki sighed. Why must everything be so difficult? Making himself visible, he saw his brother jump in shock. In the blink of an eye, Thor’s hammer was pointed in his direction.

Before Thor could speak, Loki decided to take control of the situation.

“While I am touched by your concern for me,” Loki said dryly, “I assure you I am well. Mother has seen me fully healed, and I am strong once again.” it can be dryly or dryly either is correct

Thor lowered his weapon as soon as Loki began to speak.

“Brother!” Thor cried.

His voice was so loud it made Loki’s ears ring. He managed not to wince, but it was a near thing. It wouldn’t do to show weakness in front of Thor.

“I am pleased to see you well. I am grateful you have been kind enough to ease my worry, but why do you return to this place, if our mother has freed you?”

“Thor, I don’t really have time to explain, but it has come to my attention that I have some personal business to attend to. It would be easier if the mortals were not looking for me. They can be such a nuisance. I’d rather not have to deal with them.”

For once, Thor caught on quickly. “You want to leave the illusion in place,” he said.

Loki nodded. “Can I count on you to keep my secret?” he asked warily. It was never easy to be on the wrong side of his brother’s morality. He could take offense very easily.

Thor looked at him carefully for several long seconds. “Is something wrong with father or mother?” he asked quietly, crossing his arms over his chest.

Loki shook his head, keeping his face neutral. “No. Our parents are well. This business does not involve anyone you know. I really don’t have time to explain, but if all goes well, you will be enlightened soon enough.”

Loki felt a strange mix of apprehension and anticipation at the idea of introducing Thor and Harry to one another.

“Can you promise that no mortals will be hurt?” Thor asked.

Loki couldn’t help but smile, as some things never changed. “I have no intention of hurting anyone,” he responded carefully.

Thor seemed to be looking into his soul. His silence began to grate on Loki’s nerves, but finally, Thor spoke again. “Very well. I will let you go, to attend to this gravest matter. Do you need my assistance?”

Loki was surprised by the feeling of fondness that swept over him at the offer.

“This is something I must do myself. I am grateful for the offer,” he said sincerely. His brother had turned out to be a far better man than he ever could have predicted. Perhaps his time on this miserable planet had changed him for the better, after all. However, he would die a hundred times before he’d ever admit that to Thor.

He transported himself to his brother’s side, and offered his arm to Thor in the greeting of warriors. Thor accepted the gesture and then pulled Loki into a crushing hug. Loki rolled his eyes, but he allowed the contact.

“Be safe, little brother.” Thor murmured, and he was lucky Loki was feeling generous enough to let the “little” go … for now.

He grinned impishly at Thor. “You know me. I always come out on top in the end. I am the God of Chaos after all. No one would dare go against me,” he said in his customary arrogant tone.

Thor gave a long-suffering sigh, which only made Loki grin wider. Annoying Thor was always fun.

Then, without another word, he transported himself away, a giddy rush of happiness and determination welling up in him. He had a son to find. The Norns help anyone who tried to get in his way.

Chapter Text

Loki wandered through the city of London. It had been almost a week, and he hadn’t been able to find any trace of his son. In truth, he'd assumed it would be a simple matter of performing a spell to find lost family members. However, the spell had fizzled and died as soon as he’d cast it. Loki had been stunned, and he’d stood there staring like an idiot at the failed spell for far longer than he’d ever be willing to admit. It was a powerful spell, and he’d never heard of it failing unless all family members of a line were dead.

Loki’s heart had frozen in his chest at the thought that his son was dead. He had swiftly banished the idea from his mind. No, it wasn’t possible; perhaps his father had simply hidden him too well. After all, he wouldn't want to take the chance of Loki ever finding his son. Odin had made it his goal in life to make Loki as miserable as possible. He wouldn’t hesitate to put up as many barriers as he could, wanting to make sure their reunion was impossible.

Loki felt a wave of hatred for his adoptive father. Certainly, if Odin appeared before him now, he would kill the old man with his bare hands. Once his meeting with his son was over, Loki planned to have a long overdue confrontation with the All-Father. He would pay for keeping his son from him.

His mother had told him of the mortal wizards. Apparently, they were isolationists. As far as she knew their magic had developed independently. Loki had been incredulous. Magic on Midgard? It seemed impossible. Frigga had warned Loki to be careful; these beings had proven themselves to be unpredictable. Loki hadn’t been worried. Surely Midgardian magic could be no match for him? However, he soon realized he could find no trace of Harry or his mother/parents. Searching for magic on Midgard, he found nothing except a bizarre man in a cape, who thankfully was not his son. Perhaps these magical beings? People had some way of blocking Asgardian magic? If this was the case, Loki would be reluctantly impressed. He resolved to tread carefully until he knew more.

As the days passed, a strong feeling of dread built in him. Loki had a feeling he was running out of time. He needed to find Harry as soon as possible, but how? Loki was at his wit’s end.

Then an idea had occurred to him. Frigga had helped him to develop his Asgardian magic, but in truth he was Jotun. His son shared his Jotun ancestor. He would know nothing of Asgardian magic. Their Jotun magic made Harry and Loki unique to this realm. Perhaps he could use his Jotun magic to find his son. The magic that ran in families was often similar. Like called to like, after all. In theory, his Jotun magic would be drawn to Harry’s, allowing Loki to find him.

The thought of releasing his Jotun self terrified him. He purposefully kept a tight hold on his Jotun magic, suppressing it ruthlessly, despite Odin’s spell having long since broken. He wasn’t sure, if he brought that part of himself forth, that he would be able to lock it down once again. He wasn't ready to face the monstrous side of his nature.

However, if he wanted to find his son, he had no choice. He would do whatever he had to do, and deal with the fallout later. I really have changed, Loki thought. There was a time, not that long ago, I wouldn’t have given more than a passing thought to the consequences of my actions.

He flew until he was high above the city, to more easily track his son’s magic. Hopefully he’d be able to control his Jotun magic enough to perform the spell. He shielded and centered himself, and then allowed his Jotun features to rise to the surface, and then reaching inside himself to find his magical core. His Asgardian magic shone brightly, vibrant and strong, but his Jotun magic was dull and withered with disuse. Tugging at it released a bit of it into his palm. It sputtered, but he put more of his will behind it, and abruptly magic began trickling from his hands. Giving himself a moment to become accustomed to it, he tried a few simple spells to test it.

Much to his relief, the magic bent to his will easily. The more he used it, the stronger it became. It felt quite different from his Asgardian magic, and yet it was familiar to him. Loki felt his excitement building, his heart beating rapidly. This was going to work. It had to. Now, he merely had to perform the spell.

However, before he could begin, a large silver stag came flying toward him. Loki reared back in surprise; before he could act, the stag spoke to him, a stranger’s voice echoing in the night.

“I don’t know who you are, but I felt your magic, so similar to my own. I invite you to enter my home. Be warned that only those that mean me no harm will be able to get past my wards. If you have ill intent, you will be killed instantly. Harry Potter lives at 12 Grimmuald Place, London.”

As Loki watched, the stag flew around him a few more times and then faded away in a puff of silvery smoke. Loki’s heart stuttered. His son had found him. Loki couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride. Clearly, his son was quite strong magically, to have felt him from several miles away. He wasted no time in heading to his son's home.

Loki materialized in front of a row of houses. He could feel that his son was nearby, but he couldn't quite find him. Reaching out with his magic once again, he found the edge of a ward. Pushing gently, he announced his presence. Much to his surprise, there was a gust of wind, and suddenly there was a house standing before him that had not been there before.

As he neared the house, the door opened, and Loki quickly walked up the steps. He was eager to set eyes on his son, at last.

Loki shivered in disgust as he looked around the front hall, his excitement diminishing somewhat. This was not what he had expected at all. As far as he could see in the dim light, the house had obviously seen better days. The air around him was damp and smelled faintly of mold. The wallpaper was very old and dingy. At least it was tidy. However, it was the only decent thing he could think to say about the place. Surely, this was not an appropriate place for his son or his son’s family. Far more worrying was the feel of the house. It was one of the most unwelcoming structures he’d ever had the misfortune to enter. He reached out tentatively with his magic only to pull back quickly. The magic of Grimmauld place felt old and decayed, slick and oily against his skin, and for a few moments, Loki had to fight the urge to turn back.

Something bad had happened here. This house reeked of evil that felt almost alive. If he didn’t know better, he’d say the house was hungry. Loki gasped in shock as he felt the house trying to feed on his magic, as if to prove him correct. He quickly warded himself against the pull and felt the house reluctantly retreat from him. There was no doubt about it, his son’s chosen dwelling made Loki’s skin crawl.

How could his son stand living in this cursed place? Loki determined right then to see if he could convince Harry to leave, and move somewhere more suitable. Somewhere that wasn’t literally eating away at his magic. No one he cared about would continue to live in a place like this if Loki had anything to say about it.

His protective thoughts drew Loki up short. How had he come to care so much for someone he’d never met? He was already thinking of Harry as his child. He had to remember his son was an adult. Loki could not expect his son to heed his advice immediately. He needed to be careful; he didn’t want to push too hard and scare Harry away.

Perhaps he could offer to help cleanse the house? It might buy him some goodwill at the very least. I’ll wait and make the offer at an opportune moment, he decided. He was pleased with his plan; he wanted his son to have a good opinion of him.

Speaking of Harry, where was he? Loki had expected to be met, but there was no sign of anyone. Carefully, he reached out with his magic in search of his son, but to his disappointment he could not feel anything besides the oppressive magic that surrounded him. It could no longer feed from him, but it still felt alive. Could the house be hiding his son’s magic? It seemed unlikely. His son had to be a very strong sorcerer to live here. He'd found Loki with very little trouble, after all.

Another thought occurred. Could his son be watching him, waiting to see what he’d do? Loki ran his hand over his face in frustration. How did I lose control of this situation so quickly?

The wards had let Loki pass. This should have been proof of his good intentions. Still, he approved of his son’s caution, and show of strength. Loki felt another surge of pride. Harry had effortlessly placed himself in control of their meeting. “I mean you no harm. I am willing to swear an oath to that effect, if you wish,” he said aloud, his voice echoing slightly in the empty hallway.

There was a long pause, and Loki found himself holding his breath; then there was a loud pop, and suddenly a short and wrinkled creature with pointed ears appeared, glaring at him. It stood with its hands on its hips. It wore a clean dish towel, and an apron, as its only clothing

“I be Winky. I be Master Harry’s house elf. Master Harry wants to meet you, but Winky not be trusting a stranger near Master Harry. Winky be watching you. Upset my master, and you be very sorry.” The little elf said gravely, and then it gave Loki another glare for good measure.

What in all the nine realms is a house elf? Loki wondered, bewildered. He felt a quick rush of anger. Loki made sure to make his displeasure at his treatment known, glaring at the impudent house elf in annoyance. Who did it think it was, to order a prince of Asgard around like a servant?

Loki had met many elves, and aside from the pointed ears, this being did not resemble them at all. Feasibly, it might be some sort of distant cousin. However, Loki had never heard anything like this being before.

He was intrigued in spite of his irritation, wanting to know more about them. Clearly, he had much to learn about Midgardian magic. Loki was seriously coming to regret his short-sighted ignorance when it came to Midgard. He shouldn't have dismissed the planet so readily; it kept surprising him most unpleasantly.

He was tempted to put it in its place, but instead, he forced himself to calm down, not allowing his temper to get the better of him. Surely, his son would be angry if Loki hurt his servant. It was obviously well cared for. Norns! It was a constant struggle to keep himself in control. He’d always considered his passionate nature one of his best qualities, and he’d never tried to contain himself before.

Winky looked entirely unimpressed by his glare, and continued to watch him carefully.

Loki was reluctantly impressed. This Winky had spirit. Loki admired any being who was willing to stand up to him. It was also very protective of Harry, which Loki approved of wholeheartedly.

Perhaps a little flattery might help. “I’m sorry my presence here disturbs you. Your… pillowcase is a lovely shade of white. It suits you,” Loki said grandly, and then bowed for good measure.

The house elf didn't react as Loki had expected. It should have been terrified, but it wasn’t. Much to Loki’s annoyance, it raised one eyebrow at him, and continued to look singularly unimpressed by his actions. A severe frown crossed its ugly little face.

“Of course my clothing be clean! Master Harry takes very good care of Winky! So Winky makes sure to always look her best for him. I is a good house elf. You have no manners,” Winky chided, wagging her finger at him. “I not sure I should let you near the master. You will upset him.” Loki suppressed a grimace. Well, that had not gone well. Evidently, his smooth tongue would not serve him well in this situation. He needed a new tact. He couldn't afford to let matters escalate further. Deciding to be as truthful as possible, he said, “I can promise you I mean your Master no harm. I have come a very long way to find him. I can’t promise my presence won’t upset him, but I can promise that I will treat him well.”

Winky still looked wary, but she did look a little bit happier. Loki considered it a win; at this point he would take whatever he could get. Now, if only he could finally see his son, maybe things would finally start to go his way.

 

They stared at one another. She didn't seem inclined to produce his son. Dare he inquire where his son might be? Loki was gripped by indecision. He didn’t want to annoy her anymore. She had the power to prejudice his son against him. He couldn’t have that, but he needed the information.

Then Loki mentally rolled his eyes at his own ridiculous thoughts. What was happening to him? Where was the confident man who wanted to rule Asgard? He was a royal prince! He needed to act like it. All servants were meant to bend to his will. She would do what he wanted.

He was about to demand that Winky take him to his son immediately, just as the elf also opened her mouth to speak. Loki glared at her, determined to speak first. She narrowed her eyes at him, glaring in return. They were locked in a strange battle of wills, a battle Loki would win.

However, before either of them could say anything, a voice from above them caught their attention.

“Stop harassing the poor man, Winky. I’m certain he means me no harm.” The man's voice held notes of fondness and amusement. He obviously cared for his elf. Loki recognized the voice from earlier.

Loki’s gaze went  to the landing eagerly, anxious for his first glimpse of his son. Suddenly, it seemed to him that he’d been waiting for this moment his whole life. Maybe everything he had suffered at the hands of Thanos’ had a purpose.

After all, it was entirely possible that, until recently, he would have made an utter mess of things. He would not have appreciated having a son at all. In the past Loki would have dismissed Harry out of hand, choosing to push him away or ignoring him entirely. The thought of what his son would think of that former Loki filled him with renewed shame.

Thank the Norns, I am able to appreciate the gift I’ve been given, he thought.

He looked up at his son and drank in the sight of him. The first thought that popped into his mind, he was sorry to admit, was Harry is so short. Far shorter, in fact, than Loki would have expected, given his genetics. Loki was quite small for a Jotun, but still taller than average for a mortal, or even an Asgardian. It was rather odd. Vague concern for his son niggled at him.

The second thing he noticed was his hair. The color was similar to Loki’s own. His eyes were an amazing shade of green. He wondered who Harry had inherited them from.

His thoughts were interrupted by Winky, who disappeared with a loud pop, only to reappear on the landing next to Harry.

“Master Harry,” she chided. “You know you shouldn’t be getting out of bed. I is bringing the rude blue man up to you. You just needed to be patient. Back to your room you go.”

She tried to make Harry turn around, but he held his ground, and quelled her attempts to move him with a look. Winky gave a frustrated huff but stopped tugging on her master’s robes.

Loki could well imagine the disapproving look on the little elf’s face, and he didn’t envy his son at all. Then Winky’s words registered. Loki was startled. Blue, how did she know? He looked down at himself, and it was only then he realized he’d forgotten to replace his Asgardian glamour. He was standing in his son’s front hallway in his Jotun shape.

Loki felt his cheeks grow warm, and he wondered if he was turning an even darker shade of blue. He was so embarrassed. It was a wonder Harry wasn’t terrified of him in this form. Replacing the glamour, he watched with satisfaction as his skin turned back to its normal color.

“There’s no need to hide on my account,” Harry said, still sounding gently amused. “I assure you I am quite familiar with your form. I have one of my own after all,” gesturing toward himself.

What does he mean? Loki wondered. No, it can’t be…

Harry seemed to waver for a moment and then his skin turned blue. Unlike Loki, he didn't grow any taller. Loki could see that Harry’s skin was a few shades lighter than his own, and Harry looked more human in his Jotun form than his father did, although he did have horns. Loki felt a stab of envy, and he couldn’t even bring himself to be ashamed for it.

Harry turned to Winky. “We’ll be having tea in the sitting room, Winky. I’ll be going downstairs, and I don’t want any arguments, all right?” Winky nodded, but her little shoulders had tensed up. Harry slowly and carefully made his way down the stairs. Winky walked behind him, one hand out, ready to grab him if it became necessary.

Loki felt the apprehension he had been ignoring rise to the surface again. Something was wrong here. Loki focused intently on his son. As Harry drew closer, Loki could see how pale he was. There were dark circles under his eyes. Reaching the bottom of the steps, Harry stopped to catch his breath, clearly winded.

He looked up at Loki and gave him a tired smile that didn’t reach his eyes. Loki couldn’t help but smile in return. He could hardly believe his son was finally standing before him. The joy he felt was tempered with a growing apprehension. Harry was dangerously thin; the robes he wore were hanging off of him.

His son was seriously ill, of that much Loki was certain. Fear gripped his heart. Unaware of Loki’s thoughts, Harry motioned toward one of the rooms off the front hallway.

“Please follow me,” he said. “I’m sorry for Winky’s attitude. She’s kind of overprotective.” He turned and smiled at Winky, who was still walking by his side.

Loki frowned. His son’s voice was strangely flat, showing very little emotion toward Loki. It was upsetting, to say the least.

“It’s my job to be taking care of you, Master Harry. I just want to see you well, and happy,” she assured him gently.

Harry, who was still in Jotun form, flushed, looking shyly pleased. Loki couldn’t help but think that his son looked far better in his blue skin than Loki did. He also seemed remarkably comfortable in this form, something Loki didn’t think he’d ever share.

Loki followed him through a couple of dank and depressing rooms. At last, they entered a sitting room surprisingly different from the hallway and other rooms. It was bright and cheerful, and the furniture looked comfortable and inviting. There was a nice cheery fire, around which were placed comfortable chairs. The oppressive atmosphere of the house seemed less severe here and Loki felt himself relax. He hadn’t realized how horrible the house was making him feel, until now. The relief made him feel a bit giddy.

“Please sit down,” his son invited. “Winky will bring us some tea.” They sat by the fire, the heat feeling wonderful on Loki’s skin. However, he was surprised his son was comfortable, so close to the fire, in his Jotun form.

The elf nodded eagerly and popped away.

Once they had sat down, an awkward silence fell between them, broken only when Winky arrived with tea and biscuits. After what seemed an eternity, but was most likely only a few minutes, Harry said “I love the fire. I'm always chilled these days, even in this form.”

Then Harry chuckled quietly.

“Merlin, that was stupid. I’m sorry. I’ve imagined this moment so many times over the years. I rehearsed what I would say if one of my kind ever showed up. But now that I have you in front of me, I can’t seem to think properly. I must be making a terrible first impression,” Harry added sounding rueful, but he still didn’t seem at all happy to see Loki. Loki didn’t know what to think.

This evening had been confusing thus far. It was as if his son had been waiting for him, but how could that be? Of one thing Loki was certain: he did not like the way Harry was putting himself down.

“Do you know who I am?” Loki asked hesitantly. “Have you been waiting for me?” He held his breath as he waited for the answer.

Harry shook his head, much to Loki’s disappointment. “I’ve always known I was different, even from other wizards. The blue skin kind of gives it away, I’m afraid.” Harry’s lips twisted up in a parody of a smile.

“When I first arrived in the Wizarding world, I thought I would find others like me, but I quickly learned that even among wizards I was different. A freak, as my uncle would have said,” Harry continued, oblivious to how his words caused Loki pain. His son should have been cherished, not ridiculed.

Loki felt a stab of anger at this uncle. Whoever he was, he deserved to be taught a lesson. Loki’s heart hurt for Harry. No one knew better than he how it felt to discover you were different. He was also surprised that Harry had been able to manifest his Jotun form from a young age. Surely Odin would have locked him into his human form, as he had Loki. How had the glamour been broken? It should have shielded him from the mockery of others.

Loki forced himself to shake off his thoughts. He would have to remember to ask Harry later, but right now his son needed him. Loki would care for him, the way he should have been doing all his life.

“You are not a freak, Harry!” Loki said fiercely. Maybe too fiercely, for Harry looked startled and leaned back in his chair. “You are my-” Loki stopped, suddenly afraid. He was a fool. How could he not have stopped to think that this news might not be welcome? What if Harry didn’t want to get to know his father?

Surely he had loved his adoptive father? Or given what he'd learned, maybe not. It was a strong possibility that his stepfather had treated him badly. If so, Loki would take pleasure in killing him, and anyone else who had caused Harry pain.

Loki’s emotions were all over the place. Every answer he received only brought up more questions.

“I’m your what?” Harry asked quietly, but he didn't seem entirely interested in the answer.

Loki took a deep breath. He could not turn away now. Looking Harry straight in the eye, he spoke the words he’d been longing to say. “You are my son, and my son is not a freak,” Loki reiterated firmly.

Much to his shock, Harry burst out laughing. This time the laugh was genuine, although it did not sound happy. He laughed until there were tears rolling down his cheeks. Loki found he was deeply hurt by his son’s hilarity. This was not the reaction he’d expected at all.

“You find this amusing?” he asked Harry stiffly, careful to keep his voice expressionless. “Would you prefer it if I left?” Loki asked. He would retreat for now if his son wished, but Loki would not give up, realizing that there was more to this situation than met the eye. His instincts were screaming at him.

Harry stopped laughing abruptly and shook his head, looking a bit worried. He tried to take a deep breath, which turned into a wracking cough. His whole body shook with the force of it. Loki felt an instinctive urge to help Harry. He was a renowned healer among his people, second only to Frigga. The truth was he was not sure his help would be welcome. As he watched, the fit went on and on.

Finally, in alarm, Loki decided to act, so he stood and reached out to touch his son. As his magic touched Harry, a shield went up, and Loki was thrown across the room. Even as he was flying through the air, Loki found himself impressed by his son’s power. He hit the wall and blacked out.

Loki came to, lying on the floor, trussed up like a turkey for a feast, with Winky standing over him. Blinking in confusion for a few seconds, he remembered what had happened. He flushed in embarrassment. How long had I been unconscious? he wondered. It couldn't have been long. Could this day get any more absurd? Loki thought, exasperated. He was making a terrible first impression.

He glared at Winky, who looked like an ugly little avenging angel as she frowned at Loki. “Nasty, rude, blue man attacked Master Harry. Winky will not let you hurt him!” She then thwacked him several times with a wooden spoon that had materialized seemingly out of thin air. He tried to twist away, to no avail, and grunted in pain after a particularly hard smack.

She looks angry enough to kill me, Loki thought, only mildly alarmed. Surely Harry would rescue him. This was what he’d been reduced to, a prince of Asgard at the mercy of such a small insignificant being. If Odin was to see him, Loki would never live down the humiliation. He could well imagine the sneer on his father’s face as he mocked him.

Don’t think about Odin, he chided himself. I can’t let him goad me anymore. His opinion no longer matters to me. Loki was adept at recognizing lies, but if he kept saying it, maybe someday it would be true.

“Winky, stop hitting him,” Harry ordered, sounding as if he was across the room.

Winky stopped hitting him, and the spoon disappeared from her hand. However, she made no move to untie him, Loki noted, feeling frustrated. He would need to find a way to make peace with Winky, as soon as possible. I might not survive our next encounter otherwise, he thought wryly. The thought restored his good humor for the moment. Winky was aggravating, but he did appreciate her protectiveness of Harry. She clearly loved him, so he would play nice.

Loki saw Harry making his way slowly over to them. When he arrived, he stared down at Loki for a moment. Loki gazed at him pleadingly but refused to beg for help. He still had some pride after all.

“Hold still," Harry ordered. "I need to check you out.” His son stood over him, frowning in concentration, though his lips were turned up slightly at the corners. Loki felt his magic probing him. He relaxed and allowed it, showing Harry he trusted him, although he wished his son had not witnessed his humiliation.

Finally, Harry spoke. “Winky, let him go. He was only trying to help me, but my magic reacted instinctively, and attacked him,” Harry said calmly, but Loki could hear the genuine amusement in his tone. He was a little jealous; Winky elicited positive emotions in Harry when Loki could not.

Winky seemed reluctant to comply, but Harry nodded at her encouragingly. She finally released him, the ropes slithering away from him and disappearing.  Despite the situation, Loki was surprised by Winky’s display of magic. These house elves are intriguing in their own way, he admitted reluctantly to himself.

Harry offered his hand and helped Loki to carefully stand up, then sent Winky away. She protested, but Harry gently insisted. With one final scowl in Loki’s direction, Winky popped away.

“I am so sorry. She tied you up before I could stop her,” Harry said. “I didn't mean to attack you. I don’t react well to unexpected magic. It was instinctive. There are certain habits I simply can’t break.” Harry suddenly looked very tired. “In any event, I couldn't find any sign of injury. You should be fine.”

Loki was still focused on the revelations about Harry’s magical ability. If his spell had been intentional, Loki would have already been fascinated by his show of control and power. However, if this reaction had been involuntary, then it indicated that Harry’s magic was extraordinarily strong! Far stronger than Loki had first thought. Loki felt excitement course through his veins. What other magical feats was his son capable of? It was interesting that Odin had chosen to hide him rather than try to use Harry's power for himself. He could understand why Odin might indeed be afraid of his son. The power Harry displayed was a bit frightening, even to Loki.

The news also made him wary. The information Harry let drop was disturbing. Why did his son need to be so vigilant? His reactions were those of a hardened warrior. What kind of life had he led that he needed to protect himself like this?

Loki took a deep breath; he wanted to demand answers. His emotions were in chaos, but he needed to be able to think clearly. You need to be patient, he reminded himself. Loki knew he needed to earn Harry’s trust.

Loki decided to keep his thoughts to himself for the time being, and simply nodded his acceptance of the explanation.

His son led him back over to the fire, and they resumed their seats.

“I’m sorry I upset you. I didn’t mean to laugh; it’s just that of all the things I imagined, of all the theories my friends and I threw around about my strange origins when I was younger, I never considered I might be part alien. This is just too weird even for me,” Harry said, looking away from Loki and into the flames. He seemed lost in thought.

Harry’s tone was self-deprecating, and Loki hated to hear it. His son looked so small sitting in his chair. It wasn’t right that someone with Harry’s power and lineage should have such a poor sense of self-worth.

He supposed he shouldn’t be surprised that Harry knew who he was. He was quite infamous on Midgard. He wanted to comfort Harry, but he was afraid Harry would reject him. Harry’s behavior was far more telling than he likely realized. Loki was beginning to have some serious and infuriating suspicions about his son’s childhood. Still, he knew it was dangerous to jump to conclusions; he needed to learn more.

Please let me be wrong, he thought desperately. He wasn't equipped to handle this. Loki wished Frigga was here. Her calm, gentle presence would undoubtedly soothe Harry better than Loki could. There were times when Frigga had been a good mother to him.

“You’re right, you are unique. I would think that your unique origins make you special,” He ventured quietly.

Harry smiled softly. “You sound just like a parent,” he said. However, there was something off about the tone of his voice, as if the idea made him sad. It wasn't what Loki had been expecting. He’d expected anger or joy or disbelief, not this sad resignation. He didn’t know what to make of it.

Abruptly, Loki was hit with the feeling that everything he was experiencing was just slightly wrong somehow. His son’s reactions were off. Despite his obvious sadness, Harry was taking this all remarkably well, perhaps too well.

“You don't seem very surprised to see me,” Loki gently prodded.

Harry shrugged. “I'm not. The first time I took my other from, I knew James Potter couldn’t be my biological father though by all accounts he did care for me.” Loki didn't know what to say. His son had already suspected the truth, and didn't seem overly upset, although Loki wished he were a little more pleased to meet him. Instead, it seemed to hardly matter. Perhaps Harry was just overwhelmed. In time his son would come to care for him. Loki clung to that hope. He was accustomed to getting what he wanted.

“Besides, after the life I’ve led, finding out I’m part alien doesn’t really seem like such a big deal. It’s par for the course, really. Although, I’m not pleased to have a mass murderer for a father, to be honest.” Harry gave him a measured look, and his eyes were hard.

Loki felt as if he’d been slapped. “I was under the mental control of another being. I would not have willingly hurt all those people for no reason.” He hastened to explain. “I was tortured. It was the only way to get the pain to stop,” he added quietly. He allowed his son to see his weakness, wanting their relationship to be based on honesty.

As he’d hoped it would, Harry’s gaze softened. “I’m sorry to hear that. Being tortured is no fun is it? I wouldn’t ever want to go through it again myself.”

Harry had been tortured. Loki felt a wave of rage wash over him. “Who hurt you?” he exploded. “I’ll kill them with my bare hands!” He rose from his chair and began to pace.

Harry seemed unimpressed by his display of emotion. His face was blank. “It’s not a big deal. It was a long time ago. Honestly, it wasn’t the worst thing that ever happened to me.” He looked off into the distance, once again lost in thought.

Loki was shocked, and still shaking with fury. “Not the worst thing,” he started to say, but then cut himself off. He wanted to demand answers, but knew it would be counterproductive. The last thing he wanted was for Harry to shut down. Forcing himself to remain calm, even though he was still angry, he sat down.

He decided to try a different tact. Making himself relax, he kept his face open and friendly. He’d find out what had happened, and then, all those who had hurt his son would feel the full wrath of a god upon them. It would be very satisfying to hear them scream.

“Anything you’re willing to tell me, I’ll listen,” he offered sincerely.

Harry shrugged again. “There really isn’t that much to tell,” he denied evasively.

“I’m sure that’s not true,” Loki argued, “It might do you good to talk about it.” He wanted to shake Harry, force him to react.

Harry hesitated. “There are lots of things, in my past, that I never talk about. If you’d shown up yesterday, we would have had a lovely but meaningless chat, and then I would have sent you on your way.” not sure what you're getting at here

Loki felt a stab of pain at Harry’s words. His son didn't care about him, didn’t want to get to know his father. Loki’s face must have given him away, because Harry leaned forward with an apologetic look on his face.

“I’m sorry. Please don’t be hurt. I didn’t stop to think how that would sound. It’s not that I don’t care about getting to know you. It’s me. I can’t seem to bring myself to care about much of anything these days. You can probably tell I’m ill.” He looked apologetic. He was pleased that Harry trusted him with this information, and relieved that they seemed to be connecting. Loki knew it took time to build trust. Even so, he worried about his son’s mental health. Something was very wrong. Loki needed to scan him as soon as possible. He needed to convince Harry to let him.

He gave Harry his most reassuring smile. “I can see you’re not feeling well.” Loki agreed easily. “If you’ll allow it I might be able to help you. I have some experience in the healing arts. If I may be blunt, I’m not really surprised.” He gestured at their surroundings. “This house is tainted with the worst kind of evil. It is probably making you ill. If not, the constant need to shield your magic, and keep it from being eaten, must be draining.”

Harry looked startled and then his face paled dramatically. “Eating my magic?” he asked faintly.

It was Loki’s turned to be startled. “Yes, this house eats the magic of those around it, to keep its wards strong. It is a barbaric form of forbidden magic. Quite frankly, whoever performed the spell must have been insane.”

Harry sagged in his chair. “That explains so much. I had no idea, I swear. I’m always tired, even before I got ill, but I never connected it to the house.”

Loki could only stare at his son in bafflement. How was that possible? Harry should have felt the drain on his magic the moment he first entered the house.

Something niggled at the back of Loki’s mind. If only he could think more clearly. He was missing something important; he’d been aware of it since he’d first walked in, but it continued to elude him. It was maddening.

“Surely there have been others living in this house. Others must have noticed.” Loki asked, truly curious about how his son lived.

Harry shook his head. “If they did they never said anything.”

That didn’t make sense. It was almost as if Harry had been purposely left here to rot. Why would anyone want to cause him damage? That couldn’t be right. Loki felt as if he had landed in a nightmare. Only the nightmare was real, and Harry was actually the one living it. This was unbearable.

Loki wracked his brain for another explanation. Then something occurred to him.

“Are you alone here? Do you not have any family or friends who come to visit?” he asked, although he thought he already knew the answer.

Harry’s face filled with pain and Loki grimaced. He wasn’t going to like what was coming next.

Harry shook his head. “No, all my family and friends are dead. It’s just Winky and me now, you see.”

Harry’s loneliness was written all over his face, and Loki’s heart broke for him.

Harry looked thoughtful. “I wonder why Winky hasn’t said anything? I know she would never purposefully hurt me. We’re bonded. A bonded house elf can’t hurt its master.”

A distressed look crossed Harry’s face. “Is she being hurt?” he demanded harshly. It was the most animated Loki had seen him yet.

Harry was more concerned for the health of his elf than for his own. Loki was irritated with Harry; he seemed to care so little for his own well-being. Then his irritation gave way to alarm. Why wasn’t Harry more worried? After his initial shock, he was now eerily calm.

In truth, Loki was a puzzled by this whole situation. However, knowing what he did about magic, he could think of one explanation for Winky’s behavior. “It’s possible your magic is protecting hers from being drained,” he offered, glad to be able to provide some explanation.

Harry looked relieved. “Thank Merlin for that,” he said, looking happier, at least. His smile lit up his eyes; Loki was thrilled to see it. His green eyes looked remarkable against the blue skin of his Jotun form.

“You need to get out of this house,” Loki said bluntly. “I can help you if you have nowhere else to go. We can spend some time getting to know one another. I’d like to show you there's more to me than the crazy man on your television,” he added hopefully. All he wanted was a chance.

Harry smiled sadly and waved his concern away. “Thanks for the offer, but it hardly matters now. It’s nice to know why I’ve been so tired though. I am grateful for your concern. Of course, you can stay if you like.”

Loki was bewildered yet again by the easy dismissal of the danger. Harry should be worried, at the very least. He was beginning to think nothing would ever make proper sense again. It was like he was feeling his way around in the dark, unable to find his way out. He needed to get out of this house, and soon. It was affecting him more than he realized.

“What do you mean?” he asked, alarmed. “Of course it matters. Don’t you understand, the constant drain could kill you if you let it?” Loki demanded. He ran his hand over his face in agitation.

Harry looked faintly amused “Yes, I’d gathered as much, but like I said it doesn’t really matter. You know, I was amazed when I felt your magic nearby. What are the odds you’d show up today of all days? That’s why I let you in. I knew it had to be more than coincidence. You see, I’m afraid I’m already dying.”

Loki felt his blood run cold. His mind stuttered and stopped. He felt suspended in time, and for a long moment, frozen in horror.

Harry said the words without inflection, as if his imminent death was just a fact, nothing more. It was as if he was talking about the weather.

“How do you know this? What exactly is wrong with you?” Loki demanded. There had to be something he could do.

Harry shrugged. “My body is shutting down. No one is sure why. It hardly matters now.”

Harry simply didn’t seem to care about his own life. His son was clearly extremely damaged. His son was still young. He should be embracing life, not dismissing it out of hand.

What had been done to him that he could not even bring himself to care about dying? Loki could think of many possibilities, each one worse than the last. It was clear his son had been abused in some manner. He’d been hurt, and he’d had no one to protect him. Loki longed to pull his son into his arms and keep him safe. He would not allow Harry to be hurt ever again.

“Harry, I want you to listen to me very carefully. I know I haven’t given you much reason to trust me so far. But believe me when I say, if there is any way I can save you I will. You will not die on my watch. You aren’t alone anymore.” Loki held his son's gaze, hoping Harry could see how serious he was.

Harry only stared at him. “I really don’t think there’s anything you can do,” he denied. “I just have to accept my fate,” he said tonelessly. It sounded as if he were repeating someone else's words.

Harry’s response made Loki grind his teeth. He wanted to grab his son and take him to Asgard for healing. His mother would know what to do. He didn’t care what his parents had done, not right now. For Harry’s sake, he would beg if he had to. He would do whatever he had to, to save his son. Harry would live. Loki would accept no other outcome. He would simply have to convince Harry of it too.

Chapter Text

Loki sat in the kitchen eating the breakfast Winky had provided him; everything was delicious, but Loki barely took the time to appreciate it. He was practically vibrating with anticipation. He had been at Grimmauld Place for nearly a week. He and Harry had been getting to know one another, at Harry’s suggestion.

Harry had reluctantly agreed to let Loki try to help him. In truth, Loki had gleefully jumped at the chance to get to know his son. However, Harry was worried that if Loki tried to scan him, Harry’s magic might kill him in self-defense. Loki had been forced to admit it was a possibility. Therefore, though he chafed at the delay, he agreed they should take some time to get comfortable with one another.

Loki hated that the chance to raise his son had been taken from him. His father had much to answer for. However, he wasn't the only one to blame for Harry’s current circumstances. Loki was keeping a list. He didn't want to forget those who had hurt his son so badly.

Harry had talked a bit about his past, particularly the war and his role in it. Loki was only sorry this Voldemort person was already dead. If not, Loki would have taken great pleasure in eviscerating him slowly. Voldemort had attacked an innocent baby and killed his son’s parents. From what he had gathered, the adults in his life had a lot to answer for. They had expected a mere child to save them, and then once he had they had abandoned him to his fate.

He didn’t talk much about his childhood home or his family. He'd only told Loki that he’d been raised by his aunt and uncle. The Potters had seemed like good people, and they had tried to protect his son. For that Loki honored them. Loki had gleaned enough to know his childhood hadn’t been a pleasant experience. Harry showed signs of abuse, even as an adult. The fact that his child had been hurt by those who should have cared for him almost made him homicidal with the need for vengeance.

He found himself fantasizing what he would do to the Dursleys, particularly his Uncle Vernon, if he had the chance. It was only the fact that Harry had declared them off limits that stayed his hand. It was frustrating, but Loki accepted it. Perhaps, in time, he could wear Harry down. Loki was nothing if not persistent.

Loki knew that Harry had to be his focus now. The fact that his son had needed him and Loki hadn’t been there was incredibly painful. He was determined to try to make up for his absence as best he could. Harry would have someone he could depend on. There was nothing he could do about the past, but he would give Harry a future. He would pay any price to see his son healthy and happy.

Loki steadfastly ignored the fact that Harry firmly believed there was nothing he could do, and refused to accept that his son might die. Loki was one of the most powerful magic users in the nine realms; if magic couldn’t help Harry then surely Asgard technology would do the trick. They had plenty of options to explore.

First, he needed to see exactly what he was up against. Today was the day he had been waiting for; he could hardly wait to get started. Harry had consented to allow Loki to scan him with his magic. He believed he trusted Loki enough to keep his defensive reaction under control. Loki had felt a rush of warm affection at the news. He and his son were building a relationship. Nothing was going to get in the way.

Loki thanked Winky for the food as he rose to leave. She nodded, looking pleased with the praise. She was still a bit uneasy around him, but at least she no longer considered him a threat. It was a vast improvement as far as Loki was concerned. Then a thought occurred to him, and he turned back.

“Winky,” he said quietly. “Would you be willing to answer some questions for me?”

Winky nodded. “Master Harry says I can trust you. You be his father and won’t hurt him. I answer questions if I can.” She nodded several more times, emphatically. Loki couldn’t help but smile at her enthusiasm.

Loki felt his heart lightening at this further proof of Harry’s trust. They were very protective of one another. Loki appreciated the trust being placed in him by both of them.

He led Winky over to the table, and she sat down across from him, looking uneasy. He had learned that house elves hated to be idle.

“Winky, you know I am trying to help Harry,” Loki began. “Something very strange is happening to him. He is very ill, and he grows worse by the day. You know him better than anyone. Are you aware that the house is hurting him, feeding on his magic?”

There was a long pause, and then Winky nodded slowly, but she didn’t speak. Loki could see fear in her eyes.

Loki had suspected as much, but he was confused too. “I know you love Harry, but I don’t understand, why didn’t you tell him?”

Much to his shock, Winky burst into tears and began pulling on her ears in obvious distress. “Winky bad house elf. She let Master Harry get hurt. She should punish herself, but Master Harry says no punishing, not ever.” Winky clearly did not consider the ear twisting punishment. Loki wondered what else might have slipped through the cracks of Harry’s order. He’d have to look into it. He didn't want their house elf hurting herself.

"Winky try to help best she can, but the bad man told Winky if she said anything he would kill Master Harry. He said it would all be Winky’s fault. I is sorry!” She sobbed even harder, her little body shaking.

Loki pulled out a handkerchief and handed it to her. “It’s alright Winky, don’t cry. I know you love Harry, and no one doubts your loyalty, I promise you. Can you tell me who threatened you?”

Winky shook her head. “The nasty man put on a spell. I can’t say his name or mention anything about the conversation to anyone in the Wizarding World.” She wrung her hands and pulled at her ears again.

Loki was furious at being thwarted. After a moment he realized something was wrong. Winky said she had been forbidden to speak, but she had just mentioned that someone had threatened her. How? Then something occurred to him. Could it really be that simple?

“Winky, you’re speaking to me about it now.” Loki pointed out urgently. “Have you ever been able to get this far before?”

Winky froze and gaped at him. “I- no! I never be able to speak at all before.” Her little face filled with hope. She took a deep breath, visibly steadying herself. Then she spoke in a rush, “It be Dubleydore. He be the nasty man that hurt Master Harry.” She gasped, as if waiting for lightning to strike, and when nothing happened, she burst into tears once again. However, this time she was smiling, so Loki felt safe in assuming they were tears of happiness.

“I was able to tell. Winky is able to tell the truth!” she wailed. “Thank you, Master Loki. I be so happy! The nasty bad house is hurting Master Harry. Draining his magic, and making him weak. To keep him trapped inside this horrible house. It is how Dumbleydore kept him under control. I stay with him, protect him best I can, but I not strong enough.”

Loki reached out and awkwardly patted Winky’s shoulder. “It’s all right. I understand you did the best you could. Harry will too. It’s a lucky thing I’m not part of the Wizarding world, isn’t it? I’m sorry you had to go through that, Winky. You are a credit to Harry, and the house of Odin.”

The fact that the arsehole’s spell had been undone by something so simple filled Loki with satisfaction. Sometimes magic was refreshingly and elegantly straightforward.

Headmaster Dumbledore, another name for his list. The way Harry spoke of him, Loki knew his son had admired the man. He had even shown Loki a picture that was proudly displayed in his bedroom. Instead, the old man had betrayed him for his own ends, and his son had been none the wiser.

The thought made Loki feel ill, and his stomach rolled. He forced himself to breathe deeply.

Still, why had no one else ever noticed? Surely there were other adults who must have known about the wards. Perhaps Dumbledore had forced them all to keep silent like he had Winky. Hopefully, an exam would give Loki the answers he needed.

Winky was tugging on his arm excitedly, thanking him. “You will help Master Harry?" she asked. An anxious look crossed her face. Loki found it surprisingly difficult to see it. She had been very brave today and served his family well.

“I promise,” Loki assured her gently. “You and I will take care of Harry, together,” he said.

Winky beamed at him in response. “Can I be getting you anything Master Loki?” Winky asked enthusiastically. “What be your favorite meal? Winky make it for you.” She looked at him eagerly. It was quite an experience, having the full force of the house elf’s enthusiasm turned on him. Just then Winky hugged him around his knees; it was very awkward, but Loki allowed it.

After making sure Winky was all right, he thanked her and made his escape from the kitchen. He made a mental note to see if he could free her from the magical oath completely after he’d taken care of Harry. He made his way quickly upstairs and knocked on his son’s door.

“Come in,” Harry called, but his voice sounded weak. Loki closed his eyes for a moment and braced himself. He made sure his expression was unconcerned and cheerful, not wanting Harry to see his concern.

He entered the room quietly. Harry lay on the bed, quite pale. Over the last few days, Harry had found it more difficult to get out of bed. His magic had also grown more sporadic, his control occasionally slipping. Spells would be stronger or weaker than he had intended. He'd tried to hide it at first, but one morning he’d nearly taken Loki’s head off trying to perform a simple shaving spell, but after that he’d come clean. Loki had already suspected, because Harry changed from his human form to his Jotun without much effort, and there had been times he hadn't seemed aware of the change.

Loki had observed carefully and taken as many notes as he could. What he wouldn’t give to have access to the library in Asgard. He'd checked the Black Library, but many of the books refused to open for him. It was incredibly frustrating. He'd found a spell he thought was similar to the one that had created the wards on the house. It was as dark and dangerous as he had feared. Grimmauld Place was an abomination, and he longed to raze it to the ground. The breakfast tray Winky had fixed for Harry was mostly untouched. Loki was filled with dread.

***

“You’ve barely touched your food, Harry. You know you need to keep up your strength. Your body needs fuel.” Despite his concern, Loki was amused at himself. Norns, I sound just like my mother, he thought.

Harry looked annoyed. “Stop fussing,” he grumbled. “I don’t know who's worse, you or Winky.” Loki was not nearly as offended by the comparison as he might have been when he first arrived.

He grinned at Harry, keeping his voice light. “Thank you, I take that as a compliment. Winky and I both love you, as difficult a task as you make it.”

Harry raised an eyebrow in surprise. “Oh no, don’t tell me you two are going to be ganging up on me even more now? Haven’t I suffered enough? I tell you it’s not fair.” Harry pouted.

Loki smiled. It was wonderful to see Harry so animated, even though he knew it wouldn’t last. He was learning it was important to enjoy the good moments when they could.

There may not be many more his inner voice whispered, but Loki resolutely pushed it away.

He managed to cajole Harry into eating and drinking a bit, though still far less than Loki would have liked. Harry really would need his strength for the scan.

Finally, they were ready to get started.

Loki had spent several hours the night before preparing himself. He needed to remain calm and centered. Harry was so powerful that this would likely be very draining for Loki. He moved over to the bed until he was standing next to Harry. Kneeling down, so they were at eye level, he grabbed his son’s shoulder, hoping it was comforting to Harry.

Looking his son in the eye, he said, “You just need to relax and let me in. I believe you’ll be aware of my presence, but try not to fight me. You must remain as calm as possible. The experience might be a bit unpleasant, letting another near your magic can be uncomfortable, but I will not hurt you. If you need me to stop, call my name, and I will hear you. But please only call if it’s an emergency. This needs to be done. You will feel tired afterward, but there should be no other after effects.”

Harry sighed heavily, and let himself fall back onto his bed. He looked amused, not truly upset, so Loki pointedly ignored his dramatics.

His son grinned, unrepentant. He'd seemed a little more carefree these last few days and Loki was thrilled to see it.

Loki knew the wave of emotion his son was experiencing would pass, as it always did. It saddened him, but in this instance, it could work to their advantage. The last thing they needed was for Harry to get upset.

“I know, Loki. We’ve been over this several times. I haven’t forgotten what I have to do since last night. I’m ready as I’ll ever be,” he added with a shrug.

As they’d previously discussed, he dropped his human form and lowered his shields. Loki instantly felt Harry’s magic flowing out toward him, and let his own trickle out in response. Their magic mingled gently, and Loki felt Harry’s magic accept his. Something clicked inside Loki and he released a relieved breath. They were over the first hurdle. This was going to work.

Loki took a moment to pray that there wouldn’t be any unexpected surprises.

“Good, Harry. Our magic is linked," Loki said. He was quite proud of Harry for not fighting him and pleased that their magic had merged so easily. "I’m going to use our link to get a look at your magical core now, alright?” Loki kept his voice calm and reassuring.

Harry nodded, but he seemed preoccupied. Loki couldn’t blame him; this was not an easy thing for most magical people to handle. One’s magic was unique and deeply personal. A person instinctively protected their magic from interference. Granted, some were more successful than others, but the instinct was a primal one.

Scanning another’s magic could be dangerous, and was only done by trained healers in extreme circumstances. It required a certain level of trust on the part of the healer, so some considered this test very impractical. It was also very efficient when done correctly, and they didn’t have time to waste.

Loki was powerful, but during the scan, he would be more vulnerable than normal. Someone as powerful as Harry, even in his current state, could rip Loki apart, and he wouldn’t even need to try all that hard. So far, he seemed to be all right, which was a start. However, the hardest part was yet to come.

He reached out and brushed Harry’s mind with his own; for this to work, their minds and magic had to be connected. Harry let him in, but Loki could tell that Harry wanted to fight him. He sent out a wave of reassurance and affection. I won’t hurt you, he reminded Harry mentally. Harry didn’t answer, but abruptly the connection between them snapped into place. That’s good, thank you. Loki praised.

Loki took a moment to center himself, closing his eyes and searching inside himself until he found his magical core, burning brightly. He was surprised to see his Asgardian magic had begun to meld with his Jotun magic. Poking at his magical core a bit, he tried to unwind part of the two magics, but the magics resisted him. Loki realized that they wanted to be intertwined. He really wasn’t sure how he felt about that. He'd been working to accept his Jotun self, but his true ancestry still felt foreign to him in many ways.

Loki made himself pull back. He could look at his own magic later; he couldn't afford to get distracted. Reaching out along his magic, he found the threads that connected it to Harry’s. Most of the magic Loki was feeling was Jotun magic, which felt very much like his own, but there was some mortal magic threaded through it. Touching it, he felt a jolt. The magic was very different from what Loki was used to, but it was more than that; it felt wrong somehow. If Loki had been able to feel his body, he knew he’d be shivering. He reached out to Harry with his mind, but all he got back was a feeling of calm.

Now Loki was even more worried about what he might find, but he couldn't turn back. He needed to know what they were up against. Grasping Harry’s magic, he followed it to its center; their mental connection allowed him to see Harry’s magical core as if it were his own. The shift was a bit jarring, and it took Loki a few seconds to get his bearings.

When he got his first look at the state of Harry’s magic, Loki very nearly turned around and fled from the sight. He was horrified, but he quickly pushed it down, afraid his son would feel it, and panic. However, Harry remained calm.

Loki knew he needed to remain calm as well. He couldn't let his emotions rule him.

Harry’s Wizarding magic was twisted and sick; there were no other words for it. It took him a moment to understand what he was seeing. Harry’s magic was attacking itself. He could see Harry’s Wizarding magic being drained from his body, the house feeding on him no doubt. However, there was more. Loki could see Harry’s magic was interwoven with several dark spells. He didn’t know all of them, but he recognized at least three separate compulsion spells.

There were also spells that regularly caused Harry pain, at random intervals. His son was being tortured by his magic. The spell was feeding off Harry’s own magic. It was a heinous violation of magical law. He reached out to touch one of them, hoping he'd be able to heal it. Slick and oily, it tried to invade his mind, and attach itself to him, so Loki released it in self-defense.

Harry’s magic was trying to free itself of the dark taints, but instead was only succeeding in hurting Harry further. The more his magic fought, the more the spells latched on. This was the downside to such powerful magic. The situation was far worse than Loki had imagined. Harry should already be dead.

Then he realized what was most likely keeping Harry alive. He could only hope the core was still functioning.

Thank the norns, Loki thought as he looked Harry’s central magical core. His Jotun magic seemed to be in much better shape. It still showed vibrancy at its center. It was as if his Wizarding magic was protecting Harry’s Jotun magic by taking the brunt of the damage onto itself. However, even Harry’s Jotun magic was beginning to show signs of deterioration around the edges. It was only a matter of time before it was affected as well.

Next, Loki looked at Harry’s body, and grief nearly overwhelmed him when he saw that the strain was causing Harry’s organs to fail. No wonder he was so sick. He estimated only a few weeks before his organs failed completely. Perhaps he could help some. He reached out with his magic to try to heal Harry’s organs, but while he was able to improve the blood flow to his heart somewhat, there was just too much damage. He didn't have the power to heal everything on his own; even if he had succeeded, it would only buy Harry time. His magic would continue to fight itself, and destroy his son in the process.

There was nothing else he could do. Loki felt another wave of despair. This time Harry responded and Loki forced himself to send as much positive and soothing emotion back as he could. He pulled back. He knew Harry still felt his concern for him, but luckily he had remained quiet. He tried to disconnect their minds, but instead, he was pulled deeper into Harry’s mind against his will.

Before he could stop it, Loki was drawn into one of Harry’s memories.

He was very small, only was three years old, and his cousin Dudley was much larger than him. Dudley was mean, and Harry was afraid of him. He was hungry and cold, and so very tired. Standing on a chair at a sink, washing a plate that was much too big) for his little hands. If he finished soon maybe there would be something to eat.  Deciding to hurry just a little, he dropped the plate, which fell and broke with a loud crash. A wave of terror overtook him. I’m going to be in so much trouble, he thought. He jumped off the chair and began to pick up the pieces of the plate frantically. Suddenly a man came barreling into the room, and began yelling at him “Boy,” he shouted, “how can you be so clumsy?! That’s it, no supper for you.”

Loki wanted to cry. It would be his second day without food.

“Uncle Vernon, please,” he heard himself say. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” Sobbing, he lisped his words, voice quavering with fear. The man picked him up and threw him into a cupboard; the door locked behind him. Loki curled up on the small cot, shivering and crying. He was so hungry, and now there would be no dinner.

Loki wanted to cry out in pain. This was unbearable. He could only hang on for dear life. The memory faded away, and another began.

Loki watched in horror as Sirius fell through the veil. He was frozen in place as his only family was taken from him. “He can’t be dead,” Loki thought desperately. “He was going to let me live with him, now no one else will ever want me,” he thought in despair. Loki wanted to die. “Sirius!” he screamed. He tried to follow, but a hand grabbed him, holding him back and forcing him to live. Mercifully he passed out as the pain and loss overwhelmed him. Another shift, and another memory began.

A parade of dead faces passed in front of him; he recognized each one, Fred, George, Ron, and Hermione. All his friends were dead. All taken from him. Loki was so sad, so alone. He knew he was destined to lose everyone he cared about. He couldn’t even feel sad anymore, just a numbness that left him frozen inside.

Then blackness again. Loki sobbed in relief, but before he could catch his breath, he was pulled in yet again. Loki was standing on a battlefield. Looking up, he saw Voldemort staring back at him. He knew what he had to do. Dumbledore had told him this was the only way. There was nothing more to live for. He closed his eyes, relieved that his suffering was finally ending. “Avada Kedavra!” Voldemort shouted. When the spell hit him, Loki let himself be murdered.

Darkness. He was pushed from Harry’s mind. With a sharp cry, Loki woke, and felt tears streaming down his face. His heart ached, and it hurt to breathe. He felt his son's pain as if it was his own. It was one of the worst experiences of his life. Furious, he wanted to tear apart all those who had hurt his son. How had Harry survived? Loki was in awe of his strength.

“How could you?!” Harry shouted from above. “I trusted you!” His voice shook with anger. Loki looked up; Harry stood over him, his face ashen, and he was shaking with fury. Loki was shocked that Harry hadn't blasted him across the room.

“Answer me,” Harry demanded. “Why did you invade my memories like that?” His eyes flashed with anger and betrayal.

Oh no, what had he done, Loki thought. He couldn't bear to have his son pull away from him now.  Sitting up, he reached for Harry, but Harry pulled away. Loki gasped at the pain it caused him.

“I’m sorry, son. It was an accident, I swear,” he said frantically, willing Harry to believe him. “Your mind pulled me in, I couldn’t stop it. I would never invade your memories without your permission, I swear,” Loki said sincerely. He willed his son to understand.

That seemed to bank the fire of Harry’s anger abruptly. “Do you promise?” he asked softly, sounding lost and very young. Loki longed to comfort him, and to go back in time and keep his son safe. If only that were possible, he thought wistfully.

Loki stood carefully, head pounding, feeling like he’d gone ten rounds with a griffin. “I promise, Harry. I will never knowingly betray you.” He reached out and hugged his son tightly, as he’d wanted to do for so long. His poor Harry had suffered so much, and yet he survived. Loki felt he would burst from the pride and love that filled his heart.

After a long moment, Harry returned the hug, leaning heavily into it, and sighed.  Loki relished the show of trust and affection, and was grateful their relationship had not been damaged. They stood like that for several minutes before Harry finally pulled away.

“Are you aware of which memories I saw?” Loki asked gently.

Harry grimaced unhappily. “Yes, I saw them with you. I could feel you in my mind with me. It was really rather odd.”

Loki nodded. “I’ve never experienced anything like it. I’m sorry you suffered so much. Lost so much. I’d do anything to change it for you.”

“I know you would. No one but Sirius has ever offered to take care of me.” Harry smiled shyly. “I suppose it’s just as well. It hardly matters now does it?”

Loki flinched, but kept his voice even. “I’d love to hear more about your Godfather or anything else you want to tell me. You might find it helps to talk about some of the good things,” he suggested gently.

Not wanting to upset Harry, he didn’t bring up what he’d found just yet. They needed to rest, and then a trip to Asgard was in order, since they were out of other options. Loki knew convincing Harry wouldn't be easy, and he’d need to secure safe passage for them both. Truthfully, Loki had no idea how to help his son, and it hurt to admit it. They had much to discuss, decisions and plans to make, but it could wait until tomorrow.

First there was an important matter Loki had to address. Looking his son in the eyes, he smiled winningly, “Are you sure I can’t kill the Dursleys?” he asked. “I’d consider it a perfect early Yule gift. Harry’s answering laughter was wonderful to hear, and seeing his son happy was a gift in and of itself.

Chapter Text

 

Loki pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes, resting them for a few seconds. He was exhausted, and a headache was building. Sighing in frustration, he set down the book he’d been reading. It was useless, just like all the others he’d tried. He was desperately trying to find a way to buy Harry more time.

His son was growing worse by the day, and might have less time than Loki had initially thought. For the last three days, he’d used his own magic to take some of the strain off Harry’s organs, but the effort was exhausting him.

He tried not to let on what a difficult time he was having, but Harry wasn’t an idiot; he knew something was wrong. It was only a matter of time before he put it together, and refused to let Loki do any more healing magic on him. His son had a distressingly strong noble streak. As if I wouldn’t trade my life for his, gladly, Loki thought fondly.

He stifled the urge to get up and pace. Loki hated waiting, but he had no choice. His first thought had been to try to sneak Harry into Asgard, but he knew that he couldn’t take the chance with Harry’s life. Despite his growing sense of urgency, Loki knew he needed to be cautious; he couldn’t afford to act without thinking his actions through carefully.

He needed to get his family to help him, no matter how much it galled him to do so. Who would have thought I’d be willing to ask them for their help so readily, he thought, somewhat amused at himself. Being a parent had really had shifted his priorities. His decision also rose from a desire to make Harry proud of him; Harry wouldn't be happy if Loki started breaking laws on his behalf. Loki sighed. Caring for someone with morals could be so tiresome.

Of course, that didn’t mean he wouldn’t lie, steal or cheat to get what he needed, if necessary. He would do whatever he had to do, and honestly, thwarting his father could be so much fun. However, bribing his way in would take valuable time he didn’t have. He’d rather not put his trust in others. There were too many risks involved. The diplomatic route really did seem to be the best option for now.

He’d sent his brother a message, hoping Thor would be willing to act as an intermediary on his behalf, but he had yet to hear anything back. It was just like his brother to disappear when he was needed the most.

Loki didn’t want to leave Harry, but if he didn’t hear from Thor soon, he might not have a choice. He’d have to go to Asgard himself. He did need Frigga, the best healer on Asgard, to make this work. He also knew that Odin wouldn't be willing to help him, since he hated Harry. However, his mother had a way of getting what she wanted from his father. With her help, he might be able to get Odin to cooperate. After all, how would people react if they knew Odin had had a vendetta against a little baby, and his grandson no less? If all else failed, he figured his family’s cooperation would make sneaking into Asgard much easier. He’d kidnap his mother, steal the healing bed, and bring it down to Harry if he had to. .

Loki stood and stretched. Harry should be waking up from his nap soon, and Loki needed to try to get him to eat something. His son had definitely gotten his stubbornness from him.

Just as he reached the stairs, the health monitoring spell he’d put on Harry began to sound; Harry was in distress. Winky screamed Loki’s name a moment later. Loki transported himself up the stairs ignoring the way the wards tried to take his magic as he passed through them, and rushed into Harry's room

Winky was standing in the doorway, wringing her hands in distress. “Master Harry can’t breathe,” she cried. Loki pushed past her, not even bothering to acknowledge her statement in his hurry to reach his son.

As he drew closer, he could tell that Harry's breathing was shallow. It had a rattle he recognized well. His son was dying! They had run out of time.

Loki’s heart stopped, and the world slowed down. He stood frozen in shock. Abruptly, time started to move again, and he sprang into action, immediately casting the most powerful healing spell he knew, only to have it dissolve instantly when it came up against Harry’s magic.

Now that Harry wasn’t actively controlling it, his magic was doing its best to protect him from outside threats. Unfortunately, that still included Loki. It wouldn't allow any of his spells to affect Harry, and Harry’s magic was too strong for him to fight. Loki wanted to scream in frustration. Trying again would be useless and only weaken Harry further.

When a magical person died, their magic would drain and eventually be absorbed back into the Earth. Harry’s magic would eventually leave his body, but by then it would be far too late for Loki to help him.

It couldn’t end like this. He’d only just found Harry, and he’d promised to help him. Instead, he was going to be forced to watch him die. Later, Loki couldn’t really explain what had happened, except that he went more than a little crazy. He picked Harry up and tried to take him to Asgard, but found himself rebounding against the wards uselessly.

He tried again and got the same result. Loki realized with a sinking heart that the wards would not allow him to leave the house with Harry. He tried simply walking out the front door, but when he reached the doorway, he couldn’t walk through it. Loki closed his eyes and took a calming breath, needing to think this through.

He couldn’t continue like this; his attempts to save Harry were only bringing him closer to the brink of death. This was a terrible nightmare, and Loki would give anything to wake up.

Carrying Harry into the sitting room, he laid him down on the sofa. He’d go to Asgard himself, and bring back help. However, he couldn’t bear the thought of leaving Harry alone to die in this terrible place.

When this is over, I will burn this abomination to the ground, he promised himself. The blaze would be glorious to behold. Loki acknowledged the ridiculousness of his thoughts; he was getting hysterical, and not thinking clearly. He heard crying nearby. Harry, he’s awake, thank the norns, was Loki’s first thought.

He turned and found Winky standing in the doorway, tears running down her face, her little body heaving with sobs. His fear gave way to relief that his son would not be alone; Loki had completely forgotten about their house elf. Very grateful for her assistance in this he felt tears sting his eyes once again.

“Winky, stay with Harry and watch over him. I don’t want him to be alone. I’m going to go and bring back help,” Loki said. He was astonished that his voice was not shaking. Winky nodded, looking sad but determined. “I stay with Master Harry, don’t worry. Winky take care of him.”

Loki nodded. He squeezed Winky’s shoulder and returned to his son. Harry’s breathing was labored, but it didn’t seem to be getting any worse at the moment. Gently, he kissed Harry on the forehead. “I’ll be back as soon as I can. Please hang on.” Loki’s voice broke. “You will not die on me. I forbid it,” he added sternly.

He stood, gathering his power. He tried to go through the wards only to bounce off of them and materialize in the sitting room. No, this could not be happening! The wards were feeding off his magic, the power drain forcing him back. His desperation was driving him to try again, but he realized he was only wasting his magic. He couldn't help his son this way. Carefully, he reached out and tested the wards. They felt stronger; how was that possible? They shouldn’t have the power to keep him here. Unless, now that Harry was unconscious, the wards had begun consuming his magic at a faster rate. The idea that they could be gorging themselves on his son’s magic made Loki feel sick, and furious. He'd never felt so powerless.

There was nothing he could do. They were trapped, Harry was dying, and Loki was helpless to stop it.

Loki’s legs felt rubbery. With a defeated sigh, he sat down and cradled Harry in his lap His son was pale, and his blue tinged lips meant he wasn’t getting enough oxygen. He watched his son’s labored breathing carefully, knowing he wasn’t imagining that it was slowing down, the time between each breath growing longer.

He ran his hand over Harry’s forehead, gently brushing his hair back. “It’s alright, sweetheart. Relax. Everything is going to be fine. I’m here with you. Don’t be afraid.” Loki’s voice broke, and he took a shaky breath.

No, there had to be something he could do; he couldn’t give up on Harry. He refused to let him down. Loki’s mind raced, trying to come up with something, anything, to save Harry.

“I think he’s suffered enough, don’t you?” a soft musical voice said from above.

Loki looked up to find a beautiful young woman standing over him. She had long black hair, and was dressed in a long flowing white dress. There was something familiar about her, but Loki couldn’t recall where he’d seen her before. She radiated power.

Loki set Harry down gently, and then stood, watching her warily.

“How did you get in here?” he demanded harshly. “Be warned, if you mean us harm, I will not hesitate to kill you.”

“That wasn’t very nice,” the woman chided. “I’m here to try and help you, and this is how you react? It wasn’t easy getting permission for this, you know.”

Loki found he was having trouble caring what the woman wanted, as long as she wasn’t a threat to Harry or himself. She just didn’t seem important in the face of losing his son. Then it dawned on him that she’d gotten past the wards easily.

“Can you get us out of this god’s forsaken house?” he asked eagerly. “My son needs help, he's dying.” Loki knew he was pleading, but he didn’t care. He was desperate, and he’d beg if he had to.

“Yes, I can,” the woman said with a regal nod of her head.

Loki’s chest hurt at the rush of hope he felt; he was almost giddy with relief.

But then the woman spoke again. “But I won’t,” she added coolly, as if Harry and Loki were below her notice.

Relief was swiftly replaced by rage. How dare this woman defy him? Did she not know to whom she spoke? “Why not?” he demanded. He’d asked nicely, and she’d refused him. He was done begging; if this woman wouldn’t willingly help them, then Loki would force her to, hurting her if necessary. She had invaded Harry’s home, so she was clearly powerful, but Loki tried to freeze her with his magic.

“I am ashamed of you, Loki Odinson, you have learned less than I had hoped,” the woman said sharply, “How dare you try to force your will upon me? I am Skuld, the Norn of Necessity, and I can crush you like a bug should I so desire.”

Loki was completely shocked. A norn! He had just tried to attack one of the most powerful beings in all the realms. The norns  were the guardians of time and fate. Even Odin respected the Norns and worked hard not to get on their bad sides. He had just seriously fucked up. Despite the extenuating circumstances, he did feel a little ashamed. His first reaction had been one of violence and force. Harry would be disappointed in him, and this thought made his heart ache.

He needed to fix this. Never had he regretted his impulsiveness more. He'd almost ruined his best chance to save his son. He wouldn’t have thought it possible, but the Norns could make this situation infinitely worse if they were so inclined. If Loki played his cards right, maybe he could convince them to save Harry’s life. Loki would need all his charm to pull this off.

Loki bowed low in a show of respect. “I’m sorry my lady,” he said as sincerely as he could. “I did not recognize you. I did not mean any disrespect to you or your sisters. I’m afraid I was overwrought, and I wasn’t thinking clearly. Surely, you can understand a father wanting to save his son’s life no matter the cost.”

Skuld raised an eyebrow. “I believe you mean that, but you have seen first-hand how much your son suffers. You know in your heart, there is no hope for him. Yet, you would try to deny him the relief that death can give him.”

Loki felt his blood run cold. “You don’t know that there is nothing that can be done. There might be a way to save him,” he insisted, striving to remain calm. “My mother will help me find a way,” he assured her. “I beg of you, please help me to save my son.”

The Norn's eyes flashed with anger. “Your words are pretty but false. You beg for my help with one breath, and yet you imply I am lying with the next. Your brother is not coming. You are alone.”

Loki opened his mouth to protest, but she held up a hand. Loki felt his despair rise.

Skuld continued, “I assure you, I am intimately familiar with the course of your son’s life. There is only one path left open for him. I’m afraid your father has seen to that. You must let him go.” She spoke gently, but with great authority.

“No,” Loki denied fiercely. “I assure you, Lady, I mean no disrespect. But I cannot accept that you speak the truth. I will not do that! I will not give up on him, not until there is no other choice. I have to keep trying. Can’t you understand that?”

His heart was hammering inside his chest. It couldn't be true. The Norn could be trying to trick him; perhaps she was working for his father. She had to know that he believed his father was behind Harry’s illness, and the horrible hand that fate had dealt him.

She sighed in exasperation, but her expression softened a bit. “Yes I can, but you have to understand, it is pointless. His fate has been sealed. You will try over and over again, and the entire time your son will be suffering. There is no way to heal his magic, and your son will not survive its removal, if you were to succeed, which even in the best of circumstances is highly unlikely.”

Loki felt his heart drop; he worked hard not to let it show. Removal of Harry’s magic had been his best idea for how to heal him, but he'd also feared it would kill him outright. “With all due respect, my Lady, how do I know I can trust anything you say?” he asked quietly. “The Norns are known for having their own agenda. You only work with those who serve your own ends. You cannot blame me for being skeptical.”

Loki found himself shoved up against the wall, the breath knocked from his lungs. He was dismayed to realize he couldn't move.

When she spoke, Skuld’s voice was quiet, but her actions betrayed her growing temper. “Loki Odinson, your arrogance will be your undoing. I can understand your misgivings. For a parent, there is nothing worse than the death of a child. Your obvious love for Harry Potter has saved you from my wrath. However, I will only forgive your disbelief in my words for so long. Your son will die. That is certain, but there is still a way you can help him if you will only listen to me.”

This gave Loki pause. “What do you mean?” he asked cautiously. He ruthlessly buried the hope that wanted to rise once again. Nevertheless, he found himself holding his breath as he waited for her to speak.

“Your son’s life has been ruthlessly manipulated by others who wished him great harm. He has been denied the life he should have had, and yet he remained honest and true. He did not let his suffering twist him or turn him dark. He is pure of heart. This is a very rare thing in this universe, indeed. His courageousness has earned him a boon. I am here to give you a chance to change his fate, for the better.”

Loki could only stare in confusion. “What do you mean, change his fate?” he asked suspiciously. “I thought you said there was no way to save him. “He dared not take his eyes off Skuld.

Skuld huffed and gave Loki an exasperated look. “I said there is no way to change his death in the here and now. However, his fate can be changed in the past. What was is not set in stone. Decisions can ripple forward and backward across the timeline. A person can change their destiny by making different choices. I am offering you the chance to choose a different life for yourself and your son.”

Loki took a deep breath, trying to remain calm. He ruthlessly squashed the hope that tried to overtake him again, trying to appear unaffected by her words. “What exactly are we talking about here? I beg you to speak plainly.”

Skuld looked amused, and smiled at him. “Such bravado. Even now you are attempting to appear in control of this situation. However, I know what is in your heart. You already suspect what it is I am about to offer you. I promise you it is no trick.” She waved a hand and Loki unexpectedly slid down the wall, sprawling on the floor.

Relieved that he could move again, he gathered his dignity around him and stood up without complaint.

Then Skuld’s words sunk in. Could it be? He remembered his wish to go back in time, but he hadn’t really been serious. It had been a passing fancy, nothing more. Time travel wasn’t possible, was it?

Before he could speak, Skuld continued, “Tell me, if you had the chance to raise your son from infancy, would you take it?”

Loki didn’t even have to think about it. “Yes,” he said simply. Wanting to prove how serious he was, he met Skuld’s mesmerizing gaze. The colors in her irises seemed to swirl. Cursing himself, Loki tore his gaze away. It would be a foolish mistake to get lost in those eyes.

The Norn smiled at him, and this time it reached her eyes. His answer had pleased her. She didn't seem too upset that she hadn't been able to ensnare him.

“So sure of yourself, aren’t you? I admit you are stronger than I thought. However, changing time is a dangerous thing,” she warned, seriously. “Unpredictable. Not even my sisters and I can be sure of what will happen. You may indeed change your son’s life for the better, or you could make things worse in the long run. We will not interfere. Your destiny and Harry’s will be up to you. Your future will be what you make it.”

Loki fought back a snort. She was oversimplifying things a great deal. He knew that the course of a person’s life was not solely based on their own choices, but of those around them as well. His father would still have the chance to destroy Harry, so Loki would have to work hard to keep both of them safe from harm. It wouldn't be easy, but it was more than Loki had dared to hope for.

“I don’t care what the consequences are,” he answered honestly. “Saving my son from this horrible existence is all that matters. I accept your offer. What do you want in return?” He wasn’t stupid enough to think there wouldn’t be a price to pay.

Skuld smiled coldly. “You are also smarter than I thought. There will indeed be a price. However, you may not know what it is ahead of time. One day we will ask something of you, and you must obey without question. That is all I can tell you. In return, you will be given a chance to change the course of your son’s life, and your own, in whatever way you see fit.”

Loki frowned. This was an obvious trap. He would have expected more subtlety for a being as powerful as this. What else is she hiding? he asked himself. His instincts told him he should wait and learn more, but then he dared to look over at his son. His breathing had slowed even more, and Loki could tell death was near. In the end, there was really no choice to be made. The chance to be with Harry, to see him happy and safe, was worth any price Loki would have to pay.

Still, there was something he needed to be sure of first. Loki nodded decisively. “I accept, but on one condition.” He indicated Harry with a wave of his hand.

Skuld’s eyes narrowed. “Be careful what you ask of me. What one wants is not always what is best.” Loki shrugged negligently, striving to hide his apprehension. Her magic was overwhelming him; the room seemed to shrink. However, Loki stood his ground knowing she could still decide to kill him at any moment. He was truly taking his life in his hands, but Harry was worth the gamble.

“Clearly, you need me for this mysterious task. I don’t believe for one moment you are helping us out of the goodness of your heart. My request is simple. I will do whatever you ask of me when the time comes. However, my son is not part of this bargain. Whatever price I must pay, whatever danger must be faced, I will face it alone. My son will be free to choose his own path. Do I have your oath?”

Skuld hesitated, looking like she’d like to crush every bone in his body. An oath from a being such as her was magically binding and not given lightly.

Skuld glared daggers at him, vibrating with fury. Loki stared back at her, giving her his best unimpressed look. The one he’d practiced in the mirror as a young boy in preparation for the day he’d win the right to be King. It served him well.

At last, she nodded. “I accept your terms,” she bit out. “Your son is free of your debt to us.”

Loki grinned in satisfaction. His son would no longer be anyone’s puppet. He would be free to choose his own life.

He knew that other issues would probably pop up, but he dared not push his luck any further. “I accept your terms," he agreed.

Skuld nodded regally; there was a gleam in her eye that Loki did not like, but he ignored his apprehension. He would handle whatever issues came up. He would not fail.

“Very well, we will leave now.” She motioned him forward impatiently.

Loki hesitated, looking over at his son, and Winky watching over him. He realized that Winky had not reacted at all to Skuld’s presence.

As if sensing his thoughts Skuld said, “I did not wish to alarm the small one, so I hid my presence from her. There is nothing more you can do for your son here. Leave him be.”

Loki shook his head. “I can’t just let him die alone,” he protested. “Harry has been alone for far too long.”

Skuld sighed. “Save me from the stubbornness of the young,” she muttered, sounding exasperated.

Under other circumstances, Loki would have preened at his ability to so discomfit such a powerful being. He was still the God of Mischief, after all.

“I will not leave him,” he repeated. “I beg you to have mercy, for Harry’s sake.” He tried to sound as meek as possible.

Judging by Skuld’s expression, he didn't succeed. “You are trying my patience, Loki Odinson, Tread carefully. However, for your son’s sake, I will allow you to say goodbye to him one last time. I cannot risk waking him, but I will allow you to link minds.”

Loki wanted to sag at the wave of relief that swept over him. He nodded eagerly. “I thank you, Lady,” he said sincerely.

“Sit with your son.” She waved Loki toward Harry. Once Loki was seated, she placed one hand on Loki’s forehead and the other on Harry’s. “You must hurry; we do not have much time.” Then it grew dark.

The next Loki knew, he was sitting in the stands around a pitch of some kind. Off in the distance, he could see a set of rings; he looked around and realized there was another set at the other end. Perhaps they were goals of some sort. But where’s Harry?, he thought, puzzled. He could see no sign of his son.

Then he heard a cry of joy, and he looked up. He could just make out a small figure flying on a broom, of all things. How bizarre, Loki thought. Mortal wizards were even stranger than he'd first thought. Loki was glad his son would grow up free from their influence.

He assumed the person on the broom was his son. Harry did another barrel roll, and his stomach rose up into his throat. How was Harry staying on that thing, he wondered. Surely, it wasn’t safe. Harry was ill after all. He should be more careful. Oh for Norn's sake, listen to me, he thought. I’m worse than my mother. I’ll have to be careful not to smother him, Loki thought, amused.

He did a quick spell and amplified his voice. “Harry Potter, come down here this instant,” Loki spoke normally, but his voice boomed out in the open air.

Harry turned toward him, but rather than come straight down, the brat did a few more tricks before finally landing on the grass near Loki.

“I’m an adult you know. I’ve been taking care of myself for a long time,” he called out, but he sounded amused. Propping his broom on the lowest bleacher, he came over and sat next to Loki.

Loki shrugged, but smiled brightly at his son. “I’m your father, it turns out worry comes naturally. Let me fuss and get in a few fatherly demands in while I can, hmm.”

Harry grinned happily. It was wonderful to see him so animated. Loki took a good look at him. Harry looked healthier than Loki had ever seen him. His color was good, and he looked strong. Loki felt the sting of tears. He'd thought he’d never have the pleasure of seeing his son looking so well.

“This was always one of my favorite places to be,” Harry told him. “I’ve always loved to fly. It’s so freeing. I’m glad I ended up here and not the train station.”

Loki shivered at the reminder of why he was here. Harry had told him what he’d seen the last time he’d “died.” Loki had had his doubts about what Harry had described, but he’d kept his thoughts to himself “Do you know why I’m here, son?” he asked gently, putting his arm around Harry’s shoulders for a quick hug.

Harry nodded. “I know I’m dying, Loki. I’m glad I have a chance to say goodbye to you.”

Loki felt tears threatening again, but he repressed them, afraid he wouldn’t be able to speak otherwise.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t save you. I’m sorry I failed you.” His voice broke, and Loki had to stop speaking. He looked away. Harry put a hand on his arm. “Dad,” he said. “It’s alright. I’m ready. I really am.”

Loki looked over at him in shock, bittersweet joy filling his heart, constricting his chest. He’d never thought he’d be lucky enough to hear that particular appellation from his son. He spontaneously reached out and pulled Harry into his arms, hugging him tightly. Harry returned the embrace easily, and Loki truly felt as if his heart was going to burst. They sat like that for a couple of minutes before Harry pulled back. Loki let go reluctantly.

Harry looked at him sternly. “Listen to me. You didn’t fail me,” Harry insisted passionately. “None of this is your fault. For a long time, I blamed myself. I thought I deserved to die alone, but you’ve helped me to see how people have taken advantage of me. I feel better than I have in a long time. Like a weight has been lifted. I don’t want to go back. I’m tired of suffering. I’m tired of the constant pain. Please don’t be afraid to let me go.”

Loki nodded. A sense of peace washed over him. It was selfish to want to keep Harry by his side. Harry was ready, and it wasn’t as if they wouldn't see each other again very soon.

Harry looked sad. “It’s almost time dad. You have to go.”

Loki didn’t feel ready at all. “Wait, there’s something important I need to ask you. If there was something in the past you could change, what would it be?” He watched Harry intently.

Harry looked surprised, then thoughtful. He was quiet for a few minutes before speaking. Loki was glad he was taking the question seriously.

“There are lots of things I’d do differently. But mostly I’d save the people I love, Sirius, Remus and Hermione, especially. I would have included Ron, but I’ve been thinking, and I’m not sure all the Weasleys can be trusted. They helped Dumbledore keep me locked up, and they helped convince me to go along with his plans for me.”

Harry looked heartbroken, and Loki felt terrible. He wanted to spare Harry this pain.

“I’m sorry so many people you trusted hurt you so much,” he told his son. Soon he would erase all his son’s suffering. He felt truly grateful to Skuld, though he couldn't fully trust her.

Harry nodded. “I was a fool,” he said bitterly. “I see that now, but there’s nothing we can do. I know I need to let it go.” Loki was sorry to have ruined his son’s good mood, but he knew it was necessary.

“And what about your parents?” Loki asked.

Harry blushed “Oh, I forgot. I’d save them too if I could. It’s just they aren’t real to me, you know. I’ve only seen pictures. The truth is, I miss Sirius more.” He looked at Loki a bit guiltily. “And I have you now,” he added with a shy smile. Some happiness returned to his face.

Loki tried to smile, but he knew it wasn’t his best effort. “You certainly do. I’m sorry I didn’t have any memories of your mother to share with you. My father stole that from both of us. I’d give her back to you if I could,” he said sincerely. He reached out and squeezed his son’s hand.

Harry nodded, squeezing back. “I know you would. It means so much to me.”

Loki realized that it was getting dark, and he was cold. Harry looked at Loki, alarmed. “It’s almost time. You can’t be here when it happens. You have to leave now. Take care of Winky for me, please. Goodbye Dad, I love you.”

Loki opened his mouth to return the sentiment, but he was unexpectedly pulled away. It was growing darker, and Harry was all he could see now. “I love you too, son,” he called, and then the darkness was complete.

****

Loki slowly opened his eyes and sat up, frantically looking around for Harry. He quickly realized he was no longer in Grimmauld place. It was a relief to be away from that house. He felt more rested and refreshed than he had in a long time. Looking up, he saw that he was beneath a large tree, its branches and beautiful green leaves rising above him. As he watched the leaves rustling in the wind, a feeling of peace swept over him. 'Carefully, he stood. Where am I? he thought, puzzled. Looking to his left, he saw that the tree was not growing out of the ground; it was growing out of a large well. Loki gasped as it dawned on him: The Well of Urd. The tree wasn’t just any tree, it was Yggdrasil, the tree of life, where each of the nine realms rested. It was truly beautiful; Loki had never imagined that he’d have the honor of seeing it in person.

“It’s magnificent, isn’t it?” a familiar voice asked, startling Loki out of his awed contemplation.

He turned and saw Skuld standing nearby, watching him. She seemed to glow with an ethereal light, looking even more beautiful, something Loki would have said was impossible before now. Her power washed over him gently. It was comforting, but Loki knew he must remain alert.

“It truly is glorious,” he murmured. “I am honored by this gift, my lady.”

Skuld smiled brightly, and it was a beautiful sight. “I am gratified by your appreciation for that which gives us all life. There may be hope for you yet,” she added wryly. Loki couldn’t even be annoyed by her implied insult. This moment was too important. “My son is dead, isn’t he?” Loki asked, needing to be sure.

Skuld nodded. “I saw to his body myself. I laid him to rest with his mother and stepfather near his childhood home.”

”I thank you for seeing to him,” he said sincerely.

“You are most welcome, Loki Odinson. It was the least I could do for him. We failed him most grievously. I hope you can correct the wrongs that have been done to your son.”

She didn't wait for him to answer, for which Loki was glad, not knowing how he would have responded. He would never have expected a Norn to speak in such a manner.

“Come.” She placed her hand on his back, and he allowed himself to be led. “The well of destiny awaits you.”

She led Loki over to the well, and Loki looked over the side into its dark depths; there were swirls of light and color in the water.

“You must jump into the water and make your request. The well will read your heart’s true desire, and you will be transported to your chosen time.”

Loki gulped, his previous calm deserting him. Jump into the well of destiny? It sounded insane. He looked away from the water to gaze at Skuld. “And if the well decides my wish is unjust?" he asked quietly. He knew he would not like her answer.

“Then you will be lost in limbo forever.” She said gravely.

Loki nodded accepting her answer. He didn’t like it, but what choice did he have? “Where will I end up?” he asked.

Skuld shrugged again, but this time she looked at him sympathetically. “I do not know. The well of Urd will decide the best place for you; that is out of my hands.”

Loki wasn’t sure he believed her. He hated not knowing where he would land. What if he got there too late, and Harry had already suffered? It was a terrible thought, but Loki knew better than to complain. In truth, there was little he could do in any case. He was subject to the will of fate. Loki chuckled humorlessly at the thought.

“Here, take this.” Skuld held out a little gold ball with wings. “It is called a snitch. This toy means a great deal to your son. Once you have arrived, cast a locating spell on it, and it will lead you to him.”

Loki reached for it, and he realized the ball was a soft child's toy. When he shook it, a l bell inside jingled, and the little wings flapped. He could feel his son’s magic in it, new and wild. It looked worn and well loved. He squeezed it gently, relieved to have it.

He hadn’t given any thought to how he would find Harry. He was a bit ashamed of his lack of forethought, but he had been extremely busy. Carefully, he placed the toy inside the pocket of his tunic for safe keeping. He suspected that for all Skuld's cold and careless words, she wanted him to succeed. Best not to comment on it, he thought, and settled for nodding his thanks.

He turned away from the Norn. There was no time to waste. Using his magic, he gently lifted himself over the side of the well. Throwing caution to the wind, Loki released his magic, and jumped, landing smoothly in the water. It was eerily silent, and there was no splash. Loki shivered, a heady combination of fear and anticipation coursing through him.

“I seek to save my son, who has suffered many injustices,” he said formally. “I wish to raise him, and give him the happy life he never had. He will know nothing but joy and acceptance from me, I swear it.”

There was no response for several minutes, but then Loki felt the water becoming warmer, a strange magic invading his body. Loki felt as if he was burning from the inside out. The water began to swirl, and Loki was pulled down beneath the surface. For one panicked moment, he thought he was going to drown. His lungs burned. He hoped he’d get to see his son again, one way or another. Please, he thought desperately. Then, as if in answer, there was a flash of bright light, and Loki knew no more.

Chapter Text

Loki awoke abruptly to discover he was lying on hard, grassy ground. He sat up carefully, looking around. He appeared to be in some sort of park. For a moment, he was confused. How had he come to be in this place? Then his memory came crashing back. I really have to stop losing consciousness like that, he thought stupidly. His next thought was of Harry; he was going to find his son! Now, more importantly, the question was not where, but when was he? What time had the well sent him back to? Loki took out the strange stuffed toy. Thankfully, like Loki, it was perfectly dry. The toy began to glow very softly as he cast a locator spell. The closer he got to Harry, the brighter it would get. He held it out in all four directions, and as he pointed it to the west, the light grew brighter.

Loki wasted no time in starting off. There was much he needed to do, plans to make, and things to procure, including a place to live. He also needed to find Winky. He would need her help. However, first, he wanted to see his son and make sure Harry was safe, and that his magic was intact. Surely, Dumledore hadn’t messed with Harry’’s magic at this age, it could have serious consequences to his physical and magical growth. Making himself invisible, he rose into the air. His heart was lighter than it had been in a long time as he flew swiftly toward his son and their new lives.

The locator spell led him outside the city of London, to the southeast. He passed over many small towns before finally landing in front of a very ordinary house. As he landed, the snitch glowed so brightly he had to shield his eyes, then faded to a gentle glow once again. The sun was rising; in the early morning light, he looked up and down the street, his lip turning up in a sneer. Everything was neat as a pin, and each house looked exactly like every other.

The lawns and flower beds were neat and tidy. Nothing was out of place. Loki shivered; rather than finding the surroundings pleasant, he was strangely disturbed. Somehow this nondescript little street seemed devoid of life. How could the people living here stand all this sameness every single day? Loki would surely go mad.

Closing his eyes, his heart sank as he realized exactly where he was. Damn it, he was too late. He wanted to scream, he was so furious. Why would the well of destiny drop him after his son had already been abandoned to the Dursley's abuse? Surely, there is no need for my son to suffer, he thought. There was nothing he could do for Lily and James Potter now. He only hoped Harry had not been trapped in this hell for very long; even one day was too long as far as Loki was concerned.

Turning his attention back to the house, he reached out with his magic, but he could not feel his son inside. During his time with Harry, he had become more familiar with Wizarding magic, so he could tell by the feel of the magic that he came up against that it was be some type of protection ward.

However, it was a very poorly executed one. The ward was structurally very weak; it was masking his son’s signature, but Harry must still be relatively young as someone of his son’s full magical strength would overpower this ward easily, and it would do little to protect him from someone like Voldemort. Whoever set this up didn’t really care about keeping Harry safe, Loki thought angrily.

Loki felt his blood run cold; how his son had survived his childhood all alone in this house was something Loki would never understand. His opinion of Voldemort dropped another notch, something he hadn’t thought possible. The man was apparently a  complete moron as well as a megalomaniac. ,

This poor excuse for a ward was also no match for Loki, who was able to dismantle in a matter of minutes. His son’s magic washed over him as the ward dissolved. Loki smiled; it was wonderfully familiar. Walking quickly toward the house, he unlocked the door with another simple spell. He knew he needed to be careful not to draw attention to himself to escape his father’s notice for as long as possible, that meant no large acts of magic, not until he knew he and Harry were safe.

Loki entered the house, following his son’s magic. He was furious, but not at all surprised, when the trail led him to the cupboard under the stairs. He had seen the memory, but had hoped that the cupboard had only been used as a punishment and that his son had not been forced to actually live in this small space. That had been wishful thinking on his part.

The door was locked; they had locked his son in the cupboard. Loki closed his eyes and took a deep breath, trying to push his anger away, not wanting to scare Harry or make his son think he was angry with him. He’d wager his son had faced more than enough anger in his life already. Once Harry is safe, I’m going to kill Vernon Dursley, he thought. Surely Harry wouldn’t mind.

From inside the cupboard, Loki heard a cry, so he used his magic to yank off the lock.  Tossing it away in disgust, he slowly and carefully opened the door, so as not to scare Harry unduly. Loki hunched down and looked inside; it was dark, and Loki couldn’t see anything. . He lifted the gently glowing toy from his pocket, providing enough light for him to see that there was a bare bulb in the ceiling. Loki reached out and turned it on.

He couldn’t help the shocked gasp that escaped him as he got his first look at his son, a wave of sorrow and fury overtaking him.  For several moments he was frozen, unable to get past what he was feeling. Then he shook himself. Harry needs you, he reminded himself. “You have to be strong for him, you are not allowed to fall apart,” he told himself firmly.

Harry was lying on a thin mattress on the floor of the cupboard. A thin blanket was wrapped around him; it was obviously dirty, and Loki could smell Harry’s soiled diaper from where he was crouched. . Couldn’t these monsters even bring themselves to change his diaper? Loki hated Odin; he was an evil man, but Loki was seeing a very different but no less heinous evil right now. How could anyone treat a child in their care this way? It was unconscionable.

Harry realized he wasn’t alone and abruptly stopped crying. He stared up at Loki, his brilliant green eyes too large in his thin little face, and Loki felt his chest tighten at the fear in Harry’s eyes.

“It’s alright Harry,” Loki said softly, trying for a soothing tone. “I’m not going to hurt you. I know you don’t know me, but I’m your dad, and I love you so much. I’m here to take you home.” Loki’s voice broke; he took a deep breath, and much to his relief, the next time he spoke his voice was steadier. “What’s wrong, are you wet? We can take care of that.” He reached out to pick Harry up, but before he could get hold of Harry his magic reacted, pushing Loki gently away. Loki couldn’t help but smile, remembering when Harry’ magic had been strong enough to toss him across the room.

Harry, however, didn't look pleased. He trembled with fear. “Sorry, sorry” he said quickly. It sounded more like sowwy; Loki thought it was adorable. Harry's fear of reprisal over using his magic to protect himself broke Loki’s heart. “It’s alright, son. You didn’t do anything wrong. I’m not angry with you,” Loki continued quietly, and he gave Harry a big smile. “I’m very proud of you. That was an impressive feat of magic.”

Now, rather than scared, Harry looked confused. Loki remembered the snitch in his hand. “Look, Harry. Do you remember this?” He shook the toy as he held it out. Harry gasped and held out his hand. Loki handed it over, and Harry shook it, giggling happily and smiling brightly at Loki, forgetting, for the moment, to be afraid. Loki allowed his magic to wash gently over Harry, and this time Harry’s magic reached out as well, their magic touching gently. Loki was relieved when Harry’s magic seemed to accept his.

“I bet you’re uncomfortable, will you let me pick you up?” Harry nodded shyly after a moment. Much to his relief, this time when he reached in to pick Harry up, no magic attacked him. Loki quickly pulled his son from his little prison, being careful not to bang his head.

His nose wrinkled as he realized that the mattress and the blanket were soiled as well. The smell assaulted his nose, but Loki strove not to show his disgust. “There we go, you’re such a good boy, Harry.” He bounced Harry gently; his son was very thin and far too light in his arms. His skin was almost grey in the early morning light. He estimated Harry was about 2 years old, but he knew his size might be deceiving. Harry obviously did not get enough to eat. The knowledge made his blood boil.

Loki sighed in frustration. There was so much he didn’t know. He wasn’t even sure of his son’s age, although thankfully, that was easily remedied. He did a quick spell, and all of Harry’s pertinent health info scrolled in the air next to them. Loki was shocked to see that Harry would be three in a month. He was far too small for his age. Loki suspected his development was also behind, judging by the very few words he'd heard from Harry so far. He was also very malnourished, just as Loki had feared. Harry would need his care for some time to restore his health. His impulsive decision to seek Harry out immediately might have been a mistake. He had been in such a hurry to see Harry that he hadn’t stopped to think about what he would do with Harry once he had him. They had no place to live, and no supplies for a baby, nothing with which to take care of Harry right now. The Dursley's had a son just about Harry’s age. Surely they’d have the things he needed. Loki hated the idea of using any of their things, but needs must. Harry shouldn't suffer for his lack of forethought; he needed to be cleaned up immediately.  Following a finding spell, he found diapers and a few items of clothing hidden out of sight in the closet. It was as if the Dursley's didn't want anyone to know his son lived with them. These monsters should feel privileged to be in my son’s presence, he thought.

Loki gave Harry a quick wash in the kitchen sink, which Harry seemed to enjoy. Loki entertained him by doing a few simple magic tricks while he worked, making pillows from the living room dance around the kitchen. Harry giggled in delight and asked for more. Loki was only too happy to oblige, thrilled to see his son smiling.

There was a bad moment when Harry accidentally sent a few of the plates flying through the air, where they crashed to the floor and shattered. Harry’s lower lip had trembled, and then he’d hunched over, crying out that he was sorry, again. Harry was expecting to be hit for accidentally performing magic, Loki realized, his stomach sinking. For a moment, he thought he might be sick to his stomach. However, he continued to smile at Harry, assuring him that he was very proud of him. “Don’t worry son, it's normal. I’m going to help you learn how to control your magic.”

Harry had looked confused, but then he smiled tentatively. “Harry not bad?” he asked softly, his little face shining hopefully.

Tears filled Loki’s eyes as his heart clenched; he picked him up and hugged him tightly, not caring that Harry was dripping all over him. “No, baby,” he murmured to the top of Harry’s head, “Harry is very, very good.”

His son held still while Loki tended to his many needs. It was a bit eerie; he should be trying to get away. Harry was covered in scratches and bruises and had a nasty looking rash on his bottom. There were even finger marks on his left arm that looked big enough to be Vernon’s. Loki allowed himself to fantasize about setting Dursley on fire for several very pleasant moments as he cast a quick healing spell. He watched with satisfaction as Harry’s skin became healthy and smooth.

Loki spent a few minutes examining Harry’s curse scar. He could feel the evil in it, but much to his relief, it had not begun to affect Harry’s magical core yet. He'd have to research it carefully before attempting to remove it. Killing the piece of Voldemort’s soul without hurting Harry was high on his list of priorities. Loki cast a quick stasis spell around the scar, freezing the tainted magic in place. Loki knew that he had only slowed it down, but it would help to protect Harry in the short term, at least. The clothes he'd found were completely unacceptable, little better than rags and far too small. Loki wanted to burn them. The Dursley’s son must have better things. Loki didn't want to leave Harry alone, so he dressed him in the clothes he’d found after repairing and enlarging them to fit him better.

Then, making them both invisible, he made his way upstairs, opening several doors. The Dursleys were sleeping in their beds, oblivious to his presence. He felt another surge of fury, and magic rose to his fingertips, his Asgardian Magic and his Jotun magic had responding as one. He longed to exact his revenge, but he didn't have time to deal with these horrible creatures now. Instead, he cast a simple sleeping spell so they would not disturb him.

It was easy to find the room belonging to the Dursleys' son. The baby was obscenely fat as he slept in his toddler size bed. Despite the way he’d bullied Harry, Loki felt a surge of sympathy for the boy. He was still innocent, after all. Right now, he was as much a victim as his son. It wasn’t his fault that his parents would destroy him in just a few years. He cast the sleeping spell on the boy as well and turned away.

Moving silently past the boy, he quickly found what he was looking for. These clothes were of much higher quality than anything else he’d seen. Loki wasn’t surprised, but the further evidence of their neglect of his son continued to infuriate him. The clothes were far too big, but Loki shrunk them easily and then dressed Harry warmly, wrapping him a blanket. .

Harry looked bewildered; he didn't know what to make of what was happening. Loki’s heart swelled when Harry snuggled up against him hesitantly, as if expecting to be denied. He held Harry tighter, and after a moment his son relaxed fully against him.

Loki wondered if Harry was hungry. He wouldn’t put it past the Dursley’s to not feed him properly. What did children eat? Loki realized he had no idea. He ran one hand over his head in frustration. He knew so little about caring for children. What if he made too many mistakes and hurt Harry accidently? Loki wished he could call upon his mother for help, but the chance that she would tell Odin what he had done was too great.

“It’s a shame I didn’t bring Winky back with me, isn’t it Harry? She’d know what to do. She told me she worked as a nanny elf for many years, before being let go.”

There was an unexpected flash of light and a very familiar pop, and to Loki’s shock, Winky was standing before him, hands on her hips, glaring at him. Loki knew he was gaping like a fool.

“Master Loki is bad to make Winky wait. I be waiting for you to call me for a long time,” she scolded severely.

Finally, Loki found his voice. “Winky, is that really you?” he asked disbelievingly. “The you from my time I mean?” She nodded emphatically in answer.

“But how?” Loki demanded, still flabbergasted.

Winky huffed. “Master Loki is bad god, trying to leave his Winky behind, all alone. Winky was not willing to stay all alone in that nasty house, so she followed Master Loki into the past like a good house elf. Winky’s bond with Master Harry still strong,” she added proudly. .

Loki gathered this was supposed to be some sort of explanation.

“I don’t understand,” Loki finally admitted.

Winky sighed. “It not be difficult to understand Master Loki. As long as their bond is strong, a house elf is able to go wherever her master most needs her to be going. It don’t matter if that be in the past, or present, or future.”

Loki blinked. “I-,” he stuttered. “That’s amazing, Winky. Can every house elf do this?” he asked hoarsely.

“Of course,” Winky nodded. “It can’t be done on a whim, and only in special circumstances. But Winky asked to follow Master Loki, and Winky’s request be granted by Lady Magic herself. She say Winky’s masters be very important and Winky served them well.” Tears welled up in Winky’s eyes. “Winky be so honored, and here I be.” She shook her head. "But then the wards keep Winky away from Master Harry. Winky could not break them, so she wait for Master Loki to call her."

Before Loki could ask who or what the hell Lady Magic was, she motioned toward Harry excitedly.

“Master Harry be a baby!” she squealed happily. “Winky love taking care of babies.” Winky was studying Harry closely. Reaching out, she took his little hand, and Harry smiled happily. “Elf!” he cried out, and reached for one of Winky’s ears. Loki stopped him gently. Winky smiled at him brightly, but then she frowned fiercely. “Little Master Harry not be well taken care of. He be sad and lonely.” She tugged on her ears in distress, and Harry giggled at the sight. “Elf!” he cried out again.

Winky smiled sadly. “I am Winky, Master Harry,” she corrected gently, “but I answer to elf for now.” She looked Harry over carefully. “His magic be intact, that horrible man hasn’t touched yet.” There were tears in Winky’s eyes but she smiled at Loki brightly.

She kissed Harry on the cheek. He started in surprise, but then he pursed his lips, trying to mimic her. “Kiss,” he said happily.

Loki sihed with relief. “Thank you, Winky. That’s a load of my mind.” He’d verify it himself of course, but he believed Winky. She had proven to be vey knowledgeable in matters of magic.

However, Winky was back to glaring at Loki, as if the situation they found themselves in was somehow Loki’s fault. He also be hungry and tired. He be far too small for his age, but don’t worry, Winky fix that,” she said firmly.

“It’s a good thing Winky be here to take care of both of you. Where the kitchen be in this place?” Gathering her bearings, she popped away as quickly as she’d arrived, presumably to fix us a meal, Loki thought, amused despite the unexpected circumstances. Winky was a treasure. He'd better get used to being bossed around, whether he liked it or not. ?

Loki gathered his wits and went to find the kitchen. He was feeling hungry himself. He felt a great deal better about their immediate future. Winky and Harry could stay here, while Loki got them set up in a safe place. The Dursleys were certainly in no condition to complain. They owed Harry much more than a few days lodging. It would also make it easier for Loki to keep a lookout for any Midgardian magical who might come to check on his son. Loki intended to have a conversation with Dumbledore; it would be easier if he didn’t have to go hunting all over the United Kingdom.

He couldn’t keep the Dursleys asleep forever, he knew; however, a few days wouldn’t hurt them… too much. It would be an easy matter to make sure Harry’s cousin didn’t suffer undeservedly while he slept. Loki could see to his needs easily enough. However, he felt no inclination to do the same for the boy’s parents, none whatsoever. . They deserve whatever they get, he thought with an evil smile. He was whistling as he entered the kitchen, where Winky was already working hard at the stove. Winky smiled at them. “Put Master Harry in that high chair, please, master Loki,” she ordered, waving in the direction of a small chair with a tray. “He might not want to use it, but we can give it a try.”

Loki frowned as he looked over the uncomfortable looking chair. Winky, of course, noticed his hesitation, and she gave him a reassuring smile.

“We don’t know if he can sit in a regular chair just yet. It’ll be safer for him. The chair will keep him secure while we feed him.”

Loki nodded.

“Here we go, Harry. Let’s try this out. Have you ever been in one of these before?”

Harry shook his head still looking uncertain. His little face scrunched up in an adorable frown.

“We’re both learning something new then,” Loki said with another smile. He didn’t want Harry to see how unsure he was. Part of him knew he was overreacting; it was just a chair, after all. He wasn’t accustomed to feeling so out of his depth. Will I never feel normal again? He wondered. He looked up at his son who smiled tentatively at him. He grinned back. Harry made this all worth it.

He put Harry in the chair, strapping him in carefully and attaching the tray. After a few seconds, Harry smiled and banged his hands on the tray. “High!” he said excitedly, looking down. Loki smiled in response. . It was so easy to make Harry happy. How could anyone hate him and treat him as a burden? He was such a sweet child.

Winky brought over a bowl of porridge and a child-sized spoon. “This will be easy for little Master Harry to digest,” Winky told Loki, smiling fondly at Harry. Harry smiled shyly back. “Hi, Elf!” he said.

“Hello, Master Harry,” Winky said. “It’s time for you to eat some food.” She set the bowl down with a little flourish.

Harry frowned down at the food in puzzlement, and then he shook his head wildly, pushing the bowl away. “No! Harry not eats in kitchen. Harry not bad, Harry good! Harry no eats Dudley’s food.” Tears began to roll down Harry’s face, crying quietly, hardly making a sound.

For a moment, Loki was frozen in horror at his son’s words and all he could do was stare. Then, as the words sunk in, fury and pain overcame him. Harry had already been made to suffer so much. Those monsters had starved his son, had made him feel bad for being hungry. He decided he would not kill the Dursleys after all. Death was too good for them. Loki would come up with something much more… appropriate.

“Oh, you not get in trouble don’t worry,” Winky was quick to assure the little boy. Looking over at her, Loki could see unshed tears glistening in her eyes.

Loki buried his anger deeply as possible, so as not to scare his son. “No, Harry,” Loki spoke softly, in what he hoped was a reassuring tone. “You are not bad, and all this porridge is for you. You won’t get in trouble for eating it, I promise.”

Hope filled Harry’s little face as he looked at them and the food. Still, he hesitated. It broke Loki’s heart to see it. He decided to try a different tact.

“Winky made it especially for you. She’ll be sad if you don’t eat it,” Loki cajoled.

Winky nodded in agreement, grinning at Harry. “It tastes good little sir, please try it,” she encouraged.

Harry gasped and looked upset. “Elf not sad. Harry eat! ” he declared quickly. Loki smiled; his Harry had such a good heart. He’d reacted just as Loki knew he would.

For a moment Loki hesitated, wondering if Harry would feed himself. Harry gamely reached out and took the spoon. He tried to bring it to his mouth, but he twisted it, and most of the porridge fell to the table.

Harry looked like he was about to cry again. “It’s alright son. A little spilled food never hurt anyone. We can practice later. For now, I’ll help you.” Harry nodded.

Loki slowly fed Harry small bites. “Yummy!” he declared and ate enthusiastically, making quite the mess despite Loki’s attempts to keep him clean.

When the porridge was half gone, Harry turned his face away. “Are you done?” Loki asked.” Harry nodded with a smile. “Done,” he agreed, quietly humming to himself as he looked around the kitchen with interest.

Getting Harry out of his chair after a few minutes of fighting with the tray, he turned to find Winky waiting for him, holding a sippy cup of water. Loki had been about to ask for some milk, as Harry was a bit dehydrated, and he needed to drink plenty of fluids. Winky always seemed to be one step ahead of him when it came to Harry’s needs. She was truly a gift.

“Your breakfast is ready, sir. Winky take Master Harry and keep him entertained while you eat.” She held out her hands to take Harry.

Loki didn’t immediately hand him over, strangely reluctant to let Harry go, but he eventually released him to the elf. . “Don’t leave him alone, for even a moment,” he couldn’t help but order. Winky smiled at him gently. “Winky keep Master Harry safe” she promised. “Soon Winky will need money to buy more food,” she added, looking at Loki expectantly.

Loki looked at her in surprise. “You can go shopping?” he asked.

Winky nodded. “House elves buy food for wizards all the time,” she said proudly.

Loki sighed. “I don’t think it’s safe for any of us to be out right now. I’d prefer you stay here.”

Winky frowned, looking confused. “Then how we get food?” she asked.

It was a very good question, one Loki didn’t know how to answer just yet. Surely, Midgardians purchased their food at some sort of market? Perhaps he could borrow money from the Dursleys; still, they needed a long-term solution.

Once again, he cursed his lack of knowledge about Midgard. He seemed to be unprepared at every turn. Loki wasn’t usually so slow-witted, priding himself on his quick thinking, but at the moment their problems seemed insurmountable. He had no resources in this time. His past self was still living in Asgard, having a good time, content, for the most part, to bide his time and wait for the opportunity to take the throne to present itself.

The three of them were truly on their own until Loki could think of a plan.

With a frustrated sigh, he sat down to enjoy his delicious breakfast, but he could barely taste it. He ate quickly, anxious to get back to Harry.

The living room was empty. Ignoring the slight unease this caused, he went up the stairs. As he reached the landing, the sound of childish laughter met his ears. Harry was laughing, a beautiful sound. Loki followed it and found Winky giving Harry a bath, playing with bath toys. . Harry was playing was a strange toy duck in the water. There was also a little boat. Harry kept pushing them both around.

“What does a Duck say, Harry?” Loki asked.

Harry just stared at him for several seconds. Then his little face lit up “quack quack,” he cried. Before dissolving into giggles again.

Loki put his fingers in the water. Using magic, he made the water swirl gently, causing a toy boat to spin around and around on the water. Harry laughed and clapped his hands in delight. Loki felt his heart swell with love for his son as he washed Harry’s hair, enjoying the unexpected moment of quiet contentment. He’d never realized how much fun bath time could be. Loki couldn’t remember if his mother had ever taken the time to give him and Thor baths, and felt slightly sad about that. Harry looked up at him and smiled brightly. Loki found himself relaxing, some of the tension he’d been holding onto leaving him. . His son was safe, and they were together. Harry would need time and love to recover from the losses and abuse he’d suffered, but Loki would see to it that he got plenty of both. He would find a way to get them everything they needed.

Protecting Harry was all that mattered. He simply needed to think outside the box. He was the God of Chaos; he prided himself on his unique approach to life. Once he got his bearings, he was sure to come up with something. He tried to ignore the little voice inside him that said he needed to do it fast, knowing it was only a matter of time before the Wizards showed up.

With one last look at his smiling son, he left the bathroom. He needed to set up wards to protect them. They would have to be weak, to avoid arousing suspicion, but that would be enough to warn him if an enemy tried to get into the house.

Once outside, he opened up his magic and let it drift around him. Removing a ceremonial athame from his left boot, he cut his hand open with one quick slice, not allowing himself to wince at the pain. He let the blood flow to the ground, making his offering to the Earth. The connection opened easily, the earth welcoming him home, much to Loki’s relief. The Midgardian magic felt a little strange but was familiar enough not to worry him. Wielding Earth magic was a rare and powerful ability, and he was grateful to his mother for showing him this particular Vanir tradition.

Frigga had shown him so that he could keep himself safe despite his father’s disdain for the art of Earth magic. He asked for the Earth’s help in placing the wards around this home, and he felt the earth respond, the elemental magic mingling with his own. It was a joyous feeling, the power humming through Loki’s veins restoring him, and the wards glowed with power before disappearing. Murmuring a prayer of thanks, he watched as his blood was absorbed into the ground. Going back inside, he was secure in the knowledge that they were safe.

Chapter Text

Loki had happily spent most of the day getting to know his son. Harry had a bright, inquisitive mind, and was an absolute joy to be around. He was also very well behaved. Too well behaved, Loki suspected. He imagined that most parents dreaded their children’s tantrums, but the day Harry felt comfortable enough with him to get angry, Loki would be thrilled. He wanted to give Harry as normal a childhood as possible.

Later that night, read a story to Harry before bed. Apparently, he’d never had a story read to him before, although he was familiar with stories. Perhaps the Dursleys had let him listen when they read to their son. Loki looked for any signs of kindness his aunt and uncle might have shown him, almost desperate to find something. He wanted – no needed - to know that Harry’s life here hadn’t been all bad.

Harry demanded another story, and Loki was only too happy to comply, amazed by how much he was enjoying taking care of him. . He'd never thought he had the temperament to make a good parent. The family would be shocked if they could see me now, he thought.

This time he told Harry a fable his mother had often recited to Loki and Thor before bed when they were boys. Harry fell asleep halfway through, and Loki tucked him into the large crib Winky had made from one of the chairs in the living room. Loki had been impressed with her ability to manipulate matter. As he'd watched her, he’d wondered idly if she’d ever stopped surprising him. The crib bars retained hideous floral print that Petunia Dursley seemed to prefer; the woman had horrible taste. Still, it would do until Loki could get something that was fit for Harry to sleep in.

One his son was tucked in safe and warm, Loki made his way downstairs. Winky was already asleep in the Dursley’s’ guest room. She’d been horrified at the idea of taking the guest room for herself, arguing that she didn’t need it. “It isn’t proper,” she had wailed. However, Loki had insisted. He would be fine on the sofa, although he had no plans to actually sleep.

He was exhausted, but he needed to think about their next steps; they needed a more long-term plan. Theft might be my best option, he thought, not bothered by the idea of stealing whatever was necessary. Perhaps they could find an unoccupied house to live in. Still, he’d have to build some very powerful wards to hide them, and that would take a great deal of magic. They really needed a safe place to hide until Harry was older.

Loki was pulled out of his thoughts when an alarm that only Loki and Winky could hear sounded, echoing unpleasantly in his head. The emergency ward he’d placed around Harry went into effect a split second later. They had some uninvited guests, sooner than he had expected. Loki felt a wave of apprehension, and he was less prepared than he would have liked, but he had no choice. He knew Winky would look after Harry, and keep him safe.

Taking a deep breath, Loki went outside to meet them. Several people were standing on the lawn, holding sticks that were lit up on one end. Loki knew those must be wands, even though he'd never seen one before, as Harry had never bothered to use his.

They weren’t exactly being subtle, in their robes and waving their little sticks. He hadn't expected so many wizards at once. Five to one odds weren’t the best, but he was confident in his ability to win in a fight if he had to. .

One of the wizards came forward cautiously; he was an older man with a wooden leg, and a magical eye, the likes of which Loki hadn't seen before. Odin could certainly use something like that, he thought wryly, amused despite the seriousness of the situation. He could feel this man’s magic. He was no threat to Loki; Loki was sure none of these wizards were a match for him.

“We’ve come for the boy,” the man called out. “If you’ve hurt him, you will pay.” His voice was gravelly, and he sounded quite angry.

He didn’t introduce himself, and while the rudeness irked him, Loki decided to let it go. These wizards were not who he was after.

“I assure you, I would never hurt Harry Potter,” he said coldly. “You wizards have done more to damage him than I ever could.”

The wizard laughed harshly, his wand never wavering in his hand. Loki admired his cool demeanor.

“The boy is with his family. What harm could come to him here? It is you who have hurt him, by removing the ward that protected him. There are still many death eaters on the loose. You will turn him over to us now, or we won’t hesitate to kill you.”

Loki couldn’t help the snort of derision that escaped him. This ridiculous looking wizard was beginning to annoy him. “I assure you, it is I who will not hesitate to kill you if you try to take the boy from me. He is my son, after all.”

The man looked incredulous. “That is a lie!” he accused harshly. “The boy’s parents were James and Lily Potter. They died to protect their son. Harry defeated a great evil. He is our savior, and we won’t let you hurt him.” Without any warning, the wizard cast a spell at Loki.

Disgust had filled him at the wizard’s words, but he was ready for the attack. With a wave of his hand, he murmured a spell, and everything and everyone in the yard froze. Loki smiled in satisfaction; now they knew who had the upper hand. They weren't prepared to deal with a god, and the wizards began to panic when they realized they couldn't move. Loki wasn't impressed by their unprofessional behavior. If this was the best they had to offer, no wonder they had to depend on Harry to beat Voldemort.

“My son is no savior,” he said with cold finality. “He is a little boy, and I will not allow any more harm to come to him. Now tell me, where is Dumbledore? He is the only one I will speak to. He and I are long overdue for a talk. One of you is going to bring him to me,” Loki demanded confidently, certain that he would get his way.

He smiled as all the wizards stared at him as if he was insane. They looked uncertain and frightened; a large part of Loki enjoyed seeing them so off balance. Loki wasn’t worried; they had no choice but to agree. His heart beat faster with anticipation. Soon he would have Dumbledore in his grasp. The old man was going to pay. No matter how powerful he thought he was, he was no match for an angry god on the warpath, especially one who was also a parent.

Loki stood, outwardly calm, in the front yard, waiting for Dumbledore to arrive. One of the wizards had scurried away to do his bidding. Much to Loki’s amusement, he could see the man’s wand hand shaking with fear. As a gesture of good will, he had released the rest of the interlopers from the spell with the understanding that they would behave themselves. Several of them had run away at the first opportunity, lowering Loki’s opinion of Wizard-kind even further. Still, two remained, watching Loki warily. Loki was mildly impressed.

The protection spell hummed comfortingly around him. Harry was safe, and that eased some of his nervousness. He wasn’t worried that any mortals would notice what was going on; the protection wards hid the yard from sight. Anyone who looked in this direction would see what they expected to see. Unnecessary filler

His fists clenched without his permission, and he consciously relaxed his fingers. His first instinct was to kill Dumbledore and be done with it. However, he knew he couldn’t be too hasty. The old man might have information that Loki could use. There was too much about the original timeline that he didn’t know. He had many questions, and frustratingly few answers.

Loki might be able to use Dumbledore to gain the upper hand on his father and learn more about why Harry frightened him so much. He had other avenues he planned to pursue, but Dumbledore was too good a source to pass up. However, the old man made him furious and Loki wasn’t entirely sure he could remain in control. He winced at the thought. It hurt to admit, but he needed to be honest with himself. Just think of Harry, and you’ll be fine, he told himself.

He heard a loud crack, and there was Dumbledore, looking like a kook in blue robes with twinkling stars on them. He had a long white beard, and old-fashioned half-moon glasses perched on his nose. He looked like a friendly elderly uncle, or like a parody of the Midgard being named Santa Claus, who supposedly brought gifts to children out of the goodness of his heart. Loki knew to never trust anyone who was kind without an ulterior motive, it was only common sense. Dumbledore’s benign appearance only served to put him on edge, making him want to rip Dumbledore’s eyes out. This was how he had fooled Harry into following along with his plans and ultimately agreeing to allow Voldemort to kill him, something Loki was never going to forgive.

Dumbledore, flanked by the man with the wooden leg and another wizard, came forward slowly, until there was only a few feet between them. Loki looked up, and their eyes met. It was then that Loki knew he was seeing the real Dumbledore, the man who had led the Wizarding world through not one, but two wars. He was strong willed, and accustomed to getting his way.

Dumbledore’s carefully built aura of gentle wholesomeness was ruined once you looked into his eyes, which were cold and burned with a fierce intelligence. Dumbledore looked Loki over, assessing him very carefully. There was no doubt this man could make a good ally, and that he would be an even more formidable adversary. Loki had underestimated him; he was not as foolish as Loki had hoped. The old wizard was cruel, calculating and power hungry. What he’d done to Harry spoke volumes about his true personality and motives. Perhaps there was a way he could use Dumbledore’s agenda to his advantage. He’d need to tread very carefully, and be better at thinking on his feet than he had been the past few months.

Dumbledore frowned at him, apparently growing tired of waiting for Loki to speak, because he said gravely, “I am not sure who you are, but I must insist you turn Harry Potter over to me immediately. He is my ward and attempting to kidnap him will have very serious consequences for you.”

Loki raised an eyebrow, fighting to remain outwardly calm.

Careful to keep his voice even, Loki said, “I wasn’t aware Harry had any legal guardians besides his aunt and uncle. It was my understanding that they only took him in because they had no choice. Why doesn’t Harry live with you?” Loki asked mildly.

Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled in an extremely annoying manner as he smiled, an affectation no doubt designed to make him seem harmless. Loki refused to relax, as Dumbledore no doubt expected him to.

“Come now, my dear boy,” he said jovially. “The child deserves to be with family, where he will be loved and cared for. I am an old man and in no shape to look after a young one like dear Harry. Surely you understand.” He smiled benignly, and Loki wanted to punch him.

“Loved,” he snorted. “Is that what you think, that Harry is loved and well taken care of here? Tell me, do you ever bother to check on him?”

Dumbledore’s eyes lost their twinkle, but he was still smiling. “I saw no need; they are the boy’s blood relations. I’m sure they were quite happy to take him in. No one can care for you better than family, after all.” He gestured to the house as if to say, look at all this, isn’t it grand?

Loki stifled the urge to grind his teeth. His hands hurt and he realized he was clenching his fists. . He forced himself to relax. He had the old man right where he wanted him.

“Even though you know they hate magic?” he asked quietly. All the wizards within hearing range gasped.

Much to Loki’s satisfaction, Dumbledore looked uncomfortable. “Come now, hate is a strong word. I know they were not pleased with the fact that Lily was a witch, but surely that would not reflect on their treatment of Harry. He is just a little boy, after all.”

Loki smiled harshly. “That’s right, he is a little boy. A little boy that has spent the majority of his short life being abused and starved by those who were supposed to love him.”

He heard several gasps, and then furious whispering. No doubt the old man’s reputation had taken a hit, just as he’d intended, and this would be common knowledge by morning. The Wizarding world needed to know the kind of man their hero really was. Loki would make sure the revelation of what his family had done to him wouldn't hurt Harry. His son should not be ashamed of his past.

Loki frowned at Dumbledore. “I would not lie about something so important. I take this matter very seriously. I performed a scan on Harry myself; he is malnourished and quite small for his age. I can show you, if you like.” He waved his hand, and an extremely edited version of the scan appeared between them. As the old man read it, he paled dramatically. Loki wanted to record his expression for posterity.

Dumbledore seemed at a loss for several moments, but then he recovered. “How do I know this is real?” he asked.

“As I said, I would not lie about this, but if it makes you feel better, I will give you my oath.” Loki let loose a trickle of his magic, being careful to keep most of it contained. “I solemnly swear on my magic that everything I have said about Harry Potter is true.” A flash of bright light, and Loki felt the earth magic in his veins respond to his vow, accepting it as he knew it would. Dumbledore could feel it too, his eyes widening. . He looked at Loki more carefully.

“You are not a wizard,” Dumbledore said. It was not a question.

Loki smirked and shook his head. “No, I most assuredly am not. I am something else entirely, and I assure you that you don’t want to give me more cause to be angry with you.”

“What are you? What is your business with Harry?” Dumbledore demanded authoritatively. He was clearly a man who was used to being obeyed.

Loki was very annoyed by his tone. This man was in no position to demand things from him.

“I would be careful how you speak to me,” he warned. “As for who I am, I’m surprised you haven’t guessed already. Really, I’m a bit disappointed in you. I was led to believe you were one of the greatest wizards of your time. Clearly, your reputation has been exaggerated,” Loki couldn’t help but taunt the other man.

Dumbledore’s face grew pink, but he didn't rise to the bait, looking at Loki intently. He looked troubled as well, Loki was happy to note. Perhaps he'd finally guessed the truth. It was time to go in for the kill.

Loki bowed with a little flourish. “Loki Odinson, God of Mischief and Chaos, and biological father of Harry James Potter Odinson, at your service.”

Dumbledore paled dramatically, and Loki fought back a laugh.

“I see you’ve heard of me, I’m flattered,” Loki smirked triumphantly. “I believe you are familiar with my father,” he added pointedly.

“No,” Dumbledore denied, sputtering most unattractively. “James Potter is his father.”

His calm demeanor was a thing of the past. Loki was quite pleased to have thrown the evil old bastard off his game this drastically. He was beginning to enjoy himself.

Loki shook his head. “James Potter was his stepfather, and, by all accounts, he was a good man who tried to do well by my son. However, I am his father. When the Potters died, I should have been given custody of Harry, not these monsters. There is no court in the world that will deny me custody of him now.” He looked Dumbledore square in the eye. “You have much to answer for, Albus Dumbledore; you have stolen my son from me, and allowed him to be abused while nominally in your care. You are just as responsible for Harry’s deplorable circumstances as those monsters.”

Dumbledore suddenly looked ancient. He sighed, and looked away from Loki. When he spoke, his voice was very soft. “I swear to you I did not know that poor Harry was being treated so abominably. I thought I was doing what was best for him. I truly thought his family would love and care for him. I am deeply troubled by this, and I assure you I will work to remedy the situation.” He placed a hand over his heart, sincerity shining in his eyes.

Loki snorted derisively. He didn’t believe the old man’s act for one moment; there was no way Dumbledore hadn't known what was happening to Harry. He steadied himself; it was almost time. He only hoped his plan would work.

“I don’t believe you,” he told the old man bluntly. “I know how valuable Harry is to you and your war. You thought to use my son for your own ends. My guess is you wanted Harry to suffer. You wanted him to have no choice but to turn to you for help. He would be so starved for affection that he would cling to the first person that offered him a place to belong.”

Dumbledore was gaping, "I assure you-” but Loki cut him off.

"I am well within my rights to kill you where you stand. Among my people, the mistreatment of a child is a grave crime. I have learned it is the same in your Wizarding world. I will punish you however I see fit, and I promise you, no one will lift a hand to help you.”

Dumbledore tried to interrupt again.

“Silence!” he shouted. “I am tired of listening to your lies. There is nothing you can say to me that will make me believe you. Your fate has already been sealed.”

He turned toward the house, and on cue, Winky popped in, with a sleeping Harry in her arms.

"You owe the houses of Potter and Odin for your crimes. Here in front of these witnesses, I demand the right of retribution.”

The magic circle he had drawn earlier flared to life around them, binding Loki and Dumbledore together. His magic rose and whipped out, hitting Dumbledore square in the chest, overriding Dumbledore's. The spell snapped into place, and he saw Dumbledore's mouth open in a silent scream as the spell took hold. There was another flash of light as the magic accepted his demand.

Dumbledore opened his mouth, but no sound came out; he could not speak. The spell was working beautifully; he was bound to Loki's will. Loki smirked triumphantly.

He could tell from Dumbledore’s expression that he knew what Loki had done, but there was nothing he could do. The spell had only worked because he was guilty.

“As you see, I am not an entirely unreasonable. I will allow you to live, as long as you do my bidding. I find I am in need of some assistance.”

He smirked at the furious look on Dumbledore’s face. He was really enjoying himself now. Dumbledore would know firsthand what it was like to be powerless and scared, to be forced to do the bidding of another. Dumbledore’s position wasn’t entirely hopeless. If he served faithfully, and genuinely repented for his crimes, the magic would release the binding. Not that Loki anticipated that outcome, but he wanted Harry to know that he'd given Dumbledore a chance at freedom.

However, he saw no reason to tell Dumbledore that. He didn’t enjoy the idea of controlling another, but it was necessary, and Dumbledore certainly deserved it. Loki felt a surge of anticipation; soon he would have answers.

He ordered Dumbledore to sit and wait for him in the Dursley’s living room. Dumbledore had no choice but to comply.

***

Loki carefully lay a sleeping Harry back down in his crib and tucked the blanket around him. A wave of tenderness came over him, and he reached down and gently stroked his son’s cheek. Loki had never known he could love anyone as much as he did Harry.

He was quite relieved that Harry had finally fallen asleep. , Harry had woken, clearly upset and confused, unsettled by the intense magic in the air. The fact that Harry had apparently been able to sense the magic in his sleep was amazing, especially considering that Loki had made sure his sleep would be deep and restful.

The adult version of Harry had been extremely powerful despite all he had suffered and the horrible atrocities that had been committed against his magic. It was entirely possible that this time Harry would grow up to be even more powerful than his past self. The idea was daunting, to say the least.

Harry's ability to fight off his sleeping spell seemed to support Loki’s theory. Loki felt horribly out of his depth. His son’s strength took his breath away; every day he found more proof of his son’s incredible power, amazing and terrifying him in equal measure. He couldn’t help but be afraid that he wouldn't be able to give Harry the care and nurturing that he needed. What if he turned out to be like Odin? What if he ended up destroying his son instead of saving him? Loki knew himself quite well. He was a bit mad, and he had a definite cruel streak in him. He enjoyed violence, perhaps too much. What if Odin has destroyed all the good in me? he thought. After all, despite his horrible experiences with the scepter and Thanos, part of him had enjoyed subjugating Dumbledore to his will.

It was true that the lying bastard deserved far worse, and it could be argued that Loki had showed him mercy by not killing him outright. He would do anything to ensure Harry's health and happiness. It was due to Harry that his conscious was prickling at him in a way it rarely had in the past.

Loki couldn't help but wonder what his actions said about him; he suspected the answer was nothing good. He'd promised that he’d try to be a better man, but so far he was failing to be a man of whom his son could be proud.

He'd taken an important step today to ensure Harry’s safety, yet Loki’s stomach was churning. The weight of what he’d done this night was just beginning to settle on him. Control over another person was not something to be taken lightly. He knew he could take comfort in the fact that the spell had taken hold and his request had been seen as just. Dumbledore was receiving fair punishment for his crimes against magic and fate.

Loki had to take what comfort he could from that. What was done was done. There was no going back, and the matter was largely out of Loki’s hands. Until such time as Dumbledore broke free, Loki had complete control of him, for better or worse. He marveled again at how much he had changed. A year ago he couldn’t have imagined himself caring about Dumbledore’s fate.

He looked down at his lovely son, reaching out to run his fingers through his hair. He would take the steps necessary to ensure Harry had a wonderful life ahead of him, doing his best to be a good father and role model for his son. Loki was pulled from his thoughts by a soft pop. Looking up, he saw Winky standing next to him.

“Master Loki, that nasty wizard be waiting for you done stairs. He demanded Winky bring him tea. The nerve. Tell him he is no longer allowed to speak to Winky! I will not be near Dumblydore ever again, after what he did to my master Harry,” she said with a frown, her hands on her hips. Loki fought back a smile at her obvious offense, despite the concern Winky’s words caused him.

Dumbledore should not be able to make demands of any kind.  His ability to fight the spell was quite troubling. Dumbledore was powerful, but the control the spell afforded Loki should be absolute. He should be nothing more than a puppet unless Loki decreed otherwise. Resolutely, he pushed away his feeling of triumph, needing to focus. Dumbledore was clearly more powerful than Loki had believed. This could pose a serious problem.

Loki had ordered him to remain in the living room. Winky had said he was still downstairs so clearly he hadn’t been able to leave. That meant Loki still had control over him.

Relieved, he turned to Winky. “Did he try to leave the house, Winky?” he asked, already certain of the answer.

Winky nodded. . “He try, but he could not make it into the front hall. He looked like he in a great deal of pain. He very pale and had to sit down. He not able to disobey you.” Winky looked very pleased by this. So, he could fight the spell, but not disobey it outright. Still, Loki was going to have to tread very carefully. For the moment, he needed Dumbledore. He would simply have to make the situation work. Loki smiled; Winky had a bit of a vicious streak herself. ?

Running his hand over his face tiredly, he turned to Winky. “What have I gotten myself into?” he asked. The question was meant to be rhetorical, but Winky smiled and patted his arm.

“Don’t worries, Master Loki will do the right thing. Winky have faith.” Her trust made him feel a great deal better. And to think, he’d disliked her at first. Now he couldn’t imagine how he’d get along without her.

“What would I do without you, Winky?” he asked gratefully,

“No worries, you never have to find out,” Winky assured him, surprising a laugh from him. He patted Winky's shoulder affectionately, silently thanking the being that had sent her to him.

Taking a deep breath and squaring his shoulders, Loki went downstairs to face Harry’s murderer.

***

Loki shrouded himself before entering the living room, wanting a moment to observe his enemy. Dumbledore was sitting calmly on the sofa facing the television. His bright blue robe clashed horribly with Petunia's floral print furniture. The sight made Loki’s head ache, and he rubbed his temples. Honestly, it should be a crime for anyone to dress in such horrible clothing.

Annoyingly, Dumbledore showed no outward signs of distress. He would have preferred to see Dumbledore writhing in anguish. However, Loki couldn’t deny he was impressed by Dumbledore’s calm façade. Unfortunately for him, it wasn’t enough to fool Loki. He could see the anger burning in Dumbledore’s eyes; despite his stillness, there was an aura of suppressed energy around him, like a snake waiting for an opportunity to strike. Even now the power poured off of Dumbledore. Under normal circumstances, Dumbledore was not someone to be trifled with. Only the spell kept this monster under control.

Loki took a deep breath. He had to remember that he was the one in control of this situation. Dumbledore was alive because Loki allowed it, and he would not hesitate to use Dumbledore. He needed the man’s help not only to navigate the Wizarding world, but to save the people Harry loved. The old man would be instrumental in achieving that goal. Loki was determined not to let either version of his son down. The old bastard is going to help whether he liked it or not, Loki thought spitefully.

He took a deep breath and forced himself to relax; it would take all his strength to remain calm during the upcoming confrontation. Making himself visible, he walked into Dumbledore's line of vision. Loki smiled snidely. “Professor Dumbledore, for the purpose of this conversation, I give you permission to speak freely but truthfully. However, you may not do any magic or leave the room.” He had the satisfaction of seeing Dumbledore flush with anger. Clearly, he did not like being ordered about.

“I understand,” he said gruffly.

Loki nodded. “Good. I have no doubt you will try to gain an advantage over me, but it is pointless. Spell or no spell, I am the God of Lies. There are few people with the power to lie to me, and you are not one of them.” Loki said. He felt a surge of satisfaction as Dumbledore paled.

“You say you wish us to speak freely, yet I am trapped here. I am little better than your slave, am I not? You are nothing more than a hypocrite, sir, and this conversation is a farce. “How dare this bastard speak to him in such a manner? “Have a care how you speak to me. It is true that I control everything about your life from now on, so it would behoove you to stay on my good side. Your life can be as bad or as good as I wish it to be.”

That wasn’t entirely true. Magic required balance. Just as it allowed Loki to control Dumbledore, it allowed Dumbledore the chance to escape. The magic would allow Loki to punish the other man, but only to a certain extent. If Loki went too far and killed him in anything but self-defense, he would suffer a magical backlash, yet another thing he had no intention of telling Dumbledore.

Dumbledore grimaced. “I am not familiar with the spell you performed, but in my world, controlling another is considered a heinous crime. I understand well enough what you have done to me, and I promise you that one day you will pay for this.” ”

Loki smirked, mildly amused by the man’s cheek. However, when he spoke, his voice was ice cold. “You might be right. I’m no saint, but I assure you, I would commit far more heinous crimes to keep my son safe and happy. Something with which you have clearly never bothered to concern yourself.”

He sat on a chair across from Dumbledore. Winky popped in with fresh tea and some cake, glaring at Dumbledore before popping out again.

“As it seems I have no choice, I will, of course, answer your questions as best I can,” Dumbledore said. His voice held more than a little bitterness. “But if I may ask, what you intend to do with me?”

Loki shrugged. “We’ll get to that in due course. For now, let’s just say there are several matters with which I will need your assistance. However, first I want to hear what you have to say for yourself.”

Dumbledore nodded, his eyes sad, his gaze far away. “It’s true that Lily Potter confided in me. I was aware that James Potter was not Harry’s true father. Long ago our people met the Asgardians, and although most records of your people have been lost, some evidence of your people still exists if one knows where to look.” Dumbledore smiled knowingly. Loki desperately wanted to punch him. He noted that the twinkle in Dumbledore's eyes had disappeared. Instead, his gaze was cold and shrewd.

“Good, that will save us some time. There are several points on which I am confused, and I have many questions for you.” Loki gave him his best fake smile.

 “If you know who I am, then why was I never told I have a son after his parents died? Why was he left with these monsters instead?”

Dumbledore frowned. “Come, now. I brought Harry to live with his family. I’m certain he has been safe and cared for since his parents died. After all, families take care of one another.” Dumbledore smiled benignly, and his eyes twinkled again in a most annoying fashion. His dismissive tone made Loki grind his teeth, and another hot ball of anger bloomed in his stomach.

‘Well taken care of,” Loki repeated. The man’s audacity was incredible. He couldn’t be serious. Loki suspected, however, that he at least partly believed what he saying. If so, the bastard was truly delusional.

“My son has been starved and terrorized in his so-called family’s care. How could you leave a child with perfect strangers? Why did no one ever think to check on him?” Loki shouted. His determination to stay calm evaporated as a wave of fury made him see red.

Before he could get control of himself, his magic blasted Dumbledore out of his seat and backward, until he hit the wall. Loki cursed his impulsiveness and was glad that the house was protected. He shouldn't expend so much magic at once. Dumbledore was not worth the possibility of Loki getting caught here. He couldn't afford to have his father interfering with what he was trying to accomplish.

Loki didn’t try to suppress the satisfaction he felt as Dumbledore rose slowly to his feet, wincing, clearly in a great deal of pain. The old bastard deserved this, and much more.

Dumbledore glared at him and opened his mouth as if to speak, but Loki raised a hand, and Dumbledore closed his mouth with a snap.

“I think it would be best if you don’t speak for now,” Loki said softly. “I was hoping to gain a better understanding of what happened to my son from you, but I realize now that if I have to listen to you babble on about his so-called destiny, I will not be able to stop myself from killing you. So we’re going to cut to the chase, so to speak. I have three questions for you. Yes or no answers will do.”

Loki waited for Dumbledore to acknowledge him with a nod before continuing.

“Did you know that the Dursleys were abusing my son?” Dumbledore frowned and Loki could see him struggling against the spell. Loki waited, and after a few moments, Dumbledore finally nodded reluctantly.

Loki smiled coldly. “Good, as I thought. Question number two. You believe my son is destined to kill the man you call Voldemort, correct?” Another nod, more quickly this time.

Loki nodded in response. “Final question. Do you intend for my son to martyr himself for his so-called destiny?”

Dumbledore froze and grew pale. He looked at Loki pleadingly and then winced in pain as the spell tried to force him to answer. Apparently Dumbledore thought the answer too complicated for a simple nod.

Loki sighed. He had no real desire to hear this man’s excuses, but he reluctantly gave permission for Dumbledore to speak.

“You must understand the danger Voldemort is to our world. I care for Harry a great deal.” Dumbledore’s voice dripped sincerity, and Loki found himself grinding his teeth in response.

“However, this is war, and in war sometimes sacrifices have to be made. I’m only trying my best to prepare Harry for his part. . I hope to cause him as little pain as possible, I assure you. The role Harry must play is unfortunate, but he will be remembered and revered for many years to come. He is our savior.”

Dumbledore’s eyes shone with a fanatical light, and suddenly Loki understood. This man was completely irrational. . His devotion to the greater good was absolute. Loki felt a stab of sadness. Despite all he’d done, Harry had cared for this man for a long time. Loki had been hoping to save him for Harry's sake, but now he knew that was impossible

Dumbledore was even more dangerous than Loki had thought. Damn it, would there ever be a moment when he felt in control? He was tired of constantly being caught off guard. His anger diminished somewhat, replaced by pity. As Dumbledore could not be trusted to act rationally, being under Loki’s control could benefit all of the Wizarding World. Loki couldn’t care less about the other wizards, in all honesty, but he knew Harry would come to care for his people. His son had a good heart. He'd never forgive Loki if he let thousands of people die.

Clearly, Loki had far more work to do than he had realized. He forced himself to look Dumbledore in the eye as he spoke. “Let me make one thing clear, Dumbledore. Harry is no one's savior. I will not allow anyone to use my son as a weapon.”

Dumbledore’s eyes widened, and his jaw worked, but he remained silent.

“However,” Loki continued calmly, “I can see that this Voldemort could be a problem for Harry, so I will take care of your so-called dark lord for you. I promise you, he will be no match for me.”

Dumbledore just stared at him, but Loki could tell he desperately wanted to say something. . Loki sighed and gave him permission to speak.

“I think you’ll find you are vastly underestimating Voldemort's power,” Dumbledore said urgently. “He will not be so easily defeated.”

Loki smirked. “I am certain Tom Riddle will be no match for me.”

Dumbledore gasped most unattractively for several moments before finding his voice. “How do you know-”

Loki cut him off with a wave of his hand. “I assure you, I know exactly who I’m dealing with.”

Dumbledore eyes seemed to bore into his soul. He did not, however, try any magic, such as reading Loki’s mind. Good, perhaps he was learning to accept that the spell could not be overcome.

“I believe that you are sincere,” “Dumbledore said somewhat reluctantly. “I pray that what you say is true. All I've ever wanted is for the world to be safe from evil. I have spent a great deal of my life trying to ensure peace.”

Loki believed him. His actions may often be immoral, but Dumbledore's goals could be seen as noble. Dumbledore was utterly convinced his actions were justified. He simply cared nothing for the collateral damage he caused, something that reminded Loki of his father and, more uncomfortably, of himself.

Loki pushed that thought away. He was anxious to get away from Dumbledore. The sooner this conversation ended, the better.

“Good, I’m glad you agree with me on this. Now, as for what I intend to do with you. I am willing to allow you to continue living a normal life, provided you don’t interfere with me or my plans. No one is to know that you don’t have complete control over your actions. For now, all I ask in return is your assistance with a few things.”

Dumbledore looked wary. “What kind of things?” he asked cautiously.

“Well, for starters, I need to be able to navigate safely in your world. I will need your assistance and information. Harry and I need a safe place to stay, something that I’m sure you can provide us.” Loki looked at Dumbledore expectantly.

Dumbledore sighed. “Well, I’m afraid you can’t stay at the school. Are you certain that you wouldn’t be better off staying here?”

Loki felt his anger rising again at the thought, but he kept his voice calm. “No, absolutely not. I want to leave here as soon as possible. I will deal with Harry’s so-called family and then we will leave. I will not force my son to stay here any longer than he has to.”

“Well, the house at Godric’s Hollow was destroyed, but,” Dumbledore hesitated, clearly did not wanting to continue. Loki glared at Dumbledore. “You know you cannot hold anything back from me; what is it? Tell me,” he commanded.

“There is always Potter Manor. It was sealed up when the Potters went into hiding. It is unplottable and there is no known way to gain access to the property.” Dumbledore frowned, looking annoyed.

I bet you tried and failed many times, old man, Loki thought gleefully. He sipped his tea, taking a few minutes to think. This sounded like it might be a good option. Harry deserved to live in his ancestral home, and frankly, Dumbledore’s reluctance to mention it made Loki suspect it was extremely valuable in some way.

He did have some questions, there was so much about his son’s world he needed to understand. “What does unplottable mean?” Loki asked.

“It means that the house has been deliberately hidden by magic and cannot be found by ordinary means. In order to enter the manor you must already be aware of its existence,”

That was an intriguing and useful but of magic. “This Potter Manor. We will be safe there?” Loki checked. Dumbledore nodded reluctantly. “Yes, it is protected by powerful spells. Only a Potter descendant and those they give permission may enter the grounds. It is also not visible to outsiders, magical or muggle.”

That sounded almost too good to be true. Then it occurred to Loki that Harry was not really a Potter. How could he enter the manor if he was not a true descendant?

Dumbledore smiled. “James Potter considered himself Harry’s father. When Harry was born, James performed a spell to adopt Harry as his own. Harry’s bloodline was tied to the Potter's.”

“How do I gain access?” Loki asked, trying to keep the eagerness from his voice.

“You must go to Gringotts Bank and talk to the Goblins. They must accept you as Harry’s guardian, and grant you safe passage through the wards.” Dumbledore said calmly.

Goblins? Loki thought, startled. Elves and Goblins; honestly, this world just got stranger and stranger. What next, unicorns?

“Excellent. You will take me to this bank tomorrow. I also wish to learn more about your world. I need any books that might be useful, and you will make yourself available to me to answer questions whenever I wish.”

Dumbledore grimaced. “I will help you, of course. But if I am to resume my duties, then there will be times I cannot immediately respond when you call.”

Loki frowned; that would be inconvenient, but he couldn't have anyone suspecting that there was something wrong with their beloved headmaster. For his plans to come to fruition, he needed to make use of Dumbledore’s power and impeccable reputation.

“Very well,” he finally agreed. “I will work around your schedule for now. However, I reserve the right to revisit our arrangement at a later date.” There, he thought, that was quite reasonable, really.

Dumbledore sighed but nodded agreeably. “Of course, Mr. Odinson. I will begin working on the books you asked for. Some will be quite expensive, however.”

Loki smiled benignly. “That’s alright,” he said. “I’m sure you'll be happy to pay for them,” he said pleasantly, but there was no mistaking the order behind the words.

Dumbledore colored in outrage, and looked like wanted to argue, but then his shoulders slumped. “Of course, it would be my honor,” he said.

“Excellent,” Loki said. He leaned back in his chair, quite pleased. “Now let’s talk about what you have taken from my son.” Seeing Dumbledore white with shock for the third time was still satisfying.

***

Loki rose early the next morning after only a few precious hours of sleep. He did a quick health check on the Dursleys, who were still snoring away without a care in the world. Winky was feeding them and taking care of their waste magically. Loki would have been fine with letting them soil themselves, but Winky had been horrified at the idea of allowing that kind of mess. She had been quite distressed, so Loki had quickly agreed to her demands. It didn’t really matter to him. He only wanted the Dursleys healthy so that he could make sure they suffered for a long time to come.

He'd stayed up late into the night before finally allowing the headmaster to leave, with the understanding that he would return in the early afternoon to take them to Gringotts Bank to see the Goblins. Dumbledore had carefully explained to Loki the proper way to behave in order to gain the Goblin’s assistance. They sounded like a very interesting people to Loki, and he looked forward to meeting them. He would need the Goblin’s permission to claim Potter Manor for Harry.

Dumbledore had revealed the terrible lengths he’d gone to deny Loki’s son his birthright in an attempt to turn him into a sacrificial lamb. The Potters had left Harry a much larger legacy than he had ever suspected. His son held the title of lord and was quite wealthy. None of this mattered much to Loki, except now he would be more easily able to care for his son. Dumbledore had been persuaded to turn the deed over to Loki; his control over Harry’s estate had turned out to be a blessing. The goblins would sort out the paperwork, and further legal action wouldn't be necessary. Loki looked around the Dursley home in distaste. He would be very pleased to leave this house and taker Harry to Potter Manor, where they would be safe. Tomorrow they would begin a whole new life.

Loki was startled out of his thoughts when a wooden block came flying toward him, smacking him on the forehead, and then landing at his feet. Ow, he thought, and rubbed his forehead, glaring down at the offending wooden toy. Where on Earth had that come from? A mischievous giggle caught his attention, and he turned to see his son sitting in the doorway to the living room.

Loki couldn’t help but smile at his son; Harry’s joy was infectious. As he drew closer, he saw that there were several more blocks floating in the air behind him. Of course, it had been Harry. Suddenly another block shot forward toward Loki, but this time he managed to catch it as it flew by. Harry clapped, apparently delighted by this.

Then another block came flying toward him. As it flew over Harry’s head, it never came anywhere near hitting him. Harry’s control was already very good. Loki made a show of catching that one as well, before getting down on the floor next to his son. “What game are we playing Harry? Did you hit me on purpose?”

Harry shook his head and frowned, his eyes filling with tears. “Angry?” he asked. Abruptly all the floating blocks fell to the ground. Loki wanted to curse himself for his thoughtlessness.

“No no, Harry,” he assured the little boy. “I’m impressed. Your magic is very strong. I’m very proud of you.”

Harry smiled brightly. “Harry’s magic good?” he asked softly, apparently still a little uncertain.

“Yes,” Loki assured him, “Harry’s magic is very good. Can you call the blocks to us?” he asked.

Harry's nose scrunched up adorably as he concentrated, but in a few moments, all the blocks were landing somewhat gently between them. Loki had to duck to keep from getting hit in the face again, but it was worth it to see the happiness return to Harry’s face.

“Look, Daddy, did it,” Harry said, and clapped his hands excitedly.

Joy filled Loki’s heart at hearing his son call him father. He'd never been so happy. His son was a true delight. Loki looked forward to watching him grow, and he felt a peace he’d never known wash over him. He picked Harry and hugged him tightly “Don’t worry,” he told his son. “Neither of us will ever be alone again.”