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Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

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It was a beautiful day in Valhalla, as it was everyday. In the halls of the gods who saw no more battle, each day was filled with feast and drink, story and song. Each day a new blessing to those who may spend eternity with comrades and loved ones.

Unless you were Odin Allfather. For he knew not a moment of peace. Not since he set foot upon these hallowed shores and reunited with his lady wife, Frigga.

When first he spied her waiting for him, he rushed to greet her. Sweeping her into a fierce embrace, comforted at once by feel of her body pressed to him. The softness of her skin pressed against his cheek. The smell of her hair. This beautiful, wondrous being who, so long in the past, had agreed to be his wife.

It had all gone downhill from there.

"...erased the knowledge of your daughter by altering my memories. I can hardly speak for the arrogant nerve of such a thing!"

But speak she did. And every day since.

Sitting in the greatest hall of kings, friends and kin alike fled at the sight of Frigga bearing down on him. She poured mead in Odin's cup. Sat at his side. And she spoke.

"...should not be surprised. I don't know why I am. The entire realm, Odin? Really?"

All the realms, actually. But it seemed best not to point that out.

Odin had always known where his father - who also would not sit with him when Frigga was there - had hidden the Reality Stone. It had seemed the best option. Better to leave the past in the past. As far away from the new family and future he sought.

"...another queen before me that I knew nothing about!"

Then came the ranks of Asgard's army arriving on Valhalla's shores, filling the halls anew. Many nobles soon followed, then the common folk. All falling to the untempered rage and bloodlust of Odin's daughter.

His unknown daughter.

"...bother to find them both and tell them earlier? You just waited for them to come to you and then died before giving them any indication as to what they should do? How could you even think...?"

Heard many a thing, Odin did, from the lips of his beloved queen.

His insistence on keeping secrets about his children. "...happened with Loki teach you nothing? I swear, Borson..."

His inability to better plan for the future. "...had Thor only an inkling of what lie ahead..."

All the choices made by a king who really was trying his best. "Your best? You call this your best?"

But alas, it all fell upon deaf ears. Even his brothers moved to another table when they saw Frigga marching down the length of the hall to sit at her king's side. Unwilling to stay even to mock him for his mistakes.

Then one day in walked Heimdall. Sweeping his all-seeing eyes across the halls to find the one of his liege. Heimdall's lips pursed at the sight of his king and the bow of his head seemed grudging.

Odin sighed. As did Frigga. "Poor Heimdall. He is here too soon. You should not have left him to clean up your mess either! And another thing..."

He sat and listened, as he did each day. Waiting for his own chance to speak, little good that it did. But before Odin could summon forth another useless word in his defence, a new figure appeared in the shadow of the great doors. A tall, lean, and prideful figure Odin would know even without his one good eye.

His heart gave a painful twist. Odin was not ready to receive a son in these halls. No, not yet. Though Odin had thought death had visited upon this boy before, he still could not escape the thought - he is too young.

But there Loki stood. In Valhalla.

Odin stood on shaking legs, holding the table for support, as Loki inched his way further into the hall. Looking this way and that, he looked wary and uncertain, worried he would be turned away. Loki saw Heimdall nearby. The two exchanged nods.

Not noticing his trembling hands and unsteady rise, Frigga was staring into to her cup. "...enough drink in all of Valhalla for me to understand how your mind works, Odin. Tell me..."

Then Odin had a painful, beautiful thought. One that nearly shamed him through the floor beneath his feet. But in his desperation, he grasped onto it as a drowning man would a floating branch. And next he grasped his wife's arm while holding his other arm straight and pointing at the entrance.

"My wife, behold who has come to us. It is our beloved son, Loki!"

Her attention snapped to at once, her face a turmoil of emotion - joy and anguish, denial and longing. She let out a cry that was both sob and laugh. So swift did she run from Odin's side that her flight upset his balance and he nearly tumbled to the floor.

At the sound of his mother's cry, Loki lost all hesitation. His long stride crossing the hall quickly and meeting his mother in an embrace. They were still embracing after Odin righted himself and made his way to join his wife and son.

Neither seemed to notice him.

Odin cleared his throat. Mother and son parted with reluctance, Frigga keeping grip on one of Loki's arms, as if fearing he would fade away before her.

"My son," Odin said gravely. "While my heart rejoices to see you join us in these sacred halls, it is also filled with tremendous grief that your time has come. I..."

"Oh, my son. My precious son!" Frigga wept and pulled Loki into an embrace once more.

Odin waited. And waited. He cleared his throat again. His dignified queen shot him a nasty look. Odin pretended not to notice.

"I - Allfather," Loki spoke stiffly. Still shaken by his own arrival. "I do not think I am supposed to be here."

"What?" Frigga said, alarmed.

"Nonsense!" Odin said, alarmed for different reasons. "This is Valhalla, my boy. You fell in battle. Of course you're supposed to be here."

"But, I..." Loki began.

"No, no," Odin said. He put a hand on Loki's back and steered him toward the high table. "None of this false modesty. You fought well. You fell. Here you are. Now you sit down right here," Odin pulled over a chair. "Right between your mother and I, so we may both enjoy your company, eh? Sit down." Odin all but pushed Loki into his seat.

Odin pat Loki's shoulder fondly, smiling over the top of his dark head at Frigga. "My darling, won't it be wonderful to share a table with our son once again? Happily, as we did in the past?" The past which included an agreement made long years ago between a king and his queen, who decided never to argue in front of their children.

Frigga stood, hand on Loki's other shoulder. Glaring back at Odin most suspiciously. "Yes, my king," she said. "It certainly will."

Across the great hall of kings, Loki saw Heimdall smirk and shake his head before departing. 

Take me with you, Loki wanted to shout. For he had been in Valhalla only minutes and Loki was already unsettled by the moods of his parents, communicating over top his own head with more than words he was sure. He did not know the source of his mother's displeasure, but he could guess.

Thor - please hurry! Loki thought with a hint of desperation. Don't leave me here alone with them.