Atreus knew his mother wouldn’t want them to mourn the anniversary of her death one year on. He wanted to be strong for his father as well, and try to make it a happy occasion.
He’d been eagerly preparing to surprise his father. He wrote ideas in the back of his journal whenever possible. He wanted to make the day truly special. His father could be grumpy and distant, but Atreus knew underneath the hardened surface was a father who deeply cared for him.
Admittedly, Atreus was concerned he would never make a real connection with him. That he’d never have a close relationship with his father the way he did with his mother. But after everything they’d been through, Atreus knew in his heart everything would be okay. He didn’t have to worry anymore.
He felt liberated in a sense now that he understood more about himself. The journey to Jötunheimr was long and hard, but it brought them closer together as father and son. Their bond strengthened in a way Atreus never would’ve imagined. He refused to let them drift apart again.
Kratos wasn’t his mother by any means, but he was a man – a god – Atreus looked up to. He found himself yearning for his father’s approval, and maybe one day… see a smile on his face. He could dream.
Atreus carefully got out of bed at the crack of dawn, mindful not to wake his father. He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and tiptoed outside. He wasted no time in gathering wood for the fire to start breakfast.
He went foraging the day before, and found wild berries to put in the oatmeal he was planning to cook over the fire in a large pot. Atreus didn’t let the cold deter him, starting a fire with ease the way his mother taught him.
A short time passed before Atreus deemed their breakfast ready. He took two bowls out, scooping the warm oats into each one with a big spoon. He blew on it carefully.
Atreus smiled to himself, happy his father had woken up just in time.
He rushed inside with the two bowls in hand, careful not to spill the steaming contents.
His father was sitting on the edge of the bed, resting his elbows on his knees. He looked towards the door when his son entered, furrowing his brow.
Atreus was all smiles though. “Good morning, father!” he chirped, presenting the bowl to him.
“You made breakfast?” he sounded mildly surprised. It made Atreus feel like he accomplished something special.
“Mmhmm,” he hummed.
His father took the bowl and spoon almost hesitantly, frowning down at the mixture.
“I hope you like it,” Atreus sat down beside his father on the bed, his feet dangling over the edge, unable to touch the floor like his father’s.
“It was mother’s favourite,” he smiled a little, digging his spoon in. They used to pick the berries together, she taught him which ones were not poisonous.
Kratos grunted, doing the same. Atreus could tell he was pleased.
His father almost had his own language. Honestly, the boy laughed about it occasionally. Kratos had a series of grunts he managed to decipher over time. It was cute, not that he’d d ever say it out loud.
He covered his hand over his mouth as he spoke up, his mouth full of food. “What do you want to do today?” he asked.
Kratos side glanced at the boy before looking back at his breakfast, “I do not know.”
Atreus thought quietly to himself, his eyes lighting up when something came to mind. “I know!” he exclaimed, “How about I teach you how to read?” Atreus faltered when he saw the unamused look on his father’s face.
“Orrr… We could go for a walk?” Atreus gasped, “I can show you where mother and I used to go- it was our special place.”
This piqued his father’s interest, “Special place?”
Atreus nodded earnestly. He hadn’t been there since her death, and he thought today would be the perfect time to take Kratos there.
“Yeah,” he said softly, smiling sadly at the sudden memories.
His father gave him a simple nod, and they ate the rest of their breakfast in quiet reflection. Kratos had a second bowl - so Atreus knew he liked it.
Once their hunger was sated, Atreus equipped his bow and arrow, never leaving the house without it.
They began their walk with Atreus leading the way and Kratos followed silently. His son knew he wasn’t much for idle conversation.
“Do you ever dream about mother?” he asked, breaking the comfortable silence. He jumped up to touch a low branch of a passing tree.
“Oh,” Atreus wasn’t all that surprised. “I do,” he told him, “It’s like she’s visiting me sometimes.”
“They are merely dreams, boy.”
The boy fell silent. They felt more than dreams, but he knew his father didn’t want to hear it. They continued walking for some time before they neared their destination.
“Just beyond those trees up ahead!” Atreus explained, pointing in the direction. He rushed on ahead, excited to see the open field looked like after such a long time. In all honesty, Atreus didn’t think he could have set foot here again without his father by his side. He needed his support.
It was just as beautiful as he remembered though. The grass was lively and green, and a variety of colourful wildflowers bloomed in abundance. It was very similar to where Freya’s turtle friend laid, but better in Atreus’ opinion - because he had such fond memories here.
Kratos took in the nature scenery, noticing view over the cliffs edge. “Mother called this place Witches Fall,” he told him as he began picking flowers, mindful not to damage the fragile petals.
“What did you do here?”
Atreus huffed out a laugh, “I’ll show you,”
He found a soft patch of grass to sit down on, patting the space beside him.
Kratos remained standing, arms crossed over his chest.
Atreus looked up at him expectantly, fidgeting with the small delicate flowers in his lap.
His father yielded after a moment, sitting beside his son on the grass.
The boy smiled, leaning back to lie down. “Sometimes we came here at night to stargaze,” he confessed, watching the clouds move across the blue sky.
He couldn’t tell if his father was interested or not. He peeked up at him, seeing his father looking forward, brow furrowed.
“Aren’t you going to lie down with me?” he asked, the tension in his father’s shoulders evident.
It took another moment before Kratos put Leviathan aside and laid on his back with a soft groan. Atreus propped himself up on his elbows, looking down at his father. Kratos’ eyes slid shut, most likely listening to the birds singing in the distance.
Atreus picked up one of the tiny flowers he'd collected, reaching over his father.
Kratos’ hand shot out and grabbed Atreus’ small wrist without even looking, making Atreus laugh gently. It probably wasn’t the reaction he was expecting.
“Relax,” Atrues asked, “Please?”
He felt his father’s grip loosen, letting go of his wrist reluctantly. Atreus heartbeat quickened, feeling a loving warmth wash over him. He touched the course hair of Kratos’ beard cautiously, getting a low rumble out of his father’s chest.
Atreus hadn’t heard that sound before. He couldn’t tell if it was a warning or otherwise.
He swallowed his nerves down and touched his father’s dense beard again. When Kratos didn’t move he took it as a sign he could continue, smiling down at the perpetual frown on his face.
Atreus sat up and got to work, poking the sturdy stem into his father’s beard. He spent a good amount of time decorating his father’s facial hair in a range of small daisies and other kinds.
Kratos let his son - maybe because it was keeping him quiet and preoccupied. But once he finished Atreus noticed the gentle rise and fall of his chest, taken aback to realize Kratos had fallen asleep.
“Father?” he called quietly.
Silence answered him.
Atreus didn’t see reason to wake him. He busied himself with a flower crown. He knew it was kind of goofy, but it was fun when he was with mother. He never stopped learning from her.
When he was putting the final touches on the crown, he heard something other than the gentle sound of his father breathing. It was a call for help, but not one Kratos would hear. Atreus heard it in his head.
He got to his feet and looked around, trying to figure out where it was coming from. There was a whimper in the trees. Atreus cautiously moved to where the sound came from, his hand on the grip of his blade to be safe.
Note: Atreus says the same thing to Fucking Gratitude- also big spoiler if you haven’t finished the game!
The last thing Atreus expected to see was a young wolf limp into view.
He gasped and knelt down cautiously, trying not to scare her. “Vera logn,” he spoke in his native tongue, encouraging her to trust him. He reached out his hands so she could sniff him, surprised when she licked his fingers.
He noticed her hind leg soaked in blood. “Oh no,” he whispered, almost jumping out of his skin when his father’s deep voice came up behind him.
Atreus whipped his head around, frowning up at him. “But father- she’s wounded and needs our help.” If the situation wasn’t so dire he would’ve smiled at the sight of his father’s flower beard.
“I said no, boy,”
Atreus’ frown deepened, “So you just want us to leave her here?” he asked in disbelief. She wouldn’t make it on her own. He turned back to her, “Where’s your mom?” he asked her quietly, stroking the pup’s head. She whimpered and he suspected the worst, his heart aching.
“Would you want someone to leave me in the forest injured like this?”
“You are not a wild beast, boy,”
His father cut him off sharply, “It is survival of the fittest.”
Atreus bit the inside of his cheek. He hated his father’s pessimism.
“Mother would help…” he said quietly, refusing to leave the pup. It was frustrating how cold his father could be.
“Boy,” his father said sternly.
Atreus could hold back his annoyance no longer. “Is it so hard for you to help someone in need?!” he bit, struggling to pick up the pup in both hands. She was very large. Her paws were bigger than Atreus’ hands.
Kratos glowered at his son’s tone, “Mind. Your. Tongue. Boy.”
The boy did not know why he thought the anniversary of his mother’s death would change anything. Kratos was no different. Deep down Atreus believed this was not a coincidence – that perhaps his mother had something to do with this.
The pup was found in their special place after all.
“You won’t have to do anything! She’ll be my responsibility!” He promised.
Kratos ran his hand over his beard, gathering the small flowers and tossing them aside. He turned his back to Atreus. “Enough,” he told him, treading on the flower crown his son was making for him on the grass.
“We are going home, boy.”
Atreus wanted to pull his hair out and scream. His father was so harsh and thoughtless at times. He felt his heart sink before the white pup licked his cheek. The small gesture calmed him.
He took a deep breath and wordlessly followed, struggling to carry the pup as they walked home. His father did not lift a finger to help.
Once they were there, Atreus' arms shaking with the effort of carrying her. He moved to put her on his bed.
“Not on the bed,”
Atreus felt his face grow hot, annoyed at his father. He did as he was told though, putting her down gently on the floor. His arms aching, he went back outside to his mother’s herb garden and cut a bunch of what she used for anesthetic and antiseptic.
He came back inside and grabbed the mortar and pestle, crushing and grinding it into a fine paste. It was a good way to get his anger out without saying anything.
The boy knelt down in front of the wounded animal when it was prepared. “This is going to sting a little… Sorry,” as he leaned in to apply the mixture the wolf growled, frightened.
Atreus froze, unsure how to proceed until his father unexpectantly knelt down next to him. The boy looked up at him, surprised.
“I’ll hold it down,” his father said, restraining the white wolf for him.
“She,” Atreus corrected quietly, thankful for his help. He applied the paste with his fingers, hearing the wolf whimper and pant. “This should stave off infection.” The boy got up to fetch a clean cloth to bandage the wound, wrapping it around the wolf’s leg.
Atreus brow deepened, doing as his father instructed. Shortly after the bandage was secured his father spoke.
“It cannot stay here- it will become dependent,”
“She,” the boy corrected for the second time, “And I could teach her how to fight alongside us- we could help each other.”
“It is not a pet, boy,”
“Stop calling her that!” he snapped, groaning in exasperation as he stood up, leaving the house and slamming the door shut behind him.
It was frustrating living in such close quarters with the Ghost of Sparta - emotionally taxing.
His father was hot on his heel, opening the door and grabbing Atreus’ wrist roughly. He yanked on his arm, forcing the boy around to look at him, angry.
“Do not raise your voice at me, boy!” he yelled.
Anyone else would have feared for their life, cowered in their boots, but Atreus knew his father would never hurt him physically. That did not stop him from hurting his son emotionally though, Atreus knew his father did not do it intentionally.
“Do I make myself clear?”
Atreus looked away as tears blurred his vision. He ignored his father, needing to get his feeling off his chest. He looked back into Kratos’ dark eyes, “I get lonely, okay?! You’re here, but you’re not here!” he shouted in his father’s face. Nothing seemed to get through to him any other way.
His bottom lip quivered. “…I could use the company.” He was lonelier more than ever now that Mimir was gone.
He covered his face, using his hand that wasn’t in his father’s grip, hiding his shameful tears.
“I get lonely,” he whispered, breath hitching, “I miss mom.”
Atreus missed his mother more than anything. The physical pain of her death slowly ebbed away over time. But he missed her and thought about her every single day. Looking out the window in the morning he was reminded of her when the sun touched her herb garden.
He was reminded of her when he looked at his reflection. Atreus wondered what father was like around her.
He winced as his father dug his fingers into his arm. He held his breath, waiting for his father to yell back, but it never came.
“Fine,” he growled, “It will be your responsibility.”
Atreus didn’t bother correcting his father this time. He wiped his eyes with the back of his hand, sniffling.
“Thank you,” he mumbled.
It was difficult to gauge what his father was thinking in that moment. Kratos opened the door for his son, and Atreus went back inside to check up on his new friend.
The cabin was silent as the boy patted the white wolf and composed himself. She had the most striking blue eyes.
“Are you feeling better, girl?” he asked her gently, running his fingers through her soft fur.
His father spoke up, “It will not be long before it is bigger than you.”
The wolf was almost bigger than Atreus now, even though she was only a pup. The boy sighed heavily, annoyed his father kept calling her ‘it’.
“She’ll need a name,” Atreus said.
The pup was wagging her tail, licking the boy’s face. She made him laugh as he turned his face away. “You should name her,” he suggested, wanting his father to warm up to her.
Kratos was watching his son with the beast.
He did not comment.
Atreus looked up at him, cracking a small smile. “What do you say?” he asked, hoping his father would decide on a name.
Kratos looked as if he didn’t want to answer, but amazingly after a long minute he did.
“Wolf,” he muttered.
Atreus blinked, “Really? You want to call the wolf- Wolf?” he shrugged, smiling at her. “I can’t say it’s not fitting.” There was no doubt in the boy's mind he’d gotten his creative flair from his mother.
Wolf was well mannered and affectionate. He spent the rest of the day talking to her, and once supper was ready Atreus gave her a good portion of meat and ate beside her.
He had Wolf on the bed in the end, lying down with her. He was thinking about his mother, his eyes drifting to his father eating at the table. “I was thinking…” he started, feeling nervousness bubble in his stomach.
“Would you be mad if I took up the name mother chose for me?”
His father paused, looking over at him. His expression was unreadable.
“I mean,“ Atreus laughed softly, “You’ll still call me-“ he deepened his voice, mimicking his father, “Boy- ninety percent of the time anyways.”
His father grunted. The cabin was quiet. “If you wish,”
Atreus hid his smile in Wolf’s fur, happy his father did not mind. "Loki," he whispered to himself.
The day was not perfect, but he was grateful for his new friend and his father’s lenience. Atreus and Kratos had their ups and down. He understood his father, a warrior trained from birth to be a machine of war, was trying his hardest.
That was all Atreus could ask for.