Queen Frigga, AllMother, isn't really her mother, in spite how Odin had liked for her to pretend it. Nah, he discarded her real mother eons ago. But Frigga still smiles at her, and strokes her hair as a child, praises her the first time she summons her flames or her blades, teaches her how to wield her daggers.
Hela thinks she almost wishes she could call Frigga Mother without the bitter irony on her tongue.
Maybe it would help if Frigga stopped looking at her just so.
Like she is afraid.
And really, if Hela had to choose between an unafraid mother and an afraid AllMother, she'd pick the latter. Whatever, they'll be gone soon anyway, wither away, and they'll be in her realm.
So why then, does something in her chest fracture when she hears Frigga begging, begging Odin to kill her daughter? (Ha!) Odin won't, of course. He didn't carve out a monster, a weapon, didn't go through all that effort, just to be left with a limp, useless body.
She hears her Mother, sobbing, yelling, shouting, screaming, cursing. All because she wants the girl she calls daughter to die.
(What is she so afraid of?)
Well, she's not called the Goddess of Death for nothing.
"You're just going to create more,” she says, as Odin turns himself away. Away from his Lady Executioner, his Goddess of Death. His daughter. His weapon.
He pauses, briefly, but does not spare her even a glance. It infuriates her. "More what, child?"
"Yes,” she replies, "Exactly. Child. Children. Monsters."
And because she feels like it, just because, she laughs. Laughs wild, free and unrestrained and all the sounds of a monster. The one Odin Allfather has created.
Niflheim isn't originally as the stories depict it—unsurprising since those weaving the tales can never have actually seen it— there is not really that much grey and black. The fire still burns green, though.
Still, this is her realm, so she can remake it as she likes. It'll have to do, at least until the rest of the Nine become hers as well.
And when she is finished, she lies back, on the burning rock, rough, dense obsidian, surrounded by icy green fires. It's really very ugly, but then Death was never meant to be beautiful. And besides, who said ugly was so bad?
When Mother visits her on her realm of desolation, sweeping with those warm silk robes, spun from gold, Hela bares her teeth. She shouldn't, probably, but she can't help it.
"Hela," says Frigga, her word weighty like always (because everything this woman says carries weight, it must be so tiring,) "My daughter."
Like always, like always, always, Hela laughs.
"If you keep talking like this, I might even believe that you love me!" And then she spits. "Mother."
Perhaps if she'd been more of a Friggasdottir, and less an Odinsdottir, she'd cry. As it is, though, Hela doesn't think she remembers how to cry. But suppose she doesn't care.
"You know I love you, Hela," says Frigga, quietly. Of course, ever the AllMother. "I never wanted you trapped like this."
"No," and Hela can't help but snarl, "You just wanted me dead. Well, why don't you try?"
The queen sighs, but unlike Odin, she does not turn to leave, not just yet.
"I can't, but I can give you peace."
When Hela hears the gentle hums, the blissful melodies, soothing harmonies, she wants to scream. Because the peace washes over her in tidal waves, forcefully, like a blanket smothering her and silencing her and she screeches and claws, mad, so mad, so mad, because there is no dignity here. Hela is the Goddess of Death, the Lady Executioner, but her service is not to grant peace to those slain, but strife to those which remain.
This is not what she wanted. And it is not a medicine or a balm, it is a dull poison and she feels herself suffocated under the layers of achingly soft silk, spun from gold. A veil of slippery, smooth silence, drowning her.
AllMother is gone, when she regains her sense (What sense? Where is your sense, child!?) again.
And Hela lies back, and her eyes do not leak, but they do sting, just a little.
Peace , she thinks, something rotting and bitter twists, and she gazes around her. She is the Goddess of Death. What do they know about peace, in comparison to her?
Life, she thinks, is unfair. Perhaps that is why she holds the souls of the dead, not the living, because death treats everyone just the same.
You see, one doesn't get to be the embodiment of Death without have some kind of ties to life, as annoying as it is. So she knows the day Odin replaces her. She can sense it.
Death is not the opposite of Life, merely it's partner. Lover, or sibling, or whatever. So she feels the babe's energy, tendrils hinting at her, full of life and vigour. Because with Life, comes the potential and the inevitability of Death.
Life creates a hole, a space, in her realm, which will eventually be filled by his death.
Hela laughs again, and shrieks and then she feels the tendrils brushing against her, teasing. Babies always like to play games. She feels it tickling her skin and so she reaches out her hand, opens her fingers, and snatches it tight. It snags, as it always does, but is she just tugs hard enough...
Hela's never wanted a baby brother, but she's not averse. Perhaps it will be nice to have some company, even if she's always heard babies are much too loud.
It doesn't take long for Father to come. He cuts off her hand it tumbles to the ground along with her head. And Hela laughs because there is no blood and she can still tangle her fingers into the essence of her brother and yank the chain as hard as she pleases.
"What?" She asks him, five feet away from the rest of her body, "You're the one who said I should make myself better company. "
"Hela," he growls, tired and angry and, she grins viciously, scared. Her father is scared and so damned desperate. It sends a delightful shiver down her spine. "Let him go, or I swear to you I'll—"
"You'll what?" She rolls her eyes, amusedly, "You'll kill me?"
Oh, the irony.
Because, you see, Hela hasn't always been Goddess of Death.
But names have power.
In the end, she lets go. Only because her father's presence is grating on her ears, and because babies are disgusting anyway.
By the time her body is reformed, somewhere on the opposite side of her endless realm, and her consciousness has been transferred, he is out of her reach again. There is still a hole for him to fill, and she could carve his name on it, but she doesn't think she cares that much.
And anyway, with a maker like Odin, she'll be seeing him eventually, one way or another.
Frigga falls to Valhalla, of course she does.
But Hela is death personified, so she still sees her. Reaches out her hand to catch her spirit, just for a moment. Only a second.
And Queen Frigga reaches out her hand and catches her back. Holds on. Just for a moment. She smiles, and her eyes are glassy and dead. They still see, though. They always have.
“Isn't this funny?” Hela says, tongue too quick, too sharp as always, but it doesn't matter who she cuts as long as she does. “So nice of you to visit, Mother .”
“It is,” Frigga replies, so painfully sincere as always. “How have you been, my darling?” she continues pleasantly, as though she isn't dead.
Hela’s lips curl. “How have you been? How's the family? How's Daddy?”
Frigga’s smile slants, pitiful, sad and... well, life does that to a person, doesn't it? Good thing it's over. She wonders if she finally realises how little any of this mattered. She's not her mother. They aren't family. There is no family in the house of Odin anyhow.
The realisation is a little belated, to be honest. But better late than never?
Still, Death is helpful like that. So she's got a long time to think about it — no interruptions.
“Our family is…” and she takes a deep breath, and Hela almost feels sorry for the woman, she's trying so hard. This time, the smile she lets out is tight, a little bitter, but mostly resigned. “I don't know,” she says.
Hela rolls her eyes.
“Would you like me to stay?”
But yellow and green don't go together, save in sickness, and Frigga is much too golden for the fires of Niflheim.
She belongs in Valhalla. (And Hela wonders what that is like.)
Besides, she's the Goddess of Death. She knows how to mourn.
Hela laughs when Odin dies. She'd always known it'd be one of his runts that would kill him in the end, just which one?
But it's ironic that it is not even truly his blood that delivers the final blow.
The great thing about Valhalla, is that it's not for the worthy, just for those slain on the battlefield. And Odin is not one of those.
Even more amusing, though, is that now Odin lies in the realm of the dead. Her realm. And one can never truly have too much satisfaction.
"You sound like him,” she adds after a second, because she's finally free and she can say what she fucking likes, and she wants to rip out his tongue. Perhaps she should.
He'll be better off without it, anyhow. It's funny to see the mix of emotions flit across his face, and it just figures that both Odin's youngest and eldest hate him.
His two little monsters, even if one of them isn't really his, and he didn't even intend to make it.
And, of course, she recognises Frigga's golden hair and complexion in the other, and warm blue eyes instead of cold ones.
Frigga is not her mother, but she is his. And, she surmises after a second, the other little monster's too, because she sees his fighting stance, and the way his eyes flicker cautiously, and the wisps of magic that trail his fingertips.
Hela summons her flames and wields her daggers.