1. Ages 3, 5 & 21
Hela reached the conclusion that the worst part about being stripped of her powers was that she was practically forced to be her brothers' babysitter. Not that she had anything against her brothers-- oh who was she kidding. She hated them.
Thor and Loki were the perfect tiny babies that Odin and Frigga had always wish to have. They were sweet, curious and most importantly: not Hela. Sure, the little runts had their deep and dark secrets that would taint that perfect-child-reputation, but to her parents Thor and Loki were perfect. She remembers flawlessly, the night that Thor was brought into the world, the night that everything changed. She had been at the war council, talking with Tyr about their most recent battle, when the nurse came rushing into the room with a splat of blood on her shirt and announced that Hela's stepmother had gone into labor.
The eldest child ran into the room where Frigga was screaming her lungs out and grabbed her mother's hand; allowing for the Queen to squeeze so tightly that her fingers lost all their feeling, and then kissed the woman's sweat covered forehead once it was all over. The baby was hideous at first glance, but Frigga sobbed in happiness when she saw him, so Hela kept that comment to herself.
Once they handed the baby to Frigga, wrapped tightly in a blanket and free of all blood, her stepmother, let go of her hand, and Hela felt a slight pang of jealousy. Frigga didn't see that; instead, she gave her a smile, "I was planning to name him Thor."
She looked down and the squirming baby, and for a second he held her stare, then stretched his pudgy fists towards Hela. It must have been a trick of the light because for the rest of the night that she spent holed up in the infirmary with her mother and baby brother, Thor seemed-- not ugly, "It is a beautiful name, mother."
Of course, Odin had to ruin it all of it three days after Thor was born. The day in which they were supposed to invade Alpha Centaury and make it part of their quaint collection of realms. He had placed a stop on the attack ordering the forces to stand down before they even got out of Asgard. They had had a screaming match, about whether it was wise or not to attack the planet, and by the end of it, Hela was sent into her room as if she were a petulant child.
That night when her stepmother had come into the room with tearful eyes, Frigga had had to explain to Hela that she had managed to strike a deal with her father.
"I was the one who asked him to stop the killing," Frigga explained, "for Thor, for your smaller brother, I just never thought he would turn on you."
"Mother, what are you talking about?"
"I made a deal with him," she said, heartbroken and Hela took Frigga's hands, "believe me when I tell you Hela that if I had known your father would react this way I wouldn't have asked him to stop."
There was a second of hesitation before Hela said, "I trust you, mother. What was the deal you struck with my father?"
"He believes you have grown too ambitious, he believes you will not stop on your quest to conquer realms," Frigga brought a hand to stroke Hela's cheek, and she leaned into her mother's touch, "so he gave me two options. I either take away all of your powers until he believes you are humbled, or he will cast you into Hel."
There was a moment in which her breath caught in her throat and her vision blurred. She could snap, she could slap the woman for reducing her life to two choices, but she was frozen with shock. A single tear slid down Frigga's face; it looked silver in the dim light provided by the moon at her window; Hela realized that this was the first time she had seen Frigga cry.
"I am sorry, my daughter," Frigga whispered, "I am sorry for causing you this pain."
"Fine," Hela said, but the word seemed to be spoken by someone other than her. "Take away my powers, strip me of my birthright, but tell Odin that I will no longer be using his last name."
Frigga looked up with surprise, and Hela realized that she had not been expecting that answer. She felt offended for a second and was tempted to take back the words until she saw that the woman's eyes were filled with relief, "Then what will your last name be?"
"I do not know yet," but that was answer enough.
And that's how she had ended as her brother's babysitter. Powerless and completely useless she had to sit in a room tutoring her brothers while her father helped the other realms with the Chitauri threat. She could feel it in her bones, the way that death was spreading across Yggdrasil like a disease, but that's all she could do. She couldn't stop it, couldn't make the Chitauri die, couldn't help the warriors of the Nine Realms get to Valhalla; she could just sit and play house with her brothers.
Loki was currently reading on her lap, while Thor listened intently. She bounced her leg slightly every time that the small boy stumbled over his words and gently taught him how to pronounce a word when he didn't know it. Which was relatively often given the fact that her incredibly smart brother had quickly read through Asgardian fairytales and had demanded something much more complicated.
"-- as a man whom sleep hath seized I fell. Broke the deep," Loki stopped and pointed at a word on the page, "What does that mean, sister?"
"Lethargy," Hela read, then she looked at the older brother. Thor's eyes were staring at her with excitement, and she gave him a small nod. "Do you know what that word means, Thor?"
Her younger brother seemed delighted that Hela had asked him about the text they were reading even though it was the umpteenth time she had addressed him in the last hour. He nodded excitedly and turned to look at Loki, "It means laziness, Loki."
The smaller child thanked Thor; then he resumed reading where he had left off, "Lethargy within my head-"
Hela followed the words that Loki was speaking, sporadically looking up at Thor who was still staring at them with awe. His tiny eyes were wide with adoration as if it was the first time he saw them and Hela's heart definitely did not skip a beat. They were reaching the end of the page when an explosion above rattled the furniture on the safe room.
"--who’rt wont to be a comfort to my fears?" Loki wavered, tightening his grip on the book and looking up at Hela. "Sister, may I ask you a question?"
Hela hesitated for a few seconds before answering, "Of course, Loki. Is it about your reading? Are you not understanding?"
Loki shook his head, and Hela cursed internally, of course, he understood everything he was reading. Loki was the smartest boy she knew. The question was of another nature entirely, "Why does father always tell you to stay behind with us?"
Hela looked at him, contemplating if she should tell him the truth, but then she realized that it would be too painful to speak aloud of that day; instead, she settled for, "I do not know how to fight."
"That is not true," Thor said, "mother has shown us. You were the fiercest warrior in the kingdom." A pause, and a frown, "Why would you lie to us? Do you not trust us?"
She sighed, turning her head to the side, letting her blonde hair fall down her shoulder, and urging another lie past her lips, "I thought you would be scared of me if you knew the truth."
She wasn't looking at her brothers then, she was only staring at the bookshelf and reading every tittle she could land her eyes on. Trying, and failing, to get her mind off the feeling of weakness and frailty that followed her around. A small hand settled on her cheek, and she turned to look at Loki. His large green eyes were scanning her face as if he was trying to pick her apart. Then another explosion shook the palace, only this time it sounded closer. She tightened her grip on Loki with one hand and extended the other towards Thor, who took it without a second thought.
"I am here to protect both of you," she told them.
That wasn't a lie. Powers or not Hela was still a very skilled warrior and could probably hold her ground until the royal guards came and swept them away. She stands up from the chair she had been sitting on and took her brothers to the bed. The walls rattled again as Hela tucked them both in. She looked at their small bodies and how they seemed to be almost made of glass, and her heart tightened. She finished arranging the covers around Loki, then took a step towards the large chair on the corner of the room. She felt the small hand again this time grabbing her arm.
"Hela, can I tell you a secret?"
She turned around, staring at her brother's soft eyes, "Of course."
For one (or several) seconds the strangest feeling came over her. The hairs on the back of Hela's neck stood up, rage filled her chest and her guts twisted with hatred towards the Chitauri. She was tempted to go upstairs and slaughter every single one of the hideous creatures with nothing but her sword and power of will. When the feeling passed, Hela was left feeling dizzy. She looked down at her brother and had the urge to wrap him in a thousand blankets to protect him from everything and anything that the world put on his path. Instead, she bent down and placed a soft kiss on Loki's forehead.
"Don't be scared little one," she whispered, "for as long as I am here no harm will come your way."
She then kissed Thor's forehead, afraid that her other brother would feel left out and headed to the chair. She sat on it with her legs crossed, her sword leaning on the side on the chair so that she could grab quickly. She listened to her brothers' breathing until she heard them fall to a steady rhythm. Hela let out a soft breath of her own and let her thoughts wander to the moment in which Loki had told her his secret. The strange feeling came over her again, and Hela had to dig her nails into the palms of her hands to stop herself from doing something stupid.
Yes, a voice in the back of Hela's mind said mockingly, you definitely hate them.
2. Ages 4, 6 & 22
When Hela was a small child, she had taught herself how to do magic. Seidr flowed strongly through their veins, mainly because of their Vanir ancestry, but the one thing that nobody warned Hela about when she started practicing the art was the for the first few months it would run wild. The seidr would torment the user's mind until they would either give up or become strong enough to wield power. She remembers the way that the curtains turned into snakes, and the shadows turned into hands trying to grab her; she remembers how she had had to sleep nestled in between Odin and Frigga for a few days because nothing could lull her into sleep except their comfort.
So of course, when she heard muffled screaming coming from her brothers' room, she completely forgot about the torments that the Seidr could cause. She was thinking about the three thousand different enemies that could have slipped inside the castle, slit one of her brothers' throats and was currently trying to kill the remaining one.
She felt dizzy from fear; throat closed up and limbs as heavy as lead. She didn't even realize when she had gotten out of bed and ran to the princes' room. Hela slammed the door open and found her brothers screaming and crying in horror at the sight of... well, absolutely nothing. She scanned the room and willed the lights to turn on. The torches caught fire, and the room lit up. She watched as her brothers trembled in fear and kept crying.
"What's wrong?" She hadn't meant to sound so worried when she said it, but the emotion leaked out of her words. Loki and Thor both looked up for long enough to recognize her, then they both ran towards her, grabbing a leg each and squeezing.
Loki spoke first, "Hela, they are here."
She frowned, hands extending to stroke their hair, "Who?"
"The Frost Giants," Thor said, the 'S' in his words sounding more like a 'TH' due to his current lack of teeth.
She knelt down to be at their level, they were getting tall, but she was taller, "Frost Giants?"
They both nodded, she frowned. They looked terrible, with big bags under their eyes, hair tussled and tear tracks on their faces. She extended her hands cupping their cheeks, "There are no Frost Giants in the palace. They would be too large to fit in here."
At that, the boys chuckled, but she knew their worries were far from over. "I think you are suffering from night terrors." There was a beat of silence before Hela spoke again, "Would you like to sleep with me until they pass?"
The boys nodded, and Hela smiled, ordering them to grab their pillows so that they could camp in her room for the duration of the night. She waited for them at the doorway and watched with a swollen heart as they shuffled into the room to grab their pillows obediently. Then she offered each boy a hand and walked them down to her room.
Once they were settled on the bed, Hela nestled in between the two small bodies; she tried to sleep. Instead, she found herself waiting for their breathing to even out and their hearts to stop beating so hard. Loki fell asleep a few seconds after they settled but for Thor It was different, and after long minutes of waiting he spoke, "Hela, did you get night terrors when you were my age?"
"Everyone who wishes to start using Seidr gets night terrors, Thor."
A beat of silence, "Even mother?"
Hela turned her head towards Thor, "Even mother."
There was another bout of silence before Thor spoke again, "Hela, why do you refuse to use your Seidr?"
Hela's fingers ran up and down Thor's arm as she spoke quietly so that she wouldn't wake Loki. She told him about her battles, her conquests and why she could no longer use her Seidr. She realized she had told the small boy the truth a few minutes too late and then her breath caught. For a few seconds, Thor laid so still that she worried her story about how she had slaughtered thousands in cold blood would be enough to drive him away.
"But that's not you anymore, is it?" The tightness in his voice made Hela want to slam her head into the nearest wall for her stupidity, "Because mother said that people who kill often turn cold at heart."
"That hasn't been me for a long time, little brother," she whispered, then paused for a couple of seconds, "I will take you to mother's chambers if you don't want to sleep with me anymore."
Thor turned in the bed and ended with his head on her chest, eyes wide in the dark and staring at her, "I will stay with you, sister. But only if you promise me one thing."
Hela licked her lips greedily, "Anything."
"You must promise me you will never be Past Hela again."
She felt the fear in her chest disappear, replaced with relief, "I promise I will never be Past Hela again, little brother."
"Good," Thor said and cuddled into her, "because if you did turn into Past Hela, then I wouldn't be able to hug you as often because you would be different from the Now Hela and--"
"Is that what you are worried about?" Hela asked incredulously, "You are worried that I wouldn't hug you as often?"
She felt the nod against her side, "You would turn cold like father. My mother tells me that he used to smile more and hug more, but now he has killed so many people that he doesn't like to hug or smile like before." There were a few seconds of silence and then, "I don't want you to turn into father."
Hela could barely contain the sound that clawed its way out of her heart. She bent forward, struggling with the odd position, and kissed Thor's hair. She settled back down on her pillow, heart hammering and soul singing in happiness. If there was one thing that Hela wanted from life was to stray as far away from her father's path as possible, so as she felt Thor breathing start to even out she made a promise she intended to keep. If not for herself then for her smaller brother. She would not become Past Hela again.
3. Ages 5, 7 & 23
Teaching Loki how to fight was very different to teaching him how to read. Once Loki had turned four, or 325 if you counted it in Intergalactic years, Odin had ordered her to show him how to fight, sort of like he had done when Thor had turned 325.
Loki's fists held the knives tightly, his gaze was fixed upon her with a ferocity she had never seen before in her brother, and Hela couldn't help but notice how young he looked. He attacked her with awkward movements, her chainmail covered hands blocking his attempts to injure her with ease; then his attack stopped, and Loki looked at her defeatedly, "I can't do this, sister. I was not born to be a fighter."
"Maybe," Hela agreed, "but that does not mean you cannot turn into one."
"That does not make sense," Loki argued. "How can I be good at something I was not born to be?"
Hela puts her hands on her laps and stares at her smaller brother, "The greatest warriors on Asgard were not born with the gift of war, Loki. They earned their talents by giving that extra effort that had to compensate for their lack of abilities, and once they were as good as everyone else, their effort made them better than the ones who had been born with the gift."
"How do you know that?"
"Well because I was one of those warriors," Hela stated, and Loki shook his head in disappointment.
"Do not lie to me, sister." He said, "I don't like being lied to."
Hela chuckled, "It is the truth, brother."
"It is not," Loki stated, "I am not that big of a fool."
At that Hela frowned, she realized that her brother sounded truly upset. He small voice sounded fragile, and his eyes were nearly brimming with tears. She took her gloves off and tilted Loki's chin so that his eyes were staring into hers, "Who ever said you were a fool, Loki?"
Loki's eyes looked away, "No one has ever said I am a fool."
"You are a terrible liar, Loki," she said, "Now tell me so that I can let this idiot know that you are not a fool."
Her brother's eyes met hers for a second before they looked away again, "There is nothing you could say to them, Hela."
"Please, I am the Crown Princess. There are few people above me."
Loki's eyes met hers, he couldn't lie, and he knew it. Hela would see right through him and would not hesitate to call him out; then she would interrogate him tirelessly until she got the name of the offender, so Loki wrinkled his nose in defeat and whispered, "Father."
Hela's eyes instantly transformed into ice, "Odin called you a fool?"
Loki tried to speak but the words caught in his throat, so he just nodded. He knew that he had made a mistake the moment that Hela curled her hands into fists and stood up. He watched her as she plucked him from where he was standing and carried him towards the cluster of children around Tyr on the other side of the training arena. He didn't even have time to argue before he was put down and Hela stormed out of the room.
Hela, on the other hand, could barely contain her anger. She felt her guts squirm and turn over in rage as she thundered through the halls of the palace ignoring every call or person who started to talk to her. Hela's only thought was to get to the throne room and talk to her father or more realistically, scream at him. She only wavered when she got to the doors. Her thoughts had been so angry and so determined that she had forgotten that for the last five hundred years the most extended conversation Hela had had with Odin were the ones at the dinner table in which they would exchange precisely five sentences to appease Frigga and then continue to ignore each other. For a second she wondered if she was overreacting and then she remembered the look on Loki's face when he had said I am not that big of a fool.
Like he truly believes that he is a fool, but he was trying to convince himself otherwise.
She slammed the doors to the throne room open, calling everyone's attention to her and for a second she was relieved that there seemed to be no royal meeting going on. Just the cooks, probably asking the king what he wanted to eat at dinner.
"Out," she barked, "all of you."
The servants scrambled out of the room in fear of the Princess and her legendary anger, Hela wasted no time to start screaming at Odin, "I swear to the Norns and every known force in this universe that if you ever say something hurtful to my brothers again, I will kill you."
Her father looked at her from his throne with impassive eyes, "I believe I do not know what you are referring too."
"How many times have you told Loki that he is a fool?" She asked, "Because today as I was training him he seemed convinced that he was one."
"I was under the impression that there are worse insults than the word fool," Odin answered in a calm tone of voice and Hela's anger spiked.
"Not to Loki!" She snapped, "Not to my brother who values knowledge and cleverness above everything else! You may call anyone a fool, and they won't be half as offended as Loki will be."
"Do not raise your voice at me, child," Odin sneered.
Hela was tempted to defend herself, to tell Odin that the only reason why she was screaming was that it was him on the receiving end of the insults, but then she remembered this was not about her. This was not about her loss of powers or the way that Odin questioned whether she would ever be ready to be the Queen, this was about her brother, "Then do not insult my brothers."
There was a beat of silence, and Hela stared Odin down until she realized that neither of them would back off. She turned around, white cape wrapping around her like a snake before it righted itself, then over her shoulder she turned towards Odin and sneered, "Mother will know about this."
She was halfway to the door when Odin spoke again, "I had been considering lifting your curse, Hela."
"I do not care about my stupid powers," She spat, "I only care that you don't taint my brothers with the same venom that you put on me."
She walked out of the throne room in a hurry, unwilling to listen to another word Odin said and raced to her chambers. Once she got there, her anger had been forgotten; she slammed the wooden door shut and pressed her back to it. Now eating at the pit of her stomach was regret, she had turned down her powers, turned down the option to regain her use and her value because she had been angry at Odin.
Her head felt like when she drank too much Mead, and she barely had the strength to change into her nightgown and crawl into bed. She cried herself to sleep that night thinking about missed opportunities and the dread of having to live without her powers for the years to come. But later that night when Thor crept into her room and asked her if he could sleep with her, one of her worries was wiped clean from her mind.
Yes, she was powerless, but at least she was not useless.
4. Ages 6, 8 & 24
Thor was a name that meant Thunder, and throughout the years her small bother had proven himself to be quite like Thunder. Boisterous, unexpected, and loud. Norns was Thor loud.
Even when he was trying to be quiet Hela could always tell when he was close. His feet would stomp on the ground too loudly, his laughter would always turn into deep guffaws, and his voice would still be a few decibels louder than required. So the night that Thor turned quiet was the most stressful night of her life.
The wind outside their window was howling with unusual rage, and the droplets that rolled down the windows were plump and steady, but Thor who always delighted himself with looking outside the window and shrieking with glee when lightning struck, was sitting on his bed, quietly reading a book. The sight was so odd that even Loki looked uncomfortable. He tried to get Thor to join them once or twice as they huddled together around a mirage of their favorite play, but their brother turned them down with monosyllabic answers.
It was only after their personal maid came into the room with food and drinks that Thor acted so out of character that Hela finally snapped. Jálfi laid their food on the beds, and Loki instantly launched himself towards the plates getting his hands on all he could before Thor raided the food and inevitably ate so much that Hela was left with nothing at all. But tonight, as the maid left them alone to continue with their activities, Thor simply looked at the platter and returned his attention to the book.
Hela raised an eyebrow at Loki, who had turned to look at her with a mix of confusion and worry in his eyes. He crawled back to Hela, settling in between her legs and handing her one of the sandwiches he had grabbed. She thanked him and then gave the sandwich a bite, "Do you know what is wrong with Thor?"
He looked pensive for a moment before he shook his head, "He seemed fine when we were sparing."
Hela lifted Loki off her lap and got out of the bed. Thor showed no signs that he saw her approaching but when Hela was one step away from his bed, Thor scrambled away so fast that Hela wondered for a second if she had scared him. She reached over, trying to place a comforting hand on his shoulder, and Thor flinched away so violently that Hela was surprised he hadn't tried to punch her.
"Thor?" She tried again, this time keeping her hands to herself, "Did I do something wrong?"
There was a violent shiver that ran through Thor, and he looked like he was about to burst into tears by the time it was over. He shook his head slowly, making himself comfortable on the other side of the bed. The book was closer to her than it was to him, so she bent down to pick it up then offered it to Thor. He looked at the book with calculating eyes and then shook his head, "I do not want to hurt you."
At this Hela frowned, "Why do you think that you would hurt me by grabbing the book?"
Thor looked at her, eyes round as moons, then raised his hand. At first, Hela saw nothing but seconds later a spark of electricity snaked around Thor's hand and disappeared into the air with an audible pop, "I already hurt Lady Sif."
Hela did not know when Loki had come to stand beside her only that once Thor's small display of magic was over, he marveled at his brother's ability. He tried to grab Thor, but the older brother scrambled away from Loki. Hela grabbed Loki by the shoulder, keeping him from going towards Thor, the raven-haired child tried to pry her hand away, and Hela knelt down to be at his level, "Your brother must first learn how to control his powers before you can touch him."
"I don't like it," Loki said, and she smiled at him.
"I know, Lo," she cupped his cheek, and he leaned into the touch, "I will try to make it better, but you will have to wait until he says it is okay to touch him."
Her smaller brother nodded and clambered up into the bed to resume watching the mirage, Hela turned towards the place were Thor was sitting in, looking at her with fearful eyes. She carefully sat on the bed, leaving enough space for Thor to be comfortable, and looked at her little brother, "Has mother ever told you what my powers were?"
Thor shook his head.
"What about the type of goddess I was?"
He shook his head again, "She always told us to ask you."
"Why didn't you?" She could feel Loki's curious eyes boring into the back of her head.
Thor shrugged, "I always assumed you were the Goddess of Magic."
"No," Hela said, trying to sound as comforting as possible, "Not the Goddess of Magic. I was the Goddess of Death."
For a second Hela thought about how ridiculous she must have looked while saying that. Her golden hair was up in a messy hairdo courtesy of Loki and his magic, her face was free of any makeup, and she was dressed in a floral nightgown. Yes, she must look like quite the Goddess of Death.
Thor is looking at her like she had gone absolutely mad, but he is not moving away from her, so she starts telling Thor about her story. She tells him about the morning that she woke up to their deceased grandfather sitting on the chair of her room, reading through a book about cooking, and how she ran out of the place only to find the hallways full of people that did not look completely alive. Hela tells him about how for the next few weeks she couldn't touch anything or anyone without them dying. She tells them about her wolf, Fenris and how she had been the first victim of her new curse.
"Did it pass?" Thor asked.
"Not until I learned how to control it," she answered, "your powers won't become weaker. You must become stronger than them."
"I don't know how."
Hela turned so that she would be facing Thor and extended her hands. She was about to start teaching Thor, then stopped, "Loki, I believe this will be useful for you to learn. Come closer."
She waited until the three of them were on the bed, Loki was as far away from either of them as possible, but looking at the exchange with watchful eyes. Hela extended her hands again, letting what little Seidr that remained free for her to use to cover them like a protective glove, "Thor, do you want to hurt me?"
Her brother shook his head, "Never."
"All right, then call back your lightning and touch me."
Thor frowned, "How do I do that?"
"I cannot answer that," she stated, "each person has to learn how to control it on their own."
Thor looked at her hands then back up at her, "I don't want to hurt you."
"Then don't," she said, "but give me your hands."
The first time they touched Hela had to bite her tongue to keep herself from howling in pain. When she looked at her little brother, he looked like he was about to cry. Hela smiled at him, "You are powerful."
"I told you not to touch me."
Hela shook her head, "I am going to keep touching you until you learn how to hold the electricity back."
"You are going to keep getting hurt."
"Only if you let me get hurt."
The next time they touched it hurt just as badly. And the next time, too. It was only until the fifth time Hela touched her brother that the shock hurt a little less. She smiled at him encouragingly and prepared herself for another round of pain. By the end of the night, Thor was able to control his electricity enough for it to feel like tickling instead of painful shocks. He was able to hold the lightning back for Loki to give him a short hug, and Hela to plant a goodnight kiss on his forehead. That night the older sibling stayed in their room. They pushed the beds together, and Hela took one of the books from the library out and read to her siblings until they fell into peaceful sleep.
Thor kept giving Hela soft shocks throughout the night, but she made a promise to herself to stay quiet and hug his small body against hers, not willing to see her brother's sad eyes if he knew he had hurt her.
5. Ages 8, 10 & 26
Hela woke up to the sound of a battle.
She had never changed so rapidly into her battle armor until that moment. Her nightgown was thrown across the room, completely forgotten, and her helmet was thrown on her head carelessly. She grabbed her swords in a frenzy, knocking over various books in the process, and ran out of the room without a second thought.
Instantly she was met with a Dark Elf. The ugly thing froze in fear and Hela remembered one of her most glorious battles with her father. She had slaughtered half of the elf army; this must have been one of the elves who survived. She smiled wickedly, using the moment of distraction to chop the elf's head off and keep running.
She passed dozens of Elves, all which seemed to be raiding the castle with glee. She killed them swiftly, taking no time to dance with them like would have done before. When she reached her brothers' room, her armor was covered in blood, and her swords were dirty with the remains of the Dark Elves. Still, when her brothers saw her, they ran to her without hesitation, talking to her in shaky words and sobs.
"Do you have your weapons?"
Thor shook his head, "We left them on the armory. Smidak was cleaning them for us."
Hela cursed internally, then looked at them in the eyes. They had been working on their abilities for years now. Learning how to control the Seidr and, in Thor's case, his lightning.
"I would never ask you to fight if the situation was not dire."
They nodded, eyes steely with resolve, and Hela's heart ached at how small they looked, how weak. But she knew better. She had been in the receiving end of Loki's powerful magic and Thor's painful lightning if anything their appearances would only serve as an advantage. They stalked through the halls slowly, taking care of the Dark elves one by one until they reached the throne room. The largest fight was there.
Aesir and Dark Elves battled through the vast space, using the columns as protection and killing each other mercilessly. Hela and her brothers entered through the back and kept cover behind the throne. She watched as the Aesir slowly, but inevitably, became overpowered by the Dark Elves. Then at the end of the hallway, she saw her worst nightmare. Odin and Frigga were fighting back to back, but were surrounded by more Dark elves than either of them could take without their weapons or armor.
She turned to Loki, fear taking hold of her heart, "Loki I need you to get rid of father's spell."
He blinked at her in confusion, "What?"
"Look into my soul and get rid of father's spell."
"I know what you said," Loki snapped, "but you are going to get us in trouble if I-"
"Loki," she tried again, this time softer, "Mother and father will not be able to hold back an entire army of Dark Elves on their own. I need to help them, but I cannot do that without my powers, so please-"
"Okay, okay," he interrupted, "I will try, sister."
She nodded and closed her eyes, letting Loki place a small hand on her forehead. His magic felt snake-like, slippery and agile, he snaked into her soul, coiling around her arms and finally stopping at her wrists where a cold and heavy kind of magic rested, keeping her from using her hands. His magic slithered below the manacles and then tugged.
"I cannot break the spell, sister, it is too strong," She heard him say, "I can only transfer it."
Transfer it where?
"Myself," he answered, even if she had not spoken.
"It is okay Loki," She whispered, "you did your best."
But his magic did not retreat, "You need to save mother."
"Promise me you will save mother."
She opened her eyes and met Loki's emerald green ones. He looked desperate, quite like she felt, and then he whispered again, "Promise me."
Her heart broke at the way he whispered the words like he was afraid she would ignore his pleas. So she nodded, and Loki closed his eyes again. Having her powers back was like breathing for the first time in a long time. Her lungs expanded and her eyes filled with tears of pleasure. She let the magic wash over her and for the first time in a long time felt clean. She willed for her helmet to fully attach to her body, and for her armor to become more than just the piece of clothing her mother had made for her.
When her eyes finally snapped open, they were white.
"Thor," she said, and rejoiced when she realized that even her voice sounded different, "take care of our brother."
She said nothing else, then stood up and willed her swords to appear in her hands. When she stepped out of her hiding place, the battlefield seemed to freeze. Every eye turned on her as her steps resonated in the newly found silence. But she noticed that along with her powers came that long forgotten arrogance of hers. The words were out of her mouth before she could stop them, "Well would you look at that. Malekith came out of his hiding for round two."
"Hela!" She heard her father hiss, but there was no stopping now. Malekith screamed something in his weird Elven language, and the soldiers charged at Hela. She sauntered towards them, letting her magic flow through her for protection and brought her sword through the first elf with might.
From that moment on the battle went smoothly. She turned, slashing the second elf's gut open with her right hand and then trusting the other sword backward to impale another elf. She turned left then flicking her wrist and summoning throwing knives. Then she grabbed her sword again and cut cleanly through three more elves. She moved through the battlefield like a flurry of white and gold. Her father took advantage of the distraction and started using his Seidr indiscriminately. Sending elves flying all over the room and snapping their necks with a flick of his wrist. By the end of the battle, more knives were laying around that corpses, but Malekith was not around. Odin looked at her with hate in his eye.
She ignored the sinking feeling in her gut and willed the Staff of Odin to appear in her hand, "You will need this, father."
He grabbed the staff from her hand, and Frigga spoke, "Call Fenris, there is a fight happening at the City Center."
Hela was tempted to go; she could ride into battle with the Einherjar and Fenris, showing the Dark Elves that the Goddess of Death was back to her full glory. But she shook her head and let her helmet melt away. White turning into gold Hela ran her hands above her hair and noticed her braid was intact. She made a mental note to congratulate Loki on his craftsmanship, for the braid had survived half a night of sleep and a whole battle.
"The Aesir can hold back the Elves, even more so with you leading them," she stopped for a second and gave her mother a once over, then smiled, "I have other duties to attend to."
Hela got her brothers out of the throne room, she marched with her brothers in tow towards the Astrology tower, once they reached the top she sealed the entrance and made her brothers sit beside her, only she did not make them watch the carnage. She extended her hands, urging Loki and Thor to take them and sighing when they did, "You once asked what my powers were."
They nodded, and she looked down at their tiny hands encased in hers. Hela's hands looked clean, but she knew that was just because of her powers. The moment they took her powers away they would be stained with blood regardless of how much she washed them. She squished their hands, "I am sorry about killing that many people. I know that is not something either of you wanted to see."
There were a few seconds filled with heavy silence before Loki spoke. His voice sounded smaller, weaker and afraid, "You saved mother."
"I did promise you that, didn't I?"
Loki let go of her hand and crawled into her lap, curling his now too big body around her. Thor followed suit, hugging her arm and placing his head on her shoulder. Hela used her Seidr to conjure up a place to rest her body against, and they stayed like that for the rest of the night.
The next morning Frigga found her three children asleep on the top of the astrology tower. When she looked at them, a tear rolled down her cheek, and she wondered how hard it would be to sneak Hela out of the Nine Realms before Odin's wrath fell upon her. She had tried fruitlessly to convince Odin of forgiving his only daughter. That had only earned her a slap across the cheek and another round of screaming.
Hela's eyes fluttered open, her body waking slowly and revealing the sore muscles the fight had left. When she saw Frigga, she smiled lazily, "Hello, mother."
"Hela," there was something off about the way that Frigga was speaking, "your father requests your presence in the throne room."
It was like those two words were enough to alert her father of her wakefulness. Guards swarmed the tower with impressive speed, blocking Hela of her mother's view. She urged her brothers to get up, but the boys were to slow. Soon the guards were prying them away from her hands, clamping their mouths to stop them from screaming. Loki trashed and squirmed, but his magicless body was not strong enough to fight a single Aesir, much less five.
Two guards grabbed her arms, she trashed, yanking her arms from them, "Leave me alone! Let us go! I will come with you!"
The guards let her go, and she stood up. Her brothers screamed in protest; Thor lashed out electrocuting every guard that was touching him. That was a mistake. More guards were on her now, placing thick and heavy handcuffs on her wrists and she instantly fell to the floor. Enchanted, her brain supplied. She tried lifting her head only to find that the strength needed to do that was not one she possessed. She could vaguely hear her mother screaming and her brothers doing the utmost to get out of the guards' hands, but their efforts were not enough.
"Let me pass!" Frigga demanded, "Let me see my daughter!"
Hela didn't hear the rest of it. Two guards grabbed her upper arms and carried her towards the door. She felt her feet drag on the stones below her and she thought she heard Loki's voice screaming for her, but all was drowned out when they stepped into the palace. She was in and out of consciousness throughout the trek from the tower to the throne room, and when they finally arrived the guards let her fall to the floor. She handed face first with an unceremonious splat and had enough energy to lift her face from the cold ground and put it on top of her arm. The more time she spent with the manacles on, the weaker she felt. Her ears started to ring obnoxiously, her mouth tasted of blood, and a headache started to form at the back of her skull.
"Hela," Odin called, but she couldn't react. Even if she would have liked to do so, her eyes could barely stay open; she doubted she could utter a single word. Odin did not seem disturbed by the fact that she couldn't move, "Do you know what your crimes are, daughter?"
She heard Odin stand from his throne and her heartbeat picked up. She tried with all her might to move, to get out of the Allfather's way-- her attempts were fruitless; she could barely gather enough strength to push herself a couple of centimeters off the ground before her arms gave out and she fell to the floor again.
"Your tendency to act before thinking has started a war between the Dark Elves and the Aesir."
Confusion clouded her brain as she replayed the events of the night before. They hadn't been discussing with the Elves, much less having a friendly fight, so why was Odin insisting that she had started to war.
"Everyone in the palace was under strict orders not to kill," Odin said, voice rising from mild into a bellow, "why do you think Frigga and I were holding back?"
She could see the points of his boots now, standing mere centimeters in front of her face. He tapped the manacles, and they dissolved, giving Hela the chance to breathe. Still, she was not strong enough to stand so she tried to at least sit up to face Odin. The King's staff came down, pinning her hair to the floor, Hela screamed in pain.
"You have started a war bound to rage for centuries all because you couldn't stay back."
Hela struggled to talk with her face pinned to the floor, "I was trying to save you."
"We did not need saving," Odin spat, "much less from you."
Odin let her hair go, then walked back to his throne while Hela raised herself into a sitting position. Her arms trembled from the effort, but she refused to show more weakness than she was already showing. Seconds later a disgruntled Frigga stormed into the throne room, followed by Loki and Thor. Hela was too weak to turn towards them, so she stayed on the ground and listened as her mother screamed at Odin.
"It was not her fault!" Frigga argued, "You refrained from telling her what your plans were, how is she at fault for that?"
"She is at fault for disobeying me!" Odin screamed back, "She is at fault for staring the war, and for dragging her brother into this."
"Father let her go!" Loki screamed, and Odin's rage boiled.
He was staring at her again, "You are lucky I even let you interact with my sons, and you repay me by turning them against me."
"Don't you dare bring my brothers into this."
That seemed to spike Odin's anger, for the room filled with long tendrils of golden magic. They wrapped around Hela making her stand straight, taking away the tiredness from her muscles. From the other side of the room, she could hear Frigga and the two boys screaming, but all noises were drowned out by an incessant chattering coming from Odin's Seidr. His single eye glowed bright golden as his voice boomed around the room omnisciently.
"Hela," the room stopped shifting, and her heart seemed to start beating at the calm tone of his voice, "Odinsdottir. You have disregarded the punishment given to by your king."
Odin's magic stabbed into her neck, and Hela gasped, "Through your arrogance and stupidity you have opened these realms, and innocents lives to the horror and desolation of war."
The next time Odin's magic stabbed through her, she screamed in agony, and writhed, trying desperately to rid herself of the powerful grip Odin had on her. It was pointless, she was still weak, and even if she weren't, Odin's magic was too strong. Golden tendrils snaked up her legs and slithered up her stomach stopping right where her heart was, then stabbed into her chest.
"You are unworthy of these realms," Odin screamed, as his Seidr pushed into her lungs making it hard to breathe.
"Unworthy of your title," the Seidr kept pushing up her body, snaking up her neck and into her scalp burning her head and making her scream.
"You are unworthy," Odin stopped as if to catch his breath but Hela knew better, his eyes flickered to the place were Frigga, and her brothers were watching in stunned silence, "of the loved ones I once allowed you to have."
A sob escaped Hela as she thought about the implications of Odin's words. He was unpredictable when he was angry, so she let out a string of words that made her want to sob harder, "Please, not my brothers."
He is not going to kill them, a voice in her mind comforted her, "Please don't take them away from me."
"I now take from you your Seidr," she felt as if someone was pulling a string from her mouth, she choked at the awful sensation and gasp when she felt the hole it left in her soul.
"The light bestowed on you by my wife," from the back of her neck tendrils of white light escaped and landed on Odin's outstretched hand.
"My children," a tingling sensation ran through her arms and back as more light came rushing out of her fingertips and slithered in a snake-like manner to Odin's feet.
"And curse you to reign over the only people who will ever truly love you," The ground below Odin's feet opened up, and the wails of tortured souls filled the chamber, making the hairs on the back of Hela's neck stand up, "The dead."
Odin's Seidr let her drop, and she landed on her knees. She started to scramble back until she noticed that golden details on her battle armor begun to turn a disgusting shade of green. Then the white of her armor started to shift and darken. She looked at her hands, horrified, as her colors changed from white and gold to green and black. The pins on her hair snapped or fell away, making her hair fall around her face. Helplessly she watched as that too turned ink black, and she started to scream. Fear like nothing she had ever felt gripped her tight and promised never to let go. She turned, making a wild dash towards her mother, and Frigga extended her hand. Loki and Thor rushed forward and for a second Hela thought she would make it. For a second Hela believed that Frigga would catch her and use her Seidr to lift them in the air and avoid her father's punishment.
Then the ground gave underneath her feet, and she fell.
Suspended in the air, Hela looked up to see that the crack was already closing. But through the opening, she could clearly hear her brothers shouting her name, and for the last time in a long time, Hela's heart filled with love.