Somehow, and, despite possessing all the wisdom in the worlds, he’d never know quite how, he heard it. Amid the moans of the dying, the crying of the defeated, the clash of the resistance, and the shouts of victory, he’d heard the shrill mewl of an infant. It had given him brief pause as he stood over Laufey, his trusted spear, Gungnir thrust beneath the larger, panting being’s chin. He had quickly put an end to the weak ruler, leaving the Winter Realm’s rule under the Frost Giant’s sons, both of whom, he believed, would be considerably easier to persuade to bend to Asgard and his rule.
He followed the pathetic sound, weaving through massive ruins to reveal the only building that still remained largely intact. Even if the Jotunn didn’t worship the Norns and their power over Fate, he couldn’t allow his soldiers to desecrate a place of worship. That was simply asking for trouble and bad karma.
His heavily booted feet echoed off the ice and stone of the massive steps that led into the building. The cries were becoming less persistent but no less powerful. Maybe the child has given up, he wondered, though he didn’t stop his steps. The dim hall led to a majestic altar, the single natural light in the building streaming down from the circular skylight in the ceiling directly above it. Squirming unhappily on the slab of slate and shale, was a bundle wrapped in coarse rags, the cried emanating from it. As his boots drew closer, the child seemed to fill with hope, its lungs screaming for all it was worth.
The child was so incredibly small for a Giant’s offspring; it was smaller than even his youngest son, Thor, who had just turned one and had begun to come into his own. The bawling infant, no more than a few hours old, continued to flail until it felt his hands. He picked the babe up, as was astounded by the intellect and talent it held. The heat from his touch had stifled the child’s tears and had opened it’s ruby eyes wide. Those eyes were bright, holding a sense of knowledge that no child should have. But this one does…it must be special. His mind made itself even before the infant’s tiny hand wrapped around his forefinger and squeezed it tightly and before he noticed the ridge pattern along the exposed brow and face. One of Laufey’s get. No wonder it’s alone. Too small to be loved by its father and thus abandoned by its mother. Shame. The ruby eyes blinked at him before the lips parted, revealing a pink tongue and releasing a warm breath into the chilly air.
“You are a fierce little warrior, aren’t you?” he asked, smiling for the first time in what seemed like years. “You deserve better than to be a sacrifice to these false gods, left to die. And Frigga has been saying that she longs for another child.”
An idea, and a dangerous one at that, began to grow in his mind as he pulled the precious bundle into his chest and wrapped it tighter using his cloak. It was a long, cold walk back to the Bifrost and he didn’t want his new child to catch chill.
_ _ _ _ _
“Odin,” she breathed, relieved that he was returning from Jotunnheim in nearly one piece. She had known about the loss of his eye, of his deal with the Norns that had sealed his victory, but the haggard and tired man that swung from his saddle still surprised her. He looks so old…
“Frigga,” the man called to her, the troops parting as he passed, bringing them nearer to each other.
It had always been thus, even though she was Odin Borson’s second wife after the untimely passing of Jord, his first wife through an arranged marriage with Aelfheim. The late woman had provided the All-Father with two children (A girl, Hela, and a boy, Balder), though neither were deemed fit to inherit the throne, and he had not truly loved her as more than a fond consort.
Their relationship, started centuries later, was almost like that of a fairytale. They had always revolved around each other from the moment they had met. Being apart was a torture she never wanted to live through again and she prayed daily to the Norns that this campaign would be her husband’s last.
Odin smiled at her beneath his bloodied face and swept her into a strong, one-armed embrace. “Frigga, my Beloved, I have missed you,” he breathed, pressing a kiss to her temple.
She drew him closer, her fingers winding through his greasy and matted hair. “As I have missed you, Odin.”
Their embrace was disturbed by a small, shrill sound that seemed to come from her husband’s occupied arm. Odin drew back, still smiling, and unwrapped his cloak. “This, my Darling, is for you.”
Revealed in the shining lights of the Golden City, was the smallest, bluest baby she had ever seen. And, the instant her eyes had met those wide, ruby orbs in the lined and unhappy face, she knew that this child was truly hers.
Carefully, she took the infant from her husband, cooing to it. The little frown eased, the red eyes blinking at what was, no doubt, the greatest amount of light it had ever seen in its short life. She shot her husband an unsure look. “What of its family?”
“An orphan, I’d guess. It bears the marks of Laufey and the Frost Giant king is dead. Besides, the Jotunn are a cruel race. It was left to die. I couldn’t leave it there to that fate…it seems just perfect for our family.”
She nodded, her eyes back on the child she held, gently tracing the lines with her finger tip, making the babe coo in delight.
_ _ _ _
The child, dubbed Loki, Fourth Child of Odin, might have survived the blizzard on Jotunnheim, but the summer sun was making him terribly ill. He grew sickly as the heat crept into the realm, his breathing becoming labored and his appetite, once ferocious, had dwindled to naught. Her concern had brought her and her incessantly squalling infant to Eir, hoping that the Head Healer could help him in his suffering.
The woman’s eyebrows raised at the sight of her youngest child but ushered her into the Healing Wing. “Put him in the Soul Forge, my Queen,” the woman insisted, gesturing towards the golden table.
Quickly, she obeyed. The action only made Loki scream louder, his adorable face twisted into a hideous mask of pain and discomfort. It broke her heart but she resisted picking the little being up again - she’d interrupt wth the feed. Instead, using a bit of her seidr, she wove a sucker made of ice and gave it to the little boy. Once the ice touched his tongue, his cries settled into discontented whimpers, his navy lips closing around the cylinder.
The healer pulled the seidr of the Soul Forge forth and the golden images instantly lit up with bright red lines all over the wriggling limbs.
“What’s that?!” Frigga gasped, fear of losing this precious child creeping in and seizing her heart like a vice.
The Head Healer ignored her question as her fingers manipulated the settings, shifting the images as the sider cut through the tiny babe. Images of ruby energy created organs that she recognized: the brain, the heart…the uterus. That is the Jotunn way, she realized, her book learning proven correct. Despite caring for Loki, she had never seen an entrance for that organ.
Eir seemed to understand her fascination as she pulled the viscera of her youngest son over it, hiding it from view. “I have never had a Jotunn patient but I have read that the feminine organs of the Jotunn mature slower than those of the male. A vagina will open nearer to maturity.”
The scarlet lines began to reappear as the Healer moved closer to the child’s skin. “Ah,” Eir breathed, her eyes narrowing slightly. “It is as I thought.”
“What is it?” she asked once more, her heart in her throat as her stomach plummeted through the floor.
“The prince is Jotunn. It is heat sickness, my Queen. A simple potion, once daily from late spring to early autumn should help regulate the heat upon the cooling ridges and the rest of his cold-regulated organs.”
The woman moved form the Soul Forge, turning the table off with a wave of her hand. She watched the woman as she scribbled the potion onto a piece of parchment for a moment before swooping in and pulling the still fussy Loki into her arms once more. “Shh, my Darling,” she breathed, pressing her lips to the admittedly lukewarm brow of her son. “All will be well.”
_ _ _ _
“Wait up, Thor!” he screamed, his little legs pumping as fast as they could as he pursued his older brother. The other boy laughed, his play continuing with his friends. “Thor!”
The sun was high in the sky and he was starting to get overly hot. With a loud moan, he threw his little toddler body onto the grass. “Just ignore me anyway,” he muttered into the dirt, noting that simply lying there wasn’t going to help his cause in any way. Thor continued to insist that he couldn’t play with him because he wasn’t a ‘big boy.’ It hurt. Almost more than that sun that was beating down on his tunic-clad back.
He rolled over to look squinty-eyed at the person who had just taken a seat beside him. “Hela?” he asked.
The woman smiled at him knowingly, her hand coming to rub his back. Her long fingers traced his ridges, soothing his anger at being left out. “Give them time, Loki. They will realize that you are important.”
“Why can’t he see that I’m important now? I just want to play with him!” He knew he was whining, but he was glad of the attention from his older sister, so he let his frustration out.
“I know, Beloved,” she murmured, her hand still rubbing his back comfortingly. “Patience will be your greatest asset someday. Good things come to those who wait.”
“What am I waiting for?” he asked, sniffling. He rose to sitting, leaning against his sister’s warm side.
“How about a story?” she asked, grinning, her seidr sparkling. She spun her hand and a small, green rabbit appeared before them. It was closely followed by a turtle. “Let me tell you the story of the Tortoise and the Hare.”
What he had gotten from his sister’s story was two-fold. Firstly, the moral of the story was that those that work on something for a long period of time will have their handwork pay off. The second, was that he had a knack for seidr himself.
Hela had helped him tame his first, surprising sparks and now he was able to create little animals and plants like his sister did for her stories. He beamed with pride when he was able to recount the Tortoise and the Hare for his parents with perfect clarity. He did not notice their raised eyebrows or the false happiness behind their smiles.
It was shortly after that, Hela had been married to a much older husband and she left for Helheim. Loki felt like he had lost his only friend even as Thor continued to sleep in the bed next to him. The blond just didn’t seem to understand him and day after day he had to listen to the older boy beg to be released from the nursery. Thor didn’t even seem to like his seidr stories, rolling away from the images with grumbles and mutters that he couldn’t quite make out.
Eventually, he only shared his seidr with his mother while trying to work on his weapons training with Thor and his father with little success.
The sun was beating down on the clay and Loki knew that he was panting. He needed water (or ice) and his wintery heritage itched to be unleashed to turn the clay ring into a more hospitable location for him. Instead, he settled for another cup of water over his head before he turned back to his sparring partner.
Fandral looked less than thrilled to be paired with him for the exercise. He knew that it was because he was Jotunn. He knew that it was because the man feared his Touch, which had started to get out of control in times of stress. Like when he was being whacked with a wooden pole under the noontime sun.
“Again!” Tyr called, signaling the beginning of their exercises.
He inhaled, raising his staff to block Fandral’s downward swing before twirling it expertly and thrusting it towards the blonde’s stomach. The dandy stepped back as he brought his own stave down, stopping his swing at the last minute. It was Fandral’s perry, the stick swiping at his legs. He hopped over it while bringing the other end of his staff down to rap the blonde’s back with a solid thump.
“Damn, Loki!” Fandral hissed, his staff completely forgotten as he charged at him, catching him around his unprotected middle.
The wind was knocked from his lungs as he was thrust into the ground. The blonde’s fist connected solidly with his face before he could get his hands up. He yelped, instinctively countering the punch with an outward push of his seidr. The subconscious action threw Fandral off him and a good twenty feet through the air and into the training ring fence.
The slightly older man yelled along with a sickening crunch.
Quickly, the Jotunn rose to his feet and raced to the hurt man’s side. “I am so sorry!” he apologized profusely, his hands hovering over the arm that was bent at a sickening angle beneath the other man’s body.
“Get back!” Tyr shouted, grabbing his shoulders and pulling him away from the injured warrior. He watched the brown eyes widen before the general yelled, “Get Lady Eir! NOW!”
Loki turned to race to the palace but was shoved back onto the ground for his trouble. “You’ve done enough,” Thor hissed, his large arms crossed over his chest as he stepped between Loki and Fandral. “You cheated anyway. No seidr allowed in the ring.”
“I-it was an accident,” he murmured, his eyes wide with worry as his breaths became shallow. “I didn’t mean to. I’m trying to control it…”
“Try harder!” his brother growled, his voice cracking with his adolescence. “You’re unnatural enough without your stupid magic. I mean, do you even shave?”
The hurtful words stayed with him as he began to cultivate his mask and he became more guarded, his tongue developing barbs.
_ _ _ _
He looked up from his book, a thick tome of shape-shifting spells, to find his older brother looking at him curiously. “Thor?” he queried, eyebrow cocking.
“Happy Name Day,…Brother,” the blonde said, taking a couple of steps closer, an uncertain smile on his face. “Five Hundred, isn’t it?”
“Apparently,” he muttered, his eyes flashing back to his book, uninterested in the brother that didn’t get him or care for him. “I am only a year younger than you, lest you forget.”
“Well, I have a surprise for you. If you’d come with me?”
He glanced up at his brother again, hiding his surprise behind his indifferent mask. “Oh? And did Mother put you up to this?”
The blonde head shook. “I know that we haven’t always seen eyes to eye but I do care for you, Loki. You’re my little brother, even if you’re a Frost Giant.”
“Uh, thank you?” He placed a marker in his book and closed it. With a small spell, he opened his pocket in space-time and put his tome away for the time being. “Where to, Brother?”
Thor smiled cockily as he turned and left the library, not even waiting for him to get up. Rolling his eyes, and with no other option but to follow as he always did, he followed in the crown prince’s shadow.
They wound through the gilded halls, dodging bows and curtseys and greetings. Despite the fact that it was his Birthday (Allegedly - No one truly knew for sure, seeing as he was adopted), most of the people they passed directed their actions towards his brother. It didn’t bother him as much as it once had, especially not since Thor suddenly appeared to be willingly spending time with him.
Thor grinned at him as he pushed the thick oak door open to reveal the courtyard. “Come along, Loki!” he exclaimed excitedly.
The enthusiasm made him pause. Anything that made the Thunderer that excited usually didn’t bode well for him. “Is it much further, Thor?” he asked, pushing past the blonde to enter the courtyard. He blinked a bit at the brightness of it but was quickly overshadowed by the larger man.
“We’re almost there, Brother,” Thor said giddily, tugging him forward by the arm.
As they entered the shadow of the stables, a fiery chestnut stallion was brought forth and Thor’s grip on his arm tightened. “Surprise!”
“He’s mine?” Loki asked, certainly surprised. “A charger?! For me?!”
“Yes!” Thor proclaimed, giving him a push towards the prancing animal. “Now, give him a go!”
_ _ _ _
“Your seidr can mend anything, but you must have the knowledge of the form before you can fix it,” Eir was stating over the crowded assembly. He was proud and privileged to be among her chosen students, though he was sure that his parents had convinced the Head Healer to take him on. He had surpassed Frigga at this point in his magical education and he wanted to make himself useful to his adopted home.
“Let’s begin by examining these mice.” A mouse appeared on the tabletop in front of him, making him jump even as several of the female students released shrill shrieks. “What is wrong with them? What can you do to help them?” The woman paused, walking around the room, scrutinizing each and everyone of them, her gaze piercing each of their souls. “Close your eyes, lay your hands on the mouse - gently! Don’t squish the poor thing. It will wriggle and squeak but ignore that. With your eyes closed, reach for your seidr and use it to look into the mouse. Where is it injured? Use the readings and the anatomy charts that you’ve been studying to fix the injuries…”
Her voice faded as he looked within. The mouse wiggled a bit beneath his cool hand, but he simply held it a bit more firmly. His emerald seidr trickled into the rodent beneath his palm. The creature’s hips had been broken. He inhaled deeply, thinking about the anatomy chart that Eir had given them to study a couple of weeks ago. Imagining the proper hipbone alignment, he allowed his little trickle of seidr to play along the shattered bones. The tiny pieces reminded him of a puzzle pieces. Slowly, painstakingly, he found how they fit together, all while trying to keep the tiny animal from experiencing too much pain.
As the mouse’s hips re-formed, he began to feel tired at the expenditure of his seidr. However, when he withdrew his seidr, the hips beneath his hand fully functioning, he leaned back with a heavy sigh.
Eir looked over at him, an eyebrow raising. “Have you completed your task, my Prince?” she queried, loudly enough that the entire assembly turned to face him, looks of disgust and anger flitting over their features.
“Yes, my Lady,” he murmured, raising his hand to allow the rodent to scurry about the worn tabletop. “His hips were broken. I have repaired them.”
The Head Healer made her way over to him, her eyes watching the little animal scurrying about. Her eyebrow rose higher still. She scooped the mouse from his workbench and examined the little thing. The other students did, too, their eyes squinting at his patient. “Remarkable. Your mother did not exaggerate your abilities,” the woman beamed, her eyes finally meeting his. “You will make a fine Healer, Prince Loki. I am certain of it.”
He grinned, proud of himself even as the other students grumbled at his success. It was nothing new, to feel so loathed by the common populace, but he hoped that, as a Healer, he could change their minds as he saved their lives.
_ _ _ _
He smirked, eyes darting among the women that were being paraded before his family like prized hogs for the slaughter.
Amora and Lorelei, the Princesses of Nornheim, were, admittedly, terrifying. They reminded him of Lady Sif, who hated him with the fire of a thousand suns. They were beautiful but they belonged to a society that saw men as second-class citizens that were only good for making babies. They would not be a good match for Balder, especially since a childhood illness had left him impotent.Hence why his eldest (and significantly more sensitive and knowledgable) brother was not his father’s heir.
Gefjun, the Light Aelf princess, was quiet - too quiet. Also, she was carrying on a well-known and poorly hidden affair with a ruler from Midgard. Their couplings had already resulted in four sons that were talented shape-shifters. Though not nearly as talented as me, he preened as he glowered down at the silver-haired woman.
The princess of Niflheim was squat and ugly, her thick beard clinging to her cheeks and trailing down her breasts. No, Var would not be suitable. Besides, Balder loved growing things and Niflheim was nothing but rock.
Sjofn, a duchess from Svartaelfheim, was also a known philanderer, in fact, she was spending so much of her time among the Aesir chasing both men and women, that he was honestly surprised that she had presented herself here today.
The final woman was quiet but beautiful. She was mild in temperament but carried herself like one of royal birth. She was from the far-reaches of Vanaheim, a distant cousin to his mother, Frigga. The instant he laid his eyes on her, he knew that she would be perfect for his quiet and studious older brother.
He shot Balder a look before asking, “What is your name, Lady?”
“Nanna,” she murmured, flushing a lovely shade of pink.
“And, tell me, Lady Nanna of Vanaheim, what do you believe the role of the Chief Advisor to the Crown Prince’s wife entails?” He lowered his chin, knowing that she was trembling beneath the calculating gaze that he had cultivated for years. But if she can stand up to me, then she is worthy of Balder.
The woman gave a small curtsey as she gathered her thoughts. “I believe that every wife’s job is to balance her husband. She should comfort and console him, provide for his health and happiness. She should be a sounding board for his troubles and be his confider in all things. I do not think that her husband’s position should truly effect what she does for him and with him, it simply effects how she serves her realm and her husband’s realm.”
He smiled. Welcome to the family, Sister.
_ _ _ _
Thor’s maniacal laugh kept him well-aware of where the big buffoon was. His hammer, the mighty Mjölnir, was singing, lightning and thunder lancing through the sky and driving the waves of rebellious Fire Demons back. The Aesir forces continued to advance, bolstered by the God of Thunder’s deluge.
He spun his seidr, creating doubles while watching the backs of his five companions. Someone had to do it, he simply found it ironic that it was the youngest member of the party who had to do it. Despite his rough start against them in the training ring, the Warriors Four had eventually begun to trust him. The use of seidrmeistrs in the field was becoming a bit more common, especially with the increased training in battlefield trauma care.
He had taken the course and was placed with Thor. It shouldn’t have surprised him but it had. Thor was not his biggest fan - too many brotherly pranks on his part - even if his friends had grown to tolerate his presence.
As Surtur’s forces resurged, he flung his knives at the advancing demons, keeping their escape route open, incase Thor lost control. Fandral’s rapier sang through the craggy, red bodies while Sif’s double-edges broadsword separated limbs and heads from torsos. Volstagg’s axes hewed necks like trees and Hogun’s mace spun violently. None of them, however, could stand up to Thor.
The heat was beginning to wear on him but he kept pressing on, hoping for a quick route.
A crack of thunder brought the rain and he shot his brother a glance. The blonde winked at him as the torrent killed the demons’ inner fires. He panted as the remains of the horde retreated underground, glad to see their backs.
“Another bout, my friends!” the Thunderer called. “Well-fought!”
As they trudged to the Bifrost site, Volstagg fell into step beside him. He gave the man a gentle nudge with his shoulder. “Well done, Loki. I saw how you caught that demon before it burned Sif. And the other one before it’s scimitar took Hogun’s head off his shoulders.”
“Thank you,” he murmured, a tired smile tugging at his lips. “I am glad that my work is appreciated.”
That had been the first battle that had helped bridge the gap between himself and his brother and his companions. While he never felt like he was one of the crowd, he didn’t feel like a complete outsider either. His praises were never sung but he knew that he was making a difference every time he took the field and, every now and again, he would have a toast given in his honor. The Jotunn Prince.
_ _ _ _
He sighed, running a hand over his smooth jaw. Well, it wasn’t completely smooth, his ridges stood out from the navy expanse. None of it was covered in hair, though.
He squinted, noting that the hair on his head was thick and lush. His eyelashes were long ands eyebrows were normal. But he had no other hair. It was an embarrassment in the barracks baths that kept the towel about his hips until he could slip into the water. He never strayed too far from his towel so that he could wrap it about his bare hips once he was washed, hoping that no one would notice his bare genitals.
The knock on his door shouldn’t have surprised him, but it did. He quickly threw a robe about his shoulders and tied the sash. “Coming!” he called, his bare feet, with their oddly long toes and claws that he had recently tamed back into flat nails, striding quickly through his rooms.
He opened the door to find his mother there, smiling at him. “Hello Darling,” she said, stepping into his sitting room with a flurry of skirts. “Happy Birthday.”
“Thank you, Mother,” he replied, flushing, rubbing the back of his neck, his fingers tugging at the hidden ridges there. “What brings you to my rooms?”
“Come. Sit with me,” she said, her smile slipping ever so slightly. She took her customary chair by the window and patted the cushion of the chair opposite. “I have something to discuss with you.”
Warily, he obeyed. His eyes narrowed and his mouth settled into a firm line. “Okay…?”
Frigga, All-Mother of the Nine Realms, gave him a bright yet bleary-eyed smile. “I want you to know, Loki, that you are my child. It doesn’t matter that you are not from my womb, you are more my child than Thor. You also know that you are not Aesir.”
He cocked an eyebrow. Tell me something I don’t know.
“I know, Darling. Don’t give me that look. I know that I am stating the obvious. The thing is, Loki, you are reaching your maturity. And with your maturity comes a few changes that I don’t want to surprise you.”
“I already know about the Heats and how they will open my feminine organs,” he grumbled, crossing his arms over his chest self-consciously. “I’ve researched several types of suppressants and I plan to use them.”
“I am glad that you’ve taken the initiative, Darling,” the Queen stated, flushing at the subject. Loki had to admit that it was an awkward conversation to have with one’s mother, adopted or otherwise. “But there is something else. You are not of the blood of Odin, thus you have no true claim on the throne…”
“You’re selling me to the highest bidder, aren’t you?” he queried, flatly.
“Yes,” she breathed, reaching across the gap to grip his knee tenderly. “I am so sorry, Loki.”
Thor found him several hours later, sitting on the far wall of Brandari’s stall, his head resting on his knees.
“I thought that I’d find you here.” His voice was soft for once, which startled him to look up at his elder brother with bleary eyes. Thor let himself into the chestnut’s stall and the loyal horse attempted to take a bite of his thick bicep. “Brandari! Stand down!” the Thunderer hissed pulling a carrot from his pocket and offering it to the charger. “Here.”
“Traitor,” Loki growled, watching his loyal companion step to the side, allowing his brother to pass. He let his head fall back down to rest on his knees.
His sharp hearing alerted him the fact that the Thunderer had taken a seat beside him on the straw with a heavy sigh. “I’m sorry,” his brother murmured, leaning his shoulder against his own tenderly. “I haven’t been the best brother - not nearly as good as you’ve been to me - but I am not pleased with this.”
Loki refused to answer. Thor, the imbecile, could still marry for love and he could remain in the home that he loved. He was not being whored out to whoever paid their parents the largest dowry.
Thor nudged his shoulder. “We’ll fix this.”
“HOW?!” he snapped, glaring at the other prince, his sharp teeth flashing. “I’m not Aesir! I have no claim on this throne! I should have known that the only thing I’m good for is marrying off to whomever!”
“I’ll tell Father that I need you as my mage!” Thor’s eyes were wide with his idea, shining with what he thought was potential.
“Father is not going to allow that. You have Balder as your chief advisor, so that job is taken.” He sighed, shaking his head. “I’m leaving Asgard. There is no way around it.”
“We’ll find something, Loki,” Thor reassured him, his heat bolstering him for the moment.
_ _ _ _
He was less than thrilled as he looked at his ensemble in the mirror in his bathing chamber. It was white, his least favorite color - the exact opposite of what he chose for himself - and it had a skirt. A sheer skirt with a slight silver sheen over white fitted trousers. The skirt was attached to his tunic, which was, thankfully, not sheer. Thick silver stripes cut through the silk, highlighting his slim but athletic build. Especially since everything was so fitted.
He ran a hand down his chest, smoothing the silk before rising to play with his plaited hair. He had to admit that he did look good, just not entirely like himself. Though today is a decorous occasion: The bidding war for the rights of my body. He grimaced before exiting his chambers to join his family in the Great Hall.
He was met outside the doors of the Hall by his older brothers. Balder smiled kindly at him, his wife’s dainty hand clutched in his own. The brunette gave the hand a tender pat, as if reminding him that his glum outlook might be far-fetched. Thor’s frown and large, unhappy eyes told him a different story.
“How bad is it?” he asked, shooting both of them a questioning look.
“There are lots of choices!” Balder stated, smiling forcibly.
“There is a decent mixture of peoples and genders,” Thor shrugged, still looking at him with pity. “None are worthy of you.”
Balder shot their middle sibling a look to get him to spin the situation a bit brighter to no avail. “Though, do you know what you want in a relationship?”
The question left him even more fearful. Covering it as best he could, he muttered, “None of your business, Brother.” His piece said and his course set, he pushed the massive doors open into the Great Hall and arranged his features into an attentive yet aloof mask. He was bolstered a bit by his brothers as they followed him into the room, their boots echoing off the marble as one.
Thor had been right: none of the prospects waiting for him met his standards or his wants. The women were vapid, flaunting their assets while their lips curled in disgust at the thought of bedding him. The men were worse, leering at him and making his skin crawl. He wanted to vanish, to simply disappear. For a brief, horrible moment, he wished that his parents had never adopted him. He dismissed the notion, knowing that, if Odin had not found him in the snow, he would have died in hours. Life was good, despite his current predicament.
A warm hand clapped him on the back, startling him from his daze. He blinked dumbly, shaking off his dark thoughts, and turned to meet Balder’s sad smile. “Hey,” the older man said softly, “How’s it going?”
“Horribly,” he hissed back, “I can’t do this! I feel like a piece of rotten flesh!”
The smile left his eldest brother’s noble visage. “I’m so sorry. I wish that I was worth more to Father, so that I could go and you could stay.”
He placed a hand on Balder’s broad chest, shaking his head fervently. “Don’t say that, Brother. The Aesir simply tolerate me. I could have a new life in a new realm…”
The brunette frowned. “I pray to the Norns that that is the case, Brother.”
The straw dummy didn’t stand a chance. His staff whacked most of the stuffing out before he moved in close, his knives of ice obliterating it into a pile of wood, scrap fabric, and golden straw.
“What did that poor man ever do to you?”
He spun, panting, his knives still at the ready. The bulky figure of Thor, God of Thunder, smirked at him humorously. “I mean, I feel bad for the practice dummy.”
Banishing his knives, he shrugged, “He had it coming.”
The other man nodded, understanding his predicament. “Somedays I come out here and simply blast them away with Mjölnir,” the blonde murmured, his eyes still on the wreckage of the dummy. “Being royal is not what everyone makes it out to be.”
“At least you know your future spouse! At least you can wed for love! I am the foundling runt that is only valuable enough to sell to whomever pays the most. I don’t have a say on who I am in the relationship! I simply must take it, Thor. And you will never know that feeling! You will never know my experience. Never!”
The blonde idiot simply blinked at him as if seeing that he was Jotunn for the first time. Which was far from true, seeing as the crown Prince had just begun to accept him into his circle a few decades ago because of what he was. His brother, the one that he desperately wanted approval from, took a step closer and wrapped him into a quick embrace. “I’m sorry, Loki. If there was any way to keep you here, I’d do it!”
“Relinquish the throne!” he shouted back at the blonde’s face, watching the shock set it. He lowered his voice to a more reasonable level. “You know that I am Odin’s spare because Balder is impotent.”
The other man’s mouth opened like a fish before his eyes narrowed. “You don’t have the blood of Odin.” He stepped closer, crowding him to the point that he wanted to step back. He couldn’t show weakness, though, so he stood his ground, his chest bumping against the armor that his brother wore. “You can’t continue his line. Jotunn.”
He glared, his scarlet eyes flashing dangerously. “You asked what would keep me here, Brother, and you know that that is the only way that I can stay.”
He inhaled slowly, his lips trembling as his heart felt like it was being crushed into minuscule pieces. “I don’t want to be ungrateful…I am, I just don’t want to leave…” he whispered, his eyes downcast to keep the sheen of tears form being seen by his slightly taller older sibling.
The blonde exhaled, boxing his lips. “Look, Loki. Somethings are destined to happen. None of us want you to leave but you don’t do anything here. You aren’t anything but a curiosity. With a political marriage, you could truly be something. And you’d bring stability to Asgard. Which is what we all want.”
Each word was like a knife through his chest, slicing at every organ and eviscerating his very soul. His nostrils flared as anger bubble up among the ruins Thor’s words left behind. Raising both his hands, he blasted the God of Thunder away, sending the muscle-bound oaf flying over fifty feet. Jaw set, he shouted, “It’s not what we all want! I’m the f*cking God of Chaos!”
His piece said, he vanished in a swirl of seidr, retreating to one of his hideouts until he cooled off.
_ _ _ _
“I don’t know about this, Beloved,” she sighed, throwing herself onto her settee in a flurry of skirts. “He is so upset. It’s like he’s being abandoned again!”
“He isn’t,” her husband replied flatly, his back to her as he poured over some treatise or other. “Loki is a strong boy. He can handle himself.”
She leaned forward, her stance becoming aggressive. He was her baby boy, after all, the child that she related to and loved the most. “He is capable, but you know how insecure he is, Odin. He sees this as a betrayal.”
The man she loved more than anything in the Nine turned to face her, his own eye sorrowful and bismuth drawn. “I love him as my own, Frigga,” he murmured, slowly bending to take her hand, kneeling at her feet like a lovestruck boy, pleading for her understanding. “You know that I love him. I hope that he does, too, but he must realize that, as a son of a king - two kings, really - he has a role to play. Hela is now Queen of Helheim, the most powerful woman in the Nine Realms. Balder has bought us certain peace with Vanaheim with his marriage and a steady hand to guide Thor, our greatest warrior and future king. Loki must do something to secure his brother’s position in the Nine Realms; it is his destiny.”
Her eyes narrowed. “So you think marrying him off to the highest bidder is what he was destined for?”
The white head shook. “No. Initially, he was destined to die in the snow. I saved him, altering his fate.”
“And now you think he owes you for that kindness?” she snapped, knowing that she was getting nowhere with her complaints. “Surely he could do something here - On Asgard! He is quite the healer, Eir claims - and he is Thor’s tactician! You know how Thor can be when he’s in battle. Loki helps to keep him from being too reckless.” She crossed her arms, huffily. “That’s what he does!”
For once, her husband didn’t refute her point right away. Unfortunately, the expression on her face told her that he was going to find a way to shoot down giving Loki a place in their military. After all, Loki, while their son, was Jotunn and her husband was very traditional in his thinking. Every Jotunn except their son, raised Aesir in blue skin, was vile and driven to bring ruin to every other realm in the Nine. Of course, the same could be said about the Aesir…
“Frigga,” her husband sighed, grasping both of her hands fervently and going them a firm but tender squeeze. “I can’t give Loki an upstanding position in the military. The generals - even the populace - will not tolerate that. You know that.”
She sighed in an attempt to keep her tears at bay. It didn’t quite work and a few tears slipped from her grey eyes. “I-I do.. buh-but he’s my buh-by boy, Odin. I buh-want him t-to buh-be happy.”
“I understand, my Love,” the King of Asgard murmured as he reached to cup her cheek, his thumb wiping a teas from her eye. “But he cannot simply stay and do nothing…surely he will find marriage enjoyable somewhere as the spouse of the chosen ruler. After all, Queens wield such power-”
She stiffened. “You plan to sell our son to a man!?! Are you giving him no choice in the matter?!”
The white head bowed before her even as he shrugged. “The Jotunn have a masculine appearance - Loki is surely more attracted to the male form than the female. I want him to be comfortable.”
“Comfortable?” she breathed, her lips trembling with a bit of rage. “Sending our least secure child away from the only home he’s ever known with a man that he barely knows is not going to make him comfortable.”
Done with the conversation, she pulled away from her husband and stormed out to her gardens, needing her space to gather her thoughts. After all, she needed to be there for Loki as his life was turned upside down.
_ _ _ _
“Midgard?” he choked, his throat constricting. “Among the mortals?”
The short man that stood beside his father was looking at him with a bit of shock on his face even in his unconventional clothing. He was wearing something with a large print of a kind of face on it over an odd sort of denim pants, all in black. His facial hair was dark, as were his unruly hair and his intelligent eyes, the shape was reminiscent of Fandral’s mustache and short beard. Despite his rather short stature, he exuded an arrogant air that instantly set him on edge.
“This, Loki, is your husband. He is a leader among the peoples of Midgard,” Odin grinned, proud of his choice (And, no doubt, pleased with the amount of money that the mortal had paid for his virtue). “And a man of great intellect. His name is Anthony Stark.”
The mortal’s eyes looked at him as if he were an experiment, examining every inch of his frame with such calculation that he couldn’t help but feel self-conscious. Inclining his head slightly, he greeted the man that had bought him. “It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Anthony Stark,” he stated, his eyes never leaving his betrothed’s face.
“You didn’t tell me that your child was a blue man,” the brunette grumbled, obviously displeased. The man turned away from him to face his adopted parents. “I want my money back.”
“We made a deal, Stark,” Odin hissed, his eye flashing with displeasure.
“I don’t care. I don’t want this…” The man’s eyes flashed to him once more, looking at him with a ridiculous amount of judgement. “Monster.”
Loki flinched, the word hitting home. That’s all I am. Anywhere I go, I am a monster.
_ _ _ _
The Heir of Asgard found him in the library hours later, his hidden tears run dry. The word would never not hurt. After all, who wanted to be called a monster. So, he had gone to the one place that he had never been called that word. The library. The stacks of ancient knowledge comforted him, showing him that he could rise above anything, like the heroes of old.
“I’m so sorry,” his brother murmured, taking a seat beside him, his back leaning against the stacks, his arms wrapping around his knees.
He shrugged noncommittally, unsure of what to say. The silence stretched between them. It was comforting to have the large man beside him, not that he’d tell Thor that.
Eventually, he knew that the silence would have to be breeched. “I fear that Odin regrets adopting me from the snows seeing as I can do nothing properly in his eyes.” He snorted, rolling his eyes as he shook his head. “I’ll never be anything but the unnatural Jotunn runt, monstrous to all who behold me.”
The blonde glanced at him out of the side of his blue eye. “I don’t think you’re a monster, Loki,” the older man breathed. “I never have.”
The Jotunn raised an eyebrow. “You’ve never liked me - don’t lie to me, Brother.”
The golden blonde head shook before the shocked visage of his brother looked at him. “I love you, Loki. You’re my brother. Do I find you annoying - yes. Do I think you’re a monster - never. Do I hate you…” The man hesitated as a wry smirk pulled itself onto his lips. “Depends on the day.”
The Thunderer began to chuckle, his eyes shining with a mischief that would have been more at home on his own visage. The sound helped ease some of the tension that he didn’t realize that he had. His own breathy laughter began to ring about the books. “I could say the same about you, Thor,” he chortled, gripping his sides as they heaved with mirth. “It depends on the day!”
It was just what he had needed and he would never forget the little kindness that his usually contentious brother gave him in those quiet moments in the library. Never.
_ _ _ _
The wind howled outside of the cave, reminding him that he was no longer among the Aesir. In order to escape the strict enforcement of marriage, he had fled. It was not the noble or princely thing to do, but he’d be damned if he was going to allow old, wrinkly Lord Haalfson shove his withered cock into his virgin heat. He knew his self-worth and he deserved better than to be a last chance bride for a man without an heir and on the edge of Valhalla.
He had fled to the only place that he knew no one would think to look: Jotunnheim. The cave was warm despite being carved from ice and snow with only the back wall built of stone. The fire in the middle was created by his seidr and not truly a necessity. It simply brought a bit more light and a bit of home to the space living situation. There were a few fur throws on a ticking stuffed with straw and down along the rock wall. He had a pot that he was able to fill with snow and melt over the fire and an iron chest that helped store and preserve his meat for future meals. He had a couple of sacks of flours and a bit of oil to make bread (his one true Aesir desire) that he had enchanted to last for as long as necessary. Namely when Lord Haalfson’s dead and burned, he mused. The main reason he had chosen the cave that he had settled in was the hot sulfur spring nearby. Bathing and cleanliness, even with the harsh smell, was something that he valued. After all, he could be making a life here for years to come and he’d be damned if he smelled like the monster he was.
Inhaling slowly, listening to the storm that raged beyond his door, he sent a bit more seidr into his fire to increase the heat. It wasn’t that he was cold - he, honestly, could not remember ever feeling cold - but he missed the warmth of Asgard. He was unsure if his true people ever missed heat or even had sources of heat but, due to his upbringing among those that dwelt in the sun’s constant rays, he had gotten soft.
The fire sparked and gave off a bit more heat as he settled into his furs with one of his spell books. There wasn’t much else he could do during the snowstorm but wait it out and pray to the Norns that it wouldn’t last for days like the last one. While he had plenty of stores, bread only went so far.
Don’t complain, he chastised, You could be on your back for the wrinkled dick of Old Man Haalfson. Besides, Jotunnheim seemed full of promise. There was much he could learn from his birth people and his home world, he simply had to be open to it.