He dreaded telling his middle son about tonight more than the impending event itself. He had given the young lad his own library, a work station offering him the chance to learn magic his way, through his own exploration and, to everyone's surprise, except Thor, the boy had magic in abundance. He found Modi Fosterson curled up under the table, a book on the floor, gently weaving his magic in the shape of Midgard's solar system. He was making each planet spin in turn, carefully ensuring they were accurate in size and movement. He waited at a chair until Modi finally noticed his feet and carefully froze his progress and got up to greet him.
'Hello Father,' Modi smiled, quickly, awkwardly and sat in a chair, waiting for Thor to speak.
Modi's name meant 'anger' and it had suited him as a child- his violent tantrums were the talk of the palace- but now as he was entering adolescence he was, strangely enough, more calm and thoughtful. Thor knew why, and he owed it to the boy's mother.
'When he grows, make sure you watch him, watch what he enjoys and let him explore it. Trust me, it'll pay off for both of you.'
He had her eyes, dark and deep, full of stars, but he had a head of long mousy blonde hair from his father, as well as Thor's height. He did not train, so grew lanky and wiry, but his quick and eager brain- well, that was Jane's to. Of course.
'Hello Modi,' Thor smiled 'how are you today?'
'I am good, nearly finished my model of Midgard.'
'So I saw, it looks good.'
Thor nodded 'Have you remembered this evening?'
Modi looked panicked, which answered Thor's question. He sighed and chuckled 'Don't look so worried my son, it is not for an hour. I simply wanted to remind you- I would really like you to be there. It is time you... met him.'
'Your older brother.'
Modi appeared to think for a moment, then it seemed to come to him 'Yes, you told me about him yesterday.'
The lad nodded 'I will meet him? What is his name?'
'Magni,' Thor fought to keep his gaze steady, looking away from Modi was often enough to set him on edge and it was difficult enough already 'he is part Frost Giant.'
Thor saw him look past to the opposite wall, as was his way, and leaned in just a little 'How do you feel about this?'
His son shrugged 'Did you love my mother?'
'Yes I did, more than anything.'
It was a question Modi asked on a semi-regular basis, almost as a reassurance to... himself? Thor wasn't sure.
'Then why did... Magni happen?'
'It was long before I met your mother, Norns rest her, and I did not even know about Magni until very recently, hence why I am inviting him to dinner. He needs to meet you and your sister.'
Thor tried not to be stung by that question, he liked to think he knew Modi well enough that he did not truly mean the question to be rude or cruel 'Because... he is my son. As you are to. He deserves a place here if he wants it.'
Modi said nothing, but appeared to nod in agreement.
'If at any point you want to leave dinner, then please feel free to. I only ask you stay a little.'
'May I bring a book?'
Thor stared off for a moment himself, then sighed 'Only this once, all right?'
'Thank you Father, is that everything? I have not much time to finish this if I need to get ready for dinner.'
'It is and thank you.'
He got up and walked away, trying not to look back, knowing Modi had retreated under the table again. His heart only ached a little now and he knew not to be so selfish around him. Modi was Jane's son, but he was his own person to. He was not simply a memorial to his mother.
But he was all he had left of her and that hurt. Especially on days like this one.
He found his wife and daughter in the training grounds, where Sif shouted instructions to young Thrud, as she spun and parred like a dancer. She was lean, graceful and strong like her mother, but with her father's blue eyes and long blonde hair tied back from her face. They both stopped and turned to face him. He held up a hand 'Carry on Thrud, I would like a word with your mother if I may?'
''Course Father,' Thrud grinned and ran back to attack one of the dummies.
'Husband,' Sif smiled and went to greet him 'how are you?'
'Well enough,' he gave her a brief but loving kiss 'and you?'
'Thrud and I have been training and she continues to show promise, but she has inherited your stubbornness.'
'My stubbornness? She did not get it all from me!' Thor teased, glancing over to her.
'She got it from both sides, Norns preserve us, I dread to think what she will be like when she grows.'
'She will be fine,' Thor smiled to her 'she will be strong, self-assured, a warrior. Like you.'
'You are the flatterer today,' Sif remarked with a sad little grin 'what time are we to expect Magni?'
'An hour, I have already given Modi fair warning.'
'Good,' she looked down at the floor, her voice low 'it will be difficult for him, as it will be for all of us.'
Thor took her hand and kissed her gently on top of her head 'It would seem I am doomed to pay for the foolishness of my youth forever more. I only wish that you and my children did not have to pay it to.'
Sif sighed a little 'My love, we will make it right some how, I promise.'
He looked into her eyes 'I do not deserve a queen as wise and beautiful as you Sif.'
'Probably not,' she agreed with a sly quirk of her lips 'but you do make such an admirable effort.'
He chuckled 'I am glad to hear it.'
Modi got ready ahead of time and headed down to his uncle's room. He had sufficient magic to fool the guards and sneak past to see him, currently practising some magic of his own that attracted Modi's attention immediately. His quarters were lavishly furnished with books and comfortable furniture, but the understanding was that he did not try to escape them- he was still paying for the crimes of his past, which would always be worse than Thor's.
'Uncle Loki?' He asked, walking gently out of the shadows, casting a small enchantment to silence the room to the guards.
'Ah, nephew,' Loki turned from his work, apparently a casting of stars and runes 'good to see you again. You are well I trust?'
'I am Uncle,' Modi sat next to him at his table.
He got up to pour a couple of glasses of honeyed wine 'I hear you are to meet your new brother today?'
'He's not new...' Modi shook his head 'he's far older than I.'
'Yes. He is also... part Frost Giant?'
'Like you Uncle,' Modi's large brown eyes looked earnest 'I am... not sure how to act around him.'
'What do you mean?' Loki took a sip and turned to his nephew.
'I do not... want to upset him,' Modi said 'I know the situation with Jotunheim is grave and my half-brother could be of great influence there-'
'Has Thor said any of this to you Modi?'
Modi looked up in surprise 'Well... no.'
'Then I would not concern yourself,' Loki smiled that thin little smile of his 'you are no diplomat nephew, you are a... mage, a scientist- as your mother would have put it- and your Father has wisely decided not to force you into a role you are not suited to. He has learned from the mistakes of your grandfather.'
The younger man frowned 'Then... why was I invited to sup with him and Magni?'
'And your sister and step-mother,' Loki pointed out 'you are all to attend. It is not diplomacy or... inter-realm relationships your Father is repairing, it is family. He wants to make amends. He already feels great remorse for what happened to me, to your mother and is mindful of Thrud and Sif.'
Modi looked at the floor 'I... see.'
'Simply be yourself, your Father will not resent you for it,' Loki rolled his eyes 'he's not the most learned man ever, but he is good with people. He will not steer you wrong.'
'I always thought you hated Father?'
Loki shrugged 'Hate is pointless and tiring after a while. I may not entirely like him, but I respect him a great deal and am surprised by his parenting.'
'Are you coming to the dinner?'
'I am indeed, but you won't see me. Your Father thinks my presence may... upset his oldest son.'
Modi tapped his foot for a moment 'Thank you Uncle Loki.'
'You are most welcome,' he bowed to his nephew and, to his shame, he couldn't help himself 'and how goes your work?'
The poor boy's face crumpled, he looked on the verge of tears and Loki instantly regretted his little game. The thing about Modi, he had learned, was that the boy was comprehensive, hard working and a frightful bore about his work- much like his mother was. Thor could listen for hours, but Loki couldn't. He also worked out that if you asked Modi, he would talk and talk and could not stop until he had finished to his own satisfaction. The problem with that was it would take him anything up to three hours and he did not have that long until dinner, the one time he had promised his Father he would go. To make matters worse, he came to Loki in secret and if he arrived late, Thor might work out where he was and punish him- usually with a lecture or, worse, taking his beloved telescope from him for a day. It would be cruel of Loki to subject Modi to all of that, just to spite... Thor? Jane? Himself? Not to mention Modi to, though he had done nothing to Loki. If anything, the lad was so much like him, or how he was as a youth, it was... uncanny.
Loki took pity and waved a hand 'Tell me tomorrow, for now you'd better get to your dinner.'
Modi nodded in relief 'Thank you Uncle. I shall see you tomorrow then. Same time.'
'Indeed,' Loki took the boy's arm in farewell 'until tomorrow. I trust you will not tell your Father about this little chat or that I will be at the dinner in secret?'
He watched Modi leave and set about remaking his enchantment, curious to finally meet the first son of Thor.
Dinner was quiet, with Thrud occasionally throwing glances at her brother and smiling. He returned them and continued eating.
'Is he late?' Sif asked as a servant refilled her cup.
'Should not be long now,' Thor replied with a worried smile.
'You've said that already,' Modi pointed out, Thrud laughed, stopping when her father shot her a look .
'I am sure he will be here soon,' Sif reassured 'you are doing well Modi.'
'Thank you step-mother.'
Thrud looked over to him 'What are you reading brother?'
He held up the book, showing a title concerning the turning of the planets in Earth's Solar System 'I have nearly completed my map of Midgard's system, including the newer planets my mother mapped.'
'The mortals do not have their own?' Thrud teased, but Modi did not laugh or even smile.
'None as comprehensive as mine. Mother's later work was unjustly ignored.'
She sighed 'Of course, how could I forget?'
Thor turned, worried for her tone, but the girl was not bitter or jealous, just... sad for her brother. He was so proud of Thrud, not just for her strength and prowess, but her compassion and warmth, especially with Modi, who was not always the easiest brother. She was a far better sibling to Modi than he had ever been to Loki. Sif to looked adoringly to her step-son 'You are a credit to your mother Modi.'
Thor reached for his wife's hand under the table 'All of my children are a credit to the women that bore them.'
'Speaking of which,' Sif turned to the door 'I think he's here.'
Loki watched, unseen from a nearby pillar, a unfamiliar feeling of dread in his gut as the door opened and a steward announced 'Magni Jarnsuson, honoured guest of King Thor and Queen Sif.'
He stared at the man who entered with a strange sense of longing, for he could have passed for either Aesir or Jotun. He was almost seven feet tall, broad and mighty like Thor, but with the blue skin, red eyes, white tribal ridges and dark hair of a Jotun, rather like his. Magni could've been his son. He wore the traditional robes of Jotun tribal war leaders and carried a war axe across his back carved from black ice. He saw Modi shiver in his place and Thrud instinctively reach for a sword, Sif to, but Thor stood to greet his estranged son.
'Magni, it is good to finally meet you.'
Magni strode forward, all smiles 'It is good to finally meet you to Father, I can call you that?'
'If you wish it,' Thor held out a cautious hand to him, the giant took it and clasped his father about the forearm.
'I do, I do indeed,' Magni grinned and Loki knew that grin. He'd used it himself more than once. Oh dear.
Thor winced as his skin began to burn with the ice, letting go quickly, but Magni holding on longer than was considered polite. When he let go, he'd left a soft black mark on Thor's arm in the shape of a hand. Sif got to her feet, but Thor waved a placating hand 'It is all right my love.'
'Queen Sif,' Magni bowed 'it is good to meet you to.'
'Magni,' she did not hold out a hand 'won't you have a seat?'
'With my honoured siblings? I don't mind it if I do!'
He sat opposite them, feet up on the table and hands behind his head 'You must be Modi, son of the mortal, how are you?'
Modi stiffened 'I am fine and my name is Fosterson.'
'Of course it is,' Magni shrugged and turned to Thrud 'you are my sister? Shame. You are rather pretty-'
'Magni,' Thor's voice was calm, but there was a warning there and Magni relented, swinging his feet under the table and leaning forward 'I am sorry, such impoliteness, you will have to excuse me. I am not used to such... company.'
He slapped his forehead as if he had forgotten something 'Where are my manners! I shall change into something more suitable.'
His skin took on a more Aesir hue- pale and icy with light brown eyes. Thor glared at him and rubbed the spot on his arm, the pain throbbing unpleasantly, but he waved the servants away when they offered help. He simply went back to his seat and had food set before Magni, who thanked the servers with rather pointed politeness. Loki was beginning to warm to his new nephew already. Thrud looked as though she would cleave the head from Magni's shoulders and Modi was visibly shaking.
'Modi, brother,' Magni barked jovially 'do you suppose our Father has a child by every realm? Do you think we have a half-dwarf brother or a half-elf sister somewhere?'
Modi dropped his fork with a clatter and pushed back his chair 'May I be excused Father?'
Thor stood to, nodding to Modi 'Yes, son, if you feel you need to.'
'Can I go to Father?' Thrud glared at Magni who winked back at her.
'Yes Thrud, go with your brother.'
'I'm sure that mortal was special though!' He called after them 'Such a tragedy really, but I'm sure she had her uses, briefly.'
They left abruptly Modi striding out, Thrud making a point to hold the hilt of her sword as they went, promising recompense for the insult. Sif's anger boiled beneath a barely calm surface and Thor walked, slowly, calmly, round to his oldest son. Magni simply smiled, all innocence 'Was it something I said?'
'You are welcomed as a guest and you are... rightfully angry with me, but do not think to take it out on your siblings, take it out on me.'
Magni gave a loud, dramatic sigh 'I am not angry Father and I don't see we cannot discuss this as a family- if that is what we are?'
'You can be part of this family,' Thor leaned across from him 'but I cannot allow you to torment Modi and Thrud so. They have done you no wrong.'
'I suppose not. Alright,' he leaned in as well, looking directly into his father's eyes 'my mother is dead.'
Thor stilled for a moment, then looked downcast 'I am sorry to hear that Magni... Jarnsaxa was a... very remarkable woman.'
'She was, although not remarkable enough for you to risk your position here in the same way you did for Jane Foster.'
Thor narrowed his eyes 'You know that was-'
'But third time's a charm eh?' He nodded over to Sif 'You finally married the right one and bore a perfect Aesir, unlike me or my poor simpleton brother-'
Thor's fist nearly slammed a hole through the table 'You dare-'
'I do,' Magni stood up and matched his father's face 'if I am to be a son of Thor, then I want recompense for you abandoning my mother.'
'I did not know of you! Even Heimdall did not see you, if he had-'
'Then what? Would you have welcomed another half-Jotun to court? Considering how Loki turned out? Or would I have turned out like him; a madman bent on destroying his own people?'
Loki raised an eyebrow, so he had a reputation in Jotunheim? Shame, that had been somewhere he had hoped to flee to should he finally lose his brother's favour for good.
'I...' Thor began.
'You would have cast me aside Father ,' Magni's anger was sing-song and threatening 'you did not know my mother was a Jotun did you? You probably would not have slept with her if you had.'
Thor took a deep breath 'Leave.'
'I only just got here.'
'Do as he says,' Sif managed, 'I will not have you here insulting my husband and his children.'
Magni rolled his eyes 'Oh do try to have a sense of humour, it works wonders, it certainly has for me.'
He took on his Jotun aspect again and walked to the door, grabbing a large leg of meat on the way 'I bid you farewell and will call by again to discuss my inheritance- or am I not entitled? I'd like to know now, save me the travel.'
'The throne will pass to Thrud,' Thor growled.
'Oh,' Magni mock frowned in a way that mad Thor's stomach turn- he looked so much like him just then 'poor Modi not up to it?'
'He does not want the throne.'
'Then he's more of an idiot than I gave him credit for!'
Magni very wisely left before Thor could summon Mjolnir and aim directly at his head.
Modi had a small ornament from Midgard that he turned and turned in his fingers to calm him; it was called a 'chi' ball and it made a gentle ringing noise when he turned it. It had belonged to Jane- she used them when she was expecting him. He doubted whether he remembered them when he was in the womb- but he liked the sound all the same. Thrud sat with him on a pile of cushions near his desk, her sword propped by the wall 'He's a...a...'
'A-hole,' Modi smiled a little 'it's a Midgardian phrase. I don't know what it means but... it suits him.'
'It does somehow,' Thrud smiled back 'ignore him. He is not worthy to be our brother.'
Modi nodded 'I know he lies.'
'He is just saying these things to anger us, to provoke you.'
'I know sister, I know,' he stilled turned the ball in his fingers.
'Our Father is a good man, he loves both our mothers.'
'My mother is dead.'
'He still thinks of her though,' Thrud said, quietly 'my mother said so.'
Modi looked at her in surprise 'Really?'
'Yes,' Thrud looked at him 'and he loves my mother, he said that to. It is possible to love lots of people at once.'
Modi sighed 'I know... I just... it's difficult.'
She patted his shoulder 'It is, but it's over now. I doubt Father will let Magni back into court after what he said.'
'You think so?'
Thrud shrugged 'I wouldn't. I'm sure Mother would forbid it.'
That was comforting and Modi relaxed a little, Thrud getting up 'I'm going to bathe and go to bed,' she said, checking his face 'you going to be alright?'
'I think so. I'd like to be alone.'
'I understand,' she kissed him on the cheek 'I'll be in my chambers if you need me.'
He watched her go and waved goodbye, waiting until the door closed and her footsteps retreated down the hall before speaking.
'Did you see him Uncle?'
'I did indeed,' Loki stepped from the shadows 'he was... interesting.'
'I don't like him.'
'I don't blame you,' Loki looked about at Modi's own collection of books 'I wonder though, how did he know about... well, about everything? That's curious.'
'If you say so Uncle,' Modi replaced the chi-ball in it's box atop his desk 'I too am going to bed if you would be so kind?'
'Of course, I expect your Father will seek my council on this matter. May even want me to meet with the lad.'
Modi did not ask and waved his Uncle goodbye, the whole day still playing on his mind as he undressed, washed and drifted into a fretful sleep.
Sif lay in bed, the blankets about her lap as Thor carefully got in next to her.
'I will not allow him back,' she said, firmly 'I hope that's clear, especially after what he said to Thrud.'
'He will not come back,' Thor agreed, his heart heavy 'I am so sorry Sif.'
She shook her head ' Did you know she was a Frost Giant?'
Thor pinched the bridge of his nose 'No, my love, I thought her an Aesir, she certainly did not tell me who she was...'
Sif laid her head back into the pillows 'When was this? I know I said I did not want to know but...'
'If you wish me to tell you, I will, but... you remember what I was back then? An entitled idiot, a rash, greedy, vain fool.'
'I don't disagree,' Sif looked at him 'but now I do wish to know. Tell me.'
He sighed 'I met her when I was adventuring with the various Norse tribes, she was a famous Volva, a seer, who always wore a veil to cover her face. The men of the town all speculated she was either a radiant beauty or ugly beyond reckoning, but she would not lift her veil. I boasted that I could get her to lift her veil and... I went to her lodgings and told her who I was and gained her trust... lifted her veil. I saw a very beautiful woman who told me she was of Asgard and... I believed her.... why wouldn't I? I was drunk and... oh Sif,' he buried his face in his hands 'she... said she had not truly lifted it, that she had two veils- one for the world of mortals and the other for the Nine Realms... she was hiding from both Asgard and Jotunheim to search for a better life.'
Sif did not move, letting him continue.
'She had fled to Midgard during the war between our realms, finding work as a seer and using her skills with magic. She never told me she was with child, never told me it was our son... If only...'
He faltered and looked to her 'I am a fool.'
'You are,' Sif said, a tad coldly 'but... you mean to set things right. You did right by your mortal love, and we shall find some way to do right by Jarnsaxa.'
'I shall go to Loki. He might have some suggestions.'
'I should think he does,' Sif kissed him on the cheek 'but be wary of him husband, he's still bitter after all these years and he could seize this as an opportunity.'
Thor nodded 'I know wife, he would know how to mould this to his advantage.'
'Go to sleep,' she whispered 'we'll think on this.'
'By the Norns I love you,' he turned to her, gently peppering her forehead with kisses 'more than anything.'
She nodded 'As I you,' she kissed him back 'and I would not like to think too much for a while, if you would care to indulge me before you sleep?'
He smiled warmly 'But of course.'