He finds the boy in a cage, bound by iron and magic, bound by masks and years of self-hatred.
There is fire left, yet, though, deep inside. Embers, barely sparking - but fire. The potential to scorch worlds, to raze realms to salt and ashes.
The start of Ragnarök, shackled like a common criminal and left to rot.
So very interesting.
He takes the boy, of course.
No one notices for months.
Healing is not instantaneous. Physically, the boy is a wreck, skin and bone held together by sheer hatred and innate magic. The boy has so much potential. He must have been breathtaking before. With care and time, he can be breathtaking again.
Mentally, the boy is curled inside himself, hiding somewhere deep inside, where the fire pulses. If he is sane, he’s clinging to it by his fingernails, through pure determination. But he has not peeked outside to see that his circumstances have changed, but that’s fine. Time is plentiful.
Emotionally… well, the boy was fucked up before being shucked into that cage and forgotten. He has been broken for centuries. No problem.
The boy blinks and raises his head. He waits to see what the boy will say.
“You are not Asgardian,” the boy rasps. He startles when his magic responds to his call, twining around him, prepared to defend and strike.
He lets the boy keep it for peace of mind and comfort. “No, I’m not,” he replies. “Do you know who you are?”
The boy nods. “I’m traitor,” he answers. “Monster. Evil.”
And, oh, but that burns. Burns like the heart of a mountain, deep and dark and hungry, for worlds, for lives, for the very fabric of being.
“No,” he tells the boy. “You are not those things unless you wish to be.”
“I…” The boy hesitates, glancing down at his hands, where the magic writhes, then to the sky. There are no walls or ceilings or doors here, unless willed into existence. No cages. “I am free,” he whispers, and laughs, throwing his magic up and out, reaching for the horizon.
“Yes.” He smiles, laughing as well, and holds out a hand. “I am Pietro,” he says. “And you are?”
The boy smiles, wide and enchanting, and he clasps Pietro’s hand tightly. “I’m Free,” he says.
There are a thousand worlds to see. Asgard is but a stone in a river, forgotten – except for hate, deep in the fire.
Ragnarök still burns fiercely, but there is time.
There is always time.