In all of Asgard, Loki has no hall to call his own. He's built none and wants none. He calls no place home, for his home is where his heart takes him. But, in Asgard he has taken for wife the lady Sigyn, she who is sister to Sif – and takes his dwelling with Thor in Bilskirnir, but even from there he goes and comes as he pleases.
So it does not surprise him that he's birthed a witch who knows his name and speaks to him through the fire that crackles in the hearth he sits beside.
Loki hears her, but says not a word in reply.
"Hvedrungr, hear me, I am Lily, your daughter, as all witches are the daughters of Loki, as all wizards can claim a witch for a mother. My son is in danger, I fear I will die – I ask not that you protect my life. The Dark Lord who killed his mother in his making, he seeks my wizard son. Please, protect him; I name Harry James Potter your godson. So I say, so it is done." He sees Lily in the fire, with red flames for hair and green eyes. She's lovely and he's proud in the making of her, just as he is proud of all his children – though some he does not understand, and some the entire world has learnt to fear. The boy in the fire is black haired and has his mother's eyes.
Those eyes are Loki's as well.
"Is she your daughter, Loki?" Ullr is Sif's son and Thor's stepson and has Loki's lean form and skills. That he is Loki's son does not need to be said by anyone, and likely never will be. Loki had learnt hard, upon coming to Asgard with Odin, to be careful to guard the mother's of his sons.
"She does not need to be, to make me godfather of her son, but – yes, I think I loved her mother once." Ullr shakes his head at that, for he can only imagine his wife Skadi's reaction to any other woman he might bed with. It would be enough to make Ullr seek his sister Hel for safety.
"Is there no woman safe from you?" Thurd teases from the doorway, with a dry twist of her lips. Loki rolls his eyes toward her; she's got Sif's golden hair but Thor's bright blue eyes. She lives with Freyja, preferring that goddess to any husband – and Loki can not say he blames her.
"Are you not a maiden, Thrud?" Loki flirts back, finding her blush pretty on her fair face.
Ullr huffs in attempt not to laugh, for there is nothing quite so much that Loki loves more than to flirt with danger – and Thor's daughter is just that, if not by her father, then all in her own right as a valkyrie.
Járnsaxa comes in with little Magni on her hip – she's one of nine, and her sisters are all Heimdallr's mother. Modi trails in after, and so Loki sees now all Thor's sons. Modi sees Loki and gets atop his lap; he's little and has red hair and green eyes. This son is Thor and Loki's both, for his temper is theirs. Who his mother is, Loki trusts that Thor will never tell – that Sif and Járnsaxa love this son like he's their own is enough for Thor.
"One would hope." Thor himself says, looking to Thrud with a raised brow. He's heard, Loki doesn't doubt.
"Oh, do not doubt your daughter, Thor – she's your only hope of getting grandchildren." Loki doesn't lie in that, not in Thor's own home. Modi and Magni are young, that's true, but the love of brother's that binds them won't permit them to make a home without the other.
Sif and Sigyn laugh from beyond the doorway, and in comes Sif and Loki's wife and sons, Narfi – who is older than Thor, and has skin is dark as dusk. He is the son of red clad Cisa, whose husband had been better off never knowing she had bore the boy by another. Narfi was father of Nott, who mothered Jord who was Thor's mother. So Odin had claimed a son in Tyr, and Try had hated Loki's sons and had broken his word to Fenrir so that the wolf remained bound, by his taken hand and by dwarfs' tricks.
Loki had regretted Odin winning that from his lips, that Tyr's wife had been his – and Odin by being blood-brother with Loki, had taken the son of Hymir's throne and hall, Narfi who could have been prince of Asgard but is not, holds Nari in his arms, cradling the boy who is his brother, but it's Sigyn who holds Vali.
Modi giggles and kicks his feet at the sight of the other boys, and Loki lets the boy loose to play with Magni and Vali and Nari. Loki thinks of the peace that he's found here, here is his family, and if one more needs him, he'll answer that need.
Loki watches the fire and waits, and when the fire flares green and a snake slithers from between the teeth of a skull; he steps through that fire and sees death and destruction left in the wake of a motherless wizard.
Loki tilts his head, looking upon it all. He thinks of great and terrible deeds, and that the making of witches and wizards - children of gods such as he, and Odin, and Freyja – all of whom are making children of their own who have magical gifts.
Odin had decreed that no more gods, as Frigg had said the same to the goddesses; that no more children with mortals should be born, and if this was what had come of it, their children hurting one another… Loki was sorry he'd disobeyed.
Loki heard the babe's cry, and climbed the stairs to his crib, he looked down upon him, and saw the sun rune that marked his brow, and laughed. It meant too, victor – and indeed, the boy had been that, to survive this. It was not lost on Loki; the sign that looked like lightning and that he would be raised in Bilskirnir hall, which itself meant lighting-crack.
Swaddled in his nursery blankets, Loki took him into the hearth fire and met Thjálfi and Röskva, brother and sister, who call Thor their lord.
"Are you now a child thief, Loki?" Röskva asks with raised brows, her eyes study Harry and notice quite quickly the similarities in appearance. Her hand hovers over her mouth like a hummingbird's wing. Loki knows she hides her sudden smile.
"Of course not, he's a orphan – and my godson, grandson, I suspect…now, where is Thor, I'd like them to meet. He should like his scar." Loki asks the two, it is Thjálfi who nods to where Thor is most likely to be. Outside in the stables, with his regal horned goats, Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr – nasty tempered beasts the two are, but faithful to Thor - and Thor loves the care of them, Loki well knows.
Loki watches the two of them slaughtered, not without a little relish. They may be Thor's goats, but it's Loki who most often remembers to feed them.
"Thor, whose child do you suppose this is?" Loki asks Thor, whose red breaded and red haired and has red blood upon his hands. Thor looks, and raises an eyebrow – the orphan has the sun rune, the shape of lightning – of light itself, but his eyes are Loki's and his hair as black as Narfi. There is a question in Thor's eyes as his meet Loki's own, and Loki is many things, but even he can not give birth in a male shape – and Thor would know the blood of his own children.
"Yours, I do hope." Thor traces the bolt mark and it glows, a shape of shadow fleeing it. They watch it flutter there, a soul black butterfly, and Sol above shines bright to burn it away. The light of Asgard is brighter than that of Midgard, and evil intent can not cross Sol's sight where she shines brightest.
"Quite sure I'm both grandfather and godfather, and that bit of darkness was what killed my daughter." Loki hisses, and Thor puts a firm hand upon his shoulder so Loki will not flee back to Midgard in a rage to find and put an end to the rest of those dark slivers of soul. Where there is one to be found, Loki knows that kind of work well enough to know there is more.
"Calm, Loki, you are all he has – we'll go together, it's how we work best." That much is true, and Loki breaths through the red that clouds his senses. Its blood he sees, because it is blood he seeks.
"You're quite correct." Loki mutters around clenched teeth. Sigyn comes quickly; knowing Loki is angry, for the sky overhead is clouding and stormy, promising wind and wet. Thor is not the only sky god, and well he knows where he got his nature from.
"Loki?" His wife's worry is plain upon her face, and Loki is sorry for paining her at the sight of him like this. Loki tries to smile, but knows it is grim and ghoulish, a skeletons smile – the promise of pain and misery. Death will not take pain away if Loki asks it of Hel; she'll ensure a proper torment for a sundered soul who harmed one of her own blood.
'Father?' Hel calls, and Loki knows his thoughts are quick and prodding like flames, warming – and warning – all that are near to his blood to hear him. If he is not careful, Odin will ask after him next.
'All will be well Hel, I will make it so. Have you seen the sliver of soul that Sol burnt? Take it up and wait, for there will be more of it's like soon. I intend to see the end of him. He hurt our blood kin.' Hel taps her rotted foot, and he senses her smile. With her presence is a cold that calms him, easing away blood and rage in the assurance in her, that one has only to wait and be rewarded.
'Very well father, do not keep me waiting long for him, or I will set loose Garm to hunt him.' Hel is not teasing about letting loose her hound and Loki smiles and shakes his head. His focus goes to his wife, who runs her fingers through his red hair.
"It is alright, Sigyn. This is Loki's godson, I ask you to watch him while Loki and I go to Midgard, for we shall not be long." Thor assures, as the sky storm builds and Harry gurgles up at the sky as if urging it on, Loki gives his godson to his wife, knowing she will keep him safe in Bilskirnir. They watch her go within singing of storms and then Loki feels Thor call the lightning, the thunder takes them to where they need to go.
The storm lasts only a day and night, lightning striking upon a ring with the black stone of Niflheim, a locket of gold that's inscribed with a stylized 'S', a goblet that goblins give up willingly – a conflict with wizards not worth offending gods, a diadem that a castle doesn't hide knowing their need, and a soul that tries to hide. It does not succeed.
'Are you satisfied, father? I have all of him, what do you wish for me to do to him?' Hel asks at end of the storm. Loki holds Harry, and smiles for the first time a true smile since the start of the storm.
'Be…creative, my dear Hel.' Her amusement is cold and creeping, like ice, it makes anyone shiver and then forget their danger until it is too late and there is no escaping her. Loki is content, and that night he forgets that Harry isn't his own son. Sol and Mani run from the wolves that are his grandchildren every night and every day for ten years and it is not until a letter comes from Midgard, carried upon the wings of owls, that Loki remembers that Harry is a wizard, an orphan and his godson as well as grandchild.
"What do you have there, father?" Harry asks, looking at the letter in Loki's hand with its stylized seal of badger, gryphon, snake and raven gathered about a 'H' for Hogwarts and a motto that means 'never tickle a sleeping dragon'. Loki's smile is grim.
"A letter for you, actually, from a Midgard magical school." Loki lets him see it, and take it, despite his want to snatch it up and rip it to shreds. Never tickle a sleeping dragon, indeed - or the father of the world-serpent. Harry reads his letter, and frowns down at it with a puzzled frown.
"What would I want to go there for? You taught me more magic than they could know – more than words and wands, and Bragi knows all stories, Saga can show me more of their history than they might admit to with a sip of her memory brew, and Idunn can keep me as young looking as you – if I so desire." Harry is eleven and doesn't want to be so forever, he'll likely bite of Idunn's apple after he is a teenager, and stronger than the boy he is now.
Harry is very much aware that he's a wizard in the realm of Asgard among the greatest mortal heroes, the gods and goddesses; it's a lot to aspire to. That is not to say Harry does not have his talents, Thor's sons have learnt that well. Modi tries, day by day to gain a hold on his temper around Harry who would suffer most if his wrath was turned to the wizard.
Magni has his great strength and Hrungnir's horse Gullfaxi is fast on land, air and sea, but Harry has taught him that that is no match for a quick mind, and Harry is the only one let to ride the horse with its golden mane.
It is with Vali that Harry has learned magic side by side; there is not one spell or curse of runes and wand that one can do that can not be undone by them. Against them, even Loki is hard pressed to hold his own – and he could not be prouder.
Nari can change his form best of all his brothers, like Loki, and there is no shape he can not get into or out of, day by day he teaches Harry the same skill. True though it is that Harry as a wizard may only have one other form, Harry's struggle with it – and Nari's realization that he can do these things only for his birth – has tempered the arrogance that once held him above the other boys.
Harry, Loki thinks, has done a better job of raising them then Thor and Loki with wives and mistresses on their own could have managed it.
"All true, but you may have someone you want to meet in Midgard, who is waiting for you." Loki admits he doesn't know the people he took Harry away from, who he made Harry leave behind when he was too young to choose otherwise. He doesn't regret it. Harry carefully folds the letter up, not meeting Loki's eyes.
In the garden Sif sings with Sigyn. Magni and Modi play at a game of wits and temper, Vali and Nari speak of spells and shapes, Járnsaxa speaks of days gone by and ancient history with Narfi, and Thrud tells Thjálfi and Röskva of their homeland and the battle there, and how their kin fought bravely and won – but that some are now einherjar in Valhalla, but the ones who remember them are nearby in Freyja's field Fólkvangr, and they will be free to come and go to visit as they will.
It the usual way their days pass within Bilskirnir hall, and for a moment Loki can not imagine it without Harry. He knows in his heart that he will follow his wizard godson, if he goes.
"Do you want me to go?" Harry asks soft as any whisper. Loki hears his fear, despite his attempt to hide it.
"No. I only want what's best for you, so you will not hate me for making you stay by my side." Loki runs his finger over the sun sign upon Harry's brow, and thinks of Midgard and how it has changed from the world it was. No more jötnar linger there, they all live across the swift never-freezing river Ífingr in Jötunheimr. Loki has not gone questing there since that time.
"I'd never hate you, father. I won't go to Midgard, I want to stay here." Harry says, and it sounds like a vow. Loki hums under his breath, and when Harry burns the letter before his eyes with his breath, he believes, and lets the fear fade with the smoke.
Harry lives happily until the day before he's to turn nineteen and he goes wandering, only to find his feet taking him to Franang's Falls, which roar loudly until the waters spill into the eastern seas. It's there he sees Baldr, Frigg's pride and joy, and Odin's prince. It is to Bladr that all Asgard will go. Harry sneaks up on him, finding Baldr is spying upon someone who uses the Falls for a bath. He can't help but laugh at the supposedly so bold Baldr, being but a shy pervert.
Baldr, who watches her, somehow hears him, for his head turns, his hair like golden light spills over his shoulders untied, and his eyes are pale like amber and widen at the sight of Harry sitting so near behind him. Harry wiggles his fingers at the young god, who puts a finger to his lips.
Harry doesn't heed that warning.
"Lo, noble bright one, what maiden has unmanned you of your bravery?" Baldr narrows his eyes, warningly, but Harry plucks grass and makes it grow, weaving it together as Ran goddess of the seas who drowns sailors who dare to underestimate her domain in nets like his, just once showed him in the halls of her husband Aegir.
Harry is a quick learner, and for his skill Ran had offered to let him wed her daughters – all nine! – if only he would keep her secret. Knowing that those daughters would likely drown him as soon as bed him had made him vow in invoking Var's name, that he would keep the skill a secret for Ran's kiss. She's been charmed and he'd survived what otherwise would have been slow and painful death.
"What are you doing?" Baldr demands of him, getting up from where he kneels. Harry takes a step back and Baldr follows, he turns and Baldr turns, it's a dance that only Harry knows the steps to as Harry makes sure that Baldr is never so close to him as to stop him, but he moves ceaselessly nearer so that he can see the bathing maiden. Baldr's spot is not to be faulted; from it he can see everything from her toes to the hair on her head
She's singing of suitors as she showers, and Harry listens for a moment before turning to Baldr with a wicked grin which makes the god's eyes narrow in suspicion.
"Why, bright lord, I'll introduce you two!" Harry answers what Baldr asked, and sends down the net - he makes a good throw, and hauls her up. She shrieks, but there is more anger in her than any fear, Harry knows at the sight of her that she's a goddess born and he'd best speak quickly unless he wants to go to Hel and explain to his sister how he managed to die so young.
"Hail, lovely lady!" Harry's smile is sly, and he bows to her letting loose the net. She spares not a moment getting free of it, hands upon her hips as she stands and bare of a stitch and quite proud of it.
"What do you mean by doing this, son of Loki?" Her hiss is a good one, Harry must admit, and her look is as deadly as any of the world serpent's worst ones.
Harry, who takes after his father and has Loki's ways of freely loving who he wills, no matter male or female, must admit she's got nothing to be ashamed about. She's as proud and as powerful as any goddess that Harry's ever angered, and that danger makes his words rush.
"Why, lady, the bold lord beside you simply is shy, he liked your look but wouldn't say." She looks to Baldr with a toss of her wet golden hair, making it dry, and smiles most prettily. Baldr sees his danger in her eyes, and holds his hands up as if to ward her away. Harry can't help but smile and counts himself lucky that she doesn't see – but Baldr does.
"I'm not the one who caught you, noble lady, I never asked his help, I swear!" The lady goddess sighs and her dry hair goes where she wills, hiding what Baldr had seen so plainly. It's a pity, but the rest of her is golden and smooth skin and he'll not complain.
"His help, none the less, you had and seen more besides than is right and proper for a stranger, who does not even know my name!" She brings her finger up to her chin, and only Harry sees that she's smiling as Baldr realizes she intends not to keep this meeting between the three of them.
"Why, lady, are you wed?" It's something that hadn't occurred to Harry to ask, and worse it would be for the both of them if she is.
"No, not at all, but what has that to do with anything?" The blond goddess demands and Harry sees Baldr slump with relief, but a son of Loki knows better. She's clever, this goddess, with a mind to be as admired as her body.
"Well, we like the look of you, we two who are named Baldr and Harry – so we are not strangers now, are we? What is your name?" Harry asks in turn, and she is taken aback, probably expecting excuses rather than an introduction. Son of Loki she'd called him as an insult, not knowing it for the truth that much is obvious by the way her eyes widen.
"I, I meant not to insult you, please do not be offended by my use of your sire's name. I am Nanna, daughter of Napr, son of Odin." Harry shrugs off the hurt, but knows it for truth too. Loki has bred monstrous children, and was Odin who sent them away from Asgard. That doesn't mean anyone will ever forget it.
"Well, I know only one way to undo offense, what say you Baldr to a wedding, the lady to choose between us?" Harry says it in jest, he knows with his dark hair and green eyes and his shaved cheeks he's nothing like anyone else in Asgard. Sometimes that is a blessing, but most times it is not.
"I will wed only someone who gives me Draupnir." Nanna states, and it's a common vow maidens make who won't wed, but the son of Loki has his ways – and smirks at her hasty wording. It will make for an interesting lesson, if she goes back on her word or not, most certainly she'll use them with more care from this day on, Harry knows. He takes it for a challenge.
"A pledge by Var, lady of vows, one of us will succeed and get you Odin's ring, won't we Baldr?" The son of Odin nods, and Nanna presses her lips into a thin line.
"By tonight or the wedding and bedding is off." Nanna states and Harry smiles widely.
"Done!" Bladr says, and leaves without a backward glance. Harry smiles at his back, knowing well that the son of Odin will most likely get Odin's ring.
"You are all too happy about Bladr leaving me with you." Nanna raises a brow and when Harry silently offers her his cloak, a shimmering thing of silver and invisibility that Loki had gotten, for it had belonged to his long dead father.
"What would I want with a wedding, even with so lovely a lady? I know my life will have more than one love, like Loki's. This will get you back where you need to be unseen, shame though I think that is." Nanna frowns down at the cloak, but takes it her hands twining about his for moments that stretch and twist time in his head. Harry can not see anything but her eyes.
"Sigyn and Sif and Frigg and Freyja, great goddesses all - took their husbands knowing their lusts, there is a goddess yet who would wed a wizard and not mind his wanderings." Harry lets both the cloak and her hand go, shivering and still.
"Please go, you will be wed tomorrow, I do not doubt…and I do not want Baldr to hate me." Nanna kisses him upon his brow, against the scar, and goes, wrapping invisibility about her. Harry sits and stays at Franang's Falls, watching the rush of water as it goes to the wide eastern seas. He wonders if there is a woman or man beyond them that he could find to love him like Nanna had said might.
It is dusk when Baldr finds him at the Falls, coming so quietly to sit at his side Harry does not notice the golden god. He does not turn to greet him, nor say a word that would be proper to do for the prince of Asgard. Harry closes his eyes against everything, until Baldr speaks.
"You aren't going to jump, are you Loki's son?" Baldr puts a hand upon his shoulder, and Harry looks at it, perhaps the prince did not notice that the hand wore Draupnir. He might not mean to flaunt a victor, but Harry still felt the sting of defeat even though Baldr was meant to win.
"I'm not a son of Loki, but his god son, do you know prince Baldr, that I practice the arts your father does, the women's work of seidr?" It means magic, and some in Asgard count it as cowardly. Some would hurt him for it, he wonders if Odin's prince is one of them. Baldr doesn't take his hand from Harry's shoulder, but his grip tightens, as if fearing that Harry will flee from him if he lets him loose.
"I think you love Loki like a son, and he sees no divide between god son and son, like you do not. I love my father, and I love my mother, and both I have seen use seidr. I do not have the skill of it. I think that most mortals would hate those who have what they do not- but we are not mortals, and that's more cowardly by far than the art of seidr." Baldr looks over his shoulder, to the path and the trees, and speaks to the twilight's empty air.
"I have the golden Draupnir from my father Odin's hand - but Nanna, which of us will you wed?" Baldr twists the ring off, and Nanna shows herself, still bare skinned and golden in the darkness. Harry wonders if she has been beside him all the day long. Nanna takes the ring, and as it is the ninth night and eight rings spill into her palm beside Draupnir itself.
"Why, my prince Baldr, upon Var's vow I will wed you and Harry too." Nanna declares, as if it is obvious, and she puts one of the golden rings of Draupnir upon her third finger and gives one to Baldr – who copies her gesture, and the other five golden rings to Harry. Draupnir she keeps in her hand, for she will declare her marriage in the morning to Odin and her father.
"Baldr will want for no other lover, and I will not want more than you and he, but if you take another, give them one of these rings, and I will welcome them into our home." Harry does not hesitate to put the golden ring, the other four he feels the warmth and weight of and knows Nanna must have some art of seers in her. He kisses her ringed hand, kisses the hand of Baldr too.
"My thanks, my lady, my lord…." Harry is keenly aware he is a wizard, and mortal, and Idunn's bitter golden apples will not cure him of that fragility. He keeps his eyes low, but Baldr tilts his head to see his eyes, and the fears there. Nanna sits, encircling her arms about his waist and laying her head in Harry's lap. They both gleam with a inner golden light, and beside them Harry feels as if he is a mar and blind to all else.
"My wife, would my blood not make him Aesir?" Harry feels hope, and knows it is wicked and wonderful. Baldr smiles to see the shadow in his eyes fading.
"Harry will be your brother by that blood, son of Odin." Baldr's thumb presses against Harry's teeth, and the order in his eyes is to bite and bleed him, and Harry does it, the taste of Baldr's blood is like mead, strong and heady, and Harry swallows it with a moan. His skin shines from within like a star is burning beneath the surface of it; Baldr's leer is full of lust and life. Harry licks the bite healed, and Nanna kisses his throat, pleased.
"So be it." Baldr says, and he touches Harry's brow, where the scar is no more. Harry wonders what else the blood had changed about his body, and he does not have to worry long as Baldr and Nanna wrap him and explore it all, leaving no inch untouched.
In the dawn, Nanna goes with Baldr to Odin to give back Draupnir and announce they are wed with Harry. Harry goes to get the blessing of Loki upon the very morning of his nineteenth birthday finding himself standing silently at the entrance doors of Bilskirnir.
In the end, it is Loki who opens them, and sees the golden ring about his hand and his skin shining like a small sun, and the smooth brow of his forehead, and smiles.
"If he hurts you, I will call you blind, and kill the both of them gladly." Harry knows better than to laugh at Loki's words, through they are said teasingly enough. Loki means them, and Harry hugs his godfather and does not let go until Sigyn, with her quite strength, hugs the both of them.
"Ah, so I see our Hödur brought his news to you." Thor says from behind Harry, putting an arm about his shoulders in a brother's greeting. Loki does not protest that familiarity.
"Hödur?" Sigyn asks, looking to Harry with a frown. She is Vanir and does not know Aesir ways as Loki does.
"It is the name Odin grants to my brother Baldr's companion, a twin to him by his blood Baldr made you, so Odin names Harry as a father does his sons, Hödur is now his name." Harry, now Hödur, wonders what else Odin gives and if all gifts were given out of goodness.
It is to Breidablik, Baldr's hall, that he goes, and upon the walls of that hall he writes runes that will keep all banes he knows by name away while Baldr watches with Nanna and they do not ask him why every name Odin is known by is writ to warn away. When he stops, Baldr and Nanna take him upon the ship Hringhorni, greatest of all the ships in Asgard.
They sail east with the sun rise and do not know when they might return.