Thor peeked over the stone railing of the garden.
He was just tall enough that, if he stood on his toes, he could see the carefully manicured landscape spread around the central fountain beyond.
Lush green grass carpeted the feet of blooming red and gold shrubs. Trees forever in blossom drooped over the water, providing shade and an ever tumbling snow of soft petals.
He could see his mother sitting on the fountain’s edge, humming to herself as she wove.
Drawing in a breath, Thor climbed over the wall, and tiptoed towards her.
The grass was soft on his bare feet.
He made his path in a wide arc, approaching just at the angle of her shoulder, so that she might see him coming without his having to be the first to speak.
Frigga lifted her head and smiled.
“Thor. There you are.” She paused briefly in her weaving, pushed back loose hair from her face. “Have you tired of chasing dragons through the hall already?”
“I caught them all,” he said simply, and at the memory looked down to the wooden dowel he held in his hand that had thus far served as a sword.
He promptly stuck it behind his back.
And rocked up on his toes.
“Mother, I think it is time I have a real sword.”
Frigga lifted one delicate eyebrow. She looked to him, the faintest amusement lifting the corner of her mouth.
“Is that so?”
“Yes,” Thor said, with clinging certainty. “I am getting on in years, after all. I’m going to be an adult soon, and wooden sticks are fine for pretend dragon-chasing. But I’m going to be fighting real ones, and…” He nodded. “I think it is time I had my own.”
Frigga set her weaving aside, pinning it in place for the time being, and turned so she could sit better facing her son. He climbed quite contentedly into her lap when she beckoned, grinning as she brushed back his unkempt hair.
“So you’re ready to rush off to defend the realm, are you?” she hummed.
Thor grinned wide, bobbing his head.
“I’ve been practicing every day. Loki says I’m just about ready to join the Einherjar!”
Frigga laughed, as gentle and sweet as spring rain.
“Well, if Loki says so…”
She petted his hair. She paused, her smile softening as she gazed upon him.
“I think it is an excellent idea.”
Thor brightened, returning her look upward.
“Yes.” She nodded. “You should request one from your father right away.”
There Thor paused, his face growing pale. He looked down at his hands, still toying with the wooden dowel, turning it restlessly.
Frigga tucked his hair behind one ear.
“You think he will refuse?”
“I’m afraid to ask him,” Thor mumbled. His bottom lip stuck in a pout. “Sometimes he is angry when I ask him for things.”
“I don’t think he is as bad as that.” Frigga set him back on his feet, and turned Thor’s shoulders that he faced her. “There. I’ll be your father. You can practice asking me.”
Thor blinked, initial uncertainty making him frown. Then he gripped the dowel in his hands and stood to his full height.
He took in a deep breath, and Frigga folded her hands into her lap.
When she spoke, her voice came in deepened exaggeration of Odin’s tone.
“What is it, my son? I am very busy running the entire realm, can’t you see?”
Thor wavered. His weight shifted between his feet.
“Well, father…I…that is…”
“Speak, my son! What is it you need? Is it trolls?”
Thor swallowed hard.
“No. No trolls.”
“Then what troubles you?”
“Father, I…I would like to have a sword.” He paused. “Of my very own.”
Frigga lifted her chin. She squinted one eye shut and looked him over with the other, imperious and foreboding.
“I see,” she said. “And what makes you think you are ready for a real sword?”
“Well, I…” Thor tapped the dowel against his side. Then he held it up to show. “I keep breaking these wooden ones! I mean to be a warrior one day, and…and if I’m to learn, I need a real sword. You keep telling me how strong I am…”
“There is more to using a sword than just swinging it around,” growled Frigga. She shook her head, and waved her hand in a gesture Thor had seen his father use all too often. “A sword is a great responsibility! I suppose next you will ask for one from the royal vaults?”
“Oh yes!” Thor bounced on his heels. “The one that’s beside Mjolnir! With the gold hilt and the jewels!”
“Treason! That sword belonged to my aunt!”
They laughed, and such was the state they were in when Loki passed by the garden’s main archway.
He watched them for a moment, lifting an eyebrow in his own particular manner. A book nearly as large as he was lay tucked under his arm.
“Loki!” Thor waved. “What are you reading?”
“Nothing of interest to you,” he said airily. “Is something amusing?”
Thor laughed still, and hugged his mother’s skirt, face half buried in the folds of cloth.
“I’m going to ask father for a sword!”
“Because I deserve one!” Thor straightened and held his dowel aloft in a noble pose. “You look now upon the future champion of Asgard!”
Loki remained characteristically unimpressed. He glanced aside, nodding towards one of the stones lining the fountain.
“If you stand on that, you’ll look taller.”
Thor stuck out his tongue. Loki ignored him and flipped open his book as he walked away, leafing through its pages.
Thor beamed back to his mother.
“I will ask him today,” he said, with the lofty assurance of a vow.
“I’m sure he will say yes.”
She stroked his hair once more, and sent him on his way with a pat. Thor took off over the grass, dappled sunlight on his hair and tunic as he ran full tilt for the citadel.
In truth, it took him the rest of the day to gather his courage to seek out his father alone, when there was no longer any court to attend or pressing business for Odin to oversee.
He heard voices as he approached the throne room, soft under the cover of evening. Thor paused, and peeked in through the cover of wing draperies.
Loki stood before their father, speaking soft and reasonable.
“…teach him responsibility. A sword requires maintenance and upkeep. Any of the Einherjar could teach him how to clean and sharpen one. Long before he even sets foot in a sparring ring, Thor should know how to take care of what is his. He is also far less likely to hurt himself if someone shows him how to properly use a weapon, rather than wildly swinging it about, as you know he will should he ever get hold of one. That is the reason for your concern, isn’t it?”
Odin hummed where he sat, thoughtful, on the great golden seat. His hand touched his beard, and after a moment’s quiet, he nodded.
“I hear what you say, and you make a good argument.”
Odin waved his hand, in exactly the gesture Thor had seen his mother use that morning.
“Thor will have his sword. I’ll have one issued from the guards’ armory.”
“Thank you, father.”
Loki bowed, and turned to leave in the direction opposite of where Thor hid.
Thor’s hands clenched into the drapery in barely-contained excitement.
He could have sworn he saw his brother wink.