Rating: R for violence and sex (but mostly violence).
Pairing/Characters: Loki/Sigyn, Asgard & Co.
Disclaimer: Not mine. Not profiting. Don’t sue.
Summary: It dawned fair and clear, the day they sewed Loki’s lips shut.
Link to Chapter 1: Here
Frigga was many things, Queen of Asgard the least of them. She was a wife and mother foremost, a seer second, and a political figure last of all. She saw her son was hurting, and it wasn’t in her to pull away.
When Loki came to her chambers that night, he was paler than she had ever seen before, and he stood beside the door as though uncertain of his welcome. His arms he held close to himself, his eyes were guarded. He needed her, but he wasn’t ready to lower his walls, yet.
Frigga had expected no less. Through carelessness, bad timing and a rare moment of ineptitude from her dear husband, they had all let Loki slip through the cracks. There was not time enough to rectify that error in full. She stepped forward and took her youngest’s icy hands in her own.
“Sigyn has not left, little one,” she said. “She waits for you still.”
Loki ducked his head, hiding his expression, but his hands tightened around her own. The scars from the vartari twisted pink across his mouth. His smile had once been broad and straight, Frigga recalled; she wept that she would never see that happy smile again. It had been warped by hardship and pain into the twisted caricature of happiness, as Loki himself had, and he would bear the mark for the rest of his life.
“Come. I would show you something.” She drew him to a clothespress, tucked into a corner. She opened one of the drawers and withdrew a viewing stone, a small crystal specially shaped to hold an image within. She gave it to Loki. He stared at the picture it showed him.
Odin, younger and less worn, staring down at an infant in his arms. He looked tired, the bags under his eyes were substantial, but his smile was warm with love. Loki looked up at Frigga.
“Yes, that is you. You were a fussy baby, I imagine it was too hot, here. I tried every trick I learned from Thor, but the only thing that calmed you down was when Odin picked you up. For nearly a week straight he carried you. He even took you into the War Room with him.”
Loki stared at the picture, his expression unreadable, before putting the stone back in the drawer. As he did, his hand brushed against the blanket tucked behind. He went still, and looked to his mother before pulling it out. It was faded from age, but the ragged edges and stains were from love alone. He brought it to his face and smelled the fibers, but Frigga knew it smelled only of the wood that lined the drawers, and faint traces of her own perfume.
“I kept it,” Frigga said, voice soft. “I kept all your most cherished childhood things, as I did for your brother.”
Loki carefully folded the blanket and put it back in its drawer. He blinked; his eyes glistened in the lamplight, and his breathing was unsteady. He looked to her, and she could see the question in them without his needing to say it.
“Because I love you, son of my heart.”
He shook his head and backed a step. It was not enough. Frigga wondered if, on some level, he hadn’t remembered being abandoned as a newborn, if he didn’t recall the sting of being judged inferior and unworthy of love. She had thought that might be why he had cleaved so strongly to Odin, the first one to reassure him otherwise.
How sad it was, that now he could not accept it. Frigga sighed, and stepped forward to cup his cheek, meeting his pale gaze firmly with her own. Possibilities flared out in her mind’s eye at the touch, mingling with memories of those past. “Your father should have said this, but his Sleep came upon him too quickly, and I was too deep in my worry and grief to attend to my son. We brought you home with intent to wage peace with you as our fosterling. We kept you because we found we loved you, and you became as much our son as the one of our flesh. We never stopped dreaming of a future where the bond of brotherhood between two kings would end the bloodshed between their realms—but it was never as great as our hopes for you as an individual. Please, Loki. Forgive us for misleading you.”
Loki’s composure wavered, but still he stayed rigid to her touch. She heard a word echo through the past and into countless of his futures. Monster. She sucked in a breath and raised her other hand, cradling his face even as he stiffened. “You say you are a monster, Loki, but you are wrong. Your actions are the product of rage and grief, they are misguided and wicked, and they will cloud every interaction you will ever have. But you are not a monster, my son, because you can choose not to be.
“Know that whatever path you do choose, I will love you no less.”
He remained unbent, his heart racing beneath Frigga’s touch, until something in him seemed to snap and he sagged, burying his face in her shoulder. His arms came up to clutch at her dress, and tremors wracked his narrow shoulders. Frigga enfolded him in all the warmth she could muster. She was a goddess; she had much at her disposal.
“My son,” she crooned. “We love you.”
“I’m sorry,” he said, voice cracking.
“I know. You are forgiven.”
They stayed that way for countless moments, Frigga stroking her son’s hair as the wound in his heart drained. It was not healed, not yet. That would take time, and in the uncertainty of war time was a fragile, fleeting commodity. It was, however, a beginning.
Frigga’s part was played out, for now. She watched her son leave her chambers, buried in heavy thoughts, and sent a prayer to the Ancients, arrayed in the halls of Valhalla.
Loki was considering his choices.
It wasn’t the first time he had wandered the halls of Glaðsheimr. It was the first time in months he had done so without a guard, however, and the freedom should have been intoxicating.
All Loki could think about was of roots and water, and forks in the path.
The hallway lamps were at their lowest settings, glowing just enough for the servants to see by but not enough to set the golden walls shimmering, or to banish the shadows from the corners. Loki wandered. The ghost of his mother’s perfume clung to his clothes.
Preserve himself or preserve Asgard. It should have been an easy choice. Loki should have smirked and bade the City a fond farewell, and dug up the most richly appointed hole he could burrow himself into.
And yet, he hesitated. He couldn’t follow through, and he was afraid he knew why.
He processed down the grand staircase, trailing his fingers along the oculus’ shaft. He thought of ice and cold, and Sigyn’s pink cheeks and imploring eyes. She had taken his hand without any sign of disgust that it belonged to a monster.
Monster. He thought of his mother, and her revelations of Odin. Had the Allfather cradled him close, once? Was he truly seen as a son and not a trophy?
No. It was impossible. Loki had given up on those hopes long ago, when the cold embrace of gravity claimed him for its own. He had given up on anything but bitter revenge—but now his conviction wavered.
Frigga had rocked him, wiped away his tears like she had when he was young and scraped his knee. She had kept his childhood blanket, and though he hadn’t seen them, he was certain Urðr’s words were true and that she kept still the tokens he had given her. Why would she do these things for a Jötunn?
And Thor. Indefatigable, irascible, naive Thor. He had defended Loki through no need of his own, with no benefit to himself lest it be to ingratiate himself to Loki, and blunt as his brother was Loki couldn’t see him mustering the guile to make such a play. Thor, who stood at every juncture with his arms spread wide in hopes of welcoming Loki in.
If it had been Asgard alone Loki could have done it. He could have abandoned his true homeland to stay alive in view of the oncoming war.
Loki slipped by the Hall of Noble Dead. He walked beneath the imposing grandeur of Valaskjálf. The Causeway beckoned, and he had a destination half in mind, though the mere thought of it made his heart race. He wiped his sweaty palms on his tunic as he passed the rubble littering the civic plaza.
Face his fears? So be it. He would go to their source.
It was a long walk. The trade winds were fierce, where the oceans plunged to the heavens below, and the salt smell of the sea, tinged with the sour bite of the kelp mats he could see floating on the whitecaps, permeated the air. Loki stepped lightly on the shattered crystal of the Causeway, and his gaze skittered away from the iron stare of the Gatekeeper.
Heimdall was silent. Loki knew he could see the choice playing out in his eyes; what need had the Watcher to demand his purpose in being there? Heimdall turned away, back to his inland scrutiny, and it was as eloquent an expression of disapproval as any Loki had seen, for never before had the Guardian of Asgard been forced to watch his own land so intently, lest it be torn from within.
Loki pushed aside the guilt. It had no place for him here—and yet, as he stared down at the faint imprints of Mjölnir against the surface of the bridge, the guilt rose up, anyway. He stared at the miniature cirque carved into the side of Asgard’s rocky base, where once had rested the roots of the Bifröst and now spun open air, and spume, and beyond…
Loki shivered. He looked upward, but that was no better, for he found himself watching the anguished face of his brother shrinking away into the stars. He stood trembling on the border of safety and falling, and Urðr’s forking path spread out before him.
Stay and fight, or flee and be safe a while longer. Beside him, Heimdall turned to watch eastward. The tip of his sword scratched against broken glass.
Loki lost track of how long he stood there, staring down into the memory of his fall. Around him sea birds called, and Heimdall turned the watch, and the dim light of twilight made way for the spangled gloom of night. Faint shivers of light surged underfoot, pushing toward a nexus that was no more.
Your fears follow you, Seed-of-Laufey.
Loki snorted. He was riven with fear. Everyone was. What made his fear so different?
One path leads to endless warfare and the despair of your people.
They were doomed anyway. Thanos was surely with the Chitauri, he would crush Asgard and strain the dust of her unmaking like sand between his fingers. If Loki were wise he would retrieve the Gauntlet while he still could and seek to curry the Mad Titan’s favor.
One cannot escape one’s fate, Loki, son of no father.
One can avoid dying.
Does Loki of Asgard face his fears, or does he die a cold death in bed, denied the warmth of Valhalla?
“What do you want from me?” he hissed to the silent stars. “Which is the path you want me to take?”
Know that if you fear too greatly you will certainly fall.
The realization that the choice was his alone settled heavy in Loki’s heart. Urðr would give him no answers. He thought back to the spider. It seemed he would be forced to play this game out over and over again, into eternity: he, the laughingstock of the Norns.
But was Odin the spider, or was it Thanos? Which was the greater fall?
Heimdall’s voice was dark against the black sky, and loud where it broke into Loki’s whirling thoughts. “I see much, Son of Odin. I see enough to know that sometimes, looking ahead hinders when one should look behind.”
Loki shot the Guardian a dubious glance, but Heimdall was watching the City, and didn’t move an inch from his ready stance. Loki shrugged and faced back to the stars—but something plucked at the back of his mind, and he turned around, facing the City alongside the Horn-Bearer.
She glittered across the water, silver in the light of the waxing moon. Loki traced the familiar line of her towers against the cosmic horizon, counted the tiny lights that hung suspended in her shadows like fireflies in a hedge. She was beautiful, and Loki knew he could never abandon her, again. He had withered by the Mad Titan’s side, far from the warmth of his home and those faces he refused to admit he loved.
He took a deep shuddering breath, and a knot of tension loosened in his chest. The relief buoyed him up and could have sworn he was falling.
Odin was with Týr when his son came to him, bursting through the doors half in challenge and half in mad glee. Odin nodded to the Einheri-Goði and bid his son good evening. “You have come to accept my proposal,” he said.
Loki smiled a wild, fey smile. Odin saw Týr scowl out of the corner of his eye, but Loki’s madcap mien remained unspoiled. He bowed deeply. “Indeed, Allfather, I come to lay myself out before the knives of our enemies, for the sake of Asgard.”
“I doubt it will come to that,” Odin said, and his relief and pride choked his voice. “Tell me, my son, how can I assist you?”
Loki’s crooked smile went sharp. “Oh, no, Father. There is nothing you can give me that will help. Besides—there is a trick I have been meaning to try for a good, long time.”
Odin nodded. “So be it,” he said, but Loki had already vanished in a flicker of shadow.
Beside him, Týr spoke. “You trust him to return?”
Odin smiled “Yes,” he said. “I do.”