"WHO!" Odin's blue eye shone with anger as he banged his fist on the arm of his chair. Frigga and him were the only ones in the rather large throne room, and Odin's voice thundered back in echoes.
"I believe Thor and Loki do, they were the only ones who saw them," Frigga winced after she said that, "at least I hope they were the only ones," she said more softly.
"Then why aren't they here? How dare they think they can get away with hurting my son!"
Frigga looked at her husband and in a toneless expression she asked, "is he?"
"What?" Odin asked distractedly.
"Your son? Is he your son?"
Odin turned his head to his wife and looked at her with a sharp eye. When he found no deceit, he said with all honesty,
"Thor?" Loki mumbled sleepily. He woke up feeling his head bob up and down. He then fell back on the sleeping Thor's chest, feeling inexplicably tired.
"Loki! Your awake!" Thor ruffled his brother's hair, opening his eyes, and smiling at him.
"Wonderful Thor. You stated the obvious, I'm very proud of you," Loki rubbed his eyes sleepily.
"Is that sarcasm l hear little brother?" Thor grabbed one of Loki's arm and began tickling him. The smaller boy shrieked in laughter.
"T-Thor s-stop!" Loki gasped, tears running down his face and promptly vanished. Thor yelped when he felt his brother fall on him from behind me. He groaned,
He turned on his back to see his brother's smirking face.
"Well that's what you get if you tickle me dear brother," Loki giggled at Thor's annoyed expression.
Thor smiled at him. It was wonderful to see him happy, his dark green eyes alive. Thor secretly loved Loki's smile. He also loved his little brother's laugh, it was always full with pure joy and happiness, nothing less.
But then Thor bit his lip.
"Loki…" he hesitated and his brother's laughter stopped abruptly. He adopted a serious expression.
"I don't want to talk about it Brother," Loki said, green eyes burning on Thor.
"But I've been a horrible brother to you!" Thor finally cried out, unable to keep it in any longer.
Loki looked away.
"You aren't," he whispered softly, wringing his wrists. Thor put out a hand on the tiny wrists, causing them to stop moving. He clasped the slender fingers with his rough hands and pulled him closer.
"I know what your thinking," he breathed softly.
Loki looked up, amused.
"Really? It is I who usually knows your thoughts. How is it that you know mine?"
Thor ignored him.
"You think your weak. That's not true. I know it isn't, because you are the strongest person I know Brother."
Loki had stopped breathing. His body went rigid against Thor.
"Your lying," he whispered, his voice shaking.
"Am I? Can you detect any lies when I speak Loki?"
"No," the dark-haired boy admitted. "But it does mean you could be wrong."
Thor turned his brother to face him.
"This, I am not wrong in Loki. I know it with my heart," he gave Loki a sad smile, "as mother always says, you are your worst judge, or whatever she said."
"You are you're own worst critic," Loki automatically corrected, but then after a pause, "thank you Thor," and they broached the topic no more. But that didn't mean Thor didn't stop thinking about it. He was not sure if Loki believed him; his brother had a very low self-esteem, but hid it very well. It was rarely ever even shown to Thor. Well Thor then would have to spend every minute he could spare to remind his brother that until Loki believed him.
"Loki!" Frigga put a hand on her racing heart.
"Don't scare you're old mother like that!"
Frigga had been about to enter her chambers when the door opened by itself, and less then a second afterword, a hand tapping her on the back. She had turned around, ready to attack, but to her surprise, instead of some enemy of Asgard, it was her child, looking as sweet and innocent as an angel.
"Sorry Ma," Loki looked properly abashed, but Frigga new better. She nodded however, turning to walk into her chambers. She turned back, arching her eyebrow when she saw that Loki was not moving.
"Well? Are you coming in Loki?"
With a nod, Loki gracefully slipped in. The fireplace was lit and the room bathed in a warm glow. Frigga placed her cloak carefully on one of the stands, carefully as not to ruffle it. She then sat on her bed in one elegant motion, and anyone who could see her could tell where Loki had got his smooth movements.
She looked at her son who stood in a tall, poised position, his hands clasped respectfully in front of him. His brilliant green eyes watched every moment Frigga made intently.
She shook her head, smiling. Her son would be a heartbreaker when he grew up.
"Sit down with me Loki. No need with formalities. I'm your mother, not your Queen right now."
"Yes Ma," Loki's lips quirked a little and he ran to hop up to sit next to her. Frigga grinned at the term of endearment Loki always used when they were alone together. She secretly loved it and she hoped Loki would never tire of it. It reminded Frigga that her children would always be her little ones no matter what, and it made her happy for an inexplicable reason that Loki held her in some special place in his heart. Since a babe, Loki never trusted easily, and she was glad to be one of the very few that he could put his trust in. Or at least she hoped he still did.
Frigga put an arm around his back, trying to ignore the way he stiffened. Why had she never noticed this before?
"We need to talk Loki."
"I know," he whispered softly, and her heart clenched at how forlorn and defeated her son sounded.
'Why him?' she thought. 'He's much too young! Why have the fates chosen him to bear such sorrow and bestow him maturity that grown men don't have?'
"How many times has this gone on, my child? We- I could have helped you," Frigga caressed his hair, wishing so hard that she could take away all his pain with one wave of her hand.
"No!" Loki cried out. "I do not need your help. I can take care of myself Mother! Do you think so less of me?"
Frigga's mouth dropped. Closing it immediately, she gently took ahold of his chin, and made him look at her. Frigga could see his despair swirling in those deep green eyes of his.
"Never would I think less of you Loki. It is not a weakness to ask for help. That is strength, to acknowledge your weaknesses and know when to ask for help. Do you understand Loki? You are not weak. Can you repeat it after me?"
"I am not weak," he whispered with her, but as she looked at his eyes, she could tell he doubted the words. Frigga sighed sadly and pulled the child close to hug him.
"You didn't answer me. How many times did this occur?"
Loki mumbled something in her hair.
"What was that? You know I can't hear you child."
"I said I don't know!" Loki cried out.
Frigga's breath left her. 'No, no please, let this not be true.' She felt as if she were the one being hurt. She hugged her son harder, as if to reassure herself that he was alright.
"It is our job to see that their children are not hurt. I would do the same to Thor, so Loki, and that is not a weakness if I had helped you.
"But I failed you my brave child. I was not their when you were suffering, and for that I am so ashamed," Frigga sniffed, "oh Loki, I'm so sorry. Can you forgive me little one?"
She felt his small hands touch her cheeks and wipe her tears.
"Ma, why do you cry? It's okay. I'm alright."
"You are such an amazing boy Loki. Don't ever doubt that, my dear," Frigga smiled at her son through her tears.
"And I cry because I hate that you were hurt so much, and I was not there for you," she touched his heart, "and that you think so less of yourself. My child you do not understand what a precious thing beats in here, but I hope someday you will truly realize what your worth." Thor had told Frigga about the comments those cowards had threw at her youngest son. All she held was a small of piece of hope that Loki didn't believe them. But when he had said that this had happened for a countless number of times, Frigga wasn't so sure anymore. How had they not noticed?
Her mouth tightened, if anyone, anyone, knew about this, and didn't tell, she wasn't sure she could trust herself not to kill them. Her youngest son always had a low self-esteem, and now Frigga had no idea how much more damage the others did.
She still didn't understand one thing though.
"But why didn't you use your magic, Loki?" She asked the question she wanted to ask since Thor had carried him into her rooms.
"I- I froze."
Frigga's eyes narrowed as she dried her tears, and she paused to look at him.
"You lie," she stated calmly.
Loki looked down at the velvet colored sheets of her bed, his bangs covering his gleaming green.
When he finally spoke, it was so soft that Frigga had to lean in to listen.
"I didn't want to prove them right. That I only had my silly magic tricks and nothing else."
Frigga gasped, her fists clenching in anger.
know that they insult the entire of Asgard by saying such a horrendous thing. Magic tricks! Magic is meant to be cherished, how do they think Heimdall looks at all the Nine Realms, with his wonderful vision? No, it's his Venir's magic, that's why!
"Loki, darling, you know their wrong, right?" Frigga tried to say calmly, even though she felt like screaming in anger. How dare those imbeciles talk to her son that way. It was not okay, and the only thing that stopped her from storming to curse them was the punishment that she and Odin had chose. She smirked in a way that would have disturbed many.
"Yes Ma," Loki looked back up, his eyes burning all of a sudden.
His anger made Frigga feel relieved. She was glad that Loki still possessed the anger to fight back and he was not yet broken by all the terrible things he had to see and face. She kissed his forehead and cheeks, smiling so wide her face hurt.
"I'm so proud of you little one."
"Thor!" Loki finally burst out. "You do not have to follow me around everywhere. I am not a child!"
"But Brother- I can not bear to see you hurt again," Thor looked angry at himself.
Loki sighed, and put his hand on Thor's arm.
"I am not Thor. It was a mistake, I- I made a wrong decision." His green eyes glowed as he looked at his brother, who had taken a step back despite himself.
"It shan't ever happen again."
Thor nodded, "but if you ever need it, ask for me and I'll help."
Loki smiled gratefully at his selfless older brother, wishing he could be as great as him, but it was never meant to be.
"Father." Loki stood in front of Odin, tilting his head respectfully. Odin chuckled softly.
"I wish Thor was as polite as you, Loki. Come up here," he said, patting his knee. Without waiting for a response, he grabbed Loki by his armpits and lifted him up onto his knees. He frowned when Loki went rigid in his arms, but smiled anyway when Loki looked up at him with a curious expression.
"I haven't spoken to you in quite a while, have I child? Alas I've been so busy for the past few months," he sighed through his nose, "but that is no excuse."
Odin paused to look at his quiet son.
"Can you forgive me Loki?" His one blue eye shone bright with sorrow.
"It's not your fault Father. I didn't fight back and it was foolish of me. I'm the one you should blame," Loki didn't look at his Father, not wanting to see the disgust that he held him in for being so pathetic for a prince of Asgard; for getting beaten up by a bunch of bullies. He felt his chin lift up and what he saw in his Father's eye shocked him. Instead of the shame and anger, it was filled with love.. and was that
"You are not stupid, and nor shall I blame the victim. And being a victim does not mean you are fragile or anything like that," Odin quickly said, seeing the immediate self-deprecation in his son's eyes after he said the word victim.
"You know Loki, I was once as tiny as you. I only loved my books, I had never wanted to go outside and play with the others," seeing Loki's disbelieving expression, Odin chuckled.
"What do you think I was like Thor, brash and loud. Nor had I had your brother's good heart," Odin sighed, "I was much too focused on seeing the negative things of the world, I had never paused once to look at the good. Your brother sees that Loki, the good and only the good. You and I however have seen and faced the crueler side of the realms, at a very young age." He looked at Loki, who was listening to every word intently and smiled. "But even your brother, nor I Loki, possess your goodness and way to forgive. My son you are a wonderful prince of Asgard, and I love you for as you are. Never forget that."
He lifted Loki with one arm and carried the boy past the golden throne room doors. He stopped once they were close to a window.
"Look at Asgard my son." Loki looked. Outside he saw the gleaming spirals of the tall towers and the beautiful waterfalls that practically glowed in the night. From afar he saw the round golden structure in which Heimdall stood in to observe all the realms and control the Bifrost. He watched the people roam through the dazzling streets, all doing their daily duties or mingling about and catching up with friends or recent news.
"Look at the life, everything that makes up our planet. You, my son, are Asgard's prince, and this place shall always be your home. Remember that you are surrounded by people who love you, no matter what you think. You know an ambassador who I was speaking to the other day, told me in these exact words, 'My Lord you have two marvelous sons, but your younger one, I like him. He has a good head on his shoulders, and is respectful, I am sorry to say my Lord, but I have not yet met too many polite Asgardians. He is a true prince.'"
Odin grinned at his son, "Lots of people say this to me everyday Loki. They look up to you both, you and Thor. Just remember Loki, you are not alone!" His voice was thoundrous and confident. Loki tightened his hold on Odin's hands.
"Thank you Father," he murmured. His Father gave a nod and they stood in that spot for a while, watching the sun go down, illuminating their realm in golden light.
"Brother!" Thor charged towards Loki, said boy had two stacks of books obediently following behind him.
"Hello Thor," Loki said without looking at his brother, concentrating at a book opened in his hands.
Thor looked at the floating books bemusedly, but then turned back to Loki.
"I'm bored. Sif and Fandral are fighting because it seems that Fandral had took some vial of liquid from the potions you brewed and put it in Sif's shampoo, because she insulted his hair and that turned her bald and now she's looking for a way to ask for your forgiveness and help her fix it."
"It is beyond me how you do not run out of breath while talking in your long run-on sentences, dear brother."
Thor made a face at him.
"Did you not hear a thing I said?"
Loki had. The boy had noticed one of the missing vials, more specifically, one for hair loss, and had snickered when he heard about Sif's misfortune.
Thor sighed dramatically.
"Let's do something. I'm bored!"
"Oh yes, let me drop all this interesting reading material, to go and help the great Thor get over his boredom," Loki rolled his eyes at him.
"Oh you are so annoying, you know that, right Loki?" They had reached Loki's rooms and Thor reached out to tickle his brother only to see him disappear.
"That is getting quite annoying," Thor grumbled to the air. Suddenly a thought came to him and he was banging on Loki's locked door.
"HEY LOKI! HAVE YOU FIXED MY HAMMER!"
Frigga smiled sweetly at the Aesir woman she was speaking to.
"It is either this, or banishment. I do not usually commend any Aesir who hurts my family."
"I must say, it really feels like I'm letting them go easy. Perhaps banishment is really the best idea."
Frigga rose a brow.
"I mean, please Your Majesty. My son- I- he is just a child," the woman pleaded.
"Is my son, Loki, heir apparent, to the throne of Asgard, not also a child?"
"No, no Ma'am," the woman pacified hurriedly. "I-I-"
She looked at Frigga dejectedly, who looked as unruffled as if she was strolling around the streets.
The woman visibly tilted.
"Of course, Ma'am," the woman bowed deep, inwardly knowing that she would have to have a very serious talk with her son. And scolding. A lot of scolding. Probably even spanking, but she wasn't sure if that would be too much, if the Queen's punishment was anything to go by.
"Good," Frigga smiled.
The woman shuddered. That smile made her decidedly uncomfortable. She sighed quietly. Her family's reputation was completely, and utterly ruined.
"Psst. Thor. Thor. Thor! THOR!" The crown prince continued snoring. Loki glared, conjuring a bucket of water (pulling it out of the air was too much work), and promptly pouring it on top of Thor.
His older brother kept snoring. Loki glared harder. Then all of a sudden, a mischievous smirk materialized on his small face, and he went bouncing out of the room. In less than a few minutes, Loki had two handfuls of paper rolls, markers, and some other things.
Thor blinked sleepily at the giant spider next to him.
"Why hello- AHHHHHHHHH! WHAT IN THE HELIUM IS THAT!" Thor backed away, only to find his feet was stuck together on the floor with some yellow gooey substance.
"Lokiii," Thor growled. When he tried to kick himself out, the goo melted away, causing Thor to fall backwards onto the ground. Immediately, a whole bucket of mud fell on him. The prince groaned, thoroughly annoyed. He screamed like a frightened girl, when the huge spider started crawling towards him, in almost a creepy, dizzying way.
"GET AWAY! GET AWAY!" Thor shrieked. He tried to get up, only to slip once more on the floor. The spider crawled on top of him, and Thor began sobbing, closing his eyes, and trying to kick the vile thing away. He felt something rumbling on top of him, so he peeked open his eyes to see what was the cause of it. Thor's mouth opened into an o, causing his younger brother to giggle more.
Loki was lying on him, his breath in stitches, and eyes alight with laughter. Thor snarled at him, shoving him away. The younger boy rolled away quickly, and curled himself up into a ball, his body still shaking.
"Very funny!" Thor growled. "So you were the spider!"
"Ahahaha… you should have… seen your face. You were all like… AHHH get away from me… ahahaha!"
Thor grabbed his still laughing brother, and threw him on to his bed.
"Don't ever do that again!"
But even his lips twitched upward, and it was very hard to push it down. Loki's laughs were annoyingly contagious; they reminded him of gentle streams, light, and happiness.
"S-sorry," Loki gasped, finally regaining his breath. He turned on to his back, giving Thor his best lopsided smile.
"By the way, that is quite a handsome face you've got there, dearest brother."
Thor rushed towards the nearest mirror, and to his horror and mortification, a hugs twirly red and green mustache was sharply drawn on his face, and his eyelids shone with pink glitter. He turned to punnel his brother, only to find his devilish little brother gone.
Thor screamed Loki's name on to the top of his lungs.
"Now," Frigga gave her son her worst frown. "You will clean all of Thor's room, then the stables, and finally apologize to your brother- sincerely. Do you understand?"
"Yes mother," the little imp muttered. Frigga pressed her lips.
"I know you get easily bored Loki, and I know you just can't help yourself, but be careful, less you go too far."
Loki looked down at his boots, his hands clasping each other.
His mother frowned. "Honestly, leading your brother to think he had a permanent mustache on his face… you know better." She touched his head. "Use that wonderful brain of yours Loki. You are the brightest child I know."
The boy brightened up, lapping in her praise. Frigga rolled her eyes fondly. "Now get going, you little rascal. And no dallying!"
Frigga and Odin stood side to side, both of their faces expressionless. Thor and Loki stood together too, the latter standing protectively in front of the other, as if he was ready to fight anyone who so much looked at his brother's way.
Six boys were facing them, each looking downcast and miserable.
"Brandt, Canute, Cuyler, Einar, Geif, and Iver. You all face the same charges, tormenting and harrasing the heir apparent, a countless number of times. How do you plead?"
They all quickly muttered guilty, not meeting anyone's eyes.
"Then you will be punished accordingly. Usually it means banishment, but the King and Queen have decided upon a different penalty. You all are to lose your family's name for two decades, and became servants for the Vanir."
A few of the children were crying, but they all nodded. Loki was glancing at his mother with an uncertain expression. She whispered, "what is it that troubles you my son?"
"They don't deserve this mother."
Her expression became sad. "Yes they do Loki. They-"
Loki did something he never did. He cut his mother of.
"They are children too. Just like Thor and I. Do not hold them responsible. They do not have a wonderful mother to keep them in line," Loki gave his mother a small, cheeky smile at this. "If you must, hold their mother's and father's responsible, but not them."
"No, brother!" Thor whispered furiously.
"Please!" Loki pleaded, glancing at his tormentors teared-streaked faces. "Please. Don't do this. It is I who should give out the punishment, right mother? It is me they hurt."
"I-" Frigga looked torn. By now, Odin too, had noticed the disturbance.
"What is wrong?" He demanded them.
Frigga pursued her lips. "Fine Loki. It is up to you."
The boy gave her a wide smile. He then took a deep breath, and stepped forward, ignoring his confused father.
"Stop," he commanded to the judge, his eyes on the six boys.
"You will be having a different penance."
Loki again took a deep breath. The six boys stared at him fearfully. He tried his best to fight down his fear, anger, shame and other unimportant emotions right now.
"You all," he began carefully, "will be ostracised by most of the Aesir children. If," Loki paused, glaring at them, "if you harm any innocent person, then you will be banished. Immediately. Am I to be understood?" Loki stood rigidly, as the boys nodded so hard that their heads could have fallen off.
Loki nodded as well, and he was about to strode away, until Einar fell to his knees. He went near Loki's feet. The younger boy stared at him in shock.
"I-I'm sorry! I was wrong. So very very wrong. You, your highness, will make a great Prince. You may deal me any punishment you want, and I shall gladly accept it. Canute and Iver followed his lead. But the other boys too, bowed their heads respectfully. Loki on the other hand was shaking as a leaf, but he controlled it.
"Thank you for your kind words Einar. But your penance still stands." They bowed, and Loki instantly vanished out of the room. The other boys gasped, their eyes growing wide at the spot Loki had just been. The younger prince had never revealed many of his abilities, only to his closest friends, family, and his enemies.
Odin's eyes narrowed. "My son may give you all some leeway, but I will not. If any of you step one to out of line, banishment might be the least of your problems."
The terrified children nodded, gulping.
"Good. Now get out of my sight!"
Frigga looked at her King, her blue eyes shining with pride and sadness. "Remember what you told me that day, Odin. It seems you were very much wrong."
"I know," the King whispered.
Thor looked between the two of them, confused. But it immediately turned into anger.
"Why has Loki done this! They should be banished!"
"Thor, it is like Loki said. It his choice to choose the punishment."
"Loki had a kind heart. Much too kind for any of the Aesir," Odin looked very proud as he said it.
"He forgives, but he never forgets. He has very admirable qualities, Thor, and you too may someday see the great value of forgiveness. You would be wise to follow his path."
Thor still looked confused, but then he clenched his fists. "If they ever come near Loki again, I will punch the Helium out of them!"
"Language!" Frigga laughed.
Loki sat on his bed, staring at his hands. He didn't understand why he felt like the way he was feeling right now. He felt like blowing something up, and sobbing heedlessly at the same time. He so was confused.
Loki had thought he stopped the boys punishment because he knew they would just hate him more, and it wouldn't solve anything. But now he wasn't so sure. Their tears got to him, reminding Loki of all the times he sobbed alone, quietly, healing his wounds slowly, and lulling himself to sleep. They hurt too, and all he wanted to do was fix it. But they made him angry too. Made him burn with shame.
Loki put his head in his hands. And he didn't understand why they suddenly apologized to him. He knew it was sincere. Loki could always tell a deceit. But why had they? He was just Loki. The trickster. The coward. Not fit to be a Prince, not fit to be alive.
Loki shivered. He hated these thoughts. These dark thoughts that made him want to scream, that filled up his head until he was ready to burst. It was draining, dragging him down till he couldn't claw out.
The boy stared at the wall, his jaded eyes hooded and dull, his mind swirling.