The air in the room remained heavy as Loki's gaze returned to the Allfather. His skin prickled as he felt the annoyingly sympathetic looks being given to him by his family. Anger piled in his stomach as the unwanted shame of weakness started to consume him.

"So, what now?" The question left his lips through clenched teeth. "The truth remains what it always has been? A shameful secret? Brushed under the proverbial rug until we all simply forget it completely? Forced with to live with the knowledge that I was abandoned by one family, only to be lied to by another?"

Despite his attempts, Loki's eyes watered along the edges. It seemed that no matter how hard he tried he could not stop the hurt that filled him when reminded of the lies. The shock of being dubbed the god of them, only to have fallen for another's filled him more embarrassment than he'd ever admit to aloud.

Odin's gaze softened as he watched his youngest son battle within himself. "What would you have me do, Loki?" His voice was level, "how do I rectify what I've done, in your eyes?" Despite what it might seem, the Allfather was familiar with regret and remorse. He spoke honestly of his mistakes. The loss of his youngest son combined with possibility of losing his oldest had seen a change in the Allfather. Noticeable to only those closest to him, but noticeable, nonetheless.

Loki did not give an answer quickly.

Haraldr noticed Loki's jaw clench and eyes tighten as he stood, contemplating what their father asked of him. The god of magic worried for what Loki's response would be. He knew well enough to not step in and put an end to what was taking place, this was all far from overdue.

Thor stood to his left. Haraldr could sense that the god of thunder was itching to intervene between the tense conversation before them. Thor had never liked conflict between their family and, despite what many thought, truly loved both Loki and their father, and only wished for the cracks in the family to be mended.

Frigga had pulled Dagny to the side of the hall, Haraldr suspected this was less in regard to giving her son and husband privacy and more in self prevention were things to turn to blows.

All was at an uneasy steadiness before the trickster smiled and gave a light laugh.

"Well, that would be good wouldn't it," he smirked, "You want to know what I want Father," the word was said through clenched teeth, "For too long your greatness, your lies, have ruled the Nine. Your mighty throne gained and kept by bringing peace to the realms beyond; or so they say at least."

Haraldr's skin began to prickle as he listened to his brother speak. The peaceful anger and resentment held within his brother was seeping out of him. Now more than ever he wished he'd been able to finish their conversation. Wished for the opportunity to ease his mind, if only slightly.

"We all know how the story truly goes though don't we," Loki continued, "we all know who won you your throne when your lies, when your deceit, when your conquering power became unhinged, and when the monster rose, and the Mighty Odin began to fall."

Three sets of eyes shifted behind him, and Loki's smile grew, "Like I said, it is no secret. It would seem I am not the only one that owes my life to another. The people of Asgard know of the Valkyrie's defeat, yet the legend fails to speak of the mystery behind it. Jotunheimr was not the first victory that brought you a son. Your lies have made your throne too heavy Odin. It seems it now suits you ill."

"Loki enough of this," Thor could no longer hold his tongue, "what you are insinuating—"

"What I am insinuating, dear brother," he said turning to look at Thor, "is that it is quite obvious that the time of Odin ended long ago. The realms have been kept in peace by another for centuries and it is high time that truth comes to light."

Loki then turned to Haraldr, "or am I wrong, Brother?"

Haraldr looked directly into his brother's eyes and with a slight turn of his head spoke, "Loki—"

"It shall be done," All eyes turned to the one the voice belonged to. Odin's eye was cast to Hlidskjalf as he spoke, "You are correct my son, your words speak truth that has been told to me by more than just your voice." As he spoke, he turned his attention back to his family. "The Norns have spoken to me of this. I will not hide the fact that I have done much greatness for not only Asgard and its people during my reign as king, but for the rest of the Nine Realms as well. I have brought peace and protection to those under my watchful eye for many a millennium. However, my greatest faults have not come from my title of king, but from my title of father. I tried to prepare you, protect you, and your brothers for the futures you are all destined for and in doing so pushed for what I thought best.

"Haraldr had grown and suffered through more than most by the time he became my son. He had his moral opinions already set and merely needed the slightest amount of my guidance to become who is standing with us now. You and Thor were my second chance, and I failed you. I was afraid if I did not push you to meet Asgardian standards, you'd grow to show your true bloodline. I feared for you Loki and the fear turned to mistrust. You deserved better."

As he spoke his eye turned to Thor and then settled on Haraldr, "It will be announced to the Counsel tomorrow that my reign will be ending and preparations for Haraldr's coronation shall begin to take place."

He again turned his eye to Loki, "I know not if this is enough to stem your hatred for me, my son, but I do hope it was enough to mend the strain put on our family."

Loki's eyes narrowed and he smiled with his teeth, "Well, we'll see won't we."

The two held their gaze before an airy clap turned their attention to the side of the room.

"Well," Frigga exclaimed, "don't we have much to celebrate tonight!"

She and Dagny made their way back over to the others in the room.

"Our family together again, and the dawn of a new age is at our heels," she continued, "The Norns will celebrate with us for many a night."

"The Allmother is correct," Dagny added as she moved to stand by her husband, "I suspect if we listen carefully tonight, we will hear them joining us in song."

"Doubtful," Haraldr added as he rested an arm around his wife, "I am sure they have far more important things to do than rejoice in any matters related to me."

"What makes up think you are the only one here they would have cause to celebrate?" she teased

"Precisely Brother," Thor joined throwing an arm around Haraldr's shoulders, his other thrown around Loki's, "they are likely to celebrate all three sons of Odin and the future for the Nine. May our future enemies quake in fear of our greatness."

"He is right Haraldr," Loki joined, "our enemies will greatly fear being squashed by Thor's giant head."

It was with jest that Thor shoved his younger brother away and Haraldr witnessed a fondness he hadn't seen in many years fill Loki's eyes.

"There will be many grand feats in your futures worthy of celebration," Odin stepped in, "Tonight, however, we celebrate your latest victory. Heimdall has kept me informed of what he was able to see while you were away," he looked to his two youngest sons before resting to his oldest, "though, I'm greatly interest to know what took place when you were beyond both his and my sight."

Haraldr's mind shifted as he was reminded of their original task upon returning to the Golden City.

"He was able to follow you through most of your journey, however he noted many gaps in his sight. What discussions did you cloak from him Haraldr?" Odin's voice was steady, holding genuine curiosity.

Haraldr lowered his arm from Dagny's waist and stepped forward towards his father.

"While our journey ended in victory over our enemy and the return of Loki to us," the prince began, "it has revealed to us the great possibility of future conflict. It was not Heimdall I was intentionally concealing information from, but the mortals of Midgard. For I fear what they would do with the information had it been given to them freely."

"What information, my son?" Odin's eye hardened.

Haraldr looked to his brothers briefly before looking back to the Allfather, "Someone is seeking to unite the Infinity Stones."

The reveal of this information caused air in the great hall to grow heavier.

"You are sure of this Haraldr?" Frigga asked her eyes focused and shrewd.

"Quite positive, Mother," Loki answered for him.

The queen turned her attention to her youngest, "How do you know this?" she asked quietly.

"The one seeking them out was the one that held Loki captive," Thor's voice held anger as he responded.

Odin was silent as he processed the information and turned to walk towards the throne, "Do we have a name for this being?"

Thor and Haraldr both looked to Loki and found his jaw set firmly.

"Well?" Odin question after receiving no reply.

"Not yet, Father," gave Haraldr, "to protect himself during captivity, Loki has sworn an oath to protect his benefactor's secrets."

Frigga, Dagny, and even Odin himself looked in different stages of grief at the reveal of this information. Odin turned his eye to his youngest looking at him with a mix of sympathy and regret.

"We all do what we must to survive in desperate situations," his voice was uncharacteristically soft as he spoke.

"You would know, wouldn't you?" The trickster replied.

"Easy Loki," Haraldr stated stepping between the two, "Father in our victory we accumulated two of the Stones. The Tesseract, which I believe houses the Space Stone, was recovered, and used to bring Thor and Loki home. Heimdall is keeping watch of the cube and awaits further instruction to begin repairing the Bifrost."

"And the other?" Odin asked, brushing off Loki's comment, "You spoke of two Stones. It was left with your mortal comrades I presume?" The Allfather's voice was heavy with skepticism.

"Do you doubt my judgement so severely, Father?" Haraldr joked, "No, as well meaning of a team Thor now finds himself on, their leadership cannot be trusted with an object as powerful as an Infinity Stone. The Mind Stone has been placed in a trusted and secure location."

"I was unaware there were any trusted and secure locations on Midgard," Odin shot back.

Haraldr sighed, "It is temporary, Father," he justified, "only until permanent placement can be decided."

"Where?" The Allfather questioned sternly.

"Hogwarts," Haraldr replied stoically, "With one I hold a great amount of faith in, concealed behind my own magical signature," Odin continued to look skeptical, "It is safe, Father. I ask you to trust me."

Odin investigated his son and considered his words.

"Tomorrow we will discuss plans for its removal and new placement," Haraldr nodded in agreement, "Is there more I am unaware of?" He looked between all of his children and received headshakes indicating they had revealed all of their information to him.

"Very well," Frigga's once again joyful voice resounded, "anymore discussion can wait. If I am not wrong, Andhrímnir has prepared a great feast in celebration of tonight. Let us not keep our friends waiting longer than they have already. Loki, my son, when news spread of your survival plans of celebration began straight away." As she spoke, she wrapped her arms once again around the Trickster. "The merriments will last for weeks in your honor."

"Hail!" Thor once again cheered loudly, "Come Brother, let us recount our victory over the monster Cull Obsidian. It is certain to put Fandral in his place."

Loki raised an eyebrow and smirked at his brother's words as he walked with him and Frigga out of the throne room and towards the feasting halls.

Dagny smiled at her brother-in-laws' retreating forms before too making her way to join the feasts. She turned briefly to look to her husband. Vibrant green met crystal blue and she nodded once in response to their silent conversation before turning and making her leave.

Now with Odin alone Haraldr allowed himself to drop his usual soldier façade. He turned and found his father facing the large golden throne.

"Father do not feel forced to hand over your throne," he started, "I will talk to Loki. He is simply hurting from discovering the truth and my lies."

"My lies, Haraldr," the Allfather spoke quietly, "For the first in a long while, Loki spoke the truth in my presence. You tried to warn me all of those years ago, and I thought I knew better."

The mighty god turned back to his oldest son and spoke firmly, "It is time Haraldr."

"Father…" Haraldr replied shaking his head.

"He was right, it has been many centuries since I guided the peace between the realms. If it hadn't been for you Asgard's fate would have been lost long ago," with a tilt of his head he gestured to the stairs, "Come," and they both moved to sit.

"My time in this world is ending Haraldr," the god of magic found his eyes closing in disbelief at his father's words, "It is true. There is no sense in hiding it from you. It is for the best that Asgard adjusts to its heir ruling before my depart. Your brother's comments only support this fact."

Haraldr looked down at his hands, "I never asked this."

"And that is what will make you a great king," Odin comforted, "Asgard already follows your judgement. They did before you were even declared as my son and heir. They will be guided by your bravery and loyalty to the Nine Realms."

The king and heir sat on the steps of the throne, each silently recollecting on the years and events that brought them here.

"Why make me your heir?" Haraldr questioned broke the silence, "You had Frigga and the obvious ability to have produce one of your own. What was the basis of your decision?"

Odin was silent as he contemplated his answer. He turned his eye to the ceiling, observing the glass depiction of his family. His eye floated over the representations of Frigga standing next to him and took in the sight of his sons. Haraldr in the middle with Thor and Loki on either side. Blue eye sought the glass-green staring down at him from above.

"The Norns spoke to me early into my reign," the king's voice was quiet and steady as he recalled the past, "They spoke of one that would come, one that would be a savior of the realms, a bringer of peace, a great king of Asgard," he paused for a moment, "I naively believed they had been describing me and my rule. It was that belief that guided me to expand the realms and drove my boasting of our greatness, which in turn fueled Hela's lust for bloodshed. It was when her power grew too great, too unstoppable that I'd realized I'd quite forgotten about the prophecy all together. It wasn't until her imprisonment that I allowed myself to hear the Norns again, to be reminded of what they told me. I was reminded again when you approached me on Midgard," he gave a slight chuckle at the distant memory, "Even with all of my sights, I did not see you coming that night," Haraldr looked down, a small smirk appeared on his face.

"What made you trust me?"

Odin took at his son, "There were many inquisitive aspects about you during our first meeting that made me not quite ready to officially part from your company," Haraldr gave a laugh at the memory of his first jumbled meeting with the grand Allfather, "However, it was your memories that told me of your truthfulness. I was quite curious about Harry Potter. Found myself both worried and comforted in his presence and knew should he turn out to be a great evil it was best it happens where he would easily be dealt with."

"You'd have sent me to the dungeons, Father," the accusation came with another laugh.

"It is not as if I was aware of your full character at the time, Haraldr," Odin smiled back, "It was after Hela broke free, though, that I made my final decision. Still within your first century with us, you hadn't even tasted the sweetness of the golden apples at this point, looking like a child facing a giant in her presence. Yet you were unafraid…"

Haraldr snorted at that, "False, I was terrified."

Odin smiled, "And yet you faced her anyway, with only a wand in hand..."

"…Swords obviously weren't working…"

"...and conquered Death when no one else could," Odin sat in amazement of the past, "And I knew. I knew I had found the one the Norns spoke of," he turned his eye to Haraldr, "I am only lucky he accepted offer, that I now call him Son."

Haraldr looked to his father and knew not how to comment further. Odin gave him a pitying smile and raised a hand to his shoulder.

"You will make a great king," he spoke firmly, "with or without the prophecy to declare it so."

Haraldr swallowed slightly under his father's proud gaze and nodded in reply.

"Alright," Odin said standing up, "Let us join the festivities, for they are well deserved," he made way to leave the throne room, "If we are lucky Volstagg will have left us a bite of the Sæhrímnir."

Haraldr laughed in reply to his father's comments and stood to follow him. Before leaving the room, he turned and looked to Hlidskjalf. A small smile made its way to his face.

00000000000

Unknown to the feasting Aesir, there was a conversation taking place beyond the void in the deepness of space.

"Humans. They are not the cowering wretches we were promised. They stand. They are unruly, and therefore cannot be ruled. To challenge them is to court...Death."

A giant figure turned, smiling ominously in response.

"Well then, I do hope She is ready."

A/N AAAHHHH I'M SO SORRY! I said I was back and then disappeared again. Well, I'm back now and am so happy this chapter is out! It was hard for me to piece together exactly how I wanted this to go but I've sat on it long enough. What do you think? I'm very excited for the future of this story!

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

-Mack