The entirety of the Golden City was feasting in celebration of victory. The Warriors Three were recounting the tale of their valiant efforts in the defeat of the Destroyer on Midgard. Volstagg was waving the cooked leg of some animal around, demonstrating exactly how he had swung his mighty battle axe at the feared enemy. Those around him stared in awe of his bravery, laughing when both Hogun and Fandral stepped in to add their parts as well.
Thor walked past. Smiling at his friends' dramatic reenactments. He'd stopped to briefly approach his mother, Queen Frigga. As he made to leave the celebration a resounding CRACK shook the foundation of the palace walls.
Instantly, the joyous celebration ceased, and a hollowed silence swept over the hall.
Thor felt his heart drop into his stomach and looking into the eyes of his mother he could tell she wasn't faring much better. Taking ahold of her hand they, both exited the Feasting Hall. Neither knowing exactly what they would come upon once reaching their destination.
Making way towards Odin's private observatory the two hadn't even fully approached the scene when they heard the outraged voice of one that both Thor and the Queen longed and grieved for at the same time.
"Why wasn't I told? You knew you were gearing for Odin's Sleep. I should have been informed." The voice wasn't yelling. No, instead it was seething. "As next in line, I should have been the one to take over reign until you again awakened."
"Thor deserved the opportunity to manage the kingdom in my stead." The voice of the Allfather did not sound nearly as convincing as Thor believed his father meant to.
"Thor is incapable of managing even himself," Thor looked down at this comment. Cursing his involvement that lead to these events. "Even if that truly was your plan, the moment you decided to banish him to Midgard, the next course of action should have been to send word to me."
"There was more to consider at the time than making sure you were kept informed of the happenings in Asgard."
"Had you not been so blind to what was staring you in the face perhaps you would have realized that contacting me was the wisest course of action!"
"Don't forget who you're speaking to, Haraldr" The Allfather's voice was beginning to raise. "Regardless of if you agree with my decisions or not, I am still your father and King of the Nine Realms."
"It has been many centuries since I have agreed with a single decision of yours." Magic was beginning to crack in the air. "Never have you hidden anything from me. Especially when it involved Loki." It was barely noticeable, but the voice of the powerful sorcerer broke at the mention of his deceased brother's name.
"Was it not you that stated you were too occupied to worry yourself with all of the happenings in the Golden City, even to attend Asgard's Thorrablot celebrations."
"Yes, because I am expected to drop everything to celebrate the remedial adventures of my younger brother and his merry band of followers."
Embarrassment coursed through Thor at his brother's statement. Looking back, he was ashamed of the arrogance that had filled his head only a week ago. So much had changed in so little time.
"Thor and the Warriors Three, along with Lady Sif, deserved those celebrations." Odin argued back. "It is due to their efforts that Asgard has remand protected from harm."
"And what of Loki?" Haraldr shot back. "He was there on those conquests as well. Are you stating that his heroics were less?"
"Thorrablot is to celebrate the conquests of the sword not the conquests of the seidr."
"You've always done this." Haraldr found himself needing to back away from his father or else he would not be able to control his actions. "You've always belittled his accomplishments in favor of raising Thor to shine." Again, Thor felt shame rush through him. If it hadn't been for his mother's firm hands on his arm, he would have either stepped in to cease the quarrel or walked away to stew in his shame.
"Before Thor and Loki, you taught me that magic was a warrior's greatest secret weapon. You praised my accomplishments in both the sword and seidr. Yet when your two youngest sons are involved only Thor had the right to praise. And why? Because a piece of metal deemed him worthy?"
"Do not allow your grief to disrespect Thor in these ways," Odin practically growled. "Loki made his choice that day. He set the Jotuns loose on Asgard. Had he not, perhaps the truth would have remained secret."
"That's your solution to all of this?" Shock was evident in Haraldr's voice. "You continue to claim that keeping the truth behind his birth a secret to be the best choice? It was that decision alone that has led to us standing here today!"
"The people of Asgard would have never accepted Loki had they known the truth of his race."
"The people of Asgard never accepted Loki because even their king acted as if his achievements were never a match to those around him. That he was lesser due to preferring the practices of seidr over sparring with a sword," the angry warrior threw back.
Haraldr's breathing was becoming more labored, "You should have told him what he was from the beginning. All of this could have been prevented if only you had been forthcoming with the truth. If Asgard could accept a Midgardian teen wizard as one of their own, then they certainly would have accepted a frost giant all the same. All it took was the Allfather claiming me as his son and all questions ceased. Why could the same truth not be made for Loki?"
Thor was shocked by his brother's words. 'Haraldr had known all along?' He looked to Frigga for confirmation only to see regret settled in her normally kind eyes.
"Not even my influence would have been enough to keep Loki safe from others had they known the truth. Asgardian prejudice against Jotuns holds too strong for even my authority to carve a dent. No, the truth needed to stay hidden." Odin turned to face the open balcony; taking in the city below. "Quarreling over this matter will not change the circumstances. It's best we let it rest."
"Of course," Haraldr scoffed, "never willing admit to the wrongs you've made. Your carelessness great Odin, The Allfather of the Nine Realms, brought the death of your son. The death of my brother! And you're just going to let it rest?"
"As I've stated, I cannot change what occurred and I am finished discussing the matter with you at this time."
"We're not even close to being finished here," pure anger seeped from Haraldr. "I wasn't able to be there for Loki in the ways that he deserved while he was alive, but I will be damned to the deepest levels of Hel before I allow you to brush this aside."
"NO! You judged Loki more than anyone else. You accepted him as your son with the plans to use him as a pawn in your political games. You never cared for him in the ways a father does his child."
"You dare state that I did not love my son?"
"If you held even a single ounce of love for Loki in your being, he wouldn't have harnessed the desire to release the Jotuns on Asgard. He wouldn't have felt the need to fight against Thor!" Arms gesturing to Thor finally signaling that the king and oldest prince were even aware of his presence. "The Bifrost wouldn't have been destroyed. He wouldn't have fallen off the edge…He wouldn't have let go! He'd be here! He'd be safe! He'd…"
Haraldr's throat no longer allowed him to speak. The emotions he'd pushed aside since receiving the news of his brother's death suddenly flooded him. A tear stung his eye and he backed away from Odin in an attempt to collect himself.
Thor was shocked. Never in his all his life had he ever witnessed his strong, powerful, warrior of a brother break. Not even slightly. Yet, here he was barely containing his grief at the loss of Loki.
"My son…" Odin attempted comfort however Haraldr wasn't having it.
"NO!" The green-eyed sorcerer breathed deeply, "No…"
Haraldr turned and made to exit the viewpoint platform. He walked over to Frigga who wrapped her arms around his solid form. Haraldr returned the gesture, holding his mother in a tight embrace. "I'm so sorry Mother." He whispered her ear. "I'm sorry I wasn't here."
"Do not" Frigga whispered firmly, "Oh my son, do not do this to yourself."
Pulling back Haraldr regarded his remaining brother. Placing a firm hand on Thor's shoulder the two shared a look that only the two grieving brothers new the meaning behind.
He then walked away. Thor had made to follow him but was again halted by his mother's firm hand.
"Leave him to take his time and grieve in peace my dear." Frigga spoke while watching the retreating form of her oldest son. "Time heals many wounds as you know Thor, and Haraldr has experienced death levels many of us could not even fathom. However, it is this that will stay with him. He will come to you when he is ready."
Thor sighed but resigned to heed to his mother's words.
It had been two years since that had all taken place. Just a Frigga had stated, Haraldr had approached Thor and the two had been able to discuss the matters regarding the tragic events and what had led to them.
Thor had promised his older brother to learn all that he could, to experience more than just the thrill of adventure but honest humbleness and all that it takes to be a true leader of Asgard.
Now he stood observing the medical unit run by the med-agents of S.H.I. . running around the room collecting samples from those that had been taken by Loki.
He did not pretend to understand all of the technical terms being spoken by the doctors that had approached the Avengers team, explaining the currently known information. All he cared to know was they were under his brother's control, now they weren't, and that Haraldr had been the one to break whatever spell had held them captive. Simple enough in his mind.
The Asgardian was comfortable standing off to the side, allowing the Midgardian healers to do their work when the main doors leading out of the unit burst open revealing Haraldr standing with one of Loki's arms draped around his shoulders, half dragging half carrying the other god into the medical wing. Many of the agents standing about the room readied their weapons training them on the two gods.
"Clear me a bed." The God of Magic demanded ignoring the many guns currently directed his way.
No one moved at the god's words. They all simply stared at him. Eyes mainly focused on the unconscious God of Mischief that was supposed to be hold in a protective cell.
"I repeat, clear me a bed," Haraldr again demanded. "NOW! He's in need of healing."
Hearing this Thor jumped in to assist his older brother in carrying Loki's weight. However, he was the only one. Everyone else looked to Fury for direction. When he said nothing Haraldr was left with attempting a different approach.
"He's unconscious," reason seemed like the best alternative. "Please, he's in dire need of medical attention."
Fury continued to say nothing but nodded to a doctor in the farthest corner of the room to clear the bed in front of him and allow Haraldr and Thor to dispose their brother across its surface.
"Brother, what's happened?" Thor watched as Haraldr ripped open Loki's top exposing his chest. Shock over took his mind when he witnessed large bruises littering practically every square inch of Loki's chest. "Loki…" The word came out in a whisper.
Wounds like this were not common to an Asgardian such as Loki and his two brothers. The repeated force needed to implement injuries such as these would have to be insurmountable.
Either Haraldr did not hear Thor's question or he was simply choosing to ignore him. Instead he slid his right hand over the vambrace on his left arm. Seemingly out of nowhere the God of Magic pulled out a long thin piece of wood. Looking around the room Haraldr again landed his eyes on the Director.
"Is there any Midgardian healing treatment for dehydration?" He maintained the same tone which had allowed Loki a bed, "My brother has extensive internal bleeding and bruising. I am able to magically repair the majority of it but he's currently too dehydrated for any of my work to stabilize him. A cold solution would be best if possible."
Fury wasn't quite sure what was coming over him. Perhaps it was because this Loki did not look at all like the Loki he had encountered when he had first been brought upon the Helicarrier, but he found himself again nodding to the same doctor. After which, the doctor readied an IV filled with saline previously kept in an icebox.
Once the doctor had set the IV and stepped away from this brother's form, Haraldr jumped into work. Waving, what the others in the room could only categorize as a wand, over the God of Mischief's form, the God of Magic began speaking in a foreign language.
Natasha, who had been sitting with Clint almost believed it to sound similar to Latin.
Blue and green swirls began to cover Loki's body. Seeping into his skin and spreading throughout his chest and down into his limbs. The air grew heavy as the powerful sorcerer continued to chant his spells. Everyone in the room was still. Completely focused on observing actual magic.
The bruises and cuts littering Loki's body visibly began to heal. Leaving behind little to no evidence that they had ever been present.
Time seemed to slow but eventually, a visibly warn Haraldr stopped chanting and stepped away from his work.
Slowly, Thor approached his older brother. "Have you finished brother?"
"For now, yes." The other god confirmed. "He is currently not in any physical harm."
"Then now would be a good time to explain exactly how you managed to free our prisoner from his containment cell." Fury had been quiet until this moment; allowing Haraldr space to heal this brother.
Haraldr considered the Director briefly before providing his answer. "It is quite humorous that you believe your security able to contain my magic. I simply pulled him out after breaking whatever spell had been taking a hold over his mind."
The two questions were spoken at the same time by both Thor and Steve.
Haraldr returned his gaze to the slumbering form of his youngest brother. "It seems as if your agents were not the only ones under the mental control of another Director." Haraldr paused briefly to collect his thoughts, "Whomever it was, their control over Loki's mind was strong. I doubt he'll even remember the events that have taken place here on Midgard."
"Are you stating that Loki is innocent brother?" Hope seemed to fill the God of Thunder's body.
"I am not sure Thor," Haraldr dared not lean too heavily on the idea of hope, "We'll not know more until Loki awakens."
"And when will that be exactly." Fury approached the two brothers. "I cannot have a borderline terrorist out of his containment unit on a hunch that he might be innocent."
"We'll be finding out now Director," Haraldr stated as he walked back to the still form of his slumbering brother. "Have no worry, he contains no weapon and will still be too weak physically to cause anyone harm."
Haraldr again placed a hand over Loki's forehead.
Immediately, Loki shot up and grabbed the closest being to him, pinning his captor to the ground. Loki's panicked green eyes scanned the room. Slowly, confusion over took him and he looked down at the one under him. He shot back immediately when steady emerald green eyes stared back into his own.
"Haraldr?" The question came out in a whisper. Loki's eyes tore around the room. He spotted his other brother standing nearby along with dozens of unknown faces. Turning back to his oldest brother he asked, "what is happening?"
Placing a comforting hand on the side of Loki's face Haraldr answered, "You're safe Loki."
A/N CHAPTER TWO! I really wanted to dive a little into the Asgard side of this story. I like the idea that Loki gets a little bit of his confidence and ability to stand up to Odin from Haraldr. So, I decided to just go for it in this chapter. It's WAY longer than I expected it to be, though I would LOVE for the majority of the chapters to hold some length (gotta make it worth it for the readers) but I wanted to get to this point sooner rather than later.
Also, Thorrablot, or Þorrablót, is apparently an Icelandic celebration of the Month of Thor. Since Haraldr is next in line for the throne Loki would have needed a different celebration to interrupt.
Anyway, I really hope you like this! All of your encouraging words have meant SO much to me! Comments and reviews are always appreciated!