The beginning ladies and gentlemen, per popular demand!
The only sound in the hall was the soft clatter of boots against the stone floors, which like everything else in the hall, was inlaid with strings of gold. The owner of the boots was similarly dressed in brown leathers and gold armor, sword at hip. His dark skin seemed to blend perfectly with his attire and golden horns of his helmet fit seamlessly with his golden eyes. He walked with a purpose however and paid no heed to this as he moved past posted Einherjar.
It was at a pair of titanic golden doors, inlaid with carvings of runes and battle scenes, that he stopped and entered. The doors burst open into the council chamber with a grinding boom. The loud din of voices came to a halt instantly and it seemed all 20 heads swiveled to him. He ignored them.
"Your Majesty, if I could have a moment of your time." He spoke in a deep baritone and his words turned every head to the raised platform opposite the golden doors. On the platform, a grand, shining, golden throne was occupied by a man who seemed to be both physically average height and still the tallest in the room. His right eye was covered in with an intricately carved golden eye patch and ornate clothing, was both simple and posh, despite not being the armor that seemed to be the norm amongst the rest of the room.
"Speak then, Gatekeeper." The man said imperiously, but with a ghost of a smile, as if the formal greeting he chose, was amusing.
"Preferably privately, All-Father." The Gatekeeper said, without the slightest discomfort as he glanced about the rather full room.
The All-Father rose and waved a hand as people prepared to file out of the room. "Please." He motioned for them to stay, "We shall step out."
He then descended gracefully and seemed to glide across the chamber floor, nodding his head ever so slightly for the Gatekeeper to follow him. The doors closed behind them with a definitive boom.
"It is rather unlike you to leave your post, Heimdall." The All-Father observed.
"It's the Tesseract, Your Majesty." Heimdall said bluntly, "It has been removed from its vault on Midgard by a man who seeks to use the stone to rule Midgard."
Odin All-Father's eyes seemed ancient as he listened to the news his Gatekeeper brought him. "I see." He said softly. He set off at a brisk pace down the hall, Heimdall following wordlessly. "Thor and Loki are at the moment, mediating between the Nova Empire and Kree." Odin said carefully. He reached his destination shortly and the two entered his private office and he gestured for his companion to sit. Heimdall remained silent, however.
"There is nothing we can do." He said bluntly after a moment of thought.
Heimdall had come to that conclusion as well, it seemed. "You are correct, my liege, but there are forces stirring in the cosmos. I have already briefed you on Thanos and his infatuation wi-"
"Yes, I am aware." Odin cut him off swiftly, Heimdall said nothing, but he had known the man before him long enough to know he did not need to. "I do not think this is one of his plots to get the stone, however. You have seen the chaos that has engulfed Midgard for decades now."
Heimdall inclined his head in acknowledgment. "No, I agree, however, I have also watched your first born, and I believe she is yet to grow truly bitter, but grown wise enough that-"
"You think she can be trusted?" Odin asked sharply. His expression was unreadable, but the shine in his eyes meant Heimdall already knew that outcome of this conversation.
He inclined his head. "She enjoys being Queen of Niflheim and you could limit her powers severely. She holds no grudge against any except yourself. She could be made to see reason and I doubt she would want too much to do with Asgard."
Odin pursed his lips in a rather unking-like manner. "She could not take the throne of Asgard so long as she held another." He said, as if that was his answer to the universe. "I shall, of course, consult with Frigga, and perhaps give Thor and Loki a long overdue explanation."
Heimdall did not allow himself to smile. "Do you not wish to see these changes for yourself first?"
Odin smiled thinly, "I trust your judgement on such matters, Heimdall."
"Thank you, All-Father."
Odin inclined his head ever so slightly
He did not expect an answer and was not disappointed.
This decision changed several plans that were being crafted for the future and altered the course of the history of the universe. It was also the beginning of putting a family back together.
A baby's cry reached the hall in which a figure paced impatiently, watched by two other figures, who had seated themselves, perhaps for the first time in their lives, some would joke, on the floor.
"Brother, cease your moving about, you are only making a menace of yourself." One of the figures on the floor thundered. The pacing figure spun on heel and glowered at the speaker.
The speaker and his brother couldn't have been more opposite in appearance. The speaker had black, shoulder length hair, green eyes, and skinny, lanky frame, while his brother was even taller, broad, and had blonde hair and blue eyes.
"Are you not excited to have another sibling?" The blonde demanded.
"Thrilled." The black haired man said sarcastically.
The blonde growled and made to stalk towards his brother, but was interrupted. The third figure was like a female version of the black haired man, pretty and dangerous. She smirked at them but played peacekeeper all the same. "Thor, we are all curious about our youngest sibling, however, your anxiety is not helping ours. Loki, just because you cannot handle giving up your youngest privileges doesn't mean Thor can't be excited about a new sibling."
The blonde, Thor, looked away, chastened, but only momentarily before he threw himself next to his sitting siblings. Loki, however, just sulked and continued to complain. "Why are we even waiting here? It's been hours."
"Because you are excited and you don't want to admit it." The woman spoke again, absently tugging at her flowing green dress. She looked up at her brothers, "Now, if you'll both shut up, maybe they will let us in because clearly the baby has arrived."
As if to prove her point, another piercing cry echoed through the hall. She stood, flipping her braided hair over her shoulder, and turned to Thor and Loki, both of whom stood after her. She opened her mouth, but whatever she was going to say was interrupted when the door behind her opened.
The entrance to the healing chambers of Asgard's royal palace was rather humble, considering. It was a carved, oversized, single wooden door in the stone walls that opened into a dark room with massive windows covered with heavy drapes and was furnished with sparsely placed medical beds inside glowed healing circles that seemed to pulse with power. But that was on none of the present minds, when Odin stepped into the hall, a rare smile gracing his features, making him appear younger than he normally did.
"Come, my children." He announced in a way that made it clear to the two dark haired Asgardians where their brother had gotten his own booming voice.
They did not hesitate to scramble over to their father, though Loki would never admit that, and followed him into the room he had disappeared back into.
The one person in their family that none could claim a poor relationship was propped up on a bed near the middle of the room, the only occupied bed, hair in slight disarray and a worn look on her face. Nevertheless, Frigga's large smile only widened when she saw her family's approach and she held out a blue bundle to her husband as she leaned back.
Odin took the baby wordlessly and with unusual tenderness, held him in his arms as he turned to his older children. "Meet Haraldr, your brother." He said, his voice softer than any of them had heard since their own childhoods.
Words seemed to fail Loki, for all his previous bravado, because he could only stare, not quite sure what to make of the baby. Thor, on the other hand, beamed like the sun. "Greetings, brother!" He said, quieter than normal, everyone else noticed.
"Haraldr?" His elder sister asked. "That needs a nickname."
Odin shot her a brief glare, but did not seem to disagree.
"Harry." Loki said after a beat, "That's a universal nickname."
Odin said nothing but looked to his wife, who nodded.
"So it is." He concurred.
"Would you like to hold him, Hela?" Frigga called from the bed.
The black haired woman looked at her in surprise, "S-sure." She said, suddenly seeming to lose the confidence that surrounded her.
Odin handed her "Harry" and the expression she wore reminded him of when she was a frightened child, but she relaxed after a moment with her brother, just staring.
She studied his small face, and bright green eyes that were so similar to her own, and his mother's when he opened his eyes to study her. She could see just a few wisps of black hair that she, Loki, and now him had gotten from their father and she was a goner when he closed his eyes trustingly. She held him closer and lost herself in thoughts of what he could and would become. She knew he would be great.
Thor shifted impatiently.
Loki elbowed him.
Thor yelped in surprise.
Harry started to cry.
Hela panicked as she tried to awkwardly cradle him from side to side while she glared at her brothers.
Odin, who had retreated to his wife's side, exchanged a look with Frigga. They both sighed quietly.
A FEW DAYS LATER
They settled into a routine over the following days.
The preparations for a new sibling had been underway for months before his actual birth and his room in the royal apartments had been readied and childproofed, while Frigga insisted that they use the nursery that had been connected to their rooms for prior babies until he was sleeping through the night.
Thor was vocally eager for a brother to "teach the mighty ways of Asgardian warriors" and that, combined with his desire to "ease the burden of motherhood" off of his mother, was enough to get him to commit to watching his brother every afternoon for a few hours. Hours that were usually spent with him parading Harry around the training ground, closely watched by his elder sister.
Hela had surprised everyone by agreeing to move back into her chambers in the palace to help and was set up in her original rooms properly for the first time since she had been banished nearly 2,000 years earlier. Her strained relationship, with her father especially, had been overruled in the few minutes she held her brother by a need to be there for the only member of her family without a history.
Loki would die before admitting that he wanted to be a better older brother than Thor had been for him, and spent more time than he'd thought he would subtly watching over Harry to ensure Thor did not accidentally get him killed with a stray sword.
By the fourth day, Hela had Harry every morning, only to pass him off to Frigga by mid-morning. At lunch, Odin, of all people, often took his youngest child to his study with him for several hours. Inevitably, he would either have to pass him off to a nanny when something came up, or Thor would show up and whisk Harry away to take him out to the training grounds. Loki usually found an excuse to join him after a few hours, with Hela not too far behind. By dinner, the entire family had usually assembled and for the first time in their lives, they spent their evenings together in their living room.
Most of the siblings' enthusiasm had faded, however, after several nights with little sleep due to an infant's inability to sleep through the night. Indeed, even Odin was beginning to show signs of weariness after the first week of sleepless nights.
The army of nannies and servants responsible for the child could not prevent him from crying after all. This did not waylay their new daily routine, but it did shorten the already short tempers of most of the House of Odin.
This manifested in different ways for each person. Thor had become a much more vicious (and sloppy) sparring partner, Loki's infamous tongue gained more bite, and Hela had combined both. Odin was as much as actually possible, less lenient, though Frigga seemed rather unaffected.
It came to a head in a most predictable manner.
"Loki, cease your tricks." Odin barked without looking up from his work at the desk on the side of the room.
Loki sneered and said, "I'm simply amusing the peanut gallery." Thor's annoyed complaints of tentacles did quiet, a moment later. Hela's snip about the "peanut gallery" comment was ignored.
"Don't test us boy, we are as weary as you." His father concluded, not glancing up
There was silence for a moment as they ran out of things to both say and do, besides the All-Father, of course.
"It's amazing that you've actually managed to make yourself weary. Being like a good parent for the past two weeks, Father, must be tiring. No wonder you've never tried it before." Loki jabbed.
"You had better consider what just came out of your mouth Loki." Odin said dangerously, his attention successfully drawn from his paperwork.
"He's not wrong." Hela defended Loki. "I mean your solution with me was to dump me in another realm until I "matured" as you say."
"I banished you because you would have destroyed every known world in your bloody ambitions." Odin declared strongly.
"Like I was raised." Hela answered swiftly.
"I did not raise a monster." He said in annoyance. "You allowed your darker nature to control you."
"No, you forced me to allow my connection to death to take over." By now they were shouting.
"This is a ridiculous argument." Loki called loudly as Odin and Hela began to shout.
Thor's voice was somewhere in the din bellowing in defense of their father and even Frigga was forced to raise her voice while she tried to seperate Odin and Hela.
This went on for all of a few seconds before Harry's echoing cries froze the room. Time itself seemed to stop as they looked to the nursery door.
"Harry." They all seemed to say at the same time and they moved towards the nursery door.
"Let me get him." Frigga ordered, a touch harshly as she pushed by the rest of her family.
While Frigga immediately scooped up her son and hushed his cries (no servant dared enter the private royal residences with that much yelling going on), the rest of her family exchanged guilty looks.
When Harry's cries quieted, silence reigned.
A throat cleared behind them. Those left in the family room spun around, weapons flying out in response to the surprise during the high tension.
They nearly dropped their weapons when they saw who stood before them.
"Greetings, House of Odin." One of the three women said gravely, the middle one. All three women wore ragged clothing and seemed both extremely old and youthful at the same time.
"Norns." Odin greeted with a slight inclination of his head. Neither Hela, Thor, nor Loki lowered their weapons, having graduated from shock to suspicion.
Urd, Verdandi, and Skuld, not that any besides Odin or Frigga could tell the difference, regarded the royal family with something akin to interest.
"What brings you to the palace?" Odin enquired with forced politeness.
All three smirked at him. "His Royal Highness Prince Haraldr, your Majesty."
Now Odin looked suspicious. "What business could you have with a babe mere weeks old?"
"The Fate of the Nine Realms rests on the cornerstones of the House of Odin." The one on the right said vaguely. A prediction, they all realized.
This changed things.
"What is that supposed to mean?" Thor demanded, looking both unnerved and upset.
"You must send the boy to Midgard. A prophecy must be fulfilled in a war that is being waged in the Lion's Empire. The parents will have a stillborn child on July 31st, and you shall bring Haraldr to them on that day, they shall raise him as their own." The one on the left explained.
"What if we don't?" Hela asked, a touch rudely.
"You will." They answered together. "Or we will. We assure you that you will not see him again if we do."
"You dare!?" Odin thundered, power crackling.
"Fate has made it so, no being can change it."
"What of us raising our own son?" Frigga demanded, coming out of the nursery, "You expect us to give up this child for your schemes?"
"You shall be allowed to raise him." The middle one retorted.
"What?" Thor looked rather confused, though he was the only one willing to admit to it.
"He must grow up on Midgard, but you may still raise him on Asgard."
"That is illegal under the Ancient Laws." Odin responded, "What of them?"
"If all goes to plan, they shall not be an issue by the boy's age of Asgardian majority."
"A mere 21 years?" Loki intervened smoothly, "So much to change in so little time."
"You will know when the time is right to join your custodial powers with that of your son's caretakers." One said vaguely, "After he is passed from second to third parents."
"Third parents!?" Several of them exclaimed at once, but the three women disappeared as swiftly as they had arrived. The family looked at each other.
"Why?" Came the pained question.
A/N:: REVIEW! And yes, I also think the name is weak but I couldn't think of a good name for this project. If you have a suggestion, let me know!