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Of Flower Crowns and Bloody Lips

Chapter Text

When Loki initially was to be sent back, the Avengers assumed that to be the end of that. They defeated the baddie. Their work was done, finished, soon to be vamoosed to another friggin realm. Tony, like all the others, was therefore surprised that Thor woke up one morning exclaiming that he must speak to them all.


His mother had spoken to him while he was asleep, relaying a message from Odin through something Thor called astral projection. The Avengers would need to testify during the trial.


As the so-called protectors of their realm, their task was to charge any wrongdoer of their realm with judgement; however, because Loki had wronged several realms, his sentence was to be decided by an impartial judge, after a conjoined trial of each of his wrongs to each of the realms.


Each realm would present a delegation of representatives to explain their interactions with Loki.


Thor called it a Public Declaration of Deeds Trial.


Despite how fair it sounded, it was not so good if they wanted Loki sentenced. Loki had wronged only three out of the nine realms, and neither Odin nor Thor paid heed to Loki's reputation, they had no clue as to what to expect, but Odin relayed that the delegates of Alfheim had oft-requested Loki.


Outside of each realms delegation, anyone who knew Loki personally was able to testify for or against him. Some magic circle thing would determine those who knew him well enough to attest to his personality and deeds, and in those cases, they were only able to speak of their personal experience, not what they had heard about him or what rumour made them think.


As they had no clue what to expect, Odin was hoping that they could pad the negative testimonies a little.


After speaking to Fury, the rest of the team agreed. (Tony had accepted immediately, not even giving thought to Fury).


Tony couldn't wait to get his hands on some Asgard tech. Was magic explainable by science? Could he measure it with his tech? Could he replicate some of their innate biological abilities with tech? He couldn't wait.


 

It was subtle when they noticed the source of their uneasiness after arriving on Asgard. At first glance, it seemed the citizens had come to either welcome Thor back or get a look at their failed prince. This assumption was far from the truth of the matter.


Natasha was the first to notice this wasn't the case. The people were close to their delegation, swarming around them in a way. An older woman with silver eyes and light brown hair lightly grasped Loki's manacled hand, and, giving a quick, reassuring squeeze, moved on toward Thor, turning off before reaching him. A small child ran slightly ahead of Loki and twirled, looking back to make sure he saw before running off. A young man gave a nod of respect immediately after Thor passed, but not quite directly to the scorned prince; it was to neither, but only Loki saw. Several younger woman cut between Loki and the Avengers and Loki and Thor, and his clothing and pallor looked better after each pass, until, without the chains, he looked every bit the prince he was. An older man in the back of the crowd placed a hand over his heart and closed his eyes as Loki passed.


None of the citizens greeted Thor, nor did they bow as he passed, nor did they pay him any mind save as to obscure him from witnessing their illicit dealings with the second prince, and yet Thor never noticed.


Clint was the second to notice. His eyes had locked on to the young girl proudly showing off her flower crown to the madman who called forth an invasion.


Tony and Bruce noticed at the same moment. They watched, amazed, as a young woman repaired Loki's cloak by dragging her hand across his shoulders as she passed.


Steve only noticed one incident, though it unnerved him in every fibre of his being. He watched the elder Asgardian silently give his respect from afar.


Despite each of their negative views on Thor's younger brother, their thoughts spiralled.


Eventually, the crowds died off and gave way to a golden gate, signifying the residence of the nobility and higher ranking warriors who resided at court. The crowds were gone, and in their place were dignified people, with thinly veiled disdain for Loki. Instead of the quiet reverence that occurred prior once Thor's back turned, there was now quite blatant disrespect.


Even the Avengers knew not to insult Loki in public yet. He was still a prince, and therefore, any action taken in disrespect to his person while he was unable to defend his honour would be protected by the royal family and those sworn to the royal family. Thor had been very thorough in explaining that he would be honour-bound to defend his brother's honour until proven guilty.


It was supposed to be the proper reaction to Loki, but somehow, the vitriol was for the wrong reasons. It wasn't for his short ascension, and it wasn't for his near decimation of a realm, and it wasn't for his invasion of Earth. The practised nature of their dispositions showed that they weren't angry at his recent actions, his very existence offended them.


Again, Thor blinded himself to the truth, and it unnerved the Avengers.

Chapter Text

Loki was immediately sent to his cell, not that they expected any different, but they had questions. Well, more reasonably, Tony wanted answers, the others assumed that Thor could give them the same information. They did grow up together, after all; he couldn't be completely blind as to how Loki interacted with the citizens, both the upper and lower classes.

 

They were wrong.

 

"You must have misunderstood the common people, my friends. My brother has played a fair amount of mischief upon them; they would not so readily accept him among them. He has caused chaos and practised seidr. He is much more likely to be scorned. Mayhaps you have mistaken their attention."

 

Bruce had asked first. He was trying to ask without accusing Thor of being completely and utterly blind. He mildly mentioned that the commoners had paid Loki attention that didn't seem hurtful. Whereas Bruce had politely inquired, Thor had insulted his observation skills.

 

The reaction Thor had proved Tony's point almost too well, in his own opinion.

 

"Hey, Point Break, tell us about Loki. Why'd he go off the hinges?" Tony would have tried for subtlety, but honestly, he wasn't sure Thor would understand. Not to mention it was normal for him to make caustic remarks or ask insensitive questions, it's not like he was going to change anytime soon.

 

"You would ask me of my brother?" He looked, for lack of a better word, shocked, as if he had never thought anyone would ask. It was as if it was an utterly foreign concept that someone would ask of Loki.

 

"Yes, your brother, why did Lo-lo go apeshit?" Clint looked at Tony as if he had gone crazy at the nickname. He should be used to it by now.

 

"I do not know. I had thought us to be close. We adventured together, fought battles together. At one point, we were children together, no matter how short the duration."

 

Sif chose that moment to enter. Tony had the dubious honour of meeting her and the warriors three earlier, as they arrived. She had sneered at the second prince as he entered the palace, whereas the others had looked somewhat impassive. Well, Hogun had looked impassive. Volstagg had almost seemed hurt, and Fandral looked somehow pitying.

 

She scoffed. "He wanted the throne, Thor. The coward took what he knew he could never gain honourably." Her hair was combed back so as not to impede vision, and she continued to wear her silver armour. Her status as a warrior to be clear no matter the company. The warriors three followed he in.

 

Volstagg looked at her aghast. "And what of his invasion of Midgard, Lady Sif? He would usually not be so brash as to risk the young. You know Loki as well as I, and he is not one to be so careless. You have oft-mocked him for his interactions with my brood. You, as well as all of Asgard, know the reasons why he does it, too!"

 

Children? Loki? In the same sentence?

 

"A warrior does not spend his time child-rearing! Weaving flower crowns and playing house. It's bad enough he flaunts his argr ways. You have said it just now, as well! I have known him for just as long as any of you, his actions have always made little sense to those of true honour!" She practically snarled at Volstagg for reminding her.

 

Clint looked ready to burst when he exclaimed. "Hey, whoa, slow down. What's this about Loki and children? How'd we even get on this topic?" An angry silence stretched across the room, steadily growing the tension in the air. It was Thor who finally broke the silence and answered Clint.

 

“Loki is known for his love of children, no matter their looks, personality, or origins.” Thor looked away and continued quietly, a faint look distaste on his features marring his normally affable face, “He feels it would be wrong of him not to, all things considered.” The last statement was said with resignation as if it was a common argument that he lost with Loki. Tony had to wonder what exactly it was that Thor had argued against, especially with his ending statement.

 

Clint couldn't help but exclaim, “What things can we consider for Loki of all people to care for any children?” Tony thought he detected a faint trace of an edge but dismissed it as Birdbrain’s hatred for Loki.

 

“They are things not to be spoken of.” Anger coloured Thor’s voice. “You are asking for the shame of the royal family, friend Clint.”

 

Natasha was right there in defence of her partner. “What about being kind to children could be shameful. Why is it that you and Lady Sif disguise disgust at such behaviour, whereas the people of earth would commend it."

 

Judging by the light defence of Loki in her case against Thor, she'd rethought her stance on the absent god.

 

"They are things not to be spoken of!" Thor's thundering voice was a clear difference from Natasha's steady tones prior.

 

"Considering the entire realm knows, people speak of them already.

 

And when he didn't answer, when he turned red in anger, Clint and Natasha left the room. The Captain, who had been in silence the entire talk so far, followed them out, but not before he sent Thor a disappointed look, Bruce following close behind. Tony turned to Thor to say, “Thor, teams don’t keep secrets, buddy,” before walking after his team.

 

And when the Warriors Three left with hardly a glance at their friend, Thor was left with only Sif to rage against the non-living.

Chapter Text

The corridors of the palace seemed, well, empty. Bruce had expected a bit more…bustle, maybe. He was used to the places he visited at least feeling lived-in. It was probably the absurd cleanliness of it all that was the most disquieting. Cleanliness reminded him of the clinical nature of a lab, not a home because as ridiculous as that was, this was Thor and Loki’s home. They grew up in these halls, with the absurd cleanliness and the golden gildings and an amount of space that made the hall seem eerie being empty.

 

The guides appointed to them were the Warriors Three and Lady Sif, though Sif had stayed behind with Thor in her anger. Bruce thought it would be much calmer without the fiery woman who had vengeance against Loki and who knows what else. Considering what they’d witnessed earlier, it currently wasn’t a popular opinion without proof. Proof Thor wasn’t willing to give.

 

Instead, it was his companions, aside from Sif, who seemed willing to part with any inkling of who Loki is, and why exactly, he took the actions he had. Tony would soon learn every secret they held. He was that type of person. Bruce had met him mere days ago, and he knew this. Tony traded in secrets and shared them based on his morals. Exposing the truth if it helped. Burying the secrets further if it helped. It was how Tony operated.

 

“So,” And there he goes, “Why is it that hammer time is so offended when asked why Loki likes children?”

 

Fandral glanced back at their group as they continued to lead forward. “Every reason for such kindness is either a scandal of no fault of Loki’s, but a scandal nonetheless, or is of such morbid nature at this point that it is impolite to be brought up in any civil conversation. They are tales told by gossiping wives or drunken husbands. To ask for the truth from one so involved would bring strong emotions, of which our prince has yet to learn how to manage.”

 

“Would you be able to relate it, then. Rather from a closer, nonbiased source, than from drunkards at a tavern. We will find out either way.” Tony wheedled.

 

Volstagg shook his head, his rather large beard swaying as he did so, its volume obscuring his mouth even as he spoke. “It will come out at the trial tomorrow, anyway. Those who shall speak of Loki will tell his tale, far better than I.”

 

“It shall all be judged,” Hogun spoke for the first time.

 

“It shall all be judged” “It shall all be judged.”

 

A ceremonial phrase, more than anything else, Bruce noted. It would probably crop up again later.

 

“What, like everything?”

 

Fandral looked at Tony, grave in demeanour. “Yes, everything. The trial is not merely for his crimes. It is for every misdeed he has committed, as well as every misdeed committed to him. It is every person he has ever helped, and every person who has ever helped him. This trial determines the sentence he deserves for living his life.”

 

Bruce felt faint. Weighing the wrongs against him and the wrongs he has done. The help he has given and the help he has received. Would any of the Avengers come out of such a trial unscathed?

 

Weapons dealer, assassin, spy, soldier, disaster.

 

Did his help against the invasion absolve him of the prior destruction he had caused? Would any of their actions be enough?

 

Would Loki’s past absolve him of his current crimes?

 

Steve, walking at the front of their group responded first. “Isn’t that excessive?”

 

“Not at all. How would you judge him if not by his life? He has been wronged more than most, he has helped more than most, and now, he has done more harm than most. If we are to judge his actions, we must know his motivations, and if we are to know his motivations, we must find his morals. His morals will be found in his past.”

 

“That’s reasonable. I was expecting a more Viking way of dealing with things, to be honest.”

 

“That’s not wrong. The trial is not our doing. Odin wanted to go ahead and sentence him without a trial; his actions weren’t in doubt. The Norns channelled themselves through Frigga to change this.”

 

Tony turned on Fandral suspiciously at his exposure of Odin’s fault. “Why are you telling us this?” All three looked ready to curse, though it could be said that Hogun already looked like that.

 

“I apologise for attempting to lead you. I only ask that you keep an open mind and not trust blindly. There are secrets in the walls and deceptions among family, and Loki learned those deceptions early to craft a façade. It is unlikely the Loki you know is Loki. I guarantee that few have ever seen the true Loki.”

 

Clint's voice sounded from behind Bruce."I thought you all were against him, too? I was there for the hammer incident with the Destroyer, and you all seemed against Loki then."

 

"We were, but that was before his failed suicide." Bruce saw the same surprise he felt was mirrored on the others' faces. Suicide? Loki? "We three reevaluated our interactions with Loki when we thought him dead. We have failed him far too many times."

 

Volstagg took up where Fandral drifted off. "We have condemned and belittled him for things not his fault, and while he dangled at the edge of the world, being rejected by Odin, I'm quite sure he would have asked himself what he had left to live for."

 

Hogun continued, "What he hoped for was denied to him, what he cared for was taken from him, what he'd been told of himself was a lie. Loki is no longer the boy we should have known. He is broken, possibly to an irreversible extent."

 

With that final statement, they left, Bruce only just realising they had made it to their assigned quarters. Only silence accompanied him as he prepared for the dreams darkness brought.

Chapter Text

"And where do you think you're going?" Tony froze as she called out. Natasha knew he was likely to look for answers even though the Warriors Three had promised him answers at Loki's trial, which at this point, was less than twelve hours away.

 

Which was why instead of a bed, Natasha had found a relatively decent nook for a stakeout outside Tony's door while Clint watched his window. For one, Tony couldn't be trusted not to make trouble on his own. For another, Clint and Natasha wanted answers just as much if not more.

 

She was Clint’s partner. It was her job to make sure Clint gains closure, and Natasha was just as sure as Tony that the trial would not cover every angle, and Clint needed everything she could offer him. Clint was there for her when she needed it; she would be there for him now that he needed it.

 

“And why do you think I’m going anywhere?”

 

Natasha raised an eyebrow. She had been his secretary, no matter how short the stint. She knew him. “Possibly because it’s the middle of the night, you looked around before exiting your room, and you were also tiptoeing theatrically.”

 

“Damn! I suppose it’s a bust. I’ll head back to my room then.”

 

“Clint’s outside your window.”

 

Natasha watched as he froze for the second time from surprise. “Damn it!”

 

Natasha stalked in front of Tony and grabbed his elbow. “Come on; we’re going with you.” She barely had time to watch as a look of surprise turned into his trademark smirk as she marched them both outside.”

 


 

 

They arrived at the first tavern of the night because they couldn’t just visit one. Stark wouldn’t shut up about it. 'We’re in Asgard for Christ's sake!  We need to sample the liquor. For scientific purposes of course. Is it stronger? Thor’s constitution would attest that it should be.'

 

Of course, that wasn’t the only reason they needed to visit multiple. The blatant disparity in treatment from certain segments of the population testified to the need for various points of contact for information. Natasha had come to him to stop Stark’s utter idiocy. Not like they could stop him short of knocking him out. Second best was to be chaperones.

 

And if he received answers to his apprehensions? Well, it would just be a coincidence, wouldn’t it?

 

The tavern itself seemed void of the Asgardian’s perpetual need to laminate everything in gold, possibly because he had seen at least two tables break since walking in. It was much more satisfying to watch tables break, rather than bend, or perhaps because they were easier to replace — either way.

 

It was just a large wooden building, a bar segmenting it into a half moon layout. Circular tables spread about the space, rarely having the same number of chairs. It looked to him as if the patrons just mixed and matched chairs and tables, circling those with the loudest stories.

 

And stories they were.

 

Horrifying, really.

 

Clint felt a bit numb to them at this point, but that could also be because Tony’s hypothesis of stronger alcohol was right. They hadn’t been there more than half an hour, sitting in the corner and facing toward the viking-esque men relaying any story that they believed portrayed Loki in poor light. In a way, it explained Thor. He sincerely didn’t think that what he had said was wrong. His culture had a different set of morals.

 

Clint focused back in on the tale when Bjorn, the loudest storyteller of the moment, had finished his current story, something about how Loki had been so cowardly to craft a screen of smoke for the escape of the warriors when outmatched. How he should have either fought with them like a warrior or succumbed with them all to the death if their foe was indeed more skilful in battle than themselves.

 

“He’s always been such a cowardly Ergi. Trying to cause problems at every turn. It was the same with what happened to Sif, cursing her like that.” And so the stories went on. They went through his lips being sewn after dyeing Sif’s hair. They went through Loki saving their lives via magic. They went through him transforming into a woman around the castle. They covered how Loki changed hair colours and tricked people into confessing their love. How he talked people out of killing him and out of their fortunes. How they scorned that he liked words over war, but they never heard any story that covered Loki and children.

 

Clint needed to know, in a way; why the girl in the crowd looked to Loki for approval, that small girl from the streets. As an Avenger, as a father, he needed to know both sides of the story. If he took away a source of happiness for a small child, he needed to see if he was right in going against Loki. He needed to know whether he could look his daughter in the eyes after this trip.

 

Yes, Loki invaded a world. Yes, it resulted in death. Yes, Clint’s mind was invaded. Yes, he held a grudge. Yet, there was a hesitance, a niggling feeling in the back of his head. There was an inconsistency in Loki’s character and questions none of the Avengers considered.

 

Why, after he was cast from Asgard, did he try to conquer earth? How did he travel through the Tesseract? Where was he for the year he was missing?

 

If anything comes to something; who is to say that Loki is guilty at all?

 

These questions weren’t being answered where they were; it was time to go to the next tavern.

Chapter Text

The next stop was strategically chosen to be near the outer wall of Asgard. Statistically, it was more likely that the demographic that had celebrated the second prince's return would frequent. It wasn’t as glamorous as the other tavern, but it was well kept. A drinking establishment rarely had hard times, even in hard places.

 

It was quieter than the other, the ceiling wasn’t domed, but was still tall, there were benches instead of round tables. Another notable difference, the group was recognised when they walked in. These people had paid attention. These people had cared to remember the ones who had put their precious prince in chains.

 

This wasn’t going to be a ‘stop and listen’ type of visit. This was going to be a ‘have a conversation and hope they aren’t angry enough at you to bash your head in’ type of visit.

 

“Avengers.” A woman both Tony and Natasha would place around thirty years old spoke, nodding her head in acknowledgement. Clint had already registered in his mind that he was not in any position to even attempt to guess. She had sandy brown hair and hazel eyes and could be classed as pretty. It was a fragile kind of beauty. The others in the tavern, who had begun to move once they entered, settled back down at her acknowledgement.

 

Tony, ever-used to adapting in situations such as these, gave a nod in return. “I’m Tony Stark, call me Tony.”

 

“Clint Barton”

 

“Natasha Romanoff”

 

“And I am Ase.”

 

“Now that introductions are done and out of the way, I don’t suppose you’d be willing to answer some questions on everyone’s favourite criminal?” He regretted the sentence the moment it had left his lips, but Tony Stark was not known for either a filter on his thoughts nor regret because of them, and so none were the wiser that he had been caught up in his ability to speak freely with his team.

 

“Have you come with concerns over our amiability with such a heinous criminal?” Had any of them genuinely interacted with Loki, the similarities would be evident, but each of them only had a minimal period of interaction with Loki.

 

Natasha stepped forward to divert the attention levelled at Tony to herself. “We find that there seem to be…inconsistencies with Loki. Inconsistencies that have to do with the people who inhabit this area of Asgard. We want to bridge the information gap.”

 

“So the sheep finally see past the shine of the throne? Very well, what would you have us tell you of?”

 

This time it was Clint who spoke. “How about we start with why Loki is supposedly good with children?” That was the question that plagued his mind the most.

 

“I suppose I shall tell a story then, so long as there are no interruptions?” She said this with a questioning tone as if the stipulation would normally be a deal breaker. At their silence, she continued. “There was once a young boy in the castle, a boy talented in magic, this was unusual, as magic ran down the female lines of the Aesir, and to practice, it was to be labelled effeminate by the unlearned of the populace.

 

“The boy, however, continued to practice, despite this, and rumours abounded, but this boy loved magic, as his mother spent time with him to teach it, and he was scorned for his continued interest. This boy was Loki, and rumours had befallen him long before he had shown signs of magic.

 

“You see, both his mother and father had hair spun of gold and eyes from the sky, and yet, Loki had hair of the blackest ravens feathers and eyes of precious emeralds. He was much too used to the scorn and thought it no different than any other time, but he soon found different. His father spoke to him.

 

“The All-father told him that, as a prince, he had to keep the standing of the royal family high, and being a Seidmadr was not the way to do so, but Loki had grown to love magic outside the time he spent with his mother and refused to give up his practice. He proposed, as he had always had a way with swaying people, that he would take up his princely duties early.

 

“Loki knew that his father was having trouble with the work he currently had, as his first-born, Thor, had no such interest in diplomacy. He proposed that he would take Thor’s job, and interact with the people to negate any false rumours of his effeminacy. Odin agreed.

 

“Loki, however, soon came to the trials of the common people and how he must settle trivial arguments among them, but he did not know what was fair for the lower class, as he had never lived as one, so he took his self-appointed assignment a step farther.” She paused here to take a breath, preparing for the next portion.

 

“And so, he met the common people, and he travelled among us, and he empathised. We had many troubled that had been long overlooked by those with no knowledge or care of our plights, but Loki cared. He cared for us as he was not cared for himself, despite the veneer of being a boy whom his mother spoiled.

 

“Soon, he found the orphanages, where the children of fallen foot soldiers were sent. He found they were under cared for. He found that they would join the foot soldiers, he found the cycle would continue this way, and he took them under his wing, He learned trades to in turn teach to them, in the hope they would survive.” She looked directly into Clint’s eyes. “This is not the story you are looking for, but I find little reason to entrust a story to those who will hear the truth tomorrow. It will not be covered up the way you think; it will not be overlooked.” Her eyes were hard as she said this.

 

“You best be getting home, now, it will be a long day, tomorrow.”

Chapter Text

The next morning came more quickly than many expected. Clint and Tony nursed hangovers from the previous night while Natasha seemed no different. The Warriors Three had arrived quite early in the morning to escort the Avengers to breakfast.

 

According to Fandral, the other delegations had arrived the previous night, but would not be joining them in breaking their fasts. The ice-giants of Jotunheim would cause panic in the main dining hall. The elves of Alfheim would create an inter-realm incident on account of their… loose morals. The fire-giants of Muspelheim declined by default when a leader of the realm could not be found. Svartleheim had been decimated several centuries ago. Nilheim was uninhabitable, and the Vanaheim delegation declined an invitation to the dining hall to avoid the loud warriors. A messenger had also been sent to Helheim, but no reply was received.

 

Altogether, four delegations, including Earth’s were confirmed, with Helheim not responding to the sent missive, and Muspelheim, Nilfheim and Svartleheim not receiving any.

 

If anyone were to ask Tony, the Vanheim delegation had the right idea to avoid the noise, though their motivations were likely opposites. It was as if they were at the first Tavern all over again, each warrior proclaiming their deeds and which battles they've fought in, what honour they've won, but instead of the almost ordered telling at the Tavern, each story ran concurrently, in ever-increasing volumes to speak over one another.

 

Mead was being served, despite the hour, and grease heavy foods adorned the long feasting tables. In conclusion, Tony was unable to enjoy the hospitality of Asgard, and he had only himself to blame. 

 

After they had finished the meal, however, was worse.

 

After the meal, the trial began. 

 

Clint thought it looked an awful lot like they were trying to dramatise the whole thing. They had entered the throne room.

 

Shepherded to the side to keep a clear aisle to the throne from the entrance, the Avengers found themselves next to the delegates from Jotunheim and Vanaheim. The Asgardians responded the Jotuns with ingrained hatred. The Vanir had no such feelings for the blue race, and as the Avengers themselves were from an only recently enlightened realm, they had no such biases either.

 

To the Avengers, the Jotnar were just another wronged party. Loki had attempted to destroy their realm, but now, they were considering why.

 

Was it the decades-old hatred between the two, despite the treaty forged more than a millennium ago? How many reasons could one muster to destroy an entire planet? According to what the woman the previous night had told them, Loki cared for the people. If he was the same person, could he have been protecting them? Thor had said that there was no threat, that Loki did what he did unprovoked, but Thor had shown poor judgement in telling his team the relevant information.

 

They would find out. It was sure.

 

Loki entered the hall with little fanfare, just a heavy silence that seemed to sweep across the room and dwell in the heart. Clint wasn't sure anyone in the room was breathing. Though, it was their fault if they passed out because they forgot.

 

The first thing he noticed, besides the utter lack of necessary physiological functions, was Loki; he was still wearing the muzzle. The thing Thor had forced on Loki, along with a set of magic inhibiting cuff that...yep. They were also still there.

 

Was Loki not to speak during his trial? Was that normal? Maybe it was just a special trial thing? Perhaps he spoke at the end? Clint wouldn't be able to tell without asking anyone, but he's pretty sure they'd all remember to breathe if he broke the silence and he was looking forward to seeing if any of them hit the floor.

 

Sadly, it was not to be. The noise returned to the hall a mere second later. Still, he couldn't ask until free talking was allowed anyways.

 

Free talking was only allowed to those directly next to you in low volumes or during the scheduled break times, as a trial like this one was not meant for a single run-through.

 

Either way, it was beginning.

 

"Loki Odinson," Clint, watching for Loki's reactions, saw him flinch. "You have been called here, on the authority of the Norns, to stand trial in a Public declaration of deeds. The testimonies given here today shall be recorded for public use for one year before a council will determine whether they shall remain, or become archived. You will stay in this chamber during the proceedings.

 

"For the record, the realms shall go by order of level, with Asgard beginning, followed by Alfheim, and so on. After each delegation has spoken, it will be time for personal accounts.

 

"May the trial begin."

 

The first to testify was the delegation from Asgard. Thor was not among them. From what Clint could hear, the first to testify was their childhood swordsmanship instructor, Tyr. He was a large man, with tanned skin, blue eyes, and brown hair, and missing one hand. He made his way to the front and faced Loki, as was traditional.

 

"I first met Loki The day the Aesir-Jotnar war ended. Odin held him in his arms. I was not introduced, but I was concerned over where his looks had come from. I did not see him again for at least twenty years. The queen kept him close at hand. The second meeting was more interesting, as was every meeting following the second.

Chapter Text

It was a warm spring day when the god of war, law, and justice awoke. The recruits would need to go through basic today. Prince Thor had hit his growth spurt early and requested early leave to begin his training.

It had been a few decades since he had been in the palace for any reason other than official business. He was taking the time to take it in. The palace of Asgard was always impressive, and ever unchanging.

Yelling could be heard from down the hall as he walked. Tyr supposed the first prince was as loud as any citizens newly grown child.
The first prince turned the corner, blue eyes flashing as he yelled, “Loki, change this back!” and Tyr could see what the change was indeed. Thor was sporting flashing green hair, the colour of the grass outside.

Loki, Tyr recalled, was Odin’s other son, who was going into his second decade of life. He would look like the average Midgardian four-year-old, he supposed, and likely would have only begun to speak a handful of years ago. Why Thor assumed his hair colour was his brother's fault, Tyr wouldn’t know.

Just as he thought that, however, a flash of black in midair passed him, the second prince had black hair and talent in invisibility spells. If his mother had been involved, even the glimmer of hair would not be spotted. Which means he likely had also changed his brother's hair as well.

He stood to the side as Thor paid him no attention and went after the unpredictable flash of black hair. He swung his arms in sweeping gestures in an attempt to catch his brother. It was at that moment that Tyr noticed a presence behind him.

There was no telltale flash of black.

And yet, in front of Thor was a flash of black hair which sent him into another angry frenzy.

Tyr had to prevent himself from laughing at the sight. A mere babe, two decades old, getting the better of his four centuries older brother in strategy.
Small giggles could be heard behind him as Thor continued to try and catch “Loki.”

"You there, have you seen my brother?" It was not a polite question. Tyr did not expect this. That once Thor had finally noticed him, he would not recognise the commander of the Asgardian army that he did not even recognise Tyr as the drillmaster of the recruits. Thor could often be seen watching the warriors train, that his observation skills were so low as not even to make the connection...Tyr didn't want to think about it. He'd have to train it out of him. Suddenly, he was regretting his decision to take Thor early, even if it would only spare him the pain for a few short decades.

He wasn't training Thor for the position of a foot soldier, after all. He had to prepare him in strategy and leadership as well as weapons-wielding and scouting.

Loki, however, showed a mind for strategy at two decades old, it was brilliant. It was unfortunate that he would be forced to wait nearly five centuries to teach such talent. He would be an excellent foil to Thor, though, one child in the light, winning the battle and one child in the shadows, winning the war.

 


 

"The second meeting was more interesting, as was every meeting following the second." Tyr smiled a bit at this part. "I next met him at a mere two decades old; he had outwitted his brother in magic, making himself invisible while casting the illusion of a faulty invisibility spell near Thor. I felt it would be interesting to teach him once he was five centuries. I felt disappointed that Thor did not show such forethought but was quite excited at the prospect of Loki to be an advisor to his brother.

"Following that, I rarely saw him until he came to my halls for training. He had started rather late, and had far less time than the others, due to his increased responsibilities as a dignitary for Asgard. At 500, the formal beginning of warrior training, Loki was gone on a diplomatic mission to the Vanir to renew the peace treaty.

When I did begin his training, two years following when he had returned from the diplomatic talks with the Vanir, he had shown proficiency in many Elven and Vanir techniques, which suited someone of his physique much better than any Asgardian fighting style would, though he learned that as well.

"He told me that his mission was to show understanding with the Vanir, to make them see that Asgard cared about their ways. Loki said to me that even though his father may not, that Loki himself did care, as his mother was Vanir. That, to assuage his father's doubts of him for missing the start of his formal training, he had begun to learn techniques from the realm he was visiting and other dignitaries." He stopped for a moment to look in the eyes of at least one delegate from each realm.

"Loki asked for additional training at every turn, hoping to gain his father's approval through his dedication. I have done my duty, but I have also harmed him." A glance at Odin showed that he was not happy with the proceedings but was also unable to stop them. "When Loki was 885, I chained Fenris in unbreakable chains on Odin's orders and sent him away to be forgotten. This, I fear, was the greatest injustice I have done to Loki, and I claim responsibility for the damage it has done his heart."

Chapter Text

Tony looked over at the rest of his team. “Anyone know who Fenris is?”

Clint looked as if he was sucking on a sour lemon and replied slowly. “I’m only quoting from the legends here, okay? Phil had me read up on a few of them back in New Mexico, but Thor has already laughed off a few supposed facts, so we’re not sure what is entirely true or not.

“Fenris is another translation of the name Fenrir, in the legends, he was said to be a giant wolf chained in unbreakable chains until Ragnarök, the end of times. Tyr lost his hand when the soldiers went back on their word to release him from the chains when he could not break them.”

“And this has to do with Loki because?”

“Because, Stark, Fenrir, or Fenris in this case, is said to be Loki’s son.”


 

“Angrboda was of Jotun decent. From the account Loki gave after the incident, Angrboda was curious to see what would happen if two magically powerful beings would create even stronger children. He said that she had been looking for several years when she felt him traverse the realms through the secret paths near to her. After some research, she decided that Loki would be the perfect Sire to her children.

“At first, she had asked. She had met him in a pub and attempted seducing him, but Loki was only in his eighth century, he still had no interest in laying with anyone.

“Loki told me that because he refused, she kidnapped him. She placed a magical amulet around his throat which stripped him of his free will, and in this way, she conceived Jormungandr. However, Angrboda was also untrue to her husband; she had been shapeshifted at the time of conception to hide her Jotun heritage. Two powerful beings with shapeshifting magic made for an odd occurrence. Their first son was a snake. Angrboda was fascinated. She wanted to see if this was normal, so she conceived again, this time birthing Fenris, a wolf.

“The third time she fell pregnant, she released Loki from his mental binds, for she had seen how much he loved his children, despite how they were initially unwanted. She told him of her pregnancy, which assured her safety. Loki was now able to come and go freely. By now, five years had passed since Loki was taken, and Odin had finally tracked down the sorceress’ location. Her latest pregnancy seemed to absorb her magic from the very walls, destroying her enchantments to stay hidden.

“While Loki was gone one day to collect things, as Angrboda had been bedridden from pregnancy, I was sent to attack Angrboda and killed her. Fenris and Jormungandr were taken back to the palace to face judgement. Loki returned, several hours later, to the house that he had lived in for the previous three years, and then he vanished for another two years. I am not the one he chose to confide in about where he spent the next two years.” Tyr took a deep breath. “Jormungandr and Fenris grew at a rate unseen in Asgardian children, at the rate they aged, they would reach adulthood before their father.”

A strangled noise could be heard from the Midgardian delegation. “What?!” Tyr did not, however, answer; it was not his duty to answer queries, that responsibility would fall to Loki, at the very end, his only chance to speak in his defence.

He continued. “Jormungandr soon grew large enough that there was no longer room for him in Asgard, so Odin banished him to Midgard’s oceans. Fenris, however, was growing at a similar rate but was much too strong to be thrown into another realm. We tricked him into trying on many sets of chains, for surely the great Fenris-wolf would be able to break them. After the third set, Fenris knew what we were doing, but it would be a slight on his honour that could result in his death should he choose not to accept the challenge posed, so when the newest set was introduced, he asked one of us to place a hand in his mouth as a pledge that he would be released.

“I was the one to accept this pledge, and, as such, I was the one to lose my hand when we did not release him from the unbreakable chains. To this day, he remains chained, wherever the All-father deemed it appropriate, a sword through his jaw to anchor his head to the floor.

“Loki returned to Asgard and learned of the banishment of his sons. He already looked as though the world had fallen around him, and I was responsible for the grief he felt.

“As for the allegations that he set up Thor’s banishment and his own ascension to the throne. I will say this. There is no proof that Loki let the Jotuns into the treasury, but either way, Thor made his own decision, and his own decisions got him banished. Loki ascended to the throne when his mother handed him the regency. She herself could have ruled, but she deemed Loki ready. Loki’s ascension was legal, and if you believe for even a second that he would have tricked his mother, well, you don’t know at whose knee he learned how to scheme.”

Chapter Text

“Alright,” Tony clapped his hands together lightly, “So far, Loki has been kidnapped, mind-controlled, basically raped, and when he finally accepted the situation for the sake of his children, they were kidnapped and the person he’d spent the last five years with was dead along with their child.” He looked at the rest of the silent Avengers. “Oh, yes, I forget that Loki, at this point, was not even an Adult, and from the sounds of it, wouldn’t be an adult for quite a while!”

“Ah,” The Jotun next to them made a sound of interjection, and Tony stopped to study the being for a moment. He was tall, not as tall as Tony expected a giant to be, but still, between one to two feet taller than he was, with tribal-looking markings. Except, instead of drawn on markings, these looked to be ridges of skin, slightly lighter than the surrounding cobalt blue. He was wearing what appeared to be just a simple piece of cloth that was likely made from alternative materials to what was available on both Earth and Asgard.

“Yes?”

“You’ve left out the fact that Tyr has also not accused Loki of taking over the throne.”

Tony gave a decisive nod. “I suppose I did.” He extended an arm in greeting, “Tony Stark.”

The giant shook Tony’s hand, slightly confused. “I was named Helblindi by my bearer.”


 

Following Tyr’s testimony, a rather young-looking woman took to the stands. With reddish-blonde hair and bright blue eyes that showed resolve, she was rather pretty. Her dress was silver-white, and her cloak was of a light blue that brought out her eyes. She made a formidable picture, one of defiance to the All-father. Her name was whispered all around as she walked; Eir.

“I have stood in this position countless times before today.” Her face had softened when she finally faced Loki and began. “I have championed for a young child, unusual in nature, and I have been rejected, time and time again.

“As his healer, I have had more contact with the prince than most, and I am privy to details that I have been forbidden from sharing, but that would affect my duty to heal him had I not known. His first excursion to the healing halls was his own choice. Loki was approximately 300, and his brother had been using him for sparring practice, but with his split lip and bruised abdomen, he asked to learn healing magic. Frigga had already taught him nearly everything she knew, but Loki wanted to go beyond that. He tried to master as many things as he could, so instead of healing him, I taught him spells that allowed him to heal himself.

“Loki soon started to come to me more frequently, with more severe wounds, not by any fault of his own, but because his brother noticed, and practised on Loki more often. This was the first time I stood before Odin, and I asked him to give Thor chastisement for his behaviour.

“The blood and the bruises stopped for a time, relatively short by Aesir standards, but long in Midgardian standards, and then, Thor made a new friend, a female this time, named Sif.

“Sif could be seen in the training yard, easily visible by looking for the golden hair both she and Thor sported. Sif could also be found bragging of said hair; of golden hair, so beautiful only the royal family had a similar shade of gold.

“And for the first time, a rumour reached Loki’s ear. How is it, two people, blonde of hair, spawn a child with hair of the deepest, blackest pits, of which no one wanted to approach?”

The Avengers looked among themselves, “Didn’t Thor say Loki was adopted?” Natasha asked, already knowing the answer. Helblindi, however, seemed rather interested in knowing this, though before he could ask, Eir carried on.

“So, I told Loki of another child, black of hair, born to two, blonde of hair, named Hela. Loki resolved that he was particularly fond of that name, and that should he ever have a daughter, he should like to name her something similar. Moving on, however, Loki grew. I shall not be the one to tell the tale, as that honour shall go to the dwarves,” She paused here to glare at the delegation that the Avengers would have assumed as a giant. They were giant in nature, but with seemingly short stature, their bodies ill proportioned to their height. “but Loki next came to me with lips sewn shut, in hopes for help, yet the threads remained magic resistance. I helped him to remove them, one stitch every season, until eight seasons later, he was free to talk once more.”

“Lies!” Someone from the crowd yelled. “He removed the stitches after less than a week!”

Eir glared the man into silence as he was removed from the sanctity of the hall. “Loki tricked you. The thread was magical, only able to be removed one at a time, on the equinoxes by a master of healing. Within the week of his punishment, Loki found a spell to project his voice, and cast an illusion on himself to look as he normally did.” Against tradition, she faced the man who was almost out the doors and addressed him. “I saw Loki after his first son was taken from his arms. I saw him after he had gone through years of mental abuse by the Jotun who mothered the two sons that had just been taken from him. I saw him as he begged for help with his daughter. I saw him after he watched his twins be born. I saw him after watched one die, and the other vanish. I saw him after his wife and best friend was executed. I have seen Loki in far too many times of happiness and grief to be fooled when he lies. I cared enough to look, but you obviously did not care to see.”

Chapter Text

“Damn, she’s almost as fiery as Pepper when I haven’t attended any of my meetings!” Tony whisper exclaimed. Steve gave him a blank look for that comment, but Tony couldn’t help it. It was true! Pepper was terrifying.

“Remind me to never anger this woman you have mentioned.” Helblindi, interesting fellow he was, asked. Eir had paused the moment the guards left with the idiot. Maybe she was waiting for them to return?

“No promises.”

Clint looked at Tony, an irritated look on his face. “Are we not going to discuss whatever the hell she just said, because Loki, according to my count, currently has six kids.”

“Five” Bruce corrected before wincing. Yeah, dead kid’s not really a nice point of conversation right now. Ever, really.

“Asgard has been hiding its secrets quite well, I only knew about four of them,” Helblindi commented interestedly. “It was a rather large deal when the youngest had two bastard children before marriage, and when he both married and conceived legitimate children before the heir. That there are two more is surprising.”

Tony looked at his new alien friend. He might ask for some texts on the physiology of the Jotnar later. Maybe they had magic texts, too. From what he learned of last night, Asgard would not appreciate him poking around magic. He might see if Natasha was willing to help. Probably not. “Considering two actually made the inter-realm gossip system, I would be disappointed in the royal family if they hadn’t successfully hidden the other two.” Tony expected Clint to yell at him about the tangent they were taking, but a quick glance showed he was slightly green, as was Bruce, from thoughts of the dead child. Huh.

“True, A royal family that can’t hide at least one secret is rather disappointing.” Helblindi’s voice was suspiciously void of emotion as he said this. Tony mildly wondered what the blue-giants rulers had to keep secret, and whether they had managed it or not.

Damn! He was so used to having all the information at the tips of his fingers. He’ll have to raid the library. They better be staying long enough for him to raid the library!

The guards that had taken the man from the room, most likely to some sort of holding cell he couldn’t interrupt them from, returned. Eir looked about to begin again. Tony watched as she took a shuddering breath and closed her eyes.

One thing was for sure, the Avengers would not like whatever was coming next. 

 


 

Eir had been bored in the healing chambers. Very few people had come to her for healing in the past few months. The Volur could handle most minor injuries, and no one wanted to risk the wrath of Odin should they waste her time. She scowled. He had no right to scare away her patients. Which reminded her, Loki hadn’t been seen for a while. She would have assumed he was on another of his missions as a delegate, or had been dragged along with Thor on an adventure except for a few facts. Loki tended to inform her every time he was sent somewhere, as he tended to help out in the healing wing and wanted her to know her helper would be gone. Thor had returned from killing a giant several months back and the victory, and he was in no need to seek another out so soon.

A feeling of foreboding at her missing apprentice filled her as the healing wing suddenly burst with presence.

Odin had arrived in her halls.

Making her way into the main section of the room, she stopped dead upon seeing Odin, dragging Loki by the elbow into her hall.

He thrust his son at her. “Heal him to the best of your abilities, he is to be sent to Vanaheim for his duties in the morning.” After relaying his message, he strode briskly from the hall, not even giving her an explanation of how Loki was injured.

She hoped he could tell her what was wrong, but there was a dead look in his eyes that killed her hope of such a thing. She could use magical methods of determining the problem, but Loki preferred to do such things himself. He claimed that other magic felt wrong to him. It wasn’t his magic, it had no business being in his body, he told her.

“Loki.” She gently cupped his face in her hands, guiding his eyes towards her own. “Child, what’s wrong?”

Slowly, ever so slowly, his eyes focused on her. They weren’t as dead as she first feared, but her voice seemed to have brought him out of whatever trance he was in, and they slowly clouded with fear, disgust, sadness, anger and so many other emotions.

“Loki, you’re safe now. It’s alright.” Eir watched as Loki’s eyes began to water and his face began to contort into the eternal image of grief.

Soon he was attempting to take gulps of air through his sobs and found himself unable to stop long enough to breathe any substantial amount. She was right to assume that most of the pain was emotional. Loki would be able to heal nearly any common injury on his own.

When the sobs had died down slightly, near a quarter hour later, she asked, “Would you like to talk about it?” He heard her, she could tell, from the hitching of his breath, but he didn’t answer her. “You can tell me anything, Loki. You know I won’t judge.”

The sobs seemed to get worse again, though Eir thought it was partially because Loki was now trying to speak through the tears running down his face, and unable to breathe through his nose while speaking after his breakdown. Most of it was indiscernible through his heavy sobs, but soon, he calmed in her presence, as she wasn’t associated with the calm for nothing.

Between sobs of despair that Eir wished she didn’t have to listen to, Loki explained, “I tried and I tried and I tried so hard, but I…I-I couldn’t get away. Father said it was my fault, and I had to fix it, and…and..a-and he said that he would lock my magic away if I didn’t do it, and I tried to run, but I couldn’t.” Eir withheld her horror at the proclamation of Loki’s magic being locked away. “And I wasn’t good enough at conjuration to make a good enough copy, b-but I tried, and I was clo-close, but it didn’t distract him enough, so I had to shapeshift, and th-then I r-ran and ran and ran and r-ran an-“ Loki was cut off as a sharp sob ripped its way through his throat and he collapsed against Eir, again, in a fit of sobs, tearing their way past his lips, the same lips that had taken years to heal.

Eir made calming noises to the young raven-haired child in her lap, until he calmed enough to continue.

“Father changed the deal, and I had to fix it because Freya would never agree and we can’t give away the sun and the moon, so I had to f-fix it, and he told me not to tell because A-Asgard had to win, so I ran, but I lost, and then-and afterwards I was happy and sad at the same time, but then father took him away and I-I loved him and I’m not allowed to visit and I loved him. I loved him. I loved him. I loved him so much despite hating that he was there, and now he’s not there and I’m not allowed to visit.”

Loki pulled closer to her robes, burying his face as he cried, eventually falling asleep, but she had gotten all she needed from Loki’s disjointed telling.

Loki had excitedly told her, months ago, that his father had finally listened to him. That he advised his father on a deal. The payment a builder had asked was ridiculous, but Loki knew the builder, and how much work he could do, so he had told his father that the builder couldn’t complete the wall in three months, if he could get the builder to agree to a shortened period, where if he didn’t finish in time, he didn’t get paid, they would have half a wall built for free, by a very talented builder.

Odin must have changed the terms that Loki had set forth, and when things went downhill, forced Loki to fix them. Loki was only in his seventh century of magical training, there were very few things he could do to stop the builder from completing it on time, but everyone knew the horse did more work than the man. Except attacking the participant of a deal was forbidden, and there were very few things besides what Loki had obviously used to distract the beast. Eir was positive Loki would have tried every other option first, but they had failed him.

That Loki had a child from the union….she prayed to the Norns that her favourite person wasn’t broken forever by the grief.

Chapter Text

Clint watched with rapt attention on Eir as she told her tale. She wasn’t done.

The way, every time she glanced anywhere but Loki, her eyes grew hard and cold, as if to say, “You are all complicit in what has happened.” The story of one has been told, but his healer knew more than one, she treated each and every one, didn’t she? She blames the others for not helping Loki the way she did, and by the end of this, when the truth is out, she will rip anyone who testifies against Loki to shreds.

Eir is arguing that he has enough wrong done to him, that it’s no wonder he snapped. She’s arguing he be let free. She’s arguing to punish those responsible for Loki’s grief.

Clint kept his attention locked on her, waiting for the beginning of the next tale; willing to witness the truth.


 

The day gave her the same feeling as a similar day ten years prior. Loki had been missing for five years now, but the guards had been in a rush for the past few days.

There were orders.

There hadn’t been orders that caused this much of a rush since the last Aesir-Jotnar War. It could be because the eldest had gone and started a war. It wasn’t outside the realm of possibility, but the day, it gave her the same foreboding feeling. The same feeling as the day in which Loki cracked, just a bit. He covered it up immediately afterwards, but his mother had taught him not to show weakness, and she taught him well.

Loki would be coming home soon.

With that in mind, she made her way to the workroom, a calm place used to make potions and cures. Only she and Loki was permitted to enter the sanctuary it made. If Loki made his way to her on his own, he would come here.

It was of no surprise then, that when she arrived, he was waiting, but he wasn’t quite alone. Loki carried a bundle in his arms, breathing faint, with hair of night, with hair of the blackest raven feathers.

Eir sincerely hoped that this was not to become a habit.

“Eir, please help.” The voice he used was cracking from disuse and desperate. She smiled at Loki. How could she refuse?

“Alright, diagnosis?” He would know better than her, after all, she taught him well on this subject after the incident several years ago.

“She’s several months premature, the union between the Priestess of the Iron-wood and myself. The only reason Hel is alive at all is that I’ve linked her core to my magic temporarily. She’s too young to be out of the womb at the moment, and will likely die from shock in the next half-hour if something isn’t done soon.” He tried getting it out quickly but had to stop halfway to summon a glass of water.

“She needs to go back into the womb.”

The look on Loki’s face could be described as a grimace. “Not possible, the mother is dead.”

Eir looked into Loki’s eyes. “How much do you want this child to live?” It would take rather drastic actions for a child this premature to survive.

“With all my heart.” She gave him a decisive nod, there was no use asking him if he was sure.

“Then she needs to go into a womb. You’ll need to shapeshift into a female form, one with a fully prepared womb. I’ll need to use my magic to attach the child to the vital areas.”

“I’ll do it, I’ll attach her. Eir, please just work of keeping open the entrance and preventing me from bleeding out.”

She gave him a long look. “Loki, you have no idea how to attach a child like that!”

“Yes, I do.” What? “I’ve already carried one child before, I understand how the lifeforce works. I’m a shapeshifter after all, I’m much more aware of my body than most. I remember what it feels like to have a child inside of me. I can do this.” That he was aware of even his internal shape was rather amazing.

“Fine, stubborn child.”

Within seconds, a woman was standing before her. Still with Loki’s shoulder-length waves. Her clothes had vanished, leaving her in a simple breast band and a pair of shorts. Loki decisively sliced open her own stomach with a blade once he handed her the child, and continued to shapeshift her body. He had taken a female form several times before, but now, he was trying to simulate the space a child would need in the womb, the way the organs shifted in accommodation, the stretch of skin. It would be much easier for Loki to give herself room after the cut she made than it would be to try and anticipate exact space before making the cut.

At Loki’s nod, Eir pushed aside Loki’s bloodied skin and placed the child in Loki’s body. Hel was given a small air bubble to breathe from until Loki could connect her to her body. Eir quickly focused on the external spells prevent blood from leaving the body and holding open the skin so that Loki had a clear view of herself.

Eir watched as the child seamlessly connected with the former males’ body, and then the walls of the womb closed, and then each successive layer healed, leaving only the amount of space needed. Standing before her was a thirteen months pregnant version of female Loki.

Loki breathed a sigh of relief, “Thank you, Eir.”

She gave Loki a small smile before her face hardened. “Now explain!”

“I was visiting Sigyn, as I have done every summer since my trip to Vanaheim near a decade ago. I used the pathways, and suddenly, I found myself not where I was before. Someone had yanked me from the path as I passed.” Loki shuddered. “This was Angrboda. She asked that I become her consort. She felt that my magic was powerful, so powerful it was, that she did not notice I used an illusion to appear as an adult. She didn’t know that it was Loki of Asgard that she had taken.

“I refused her, but she was powerful, and I was in her domain. She took me as her consort by force and placed a powerful enchantment upon a necklace; I had to obey her will, and she would be privy to my thoughts. It was not until we conceived the first child that she realized I was under illusion, but she no longer cared. She would have only waited to take me had she known beforehand, but because it was already done, she didn’t care!”

Loki yelled the last portion, emotions overtaking his normally strict control.

“When she fell pregnant with the third, she released me. I cared for the creature she had me create. They were beautiful. They were mine, and there would be another soon. I wanted so bad to be with my family as I was, not as she had me be. Angrboda released me, her magic was failing. Dear Hel took such large quantities of it. It was up to me to buy the food and cook the meals and care for the children.” Loki got a wistful look in his eyes. “You would have liked Jor, so smart he was.

“But they’re gone gone gone gone gone.” The tears had finally made an appearance as Loki pulled at her hair fretfully. It forcibly reminded her of the breakdown Loki had a decade prior. “He took them. He found us and he took them and he killed her and thought he killed little Hel, but I have her, safe and sound. Safe and sound. She rubbed her swollen stomach as she said this.

“Loki, dear.” Loki’s eyes snapped to Eir’s in a look similar to the way a wild animal would warily watch danger. “Go to Sigyn, she’ll help you with little Hel. All will be well, child.”

Chapter Text

“Little under two decades later, Loki was imprisoned for the death of Odin’s third son, blamed because he was the one who knew of Baldur’s weakness to mistletoe. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the tale, Hodur asked Loki to help guide his hand as the gods attempted to injure his younger brother with anything in the nine realms. The only thing able to harm Baldur was mistletoe, for it was so unassuming, it was excluded from the deal with the universe to never harm him. Loki helped to guide Hodur’s hand for the first dart, and, despite being blind, Hodur was able to fire every dart afterwards with perfect accuracy. One of those darts thrown, far past the time Loki left, was made of mistletoe. As one of the only two people who knew of the weakness, Loki was blamed.” She again broke tradition by looking to Odin with a freezing glare.

“Loki was imprisoned, not normally, as one would expect of the crown prince of a realm. Odin, feeling the loss of his youngest son decided the punishment. For killing his own brother, and having grief thrown onto Odin, Loki would have grief thrown onto him, as one of his sons murdered the other. Odin then transformed one of Loki’s twins, Vali, into a wolf rivalling Fenris might, and bid him to rip his twin brother Nari to pieces.”

A quick glance around the room from Eir showed that the Midgardians were horrified, as were the Jotnar, surprisingly. The Vanir and the elves were unsurprised, so used to Odin’s ways and aware of their inability to change this. The dwarves, however, she would have to keep an eye on them; they looked just as bloodthirsty as they had centuries prior when they had sewn a young boy’s lips shut for a bargain made by his father.

“Nari’s intestines were then charmed to change to chains and bound Loki under Asgard, a dead snakes venom set to drip in his eyes. Sigyn helped some, she held a bowl under the venom to prevent it from harming her husband, but the bowl filled, time and time again, and she had to leave the area to empty it, for the ground was on a slant, and it would harm Loki more to empty it nearby. During those times, Loki would writhe under the venom as it dripped into his eyes, and then, one day, she didn’t arrive to treat his wounds and stop the venom. Odin had found her as she snuck to Loki’s side and had her executed for treason.

“Two months later, Loki was released from his prison and into my care.”


 

Eir waited impatiently at the doors to the catacombs. Loki was being released. The prophet who had foretold Ragnorok at Loki and his children’s hands had been proven false. She had created many self-fulfilling prophecies that forever changed Asgard. Only Odin, of course, was supposed to be privy to the reason behind the imprisonment of Loki’s children, but Eir was also one of Frigga’s handmaidens, and the queen knew that Eir cared for Loki, so she Imparted as much knowledge as she could unto Eir.

The doors opened, and Loki stepped through, led by Thor. He grasped at the chains that once held his wrists, going so far as to stop and turn back for a dropped link, for the chains seemed to have been broken off his wrists. Eir would have to check for any fractures that wouldn’t be readily apparent from a surface view.

She would wonder why, had she not been in the room as he was sentenced, had she not been screaming for Odin to stop as he used his stolen power to change the form of Loki’s son. Only her long-standing position in Frigga’s court and her important role in the castles functioning saved her from punishment.

Approaching him as one would approach a skittish animal, she conjured a box, wrought with designs of the Vegvisir. For hope that Nari would find his way. Loki looked at the box, a lacquered box of viridian colouration, and the symbol upon it. It had been two years since his death, but if Nari was not yet with his sister, the symbol would help him to see the way. Gently, he placed the loose links in the box first, before lowering the remaining chains in. When the box sealed, Eir handed the box back to Loki. He would feel more at ease to carry his son to the rites he never received.

Eir noticed his wounds were already healed as well. Her heart gave a flutter of pride. She had taught him well. She waited until they were near her wing, until their guards had left. Until Thor, without a second glance, departed with the Einherjar.

“Sigyn is dead.” She told him, he would do worse if he had a hope of her survival. “Vali disappeared shortly after being changed, but a certain swords-master tells me he found his way to Fenris, and now hunts for his chained brother. He has not changed back, but he likely had a shock. His inherent magic will change him back when he’s ready to accept what happened.”

“Vali is okay?” Norns, the hope in that question, it broke her heart.

“He’s alive, a wolf, but alive. Once he’s dealt with his grief, he’ll change back. We’ll get him back to you when that happens, Loki. I promise.”

And if she ignored the choked sound he made, well, no one was in the hall to witness it.

Chapter Text

Tony could honestly say he was pretty numb to everything they’d been told. First of all, Loki had kids. Surprise! Alright, that seems believable, but six of them? Well, I guess it happens, but oh, does that really happen four out of six times? He was pretty sure there was something in his throat that made it hard to breathe. Why was it so hard to breathe?

Damn!

A hand on his shoulder brought him back. Stabilizer to reality. Right, Asgard. Trial. Avengers. Alright. He could do this. “Right,” Tony began, “Yeah, no, I’d really rather not lead this discussion. Do you think she’s done?”

“Helblindi seemed to consider this for a moment, looking at Eir. “Yes, I believe so, she’s merely staying a few extra seconds for Loki.”

Tony looked over at the god in question and was promptly shocked. His eyes looked as if the could spill tears any second, but they weren’t. Loki had an astounding force of will.

“What’s your take on this, D? You’ve had more experience with the whole god thing.” Steve was in the background looking green. Clint looked in a state of shock and horror, even Natasha’s mask had cracked. Bruce, well, he was looking a little green around the edges, but he was going through one of his calming routines, so they should be safe.

“Did you shorten my name to D?”

“Might have, not sure, I’m still in shock, and it’s not like it shortens to anything better. I could, of course, give you a different type of name, but none of the people here would get the reference. My talents would be wasted!” Tony bemoaned.

Helblindi, newly dubbed ‘D’, gave a sort of sideways look, but answered Tony’s question anyway.

“From what I’ve heard, Loki is not of the Aesir, nor of the Vanir, which is confusing, because he has none of the identifying markers of any other race. Neither of those races has a male-childbearing ability. We Jotnar carry the ability, as do the elves, but he looks like neither.”

Huh. “All we know is that he’s adopted. Thor mentioned it.”

“He could be of mixed blood, but that’s unlikely considering how easily he fell pregnant. Each consecutive generation with mixed blood tends to have an increasing amount of difficulty in that area.”

“Alright, so he’s an Elf or a Jotun, illusioned, I assume,” Tony said, trying to use the terms he’d just learned for magic Loki did.

“No, he would have to have been shapeshifted. Certain beings of great power can see past illusions. The Volur being one such being. Elves tend to be able to see past them as well.

“Loki is known as a natural shapeshifter, he could have taken an Aesir form in curiosity. Shapeshifters are often born to both the elves and the Jotnar and occasionally from the Vanir. Birth parents can have difficulties if their child subconsciously shifts to an alternate race, but children can’t shift themselves for that long. Odin may have placed a lock on his true form.”

Hmm. Had Loki known he was adopted? “What was it that Eir had said near the beginning, ‘I am privy to details that I have been forbidden from sharing, but that would affect my duty to heal him had I not known.’” Tony looked thoughtful. “She definitely knows what he is, and she’s not allowed to tell anyone. Do you think anyone included Loki, too?”

Helblindi looked at Eir, still trying to convey a silent message to Loki, one that he received. His eyes gained determination, and the chance for tears vanished with a decisive nod of his head. “I believe,” He began slowly, “That Loki was not privy to his adoption.”

Clint looked up from where he’d been staring at Loki. “He flinched when Odin called him Odinson, you know. He may not have known previously, but he found out recently enough that the betrayal still hurts.”


 

Freya approached the circle with all the dignity of one labelled the God of Beauty. She knew there were arguments against her approaching the stand, as she still technically ruled Vanaheim as regent occasionally, but just as Eir and Frigga were, Freya was brought to Asgard. As a hostage, but she was given honorary citizenship. The Vanir and the Aesir had been mingling since Asgard annexed Vanaheim at the conclusion to the war.

They were just token protests.

“Loki has saved me twice, if not more.” She began, her clear melodic voice carrying the words she wanted to say. “My story will not be a sad tale. It will not be one of grief, or longing, but of better times. We are here to show how Loki has lived, the good and the bad. She closed her eyes, remembering what she had seen and what she had been told.

“I was not there for a portion of this story, but I have seen the truth of what I have been told.” Murmurs erupted around her, but she forged on. “One day, while it seemed a normal morning, a shout erupted through the castle. The shout came from Thor, and he yelled for Loki, ‘Loki, where is my hammer?’ he yelled. All throughout the halls to the castle as he went to storm his brothers’ room.” A smile caught on her face as she recalled the tale, weaved by a much greater storyteller than herself.

Chapter Text

Freya sat in her chambers, an inconspicuous cat at her feet.

“Come, Loki, you simply must tell me about what happened at the banquet. I lent you my cloak! You owe me.” She pleaded to an audience that seemed absent to any interloper, not that any but Loki could manage to get past her bower door, and even then, she had guarded it against the method he used the last time it had happened.

Black fur retreated to be black waves and viridian eyes had changed from feline in nature to his natural Aesir eyes. As if it was never there, Loki was in its place. “Yes, yes, of course, milady.”

They had struck up an odd friendship after Loki had broken into her chambers on his fathers’ orders to steal her necklace. Instead, wary of the punishments he had received for things more minor than this, he woke her and informed her of the theft, imploring her to play along so that Odin would not know he had disobeyed his orders. She had given him the necklace to take to Odin, stating she would get it back, it was the adult’s job to worry about such matters.

Within the day, her necklace was back around her throat.

“You know I will give you all of the blackmail on Thor, no charge asked.” His eyes glittered at the prospect of embarrassing his older brother.

“Well then, get on with it!” She urged him.

He laughed, carefree as a child should be, not like his usual polite chuckle which he used when in the company of the delegates of other realms. The sight brought a smile to her face. “Alright, Alright, I give, are you ready, for a tale of wit and humour?” he waved his hand, sending off green sparks as if to illustrate his point.

“Yes!” She told him forcefully, Loki knew her weakness to gossip.

He gave another laugh, and she felt proud of herself for having accomplished it. Visibly calming himself, he conjured with his hands a green fire, and with it, painted the picture of a sleeping Thor, bolting upright in bed. “Thor, though sleeping through the night so peacefully, bolted awake one morning, in search of Mjolnir, his trusty hammer. Immediately upon not finding it, he assumed that only the trickiest being in the realm could know of where his hammer had vanished to, for he slept with it under his pillow, and he felt the only one so bold to steal Mjolnir from his chambers would be his brother, the trickster.” With his green flames, he painted a picture of himself, in the library reading a book in a window nook. “He sprung from his bed, and raced down the halls.”

With each word, the green flames followed his commands and painted the story.

“But what should he find in Loki’s chambers than an empty bed. To Thor, this seemed as good as an admission of guilt. His hammer was missing and so was his brother. He must be hiding in fear of Thor’s wrath. With a decisive nod to himself, Thor set off to find Heimdall, for he of all the Aesir would know of where his brother went, and so he asked the all-seeing being, ‘Heimdall,’ he began,” Loki made his voice low and growly, as Thor often did when ordering people around. “And asked, ‘Where is my brother?’ He made no move to ask of his hammer, for surely Loki would have hidden it under enchantments that even Heimdall could not see past, so Heimdall replied, ‘He is in the library, Prince Thor.’ Thor assumed that Loki thought this a great place to hide from him, and his thoughts of trickery from his brother cemented themselves further.

“What Thor didn’t consider, is that his brother did not consider the library a place of hiding, but a place of learning, and had awoken early in his search for greater magic. Thor, burst into the library, yelling for Loki to quit his hiding. Loki, unsure as to what Thor needed him for this time, exited the stacks of books at a calm pace, only to be confronted by an angry Thor. ‘Where is my hammer Loki?’ he bellowed.”

As Loki gave his impersonation of Thor’s voice, the flaming books he had created trembled and flickered, as if they might fall.

“The trickster, however, had no idea what Thor was speaking of, but soon, he gathered that Thor’s hammer had been stolen. He proposed a plan to his brother, ‘I do not have your hammer,’ he began, but that was not a place to start, Thor brayed and bellowed, and the books shook in their place, so Loki quickly went on, “However, I shall help you find it. I shall ask the most beautiful god of the land, Freya, a-”

“You did not say that!” She exclaimed.

“But of course I did, fair Lady,” and as if to prove a point, he took her hand and bent to kiss it. He straightened and continued, telling his story as if he was not the trickster himself. She smiled to herself. “Now, as I was saying, Loki endeavoured to go to the fair lady Freya,” Her image was created in flames. “In order to borrow her cloak. The cloak had the power to shift any into the form of a falcon and fly across the lands. Now, normally, Loki would shift himself, but he had yet to master flight in his shifted forms, and Freya’s cloak would assist in that aspect. The fair lady Freya agreed most graciously to lend it, and Loki set off.

“He set off to the land of the Frost Giants, Jotunheim.” A picture of crystalline buildings and snow-covered lands sprung into existence. “He travelled to the lair of a well-known frost-giant, Thrym, and asked after the hammer. It would do them no harm, after all, if the Jotuns learned of this, they had yet to figure a way of travel between realms, so they could not look for it if they themselves did not have it.

“Thrym declared, that, yes, he did have the hammer, but he hid it miles under the surface, and would not return in unless Freya, fair Goddess who lent her cloak, married him in return. Loki first returned to Thor with this news, and Heimdall all-seeing was already there, having seen the exchange. Together, the three ventured to Freya, to inform her of the giant's demands.

“Thor, oaf that he is, upon seeing her, called out for her to dress as a bride, that they were taking her to Jotunheim to be married. Freya did not much like what Thor said, and verbally shredded him to pieces,” Loki smiled at the memory. “Only to be interrupted by Heimdall. Heimdall had a suggestion. That Thor could go as Freya, win back his hammer, and take his vengeance on the thieves. Thor didn’t want to agree but was forced to as the Heimdall told him if this didn’t happen, then Asgard would be ruled by the Jotnar.

“No expense was spared on Thor’s wedding dress and veil, for he refused to shave his beard for the endeavour. When it came time for Thor to leave. Loki suggested he go as Thor’s handmaiden, and promptly shifted to his female form and illusioned herself to look older.” Loki then shifted to female form to show Freya, magicking his clothes as his body changed. She clapped in delight as she saw Loki shift. It was truly a beautiful thing to watch Loki use magic. “She then cast a slight charm on her brother, that people looking too closely would not see anything amiss. It was not very powerful, but it would ward off questions. When they arrived, Thyrm boasted of his fortune of being able to marry such a fair maiden.

Loki cut herself off to burst into laughter, as she had been fighting for several minutes by now, and Freya joined her. How Thor was ever mistaken for Freya could only be a work of Loki’s magic. “Thrym, over the course of dinner, questioned Thor’s actions many times.

“Only Loki’s quick thinking saved them in each situation. ‘Why, I’ve never seen a lady eat this much!’ Thrym exclaimed after watching Thor consume an entire ox, eight salmon, and all of the dainties prepared for the womenfolk, this was not including all the mead he drank as well. Loki devised a response fit for her title as Silvertongue. She replied to Thrym, ‘She has been so lovesick for you that she has refused all food and drink.’ Several such situations followed, but soon, Thrym declared for Mjolnir to be brought out as the bride-gift. The moment it was placed in his lap, Thor took it in hand and slew Thrym and his guests.” Loki finished the tale, his accompanying green flame vanishing.

Freya clapped again. “That’s perfect! I’m going to hold this over his head for so long.” Freya crowed before flopping back onto her bed. “Ah, that Thor made such a maiden he wasn’t even found out seems the peak of restitution for his insult on my honour.” She turned to Loki, still standing with a smile. “Thank you, Loki.”

“It was my pleasure, Milady.” She said, giving a curtsy before heading to exit the room. “I’ll see you in the library for our study session this Friday?” She questioned Freya.

“Of course, Loki.”

Chapter Text

“We’re never letting him live this down, are we?” Clint asked. Tony merely chuckled into his hand as a reply.

Helblindi, however, took on a wary look, Natasha noted. “I’d be careful of speaking of it. The first prince slaughtered near fifty Jotnar when one called him princess, and those are only the few I watched him defeat. I’d assume it’s a sensitive issue.”

“Fifty!” Tony choked out, no longer laughing. “What the hell did they do to deserve that?” Because Natasha wryly thought, Thor had shown the sense to need a reason recently. Even the sarcasm in her thoughts was obvious.

“Three of our number broke into the weapons vault to steal back a relic Odin All-father took from our people a millennium ago. One of the Einherjar was slain in the attempt. All three Jotnar were killed.” Helblindi seemed to have developed an unconscious habit of rubbing his left thumb on his right hand. “Mere hours later, Thor and his friends arrived, questioned the ruler of Jotunheim, and proceeded to kill every Jotnar they could, even after a peaceful exit was offered.”

The answer did not reassure that Thor had reason to do what he did. In fact, it seemed he overreacted horribly to what was a comparably smaller slight.

In the time they took to realize that Asgard had a different culture, that Thor was a different person than to who they thought, the din that had risen when the tale ended died down, and Freya began again, hopefully continuing to tell of better times.


 

“Freya!” The whisper-shout seemed to echo in the quiet of the library. Very few people who would like to use the library were allowed, and the few who were allowed were absolute brutes, sworn to the house of Odin, and mostly had muscles for brains, but this whisper was familiar to Freya, though she hadn’t heard it in near a decade.

“Loki!” She called out in the same whisper yell. “Where have you been. Thor’s was going mad looking for you!”

Loki’s face peeked around the stack of books Freya had heard his voice from. The last time she had seen him, he was at an awkward stage in his development, his face was more indicative of his age than his body, it seemed time apart had only exacerbated that fact. His cheekbones stood stark against the newly gaunt nature of his face, skin unhealthily sallow. His eyes, however, showed of wonder, maybe of the same wonder that he had once had when teleporting her to the topmost tower of the palace, maybe of the same wonder as when relating what he’d seen of the glasswork and enchantments of the elves.

In any case, the picture he made was a dichotomy. Looking sicklier than she had seen him since his fifth century, yet more excited than ever before.

“Thor? Thor doesn’t matter right now. Come look!”

“Come look at what?” She exclaimed, but it was too late already. Loki had set off at a brisk pace, and Freya could only wonder why he didn’t use his magic. She followed him from the secondary exit to the library, the one that led to a garden connecting to one of Asgard’s forests. “Loki,” she called, arriving outside, “Loki, where are you?” Freya sighed, he was probably in the forest. Most of the Einherjar refused to set foot in the forest because of absurd rumours of it being cursed. The truth of the matter was that it was so heavily saturated in magic that those who didn’t know how to direct its flow became uneasy and easily lost. Loki had found his own sanctuary in the magic heavy environment.

Making her way to what she’d dubbed Loki’s clearing, she was brought up short by the noises she could hear. Was that a horse? She quickly doubled her speed and carried on again, her twofold speed bringing her quickly into the forest.

Freya broke through the underbrush and stopped at the sight. She knew she had heard a horse!

A speckled grey colt lay under a tree, asleep; Loki was seated next to it, gently brushing its mane. He looked up as she entered the clearing and gave a nervous smile. Her attention, however, wasn’t drawn back to Loki, but to the colt’s legs. It had eight legs. A horse with eight legs.

“Where did you find it?” She asked, for surely, only Loki could have found something so magnificent as an eight-legged horse. What a work of magic, did it have to do with the forest? Did the heavy condensation of magic cause the colt to change form?

Loki froze at her question. “I didn’t find him.” Freya looked at him uncomprehendingly. “He’s mine.” Loki’s eyes averted from hers and looked back upon the colt. “I have a son, now.”

Freya stared at Loki, trying to process what he had just told her. The colt was his son? It wasn’t possible, Loki wasn’t old enough by far to have children. “Loki,” she started, only to be cut off as he continued.

“His name is Sleipnir. I’ve been calling him Nir, though. He’s been a joy. I went to you the moment I could, Freya. He hasn’t calmed a moment since he’s come out, so I had to wait until he fell into a deep sleep.” Loki looked back to her, never ceasing the motion of his hand against Sleipnir, and for the life of her, she wouldn’t have been able to stop the tears if she tried.

Seeing him, so anxious and dead and alive all at once, she knew, she had seen what had happened, and the tears silently streamed down her face as she forced herself to smile before the wild look in his eyes. “He’s beautiful, Loki.”

“I thought so, too. He’s great Freya, he’s good at magic, too. Eventually, I should be able to teach him to shift. He did it a few hours after birth for a little, but his natural form takes after his sire, so he’d need the training to hold an Aesir form.” Loki looked sad for a moment before brightening. “He can world walk, better than even I. His magic is beautiful to see work, you know.”

Freya smiled, Loki was calming down after receiving her approval. “I know what you mean, Loki. Your magic is great to behold, I have no doubt Sleipnir inherited your talent for magic and the beauty it possesses.”

“I’m sorry.” The utterance was so quiet she nearly asked him to repeat himself.

In any case, there was only one answer to that, “There’s no need to be sorry, Loki. It’s not your fault. I’ve seen it. You did the best you could.” Freya left Loki and Sleipnir in the clearing with Loki hiding his face in Sleipnir’s coat, muffling the great relief he felt at those words.

Chapter Text

It was back to the children, again.

Clint knew it would always be the children for him, the thing that would have him supporting the same person to twist his loyalties.

Not only the fact that the supposed megalomaniac who invaded earth had children, but also that they were taken from him every single time. Sure, Thor had said that invading earth had been Loki’s way of throwing a tantrum, but the puzzle pieces didn’t fit together.

Loki had had centuries of wrongs done against him, yet Thor said he didn’t change until his coronation. The coronation that Loki ruined. How he ruined it, well, Thor wasn’t explicit, but it ended in Thor’s own banishment to earth.

Heck, Clint would probably have gone off the deep end if Lila and Cooper had been taken from him and Laura was killed. Yet none of it added up; It had to have been at least a century since any of this happened. Why snap now?

Did they still not have any inkling of the full picture? Was there more to discover. Sure, Eir had hinted that the dwarves would have an account, but that can’t be the only factor. That happened years before any of this other shit. What could have happened that would set him off so badly as to invade earth on a grudge for Thor?

“Clint, hey, Birdbrain. Hey!” Clint looked to Stark; did he have the stomach to continue leading the discussion to come? “Yeah, I was just talking to D, he thinks we should go see if Thor’s calmed down enough to talk.” He looked sheepish, “Well, I said he said we, but he really meant us, yeah, Thor probably wouldn’t talk with D around.”

Clint nodded even as he replied, “I was thinking the same. He has some things to answer for us.” He paused. “Nat, You okay with this?”

She nodded distractedly back, still watching the space Loki stood. Clint had to admit, he was surprised Loki was still standing. He reacted to each story almost as if physical blows were dealt. What could Nat be thinking about so deeply? He wondered. The fact that a man like Loki had children of his own when she never would? Maybe the fact that his children had all been torn away from him? Most likely, she was thinking of how her children would be similarly persecuted if she was able to have them.

Clint placed a hand on his partner's arm; she didn’t need to be thinking about that. Lila and Cooper were hers just as much as they were Laura and Clint’s. The future she was imagining would never come to pass. Nat became far too melancholy if given time to linger on the what-ifs. They all would.


 

Helblindi wondered just what these humans thought about to have such expressive emotions. He had only been formally introduced to one of the mortals, but Tony Stark was rather entertaining all on his own. Helblindi hoped the other mortals would abate his boredom as well as the first.

That the wayward prince had invaded their realm after his fall from the Bifrost, Helblindi was concerned with where exactly, the time in-between was spent. He sincerely hoped he wasn’t the only one with doubts. The Midgardians had seemingly been wary of walking into the courtroom and had grown more sceptical as the trial went on. What happened to the Skywalker? Was he justified?

That Helblindi was more than interested in his heritage was inconsequential. Loki could only be of the Elves or of the Jotnar.

Tony, it seemed, was of similar mind, as he leaned toward Helblindi to give voice to his theory, “I think Loki might be a Jotun, D. Have any missing children about his age?”

Helblindi hadn’t thought of that yet. How many children could have gone missing at the conclusion to the war?

“How are you sure?” He asked, rather than answer. He’d have to take the break to talk to Byleistr.

“Well, there are a few things, really. First off was that comment Tyr made. He first saw Loki after the war with your people, kind of suspicious there. Second, yours was the realm he tried to destroy.”

“Why would he attempt to destroy our realm if he was one of us?”

“Well, he only found out about the whole adoption thing recently, right? So, Loki thinks that it’s all his fault that Daddy doesn’t love him enough, that the warriors speak behind his back, that Thor will be crowned king. Now, he finds out, no, it’s because he’s not Aesir, he’s one of the monsters he’s been told of his entire life. He thinks he needs to prove to Odin that he’s not of your race, and BAM, he tries to destroy the place he was born because he wants daddy dearest to love him.”

Helblindi was rather blindsided at the mortal’s astuteness. “He tried to destroy us because he thought his true father would never care for him, because he was a Jotun, and to Asgardians, we Jotuns are evil incarnate, incapable of love. He thinks we can’t provide the family he needs, so he tried to fix the one he had by proving himself not of us.”  Helblindi thought it a twisted sort of reasoning, but he could see exactly where one like Loki could think that. One who has been wronged so many times in their life that they wish to take their happiness into their own hands. A desperate sort of hope by one who feels they are without any other choice if they wish to find happiness.

Chapter Text

They knew that Asgard’s portion of the trial had come to an end when Odin struck the floor with the end of his staff to call the audience to attention. He declared that they would reconvene in an hour to continue with the Alfheim delegation.

At the declaration, Tony realized that now was the time to go talk to Thor. He had heard someone say something about Thor being stood with his family. Gaining the attention of the other Avengers, he ensured each was fine with their questioning committee.

He made note that Asgard was at the highest level, and Alfheim was at the second level, he may ask D how exactly this Yggdrasil thing was supposed to work. He did well in making an inroad to other sources of information. Blind-man was pretty forthcoming with information and unlikely to tell Tony that it was not to be spoken of. Well, he might, before going and telling Tony exactly what it was that wasn’t to be spoken of. Tony got that sort of feeling around him. He figured he’d ask Blue if he could share some magic texts and stuff, maybe double check it with another race if he could, though he might have to wait until the testimonies are over so he can see each realms view on magic. Or he could ask D, huh, D was his replacement Jarvis. He should make it so Jarvis can go to space-land with him and make all his suits space-proof.

Maybe a friend among the elves could be a fact checker? They had male pregnancy, too, so it’s doubtful they’d be against male magic, from what he can tell, or maybe they would? He should ask, definitely ask, if he remembers.

As they made their way over to Thor, Tony realised he hadn't noticed Point Break at all throughout the trial. Sure, he set aside questions for him, but he hadn't once looked to Thor to gauge his expression or reactions. He thought of Thor in a distant sense, as if he wasn’t present. When they arrived closer, he realized it must’ve been a spell of a sort; the blank-faced Thor they were approaching melted away in a shimmer of gold. It was replaced by the same Thor, except this version was as thunderous as his title implied.

“Hey, Point Break,” Tony started. Might as well be friendly to the unfriendly. “Mind if we talk?”

 


 

Thor’s expression softened as he took in the sight of his shield-brothers. Though they had a slight dispute the prior day, they had done battle together, he could not remain angry for long. “My friends, of course, I do not mind!” he proclaimed. Mayhap he could speak to them of his brothers' infirmity. As the Man of Iron had pointed out, shield-brothers did not keep secrets from one another. He would not have reacted nearly as badly had it been the lady Sif or the good Fandral to enquire on such matters.

Thor had hope that the alliance he made with the warriors of Midgard would last longer than merely the battle against his brother, or the battles they might call him to aid. He would be closer to his lady Jane if he could reside on earth in that way.

Once he had finished reuniting the nine realms from the chaos the Bifrost has wrought, he hoped to stay there. His banishment had him see that he wasn’t yet fit for a throne, and he may never be.

“My friends! Of what would you like to speak?”

The Man of Iron seemed to falter in his step at Thor’s tone before flashing a smile. “Yeah, Thor Buddy, we need another point of view. What the hell happened to your brother when he was younger?” Thor knew then that the smile that the son of Stark had given him was not unlike his brother in that it deceived those witness to it; it was a smile which lulled a false sense of security into place before the inevitable strike.

“Son of Stark, I know not what you ask of me. My brother has oft gotten himself into situations most dire.” The son of Stark’s smile became fixed as Thor spoke.

“Point Break, I just have one question for you.” The smile dropped off Anthony’s face, and he looked quite serious as he stared Thor down. “Where were you during all of this? We know you brought your brother out of his cave punishment with your father, but where were you when he was crying to Eir, or going to Freya? You’re his brother, were you ever there for him? Where were you?”

Thor froze. His friends would not like his answer, but shield-brothers did not lie to one another. “I was elsewhere, adventuring, following my fathers’ missions. I was not around often. My returns were highly celebrated, and when that faded, my friends and I set off again.” He told his newest shield-brothers.

The lady Natasha stepped forward. “Did you know?” She asked.

Thor lowered his head. “When I returned from off-world, I was informed.” His head raised with determination. “My brother's monstrous brood were dealt with accordingly. I grieve for the pain this put him through, but they truly would have been worse for him had they stayed. Sleipnir is a horse, a common animal with no intelligence. My brother would have mourned the ability to communicate with his child. The wolf was a monster, he bit off Tyr’s hand, and was only interested in destruction. The snake, however well-meaning it was, would have suffocated Asgard, and visits would only serve to harm Loki more, so they were forbidden him as well.”

“And the twins?” The Hawk asked.

“It was only the justice that Loki wrought. He was put through the same pain our father was.”

“Thor,” Starkson began, “That’s wrong.” He told Thor, and before he could reply, to make his friends see what he could, they left him, again.

His mother looked at him from where she had yet to move and smiled at him.

It was a smile, so why did it look like it hurt?

Why could smile’s mean so many things, now?

Chapter Text

Helblindi watched as Tony Stark turns from the first prince, his carefully inexpressive face morphing to the anger he must surely be feeling. From what he can tell, the Midgardian is highly intelligent among his people, respected even, for the way they listened and trusted, so when Tony turns away, the others follow him without a word, and Helblindi can’t help but be blindsided by the loyalty that Tony does not know he’s inspired.

It’s obvious, to Helblindi at least, that Tony Stark does not know what he’s started. The others do not know what he has started.

No matter. There were other things at hand to focus on. Second Prince Loki was likely of the Jotnar. How…unexpected. If it was true, Second Prince Loki was the most magically powerful sorcerer to be born to the Jotnar in at least the last few millennia. A natural shapeshifter, a Worldwalker, a flame-bringer, an illusion-crafter. The tales of Loki’s misadventures were spread far and wide. By the Aesir, they were insulting and degraded his use of magic as woman’s work, but to hear the elves tell it…to hear the awe they hold for the fledgeling god, it leaves one incredulous on the talent he must possess.

Byleistr would be best to find what Helblindi was looking for. It was unusual for a blessed to be born among the Jotnar, it must have been noted when he went to undergo his trial. By that point in the war, none were spared the knowledge of the affairs of war. Their prior king, Farbauti-King, had been felled mere months prior, and Bearer had taken his grief and channelled it to revenge.

The mortal shook him from his contemplation of the war with a tap to his shoulder. Helblindi was speaking before he had fully processed his own words. “Why did you not try to explain to the First-prince?” He inquired, curious as to the short interaction and the anger shown.

Tony Stark looked at him, but his companion answered. The one who appeared meek but felt of strength. The Berserker, if he recalled correctly. “Thor’s not going to listen right now, and we don’t have all the information.” He told Helblindi, a small, reassuring smile on his face. “We need to know how involved Thor with what we’ve already heard and what we have yet to hear before we decide on a course of action. Right now, Thor doesn’t see anything he’s done as bad, he’ll be thinking about it now, questioning what he’s thought. Hopefully, he trusts us enough that he’ll at least do that.”

Helblindi had to admit, he had thought the same, the Thunderer was not one to so easily change his ways. The talk with him had only taken a few minutes and it set the groundwork for further conversations, but that was only if Thor trusted them enough to take their opinions into account. Should the first-prince fail in that regard, Helblindi had doubts he would ever be able to adapt, but it the meantime, Helblindi had his own groundwork to seek out.

“Interesting, let us hope he learns, but for now, I must seek out my homeworld to report. I will be back before the trial resumes.”

“See ya, D!” Called the force of nature known as Tony Stark.


 

Heimdall watches. He watches the gate between worlds, he watches the worlds, he watches the inhabitants of Yggdrasil. He watches.

Heimdall is loyal to Asgard, and yet…

Heimdall does not stop Helblindi-King from passing.

He watches and he knows. Helblindi-King will soon learn of Odin All-father’s deception. The lost-prince who was unknown will be found.

Odin All-father will face charges for what he has done, and Heimdall is sure they are not false, for he watches, and he sees.

He sees as Second-Prince Loki’s absence effects Asgard. He watches over the crying children and the stoic adults and the raging users of magic.

Heimdall is loyal to Asgard, so when Helblindi-King passes, he watches, but he does not prevent it.

Minutes later, another approaches him, and Heimdall watches as he passes as well, but he does not prevent their passage.

Heimdall is loyal to Asgard, and Asgard needs Loki.


 

Helblindi arrives outside the ruins of the long-ago capital of Jotunheim. Utgard was once the centre of a prospering world, but no longer. It had not been capital, nor prosperous, nor truly inhabited since the end of the Aesir-Jotnar war a millennium ago.

Due to the natural red eyes of the Jotnar, they were a nocturnal race. Without the extra layer of pigment to shield their eyes, it was impossible to stay out in the sunlight, primarily when it would reflect off the snow and ice. Several centuries ago, the Jotnar were not nocturnal, but the blinding light of the ice and snow had eroded at the layers of protection from the sun, dyeing their eyes a vivid red.

Several millennia ago, when Farbauti-King ascended the throne, he campaigned to make a move to the underground city, built before the great winter had shifted the landscape and made the need for a new city on the surface. Many agreed as Farbauti-King was a kind and just king as well as intelligent, known for his creation of greenhouses so that they no longer relied on their fishing industry to supply all their food and trade for necessities.

The few who did not agree died in the initial attack of the Einherjar and the city fell into disuse. Nal, Farbauti-Kings bearer and life-partner, suggested that they keep Utgard as a decoy. They would post a few scouts in the city, and when Aesir of other visitors appeared, the ruler would make an appearance to cement the idea that they still lived there.

Thanks to this fact, only seven lives were lost when the Bifrost was pointed at their realm by Second-prince Loki.

Helblindi makes his way to the cliff where his father faced off against Odin Borson days before he died. Looking over the seeming chasm, he smiles and steps over the edge.

His decent is not what one would expect. The gravity of the other side of the ice flooring is light and threatens to pull Helblindi back to the surface. 

Byleistr had worked it out. Helblindi wasn’t sure of the details, as the runes which powered such a thing were far out of his speciality, but Byleistr had slowed the gravity until approximately ten meters to the ground, allowing those returning to simply fall from the surface to reach the ground, rather than leaving an accessible passageway on the surface. Should the Aesir figure this out, it is of no matter, the lighter one is, the slower they fall. The guards below would incapacitate any Aesir faster than they could reach the ground.

Speaking of his brother, Byleistr was waiting for him as he fell the last meters.

“Brother.” He was greeted, being pulled into a tight hug. “I am glad you have returned safely. “Byleistr told Helblindi.

Helblindi smiled. “I told you they would not kill me, brother. It would be an act against the fates. Never mind that, though. I have news, and we must adjourn to the record room.” The grave tone in his voice caught Byleistr by surprise. What could possibly have put his brother in such a strange mood?

“Of course. Might I ask what we’re looking for, Blindi?”

“Records of the blessed born at the end of the war.”

“The blessed? There were only two born around that time.” Helblindi turned to look at his brother. Of course, his brother would know. His brother had been obsessed with the blessed since he had been young. “One of them died.”

“And the other?” Helblindi prompted.

Byleistr gained a pained look. “The other went missing after the treatise was signed.” He finally admitted at the burning gaze of his brother.

“What of his parents?”

Byleistr looked Helblindi dead in the eyes, his crimson-orange gaze seemingly judging Helblindi for worthiness before he pulled Helblindi into one of the empty rooms on the way to the records room.

His younger brother quickly warded the room with obscure runes that even the teachers would have a hard time following.

“I am not supposed to know.” Byleistr began and Helblindi snorted. As if that would stop his brother. Some of the tension drained away. “Yes, I get it you oaf. To me, secret means nothing.” He paused to take a breath. “The other blessed went missing during his trial.”

“The trials are sacred!” Helblindi protested before a look from Byleistr shut him up.

“The other was the son of Farbauti-King and Laufey-King.” Byleistr watched as Helblindi absorbed this information. “The other blessed child was our brother, the third prince of Jotunheim.”

Chapter Text

The other Avengers had questioned Thor, and they all seethed at his responses. Steve had stood in the back and listened when Thor had attempted to justify his fathers’ actions. His hands gripped his arms to stop himself from assaulting the person he had fought next to mere days before. How could Thor be so blind?

Steve had always known what it meant to be the little guy. He had been beaten up in near every alley Brooklyn had pre-serum, so he had very little tolerance for bullies, and Steve had always believed doing nothing if you could do something was just as bad.

He wanted to be sick. He wanted to punch Thor. He very nearly wanted to kill Odin.

Steve had decided, he would help Loki.

Steve let out a hollow chuckle. He realised that the best person to help with that was Tony, and for once, he thought, looking at the anger on Tony’s face, Steve was pretty sure they were on the same page.


 

“Heimdall, open the Bifrost.”

The Rainbow bridge enveloped them both in the flurries of colour that made Yggdrasil. Byleistr had insisted on attending the trial once Helblindi had explained his suspicions. Overexcited as he was on the topic of the blessed and overeager for familial connections, Helblindi wondered how he had ever thought he could keep Byleistr away.

Having lost their Sire when Byleistr was a mere six hundred, Helblindi knew his brother had yet to accept the loss, even now that he had reached the formal age for undertaking responsibilities. Helblindi himself had been older at the time, a mere two decades from official acknowledgement. He understood then, that should his bearer also pass on, he was old enough to ascend despite lack of formal recognition.

Byleistr had never been like Helblindi though. He didn’t see Farbauti and Nal, as Laufey-King had then been called, as King and Consort. He saw them as Sire and Bearer. He saw Helblindi as a brother, not as heir-apparent.

Byleistr’s heart bled for family, and despite Helblindi’s lingering misgivings, Loki was now family.

The stoic face of the gatekeeper came into view as the sparkling pathway dimmed around them. He thanked Byleistr in his mind for the runic protections preventing the light from the Bifrost and the golden city of Asgard from harming their eyes once again and set out towards the castle.

They would be cutting it close, the journey from the Bifrost site to the capital taking the most time from the journey. They had saved the time a trip to the record room would have taken, but they had lost that same time because Byleistr was in no way prepared to attend a formal gathering in the All-fathers court.

He was now bedecked in the traditional waistcloth of pitch, bracers of a soft brown and sporting a one-shouldered black-furred mantle which laced up the column of his neck.

The one-shouldered mantle denoted his status as a prince, whereas Helblindi’s full mantle denoted his status as king. As Byleistr was a scholar, not a warrior, he was allowed leave to grow his hair, and the inky threads were neatly straightened to the bottom of his ears.

Helblindi smiled at the sight, his brother rarely dressed up, or even left the library, and when he did, it generally ended in chaos.

(Byleistr was the type to create the runes to alter gravity in the new capital and then test them, namely, by jumping from a cliff in full view of the public square. This was, of course, done without informing anyone.)

They arrived at a hall in chaos, and Helblindi felt only gratitude that Byleistr had not been in Asgard long enough to cause this uproar. He checked that Byleistr was following him and made his way to the Avengers. They were easy enough to spot with their distinctive style of dress. As they were meant to be representing their homeworld, Asgard wouldn’t have offered them any of their traditional garments.

Tony Stark saw him and signalled for him to join them. They were occupying a corner of the room behind one of the tall stone columns near the throne.

“There you are, D!” Tony called out excitedly. “I wanted to run some stuff by you.”

Beside Helblindi, Byleistr practically vibrated with excitement. Helblindi had briefly told him of the Midgardians quick thinking and wit, and, it seemed, Byleistr was quite taken with the idea of clashing minds with the man.

“You must be Tony Stark.” He greeted, giving a nod of acknowledgement with a small wave of his hand. “My brother has not told me much of you, but I am sure I can learn much more by speaking to you anyways.”

Helblindi had a moment to be relieved that Tony Stark looked amused at Byleistr’s exuberance before Tony Stark replied, “Please, call me Tony, tacking Stark on there makes it sound too formal.” Helblindi made a note to start thinking of the man as Tony in his head as his brother immediately jumped int questioning Tony at an accelerated pace.

When he was sure his brother was doing fine, he turned to the berserker. Bruce, Helblindi recalled his name was. “Hello,” the timid berserker began. “I don’t think we’ve been introduced properly before. I’m Bruce.” Bruce extended one of his hands which Helblindi clasped firmly.

“Pleasant to meet you. My name is Helblindi.”

The timid man-Bruce, he reminded himself-smiled lightly at him, but before any conversation could ensue, the archer interrupted to ask Bruce, “When do you think the trial is going to start up again? It’s already been an hour.”

“We’ll have to wait at least until Loki gets back,” he replied to the archer before turning to Helblindi. “Eir argued with Odin for a minute, though all the yelling was silent, and then she led Loki out of the hall. This happened two or three minutes after you left.”

Just as he looked at the space Loki used to be to confirm that he was likely taken to the Healing halls to be treated for something or other, (Likely mistreatment from the guards) Helblindi also noticed that Byleistr was no longer talking to Tony and was indeed nowhere in sight.

Well, he thought sarcastically, this is sure to end well.

Chapter Text

Byleistr had been enjoying his conversation with Tony a great deal. It was rather exciting to get an alternate opinion on his work with terminal velocity regarding gravity when in relation to the effect’s runes can produce.

Of course, he already knew his work with such was functional, but at that moment, they had been relaying their most monumental works to each other. It was rare indeed that Byleistr was able to hear of Midgard’s work with maths, so he had been thankful to hear of any advancements. This pleasant conversation, however, ended when he enquired of his newly found brother. “Where is the mage-prince?” He had asked, surprisingly calm, to the engineer.

“Lo-lo?” Tony asked, and Byleistr knew they were referencing the same person despite the eke-name. “Eir scolded the king like an errant schoolboy and kidnapped Loki to her domain.” Tony’s smirk said exactly what he thought of watching a king be scolded by a healer.

Byleistr took that to mean that Loki was in the healing halls. Knowing that Loki was alone, (nearly) Byleistr decided, quite spontaneously, to do something exceedingly stupid, at least in Helblindi’s opinion, he was sure.

Not that Helblindi’s opinion had mattered overly much to him since Byleistr had been chewed out about jumping off the overlook to the city.

‘Sometimes,’ He had told his brother during a break in Helblindi’s lecture, ‘you have to take the leap before you can progress.’

‘You’re not supposed to take figurative statements literally!’ Helblindi had yelled back before continuing on about informing them of any potentially shocking or dangerous tests.

It wasn’t his fault that his older brother didn’t have the mindset of a researcher, but it still irked him that he had gotten in trouble for something the Mage’s council had praised him for. Later, they had asked to make sure he had followed the proper safety procedures when testing, but it really hadn’t been a big deal.

He had only needed the data on the speed at which the runes would allow the average Jotun to fall, he had already made sure that the gravity was reduced at least enough that his terminal velocity wasn’t fatal. Byleistr already knew it would work, he just needed to know how well.

His annoyance at his older brother did not deter him in the slightest, nor did the knowledge of Helblindi’s disappointment in his decision-making skills. He was going to find his way to the healing rooms, and he was going to visit Loki.

First, though, he had to get away from the throne room and the ever-watchful eyes of his brother. He sent a calculated glance over to the area where his brother was speaking to a rather timid man. He wasn’t paying any attention. “Tony?” He suddenly asked, looking back from where Helblindi stood. “I’ll let you go over my notes at the first chance I have if you don’t tell my brother I’ve left for the moment.”

The mortal looked intrigued by his offer before seemingly thinking. To Byleistr, it didn’t seem as if Tony was truly thinking out his offer, but he understood that the dramatics must be observed. “Hmm, I have a counter offer.” Tony pulled Byleistr down into a huddle with a casually placed hand on his shoulder exerting pressure. “I’ll send you my notes, you send me yours, and you bring me with you.” He gave a winning smile. “You’re going to see Lo-lo, right?”

Byleistr saw the gleam in the tinkerer’s eyes as he asked this. For once, he would have a partner in crime, he supposed, and Loki could do to meet the genius after all. He is the Trickster God; a fellow trickster would do him good.

“I suppose you could come along…” He gave an overly dramatic sigh. “If you amend your counter-proposal to include educational texts on mathematics and several different sciences of Midgard.”

“Deal.”

A wicked smile curled up his face, and if anyone who had known Loki had been watching, they would have felt an odd sense of familiarity. He takes a glance towards Helblindi to assure himself that he was already occupied before grabbing Tony and making his way through the crowd while keeping an eye on his brothers’ field of vision.

Miraculously, they made it out the door without Helblindi noticing or Tony tripping from how quickly he had them move.

Byleistr set a brutal pace towards the healing wing, gathering the general direction from the direction he could feel the most remnants of healing magic. He assumed that healing was only done in the healing hall, at least. This wasn’t like in Jotunheim, where the soldiers sometimes taught themselves enough to patch up minor training wounds. In that scenario, the only time the healing hall registered as having used more of that branch of magic was when sickness visited.

No, this was Asgard, and the soldiers would not risk mixing magic and warfare in even a training situation.

“So,” Tony interrupted his thoughts with a query, “What do you think of this trial so far, or what you’ve heard of it, I guess?”

Byleistr saw the gleam in the inventor’s eye and was glad he had brought the mortal along. Of all the people to join on his escapade, this one had the experience to deal with Byleistr’s assessment. “Well, for one, it’s definitely a very political trial. Odin’s aiming for a harsh sentence, he knows that Loki holds too many titles to receive death. Magic favours him.”

“Hold up, too many titles? I know he’s the prince, but how does that exclude death if the Norns or whatever are the ones who do the trial?”

Byleistr glanced at the mortal, quickly assessing where his confusion lay. “Loki holds many eke-names and titles, some by birth, some he created, some given by the people, and others he was bestowed by the Norns.” Byleistr paused to put them in the order he had listed, though he was sure to still miss a few. “Prince Loki, Loptr, Silvertongue, Liesmith, Worldwalker, Skytreader, Fire Bringer, The Trickster, God of Chaos, God of Fire, and I’m sure he has more that I have not come across. He is a prince of this realm, yes, but he is also the appointed god for several aspects, and well respected in both the magical and political fields.”

“And this is Loki we’re talking about?”

“Of course. Loki has long since been ingrained into the very fabric of Yggdrasil. He of all people understands the magic which permeates the world tree and he is beloved and blessed by magic for it.”

 

Chapter Text

Sif was ten when she realized what she wanted to be in life. Her mother had tucked her into bed and told her the story of the Valkyrie, the women warriors who rode upon winged stallions into battle.

Her hair was a golden colour back then, able to inspire greed and envy in many, so when she began to pursue the path of the warrior, many viewed her as throwing away her natural gifts. They disregarded that she was quick on her feet and smooth in her blade-work. Those first few years especially, many assumed it was a passing fancy.

Sif gritted her teeth just remembering their self-entitled, condescending, craven faces.

Soon after she had begun her self-appointed training, she came to the attention of Thor, crown prince of the realm. His hair was a fair strawberry blonde, and though his face still held vestiges of childish youth, it was noticeable that he had strong features. He would grow to be a handsome man.

Sif hated him at first sight.

Thor had everything she ever wanted. He never had to argue for his right to hold a sword. He never had to sneak into the training spars that Tyr held. He never had to beat it into anyone’s head that he was not subservient.

He belonged and Sif hated him for it, but not nearly as much as she hated his brother.

Loki was the opposite of Thor in every way that didn’t matter. He did not hold up to his position as a prince. He practised seidr with his mother and studied with the Volur in his free time. Loki would rather read a book, be it fiction or magic or history over practice swordsmanship. (No matter that he was not yet old enough.)

He threw away his perfect life as a warrior when Sif herself had to struggle so hard for her position to be respected.

She couldn’t forgive that, so she spread a rumour.

How is it, two people, blonde of hair, spawn a child with hair of the deepest, blackest pits, of which no one wanted to approach? Two people, with eyes the blue of the clearest seas, spawn a child with eyes a haunted green of unnatural hue.

Such a spindly build for a descendant of Odin. Such a pale shade of skin for a descendant of Frigga.

So different from his brother, so strange for an Aesir.

Does anyone recall the mother’s pregnancy? Was his birth perhaps celebrated?

How could he be the son of two to whom he resembles neither?

So the rumor went and spread, twisting to include his argr ways and soon reached the ear of the king.

Scant years after Loki is named diplomat to be able to continue his training in seidr, Sif ensures Loki is withing hearing distance as she exclaims to Thor, “Oh, I always keep my hair up, so I’ve never noticed before now, but, Thor, I’ve got the same hair color as all the royal family.”

Sif awoke the next morning to find her head shorn to just below her ears and all the remaining threads were an inky black.


When Thor had finally reached the height and weight required of new trainees (Let alone the fact he got admitted early) he had expected adventure. He wanted to slay the bilgesnipe that plagued the realms and quest after wyverns, but it was not to be.

Tyr was a strict drillmaster for his pupils, especially for the future commander of the Asgardian Legion, and was very proper regarding protocol. One such protocol was that no trainee was to go questing until they had received at least two decades of training. (It was not quite in those words, but the meaning was all the same)

Even after he had fulfilled that requirement, Tyr still denied him! Thor was a Prince of the realm, and, as such, needed to have a party of trusted comrades before he set off. These comrades would receive advanced training and would be considered his personal guard.

Tyr told him to chose very carefully. The people he chose could go on to become his lieutenants and advisors when he ascended to the throne. Thor thought he got what Tyr had attempted to tell him through an unnecessarily long lecture that Thor honestly tuned out half of. Maybe. He already knew of capable comrades in arms, so he didn’t think it was important.

Volstagg was a beast of a man, a few centuries older than Thor. He had beaten Thor at an eating completion and Thor believed that to be a feat worthy of a reward. (Mother always told him it was lucky he couldn’t eat them out of house and home)

Fandral, on the other hand, had given Thor proper advice on how to bed a woman which had been used later that night, after Fandral had acted as his second to help secure the rendezvous.

Finally, Hogun was a suggestion from Tyr, who had put on a competition between the current recruits and Hogun had won. He would easily accept a warrior of that skill level.

Later that same day that Thor had chosen his companions, his friends, he was participating in another of the spars which Tyr put on. His opponent hardly looked old enough to be participating. Golden hair slicked away from their face; it was an odd image that made him think of Loki had he looked like the rest of them.

He quickly banished thoughts of those sort from his head. He didn’t need to pay heed to such speculations. Loki was his brother. Would stay his brother, forever.

When the signal sounded, Thor found his opponent had already attacked before he had thought to dodge. He could feel the weighted wooden sword dig into his ribcage as he fell, stunned.

Thor laughed, a loud, boisterous laugh. “What speed!” He exclaimed, immediately turning to where Tyr was supervising. “I like this one!” Thor told him with a grin. He turned back to his sparring partner. “You, what’s your name?”

“I am called Sif, Prince Thor.”

“A woman?” He questioned, and Sif tensed, “How wondrous! Like the Valkyrie of old!”

She gave a tentative smile before what Thor was sure would evolve to be a great wit poked its head out. “That’s what I keep telling people, my Prince."