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Of Wardrobes and Second Sons

Chapter Text

The bridge hangs glittering and rainbow above him.
Loki has never seen it from this angle before, he can not think of another who may have had the chance to see it shine and cast its multi-coloured light onto their hair, build shadows out of magic like it does now on his skin. He turns his face upwards, sees Odin holding onto the other end of the staff. Wise Odin, ancient Odin, Odin who hated and judged and was aloof in equal measure. Odin, the not-father.
“Loki-“
There is Thor, burning bright and ever blond and oh, being under him is nothing new, yet it brings a pain in his heart that has no equal. There is grief in those blue eyes, a grief that will soon fade, if past patterns play out. And they will. It has been centuries since Loki last had faith that Thor could change, and though he may have spent a week walking amongst the Midgardian mortals as if one of them, a week is nothing to break a thousand years of golden light and rash decisions and thunderous rage. Loki knows. Oh, he knows. Odin has given the golden son half a lesson, and next it will be him who feels the brunt of the king’s meddling hands.
Odin would not stop at a week for Loki’s sake.
The soft light of mercy does not fall into his shadows.
Loki begins to feel the cold certainty tighten it’s grip around his heart. It is the first time in days that he has felt calm. He knows this moment, knows the choices that are before him and what he may do with them. The swirling mass that has been his thoughts since he confronted Odin in the treasure room have settled, like snow after a blizzard, like water still behind a damn. Like nothing he knows, because he is ice and calm and he can see so clearly.
Above him is Thor, and his ever reaching forgiveness, his ever gentle love. There will be yelling, and tears, and the anger of the thunderstorm. But the rain will wash away the sins, and Thor will smile at him again, and it will be sunshine and gold and the forgetting of all that he has done wrong.
Above him is Odin, and there will be stone, and judgement, and an anger that can never forgive. There will be no talk of what he has done, no discussion of what shame he brought to the royal house. There will be punishment, and a judgement that lingers, and yet Odin will not speak of it. Will not offer forgiveness nor forgetting.
Above him, far more distant, out of sight but never out of mind, is Frigga. If Odin is not his father, than Frigga is not his mother. And her quiet acceptance and her endless understanding and her unfailing willingness to listen will mean nothing if she is not his. If he can not call her mother, than what is there to do about seeking her love?
He sees his future when he looks up and sees what was his family before him.
It will go on, and on, and it will cleave Loki in two.
The staff begins to move, pulled upwards by arms that barely have the strength. Loki’s grip on it now is firm, there is no chance of an accident and a fall. He can hold, for a while yet, and he stares upwards at his supposed wise not-father and painfully golden not-brother.
Words are not enough for the lie smith, not even in this, and he smiles instead. Smiles, for now he is free of this, and their plots. And perhaps Thor will mourn him after all, and perhaps they shall merely tell the Jotun survivors that the insult is avenged, and perhaps mother shall hide her tears behind a perfectly composed smile. Perhaps, perhaps, there are many perhaps, and Loki smiles as he thinks of them.
Thor’s arm is reaching, grasping, expecting Loki to return the gesture. He is calling Loki’s name all the more now, but Loki can no longer hear it. The wind carrying it away would be far more poetic, but it is simply that he no longer cares to hear the words that fall so heavily upon his soul.
Loki smiles, teeth sharp and white and gleaming, and he sees Thor’s grief turn to panic.
He flexes his hand.
The staff is cold gold, and he lets go of it with an ease he once thought impossible. Lets go of the power and the control and the promise of kingship. All of the weight of impossible promises, the whispers of a childhood given tales of being king and a youth of being pushed far too easily into the shadows, and still despite himself, he had dreamed of holding that staff and wielding the power of the throne that it was. That is what he lets go off. That, and more, for it is not only the throne, but Asgard itself, Asgard and the false family, and the knife twisting in his heart even now.
His fingers are empty.
Thor is screaming.
The wind seems to carry him for a moment, seems to cradle him and hold him aloft, and for that second he thinks that he will not fall at all. And then he is falling all at once, a great rush as the pull of the stars takes him, and he is falling as never he fell before. Somehow he stays even, his head pointed upwards to Asgard, the shining city, the glittering gold in his eyes even after he has fallen so far he thinks it should be impossible to see the eternal realm. Perhaps it is. Perhaps that spot of gold in the ever deepening darkness is nothing but his mind, and a trick of the stars.
Loki closes his eyes, and continues to fall.

Chapter Text

“Edmund!” Lucy laughs as she spins in place, shaking the grass and dirt off her her dress. Bits of green grass have caught in her hair, appearing the same shade as her dress, almost as if a decoration she may have deliberately placed. Knowing Lucy, that wouldn’t have been so strange, and if she had a mirror with her to see that, perhaps she would have kept them. As it is, she shakes her hair, knowing the grass is there though she knows not how it looks, and flicks the bits that she finds at her still laughing brother. “So much for being nice on our holiday!”
“Ah, but I promised Su I’d be good for old times sake. Is this not very much like old times?”
“I’ll show you old times,” she says in a tone of voice that implies some very much unladylike words might have followed what she actually did say. Certainly they are implied in how she scoops up a grass and dirt handful of her own, and throws it at Edmund. Delivered at a distance, it hardly reaches him before scattering to the wind. “Stand and deliver, you coward.”
“Deliver yourself!”
Edmund runs at her, and Lucy turns on her heels and sprints towards the lake, taking care to avoid the picnic blanket and their food as she does. A great many runs about the walls at home had shown Edmund to be ever the faster runner, so he slows just enough to let her have a distance, until closing it in a burst right as she reaches the edge of the lake.
Lucy’s shoes kick the air as Edmund lifts her above his shoulder, her fists thumping against his back. She laughs, gaily and with just a slight rasp to the noise, as he puts her on his shoulder and begins to wade out into the icy cold late. The water bounces against his shins, soaking his pants. He feels out of breath himself somewhat, for she is not as light as she used to be the last time they played this game, and the weight of her so high above his center of mass is difficult.
“Don’t you- don’t you dare, Edmund!”
Lucy kicks and squirms and cries his name, and it takes her a good while to realize that he has stopped responding, has stopped moving even. His hold on her is just as sure, she need not fear falling, but he is no longer paying attention to her. She twists her head around, attempting to see whatever it is that has caught his mind, and only seeing more of his back, or the meadow, or the water. “Edmund?” Her voice is hesitant, soft, on the edge between too quiet and just loud enough. “What is it? What’s wrong?”
For one terrible second, her mind turns back to the Witch, and perfect stone statues, and friends nearly lost. But she can feel Edmund’s lungs breathing underneath her, and of course the Witch is gone, defeated many years before. It is not that, it can not be her and her terrible magic, so what can possibly have made her brother go so suddenly still?
All these thoughts flash through Lucy’s mind in a matter of seconds, in hardly any time at all, so that she thinks them all, and continues twisting in Edmund’s arms, and then-
Edmund spins around, the water splashing up around his feet, cold and harsh and getting his clothes all wet. He takes a few steps towards the shore, and then seems to think of something else, and nearly throws Lucy off of his shoulders and into the shallow water. She sputters, confused and now cold and wet on top of that. However, looking up from where she’s now resting on the rocky surface of the lake, she can see what it is that had shocked Edmund so.
Up in the sky, distant now, but growing ever closer and ever nearer, is a man.
It is a man, or at least a creature that is shaped like a man, for all that he looks like a small doll at that distance. He does not seem to be falling as fast as Lucy thinks one falling from such a great height should be falling, but he is falling none the less. First he is a doll, and then the size of a dwarf, and then a child, and then a man sized like a man properly.
He lands in the lake with a great splash, and Lucy’s mouth is hanging open to such a degree that Susan would comment that she is letting bugs in, if Susan were there.
“By Aslan’s Mane!”
Edmund is splashing forward into lake once more, hurrying as fast as he can manage in the water, and then diving forward once he’s deep enough. The man, and Lucy shall continue to think of him as a man until she knows better, although there are very few men in Narnia these days, has disappeared below the water, and has not reappeared. Edmund dives below the surface, and Lucy holds her hands to her chest. A minute goes by that feels quite a great deal longer, and then a single head appears above the lake once more. A hurried breath, and then he dives below the surface again.
“Oh Aslan, Aslan, please-”
She feels at her hip for the cordial, which is on her belt where she logically knew it would be, but she still feels a bit of the tension come out of her chest to know that is it there. Her feet have begun to go numb from standing in the cold water, and her dress is dripping wet all over, but she is much too worried to even consider moving. Edmund has been down in the water for oh so long, and man for even longer, and perhaps he hadn’t even been conscious at all, and wouldn’t be able to help himself swim!
It was almost too dreadful to think about, and so Lucy tried very hard not to think, but she didn’t have anything else that she could do while standing on the edge of the lake.
“Please, Aslan, please!”
A great splash, an upthrowing of water, and then Edmund’s head was once again above the surface of the water. He was clearly struggling with something, and after a moment, Lucy could see how he was trying to pull the man along with him towards the shore without the use of his arms, and how difficult the swimming was that way.
She rushed out as deep as she dared to get into the lake, her dress heavy with the cold water, clutching the cordial in her shaking hands.
It seemed to take forever for Edmund to reach her, but then he was standing there, and Lucy cradled the man’s head against her chest while Edmund supported his weight, and she brushed her fingers against his lips. Carefully, she tilted the cordial and let two drops fall into the man’s mouth.
Lucy held her breath.
The man’s eyes opened. His chest rose and fell in a slow breath. Edmund stepped back, and Lucy smiled at the man, who was staring up at her as if he didn’t fully realize that she was real, or that he was alive. His eyes were the same deep green as his clothing, a pleasant forest colour. He straightened up, pulling himself out of the water, looking around quickly. As he became more alert, he seemed to become more nervous, and more confused.
“It’s alright,” Lucy said, wishing to reassure him before he could become too startled. Edmund wrapped an arm around her shoulder, for they were both shivering quite a bit at this point. “You’re safe.”
The man focussed on her, his eyebrows drawing together in puzzlement even as his voice was distrustful and a bit angry. “Where am I? Who are you?” He began to take a step forward as his hand came up, almost as he thought he held a dagger, or sword of some sort, but the hand was empty.
“You are in Narnia, in the Northern Reaches. I am Lucy.”
“And I am Edmund.”
Lucy was shivering, and cold, as was Edmund, and yet the man showed no signs of feeling the effects of the lake water. “Narnia? I have no heard of such a place.”
“Well, it is where you are.” She said with a smile, and gestured towards the shore. “Perhaps we might warm up, and you may tell us how you came here?”
“I must be dreaming,” whispered the man, but he hardly seemed to be speaking to her. Yet when she walked out of the lake, and to the abandoned picnic, he followed her and Edmund without further complaint.
“We have food, but not any spare clothes I am afraid.” Edmund pulled his shirt over his head and began to ring it out. Lucy was doing her best to squeeze the water out of her dress, but it was a hopeless venture. “It’s only about an hour hike back to the Beaver’s, but in this state, it shall be most miserable.”
“Beavers?” Repeated the man, looking at Edmund without having made a single move to dry off his own clothing. The black and green clothing that he wore seemed more and more like armour the longer that Lucy looked at it, and yet she could not say that she had ever seen anything like it in all of her travels. It was dripping wet onto the grass below his feet, and his hair was falling into his face, and still he only looked at Edmund in confusion.
“Yes, the Beaver’s,” said Edmund again cheerily. “I daresay we can find some clothes to fit you there, and a warm meal, and you can tell us how you came you be in these parts.”
“How you came to be falling so far,” corrected Lucy with a nod, gathering up the plates and half eaten sandwiches into the picnic basket. “What were you possibly falling from anyways?” When there was no reply, she looked up, and found that the man was staring up at the sky. The expression on his face seemed to be very much the same expression that Lucy felt when she thought about how the man had appeared in the air, and fallen into the lake from so very high up, and yet there was nothing he could have possibly fallen from.
“Sir?” She asked, straightening up with the basket in her hands. “Are you alright? I thought the cordial had done it’s work, but if you are still hurt?”
He only stared at the sky, and did not answer, and Lucy could think of nothing more to say.

Chapter Text

He had first thought he had fallen to some strange corner of Midgard. He didn’t know the names of all the corners of that world, it was very possible that Narnia was a place far from the other points in Midgard that he had previously visited. The two who had helped him out of the lake certainly seemed human enough, had the look at the feel and they spoke pleasant enough english.
However, as they led him along a thin path in the path in the forest, and his heart started beating at such an extraordinary rate, and he had dried the water from his clothing, Loki found that he could think much better. He began to look around, to watch the trees as much as he watched his companions. It was still early spring, and there was very little green on the trees, but the forest was clearly an old and healthy one. It reminded him of Mother’s garden in that way.
No, not Mother.
Odin was not his father, Thor was not his brother, and that of course, meant that Frigga was not his mother. Her kindness and warmth were not his to claim. The garden next to the palace, with its ancient trees and brightly coloured flowers, was merely the garden of the Queen. Frigga’s garden.
Loki found that the thought, the mere removal of the personal aspect of his connection, the title change in his own mind, sent a jolt through his heart. It felt like falling into the icy lake once again.
It hurt, in the unmistakable, unfixable kind of way.
He had become so wrapped up in his own thoughts, that it came as quite a surprise when they came around a corner in the trail, and the trees opened up, and Edmund said with a shout, “hello there!”
Loki shook his head a little, banishing the thoughts of Frigga and the pain they seemed determined to cause, and looked around. They stood on the crest of a hill, and before them was a valley, and a river that cut through it. The sun was hovering above the valley’s edge, and the sunlight cast glittering shadows all over, the water in the thin little river a shimmering blue. The forest was a bare brown, but the trees shivered in the wind. The whole picture was something so majestic, so beautiful, that Loki found himself thinking that it was quite pleasant indeed.
Edmund was waving at something, and so Loki turned his head to look.
There was a damn at the head of the river valley, a still pool of water behind him, the ever unmistakable mark of beaver’s work, not far below where they currently stood. The trail continued down from their vantage point to the damn, and coming up it was two figures. One was human in appearance, looking like the older, and bolder version of Edmund.
The other-
“This is not Midgard.”
“No, we told you, this is Narnia.” Lucy declared quite firmly. She looked back at Loki, and her brows came together in puzzlement over whatever she saw on Loki’s face. When she moved towards him, he took an instinctive step backwards, in too much shock to tolerate the nearness of what was only a little girl. “Sir, I know something shocking has happened to you-”
“You have no idea,” he snaps back, angry and cornered and just a tad bit annoyed. How could she be so persistent? How could she repeatedly say that she knew he was hurting? Was his face so plain to read? This place had none of the glittering gold of Asgard, had his mask disappeared as well? This little girl, this fragile thing, was looking at him without fear, with only kindness and pity and he hated her for it.
“You’re unwell,” she followed him, matching him step for stumbling step. Loki felt as if his head was reeling, and he might just be melting in this strange world, as if this place too was unfit for Frost Giants. From her belt she pulled the strange bottle she had used back at the lake. “Perhaps another drop or two? It is only a healing potion, it’s safe.”
“I do not require your poison!”
“Lucy!” Edmund says, sharp and the order of a military man. “Leave him alone! He’s confused, that’s all.”
And Lucy, to Loki’s confusion, merely shrugs and turns away. She skips ahead down the trail, eventually turning her cheerful steps into a run until she is swept up in the arms of the strange man. He has furred legs, the hooves of a goat, a pair of small horns poking out of his hair. He catches Lucy in his arms and swings her around in a great hug.
Loki finds himself rooted to the spot as he watches, and Edmund stands next to him. “You really don’t know where you are, do you? No idea of how you came here, maybe forgetting where you were before, confused and scared.”
Green eyes snap to him, startled wild, Loki taking a sharp inhale despite his best attempts to stay controlled and collected. “How can you possibly-”
“Because that’s us too.” Edmund waves his hand, taking in first himself, and then waving towards Lucy, and the other human looking man. “We can’t remember. We’re the only humans in this country, and we don’t remember where we came from. How we got here. The others, they talk about us coming like it was something special, something amazing. But none of them can tell us where we came from.”
Loki tilts his head to the side, his brows drawing closer together. There is something in the mere question of that problem that draws his interest. He licks his lips, and steps forward until he is directly in front of Edmund. They are not nearly of a height, and Loki has to bend down to look at his face directly. His fingers reach out, and touch Edmund’s cheek, and Edmund merely lets him.
“That speaks of magic. I can not- There is no spell on you that I can feel.”
“But-”
“But there is something in your mind. Something....” He starts to reach for his magic, starts to call up the gift that would allow him to reach into Edmund’s mind, to search his memories. There are a few sparks of green at the tips of his fingers, that is not so far away from him.
Something slams into him, feeling like lightning slapping into his body. It rolls from his hand and up his arm, into his neck. His head snaps back, his eyes rolling up in his head. The ground rises up to meet him as he looses control of his legs and falls backwards. From very far away, he hears a lion roar.
“Loki! Loki! Lucy, your cordial again, I don’t know-”
“No,” Loki manages to gasp. Opening his eyes feels like the drag of chainmail across his lids, impossible and painful. The sun shines directly into his eyes, and he winces, closing them again, which hurts just as much. Someone’s hands are on him, probing at his chest and his heart, presuming trying to find injuries underneath his armour. “Don’t. No more magic.”
“What happened?” That’s Lucy, and Loki tries to use her gentle tones as a grounding point. It certainly isn’t easy, his head is pounding like a blacksmith’s forge.
“I was telling him how none of us know how we came to Narnia either, and he put his hand on my head, and then-”
“I was searching for spells laid on you.” Even his own voice hurts his ears. “There is something-” He coughs, and the hands mercifully move off him to let him curl up to the side. Every part of his body feels warn out, drained, battered. And he remembers that it seems only a day since Thor beat him up on the bridge. As he drags his eyes open once again, he coughs onto the ground and spits up blood onto the grass. With a sigh, he returns once more to his back. “I was unable to.”
“You mean you are a witch?”
“I prefer the term sorcerer.”
Lucy and Edmund look just as they had sounded - concerned. Although they have no right to be. Loki, for whatever reason, perhaps their young age, or their simple expression, does not find the concern as oppressive as he would have coming from those of Asgard.
Lucy brushes her hand against his forehead, her fingers through his head. Gentle, soothing, the kind touch of a healer. It has been some time since he felt that touch, and certainly even longer since he had accepted it without resentment. There is something like the gentle instinct in how she smiles at him, in how she looks down at him and drags her fingernails along his scalp. A natural, gifted nurse.
“So you tried to find spells on me, and what, one of them did that to you?”
“No. I never even finished calling my own gift. I suspect it is in this strange land itself.” His head has begun to clear. The world is no longer spinning. Lucy helps him to sit up, and he discovers that the two newcomers are watching them from a little ways away, but not with too much concern in their faces. “I can not work my magic like this.”
Edmund whistles, and Lucy frowns. Then Lucy says, “that’s alright. Maybe it’s just cause you’ve had such a long day. You need food, still, and a warm cup of tea.”
Loki does not believe her. The lion’s roar... He had heard it so clear. It had been there, a distant sound yes, but one surely connected to whatever had lashed out at him and kept him from accessing his own magic. Not just the land, not just being tired, not just being injured, but something more. That lion.... Loki had no doubt that it was a lion, of some form, of some kind, that laid the magic down that prevented him from reaching his own.
Loki lets Lucy and Edmund help him up, and down the trail to the beavers’ dam, yet all the while, his mind is on that impossible, unmistakable, roar of a lion.