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Loki has only been posing as Odin for a week when the word came that a small party of Frost Giants sought a peaceful audience with him. He didn’t like it but he allowed the meeting to take place as requested.

Four Frost Giant men entered Odin’s throne room with one woman. She was not Giant in size like the others but smaller in stature as some rare Jotuns are born small.

“What business has brought you here?” Loki asked them from the throne, his voice sounding like Odin’s.

“I am Helblindi, son of Laufey, King of Jotunheim. We have come to you Odin, King of Asgard with a problem that only you can solve.” Helblindi was clearly irritated but was making an effort at humility.

“And what problem would that be?” Loki asked them curiously. This was his brother by blood. The brother he had never seen or met.

Helblindi reached for the arm of the woman at his side and wrenched her forward. She stumbled a bit and then righted herself. “This is Angrboda, my wife and the mother of the next heir to the throne of Jotunheim. However she is a miserable wretch and is unthankful of the fact that I married her in spite of her being no true giant. She has done nothing but run away again and again and resist all my efforts at discipline. Worst of all, she has taken my son from me and has hidden him here on Asgard. I need your leave to search for him because this witch will not tell me where he is!”

“I am afraid I can not permit that,” Loki said easily. “I would be willing to have my own people do a search of course but it would not be safe for you to wander around Asgard given the history of hostility between our people.”

Helblindi glared at him. “I thought you might say that. In that case my wife has a proposal to make.” he shoved her one step forward.

“My Lord, allow my son and I to remain on Asgard until he comes of age? I will return him to his father then and there will be no need for a search by anyone,” the woman said humbly.

Loki could see that the Jotun woman was clearly doing everything she could to escape an abusive relationship for herself and her son. He couldn’t say that he blamed her for that. “I could allow that. It’s a reasonable proposal. What I don’t understand is why your husband would allow it? Am I expected to keep a guard on her and ensure that she returns the prince when he is of age? And what if he doesn’t want to go? What then?”

“The prince will want to take his throne! Why wouldn’t he?”

“Perhaps he will. What of your wife? Will you set her free so that she can marry another if she chooses? Or am I to return her to you as well?”

Helblindi sneered. “The hag is worthless. I do not want her back. Only my son. You may have been our enemy, but we were told that Odin is no liar. If you say it will be done, it will be done. Will you agree to this proposal or not?”

Loki’’s eyes fell on the Jotun woman who stood looking at her feet, waiting for his answer. He let out a sigh. “It will be done. Your wife and son may take shelter here on Asgard and when he is of age he will return to you however no one can force him to remain on Jotunheim and take his place as king, not even you in the end. I hope you do not forget that.”

“I will not, my lord,” Helblindi said and with a small bow, he and his party left, leaving Angrboda standing in court alone.

“You will be given a place in the forest of Ironwood,” Loki told her. “It is remote so the Asgardians will not notice your presence there. There is a cottage and a small barn. Not the sort of place a queen might be accustomed to but it will have to do.”

“It will do just fine my lord. Thank you.”

***

Three weeks passed and Loki grew tired of the ruse of pretending to be Odin. Granted, it still amused him greatly. This had given him a chance to rule as well as hide from Thanos and it was the most elaborate joke he had ever played. In all, he loved his role but he disliked not being himself.

And so, unable to shake his ongoing thoughts of his brother’s lovely wife, and unable to stand pretending to be an old man for another day, Loki changed back to himself and made his way to the forest of Ironwood. He knocked lightly on the cottage door, having every intention of playing the role of a lost traveler.

“Loki?” Angrboda said as she opened the door cautiously.

“Indeed.” he said, taken a little off guard. “How do you know me, Angrboda?”

“How do you know me?”

“May I come in? Perhaps we should start again?” Loki asked.

She stepped aside from the door and let him enter. A young child played with a wooden horse on the floor.

“They said you were dead,” she said as she watched him watching her son. “But the tales said you can shapeshift so if you’re here...then either...Odin told you where to find me or...you were him all along, which is how you know me….”

“That still doesn’t explain how you know me,” Loki countered.

“When we came into Asgard there were artists in the courtyard making drawings for a statue of Loki. I saw many drawings on my way past them.”

“I see,” Loki said. “Then it seems my secret is out.”

“It doesn’t matter. Who is going to believe me if I told anyone? I’m not Asgardian.”

“Neither am I,” Loki reminded her with a hint of sadness.

“Is that why you’re here? Because you’re tired of pretending?” She asked, a combination of curiosity and wariness.

“I suppose and I wanted to check in on you, and on… my nephew…”

“Right,” she said, going to her son and picking him up from the floor. “I had forgotten, he is your nephew by blood. This is Ferog. He will be two years old in another month.”

The child did not greet him happily but instead hid his face against his mother. It was a reaction of fear.

“I’m sorry,” Angrboda said. “He is unacustomed to strangers.”

“It’s alright,” Loki said, “I’m not entirely accustomed to children. I suppose in time we might learn to tolerate each other.”

“In time?” she asked, an eyebrow raised. “So you plan to make this a long visit or you plan to visit again?”

“Whichever you will permit,” he told her with half a smile.

She sighed with a shake of her head and a small smile of her own. “I will permit both as long as you continue to behave as a prince of Asgard and not as a prince of Jotunheim,” she pulled out a chair at the table which Loki understood she meant for him to sit at and he took the offered seat.

“And how exactly do you expect a prince of Asgard to behave as opposed to a prince of Jotunheim?” he asked. He could almost take a guess at the answer but there were enough cultural differences between them that he wanted to be sure. He didn’t want to offend her and be turned out of her cottage. This was the only chance at escaping his life in disguise for a time. He wanted to keep it intact.

Angrboda did not answer the question right away. She was occupied with placing her son in a wooden high chair at the table and getting three bowls of stew from the pot over the fire. One of the bowls she gave to Loki, another she took for herself, and the third she placed out of reach of Ferog. The child reached for the bowl anyway.

“It’s too hot,” she told him gently, sliding it further away. “It will be ready soon.”

Loki decided not to eat just yet if the child couldn’t eat. She might think it rude.

Ferog was beginning to throw a tantrum because he wanted his food now. Angrboda took a larger bowl down from a shelf and stepped out the front door for a moment. She returned with a bowl full of snow and placed the smaller bowl with her son’s food inside of the larger bowl for more rapid cooling. The impatient child was squalling with eagerness. Loki disliked the noise but he said nothing.

“You have to wait…” his mother told him, her own patience growing thinner.

It seemed to Loki that Ferog needed a distraction, so he gave him one, changing his form to someone more colorful. Ferog stopped his noise, immediately fascinated and Angrboda breathed a sigh of relief. Loki kept the child entertained with a few more tricks until the food was cool enough to eat.

“Thank you,” Angrboda told him as she began to feed her son. “It seems you are more Asgardian than Jotun after all.”

“I’m not sure how to take that,” Loki told her honestly. “Does that mean you dislike your own people or just my brother by blood?”

“I don’t know.” she said not commitally. “All people of every world have their flaws, I suppose.”

“And yet you have chosen to flee your world for Asgard. What is that you expected to find here that you did not find at home? What I mean is, what is it that you expect I would do differently than my brother?”

“I expected you would be kinder, or at least I hoped you would. And that has already proven to be the case. Helblindi has never taken any interest in the raising of his son. He certainly would not have calmed Ferog as you did just now.”

“Well then, if it is kindness you want then I will be the perfect gentleman and in exchange you will allow me to visit when the pressures of being Odin become too heavy?”

“I will,” she agreed.

For the rest of the afternoon Loki sat in the cottage kitchen with Abgrboda, or Boda as she preferred to be called, and they talked of many things. She told him of the cities on Jotunheim and how the clans and tribes functioned as their own local governments under the king. She told him of the wealthy clan she had grown up in and how Helblindi had married her because an alliance with her clan brought him more power. Loki spoke of tales from his childhood with Thor and even mentioned how he came to learn the truth of his birth parents. They played a game of chess or two and the hour grew late.

“It’s getting dark,” Loki said sadly. “I should return to the palace.”

“That makes sense,” she agreed almost reluctantly.

“I will return soon, in a week at most.”

“I hope you so,” she said as she let him out the front door. “Goodnight Loki.”

***

Loki could not wait a full week to visit her again. In four days he was back at her cottage. She seemed far less wary of him this time and even greeted him with a smile. After that he visited her every spare moment he could find. The fact that he could teleport made it all the much easier to find moments to spend with her. He knew she was growing attatched to him just as he was to her. Each night when he tried to leave she would make excuses to convince him to stay longer. Just one more game of chess? Stay and wait for the pie to finish baking? One more story of Midgard? And so he always accomodated her request. He couldn’t say no to her. He didn’t expect that she would ever invite him to stay for the whole night or to share her bed like he might have wanted. Whatever had happened between her and her husband had been too traumatic for her to be ready for that but he was aware that she cared for him in some small way all the same. It meant something to him that she did care. At the moment no one else did.

Six months went by and his nephew no longer feared him. And Boda eventually shared with him two of her deepest secrets. One was that she could shapeshift into a wolf. The other was the many details of his brother’s abuse. She had been treated with great brutality. It had angered Loki to hear of it and he could see that somehow his anger brought her comfort. One night, Boda’s was busily occupied cooking something else that she probably hoped would convince him to stay longer so Loki put the boy to bed himself. She finished her task at the fire and came to Loki’s side where he stood watching his nephew sleep. Boda reached over and took his hand.

“Don’t go…” she whispered the words.

He turned to face her and found she was crying. “Boda?”

“Tonight...don’t don’t go. Just stay?”

“Are you sure?” he asked her.

She reached for him on tiptoes and kissed him. He stayed that night and returned to stay for many nights after.

***

The first thing Loki did once the passengers were loaded on the ship to escape Asgard was to find Boda and Ferog and see that they were safe. Boda and Ferog wore hooded cloaks to help them not stand out in the crowd. Loki hadn’t seen them for weeks having been stuck on Sakaar. Boda caught sight of him amongst the crowd and pushed her way through to hug him. It was only after he had pulled her close to embrace that he realized the swollen shape of her belly.

“Boda are you…?” he began the question, pulling away to look in her eyes.

“Yes, four months,” she told him and she hugged him tightly again. “I have missed you.”

Loki found them a room to stay in before he went to Thor and let him know that he was truly on board the ship and not just an illusion.

***

Thor hadn’t really stopped drinking for more than a few hours since he had chopped off Thanos head. Nothing helped. Not the beer. Not the fact that his people had a home now. Not even the pizza or the video games. A knock sounded on his door. He didn’t want visitors. Those didn’t help either.

“Go away,” he shouted, throwing a beer can at the door.

The knocking continued.

“I said go away!” Thor yelled again.

“Thor? This is Agent Colson of SHIELD. I need to speak with you.”

Thor got up and kicked aside the candy wrappers and empty pizza boxes as he made his way to the door which wrenched open. “Colson? It’s good to see you.” he ushered Colson inside. “Come in. Sit.” Thor tossed aside a pile of empty beer cans to make a chair available.

“I think I’ll stand,” he said. “I came because as you know SHIELD monitors all aliens who come to earth. We found among your people three persons who don’t belong.”

“What does that mean, don’t belong?” Thor asked.

“They’re not Asgardian. In fact, they didn’t even stay among your people. After you all landed here, these two persons left, fled to Alaska. It only concerns me because they are Frost Giants.”

“That’s impossible,” Thor argued. “If there had been Jotuns among my people I would have known it. They’re simply too large to not notice.”

“Not these ones. It’s a woman and child and they are small, much like your brother Loki I suppose. At any rate, we tracked them down in Alaska and took them into custody. The woman is refusing to tell us anything but she is willing to talk to you. Can I bring her in?”

“She’s here?”

“She’s in the van out front with two agents.”

“Then yes, bring her in.” Thor agreed.

Moments later Colson brought in a rather petite Jotun woman in shackles and a child at her side. The woman looked frightened and more than that, she was heavily pregnant.

“Remove her shackles,” Thor said to he two agents who escorted her.

They looked to Phil for confirmation. “She is far stronger than humans,” Phil explained. “And thus far she hasn’t cooperated with our investigation at all.”

“Remove them all the same,” Thor said, confident that even if she were a threat, she was a threat that he could handle.

Phil nodded and the agents did as they were asked.

“As you know I am Thor Odinsson. What is your name?” he began.

She gulped back her fear. “Angrboda. I am called Boda. This is my son Ferog.”

“Would you like to sit, Boda?” Thor offered her the chair that Colson had refused and Boda took it, pulling Ferog to sit on the floor at her feet.

“Are you hungry? I have pizza and there are donuts as well,” Thor offered. The child accepted the pizza. Boda took a slice in shaking hands but did not eat.

“They tell me that you were among the people on my ship’’s escape vessels when we came to earth. Can you tell me how that happened?’ Thor asked her.

“I will tell you everything you ask of me if you can promise me that I will not be sent back to Jotunheim.”

“I would have no cause to send you back to Jotunheim,” Thor said a little confused, he looked to Colson for answers.

“One of our agents did think that sending her back to her own people would make the most sense. Once he suggested the idea she stopped talking,” Phil explained.

“You will not be sent back there,” Thor assured her. “If the people of earth decide you can’t stay then I will help you find passage to another world.”

Boda let out a shaky breath of relief.

“How did you come to be among my people?” Thor asked her again.

“Loki gave me sanctuary when he posed as Odin,” she said, bursting into tears. “He gave me sanctuary and he gave me safety and a reason to live and he gave me this baby I carry,” she said, her hand resting on her belly.

“Loki is the father of your baby?” Thor asked, a little stunned to learn all this. “What about Ferog?”

She shook her head. “No, Loki is not the father of Ferog. That was my husband and his brother, Helblindi, king of the Frost Giants.”

“You are the queen of Jotunheim and yet you do not wish to return?” Thor didn’t understand what was going on here.

“I was never the queen of Jotunheim. I was merely a thing for the king to use as he pleased and beat senseless when he wasn’t pleased. I ran away from him so many times that finally my husband allowed a separation in exchange that Odin would return Ferog to him when he is of age. Ferog is still a child. We will not go back there.”

“You won’t,” Thor agreed. “You will remain with us.”

“Now, there are still questions to be answered,” Phil spoke up.

Thor got to his feet. “It was good to see you again Phil son of Col, truly it was, but Boda is a refugee who was given sanctuary among my people a long time ago. Your investigation is concluded.”

Thor escorted all three SHIELD agents out the door. He returned to Boda to find that she had dropped her slice of pizza on the floor and was weeping in earnest. “Thank you,” she said getting to her feet but it became obvious that she did not have the strength to stand. Thor caught her before she could fall and allowed her to shed her tears against his chest.

Once she had calmed Thor helped Boda to the sofa. “You need to eat. Perhaps something better than pizza but you need to eat all the same. What can I get you?”

“I don’t much care. I haven’t had any appetite.”

“Then perhaps soup. We have soup. Meek, where are the cans of soup?” He said and his alien friend bustled away to prepare soup. “You’ll need a room. You can have the blue room with the view of the water. We just need to move out Korg’s extra stuff.”

“You mean you’re letting me stay here, with you in this house?”

“Letting you? I wouldn’t have considered sending you elsewhere. For Loki’s sake you are welcome to stay for as long as you wish.”

***

Three nights into her stay Thor woke to the sound of Boda’s nightmares. He left his room which was just across the hall from hers and he stood in the hallway outside her door while she struggled with her nightmare, fighting some unseen monster in her sleep. It wasn’t until he heard Boda call out Loki’s name in her sleep and then gasp awake that he knocked on the door.

“Boda?” Thor called out. He could hear her sobbing from his side of the door. He didn’t wait for her permission to enter. He simply went in, sat down on the bed and reached for her. “Come here?”

She willingly accepted his hug. It was only the second one he had given her one since she’d arrived. In truth he hardly knew her at all. She tended her son during the day and even made an attempt at cooking better food than pizza for everyone in the household but had mostly kept to herself.

“I miss him too,” Thor told her, knowing she was mourning as much as he was, perhaps more because she would now have to raise his child alone.

“Why did I not die?” she sobbed. “When Thanos came and killed so many, why did I have to live?”

“I have asked myself the same thing many times. But Loki wanted you to live. He put you on the escape shuttle himself didn’t he? He gave Thanos the tesseract so that I could survive. For his sake, we can not give up.”

“You don’t understand. It would be better for all of you here if I were dead. I will bring you nothing but trouble.”

“You are no trouble,” Thor assured her. “You hardly eat a thing and have cooked us healthy meals every day since you arrived. Ferog has already beaten Korg at some of his video games. He has given us a welcome new challenge. You are a welcome presence here.”

She shook her head. “Soon Helblindi will learn that Asgard is gone and Odin is dead and he will seek me here with rest of the refugees. He never wanted to give up his son and he will take him back if he sees an opportunity. I should not be here. I need to be in hiding, elsewhere, someplace that he won’t think to look.”

“Did he...did he truly beat you senseless?” Thor asked her with concern.

“Yes,” she whispered. Boda pulled away from him, wiped away her tears, and got to her feet. “Let me show you something.” she turned so her back faced him and pulled up the tunic she wore to bare her back. Her skin was riddled with scars.

“Those look like knife wounds,” Thor said.

“They are. The one in my left shoulder he gave while drunk one night. He tried to take me to bed and I resisted because I knew he would be too rough while drunk. He didn’t like that very much and pinned me to the bed with a dagger. The lines on the lower left were given to me after I had run away for the third time. He bound me in a coil of wire and tied me facedown to a table, only he tied it so tight that it cut through my skin. I was left there for nearly a week. On the right shoulder-”

“Stop,” Thor cut her off gently. “You don’t have to tell me all of this.”

She let the tunic drop and turned to face him. There was sadness in his eyes.

“Sorry,” she said. “I forget that it’s too much for some people.”

“You have nothing to apologize for,” Thor reached out and put a hand on her shoulder. “I only meant that you have nothing to prove. You have suffered greatly. I believe you. Whatever protection Loki offered to you, and I know he must have offered it, I will offer you the same.”

“Loki promised me that Helblindi would never touch me again, and that Ferog would never be struck by his father again. Loki promised that he would either disguise us or trick his brother or outright fight and die for us but we would be safe and...and we would be loved,” she brushed away her years.

“That,” he placed his hand on her other shoulder, “That has not changed. You will be safe. And you are family. You will be loved.”

This time when Thor pulled her into a hug he felt some of the tension leave her body. It was a while before he let go of her and returned to bed.

“Thor?” she called after him as he was leaving. “Will you leave the doors open? Mine and yours?”

“I will,” he agreed. And every night after that he did.

***

Thor’s new nephew Fenrir had woken him countless times in the night by now and each time Thor had to remind himself that even though Boda was no longer as frightened and timid as she had been on arrival, she still preferred he leave the door open. No matter what it might have done for his ability to sleep he would not start closing doors now.

The cries of five month old Fenrir had him awake enough that Thor tossed aside the covers and got out of bed to help however he could. It wouldn’t be the first time he had passed Boda dry diapers and clean baby clothes in the night. He crossed the hall to help and found Boda was in a flustered state. She was trying to burp Fenrir and had left his wet diaper and clothes lying on floor, dressers drawers remained open, and her eyes were puffy from recent crying.

“What’s wrong?” Thor asked.

“I don’t know. He’s been awake for hours. Something isn’t right. I think he is ill.”

“Maybe we need a doctor. A hospital,” Thor suggested.

“We can’t go to a hospital here! Look at us!” She protested.

Thor knew she had a point. Both Boda and Fenrir were blue aliens on a world that would never forget the last alien invasion. It was not safe for them out there.

“I will not allow any harm to come to you,” Thor insisted.

“How much do you even know about their medicine? What if they try to poison him instead of help him? Would you recognize it?”

“Then maybe we should bring a Doctor here. My friend Banner knows about a lot of things. One of his PHDs might even be in medicine. I can call him.” Thor offered.

“Alright. Do that,” she agreed.

Thor returned to his bedroom and picked up the cell phone that Natasha had given him. He’d only used it a handful of times. He began checking through his contacts to find Bruce’s number when a loud knock sounded at the front door. It was two thirty in the morning. All Thor could think of was that anyone visiting at the hour could not be up to anything good. He turned to see Boda standing in her doorway looking warily down the stairs. The door to Korg’s room further down the hall opened up and alien stood there rubbing his eyes sleepily.

“Are you gonna get that?” Korg asked. “Or should I go down there and see who is knocking?”

“No, I’ll go,” Thor said. “Wake Miek and be on the defensive. No one should be visiting at this hour.”

Thor made his way down the stairs and stopped at the front door ax in hand. The knocking continued. “Who’s out there?” he called out.

“Thor? Brother is that you?” Loki’s voice sounded from the other side.

Thor wrenched the door open. Loki was indeed standing there. His hair was shorter and he looked worn out. A large club with spikes and skulls hung from his hand.

“Loki? You’re alive?” Before Loki could answer or explain anything Thor clasped him into a hug. Moments later he let go. “Did you fake your death? Again?” Thor asked, both angry and worried.

“It’s not as simple as that. I hadn’t meant to keep it secret from you for more than a few days. It went terribly wrong,” Loki explained.

“What went terribly wrong?” Boda spoke up behind him. Thor stepped aside to let her pass.

Boda only stopped a moment at the bottom of the stairs and then she ran straight into Loki’s hug. Korg came down the stairs as well carrying Fenrir who was no longer crying. Boda pulled away from Loki long enough to take her son and pass him to his father. Loki hugged the both of them close to himself.

“Where is Ferog?” he asked her.

“Asleep. He will be glad you have returned,” Boda told him.

“Good. I brought him something,” Loki let go of them just long enough to pick up the mace he had dropped on the ground.

Boda clasped her hand over her mouth for a moment. “Loki, you could not have that unless…?”

“Yes. He is dead. Helblindi is dead and Laufey’s mace and throne belong to you or to Ferog or to me, I don’t care who really. All that matters is he can’t hurt you again.”

“I am so glad. And I want to hear about everything that has happened but first we need to see to Fenrir. I think he is sick. Thor was going to call his friend Banner for help. Fenrir had been crying for hours until...well until you arrived.”

Loki put his hand on the baby’s forehead. “He’s not sick. He’s telepathic like I am. He felt your fear. He was crying because you were crying. Banner would have never figured that out.”

“Perhaps not,” Thor conceded. “What can we do about it now?”

“I think we’ll figure it out just fine,” Loki said. “I know you want answers and you will have them. In the meantime it’s the middle of the night and I have just come on a very long journey. I should like to sleep.”

So Angroboda took Loki and Fenrir upstairs to her room where Ferog slept on a bunk above the crib and for the first time in the months since she had lived in his house, Angrboda shut the door.