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Thor had sworn his friends to secrecy, and while Loki does not believe any of them know what the word means he will hold them to this. They are at least loyal to Thor. To their king.

He hopes they are loyal enough.

It does not occur to him until after they know. There is always a chance, he panics inside but does not show it as he makes his way through the halls, that the truth will come out. He is not clear what will happen to him.

Loki tries to think of anyone else who might know what he was (not is. He is a prince). Containment. He will do whatever it takes to keep this quiet, he will protect his family. Frigga was very limiting as to who he interacted with for enough time that they might have realized, so the list was short. Servants, maybe, but none of them really knew.

There is only one person on that list who he thinks will matter.

And so he walks to the gardens.

Loki stays by the stone archway, almost clinging to the surface of it as though he will lose his nerve if he lets go. He stands there, close to the wall where Fandral had called to him a few weeks ago before- before everything. He stands there until the decision is made for him.

“Good morning, my prince. What has brought you down to the gardens?”

Loki is awkward, shuffles, and tries to compose himself (with little success).

“It was getting stuffy inside.” He makes a circle across the grass, looking up at the sky which is clouded over; he had gotten in a fight with Thor. “I came out for the air, I suppose.”

“It is rather charged today, isn’t it.”

It is a wonder to Loki that he never noticed her sarcasm before.

Well, he thinks, I suppose I had to learn it somewhere.

“It’s rather charged much of the time these days.” She digs around in the dirt, pulling up roots with careful fingers. “It would help if some people wouldn’t needle him.”

“Thor doesn’t need my help with that. He does it well enough on his own.”

He sits on the stone bench while Eir works.

It is unclear to him whether she knows what he is (she would not tell anyone, would she? She would not take this from him?) or, if she does not know, whether she would treat him differently if she did. Loki is not sure which thought concerns him more.

“I heard you fighting the other day,” she trails off, hands busy with work, and it is some time before she speaks again, changing tracks entirely. “You should not be out here with me anymore.” She picks pieces off the plant in her hands, leaf by leaf. Voice nonchalant with a hint of sadness. “Someone might notice.”

“Let them,” he grumbles. “They have already noticed enough, one more thing won’t make it any worse.”

He sits beside her and pops seeds out of a weed pod until she plucks it out of his hand with an annoyed mutter, then thrusts a basket onto his lap and tells him to be useful and gather the hvönn. They work in silent companionship, it calms him.

“I’m not-” he starts, and is interrupted by a gentle nudge from her elbow. 

“I know,” she smiles; he can feel the feathered leaves of the plants she is holding on his skin without looking. She swats at him with them and then places them in the basket still resting in his arms. “You always brightened up in the sun light.”

She smiles and kisses his forehead.

“Your father loves you.”

“… not my father.”

“I know, dear.” She rests her hand on top of his. “I know.”