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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.”

Chapter Text

Thor’s gone. Thor’s gone and they think it’s his fault (they always think it’s his fault). 

And then Father.

Oh god, Father.

And now-

He laughs. He laughs and laughs and has to lean against the wall so the shaking doesn’t knock him to the ground.

Oh.

Oh.

He is king.

The toy is king. The little piece of driftwood to distract the child prince. 

Sif will not stand for it- no, she won’t- he will have to do something about that. Have to stop them from telling.

He is in more danger now than he has ever been before.

Anything, anything they say might ruin him- would they do it? When their real king was at his weakest, would they cast doubt? Frigga hasn’t (he giggles, Mother).

(Make your Father proud.)

They might not, but they will go for Thor. He will have to fix things before they do.

Who else. Who knows. No one?

No.

The gardens. She knows. She could tell.

And so he walks to the gardens.

He stands by the stone archway until Eir notices him.

“Good morning, my lord.” She turns to look at him and stops, her eyes widen just so. “Loki?”

“I am king.” She nods, still crouched in the grass. “You can’t tell. You can’t tell anyone.” Eir stands slowly. 

“Of course I will not. Have I ever given you reason to think so ill of me?”

“You say that, but you might. They talk, they will always talk. The Allfather is vulnerable, I must protect him. You understand that.”

“Yes.”

“If you tell there will be more talk, and bad things.”

She says his name again, swallows. His eyes follow the movement of her neck.

I could snap it, he thinks, and then she wouldn’t talk.

He rests his hand on her throat.

-

When his fingers are wrapped around her neck, she freezes. Any movement, she thinks, any at all could be seen as a threat.

More worried than frightened, the only thing Eir can think of is her little boy. Her small child with dark hair and bright eyes that clung to her and asked questions and hugged her around the waist until he was too big for it. I will protect you, she told him on nights when he was restless and would not stay in his new room, when the dark and aloneness of it drew him to hers.

It is still true, so she tells him again.

“I-” he starts. “I’m not…”

She reaches out as far as she can, the tips of her fingers ghosting across his cheek. “I know, dear.”

Green light bursts from his hand, wraps around and into her throat and it burnssocoldcan’tseevisongonewhite until it’s gone and so is he. Eir blinks, eyes darting around, and reaches trembling fingers to her neck.

She finds herself hiding in the gardens for most of the day, fingers winding fretfully around blades of grass until they snap. Nothing happens. 

Nothing happens until after he has fallen (she mourns, holes herself in her chambers and cries for him) and she passes a group of courtiers talking about the mad prince.  Her voice stops so hard in her throat that she staggers, choking her with the force of it.

She continues walking.