Chapter 30: King
My eyes snapped open when I heard someone sigh. I froze, panic welling up in my chest, until I remembered I was still in Loki’s room, sleeping next to Loki. I calmed a bit, stretching and turning over gently to face Loki. He was still asleep, the lids of his eyelids closed softly.
He was slightly tangled in the sheets, telling me that it had been a fitful sleep, tossing and turning. I watched his chest rise and drop, the slight movement causing the sheet to slip a bit, exposing more of his chest to me. I looked back up to his face, which lacked any of the hard lines that it had had last night. He looked so happy and calm when he was asleep. As much as I wanted to reach out to stroke his cheek, his eyebrows, his lips, I didn’t want to wake him.
I let my thoughts drift, wondering what Thor was doing. I wondered where he landed on Earth, if anyone had found him. I didn’t know when Thor had been there last, and he was bound to be confused by, well, everything. Earth wasn’t like Asgard in any regards.
I just hope you’re okay Thor. Wherever you are. I couldn’t help the sigh that escaped my chest, worrying about him. In the short year I had been in Asgard, I had come to know Thor as a brother. I didn’t want anything to happen to him. At the same time though, I didn’t think Odin would send his heir to his death. He was probably trying to teach him a lesson. Whatever that lesson may be, I hope he learns it fast.
“Thinking of Thor will not help him, nor give him any advice.” Loki’s deep, musical voice penetrated my thoughts. His face was buried in the pillow. I shifted closer, putting a hand on his back and began to move in slow circles.
“I just hope he’s okay…” I couldn’t help but be worried. There were some nasty people on Earth.
“As do I.” I watched as he slowly got out of bed and stood with his back to me, stretching. I watched the muscles bunch as he tried to loosen the knots out. I rolled myself out of bed, careful to let my feet touch the ground quickly before falling on the floor. I still wasn’t as graceful as Loki, or anyone here in Asgard. I didn’t think I would ever compare in that facet.
I walked around the large bed, reaching my hands out and laying them on his shoulders. Before he could protest, I began to gently knead the knot, using my thumbs to get the worst out. He was incredibly tense, but who could blame him?
“Am I hurting you?” I asked tentatively.
“Nooo.” The response came out more like a moan. I giggled, and began going further down his spine, massaging the space between his shoulder blades, his mid back, his lower back. When I finished, I made another round, starting bottom to top. “I should request this more often.”
“Only if the favour is returned.” I teased. He turned once I finished and I got a half smile, which didn’t reach his eyes. I wrapped my arms around his torso, resting my head against his chest. After a few minutes I felt his strong arms return the gesture, resting his head on top of mine.
“I must see Frigga today.” Loki whispered, barely audible today.
I nodded. “Why don’t you consider Frigga to be your mother anymore?” I was truly curious about this. A lot of kids were adopted on Earth. It was upsetting, shattering to find out. But it wasn’t like they left you after telling you.
“Because she is not my mother.” Loki’s voice was now sharp, curt. “Farbauti is. And Laufey.” He choked a bit on the name. “Is my father. The slaughterer of human and Asgardians alike.”
“Loki, family isn’t always related by blood. They raised you as their own.” I wanted him to be optimistic. To try and see a little light in the dark.
“They could have told me what I was. Who I was. A prince of Jotunheim. Laufey’s heir.” He chuckled bitterly.
“You are Asgardian too-”
“Only by illusion.” He countered. Loki pushed me away from him to look at me from arm’s length, holding my forearms. “You see this image of me. It is the image you have always seen. It is a lie.” His voice shook.
I took his face in my hands. “Then how did you not suspect it, all these years?”
“I never sought to look for it-”
“Loki, for a spell such as this to work without even your knowledge, there has to be more. Yes, Odin cast the first spell. Yes, it was powerful magic. But you are powerful as well. Have your senses dulled that much?”
“You don’t understand!” He pushed me away this time, completely. Anguish and anger marred his face, still beautiful. “You can never understand. This is my true form. It had simply been hidden from me all this time!” I watched as dark blue pigment washed over his skin, a repetition of last night. I watched it travel up his body, markings and carvings appearing on his chest, forehead and shoulders. His eyes went from deep green to bright, startling red.
I watched in awe. Not because I was disgusted or embarrassed; but because I found the transformation to be cool. I knew it wasn’t the time to mention it though. Loki looked down at his form, before looking into my face. I knew he was vulnerable, and scared, though he tried to hide it in his eyes. He just wanted acceptance. Even if he didn’t know it yet.
I took a step forward, my hands in front of me. “Loki.” I watched as he eyed me warily. “It’s okay to be mad. And scared, and hurt. And lonely.” I took another step, then another.
“Noelle, love. Stop.” He warned me.
I ignored him. “But you don’t have to be on your own with this. I know I don’t understand what it’s like to be a Frost Giant. But I know what it’s like to be different.”
“You’re getting too close.” He backed away from me. “You know I’ll burn you.” I kept walking forward.
“I know what it’s like to have few people know your secret. And to look around and wonder if anyone suspects. If they know. And it’s scary, and you want to hole up and be alone, because it’s better to have no one, than to have people who you could never tell. Who could never know, or understand that you were different.”
His back had hit the door to his room. He was completely cornered by me. “Please.” He begged, and I knew he wanted me to step away. To walk away right now, to give in to his desperation, his fear. Because now his life was just that: desperate attempts to conceal himself, and fear of others knowing.
“That as how I lived my life, Loki.” I remembered my lonely nights, sitting alone at lunch. “I had no friends, because I believed it was impossible, because we could never relate. And in a sense, we couldn’t.” I remembered hating group projects, because I would have to go to someone’s house to do it. I never invited people over to mine. “But now that I think back on it, it was lonely. I had my mother and father, but I had no one to talk to, to whisper little insignificant things to. No one to play cards with at school, or do anything kids were supposed to do.”
“Is there a point to this?” Loki was growing anxious, impatient at my rambling. He hated being backed into corners like this.
“The point.” I was inched towards him, as he pressed himself into the door. “Is that you can’t simply push everyone away. I was wrong to keep to myself. But you? You need to reach out to the people who love you. Who want to help. You can’t push Frigga and Odin away. When Thor knows, you won’t be able to push him away. And you will never.” I emphasized each word by pulling at our connected souls. “Ever. Be able to push me away. Because I’m here for you” Before he could reply, I took a deep breath, and pressed my lips to his mouth.
Searing pain hit me, and I quelled down the urge to pull away. I knew Loki was trying to resist, to move away from me. But he couldn’t push me from him without touching me and burning me again. I felt the fire grow slightly burning my lips, feeling a scream build in my throat. I kept it in, focusing. When the pain began to die down, I knew I had begun to lose feeling in my lips, which made it easier to mold my lips to his.
Just when the feeling had finally seeped from my lips, leaving them completely numb, I pulled away. Loki was flat against the door, and I was still inches from him. His breath was uneven, his eyes closed, as if afraid to see the damage done. As for myself, I winced as the heat of the temperature of the room caressed my lips, burning them anew.
When Loki finally opened his eyes, I saw his pupils widen, the blue pigment draining from his skin to become the pale milky colour again, his green eyes wide with concern, with panic. “What in the nine realms possessed you to do that?” He reached out, gently brushing over my lips, wincing as I hissed in discomfort.
“I needed you to see I wasn’t afraid. Or disgusted. And that I still wanted you.” I mashed my lips together, only to hiss again at the pain. “You needed to see my dedication.”
“I saw an idiot trying to kiss a Frost Giant. Look at you!” He steered me over to the mirror, the one he broke and fixed last night. My eyes grew huge as I took in my black lips, dark pigments licking around my cheeks. “Look what I did.” He whispered.
“I chose to kiss you. I had no objections.” I pointed out, turning to look at him. “And I’ll kiss you again. Right now.” I leaned in to kiss him. He hesitated, before giving in. At first I wondered why he gave in so quickly. But when I felt scalding pain in my lips, and heat radiating from Loki’s I knew it was because he was healing me. Romantically healing me, I guess. He reached around, holding my head and neck in place to continue growing back my skin on my lips. When he was finished my lips were tingling, and not simply from the healing. With desire as well. I leaned in, wanting more, and Loki obliged. I could feel him start slow, being gentle. As he began to become more demanding with the kiss, I felt myself pull away, only to be pulled back.
A knock could be heard from the door. Loki ignored it, continuing to kiss me. “Loki.” I murmured in between breaths. I needed him to stop for the moment so he could answer the door. Before someone barged in and caught us. Which reminded me…
“Loki.” I was able to push him back a bit. I moved my head, angling away from his hungry lips. “Loki, you need to see who it is before they walk in. I’m not supposed to be here, remember?” Asgard was pretty keen on discretion. But I knew it would be scandalous if it got around that I had spent the night in the prince’s room.
The last series of knocking came more urgently and harder this time, convincing Loki to let go of me and let me go hide in the bathing chamber adjacent to his chambers. I heard a few low murmurs, but nothing I could make out. Whatever it was, Loki would have to fill me in.
“You can come out now, darling. The guard is gone.” I walked out to see Loki beginning to dress, his pants already changed, putting on a new shirt and vest.
“What did he want?” I just sat on the bed and spread out. All my clothes are in my chambers. I transported myself from the hallway outside Loki’s room into his room last night. I would have to attempt transporting myself to my room. It was much farther, but I didn’t have much choice over the matter. I couldn’t go walking around the palace in my nightgown.
“The queen had requested to see me in the king’s rest chambers.” He ran his fingers through his hair, before putting on boots. I watched as he strapped his dagger and a few throwing knives to his belt.
“Are you so afraid of others knowing you’re a Frost Giant that they’ll hurt you or something?” I had never spotted weapons on Loki other than during battle. Then again, I didn’t exactly watch him hide them on his person every morning either. Who knew what else he kept on him?
He shook his head. “I have always kept weapons handy; you never know who wanders these halls. The palace is a fairly welcoming place, letting all in the realm enter through its doors. I spent much time alone in the past, and it seemed to put me at ease to know I was armed and ready.”
I let that sink in, wondering why I never thought of that. It made me a little uneasy. Nothing had ever happened to me in the halls of the palace, and I have always felt safe here. “I keep a dagger by my bedside.” I thought to the short blade I had found in my bedside table drawer a few days after I started living here. I assumed that was its purpose; nighttime defence.
He chuckled a little, and I smiled, happy to hear him feel a little joy after what had occurred in the past twenty four hours. “I know you do. You almost slit my throat with it once, do you remember?” I thought back, finally recalling the night Loki and I found out we were bound. I grinned.
“I remember. I was quite startled.” I closed my eyes, the sun bright against my eyelids, only to have a shadow block the light. Peeking open my lids, I saw Loki’s silhouette standing over me.
“Perhaps you should begin carrying a small weapon with you. It would comfort me, knowing you are safe.” He leaned over, his fingers trailing over my nose, lips and chin.
“I’m always safe. I’m nearly always with you.” He didn’t respond to that, only kissed my lips briefly.
“I trust you have a safe way back to your chambers?” He had his hand on the door knob.
“Mhm. I do. Listen for me though, in case I get stuck.” He laughed to himself, before exiting the room. I closed my eyes, picturing the purple duvet covers of my bed, the gold walls around my room, the vanity nearly directly in front of the bed, against the wall. I pictured everything near my bed as well. I didn’t want to end up in someone else’s room that happened to be similar to mine.
I felt the air move and shift around me, feeling the magic flow. I became slightly claustrophobic as the air squeezed around me. I kept focus on my body and on my destination, the best way to avoid getting stuck and forgetting some limbs. When I felt the plush sheets against my arms, I smiled. The first thing I did was wiggle my fingers and toes, then flex my legs, my arms. Then I sat up to make sure all of me was here, in my chambers. I had successfully transported, and this was the farthest I had been able to do it so far. Happy with my success, I dressed in my armor, wanting to train.
When I entered the training yard though, there was one issue: no one was there to train. I wondered why the routine training hadn’t been going on, like usual. I paced around, sharpening my blades, trying to do any maintenance work on my gear. My dagger was due for a sharpening as well, so I summoned it to me, watching it materialize in thin air, glad that I made it appear handle first and not the other way around. I didn’t want to treat wounds today too.
I was trying to combine magic and fighting, like Loki did, but I still had a lot of practicing to do. It was hard enough to do magic on the spot while doing something simple, like riding a horse, or talking to people. Doing it while trying to focus on beating an opponent was a lot harder. Though to give myself a bit of credit, Loki used more ranged fighting, hitting opponents from afar, while I was up close with my enemies.
I had been training on my own with two practice dummies, trying to master slashing the one in front of me with my left blade, while using my magic to have my right blade fly out of my hand and slash at the dummy behind me with my right blade, when I heard faint footsteps coming from the cobblestone stairs that led down to the training yard. I turned, poised and ready, when I saw it was Fandral standing there. I let down my guard, giving him a faint smile. He returned it.
“What are you doing out here, Fandral? I never see you train with us.” I didn’t really see Fandral down in the yard to train. I knew he trained with the Warriors Three, Thor and Sif privately. It was their elite training session, and I hoped one day to maybe have to right to join them. I wasn’t that advanced yet; I needed my third and final warrior rank, and that would take years, decades even, to get.
“I saw from my chambers that you needed someone to train with. I know Sif is reluctant to train without Thor.” I saw the worry in his eyes, and suddenly remembered that Thor wasn’t here at the present time, which was probably why the training yard was empty. I began to worry, wondering if he was okay. I couldn’t believe I had forgotten! I had been so concerned with Loki and his demons that I forgot about my friend and future king. I felt like a lousy friend.
“I wish there was something we could do to help Thor. Even to just get a message to him, see if he’s alright.” None of us discussed Thor’s banishment with clear heads yet. Last night we were more worried and scared then. But something had to be done. I wasn’t sure if word had gotten out that the Allfather was lying abed in the Odinsleep, and I didn’t like the idea of Thor being on earth while his father was powerless to help him, should he get in a sticky situation.
“Actually, I wanted to find you for that reason as well. We spoke of the idea of sending you to find Thor last night. It was more of a hopeful, reckless thought than a plan. But I wonder if it could somehow be possible to do. Perhaps we could see the Allfather, explain our concerns. Perhaps he may not let us cross over to see him, but he cannot bar you from your previous home, can he?”
I stared at him. So word hadn’t gotten out about Odin. I supposed it was to be a secret, so I kept it to myself. “I guess. I could say I was going to see my mother. But we still would not know where Thor was.” I didn’t see this plan working. I sighed. “If I were to simply go to Earth to look for Thor, I could spend years there. And by then perhaps his banishment will have ended. I don’t see how that could work.”
“Yes. You are right.” Fandral seemed a little saddened by this, but I had to be honest about any plans or schemes concerning Thor and finding him. I didn’t want to kid ourselves into thinking we could do something impossible or unlikely.
I slid my blades into their sheaths, and took off my gloves. My hands were sweaty, and I could feel the heat of the sun hitting me. “I think I’m going to go for a ride with Frost, Fandral. I’m tired from melding magic and training.”
“Then why attempt it?” I opened my mouth to answer, but he cut me to it. “Never mind. I suppose it is a good idea. I will try and discuss ideas with the others. Perhaps they will be able to think of solutions with clearer minds now. If we decide to see the Allfather, I shall ensure you know. I think you should help us present the case. You are one of us, after all.” He punched my arm.
I went to punch him back, but he was too quick. “One day, Fandral.” I warned him lightly. “One day, I’ll fight you, one on one. Then we’ll see who takes the punches.”
“Perhaps you should focus on earning your final rank before you think of beating me.” He turned with a jovial smile, leaving me to transport to my room, again, intact. I wetted a cloth with water, and quickly cleaned myself, smiling at the thought of going riding. It would clear my thoughts.
3rd person P.O.V
Loki and Frigga spoke softly to each other, Frigga more often than her son. He had spent many hours with his mother, sitting silently, watching over the king’s sleeping form. It was early evening now, and Frigga decided to broach the subject that had been on both their minds since he walked into the chambers.
“I asked him to be honest with you from the beginning.” Frigga’s voice was soft, her eyes pleading with Loki. She knew this day would come eventually. “There should be no secrets between a family.” Frigga and Loki were sitting across from each other, separated by the wide bed that kept Odin.
Loki was quiet at first, wondering why the secret was still kept from him anyways. “So why did he lie?” His face a mask of curious sorrow and resentment, but calm and collected. But on the inside he was screaming his rage, his soul clamouring for justification. Yearning to go back to how things were. Ignorance truly is bliss.
“He kept the truth from you so that you would never feel different.” Frigga leaned in, trying to make her youngest son understand. To know that even though they were not blood, he belonged with them, and they loved him as he was. “You are our son Loki, and we your family. You must know that.” He said nothing, only wearing the same expression. His eyes wandered curiously over the king, who slept peacefully between them while trouble stirred around the nine realms. “You can speak to him. He can see and hear us, even now.”
“How long will it last?” Loki finally spoke. He had never seen Odin go through such a thing. He sounded less curious about the matter though, more serious and grave.
“I don’t know. This time it’s different. We were unprepared” Frigga wondered if there had been anything she could have done to have eased her husband into resting.
“I never get used to seeing him like this.” Seeing his pretend father laying abed, powerless as a mortal being, made him uncomfortable. He had never thought such a powerful man, such a powerful king, could have such a simple, uncomplicated weakness. “The most powerful being in the nine realms laying helpless till his body is restored.”
Frigga felt worry and a few tears swell in her throat. She reached across the large bed, taking her husband’s large hand in her smaller one. “He’s put it off so long now, that I fear…” She trailed off, and Loki understood her meaning: the Allfather may not awaken again. Or maybe not for a long while. “You’re a good son.” She said to him, appreciating him. “You mustn’t lose hope that your father will return to us.” She watched Loki’s carefully constructed facial expression, his attention peeking. “And your brother.”
Loki leaned in, wanting to know more. “What hope is there for Thor?”
Frigga smiled lightly, briefly. “There is always a purpose to everything your father does.” Loki’s mask began to break, his curious and slightly unbelieving look breaking through. “Thor may yet find a way home.”
Loki thought on this for a second, wondering if Thor knew that Loki was not his real brother. And if that would change things between them. He let his train of thought go, deciding it was time for the day to come to a close. He stood, looking his mother in the eye, giving her signal that he had had his fill of knowledge for the day, and wished to go somewhere else. He strode past Odin’s ravens, prepared to go sit in his chambers and ponder over all he had been told. He wondering if his love, Noelle, would be willing to join him in sleep. He did not wish to spend the night alone, knowing he had nightmares. Her soothing presence helped him to find the good in his life. The good in him. He felt whole with her, and missed her when she was away. Even now, he could feel the ache for her, his bonds to her searching for her energy. He didn’t want her to leave him, because even though he didn’t admit it out loud, he needed her. He needed her to go on. To guide him, to love him. To accept him. She was his bright star, his hope to find peace within himself again. And without her, he was lost to grief and misery.
As he reached the stairs to the golden carved doors, they suddenly opened, leaving him surprised at what was happening. Golden clothed guards strode in, in two rows. A cry of command was heard and the guards dropped to their knee, heads bowed. An old man robed in gold and white strode past them and entered the hall, carrying Bor’s staff. Loki watched as the old man kneeled in front of him, his hands outstretched, offering him the great staff. His face took on confusion, and sadness. What is this? He turned hesitantly to his mother, a questioning gaze landing on her.
“Thor is banished.” She began with the strong, confidant voice of a ruler. Of a strong queen. “The line of succession falls to you until Odin awakens.” Pure shock graced her son’s features, and disbelief, as if he were dreaming. “Asgard if yours.” She said it with surety and pride.
Loki turned back to the old man, still kneeling in front of him. He still looked to be in a dream-like state. He straightened his posture, Huginn, one of the ravens, cawing in the background. Slowly, surely, he gently lifted the staff out of the old man’s hands and into his own, marveling at the king’s weapon. His weapon. The old man backed away, head bowed.
“Make your father proud.” Frigga smiled on. Perhaps now Loki will receive a little glory of his own. Loki turned, facing her, but still staring at the treasure he held in his hands, marvelling at the weight of the golden weapon. All his life, he had dreamed of holding this staff. “My king.” She nodded to him.
He smiled, a great wave of happiness, hope and searing power flowing over him.
King. He thought over and over. I am the king.
‘Finally.’ The grave gravelly voice in his head whispered.