Odin, King of Asgard, was pacing before his golden throne, his footfalls echoing throughout the enormity of the throne room. He turned abruptly at the sound of the doors opening. His wife, Frigga, entered gracefully and gave a shallow curtsy before the Allfather.
"You sent for me, Your Grace."
"Frigga, something troubling is occurring on Midgard."
A look of puzzlement crossed Frigga's face. "But there has been peace on Midgard for centuries. We have protected the mortals in every way possible."
"You remember Princess Elsa?"
Frigga's face fell. Elsa, the daughter of the king and queen of Arendelle, born with the power to control ice. They had visited her on the day of her birth. Her powers had been evident even then. Odin had warned the king and queen to be wary of her gifts, that they would pose a great threat to their kingdom if left unchecked. The king had sworn that she would learn to control it, and the Asgardians had not questioned his judgement. They had been forced to visit Arendelle again, however, after Elsa's younger sister, Anna, had narrowly avoided death after an accident with Elsa's powers. Once again, Odin had had to remind the king of the dangers posed by his daughter's abilities. The Allfather had been almost beside himself with rage; he had sacrificed too much protecting the integrity of this realm against the frost giants to let one mortal endanger its people. He had threatened to intervene and "deal with the girl" himself - and most likely would have, too, such was his anger - but Frigga convinced him otherwise. She made him see the girl for what she truly was. Gentle, benevolent, and most importantly, frightened.
"It is her fear that worries me, Frigga," Odin had said. "It will consume her."
"She will learn to overcome it," his wife had replied gently. "What would you do, in the king's situation, if it were Thor or Loki in question?"
Odin ground his teeth together in frustration; he could see that his wife was right. "I would have faith in them, and trust that they were stronger than their abilities," he admitted.
Frigga smiled. "Precisely."
"You are too wise for your own good," Odin sighed.
"And not wise enough for yours," she replied lovingly.
So, the Asgardians had returned home again, though this time with the promise that if anything of this nature happened again, immediate action would have to be taken.
Determined to protect both their people and their daughters, the king and queen of Arendelle shut the palace gates and kept Elsa separated from her sister. Over the years Elsa's powers grew, and, terrified of bringing harm to those she loved, she became more and more withdrawn. Her father had always told her, "conceal it, don't feel it". And that was exactly what Elsa did.
She seemed to have bridled her abilities to some extent, until her parents were killed on a sea voyage the previous week. With no one to act as an intermediary between herself and the outside world, Elsa became completely cut off, her emotions raging within her like an icy storm, unable to see even her sister, the one person who could have brought her solace in such dark times.
"Frigga?" Odin said softly.
Frigga, who had been so deep in thought that realising she was still in the throne room was quite a shock, blinked and looked at her husband, her eyes giving away the dread she felt for Elsa. "Yes, of course I remember her. How could I forget?"
Odin climbed the dais steps and sunk into his throne with a heavy sigh. "How, indeed?" He paused before continuing. "Her parents are dead."
His wife gasped, understanding immediately the effect this will have had on the princess. "Killed at sea," Odin continued. "I have been keeping an eye on her, and I must say, until her parents' death I saw hope for her, despite the growing strength of her abilities. But she has strayed from that path. I have tried to remember what you said to me on the day of out last visit there, but I truly fear for the safety of the people who are to one day call her their queen."
Frigga was obviously affected by this news. She rushed up the steps and knelt at her husband's feet, her orange robes pooling around her like liquid fire. "You cannot harm her. She is innocent, Odin!"
"But for how much longer, Frigga? Are you willing to risk the fate of an entire kingdom for the sake of one mortal?"
"She is no ordinary mortal, and you know it. She was born with incredible powers that few could even dream of. She is to play a role in the future of our worlds, and I will not allow you to exile her further than she has already exiled herself just because you fear her potential for destruction!" Frigga was becoming increasingly agitated, and, though she did not insinuate anything of the reason, Odin thought he understood why.
He spoke quietly, for fear of being overheard. "You speak also of Loki, am I correct?"
Frigga dropped her head, not wishing her husband to see the tears welling up in her eyes. In a shaky voice, she replied, "I cannot bear the thought of you exiling Elsa because I see in her what I see in our son every day. Our son is alone in ways that go beyond our comprehension."
"What do you mean?"
"You and I, we have never doubted that we belong. Loki, though we have raised him among Asgardians, will never truly be one of us, and I fear that the longer he spends among us, the more he begins to suspect his true lineage." Frigga raised her eyes to her husband's face as a hot tear carved a path down her face. "If you are willing to take action with Elsa, why not our son, should the circumstances ever call for it?"
Odin's face was contorted, the inner conflict he was fighting mapped out in the lines that creased his old skin. "What would you have me do?"
Frigga wiped away her tears, suddenly hopeful. "Let me talk to her. I will go to Arendelle myself."
A silence ensued as Odin studied his wife's face. "Very well. Pay Elsa a visit. Help her to control her powers."
Frigga rose quickly. "Thank you, my king. I will leave immediately."
Frigga hurried along the hallways of the palace. She had returned to her chambers to change into robes for travel, and was making her way towards the rainbow bridge when she stopped suddenly. On her right was the door to Loki's chambers. She wondered if it would be a good thing for her son to meet her new charge. Perhaps he would remember Elsa and how she – if everything went according to plan – learnt to control her powers, something which would be a valuable lesson for him to recall if he ever did discover his own control over the winter elements. Perhaps he would even help Elsa. Loki had many powers of his own that he was in full control over. Frigga hoped that this would give Elsa the confidence she needed to come to terms with her own abilities.
She raised her hand to knock but hesitated, knowing that Odin would be furious if he ever found out. I must do what is best for my son, Frigga thought to herself, and rapped her knuckles three times on the cool metal.
"Come in," Loki called from within.
Frigga pushed the door so that it swung open on its hinges. Her youngest son lay on his bed surrounded by the books he always kept so close. He looked up from the one he currently had open and met her gaze with a smile.
"Hello, Mother. What is it?"
"I want you to come on a short trip with me, Loki."
His brow furrowed in confusion. "A trip? A trip where?"
"You'll see when we get there," Frigga said evasively. "Will you come?"
"All right," Loki agreed hesitantly, although he found the whole situation baffling.
"Excellent, then put on your cape and shoes." He did as she asked.
Just as they were about to leave, Frigga turned to her son and said gravely, "Loki, it is very important that your father never finds out you came with me."
Loki looked startled. "Why? I do not wish to displease father."
"It will be alright," his mother said comfortingly, placing her hand on his cheek. "Just do not mention it to him under any circumstances."
And with that they set off for the Bifrost.
They hurried across the rainbow bridge, Frigga increasingly conscious of the foolishness of her actions. Nevertheless, she was determined to protect her son in any way possible and so pressed on.
Loki couldn't understand why his mother was taking him anywhere, let alone to another realm, which was the only explanation as to why they were going to the Bifrost. He had only left Asgard a couple of times in his life since he and his brother were still only children in Asgardian years.
Heimdall stood at the entrance to the Bifrost, feet planted in a wide stance, imposing as ever in his resplendent armour. His sword was held in front of him, point down against the ground. He looked entirely at ease, but his golden eyes betrayed the ferocity he hid beneath his cool facade. Heimdall was ruthless when it came to his duties as Gatekeeper to Asgard, and so even in the presence of the Queen and a prince, he did not move aside.
"Heimdall, may we pass?" Frigga asked, voice commanding but respectful.
"For what reason, Your Highness?" He replied, voice deep and gravelly, revealing no hint of emotion.
"We require passage to Midgard. May we pass?" she repeated.
"Follow me," Heimdall said, turning on his heel.
Entering the Bifrost was as breath taking an experience as ever. The golden sphere arced overhead, casting a strange light over everything within. Intricate patterns were carved into the walls with utmost precision. A circular dais rose from the centre of the floor. Heimdall ascended the steps, slow but purposeful, like a bear who knew he would not be challenged.
Frigga walked around the dais, Loki following behind her, and came to a halt on the far side. Heimdall asked if they were ready. The Queen nodded her affirmation and they both turned to face out of the gap in the Bifrost's walls.
Loki recognised the sound of metal on metal as Heimdall slid his sword part way into the chamber atop the dais. Lightning bolts crackled through the air, causing the hair on the back of Loki's neck to stand up. His fingertips tingled with anticipation.
"Call when you are ready to return," Heimdall said before forcing the blade deeper into the fissure and opening up the bridge, sending the two hurtling through space towards the realm of Midgard where Arendelle and Princess Elsa waited.