Title: Cracks in the Illusion
Characters: Frigga, Loki, Odin
Warnings/Triggers: a bit sad
Spoilers: Loki's basic backstory
Summary: A nightmare causes Loki revert to his true form, and Frigga tries to soothe him without cracking the illusion of his birth completely.
Author's notes: This is the result of a conversation with a friend. She wondered whether Loki had ever reverted to his Jotun form once as a child, and I can't resist a good kid!fic prompt. I've also wanted to do something with Loki and Frigga's relationship, since I find it interesting.
Loki would be the Asgardian equivalent of about 4-years old here.
Frigga was awoken from sleep by a pounding at the door to her chambers. Odin snorted awake beside her, his hand going to Gungnir in its holder by the bed.
"I suspect intruders wouldn't knock, my love," she murmured.
Odin kept his hand on his spear. "Enter," he called.
The doors opened, and Brandr, a member of Loki and Thor's guard, entered the room, bowing. "Forgive me," he said. "But Prince Loki is asking for his mother."
Frigga sat up. "Is he ill?" she asked, reaching for her robes.
"I know not, my lady," Brandr said. "He will not open his door. He came to it, and called out his request. He asked that you be sent for immediately. You, alone, my lady."
Odin's hand ceased reaching for his own robes.
"Perhaps he's had a nightmare," Frigga said.
"He is too old for such things," Odin said.
"No one is too old for nightmares," she replied. "And even you find my presence comforting after you've suffered one."
Odin bowed his head in acknowledgement of this, and lay back on the bed, returning Gungnir to its place. Frigga wrapped her robes around herself, and joined Brandr, who had turned his back politely while she covered her nightdress. She hurried through the corridors with him until she reached Loki's chambers. She tried the door, but it was barred.
"Loki?" she called. "I'm here."
"Are you alone?" Loki's voice called back.
Frigga nodded Brandr away. "Yes, my love," she said.
She heard the door unbolt, and opened it. Loki was nowhere to be seen, but the skirt of his bed fluttered softly, as though he had just dove under it.
"Loki, are you unwell?" she said. She closed the door behind her. "I am alone, you don't need to embarrassed if you're afraid. It's only me."
"I don't want Father to see," Loki said.
His voice came from under his bed. She moved over and knelt down, trying to lift the skirt. It was being held to the floor very tightly.
"Loki, you don't need to be afraid," she said. "I'm here now. There's nothing of which to be afraid. Come out, and tell me what's alarmed you, my dear."
The skirt went loose, but Loki did not emerge. Frigga lay on her stomach, and gently raised the skirt up. She had to bite her tongue to keep from gasping aloud. Red eyes stared back at her, huge in their fear. She reached for the watchlight next to his bed, and brought it over to see him better. There was a Jotun under the bed; and not one of the ones Thor conjured in his mind when he was frightened.
"Do not touch me," Loki said, as her hand reached for his. He pulled himself into a tighter ball. "I may hurt you. It might spread." She could feel cold radiating from him. He was always cool, but now she could feel the ice in him. "I don't know how to turn back."
"I am not afraid," Frigga told him.
It was somewhat of a lie. She was terrified. Not of him, but for him. She knew so little about the Jotuns. Perhaps this was something permanent that occurred at this age. Perhaps he could not keep up his illusion of resembling the Aesir any longer. She knew not from whence the illusion came; if it was from him or from the atmosphere; something magical or something instinctive.
"Tell me what happened, and we will see what we can do," she said.
She inched her hand forward, and touched his fingertips. They were ice cold. His fingernails went pink, but the effect went no further.
"I had a nightmare," he whispered to her. "I dreamed that all of Asgard was covered in ice, and everyone froze in it. There was only me who was not affected, and I ran from room to room, but everyone was ice-you and Father and Thor; the whole kingdom-and I could not warm you up." A tear leaked from one red eye, and froze solid on his cheek. "When I awoke, I looked like this. I thought I was still dreaming, but I'm not, am I?"
"No, my love," Frigga said. "You are not. But it's all right. You don't need to be afraid. It was just a dream."
"It was not! Look at me!" Loki said. "I am a monster!"
"You are not a monster," Frigga said, firmly. "You have just frightened yourself. You have begun to learn my magic, sometimes magic goes awry when we feel things deeply."
"Really?" he said, his voice very small.
"Yes," Frigga said. "Magic is volatile by nature. I need you to come out, Loki. It will be all right. You won't harm me. Come out."
"Can you show me how to fix it?" Loki asked.
"I will try," Frigga said.
Loki carefully crawled forward. She moved back to give him room, and he emerged into the light. She bit her lip at the sight of him in full view. He looked so unlike himself, and yet the fear in his eyes was just the same as any other night he woke from bad dreams. This was his true self, but she had never seen it. He had looked like all Aesir babies when he came to her. Her baby, from the moment she held him. She needed him to look that way again. Odin would not tolerate this. The illusion had to last for a little longer.
"There," she said, once he was out. She forced a smile to hide her panic, and touched his cheek. Her hand print turned pink, and the tear melted and fell to the floor. The effect remained when she removed her hand, but did not spread outwards. Her hand was in perfect relief on his blue face. She took his hands and chafed them between her own. Perhaps if she warmed him up...
"Am I cold?" he asked, looking down at their hands. "I do not feel cold, but...I feel as though I should."
"Yes, my love, you are a little cold," Frigga said. How natural a state must this be for him not to feel how frigid he was. "You don't feel the cold, because...because you're very hardy. You've dreamed of cold, and you've made yourself what you've dreamed." Not quite a lie, really. "We shall warm you up, do not fear. Did Thor tell you scary stories before bed? Usually you are the one frightening him with your words."
Loki shook his head. "I do not know how it happened," he said. "I've never heard of such things as I dreamt, but they were so real. They felt real."
"They were not," Frigga said. His arms were starting to turn pink, now. She kept his hands in hers. "I am real, and you are real, and we are both safe, aren't we? So what you dreamed of could not be real. What we need to do is be very calm. I want you to think very calm thoughts. You are safe. I am here with you, and I will let nothing happen to you. Be calm."
Loki breathed with her, keeping his red eyes fixed on her own. She rubbed her thumbs over his palms, and hummed a soothing song. Finally, her hand print started to spread out across his face, and the scarred lines on it sunk back in. One eye went back to green, and then the other. It crawled down his neck, down his arms and legs, to his bare feet.
"There," she said. "See?"
He held up a hand to his face, and turned it over. "Is it all gone?" he asked, stretching to look over his shoulder. "Am I me, again?"
"Yes, Loki," she said. "It was just a result of your bad dream. You were always you. You just looked different. Magic plays when we fear. When I married your father, I was so nervous, I turned my bouquet into butterflies. All the blooms flew away!"
Loki let out a soft giggle. "So, it was just a spell?" he said.
"Yes, it was a sort of spell," she said, and hoped it was true. "And if it ever happens again, you will just have to remember to think calmly."
"I thought I would be like that forever," Loki said. "That I had been cursed, and I would be sent away. Father would send me away." His eyes filled with tears.
She held his face in her hands. "This is your home, Loki," she said. "You are a prince of Asgard. You belong here with us. With me. And whether you look like this, or blue, or green, or purple, or a bilgesnipe, I will always love you." She put her hand on his chest. "Because no matter what you look like, your heart is the same. You cannot change that, not even with magic."
Loki squirmed, now the little boy he was, embarrassed by her affections and his fears. He swiped his hand over his eyes to wipe the tears away. "I love you, too, Mother," he mumbled.
She smiled. "Now, go back to bed," she said. "And forget about this. All is well. I will tuck you in, and give you my blessing."
Loki rose from his knees, and climbed back into bed. She let her body drop forward in relief for a moment, before she stood up once more. She pulled the covers up to his chin, and kissed his cool forehead, and both of his eyelids.
"There, nothing can harm you now," she said. She put the watchlight back on his table, and sat on the edge of the bed, smoothing back his hair, and soothing away the last of his nerves. Her own were not so easily soothed.
Soon his eyes were heavy, and full of sleep. With any luck, he would wake in the morning and think it all a dream.
"You won't tell Father?" he mumbled.
"No," she said. No good would come of that. Odin would not understand. "No. There's no need. It's not any of importance, is it? Just magic playing tricks on us, instead of us playing tricks with it. Go to sleep, my love. All is well."
"Do not tell Thor, either," he added.
"No, I'm the only one who will know," she said.
He drifted off to sleep, but she stayed for some time, ensuring the Jotun form did not return. She tried not to fear it. It had never happened before, it may never happen again. If it did, she might pass it off as his magic going awry. It was not the time to tell him the truth. He was too young; perhaps when he was older, and better able to understand. Odin thought it best to keep him in the dark. Not to let him feel out of place, and to be raised just as though he were an Aesir. She had agreed. He had wanted so much to be a part of their family, she had thought, that he had changed himself to look like them. Just as though he was their own.
He was her own. Not of her blood, but of her love. Blue or pink, Jotun or Aesir. She loved him all the same. It did not matter what he was physically, in his heart, he was her son. And she wished, just in this moment, she could tell him that. It might soothe him. Or it might make things much worse.
Once Loki was well and truly asleep, she returned to her chambers. Odin lay dozing, but was roused when she returned.
"What's wrong with him?" he asked.
She contemplated telling him the truth. She didn't like keeping secrets from him. Perhaps if she just explained, calmly...
No, Odin would be on watch for it. Loki would feel it; feel the change. It would worry him. He was such a perceptive child, he would see that Odin knew. It was best just to pass over it and not dwell. Everything must remain normal for him.
"It was just a nightmare," Frigga said. "He was scared. He's fine now."
Odin grunted, and rolled over to go back to sleep.
Yes, everything must be normal. Then, maybe they could keep this illusion up for a bit longer.