Lady Calla Tyrsdottir was upset, to put it mildly. Prince Loki was supposed to go on trial that day, and it was quite clear what Odin intended for him, as he was not being allowed to speak in his own defense. Calla's father General Tyr was angry about this, but had been unable to change Odin's mind. Instead, he and Queen Frigga had cooked up a plan that was admittedly a bit insane, but just might work.
To that end, Calla was standing beside her father, ignoring the odd looks she got. Women were not generally permitted places of honor during trials.
Odin finished reading the charges, and, as was traditional, said, "If anyone has objections, speak now."
"I object!" Calla said loudly, as was the plan. She walked forward, leaving her father's side, and drew level with Loki and Thor, both of whom looked at her in surprise.
"Why do you object?" Odin asked. "State your reasoning."
"I do not believe Prince Loki should be punished for any of the charges he is accused of," Calla said. "Whether or not he let Frost Giants into the Weapons Vault is quite frankly irrelevant; it frankly did Asgard a favor, as many of us knew Prince Thor was not ready to take the throne, and his actions after the interruption proved it."
"Two men lost their lives due to his plan," Odin commented.
"Yes, but they were in an area that is restricted to everyone save yourself and General Tyr, Allfather," Calla replied calmly. "Had they not chosen to sneak into the Weapons Vault, they would still be alive. General Tyr informed me that neither of those men had reason to be there. May I continue?"
"Very well," Odin said.
Calla nodded and said, "Your next accusation was that Prince Loki usurped the throne and misused his power. However, according to the laws of succession written down by Buri Allfather, as your second son, Prince Loki was required to take the throne in your absence, as the Crown Prince was unavailable due to his own actions, and Prince Loki was of age, meaning Queen Frigga was not allowed to take the throne without due cause. As for misuse of power- Lady Sif and the Warriors Three went to Midgard against both your orders and Prince Loki's. Prince Loki was well within his rights to continue Prince Thor's banishment, as we were at the brink of war with Jotunheim because Prince Thor apparently thought it advisable to attack their King in his own territory. Prince Loki's attempt to bring the traitors back to Asgard admittedly was not very well thought out, but the group considered Asgard's finest warriors committed treason and abandoned their realm during a time when Prince Loki could have needed their support- and yet they are still walking around free, and were never punished for their misdeeds. You have accused Prince Loki of treason, but apparently you condone it in others. And I do not believe Prince Loki is actually guilty of treason, as nothing he did actually went against your laws, and most of the crimes you accuse him of were things he did while he was acting King."
"And attempting to murder Heimdall?" Odin asked.
"Heimdall attempted to kill Prince Loki first, and I would like to point out that Heimdall is not exactly guilt-free here either," Calla said dryly. "He did, after all, both allow Prince Thor passage to Jotunheim, which is against the law, and he left his post during your Odinsleep, allowing Lady Sif and the Warriors Three to go to Midgard against orders. And then he attempted to kill Prince Loki- all things which make me and I'm sure others wonder if he can be trusted."
"Be that as it may, there is still the matter of Loki's attack on Midgard," Odin commented.
"With all due respect, has anyone paid ANY attention to Prince Loki in his life?" Calla asked. "Because his normal battle strategy involves magic and daggers, not flashy attempts to subjugate other realms with an army of mindless drones. Prince Loki has ever been one to strike from the shadows, and avoid open combat; it is quite clear to me, if to no one else, that he was not himself. We received reports that he was able to use mind-control on several Midgardians- did it never occur to anyone that the staff he used could have been controlling him as well? And Prince Loki, to my knowledge, is not gifted in weaponcraft, meaning someone else made the staff and most likely used it on him before sending him to Midgard. I think the question we should be asking is not 'why did Loki do this', instead we should be asking, 'who has the power to mind-control the best sorcerer in the Nine Realms?' Prince Loki is widely acknowledged as the best sorcerer in the Nine Realms; for him to fall prey to mind control, it means that someone out there is more powerful, and has it out for Midgard for some reason."
"Take the muzzle off," Odin ordered. Calla did so, and Odin asked, "Loki, who was behind your attack on Midgard?"
"Thanos," Loki said, his voice raspy. "I fell from the Bifrost into his realm, and was tortured for a year before being put under mind control and sent to Midgard to retrieve the Tesseract. Being slammed into the floor broke the mind control, but Thor put the muzzle on me before I could attempt to tell anyone what had happened, and he completely ignored the change in my behavior, not to mention that my eyes had turned blue. Honestly, why would anyone think I'd WANT to take over Midgard? I've made it abundantly clear in the past that I have no desire for a throne- it's not my fault no one believed me."
"Are you jealous of Thor?" Odin asked.
"Yes, but not for the reason everyone thinks I am," Loki said. "You and everyone in Asgard assumed I am jealous of him because he is to be King someday, correct?"
Odin's expression said it all. Loki sighed tiredly and said, "I don't care about the throne, Allfather. All I ever wanted was a family who cared about me, and maybe some friends who liked me for myself. I never wanted power, I think given some proper instruction, Thor could become a good, if not great, King- all I wanted was to be loved or at least liked for who I am, rather than ridiculed and despised for not being Thor. And I'm tired of being everyone's whipping boy. If you are going to execute me, can you just get it over with?"
Odin stared at Loki for a long minute, then waved a hand. The shackles vanished, and Odin promptly handed Gungnir to Frigga before making his way down the stairs from his throne. Calla and Thor both moved back as Odin embraced Loki. Frigga came over and handed Gungnir to Thor, then promptly joined in the hug.
Calla couldn't hear what the King and Queen said, but she noticed Loki relax after a moment. Then Frigga looked over at Thor, and Calla squeaked when he handed Gungnir to her and joined in the hug. Luckily Tyr noticed how freaked out she was about being handed Gungnir, and came over, taking it from her and wrapping an arm around her shoulders. He had a slight smile on his face as he watched the royal family, and murmured to her, "Good work, Calla."
"Thank you Father, but I think this was mainly Loki's doing," Calla said. "I am happy to see they seem to be getting along, however."
"As am I," Tyr said. "It is about time Odin got the message."
Odin came over at that point, and Tyr handed him back his spear. Odin nodded to him, and announced the room at large, "Loki Odinson is hereby cleared of all crimes!" He went back to his throne, and continued, "However, there are two more matters to be dealt with today. I would like to thank Lady Calla Tyrsdottir for bringing one to my attention- that Lady Sif and the Warriors Three committed treason and were never punished in the aftermath of Prince Loki's fall from the Bifrost."
Sif and the Warriors had frozen in shock, and were dragged before Odin, who eyed them. "Had it been me on the throne when you requested Thor's return during his banishment, what would you have done when I gave the same answer Prince Loki gave you?" he asked them.
Sif squared her shoulders and said, "We would have told you our suspicions that Loki was behind the Frost Giants getting in, and that he obviously goaded Thor into going to Jotunheim."
"And did you have solid proof for either of those accusations?" Odin asked.
Sif twitched slightly and admitted, "No, my King."
"Thor, did Loki say anything that would be conceived as telling you to go to Jotunheim on the day of your interrupted coronation?" Odin asked.
"No, Allfather," Thor said. "Loki was attempting to talk me into letting it go and obeying your orders. I do not know why Lady Sif thinks Loki would talk me into going to Jotunheim of all places."
"Because she hates me," Loki said bitterly. "A far more appropriate title for her would be the Goddess of Lies, considering how many untrue and completely unfounded rumors she has started about me. She is the main reason everyone seems to think I want the throne, and also the reason I never had friends of my own; she chased them away or converted them into Thor's friends." He grabbed something out of seemingly thin air, and tapped it.
"Is that a memory crystal?" Thor asked.
"Yes," Loki said. "I saved this particular memory in case you continued making me spend time with your little sycophants." He activated the crystal, and what looked like ghostly younger versions of Loki and Sif appeared.
"Sif, why did you tell lies about me to Alva?" Younger Loki asked.
"You would have turned her against Thor," Younger Sif said grimly. "I am going to make sure everyone knows you cannot be trusted, and ensure that you never have a friend of your own. You deserve to be miserable." She slapped a stunned Loki across the face, and left.
The memory faded, and Frigga was the first to speak. "Husband, I have a suggestion," she said in a deceptively calm voice.
"Is it a fitting punishment?" Odin asked, glaring at Sif.
"I believe so," Frigga said. "I suggest that instead of the prisons or execution, which are warrior's fates, you should sell Sif into slavery as far away from us as you can get. And ensure she has no weapons left to her name. I do not think her and Loki in the same building is wise."
"I quite agree," Odin said.
Suddenly a young woman pushed her way to the front of the crowd, and asked, "With all due respect, Allfather- may I slap her before you sell her into slavery?"
"May I ask why?" Odin asked.
"I am Alva," the woman said. "And Sif did not lie to me, she coerced my friend into brainwashing me. I left the palace, and only recently came back because I heard Prince Loki was on trial for something. My parents paid a healer to undo the brainwashing, but when I realized what I had done, I was too ashamed to return, and my parents would not allow me to anyways; they were afraid Sif would attempt to brainwash me again."
"Do you have any idea whether or not you were the only one brainwashed to avoid Prince Loki?" Odin asked.
"Not personally, but judging by what that memory showed, I would not put it past Sif to have arranged for others to be brainwashed," Alva said. "It would certainly explain why so many seem to hate him for no other reason that his being alive."
"Who was the person who did the actual brainwashing?" Odin asked.
"Raina Birgersdottir," Alva replied.
Odin turned to the Einherjar and ordered, "Someone find this woman and bring her to me!"
"She lives here still," Alva offered.
"Thank you, Lady Alva," Odin said. "Your request is granted; you are welcome to slap Sif." He nodded to two of the Einherjar, who restrained Sif. Alva slapped her across the face, and said, "That was for Prince Loki." Then she did it again, and added, "And that was for me." She curtsied to Odin, and said, "Thank you, Allfather." She looked at Loki and said, "I am sorry for any pain I may have caused you by leaving, Prince Loki."
"I know the truth now; I cannot blame you," Loki said. He paused, then asked, "That day you left…. do you remember what we were planning to do?"
Alva smiled reminiscently. "We were going to dye Prince Thor's cape hot pink," she said. "And then we were going to sneak out and get sweets from that little bakery you love."
Loki grinned and asked, "Allfather, may I be excused from the rest of the proceedings?"
"Very well…. But please wait until tomorrow to sneak out and get sweets," Odin said. "That is what the kitchens are for."
"Thank you," Loki said. He flicked a finger at Thor, whose cape turned hot pink, and then came over to Calla and Tyr. "Thank you for defending me, Lady Calla," he said.
"My pleasure," Calla said. "Though most of the thanks should go to Queen Frigga; she planned that and provided me with the right information."
Loki looked at his mother, and she nodded. "Go have fun, Loki," she said, smiling.
Loki bowed, offered his arm to Alva, and they left. Calla smiled happily, and said to her father as the trial for the Warriors Three proceeded, "I am glad that worked out."
Tyr smiled. "As am I, let us hope things will get better now," he said.