Another kink meme fill. The prompt for this was: Okay, I can't imagine that raising a baby of an entirely different species can be that simple. Especially if you consider the fact that the Aesir and Jotun have been at war for who knows how long, and their info about each other probably consists of "10001 Ways to Kill These Mofos". So:
I'd like to see how Odin and Frigga struggled to raise Loki because, hey, Jotun baby =/= Aesir baby. Maybe he doesn't drink milk. Maybe he grows faster/slower than "normal". Maybe he goes into hibernation, or gets horrible sunburns in 70 degree sunshine, etc etc. I want to see Odin and Frigga panicking and going "OSHI- WHAT DO WE DO WHAT DO WE DO?" and realizing that their adoption is going to be harder than they thought.
The baby will not stop crying, and Frigga is at her wit's end.
It has been three days since Odin returned from Jotunheim, having successfully pushed the frost giants back and destroyed their resolve to attack Midgard. It has been three days since he gave her their second child.
And it has been three days since she has slept through the night.
She drags herself out of bed as Loki's screams pierce the quiet night. Her eyes feel heavy and dry, and she rubs them as though it will help her wake faster. It does not, and she is still on the edge of wakefulness when she leans over Loki's crib.
He screams again, balling his tiny fingers into fists. For one so small, he screams like one of the great dragons. The only thing he lacks is their fire.
"Little one, little one," Frigga murmurs, stroking a single finger from his chest to his belly and back. "Why do you cry so?"
Loki sucks in a breath and releases another wail. The sound pierces her eardrums like a spear through her chest, and she winces. Not knowing what else to do, she picks him up. Cradling him close to her body, Frigga sways back and forth, hoping the motion will calm him.
It does not, and ten minutes later, Odin rises. He enters the sitting room adjacent to their sleeping quarters silently, his feet making no sound on the floor. But Frigga knows her husband, and she senses his presence long before his hand falls on her shoulder.
"He cries still?" Odin asks, a frown on his face.
She is again arrested by the sight of him without an eye, though not out of disgust. No, Frigga finds delight in her valiant husband, and it is the reminder of his prowess in battle, that he fought on long after his eye had been gouged from his head, that holds her in thrall.
"He does," she says, brushing her lips over Odin's cheek. "And I do not know what he wants."
That she cannot discern the reason for Loki's tears distresses her. She raised Thor, who was not her own, with no troubles at all. Within hours of meeting him, she knew what each of Thor's cries meant and she could read his moods with ease. But Loki is a mystery. The healers assure them he is not colicky – though perhaps frost giant babies do not have colic but something else – so it is not that. And he is not hungry, for he turns away bottles of goat's milk offered to him.
Frigga offers her husband a smile and shifts the still wailing child in her arms. "Get your rest, beloved," she tells him, "and I will stay awake with Loki."
Odin's reply is a dubious expression. He knows her well enough to realize she speaks out of pride, and she knows it, too. She is the goddess of the civilized world and of motherhood. If any woman is capable of raising a child, it is she.
And yet Loki confounds her.
He falls asleep in her arms some thirty minutes later, hiccupping with each breath until at last he is still. Relieved and feeling guilty for it, Frigga carries him to his bassinette. She sets him down with a sigh, and as she withdraws he makes a noise of distress.
She freezes, her fingers mere inches from his cool body, ready to wrap him in her arms once more if he should cry again. Of course he cries again.
Shushing him, Frigga draws him close, glancing over her shoulder to make sure his quiet noises of distress haven't bothered Odin. Her husband gives no indication of wakefulness, and so she hurries from the room once more.
"Loki, Loki," she says, her weary voice ragged with sleepiness. "Can you not let your mother sleep?"
Loki stares at her with his beautiful green eyes, shining like emeralds, bright and full of awareness. He is quiet again, one fist in his mouth.
Frigga settles on one of the daybeds in the sitting room, propping her back against the arm of the couch and stretching her legs across its length. Her head she leans against the swooping back, and she makes a cradle of her body for Loki, who tugs at her nightdress with the hand he does not have in his mouth.
Her fingers drift over the soft skin of his skull, gently soothing, and she drifts in and out of sleep. Only once does she truly wake, and that is to find Loki curled against her breast and a sheet draped over their bodies. She smiles faintly, pulling the sheet around her and her child, and succumbs to a dreamless repose.
When she wakes, it is to Loki's whimpers shortly after dawn, and she is not rested.
With a pounding ache at the base of her skull, she sits and tucks Loki against her breast, touching her finger to his pouting lips. His mouth latches around the finger, and she looks up, desperate for a handmaiden bearing a bottle of milk. Gná rushes out of the shadows, melting away from them as if she had spent hours waiting for a look from her lady.
"My queen, I—"
"Yes, thank you, this is—"
Their hope is written across their faces as Gná hands Frigga the bottle and Frigga holds it to Loki's lips. He has eaten precious little in the few days he has been with them, and Frigga is afraid he will waste away.
Tilting the bottle and holding it for him, she watches him close his mouth around the bottle and suck eagerly. A petulant look crosses his face and, releasing the nipple, he turns his head against Frigga's breast and lets out a shriek of indignation.
Frigga sits heavily on her couch and thinks she might cry.
"Your new child takes a heavy toll from you," Tyr observes when Odin steps into the mead hall.
He sees the considering look in Tyr's eyes and knows what the boy is thinking. "And yet he is mine," Odin replies; his tone is cold and forbids continued questions.
But Tyr is the god of war, and everywhere he walks is a battlefield to him. A war with words is still a war. "Many are concerned for you and your wife." Tyr falls into step beside Odin and wears an expression that might be a grimace. Odin knows to interpret it as just shy of concerned. Tyr is a simple man with simple emotions, and when he feels, he wears those emotions poorly.
"Of course we appreciate the concern." Odin reaches the high table, where Thor sits beside Frey.
Frey attempts to show the boy how to eat with utensils, but Thor is uninterested. He grabs a fistful of grapes and crams them into his mouth all at once. When he turns his head to seek Frey's approval – which he will not get, if the look of abject horror on Frey's face is any indication – he sees his Odin. "Father!" he exclaims, dripping grape juice from his mouth.
Leaping from his bench, Thor flings his arms around Odin's waist and hugs him. "Swallow your food," Odin instructs, patting his son on the back. Thor does so and immediately starts talking. Since learning how to string moderately intelligible sentences together, Thor has not ceased to speak, and he tells Odin all about his dreams from the previous night and all his plans for the coming day.
Odin listens but briefly, and though he feels guilty for ignoring his son's words, he knows he must focus on his meal and eat so he has strength for the day.
And what a long day it is. An endless parade of petitioners come to him, and ambassadors from Nornheim and Svartalfheim, and hundreds of others, are quick to assure the Allfather they have no designs on Midgard.
They are a blur, tedious and monotonous, gray and same-faced, and by the time an afternoon recess is called, Odin is fighting sleep. He will never speak of it to Frigga, but each of Loki's cries rouse him from even the deepest of his dreams. He is afraid for many things all at once, for his wife and for his new son; he worries someone may slip into their chambers and strike their boy, he worries the child could possess some manner of ill within him and may attack Frigga. He is terrified that someone might discover Loki is not Asgardian at all. And while his fears may be ill-founded, they are present nonetheless, and no amount of rationalizing will shake them away.
As he lifts a glass of mead to his lips, the doors at the back of the hall, known only to the servants and members of his household, open. Frigga hurries into the room, beautiful for all that her hair is in disarray and there are thick, heavy bags under her eyes. Her gown is simple this day, a rich plum color that makes her light skin and golden hair shine.
Odin's tension lessons as she approaches but returns in full force when he hears the strangled moan of a child in her arms. Only then does he comprehend the expression on her face, caught somewhere between furious and terrified and exhausted, and he thinks she looks how he feels.
"Does no one know what frost giants eat?" Frigga asks in a breathless whisper, her eyes everywhere but on him. Loki is held close to her chest and bundled tightly in cloth, but blue fingers peek from the folds. Absently, Frigga tucks his arm into the swaddling cloth.
"They were our enemies," Odin reminds her. "We were less fond of understanding them than eliminating them."
She looks baffled. "Does one not need to understand one's enemies in order to destroy them?"
"Do I need to know you prefer persimmons to pomegranates to best you in battle?"
Her lips quirk, a playful expression washing away the weariness on her face. "That depends entirely on the battle, does it not?" she asks, her voice light. Then her brows are drawn once more and she releases a noise that seems unsure whether it wants to be a sigh or a moan of distress. "He will not eat, and when he does, he vomits it up." There is pain in her voice, and it is a pain Odin understands in the most visceral of ways.
Motherhood is one of Frigga's domains in the same way Odin rules over battle and wisdom. To be unable to comprehend a part of either would twist him up inside, make him feel lacking and broken. For Frigga, being unable to determine a child's needs would be the same.
He touches her cheek lightly. "I am sorry. I do not know."
"No, no, of course not." She sounds distracted as she pulls away from him and a minister of state approaches. She holds Loki against her body protectively, a mean gleam in her eyes that promises pain should the minister even question the baby's presence. "I think… I think I should take a nap. Yes, a nap will do us all wonders."
Odin wishes he could nap as well.
Frigga storms the kitchens. She sweeps into the vast, tiled rooms with their ovens and counters and cold boxes, and she pauses only long enough to find a pastry chef with somewhat clean hands.
"Take him," she commands, all but thrusting Loki into the poor girl's arms.
The chef stares at Frigga, stunned, as the Queen of Asgard begins rifling through everything.
Technically, Frigga can be denied nothing. No one can forbid her anything, and she cannot be thrown out of any room in palace. But there is an unspoken agreement between her and the head chef: Frigga will stay out and the head chef won't quit. As Frigga does love their chef, this agreement is entirely amenable to her.
"My queen," the chef begins, bustling up to her, his portly face red behind his dark beard. "Is there something—"
"Do be silent, Anud," she snaps nearly overturning a jar of pickled something in her haste. Fruit, she think; but why anyone would pickle fruit she doesn't know. "I am not here to cook anything."
To be fair, sometimes her presence in the kitchens is enough to ruin a meal. She isn't sure what it is – no one is, really – about her that destroys food, but she cannot cook and she cannot bake, and no amount of patient teaching has been able to remedy that. Anud, bless him, has tried. She suspects, however, it has something to do with her natural magical affinity, which is not at all disposed to potions or concoctions.
He laughs nervously. "My lady, I would not suggest—"
"Yes, you would," she returns, pulling a slim cold box open. She examines the contents, wondering what could be safe enough to give a baby. Certainly not fruit juices. And water is out of the question as it would provide him nothing.
Anud leans over her shoulder. "Is there something I can help you with, my lady?"
His polite tone makes her want to strangle him, but she knows she cannot. Not only would it be a ghastly lapse in judgment (no one makes raspberry tortes quite like Anud, and Frigga loves raspberry tortes), but it would do her no good.
"He does not hold his milk," she says, slamming the door to the cold box shut. She turns to Anud, but the pastry chef behind him, still standing frozen, arrests her attention. Pushing Anud out of her way with perhaps a bit more force than necessary, Frigga approaches the young woman. Loki has hold of her hand, one of her fingers in his mouth, and is sucking intently. "What," Frigga asks slowly, "did you have on your hand."
The pastry chef looks as though she might die. Her eyes are huge and her face pale; when she speaks, her voice shakes. "H-honey, m-ma'am," she stutters, and Frigga sees the poor child tremble.
Immediately grabbing hold of herself, Frigga gives the girl a beatific smile and touches her cheek. "You may have saved me," she says, and she turns to Anud. "Honeyed goat's milk," she commands, and Anud lurches into motion.
For all he is a large man, he is a quick one, and he has a bottle prepared in a handful of minutes. Frigga, retrieving Loki from the still-trembling pastry chef, tests the formula on her wrist as she settles on a hard wooden bench. The chefs, those of whom do not have a pressing project, watch her warily. Those who work watch their pots and pans with the same wariness, as though afraid one of them might burst into flame.
Frigga gives Loki the bottle, and he gulps the liquid greedily, kicking gently against her arm. When he has drained the whole of it, he pushes it aside and lets out an impressive pair of belches and babbles at Frigga, reaching for her face.
She sinks against the table behind her, containing the relieved laugh that threatens to bubble out. "Now if only you would sleep through the night, my precious," she murmurs to him.
Four months later, Loki still sleeps poorly, but Frigga has discovered that sleeping with him eases most of the trouble. She and Odin sleep curled around him, and during the night, he will invariably find his way into their arms so that when they wake he is tucked contentedly against their chests.
Odin suggests that frost giant babies are naturally more demanding because if they are quiet, they are ignored, and if they are ignored, they are not given the care they need. Frigga supposes this is a fair assessment of frost giants, but it doesn't make taking care of him any easier.
Especially as he begins to cut his teeth.
Rocking the baby in her arms while Thor naps against her leg, his back pressed against her and his easy breaths a quiet melody in her ear, she sits on a blanket in her gardens. The sun is out and shining for the first time in three days, the result of Thor's temper assuaged. He had asked for a dragon for a pet, and Frigga said absolutely, on no uncertain terms, ino/i. His tantrum had been impressive in volume and duration, but she has coaxed him from his room with promises of candied strawberries and a day with her.
Loki giggles in her arms, at what she does not know, and he brings the finger he holds to his mouth to suck at the honey dripped on it. She smiles at her son as he suckles. Then he bites down and it hurts so much she lets out a startled cry.
Instantly, what seems like half of Asgard's military is at her side, the guards making demands of her health and safety. She frowns at them, annoyed but unable to express it; she cannot fault them for doing their job. "Please, I am well," she assures them, and they hesitate. She meets the eyes of one and then slowly, pointedly, looks at Thor who snorts quietly at her side.
The implication is clear: if they wake him and he is upset, she will meet all of them on the training grounds in the morning, and none of them will walk away free of bruises.
They step away, disappearing back into their shadows and corners, and Frigga turns her attention to Loki.
He has been gnawing on her finger, and now, when she draws her hand free, she finds he has drawn blood. She stares at her hand in shock. It takes her a moment to collect herself, and when she does, she peels back his lip to find he has one tooth – an explanation for his increased irritability of late – and it is sharp.
She presses her lips into a thin line. "I suppose there will be no more gumming my fingers. We shall have to find a teething toy for you," she tells her son, and she finds something suitable the following morning.
It takes Loki only four months to chew through the ring, and Frigga stares at the remains of it one afternoon, her expression one of amused horror. Loki's nurse simply looks horrified.
"I'm sorry, my lady, I don't know how he managed to do that," the nurse explains, wringing her hands, her face falling.
Frigga simply laughs. "Do not worry, Ingrid."
But she worries. Loki's teeth come in quick and sharp, and by his first birthday, he has a full set of very, very sharp teeth. He refuses all manner of fruits and vegetables, and despises bread. When anything of those things are set before him, he throws it and screams and generally carries on. Thor seems to take note of his brother's behavior and emulates it.
Frigga, embarrassed to the depths of her soul, no longer takes Loki to the high table with her and, in a moment of pettiness, tells Odin he can deal with Thor.
It is by chance Frigga discovers what to feed her child when she stumbles upon Tyr in the training grounds one afternoon. She is out with Loki, trying to coax him to walk and giving him different options. He has so far refused to walk on marble, carpet, and wood, so she thinks grass and sand might convince him to make an attempt.
"Thor was walking by his age," Tyr says, lowering his weapon. In the heat of the afternoon sun, he is sweating profusely, and he has stripped to his pants and removed his boots.
Frigga indulges Tyr with a smile while secretly promising to embarrass him terribly at the next Thing. A fool is the man who does not realize all children are different. "He will, in time," she replies, her tone light and warm, betraying none of her annoyance.
Tyr strides toward them, his long gait eating up the ground as he passes quickly over it. He crouches before Loki, who regards him with a calm, quiet disposition. But the child's fingers tighten around Frigga's hands, and she recognizes this as a sign he does not entirely like the man before him.
In the harsh sunlight, Tyr's necklace of teeth, all of them long and sharp, glimmers, and the shine catches Loki's attention. He stares at it intently.
"Ahhah, maybe you're not as different from your brother after all," Tyr says jovially, and it is by exerting great control over herself that Frigga manages not to beat him into the ground. "You like them?"
And then she realizes how similar the teeth around Tyr's neck are to the ones in Loki's mouth.
"Your necklace," she says, keeping her tone conversational. "Is it made from wolves' teeth?"
"A keen eye, my lady."
Frigga whisks Loki away at the first chance and moves them to the library. The library's caretaker takes a wary look at her and her son but does not bar them entry as he would for Thor. Thor, rambunctious and nearly uncontrollable, is not allowed into the library.
It takes some time, but she finally finds a book on wolves and what they eat. Raw meat does not sound particularly appetizing to her, but she requests a tray of seared beef from Anud. When it is delivered, the meat cut into child-sized strips (and she boggles at how perceptive Anud is), she offers a piece to Loki. He devours it, licks his lips, and holds out his hand for more.
"Your son," Frigga tells Odin that night, "is carnivorous."
He looks at her with a wild, surprised expression. "I—what?"
"It appears frost giant children, having sharp teeth like wolves, prefer to eat meat that is barely cooked," she says, shimmying out of her dress.
Odin places his hands on her hips from behind and brushes a light kiss over her neck. She relaxes into his hold, her eyes drifting shut. "At least we can be sure he will not starve. Again."
"This is your fault, you know," she tells him, but there is no vitriol in her voice. She does not mind being confounded by their second son quite as much anymore.
His laughter skitters across her skin, and he wraps her in his arms. "A son is always his father's fault."
"Mmm, yes," she agrees, so glad he sees it her way.
When he is one year and six months, Loki has still not walked, and Frigga grows concerned. She reminds herself that all children are different, and Loki is simply more different than others. She tells herself it does not matter that he has not walked. It means nothing. He is taking his time. He isn't rushing.
He sits in her lap as the Asgardians hold their council, listening to Freyja lie her way out of a very unfortunate situation, and Frigga focuses on that instead of Loki's slow progress. She cannot help the sneer that curls her lip as Freyja waxes poetic about how the necklace she wears, a beautiful wreath of rubies set in gold that drips off her shoulders, cannot possibly be Frigga's.
Even though it is.
Freyja unclasps the necklace at Odin's request, laying it on the floor before them all, and Frigga watches Freyja with an impassive expression. The little bitch smirks at her in return.
And then, quite suddenly, Loki slides from her lap.
She lunges forward, intending to catch him before he hits the floor, but he scrambles away from her, pushes himself onto his feet, and totters quickly to the center of the room. She watches with wide eyes as he scoops up the necklace. He holds it before him as though examining it to determine its value. He gives Freyja a look that can only be described as scathing, and he toddles back to Frigga.
She laughs breathlessly as he offers the necklace to her, and she wonders if he remembers her pouring over the design with one of Svartalfheim's dwarves. Frigga takes the necklace from Loki, and as she clasps it about her neck, the rubies change into sapphires to match the shimmering blue of her gown.
Loki clambers back into her lap, and Frigga lifts her chin to give Freyja the coldest look she can muster. The rubies did not change for you, her eyes say, and Freyja is, clearly, furious.
Frigga can only be more pleased.
Later that day, while Frigga enjoys compliments in the gardens on her necklace, Thor lays on the grass on his stomach, chin propped in his hands as he stares at Loki. "Say modir," he commands imperiously, every inch a prince. For the past six months, he has made efforts to get Loki to speak.
What Thor doesn't realize is that Loki does speak, but sparingly. Loki calls her mama, calls Odin papa, and calls Thor Tho. He knows a good number of words, at least one hundred by Frigga's count, which could be more or less than he should know, but she doesn't care. In this one thing, Loki has been what could be considered normal.
At nine months, he first called her mama, and she was more than satisfied with that.
"Loki," Thor whines, frowning at his brother. "Say modir."
Loki scowls at him.
"Mother," Thor says, turning his head to her as she bids goodbye to a member of her court. "Mother, Loki won't talk. Is he broken?"
Frigga laughs as Loki's scowl deepens. She is about to reply when Loki speaks. "Not broken," he says sourly. "I don't want to talk."
Thor stares, dumbstruck.
"Your brother," Frigga says breezily, "is very well spoken for his age." She has made a list of all the words Loki knows, and for this difference between Asgardians and frost giants, she is grateful. At least now he can tell her what he wants instead of leaving her to guess.
And when he turns twelve and begins puberty, Frigga is relieved to learn he goes about it the same way as Asgardian boys: asking all the worst questions at the most inappropriate times.