This is me shamelessly smashing the movie!- and comic!verses together. I like playing fast and loose with universes.
Another norsekink fill. Because that place has the best prompts.
No one plays along anymore.
It is a sad fact of his life that no one in Asgard will listen to him when he drops subtle hints about a mysterious new treasure or a powerful ancient weapon. None of the warriors skip off on a merry quest when he quietly suggests they travel to one of the Nine Realms in search of bounty and riches beyond their wildest imaginings.
They have, after many long years, finally realized he is the cause for all their troubles on their quests, and for the often messy ends. In all their expeditions, numerous warriors returned to Asgard mortally wounded, and many more did not return at all. Loki feels some pride at that; he had long ago stopped caring for the vast majority of Asgard's population. And it amuses him, still, that they are so easily lead along.
But now, no one plays his games.
They do not listen, they do not respond, and he grows bored. Quickly.
He finds his boredom reaching its peak at another in an interminable line of feasts as he sits beside his mother and Thor. Thor is distracted by dancing women and his friends, and so, to Loki's immeasurable relief, they do not interact. It isn't that Loki does not love Thor, for he does in spite of all Thor's irritating habits, but rather that Loki is reaching the end of his patience. Boredom tends to make Loki nothing short of irascible.
Frigga sits to his other side, and she, like he, is more than a little bored. Across from them is Freyja, for whom Frigga harbors no great affection, and the goddess flaunts her favorite necklace, Brísingamen. Frigga, who possesses many beautiful pieces of jewelry, as yet has nothing that can compare, and Loki knows his mother well. She is naturally acquisitive; she wants Freyja's necklace, but more, she wants something that can surpass it.
Casually, inserting himself into a pause that is by no means the end of Freyja's latest, vapid thought, Loki says, "I hear tell of a necklace yet more lovely than Brísingamen."
Silence falls hard across the table, and Loki immediately regrets his words. But he is not one to go back on a lie, so he takes a sip of wine as an excuse to organize his rushing thoughts. There is no such necklace. The Asgardians, of course, will demand nothing less than a splendid show of it, and he cannot possibly lead his mother on so cruelly. So he must recant his lie or find a necklace that outshines even Brísingamen.
He sees Frigga's eyes light over the edge of his goblet, and he knows he cannot possibly tell her his words are untrue.
"And what of this necklace?" Freyja asks, lifting her voice so it carries. Quiet sweeps acrosss the table, an inexorable wave of surprise and muted words. "I have heard no such tales."
"Because you spend more time on your back than at feasts, listening to those tales," Frigga replies, tone sour, and there comes a hushed intake of breath from nearly ever body at the table.
Freyja's face turns red and splotchy, her brows drawing tightly together and the corners of her lips lifting in a sneer.
Clearing his throat, Loki sets his goblet on the table. "Careful," he says, lifting both brows and affecting the most innocent of expressions. "You might get frown lines."
Her immediate reaction, dropping all expression and prodding her face with her fingers, gives him no end of pleasure. "It is said the necklace is hidden in the boiling depths of Muspelheim," he says, thinking no one is mad enough to search for a necklace there. Surely no one will believe him regardless, and he will have plenty of time to procure a necklace to outshine Brísingamen.
"And its properties?" Frigga asks. Her genuine interest pains him. He wishes she would simply return to her meal and let the topic go, but he knows she will not.
Suitably vague details are his only recourse. "It shines like the light of the sun," he says, thinking that will, at the very least, make it equal to Brísingamen.
Freyja scoffs. "Brísingamen does this already. We hardly need another burning necklace."
"Of course not," Loki agrees. "It also makes the wearer invisible and commands the very storms in the sky above."
Here, Thor butts into the conversation. "Nay," he says, pounding his fist on the table hard enough that the plates seven settings away in all directions jump. "That is my domain, brother."
"Yes," Loki replies. He has long since learned that agreeing with Thor and offering little else is the quickest way to quiet him.
For a moment, Thor regards him, perplexed, and then he breaks into a smile. "Regardless of its other traits, Mother, I shall find this necklace and bring it to you!"
Frigga's expression lights. She does not smile, not precisely, for smiling is too obvious an expression for a queen to wear. But her delight is visible in the widening of her eyes and the quirk of her lips. The very tips of her fingers lightly touch, and she holds them level with her lips. Loki briefly considers leaving Asgard for a century or six.
"That would be marvelous, Thor," Frigga breathes, and her quiet exhalation of joy means that, by morning, there will be at least fifteen parties leaving Asgard in search of her necklace.
Thor beams at their mother, and she smiles back, and then their father makes some pronouncement about the glory of the hunt. He promises statues to whoever manages to find the necklace.
Not fifteen, then. At least forty.
Loki spends the duration of the night in the library, pouring through books about missing artifacts of power, things from the dawn of creation long since secreted away by time and darkened memories. There is, of course, nothing even remotely similar to the necklace he described in the fragile pages of Asgard's oldest tomes.
He is weary and sleep-deprived when Frigga appears at the end of a long row of books. Standing halfway down the aisle, he is reaching for a particularly large tome when she places her hand on his shoulder, starling him. He realizes his tiredness is bone-deep, born from his unrelenting drive to fix his lie without ever having to tell his mother he lied to begin with.
"Have you slept, my darling?" she asks, crouching beside him. She collects one of the tomes he dropped and hands it back to him with a placid smile.
A knowing smile. The worst smile. The smile she turned on him and Thor when they were children and she knew they were up to something.
This thought does not come as a surprise. Frigga is, perhaps, the only person in Asgard outside of Heimdell for whom nothing is astonishing. She sees events before they happen, but she tells no one, and it is exasperating. Loki never knows if she has seen something he's about. To her credit, she holds her peace with everyone, including Father. It is no less infuriating – perhaps more so – to know that she knows but will say nothing.
"I am doing research," he says.
"I did not think you would engage in this particular search," she returns, regarding the cover of one of the tomes. "A Dissertation on Lost Magical Artifacts."
"I had hoped to discover more regarding the nature of the necklace and its protections," Loki lies, and the words are like rocks in his stomach.
His mother smiles, and it is an expression he has seen many times after looking in the mirror. It disturbs him to see it on his mother's face, but he supposes he had to acquire the expression from someone. "Best of luck, darling," she says, and she hands the tome to him.
He takes it, holding it against his chest like a protective shield as she sweeps down the aisle and disappears around a corner.
That, he knows, was not a coincidence, and he sighs. Of course she knows. His mother is the mother, the goddess of the civilized world, of hearth and home and children. It would be blasphemy to think she wouldn't know.
"You," Eitri spits, hefting a spear.
Loki, having come prepared for Eitri's disdain, waves his hand. Ten very large bags, filled to the brim with gold, appear in the air. Four break both Eitri's worktables, two a piece, when they drop the short distance from their appearance to the table surface. One lands on the dwarf's toes, and the dwarf is stalwart enough not to howl with pain.
"Advance payment," Loki says, and the wariness that passes over Eitri's face amuses him immensely. "For a commission."
"Aye, and what's that?" Eitri asks, but he does not lower his spear.
"A necklace for my lady mother that will rival Brísingamen in craftsmanship," Loki replies. Eitri eyes him with suspicion, so Loki begins laying on the compliments. "I would trust no one else with such a project. My mother will accept only the best craftsmanship, it is true, and your skill is clearly unsurpassed. Asgard still speaks of the magnificent hair you made for Lady Sif."
Eitri lowers his spear at last, but he maintains his distance. Loki is not bothered by this; he suspects the dwarf has not bathed in weeks. They sit on opposite ends of another, unbroken table, passing a parchment between them as they sketch and plan. Eitri's initial design is too similar to Brísingamen, and it is far too clunky for Frigga's tastes. They go back and forth for nearly three hours before settling on a design that, Loki must admit, will be stunning in its completion.
He leaves Eitri to his forges after they share a drink – from their own wine skins, of course; neither trusts the other quite enough. And then Loki is off, rushing through the Realms to scatter clues for the questing warriors to find. He makes them deliberately vague and unhelpful, with the intent to keep them questing for months if he has to, and he gives out more gold to slow-witted tavern keepers with no moral compass than he cares to count.
By the end of the day, he is exhausted, and he falls into his bed and a deep sleep.
Dawn comes too soon, and he wakes suddenly, tense and uncomfortable, and feels he has not slept at all. A moment later, he is out of bed and rushing about, collecting the spell books and supplies he will need to keep the warriors walking in circles long enough for Eitri to finish the necklace.
A full two weeks later, Eitri finally sends word that the necklace is complete.
Loki leaves off harassing a group of warriors with carnivorous rodents to rush to Svartalfheim. Eitri greets him civilly, if coolly, and offers the necklace for his consideration.
Its beauty renders Loki silent, and he holds it in careful hands. It looks more like spun sugar than it does jewelry.
"It will not break," Eitri grumbles.
"I mean no affront," Loki returns. "It is simply so expertly crafted that I cannot believe it is made of metal."
Eitri doesn't seem sure whether this is a compliment or not – it is – so he says nothing, merely shuffles toward his bellows. "And that'll be all, my lord?"
"That will be all."
Loki abandons distracting the warriors in favor of stalking Balder. Balder is an impossible creature, either playing music for his woodland friends in some forested grove or on the practice fields, and difficult to get alone. But he finally does, and Balder eyes him with uncertainty.
"I require your aide," Loki says as he magically locks the door to the store room he has dragged Balder into.
A laughably panicked expression crosses Balder's face. "My lord, I—"
"Spare me," Loki says, dismissing Balder's words with a wave of his hand. "I would sooner fall on a sword than admit that I need anyone's help. You know this is legitimate." He holds out his hands as though offering Balder a gift, and the cherry wood box containing Frigga's necklace appears in his palms.
It is heavy, at least seven or eight pounds, and he shifts his hold so he can cradle the box in the crook of his arm. The cover slides free of its groves with the lightest of touches, and he places it to the side, shifting closer that Balder might see the necklace contained within.
Balder, the only true son of Odin and Frigga though he does not know it, releases a smothered sound of amazement. "This is—"
"A gift for my mother," Loki replies, unable to resist the subtle emphases on the last two words. Balder has been raised an orphan; he does not, and cannot, know his heritage. And Loki, when it suits him, delights in rubbing salt into that wound. "But I require your help, for none in all Asgard trust me."
Balder shifts, uneasy. "And what would you have me do?"
"Make it shine," Loki replies, for that is one of Balder's less impressive powers. He is a god of light, of the sun, and he shines with brilliant light when he chooses.
Balder does not hesitate; his uneasiness is gone. He places two fingers on the delicate necklace, and he passes the beautiful light within him to the necklace itself.
With a catlike smile of pleasure, Loki replaces the cover. "Much obliged," he says, but he does not move toward the door. "I must ask you one more favor."
Balder goes white, but, really, what Loki asks is a trifling thing. He would like just a drop of power from each of the gods and goddesses, including Freyja and excluding his mother and father, to be placed in the necklace. Balder, Loki says, is much better suited to this task as no one would trust Loki's motives, and he does not want to explain to anyone what he is doing.
"There was never a necklace more beautiful than Freyja's, was there?" Balder asks after agreeing.
Loki lifts both brows, the picture of innocence. "What do you think you shall hold in yours hands when your task is completed?" he asks, and then he vanishes, off to deter the warriors more.
He learns, later, that Balder had to climb out a window to escape the store room.
He sits on a conjured throne when Thor, Sif, and the Warriors Three finally burst into the underground cavern. Lava cuts patterns in the stone floor around him, and he smiles, hefting the box containing the necklace. "Questing for this?" he asks.
Thor looks completely flummoxed. Sif has the sense to narrow her eyes with suspicion, as do Fandral and Hogun. Volstagg simply looks hungry.
"Brother… how did you manage to defeat the dragon?" Thor asks.
Loki chuckles. "Oh, I have a few useful skills," he says, rising from the throne. He approaches them with a grin. "Shall we return to Asgard?"
They do, by way of the Bifrost, and Heimdall gives the wooden box in Loki's arms an appraising look. Loki refuses to pay Heimdall any attention at all; he masked his activities from the guardian, except for some of the pranking and distracting. Let Heimdall think what he will.
When they arrive in the great hall, Loki is unsurprised to find many of the warriors already returned to Asgard and in various states of injury. A few of them regard him with suspicion, but he is too clever for them. Nothing they know can possibly incriminate him or hold him responsible for their wounds.
He takes a knee before his father's dais, where both Odin and Frigga sit. Odin occupies his throne, and Frigga occupies its arm. Her skirts drape over Odin's legs, and for all the impropriety of her location, she possesses an imperious grace that makes questioning her impossible. Loki suppresses a small smile.
"Speak, Loki Odinson," his father commands, lifting Gungir in acknowledgement of his son.
"Father," he says, and his gaze slides past Odin to Frigga. The dress she wears is high necked and hugs her shoulders, chest, and throat. Its deep burgundy color and cut are perfect. "Mother," and this he says with much more affection and emotion. "I have brought for you the necklace so many went in search of."
His mother rises from the arm of Odin's throne, gliding down the dais stairs. When Loki offers the box up to her, she slides the cover off and sets it on the ground. Only then does she turn her eyes to the necklace inside, and her breath catches in her throat.
Behind him, Thor takes a single step forward. Loki can feel his brother's presence, a fission of electric energy across his skin, and he wonders if understanding has dawned on Thor yet. Balder went to Thor, too, asking for a single bolt of lightning for the necklace Frigga removes from the box with the utmost care.
Loki sets the box aside. "May I?" he asks.
Frigga surrenders the necklace to him, and he takes it, stepping behind her. He lays the necklace across her chest. It is easily five inches wide, and drapes across her shoulders like a cloak. It is like a cloud of fog over a marsh, delicately defined by thin, swirling filaments of silver, and opals glitter like polished stars in their settings. It is as much a weapon as it is jewelry; the power that courses through it, given willingly by each Asgardian god, can be harnessed at will, and Loki sees the exact moment Frigga realizes this.
She turns and, in full view of the court, embraces him. She has ever been affectionate, but she has always been sure to separate the Queen of Asgard from his mother, Frigga. She holds him now, though, her fingers warm through his light tunic.
"Clever boy," she whispers in his ear, and a thrill of pleasure at her praise courses through him.
"I should apologize," he murmurs.
Her laughter is a light and airy breeze against his cheek. "Unnecessary," she says, drawing back. "It is beautiful, my darling."
The only thing that comes even remotely close to the beauty of his mother's necklace is the embarrassed rage on Freyja's face.
"I've never seen anything like this," Odin remarks later, after he and Frigga retire to their bedchambers.
Frigga, sitting before a mirrored wall, smiles and nods. Though she has removed her gown and changed into a nightdress, the necklace still graces her shoulders. "It is remarkable, isn't it?" Lifting her eyes from the necklace, she meets Odin's gaze in the mirror, and the smile changes into an outright laugh.
Odin purses his lips. "Loki?"
"Oh, isn't he delightful?"she asks, stroking one finger down the length of the necklace as she rises from her seat. It is not lost on her how Odin's eyes follow the path of her finger, and her smile becomes something soft and coy, full of promise.
Odin's expression turns thoughtful instead of interested, and Frigga's lips press into a thin line. She refuses to pout. "This was a plot for a pretty piece of jewelry? You knew the whole time?" he asks.
"Of course I knew," she replies, breezing by him. "I always know when he's lying."
Behind her, Odin sputters. "Always?"
She glances at him over her shoulder, both brows raised. "Do you remember the ambassador from Alfheim fifteen years ago?"
Odin looked bewildered. "Yes."
"Lies," Frigga says, barely able to contain her laughter. "All lies."
It is several minutes before Odin joins her in bed, muttering dark things to himself. He wraps her in his arms and pulls her back to his chest, lowering his lips to her necklace and, by extension, the naked skin beneath it. "You look quite fetching in this," he says.
"I do, do I?"
At the pathetic, wounded-puppy tone in his voice, she laughs again, and to silence her, he steals her breath with a kiss.