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Chapter 14

After hours of lying awake staring at the ceiling, Frigga decided enough was enough and made her way down to the stables.

"It is not often you come to visit me before the day rightly begins, my queen," Heimdall told her in a voice full of his subtle humor.

"Did Loki make it to Thor safely?" she asked quickly.


After letting the silence hang long enough that he should have said something more already, she prompted, "And how did it go?"

"Loki has apologized."

That was good. Very good. And he'd been learning how to handle making good strong apologies, too.

"He is sleeping. Thor is keeping watch over him."

Frigga smiled, feeling warmth come over her.

Even if they were so far away from her, at least they were together again.

"Did he tell Thor?"

"No, he did not, my queen."

Oh my dears, she thought. It made sense to wait - after all, with the apology, it might well look as if Loki had intentionally turned on their family in favor of the one he'd been born to - but still, for them to have something such as this between them...

The image sprang to mind again of little Thor, not quite toddling yet, reaching out his little hand to Loki as he had his first meal.

Laufey had laughed, honestly laughed, when she told him, and oh...

It really was high humor that Thor, detester of all things Jotun, had done that, and for Laufey, who had never even once dealt with Thor on any other basis than exactly that, to hear tell of that incident, well...

That was something the Jotun king could appreciate.

And it had been important for Frigga to make sure he knew Loki had been accepted as if he were born to them from the earliest moments they could do so. She couldn't imagine what he must be going through right now, to find a child thought so long dead and unburied alive and thriving.

"Loki did tell Thor that a Jotun had sat on the throne of Asgard."

Oh dear. Frigga nearly wished she'd never suggested that. She'd mainly been trying to cheer Loki up during one of the most emotionally shaken moments of his life. If it had backfired... "What did Thor do?"

"Threatened vengeance on that Jotun until he decided it must be a cruel joke."

"Oh dear. How did Loki take it?"

"He passed it off as just such a joke and told him you had thought the look on Thor's face might be amusing."

Bless her fast-thinking boy. With a great deal of luck, Thor would see it as the truth it was whenever Loki did tell him, and understand just where she stood on the subject.

"My queen, all your fretting cannot help them," he reminded her lightly.

"Just so," she agreed and returned to the city with a parting nod.

Her boys would just have to take care of themselves now, and deities knew they'd managed in battle before.

Loki woke with a groan, feeling the threat of great heat nearby. "What time is it?" he asked after opening his eyes just enough to tell Thor was sitting beside him.

"Dawn again. You have slept a day and a night."

Not much of the day, really, if he was honest with at least himself.

It was a bad sign. He hadn't even noticed the onset of night. Given how tired he'd been on their arrival, he should have slept straight through the day and then had trouble not being wide awake during the night.

But no. He obviously just couldn't sleep comfortably with all that thermal energy so close. Becoming functionally nocturnal wouldn't be an option even if he were willing to explain everything to Thor.

Which meant being awake during the unsettling days.

He could only hope the nights were long enough here that he might be able to have some time out in the cool without becoming progressively sleep-deprived.

"That long?" He yawned and stretched.

"Sif was not nearly so tired. Emotionally..." Thor looked unsettled.

"It has been under two days since her world turned upside down, Brother."

"I never would have thought... her father set against ours, against the Allfather... for any of our people to wish you dead..."

Loki snorted. He'd seen the glares before and knew better. Maybe not dead, but close.

They would have considered their lives brighter if he had locked himself into the royal quarters and only left at the Allfather's specific and exact command to do so.

"Loki, 'tis so. Gagged until you calmed your tongue, yes. Taught to keep your tricks and magic under control, yes. Dead... dead is different."

"I heard them, Thor. They meant whatever they were planning. They hated me... had for ages, it seems now. Since we were small children."

"Then why did he allow Sif to..."

"... to run around with the perfectly acceptable first son and heir? When you two make eyes at each other as much as you do? Throw away a match with the next king of the realm over a distaste for a royal who may never touch the throne?"

Thor looked ill.

"So, what of these stories the Midgardians tell?" he asked, desperate to change the subject.

"That you are half-Jotun," Thor told him with obvious discomfort.

"False," Loki told him with certainty. He didn't even have to fake it - there was no way Laufey would have had a child by anyone but another Jotun. Not when his age pegged Loki as older than the known and recognized Laufeysons.

"A number of impossible acts of trickery and deceit. Including stealing apples of immortality."

He brightened. Not even Asgardians lived forever. "Really?"

"Loki." A stern look.

He laughed then sobered. This was not the time for jokes, but oh it was good to have Thor around to poke fun at again.

"And the bad one..."

"How bad?"

"They think you're the one who killed Balder."

Loki could hear his heartbeat in his ears. "What?"

If anything could top finding out the monster he'd thought was hiding under his bed was actually sleeping in it all those years, this was it.

A moment later, a voice he remembered from the sleepy uncomfortable hours of yesterday - Selvig - was telling Thor, "That settles it for me. If he had, or was capable of it, he'd be calling it a good trick."

"I'm right here," Loki insisted in a voice still weak from the shock. "And I was right here last night. Whatever you think of me, I'm still a person."

A distinctly uncomfortable "Quite right" and then a hand slipping around one of his own.

"And this is what the Midgardians know of me?"

A silence. "The most commonly read book that mentions Norse myths at all in this country only mentions that about you. And none of those names are used at all here, so you are the only 'Loki' in a few thousand miles, I'd wager."

His head hurt, his face hurt, the heat outside was making him anxious...

Thor's hand squeezed his shoulder and he felt the coldpack against his face again.

"How bad is it?"

"Mother will kill me."

"No, she won't." He almost told Thor then, at least about the adoption. It was the perfect opening for telling Thor that Frigga would never hurt, much less kill, her first- and only-born son, at the very least.

Frigga was exactly the sort of woman who would have taken the child of a mother dead in labor into her own family and to her own breast. Let him figure out the 'but both of you were born to be kings' conundrum later.

But selvig was there, and just what details were in the myth that he might not have told Thor?

It wasn't safe.

"So," he changed the subject, "I guess that means I need to assume a new, safer, name while I'm here."

"Darcy!" Selvig called out. "He's agreeing with you, get in here."

Darcy, it turned out, was a young human woman who was an odd mix of bubbly and serious in temperament.

And only serious in temperament. Her thought processes appeared to be another story entirely.

"I told you all last night after Sif got up for dinner. Lucky's just one vowel sound different and it's common as a nickname and not uncommon as a name here. It wouldn't take long to adjust to it and it wouldn't seem out of place."

"And I told you," Selvig retorted, "that it doesn't fit the situation. Calling a man in flight for his life 'Lucky'." He snorted.

"I got away, didn't I?" Loki quipped with a barely-forced smile.

Lucky Odin found me. Lucky Frigga had milk enough and was willing. Lucky those who knew obeyed Odin until I was grown. Lucky no accident occurred to give me away before the trip to Jotunheim. Lucky the Jotun who touched me was too shocked to kill me. Lucky Thor didn't see and Hogun did not hold it against me. Lucky we were still in the feast hall. Lucky to have such good friends.

He reached up to hold the coldpack down, unwilling to get up just yet. "Lucky suits me."