I've been working on this for MONTHS and I finally gathered the courage to post it. This is my first adventure into Thor fan fiction, so I would appreciate feedback of any kind as long as it's not "This sucks" without telling me why it sucks. And I want to mention that I'm Norwegian, so English is not my first language.
Warnings (for other chapters too): male/male relationship (if that's not your thing, you know what to do, although there won't be any until chapter 2 or 3), child abuse (I'm putting it out there because I want to be careful), violence, blood... There may be other stuff later, but I'll put a warning up in the chapter in that case.
Disclaimer: I don't own any recognizable characters or places described in this story. They belong to Marvel. I attain the right to worship the Gods as my ancestors did.
~ Uniting the Realms ~
Odin burst into the massive ice hall that was the Jotun temple where he knew the Casket of Ancient Winters was held. The coldness of the air contrasted with the warmth of blood spreading down the right side of his face and he swiped angrily at the liquid to clear the vision of his good eye.
Behind him, his warriors lead the defeated Jotun king, Laufey, in behind them. The king had elected to not tell Odin anything, keeping quiet as he had been lead through the devastated city. The All-father did not need his information; he already knew from previous visits that their source of power was held within their temple, close to the palace wherein the royal family resided.
The All-father could see the pedestal where the Casket was located, the box pulsating with ancient magic, feeding it to the realm. However, his eye caught something else that was out of place. He would have missed it if it had not been for the fact that it moved, but there was a bundle of dirty furs lying at the foot of the icy pedestal next to the bodies of two grown Jotuns.
Turning slightly, he looked to Laufey who was staring at the bundle with something akin to disgust before his eyes shifted to the deceased Jotun, glaring at it with hatred.
Carefully, and ignoring the defeated king, Odin walked over to the pedestal and grabbed the bundle that had now started to squirm and emit sounds that sounded far too much like whimpering and small sobs. He could feel the coldness, even through the thick furs. He already knew what it was, and felt guilt well up inside of him because he knew that the war had made many children orphans or parents childless.
When he opened the furs that were stiff with dried blood, he stared into the unmistakable wide red eyes of a Jotun child. It was small, he realized suddenly, too small for a Jotun baby, even a newborn, which he suspected it was. He had a son back home, a healthy boy, and this child was much smaller than what Thor had been as a newborn.
The child made a small mewling sound and Odin smiled sadly down at it. It seemed sluggish and far too thin to have been treated the way a newborn should. He was not an expert on Jotuns, but he suspected that this was one of the runts that the Jotuns killed.
There were wounds on the child's brow and head in the shape of two circles and two vertical lines in the middle of its forehead. They were fairly recent; he realized when he noticed the amount of frozen blood surrounding them.
On closer inspection he recognized them as the royal adornments of Jotunheim. All who were born with royal blood had the same symbols carved into their skin. Laufey was not of royal lineage, but his consort, Nál, had been the child of the former king, therefore any children the two had together were likely to bear the symbols
It must have been left here to die on its own or to be killed by my invading army, he thought to himself as his thumb gently stroked a circular pattern on the crown of the child's head, trying to quiet the whimpering.
Or perhaps it had been taken here to be killed, a small voice in his head told him and he looked at the two dead Jotuns on the ground. If he had been Laufey he would have left his child with an army, not two people.
"Your child," he said quietly, hiding his surprise, and turned around to face Laufey. The king barely spared the child a second glance and did not seem at all worried that the All-father was holding his offspring. It gave Odin a clear picture of why a royal child had been left alone in the middle of an invasion.
"You may do as you wish with the runt." The king growled at Odin, but the All-father ignored him and stared down at the tired child. It did not matter that it was a Jotun, it was innocent and suffering and therefore Odin would not do anything to it unless he could be helped.
"My adviser was to bring him here and finish what my consort could not." The king was looking at the dead Jotuns on the ground again. Odin saw the expression of sadness that crossed the king's face as he said consort. Had the great sorcerer Nál died during the birth of this child?
He caught the fact that Laufey had called the child a he, too. Jotuns were generally of both genders unless they expressed which gender they related to. All could bear children and all could sire, it was just a matter of preference whether or not they would like to be called he or she. They were treated no different regardless of which they chose. It was one of the things Odin admired about the race, the way there was no discrimination towards each other unless you were not considered big enough of a Jotun in size.
He was already aware that Laufey had called his other children his sons and did not comment that he called his newborn a boy. It did not matter after all if they were viewed as a boy or a girl, and perhaps it was some Jotun insight that made him decided that perhaps his child would sway more towards being a boy rather than a girl.
The All-father's eye looked down at the child again, suddenly realizing that his arms no longer felt bone-chillingly cold. When his eye found the face of the boy again, he saw, with great surprise that the blue colour of his skin seemed to be washing away, being replaced by Asgardian paleness.
The two kings exchanged a brief glance, both stricken with surprise, before Odin looked down again. His one-eyed gaze was met with brilliant green ones and a pale face, still filled with the royal markings. They looked alien and painful upon his skin, but Odin could not help but smile.
Laufey's child was a shape changer.
He turned to Laufey who seemed as shocked as the All-father was. Shape changing Jotuns were not unheard of, but the only way they could possibly change their shapes was after years of studying magic, and even then it was difficult.
Shape shifters across the realm were fairly common, but Jotunheim had never been privy or bothered with more magic than their natural ice magic and extensions of that. A Jotun child that could change shape from birth was a staggering thought and perhaps a frightening one too.
Odin's own mother had been a sorceress and the magic was woven into sorcerers' lives like blood ran through everyone's veins. Odin let a small spark of his own measly magic touch against the Jotun child and a green and gold magical aura seemed to glow around it.
A shape shifter and a born, potentially powerful, sorcerer, the king thought awestruck to himself as the green and hold glow disappeared, leaving the child smiling and grasping to reach Odin's own fading aura.
Laufey had severely misjudged the worth of his newborn child.
Quietly, Odin walked over to the surrendered king and handed the child over to his father. The moment Laufey's hands came in contact with the child's skin, it turned back to its natural blue shade and the child started to fuss slightly, tiny arms flailing in the air.
"Take the Casket." Odin commanded and one of his soldiers walked over to the artefact and grabbed it from the pedestal. When the soldier returned, Odin motioned for all of his soldiers to go and wait for him outside where the defeated warriors had probably gathered.
Once they were left alone, Laufey composure seemed to drop and he openly snarled at the Asgardian king with utter disgust. "What more do you wish to take from me, All-father?" he questioned and held the small child closer to his chest, trying to stave its small, pitiful cries.
That was a good question. Odin wanted nothing more than peace between all the realms, but from experience and history he knew that the Jotuns were not likely to give up without a fight, as they had just proven.
All offers of peace in the past had been rejected and met with more battles and more losses for each side. He knew that the Jotuns were not unreasonable, but he needed something to keep them in line. He had the Casket, but it was cruel to leave them here without its magical power to keep them safe.
The Jotuns depended on the casket for their magic and for healing. The casket also kept the land healthy and without it for a long time, he was afraid that Jotunheim would start to disintegrate. He did not want to cause them unnecessary devastation.
The All-father's eye travelled to the small child nestled in Laufey's arms. He looks almost Asgardian, he thought to himself and for a moment he imagined what the child would be like if it was allowed to grow up.
From the size that it was now, Odin guessed that it would grow up to become no bigger than an Asgardian. It would certainly not be as brutish and tall as its kin that much was obvious. His aura showed strong magic already now and Odin had no doubt that he would be a powerful sorcerer if he grew up.
He realized grimly that striking a fair and long-lasting bond between the two realms would require more than taking the Casket from them with a spoken promise to return it. The Jotuns did not trust his words and why should they? They had no reason to believe that he would return it willingly to them given time.
In the mean time, they would suffer daily without the source of their power in uncertainty. They could be cruel, but there were as many innocent as there were guilty among the race and Odin did not wish to condemn them all into hatred and misery. He could not afford to have another war against the realm, it would destroy the world and he had no wish to see that happen.
He needed something to show the king that he was speaking the truth, a way of trust. It would require personal sacrifices from both sides, he knew that and he was even ready for it. He would do almost anything to stop the constant battles between the two realms.
Odin smiled bitterly. "I want us to someday have peace, Laufey." He told the defeated king truthfully. "I take from you the source of your powers with the promise to return it one day." He saw the surprised look in the Jotun's eyes and counted it as a small victory for now.
As he said the next part he glanced at the child in Laufey's arms and thought of his own toddler safe back home in Asgard. Alliances were made every day throughout the realms to secure kingdoms and unite them. He had wanted his own son to be free to do as he wished when the time came for him to be crowned king and find a wife, but perhaps this was as good of an idea as anything.
Heirs could be secured easily through shape shifting or the natural Jotun way. There were many men that ruled lands and villages together in a firm partnership, and Odin was not against the idea, even though there had yet to be something of the sort ruling Asgard.
"I wish to one day strike a permanent bond between our kingdoms; a bond that will unite us and bring peace. I am willing to give something for this peace, if you are willing to give something in turn." He continued hastily before he could change his mind, and could see that Laufey was beginning to understand what he was speaking of.
"My son," it was spoken in calm confusion. The Jotun rested a large finger on the infant's cheek, stroking it softly, before he looked at the All-father again. "He has proven himself to be a worthy heir if he should survive his early years. His magic could do much good in the realm without the Casket to help us, and you wish to take him away from me?"
Laufey stepped closer to Odin, eyes boring into the pale blue one still left, as the Asgardian tightened his hold on Gungnir. "No," he realized with a grin forming on his lips. He stepped backwards as he spoke, "The All-father has other plans for my runt."
"Your son is a shape shifter and a sorcerer, he is also small and I do not think he will grow to be your size," Odin began and dreaded the Jotun king's response to what he was going to say next. "He would not be out of place at my court alongside my son."
The Jotun's eyes narrowed and his arms tightened around the small bundle to the point where Odin was afraid he might injure the child. "You said you did not wish to take him from me and now you have already changed your mind?" Laufey's raised voice was full of accusation as he reeled back from the smaller king, his eyes promising murder.
Odin sighed at the king's very justified mistrust before he revealed his true intentions. "As I said, I do not wish to take your son from you. I am suggesting a permanent union between our sons."
Both kings were quiet for a short moment while Laufey's eyes widened impossible and his lips curled into a snarl that would not have been out of place on an animal. It was an expected reaction, one that Odin had known he would see.
"You wish for a son of mine to marry your brat?" The anger was clear in Laufey's expression and it spoke volumes about how much he hated the Asgardians when he was repulsed at the thought of the child he had condemned to death to marry one of them. Perhaps it was the indignity of having one of his sons live as a consort instead of as a king.
"I may be defeated, but I will not have anyone of my blood, runt or not, marry an Asgardian!" The king's raised voice made the small child start to whimper, and he quickly tried to quiet it. For a moment he always looked like a caring father, but then he looked back up to glare at Odin.
"I would sooner have you kill him."
The All-father closed his eye and sighed deeply. "Your son would link our realms together and if you raise him, I will return the Casket to you." He opened his eye and looked back up at the king, hoping that he would agree to the agreement. "He would not be treated ill; he would be respected as a royal consort and as someone of the royal line."
They stood in silence after what Odin had said. The only sound that could be heard was various sounds from outside the temple. Laufey seemed to be contemplating what Odin had said to him with great care, eyes locked to the squirming form of his child.
Odin was still not sure if he wanted the king to agree. He wanted the peace, but it would all depend on a small child that could very well die of natural causes that seemed to befall the smaller, weaker Jotuns. It was not the soundest idea he had ever had, but at the moment he did not know what else to suggest to Laufey.
"I accept," The Jotun finally agreed and met the All-father's eye with his furious red orbs. "I will raise him as best as I can, but I will not make promises." The king warned and stroked the cheek of his child with a detached look, "You may believe we kill those born small out of tradition and because we find them unworthy," his red eyes narrowed as they looked down at the All-Father again. "In truth, it started out as mercy." He set Odin with a knowing look as if to say that the chances of the child surviving were lesser than those of a regularly born child.
With a breath he did not know he had been holding Odin straightened himself to his full height before he walked closer to the Jotun. "I will only let them marry when they are both of age and to make sure that this will work, I will grant your son access to Asgard when he is older to befriend my son. You may call upon Heimdall if the situation is dire and your son's life is threatened."
The rest of their settlements that day seemed to go smoothly. Laufey's son would be allowed to enter Asgard when Odin saw that he was old enough to come, and from that day forward, if Thor liked him, the child would be allowed to enter the realm freely. They would be married when both had turned twenty one and then the Jotun child would spend the rest of his days in Asgard with Thor. Naturally, if the truce held he would be allowed free travel between the two realms to visits his family and home world.
The guards opened the heavy doors to the temple and before he left, Odin turned around, leaning heavily on Gungnir. "I expect you to treat him well, Laufey." he warned before he left the king alone with his son.
Later when Odin and his warriors returned to Asgard, the first thing he did was to go to his son's chambers. He was slowly starting to wonder if the marriage had been the best idea. He may have let his compassion for the small child, and his fatigue from the constant battling get the better of him.
However, if it turned out that Laufey held up his end of the bargain, Odin had an inkling that it would work. It all came down to how Thor and the Jotun child would react when they met and were told of this. Technically, Odin had the right to make them marry, but he would much rather that they got to know each other and then hope that they would not react to violently when they were told about the marriage.
He stopped in the doorway of Thor's room. Frigga was already there, cradling their child in her arms and she smiled when she saw her husband in the doorway. Odin smiled kindly back at her before he entered the room.
"They say that you have made peace with Laufey." She said as he came over to her, carefully planting a kiss on her cheek and putting a hand on her back. She put one of her hands on the left side of his face, smiling sadly as she noted the golden piece sitting where his eye should be. She did not ask him; perhaps she had accepted that to end the war with Jotunheim, something had to be sacrificed.
Odin gave a small sigh and knelt down next to his family, putting a hand on Thor's. "We came to an agreement," He murmured as Frigga put her hand around his back. "We both put something precious to us into the truce." He continued to tip toe around the subject and noted that Frigga's brows pulled together in worry.
He rose and carefully took Thor from her hands, cradling the boy to his chest. Frigga rose as well and gave him a hardened look. "What sort of truce did you make with him?" he could hear the tinge of worry in her voice, and hated the lengths he had to go to ensure the safety of the nine realms.
He planted a small kiss on Thor's cheek before he braced himself for the inevitable fury he would receive from Frigga. She had never treated him like a king, and that he was grateful for. It was one of his bigger assets, having someone who could speak their mind when he went too far, or did not go far enough.
"We arranged for our children to be married when they are of age."
The reaction was expected; Frigga slapped Odin across the cheek, not caring that it was the king of Asgard himself. Her accusing blue eyes bore into him. "How dare you?" she hissed at him, careful not to wake Thor who had yet to stir. "You wish for our son to marry a cold, bloodthirsty giant?" she wouldn't allow her sweet child to be bound to one of their enemies!
"Far from it," Odin replied and stared down at his livid wife. He walked over to the bed and placed Thor upon it, covering him with blankets and furs. He did not turn to her; instead he looked down at his son. "I found one of Laufey's children, abandoned in their temple." He rose to face his wife again who was still glaring at him. "It is small, smaller than Thor when he was but a newborn; a runt. I believe it was born a few days ago, and if my assumptions are right, I suspect Laufey had abandoned the child out of shame; left it to die on its own accord so he would be rid of it."
Frigga frowned and her anger seemed to lessen, replaced by pity. "Is – is it a boy or a girl?" she asked quietly as she stared at her own child. Odin bent down to her level and took her hand in his own before he spoke again.
The people of Asgard were not as educated when it came to the other races as they could be, especially the Jotuns. It was not common knowledge that they were of both genders rather than just the one, although those who had access to the royal libraries could read about it.
"The Jotuns are of both genders, my queen." He explained to her with a small smile as he saw the surprised look on her face. "Laufey called it a boy, but it is hardly of importance, is it? He is also a shape shifter; he turned himself into an Asgardian child while I held him and he also possesses powerful magic for someone so young."
He drew in a breath before he continued. "I believe that with Laufey's son we can bring about a permanent peace. Laufey agreed with me on this and we have decided to introduce Thor and his son to each other when they are older."
"I thought the Jotuns killed the children who were born different." Was all Frigga could say at the moment. She tried to dwell on the difference between the Jotuns and the Asgardians at the moment and decided to ask more about her son's future consort.
"They do," Odin confirmed with sadness in his eye. The Jotun were their enemies, but he would never condone murdering children because they were born different. "But Laufey saw his son change shape in my arms and with the agreement that I would return the Casket of Ancient Winters to him after our children have wed, I believe I may have spared the child from such a fate."
The queen realized that his husband had saved an innocent child, and possibly found a way to bring about permanent peace with Jotunheim. They had been at odds with the cold realm for as long as anyone could remember. Laufey's ancestors had been as jealous as the king of Asgard's power and riches.
Who was she to deny an end to the slaying of Asgardian warriors? She had seen enough widows and fatherless children to last her a lifetime as the result of the war with Jotunheim. Their suffering could be brought to an end if she let her son marry a Jotun. Thor would not have to leave Asgard and he would be king, nothing had to change save for the Jotun consort he would have.
She was not at peace with the idea and loathed that Odin could dictate the future of their son like this. But then again, she and Odin had not married out of love rather than necessity and they had ended up happy together. Perhaps it would be the same for Thor and the Jotun child. At least she hoped so.
Sighing, she said; "I am angry with you and I hope you know what you are doing," her voice was calm, but she made her disappointment known through it. "But if you are truly sure about this, and that it will bring peace, then who am I to oppose you?"
"You are far too kind," Odin told her with a smile that faltered when he saw the glare that she gave him. "I know that you do not approve entirely, I can see that, but it is for the greater good."
She nodded wordlessly, still glaring slightly at her husband, but the intensity of it lessening. He had already made the deal with Laufey so they could not change it. She would just have to hope that it would not turn bad.
He ignored the angered glares of his defeated people as he made his way back to the palace, flanked by a handful of guards that had found him in the temple after the All-Father had made his leave. Their red eyes seemed to be fixated on the small body held securely in his arms, wondering what the king was doing with the small child, wondering if this was the newest addition to the royal family which they had yet to see.
Laufey stopped once he reached the top of the stairs and turned around, facing the masses of warriors and civilians that had gathered below him. They were injured, frightened and defeated and needed something to help them feel that they had not lost everything, even though it was not far from the truth.
Nál had always been the better one with speeches, but he no longer had his consort to comfort his people in this dire time. He drew in a breath and tried to think back to the many speeches that Nál had made over the years, drawing strength and inspiration from them.
"My citizens," he shouted as loudly as he could, voice echoing off the ruins of the once mighty city. "The All-Father has driven us to our knees. He has taken from us the Ancient Winters and my consort." He watched as they all bowed their head as a sign of grief when they heard of Nál's passing and felt honoured that they would still do this after he lead them into failure.
"He has promised me the return of the Casket in time, but I do not know when." He could see the despairing and angered expressions that the masses wore and quickly turned his own gaze downwards to his newest son, holding him tighter, but not obscuring him from anyone's view.
"In the mean time, we must be valiant and rebuild what the All-Father and his armies have destroyed," he looked up as he said this and held the gazes of several Jotuns in the foremost row. "And welcome your new prince." He tried to make the small child visible to his people without rousing him from his fitful sleep.
Mutters erupted from the crowd, disbelieving faces that eyed the child with disgust and pity. Those who were unfortunate enough to experience the birth of a defective child rarely recognized it publically as their own, much less the royal family. Most liked to deal with it in their own way, privately.
"He has powerful magic within him, even the All-father saw it and yet he let him live." Disbelief spread across the crowd again and a few declarations of "death to the All-father could be heard. "He has survived these past few days and if he grows he will be a powerful asset to us, despite his diminutive size." He snarled in the direction of those who were watching him in disgust, because despite what he had felt at first, it was still their prince and they had no right to look that way in public in front of their own king.
"Injured may be taken to the healing houses and I wish for all mages and healers to be stationed there for the time being. I will converse with the counsel and decide what to do next."
He did not linger after finishing his speech; instead, he walked into the citadel with his guards following on his heels. "Find my sons," he snarled at them without turning around. "I will be in the royal quarters." He informed the guards that stayed and felt them stop behind him, knowing that he did not want to be followed. "And find someone to prepare Nál for his send-off."
The child in his arms made a small sound and his face scrunched up, his small hands tightening into small fists. Laufey placed a finger on his cheek and stroked it carefully and watched as his face seemed to smoothen again with the action. A small attention seeker, apparently, Laufey thought as he let the small one try to grab his much too big finger.
He entered the quarters belonging to his family and made his way towards the small room next to his and Nál's that had not been used since Býleistr had been a babe, ten years ago. It contained a large crib carved into the icy wall of the room and the soft pillow and blanket still remained as newborns tended to become cold as they had not yet grown accustomed to their environment.
Laufey placed his small child into the old crib and tucked the thin cloth around him. It made him seem even smaller when he was drowning in the large sheet and the sheer size of the crib. The baby awoke and made a small whimpering sound as it looked up at him with big red eyes, flailing its arms and legs beneath the cloth.
When one of the royal guards had told him that Nál had given birth to their new child, he had been overjoyed until the moment the guard proceeded to tell him that his consort's condition was grave and that the healer present did not know if Nál was strong enough to make it through this time.
By the time he had hurried back to the citadel, it had already been too late. Nál was lying dead on the floor of the great hall, an ice knife coated in blood hanging loosely from his fingers and surrounded and covered in blood. He had knelt down beside his beloved consort and promised death to the All-father and the entirety of Asgard. Surely, it was their fault that he could not have been there with him when their child was born and save Nál from dying?
"My lord," a voice came from behind him and he felt a tentative hand on his shoulder. He turned his head to see one of the royal healers standing with a small bundle of white furs held in her arms. The bundle seemed to be squirming and Laufey realized that this was his newest child.
The healer glanced down into the bundle with a weary look. "The child it is..." the healer started quietly, but Laufey silenced her and grabbed the bundle, belatedly realizing how small and light it was and that the healer backed away slowly when he grabbed it from her.
He peeled back the layer of bloodied furs that covered the child and only then realized the healer's hesitation. The child was so small, that was the first thing he noticed, and it could almost have fitted just into his palm. The dark azure of his face was coated in blood and now he knew what Nál had used the knife for. The royal symbols were carved into his forehead, just as it was on Helblindi and Býleistr, only newly made.
How could the powerful sorcerer Nál and the mighty warrior Laufey have produced such a weakling? The child cried out as if offended by Laufey's thought and he curled his lips in disgust.
"My king!" he whirled around to find one of his advisors hurrying into the hall, stopping dead in his tracks when he noticed the dead consort on the ground. Laufey rose from the floor, child still held in his arms. He strode over to the advisor and placed the child into her arms. "Take this and get rid of it in the temple." He growled and turned to the healer again. "Take him to the burial chambers." He said to the healer who nodded and bowed before she began to recite a spell.
Back in the present he opened his eyes and stared down at the child again, realizing that perhaps he had been hasty in his decision to have it killed. He should have known that eventually a child of Nál would have the same magical powers. It was only unfortunate that to be given the powers, his size and strength needed to be diminished.
He could not kill the child now that he had made the deal with the All-Father. If he did, he would never return the Casket and Jotunheim would forever be powerless and weak at the mercy of all the other realms.
"I hope you will not disappoint me, Loki."
Nál had named the child some months ago, despite not having done so with their previous children. Thinking back he realized that many things had been different from his other pregnancies.
He had been more in touch with the child this time, always stating that this child would be born with powerful magic. Laufey had never wanted to believe the claims of a magical child simply because they were few and far between. Just because Nál was a powerful sorcerer himself did not mean that any of his children would inherit this. Magic was not necessarily hereditary and more often than not it was random. Laufey had not wanted to hope for something that may never happen.
Now that he knew the child was magical he knew that he needed the best sorcerers in the realm to teach his son how to control the magic within him. He would not send him away to the cold caves in the north where he could not keep an eye on the progress. He wanted to teach him how to bring the Asgardian prince to his knees if he should have the chance to and how to help the realm with his powers.
Heavy footsteps from behind him interrupted his train of thought and he turned his head to see the shapes of his two older sons entering the small room. He steeled himself for their reaction to the death of their mother and the news of their brother.
Helblindi was bruised and bloodied, looking a bit worse for wear, but not too injured. His middle child looked unharmed – Laufey knew that it was because he had been hidden away in the catacombs beneath the city – but he was openly crying, the tears turning to ice on his cheeks.
His eyes briefly glance back to Helblindi and realized that his oldest seemed to be saddened as well. His eyes were downcast and his hand seemed to be place gently on his younger siblings back as a comforting gesture.
Someone must have already told them the news of what had befallen their mother. He should have realized that news would travel fast to those who had not heard his announcement.
"Is it true?" asked Helblindi in a voice that was so laden with sadness, anger and tiredness that it was hard to believe that he was just an adolescent.
The king nodded slowly before he heard a strangled sob come from Býleistr. He quickly reached for his son and engulfed him in a tight hug. He was shaking badly and sobbing quite openly which only made the king tighten his arms around his poor child.
He saw out of the corner of his eye that Helblindi was standing over the crib, jaw clenching and hands curled into fists. He let go of the sniffling Býleistr and ushered him over to stand next to his oldest.
"He gave birth to the child before he perished."
His oldest turned around to face Laufey with angered eyes. "He died for this?" he yelled outraged, "It will be dead in a matter of months!" the child seemed to awaken at the sound of his brother's shouting and whined softly. Býleistr was quick to reach his hand into the crib and let the infant try to clumsily grab his fingers.
"Nál's last action on this world was to carve the royal symbols into his skin. He wanted this child to live, despite being obviously a runt. Do you wish to defy your mother's last wish by not believing that someone who inherited his magical powers could survive?"
Helblindi's anger seemed to lessen slightly at the mention of Nál and he was about to retaliate when he was interrupted by a cry of surprise from Býleistr. They both turned to see that the newborn was holding onto one of Býleistr's fingers and the skin on the older boy's hand was distinctively not blue anymore, it was as white as the new snow.
"Your mother, through and through" Laufey remarked sadly and looked to Helblindi, whose eyebrows were raised high. He took the opportunity of Helblindi being dazed to speak again. "I was going to have him killed after I found him, but the All-Father made me reconsider after we both saw him turn his skin pale like an Asgardian," the king admitted as he watched Býleistr's skin return to its normal colour. "Your mother did not want him dead either. She carved the royal symbols into him, something which Helblindi will remember that we don't do before the children are older."
Býleistr wiped icicles away from where tears had frozen on his cheeks and stared defiantly up at his brother. "He's our younger brother and the last thing we have left of Mother," he told Helblindi who looked away from his younger brother's expressive eyes. "I do not wish to lose both in the matter of a few days." He said, honesty coating his voice.
Laufey was well aware that Býleistr did not have the same information on the subject of the weaker born Jotuns and he did not wish to tell him that his newest brother may die before he even had a chance to reach the same age as his older brother.
Helblindi finally looked at his brother with tired eyes before he spoke. "You should have lt him die," He glared towards Laufey at the end and the king wanted to speak to his son alone about the matter, without Býleistr there to listen to them.
"Býleistr, would you fetch a healer for your brother?" the smaller boy seemed slightly confused at the request, but he hurried out of the room nonetheless, leaving Laufey and Helblindi alone.
The king drew in a deep breath and touched the side of the wall with his hand. A thick sheen of ice covered the entrance to the small room, blocking out most of the light too. He wanted to do this in peace, without anyone to eavesdrop, especially Býleistr.
Helblindi looked confused, but did not move at all. "Are you going to tell me that letting him live was a good idea?"
His oldest scoffed loudly. "You of all people should know what happens to runts, you've seen the distraught parents come running to you when their child starts to deteriorate."
Yes, Laufey did recall those moments. Once in a while some parents thought that their child would be able to grow up, despite being small and sickly, but they almost always changed their minds when their child was constantly deathly sick and not able to even eat or play.
"Loki has powerful magic," he told his son who seemed to only sigh at the statement. "He should not have survived on his own these last few days and yet he did. Healers can use their magic to heal others, but they can also use it to heal themselves."
Laufey stepped closer to Helblindi, looming over his son. "I think he will be a fighter and more equipped to survive than many of the others. Besides, the All-father has promised to help if the situation should become too dire for us to handle."
Helblindi scowled at the mention of Odin, but his expression softened after a few moments and he looked down at the icy ground and blinked a couple of times. "Býleistr was right; I don't want to lose Loki as well... I hope your assumptions are right."
"We will just have to have faith in your brother," he told his son. It was not much of a comfort, but he had never been good at comforting the children. He was a warrior, through and through. He did put a hand on his son's shoulder and squeezed it gently.
"Now run along and find your brother," he said and dispelled the ice that was blocking the exit. "I need to feed the little one before he starves." Helblindi nodded before he left slowly, leaving Laufey alone.
The king turned and went over to the crib. Loki seemed to be sleeping, despite all the noise they had been making earlier, his small chest rising and falling slowly. He ran a finger over the wounds on his son's brow, tracing Nál's handiwork.
"I truly hope that you survive, little one," he admitted softly, "You would be very valuable to me and the realm, and I do not wish to go against your mother's last wish."
A/n: Okay, I wanted to get the arranging of the marriage out of the way as soon as I could. I tried to show why Odin would suggest it and all that. Also, Nál is actually another name for Laufey (who was also a woman in mythology), but I decided to use that name instead of Fárbauti. I don't really know why, I just did.