To return from a battle won should be the most glorious feeling for a warrior. And the greater the battle, the more glory it meant for the one who had been victorious. In any case it was the sought for occasion to celebrate. But this time Thor didn't feel ready for any of that. Could it be honorable to have his own brother bound and gagged as prisoner? To take him back home like this, back into the sacred halls of Asgard? He avoided to even glance at Loki. The sight had seared into his very thoughts. His brother had looked so pathetic... it seemed to be true, once Loki's tongue of silver was shunned, there wasn't that much left of him. It was repulsing to bear the sight of such a tremendously weak god. The gates of Asgard should have remained shut seeing this weakness. least that was what Thor would have been supposed to think, this he knew, yet he simply couldn't feel this way. It struck him, that his thoughts about his brother were by far less noble because he felt pity. Anger, yes, and also disappointment but all of these were nothing compared with his pity. It was impossible for Loki to sink deeper because only when anger and hatred had faded could pity exist.

One could have received the impression that the gods of Asgard had waited for this day to come. When Thor and his captive entered the great hall, they were welcomed by elation for Thor and dispraise for Loki. And while the latter followed Thor as if he was non-existing, Thor lead the way with his head held high. Still his face showed no sign of pride when they came to his father, their father Odin, who rested upon his throne like a statue. A small nod from the allfather was enough to end all speech and once it was silent, his voice roared like thunder from all sides.

"Thor Odinsson, you have returned victorious. We all are proud of you, my son –" Loud cheerings followed, horns were held high just to be emptied a second later. Again a little sign from Odin was enough to bring silence once again.

"This celebration is for you, Thor Odinsson. As far as you are concerned, Loki Odinsson..." Here and there profanities against Loki could be heard, but this time Odin simply continued: "...for everything you have done, for all your evil and most wrong deeds you shall face a punishment befitting. However, we shall not stain this feast with this, thus you shall receive your sentence tomorrow. Until then you are neither to take off your seal, nor are you to leave our midst."

With this he turned back to Thor. "And now let us begin the celebration."

And the gods of Asgard needed no further invitation, in the end it was a celebration of Thor's victory.

Loki remained amongst them all as he had been told. It was obvious his punishment had already begun, subtle, but all the more cruel. The seal made it impossible for him to say a word or to even drink anything, so all he could do was staying near his brother, who showed no intend of letting him get away from him. Being forced to participate in the celebration of his downfall, and more so never leaving the side of the one who had caused it – yes, his punishment had begun. He couldn't bear hearing all the talks given on how great a warrior his brother was and none missed the chance to make sure to mention Loki for the worst. But Loki only listened, somewhat amused. He was called the trickster, the one who was incapable of sincerity, but it was the first time he could hear so many hostile remarks against himself he wondered wether he actually was the one who was the least sincere one. He had known his habit of pranking and causing trouble wasn't too welcomed in Asgard yet he had never felt this much hatred against him.

At first there were only small remarks, but given enough time and drinking, these remarks turned to more concrete speech. And not one voice was raised to his defense. Well he would have been surprised, had anybody wanted to say anything for his cause, but even his brother remained silent and let all those insults roam freely. Behind his muzzle Loki laughed silently. Of course Thor couldn't defend him the way he had always done. Not after he had caught and bound him and stripped him of all the honor he could have had. Not after he knew that no bound of blood existed between them – Thor could deny it all he wanted, but deep inside Loki knew Thor just couldn't. No one in Asgard could. This was why he had been captivated in the first place. 'Loki Odinsson' the allfather had called him, knowing how great a lie that was. He had never been a son of Odin, he wasn't even an Asgardian and thus there were no reasons for any of the gods to not speak freely what they thought about him. Not that he cared, though, he just sat there and listened.

The sun had risen high before the feast was over and only then Loki was allowed to leave. Or more exactly: Was brought to his chambers, which were sealed to prevent him from wandering around. It was a release for Loki to finally be back in the solitude of his rooms and after he had shed his clothes on the floor, he allowed himself to simply fall into bed. When his glance met his clothes, he noticed how dirty and rugged they looked and it pained him. Maybe he was just tired or worn out, he tried to calm himself.

Soon Odin would reveal his punishment and Loki would have lied again, had he told he wasn't afraid. His racing mind showed him countless possibilities of sentences. He would be cast out, this was sure, even more since he wasn't even asgardian – why keep someone bothersome if he didn't even share your blood? But where would his banishment lie? Back in Midgard maybe, stripped of all his powers, forced to live as an ant amongst ants. Would Odin be cruel enough to leave him his memories or would he have mercy enough for the one he untruly claimed his younger son? Would he be permitted to maintain his current form and be left for the human's revenge or would he be changed to lose sight of whom he was completely?

He sat up, his heart pounding hard in his chest when another, even more plausible location crossed his mind. Joutunheim. In the end he was Loki Laufeysson and therefor prince of the frostgiants. Actually king, he corrected himself mentally, since he had killed queen Laufey himself. As far as he knew Laufey had only had one son – him. He stared at his own hands, unbelieving, when he noticed the faint blue glint. He had killed his actual mother, the former queen and had tried to eradicate all of Joutunheim. Surely the frostgiants wouldn't take kindly to a king who had killed his predecessor, either. Especially not when this person would have wiped them all out as well, had he not been stopped. And surely they did know it was his doing... Joutunheim would be his certain death or at least it meant lifelong prosecution.

Gnawing his lower lip he fell back into the cushions. Maybe Odin wouldn't cast him out completely? There would be so many other possibilities and wouldn't the most cruel one be to allow him to remain in Asgard but stripping him of his powers? Without magic, what was he? Without thinking about it he grasped both sides of his muzzle with his hands and tried to pull it down but to no end. They couldn't make him go without food and drink for eternity, no.

He saw himself, blood running from his mouth, dripping down onto his lap, where his tongue was lying. They wouldn't, never. At least he hoped. Needle and twine he envisioned, shutting what was supposed to be open, preventing any speech from being made.

Deeply lost in is thoughts, Loki hadn't even noticed when he had fallen asleep, taking the images his mind had created for him into his dreams. All of his futures flashed before his inner eye, but none was kind. They kept him captivated, a prisoner locked in his dreams.

Unnoticed someone had entered his room, watching him in his sleep with soft, caring eyes. It was Odin's wife, Frigga, his mother.

"My dear son, Loki...," she whispered, "No matter what is to come for you, you should know, I will always be your loving mother."

She approached his bedside and stood there for some moments, smiling sadly at her younger son.

"Please forgive us, for we have wronged you. We never wanted to hurt you, never."

Her hand almost touched his face, but she withdrew it. There was no need to disrupt these moments of calm sleep. She left.

Little did she know, that Loki's sleep was far from being calm. His dreams consisted only of nightmares, both from real memories shattering in the light of what he now knew he was and the future he dreaded.