This was written by the most awesome Elle! =D My friends love me so, and I love them! *squee!*

A Switch in Time Saved the Nine Realms

In honor of the lovely Jenna, my dear friend who is a wonderful person. May this birthday bring you so much joy, as you have brought joy to others.

Chapter One -Lost in the Darkness

If I could reach you,

I'd guide you and teach you

To walk from the darkness

Back into the light.

I will find the answer.

I'll never desert you -

I promise you this -

Till the day that I die...—Jeykll and Hyde

Frigga knew pain and suffering. She knew what it was like to love children and see their innocent eyes light up with joy. She knew what it was like to see them grow up and walk paths she could not stomach.

Thor had grown up so arrogant and had been banished. Although he had returned, he found himself more drawn to the human world. His heart was now in Mitgard and she doubted if he would ever be of Asgard again.

As for her Loki, that was an ulcer of misery. He had become a monster of hatred and misery that brought shame to her and her beloved husband. He had been brought back in chains and was awaiting punishment.

She lay awake at night, consumed by regret. If only she would have done more to protect and nurture her family. If only she would have seen the coming storm and had been able to throw herself before it consumed her family. She had a thousand if onlys and none of them meant a whit because all of them had come to late.

As she wept over her broken family, all the doubts and mistakes, all the things she did and should have done swept before her and made her hate herself.

Odin would have to execute Loki for treason. And again, she would lose her son permanently again. She had cried over him until even the mighty oaks bent their heads in sorrow. She could not bear the thought of watching her baby boy die.

Her other son, Thor would be lost to Asgard. Seeing his brother executed would send him into another exile, to a world where he could escape the mistakes of the past.

Odin would be broken. She would never be able to look her husband in the eye again after seeing his hands stained with her son's blood.

The house of Odin was doomed unless she intervened and broke a terrible taboo. "Great fates, Urd, Verthandi and Skuld, I, Frigga, Queen of the Aesir, beg you to come," she whispered, still on her knees in solemn prayer.

A sweet light filled the room before she could even finish her words.

"Great lady honors us with her request

We gladly come at her royal behest

But we can only offer condolence great

Now we cannot alter your children's' fate," three sweet voices chimed in unison.

Frigga looked up at a sweet young girl, a beautiful woman and an elegant crone, all as golden and shining as the sun. "I am lost, great ladies. I beg you, give me some hope," she wept, her heart broken.

"Great lady, dry your eyes and do not plead

You cannot be blamed for the sins of your seed

They went their paths and paid the price

We cannot offer any other advice," the triad of women recited.

"You need to help me make them see sense, you need to allow me to reach the hearts of my husband and sons and make them see sense, make them understand that there is still hope," Frigga pleaded. "Surely, there is a spell that would allow me to fix my sins. I would give anything."

The three looked at each other and smiled sadly.

"If all were offered the chance to undo

Choices would be meaningless and untrue

We weep, we sigh, but we must be strong

Time's progress must be moved along," the ladies recited.

Frigga refused to admit defeat. "I will offer my own life," she pleaded. "I will go to every mother and have her join her pleas to mine. I will do anything. Search my soul and know that I will pay any price," she begged. "I will wager my own essence. If this chance fails…I will offer my own power and become mortal. Immortality is not worth the pain." It was all she had.

"My lady, you know you ask

For a nearly impossible task

As bad it is, could come more

Worse things might be in store," they recited and that endless bad rhyming was not helping the situation.

"So be it. I take this wyrd. If I cannot avert the lynch pin to this suffering, I deserve mortality. I have offered my price. Will you take it?" Frigga demanded.

There was a long pause, before they spoke again.

"For your goodness, lady great

One chance may save their fate

A tapestry can be slightly undone

A chance to fix a wayward son

But understand when twisting timely thread

We cannot guarantee where you'll be lead," the three voices whispered.

Freya closed her eyes and genuflected. "Thank you," she whispered.

"Thank you? My lady, who are you thanking?" a soft voice asked. One of her handmaidens, Sigyn was standing over her. "What are you doing?"

"I am just thinking, sweet girl. Has my husband summoned me?" she asked. She couldn't imagine seeing Loki's final judgment, but she had no choice if she wanted to appeal for mercy. She would fall on her knees and beg if need be.

"Of course. Dinner is about to begin, my lady," Sigyn said sweetly. "You don't want the food to get cold."

"Food?" Frigga whispered, completely baffled. Did Odin intend to serve a feast as the family was torn apart? Whoever's idea that was would be strung up in chains!

"Yes, for Prince Thor's coronation," Sigyn said, and Frigga knew the date. A pang in her heart made her eyes blur with tears. This was her one chance to fix everything.

"Praise the fates," she whispered, unable to rise from her knees. She could not believe it, she had her second chance.

"My lady, I've never seen you so emotional. Is it the Frost giants?" Sigyn asked, her pretty face creased with worry. "I was frightened as well."

"There is no reason to be frightened, girl. It was an attack by a few stranglers, we were in no danger," Odin said, striding in with fearsome authority. Sigyn immediately knelt, blond head bowed. "I only wish it had not spoiled Thor's day."

Frigga held out her hand to her lord husband. They had been together for two thousand human years and she still felt a flutter in his heart when she saw him. "I feel a darkness coming," she whispered. "You are so close to the Odinsleep."

"Thor is furious. Having a tantrum like a child, he seems to think he is king already," Odin said, taking her hand and pressing it to his heart. "I fear he is too bold. I do not have much time…"

"You fear it. We know it. Thor is not ready. We should talk to our sons, before they do anything foolish," Frigga said, motioning to her kneeling maidservant. "Go fetch them." If they never went to Jotunheim, the solution would be so simple.

Curtseying deeply, Sigyn ran off, her skirts flying as she shut the door behind her, leaving them privacy. Frigga smiled, Sigyn was madly in love with Loki and she did hope for a match between her and her younger son. Loki needed a good woman's love. "My queen, I have always trusted your intuition. What troubles you?"

"I have always spoken to you with frankness. As leaders, we have not done well for our children. We have spoiled them and allowed bad behavior to take root. Thor is headstrong and wild and lacks good judgment. He seems to be too easily led by his heart and his wish to look brave. At his worse, he is arrogant and thoughtless," Frigga assessed, staring into Odin's eye and hoping he agreed with her.

"You are too harsh on Thor," Odin mused sadly. "His burden is great and he is a true warrior. He is the idea Asgardian warrior." It was hard for him to hear criticism of his beloved elder son.

"My lord, his burden will be greater unless he develops self discipline. He is the favored ideal child and he knows it," Frigga said, trying to cushion her criticisms. "He can rage and storm and throw himself blindly into danger. That is the actions of an ideal warrior, but are they the actions of an ideal king?"

Odin sighed. "I know you are right. I saw him in the treasure room, and I saw his flaws. I just did not want to believe it," he said, threading his fingers through hers. "I have put my trust in Thor as my successor and perhaps I have given him too much trust. I must be firmer with him, make him rise to the occasion. The Odinsleep approaches, I must at least begin the process."

"And what of Loki?" Frigga asked. "He also requires your attention."

"Loki is mischievous but he is the second son. He is is a unique son and as soon as Thor is properly on his path, I will see to him," Odin assured her.

"We always deal with him after Thor and he knows he is the afterthought. Because of that, Loki is secretive and bitter and his mischievous schemes creep too close to malevolence. As one who is not ideal, his gifts are not nurtured and rot into wickedness."

Odin looked away. It was extremely hard for him to hear critique of the boys, he took it so personally. "Has he been disrespectful of you?" he asked. "He has his odd ways, but his heart is true."

Frigga sighed. "How long are we to make excuses, my lord? I love them as tenderly as you, but mere affection is not enough for them to be leaders."

"So what must be done?" Odin asked, as the door burst open. Sigyn was with a guard, and both were pale as they knelt. "What is the meaning of this?"

"My lady, my lord, Prince Loki wishes you to know that he and the Warriors Three and Lady Sif have followed Thor off to Jotunheim," the guard said, looking breathless. "I thought that Heimdell would have turned them back but they are gone."

How could they have left already? Frigga's heart sank, realizing that this would not be as simple as she imagined. Her sons could be dead by now, she had no idea how much time had passed.

Odin rose to his feet, crackling with power. "Saddle my horse, we leave immediately," he shouted, trembling with fury and exhaustion.

No, that could not be allowed to happen. "Allow me to go in your stead and enter the Odinsleep. You need your strength," she said. "Give me Gungnir and let me save them."

"My lady…" Odin said, looking confused. "This is no place for your kind heart."

Frigga had already thrown a spare cloak over her shoulders. "There is no kind motherly heart that cannot turn as hard as steel when her nest is threatened. I assure you I will not fail," she said, grabbing Gungnir. "If you don't fall into the Odinsleep, all is lost." Kissing her husband tenderly, she turned on her heel. "Summon the Valkyries."

"Farewell," Odin whispered, sounding so young and terrified at the moment as he surrendered to the sleep. "May the spirits be with you."

Chapter Two –Fragile

If blood will flow when flesh and steel are one

Drying in the colour of the evening sun

Tomorrow's rain will wash the stains away

But something in our minds will always stay

Perhaps this final act was meant

To clinch a lifetime's argument

That nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could

For all those born beneath an angry star

Lest we forget how fragile we are-Sting

Frigga hated traveling by Bifrost, but going to Jotenheim made it even worse. Even surrounded by her winged soldiers, she felt scared. She had no idea how long her boys were there, but their lives depended on speed.

In a cage of ice, Volkstagg was bleeding, barely conscious as Hogun and Sif tried to support him. Thor was half frozen in another ice prison, his hands iced to his sides preventing him from hammering his way out as he howled his rage. Loki…was not to be seen. "Mother, stay back, I shall protect you!" What a fool, she would have screamed insults if she wasn't so terrified. Around the ones she loved most were wild creatures of frozen waste, monstrous and hideous and thirsty for blood.

"Queen Frigga," Laufey said, his voice crackling with ice. She could not see where it came from. "Oath-breaker and wife of a tyrant. You are too late. They will die for their act of war against my people. Odin sends his wife to do his own work? Does he value his children so little?"

"Where is Prince Loki?" Frigga asked, glaring down at him from her high steed. "I will only ask once."

"He is with me in my castle. If you wish to say goodbye, come in alone. I grant you safe passage," the voice said mockingly. "My army has no need for further bloodshed just yet."

Brunhilda of the Valkyries shook her head. "We can attack," she reminded, her blood red eyes narrowed.

"No, Laufey keeps his word. Wait for me," Frigga said, dismounting from her horse and walking inside the icy path. This was the land her husband had laid to ruin and she knew she was hated here. Her breath caught in her chest as she tried to avoid shivering in the cold. Loki was in danger and she had to save him. She was his mother. She could not fail.

Emerging into the center hall of ice, she watched in horror as Laufey emerged to greet her. Right behind him, a bloody Loki was chained hand and foot. He turned his eyes to the floor, unwilling to allow her to see his terror. She felt her heart in her throat. "Release him," she commanded him, refusing to greet him.

"He invaded my realm. My army will kill the ones outside. But something about this one is special. He nearly got me. For his bravery, he will be given a special fate," Laufey said, bowing his head in greeting. ""But I will allow you to say goodbye to him and the ones outside. Even as war breaks out, I can be merciful…my lady."

Frigga debated using her spear to run him through, but doubted that would be sufficient to save her child. "These were the actions of a child. I assure you that they will be punished accordingly. There is no need to bring war for sheer stupidity. You know this will bring devastation to the corner. My husband will leave no one alive," she reminded. "Enough of this bravado. I will offer the necklace Brísingamen, whose worth is a thousand crowns. It will increase your power so you might heal your country," she offered, holding the blinding gold chain out.

"A generous offer. It is agreed," Laufey informed her smugly as he waved his hand. "You can take the rest, but I want this one as the price."

"Why?" Frigga asked, trying to keep calm even though she could feel her own temper rising and Gungnir 's power surging through her. "What possible reason could you have to lose the treasure and destroy a truce for one boy?"

"Perhaps I want to see him beg for mercy, and deny it to him when I throw him into the deepest dungeons and watch the hope fade from his eyes. Perhaps I will use him as my slave, enjoy having a Prince of Asgard serve me in chains," Laufey said, his frozen voice cracking with laughter. "Is that really your concern?"

Frigga was determined not to allow him to see her fear and anger. "You know you are inviting war with these words alone," she snapped, her chin high. "I am not leaving without my children. Both of them. What do you really wish?"

"I wish justice for what your family stole from me, for you to love and lose a child and mourn the crack in your heart that will never heal. Your husband killed my helpless innocent son. In his place, I want your foolish oath-breaking son who invaded my son. It is fair," Laufey explained. "I want your heir to know what hostage I keep."

Loki was forced to his knees, his eyes at the floor. He was frightened and he wanted to spare her his terror. "Kill me if you wish," he whispered, his voice shaking. "Asgard will survive my loss."

Frigga watched wide-eyed as Laufey slapped Loki. "Silence!" he commanded, and the worst happened. As Loki's head snapped back, his skin turned an icy shade of blue…his true color. Frigga tried to keep her gaze steady as her son tried to recover. "The lost prince…you did not kill my son…" he accused. "This is…"

Loki looked around, bewildered at why everyone was staring at him. As he stared into the icy floors, he caught a glimpse of his bruised blue face. "What?" he whispered.

Laufey chuckled harshly. "This makes everything different." he asked. "Now I must keep him, of course. Justice is on my side." Loki was still looking miserable, his skin having returned to its proper unnatural color of pale.

Frigga knew he was right, but she had no intention of allowing right to conquer might. "Enough. If you do not allow us to go free and keep the truce, I have given Heimdell orders to unleash the full fury of the Bifrost. Asgard has its king. We will gladly die for our country," she explained. She would be dying soon anyway.

Laufey stared at her for a long moment. "A life for a life?" he asked. "Perhaps it would have been better to let everything die." Then to be raised an enemy. "I suffered for a millennia. You robbed me of my hope. I demand satisfaction."

"And the satisfaction you take is that you will be the last of Jotunheim and Asgard will continue on. Let the rewards suffice," Frigga reminded him. "Let it end now…for his sake. Haven't you tortured him enough?"

Laufey stared at Loki hungrily and Frigga recognized that pain. "Take him. Take him from my sight," he shouted. "And never darken my realm again." Yes, he did love his son and he had lost him in a way worse than his death. The baby he loved had become the face of the enemy. She wished she could apologize but knew it would be salt in his wounds. "He knows. He will come back himself." There was a note of triumph now. "He will never be yours now."

Loki was released by the two guards, and stumbled to his feet. Frigga ran to him and took his hand, pulling him away. "Are you all right?" she whispered as she dragged him outside. Her son stared at her, dazed and shook his head. He still had not processed the information and it was continuing to hit his psyche again and again. "We will discuss it, in Asgard."

Thor and his friends were waiting outside, having been freed and were on the backs of Valkyrie steeds. Seeing Loki so weakened, Thor gripped Mjolner tightly. "What have they done to him?" he roared.

Frigga shook her head. "We leave. Now. "

The Valkyries had done their duty, Heimdell had done his and all five reprobates were home safe. Now, Frigga's duty was to keep her queenly dignity and avoid strangling them.

"Guards, conduct Volkstagg and Hogun to the Healing Room, immediately. What were you all thinking, going to Jotunheim like fools," Frigga demanded. "Thank the spirits Loki alerted me or you'd all be dead!"

Thor rounded on Loki, who was cowering in a corner. "You betrayed me?" he shouted, grabbing his younger brother's shirt and lifting him off the floor. "You informed on us!" he accused, slamming him into the wall of the observatory.

Loki dangled helplessly, closing his eyes. "Brother…" he pleaded. Thor would never consciously hurt his younger brother, but he often forgot his own strength and in this match, Loki still could not best his brother by trickery. "Please."

"Put him down. Your brother was the only one intelligent enough to get help. Otherwise, Asgard would have been plunged into war," Frigga commanded. "While he should have been wise enough to convince you not to go, he at least showed some sense."

"I do not require his sense, I require his obedience to his future king," Thor roared, shaking Loki. "He is not the heir to the throne, I am!"

"Do you think yourself above your brother?" Frigga intoned gravely. "Do you forget that he is as well beloved and dear to our hearts as yourself? Put him down or so help me, my son, I shall make you."

Thor dropped his brother, who landed in a painful heap. The darkness in Loki's face revealed that the terrible knowledge had already been passed. She had hoped to avoid it, but there were some things even time could not undo. "He should know his place," Thor growled.

"And you should know yours. You are both confined to your quarters. Your actions today have greatly displeased your queen and you will answer for them," Frigga said witheringly. "Help him up, Thor."

Thor reached down and helped his brother to his feet. Loki was looking even paler. "I did not require such pity," he mumbled, ashamed of being helped up.

Thor rolled his eyes. "Had you not run to Mother's skirts like a child, we would still be knee deep in battle like men," he muttered back.

Frigga was a queen and a mother. Had she been merely a queen, she would have punished their insolence with a dungeon term. Had she been just a mother, she would have taken sons by the ear and dragged them to corners. She would have to blend an approach. "Enough," she said icily, her voice ringing with authority. "You were defeated and you narrowly escaped. My sons, I advise you not to test my patience. Fanderal, conduct the princes to their rooms and instruct the guards to see that they stay there. Lady Sif, you will accompany me back to my chambers and explain what happened. I trust your report."

"Yes, my queen. Come on, lads," Fanderal said softly, an arm around each prince. He was a soothing presence to both boys and would be the most likely to get them there with the least amount of tantrums.

Sif bowed deeply. "As my queen commands," she said, her eyes lingering sadly over Thor and Loki, the elder still seething and the younger trembling as they walked away. "I am sorry, my queen. My life is forfeit for disobeying, and yet you saved me. I am humbled and unworthy."

"Enough. You followed your princes and I forgive. But I need to know everything that happened."

Chapter Three –It's Not Easy to be Me

It may sound absurd...but don't be naïve

Even heroes have the right to bleed

I may be disturbed...but won't you concede

Even heroes have the right to dream

It's not easy to be me-REM

Frigga walked into her son's room, steeling herself. After Sif's report, she had checked in with her husband and watched him glow in his magic. She needed him so much, and yet this was her mission and her mission alone.

Now she had to perform it. "You have shamed your family, our son. You owe a duty to your kingdom, your family and abused your power against those who serve you," Frigga intoned, coming in. Thor was sitting on his favorite rug, drinking mead and smashing nuts. "Your authority is for the good of the kingdom, not your own personal amusement. Explain yourself."

Thor looked up, and bowed his head in greeting. "I did it for the good of Asgard. Mother, you do not understand the demands of the warrior. We cannot make pleas for peace like women, we must be strong warriors who make them choke down peace with their own blood."

"You may have been born a warrior, but you were also born to the throne. Yes, you will wear the crown but that is only a sign of your increased responsibility, your increased level of scrutiny. As king, you are first servant to your people," Frigga continued. "You have failed in that duty. "

"Failed? Mother, the nine realms laugh at my weakness. The future king being saved by his mother. All these speeches, all this policy, the only true answer is to smash skulls until they fear us," Thor snapped, rising to his feet. "That is the duty of a king."

"Ahhh, you wish to discuss this as a king. I say you should be punished like the arrogant little boy your behavior has shown you to be," Frigga said sternly.

"Punish me, Mother?" Thor looked torn between confusion and amusement. "Surely, you jest."

"No, I merely inform you of my judgment. So tell me, my son, what would be your judgment had Loki recklessly risked his life?" Frigga asked placidly. "Had you brought him back injured and seconds from losing his life after you expressly ordered him to remain?"

"The moment he was restored to health, I'd thrash him within an inch of his life," Thor said, his face creased with worry. "I would see to it that he learned his lesson."

"And what lesson would that be?" Frigga said, smiling affectionately at her son. Sometimes, being the one female in a family of emotion ruled men was an asset.

"That he cannot go off risking his life, that he needs to think before he acts," Thor said before paling as his own words finally reached his ears. "But Loki is weaker and needs protection. It is my duty to protect him. I would punish him for doing what he cannot. "

Frigga nodded. "I know, my son. Yet today, he was the one who saved your life and you owe him gratitude. Sif told me what you said when Loki tried to intervene. You told him to remember his place," Frigga said, her tone getting harsher. "Advising you is his place. Loki's faults are great but his intelligent is a tremendous asset and your foolishness to overlook it speaks poorly of you."

"I am the king. A king commands," Thor mumbled angrily. "He was trying to make speeches, to take the coward's route out. He should follow the example of his betters. Better to die gloriously in battle than slink back shamefully alive. I was trying to teach him a lesson."

"And tell me, my king, what would you have done had they kept your brother as they threatened to do today? Put him in chains, tossed him into a dark dungeon and demanded a humiliating ransom for his freedom?" Frigga asked. "Would you trade the casket for your brother?"

Thor's eyes widened. "It would never come to that," he whispered, but the fear was genuine. "Loki is a master of magic, he'd escape. I would free him myself in battle." He could never handle his brother suffering. It was Thor's greatest strength and weakness, an unspoken devotion to his younger brother.

"Everything has a cage strong enough to hold them. Had they gotten Loki, they would have beaten him down and broken him, until he begged for mercy and then they would laugh. Rescue would be impossible; they would hide him well away, even though he would never be far from your thoughts. Would you pay the price to save him or walk away, so he would suffer in silence for the good of the kingdom?" Frigga asked.

Thor shook his head. "Either…choice…it is an impossible choice," he said, his voice tightening with worry. Images of Loki suffering played through his mind and across his face, and Frigga resisted the urge to comfort him. A lesson had to be learned

"And remember, the same could have happened to you and your father and I would have to decide whether to leave you to languish in dungeons and lose their heir to the throne, or pay a humiliating price," Frigga reminded, wishing that she had taught these lessons at a younger age. "How long do you think you would last in captivity?" She saw that familiar arrogant smirk begin to bloom and quickly nipped it in the bud. "Spare me the bravado, torture will break anyone."

"Loki would know what to do," Thor said grudgingly. "He always does." That perfect trust was heartwarming when it wasn't completely ignored.

"The one who should be silent and know his place should save the day if you allow it?" Frigga asked wryly. "Knowing Loki, he would foolishly go in and try to save you, and likely join you in prison if he did not lose his life. His plan would be more cunning and would have a chance of working, but would it be right to risk the only other living heir to the throne? His duty would be to allow you to remain there. Is losing one heir worth possibly losing both?"

Thor growled and slammed his hand on a table. "I should know the answers. I should know how to do this. I am destined to be king," he growled.

"You are. And your people's lives are in your hand. They will follow you anywhere but is it right to throw them into Death's Jaws?" she asked. "Retreating is not always the coward's route. "

Thor nodded, staring off into space. "I did not consider that. I…would never forgive myself had I lost him or our friends," he whispered as it all sunk in. "Or if I would have hurt our family."

"Do you understand the extent of what you did? How narrowly things could have turned tragic?" Frigga asked. Thor may have been a hothead but breaking through his thick head was the only gate to the kind heart she knew and loved.

Thor openly trembled. "Forgive me, Mother," he whispered, his head bowed. "I humbly beg your pardon."

"It is clear that your act was not one of treason against our throne, but merely childish foolishness. Therefore, it is our judgment you be treated as one," Frigga said, as a servant approached. "Your father had the dwarves prepare this, well worthy of a prince when you were younger." On the silken pillow was what looked like a butter paddle, but large and much more intimidating. "I forbade its use. I see now what a mistake that was."

Thor colored, realizing the inglorious position he was about to assume. "Mother, you cannot be serious. I am not a child," he said, looking slightly amused.

"You behaved like a child, why should you be spared the same punishment?" Frigga asked wryly. "I promised you would be punished properly. I could exile you but what lesson would that reinforce?" Exile was about rejection. This punishment would be about consequences. "You know you merit this. Please, make this simple."

Thor immediately went to his mother's side and bent over. "I…will be strong," he informed her, his voice shaking with barely suppressed amusement. "I have been conditioned to pain."

"That's my brave boy," she said, positioning him to kneel over his bed. She admitted, she wasn't looking forward to Thor's punishment either, but she had to be fair. With a gentle tug, she bared his son's bottom. "Take your punishment like a true prince."

As she had guessed, the bravery only lasted till the first hard whack of the paddle sizzled across his backside. Thor let out a decided whimper. He was such an earnest boy; she had to smile at his bravery in the face of such adversity.

Apparently, she had neglected to mention that the paddle had been enchanted to hurt a good deal. A secondary spell kept him in position, unable to move and only endure.

Frigga breathed a bit heavily as she put her strength into the next whack. Thor was one of the strongest beings in the nine realms, and she intended to insure that she broke through and rewarded his bad behavior appropriately. "You are king. That makes you first servant to your people. You are foolish to underestimate your brother's value. You may have the title of crown prince, but he is your most valuable asset and your closest friend." She punctuated each word with a hard slap.

Thor was biting his lip. He was too proud to beg, and Frigga had no intention of stopping until she broke through that pride. "Do you know what I went through today? I had to watch my sons nearly die," she scolded angrily, slapping the paddle down with a proper amount of force. "All so you could go off and play warrior!"

"Mother…please," Thor hissed. "This punishment is shameful!' She could hear the pain in his voice and she knew he was beginning to weaken.

"Your behavior was far more shameful. You act like a spoiled child half the time, throwing tables over, terrorizing the servants, dragging your brother and friends into danger. You are just getting what you deserve," Frigga said, her paddle doing more of the conversation.

"Please, no more," Thor said, his bottom now a very admirable shade of scarlet, considering it was her first time. Her poor son may have had the bulk to tower over her, but under the spell, he could barely even move. He had to just lie there and take his medicine, something, which hurt his dignity, more. "I have learned my lesson."

"Of course there has to be more. You have earned this a hundred times. Need I list all your transgressions? It might make me angrier," Frigga said calmly. Thor may have been conditioned to pain, but this wasn't a pain he had been prepared for.

Thor shuddered and let out a low gasp of pain, but was resorting to biting his lip. "You are free to cry out your pain, my son. No one will think you weak," she urged him, with both word and paddle. "I surely won't."

Thor refused to agree, taking the punishment with as much stoicism even as the heat continued to build with each crisp smack. He truly was her strong son and she was proud of him. She put more and more force into each slap but Thor only hissed with pain and refused to cry. He truly was strong.

Of course, she couldn't allow him to be stronger than her. "I think we've had enough of that. For your little tantrum against Loki, I have a special punishment for you," she said, removing a thick leather strap from her pocket. "Something to give you a reminder of how to treat your subjects."

Thor shuddered at that. "Mother, I humbly apologize. I assure you, I will never repeat this behavior," he pleaded, his voice thick with unshed tears.

Frigga sighed. "This was not the punishment I named but you. You yourself said if Loki had done it, you'd have thrashed him well. So how can you pronounce judgment on others if you hold yourself above the law?" she asked. "Either submit or be a cowardly king."

Thor moaned miserably. "I submit," he finally whimpered, now the broken hearted naughty boy instead of the arrogant prince.

Frigga raised the strap and slapped it down. Thor arched his back and let out a hard gasp. "How many?" he pleaded.

"That is based on your repentance," Frigga said, slamming down the next slap. "I am waiting to hear sounds of contrition." More out of mercy for her son, she slapped the third strike across the welts.

As she predicted, Thor howled loud enough to send earthquakes through Jotunheim. "Mercy," he pleaded, his voice edging on sobs.

"All right, two more and I will consider the debt paid," Frigga said, wanting it clear that saying mercy would not be enough. Two more howls of agony thundered through the room. "There, it is done. You showed real bravery and I am very proud," she whispered, pulling up his trousers. "It is over."

"It hurts," Thor sniffled miserably. "It hurts like the fires of the dwarf forge!"

"I did not enjoy it either, my son. That is what it means to rule, to do what is painful because it is right. You may have to send loved ones out to war and death, but it should weigh heavily on your heart. You may have to assert your rank over those you care about, but you must do it lightly," Frigga said, stroking Thor's long hair. "Do you understand?"

Thor was still miserably trying to rub the soreness out of his bottom. "I…think I do," he whispered, more consumed with the pain. "I shall not forget the lesson soon."

"Excellent. I have no urge to repeat it. Still, I fear that between you and your brother, I shall have to," Frigga reminded, helping Thor to his feet.

"Have you…seen my brother?" Thor asked, wiping away some tears with a meaty first. "I…fear I have hurt him deeply. May I go to him?"

Frigga sighed and shook her head. It only confirmed her worst fears. She had been granted a second chance, but they had not made it an easy one. "I believe that will have to wait. I will go to him after I am done with you. After that, you may speak to him. "

"Do you intend on…. disciplining him as well?" Thor asked worriedly, still rubbing his bottom.

Frigga pondered this line of questioning. "I have not decided on his punishment," she mused. "Why do you ask?"

"Loki should be granted clemency. I will take whatever punishment you feel he deserves. It is my duty as his older brother and future king," Thor said, although the terror in his eyes was rather amusing.

Frigga bit back a soft laugh. "Are you so eager for a second encounter, my son?" she asked, folding her arms thoughtfully, taking her paddle from the table and holding it in her hand thoughtfully.

She tried not to take satisfaction at her powerful son looking quite worried at its' sight. "Never. But…I cannot stomach Loki enduring it either. He is just so…" Thor trailed off, searching for the right word.

"Weak? Fragile? Helpless?" Frigga asked, torn between pride in her son's devotion and impatience at his blindness.

"Of course. He is so spare and slight, how could I not seek to protect him?" Thor asked, his hands rubbing his backside painfully. "I know what you will say, I knocked him about today, but I would never actually hurt him."

"Firstly, you were slamming him into a wall and threatening further violence," Frigga reminded. "You may have no intent to hurt him, but you came very close."

"Granted," Thor said, rubbing his backside. "I still do not want him hurt by any hands, and I thank you for sparing him from my own. I must remember my own strength and his."

Frigga rolled her eyes. "He is far stronger than you think. You might be one of the most powerful beings in sheer brute force, but I would not take your brother's power lightly. His power is truly immense, and very soon he will be the most powerful sorcerer in the Nine Realms. If he would let loose his magic against you with a wish to cause harm, it would fare poorly for you,"

Thor looked shocked at that. "Loki is truly that powerful?" he asked, a bit shaken by that information. "As children, I could pin him and make him beg for mercy."

"In sheer physical prowess, Loki may not be your equal but he is not to be underestimated. He has the strength to defend himself and his magical potential is terrifying. He devours knowledge and his magical talent is frightening as it grows. In a few short years, he would be a threat to any foe."

"Including me?" Thor whispered. Having spent his entire life seeing Loki as his little brother, it was frightening for him to contemplate having a true rival. "But he would never raise his hand against me."

"Including yourself and the All-Father. Your brother may be intelligent but he lacks wisdom and forethought and his jests might spell danger should he take them too far. He feels unvalued and he uses his talents for mischief. Imagine what he could do with malice? He might raise his hand if he feels it's his only choice," Thor mumbled, looking far more pained at the thought of betrayal that at his punishment.

"That is impossible. I would trust Loki with a sword at my neck," Thor said and for a moment, the original time stream appeared in Frigga's mind, son try to destroy son. In the first time line, Loki had tried to run his brother through and had stabbed him in the back and Thor had spared him few blows. The timeline had to change.

"You do not mean to dismiss him but you do. When you throw his words to the side, when you call him weak and tell him to stand behind you, you show contempt for him. Pity can be taken as another form of scorn," she explained. "Imagine how you would feel if you were shown such pity."

"He is my brother. If I have hurt him…I would do anything to make it right. Tell me what to do," Thor said, as always being direct. "I cannot lose him. He saved my life today and saved the kingdom. I owe him more than I can ever repay."

"He will need that devotion now more than ever. There is pain in him, something that makes him restless. He needs to know you value him. Do not ask me how I know, but I do know that Loki has suffered a terrible blow in Jotunheim and it may tempt him to darkness," Frigga said softly. "I will go to him and speak to him, and attempt to bring him back but you must help me as well. He will need your love."

"He has it. He has anything he requires of me to recover," Thor said and Frigga's eyes teared up with pride. "I am at your command."

"You remain confined to your room. I will deal with your brother. I plan to be gentle," she promised. Loki had been punished enough and she only wanted to comfort him.

Chapter Four-Breathe

I played the fool today

I just dream of vanishing into the crowd

Longing for home again

Home, is a feeling I buried in you

I'm alright, I'm alright

It only hurts when I breathe-Melissa Ethridge

Moving across the hall, she entered Loki's chambers and steeled herself for what would be a painful conversation. Jumpy servants were scrubbing the marble stone floor of the luxurious chambers, which spoke of their master's mood.

Brushing past their kneeling forms, she went to her son's sleeping room. In the corner, Loki lay in bed, turned to the wall. "My son, I thought we should talk," Frigga said gently. "I heard your heart is troubled."

Loki said nothing, just kept his back towards her. She hated when he got into those sulky dark moods, he almost seemed insane in them. "Loki, please speak to me. You know we could always speak freely. "

Still, Loki did not move. He could be so stubborn. Three stubborn men in one family, how could the Fates be so generous? "This is the last way I wanted you to hear about your birth. I knew this conversation would come someday but I had hoped it would not happen in such a cruel manner. I know you must have many questions and I will answer them all," she said, sitting down at his bedside and putting out her hand to lay it on his shoulder.

Her eyes near flashed fire as she realized it was an illusion. She had warned her son to never illusion himself if she wished to see him. "Send out the guards. Prince Loki is missing," she snapped to an attendant waiting outside. She had a chance, she would not waste it. If Loki got away, she had no idea how she would ever fix the time tapestry. Still, the bed was still warm, he had not left very long.

She knew Loki wouldn't dare return to the Bifrost. Heimdell would likely box her son's ears and send him back with a strong warning to never disobey again. But Loki was a master of magic and he might use other means.

First, he would have to get away from the palace and there was only one place he could go.

She had barely arrived in time. Out alone in the horse run, Loki was trying to board a winged foal. Frigga grabbed his ear. "And where do you think you go?" When Loki yelped appropriately, she knew it was him. "I ordered you confined."

"I'm going to find answers," Loki hissed, trying to escape her steely grip. "The Casket wasn't the only thing Father took from Jotunheim that day, was it?"

She knew this moment would come, but it still haunted her. "While in battle, your father found a baby. A small but beautiful baby, so heart melting and handsome. He knew you were destined to be our child," she said soothingly.

"But I'm a frost giant, aren't I?" Loki whispered, shaking. "I always suspected….I always thought…" he broke off. "Knee deep in blood and Father took me. Why?" He looked away, so miserable that her heart broke and she let go of his ear. "Why did he spare me? Just to humiliate his enemies a bit more."

"Please, my son. Calm yourself, I will answer all your questions," Frigga said, motioning him to follow her. "Come home and all will be explained. You are my son and nothing can change that."

"I am no more than a hostage, locked up here until Father might have use of me. A little pet to amuse his queen and be a dark foil for his own true heir. Spare me platitudes about being your son," Loki shouted, slamming his hand into the fence post. "You could have told me what I was from the beginning! Why didn't you?"

Frigga put her hand on his shoulder. "I wanted to tell you, but your father wanted you to be protected from the truth," she said tenderly, casting a spell of quiet around them. "Looking at your reaction, can you blame him?"

"Of course, because who wants to tell their son that they are the monster of children's nightmares?" Loki raged. "You know, it all makes sense now, why Father favored Thor all these years, because no matter how much you both claim to love me, neither of you could never have a Frost Giant peasant sitting on the throne of Asgard!"

Frigga knew that Loki's emotions had exploded and he would not see sense. "You have every reason to be angry, my son. All your words are twisted by pain, but the accusation is true. Please, see reason and allow me the chance to explain without your self pity and bitterness clouding the truth," she pleaded.

"That chance has gone. I am leaving Asgard and I will not return," Loki snapped. For all he was a grown man, he was acting like a toddler denied a sweet.

"You will not find the answers you seek out there," Frigga said, torn between misery and amusement. "When your father awakes, the four of us will talk. You are wounded, but you are also acting foolishly."

The look in Loki's eye revealed his plan immediately, and she braced himself for biting words. "I'm going back to my real mother," he said haughtily. "I no longer wish to be here. You are nothing to me. You will not have my love, ever again. Now get away from me and go back to your own family."

Despite being prepared, it still hurt. "How dare you speak to me in such insolence? Do not tempt me to have your real father, Odin decide your punishment," Frigga snapped, ignoring the barb. He knew now and it was to be expected. "At this moment, I still only wish to talk."

"I am not your prisoner anymore! I don't have to stomach your lies. I am stolen from my true parents who might have loved me and treasured me as you never did! Now I know why all prefer Thor, because he is a true Asgardian .I am but…." Loki choked on the words. The agony on his face twisted the bitterness into pathetic desperation. "You know what I am. This is not my home!"

Frigga sighed. "You are my son," she pleaded. "I know your heart is broken, but calm down. All is well, or will be soon. You must calm down."

"Calm down? Madam, I am no subject of yours and I will not obey," Loki said, as always taking that step too far. "I denounce your tyranny. I curse you, Queen Frigga, I curse you with the sorrow you inflicted on me!"

Frigga was rare to lose composure but her sons and husbands had a glorious talent for raising her temper to new heights. "You disobey your lady mother, the Queen with impunity. You talk to her with rank insolence and respond to her pleading with arrogance. I see kindness will not bring you to sense. You will immediately return to your rooms and consider your actions. I will await your sincere and humble apology," she commanded.

"Then you will wait for eternity. I will not go back," Loki demanded. "Admit your true feelings, and exile me as the enemy I am.."

"You do not command me, my son. If you do not go on your own, I will have the guards bind and drag you like a common thief," Frigga said, refusing to lose control.

Loki grinned savagely. "I would welcome their attempts," he hissed, almost gleeful at the chance to make more mischief.

Frigga grabbed Loki by his tunic with both hands and forced him to look at her. "Do not dare think to use your magic to thwart my will, my son. If need be, I will have Heimdell and Thor themselves swear to bring you back and there is nowhere in the nine realms that can hide from their combined power." That made her raging son quell a bit. "If I must resort to that, I can promise you that you will regret it for a very long time and the entire court will see your humiliation at being hauled back on a leash like a runaway puppy," she commanded, every inch the Queen before releasing him. "The choice is yours, my son."

Loki sputtered angrily, but even he knew she meant every word. Turning on his heel, he moved to stomp off. "Straight back, my son. If you diverge, Heimdell will know and tell me."

"Damn you, woman," Loki roared. Any other Asgardian would have been trembled in fear to utter such words in royal presence, let alone to the Queen herself.

Frigga's patience snapped. Reaching up, she grabbed her son by the collar. "You will regret that," she whispered as she marched off, dragging him behind her.

Loki was too shocked to protest, Frigga had always been the gentle one. Odin had lost his temper and had regrettably terrified the boys. She was always the gentle one who had soothed frazzled tempers.

Now she was a force of fury as she dragged Loki along like a puppy. "You will never use such foul language with me, my son. You will never use such language in my presence," she snapped as Loki lurched behind her, nearly bent over at the waist from her firm grip. "Keep your hands where I can see them or I'll have the guards help me."

"Stop," Loki pleaded, trying to struggle but Frigga's grip was strong enough to withstand it. "You shame me."

"Be silent, my son. If I even suspect trickery, I will turn you into a song bird, clip your feathers and keep you caged in my sewing room to sing your apologies," Frigga snapped, cowing her son into shock.

Every servant and courtier bowed and averted their eyes as the Queen of the realm passed in high fury, her errant youngest nearly flying behind him. She supposed no one was shocked that the mischievous prince had finally pushed his mother to her limits. A few openly grinned as she passed.

Thor was standing in the doorway of his quarters and looked completely wide-eyed as Frigga marched past, a shocked Loki stumbling behind. "Brother, what madness have you done?" he muttered.

Frigga ignored her son. "Back in your room, you're still confined," she reminded him shortly. "Unless you wish to join him."

Thor retreated back into his room, slamming the door in his haste. Apparently, one boy of hers had learned his lesson. Now it was time for the second one. Somehow, she knew getting through to Loki would be harder.

Pulling him past Thor's door, she walked back into Loki's luxurious quarters, taking note that it was as well appointed as any other royal chamber. As befitted a prince of Asgard, no expense had been spared. She had taken pride in helping her son decorate it with hundreds of scrolls and paintings from all over the nine realms. This was his home. She had given him a good home. She had given him love. This was her son.

Releasing her prisoner into a chair, she stood over him. "Have you reconsidered your words?" Frigga asked. She was sure what she had to do, but still hoped Loki could be spared punishment on such a hard day.

"No," Loki said laconically, staring at the tiled ground beneath his feet. "Your abuse of me only hardened my resolve."

"I was far more lenient on you than you deserve. How dare you speak to your mother and queen in such a manner?" Frigga demanded, standing over him. "You are fortunate your father did not witness such behavior or you would have found yourself in dire straights." Odin had once lost his temper with his young sons and had left them in the woods overnight. Both boys had been so terrified that they had slept in the same bed as her for a week. As angry as she was with Loki, she did not want her husband choosing his punishment.

"My real father? Who are you referring to?" Loki asked airily. "To the one who gave me life or the one who stole me to put on the throne when it suited him. The one who would have raised a Jotun king who hated his own kind, a king who would bend the knee to Asgard and be his puppet? To the one who lied to me." Every word was a knife in her heart.

"You rightly claim the bad, but you ignore the good," Frigga explained, reaching out a hand to him. " We did intend to put you on the throne, but we abandoned that long ago. You have a right to be angry, but talk to me as your mother, as the one who loves you and wants to make matters right, and restore family harmony."

"Matters will never be right. I hate you. You are not my mother, nor will you ever be my family," Loki spat, folding his arms. "I will never love you, and I demand you return me to my true parents."

"And who are you to make demands?" Frigga asked softly, sitting down on the bed. "I think you have forgotten your place."

"My place? Kneeling at your feet like a good little pet, begging for scraps of attention?" Loki snapped, rolling his eyes as he rose and exaggerated an insulting bow. "Thank you, good mistress for your kindness in allowing me to pretend to be a part of your royal family, as long as I did not forget my place beneath you. Bless you for your charity, my most royal owner and kidnapper."

Frigga loved her son. She loved him with a fierce and undying affection. That did not take away from her satisfaction she would take in seeing him humbled. "If you will act like a child, so be it, I shall turn you over my knee and treat you like one."

Loki's eyes widened at that. "Be serious," he said, and his voice had gone slightly higher.

"I have never been more serious. Your father and I never allowed you and your brother to face the strap, because we wished to spare you. Perhaps it's time to remedy that. Come."

"No!" Loki said, paling. "I will not allow your barbarity anymore. I am not your son and I will not have you shame me. I'll…I'll duel you."

Frigga had been too well bred to snort, but she managed to have a sniff of amusement. "Duel me? In my own palace? Shall I have Thor serve as my champion? Heimdell?" she said. Loki could defeat the Warriors Three and Lady Sif but her eldest son could still pin Loki easily enough. "Must you get a drubbing before your well deserved punishment? Loki, sometimes I think you are not punished for your insolence but by it."

Loki's hands were moving at his sides, his threats of dueling a distraction for him to lash out magically. "I warn you to keep your distance," he hissed, his hands moving faster. Loki was radiating his pained face to her, making her feel pity and want to give in to his demands. As princes, both boys had been richly indulged and all had feared their tantrums. She saw now how spoiled both her children were. They threw fits and they got whatever they desired by bullying others around them. The servants had told of Thor upending a table in fury. Loki apparently had learned well but he was no danger to her.

Frigga fixed him with her steeliest look. "Will you hurt me, my son? The mother who loves you, who cared for you all these years. Will you strike me down?" she asked, her hands moving behind her back.

Loki was starting to sweat. "I will do what I need to survive," he mumbled, his hands still moving quickly.

"I refuse to believe the son I love would hurt me." She had perfect trust that he would stand down. "If you would kill me, do it now. Right in my heart."

Loki bit his lip as his hands froze. As she predicted, he still loved her. His heart still had much good in it. "I do not wish to hurt you," he admitted grudgingly. "I still cannot remain here. Allow me leave into exile and forget me."

That moment of broken concentration was all that was needed. Frigga had finished her own spell, a binding spell, to make him weak enough for her to punish easily. "What have you done?" he hissed as he fell to his knees with a groan at the shock of power. He would have no more power than a child now, his strength and magic bound.

Frigga was just glad that this would be finished soon. She needed to make it right. "Come, Loki, your magic is great but there are forces above yours to keep you in check. That is a spell only I could cast on you, for it is born of love and a wish not to hurt you," she said in a kind tone.

"There can be no love in servitude," Loki hissed, forcing himself weakly to his feet. "I am not your son and I will not take part in your little game of filial piety by submitting myself to humiliation."

"By now, you should have stopped enjoying the testing of my patience," she said. "Now, come quietly lest I decide to spank you before the entire court. Running away like that, you are fortunate I am in a merciful mood."

"You shame me," Loki hissed angrily, not moving from his spot. "You have no limits to your hatred of your fosterling."

"My head is weary of your self pity. Your behavior shames you, my son. Now come to me. If I must get you, I will use my hair brush," Frigga said placidly. "Remember my words. There is no place you can hide."

Loki looked torn, but his feet seemed to have a better sense of preservation than the rest of him because he shuffled over to her side. "You lied to me, all those years," he accused, looking at her boldly in the eyes so he could punish her with his misery.

Frigga bit her lip. She couldn't allow her authority to remain unchallenged. "I know I have made mistakes, and we will deal with that after your behavior is corrected," she said, pulling him easily onto her lap. Although taller than her, her spell had made him light as a feather and as weak as a kitten.

"True humility requires this," she said as she smiled down at her younger son. For all her younger son's tall reedy build, his bottom was still a white childish plump that looked more than able to take a proper spanking. She eyed her target and steeled herself to insure it wouldn't be pale for long.

She had always babied Loki and she decided not to use the paddle on him…this time. Knowing her younger son, he would graduate to it in short time. After his broken heart, he needed a more intimate approach. "Now, the rules are simple, my son. You will keep your hands out of my way if you wish this to be over quickly. You may and will cry, but you must not kick or bite or try to struggle. If you misbehave, you will only find yourself here longer."

Finding himself in the inglorious position of a child, with his magical strength diminished, Loki began to verbally claw away at her weakest points. "You never loved me! No one ever loved me!" he accused. "And now you beat me to cover up your own inadequacies as a mother."

"Since you feel you must fall into melodrama, Loki, I must give you a reason to feel sadness," Frigga said in a soft tone, pinning his arms under him.

"Don't you dare, woman," Loki hissed as his breeches were yanked down and he was positioned properly for a through discussion. She had to do this, skin to skin. "Burn in Hades, you perverted..."

"I warned you about speaking this way. It appears that you require a lesson in manners. As your mother, I will be happily to take you in hand," Frigga interrupted as she prepared herself. "I should have done this years ago, but I will correct the fault now."

"My faults are…" Loki began, but the ended as a sharp slap cracked across his bottom and everything ended in a whimper.

"I do this because I love you. I will make sure you pay dearly for the insult to my person. Had your father heard your language to me, the punishment would have been far more severe," Frigga said, with a few harsh slaps.

"I protest my treatment, Madam. I am no longer willing to submit," Loki snapped, a very foolish mistake considering how much his voice octave had risen in pain.

"Your protests are noted and dismissed, my son. As for your submission to punishment, you only bring more suffering upon your poor bottom," Frigga said with a sigh as she struck a new blow. "I can be as stubborn as you, my son. If it means having your bottom heated to a crisp, allowing my hand a short respite and then resuming again and again all night, I shall do it."

Loki gritted his teeth, and refused to give in. Well, it was his flesh taking the punishment and he would have to decide for himself when to be reasonable. She continued to strike away; a steady rhythm of firm slaps and hisses of pain.

"I have known of your penchant for mischief for years, but always made excuses for you," she said, giving particular emphasis with a stinging slap every second word. "No more. You will learn to channel your talents appropriately if you ever intend to sit down again."

Loki whimpered, as she continued to tan his backside with punishing strokes. "No more!" he hissed, the words escaping his mouth desperately. Even his stubbornness had a limit, and apparently a warmed backside was an excellent incentive to communicate.

"There is still some more, my son. You will not be off my lap until I am convinced of your repentance," Frigga informed him, positioning him to bend over even further so the tender areas easily accessible for burning spanks. "I see some spots which have been neglected. I shall remedy that," she said, giving his backside a through slap that made the young prince squeal in pain. "You caused a great deal of trouble and you must learn a lesson." Another five slaps echoed off Loki's rear and all through the room in very quick succession.

She was doing a fairly thorough job of it; given it was her first time. Her son's bottom was now a perfectly toasted shade of pink, from the small of his back to his upper thighs.

She turned her attention to the underside of his bottom. "I can keep this up for as long as you need," she said, her hand slicing through the air and landing with thunder. "If my hand hurts, I can always switch to another instrument and continue. I did bring my belt, it would do nicely as a strap." She paused for a moment to remove her strap from her pocket and lay it on the floor, right in front of her son's gaze.

Loki had begun to weep at those words. "Please, no more." He sounded so broken. She had nearly gotten through, but he would need a bit more. "Why are you doing this?" He was limply sobbing at full tilt, no longer struggling. Frigga finally knew he had begun listening.

"Because it is the only way to get through to you when you get into these black moods and refuse to see sense," Frigga said, increasing the force of her blows to punctuate her point. "So I am using your sense of preservation to shock you back to reason."

"I am seeing reason, you lied to me," Loki howled, as Frigga continued to slap away. She had found herself concentrating on the portion Loki would be using for sitting. A reminder in the future for him to mind his behavior.

"I am willing to address that as soon I feel you have been properly disciplined. You know you need this and you know how you can end this. The pain in your bottom is your own choice," Frigga reported.

"How I suffer!" Loki wept. "You destroy my life and then you shame me further. A thousand curses on you!" For such a brilliant student, Loki seemed to find it hard to keep his mind and mouth connected.

"Do you think you are the only one who suffered? There are many who suffer, and many who keep secrets. Your brother's birth nearly cost me my life, and I was left barren because of him," Frigga said, words she had never spoken aloud before as she slammed her hand into his bottom. "Do you think I hate him for the pain he caused me?" Loki was shocked into silence at that confession. "I longed for another child, but I was told I was lucky to escape with my life."

Loki gasped, half in pain and half in surprise at her words. No one had ever spoken of this. "No more," he pleaded.

"There is still more. I do not feel I have given you your full measure." Loki just whimpered pitifully and there was a hint of that little boy who had wept into his skirts. "Loki, I take little pleasure in punishing you. When your father brought you home, it was the happiest hour I could imagine. I danced down the halls of Asgard and freed a hundred prisoners. I clutched you close to my heart and I slept in the nursery so I could be close to you and your brother at all moments. From the moment you entered Asgard, you were loved, showered with love. We made mistakes, my son, but if you doubt our love, you dishonor that. Even now, my love for you is complete and full."

"Please, no more," Loki whimpered, sounding drained and weak. "I am sorry. I will never speak to you insolently again." She had broken him down and could finally have the talk she needed.

"It can be over if you answer this final question. Who are you addressing?" Frigga asked gently, giving another mighty smack. She would stop if he answered properly.

"My queen Frigga of Asgard," Loki gasped, still trying to hold on to a shred of dignity in his insolence. He always seemed to forget that when bottoms were bared for discipline, dignity was replaced by repentance and truth.

"Wrong answer, my child. That cheekiness will be the ruin of you. I suppose I'll soon have to switch to the strap," Frigga said, landing a stinging blow across Loki's rosy bottom that made him howl. "I'll just adjust your position in preparation."

"No," Loki pleaded as Frigga lifted her right leg, arching Loki up over her knee, his bare bottom up high in the air. At the same time she let her left knee slip down a bit. Loki wept as he was prepared for worse punishment, his sore bottom pulled tight to receive the leathering. With her free hand, she pushed Loki's back down further, increasing the acuteness of the angle between thigh and bottom. "I beg you no more."

"I don't enjoy this any more than you do, my son," Frigga said, making sure Loki could see she was picking up the strap from the floor. "I am only doing my duty. Answer the question. Who am I?"

"My queen, my sovereign and mistress and guardian," Loki pleaded, still unwilling to sacrifice that last bit of dignity. "I am your most humble servant."

"That is not the correct answer, you left out a key detail. Yes, I am queen and I do my duty most thoroughly. One of those duties is correcting faults in my household and denying me my rightful title is a definite fault. Shall we agree we can start at nine?" She doubted she'd have to fulfill her threat to more than three. "Such a strong man like you will likely require more. I'm not opposed to going up to twelve before returning with my hand."

As she thought, that was enough to break him. "Please, no more….my lady mother," Loki begged, completely terrified by the prospect of twelve lines of fire across his already flaming bottom. "I'm sorry. I'll do as you ask. No more." She allowed him to cry for a moment and get a hold of himself.

"Correct. Are you going to stop feeling sorry for yourself, my son and start talking?" Frigga asked sternly, resting the leather against her son's bottom. He may have been a grown man to be feared, but at this moment, he was as helpless as a child. "Because I would prefer not to have to use this. Calling me mother should give you comfort."

"What do you want me to say?" Loki pleaded, trying to hold off further punishment. "I'll do whatever you ask, only stop this!"

"Merely tell me whatever burdens your heart, dear one. You have been wounded in spirit and I only wish to soothe it by helping you and proving to you I am your loving mother, as I have been and always will be. If I must do it this way, so be it," Frigga sighed. "I swear by Thunder and Wind, you and your brother must have your brains in your backside, and need them spanked up into your heads for me to get any progress."

"How is thrashing me like a horse helping me understand that everything you told me was a lie? You have no right to demand my love, when I am your prisoner. Love should be freely given," Loki spat back, his tongue too quick for his brain. A hard slap of leather echoed against his bare nether-flesh and he quickly changed his tune. "Mercy!"

"As you said, I am Queen of Asgard, my child. If I wanted you thrashed like a horse for your disrespect, you'd be at the whipping post and you would count my treatment merciful as compared to what they would meet out. That is what happens to subjects who disrespect their sovereign with such impunity. Prisoners in dungeons rarely have the right to beg mercy and receive it," Frigga reminded him icily. Given the luxury of Loki's chambers, her sarcasm should have been well evident.

"No more," Loki pleaded, knowing now what happened when he behaved like a dolt. Finally, some aspect of progress.

"That depends on it. You have reason to be angry, but keep your tone civil." She raised her strap to administer another stroke. "Or I'll see to it that you learn your place in a more painful way." She didn't want to have to spank him again, but she was becoming resigned to it more and more.

"You own me." It wasn't insolence. Loki's voice actually quivered with terror. Frigga's hand froze in mid-air. She had not taken into account that for all his intelligence, he was still a frightened son, barely into manhood. He appeared prouder than he actually felt. "For how long till you throw your broken toy into the fire?"

Did he actually think she would execute him? "Of course not, I would never allow that to happen to you," Frigga explained, putting down the strap. She should not allow a distraction from punishment before, but she had to address this issue immediately. "Is that how you feel? That because you were adopted, I would treat you poorly now that the secret was out? Execute you if you didn't do my will?"

"Yes," Loki wailed. "No one wanted me. I suppose anyone could love a small puppy or child. If you get tired of me, you'll not want me too!" Poor boy was just so broken hearted; she wished she could just rewrite truth so that he had come from her womb. "Unwanted people rarely fare well."

"I apologize for giving such a cruel and empty threat. I love you, my son. Whatever you learned today, you are a prince of Asgard. You are my son! I will never grow tired of you," Frigga assured him.

"No, I'm not! You can spank me till I'm dead and it won't make a difference. You found me and kept me like a lost sheep," Loki sobbed. "You can't change the fact that I am a monster!"

Frigga wondered if her son was wise beyond his years or incredibly foolish. It was unwise to tempt further spanking when one had their hindquarters bared and skyward, but the pain in his bottom was nothing compared to the pain of his heart.

So she eased him up on the bed so he could lie on his stomach and leaned down next to him. "We wanted you, Loki. You were wanted so badly. I told you how I hoped and prayed to the Fates every day for you. They answered my prayers, through an indirect way. But they sent you to me and I would never trade it," she explained, stroking his head tenderly. "I speak for your father as well. We love you."

"If others know, they would scorn me. I'm not a prince like Thor, I'm offal someone threw away!" Loki said, burying his head in the sheets. "He'd hate me."

"That isn't true, my son," Frigga whispered. "Yes, this must remain a secret, but it changes nothing. Odin's house keeps many secrets. You need not concern yourself with it. What can I say to prove to you that you hold my heart equally to Thor?"

"Nothing! It's not fair! Why didn't my real family not fight for me, search for me?" Loki wept pitifully. "Why did they leave me out in the cold to die?"

"They did not abandon you. You heard Laufey, he desperately missed you. They hid you, because you were the heir to their throne. They wanted you but you were destined to be our son," Frigga explained, her voice catching us."

"You kidnapped me," Loki asked, his voice wet with tears.

"It was a war, my son. Many people I loved perished. Terrible occurrences are the norm in war. You were not abandoned; you were hidden to protect you. But the Fates decided that you would not remain in Jotunheim and sent your father and I the son we had hoped for beyond all else. We prayed to the Fates that I would be granted a little baby, and our prayers were answered."

"Yes, we stole you, in hopes of placing you on the throne of Jotunheim as our vassal, of raising a Jotunheim king who would kneel to Asgard. But in a few days, we had abandoned that plan because you were our son and we could not force you to kneel and be our puppet. We would raise you to be our son."

"My real family did want me?" Loki mused, his hand still rubbing his throbbing backside.

"We are your real family. I will excuse this rudeness once, but enough melodramatics. How many times must you hear it? Yes, you are adopted, but blood does not make a family," Frigga informed him. "We love you, Loki. Laufey wanted and loved you, but you were meant to be our child."

Loki raised his head, looking at her desperately. "Swear it," he pleaded. "Swear it in Father's name."

Frigga nodded, grateful for the opportunity to prove her affection. "I swear by the All Father, Odin, that my son Loki is as dear to me as any birth son, that he is equal in my heart and that his father shares the feelings. I swear he is my blood and flesh in spirit, and that I live to protect him and love him," she said. "You know that is an oath I would not take lightly.

Loki smiled through his tears. 'Thank you," he whispered and she saw the sincerity in his blue eyes. There would be much time required for his wounds to heal, she'd likely have to repeat this and reassure him again. Still, the black mood had passed and for the moment, all was well. "I…love you, Mother. I…do."

Frigga smiled and kissed her son's sweet black hair. "I did not listen to your spiteful words, my son. I know your heart," she said. "I love you more than my own life."

Loki sniffled as he pressed his head into her shoulder. "I will make myself understand that…with time."

"I am happy you know that you are loved and treasured by your father, mother and brother and your kingdom," she assured him. "Is there anything else you wish to admit to? Now is the time to tell me anything else about this little adventure," she said.

Loki shook his head, lying again. She would have to think of a special punishment for that, but he still had some penance to pay now. She smiled and yanked her son back over her lap. "Now that it's settled, you have a debt to pay for sneaking off and risking your life," she said brightly.

"Wait, since you were cruel to me, and you admitted it, shouldn't you be punished by Father?" Loki asked desperately. "Therefore, it would be hypocrisy to spank me."

Frigga bit back a laugh. "Don't be cheeky, my son. I apologized," she said lightly. It was a fair attempt. "And it is not for you to decide my punishments."

"Haven't I earned pity?" Loki pleaded as Frigga adjusted Loki's position over her lap, easily maneuvering the slender prince into position. "I have suffered greatly and been punished for it. Is that not sufficient?"

Frigga bit her lip. She did feel pity for Loki, but had resolved to be firm. She wouldn't have allowed anyone to behave with such fury, but the news had been heart breaking. Still, give Loki an inch and he would take a league. "Yes, my son. As soon as your punishment is done, you will be pitied greatly," she said. "You wouldn't want me treating you differently than Thor, no?"

Loki sighed. "Just this once?" he pleaded, as Frigga re-adjusted his breeches to insure they remained down at his knees.

"No, my son. I believe in treating my sons equally," Frigga said, putting her hand down with a thundering crack. "Thor got five with the strap after a good paddling. You received one, and only got my hand. In recognition of the cruel words you used against me, you'll get two more, after my hand has reignited the fire a bit. I will not stomach disobedience, insolence and mischief."

Loki just buried his head back into the sheets. "Must you?" he pleaded.

Frigga sighed. "It's what a loving mother must do," she said honestly. It was what a desperate loving mother who was risking her life would do.

Loki suddenly looked up. "You thrashed Thor?" he suddenly asked, in shock. "But…" he trailed off.

With a slap that echoed through the room, Frigga made her son mewl in pain. "I am Queen. I am your mother. I do what I must."

Chapter Five –How to Save a Life

Let him know that you know best

Cause after all you do know best

Try to slip past his defense

Without granting innocence 'Lay down a list of what is wrong

The things you've told him all along-The Fray

After the spanking, Loki had mewled piteously and Frigga had rocked him to sleep, allowing him to rest. She cast a mild sleeping spell on him to make sure he recovered some strength. He would need it in the morning.

She had spent the rest of the night at her husband's side. She had wanted to tell him a thousand things. How they had lied to their children and were paying the price. How they had spoiled the children and again, were paying the price. But all she could tell her love again and again was "I will make it right."

And now, sitting at her sleeping younger son's bedside, she most certainly would. "Loki, my son, get up," she said gently. "We must speak."

Loki stirred. He had been sleeping on his stomach so he had not been sure who had spoken. "Are you all right, Mother?" he asked and his voice was so genuine.

"I will be if you answer correctly. You are my son and nothing will change my love for you, but did you allow the Frost giants in?" she asked.

Loki's eyes only flickered fear for the briefest moment. "Mother, why would you ask such a question?" he asked.

"Because I wanted to see if you learned anything from last night. I fear you require more attention," Frigga said, irritated. Had he just admitted to it, she'd have scolded him and left. Now she would have to make the lesson sink in.

Loki gasped to find himself quickly rolled over into the same position that he was in before. "I don't know what you mean," he whimpered.

"Lying is only going to make this worse. I thought you understood that I insist on candor and taking responsibility for your actions. Alas, that lesson failed to penetrate your heart. So I must see it is pounded in." Perhaps that was a little bit cruel, but she was quite furious at the deceit. "You lied to me twice. Now, you will face the consequences."

"Why must I be punished twice?" Loki wailed as his trousers was yanked down and sleeping shirt was folded up to the small of his back. "You wouldn't punish Thor twice!"

"Enough of your jealousy, my son. If Thor tries my temper again, he will find himself in the same position." The plump bottom before her was still pink from yesterday's treatment. Well, that was of no concern. If the lesson failed to penetrate her son's skull, more force was apparently needed. She raised her hand and brought it down on the crest of Loki's left cheek. "I assure you, I take no pleasure in this. It is for your own good."

"It's not fair!" Loki whimpered at the first crack and only whimpered louder as his right cheek received the same treatment.

"What is not fair? In the house of Odin, everyone must submit to correction, including pampered little princelings that lie and play silly pranks," Frigga reminded him, aiming another smack. She planned to make this one even more memorable, since Loki seemed to demand having a lesson taught over and over again. "You will have that lesson learned and I do not care a fig how many times I must heat your backside to a fine crisp."

"It was just a bit of fun. I'm not jealous, it's true!" Loki pleaded, as the heat began to build up in his posterior with a fourth and fifth warming slap. "So why should I not use to my advantage to show Thor a well needed lesson?"

Frigga nodded thoughtfully. Apparently, the spanking was bringing up issues long buried. She was pleased to be getting to the bottom of the problem, so to speak.

"I love both of you equally. It is true that you are not Thor, but you are Loki and that is something to be proud of. You are clever and you are quick and you are wonderfully talented. You could be the greatest asset to this kingdom. But there is a stubborn streak of bitterness in you and I am determined to see it rooted out." She laid five more whacks in succession to make her point. Loki wailed in pain as his bottom's rosy hue deepened to a more red shade. "I love you, my son. I do this because I love you and I will not see your talent wasted on lying and silly pranks."

Loki mewled piteously as Frigga proceeded to land more spanks, moving side to side to ensure an even coating of punishment. "You have a responsibility to your kingdom, your family and yourself to use your gifts in cleverness for good." An especially stinging slap made her son arch his back with pain. She had to admit, she did pity the fact that he would be sore for the rest of the day. She just knew he had no one to blame but himself. "You may be mischievous, but malice will not be tolerated."

"I'm sorry, I'll be good." She made sure to spank slowly and methodically, painting every inch of her son's plump cheeks a blushing shade of red and making sure Loki felt the sting of each blow separately. "I won't fool Thor again!"

"Very good. What else?" Frigga said, slapping his bottom even harder. "Something very important, a bad habit you have." This was not the time to be subtle.

"I won't lie any more," Loki screeched pitifully. "I'll always tell the truth." She doubted he would keep to that promise, but verbalizing it was quite helpful.

"Correct, you will never be deceitful again," she said, giving a firm swipe that make Loki yelp even harder. He buried his head in the bed sheets and wept. "Otherwise, I will take you over my knee at rising and at retiring. I despise lying and will root it out of you. Am I quite clear?" Each of the last sentences was punctuated with a stinging slap.

"I'll be good," Loki protested and it was becoming clear he was too spanked to even listen to the scolding.

"I do it because I care. You will learn to accept your place as a leader and not demand attention with malicious pranks," she said, before stopping and allowing her son to catch his breath.

"I'm sorry, Mama," Loki wept, his bottom a proper shade of scarlet as suitable for a naughty young man.

"If you wish to avoid returning to my lap, I need you to know this well, Loki. Thor is the future king and you are to be his source of wisdom, his viceroy. You have the honor of serving the kingdom at his side, and to be his greatest asset. The question is if you wish to train for this role standing or being able to sit down. Make your choice," Frigga said in a calm voice.

"Sitting!" Loki squealed, the heat still radiating off his well-cooked bottom. "I wish to sit!"

"Excellent choice. And to soothe your feelings of jealousy, know that Thor will have the same treatment. If I have to being each day by taking you both over my knee and roast your backsides, I'll do it," Frigga threatened. "In public as well, if needed."

"I'll be good," Loki whimpered, his hands creeping up to rub his backside. "Very good."

Frigga brushed his hands away. "Good. Then we can finish up your punishment," she said, taking the strap from her pocket. She trapped her son's legs against one leg and jackknifing her son to reveal the tender area where thigh met bottom. "Three strokes and we're done."

Loki's tears only increased as his sore bottom was stretched tightly. "No, please no more," he begged. "I'll never misbehave again."

"Then let this be the final lesson, well learned," Frigga said, letting the strap crack down to the crease. Loki shrieked in pain and lowered his head, sobbing. The second and third stroke went across his red bottom as a coup de gras, making Loki howl in suffering. "All right, it's done. Thor endured this for your sake. Now all is even again."

She paused for a moment and then let the strap fall a fourth time, back to that tender crease. "Ohh…I lied," she said primly as Loki screeched miserably. A fifth stroke joined the fugue of pain. "Do you understand why lying is wrong now? Perhaps we should not lie to each other anymore."

Poor Loki was completely in distress and she knew now that he had enough. He just lay there, wilted and limp, too broken to even move. "There, it's over. I'm telling the truth."

She allowed Loki to sob over her lap for a bit. It was a harsh spanking, but she deemed it necessary to uproot this noxious weed of scheming against Thor. "Have you something to say, my son?" she asked as the sobs began to fade a bit.

"I'm sorry," Loki wept. "I'll never misbehave again. I'll be the best son. No more, please." His shoulders trembled with sobs. He was a more sensitive son than even she imagined. Had she been too hard handed?

"I will hold you to that promise, my son," Frigga said, as she gently rubbed her son's shoulders. "Do you understand why I had to do it?"

Loki mewled harder. "Because Thor got hurt," he pleaded. "Thor got into trouble." Again, he wasn't taking responsibility. She would have to remedy that.

"No, my son," Frigga said kindly. She had done a professional tanning on her son's seat without pause, but now seeing him broken hearted and bereft tugged at her mother's heart. Still, she had to finish this lesson. "What exactly did you do?" she asked, resting her hand on Loki's well-baked bottom significantly.

"I used magic to hurt my brother's feelings," Loki quickly admitted. Yes, apparently, he did need to have a roasting before he saw sense. So much like his brother, and it assured her that she was doing the right thing.

"And why is that wrong?" she asked, not moving her hand from his warm bottom.

"Because…Thor is my brother. I should not get him into trouble. I should help him," Loki exclaimed quite properly.

"And?" Frigga urged. She was tempted to give him some urging but held her hand. He was only eighteen Asgardian years old.

"Because I have to be punished when I misbehave and I may not try to lie my way out of it. I have to accept responsibility for my actions."

"Good. And?" Frigga said, giving a light swat to the bottom on her lap. It would just be a sting, but enough to remind Loki about the most important lesson.

"No more lying," Loki whimpered miserably, as he squirmed under the radiating heat of his rear.

"Correct. I am satisfied. Now I want you to know that the slate is wiped clean. You are completely forgiven and it would give me the greatest pleasure to never have to repeat this." She lifted her son's trousers up, and hugged him close, noting his hiss of pain. She would have salve brought him; he was young enough for some small mercy. "But I will deny myself that pleasure so long as your behavior displeases your parents. The moment I feel you require correction, you will find yourself back over my knee and in a considerable amount of pain. Is that understood?"

"Yes Mother," Loki sniffled as he was set down before her. "I'll be good." He looked so woeful and sincere; she had really gotten through to him.

"Now, I need you to know this simple fact," Frigga said, patting his shoulders affectionately, mindful of his sensitivity. "You bring the sunshine to my eyes and the smile to my face. You will always be my baby and nothing can ever change that." She tapped him on the nose. "So be good."

Loki nodded, still looking well worn out. "I will," he murmured dutifully, snuggling close to her. "I will be good."

"I love you, my son. Do you remember the song I used to sing to you when you were small?" Frigga asked him, rocking him back and forth as if he was still her baby boy, small enough to fit in the crook of her arm. "The spirits that have always protected me…protect this precious child, this light in my eyes," she sang softly.

Loki closed his eyes and just lay there for a few minutes, just soaking in the moments. "If I could go back…and change that moment…I would not. I would not pick a different mother," he finally said, still trying to form his thoughts around the terrible pain that would remain there for some time. "I wish it would have been blood…but I am content to be your son in name."

"If I could have any sons in the world, I would pick you. And do not think to ask me to choose between you and Thor of who is more wanted. I think you know what would happen," Frigga reminded, stroking his hair.

Loki didn't answer, he merely continued to lie there, his head in her lap. "Sing to me," he asked. "Please?"

Frigga smiled and nodded. "As the wind rustles through the night, and the stars fall from their arc, all of your happiness shall take flight from the shadows and the dark," she sang and for a moment, all was well. They sat together, a family still broken but healing.

A half hour later, Frigga had removed herself to the library to get something to drink. As she was about to emerge Thor lumbered in, his eyes wide. "I wish a word with you," he said, treading lightly into the room. "Are you quite all right, brother?" he asked. "What has happened to you?"

"I am injured from our glorious battle yesterday in the observatory. Apparently, slamming someone into a wall causes injury," Loki snapped, burying his head in the sheets, his tone dark with humiliation.

"I apologize for it, brother. Did I truly injure you so badly? You look as if you have been trampled by horses?" Thor asked.

"Nothing so dramatic. I am not overly fond of the memories but I will recover," Loki said acidly. "I imagine you finding sitting a most unpleasant proposition."

Thor blanched. "She told you?" he moaned. "You must swear on your honor to never tell a soul. I always thought her so…gentle. She gentled me instead for daring to hurt her baby boy and putting you in danger." There was an odd note of jealousy. Perhaps being the chosen one has its downside. Frgga would have to consider that.

"I am not keen on letting the world know my family's humiliation, your secret is safe," Loki said miserably. "I cannot believe you allowed her to…paddle you."

"I did not have much choice in the matter," Thor muttered as he

lay down on his stomach next to his younger brother. "I deserved it. I only now see what danger I put you and the others in. I…did not thank you for saving us," he said softly. "Your quick thinking gave me my life."

Loki smiled. "It was my duty," he said with a careless smile. "I had no wish to die and I had no wish to lose you. My life would be empty if I had no one to torment."

Thor ruffled his brother's hair. "You are incapable of saying something sincere without ruining it with some insolence," he accused. "I must be mad to consider you my truest friend."

"A sincere loon, but I suppose one well worth having as a brother," Loki said softly. "You look like you could use some mead."

"As much mead as possible. Merciful spirits, I am going to need healing spells for a month," Thor complained.

"Surely, a few slight swipes from our sweet mother has not felled the mighty Prince Thor," Loki teased.

"I barely felt it. I sniffled a bit to soothe her poor feelings. I just…threw out my back a bit in Jotunheim," Thor insisted, trying to keep some dignity.

Loki waved his hand and a pillow dropped on Thor's pained rear end. "If I heard correctly, she thrashed you with a vengeance," he said as his brother yelped.

"That would be correct," Frigga said, walking in. She had been listening in and was pleased to hear the fraternal love. Happily, neither had noticed her. "I am pleased to see you both getting along so well."

Thor looked up. "Mother,' he said deferentially. "I…hope you find all satisfactory." He was keenly terrified of her.

"Well, if I do not, you now know how my displeasure will be felt," Frigga said with a rather savage grin for a polite queen. "But hearing you thank your brother pleases me greatly. Although if you barely felt it and were only humoring me, I could try again."

Thor's face was as pale as Loki. "My lady, I beg mercy and assure you that my punishment was memorable," he pleaded. Loki's smirk was not unnoticed to see his mighty brother beg.

"I am glad to hear it. And Loki, do you have anything to say to your brother about why you are in the condition you are in? I hope I have made clear my position on lying, and the position you would be in," Frigga reminded.

Loki's smirk faded like ice. "Brother, I was the one who let in the frost giants. Only as a little prank, but I am very sorry for it," he muttered. Frigga cleared her throat. "And Mother had made me even sorrier for it."

"What?" Thor snapped, his eyes bulging in fury. "You ruined my day!"

"It was a stupid choice and one he paid for richly across my lap,' Frigga explained, reminding him that there was no need to resort to discord. "I would warn you to keep your temper in check."

That did seem to mollify him. "You did deserve it for letting in the Jotunn, " Thor said, giving his brother a stern look. "Mother dealt with you, but do not try my patience again. Next time, I might do my elder brother duty and teach you some respect."

Loki's eyes glinted. "I assure you, I will be far more clever next time," he challenged. "I doubt you will even know my plan till long after fruition."

"You even consider that, younger brother, and I will be the one to paddle you. I cannot believe Mother showed you so little mercy. You look as if you were wrung out like a rag," Thor said. "Either you are delicate or Mother spared her precious baby little."

"Well, I did have to spank him twice," Frigga explained. "I suppose that would wear out anyone."

Thor gaped. "You talked yourself into punishment twice?" he asked, his eyes wide. "Brother, you are the most intelligent fool in the nine realms. I swear, you could talk yourself into a noose for a crime you did not commit."

Loki growled angrily. "I did my mischief and paid my price, I do not wish to discuss it further. I doubt anything I said or did would have stayed the rod much."

"Actually, I had no intention of punishing you, Loki. You did fail to convince your brother to abandon his quest but I doubt anyone could. You did alert us and you did try to save their lives by convincing Thor to back down. Had you not lied to me about your silly prank, thrown tantrums and insults, you would have escaped with merely being confined to your quarters," Frigga said with a sigh.

Thor chortled and Loki smiled thinly. "I suppose I have learned a lesson," he said, his tone sour.

"You got what you deserved, brother. We all did," Thor reminded, putting his hand on Loki's shoulder. "Forgive me my cruelty and I'll forgive you yours."

Loki nodded. "You always had it," he said and the signs of sincerity were all there.

"I must earn it. As future king, I want to give you your just due. When I am king, you will be allowed to speak freely. As your reward, there will be a party in your honor, where you will be presented with the chain and ring of the mortal wizard, Solomon. It will greatly increase your power in magic and serve as a weapon that will be quite formidable. Finally, you may request of the future king anything, I will not deny it," Thor offered, obviously trying to please her and save himself a good deal of pain, as well as mollify his beloved brother.

"Mother is hereby banned from spanking, paddling, caning, strapping or in any way damaging my ability to sit down," Loki said wryly. "Give me that and I will be satisfied."

Frigga's eyes narrowed as she stared her elder son down. "Thor, even consider allowing that request and I will be displeased."

Thor looked between them. "Mother, I…do see some merit in limiting authority to discipline members of the royal house," he began, before looking down at his boots.

Frigga's gaze was withering. "Limiting?" she asked icily. "Limiting my power in what way?"

"Limiting it to your majesty, of course. Any time a member of the royal family displeases you, it should be your duty to correct them in any manner you feel appropriate," Thor mumbled, having completely lost that battle. "Loki is in your hands, to do as you wish."

Loki groaned and rolled his eyes. "You have given her free range to inflict punishment on me," he mumbled.

"No, brother. I merely stated reality," Thor said with a hearty sigh. "I am in her hands as well. We best just try to please her."

Frigga nodded and kissed the top of each son's head. "Extremely wise and true," she said. "Now, I think you both should go to the bath houses. We will gather in Father's chambers to eat and talk and wait for him to wake up. I think we all have much to discuss."

Frigga smiled. There had been many times where she had to take a son over a knee and smack the silliness from him. On most occasions, she would have to perform treatment on both backsides. No matter what was happening, she had never shirked her duty to see her boys penitent and humbled by a bared bottom made to blush scarlet in shame for its owners' transgressions.

At council meetings, she would notice the squirming of her two boys as they sat, and know the lesson had been thoroughly memorable.

Yet the result was clear. Thor, the God of Thunder and Loki, the God of Wit and mischief would lead Asguard wisely. One would be a war leader, one would be a policy maker, but the two would be as close as brothers should be. She was very proud.

Of course, she had made it clear that despite the fact that they would were grown men, she would return them to the tender ministrations of her strap the moment they got out of line.

It was a threat she intended to keep. Her life depended on it. The vow remained. If she could not keep her sons off a very possible future path…

"Mother!" Loki said brightly, waving her over. "Come, we are ready to begin! Thor and I will be dueling Father together!"

Why spend today worrying when it was turning out so beautiful?