She finds him curled up in a shadowy corner of some disused room of the palace, his knees tucked up under his chin and his head resting against the wall.
"Loki?" she half murmurs, half whispers.
There is a pause in which he remains as he is, and then gradually, as if he has almost forgotten how, he raises his head. She cannot see his face for the shadows that keep his face under cover, but something doesn't seem right about it. His cheekbones look too big for his face, and his eyes look like sunken pools in their sockets. And there is something incredibly wrong with his mouth. She can't quite figure it out as she gingerly makes her way towards him. She absentmindedly sets the cup of water in her hand on an ornate wooden table near the door. He gets to his feet, moving slowly, almost like a person three times his age. As he rises to his full height, he moves into a shaft of light coming from one of the high windows, and it's then that she realises what seems so wrong about his mouth. It's been sewn shut.
She gasps audibly, the sound echoing in the vast empty space, and she sees him visibly flinch. There is a moment in which she doesn't move, cannot move. She is frozen there by the sight of those stark black stitches marring his beautiful mouth, trickles and streaks of dried blood completing the tableau. His eyes pierce her heart as well, the expression in them a mixture of resignation, pain, and immense sorrow. Finally, the sheer horror of it spurs her into action. She digs in the pocket of her jeans for her Swiss Army knife and edges out the scissors attachment with her fingernails. She rushes to him and puts her hand on his shoulder, cautiously, as if he's an unbroken colt that will shy away if she isn't careful. He flinches initially, but he quickly relaxes into her touch, practically leaning into her hand as if he's starved for physical contact. She exerts pressure on the shoulder, pushing him towards a slightly dusty armchair sitting against the wall that is swathed in a white sheet. She sits him down and then kneels in front of him with her scissors.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, but this is going to hurt," she warns him gently as she lifts the scissors. His brow furrows and his jaw sets as she sees him visibly steel himself for the first snip. Gingerly, she snips the front of the stitches, the soft snick of the scissors the only noise in the room besides their breathing. "Part your lips for me best as you can, " she prompts, and she sees the tears spring to his eyes as he complies, little whimpers escaping from his throat. She tries not to hurt him as she wedges the scissors in between his lips to get to the backs of the stitches, but she knows she was mostly unsuccessful by his sharp intake of breath through his nose. Before continuing, she tenderly swipes at the tears making their way down his face with her thumb. Then, a few more snips remove the last barrier, and his mouth is finally free. She carefully picks at the severed thread, removing it from his lips, those wounded animal noises being ripped from his throat all the while, tugging at her heart. It seems an eternity before she's finally finished. He works his jaw back and forth as he swallows hard, trying to regain his composure. It's then that she remembers the cup of water that Frigga had pressed into her hand when she had gone in search of him in the first place. Almost as if she had known what was going to happen. She rushes to get it, and brings it back to him. He brings his hand up to cup hers around the glass as she tips it towards his lips. He only allows the water to touch his lips at first, wetting them. He works his tongue out and back in before bringing the glass back up so that he can take a proper drink. Once he's taken several swallows, she finally gives voice to the thoughts swirling through her head.
"Who did this to you?" she exclaims with dismay.
He opens his mouth gingerly to tell her, blood dripping from the newly opened puncture wounds. But his voice is nearly gone from months of disuse and he can barely croak out a word. It will take a while for him to regain the power of speech. His frustration is palpable, and she can see the gears working in his head as he casts about for a solution. She sees the idea dawning in his eyes as he reaches for her, putting his long fingers at her temples, and resting his forehead against hers.
She just receives a brief flash of an image in her mind, but it's enough. Thor standing grimly by, unshed tears shimmering in his eyes. Frigga openly weeping on the floor, clinging to Thor's legs like a lifeline. And Odin, stern and clear eyed with needle and thread pulling the first loop taut.
She propels herself backwards from him, breaking the connection, tears overflowing and her hand over her mouth stifling her cry of horror. She is shaking her head in disbelief. She cannot believe that anyone could do such a horrible thing to someone, especially their own son. She weeps unabashedly for him, the sobs wracking her tiny frame. Through the haze of tears, she can see the telltale glimmer on his own face that betrays the fact that he is crying as well. She goes to him then, edging her way in between him and the arm of the chair. She gathers him into her arms, one hand cradling the side of his head as she brings him close. The glass of water slips from his grasp, forgotten, and shatters on the floor. They pay it no mind. They sit like that for hours, his silent tears dripping into her hair as she holds him, and the light deepens to an evening rosy hue.