Loki strode into his chambers, and locked the doors behind him. The second the latch was closed his shoulders slumped as though a sting had been cut, leaving him limp. He stayed there by the door for a long moment, leaning on it for support before pushing away. Never in all his years had he ever had a more disastrous day.
In the space of twenty-four hours, he'd allowed frost giants to enter Asgard, goaded Thor into entering Jotunheim, and subsequently helped start a war and discovered that he was in fact a Jotunn foundling and not a son of Odin at all. Thor had been banished, his father was in the Odin-sleep and Loki had been named king simply because there were no other options. And now it would seem that everyone wanted him on the throne less than he did. Thor's friends tried to get him to release Thor from his exile, and Heimdall questioned every move he made.
It didn't matter though; so far his plan was working. In the morning he would show them all that blood or not he was a true son of Odin. For now he would try and sleep, though he doubted he would find any peace until Laufey was dead.
He walked further into his chambers and it was a testament towards how tired he was that he walked right by the table with a platter of some of his favourite dishes on it. It wasn't until the smell caught his nose that he turned and looked back at the food.
"You weren't at dinner,"
Loki glanced to the side to see Fara standing a respectable distance away. The woman had aged gracefully over the years. A touch of grey at her temples, her face softened with some lines about her eyes. It was still Fara though, and Loki gratefully pulled out the chair so that he could sit before the food.
"It has been something of a busy day." Loki explained as he bit into a warm dinner roll.
"I can imagine." Was Fara's only response. She did not move closer either Loki noticed with a frown. It took longer than it should have to realize that she was treating him like the king he now was. How ironic it was, he thought, that the one person who treated him like a king was the one he wanted it least from.
"Won't you join me?" he asked once his mouth was clear and Fara smiled softly and took the seat adjacent to him. Satisfied, Loki turned back to his meal, content with the peaceful silence.
"How was your first day as king?" Fara asked him when he was halfway through his second helping, and the question sounded so absurd that he nearly choked on a laugh. Glancing up he saw that though her posture and expression was of polite curiousness, her eyes danced with mirth at catching him off guard.
"There has been ah, something of a learning curve." He replied honestly, and regretted it when she frowned in concern. He continued to explain, "It was not something I was prepared for, nor anyone else for that matter. I think most are simply stunned that it is not Thor in my place by now."
Fara raised one eyebrow, "But you are a prince of Asgard, have you never thought you might end up as king one day?"
"No, I- no of course not. Thor was to be king, he always was. Odin announced it centuries ago."
"If Thor was truly meant to be King he would be by now. But instead he is banished, and rightfully so. He started a war because his day was spoiled, those are not the actions of a king Loki."
"Better a spoiled brat than a monster…" Loki said quietly to himself, but at Fara's sharp look he realized that she had heard him anyways.
"What do you mean?"
Loki shook his head and pushed his plate away. "It was nothing of importance. I'm sorry, I am very tired."
He avoided looking at Fara altogether, and opted instead to stand and start walking towards his bedroom.
"My prince…" Fara called after him but he did not stop. His step did falter when he heard her call out "Loki" in a pleading voice. He turned back to her, and saw that she was standing now and was looking at him with rising worry.
"Loki, please," she pleaded softly as she stepped closer, "Why would you say such a thing?"
"It was a slip of the tongue, that is all. I am sorry if I have upset you-"
"You called yourself a monster Loki, why?" Fara pushed.
Loki strained to think of something to say, an explanation that would ease her worry enough to leave him alone for the night. Unfortunately while he thought, she had stepped closer still and was searching his face for answers. He didn't know what gave him away, what facial clue made her eyes suddenly widen and her hand come up to grasp his sleeve.
"They told you," she breathed, and Loki froze completely.
"What?" he asked, his whole body going cold.
"They finally told you," she repeated, her eye wide and searching his for confirmation. "About who you are…"
Loki grabbed her by her wrists and forcefully pushed her away with a snarl. "You mean what I am don't you? How long have you known!?"
"I am you King!" he raged, "Answer me! How long have you known?!"
Fara closed her eyes in resignation but still Loki was not prepared for her answer. "I've always known."
Loki felt as though he had been struck. This was worse than discovering his heritage and the fallout with Odin. Fara was the one person he trusted most in Asgard, the one whom he had told his secrets to. And now he was to discover that she had been in on the conspiracy from the beginning?
"Why?" he asked hoarsely as his body began to shake with anger. This was one betrayal to many; there was only so much truth he could handle in one day. "Why?! Why did you never tell me? Why did you care so much for me when you knew what I was? Was it to control me? To tame the terrible creature so that it wouldn't attack?" He lashed out, and with his magic he sent the dishes and all of their contents to the floor. Despite the commotion, Fara did not move even as he bore down upon her. "At least Odin was more honest in his disinterest in me, why did you even bother to pretend to love me?!"
"No Loki, it was not pretend, I do love you." She said earnestly and Loki nearly turned away.
"Do not lie to me! You know what I am, how could you love a monster?"
"You are not a monster Loki, you are my son."
Silence reined as the room and its occupants froze at the declaration. It took Loki a moment for his brain to replay those words again before he understood what Fara had said. But surely she did not mean that… it would mean…
His tongue failed him, and Loki could only gape at the woman before him. She seemed to understand, and reached forward to guide him to a lounging chair nearby. In silence she sat down beside him and patiently allowed him a few minutes to gather his thoughts.
"Yes Loki," she said before he could ask, "I am a Jotunn. And no, Odin does not know that I am. Nor does anyone else in Asgard."
Loki let his gaze fall to the floor as he sat there in shock, not quite sure what he was feeling. Anger, for being lied to all his life. Fear for what she might tell him next. Hope, for she had said that she loved him…
"Loki," Fara called, drawing him from his thoughts. She looked to him earnestly, her hand finding his. "I will answer your questions, I will tell you all that I know, but first I must ask what exactly Odin said when he told you the truth."
Loki let out a humourless laugh, and then brokenly went about telling her of the events of the day before, right up to when he was made king. He did not tell her of his second trip to Jotunheim, or of his plans for his birth father. Fara was angry when he told her that he had discovered it on his own when he'd been grabbed in battle. She was furious when he told her word for word what Odin had explained to him in the vault.
"Odin is a lair and a fool," she nearly snarled and Loki tried to think back on the last time he had ever seen her look so angry. Her control was absolute though, and once her outburst was over she drew herself up and took his hand in both of hers. "Odin, I think, has made some assumptions that are not true. If you will allow me, I will explain everything to you. You may ask me anything at any time, but please let me finish. Alright?"
Loki nodded, if only because his curiosity burned for answers. Odin's explanation had only left him with more questions. Fara squeezed his hand once before taking a deep breath.
"My full name is Farbauti, daughter of Bergelmir. And what you must understand is that the Jotunnar have not always been as they are now. Before the war, before Laufey was king, Jotunheim was beautiful. Our city's were made of ice and precious stones so that the whole of the capital shined like a diamond in the snow. We had art and culture, and so much knowledge. We are of the oldest of races, and our libraries were full of the old magic. We were a warrior race, this is true, but we were not brutes or cruel. We were more like Asgard in the way we took pride in our warriors."
"In the time of Laufey's fathers rule, there was peace. When there was need for war, our armies would do battle, there were even times in which we took up arms beside Asgard to defeat a common foe. Combined, our forces were unstoppable. But then Laufey took the throne and things began to change." Farbauti paused, her gaze miles away as she remembered how it happened. "What you must remember Loki is that no one is simply evil from the start. Laufey was not always a heartless warlord. In the beginning of his rule, Laufey did little differently than his father. But he had been raised on stories of war and glory, and was eager to make some stories himself." She paused and glanced at Loki, "That at least I think is something you are familiar with. Really, when I first met Laufey, he was not much unlike Thor is now. Eager to prove himself in battle."
Loki did not know what to think of that. He'd always only known Laufey as Odin's enemy in the stories. This terrible red eyed beast that slaughtered Aesir with a cruel grin on his face. The idea that Laufey had started out like his brother was disturbing to say the least.
"He did not jump directly into war either," Farbauti continued. "He had stadiums constructed, and events were put on where feats of strength and battle were made to be forms of entertainment. I remember going to them, to see the best and strongest of Jotunheim battle to see who would triumph. It wasn't just Jotunn's either. The best warriors from all nine realms would travel to compete. Elves, trolls, dwarves, even Aesir did battle for the honour. The Jotunar who won over all were given the honor of being in King Laufey's private guard."
"I do not know when exactly it changed, when the games became something more. After a century of this, and of Jotunar being gathered for Laufey's guard, he had enough to make an army from those men alone. The best of the best, tested by the strongest of the realms. Even then, Laufey did not simply go to war. He led his men into battle, usually with trolls or the dark elves over some slights or breaches of treaty. Then these became more common occurrences and Laufey began to have a reputation for being quick to anger and brutal in retaliation."
"And then he tried to invade Midgard. He claimed it was because our numbers were growing to quickly and we needed more land in which our people could settle, but none believed him. He was tired of scuffles and wished to test the mettle of his men by conquering another realm. You know the rest, of how Asgard stepped in to protect the mortals, how they defeated us until Jotunheim was little more than a husk. Odin took the casket as his prize and that was the end of it. Laufey has ruled over nothing but ruin since then."
Farbauti turned to face Loki, her eyes sad. "I did love Laufey once. But I told you that I had lost my husband to war and that was not a lie. Once he invaded Midgard, there was nothing left of the one I once knew. I did not leave though, I was queen and my people needed me. When I became withchild, Laufey was joyful, excited to have an heir at last. But when you were born he was angry,"
"Because I am a runt." Loki spat out, remembering Odin's words of him being small.
"You are no such thing!" Farbauti admonished him. "Jotunn come in different sizes, and you should know that if Odin had sought to teach you anything of Jotunheim other than of the war. True, our warriors are large, and certainly worthy of the title giant, but there are more than warriors on Jotunheim. Our sorcerers are small enough to be compared to Aesir, and that is why Laufey was upset. He had wanted a son that would be the strongest warrior known in history. In his mind a spell caster could never be known as such. So he ordered for you to be sent away, given to some family on the other side of the realm so that you would never know who you were. Obviously that was the last straw for me, and I took to you and hid. The final battle took place then, Laufey was defeated, and I thought it might be over at last. We had been hiding in one of the old temples when Odin found us. He came for the casket, and thinking I was there to protect it he attacked. I was injured, but not slain. But when I next woke up the casket was gone and so were you."
"I spent the next few weeks healing from my wounds, and fearing the worst. But I did not give up hope. I had to wait for enough of my strength to return before I could travel to Asgard, invisible to all. I had expected Odin to have given you to some member of his court, or even to the staff to be made into a servant where you were old enough. I did not think he would have made you his son."
Farbauti sighed and leaned into Loki's side as she went over her memories of those days. Loki permitted it, and waited for her to continue. "I could not simply take you," she said finally. "You were the new prince and no one seemed to know what you were. Odin had kept the secret of your origins from everyone. If I took you, all of Asgard would have been after us. So I disguised myself, and with time and magic I was given a position in the palace kitchen. Close enough so that I might see you."
"To see me, but not to take me back." Loki said lowly,
"Do you not think I did not wish to?" Farbauti said forcefully, turning to face him once more. "Loki, uncountable opportunities passed when I nearly just snatched you away. All those times you were ill and they could not heal you, it would have been so simple to have placed and illusion upon you and let them think you had passed. Then I could have taken you anywhere! But I couldn't, Asgard is the safest place for you, for both of us. And here you have at least been the prince you should have been. You've been given the best of tutors, the best trainers. I could have given you none of these things, not while hiding from Laufey. This way was best, you were happy and safe, and I could still see you. I've never abandoned you Loki, I've always been here with you."
Loki fought not to let her words affect him, but it was a hard battle. Instead he focused on what else she said. "What do you mean I am safe from Laufey here. Odin took the casket and with it their ability to travel to other realms."
Farbauti shook her head. "There are still sorcerers like me and you who do not need the casket or the bifrost to travel to other realms. And Laufey has never let them stop from searching for either of us. He would see you dead now."
"Why? Why kill a child who does not even wish to be related to him?"
"Because you are his first born Loki. I know that he has had two more sons since, but you are his first and therefore the heir to the throne. But Laufey wants Helblindi to rule, and he fears that one day you will appear and take the throne anyways."
"As if I would desire to rule over a barren wasteland." Loki sneered.
"It was not always that way Loki, I wish you could have seen it before it was ruined by war."
Loki looked down at Farbauti, his mother, and saw the sadness in her face and tried to imagine what it must be like for her. "I only saw as far as Laufey's fortress, or what was left of it. Is it all like that now?" he asked softly.
"Not all of it, some of the smaller cities still stand. And the greater libraries and temples are safely encased in the ice until such a time that it is safe to release them." Farbauti told him before falling silent.
They both sat, lost in thought for a time. "Were you ever going to tell me?" Loki asked, breaking the silence. "We any of you ever going to tell me?"
Despite his sudden cold tone, Farbauti only nodded. "I nearly told you when you were younger, on several occasions. I thought to wait until you were old enough to understand… but then when that time came, you were having such difficulty making friends. You weren't fitting in with the other children, and I thought it would be cruel to tell you how different you really were. And then as you got older and were taught only terrible things of your own people… I suppose I waited because I thought that telling you would not have changed anything. It only meant that you would have had to turn your whole life into an act so that no one would know. You would have lived in fear that an Aesir would find out that you were a Jotunn and kill you for it. Finally, I decided to wait for Laufey to die. Either of old age or assassination. He is not a much loved king, and not so young anymore either. And with him gone the threat on your life would go with him."
Loki gave no response to her words, instead he sat rigidly next her waiting to feel the burn of anger. She had kept this terrible secret from him his whole life and he should hate her for it. And yet he didn't. He wanted to be mad at her for not telling him, for not raising him herself. But then she practically had, hadn't she. For as long as he could remember, Fara had been the one to hold him and care for him when he had needed it. She had taught him his magic, encouraged his studies and listened to him when no one else would have. It was impossible to be angry with her, and so in place of the fury that should have taken over his heart, he only felt tired.
As usual, Farbauti noticed and gently urged him to stand. Then she came around to stand before him and reached up to place a hand on either side of his weary face.
"Knowing changes nothing Loki. You are who you have always been. You have been a Jotunn since the day you were born, knowing the truth now does not suddenly turn you into a monster. You are my kind, mischievous, brilliant son, and you will be a fine king indeed." She tilted her head in the direction of his bed chambers. "Once you have gotten a little sleep."
She smiled softly, but Loki did not return the gesture. Now that he was close, he could study her features in new light. He could suddenly see the features that he knew from his mirror, like the shape of her brow, to the curve of her lips. So many nights sitting at the table with Odin and Frigga, staring at them and trying to figure out who he looked like, and wondering why he could never match anything…
Farbauti was staring back at him while he studied, and it took him a moment to realize that she was looking at him with a longing expression.
"What is it?" he asked.
Farbauti blinked and took half a step back, surprised in her own actions. "Nothing, I am sorry."
Loki followed her, unwilling to let there be any more secrets between them. "Tell me." He said softly, not quite a command, not entirely a plea.
Farbauti stared up at him with a strange hope in her eyes. "I only wondered… what you might have looked like when that warrior grabbed you. You have been Aesir in appearance since the day Odin took you, and I only…"
She did not finish, Loki did not need her to as her meaning was clear. He shifted on his feet, feeling torn.
"I do not know how to control it." He admitted, "To bring forth my Jotunn skin I must be touching the casket or…"
Farbauti watched him struggle to say the words. Reather than finish them for him, she instead stepped back and closed her eyes. Loki was not sure what she was doing at first, but then from the crown of her head, blue started to seep downwards. Raised lines appeared on her brow and face and neck, as the blue disappeared beneath the fabric of her dress. When she opened her eyes again, they were Jotunn red and Loki forced himself to look at her.
She did not look that different really. She wasn't suddenly monstrous or ugly, she was simply Fara, only blue. Knowing this was the only thing that kept him from snatching his hand back when she reached out to gently take it. Instead when her cool fingers grasped his, he closed his eyes so that he would not have to watch it.
He knew when the transformation was complete because Farbauti let out a breath of wonder and both her hands went to hold either side of his face, her thumbs tracing over the lines that were there. When he forced his eyes open, Farbauti was looking up at him with wonder, her own eyes wet as she inspected him.
"My son," she breathed and Loki could not remember ever seeing her so happy. "Look at you, you are perfect."
Loki might have argued that but then she was wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling him into an almost desperate hug. His arms went around her easily, he was used to her embraces after all and it was second nature by now to hug her back. She held on for a long time though, and when they parted there were ice crystals on her cheeks. Then she changed back, and the ice melted and was briskly wiped away.
After that there seemed to be little else to say. With an efficient show of magic, the mess he had made of the dinner was cleared from the floor and with one last hug she departed so that he could at last sleep. He shut to door to his chambers with a sigh. He never told her about his plans for Laufey.
Thanks to everyone who reviewed! I loved your comments! Please let me know what you think of this chapter, especially about Fara's side to the story!