A/N: Good heavens, well this is just one fandom I can't stay away from. I made the mistake of beginning to read the Journey into Mystery series focused around young Loki. Ugh. I can see my paycheck dwindling. He is so freakishly adorable. It may cause me to harass Gabrielle Day into helping me with a story line that won't leave me alone for Thor and Loki. Not that it takes too much harassment... It is Thor and Loki after all... XD
I'm not sure how many of you have seen Tales of Asgard, but it started me thinking when I watched it. Spoiler alert, if you haven't seen it, just for these notes to follow. When, at the end, Odin uses magic to multiply himself, I thought of the Thor movie when that was Loki's signature move of sorts (in Avengers as well, but perhaps less so) and how interesting that it was that Loki could have learned that from Odin. The thoughts brought about the following story. That and the fact that I can't leave the fandom alone. Ugh.
He had always been different. No matter how hard he tried - and he did try, really he did - he was just... different. He was not as strong as the other boys his age, nor as deft at what angle to best swing the sword. He was quicker than most of them, with his slight form and wiry frame, but that only allowed him to dodge. That was no way for a prince of Asgard to act, so in the end it did him no good. In the end he would merely slink away, beaten and embarrassed by what he knew had been coming to begin with, to find some dark corner to sulk in until his elder brother and friends had finished their loud guffaws that were mostly aimed in his direction.
This was how Odin found his younger son that day. It had been at his encouragement that the dark haired youth had joined his brother and the other budding warriors for training. He had watched silently from a distance as Loki did what he could against some that were nearly twice his size and weight. Finally he rolled against the dusty ground and stumbled when he had tried to stand, only to find his face in the dirt again as a boot landed against his back.
"You're the one that keeps pushing him to go back out there," Frigga said quietly from his side. "He only does it to please you."
Odin sighed. He knew that tone. He wouldn't bother to wait until she said it plainly, but instead moved forward, startling his younger son with the quiet sound his boots made against the marble floor.
Loki looked up at him from his seat on the cold surface. His lip was split and the skin around his left eye was starting to colour. It would darken more very soon and be a rather vicious looking black eye by the time the sun rose the next morn. He looked a bit sheepish, as if he'd been caught hiding. In a way he had. "Father," he managed, eyes turned downward suddenly. Asgardian princes did not hide. Thor did not, at any rate.
"Up," Odin said gruffly, barely waiting until the boy pulled himself to his feet, untangling long limbs to follow.
Loki nearly had to jog to keep up, trying desperately to keep control of his emotions. He knew Odin had seen what might have been an excuse for a battle and he didn't even want to think what lecture could drive the Allfather to take his younger son away from the palace walls and out into open fields. The further away they moved from the courts the tighter the knot at the pit of the young trickster's stomach became.
At last Odin stopped - so abruptly that his son nearly ran into him - and surveyed the open field. It was far away from prying eyes, or ears, and he turned to look at the sulking lad.
Slowly, and with great effort, Loki raised his head and forced himself to meet his father's steady gaze. "Father-"
Odin held out a hand, effectively silencing him. "Am I to understand that you are no longer attending your lessons with Sorceror Hoenir?"
Loki blinked owlishly. "This isn't about the battle?"
"Answer the question, Loki." He paused, as if thinking better of the statement. "Straightly," he added after a moment.
"I am not."
Loki's thin lips twitched downward and he glanced away, irritation bubbling. "He told me I couldn't come back."
"That is what Sorcerer Aric, Sorcerer Ivar and Sorceress Tove said as well. All four of the top magic teachers in Asgard turned you away. Hoenir after much negotiation on your mother's part. Why?"
Loki opened his mouth to respond before snapping it shut again, noting the stern look on his father's face. Speak no lies, the expression said what his tongue did not. The young prince swallowed and searched his mind for the right words. The truth finally won out, even if he knew it wasn't what Odin wanted to hear. Few people actually want to truth. "They didn't like to be shown up."
"And did you show them up?"
"It's not my fault they couldn't keep up with me. Tove favoured Amora long after I'd surpassed her skill level, Ivar would never let me watch after what he was doing, and Aric got angry every time I'd get something new right on the first try. I'd wager he never did when he was young, doddiling old bastard."
"It's true! Why does everyone always become angry when I speak the truth?"
Odin resisted a small smile even as he shook his head. "And Hoenir?" He watched his son's expression go dark suddenly and memories surged of the discussions over Asgard's lead sorcerer some months back. Aric had just turned the younger prince out as an apprentice - the claim of trickery and sabotage on a rather difficult spell was not as farfetched as Loki may have wished it to seem - and Frigga had been determined that he have somewhere to go with his energies. She had always encouraged his use of magic and had told Odin that she would convince Hoenir to accept their child as his apprentice, no matter his demand of payment. Hoenir had turned them down at first, as he was one of the very few that knew of Loki's true lineage. He had been indignant at the request, claiming that he could never take a Frost Giant under his tutelage, no matter what the boy knew or didn't. Odin still was not sure what Frigga had said behind closed doors to convince the aging man, but now, with his son having been thrown from yet another magical teacher's lessons, he feared what was said in the heat of the end. When he spoke again, the Allfather's voice was surprisingly gentle. "What did he say, Loki?"
The boy huffed. "He said I was dangerous. He said he wouldn't teach me anymore."
"Did something happen to make him say that?"
"I didn't do anything to him, if that's what you mean!"
"I am not accusing you, my son."
Green eyes flickered upward to look at the single blue. He decided, after a moment, to believe the words. "He didn't like to be shown up, like the rest. I don't know. He'd give me something bigger, something more difficult he would say, and it was easy. It's always easy. Finally he just exploded. He got so mad, like he'd hoped I'd fail at it."
"What was it?"
"Just some water spell. It was child's play. He wanted me to turn it into ice without speaking. I do most of my magic without verbalization. I have for ages now, but he got so angry." No matter how the youth tried to disguise it he had been hurt by the words spoken. One would think the words would be easier to take than the blows he'd faced just hours before. "I really was trying to be good this time, Father. He was teaching too slow, but he was clever. More clever than the other three combined. I could have learned something new if he'd let me."
"He said nothing else?"
"I didn't even understand what he said! I'm not... I know people are weary. I know they don't trust me and that I don't always give them a reason to. I'm not daft. I know, but... I really tried with him. Why would he think I'm dangerous?"
One large hand was suddenly resting on top of dark hair and Loki startled. Odin gave him a grim look and ruffled his hair. "Because men of great power fear other men of great power." He smirked. "Even more if the second may not yet be a man. Come. I have something to show you."
"Really?" For the first time Loki realized that he might not be out in the middle of nowhere for a tongue lashing. He wondered if Thor felt the same rush of excitement when their father took him out on his own.
Odin turned to look down on the boy, his voice serious. "After some time it has come to my attention that you will never be the warrior your brother is."
Every ounce of excitement that had suddenly built left Loki all at once and he felt deflated.
"But," Odin continued, taking a step back as if to gain room, "you are my son as well, and I will teach you something that your magic lessons could not have taught you and that Thor has not the patience to learn."
"You'll teach me something you wouldn't teach Thor?" Loki asked before he could stop himself.
His father gave a firm nod. "I have taught you both from childhood many things about battle. Thor rushes in with his strength and his courage, but you I see watch and calculate your next move with great care. Today, what happened?"
There it was, back to the battle. Loki wrinkled his nose and looked to the grass. "I lost."
"No, they came at me together. They couldn't catch me one-on-one. I was too quick."
"Mm, and if there were more than one of you, could they catch you then?"
Green eyes widened. He'd seen his father perform the bit of magic that he was sure that he spoke of now perhaps once or twice. It was powerful magic, and it was said no one but Odin had ever mastered it. "They could not."
Odin's lips twitched upward. "Thor tells me you've dabbled in shapeshifting. Don't deny it, I won't tell your mother and I won't be angry as long as you take your time with it. You frightened your brother."
"I have dabbled."
"It may give you your basis in which you may start. It will be different than mine, but that is not wrong. Close your eyes and focus. Quiet yourself."
"But you have performed this magic in the rage of battle, have you not? Is it always performed in such a way?"
"You have been around your rash brother, have you not?" Odin chuckled. "Contrary to what you've learned with dealing with your teachers, Loki, this must begin slow. Like your shapeshifting. As you might find yourself tangled in an unnatural way when changing forms if you hurry it along, you could splinter your very being if you do not take your time in this. You do not rush that, do not rush this."
Loki nodded and closed his eyes, taking a deep breath and listening to his father speak. Odin's voice drifted into his ears as he explained the details of the magic, the way the the illusion would shift outward and do as he pleased. At first it would only look as a shadow might, but given time and practice he could give it form and give it shape. Eventually it would be a perfect replica of himself and then, when he had really mastered the art, he could create movement in the illusions.
Father and son worked on the magic together until well after the sun had set. Loki progressed further than Odin would have given credit for and the Allfather felt a certain pride tug at him that was usually reserved for his eldest. By the time they began the long trek back to the palace Loki's feet were dragging and he looked ready to collapse against his pillows as soon as he entered his own chambers.
While he did not gather him in his arms as he might have thought to if he were still a very young boy, he guided him to his rooms, carefully and deliberately as not to allow him to wander exhaustively. He led him into the room without a word and watched his son turn straight to the bed and crawl under the sheets. Odin watched every movement and felt a tug at his heart. He knew - Frigga warned him of it often - that he showed favour to Thor. His elder son was a replica of what he had been as a youth and he found much in common with him. He found as much in common with Thor as he found little in common with Loki. Until this day. He had sought that link and he had found it.
Odin reached a hand out and pulled the covers up over his younger son's thin shoulders. "Good night," he whispered.
Loki chuckled sleepily. "It has been many years since you wished me good night from my bedside."
The Allfather smiled and lay one large hand against the side of Loki's face. "Sleep well."
"Father," Loki called, stopping the Allfather in his tracks. He paused, as if unsure that he should speak. "Thank you for today," he said at last.
Odin nodded, as if unsure quite how to respond. "You have talent, Loki. I should see it grow so that you will become all that you are meant to be." With that he was gone, leaving Loki to drift into a deep sleep and dream. It was silly, he might have realized it if he had not been so tired, to feel so fulfilled in one afternoon. All in all, if had only been a handful of fleeting moments in the full view of eternity, but they had been his fleeting moments. It was a piece of his life that he had to share with no one but his father, and for that he could be very grateful.