A/N: English is not my first language. I apologize in advance for any mistakes I've made. There will be spoilers for Thor 2 in the next two chapters.

Cracked Ice

Laufey stared down into the unseeing eye of his greatest enemy, hand clasped around a blade of ice. 'Look at you now, mighty Odin.', he thought, 'So helpless! So vulnerable! Betrayed!'

"It's said that you can still see and hear what transpires around you, even in this state" he said, "I hope it's true, so that you may know your death came by the hand of Laufey."

In fierce anticipation he raised the blade. 'For Jotunheim!'

He never saw the blast of energy aimed at him from behind. Disoriented he found himself lying on the ground, without remembering how he had got there, and was dimly aware of a vaguely familiar voice saying, "And your death came by the son of Odin."

'Tricked', he realized. He had been tricked. Dully he watched as his companions fell to the power of Gungnir. 'No, not Helblindi...' he thought desperately, 'Please Great Mother... not my son!' He was aware that he needed to get up, to fight, to do something, but his battered body would not respond. All he could do was watch as the trickster raised the spear again, pointing it directly at him, at the King of Jotunheim, who had so carelessly walked into his trap...

Then suddenly it was the green-clad would-be-king flying through the air as he was knocked out of the way by an object Laufey could not immediately identify. 'A hammer?' he wondered and his heart sank when he recognized the armoured figure in red stepping into the chamber. The other prince... that arrogant foolish boy who had not so long ago pranced into Jotunheim bustling for battle and glory. Surely he could not expect mercy from this quarter!

But to his great surprise the golden prince paid him no heed, trading angry words with his brother instead. Laufey did not really pay attention to what was being said, finding it hard enough to stay conscious. Though he did take notice when words became actual blows, culminating in the clashing of Gungnir and Mjölnir as the brothers began to fight each other. He briefly thought that he needed to get out of the way, but found that he could still not move. It didn't matter since the brothers were gone rather quickly, presumably taking their fighting elsewhere.

Laufey continued to lie semi-consciously on the floor, feeling strangely detached from everything. 'Should I not be in pain?' he asked himself dreamily, 'Should I not feel anything?' Was this it? Was he fated to die in this place, so far from home?

The hem of a dress fell into his view and when he looked up with disoriented eyes, he found the Æsir Queen Frigga standing right in front of him, a sword clutched tightly in her grip. She was saying something to him rather angrily, but he could hardly make out the words and continued to stare stupidly at her. A moment later he noted that she was kneeling by his side, touching him, and wherever her expert hands trailed, feeling began to return. Pain to be exact, though any feeling was better than this terribly nothingness.

And then suddenly there was another kind of pain, a pain that came from within, from his connection to the land he called home, the connection that had been forged when he had accepted the throne. It was Jotunheim herself crying out, as she was being ripped apart, asking him to help her, begging him to stop whatever was happening to her. Yet all he could do was lie there helplessly, suffering, knowing that somewhere far away his homeworld was dying. He did not know that he was screaming, he was not aware that a cluster of people had formed around him, and he did not see as the sleeping enemy, he would have slain, awoke. Nothing mattered but her and her pain. Failed. Oh how utterly he had failed as a king! He had led his people to their doom not once but twice and this time Death was coming for them all. Laufey welcomed his, longed to be released from this agony. "And know that your death came by the son of Odin." resounded the trickster's words in his mind. Behind his closed eyelids Jotunheim was burning.

Finally everything stopped as darkness took him.

He came back to himself in Asgard's healing rooms, healers tending to him. He had come very close to death they told him, and his weakened state was a testimony to that. The Jotnar were a sturdy people, very hard to kill, but whatever magic Gungnir had released had almost succeeded. Had succeeded in the case of his son. Helblindi, his eldest, his heir... gone. As he slowly pierced together what had happened from the mouths of the healers and later from of the Allfather himself, Laufey began to realize what a heavy price he had paid - and how much worse it could have been.

He was treated with surprising civility by the Æsir for someone who had lead a hostile force into their home and had come close to slaying their leader. Though the healers and servants taking care of him were obviously reluctant to do so, they gave him all the courtesy and respect he deserved as a king, while he was recovering. Odin himself visited him only once to inform him of what had transpired after Laufey had been struck by Gungnir. The Allfather was civil enough, almost apologetic, giving no outward sign of wanting retribution, though Laufey thought he detected a certain wariness. He was sure sooner or later he would have to pay for his failed attempt on Odin's life. But for now everyone seemed happy to pretend it had never happened, and the King of Jotunheim had no intention of reminding them.

While Odin kept his distance, he had his son visit their invalid guest regularly. Laufey still felt ambivalent about prince Thor. It was hard to believe that he owed his life – his people's life – to Asgard's future king, the prince he had believed just to be a foolish arrogant boy who would rather kill them all. But he noted that the boy had changed. Apparently his attack on Jotunheim had not gone unpunished by the Allfather, as Laufey had presumed. Thor Odinson had been banished for a time without his powers, and returned just in time to stop his brother's madness. He had destroyed the Bifrost in doing so, virtually trapping Laufey on Asgard for now. As a consequence the king felt a strange mixture of gratitude and resentment towards the young Æsir.

Owing an enemy such a debt was rather vexing, but having to rely on said enemy's hospitality was even worse. When Laufey was recovered enough to leave the rooms of healing, he was given ample quarters in the palace, befitting for a king and guest of honor. He had expected a prison cell, but if the Allfather wanted to keep up this pretence, Laufey was certainly not going to complain. Weakened still, he was no longer a threat in any case, and there were guards to watch his every step, whenever he ventured out of his rooms. In the following weeks he tried to adapt to life on Asgard as best as he could, but found it difficult. It was so very different from home... almost unbearably hot where Jotunheim was freezing cold, blindingly bright where Jotunheim was soothing dark shadows, velvety soft where Jotunheim was hard, cutting ice. He knew he had no friends here. The Æsir treated him civilly, but were at best indifferent towards him, most of them barely hiding their fear and disdain.

Prince Thor alone seemed to be making an actual effort to be friendly, surprising Laufey more than once with questions about his homeworld and about the Jotnar. The boy seemed genuinely interested, which was most baffling. Whatever had happened during his exile, truly seemed to have changed him and his perceptions about the Frost Giants – and Laufey hoped to use this to Jotunheim's benefit. There could be no harm in indulging Thor's curiosity and if it made him more sympathetic to the Jotnars' cause, all the better. There was probably no chance of regaining the Casket while Odin ruled as king in Asgard, but the Allfather was an old man and would not continue do so for much longer. Being on good terms with Asgard's future king could certainly be no disadvantage.

And then there was the matter of the other prince... Loki, the trickster, the betrayer, who had been lost to the Void - or so Laufey was told. They said Loki had not been ready to be king, that the sudden burden of so much power and responsibility had gone to his head. "Though he has always been a strange one, that Loki," people whispered. "No one could be sure, how long the madness had been simmering in him, just waiting to be pushed to the surface..."

The Æsir all seemed rather horrified by what their younger prince had tried to do. As the affected party so was Laufey, but he could not honestly claim that he would have done differently if the situation had been reversed. From this point of view he could almost admire the trickster's scheme. Though of course it would not have been nearly as effective if Laufey himself hat not played so well into his hands. If he had not let himself be blinded by hate and desire for revenge, if he had not been so desperate as to grasp at straws - at any chance to regain the Casket of Ancient Winters - things would never have come to a head. He would not be trapped on a hostile world now, his people would not have been forced to suffer even more, and his son would still be alive. It would seem that he had learned nothing at all since he had plunged his people into that ill-conceived war with Asgard all those centuries ago, effectively damning his whole realm when the outcome had been the opposite of what he had intended. No, prince Loki might have played a part, but Laufey shouldered most of the blame for what had happened.

He did wonder however, whether there had been a personal vendetta on the part of the prince. Most would baulk at the idea of wiping out a whole people, even battle hardened soldiers. To actually go through with it, Laufey knew, a special kind of hate was required. But what had Jotunheim done to earn Loki's hatred? As far as he knew, the Æsir prince had never been to Laufey's home-world before arriving there in his brother's company. Surely that incident could not have been the reason! It was Jotunheim that had borne the brunt of the attack – to his knowledge there had been no consequences for the Æsir party other than the crown prince's banishment. Another matter was nagging him: There was something they were not telling him, and it had to do with Loki and with himself. He could not help but notice the look Thor involuntarily threw his way every time his brother's name came up, and how reversely Odin carefully avoided his gaze whenever his second son was mentioned.

After a while the mystery started to drive Laufey crazy. Or maybe it was the boredom. There was nothing to do for him on Asgard except brooding and mulling over things. Either way he was sick of being left in the dark, so the next time he talked to Thor, he subtly tried to steer the conversation towards the second prince. Subtlety was lost on the boy however, it was obvious that the Æsir didn't really want to talk about his brother. Laufey ended up asking outright what Thor thought had driven Loki to destroy Jotunheim.

"I don't know," Thor replied, but Laufey could tell he was lying. The prince was almost depressingly honest, always wearing his heart on his sleeve. Deception was simply not in his nature – the opposite of his brother.

"It has something to do with me, does it not?" Laufey pressed, "I am not a fool, you know!"

Thor defensively raised his hands. "I'm afraid, it is not my tale to tell," he said in an apologetic voice, and the King of Jotunheim quickly realized he would get nowhere here.

So he went to Odin. The Allfather was a thief and a liar, but all his actions towards Laufey lately bespoke a sense of guilt. Laufey was not above using that.

"There is something you are not telling me regarding your son Loki," he confronted the King of Asgard in his throne room, "I would know what it is you seek to hide from me!"

"Would you?" Odin replied, but there was no real force behind his voice and he looked weary to Laufey's eyes.

"I felt Jotunheim's life force dwindle away as she was being ripped apart! I heard the cries of my people as they were dying! You owe me answers, Allfather, and I will have them!"

And answers he finally got. He almost wished he hadn't.

Odin spoke of that day, and Laufey remembered... the bitter taste of defeat still in his mouth... the humiliation, the pain and desperation as Jotunheims heart was taken away. But the Casket was not the only thing the Allfather took. He spoke of a temple and of a child he had found there and realization hit Laufey then. With disbelief he listened as Odin described how he had picked up the child and how it had changed in his hands, the boy's inherent magic turning Jotun-blue skin pink to match the Æsir who held him. Laufey had no doubt that Odin knew whose son he had found, that he had recognized the birth marks, and he wondered what the Allfather had hoped to gain from taking him with him and raising him as his own and never telling him of his true parentage.

Odin claimed he had done it to protect the boy from the truth, that he had wanted him to feel no different, but Laufey privately thought the Æsir King had done it to protect himself, and successfully so. It was not his adoptive father Loki had tried to kill after uncovering the truth, not Asgard he had tried to destroy. What other lies would the Allfather have told the boy to ensure his loyalty? No doubt his enemy would have tried to form him into a weapon to one day wield against Jotunheim and her king. Only that the weapon he had created was too uncontrollable even for the Allfather, as volatile and destructive as the icy storms of the world that had birthed him.

Laufey listened to all that Odin had to say, his face an expressionless mask of ice, never showing what turmoil of feelings raged underneath, what anger, pain, bitterness the tale invoked in him. He listened silently and he remained silent when the Æsir had ended, finally turning around and leaving without a word, never letting his mask slip. If Odin hoped for his forgiveness, he would be disappointed. The Allfather had taken too much from him to ever be forgiven... this was just one more slight to add to the list. A very personal one.

'Oh Farbauti,' he silently wailed, back in the refuge of his chambers, 'How glad I am you are not here to have to bear this pain!' It had been a long time since he had last thought of his mate, gone for many years... or of his first born, the tiny life given to Jotunheim and believed to be dead, just another thing he had lost that fateful day. To find out he had been alive all that time, in the hands of his greatest enemy...

He groaned quietly and rested his head in his hands. How he longed for home, for the cold silence of Jotunheim to soothe him, to guide him, to give him a measure of peace! Was he damned to pay for his mistakes forever? Were his people?

"Great Mother... why did you not stop the one eyed thief?" he whispered to the empty room. What Jotunheim took, she never let go... or so he had thought. Save apparently for one small boy full of magic.

Being separated from his realm became even more unbearable after Odin's revelation. Laufey could hardly feel his connection to her any more. The Bifrost was being repaired, he was told, but it would take longer than anticipated. In his desperation for news from home, he went to Heimdall, Asgard's guardian, who was said to be all-seeing. What he found out was troubling indeed. He was believed to be dead by most on Jotunheim. Býleistr, his last remaining son, had taken the throne in his absence, but he had never been prepared for that role and had trouble keeping control over the warring fractions in the realm. The king feared how much worse the conflict would become if he did not return soon.

And then more unsettling news reached Asgard via Heimdall: Loki was on Midgard – and war was following in his wake.

There is going to be more Loki in chapter two.

About Odin:
My personal opinion of him isn't quite as bad as Laufey's, though watching Thor 2 hasn't really improved it, either. He's not neccessarily a bad guy - he's a king with a lot of power and responsibility, who has to put his realm's interests first. But for someone who is said to be oh so wise and all-seeing he has certainly made a lot of mistakes and keeps making them. Maybe he has ruled for so long that he's lost sight of what is important.