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The Well

Title: The Well
Author:ciaranbochna
Length: 1733
Rating: PG

Characters: Loki, Heimdall, Thor, Odin, Laufey. Mentions of Skuld and Hogun
Warnings: Slight violence, mental instability
Spoilers: Thor and The Avengers
Summary: The Norns are present at every birth, save one

A year passes before Odin removes the gag.

They are so careful now. When the metal vanishes he stifles the urge to smile at his hovering jailers. Thor looks too hopeful, leaning toward him until he is stopped by Hogun’s hold on his arm. Loki remembers a time when it would take four warriors to hold Thor back. His new restraint is disappointing.

“You will stay here in Asgard, under our watch. Do not think we will hesitate—“

“To kill me? Thought never entered my mind, my lord.” He drawls the last word, bowing with a flourish and a smile. The chains around his wrist chime when he waves his hand.

Odin leans forward on his throne, scowling.

“Father, please let me be responsible for Loki.” Thor pleads.

Loki’s lip twists. Yes, begging is all it takes if you are a simpering idiot.

It takes him less than an hour to lose his ‘guardian.’ All Loki has to do is ask Thor to fetch an old sword Loki had made him when they were children. What use would he have for that sword now, and where does Thor’s belief in him lie after everything that has passed?

He walks along the bifrost, but it does not hold the same fascination as it did when he was young. Asgard has paled, like everything has since.

“Do not think you can hide lie smith.”

“It never occurred to me gatekeeper. Everyone craves a moment alone, even the condemned, yes?” Loki waves the glamour away and stands before Heimdall. He stares past him into the dark beyond the shattered bifrost.

“How many worlds do you watch?” Loki rocks on his heels, hands behind his back.

“More than can be told, or I would share with you.” Heimdall crosses his arms.

“Oh I can imagine. I have seen…” Loki closes his eyes briefly.

“You should not believe his promises. You are beneath his notice. He needed you for a moment, and when he doesn’t--”

“I am well aware of the bargain I made Heimdall. And I know where Thanos’ loyalties lie. We used each other, and when he returns, I expect my fate will be the same as the rest. Tell me, does Jotunheim still spin in the dark?”

“It does, despite your efforts to destroy it.”

“It is made stronger that I realized.” Loki shrugs. Heimdall’s golden eyes fix on him.

“If my king had not forbidden it, I would kill you now.”

“I know.” Loki stares up at Heimdall. There is nothing that he fears here in Asgard, death least of all.

“Odin does not see his failing. You are neither Laufey, nor Odin. You defy everything Loki, but what is left?”

Loki stills. He looks away from Heimdall, seeing the blue/white glint of Jotunheim.

***

The light is so faint between the stars. Between the worlds. By his count it is months since he has taken a breath, perhaps longer. Sometimes he lets the ice cover his eyes, prefers the dark. Doesn’t see Thor, Odin, feel his fingers…

Doesn’t feel the cold. He takes each spark of light and weaves it into a garrotte, imagining Thor’s throat beneath the silver. Thor's hair darkens, eyes shade to green...

He transcribes runes beneath his skin, feels the lines carve like spiders skittering up his arms, in the hollows of his skull. Until he hears something else. Something that isn’t inside.

Breathes. Out of the void.

“What do you want Asgardian?

Loki remembers Jotunheim shattering, imagines Laufey falling into its sundered heart. Thor’s face as he told him that Odin was dead. Thor’s derisive laughter when Loki explained what he could do with the runes, without words.

“Suffering.” Loki smiles until he feels his cheek muscle’s twitch.

“And chaos. Yes, I believe you will serve.” The voice crawls into his ears, begins stretching his bones.

Loki laughs at that. Soon, he screams until his throat bleeds, and finds silence. He will play along, for as long as he needs Thanos. And then—

***

“I do not love death, but I do not fear it either.”

“To fear is to desire, to live. Is there nothing you want Loki?” Heimdall asks.

Loki closes his eyes. He can feel the runes beneath his lids. “Words. I have imprinted myself so that I cannot forget. None of them matter. Nothing does. But for now, they will tie me here, whether I am muzzled, or silent. I cannot be bound by another.” Loki grits his teeth and walks away.

“The boy who sat on this bridge had a mind that encompassed worlds. I did not think you would confine yourself to words.”

Loki clenches his fists, resisting the urge to turn back.

***

Asgard grates on him. Every avoided glance, pass in the halls, the sound of his footsteps gnaw inside him. Loki pauses in an alcove, leaning against the gold-veined marble for a moment to mask his own sound, and every noise around him. He sinks into the stone behind him, passing through the walls until he reaches his room. He has yet to see Freya, for that he is grateful. The first staff he ever carved leans against the wall next to the fireplace. Loki plays one finger down the wood – it is still warm. Yggdrasil’s wood is never cold. He has often wondered why no one else can speak to the world tree but him (not that he ever mentions his ability). Even the all-father does not have the skill. He grasps the staff in one hand (it is only the height of his knee), and asks it to grow. When the wood reaches to touch his cheek, he whispers thank you and it stops. There is something about a staff that he craves, and this one feels right, more than his last.

The walls are smooth in his room. They have removed the windows, but it doesn’t matter. He doesn’t need to see his destination.

***

There is a great crack in Jotunheim. Loki knows it reaches the core of the world. But it is healing slowly; he can feel the edges drawing the wound closed. Not Odin’s work, but Loki has an idea who has that sort of power.

There is nothing left of his throne. A blasted circle overlooking the abyss in Jotunheim’s heart. Spires surround the circle, and Loki can see the beginnings of a new throne at its edge.

“You work quickly Laufey. I admire your skill holding this place together.” Loki uses his staff to deflect the blast aimed at his heart, and the two aimed at his head.

“Leave!”

Loki smiles, and leans on his staff as the ground quakes beneath him. “Careful now, you don’t want to undo all this lovely work do you? All I want is answers to a few nagging questions.”

Laufey appears beside him and stabs his hand into Loki’s lungs. Loki chokes and laughs, allowing the agony for a moment before shrugging Laufey off. He appears a few feet away, wiping blood from the corner of his mouth.

“I can always expect the same welcome from you Laufey. I do appreciate that.”

Laufey’s eyes narrow and he conjures a javelin of ice, but does not release it. “You are more a destroyer than Odin’s toy. But it seems you are difficult to kill.”

“You have no idea.” Something cracks Loki’s face that is not a smile. He turns slightly and stares down into the abyss. Wounds like this he understands.

“So tell me Laufey, who was my mother?”

Laufey’s hand crushes the ice into powder.

“I know she wasn’t human, but since you left me on the side of a mountain, I assume the relationship was short-lived.”

Laufey moves a finger and a seat appears behind him. He slides into it carefully, eyes on Loki.

“Oh don’t bother with your guards, I heard them while I was admiring the view.” Loki waves a hand.

The frost giant growls and tilts his head. Four guards appear behind him, and Loki feels another three at the edge of the cliff behind him.

“Careful, I would almost think you were worried.”

“I have every right to be Asgardian. You have wrought damage that it will take millennia to repair.”

“Flatterer. And I am no Asgardian, as we both know. Now, if we could speak without witnesses?” Loki looks at the guards.

“Very well.” The guards step back and vanish, but Loki sees the shimmer of a barrier between himself and Laufey.

Loki smiles and tilts his head, listening. “Now, who was she?”

“Have they told you that the Norns did not attend your birth?” Laufey leans his head back, smirking.

“Yes. They had some convenient lie regarding a war in Nieflheim. I never believed it.”

“So you shouldn’t. “

“Are you saying that one of the fates is my mother?”

“Skuld, yes. It is also the reason you cannot be bound. You carry the touch of Yggdrasil.”

“Because the Norns feed the world tree from Urðarbrunnr.” Loki leans heavily on his staff, still listening for guards behind him. He can speak to Yggdrasil because there is some part of him…

“And yet they still have a prophecy that I will destroy the world. Why should fate hold dominion over me?” Loki snarls, pacing.

Laufey sighs, and a piece of his chair breaks away in his grip.

Loki barely hears his next words.

“They don’t. It is propaganda. They needed some way to control you.”

“And they chose clever words. Story. What better way to mask the truth.”

“You have many masks, do you not?”

Loki hears a smile in Laufey’s words.

“Indeed. One for every memory. One for every occasion. And one I keep for myself.”

Loki laughs until tears roll from his eyes. He can hear ice falling into the chasm behind him.

“Well, thank you for the information. In return, I will speed the healing of Jotunheim by 500 years.”

Laufey raises an eyebrow, and nods his head. The guards reappear around him.

“You are wrong about one thing, king of the wasteland. I belong to myself, I am no one’s son.”

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
caffienekitty
Dec. 5th, 2012 04:50 am (UTC)
Dude, you wrote Loki fic involving the freaking Norns and I missed it?? I must have been further out of my mind in recent weeks than I thought.

Oh and I have to shout about this next bit. SKULD IS LOKI'S MOM AND THAT MAKES SO MUCH SENSE BECAUSE SKULD IS THE MAIDEN AND IF THE NORNS ALL CYCLE THROUGH THE MAIDEN/MOTHER/CRON CYCLE THEN IN BECOMING MOTHER TO LOKI, SKULD BECAME VERðANDI AND THE MOTHER OF THE TRIO, AND THE PRIOR VERðANDI BECAME URð AND URð BEGAN AGAIN AS SKULD AND THE CYCLE CONTINUES AND LOKI IS PART OF THE CYCLE OF FATE AND AAAAAAAAH!!!!!!! I WANT TO HUG YOUR BRAAAAAAAINNN!!!!! \o/

And just now I jumped literally a foot out of my chair and shouted out loud "Tool of Fate!" because DUUUUUUUDE!!!! OH MY GOD. :-D

I am now making "AAAAAAAH!!!" noises and flapping my hands around. And ending the world, and Ragnarok and the being a prisoner and talking to Heimdal, and the Jotunheim aftermath and talking to Laufey and just things and stuff and OH MY GOD!

I KEEP HAVING TO STOP TYPING THIS TO GESTICULATE!!!

This. Is brilliant. You. Are brilliant. OH MY GOD.


ETA: And I HAD to. I just had to.

Edited at 2012-12-05 04:57 am (UTC)
ciaranbochna
Dec. 5th, 2012 06:13 am (UTC)
I don't even know what to... I was going to make this a prompt on comment fic, and then something imploded.

I am thrilled that you believe it makes sense too. I do have a thing about fate and triple-goddesses.

Gasping and laughing (among other things), thank you. This is what happens when I read the Eddas I suppose. Also, I am in no way brilliant.

Edited at 2012-12-05 06:25 am (UTC)
caffienekitty
Dec. 5th, 2012 07:04 am (UTC)
You are in every way brilliant and deserve to hear that much more often than you do. *hug*
ciaranbochna
Dec. 6th, 2012 04:16 am (UTC)
I read this early in the morning, but still have no response other than...*sputters in denial* I appreciate the thought though.
lurkingwombat
Dec. 6th, 2012 06:44 am (UTC)
You are so brilliant...and Egyptian to boot.
J thinks you are brilliant as well and the fact that you don't is a smacking offense!
ciaranbochna
Dec. 6th, 2012 04:02 pm (UTC)
Uh huh:P So does that mean you enjoyed it then?
aescu
Dec. 14th, 2012 06:08 pm (UTC)
A very interesting story. It answers quite a few of the questions the films left me with. This absolutely makes sense (and is beautifully written also). Thanks for this story :)
ciaranbochna
Dec. 14th, 2012 06:15 pm (UTC)
I don't know what to say - thank you so much! I am glad you enjoyed it:)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )