Hidden Within

Insufferable

The queen's death took everyone by surprise. It came unexpectedly, suddenly, like a river tide of concaving waves crashing against everything in their path. The people of Asgard shared in their grief, and the royal family fell silent. She hadn't seen Odin nor Thor since the incident, but it wasn't hard to guess what they were struggling through.

Grief was one of her fears, in fact, so she was experienced in its stages and detailed effects.

The first? Denial.

You believe all to be lying to you.
No it's not true. It's not. It can't be.
It runs on replay in your head until you can finally navigate through the harsh reality of it all.

Next comes isolation.

You block out the world. Ignore the people around you in an act to forget. Forget what's happened, who you are, what you know. Because you don't want to remember. Simple as that.

What's after that? Anger.

You're not ready for this.
It's too much too quickly.
The isolation and denial fade away and you are then faced with long-lasting physical and mental pain.
Heartbreak. Emotion is extracted from your inner core and forced upon someone else.
Anyone else.
Because you don't care.

The next stage? Bargaining.

What could you have done to prevent it?
Moved quicker?
Striked sooner?
Timed something differently?
It deflects off your denial.

And suddenly you feel entirely vulnerable.

Then, you fall into the deepest and darkest depression.
Solitude. Loneliness. Ignorance and hate.

And the last step in the list of grief's painful purgatory? Acceptance.

But that's laughable.
You never really accept the fact that a person you loved was ripped away from you.
Who are we kidding?
Acceptance is a bold lie.

And that's why she fears it. Grief.
It's suffocating. Deadly and degrading.
And to experience it again, for her, would be life-threatening.
She bit through the guilt of queen's death for her own sake, selfishly.


"I'll see you tomorrow right?" Her best friend, Eden, called back to her with a hopeful wave.

"Of course!" She answered and skipped off towards her home in the market square.

People swayed to and fro, reading, eating, shopping, staring. It was an interesting sight for her. Her curiosity expanded with every new face, her knowledge eager to increase.

Until she reached the door of her home.

A few familiar faces stood outside, peculiar expressions of sadness lining their features, as Adeline Crow took hold of the door handle. She narrowed her eyes and pushed through.

And then she saw her. Her mother that is, and she immediately knew something was utterly wrong.

"Mother?" She called to the blonde haired woman, sitting strangely, Adeline's baby brother wrapped in her arms, as she stared blankly down at an object in her hand.

Adeline approached her carefully with raised eyebrows of confusion, and reached out to grasp hold of her mother's hand, shaking terribly in her midst.

Her baby brother, Henry, gazed up at his older sister with widened eyes of innocence. As she peered into her mother's hand, her heart faltered in its consistent beats.

The thimble. Wrapped tightly in ruby, red thread.

"Mother," Adeline swallowed and shook her head in a lack of understanding. Her mother was silent, simply staring blankly ahead, no emotion whatsoever in those eerie blue eyes.

"Mother!" Adeline shouted and took her mother's shoulders in her grasp. Her mother still didn't respond.

It was in that moment that her uncle came sauntering into the small cottage, his eyes casted downwards, his eyebrows hanging in dejection, and his mouth squeezed into a flat line of what appeared to be anger.

"Uncle." Adeline whispered, lacking a voice as the worry crept over her back in an odd form of shivers. He approached her and took her cheeks in his palms, as if to be kind, pulling her upwards and away from her mother almost painfully.

"Adeline," He snapped harshly.

She furrowed her eyebrows in despair, taken off guard by the sharp, violent movement. "What is it?" She pushed him away, not incredibly eager to be touched sympathetically, as concern continued to wash over her.

She saw him visibly swallow and look down.

And then he flatly stated, "Your father is dead."


Adeline was all right. Or at least that's what she told herself. She'd never actually witnessed someone die before.

At least not in front of her; the trickle of blood throwing her stomach in a bind and her nerves sky-high.

And the expression on Loki's face, that last and final day, as threatened by the Tieflings, sent her farther down into devastation.

He hadn't spoken. Not once. Not even when she had entered the prison that morning, and taken her seat.

The look on his face was empty, far off in the middle of nowhere. Just as her mother had looked when her father unexpectedly passed, with the same eerily dark blue eyes.

She didn't know what to say, or do. She simply sat there, silent, staring at him, her face twisted into a pitiful gaze.

When he finally shut his eyes, after peering at the floor flatly for ages, Adeline cleared her throat, "I'm sorry." She breathed the words softly, and his head slowly rose from its stiff position.

His dark hair contrasted with his pale skin, causing him to appear all the more desperate and withdrawn. "For what?" He choked hoarsely.

Adeline swallowed nervously, but didn't look away. She didn't know how to deal with grievance. Whenever she was around it, she isolated herself because her own grief was too much to deal with.

"I should've done something," She paused and managed, "done something differently."

Loki slowly leaned backwards, to get a better look at her, "What could you possibly have done differently?"

Adeline shook her head and shrugged, "I don't know."

Loki remained silently, and looked away for a mere moment.

"I feel guilty." Adeline admitted with a saddened sigh.

Loki jolted forwards and narrowed his eyes. "You feel guilty? Why?"

Adeline gulped and winced, "I feel like I let her," She hesitated, choking on her words, "die."

Loki closed his eyes as she finished and shook his head vigorously, "Shut up." He snapped and she immediately fell back at the outburst, gazing at him with widened, yet sympathetic, sharp eyes.

"I-" She started again, but Loki was on his feet to interrupt her.

"NO! We both know who is at fault here!" Loki shouted loudly, his eyes glaring viciously at her, rage in his tone of voice.

She caught her breath and finally turned away.

"Me," He stuttered the single word, causing her to arch forwards in utter disbelief.

She swallowed visibly and got to her feet, walking up to the cell wall in hesitation. But she managed to make it all the way there without dropping back, and so she slowly raised her hand to the glass. As she went to open her mouth, she was immediately cut off by opening doors.

Lovetson.

She glared in irritation as he marched in and towards her, his stride full of pride and arrogance as his loyal guards followed behind. She backed away from the glass of the cell, and quickly folded her arms over her torso.

"What do you want?" She snapped harshly, as he smiled her way.

"To take the prisoner off your hands, Lady Crow." He grunted with a wink and gestured his men towards Loki. She shook her head, watching as they fixed on the chains and restraints once more. Her expression then twisted into one of concern as she whirled back to face the ignorant guard.

"No, stop." She uttered and raised a hand in protest.

Lovetson raised an eyebrow. "Excuse me?"

Adeline cringed inwardly, not brave enough to completely defy orders. "This man has just lost someone very dear to him." She explained, glaring hatefully at the puny guard before her.

"I am aware." Joseph nodded with a shrug of his shoulders.

"How much lower can you possibly fall?" Adeline snapped and observed him with perceptive eyes, glancing over at Loki's somber expression.

"I am only following orders, my - Lady Crow." He declared with a short bob of his head. "No exceptions." He barked and turned away from her, walking just behind Loki's dragging chains.

Adeline scoffed in hatred for the man, and slammed herself down into her usual chair.


Sleep was dawning on her as night began to fall. The only thought keeping her wide-awake was one question. What was the king going to do?

She glanced over at Loki. He had been beaten pretty badly earlier. She could tell. He lay on his cot, turned onto his side, avoiding his back. She also noticed that his limp was more prominent when he had returned before.

She had forgotten about her own injury. It wasn't too painful, as she had been carefully taken care of last night, after the situation, by the palace healers.

Tiefling claws. Nasty things.

Silence was just setting in among the lonely corridor, with Loki softly falling asleep, turned away from her, and her own mind faintly fading into a slumber.But all was interrupted by yet another disturbance. Pounding footsteps and the clinging of a staff. She whirled around, seeing the King enter the large metal doors to the prison, and hurriedly got to her feet, taking a rather diminishing bow. The king only glared at her, his eyes fixed on the prisoner whom was now sitting up in despair.

"Prepare him." The king ordered, his voice commanding his surroundings guards.

They nodded and went to enter the cell. Adeline perked up, distressed by the words.

No. Please. No. He couldn't possibly send him to those vile creatures. Could he? His own son?

She caught Loki gazing desperately at her, rather than anyone else, as, for the second time today, he was attached to heavy chains. They passed a rather devastated look between one another, and then both spun to face the Allfather.

"I'm ending this once and for all." Odin stated firmly, glaring at his adopted son.

Loki glanced over at a guard snapping a chain to his wrist, and then back at his father, unsure of the meaning behind his words, but falling to the conclusion he was to be given up.

"Your execution will take place tomorrow, at dawn."

The words clamored down onto Adeline's heart like an incredibly heavy weight, shoving it down farther into her already uneasy stomach. She felt the worse feeling creeping slowly up on her.

Grief.

Loki's eyes widened with disbelief and he shook his head in confusion. Adeline swallowed, hating to allow her fear to sneak up on her, and so she quickly stood straighter in her stance, facing the king dead on.

"Your majesty, with all due respect, he was assured, by the queen herself, that he would be safe!" Adeline yelled, louder than she had expected. She immediately regretted the words that had exited over her helpless lips, as soon as the king turned around to glare her down.

"Shut your mouth! You are a mere guard! Know your place!" He commanded, and she took a step backward, swaying unsteadily because of the outburst.

Loki then sprang forward. "You coward! She is right! Mother promised me-", the prisoner shouted only to be immediately cut off.

"Frigga is dead! That promise no longer stands!" The king growled aggressively, causing shivers to run up Adeline's spine.

She swallowed and gazed at the two of them with both hatred for the king, and agony for Loki.

"Why do you do this?" Loki's voice choked out softly; softer than Adeline had ever heard him speak.

The king raised his head in authority, disregarding his adopted son's distress. "Because you are the reason my wife is dead."

A stage in grief. Anger.

Loki's expression fell flat and he no longer held any emotion in his weary, dark eyes.

"My sentiment got the better of me." The king explained harshly, "And I will no longer risk the lives of the people of Asgard."

Loki glared at him from his cell, his entire aura turning to disgust for the cowardly liar before him.

"But you'll perish mine," Loki stated in regard to his father's strict explanation.

The king nodded, "For a far more important cause."

Loki cringed, and turned his head to the side, "Why not give me to them?"

The king swallowed and grunted, "Because I am sure they will not remain true to their word. And," He hesitated, "we cannot give them what they want."

Loki was suddenly smirking as his head bobbed in rage.

"With you dead, Asgard and what's left of my family will be safe. No more will fall because of your thoughtless actions." The king stated without a hint of emotion.

The guards tugged on Loki's arms, dragging him from the cell. His smirk immediately faded into an expression of concern.

"This is madness!" He exclaimed at his so-called father in desperation. The king gestured the guards to leave with the pleading prisoner.

Before Adeline could register what was happening, a cold hand grasped onto hers and she was soon only a few inches from the dark blue eyes gazing directly at her.

She froze, watching the man standing a mere few feet from her. It was the first time they had touched. Shudders spiraled through her at the frigid temperature of Loki's hand; she could feel the soft creases of his pale fingers as they lay directly above her own.

He then leaned forward, close enough that his cheek brushed against her own, and in one smooth motion, he whispered into her ear. "Find my brother."

Then he drew slightly back, so that she could look him in at least one eye. "Save me, Adeline."

With that, they dragged him off, his own nature hesitant to follow them as he was to be prepared for his own execution by morning.

The hand on her shoulder, jerking her violently backwards, took her out of the trance she had fallen into.

"What did he say?" The king snapped, yelling in her face, his expression burning with nervous rage.

The blonde haired warrior swallowed, thinking quickly, eager to come up with the best lie she could conjure.

With a soft innocent voice, she finally replied, lying gracefully, effectively, "Goodbye, Adeline Crow."


~ End of Part 1 ~

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