He Without Sin

Blood From Stone

Loki's punishment was equal parts relief and heartbreak. He had expected to be punished for defying Odin and it was no surprise when he was tossed into a cell. What did surprise him was the amount of visits that he received from his (not)father. Every other day Odin would appear to talk to Loki, to extend some kindness, to shove the knife just that little bit deeper.

"You will come to your senses soon, my son," Odin had said when he'd first placed him in the cell. "I understand that you are stressed, Loki. You are frightened. Your first attempt at kingship did not go very well. You were alone and scared, your brother was far from you and your mother and I were unable to help you, but it shall not be the same this time."

Loki had curled into a ball on the floor of his cell, not wanting to hear his father's words, half laced with true understanding and half poisonous manipulation. He pressed his hands to his ears, but nothing could block out the words. He remembered sitting on Hlidskjalf, holding Gungnir tightly in his hands, eyes able to look into the other realms, and body connected to all of Asgard as power flowed through him. He tried desperately not to remember how much he wanted for someone to help him, to guide him. He tried not to think of how much he wanted the exact thing that Odin was now offering.

"I will be here to advise you, my son," Odin said. "You will not stand alone, though I will not able to constantly be at your side. It will not be the same as then."

'Puppet king,' Was what Loki heard from that statement, but his heart clenched all the same. Why must he be teased with that which he cannot have? Why did Odin have to play this game? He squeezed his eyes shut tight, pretending that tears were not falling from them.

"You are tired, my son, rest. There will be time to talk later. I see that I have pushed you too soon and I seek to amend it."

With his eyes pressed so tightly shut, listening to Odin's words, he could almost pretend that he was in his chambers having a true heart to heart with his father. A father that did not want to use him, a father that was kind and understanding, a father was just trying to do what was best for his realm and his son both. Loki's birthright was a throne, was it not? Asgard and Jotunheim should have peace, should they not?

Loki knew that he should not pretend such.

He did so anyway.


Odin brought along comforts to Loki's cell, always sighting reasons of sentiment that Loki didn't believe, desperately wanted to be true, and couldn't completely pretend he was unaffected by.

"I thought you may like some entertainment, my boy. Do you remember when I found this tome for you?"

"Do you recall our first visit outside of Asgard? When you were able find this? I've kept it all this time..."

"I thought you might want something special, my boy. Here, fresh from the hunt. I know them to be your favorite..."

Loki knew it to all be carefully planned manipulations, but when confronted with such kindness... And Odin was the only one to visit him. Loki was sure that it was because Odin had forbidden others from coming to him (would Thor even come, after what Loki had done?) but he still felt it was in part because they no longer wanted him. He felt a little more abandoned each day and Odin was the only one that still came. Even though Loki had told him no. Even though Loki was useless to him.

One night, Loki had woken to Odin inside his cell with him, looking down with stern disapproval. "Loki, why stay in this cell when you do not have to? It is a simple matter to leave, a simple matter to have the best of accommodations, fit for your station." Odin gestured around and Loki noticed a difference in his cell. The walls were mirrors and in each one of them he could see himself --his Jotun self-- reflected back at him. He cringed away from the sight. "Look at yourself, Loki. This is who you are. You know where you belong. You are meant to be king, my son, but you are not meant for Asgard. You belong among your own kind, boy."

The words were on the edge of kindness and sternness, but Loki felt them like a slap.

"Open your eyes, boy!" Odin commanded. Against Loki's will his eyes were opened and he was forced to stare at his reflection, at the monstrous form that he so hated. "Do you know the things that you have done, Loki? The crimes that you have committed? The pain that you have caused to your mother and brother by your deviant acts?"

All at once he was no longer talking to his father, but the King of Asgard, and there was no mercy in the words. His head whipped around to face Odin, but he could still see his own reflection on the walls. "I did those things for you, father!"

"And what you do now is that for me as well!" Odin yelled, his voice so powerful and loud that it physically hurt Loki. "Is this my son, who does not obey his father? Is this my son, who is too selfish to do what will protect Asgard? Protect him family and his home?"

"Father--"

"No son of mine would be so selfish! No son of mine, Loki!"

The words felt like lashes against his bruised heart, which had been slowly nursed on such attention and care from his father, only to have it ripped painfully away. But there was a way to get it back, wasn't there? A way to earn his father's approval and love? Wasn't that what this was about? That Odin wanted to love Loki, to give him kindness and acceptance, if only Loki wasn't such an ungrateful son. If only Loki wasn't... wasn't a monster so undeserving of it.

It took more will power than Loki wanted to admit not to give in to Odin. This wasn't love. Loki had to remember that.

But it felt like love. All the love that Loki had ever known. You couldn't get something for nothing. Not even Thor had loved Loki for free. He was forced to shadow him, to bow to his whim and word, in exchange for the love he gave. Thor was like his father, but on a smaller scale and without the intent to hurt Loki that Odin had. (But also without the power to make Loki feel as loved and good and important as Odin could.)

Forcing his eyes closed, Loki just shook his head and stayed silent. It hurt him and he didn't know how to fight it. Had never known.

Loki didn't realize that tears had begun to fall from his eyes until he was pulled into Odin's embrace. Strong arms held him together as he fell apart, whispering to him, "It will be alright, my son. I am here. You are not alone, Loki."

When Loki opened his eyes there were no mirrors and he was himself again, pale hands tangled in Odin's shirt, clinging. And he couldn't stop. It hurt so much to try and let go; it hurt so much to hold on.


"Loki?"

Loki opened his eyes slowly to the voice, one that he hadn't heard since he had been placed in his cell. Standing outside his cell was his mother with watery eyes and small smile.

"My Loki... Are you well?" She sounded as if she dared not hope, but had to ask anyway. Loki didn't know how to answer that question truthfully. He wasn't hurt, not physically, anyway, but he wan't certain that he was well. He wasn't certain if he ever had been or ever would be again.

"What are you doing here, mother?"

A small sound escaped her, something between a sob and a laugh, and it broke his heart to hear. "My son thinks that I would not visit him," She said quietly to herself, shaking her head.

Loki sat up and scrambled closer to the wall of energy that contained him, closer to her. "That is not true! I know that you would have if you could, but I thought that he..."

"Your father can only stop me for so long," She told him. "Now answer me Loki, are you well?"

Loki didn't know what to say in response to her tearful question, so he only shook his head slowly, closing his eyes to hide his own tears. It was only a moment before he felt her arms wrap around him. "Mother," He said, his voice breaking on the word. He held her as tightly as he dared and she held him tighter still. There was no poison here. Only here. The single connection that Odin had been unable to taint.

"Oh, my Loki, I'm so sorry. I didn't know."

He didn't ask what she was apologizing for. It didn't matter. The very fact that she knew something was wrong and she came to him, was enough. The very fact that she did not blame him of some wrong doing was enough. The very fact that she loved him was enough. (Because Loki knew that he didn't deserve her love and that there was so much he should be blamed for, so much that was his fault. So much that Odin had made his fault.)

"I don't blame you, mother. I never did." She pulled back from him and began to look him over, pushing up his sleeves and shirt, checking his face and it hit him that she was checking for injuries. "Odin did not cause me injury. Nothing that you will find on my skin."

She gave a wry, watery smile at his words. "You leave tonight, Loki," she told him with certainty. "Your father is becoming agitated and I wish not to know where his anger will lead him. Nor where my anger will lead me in response." She waved her hands and held out a bag of strong leather, filled to bursting. "I tried to think of that which you may most need. There are healing stones and Idunn's apples, and I've left you a way to contact me if an emergency rises, but only then. I do not want to risk leading Odin to you."

Loki felt his heart swell as he reached out to take the bag. "Thank you, mother." He quickly looked through the bag's content's. A few of his more powerful spell books (one specifically of healing spells, she must truly be worried), gold and jewels that he could use to barter on Midgard, a few of his better loved weapons (throwing knives, because none of the staffs or spears would fit), and something else he was surprised to see. He reached within and lifted out a small box, heavily spelled. "How did you--"

"A mother never forgets, Loki." She told him softly, then pressed the item back into his bag. "I found them all."

"Thank you," he said again.

"Is there anything else you think you will need? I have one more item to give you and I fear that once I do, you must hasten your escape. No one should notice it to be missing, but I prefer not to underestimate your father when I've the chance."

Nothing was missing that he could not conjure himself. She was even kind enough to have given clothes, unnecessary since he could buy things on Midgard, but a piece of home that he could take with him, since he would no longer have one once he left. (He didn't really have a home now, did he? Just a mother. But it was enough. It had to be.) Placing the objects in the same space that he keeps the casket hidden, he nodded to her.

Frigga took a deep breath. "I contacted Amora," She told him. "I told her that if she helps you, she has the chance to be out of Asgard's debt, but you should not trust her, Loki. If your father finds that she is helping you, he could prove to be more persuasive than either of us. I am sorry that I cannot provide you with a better ally."

"No, this is more than I would have had alone."

"She awaits at the path that leads out of Asgard. Wherever you chose to go, my son, please be safe. Though I fear I have already failed you on that account."

"Never," He promised her.

Frigga gave him a tight smile that said she did not agree, then she held out her hands and the Tesseract appeared. "They will have a difficult time following you without this." She held it out to him and he understood her concern. The Tesseract was powerful. It would be missed, looked for. But Odin had already proved he would search for Loki no matter what, so it wasn't much more danger from Asgard. It only solidified his plans more. He had created a mess in the All-father's name, he needed to see it through to the end. He took the cosmic cube from her hands quickly.

"I love you, mother," He told her and pulled her into one last fierce hug that she returned with equal ferocity.

"And I love you, my son. My Loki." She squeezed him once more before letting go. "I will check on you when I am able." Her hand brushed his temple."Rest well, my son."

"Be safe," He urged and then he stole away from the cell, becoming unseen and tightly cloaking himself from all that may choose to seek him out.


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