Loki lost track of time in the King’s Hall. He spent a good while standing before his portrait, reading each and every little message, and then read it again to convince himself that what he was seeing was real, that it wasn’t all just a figment of his imagination. It was hard to believe that the people of Asgard had presented such a gift, hard to believe that they would actually mourn for him. All his life, Loki had felt like an outcast and only recently had he learned the truth about why he felt so isolated from his family. But even when he was oblivious to his true parentage, Loki had been different. He was named God of Mischief for a reason and had played his title well. He could not give an exact number to the many times he was called before the AllFather, demanding explanations for the mischief and chaos of one thing or another. A century after his title was given, Loki was sure that he was the most hated citizen of Asgard. Apparently, he had been very, very mistaken. But after he had read over the many messages, Loki had moved to the floor, sitting down on the opposite wall – his legs pulled to his chest, his arms wrapped around them, his head resting on his thin knees – so he could continue to stare at the portrait. Tears blurred his eyes, but he wouldn’t let them fall. He had cried enough in the past two years to last him several centuries. He was simply grateful that Thor said nothing. He hadn’t left, hadn’t moved from his place. His sparkling blue eyes were either concentrating hard on the portrait or staring at Loki, and when he was staring at him, Loki found that he couldn’t read his expression. He had only tried once, but he didn’t dare look back again. Would he think him weak if he saw tears in Loki’s eyes?
He remained unmoving, emerald green eyes staring up at a face he didn’t even recognise anymore. It was hard to believe that only a year had passed since he was last home. So much had changed, and Loki had changed along with it. The man in that portrait – if he could have even being considered a man after his actions – was a stranger to Loki now. That man – that boy – had been full of jealous rage, of hate and anger, and he had wanted nothing more than to cause utter destruction, to annihilate Realms and prove that he was someone. Loki now didn’t know what he wanted anymore. He was simply a lost being, trying to put together pieces of a heart that was broken, of a heart that was ripped apart and shredded, unrecognisable.
Several hours had surely passed before Thor finally roused Loki up and started leading him back to his chambers. The silence was a welcome and, as Loki followed Thor down the long corridors, he was thankful that he hadn’t said another word to him. He had much to think about, much to contemplate, and the last thing he neither needed nor wanted was to have to explain what he was feeling. Because he didn’t know what he was feeling, didn’t know what he was thinking. It had not ceased to surprise him how much had changed in the past year. Asgard, those who considered him family … himself – he barely recognised them anymore. But despite how they were strangers to him now, Loki couldn’t help but feel the familiar pull. He had been through so much, had seen so much, and though he had only been home for a few days, Loki found that he enjoyed the comfort that Asgard’s great walls provided. He missed it.
So lost in his own thoughts, Loki just barely realised that his mother was standing just at the corner of an adjacent hallway, and the sight of her gave him pause, made his feet slow to a stop as he took in her appearance. Frigga was as lovely as ever and to this day, Loki still thought of her as the most beautiful woman in all of Asgard. With kind, fair features, Frigga was gentle and strong. She had a big heart and an open mind, and Loki recalled several times in his younger years where he would go seek her counsel when he was in need of advice or simply wanted someone to talk to that would actually listen and take in his words. She was his rock when Thor was off gallivanting with the Warriors Three, his best friend when all the others would make fun of him and jest about his desire to study magic. But above all, she was his mother and nothing would ever change that. Loki found that he was suddenly tired of keeping a barrier around himself. His blessed mother was standing at an adjacent hallway, staring at him with such happiness and hope in her eyes that Loki couldn’t deny her. Her hands were clasped together as though she wanted to touch him and hold him, and Loki would give that to her in a heart-beat. And he did. Letting out a breath he had no idea he was holding, Loki gave Frigga a tired smile and started walking towards her, his pace much faster as he moved towards her. Frigga let out a happy cry as she ran towards her youngest son, her arms spread out wide and inviting and, when they finally got to each other, she wrapped them tightly around Loki, squeezing him and holding him as though he were still a child. He still was to her. And Loki was okay with that. He was tired and wary and he wanted nothing more than to be shielded from the world. In Frigga’s arms, he knew that he would be.
“Oh, my son,” Frigga whispered in his ear, nothing but love in her voice. She smelt like flowers and pages from old tomes, and Loki felt his eyes water, because he had missed her so much. Her arms around him made him feel safe and warm, and he could feel his heart lightening, the stress on his shoulders lessening as she tightened her embrace. “My baby,” She kisses his cheek and ran a hand through his hair, gently rocking him from left to right, as though she could sense the emotions exploding inside of Loki, as though sensing the plethora of emotions that were bouncing all over the place, leaving him in a state of confusion and helplessness.
“I’m sorry,” Loki found himself gasping out, squeezing her just as tightly as she was him, because he needed her so much, and she needed him even more. The second she let out a sorrowful whimper, Loki lost whatever control he had and cried, the tears spilling from his eyes and trailing down his cheeks. He buried his face in the crook of his mother’s neck and clung to her as he had done so many times before in the past, and he wasn’t ashamed to – not with Frigga. She wouldn’t judge him and she wouldn’t laugh at his weakness. Frigga cried along with him, running her hands up and down his back, through his hair, doing all that she could to comfort him.
“There, there, my love,” She gently said, pulling Loki back just enough so she could look into his emerald green eyes. Though her cheeks were flushed and she had tears running down her face, her bright blue eyes were full of such happiness that Loki was rendered speechless. He could see it in her eyes that she had already forgiven him, and Loki just couldn’t understand why. She leaned in, though, and pressed her lips to his forehead, and Loki found himself closing his eyes at the warmth that spread through him.
She turned her sights to Thor, who was standing back several steps, wanting to give mother and son the privacy that they deserved. He stepped up, though, when she came over to him, and he pulled her into a hug when she beckoned for him, Loki stepping out of the way, not wanting to intervene or get in the way. Words were soon being exchanged between Frigga and Thor, but Loki wasn’t paying attention to what was being said. He used the few moments that he had to pull himself together, to wipe away his tears and try to get back some of the control that was taken from him due to his overwhelming emotions. And it was when he had finally pulled himself together as much as he could muster that he felt as though he was being watched. Emerald greens shot up and immediately locked eyes with dark browns – Sif. So many emotions were reflected in those eyes – shock, surprise, anger, happiness, sadness, want, need – and Loki had no idea which one was more dominant. He didn’t have the chance to think more about it, though, before Frigga took his hand. Loki soon forgot about those dark brown eyes as his mother stole his attention.
Frigga’s garden was just the same as Loki remembered it, but at the same time it was strange and new to him. He said nothing to his mother as they walked along the paths, their hands still intertwined, and Loki was silently thankful for that. He didn’t want to let go of his mother’s hand, didn’t want to lose that safety and sense of stability. Frigga must have felt the same way, because her thumb was constantly moving, massaging little circles into the front of his hand, and the motions kept Loki calm, kept him planted and stable. They were taking the long path around the garden, and Loki allowed his gaze to take in every inch of the beauty. Frigga’s garden took up the entire east side of the Palace, and Loki was proud with the knowledge that his mother planted each and every seed into the ground, had watered and fertilised and tended to the flowers as they grew. His fingers brushed over some of the buds, internally naming each kind, trying to refresh his memory. He had once known the names, could identify them on scents alone. He couldn’t do that anymore.
“You are quiet, my child,” Frigga spoke up, gently squeezing her son’s hand. They had been walking for a while now, neither speaking, simply enjoying the other’s presence. While Loki had been spending the majourity of his time looking at everything – and that made her heart soar, because Loki had always been an observant and curious child, and to see that that had not changed almost made fresh tears pool into her eyes, because she finally had her baby back – Frigga had spent her time staring at him. How she had missed him, missed seeing those sharp emerald green eyes, missed hearing the sound of his voice, missed touching his face. There were no words to describe the pain that she felt in that year, thinking that Loki was dead. Knowing that she would never be able to look upon his face again almost killed her. Frigga didn’t want to let him go, didn’t want to let Loki out of her sight, for fear that it was a dream, a cruel twist of fate that teased her and prolonged her suffering. “Will you not speak of your horrors to your mother?”
“I do not want to speak of them to anyone,” Loki replied, his voice soft and withdrawn. How could he tell her about what he had been through? Those horrors would keep her up at night, would break her heart if she only knew what he had been put through. No, he couldn’t do that – he wouldn’t. Loki was home now and, though the word still sounded strange on his tongue, he had no plans to abandon her, the mere thought made his heart race and his grip on her hand to tighten.
“You have suffered enough, Loki,” And oh, did Loki love the sound of his name on her lips. The tone was so soft, so loving and caring; it made his eyes water some, a lump to form in his throat. He hated that he couldn’t control his emotions, hated that they changed at an instant. But then he remembered that he was with Frigga, his mother, and he knew that she wouldn’t judge him, wouldn’t call him out for his pain and fear. “Share the burden with me. Let me heal you as a mother should.”
“Not all wounds can be healed by magic, just as not all wounds can be healed by the comfort of their mother,” And that was all that Loki would say on the matter. Frigga would not give up, but at least she knew that, for the moment, all Loki wanted and needed – because he desperately needed her – was to hear the sound of her voice. So they walked through the garden and, as they went, Frigga pointed out each flower and called it by name. Loki smiled for the first time since he returned.