Night Terrors - a Loki one-shot.
(In which Odin is an A+ parent, as usual.)
“…I slashed to the left with my sword, cutting down yet another Jotun. My army were all about me, laying waste to the frost giants with swords and spears. Although we were outnumbered, we were all highly trained warriors. We were knee-deep in Jotun blood, and the frost giants kept coming…”
“What did they look like, father?” The blond boy asked eagerly, squirming with excitement as he sat on his father’s knee.
Odin’s voice was animated as he described them. “Huge, towering fiends with blue skin and blood-red eyes. The Jotun are savage warriors, my son. Their king, Laufey, is the greatest fiend of them all. He’s the one who took my eye.” Odin pointed to the eyepatch that concealed his empty eye socket.
“But you won in the end, didn’t you father?”
“Yes. It was a long and hard battle, but we defeated the monsters and afterwards we took the source of their power so they could never threaten Midgard again. When one of you becomes king…” Odin looked at each of the boys “…there may come a time when you must use force to defeat a fiercesome enemy. But force must never be your first choice. The frost giants would have destroyed Midgard and slaughtered the Midgardians if we hadn’t stopped them. We had no choice.”
Sitting cross-legged on the rug before the fireplace, Loki had been silent throughout the story. But now his big blue eyes looked up at Odin, and his lip trembled as he asked “Father, there are no frost giants in Asgard, are there?”
Odin let out a roar of laughter. “No Loki. Those monsters wouldn’t dare enter my kingdom. I have taught their race to fear me. King Laufey and I have a truce. He knows better than to break our agreement.”
Bustling into the room, Frigga caught the tail end of the conversation.
“My king, it is not wise to tell the boys such tales before bedtime. It disturbs their sleep.”
“It doesn’t disturb MY sleep,” said Thor pointedly. Loki looked down at the floor. Loki had had night terrors since he was very small. Frigga would hear his tormented screams and rush to his bedside. When she managed to wake him, his eyes would have a haunted look that chilled Frigga to the bone. It was a look seldom seen on a child so small. It was almost as if he knew.
“Anyway boys, your mother is quite right. It’s time for bed.”
“Awww…” Thor began, but at a stern look from Odin he climbed down from his father’s lap and made his way towards his bedroom. Loki got up from the rug with his usual precocious grace and followed his brother.
Frigga turned to her husband. “Odin, I wish you wouldn’t…”
“Nonsense, Frigga. The boys have to learn about the enemies of Asgard. We can’t shy away from telling them the truth. They need to know that battle is bloody and hard but that sometimes it is necessary.”
“But my king, all this talk of the Jotun being monsters…”
She trailed off, knowing he would understand her meaning. Our son is no monster.
“Frigga the boy doesn’t remember any of that. To all intents and purposes, he is Aesir now. And the Jotun have long been our enemies.”
“But should he ever realise…”
“He will not. I have made every effort to make him a true part of this family. We are his people now. Asgard is his home. He has nothing in common with those fiends.”
Frigga nodded, outwardly obedient to her king. But secretly, she worried about Loki. If he should ever discover his true parentage, what then? Her husband was teaching her son to hate his own race. To hate himself. No good could come of it.
“And by the way, you mother him too much. You shouldn’t run to him every time he falls over or has a bad dream. He will never make a warrior while he’s tied to your apron strings.”
“My lord, Loki is of a different kind. He’s not like his brother.” This was a source of contention between the two of them. As far as Odin was concerned, it was a great pity that Loki was not like Thor.
Frigga continued. “Loki’s gifts are more of learning than in wielding a weapon. He has a keen mind and a persuasive tongue. He could charm the antlers off a bilgesnipe. He could make a great king. And his magic…”
Odin cut her off. “Magic is for women and cowards! I will not have a son who cannot wield an axe in battle and take pride and glory in winning the fight. Magic is for weaklings and deceivers.”
Frigga’s eyes narrowed. “Is that so, my lord? Which then am I?”
As Odin struggled for words, a thin cry arose from the hallway. Loki.
“You should not go to him. Your attentions are making him soft.”
Frigga stood up with great dignity. “You cannot treat them the same, Odin. They are cut from different bolts of cloth. In trying to mold Loki against his nature, you’re doing harm to all of us.”
She strode off towards Loki’s room and found his small, slender frame twisted in the blankets. He was drenched in sweat, and he was whimpering pitifully in his sleep. Frigga sat on the edge of the bed, and shook his shoulder gently, speaking to him all the while.
“Loki, mama’s here. Loki it’s just a nightmare. Wake up darling, you’re safe. Wake up.”
At once the child sat bolt upright in bed, panting as if he’d been running. For a moment or two he seemed not to recognise Frigga, looking at her with wide-eyed terror. Then, as his breathing began to slow, he crawled across the bed towards her and threw his arms around her neck. Frigga held the boy tightly, cradling his damp head in the palm of her hand, and making soothing noises.
“Mama, I dreamed that the frost giants were coming to get me. Mama, I’m scared. I heard what papa said, but what if there ARE frost giants in Asgard? Mama I don’t want anything bad to happen to you or Thor.” Frigga noted how Loki failed to mention his father, and it saddened her, but it didn’t come as a surprise.
“Mama, are you sure there are no Jotun here? Not even one?”
Frigga looked into her son’s trusting blue eyes, and silently cursed as she told him; “No Loki. Not even one.”
Frigga woke several hours later, curled around Loki’s small form. She had held him to her breast until he had calmed, until his breathing had deepened and he had finally slept. She looked down at her son’s face, which was serene in sleep. It seemed her presence was enough to dispel the nightmares.
Frigga stroked Loki’s face lightly, but her mind was troubled. Frigga had not been a seer these long years for nothing. She sensed trouble ahead, and she feared for Loki. She feared for Loki in a way she would never have to fear for Thor. Because he was soft. Because he was sensitive. Because he would never be the boy Odin wanted him to be.
Planting a kiss on Loki’s forehead, Frigga carefully stood up and walked to the doorway, turning back to look upon her sleeping son’s form. “Oh Loki,” she said under her breath. “I wish I knew what would become of you.”