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24 October 2014 @ 05:29 pm
A Crocus in the Snow 6/?  


Thor left his parents' reception room, troubled to the heart, upset for Loki, and anger seething. His fingers itched for Mjolnir, and he clenched his jaw so he wouldn't call the hammer and lay waste to everything in this long hallway and everything he passed.

How could he have endured this? How did he keep silent? Why did he say nothing? How could Tyr have been so cruel? How did I not see?

He had seen, that was the worst part. He had seen, but not enough. He had been too busy pouting that his brother abandoned him to consider why.

I knew there was something wrong. It wasn't right that you withdrew, played only with Fenrir, and avoided your classes. It wasn't right that you stopped using a sword, because Tyr was your sword master. It wasn't right that you lied about your bad dreams. I never understood what I was seeing.

Not long ago, Loki had yelled at him, angry and stricken: "I just wanted to be your equal!" Thor had thought it was Loki's desire for the throne, and then he'd learned the truth of Loki's blood and thought that the cause of Loki's envy. But now he knew the worst and deepest root of Loki's feelings of being less: that he had been the child tormented by their teacher, and his elder brother was not.

Thor stopped in the hall, shutting his eyes and gathering himself together again. He had to be calm. First he needed to collect the Warriors Three, and together, they would find Tyr and arrest him for his vile betrayal.

He waylaid a servant to deliver messages, and waited for his friends at the entrance to the weapons yard, finding it difficult to offer polite greetings to other people. Hogun was first to arrive, already armed for the battle to come. "We have some mission?" he asked.

Thor nodded. "A command from the Allfather. For those he trusts most."

Hogun nodded his appreciation, but waited without comment. Thor regretted that Hogun didn't try to fill the silence with something that might have distracted Thor from his anger.

Volstagg and Fandral arrived. Thor looked at Volstagg, thinking of his children. Some were grown now, but he had a daughter and son not yet of maturity. And his son had been a student of Tyr's.

He explained briefly, "The Allfather has received proof of treason committed by one of our own. He has tasked us to bring this traitor under arrest as quickly as possible."

Hogun glanced to the yard. "Someone here?"

Thor hesitated and then softly answered, "Tyr."

"What?" Volstagg bellowed, until Thor glared him into a quieter voice. "That is impossible! The Allfather--"

"He is certain of this," Thor interrupted and leaned into Volstagg's face to stare into his eyes. "And I will not speak of the details of this treachery, Volstagg, but it is a one that impugns my family's honor very deeply. I would rather kill him where he stands than place him under arrest. But the king gives the command and I will obey it. As will you."

"Of course we will," Fandral reassured him. "But to hear it is him? Such an honorable warrior and long-time companion to the king himself? It seems so strange."

Thor noticed Hogun did not seem very surprised. Hogun was usually impassive, but his dark eyes seemed a bit too knowing. "You… know something. You suspected."

"I know nothing," Hogun said. "But as an outsider in this court, I often see what the rest of you do not. And Tyr has often behaved with far less honor than he ought. What did he do?"

"Something he should not have, to one too young to resist."

He had said too much, as all three of his friends reacted with dismay. Volstagg was the first to turn to wrath. "A child! He harmed--"

Thor held up his hand urgently. "Volstagg! Quiet. If he hears too early that he is found out, he will flee or fight. We must take him with stealth."

"Then let us go." Fandral unsheathed his sword and twirled it. "We will not let him escape justice."

"He was in the western training hall last I saw," Volstagg declared and stomped off in that direction.

The others followed him, as Volstagg- his parental wrath roused nearly as high as Thor's own familial rage- led the way.

"I will attend the gate," Hogun murmured to Thor and stepped away to make sure Tyr did not slip past them. Thor was a bit sorry to lose his cooler head, but he did not want Tyr to escape.

As they approached the western training hall and the sounds within of rhythmic metal-on-metal of lances on shields, Thor held them back. "You two remain here, I will draw him without."

Volstagg and Fandral agreed, parting to either side of the main doors to wait, while Thor entered.

Tyr spied him at once and lifted his hand. "Trainees, halt!" he ordered. "Face Prince Thor and give him your respect."

As the trainees, young men mostly but with a handful of young women as well, turned to present arms in their tidy lines, Thor smiled at them. But inside he felt suddenly ill, and he wanted to hurl Mjolnir straight into Tyr's face. You dare speak of respecting a prince, or the throne, or anything?

His gaze ran across the young eager faces, and he prayed that none of them had 'private lessons' with the weapons master. That none of them were learning that sort of servitude and self-loathing that Tyr had taught.

"Trainees! Excellent form!" Thor called. "But I must borrow your weapons-master. Tyr." He jerked his head to indicate he was to step out to the corridor.

"Of course, my prince," Tyr said, and gave quiet orders to his assistant to continue the students' patterns. As he approached Thor, he asked curiously, "Is this about the alert? I told Warmaster Freyr I was ready to serve in whatever capacity he and the Allfather wished."

Thor glanced down to Tyr's missing hand. He had, for a time, used a false hand prosthesis very like a real one, and he also used one that was of a piece with a shield. But he had neither right now, only a smooth cap that covered where Fenrir's jaws had crushed the small bones of his wrist and wrenched off his hand. Fenrir should have taken more than your hand that day.

Tyr noted the direction of his gaze. "I assure you, my prince, I am quite capable."

"I am glad to know that," Thor answered, with distant politeness, knowing if he spoke more he would explode with the rage building up within. It was a fire that demanded satisfaction for this pain he'd been dealt, learning this truth.

His jaw was so tight he might crack his teeth.

Tyr noticed and frowned. "Is all well?"

"Fine," Thor gritted out and turned to head outside before he gave it all away.

As soon as Tyr followed him to the passage, Volstagg shut the doors and stood before them to prevent anyone from interfering from that direction, or Tyr from escaping back into the training hall.

Thor whirled back around and slammed Tyr into the wall beside the door. "You foul creature! You treasonous dog."

Tyr's eyes bugged out of his head in shock. "My lord, Prince Thor--" he started but Thor put his forearm across his throat.

"You will be silent, or by all the Norns I will rip your tongue out, I swear," Thor raged. "You dare speak to me, to me, about respect, when you have dishonored my house in the most vile way imaginable?"

Tyr shook his head in frantic protest, as well as he could with Thor leaning on his neck, but Thor had been fooled by deceit only in the best, and he saw the understanding appear for what this was about. Tyr knew. He knew he'd been found out. His eyes darted for the far end of the corridor and the sunlight shining there over the yard.

"I don't know how you silenced him," Thor leaned close and whispered in his ear, "but now we know the truth. And now you will face the justice you avoided all those years ago."

"All lies," Tyr gasped. "Whatever you think you know--"

"Do not tempt me to break your craven neck," Thor threatened.

"Thor," Fandral cautioned.

Thor relented and grabbed the chain. In the brief moment he wasn't held, Tyr shifted his weight to run, only to find Fandral's blade at his throat. His smile hard, Fandral invited, "Try it. Your throat lacks bloody decoration."

Volstagg's great shaggy head shook back and forth in slow disbelief. "Is it what I think?" he asked.

"Worse, old friend. Much worse," Thor confirmed. He shoved Tyr face first into the wall and snapped the collar around his throat and both of the manacles to his intact wrist. "To the cells beneath. To await trial and the Allfather's justice."

"You believe the prince of lies?" Tyr challenged. "They call him Silvertongue for a reason, master of illusion, sorcerer…" Given that Thor hadn't mentioned an accuser, that was an admission of guilt to Thor. Tyr shouldn't know this had anything to do with Loki if he were innocent. But Tyr continued, trying the old trick that had used to work, impugning Loki's honor and truthfulness. Thor listened to words he had once heard and believed, realizing how Tyr had always tried to make Loki into something else. Something less. Thor was shamed to realize how well it had worked when he'd been young.

"He is not a warrior like us. We speak together, you and I, we are alike--"

That was beyond endurable. "We are nothing alike!" Thor raged at him and yanked the chain between Tyr's wrist and throat to jerk his head backward. "The only liar here is you. There is an simple way to prove your innocence. Wrap your hand around Gungnir and open your mind to the Allfather's sight. Will you do that, Tyr?"

"He would never require that of me," Tyr answered staunchly, but with a quaver to his voice. "He will believe my word, always my honesty is unquestioned…"

"A trust you betrayed!" Thor shoved him ahead so hard he stumbled and nearly fell. "Fandral, watch him. I will call Mjolnir if he opens his mouth one more time."

"Oh, it will be my pleasure," Fandral said, laying his sword blade against Tyr's throat again in a caress. "If half what I suspect is true, I hope you enjoyed these past few centuries of freedom, Tyr, because your remaining ones will be misery."

"If you have any at all," Thor growled. "If you think my fury burns hot, you have not seen the Allfather's wrath, Tyr."

Tyr snorted and something in his voice shifted, as if dropping an illusion he no longer needed, turning sly and vile, "Oh, I doubt that, prince. Because unlike you, he and I have both been aligned in our opinion on the creature."

Thor's stomach heaved and unthinking, he hurled Tyr into the wall. He smashed into the tiles there with a cry and a shattering of ancient ceramic. "You dare!" He grabbed Tyr's hair to slam his head back into the tiles again. "You dare taunt me with such words!"

"Thor! Thor, stop!" Volstagg grabbed his arm and though Thor pulled free, it was enough that the blinding rage passed. "Stop. You said the Allfather did not want him dead."

"And we are attracting attention," Fandral pointed out, as Hogun trotted close.

"Yes. Einherjar approach," he reported. "We need to move unless you want an audience."

Which was what Tyr wanted. Thor shook his head. "No, we will deny you a chance to spread your poison," he growled and hauled Tyr upright by the chain. "Move."

More swiftly now, with Volstagg holding the chain while Thor went ahead with Hogun to clear the halls so Tyr would have no one to tell his foul lies and truths, they made their way beneath to the cells.

Tyr stopped on the sight of Loki's, now open and dark, but clearly his with the sleeping couch and other furniture. "But--" he objected, his voice confused. "Where is he? The beast was supposed to be kenneled down here forever…"

The Warriors Three also stopped. "Loki was here?" Fandral asked.

"And is gone," Hogan observed.

"The king released him," Thor took great satisfaction in telling them, especially Tyr. "Loki has left Asgard with Sif to turn back the Svartalfar force approaching us. So fortune still smiles upon you, Tyr, for the king has determined that you will not face justice without Loki to watch."

Tyr took a step toward the empty cell, but Thor jerked the chain. "You think you get the cell of a prince?" He shoved Tyr down the way, to a much smaller, sparser, cell. "Wait here. The Allfather will tend you. Eventually."

He opened the manacles and shoved Tyr's back so hard he stumbled and nearly fell. "No, this is a mistake!" Tyr exclaimed desperately, turning around, his eyes more on the Warriors Three than Thor. "Don't you see? It is all a plot, a revenge that Loki planned long ago, he hates me for getting his animal killed. He fooled the king with his deceit, to get out of that cell down the way and to make other people pay for crimes that he committed."

"Funny, the Allfather predicted almost every word of that," Thor observed dryly. "You are obvious in your attempts at trickery now, Tyr. What worked on youths, works no more."

"I know he blinded you from a young age, worked his way like a viper inside your affections, so you do not see him for what he is. But I cannot believe the Allfather has fallen for his vile tricks!" Tyr exclaimed. "He is one of them, and he will destroy us all!"

Thor slammed the panel to activate the shield across the front. Then he took a moment before he lifted his head to address Tyr, "The only reason he wanted to destroy anything is you."

Before he said or did something he'd regret, he turned and headed for the exit. His friends followed him, all subdued.

At the landing at the top of the stairs before they opened the doors, Volstagg stopped. "Putting it all together lad, the conclusion seems… inescapable."

"Tyr--" Fandral gestured a hand in the direction of the cells, "harmed Loki."

Thor nodded, feeling drained now that he had no one left to turn his rage upon. "I should not have said as much as I did," Thor murmured and his gaze went to his brother's empty cell. "He put a hand on Gungnir earlier, and Father saw the truth. All that he kept hidden these many years, that we never saw. No one knew that those 'private lessons' he had with Tyr, the sword was not what he was learning at all."

"But why?" Hogun asked. "He spoke of Loki as something… some kind of creature, with such hatred."

Thor hesitated. He knew Loki would not want anyone to know, and they already knew more than they should. He chose a partial truth, which even the Midgardians knew now, and answered, "He was a foundling; Father rescued him as an infant during the war. I know not how Tyr knew; Loki and I never did. He discovered the truth when… when Father fell into the Odinsleep recently, and…" Thor recalled Loki's eyes alight with strange mad desperation and the even worse calm that settled on his face as he had pulled his fingers off Gungnir and fallen. He finished with sorrow, "… he has not been the same since."

The Warriors Three listened with varying shades of astonishment at all these secrets now suddenly coming to light. Volstagg nodded in thoughtful understanding and his hand gripped Thor's shoulder. "We will keep this secret, my friend. For you and for Loki."

Hogun and Fandral both agreed, somber-faced.

Volstagg was older, so he had not been part of their training, and Hogun had not come to Asgard yet, but Fandral had also been there. He said thoughtfully, "I had wondered why Loki's sword-forms never improved."

That was true. All those private lessons had never helped during sparring. If anything, Loki's skills had gotten worse. It hadn't been a surprise when Loki had abandoned sword training and refused to be in the same room as Tyr after Fenrir's death. But all of those clues were now so obvious in hindsight.

"He never told me," Thor murmured. "Not one word. But I should have known."

"Lad, you could not have done anything," Volstagg comforted him. "You were a youth yourself."

"That doesn't help, Volstagg, when I know my eyes were just as blind as everyone else's."

"How did Heimdall not know? He sees everything," Fandral said.

"He watches our enemies, not trusted companions of the king teaching the king's son. Why would he look?" Volstagg asked and shook his great shaggy head in sadness.

"Now we know," Hogun said. "It helps us understand all the strange events of recent days especially. None of us will let it be forgotten, Thor. But Tyr is secure and Loki is not here. There still may be war. We need to go above and prepare."

Thor nodded, agreeing, though his heart still quailed at leaving Tyr here, unpunished.

As he turned away, his eyes lingered on Loki's empty cell.

I will see you again, Brother. I will, I must. We will somehow make all this right, and you will understand that you belong with us. You are part of this family, and nothing and no one can rip that apart: not Tyr's evil acts, not elves out of legend, not your blood, not even you.