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16 October 2012 @ 10:37 am
Fic: The Poison Rain (complete!)  
post-Avengers-Thor fic of epicness
Characters: Frigga, Loki, Thor, Odin
Wordcount: zomgwhatthehell

Start at Chapter One

Or read/dl it elsewhere: AO3 | ff.net

Frigga found Loki on his balcony looking out over the city. He had not stirred from his room in a day, despite Thor's cajoling, claiming residual weakness from the wound, but she knew it was more than that.

She joined him. "You seem troubled, my son."

His hands rested on the wall, and his gaze stayed on the towers and fields beyond the outer wall. She looked at his profile, his expression lost and desolate, and mourned the change from her bright amusing boy, but she realized the only true change was that he had stopped pretending nothing hurt him. It would take time for him to recover, and while she missed the lighter heart, she would much rather have the truth.

His voice was low, as he confessed, "I remember everything. It was all me. I did nothing against my will; I merely stopped caring about the consequences."

She hesitated to choose her words carefully, knowing Loki was still in a fragile state of healing. "The flowers seem the same when a shadow lies upon the garden, but the colors are different."

He shook his head in denial. "Yet if they are poisonous in the shadow, do they not remain poisonous in the light?"

She held back a sigh. Clever child to manipulate her metaphor and stubbornly refuse her attempted comfort. "Your flowers are not poisonous, Loki. Your anger and resentment was the poisonous soil they grew in, but your heart is good and whole."

"No," he whispered. "It is not. I once told someone that there could be no forgiveness for her crimes; what forgiveness is there for me, who sought the deaths of countless innocents? I wanted to crush them, I wanted them at my feet. It felt right."

She knew she could not tell him it was not him at all - it was neither true nor helpful. "It was your darker impulses. Like your tricks that skirt cruelty, when you use your powers against those who cannot defend themselves." He bent his head, and she folded her hand around his where it lay on the top of the balcony rail. "Thanos took that impulse and exploited it. He took your one nightshade flower and made it your entire field."

He snorted a little laugh in spite of himself. "I think I must agree with you, or you will continue to torture the flowers with gardening metaphor."

She smiled and was more pleased when he tucked his fingers between hers to hold tightly. She added, "The point is, it is a part of you, not the whole. And when Thanos trapped you in your anger, you could not resist those impulses. He showed you power and gave you what you thought you wanted, and few could resist that, Loki. Yet you fought him and in the end, you won."

"This feels very little like victory," he murmured.

"It is the most important of all. None of us is perfect, Loki - not Thor, not me, not your father. Even after so many years of life and great wisdom, the Allfather admits mistake and regret. Thor has shed a thousand years of carelessness; he has grown in wisdom from these terrible events, and so have you. It would be a poor use of our longevity if we did not grow from our experiences."

He still seemed resistant, and she knew she could not absolve him of all of it, however much she longed to help ease him. "Carry what responsibility is yours, put aside what is not," she advised. "Vow to do better, to be better. Learn from your mistakes. That is all any can ask of you."

"That seems too easy," he said after a moment.

"Family forgives one another. But you have not faced those to whom you owe a greater debt. That will not be easy."

He glanced down at their joined hands. "You saved me. When everyone believed I was lost, myself included, you still believed."

She leaned her head against his shoulder. "I am wise to your tricks. Even when you try to hide from yourself, little one."

"Not so little anymore," he retorted but sounded amused as he tilted his head against hers with an affectionate reminder that he topped her by a hand. He lifted his head again to look out to the city, saying in a soft voice, "I meant only to interrupt the coronation, none of the rest. But it kept growing beyond all expectation, and I tried to ride the wave I thought would carry me to higher places. But it was taking me to death and darkness, and I did not see it. I would not have cared, if I did." He let out a sigh. "So much trouble for one worth so little."

She squeezed his hand. "You are worth saving, child. But if you do not believe so, then it falls on you to act in ways that will make it true for yourself," she told him. "You must prove that we were right to believe in you."

"But… I cannot make it right, Mother. I cannot undo what I did." Regret threaded his voice, choking it out to silence, and she wondered what he was remembering in particular, before he added more thoughtfully, "Perhaps… I could use the power of the Casket to travel in time…"

Alarmed by the thought, because Loki would try that if he thought he could, she said in haste, "No. You cannot undo what has been done. Nor are there magic scales to measure one deed to another, until all balances again. But all the same, where you did great harm, you also have the potential for great good. You need only use it."

"And do what?" he asked, voice thick and uncertain. "I have nowhere to go. Inside here, with you, I am myself, but out there - " he gestured to the city and stars beyond with his free hand. "Outside, I am the traitor. The villain. The monster. I hear the whispers - they say I plotted to murder you all, and when that failed, I sided with our enemy and tried to destroy Midgard. Some may say I went mad, some will say my restitution is an evil deception, but none will trust me."

"Some will say that," she acknowledged. "We should perform a formal reconciliation ceremony to announce that you are home and you are healed, that will help. But no, it will not be easy on you. You will have to re-earn trust and respect from those you deceived and hurt."

He slumped, seeming defeated. "I cannot re-earn what I never had."

"From fewer than you believe, Loki." She paused and looked at him again, sensing a lingering bitterness beneath. "And? What more?"

His jaw worked before he answered, eyes glinting, "And what of those who betrayed and deceived me? Why should I earn their respect, when they have none of mine?"

She held back a sigh. So many bridges to rebuild, so many hurts to heal. "Why? Because they did not know, Loki. Because you are the son of a king and so you must show the greater wisdom and keep the realm strong." He did not seem mollified by that reasoning, and she recalled his bitter words denying his friends. She would have to bring him and Sif to accord, somehow, for Thor's sake, but also for their own. They had been close once, and bringing that friendship back would do more to help Loki than any words. And where Sif went, the others would follow.

They would all need to fight together, and trust one another again. "I fear you will not lack for opportunity to prove your worth to any who doubt you."

He glanced at her with a curious frown and she reminded him, shivering, "Thanos comes, with his army and his servants and all of his evil. I remember the devastation and death of that war before. You will have your chance."

"Thanos. I hope he comes," Loki said in a voice quiet but intent and cold with tempered rage. He pulled his hand free of hers to curl his into fists on top of the wall and he stared into his memories of dark places and darker powers. "I know him now. He tried to hide his identity from me, but I know the taste of his power and the deep crevices of his mind as no one in Asgard ever has before. He will curse my name before I end him."

"There is no way to end him. He is an Eternal, blessed by the Celestials. It is impossible."

"Everything that exists can be unmade. There is a way, and I will find it." His eyes narrowed, and he swore in a softer voice, more to himself, "He will fear me. I swear."

She felt a chill of foreboding. "Loki, you cannot confront him alone. I know you are angry at him, but a solitary path of vengeance is foolish."

He hesitated and turned toward her with a smile. "No, of course, that was not my intent, Mother. I know it is wiser to battle him together." His hand settled on her shoulder in reassurance. "Come, we should return inside. There is no war, yet, and I would introduce you to a new drink I encountered on Midgard. They cannot rule themselves and their food is fit only for animals, but they are quite inventive with celebratory libations… "

He continued to speak of frivolous things as they returned within his rooms, leaving behind all serious conversation. She let him, deciding what he needed most now was time. Loki was not the only one uncertain of his place -- they all needed to learn how to be a family again. Old resentments unearthed and exposed to the light needed healing. That process had started, not ended.

But then she saw him pass the Casket of Ancient Winters and lay a hand on it. His touch lingered, as if in promise to use the power within to its fullest, and her dread returned.

You are powerful, my son, but power is not enough. We stand in the eye of the hurricane, and the fullness of its fury has yet to fall on us. I pray you have the strength of heart to withstand it and not lose yourself in vengeance.

Yet each day that Thanos gave them free of war, was a day she could heal her son and grow the bonds between her family a little stronger, and that was the victory she desired most of all.

the end.

(and yes, uninterested flisters, your long nightmare is now over!)