Ragnarök: The Cycle Works Thus (2,040 words) by LokiOfSassgaard

Chapters: 1/1
Fandom: Thor – All Media Types, Marvel, Norse Marvel
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: Creator Chose Not To Use Archive Warnings
Characters: Laufey, Loki (Marvel)

Summary: The Æsir are the monsters here. Laufey is just an old man who has lost everything.

Laufey knows his sons to all be dead.  Loptr, they never expected to survive the winter, but to have him taken by the enemy is little more than an insult to Jötunheimr.  Laufey mourns the loss of his children.  He mourns the loss of his wife.  He mourns the destruction of his realm.  It makes him bitter and angry, every bit the monster the Æsir paint him to be.  He doesn’t care.  The Æsir are the monsters here.  Laufey is just an old man who has lost everything.

Years pass.  Jötunheimr wastes away.  Laufey grows to hate everything.  He is old and tired and resentful the day he learns Odin has exiled one of his own sons, and to Jötunheimr of all places.  He doesn’t know the finer details, and he doesn’t care.  He just wants the creature found and brought before him.  Laufey doesn’t know what he’ll do once he has the boy, but it will probably end in death, with the ruined body sent back to Asgard for Odin to see.

The boy is eventually found, and he’s no boy at all.  Has so much time passed that Odin’s sons have themselves grown to be men, weathered by time and war?  And when Laufey sees the man standing before him, held straight and regal and unflinching, Laufey howls in rage.  He would recognise his own scion anywhere, even after so much time.  This is a mockery, a trick.  Above all, it is completely unfair.  All the hate he has toward Odin and Asgard boils over.  The child he should have raised was stolen, given a false name, a false skin.  He’s so furious with Odin and with the Norns and Yggdrasil herself that Laufey strikes his long-missing son dead without hesitation.  He’s already mourned.  Loptr died ages ago.  Laufey only exorcised a ghost.

The war is being lost.  As soon as Odin’s soldiers step foot on Jötunheimr’s soil, there’s no hope.  All will die.  All will be destroyed.  Even his children will not be spared.

Laufey cannot help a sickening sense of familiarity as he hides his wife and children away in the palace.  At the last instant, he changes his mind and tells them to flee.  Go anywhere.  Leave Utgard and don’t return until the stench of the Æsir has finally faded.

They never return, and Laufey knows he gave them all a death sentence.  Jötunheimr crumbles.  Laufey mourns.  He grows bitter and hates everything.  This too feels familiar, though Laufey is beyond caring.  It’s not until an interloper is captured outside Utgard and brought before him that Laufey doesn’t so much find everything familiar, but feels like he remembers this all happening before.  He would recognise the man before him anywhere, and all the rage, all the anger and hate that he knows he’s felt before come surging back.  How dare Odin?  How dare he?

Loptr — Loki, he’s called now.  Laufey remembers that as well — is just as angry with Odin as he.  He wishes to overthrow Odin.  Laufey could not agree more.

Neither survives the siege on Asgard, but neither does Odin.  It’s a victory Laufey takes to his grave.

The Æsir come early.  Laufey doesn’t know why he thinks they are early, but they are.  Fárbauti is still in labour with Odin and his Einherjar land on Jötunheimr.  Helblindi and Byleistr are not yet old enough to fight, but they take up arms all the same.  The Einherjar are indiscriminate killers.  They see a Jötun with a sword and strike him down, regardless of his age or size.

Fárbauti perishes as well, though it isn’t a blade that kills her, but her own labour.  In the chaos of the battle, preparations were rushed.  It was all too much for her.

The boy survives, just barely.  He was going to name the boy Loptr, but he changes his mind at the last moment, and chooses Loki instead.  He doesn’t know why, but Loki feels familiar.  It feels right.

He doesn’t mean to, but he blames the boy for Fárbauti’s death.  If not for him, Fárbauti might have survived Asgard’s siege.  Instead, Laufey is left with a sickly, small child that does nothing but cry.  Even the wetnurses don’t know what to do with him.  More than once, Laufey considers smashing the child’s head on a rock, but he never seems to get round to it.

The child never ceases his fussiness, but he does eventually grow.  He’ll always be tiny; always be weak.  He’ll be no warrior, and as an heir and scion, he’s pathetic.  But he’s the only child Laufey has left.  He tells the boy not to wander off, but Loki is so small, he slips away easily.  It’s only a matter of time before he slips away and is never found again.  The entire palace is torn apart under the assumption that Loki slipped somewhere and got stuck.  Eventually, it’s decided that he slipped away and the cold tundras of Jötunheimr claimed him.  He was ever so small, and his ability to keep himself warm never did seem to mature.

Laufey thought he’d done all his mourning after the war.  He thought, should his pathetic heir ever come to harm, he’d be grateful for the release of the responsibility of caring for such a sickly child.  He mourns all the same.

It’s not until later—much later—that he hears about Odin’s sons causing trouble for the Nine Realms, and one of them is called Loki.  Odin never did have a son called Loki, did he?  No, he always has.  Laufey remembers it, but he doesn’t remember it quite like this.  After that, he keeps a close eye on Asgard’s affairs.  Odin’s two eldest sons cause a lot of problems for him, and that at least pleases Laufey.  Some part of him pretends that this son of Odin, this Loki causes chaos in the name of Jötunheimr.  It’s a childish fancy, and one that Laufey keeps to himself, but he keeps it all the same.

And then Loki comes to Jötunheimr and begs audience with Laufey.  And in that instant, when the Æsir boy steps before the throne and shows no apprehension, no wariness of being in a realm of giants and monsters, Laufey realises the fate of that sickly boy he lost.  Loki stands before him now, as a young man.  He’s still small, but he’s bigger than Laufey ever expected the boy to grow; tall even for the Æsir.  He has a proposal for Laufey, and Laufey, of course, accepts.

The invasion does not go as planned.  Laufey lives long enough to see Loki clapped in chains and thrown into a dungeon, but even then, Loki doesn’t seem like he’s lost.  There’s more to it.  Laufey only wishes he could live to see the fruits of the seeds they’ve sown.

This time, Laufey remembers more clearly.  At first, he thought it all a vision, but no.  He recognises it for what it is: an endless cycle.  Ragnarök has come and gone and come and gone again, and Laufey alone remembers.  But still remembering is not enough to save them.  Still, he’s left with only a screaming, sickly runt of a child for an heir, and this time, he does blame Loki.  He forbids Loki to leave his rooms without the strongest supervision.  He metes out the strongest punishments when the boy disobeys him.  He can’t stand that of all his children, it’s only ever this one to survive the war.  Laufey hates him for it.

Loki still manages to sneak away, and there are times when Laufey wishes he would stay gone.  But he cannot let Odin take what is his again, even if he would rather not have the burden himself.  Anyone but Odin, and yet, it’s always Odin.

And then one day, Loki calls Laufey a coward.  Laufey hits him so hard he flies from his seat.  He’s so angry with the boy that he lets himself be baited into what can only be an ambush.  Odin drives his sword into Laufey, but it’s not yet over.  Laufey lives to see his son carried away by the Æsir king.  And then, as he lies bleeding in the snow, the boy returns.  But it’s not the boy at all.  It’s the man the boy will eventually become, and Laufey recognises him as such.  Laufey doesn’t know what to expect from this meeting, but it definitely isn’t for Loki to take up a dropped sword.  Just before the blade crushes Laufey’s skull, he wonders if Loki remembers as well.

The Æsir are late this time.  Laufey doesn’t know what exactly it is that dictates their movements, but sometimes they stray from the set course of events.  Fárbauti gives birth and survives, though the boy likely won’t live through the winter.  Helblindi and Byleistr want to take up arms, but Laufey refuses to let them.  He has a plan this time.  One that will surely succeed.  It’s folly, but he doesn’t admit it.

When he hears that the Æsir are marching on Jötunheimr, he sends Fárbauti and the children to the temple to cower with the slaves and commoners.  Fárbauti, queen though she is, obeys his orders and hides where surely Odin would not trespass.

And still, something goes wrong.  Odin does enter the temple, but not until the aftermath of the battle.  And what he finds is an infant, abandoned in the cold.  Helblindi balked at being made to hide away from battle and ran into the fray, taking Byleistr with him.  Fárbauti left Loki behind to collect her older sons.  Loki would be safe in the temple, guarded by the laws of war.  Outside its grounds, all were fair game.

Again, Laufey has lost all and he rages.  He would march on Asgard and reclaim his stolen heir at once if he thought there was a way to reach that realm.  But there isn’t.  The only way into Asgard is the Bifröst, and Heimdall lets no-one pass.

And so Laufey retreats back to the familiarity of loathing and seething hatred and can only wait for the cycle to complete itself.  When three of his soldiers find a way into Asgard, he knows what’s coming.  He sends them to their deaths, knowing it’s a fool’s mission, but he wants to see how it all plays out.

When Loki comes to him again, it’s as one king to another.  Loki always seems to have schemes, and while they never go as planned or as promised, this one is far too good for Laufey to refuse.  Loki offers him the opportunity to slay Odin once and for all.  He accepts without thinking.

It’s almost no time at all before the Bifröst is opened and Laufey granted access to Asgard.  The realm is stifling in its heat, but Laufey doesn’t care.  Odin lies sleeping somewhere in the palace.  Finding the All-father is a simple matter of following Loki’s directions through the palace.  Just as promised, Odin lies prone, spread out for the taking.  His death is so close Laufey can almost taste it.

He doesn’t expect the strike to his back, but even more of a surprise is Loki proclaiming himself the son of Odin.  But Laufey knows the truth.  He is Laufeyson, and he is king.  At least Laufey does not live long enough to see Odin return to the throne.  With this, he is able to die with the knowledge that he is the sire of a king.  At long last.