Chapter 1: Making Peace
Loki sat under the tree contemplating. They actually had trees with silver leaves in Valhalla; and he had never thought he’d see such a thing. It was enough that the sky was so blue it was almost painful, yet beautiful at the same time. The sun was definitely shining.
He had been shocked when he woke up in Valhalla. He had been hopeful of going there; but with the way the fates had treated him in the past; he didn’t expect it. His adoptive parents had been waiting for him and they had had long talks together and managed to work out some of their issues with apologies and understanding on both sides. They had watched from the sidelines as Thor, his friends the Avengers, and many others had defeated Thanos at a high cost.
For a while the barrier between the realms became temporarily weaker, and Loki was able to talk to Thor in a series of dreams. They didn’t have too long, but they managed to say some important things to each other and make some peace. Loki hoped he would be permitted more such interactions. After what he had done for Thor with Thanos, and after Thor had found out what had truly happened to Loki with Thanos, he now looked at him the way he had before everything had gone wrong. Loki hadn’t realized how much he’d missed that; or that despite everything, he still loved his brother and his brother still loved him.
The question both his parents and brother kept asking him over and over again was “Why didn’t you tell us what Thanos and the Mind Stone did to you?” Loki wasn’t sure how to answer at first; but eventually he couldn’t hold back and gave them all the broken answers at once:
“Because he messed up so many of my memories, and I didn’t think you’d believe me. Even though I’ve always been mischievous, having known me for over 1000 years, and never seen me try to rule a world or treat people the way I did on Midgard, it didn’t even occur to anyone that something was wrong. No one ever asked, even those that said they loved me the most. It felt like everyone assumed that I was just a time bomb that finally went off, and everybody was just waiting for me to screw up. And when I did, no one seemed surprised. It felt like too many people excused others when they did similar things; but it seemed like there was almost always a double standard for me. When I was in the void, I called for my family many times and no one came. I know you couldn’t see me, but he convinced me you could, but chose not to help. I was twisted to the point that I honestly thought I was pushed off the Birost. Everyone said they mourned for me, but when they found out I was alive they didn’t seem at all happy. I felt like a relic that had expired in its usefulness. He tortured me and used the mind stone to brainwash me and drive me mad. Most of my compassion shriveled up. He told me that he could make me better. I felt everyone else had truly abandoned me. I was tired of always feeling like second-best and even with everything he did to me, the kind of power he gave me felt intoxicating. Many people seemed to expected me to be a monster anyway, even before it came out that I’m a Frost Giant. And the worst: that underneath all that, I made it worse for myself, because I was too proud to even attempt to tell anyone the truth. I didn’t want to seem weak; I convinced myself I’d rather be feared and hated than pitied. Thanos twisted most of my good memories, and it seemed like no one noticed. I couldn’t break out of his hold. He used my own pride, hate, and anger against me, and I hated him and everyone else for it; but most of all I hated myself. Eventually, I thought I deserved everything I got.”
By the time he’d finished saying it all he was sobbing. At that point he hadn’t cared about seeming weak anymore. He was just tired of holding it all in and lying to everyone; and most of all, to himself.
He had expected disdain and rebuke, especially from Odin; but he was surprised when his parents hugged him and cried with him, actually considered what he said, and admitted that he had several points. Dream Thor had had a similar reaction. They hadn’t realized the strain he was under; he had hidden it very well. When he had finally cracked; they hadn’t seen it coming; but when it came, they had assumed that he could fix himself. When that didn’t happen, they had written him off as a lost cause. They had hoped that by burying him they could bury the pain. He wasn’t even sure if he was happy about them knowing everything that had really happened now. But they did, and that was that and it was a big part of what had made them soften toward him so much. He had also finally begun to understand some of his own mistakes that had led to his troubles. He knew he should be happy that they were all finally starting to understand each other; this was what he claimed to have wanted for so long. Yet now that he had it, he wasn’t sure what to do with it. He had finally realized that he was just going to have to deal with it and that he didn’t always have to go it alone and be so proud. Too often he had been his own worst enemy. He was still listening and learning, and sometimes it was quite painful; but other times it gave him a profound sense of peace and even happiness.
Overall, Valhalla was pretty decent. He had worried that he would have to fight and drink all the time; but that appeared to be optional. He spent much of his time relaxing, sitting around thinking, reading, and watching the other realms of the still living. At first it was the most peaceful he’d ever felt; but then something began to creep up on him. As much as he hated to admit it, he was bored. He wanted to get out and do something; make mischief, explore, learn new things, anything, really. He just wanted to do it without trouble and pain.
He sat there thinking about all of this when he felt a powerful presence nearby. He looked over and gasped. Three of the most beautiful women he had ever seen stood nearby staring at him contemplatively. Somehow, he knew exactly who they were. “Norns”, he whispered, half in awe and half in disbelief. The three head Norns, Urðr, Verðandi, and Skuld, stood there, looking right at him.
Chapter 2: A Second Chance
There they were: The Norns, The Fates, The All-Mother-they had so many names across so many worlds, cultures, and languages. An appearance from the actual three head Norns was very rare, and Loki feared he was going mad again. “Can the dead hallucinate?” he whispered to himself.
“Hello Loki”, said Urðr. At this, Loki finally found his voice. “Hello ladies. What can I do for you?” It was Verðandi who answered. “We have watched you for a long time. You have had a difficult life; due to both the actions of others and yourself. You have caused suffering, but have also suffered greatly yourself. You have also tried to redeem yourself for whatever wrongs you committed. Your death was heroic, yet horrible. Because of all these things, we feel you deserve a second chance.”
For once, Loki the Silvertongue was speechless. The Norns were offering him another chance? At first, he just sat there staring at them with his mouth open like an idiot. But then, anger took over.
“Oh? And where were you in my first life when I needed you? When I cried out and begged for help?!”
Their expressions were so sad even he was surprised. “We are so sorry Loki”, Skuld answered him “You know we can’t always control our sister Norns; and some of them can cause great malevolence. And when the threads get crossed and tangled, they can be very difficult to undo. We do our best; but we can’t always get to everyone. That is why we’re offering you this chance now”.
Loki almost fainted. The head Fates themselves were apologizing to him? If he hadn’t known better. he would think this was some sort of sick joke. But he did know better, and chances like this didn’t just come along every day. “What... would this chance involve?” he asked warily. “Do you remember before things went wrong, you used to actually have a fascination with humans, and Earth? How you studied them, met some of the best of them, and learned much about their cultures?” they asked as one. “Oh no, not this again” Loki muttered. “That was a long time ago, before things went awry. Midgard has changed so much, as have I. I am so done with that planet. I never really wanted to invade it, not when I was truly myself. Everyone there hates me, and they probably would anyway even if they knew the truth. It is the site of my worst failure to fight my own mind; and my worst actions towards other beings. Do you truly think I want to be reminded of that? Why would I want to go back there?”
“We think it would do both you and them good, Loki. You could help the population of Earth. It may be hard for you to believe, but it could also help to heal you.”
“And how would I do that? P-Please I-I don’t want to have to humiliate myself...” he stuttered, suddenly afraid.
Their tone was gentle. “No, of course not; nothing like that. You’ve had enough of that. We will restore you, and help you go through time to various points in human history. We will show you various events that you can choose to help humanity in. Disguised as one of them of course. You would still have your powers, but we would ask that you not cause too much mischief. We will protect and guide you.”
Loki swallowed hard. He would be in disguise. He would learn quite a bit of history even though he already knew much. The Norns said they would watch and help. It might be interesting; he could explore things, learn more about humans. At least it was another chance to be alive, to do something, maybe to make a little bit of mischief. Maybe...even to heal, like they said. A new chapter, perhaps? “How do you know that I would be successful at this?”, he asked. Skuld grinned. “Because you’ve already done it!”, she giggled. Loki burst out laughing as the truth dawned on him. “Well of course I have!” he said proudly.
They shared a laugh. After a while he got quiet. “What about...Thor?” he asked warily.
“You wish to see him again.”
This time Verðandi spoke. “It was sad how he deteriorated from grief. The mortals call it Depression and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. You would be quite familiar with the symptoms. The dreams in which you spoke to him helped him a lot. He has now gone off into the Galaxy with some friends and is slowly getting better. If everything goes as planned, you will see him again, perhaps even as a living man. We will tell him what you are doing in order to give him hope, and to help him keep his heart open. You must keep yours open as well.”
Loki was silent. The truth was, he wanted to go. But he wanted it to be his choice. “And if I refuse, will you force me?” he asked. Again, they spoke as one. “No. We will seek to persuade you with reason. You will find we can be quite persuasive.” Loki chuckled. “I don’t doubt it”. Then finally, he made his decision. “I will go. Can I have some time to say goodbye to my family and make peace here?”
“Of course Loki”, said Urðr. “The time has not yet come. You will have adequate time to prepare. But it’s not goodbye; at least not permanently, I think you will enjoy this more than you think. As we have said, we will watch over you and help you along the way. If things go well on Earth, you may have some time to explore the rest of the Galaxy as well.”
Loki’s mind was going in a million different directions. Again he thought about how it would be nice to get out and do something again; even if only temporarily. The shadow of Thanos was finally gone. It was time to see what else was out there. He looked up at the Norns. “So,” he grinned, “when do we start?”