Brooding 2

Loki lay curled in his bed in abject misery. The bright lights of his cell did nothing to alleviate his growing headache, and he was already exhausted from throwing up what little of his meal he had managed to force down to start with. It had been nine – no, ten days since he had last been able to eat a full ration of the bland food distributed to the inmates of the Asgardian prison. He knew it was not a coincidence that his trouble had started the very day his mother (or at least the woman he used to think of as his mother) had left the palace to help the orphaned children of Vanaheim in the wake of the chaos wrought by marauders. The fact that her departure had stemmed from events Loki had set in motion did nothing to improve his mood, either.

He shifted, trying to find a more comfortable position, as his stomach roiled with pain. It had begun the morning after Frigga had sent her last projection to visit Loki, informing him that she would be gone for a fortnight at least. As queen of Asgard, she was devoted to going on missions of mercy; she intended to ensure that each orphan had a loving home before she returned. Loki had asked her, in a fit of peevish jealousy, if she planned to adopt any of those children.

“Of course not,” she had answered. “I would have to consult with my husband before making such a decision, and at any rate my heart is full enough – and heavy enough – with the two sons I already have.”

Loki had guiltily apologized for his sharp words, knowing full well that the Queen risked Odin’s wrath by meeting him through her projections when her husband had expressly forbidden her from visiting Loki’s cell.

“It’s all right, my dear. I know you’re only upset because I will not be able to speak to you for so long,” Frigga had serenely replied. “But remember this: the only time I was allowed to keep an orphaned child was when Odin himself brought you home – and it was entirely his decision to do so.”

Loki knew she still wished him to believe that Odin had paternal feelings toward him, but he could not bring himself to acknowledge such a blatant lie. He had killed his true father in a mad quest to gain Odin’s approval, but even that had not been enough to garner a kind word from the All-Father. Loki knew now that nothing would ever be enough – that he was nothing more than a tool, a monster which had been kept to be trained into a weapon but proven to be useless. Odin had sent him to the dungeons to be rid of him, once and for all.

Now Loki wondered if that punishment had not been enough, if the All-Father was not satisfied with merely having him spend the rest of his life in captivity. Loki had used magic to examine his meals – even the water in his privy and the air circulated into his cell – for any traces of poison, but he could find none. That only meant that whoever had poisoned him possessed greater magical power than his own, capable of masking the toxins which were making him ill. Odin was one of the few who did. It stood to reason that, if he had decided to kill Loki without executing him outright, he would most likely make it look like an illness. He would also wait until Frigga was not around to raise an alarm or, worse yet, investigate that illness herself and find its true cause. Loki was beginning to amend his theory, however, to include death by starvation – even a minute dose of poison could effectively kill him, though over a longer course of time, by depriving him of vital nutrition.

It had all started out mildly, with a slight upset that he could not get rid of and which he had attributed to spoiled or contaminated food; when he had induced vomiting and purged his stomach of its contents, he had felt well again. But the next day it had grown worse, and the day after even more, so that now the very smell of food made him retch. He had forced himself to chew and swallow the parts of his meals that seemed least likely to be laced with poison, but it was no use. The last time he had heaved, all that came out was a bilious green fluid. He had not been able to keep down a single morsel of food for five days. Even water made his stomach churn uncomfortably.

Loki closed his eyes and mentally counted again. Yes, it had been ten days since Frigga had left. If she were gone for a fortnight, which was the earliest she had planned to return, he would have no recourse for four more days. He could not notify the guards, for any healer sent to the dungeons would be incapable of finding the poison or ordered by Odin to ignore it. And it was far more probable that Frigga would be gone for longer than a fortnight. Loki struggled with the growing realization that he would either be dead before she returned or too gravely ill for her magic to save him – he was already too weak to even stand long enough to shower. Odin must have planned it that way. And it seemed he wanted Loki to suffer for as much and as long as possible.

In his misery, Loki pulled his sheets (the lovely, finest quality linens Frigga had provided for him) closer around his emaciated form and over his head. He would not give Odin the satisfaction of seeing him cry. If the pain wracking his body forced tears to slip out from between his tightly closed eyes, at least the damp stains would be covered by layers of material. The first few days, he had prayed to the Norns that Frigga would return to Asgard to rescue him from his plight; now he fervently begged for death, and soon.

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