Chapter 45

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Once Loki and Trinity got outside, she suggested taking him to see the gardens, he hadn't been there yet, and it was one of her favorite places to go. She hoped that he'd enjoy it too. She stood next to him as they walked and was now realizing how tall Loki was... had he always been that tall? She didn't remember being this much shorter than him. 'Maybe it's because he slouched before' she thought. He had begun to stand and walk much straighter and with more confidence. Thankfully, she had enough sense not to comment on the matter to Loki.
After a little while they made it to the gardens, and it wasn't at all what Loki had been expecting. He wasn't thinking it would be this large with so many different things growing. Paths cut through the thick grass that blanketed the ground, colorful trees and bushes filled the open areas of grass, and vines twisted along the ground and up the trunks of the trees. Along many of the paths, trees arched over from either side and blocked the direct sunlight with their branches, but let in enough light to be welcoming.
There was a  river that ran through the garden, and it branched off and twisted around across the ground like the branches of a tree. Wherever the water of the river went, new plant life seemed to grow, and Loki recognized none of it.
The middle of the large garden was marked by a large pool of water that was fed by the branches of the river. The pool was the only part of the garden that wasn't shaded by trees, and the water was so clear that it reflected the bright colors of the garden in it. Benches were placed all around the paths, inviting people to come sit and enjoy the view.
It was much more than just a garden, it was a bright forest of life and warmth that anyone would be happy to get lost in. No wonder Trinity loved it here so much.
"Wow" Loki said when he saw everything that was in font of him, he was just thinking out loud, but Trinity heard him.
"What's 'wow'?" She asked. Loki shook his head a bit.
"I just- I'm not used to seeing this much growth in one place. I mean, I was lost in the forest, but everything here is different. I've just never seen that"
he told her as they walked along the path through the shaded garden.
"Did you not have a garden on Jotunhiem?" She asked him, she was curious, but she also just wanted to know his past more and get him to talk about himself.
"No" Loki said as he shook his head "things like this don't really grow on Jotunhiem. Useful plant life isn't able to grow in those weather conditions" he explained, mostly looking at the garden, but taking the occasional glance down at Trinity.
"What does 'useful plant life' mean?" She asked, her eyes were only on him.
" eatable. Laufey isn't the type to have decorative.... anything, so if the plant can't be eaten he didn't bother to grow it" he told her, his voice got a little by lower when he mentioned laufey's name, Trinity figured he just didn't like talking about him.
"So then did no one there ever eat anything but meat?" She asked, her curiosity becoming more powerful than her consideration. He obviously didn't like talking about his life, but she was interested, and she didn't plan on asking him about how laufey hurt him, so he should be fine.
"Well he did a lot of business with other realms. He got most of his food that he couldn't grow from vanahiem" Loki told her, his voice still low, but audible.
"How do you know that? Why would Laufey tell you when he did business with another realm?" She asked, thinking it odd that Loki (who didn't even eat) would know about laufey's business habits.
"Well, he um.... he only told me when it had to do with food.." he told her, his eyes on the ground now.
"Why?" Trinity asked "why would he do that? It's not like you cared" she said.
"Because he liked to torment me.... he would have me beaten, and then he'd drag me to the kitchen to show me all the food that had been sent from vanahiem, then he'd have me prepare and serve dinner to him and whoever else wanted to eat, and I had to stand by and watch" he told her, he was able to keep his voice steady and he didn't stutter, but Trinity noticed that he was getting fidgety with his hands; he was tapping the side of his leg, or making fists and then quickly releasing them to wiggle his fingers.
Trinity could tell that he was uncomfortable talking about this, so she took a step closer to him and slid her hand into his, hoping to make him feel more at ease. And for some reason, it worked. When he felt her take his hand he felt more comfortable.
"I'm sorry" she said. "I don't understand why they treated you like that" she added. Loki stayed quiet for a minute, he didn't know why talking about things was so much easier with Trinity.
"It's alright.... things are different now..." he said back. Trinity wanted to ask him how he was sleeping now, if the nightmares still came, but she knew that that would make her sound very much like a healer, and she didn't want him to only see her as a healer, she wanted to be a friend.... and possibly a bit more than that. She was struggling to admit it to herself, but she was starting to develop feelings for him. He was kind and humble, and she heard about the things he'd done so she knew he was clever and resourceful.
"Do you remember when we had tea together?" She asked him after a moment of them walking under the arched trees in silence, still hand in hand.
"Yes, of course" Loki said, looking from the ground back to her.
"Do you remember what I asked you right before he tea kettle whistled?" She questioned, she still wanted to know the answer.
"Yeah.... you asked why Laufey tortured me" Loki said, but didn't offer the answer on his own.
"You were about to answer.... would you still be willing to?" She asked. He did nothing for a moment and then he nodded.
"I suppose...... well, Laufey hated me because I was small" he said simply, and he saw the confusion on her face, so he continued on "for a frost giant, being small is... shameful. Especially for royalty.... so when I was born and I was the size of a human baby, Laufey didn't want to accept me as the heir. He'd never let someone like me be king" Loki told her, he hoped that would be the end of the topic, but he knew she was going to ask more.
"But.... all he had to do was get rid of you" Trinity said back. Loki sighed a bit and nodded.
"Yeah... he tried that at first, but then he realized that even if he just killed me, the people would still know that the king had an inadequate son. So he made sure that everyone knew how much he didn't accept me. He beat me in public so that there would be no doubt in the people's minds that he hated my very existence, and that he would never allow something like me to be considered his son." He was surprised that he was able to talk about that without tripping over his words, but talking was starting to come easier to him, and Trinity made him feel ten times more comfortable.
"So... all of it was just because you were small? That's really the only reason?" She asked, she hated Laufey more and more every time she heard his name. How could he treat someone like that just because they're small? It's not like it was Loki's fault he was born that way.
"At first that's what it was, but I think he just started to enjoy it after a while. He found pleasure in my pain for some reason" Loki said back.
"Well, then I'm glad our king and queen met you when they did. You deserve a family with them" Trinity said in reply, trying to turn the conversation onto something less heavy.
"How did you know about that?" Loki asked her, she said he deserved a family with them, how did she know they adopted him?
"Word travels fast through the palace" she said, then smirked a bit "your highness" she added, trying to make a joke. But Loki didn't seem to think it was funny.
"Please don't call me that" he said, looking pretty uncomfortable with the title.
"It was supposed to be funny" Trinity told him "have you ever laughed?" She asked, putting a halt to their walking by letting go of his hand and stepping in front of him.
"Well I've never really had anything to laugh about.... so no, I haven't" he told her. She looked up at him and tried to read his face, but he was blank. Oh how she wanted to know what was going on inside that head of his.
"Okay, Loki, do yourself a favor. Forget your pain for just one minute, put aside your past and your agony and your misery, and just be happy about the fact that you have people who care about you" she told him, but he still looked blank "contrary to what you may think, you are allowed to be happy" she added after a minute of silence.
"Well I don't really know what happiness feels like, to be honest.... and when I feel things that I don't recognize it just confuses me" he explained.
"Well maybe try to stop categorizing everything and start trying to enjoy things. You overthink everything" she told him. Now he was starting to get a little frustrated, how can she act like this should all be so easy when she has no idea what his life has been? And he didn't even know how to explain it to her.
"Well it's hard not to overthink things when My whole life has been filled with pain and suffering. I'm used to being beaten for breathing the wrong way. I once got whipped because I bled too much after Ilkay cut open my stomach, of course I overthink things" he said.
Trinity felt bad for criticizing him, but she was pleasantly surprised to hear that there was no timidness in his voice.
"Well you haven't been beaten since coming here, so stop thinking so much about everything" she said again, sounding more gentle, but smirking a bit. she was glad he wasn't afraid to defend himself anymore.
"Alright fine, then have lunch with me" he stated. Which to her, came out of nowhere.
"Wait, what?" She asked. What did having lunch together have to do with anything? Loki looked like he was fighting his nerves pretty hard.
"Well I've been wanting to ask you to have lunch with me, but I wasn't really sure how" he said "and you said to stop overthinking things, so I did, I'll just ask plainly. Will you have lunch with me?" He requested. She was surprised that he became so bold so quickly, maybe he was just testing the waters to see how he liked not overthinking things.
"I would very much enjoy having lunch with you" she said with a slight smile. Loki looked relived and a bit pleased.
"Good... then let's meet back at the benches by the pool at around noon? I'll get our food from the kitchen" he suggested. Trinity nodded once.
"It's a date" she said. Loki went back to seeming a bit more on the cautious side, but Trinity didn't really care, he now knew what being upfront and bold felt like, he'd get used to it soon enough.

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