Boltedfruit Archive

Lung

Published: 2021-07-17

Category: M/M

Rating: M

Words: 2,067

Fandom: Thor

Ship: Thor/Loki

Characters: Thor, Loki, Mimir

Tags: Jotunheim, Asgard, Reincarnation, Magic, Hurt/Comfort, Manipulation

Summary:

There is a slash on Loki’s throat.

 

Thor presses his fingers tight against the wound and calls the Bifrost.

 

Heimdall does not answer.

Author's Note

Originally posted around 2019.

   There is a slash on Loki’s throat. Long and red and drying by the moment. It’s old too; crusted over and gone bad in the cold air. Black at the edges with wind and chill rot.

 

Thor goes to his brother, lying limp in the snows of Jotunheim’s tallest peak. Falls to his knees with a whimper when he should be wailing. Sobs silently when he should be roaring, raining down thunder. But there is no one else there. No evidence to follow. No footprints in the snow. No trail of blood. Nothing but the howling wind, the painful chill, and his little brother, dying at his knees. No enemy to blame that he can see. A wash of pale skin in the snow with only a red line to tell Thor there’s anything wrong in the first place.

 

Thor presses his fingers tight against the wound and calls the Bifrost.

 

Heimdall does not answer.

 

He tries again to much the same result and Thor does roar, then, screaming vitriol to the grey skies.

 

Thor gathers his dying brother in his shaking arms. Swings Mjolnir high to the skies, and flies away to the distant dark stretch of Jotunheim’s largest city, Utgard.

 

 

   Utgard is an old and broken city. Ruins now, for a thousand years. Walls tipped and torn in the last war spell out only windy corridors and ill-fit sleeping arrangements. Nowhere will Thor be able to find warmth here, in this dead city. Nowhere will he find a Jotun healer, no matter that he knows he’d be the one creature least likely to inspire empathy for aid. Loki will die here, in his arms.

 

Loki hasn’t made a noise yet and Thor panics, grips his brother tighter. If only he could mold Loki to his chest, his heart, his soul. Anything to keep him tucked inside and unharmed.

 

Loki will die here. But if he must die at least it will be in Thor’s arms where warmth is a vow and a heart will rend in two to inspire some Valkyrie to take notice. For if Loki dies, Thor does too, and he is prepared for it.

 

But first, he must keep trying.

 

 

   It is midnight when the witch comes to him. He is half frozen beneath new snow, Loki long gone cold hours before. A fine layer of frost has crystallized over his brother’s skin and it is beautiful and terrible and an end Thor has been counting the minutes to join him in. Loki has died and he has failed, and so he sits, snow up to the shoulders, Loki’s rigid form clutched to his chest. He wants it to be over.

 

But the witch has other ideas.

 

She is Jotun, her blue skin so old it has gone grey, and her hair is long and white. The marks of her kin-line are short and interrupted and Thor knows she was banished at some point. Perhaps she is one of Laufey’s, old and forgotten as she is, just like the rest of his kingdom. Her eyes are kind, her mouth is not, nor the words she begins to speak for it means life. She is robbing him of a death he needs, the death he craves, for what life is there when it is given back in a whisper and without the only person he wants by his side?

 

“It is no life,” he speaks to her. He needs her to understand his plea. “No life at all, without him.”

 

She tuts and spits into the snow. Thor sees a scar around her neck that reaches ear to ear. The scar is deep and bubbling. She crouches her wrinkly legs and scratches at her bare stomach. He weeps noiselessly as she holds his stare.

 

“Children lose parents, parents lose children, siblings lose one another all the time—what is it makes you think you cannot live without this one?” And she points at his brother, dismissive. “Why should a giant slayer be allowed to die out here? You will have no grave or glory.”

 

The tears freeze on his cheeks, prick at his eyes. “It is no life,” he repeats.

 

“He’s been dead a long time,” she announces. “His neck was slit a week past.”

 

Thor cannot cry anymore. His heart slows. Maybe he is finally going to be with his brother.

 

“But you knew that,” she says more gently. Reaching out gnarled hands, she pries Thor’s hands away. He tries to fight her, to take Loki back, but he can hardly move anymore. “Your life will belong to the wastes, lonely brother.”

 

“Doesn’t matter,” he manages to sigh out.

 

She trails sharp nails down Loki’s frozen skin. The ice melts in the wake of her touch and though Loki is pale, so pale—she brings the flush of life to his cheeks.

 

“I can bring him back,” she informs him. “But there will be a price. You will die. You will stay here, lost to the snows and the wind and the chill and you will rot. Your soul will not be claimed by the Valkyries, nor will your dear Asgard know of your passing. It will be as if you never existed at all.”

 

There is pain in the words, but Thor does not care.

 

“My brother will…not know me?”

 

“He will live as if he never had a brother. He will return as he was meant to, before he met his end. He will return as Loki of Laufey and live out his days on Asgard under the eyes of your beloved parents.”

 

It sounds good. It sounds nice.

 

“The price,” Thor croaks.

 

She places her hand over Loki’s face. “A lung. From each of you. A fair price.”

 

Thor says, “Yes,” without thinking. Loki will live, and live better for never knowing the price the brother he will not have the pain of remembering had to pay. It is a worthy thing, for such a boon.

 

The witch produces a knife, from where, Thor does not know, for she is nude and small in the cold beside them. She falls to her knees and tears open Loki’s armor and tunic, does the same to Thor. Thor keeps his eyes on his brother as the witch steadies the knife over his own chest. She rears back and plunges the blade deep and there is no pain, for he cannot think to be hurt by it. She reaches inside to pry back muscle, and then the white of his ribs. Thor can see his own heart and it is bloody. She proceeds to make Loki a match to his own bloodied state.

 

All of it is a horror, but then there is his brother’s heart. Thor can see it, and it is beautiful but still. She tears a lung free from Loki’s chest and eats it. Gnaws at the thing until her skin is drenched is offal.

 

Thor panics as the witch returns to him to grip one lung and rip it out, wondering if she will eat it. Yet still he feels nothing. She crushes it to ash in a withered fist before reaching over to Loki’s open chest to paint his still heart with the remains.

 

The pain then is immense and blinding and Thor cannot see. But somewhere, he knows, he knows, is the sound of his brother breathing. Alive and gasping and in pain himself. Then follows the sound of the witch’s cackle on the wind and then nothing at all.

 

 

   Loki blinks awake. His first thought is of someone golden haired and tragic and he weeps to himself for a reason he does not know at all. There is an image at the edge of his vision but it dances away from him the more he reaches to grasp it. Something within him says he has made a mistake, letting it slip from his hands.

 

He gathers himself, taking in the ceiling he’s stared at for centuries every morning upon waking and every night upon sleeping. It is a cosmic map and it serves to calm him as it ever has.

 

He goes to breakfast that morning and when Odin sees him there is a gasp. He does not understand why, nor does he understand the fear in his parents’ eyes.

 

Odin summons the Einherjar and Loki cannot speak, he is so shocked when they come for him. They grip him at the arms and force him to his knees and it hurts, their violence, and he wants to shout at them How dare you treat a Prince of Asgard so! But still no words leave him and he panics. Panics because he has known these warriors since he was a boy, a child! Why do they turn on him now? Why is his father commanding such an awful thing, as if Loki was a threat by very simply existing?

 

Frigga is standing with her hands over her mouth, eyes wet and afraid and Loki doesn’t understand it.

 

Why is his mother afraid…of him?

 

His throat hurts, his neck all an ache and he wants to scream past it.

 

Loki hangs his head, blinks past tears as they fall to the golden floor. Something strikes the back of his head and he falls, shaken. He cannot gather his wits. He claws at the floor. His eyes land on where his hands strain, his fingers dig into the floor—and they are blue.

 

 

Like a Jotun.

 

   Odin commands him imprisoned. Odin commands him be imprisoned for all the rest of time.

 

What is the crime, he finally asks his father, weeks later when he has sat for some time. He has had little luck in making sense of things.

 

Odin tells him he is accused of lies, endangerment to the realm of Asgard, worse and more terrible things Loki doesn’t understand.

 

He dreams of the tragic man at night, and thinks of him during the day. Dreams that are filled with blue eyes that are tired and pained and sad and Loki never wakes feeling rested. He knows the man, he does. It is a knowledge that sits at the tip of the tongue, and he strives to remember.

 

Odin tells him he will have an eternity in the pit after all, and Loki knows that will be plenty of time to figure it out.

 

Years pass. Truly the one thing that bothers him above all else—more than the starvation, and the dirt, and the silence, and the blindness of the nature of the pit, deep and black as it is—is that he still cannot put a name to the stranger in his head. He knows him more now. Remembers him in slivers of a time long past. Loki is loathe to call them memories but something about them rings true even to his mind, unwoven piece by piece like it has become with each passing year in this lonely place.

 

The silence bothers him sometimes, but Loki is very good at entertaining himself. He has voices that keep him company. He knows them very well, the voices. They relinquish to him beautiful stories of a child who had a playmate and protector who did everything together. They had friends. They grew up to go on quests to realms Loki remembers fantasizing about when he studied them in books. He remembers books too, misses the texture of paper beneath his fingers. Sometimes he thinks he imagined books, but he’s fairly certain they were real, once. Like apples, and wine, and firelight.

 

There comes to him a new voice, once. It is low and lilting and clever and pretty and wise and dangerous and Loki likes very much the new voice’s stories. They are old and tell tales of Jotunheim, a faraway place he’s never been to. Tells him stories of Odin, a man Loki remembers only little, and how the two would battle and wage war for eons, until finally, the voice said, Odin did very nearly take her head.

 

It comes to him then, the knowledge he’s missed. Like he never

 

forgot at all.

 

“Did you know my brother, Thor?” Loki asks the voice. “I loved him very much. And he loved me even more, I think.”

 

And the voice cackles, carried away on the wind.

 

“I can offer you a deal, boy,” the voice whispers, and Loki is already nodding yes.