Boltedfruit Archive

Seashells

Published: 2021-07-17

Category: M/M

Rating: T

Words: 2,725

Fandom: Thor

Ship: Thor/Loki

Characters: Thor, Loki

Tags: Jotun Loki, Arranged Marriage, First Meetings as Kids, Coming of Age

Summary:

 

The boy comes to live with them when Thor is just beginning to learn what the twist of storm clouds feel like when you can’t sleep and your thoughts are preoccupied. He distinctly remembers feeling his back popping when he first lays eyes on the boy, roughly his own age, perhaps a few years younger. Thor feels like his bones are too big for his skin, and he grimaces at the boy more than anything else in way of greeting.

 

“His name is Loki,” his father booms in explanation from where he towers above them.

Author's Note

Originally posted around 2014-2015.

The boy comes to live with them when Thor is just beginning to learn what the twist of storm clouds feel like when you can’t sleep and your thoughts are preoccupied. He distinctly remembers feeling his back popping when he first lays eyes on the boy, roughly his own age, perhaps a few years younger. Thor feels like his bones are too big for his skin, and he grimaces at the boy more than anything else in way of greeting.

 

“His name is Loki,” his father booms in explanation from where he towers above them.

 

Loki looks resigned. But Thor can see a twitch to his brow and maybe he’s a little fearful too. He grips the large pelt he has thrown over his shoulders close to his neck. He shoots a quick glare in Thor’s direction before looking away.

 

Thor’s hands are quaking so he forms fists to still them. He’s nervous, stomach shaking sourly. He feels too tall and lanky and awkward to appear anything but in front of the other boy.

 

Loki’s skin is bright under the noonday sunlight filtering in through the high windows. They cast patterns across the ground and those gathered and Thor does not hide his stare as he catches the long lean lines raised along Loki’s skin. They glint and cast faint shadows in the light and Thor sees they run all the way from Loki’s scalp to his feet.

 

He finds them curious things, indeed. He doesn’t know what they are.

 

He wants to ask but the boy’s knuckles are tight and flushed almost white where he grips at the fur around him, and Thor can see a tremor in his mouth. He’s terrified and Thor thinks the boy is stupid for being afraid when he was the one who came here. Why would anyone bother doing a thing they did not favor doing?

 

He cannot understand it and so he frowns and crosses his arms, momentarily forgetting he is going through growing pains and has spots on his face. Forgetting that he cannot look as strong and powerful as he wishes himself to be.

 

Odin places a gentle pat to Loki’s smooth scalp and smiles down at Thor, a smile for an heir.

 

“He will be with us for the winter season. See he has a friend in you, boy.”

 

Thor nods, but the motion is jerky and Odin’s gaze withers slightly at the sight.

 

His father’s face smoothes over quickly, as ever, and then he is left alone as Odin guides Loki to who knows where.

 

 

It’s another week before he sees Loki again, and Thor must admit to himself when he finally sees the boy again that he had been anxious. He would spend extra moments lingering at doorways, would walk slowly down long halls just in case. After three days or no word or sight of the boy he was making an effort to actively look for him.

 

Now, it is early morning and the first snow has fallen. Snow has always been a hassle to him because he gets soaked when he wrestles with Sif and Fandral. His mother assures him that one day, should be practice accordingly; his ability to be affected by the weather can in turn be used to affect the weather at his will. But the theory eludes him and so he goes on with the seasons, mournful he cannot run out and adventure with his friends like usual.

 

And usually he would not bother leaving the palace so soon, snow still falling from the sky. But he has become used to rising from bed, dressing, and grabbing food on his way out in order to take up the search for their new housemate each day. It has become a habit, and he only half realizes he’s stepped out onto a snowy pathway when he finally glances the boy some hundred feet away.

 

He has no guard, which is odd, Thor thinks. But Loki is walking normally, though a little quickly and with some purpose. Thor keeps the distance between them and follows, only running when he loses sight of the boy around pillars and corners of buildings.

 

They walk the city just outside of the palace gates. It’s busy, but not bustling like it usually is. The market is large and the people have taken heed of the weather and the early hour. It is too cold to be out and shopping for most.

 

Thor wonders why Loki does not approach any stall. He keeps his hands to himself, clasped tightly at his chest. He wears a robe of iron grey, the fur from before slung over his shoulders again. The hood he has pulled over his face, and he does not bother overmuch with taking in his surroundings.

 

Thor thinks the boy is again quite silly. Why venture to the city bizarre and yet not take interest in any of the items offered?

 

Loki walks until they are at the edge of the city and then he pauses. Thor freezes where he is, aware he’ll look the fool if the boy were to turn around to see Thor just standing there, no excuse ready on his tongue.

 

But Loki only pauses for so long. He seems to piece out where they are and where he wants to go for he walks faster now, trotting along almost at a half jog. Thor must hasten to catch up every now and again to keep him within sight.

 

Thor can hear waves, knows they are near the sea. It’s another few minutes before he can taste salt in the air, feel a cool breeze waft through the forest they walk through. The trees thin along a weathered path, more and more beaten the longer they go on, and Thor knows where Loki is heading.

 

Thor’s calves ache and he curses his smarting muscles before taking another, higher path. Loki keeps on towards the beach and Thor only takes a break to catch his breath when Loki’s feet touch sand.

 

 

Loki is bare, save for loose pants he wears. His fur and simple robe are left at a point nearer the trees, forgotten. He toes the sand delicately, hissing when he touches too close to a sharp stone. The sand evens out and is almost smooth as fine grain the closer you get to the water, Thor knows, and he watches as Loki learns this with a small smile on his face.

 

Thor crouches low in the brush skirting a ledge some eight feet above the shore. If he were to jump and walk a few feet, he’d be able to reach Loki’s things he’d dropped. It is a perfect vantage point to observe the silent addition to his home, and so watch he will.

 

Loki palms at his bare head, nails scratching over his scalp and leaving off at his neck when he finally reaches the water. The wash of the shore rushes up and swallows his feet and he shrieks once, high and happy sounding. The sound startles Thor and he’s openly gaping when Loki starts laughing when he walks further into the froth. His gasps at the cold reach Thor through loops in the wind, odd and displaced.

 

A wave swallows him to the waste and his laughter bounces back up to Thor, a strange echo. He watches Loki wade still farther out and he worries for a moment if Loki intends to swim away from Asgard. Then Thor realizes he’s being foolish; that Jotunheim is an entire world away, and so the task useless. Then he worries if Loki will drown trying, and he jumps up and out of the brush. He jogs down the path and stops at Loki’s fur, sullied by sand and his robe stained with dew.

 

Loki is still laughing, swimming now. Thor knows he’s young and yet the boy has powerful arms if he can wade through the surf on his own strength alone.

 

Then Loki turns in his aimless laps and must spot Thor on the sand, for he sputters and flails his arms while he rights himself in the water. He stays there, paddling his arms and legs to keep afloat while Thor tries to gather his breath. He tries to smile at Loki but he can’t make out Loki’s face. Can’t see if Loki is mad or surprised. Can’t fathom he’d be glad to see him, for all that he glared at Thor when they first met.

 

Thor remembers his father’s words and feels his heart thud painfully in worry. He doesn’t want to be a disappointment.

 

He settles on raising an arm in hello, hoping Loki realizes what he is trying to say. Then he moves to stand just out of reach of the wash and sits down, ignoring that his pants will be soaked through when he stands again.

 

Loki watches him for a long time, just moving his arms wide to stay above the waves and staring.

 

Thor feels odd and so he eventually looks down to draw idle patterns in the sand.

 

 

He’s drawn each rune and the head of a wolf before he hears the slosh of water followed by the thud of feet on sand. Thor’s heart is pounding when he looks up and sees Loki walking towards him. He’s naked and standing before him then and Thor wonders if he’s angered the boy by encroaching on his time alone.

 

But then Loki switches his gaze from Thor to the ground and asks, “What is that?”

 

His voice is small but even and Thor wonders why he thought he’d sound like some sort of gravelly creature. He decides to blame Fandral for his ridiculous story telling about giants.

 

“Um, runes?”

 

Loki frowns and says, “No, that.” He points and Thor shrugs, looking at the lines he drew.

 

“A wolf.”

 

“It’s not good,” Loki tells him and Thor raises his head to glare.

 

But Loki is smiling, his cheeks puffing out. He laughs for a short while and then goes to his knees, moving to sit beside Thor. He places his palm over the sand and wipes away Thor’s drawings. He begins to carve in lines of his own and Thor watches as he sees not just a wolf, but a hawk, a boar, and a horse come to life between where they’re seated.

 

“Asgard has many creatures,” Loki says at some point. Thor just nods dumbly to the air as he watches Loki work.

 

They sit so long the tide rises and they must move. Loki looks affronted when a wave, smooth as glass, comes to wash his efforts away.

 

He sighs and goes to his knees once more. This time he digs and Thor realizes he’s settled into another activity, not just a task to idle away boredom.

 

He unearths a slight pearlescent cone and sets it beside his leg as he continues searching the sand for shells. He picks another one out, this one amber in color and sets it beside the first. Thor wonders why he is collecting seashells, of all things.

 

“Don’t you have beaches and shell and waves and all that on Jotunheim?” Thor asks when there is a line of fifteen small shells lined in neat rows of five.

 

“Of course, but the sands are coarse and the waves are large. The dark carries beasts and the salt is often bitter enough to poison one to their grave. Not an enjoyable place, Jotunheim’s sea.”

 

“You only have one?” Thor asks, imagining this terrible place. His mind boggles.

 

Loki scoffs, turning to spare him a quick glance. “Does Asgard have many, then?

 

Loki watches until Thor nods, and he seems momentarily surprised. All sarcasm fades from his expression and Thor would dare to name the next a small smile.

 

Four more shells and the start of another row and Thor finally blurts out what he’s been curious about all week. “What are the lines on your skin?”

 

Loki’s hand falters, fingers dancing over sand. A wave catches them off guard and almost washes away his shells, but he gathers them up quickly. They move farther back up the shore and they settle beside each other. Loki twirls the shells in his lap slowly, feeling the boney ridges.

 

Then he shrugs. “Carved by my father with a whale rib knife. They are the lines of my house and my father’s house and the start of my own. A canvas for my line. It is my history, as well as the history of every family on Jotunheim, in a way. When I am of an age I will receive more before I must find a spouse.” It sounds like a play script, well rehearsed and oft repeated.

 

He thinks of how each line is long and smooth, uninterrupted. How they cover all of Loki’s body, and how they are scars and not some nameless pattern of skin had since birth.

 

Thor realizes Loki, though young, so young, has bled for these scars and that he will bleed for more. That he must grow and have them stretch and have them be recut and healed and cut again. He feels sick to his stomach, thinking of this strange lifeart, and must lace his sweaty fingers together over his stomach to keep from trembling.

 

And he thought the boy weak.

 

“But I suppose I don’t have to look too far, with what Laufey-King has in mind for us.”

 

Thor feels dizzy. Has in mind for us. He doesn’t know what those words mean. He does not. He does not think of how Odin and Frigga had been so keen on this boy’s visit. How he heard whispers of there being more to come, with every winter season. If things went well, they had said. If the weather was agreeable to him, they had said. Thor didn’t understand what they meant, before.

 

But now—

 

He feels about to wretch and so he turns his head away. Despite everything he does not wish to make a mess of himself or Loki.

 

Loki must suspect something is wrong, for his small hands alight on Thor’s sides as he tilts. His head touches the sand and he moans, sick to his stomach. Loki asks him what is wrong, is he ill, is he dying, is it some Asgardian disease from the sea he has gotten—but Thor cannot answer him. He cannot even focus.

 

It almost feels as if he is calling clouds to gather, his stomach pulling, his heart thundering. And when he chances a look up at the sky, he has indeed called the start of a storm. He has never done it quite so quickly and he feels terribly for it. He does not want to quite literally rain on Loki’s peaceful day.

 

Twice now, he has interrupted Loki’s time alone and he feels guilty, which is something he is not used to feeling.

 

Loki quiets soon, leaving Thor to focus on the gentle circles Loki rubs onto his back, his shoulders.

 

Eventually, Thor calms and settles more fully onto his back. Loki is humming beside him, hands busy flitting around him.

 

“I am sorry for ruining your day, Loki,” he murmurs, tired and aching.

 

Loki’s voice is soft. “You only ruined a little bit of it, you know. But then you fixed it again.”

 

Thor feels his hair rearranged, and he wonders what Loki is doing. He is too tired to open his eyes. “I certainly put a damper on it. And I just liked watching you laugh. I want to be your friend, Loki.”

 

Loki’s fingers still at his temple and Thor chances a peek. Loki is turned toward the sea, but he is smiling. Thor sees he has dimples.

 

“I would like for us to be friends, very much,” is what Loki finally tells him.

 

 

When Thor is dressing for bed that night, he catches sight of himself in his vanity mirror. His hair is a jumble at one side in an attempt at a braid, tied off in a knot at the end. There are several of these all over, all small, and one has a small shell woven in.

 

Thor laughs at the thought he’s walked around all day like this.

 

He goes to bed smiling knowing Loki must have been quite proud of his accomplishment.