Boltedfruit Archive

Slave of War

Published: 2021-07-17

Category: M/M

Rating: M

Words: 2,046

Fandom: Thor

Ship: Thor/Loki

Characters: Thor, Loki, Hogun

Tags: Jotun Loki, Angst and Hurt/Comfort

Summary:

That moment the snap of the whip rings loud throughout the yard and Thor sees Loki on the ground, back torn in a fresh red strip, baring his teeth. He snarls and a string of foreign words spill from him, vicious and spitting and fast.

 

“Oh,” Thor mumbles. Tyr begins screaming at Loki. Hauls him up and pushes him back toward the prisons. Thor feels ill. “Oh, he is Jotun.”

 

Hogun nods, suddenly somber. “Yes. And that makes him Prince Loki of Jotunheim.”

 

Oh, Thor thinks.

 

“Let’s find someplace else to break fast,” he suggests. Hogun follows him gladly.

Author's Note

Originally posted around 2019.

When his father brings the boy home from the war, any and all expectations he’d managed to build fall away. His mother is not there to see. His mother wishes not to see, she’d said so.

 

The boy is his age, being on the cusp manhood. The boy is a prisoner of war. Thor thinks the boy looks lost, and frightened, but then, before his very eyes, the boy adopts a proud tilt to his chin. Pulls his shoulders back and levels Thor with a stare he’s seen often on his friends who train for war. The look that sits so well on those who have already lived through enough battles to have it become common. Thor wonders why, if the boy is not a fighter, he does wear it so well.

 

“The boy’s name is Loki,” his father tells him. Loki’s mouth wavers and goes tense at that.

 

“I’m Thor,” Thor says.

 

The boy is shuffled off to be sat behind bars, he knows. To be sat, fed a bowl of water and a piece of bread daily, and to wait, and learn, and be broken. Thor has seen it all his life. Has always disliked it.

 

His father is not an unfair man. Should a prisoner be worthy, there would be no need for bars. If a prisoner was smart, they’d know, like Thor knows, that worth is not dictated by how well one obeys.

 

He hopes the boy is smart.

 

 

   There’s something about him. About Loki.

 

He tells Hogun.

 

Hogun is older, but not by much. He has known Hogun since he came to their grounds as a young child. Hogun is smart.

 

They watch the prisoners be marched around the training grounds. Tyr tosses his whip freely, but Thor is secretly grateful Loki has yet to draw his ire.

 

“Odin will beat it out of him if Tyr won’t,” Hogun says around his chewing. Meat today, for once. “He’s nearly a man, and will be useful. Though it’s not a wonder Odin brought him back at all.”

 

“Does he usually not?” Thor asks. He stares at Loki. He can hardly think to hide it. “What does he do to them?”

 

Hogun pauses in his chewing. He hums and swallows. “You know the answer to your own question.”

 

“Huh.”

 

Why did his father not kill Loki then?

 

“Is he special?”

 

Hogun looks at him, then out to follow Loki with a studying eye same as Thor. “Do you not recognize his name?”

 

Thor shakes his head.

 

Hogun sets his meat back down. He wipes at his mouth with the back of his leather cuff. “You’re amusing, Thor.”

 

“Truly, I don’t know who he is.”

 

Hogun claps his hands and laughs lightly, amazed clearly. Thor bristles at it and scoffs at him, taking his eyes from Loki for only a moment.

 

That moment the snap of the whip rings loud throughout the yard and Thor sees Loki on the ground, back torn in a fresh red strip, baring his teeth. He snarls and a string of foreign words spill from him, vicious and spitting and fast.

 

“Oh,” Thor mumbles. Tyr begins screaming at Loki. Hauls him up and pushes him back toward the prisons. Thor feels ill. “Oh, he is Jotun.”

 

Hogun nods, suddenly somber. “Yes. And that makes him Prince Loki of Jotunheim.”

 

Oh, Thor thinks.

 

“Let’s find someplace else to break fast,” he suggests. Hogun follows him gladly.

 

 

   Thor steals away in the night to the training yard. He finds the old prisons lining the wall, cold in the brisk night air. The moonlight casts his shadow long enough that he does not go unnoticed the moment he steps from the halls of the main house. A flurry of whispers goes up, and Thor is surprised. He had not expected so many to still be awake at this hour.

 

He finds Loki’s cell, and bends to deposit the parcel he’d brought through the bars. He spies a bucket and light scattering of hay. He feels angry.

 

“Do they not give you more to sleep on?”

 

Loki is watching him from where he stands in the corner, almost nothing but a shadow. Lithe and glaring and silent. Thor cannot even tell if he is breathing.

 

“Your back,” Thor says, quiet. “I’ve brought you an ointment—a salve. It will soothe the sting of it.”

 

“I suffer far more than a sting,” the Prince tells him. His voice is deep, accented. Thor is happy Loki can understand him at all. He knows almost nothing of their enemy in the long war. “And you bring me a salve?”

 

Thor kneels to push the parcel farther inside. Loki doesn’t even look at it. His eyes are trained on Thor.

 

“There is meat, too.” Thor swallows. He lowers his voice. “But do not let the others know.”

 

Loki brings his gaze slow to the parcel. He stares at it a long while. Thor thinks he must be weighing the risk of it.

 

“Odin does not know I am here.”

 

“Yes,” Loki says. He takes a step forward and bends to crouch low, perched on his heels. “I gathered that. You are the prince of my enemy.”

 

“So are you.”

 

Loki huffs. He unwraps the black cloth of the things Thor brought him and, finding no lie in the contents, brings the piece of cooked meat to his mouth. He tears into it and it is gone in a moment. He stands back up, clutching the small pot of salve in one hand, while in the other he grips the cloth to wipe the juices from his chin.

 

“Aurochs meat.” He swallows and nods. “Decent.” Thor smiles and Loki gives him a wary look.

 

“Have we met before? In battle?” Loki asks him.

 

“I’ve not been to battle, yet.” Thor inclines his head. He wants to hear more of Loki’s voice. “I have to perform my right in the next month ‘fore I am allowed to march with the others.”

 

“So Asgard coddles its young, or is it just that they shield their Prince?”

 

He’s not sure what to say to that. First, he thinks to shout, for it makes him rile. That Odin should ever wish to hold back his own son from the fight is a farce! One he will not cater to!

 

But then he calms, like the scholars have taught him to, and realizes he’s also wondered the same. More than once. But never has he put voice to it, and never has he confided.

 

“It’s as if you reach into my thoughts,” Thor says, almost to himself. “Perhaps it was my father, or brother, Balder. Perhaps you met them in battle?”

 

Loki nods, absent. “It wasn’t them.”

 

He tilts his head to fold the cloth into a neat square, before tucking it into the waist of the subligaria he wears.

 

“Your back,” Thor reminds him, pointing. He reaches for the salve and Loki gives it back to him. Loki turns slowly, not letting his sight stray from Thor’s face until he’s given another soothing smile. “Gods above.”

 

There are three more lashes to match the first, the blood long dried in clotting strips. And already, even in the light of the moon can Thor see the mottled bruising forming quick patterns across his pale skin, tight from swelling.

 

“Your yard leader has a strong hand. Fitting work.”

 

Thor cannot swallow past the dryness of his throat. He dips two fingers into the salve and touches Loki’s shoulder to get him to move closer. Loki takes a step backward, towards Thor and then Thor cannot keep from the scent of him. Blood and dirt and filth, but something altogether unlike Asgard. Something entirely other, entirely Jotunheim, entirely Loki.

 

He finds it’s a little easier to swallow then.

 

The salve goes on thick and cold and Loki jerks slightly when the first wave of pain reaches him. Thor makes quick work of the first wound.

 

“I’ve always despised this part.”

 

“You’ve been whipped before?” Loki asks with a laugh.

 

Thor does not feel like laughing. Isn’t even sure how Loki can manage, in his state. “As a young boy I misbehaved terribly.”

 

Loki does not react when the salve is pressed into the groove of the second lash.

 

“I see.”

 

Thor makes fast work of the others. Soon he is merely adding a little more at the edges, trying to find an excuse to stay in contact with

 

Loki’s skin. He finds he wants to keep touching him. But he wishes to leave some for the next days so Loki will be able to heal, properly. He stops but does not move his hands from Loki’s back. Instead traces shapes into his unmarked hip.

 

“You said you were sent off to battle young,” Thor says. “How long now?”

 

“Five years. Jotunheim believes in the strength of their children. Asgard clearly does not.”

 

There’s some venom in the words, and something about the way Loki says them makes Thor wonders if he’s not really speaking of two things at once.

 

“It’s not that they don’t believe in their strength, rather it is to prepare them as much as possible to ensure they are ready.”

 

Loki turns on his heel, furious as he meets Thor’s eyes. “No one is ready for bloodshed. If your precious papa has made all of Asgard believe such nonsense, then Jotunheim will rejoice to know it. That they fight pampered fools.”

 

“Those pampered fools caught their Prince, didn’t they?”

 

Loki recoils. Thor knows he shouldn’t have said it. But he’s not wrong and he refuses to be.

 

“Perhaps I let myself be taken.”

 

“Perhaps you let yourself be whipped today as well?”

 

Loki tilts his head and laughs and just like that the tension built between them melts away, fading into nothing. He quiets himself, glancing out at the yard. Then he draws close, wrapping his hands around the bars to try and gaze up at the sky.

 

“I cannot even see the stars,” he mutters, annoyed at the stone archway overhead. Thor can see he has freckles, they are so close. “Is the moon very full?”

 

“Very,” Thor tells him on a whisper that’s more breath than voice and it has Loki looking at him. His gaze dips to his mouth and back again. “Are you certain you’ve not been to battle? Not even to Jotunheim, before the fighting?”

 

“Never,” Thor insists.

 

Loki nods. He backs away from the bars and already Thor misses him.

 

Thor holds out the salve for him to take but Loki holds up a hand.

 

“Keep it.”

 

“You’ll need—”

 

“Bring it back with you tomorrow,” Loki says. And perhaps it’s a trick of the light, but he thinks he sees Loki smile.

 

“I will,” Thor vows. He stays put while Loki turns and sees to readying himself for sleep. He gives Thor a questioning look when he realizes he has not moved.

 

“What is it?”

 

Thor hates the trepidation in his voice.

 

“I won’t say to not be hard on yourself, to not draw Tyr’s eye. To cower.” He grips the bars himself, feeling suddenly pleading. “But you were brought here for a reason, and that is to obey.”

 

Loki nods. “I do not need reminding.”

 

“Just—” Thor tries, feeling like he’s losing the moment, and quickly.

 

“My father employs the ones who obey. They come to be warriors.

 

Respected, too.” He’s thinking of Hogun. He’s thinking of Tyr.

 

“Growing up I needed to be reminded of my place, all the time. Constantly.”

 

Loki is just watching him. Thor can only hope, desperate for some reason beyond him that Loki is listening to what he is trying to tell him. Really listening.

 

“I learned to know my place. But I’m still myself,” Thor says, knowing he’s being too loud. “Do not allow them to make you forget yourself. But do not think making them believe they have is the same thing.”

 

Something dark settles over Loki’s face. Something far more serious than Thor’s seen, from anyone.

 

“Why are you saying these things?”

 

Thor shakes his head. His grin then likely appears in the realm of unright, a little off. But he can’t help it.

 

“There’s just something about you,” Thor says instead, and it’s the truth.