Boltedfruit Archive

The Third Son

Published: 2021-07-17

Category: M/M

Rating: M

Words: 5,346

Fandom: Thor

Ship: Thor/Loki

Characters: Thor, Loki

Tags: Jotun Loki, Mutual Pining, Intersex Loki, Hurt/Comfort, Jotunheim, Falling In Love, Arranged Marriage, First Kiss

 

Summary:

“I know you. You slaughter us.”

 

“That is the past,” Thor tells him.

 

He’s large and wears a gold circlet about his neck. “Why are you here, blight?”

 

Thor gestures to the many large books spread out before him. “I am researching. Something I should have done before I ever set foot on your realm.”

 

The Jotun grunts. “Unlikely it would have rendered a different result. Angrboda,” the man says. “I’m the keeper of the palace. After that business with Laufey’s seed, the others left to the wastes.”

 

“I was wondering at how quiet it is.”

 

“I’d take quiet over bloodshed any day,” Angrboda tells him matter of fact. “Where is the runt, now? I hope you plucked his eyes out.”

 

Thor shrugs. “Not exactly.”

Author's Note

This one lands in the chunk of writing I did from 2016-2019.

Once home, Thor leads Loki to his father, because that is what he was instructed to do before he left to retrieve his brother. Loki’s shackles tighten audibly when he sets foot on Asgard and he grimaces through the pain of it.

 

What Thor does not expect is that the instant they are before Odin and the court is for Odin to tap Gungnir twice. A bellow issues from the force of it, sweeping over them.

 

“Too long have I allowed mistruths to plague our family. No more,” Odin commands in a soft voice. He sits with a sigh after, looking for all the world bored with what he has just done. “Until you’ve accepted yourself, you will walk as you were once fated to be.”

 

For when Thor looks at Loki he sees him as he was born, a Jotun. Ashy blue skin and red eyes, lines dragging thick over his trembling brow, his shaking hands—thick as scars, Thor has plenty to match from his brother’s own hand.

 

We match now, is Thor’s first thought when Loki blinks and swivels his head around to meet his eyes. It’s a way to ground himself, an anchor in a sea of gasping civilians that know nothing of their families past, their lies and truths, all their many humors and miseries.

 

It’s cruel, he thinks, of their father to do this.

 

Thor refuses Loki a smile because he knows it will only serve to frighten him, estrange him further from the comfort he wishes to impart. He’ll do anything to take the pain he sees locked deep in the wide eyes of his brother, the set of his rigid shoulders.

 

Anything, Thor knows, as he watches the Einherjar lead Loki away.

 

 

Thor does not know where they’ve taken Loki. He’s checked Loki’s rooms, his library and study, the baths, the gardens…even the prisons. He is nowhere, and it is infuriating.

 

It is the only reason he shows up to dinner, a response to the surprising summons. As if all was normal.

 

It is only Odin sitting at their family’s table and he wonders where Frigga got off to.

 

“Sit, my son,” his father tells him, raising a hand.

 

Thor does, ignoring the rich food laid out in droves between them. He stares his father down the length of the long, golden table and wants very much to snap it in his hands.

 

“What you’ve forced upon him is insanity.”

 

“A little madness goes a long way for our kind.”

 

Thor bites his tongue before saying, “It was a private matter. Unfit for the eyes of the people. They had no need to see him like that. You had no right—”

 

“Do not speak to me of what rights I do and do not possess, boy.”

 

He settles back in his seat, feels his blood run hot where he wants to throw the nearest goblet at his father’s head. “Why humiliate him so fully in such a way?”

 

Odin takes up his knife and fork, cutting into a hunk of ruddy meat. He slips the morsel between his lips and chews loudly. “As I said, I’ll not have any more lies underneath my roof. To avoid any greater tragedy, I thought it best he grow to know who he is, and accept it.”

 

Thor watches Odin finish his bite, then take another. Blood runs thin down his chin, disappearing into his white beard. “Where is he?”

 

His father takes a long drink from his goblet, mead dripping onto his knuckles.

 

“His chambers, now,” he says simply.

 

Thor stands, already decided on where he will head.

 

“I should have righted this wrong long ago. For both your sakes.” Thor pauses mid-step, barely turning his head. “I did it to levy any further suffering from his shoulders, so that it might not weigh so heavy going forward. A truth told to all benefits a community greater than that which is hidden for too long.”

 

Thor feels thunder drag heavy through his breast, and so he simply keeps walking ahead.

 

 

Loki’s door unlocks as Thor is reaching for a second knock. He steps inside quickly, drinking in the sight of his seemingly unharmed, unrestrained brother.

 

Loki sits at the edge of his bed with a heavy sigh, rubbing his temples. “Hello, Thor.”

 

“Has he hurt you?”

 

Loki scoffs, rolling his eyes at him. “As if the bastard has it in him. He’s more bark than bite these days, it seems.”

 

Thor is glad for it. He sees fatigue, anger, that ever-lingering sorrow that always bit at Loki’s heels, but other than that nothing sinister. He goes to his brother and kneels before him, taking his hands in his own. Loki allows it, speaking volumes for how tired he must truly be.

 

“Careful,” he says. “I believe I run rather cold these days.”

 

He snorts and Thor smiles for it. “Where have you been all day? I’ve looked everywhere for you.”

 

“With Mo—with Frigga,” Loki says quietly. He drags his hands away.

 

“I’ve not seen her around either. I worried.”

 

“What, did you think Odin had me flogged? Drowned? Burned to a crisp? I suppose he might yet, as freezing me solid won’t work.” Loki blinks rapidly, looking at the ceiling. “I suppose what he’s done to me is enough punishment as is.”

 

Thor doesn’t know what he means. “What are you talking about, Loki?”

 

Loki doesn’t answer him.

 

He moves to stand but Thor holds him where he is. “He’s robbed me of what makes me, me,” Loki gasps out, bringing his eyes desperately back to Thor. “My seidr has been snuffed, hidden away in some strange place I cannot find. A lock with no key.”

 

Thor holds fast when Loki jerks his wrists back. “Have you not considered what he said? About accepting yourself? Your sorcery is not all that makes you, Loki.”

 

“Would you say the same if he’d taken Mjolnir away from you,” Loki whispers, eyes widening when he realizes what he’s said.

 

Thor breathes out through his nose, sensing the conversation is going a way he doesn’t like. “He already has once, brother.”

 

As if to cover the mistake, Loki stands fast, nearly knocking Thor back. He tears his hands free and stalks some feet away, glaring and pointing at Thor. “I’m not your brother!”

 

“As you yet remind me, always,” Thor sighs. “Loki, please.”

 

It’s not the right thing to say, Thor realizes it too late. Loki’s eyes shine and his lips twist in that familiar, furious way of his. Perhaps he should have waited to find him until tomorrow.

 

“You are the perfect one,” Loki says, voice low and deceptively even. “The treasured heir. I am the outsider, the one left to slink along around corners and wither in the shadows while you shine on everyone and everything you aim your pretty eyes at—” He sniffs and the words cut off. Then, “I am, as ever, the one left wanting. You are handed all as I am left to beg. To suffer alone. Left to wallow in the lie of my life, inescapable for Odin has not even left me a way to regain some dignity.”

 

Thor straightens, takes a step towards his brother. He goes tense and Thor can see the urge to run in his face. Red eyes dart to the door and so Thor steps directly in the path out.

 

“You’d rob me of the choice to be alone, as well? Odinson, indeed.”

 

That hurts more than it should, and Thor knows Loki means it to wound. But he gets angry anyway.

 

“Do not be ugly, brother.”

 

“Clever.”

 

“I mean in spirit, not by the lines of your house.”

 

Loki gapes, words lost for a moment. “A house I’m not learned in and have no part of. I am a bastard, in all ways.” Thor raises an eyebrow, and Loki shrugs. “Oh. You know what I mean.”

 

“You’ve just readily admitted to being a bastard right now.”

 

The muscle in Loki’s jaw twitches. “I am tired. Leave me.”

 

“No.”

 

Loki surges forward, hands up to push at Thor. He manages to move him back a scant foot before Thor’s hands come up. He grabs his bare wrists just as Loki begins to shout something at him, fists at the ready to—

 

And Thor cries out, dropping Loki where he’s touched him. His brother goes quiet, as shocked as Thor is. He brings his palms up, pain shooting like sharp, cold rock up his nerves.

 

All along Thor’s hands there is black, charred flesh. It burns worse than any fire he’s brushed but it’s Loki’s eyes that hold the truth of his fear. Loki is frightened. His hands hover over his injured hands but do not reach out to touch. He shakes and tries for words several times, rushing out quick little breaths that make Thor’s heart race.

 

He’s fine. Perfectly fine. He’ll heal.

 

But he cried out in shock and pain and Loki is looking at him like he’s just cut off his legs.

 

Thor knows where his brother’s mind is likely spinning out toward and he cannot, will not ever, have that—

 

“Loki,” he pleads. “Loki, it’s—”

 

“I’m a beast,” Loki breathes, no emotion in the words.

 

Thor goes mad for a wild, desperate moment. Thinks if only he should kiss Loki he’ll stay, stay where he can see him, where he can protect him. Keep him.

 

He has these thoughts sometimes. He pushes them away.

 

Tears sit thick at Loki’s lashes as he moves past Thor and into the hall.

 

When Thor manages to turn and go after him, he only sees the tail end of his brother rounding the far corner.

 

 

“Oh, this is nothing. I’ve seen far worse,” Eir tells him, affirming what Thor already knew.

 

She gives him a jar of worm salve—nasty-smelling stuff—and wraps to last him a week and then he’s sent on his way.

 

Frostburn for an Aesir is nothing to fret over. Loki must know that.

 

But for a month, he cannot find him again.

 

 

He avoids Odin like a sickness. Instead, he goes to Heimdall, for when he queries his mother, Frigga is quick to let nothing slip about Loki’s whereabouts.

 

“He will reveal himself to you when he wants,” is all she’s told him for weeks. He hates it.

 

But Heimdall is different. Heimdall is his friend. Has been since Thor was small, playing warrior at Heimdall’s heels, annoying the daylights out of him.

 

Heimdall looks at him now much the same as he had then, wearisome and fond. “Have you considered he might not want to be found by you?”

 

“What do you mean?” Thor asks him, because that is absurd.

 

“Your brother is Loki,” he says, as if that is explanation enough. To a point, it is. But he worries this will sever the already tried thread between them. He cannot allow for any further anguish to come to them. Heimdall nods, as if knowing his thoughts. “Neither of you is ready for the path you must face. Forgiveness is not easy.”

 

“What has he to forgive me for? I’ve done nothing to him. And he has done nothing to me that we’ve not already fixed.”

 

Heimdall gives him a look.

 

“Alright, not exactly fixed. We were working on things.”

 

“You’ve injured his already fragile sense of self. He believes he’s hurt you past reconciliation.”

 

“That’s ridiculous!”

 

“To you, yes. To him?” Heimdall prompts. “To him, the truth you know to be inherent in your heart may not be as obvious.”

 

He…he had not considered that.

 

“He’s never hurt me beyond reconciliation. I’d never let that happen.”

 

Heimdall inclines his head. “That may be so. But he is the Jotun brother to the famed giant slayer. How would you feel, to know you’ve injured such a warrior? Did he look upon you as his brother, or as the one who could, one day, favor him with the edge of Mjolnir?”

 

Thor shakes his head, not wanting to believe it. “Loki could not believe I’d ever look upon him as my enemy. He could sever my hand and I’d eventually forgive him.”

 

“Loki is ever your weakness,” Heimdall tells him, soft in his knowing way. Thor does not contest it. “But does Loki know that beyond all else he fits in that brain of his?”

 

“I don’t know,” he says, and means it. “I’ve no idea how to fix this if he will not let me find him.”

 

“Take a care to expand your horizons?” Heimdall suggests, clasping his hands before him. “Perhaps the answer lies not in Loki, but rather in what he is struggling to understand.”

 

“And what is that?”

 

Heimdall rolls his eyes. Brings a hand up to wave largely at his face.

 

“Ah.”

 

Thor finds every book on Jotunheim and the Jotnar as he can find. He steals into Odin’s personal collection, ignoring his father’s glowering looks at him when next he spies him in the winding golden halls of the palace.

 

In the end, he manages to find seven books. Some are so old the ink has worn from disuse, the pages falling out. One is so ancient, it rolls endlessly out from a roll of canvas that smells of the rotting forests of Svartalfheim.

 

Then he gets the idea to go further. He has not been to Jotunheim since he last went with Loki and their friends. He is not sure how well they would receive him, but he has to try.

 

When he goes to Heimdall on the Asbru, the man smirks.

 

“Only took you a couple weeks.”

 

Thor waves his hand at him. “Just start the damn thing, old friend.”

 

Heimdall laughs, pushing the shining edge of his sword into the ancient lock.

 

Thor is swept away to the snows and ice of a land half dead.

 

 

Jotunheim is half of what it used to be. It is strange, where once there was a great, murky sky of fog and eerie light, there’s now a drop off into the black of space and the stars beyond. A chunk of the planet hangs suspended, a misty shadow hanging over his head, threatening to crush everything.

 

But it stays put and Thor soon grows used to the sight. He pulls his cloak tighter about his shoulders and keeps on.

 

He goes to Laufey’s old palace. The town there are ice shanties, half erected in glistening ice, half buried under snow. In the palace proper, there is actual dust lining most surfaces and he wonders at it. There is no one in sight.

 

Thor finds Laufey’s library, not as startled by the fact the giant had a study to begin with, as he would have been just years before. He settles in and sets to reading all he can.

 

There is something to be said for a Jotun who goes unnoticed. For this is how Thor finds himself with a blade to the throat.

 

He turns his head and meets the eyes of a large giant, eyes darker than Loki’s had been. He blinks and lowers the blade when its clear Thor isn’t reaching for his hammer.

 

“I know you. You slaughter us.”

 

“That is the past,” Thor tells him.

 

He’s large and wears a gold circlet about his neck. “Why are you here, blight?”

 

Thor gestures to the many large books spread out before him. “I am researching. Something I should have done before I ever set foot on your realm.”

 

The Jotun grunts. “Unlikely it would have rendered a different result. Angrboda,” the man says. “I’m the keeper of the palace. After that business with Laufey’s seed, the others left to the wastes.”

 

“I was wondering at how quiet it is.”

 

“I’d take quiet over bloodshed any day,” Angrboda tells him matter of fact. “Where is the runt, now? I hope you plucked his eyes out.”

 

Thor shrugs. “Not exactly.”

 

Angrboda eyes the titles laid out before him. “You research our biology, our legends, our histories…the royal line of Laufeyson. A classic.” He reaches out and pushes one onto the floor. “Useless shit, in these times. Why do you study us?”

 

“To right my wrongs,” Thor says sincerely, and something softens in the giant’s steady stare.

 

“Odd for an Odinson. Does Asgard not have many books on Jotunheim?”

 

“A handful, truly.”

 

He hums. “Surprising the old bat didn’t burn them all.”

 

Angrboda goes to a far shelf and runs a finger over the spines of all the many books stacked there. He pulls one free with a puff of dust and slams it before Thor.

 

“This one’ll do.”

 

Thor uses both hands to simply open the cover. It is a grand illustration of Laufey, his wife, and a slew of children Thor has never seen before.

 

“All slaughtered in the after,” Angrboda mutters. “The one you’re looking for, they never bothered to paint in. He’ll likely want to see this one too. Learn of the brothers and sisters who never knew he existed.”

 

“I don’t know how to thank you.”

 

“Thank me by taking the tomes you see fit to want. Then leave and never come back. This land is too bitter for your kind.”

 

Thor nods. Calls out as the giant is leaving, “Thank you.”

 

“May the snows swallow you whole, Thor Jotun-Beheader.”

 

 

Thor sequesters himself in his rooms when he returns. It takes several trips, but he soon has stacks upon stacks of information to sift through. He even takes notes, and laughs at the thought of a younger, more fretful Loki berating him when they were small for not studying more.

 

He learns the Jotnar are of one sex, for such a harsh environment is not the best for rearing children when the population is constantly fighting to not go into the negative. He learns of some that experience a phenomenon called heats, and he’s not exactly sure what it means, but the few paragraphs he finds are rather contradicting. One sounds pleasant, the other unbearable, and hopes for Loki’s sake he does not have to experience such a thing. He learns the Jotnar have a history of music, composed from carving patterns of holes in the ice over deep rivers. He wants to tell Loki so badly, for it seems such a lovely, odd idea, he’s not sure who else would accept the information without laughing him off as irrelevant. Loki was always teasing him for getting caught up in irrelevancies, but never brushed him off, always let him speak his thoughts in full.

 

Gods, how he misses his brother.

 

Thor misses his smell. Loki always smells of his favorite root for potions; a stark red thing that’s bitter to the tongue.

 

Sometimes he wonders if Loki tastes like he smells, but he often closes his mind off when his thoughts stray there. And especially now, in the midst of such urgency to right what is broken between them.

 

Another book, smaller than his hand, says the Jotnar have monthly bleedings. Two separate entries describe the bleedings flowing freely from between the heat of the groin, and again from the throat. He blanches at the thought. How frightful!

 

If he finds information on one subject, it is directly argued or contradicted in another. If two passages agree, then the third, the fourth, the fifth books all have differing thoughts on the matter.

 

“No wonder they’re always warring. They can’t make up their minds about a thing,” he groans to the silence.

 

He falls asleep on his folded arms sometime after the sun has already risen the next day, not wanting to stop for sleep, but doing so anyway.

 

 

When he wakes, he knows he’s not alone.

 

He turns and automatically wipes at his mouth when he sees Loki there, sitting near his favored pillow. Loki tracks the way he rubs the sleep from his eyes next.

 

“Your hands look better.”

 

“You didn’t hurt me.”

 

Loki nods slow. “I thought you’d hate me.”

 

“Don’t be stupid, fool,” Thor tells him, angrier than he means. Loki’s lips turn up. “I love you.”

 

Loki smiles for brief moment. “I didn’t want to know if your answer was different—should my fears have been made true.”

 

Thor shakes his head. “Since when have you ever shied away from the chance to injure me seriously?”

 

Loki does smile at that, full and like new rain, a relief from the heat.

 

“I’ve missed you, brother,” Thor whispers. When Loki’s gaze turns sad, he quickly changes the subject. “I’ve a present for you. Well, from someone else technically, but you’ll still enjoy it I think.”

 

“I watched you sneak in books all afternoon yesterday,” Loki tells him as Thor flies about the stacks to find the large one Angrboda had picked. “I’d wondered where you’d gone off to. The Asbru was firing for hours.”

 

“Well, some of these are rather a lot for a single handful, ah,” he says, hefting the book over his shoulder. He lays it at Loki’s feet and shoves open the cover. “Here it is.”

 

Loki stares and stares down at Laufey, his wife, small and severe at his side.

 

“Fourteen children sired by him? A wonder they fit them all on a page.”

 

“Fifteen.”

 

Loki glances quickly at him before his attention is back on the painting. He bends and runs a hand over the faces of the eldest sons. “These two here, Byleister and Helblindi. They are the oldest of them all. I am third, I believe.”

 

“You’ve known?”

 

“There’s much to learn when wandering through the dregs of space, brother. I learned a few things before you found me on Midgard.”

 

Thor revels in brother, that Loki used it so freely, as he used to. Before all of this, before everything.

 

“I’ve missed you,” Thor says again, and this time Loki holds his gaze. That same dark stirring starts up within him and he lets it flutter to life for a change. Loki cannot tell, besides.

 

“And I’ve missed you,” Loki says, quiet. It’s an admission he won’t hear twice. “How was Jotunheim?”

 

“Cold. Almost had my throat cut.”

 

“Same as ever, then.”

 

Thor huffs at that. “Yes. I’ve learned much from the last few weeks, and especially the last night and day.” Loki’s interest seems peaked at that. “May I show you?”

 

Loki does look genuinely surprised at that and nods.

 

Thor pulls out his notes and sits beside Loki on his bed. His brother snorts his amusement as he scans the pages upon pages of his familiar scrawl. “Gods, Thor. If only you’d been this dedicated back with our tutors. You’d have taken far more than Groot.”

 

“Very funny, brother.”

 

Loki reads down the list and clicks his tongue. “No blood. That’s a lie.”

 

Thor feels his cheeks flush. That was one he was hoping Loki would skip over. “I was at least hoping if there was, you’d not have to bleed from the throat.”

 

“Well there is some blood, every few years or so. Or at least that is what Frigga tells me. There is a reason Jotunheim has few children to speak of.” He shrugs, like they weren’t discussing the fact he can get with child. “It is not my time yet. The result of many centuries of repressive seidr, thanks to dearest Odin.”

 

“He’s a bastard,” Thor mutters, contempt running bright through him at their—his father’s name. “I don’t want to talk about him.”

 

Loki appraises him before moving on. “I see you’ve written much about sex here.”

 

Thor has the sudden urge to hide away his notes after all. “Are not all aspects of Jotun biology helpful? And besides, it is not the only thing I have learned!”

 

Thor tells him about the composition of music and when he’s finished, Loki laughs outright.

 

“Thor, that’s absurd. You cut holes in ice to fish, not to make music. A river is not a flute!”

 

“How would you know?”

 

“I—well, I.” Loki frowns. “I suppose we’ll have to try it and I be proved right.”

 

Thor grins. “See, not all of this information is for naught.”

 

Loki shrugs, eyes lingering on parts of the list Thor knows hold information pertaining to exactly what he was hoping to avoid—for at least the foreseeable future. “I don’t know. Perhaps learning about the cunny one recently acquires is rather helpful.”

 

Thor swallows. “They said the Jotnar are of one gender.”

 

“Elegant evolution, isn’t it? To have a cock and cunny all together.”

 

“How is it?” Thor asks him, because he’s been burning to know since he found out. Like he was a young boy again, scandalized at the slightest bit of new information about the body. “How does it feel?”

 

Loki looks at him oddly. “How does it feel? Why ask it like that?”

 

“Because these books are written in circles. No one seems to fall in line with the other.”

 

Loki’s cheeks seem to darken, flushed. He looks away, eyes flitting about the book, the floor, Thor’s knees. He’s embarrassed. “It’s not so different from before, but it was a, uh…a shock. When I first realized.”

 

“Realized what? How was it a shock?”

 

“How old are you?”

 

Thor elbows him lightly, and Loki sighs.

 

Loki struggles to say something for several long moments. He raises his arms to wave them in front of them both. “It’s sort of, not as prominent as before.”

 

“Huh?”

 

“Gods above, you dolt—” Loki curses before standing suddenly.

 

He turns to face Thor and sticks his thumbs into his breeches. He’s shoved them to the floor and is standing there, in the nude, before Thor has a chance to ask what it is he thinks he’s doing.

 

“Loki…?”

 

“You understand now, why I was a little confused myself?”

 

Thor nods. He certainly would have been perplexed if he’d looked down in the baths to see what was front and center for him now.

 

“What is that?”

 

“Eloquent as always, brother mine,” Loki huffs. “the Jotnar have cocks that must be coaxed.”

 

“Must not all cocks be coaxed?”

 

Loki rolls his eyes. “This here,” he says, gesturing to the plump flesh between his legs, bare of anything save a gathering of dark hair and the slit not unlike that of a woman, though more discreet. But Thor notices it is higher than it ought to be, and plumper too. “Is my—”

 

“Your cock.”

 

“Yes,” he affirms after a beat. “Truly, none of these many, many, many books had not one illustration of the Jotun form?”

 

“None that I’ve yet come across. So you simply must—”

 

“Encourage it to participate,” Loki says dryly. He pulls his breeches back up.

 

“And beneath that lies what you’ve likely seen a thousand thousand times.

 

No need to explain that.”

 

“No, I suppose not,” Thor says, feeling somewhat sad when Loki is completely covered once more.

 

As he sits, he catches the hint of Loki’s familiar smell, that sweet bitterness flooding through him as he inhales deep without thinking.

 

“Do you go into heat?” he asks, not thinking.

 

Loki’s eyebrows shoot up. “I don’t believe so. Which one of these said that?”

 

“One of them, surely,” Thor breathes. Suddenly, he’s hungry to have what he’s learned confirmed or denied by his brother. “Do you have an insatiable craving for fermented herring?”

 

Loki laughs lightly. “No. I don’t think I do—”

 

“Do you think you’ll ever need to recut your lines if you grow any taller?”

 

Loki shakes his head. “I’m already as tall as I’ll ever be, so no.”

 

“Are you concerned about the possibility you could become pregnant?”

 

“…Like I said. My time is some ways off, I think, to have to worry about that.”

 

The way he says it is strange and he does not meet Thor’s eyes.

 

“Loki,” he says. Loki meets his wide gaze. “Do you hate me for my reaction to you?”

 

Loki looks confused, a moment gone as quick as it was there in the first place. Then, “No. You know my hatred for you stems from annoyance, and at times, your genuine stupidity. But it comes and goes like the tide, does it not? I was…worried you’d realize what I am. What I’ve always been. Your favored foe. Irony at its best.”

 

“I was a boy then. I was the grandest fool in all the universe for my blind slaughter of Jotunheim.”

 

“We both were so much younger then. Things were so different. Better.”

 

“I believe we are better now.” He can tell Loki doesn’t believe him. “It is better for we have survived our suffering. And still,” he says, grabbing up Loki’s hands not unlike that first night back in Asgard. “I have you beside me.”

 

Loki purses his lips, as if to say something and then stops himself. Finally he goes on, “You know what Odin intended when he stole me away?”

 

“I’ve never spoken with him about it.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“I only wanted to hear it from you. When you were ready.”

 

Loki’s eyes go wide, shocked. Loki pulls his hands away from his and Thor worries it will be a repeat of that first night all over again. But then he surprises Thor by bringing his arms around his neck. He hugs him, tight and Thor marvels at how he is allowed to wrap his own around Loki’s middle.

 

“Gods,” he whispers. “You smell as sweet as you always have.”

 

Loki holds him tighter and Thor can feel his hot breath all along the back of his neck.

 

“Laufey refused Odin a deal,” he murmured. He turned his face into the curve of Thor’s neck. Easier to whisper secrets there. “So Odin went ahead and carried it out anyway.”

 

“What was the deal?”

 

“That his eldest, un-promised child be wed to Odin’s heir.” The words don’t register until he feels Loki’s lips at his neck. “I was promised to you. Like a hog to slaughter. But then I was born a runt, too small to be of any worth. So Odin started a war and took me anyway.”

 

“But then something changed,” Thor whispers back to him. His shaking brother, frightened, stress winding his spine straight in his arms. “And Odin raised you as his own.”

 

“I don’t know why.”

 

Thor moves a hand to rest at Loki’s neck, turns his face so he can be heard clearly, no room left for miscommunication. “I’m glad I grew beside you as your brother, and you mine. I know of no other life I’d rather have.”

 

And when Loki pulls back, a breathy gasp puffing hot against his cheek, Thor leans forward and kisses him.

 

Loki snaps his head back, eyebrows drawn close together.

 

Thor doesn’t want him to be afraid. He’s afraid enough for both of them. But Loki isn’t shoving him away, isn’t screaming hatred at him. It must count for something.

 

So he does it again. And again. And on the fourth pass, Loki seems to come back to life, his lips moving stiff against Thor’s before remembering how. He moves languid, stilted, as if every new press of pressure against each other’s skin is startling and too pleasurable to handle. His hands claw at Thor’s shoulders and he gasps out Thor’s name the first breath he manages to take.

 

They’re silent for so long when Thor pulls away from him that Thor wonders if Loki won’t spend the rest of the night asleep in his arms. He wouldn’t mind if he did.

 

“You’re not sorry,” Loki tells him, sounding like a revelation.

 

“Never sorry,” Thor says. “Not when there’s nothing to be sorry for.”

 

Something dawns in Loki’s stare, and something changes. The air around them is different and then all at once—

 

“Thor!” Loki gasps.

 

And Thor smiles, and keeps smiling, because he feels the flood of Loki’s seidr rushing back to him, sees his eyes bleed from red back to green.

 

Loki’s smile is wobbly at best, but when he leans forward to press their lips together again, he’s steady as ever.