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The mead glowed in his mug; a pool of honey reflecting in the low light of the cabin, and Thor squinted at it a moment. Harder to focus now but he’d get used to it. His father had and Thor knew he would too, in time. He lifted the mug up as a swirl of memories, regrets, and sadness swept over him.

“My friends,” he rumbled into the semi-darkness. “You should be here. You should be and you’re not. My hammer I can live without. Even my damned hair, but you three . . .” his words trailed off and he felt the tremors begin in his stomach.

Heimdall had told him quietly, long after the two of them had sorted and settled the population into the ship, after everyone had been fed and given a place to sleep for the night. Short quick sentences that still cut hard into him. "Volstagg went first when she arrived. Then Fandral. Neither of them had a chance. Hogun assembled the army and fought bravely but in the end . . . none of them suffered, my king. And they all died defending Asgard.”

Thor didn’t doubt it but the loss still hit hard. So much gone now . . . the Allfather; Mjölnir; his right eye; Asgard itself all destroyed in Hela’s furious attack. Ragnarok indeed, he knew. Somewhere Sif survived, and if fate was kind he might see her again, but it wouldn’t be soon and in the meantime he was . . . . king. He had people to lead now. Responsibilities and duties to them.

“You three,” he repeated quietly. “Never a better group of friends have I ever had; never better guides and companions. I and all of Asgard thank you . . . to Volstagg!” Thor drank a gulp of the mead and raised the cup again. “To Fandral!” Another burning swallow, “To Hogun!”

Thor emptied his cup, feeling the tears burn down his cheeks. He swallowed the last of the mead and wiped the back of his free hand across his cheeks, letting the wet heat burn against his skin.

He blinked. His father stood again in the meadow in Norway, smiling.

Surrounded by his friends.

They saluted him, raising their weapons, their expressions proud and kind.

Thor gave one slow nod and blinked again, the vision vanishing as quickly as it had come.

“To my friends,” he murmured huskily and set the mug down, feeling a tiny sense of peace and hope for the future.