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A Week is a Long Time in Vanaheim

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Thor was bored. Travelling the traditional way was always boring. It took so long to get anywhere. The grey skies outside reflected his dull mood. Loki was asleep at the opposite side of the carriage so he didn’t even have any good company to make this endless trip more bearable.

He didn’t know why he had to go anyway. Loki could have gone by himself. It was only a coronation after all, some child of Vanaheim being crowned. Not even crowned. Just confirmed as the heir to the throne. A girl, he vaguely recalled. Fjossa or Hrossa or something.

But no, father had been quite insistent, they both had to go. Sending the second prince alone would have been insulting, apparently. And sending Thor by himself... well, the implication was that he wasn’t trusted to be sufficiently diplomatic without Loki watching over him.

Vanaheim had sent a coach for them to the Bifrost site. He’d have much rather ridden. Much rather flown, had he been alone. Or he could have carried Loki, he supposed, and damn their windswept appearance. But it didn’t ‘do’ to refuse an offer of transport, no matter how slow.

It didn’t ‘do’ to do a lot of things.

“Get some sleep, Thor,” Loki said quietly. “Big week coming. Lots of feasting and listening to elderly politicians. It wouldn’t do to have you fall asleep at the table.”

Thor looked across. Loki hadn’t even opened his eyes.

“You sound like mother,” Thor replied. “She’s always telling me what won’t ‘do’. Just one of these days I’d like to know something that does...”

Loki chuckled softly. “I’m serious. Go to sleep. The journey will pass far faster. And you’ll be well rested for meeting the Vanir.”

Thor shuffled down in his corner and wrapped his cloak tighter around himself. Better this than boredom he supposed.

He hadn’t been to Vanaheim for some years. Not since he’d last visited with Hogun, visiting some of his family.

It was pleasant, as he recalled. Green. Lots of forests, not as many lakes as Asgard. Their architecture was more tied to their land, as though connected to it. Their palace seemed to grow out of the very earth itself.

The next thing he knew, Loki was gently shaking him awake.

“Are you fit to be seen or do you want to nap a while longer?” he asked. “I’m sure we can claim exhaustion and be shown to our rooms straight away if you want?”

“No,” Thor said, blinking the sleep from his eyes. “I’m fine. We should greet our hosts.”

Vanaheim was ruled by siblings. It was the way of things; the royal family often wed brother to sister. Odin’s voice echoed in his head: ‘Their ways are not ours, but they do not harm us. Do not offend, Thor.’

He never told Loki not to offend. He trusted Loki not to.

The union between Freyr and his sister Freyja was believed to be blessed. They were twins; formed at the same time in the same womb, never to be separated. There was... a certain degree of logic to it, but Thor still found it strange.

But they were not to meet the royal family just yet. Thor smiled and shook hands with several people, Loki mumbling names under his breath. Emissaries, diplomats, ambassadors. Loki seemed to know who they all were. That would be enough. He’d do all the smiling, Loki would do all the knowing, they’d be fine. Mother and father would be proud of them and how well they’d represented the realm.

Or they could mess this up and never be sent on another boring diplomatic trip ever again.

He entertained this thought for barely a moment. He’d only been on three other trips without at least one parent and the new-found sense of freedom was worth the dullness.

It took him a while to realise they were in a queue. The line of Vanir dignitaries were a distraction as they followed another group of visitors a few hundred yards ahead of them. There were more people even further away, paused outside what he assumed was the throne room or the reception chambers.

He scuffed his feet on the polished floor as they waited. Loki nudged him in the ribs and he made a conscious effort to stop fidgeting.

“You’re going to have to do the talking. You’re the crown prince, you’re Hnossa’s opposite,” Loki said under his breath. “Be polite, smile, be charming. It shouldn’t tax you too hard.”

“What if they ask me something unexpected?” Thor mumbled when they were next in line outside the door.

“They won’t.”

“But what if they do? Something about trade agreements or something?”

“Well, tell them you’d have to negotiate at a later date. Or I’ll step in to help you.”

Thor sighed and turned to him. “Why can’t you do the talking?”

Loki forcibly turned him back to look straight ahead at the wooden doors. “Because,” he said. “I was not invited. You were. Now smile.”

Thor frowned as they were ushered through. That wasn’t right. Why would he, personally, be invited? It was strange. Usually the invitations were generic, painfully so. The idea of being invited alone caused him some alarm.

“Prince Thor, Son of Odin, of Asgard. And...” The herald didn’t even know who Loki was. He had to announce himself.

Thor glanced across. Loki was smiling but his eyes had that gleam of danger that he wore when someone had upset him. It was a look Thor knew well, having been on the receiving end of it more than once. But he bowed low to the family before them, not letting anyone know that he was angry. Thor followed suit.

Freyr and Freyja sat on interlinked thrones, carved from the same tree. The young princess Hnossa stood slightly to the side, long dark hair braided in thick plaits, slouching slightly in her ceremonial robes. Thor felt sorry for her. She was only barely of age, far younger than Loki and himself, and here she was, about to swear herself to her realm forever. It wasn’t her choice, was never going to be her choice, but it was a lot of responsibility for one so young. And she must have been standing all day meeting so many strangers. He offered her a slight smile and she stood up a little straighter. He wasn’t sure what that reaction meant.

“My Princes,” Freyr intoned. “Welcome.”

“An honour,” Thor replied, standing up fully. “My brother and I are very pleased to be here.”

“Tell us of Asgard.”

“Um... Asgard fares well.”

He wasn’t sure if that was the right answer. Hnossa moved to clutch at her mother’s hand, looking at the two of them with something close to fear in her eyes.

“We are glad you came in person,” Freyja said. “It is good that you meet before the engagement.”

“Engagement?” Thor felt his smile falter.

“Surely your father has told you? We sent word as soon as we received confirmation that you would be here.”

“My father has told me nothing.”

“We intend to make you an offer of a dowry for Hnossa’s hand and unite the realms of Asgard and Vanaheim.”

Thor’s head swam. Marriage? Now? Or at least engagement. To a child, no less! No wonder she feared him! He must seem a giant and a brute compared to her. Why had his father not said anything?

“When was this message sent?” he asked, trying to remain calm.

“Two days ago. We were sure it would be received.”

It hadn’t been. What should he do? What would Odin want him to do? It was vital not to offend.

He could say that the message had not been received but then surely they would ask him to make his own decision. Deferring to Father would be the right thing to do, but really he wanted to refuse straight away. Wasn’t that his right? How could he do that without causing offense? What excuse could he possibly come up with?

Loki’s voice was like a knife cutting through the muddle of his thoughts.

“Actually we’re here to inform you that my brother and I are already engaged. To one another.”

Thor whirled on him as Loki kept talking. “However the match is not yet official and thus we trust in your discretion not to mention it until the All-Father has announced it himself. He may even send a letter asking for the terms you would offer for Hnossa’s hand. One never knows if correspondence is being intercepted, after all. A quiet response that you have found other arrangements will suffice. He will understand.”

The queen narrowed her eyes as beside her Hnossa looked up, her expression somewhere between hopeful and disbelieving.

“What of succession?” Freyja asked. “You are both male, are you not? How would you bear children?”

“It is a political marriage, my lady,” Loki lied. “That we might rule together, using our famously differing skills for the good of Asgard. We are taking inspiration from your great success as joint rulers. As for succession... in our culture, a couple may choose to adopt. To employ a surrogate. A child of one party may be legally recognised as the child of both. We will prevail.”

“And consummation?”

Loki ran the back of his hand down his brother’s arm without so much as looking at him. “We will prevail,” he repeated.

Thor was shocked and only just stopped himself from flinching at the touch. There was no way they were going to get away with this.

To his surprise, Freyr nodded. “We accept your word. And I confirm that your... arrangement will not be known beyond these walls.”

Loki bowed again. “Thank you.”

“But hear me when I say that if we discover any reason to doubt you, Loki, Son of Odin, that I will seek retribution from your father. Severe retribution. Tales of your skills at twisting words reach our ears even here.”

Loki smiled sweetly as he straightened up. “Fear not. I do not lie, my lord. Come, Thor.”

Thor let his brother link their arms together and drag him out of another door.

They kept their arms linked until they were safely out of sight, then Thor shook out of Loki’s grasp.

“What were you doing?” he demanded.

“Shall we not do this here? We’re terribly exposed.” Loki said in far softer tones.

“Where then?”

Loki tapped the shoulder of a passing servant. “The road from Asgard was long, and though we are grateful for the transport provided for us, we would retire for some time before this evening’s celebrations.”

The servant nodded and motioned for them to follow. Thor was somewhere between fuming and stunned. He was used to Loki lying. Loki lied, it was a fact. But he’d never done anything like this before. This was serious. What if they were caught out? What if the Vanir suspected something?

What if word got back to their father? This was no casual joke, this was serious, inter-realm, important politics and Loki was lying to the rulers of Vanaheims’ faces. And the potential scandal... They’d be punished for centuries for this.

He smiled at the servant as she left them, calmly closed the door, and rounded on his brother.

“Are you mad?” he growled. “We’re going to get in so much trouble.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Loki said, flopping down on the bed – the only bed – and stretching out. “Did you want to be engaged to a child?”

“Well, no, but-”

“Then I did you a favour. Calm down, we’ll get away with it.”

“We won’t.”

“Well, not with that attitude.”

Thor paced for a few minutes.

“Thor, stop,” Loki said. “Lie down, stop worrying. So we play betrothed for a week, we go home, eventually one of us - probably you - gets married, the Vanir refuse to admit that I tricked them and no one is ever any the wiser. And you don’t end up tied to a little girl barely filling out her clothes.”

“I’m sure Hnossa will grow to be very handsome.”

“I don’t doubt it. But for now she is a child, far too young to be engaged to a great oaf like you. I’m serious though, relax. Being jumpy for a week will wear you out. Lie down. You’ve been on your feet long enough.”

Thor stopped reluctantly and sighed. He was tired.

“There’s only one bed,” he said, quietly.

“They were only expecting you.” Loki reminded him.

“Yes, that’s something else. Why did no one tell me I was the only one invited? Aren’t these things normally addressed to ‘the royal household’? Why me?”

“They wanted you to meet Hnossa.”

“But why did no one tell me it was sent to me alone?”

“I don’t know, Thor. I don’t know. Evidently no one thought it was worth mentioning. I just happened to see the invitation, that’s the only reason I know. And I didn’t think it was too strange for them to specifically request the company of the crown prince at the coronation of their heir. You are her equal after all.”

Thor whirled his arms helplessly. “Where will we sleep?”

“In the bed.” Loki flopped back against the pillows. “What’s the matter? We shared beds all the time when we were small.”

“Yes, but... But...”

“What?”

“Well, you said we were engaged and now Freyr knows we sleep in one bed...”

Loki huffed. “That doesn’t mean he’ll assume there’s something going on. I said it was a political marriage, didn’t I? I never once said anything along the lines of ‘We’re getting married so we can pound each other through the mattress just like you do to your sister’... And even if he does, so what? He’ll just be jealous that he doesn’t get to watch.”

Thor found himself blushing slightly. It wasn’t like Loki to be quite so crude. He was sure his brother had his fair share of romantic partners, but he kept it to himself. Loki tended to be respectful of his lovers’ privacy when pressed to speak of conquests, and that was fair enough. Some people thought he was covering a lack of interest, or worse, skill when it came to matters of the flesh, but Thor knew otherwise. Their chambers were separated by only one wall. He heard enough. He had gone to knock on Loki’s door more than once and stopped when he heard unmistakable sounds from within.

He sat down on the edge of the bed and let Loki pull him over until they were lying on their backs next to each other, fully clothed and staring at the ceiling.

“How do we go about pretending to be engaged?” he said eventually.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that we have quite a reputation throughout the realms. I am too stubborn, you are too clever, we are both insubordinate... Everyone writes it off as youthful headstrongness but they won’t believe we agreed to this if it went against our wishes.”

“We do also have something of a reputation for living in one another’s pockets.”

“We do?”

Loki smirked at him. “Yes. Didn’t you know? Of course, that’s only the start of the rumours about us.”

Thor went cold. “What rumours?”

“Oh, just that we carry burning incestuous lust for one another. It’s nothing to worry about.”

He sat up quickly. “Where do they say such things? Not in Asgard, surely?”

“Well, yes, in Asgard. They see us most often. No one really believes it. They just don’t think it would be surprising if we did, on account of us being so very attractive. No one seriously thinks we fuck, they just like to think about it. On account of us being so very attractive. It’s a pleasant fantasy.”

Thor considered this and lay down again. “I still don’t think the Vanir will believe we agreed to marriage. No matter what... rumours they may have heard. We don’t exactly act like... like that.”

“Fine, then we’ll throw in a few light touches here and there. Nothing too intimate, just the gentle touches of two people getting to know one another a little better.”

“I don’t think there’s anyone in the world I know better than I know you.”

Loki blinked for a moment, then snorted.

“What?” Thor said. “What, why is that funny?”

“Nothing. Anyway, I meant physically. Getting to know one another physically. It’ll be easy. Just light touches of hands, arms, necks, slightly lengthened embraces... Maybe the occasional peck on the cheek.”

“We do all that anyway.”

“And you wonder why there are rumours... Let’s just get through the week, then we can run home and pretend this never happened. Father will get us out of it, I’m sure.”

“But what if... What if he wants me to marry Hnossa? What if that was his plan and he sent me here to spring it on me and trap me?”

“What, and mother too?”

“Maybe. Maybe she thought it would make me settle down, to have a betrothed.”

Loki rolled over and looked Thor in the eyes. “If they’d wanted to trap you, they wouldn’t have sent me along, now would they? They’d have known I’d try to get you out of anything you didn’t want. The message hadn’t arrived, that’s all. We’ll go home and explain what happened and that we handled it. No need for any further details. They won’t force you into it; they’ll at least have a fight with you first.”

“I suppose you’re right.”

“Often am. Now get some sleep. I don’t want to be seen with a haggard fiancé...”

Thor beat him with the pillows.

--

They didn’t have a place set for Loki at dinner. Thor was finding this odder and odder as servants ran to get spare dishes and cutlery. After all, it had been some hours since their arrival; surely someone would have been told about unexpected guests. Fortunately the benches lining the hall meant they didn’t have to try to find an extra chair.

“Do you think they did this deliberately?” he muttered. “Do you think they’re offended that I turned Hnossa down and trying to punish us for it?”

“Probably. But they can’t do anything about it now. Do you actually want to talk to any of these people, or do we just stare lovingly into each other’s eyes all night?”

Thor nudged him hard in the side, but it turned out they didn’t have that choice. Many people at their table wanted to ask his opinion on various battles. It seemed rumours of his skills as a warrior had also travelled far, along with other things.

He was in the middle of discussing the relative benefits of formations when he felt Loki’s hand trailing across his shoulders and his arm settling there. He leant to the side as Loki whispered in his ear.

“Freyr was watching. Act natural.”

Thor said nothing in return but reached up to squeeze Loki’s hand where it rested on his collarbone before continuing with his conversation.

This wasn’t so difficult. They could easily get through this. And there were bound to be a few good stories at the end of it.

He was less sure about Loki gently resting his chin on his shoulder, but it was all part of the act.

Nuzzling his hair was part of the act.

Loki falling asleep on him... possibly not part of the act.

He apologised profusely to his neighbours, explained that travelling often had this effect on his brother and set about walking Loki back to bed.

“You’re drunk,” he said when Loki made questioning noises as to why he was suddenly upright. “I’m taking you to bed before you insult anyone.”

“M’not...”

“Still taking you to bed.”

“Well, if you hadn’t been talking...”

“What?”

“I drank every time you said ‘strategy’ or ‘strategic’. Or... ‘strategically’. So it’s your fault.”

“Yes, I’m sure it is. It’s absolutely my fault that you decided to make a drinking game of my words. And to think you thought I’d be the one who’d fall asleep at dinner...”

He somehow managed to manoeuvre Loki through the door of their shared room and onto the bed. Loki automatically rolled into the middle of it, rubbing his face against the unfamiliar sheets and falling asleep almost immediately.

Thor took his time getting undressed and moved Loki bodily until he could start undoing all his various buckles and fastenings. He didn’t think his brother would appreciate waking up in his official garb. He managed to manhandle Loki out of his coat and shirt but hesitated when faced with his breeches.

Thor laughed at himself. This was ridiculous. He had no problem with his brother lying shirtless in front of him; they often spent summer in Asgard mostly bare, the heat spreading throughout the palace to the point of discomfort. This was no different. This was just flesh. That’s all. No need to be embarrassed about it. And those leather trousers didn’t look at all comfortable to sleep in. He was doing Loki a favour.

He undid the laces and started trying to ease them from around Loki’s hips without waking him. A few inches later he stopped in horror.

The trail of hair that ran from Loki’s chest down his abdomen continued under his waistband and Loki was not wearing anything under his outer layer.

For a moment, Thor considered pulling them back up, pretending he’d loosened the laces but gone no further. But they did look so very uncomfortable...

It’s just flesh, he kept telling himself. That’s all. It’s just skin and fat and muscle and bones, that’s all.

He kept going. He tried his best not to look at Loki’s cock, training his eyes firmly on the edge of the bed. Loki favoured tighter clothes than he did and some yanking was required to get them off fully but Thor managed it. Pulling the blankets across Loki’s form meant he had to glance and...

Well, he wouldn’t be forgetting that image in a while, but it was nothing worrying. Totally normal. He definitely wasn’t internally comparing it to his own, not at all.

As soon as he stood up to move round to the other side of the bed, Loki’s arm shot out and grabbed his wrist.

“Where’re you going?” he mumbled, almost too low for Thor to understand.

“I’m here, I’m just... Just getting in the other half of the bed. It’s Thor, by the way. It’s just me.”

“Hmm...” Loki let go.

He was already asleep again when Thor slid in next to him. Probably dreaming of whoever he’d left back in Asgard, Thor thought.

He rolled away from his brother and thought about home. Thought about all the feasts he was missing with people he actually knew and wanted to talk to. Thought about his own bed, in his own room and his own space. Thought about all the meetings he’d probably have to attend while they were here.

He wanted to go home already, but at the same time he dreaded Odin’s wrath and Frigga’s disappointment if they found out the kind of stories they’d been spreading about themselves.

He could hear them now: ‘Thor, why didn’t you stop him? You know we rely on you to look after your brother and keep him out of mischief. We’re ashamed of you both...’

He took a long time to fall asleep.

Chapter Text

He was woken up once again by Loki tapping his shoulder.

“Is there any particular reason why I’m naked, Thor?”

Thor rolled over, still mostly asleep, slightly confused to find his brother in bed with him. Then the events of the previous day flooded back to him.

“You were a little... tired when we got back to bed and you feel asleep in your clothes. I just got you out of them. I thought you’d be more comfortable.”

“Oh. That’s alright then. I’d hate to think we got a nice Vanir girl up here and then I couldn’t even perform. I would hate to disappoint anyone.”

“What, you have ideas of bringing someone else up here? Into our bed? The fake pre-marital bed?”

Loki laughed softly. “Oh, don’t worry, I’d have found someone for you too. Or we could find someone for both of us.”

Thor looked sharply across at him.

“Your mind must be a strange place to live, Loki, to jest about such things.”

“I’m serious. We are foreign here, Thor, we have unprecedented freedom and possibilities. We are special. Accents for example. People with accents like ours are common in Asgard, but here? We are rare, and therefore valuable. People would be lining up to bed us if we wanted. And Mother and Father aren’t here to tell us what not to do.”

“Heimdall still watches...”

“But can say nothing, unless we are committing treason against Father. Which we aren’t. We’re not rushing into any engagements, we’re maintaining the good reputation of the realm. We’re just maybe having a little fun along the way... Discreet, harmless fun.”

Thor was still uneasy in the early morning light. “How long exactly have you been planning this, Loki?”

“What?”

“Using diplomatic trips as an excuse to... to whore yourself out across the realms?”

“Please, it’s hardly whoring. No one’s paying me, for a start. Opportunity knocks, brother. Whether you answer or not is up to you.”

There was a rap at the door.

“Very funny,” Thor said. “I didn’t know you knew how to throw sounds these days.”

“That’s not me. That’s actually someone at the door.”

“Oh...”

He got up unthinkingly, still in just his undergarments. The same girl who had shown them to their room the day before stood outside, her eyes widening when he opened the door.

“Um...” she began, her gaze flicking down his form and into the room to where Loki was still presumably lounging beneath the sheets. “My Lords... Her majesty the crown princess requests that you both join her for her morning stroll. She will be waiting outside in the royal gardens and she requests that you make great haste.”

“Oh. Um. Yes, of course, we would be most pleased to accept.”

She bobbed a curtsy and allowed him to close the door.

“What do you think Hnossa wants with us?” he asked, partially to Loki and partially to himself.

“We’re some of the few people here under the age of 3000, she’s probably bored. Or she wants to ask you about being the heir to the throne and what that entails.”

“I suppose so,” he turned around to find Loki sitting on the edge of the bed, the sheets only just preserving his modesty. “Were you sitting like that when that servant was there?”

“Perhaps.”

“You are awful. And I’m going to get dressed. You should too. We shouldn’t keep her waiting.”

“We could have that servant girl, you know,” Loki called to him through the curtain that separated the dressing room from the main chamber. “She wants us; I could see it in her eyes.”

“She was shocked to find two mostly naked men.” Thor insisted. “The poor thing was probably terrified.”

“Still,” Loki said, dealing with the last of his buckles when Thor reappeared. “I genuinely think you should consider when you’re going to get this chance again. This thing with Hnossa should be a wake-up call; it’s only a matter of time before we get married off for political reasons and I don’t think Father will let you resist for too long.”

“Mother won’t let him force us.”

“Mother was matched to Father for political reasons, or have you forgotten? It’s the way of things, Thor. It’s how things are done. You know how much she values how things are done.”

“So this might be my last chance to share a partner with you? Is that what you’re saying?”

“Yes.”

Thor huffed out his laughter as he held the door open. “You are truly unbelievable sometimes.”

“My reputation depends on it.”

Hnossa was waiting anxiously with two ladies in waiting under a pagoda. The royal gardens were lush and green, full of plants that simply didn’t exist in Asgard. Thor vaguely knew that the majority of their fruit was imported from Vanaheim. Citrus and vine varieties in particular were scarce at home. He rather thought the plants gathered here in the royal gardens must be rare even in this realm.

“Your Highness,” he greeted Hnossa. “We are most honoured to be allowed to walk with you this morning.”

She nodded absently. Nerves, probably, Thor thought. He hadn’t realised just how small she was when she was standing by her parents’ thrones. Short and slight, she was like a shy foal before them.

“How old are you?” Loki suddenly asked.

“Old enough,” was the response, full of the lies children tell themselves when they wish to be adults.

“I see.”

Thor distantly recalled that Loki was not exactly fond of children, generally avoiding contact with Volstagg’s brood and being conveniently unavailable on those occasions when infants might be present for feasts or ceremonies. Thor was unsure of his views on adolescents, but he assumed much the same. Loki valued unbridled conversation and disliked modulating his speech for young ears.

They walked. Hnossa’s ladies kept a respectful distance. Thor wondered if she had ever been truly alone in her entire life. The silence was overbearing but he didn’t know what to say.

“These trees were planted by my great grandparents,” Hnossa said quietly. “They are thousands of years old.”

“Indeed?” Thor said, grateful for anything to latch onto.

“Yes. They began growing before I was born and they will outlive me even if I rule the realm for millennia. Do not stop walking. If you stop they will catch up and hear us.”

Thor frowned over her head at Loki, whose face was equally puzzled. They weren’t saying anything of note. At least not yet.

Hnossa made an abrupt turn into a different section of the garden, all orchard and blossoms.

“How do you bear it?” she asked quietly.

“What, my Lady?” Thor replied.

“Knowing that you will be King for all your life. That you can’t change that.”

Thor hesitated. The thought had never really entered his head of wanting to alter his lot in life. Odin was going to reign for several centuries yet. There was no rush.

“Hnossa – your Highness – is the future troubling you?”

“Yes.”

“Well...” he looked at Loki desperately for help. He received a shrug. “You will not have to rule for a long time. Your parents are still young, they will be your sovereigns for years-“

“I know,” she said, her voice slightly louder. “But it is still not my decision. How do you let yourself be taken away by duty and by responsibility? I don’t want it.”

“Hnossa, listen,” Loki said. “When you rule Vanaheim, you will be able to make all the decisions you like. You will have the wisdom to care for your people. I would love to be where you are, to have the power you will have. Yes, it is a lot of responsibility but it is also a lot of freedom. Don’t you see?”

She narrowed her eyes at him. “But you will have that power. You two are to be married. You said so.”

Loki spluttered slightly. “But Thor will still be King, as the first born. I will still defer to him. In the same way that your mother defers to your father.”

“She does nothing of the sort. They make all their decisions together.” She turned to Thor suddenly. “If we had been married, would you have made me defer to you?”

“Not on matters concerning only Vanaheim,” he said desperately, floundering now.

“But our realms would have been one,” she insisted. “There would have been no Asgard and no Vanaheim, just one realm. A new realm. Would you still have made me defer to you?”

“Well, I...”

“You would. I see. Well. Then I am glad we are not betrothed. I thought when I first saw you that I should like not to be with you, and I was right. I see I have exhausted your wisdom. Prince Loki, I bid you thanks for ridding me of your brother’s favour. Now, leave me.”

She turned abruptly and returned to her ladies, leaving Thor in a state of confusion and Loki only barely managing not to laugh.

“Well, she’s... forceful?” Thor tried.

“More like intractable. Still, she is young. She may calm down.”

“How were we supposed to know how the royal family of Vanaheim make decisions? They are the only dual monarchs I know of in all the realms.”

“Don’t worry about it. It is of no matter now. We might as well stroll, since we’re here.”

Thor obediently linked their arms together and let himself be promenaded.

“Did you mean what you said?” he asked after a few minutes. “That if we ruled together, if we really were married, that you would defer to me?”

“Not for a single second. I was just trying to make her feel better.”

“So you’d expect me to defer to you?”

“Well, not that it matters, but I actually think Freyr and Freyja have the right idea with their equal partnership. Of course, I’d be right the majority of the time. But I’d let you have your say before you inevitably agreed with me.”

“What, like I always do?”

“Yes.”

“Like I’m doing with your idea for us to... to share a bed-mate?”

“Precisely. I’ll set things in motion if you give me the word.”

“But... imagine the scandal if word gets out that someone managed to have both of us, in the same bed at the same time. We’d never live it down.”

“Who would believe it? They’d write it off as rumour. Trust me, Thor. I’ll find the right person. And when the time comes, if you’re sure you don’t want to... Well, I think I know you well enough to know that won’t be an eventuality.”

Thor scoffed. “Challenge accepted, Loki. Convince me.”

“I will.”

Thor laughed. This was madness, but it was fun madness. He’d hit a strange point of manic apathy towards the danger they were in. Someone could challenge their fictional relationship at any time, or word of incest could get back to Asgard. In comparison one person claiming they’d bedded both Odinsons, at the same time, seemed like hardly anything to worry about.

--

Loki didn’t attend the second feast, claiming that he had to recover from the rich food of the first night. It was believable, and almost a compliment to their hosts, and Thor assumed he wanted some time alone to read or relax. Loki often wanted to be alone. It revitalised him. So Thor thought nothing of it and spent the evening trying to charm various fellow visitors and Vanaheim locals. He was slapped on the back by several people as he made to retire.

He could almost believe he was back at home for a moment.

He took his time walking back to their rooms, expecting to find Loki nose-deep in a book or already asleep.

He wasn’t expecting to hear soft moaning on the other side of the door.

He hesitated. If Loki had managed to find a partner for the evening, it was his business. Thor considered going back down to the feast, but then again he had only just excused himself. It might seem suspicious if he suddenly reappeared, especially if he and Loki were meant to be exclusive.

His train of thought was interrupted when Loki opened the door, shirtless and beckoning him in. He hadn’t even noticed the moaning stopping. The servant girl, their servant girl as he’d come to think of her, was lying panting on the bed, her skirt pushed up to her waist and the laces of her blouse undone revealing the curve of her breasts, dark hair fanned out across the pillows. His legs almost gave out in surprise.

“Finally!” Loki purred. “Thor, this is Niorun. I believe you’ve met?”

Thor nodded uncertainly.

“She’s agreed to join us for the evening. Isn’t that kind of her?”

Another nod.

“What’s that, Thor? I can’t hear you. Aren’t you happy to see our guest?”

This was madness. They’d been here only a day and a half, and Loki had... He’d done exactly what he said he would do...

“Yes...” His voice was surprisingly breathy, even to himself.

 “I thought you might be. Greet her. I’ve been tasting her for some time.”

Thor found himself kneeling by the edge of the bed, Niorun kissing him desperately as Loki settled back between her thighs, holding her still as he brought his mouth to her folds. Thor felt her moan and jerk against him.

This shouldn’t be arousing but it was and his hands moved of their own free will to undo his clothes until he was naked. The only naked one in the room, he noted. His first thought was to rectify this situation and he set about removing more of Niorun’s clothing, managing to bare her torso and run his hands over her skin, enjoying the curves of her body and the way her chest moved as she reacted to Loki’s attentions.

“Thor?” Loki’s voice suddenly. “Thor, get down here and fuck our pretty visitor, would you?”

He didn’t need to be asked twice. He replaced Loki between Niorun’s legs and pressed into her. She moaned loudly at the intrusion, her hands twisting the sheets, while Loki crawled up the bed to lie next to her, stroking her hair in a soothing manner. Thor tried to give her time to relax, even though his first instinct was to rut and claim and mark her.

He moved slowly, deliberately so, savouring the drag of flesh and her welcoming heat. Loki was leisurely kissing their new friend, one hand undoing the laces of his breeches to free his obvious erection.

Thor wondered if he would blame this on drink later. That in his right mind he would never have thought about sharing a partner with his brother of all people. That he wouldn’t have looked as Loki stroked his own arousal.

This week didn’t seem like a good one for his right mind though.

“Is that all you’re going to do?” Loki asked suddenly.

“What?” Thor replied.

“Are you just going to keep fucking her and hope that’s enough to get her off?”

“What?”

Loki sighed. “How many female partners have climaxed under you, Thor?”

“All of them!”

“Really? Because from where I’m sitting it seems likely that a few have pretended...”

Thor growled and redoubled his efforts. Niorun cried out beneath him but didn’t seem even close to orgasm.

Loki reached a hand between them and started to rub little circles against her flesh. She jerked and gasped at the touch, responding instantly.

“See? Like this...” he breathed.

Once or twice every few circles, Loki’s fingers came in contact with Thor’s cock. Just a light brush, nothing more. He pretended he hadn’t noticed but the feeling of being touched as he fucked someone was so new to him that it pervaded all other sensations. He told himself it was merely this novelty that was making sparks of pleasure surge through him, and not because it was Loki.

Niorun was fast coming apart under their combined actions and she yelped, her body convulsing and twitching suddenly. Her inner muscles clenched around Thor’s girth and he could hold on no longer, spilling his seed within her body.

Loki ran his hands over her skin, encouraging her to recover. He planted soft kisses against her shoulder and her cheek until she was recovered enough to turn her head to the side and kiss him fully. She sat up to capture Thor in a kiss next. He distantly registered that he was sharing saliva with Loki by proxy, but dismissed the thought from his mind soon enough.

She stood up awkwardly and pulled her blouse back over her head, smoothing the folds in her skirt as best she could.

“Thank you, my Lords. That was most pleasing. I expect I shall see you tomorrow morning.”

She left the room and Thor felt deeply guilty. She had probably slept with them out of duty to her rulers’ household. They had made her climax, sure enough, but was that all there was? Was she banished now, sent away to her own quarters? What if she had a lover there? Would they smell that she had been with someone else? Was this normal in Vanaheim?

He looked to Loki with a mind to ask these questions, but was distracted by the fact that his brother was still hard.

“Loki? Do you... want...?” He wasn’t sure how to finish that sentence.

“No, I’ll just... I’ll be in the dressing room.”

Thor tried his best not to think about what was happening behind the curtain, tried to ignore the breathy gasps and muffled grunts that carried through. He couldn’t help feeling that he was somehow short-changed. After all, Loki had seen him come.

Not that he wanted to see his little brother come.

Not at all.

And if he went to bed now he could pretend it had been a dream.

The thought came suddenly, but seemed like a good idea. The more he thought about what he’d just done, the less comfortable he was with it. Not just the sex, but the fact that Loki had been right there. Watching him. Giving him advice... It felt wrong. And he’d enjoyed it, enjoyed it because it was wrong. And that made it worse.

He put out the lights and slipped under the sheets. Just a dream. Just a weird dream. It never happened.

He heard Loki sigh and felt the bed dip as he took occupancy of the other side.

“Thor. Look at me.”

He resolutely kept his head turned away.

“Thor. I know you’re not sleeping.”

He rolled over and looked his brother in the face, the edges of his features still just about visible in the darkness.

“What’s the matter?” Loki asked.

Thor laughed in spite of himself. “What’s the matter? Really? We just... we just shared something that brothers shouldn’t. We shouldn’t see each other... like that. In those kinds of situations.”

“Why not?”

“Because. We just shouldn’t.”

“No, I’m serious. We did nothing wrong. You said yourself, we know each other better than anyone else. Why do you think it’s so wrong?”

Thor huffed. He couldn’t even form the words. It was just wrong. He knew it. Why didn’t Loki know it?

“Did you like it?” Loki asked.

Thor took a long time to reply.

“Yes,” he whispered. “I did. And I... I hate that I did.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know.”

He honestly didn’t.

“Look, Thor, we’ve had rooms next to each other forever. I’ve heard... I’ve heard everything. Any time you brought someone back to your bed, I probably heard you together. The walls are only so thick and you... well, not to put too fine a point on it, you’re quite loud at times. I imagine you’ve heard your fair share from my side.”

Thor hadn’t ever considered that Loki could hear him. He hadn’t considered that anyone would be listening.

“Yes,” he admitted. “Sometimes I hear you. You don’t realise how loud you are, I think.”

“And what do you do when you hear me?”

He was surprised by the question. What did he do? He didn’t do anything.

“Nothing, I... I try to sleep. I try to ignore it. Or I go and find someone to bring to my own bed.”

“So you’ve never... You’ve never touched yourself?”

Thor started. How did Loki know...?

“Once. And it was an accident.”

Loki laughed. “You accidentally got off to the sound of me with someone else?”

“Look, it was early and I was still half asleep, half dreaming and I was... y’know, it’s the morning, you wake up hard sometimes, and I heard... I heard you. With whoever was still in your bed from the night before probably. And I didn’t even realise what I was doing and so... yes, once, I have touched myself once in those circumstances but I swear I didn’t realise I was getting off on your moaning until after I’d... finished... and woken up properly.”

“It’s alright, I don’t mind. I’ve done it too.”

“What, you’ve...? To the sound of me?”

“Yes. You started bringing partners home quite early, Thor. Earlier than I did, and more frequently. And I didn’t want to have to leave my rooms every time, so after a while I started to... well, I started to take advantage of the aural stimulation, as it were.”

Thor didn’t know how to respond to this.

“How long?” he asked. “How long have you been doing this?”

“Oh, centuries...”

He was so calm about it. And Thor began to wonder...

“Why are you telling me now?”

“Because you’re worried. We shared a sexual encounter and you liked it, and that worries you. I just wanted to let you know that there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Besides, you and me, we’re not... we’re not like other siblings, we’re special. Beyond such concerns.”

“What concerns?”

“Whether or not it’s ‘right’ to share such things between us. We can be vulnerable in front of each other, you know? We know that we can trust each other more than anyone else in the world.”

“What, so we should... we should be like Freyr and Freyja and to Hel with the incest laws? Is that what you’re saying?”

Loki laughed. Full-bodied laughter, the sound echoing in the chamber.

“Goodnight, Thor.” he said, rolling over, once it had subsided.

Thor wasn’t convinced that their conversation was finished, but apparently so. He was still troubled. There was definitely something wrong with what they’d done.

And worse, he knew that he wanted to do it again. He knew that if Loki pulled the same trick again he would follow.

He pulled a pillow over his head and tried his best to think of buxom women from home, and not the way his brother’s naked form had convulsed under the sheets when he laughed a moment ago. Trying to block the memories of a thousand nights of hearing moaning through the walls. Trying to banish the knowledge that any time he’d been with someone, Loki might have been on his own bed, biting his lips and spilling over his own hand at the sound of Thor coming undone at the same moment.

And especially trying to pretend his breath wasn’t quickening slightly at that thought.

Chapter Text

Niorun came to wake them again. Thor was careful to actually wear clothes this time before answering the door. She kept her head down, not even making eye contact, but smiling still. Suddenly shy. Thor wondered how exactly Loki had propositioned her. Whether he had prettily invited her in with soft words or if he had taken her aside and whispered filth into her ear until her legs almost gave out.

It could have been either to be honest.

They were free for much of the morning and Loki wanted to take the opportunity to explore the library, to see if there was anything here he didn’t have access to in Asgard. Thor was relatively sure that he wouldn’t steal anything.

He went down to the training grounds instead to see what skills the warriors of Vanaheim had to offer.

They were certainly disciplined. They held formation and went through drills. Their actions were fluid, practised. Their sparring was similarly imposing. Thor watched approvingly from his vantage point above the yard. He followed the warriors’ actions with his eyes, different in style from his own but he recognised some of the moves as being favoured by Hogun.

He was surprised when Hnossa and her father appeared beside him.

“Are you enjoying the display?” Freyr asked.

“Yes, it’s very impressive.”

“Are our warriors better than yours?” Hnossa’s voice was sharp but slightly less so than it had been the day before. Probably modified in the presence of her father.

“I would not say ‘better’,” Thor said, reaching for his most tactful vocabulary while attempting to stifle his natural reaction to praise Asgard above all others. “I would say they are equally good. We use different fighting techniques where I live.”

“Are our techniques better then?”

He laughed. “I have some experience of battling one of your former warriors. Hogun, my lord, you may recall him. He trained here in his youth before moving to Asgard.”

Freyr showed no sign of recognition but Hnossa looked up at him curiously.

“You have a Vanir in your court?” she asked with a hint of disbelief in her voice.

“Yes. He is part of our elite force. Highly respected and a personal friend of mine.”

She seemed to consider this. Apparently the idea of leaving Vanaheim had never occurred to her before.

“They say you have a special weapon...” she said, thoughtfully.

“Yes, the hammer Mjolnir. She was given to me some years ago.”

“She? It’s a girl hammer?”

“Well, I... I always considered her so, yes. Hardly anyone calls her a ‘her’ apart from me though.”

“I want to see it. Bring it to me.”

“Hnossa, be polite,” Freyr said, resting his hand on her head. Thor recognised the pout of an embarrassed child. He’d worn it himself often enough.

She sighed. “Please bring it to me...”

“Alright.” Thor said.

He held his hand out dramatically - Loki didn’t have a monopoly on showmanship after all – and called Mjolnir from his room. He was glad he’d left the window open to let some fresh air in or this wouldn’t have been possible. Mjolnir came through the path of least resistance until she sailed over the yard and into his waiting palm.

Hnossa seemed suitably impressed by the display.

“Can I hold it?” she asked immediately.

“You can touch her,” Thor replied. “She is very temperamental though, very few people can lift her.”

“Put it down, I want to try.”

“Alright.”

Thor knew she wouldn’t manage it. No one ever managed it. He watched Hnossa’s attempts, but Mjolnir remained where she sat. Hnossa looked accusingly up at her father until he tried as well, with a similar lack of success.

“It’s bewitched,” she said eventually. “Your brother did it. Don’t lie. He made it so only you could lift it.”

“She was made for me,” Thor explained, trying to ignore how irritated Hnossa was that she couldn’t defeat Mjolnir’s personal gravity. “She is tied to me. Very few people match the qualities that she demands in order to lift her. It is... complicated. I don’t fully understand it myself.”

“Can your brother lift it?”

“No. He is very different to me, you see. He has different qualities.”

“Hmm.” She paused for some time before apparently coming to a decision. “I want you to fight some of our men.”

“Hnossa, no.” Freyr said immediately.

“Why not? Why shouldn’t he?”

“Guests do not fight. What if we were to send him back to Asgard in pieces? Odin All-Father would be most displeased.”

Thor knew it was just a distraction technique, meant to turn Hnossa from her whims, but Thor couldn’t help but feel a little insulted. He was one of the best warriors in Asgard. His feats were legendary. He could easily take on several men at once and win.

But it didn’t ‘do’ to show off on diplomatic trips.

“Your father is right, my lady. I must decline. And I would bathe before tonight’s celebrations, more thoroughly than with the basins in our room. Is that possible?”

He was escorted to the bathhouse. The private one, used only by the royal family and guests. He slipped into the pool, depositing Mjolnir next to his clothes.

The water was pleasant after the heat of outside. Not cold, but refreshingly cool. The pool wasn’t very wide, but it was deep enough for the water to come up to the middle of his chest when he stood. He often felt oversized when away from his own bathhouse.

He leant against the side of the pool and tried to let the stresses of the last two days – goodness, only two? – wash away.

The boredom of the journey, then the surprise of the proposed engagement, Niorun, being polite to Hnossa despite everything, Loki’s lies...

Loki in general really.

Thor still wasn’t sure what kind of game he was playing. It was not as harmless as Loki would have him believe, of that he was certain. And inviting Niorun into their bed, without even consulting him?

To be fair, they had joked about it in the garden that morning. Thor had been joking, anyway.

And Niorun had been... well, she had been a good choice of bed mate. Finally alone, Thor let his hands roam on his own flesh, closing his eyes and remembering the way she had cried out beneath him. He encircled his cock with a fist and brought to mind the images of her chest heaving and the way her dark hair had felt beneath his hands as he’d kissed her. The way her moans had grown louder, the way her body had welcomed him. The way she had clenched and shuddered when Loki had...

Loki...

He came suddenly and found himself panting gently, the evidence of his climax dissipating in the deep pool in front of him.

He shuddered and set about cleaning himself as quickly as possible. There was something in the air here, he was sure of it. Making him not himself. Perhaps the food didn’t agree with him. Something was definitely wrong with him, he didn’t normally have these kinds of thoughts, he didn’t...

“Do you mind if I join you?”

Thor almost jumped from his skin at the sound of Loki’s voice behind him.

“How long have you been standing there?” he asked, trying to keep the breathlessness from his voice.

“I just arrived. They said that I would find you here. Do you mind though? It’s so dusty up there, you’d swear they never clean.”

Thor tried to subtly look away as Loki undressed and slid into the water. His breath hitched slightly when Loki dunked his head completely.

I just came in this water, he thought. I just came with your image in my head and your name almost on my lips and now you are washing it into your skin...

“Are you alright?”

“Hmm? Oh. Yes. I’m fine.”

“Will you help me rinse my hair if I wash it? It’s easier if someone helps.”

“Of course.”

There were various bowls around the edge of the pool apparently for that exact purpose. Loki’s fingers were slowly massaging some kind of soap into his tresses, straightening out the occasional tangle.

Thor approached from his side of the pool, the water slowing his movements. It seemed to take him an age.

“Will it be easier if I’m... above you?” he asked, trying to sound as normal as possible.

“Yes. Hop up on the side, will you?”

Thor did as he was asked, hoisting himself almost completely out of the water, just the lower halves of his calves still submerged, and picked up one of the bowls. Loki rested his head back against Thor’s thigh.

“Don’t get it in my eyes...” he said, bringing up a hand to shield them anyway.

Thor carefully tilted the bowl, watching as the suds were rinsed from Loki’s hair, the way the water flowed from Loki’s head and onto his own skin, down his legs. He was slow and methodical, teasing locks of hair between his fingers to ensure they were properly rinsed, gently massaging Loki’s scalp as he went. Loki sighed contently.

My come is in this water, Thor thought. Little traces of me. You’ll have traces of me in your hair and on your skin all day. And you don’t know; you just got in next to me without thinking. I wonder what you’d think if you knew...

Suddenly he was very glad that he’d already satisfied himself. Becoming aroused with your little brother’s head in your lap would be difficult to disguise.

He took a deep breath and sloshed the last of the water over Loki’s head.

“All done,” he said.

“Thank you. Do you want me to do yours?”

Thor hesitated and stood up. “No. I think I’ll be fine for a couple of days yet. You know I don’t wash my hair as often as you do. I’ll see you at tonight’s feast.”

“You’re leaving?”

“I said I’d let Hnossa get a closer look at Mjolnir after my bath.”

The lie fell from his lips so easily, he barely noticed it.

He dried himself off and left as quickly as possible.

This was getting beyond now. He wanted to go home and pretend this wasn’t happening. That he wasn’t lusting after his brother, his baby brother. That he wasn’t pleased at the thought of Loki unconsciously carrying his essence around in his hair until the next time he washed it. That he didn’t want Loki to smell of him and be marked as his and...

He just wanted to go home now.

He wanted to avoid Loki for the rest of their trip. But he couldn’t, after all they were ‘engaged’ while they were here, weren’t they?

He considered going back to their room but knew Loki would follow him. He’d find him in the training yards as well. He didn’t have permission to go to the gardens and he didn’t want to ask.

Where would he be safe? Where could he hide?

The library. Loki would never think to look for him there. He’d be safe there.

He accosted a servant to point him the way and took the stairs two at a time. It wasn’t that he wasn’t interested in books, he just didn’t have the time to dedicate to study in the way Loki did. There would probably be books on old campaigns, the feats of generations long dead to learn from.

The librarian looked at him with some surprise when he entered.

“Asgard?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“The other one was in here this morning.”

“My brother. Yes, I know.”

“Spent a lot of time reading our histories. Very interested. Very studious. Left all his notes behind though.”

That was odd.

“Can I have them?” he asked. “I’ll return them to him later.”

She left him for a moment and returned with a piece of parchment. There was a list of names on it in Loki’s spidery handwriting. Everyone thought his writing would be neat and orderly, but he tended to think faster than he could write and the letters were often distorted as he struggled to lay them down fast enough. Thor’s own hand was large and deliberate, the product of many childhood lessons encouraging clarity above all other aspects.

He didn’t mean to pry into Loki’s business but he couldn’t help noticing that the names were always in pairs.

“Freyr and Freyja, current.
Njord and Skadi Nerthus.
Hartnit and Hardheri?
Gullveig and Heidr.”

This last one was circled and underlined, and therefore apparently important. Thor was puzzled.

“Excuse me,” he said, finding the librarian again. “Can you tell me the significance of these names?”

She looked it over. “Most of them are the names of our rulers who were siblings as well as joint rulers.”

“Most of them?”

“The last two. Gullveig and Heidr. They are different. It’s an old story. Very old. Would you like the long version or the short version?”

He considered for a moment. “The short one please.”

She looked at him slightly disapprovingly. “Gullveig and Heidr were the same person, but not the same person. She was a witch. Reborn three times during the war with Asgard three thousand years ago, in three different bodies. Two of her selves ruled together, the first joint rulers of Vanaheim. She married herself.”

Thor’s face crumpled in confusion. “She married herself?”

“Gullveig married Heidr. They were the same person and yet not the same. It is from them that we began the dual monarchy.”

“What of the third? The third body, where was she?”

“We do not know. Not even her name survives.”

“Hmm. Thank you.”

He could ask Loki about his sudden interests in the history of dual monarchy later, though he had a sneaking suspicion that he knew exactly what Loki was thinking.

If Vanaheim could be ruled by two, then why not Asgard?

Thor hadn’t really considered the fact that he would one day be king, while Loki would not. It was a fact. He was older, he would inherit. It was the law. It was just how things worked. He didn’t think Loki had any strong feelings about it.

He wondered if there might be a fight brewing in the future and felt sick.

Loki was sweet and attentive at dinner and if he noticed Thor’s distance, he didn’t comment on it.

Thor didn’t return the list of names.

Chapter Text

Thor was dreading the fourth day as it meant rehearsing for the coronation ceremony. They were expected to attend, but since they didn’t actually have to do anything he was envisaging a long day of not very much. The boredom was going to kill him.

Watching Hnossa walk the length of the hall over and over again, her short legs taking an age to propel her from one end to the other while musicians tried to give her regal background, was enough to send Thor to sleep. He wished he could sleep standing up, like a horse. As it was he was standing behind Loki, resting his forehead against his brother’s shoulder, hoping this looked like a loving gesture and not like he was being disrespectful.

“What’s taking so long?” he mumbled, half to himself.

“I’ll remember this when we rehearse your coronation and it takes you hours to master crossing the throne room. You should be paying attention, maybe you’ll learn something.” Loki replied.

“I know how to walk. I don’t understand why we even have to be here.”

“It’s important that we learn about Hnossa. She’ll probably come to power while you are king. It’s important that you develop a good relationship with her early on. Or at least that you learn to predict her. After all, it’s not so long since Asgard and Vanaheim were at war.”

“It was over three thousand years ago.” Thor said without thinking.

“Hm. I didn’t realise you remembered so much of history lessons. But that is not so long ago. Father was a child during that conflict.”

“Exactly. We have nothing to fear from Vanaheim. Other than their scorn, perhaps. Did I tell you Hnossa wanted me to fight their soldiers and Freyr told her that no, I couldn’t, because it would be terrible if I got hurt?”

“The nerve of them...”

“I know!”

“Suggesting it would be terrible for you to be taken down a peg or two...”

Thor shoved him and Loki laughed. An older woman looked at them disapprovingly as they stifled their giggles.

“Can’t we sneak out?” Thor whispered after a while. “It’s not like they need us.”

“It would be very rude of us.”

“So that’s a ‘no’ then.”

“That’s an ‘I don’t think it would be wise’.”

Thor managed another few minutes of respectful silence before he sighed audibly. More frowns from the people around them.

“You must excuse my brother,” Loki said. “He suffers quite terribly of a lung condition which causes him to retain too much air. He must expel it, I’m afraid. He means no disrespect.”

“You know, one day that tongue of yours is going to get you into serious trouble...” Thor said under his breath as soon as their neighbours had turned away.

“Is it? I find it tends to get me out of it.”

Thor noticed his distracted tone. “You’re thinking about something. What are you thinking about?”

“Oh, nothing important. It’s just I’ve heard that Hnossa is illegitimate. I’m wondering which of these men is her real father.”

Thor’s eyes widened. “What?” he hissed.

“Apparently the queen has a lover and there is some reason to believe that the heir to the throne might actually only be half heir.”

His tone was conversational, as though he was discussing something totally innocuous.

“Loki, ssh. If someone hears you...”

“What? We have diplomatic immunity. The worst they could do is tell on me to Father, and what have I done? I’m merely sharing some political intrigue with my older brother. Nothing more than that. I never said I believed it. I’m not spreading rumours; I’m just making you aware that they exist.”

“Like making me aware that rumours about you and I exist?”

“Precisely. Rumour is as good as intelligence sometimes. Politics isn’t about what you know, it’s what everyone else thinks you know. And what you can make them think you know.”

Thor considered this. “You think you’ve made Freyja nervous? That you might reveal her infidelity to her husband?”

“No. He knows all about it. But I didn’t, until I implied that I did.”

“When?”

“‘The child of one may be legally recognised as the child of both’. As soon as I said that, Freyr wanted that conversation done. He knows. And it burns him. It’s why he’s so suspicious of us. He wonders what else we know.”

“But we know nothing, Loki.”

“He doesn’t know that. We hold power over him, in that we could spread this knowledge. But I gave him power over us in return. After all he could reveal our arrangement.”

“Our arrangement isn’t real.”

Loki looked him right in the eyes.

“No,” he conceded. “It’s not. But he doesn’t know that, and the story could still be damaging to Asgard’s reputation I suppose.

Thor wasn’t sure that he liked the pause Loki had left before admitting the lie. And worse, he wasn’t sure that he disliked it either.

And now he really wanted to change the subject.

“Do you know the name of Freyja’s lover, even if you don’t know who he is?”

“No. But it makes sense. After all, siblings aren’t really supposed to bring forth children. Their blood becomes... muddy.”

“Muddy?”

“Too much of the same stuff, it silts up. Like too much salt, you need something else to balance it.”

“Do you think Hnossa knows?”

“I doubt it. She’s a child.”

“Do you think they will ever tell her?”

“And have her feel betrayed? Knowing her life is a lie? No. She’s happy and it has no bearing on her future. I wouldn’t, if I were them.”

“Hmm.”

“Of course, when you are both rulers, I might drop the occasional hint when she visits us. Just to unnerve her.”

“You are a cruel man, brother.”

Loki shrugged. “Perhaps I am. But I like to be the one holding all the best cards.”

“It’s always been a game to you, hasn’t it?”

“And a game I intend to win. For Asgard. For you.”

Thor laughed at that, slightly too loud and was shushed again.

“Please, you do what’s good for yourself, Loki.”

“And it’s good for me for you to be in control of the Realms. When you’re in power, I intend to be right there beside you.”

“And what else could I do that would be ‘good for you’ while you’re by my side?”

Loki turned to him, eyes dancing with surprise. It wasn’t often that Thor managed to get such a reaction and he couldn’t help being a little proud of himself.

“I’m sure I’ll think of something,” Loki said.

Thor considered what they’d said for a few minutes.

“How do you learn all this? How do you know who everyone is and how do you know their secrets?”

“Secrets are important. It’s why I keep so many.”

“But where do you learn them?”

“Here and there.”

“Loki...”

“You wouldn’t like to know. Trust me.”

“I want to know. Please.”

“I... threaten people. I charm them. I lie to them. I bluff. And I use you as my shield.”

“What do you mean?”

“No one in Asgard would dare challenge me while you’re on my side. And here? Well, here. No one pays attention to me and what I might be learning and hearing and seeing when they’re basking in the warmth of your smile. As long as it’s you and me? I’ll always know things I probably shouldn’t.”

“I’m not sure I like that.”

“I’m not sure it matters whether you do or not.”

Thor was very quiet for the remainder of the rehearsal.

He didn’t like it. He didn’t like the idea of his brother behaving so... underhandedly. With such duplicity. It made him almost wonder if he could trust him.

He tried to shake those thoughts from his mind. He didn’t know what he was feeling anymore. Whether he trusted Loki utterly – after all, he’d said it: you and me, us together, by your side. But Loki lied. And Loki lied about him and about them and about himself...

Add all that to the confusing feelings and thoughts he’d had this week and he didn’t even know if he could trust himself or his emotions anymore.

Feasting was all well and good, although he was starting to tire of it now; he needed a break. Fortunately, the visiting dignitaries were invited to a private dinner with the royal family after the rehearsal, a far more restrained affair. Hnossa had the honour of her mother’s usual seat, her father’s empty, as her parents sat on ordinary chairs to either side, paying homage to her. She didn’t seem to be overly honoured by it. She was evidently exhausted.

Thor watched with some amusement as her head nodded and drooped after she had finished eating, and how she jerked awake every few minutes. Eventually Freyja took pity on her and took her hand, leading her to bed.

Thor hadn’t noticed that Freyr had drunk rather more of the wine than he ought to have until it was too late.

“She’s too young,” the king said suddenly. “She shouldn’t come to power so young.”

“She’s not coming to power, my lord. She’s merely being confirmed as heir.” Thor couldn’t remember the name of the speaker, he believed he was from Nornheim but couldn’t be sure.

“Well, perhaps she shouldn’t be confirmed just yet.”

“Why not?” Loki asked.

Thor kicked him urgently under the table as Freyr rounded on them.

“You know very well,” Freyr said. “In fact you know a lot more than you ought, I think, Loki Odinson.”

“Really? What do I know that you fear I might reveal?”

Freyr’s eyes narrowed dangerously. “I could reveal a few things that I know as well. Or things that I suspect are lies.”

“My lord, please,” Loki said, perhaps realising the danger he was putting them in. “I did not mean to offend you by suggesting... anything...”

“Was that the real reason? The reason you refused to marry her? Because you believe such lies about my daughter?”

He was talking to Thor now who desperately tried to minimise the potential damage.

“I refused for the reason we gave,” he said. “We meant no disrespect to Hnossa. I know of no reason why she would not be a suitable wife.”

Everyone around the table was avoiding eye contact, but no one was trying to rescue them from Freyr’s anger. Probably hoping to learn a few points of political leverage out of the argument.

“You know,” Freyr said. “I see in your face that you know. You are not nearly as skilled in deception as your brother is. Everyone leave. Leave! I wish to speak to Asgard’s princes alone.”

There was some reluctance from the assembled visitors but they obeyed. Freyr regarded them both with deep mistrust in his eyes.

“Who told you?” he asked once the room was empty.

“We know nothing,” Thor insisted. “We have heard no rumours about Hnossa or her parentage.”

“Then how did you know it was about parentage?”

Thor opened and closed his mouth a few times. He shouldn’t have spoken. He should have let Loki handle it. He always spoke without thinking, he was always being told off for it.

“Answer me this,” Freyr said. “Truly. Is that why you refused her?”

“No.”

“You would rather lie, pretend you want your own brother than to marry my little girl...”

“We did not lie, my lord.”

“Oh, really? Because I see precious little romance between you. Oh, you are close, but I do not believe that you would wed and bed one another even for the benefit of your realm. Do you think I wished to marry Freyja? My own sister? I did not at first, but a degree of desire grew between us, and we are happy. But consummation, evidence of consummation, is required by law in both our lands for a marriage to be legitimate. I do not see even the traces of desire between you. I believe you lied and I shall inform your father soon of what mockery and insult his sons wreaked in my court...”

“Enough!” Loki yelled suddenly. “You want proof? Fine.”

And then Thor found Loki straddling him, one hand tilting his head up and capturing his mouth with his own, the press of Loki’s tongue against his, the other hand gripping his hair firmly but not enough to pull.

His hands flew up to support Loki’s back before he registered what he was doing and the noise of surprise he was going to make turned into something closer to a moan of pleasure. He had not given them away at least. He tried to ignore the way his heartbeat increased.

Loki broke the kiss after a few moments and looked over his shoulder at Freyr. “Satisfied? Or would you like us to fuck and prove we were not false? Shall Thor have me right here on the table, would that be enough for you?”

Freyr tried to stare him down for a moment before sighing. “I am sorry. I am sorry to have embarrassed you.”

Loki said nothing, still atop Thor, who was looking back and forth between the two of them still unsure where this would go.

“I do love her, you know,” Freyr continued. “Like she is my child. She is my child. That she was born of another man does not change the fact that I am her father. Freyja and I, we... We both take others to our bed from time to time. But some would discredit Hnossa’s claim to our throne.”

“We do not,” Thor said. “She is your heir, and tomorrow you will officially name her so. And I swear; we will keep your secret.”

“I still fear she is too young to be confirmed. She will lose much of her childhood. Politics will be hard for one so youthful.”

“She is your daughter. You will help her.”

Freyr nodded absently. “I feel I have stayed up long enough and drunk enough and made enough poor decisions for one day. I will retire.”

He left the room without so much as wishing them goodnight. Thor let out a breath he hadn’t realised he’d been holding. Loki dismounted him, and he felt the loss a second before he caught himself. Part of him wanted the warmth of feeling Loki against him for a while longer, and that was definitely something he shouldn’t want, he shouldn’t have wanted any of the things he had since they’d been here.

They didn’t speak at all as they made their way back to their rooms. Thor didn’t know what to say. He kept waiting for Loki to say something flippant and clever and make it all alright again.

I just kissed my brother, and I liked it. The thought repeated through his head over and over again. He wondered if Loki was thinking the same thing, or if he was disgusted by what they had just lowered themselves to.

“It seems my tongue got us out of trouble yet again,” Loki said once they were in bed, having coyly looked away from one another when they undressed as though nudity meant anything anymore, after Niorun.

Thor laughed heartily. He knew Loki would manage to make a joke of it. Jokes were good. Jokes were safe. Most of the time.

“You’re not as good a kisser as I thought you would be,” Loki continued. “You’ve had enough practice.”

“You caught me by surprise,” Thor protested. “I’m normally better.”

“Really?”

“Would you like me to demonstrate?”

He meant for it to be a joke. He meant for it to sound like a joke. But it came out too serious.

Loki rolled over, tentatively moving towards him and Thor wondered if he was joking now, if he was going to move closer and closer and wait for Thor to flinch first.

A hand on his cheek. The tiniest glimmer of fear in Loki’s eyes, but he could have faked that. Their noses touched.

Loki closed the distance, pressing his lips almost chastely against Thor’s, who tried to ignore the rush that passed through his body at the contact, the way he wanted to pull Loki closer and to keep him in his embrace forever.

Instead he opened his mouth, encouraging Loki to explore, to take whatever he wanted. Thor had never had any complaints about his kissing skills before, but then again, who would complain to a prince? So he let Loki take the lead, feeling the careful movements of his tongue, mapping Thor’s mouth. He let this continue for a while before he began to kiss back, not forcefully, but definitely making his presence felt.

It seemed they continued like this for most of an hour before Loki’s hand moved from where it rested against Thor’s face and began to trace down his back, following the curve of his spine.

It was not unpleasant. Thor almost wished it was, wished that he felt disgust or discomfort, but he felt only pleasure. He arched slightly against the touch, his breath coming harder through his nose. He pulled Loki closer, until their chests were touching and ran a hand up his brother’s thigh, along his side, over his ribs...

Loki released his lips, his breath still ghosting on his face when he spoke.

“You’re right. That was much better.”

He turned away and rolled over.

Thor stared at the back of his head for a moment, utterly nonplussed by his sudden termination of their play. He felt he could stay up for hours yet, gently caressing and tasting him. He knew now. He wanted Loki. He didn’t know quite to what extent, but he wanted him, wanted more than their brotherly relationship. And that was wrong, but maybe he didn’t care anymore.

“Can I hold you?” he asked desperately into the darkness.

There was a long pause before Loki replied, his voice so soft that Thor barely heard.

“Yes.”

Thor wrapped one arm around Loki’s torso and brought his legs up to lie curved around his brother.

This was probably immoral, but lying feeling the gentle swell of Loki’s chest as he breathed and inhaling the scent of his hair was worth it.

Just for tonight, he thought, before sleep finally took him.

Chapter Text

Thor didn’t know how to seduce people.

The truth of it struck him suddenly the next morning when Loki was already out of bed and dressed when he woke up. He wanted morning cuddles. He wanted to kiss some more. He wanted Loki all sleepy and soft, before he’d managed to wake up fully and put on his sharpness.

And Thor didn’t know how to ask that of him.

Being a prince had its benefits, and one of them was that generally, if he wanted someone he could just ask them, no pretence, and they could decline or agree. There was no dancing around, no trying to tell if someone liked him or not, no tentative suggestion of reasons to be in the same place or having to take things slow.

He didn’t know how to do that dance.

Maybe he’d just have to make up the steps on his own. After all, this wasn’t ordinary; this was Loki. And nothing was ever ordinary around him.

And Thor was thinking now. Thinking was dangerous, Loki would tell him when they were younger. But he couldn’t stop thinking. Thinking about Loki’s bare flesh and the look in his eyes when he’d seen Thor with Niorun and the sounds he made through the curtain to the dressing room and how pliant he’d been letting Thor rinse his hair and how effortlessly he’d pressed his lips to Thor’s in front of Freyr, the strength of his legs on either side of Thor’s...

And now Thor wanted all those things, but all at once.

And he meant to have them. Somehow. As soon as possible.

He swore to himself that by the end of the day’s celebrations, he would know whether Loki wanted him too or not and he would make his own desire clear.

It scared him to realise just how afraid he was of rejection.

“Hnossa wants to see us,” Loki said, not even looking up from the book he was reading but apparently aware that Thor was awake.

“Why?”

“No idea. Possibly to ask us for advice. It is her coronation day after all.”

“What advice could we possibly give her?”

“I don’t know. Anyway, get up. She won’t like to be kept waiting.”

Thor didn’t bother going through the curtain to the dressing room. He just got dressed right there in front of his brother. Who wasn’t even watching. How was he supposed to seduce someone who was so immune to him?

“Are we going to talk about last night?” he said eventually, as he fastened his boots.

“I don’t think so. She left the meal early if you recall.”

“Not us and Hnossa, just... just us.”

“I’m not sure what there is to say. We made a decision, we stuck to it, things escalated a little but then we went to sleep.”

Thor had more to say. He just couldn’t find the words. ‘I want more. I want you. Do you want me too? What do you think we’re doing? Is this just a thing we’re doing while we’re here and are we going to pretend it never happened when we get home?’

He nodded instead and they went to find Hnossa.

She was having her hair dressed in a private chamber. Maids and seamstresses flitted about her like butterflies. They had powdered her face, trying to hide the shadows under her eyes. Perhaps it wasn’t the rehearsal that had exhausted her but sleepless nights full of nerves.

Thor felt very sorry for her. He didn’t particularly like Hnossa, but she was very young. He didn’t think he would cope well if he’d been expected to go through with something like this at her age.

“My lady. You wanted to see us.”

She made eye-contact with him in the mirror.

“Yes. Um. Can we... can we speak privately?”

The maids seemed uncertain to leave her alone, but they were her servants after all and filed out of the room.

“These clothes were made for a different queen,” Hnossa said, tugging at the thick velvet she had been laced into. “They had to make them far, far smaller for me. My mother wore them when she and my father were confirmed. But she was older then than I am now.”

Thor didn’t know what to say. He wondered where Hnossa was going with this.

“Your realm is never ruled by two equals,” she said thoughtfully. “You are breaking tradition.”

“It is more complicated than that,” Loki said. “It may be that Thor rules alone and I merely advise him. We have time to make such decisions later.”

“Vanaheim has been ruled by pairs for thousands of years. I am expected to have a husband. But I don’t want one. I want to rule by myself. How do I make them see that?”

“You don’t have to get married right away, my lady,” Thor said, trying to sound comforting. “You have years to find the right person.”

“They were going to promise me to you. What chance do I have of finding the right person if I am engaged to strangers? They will find someone else for me soon enough, and that is not what I want.”

“It is an unfortunate fact of our rank that we don’t always get what we want,” Loki said quietly. “The trick is to take what you can when you have the chance.”

Thor looked across at him, but his face revealed nothing.

Is he talking about us? Thor wondered. Or am I just hearing what I want to hear?

“Is it easier to be promised to your brother?” Hnossa asked. “I wonder if... If I might beg my parents to have another child. A boy. And then I could marry him and we would rule together.”

Loki gave a short chuckle. “It is not the fact that Thor is my brother that makes it easy, but the fact that he is Thor. It is his person, not his position that makes us suited. You might not like your sibling; there is no guarantee. Siblings fight, sometimes quite terribly. I am sure that if you spoke of these concerns to your father, he would listen. He is a good man. And he may let you make your own decisions in this matter.”

“I really don’t think I want to get married at all,” she said in a small voice, her lip trembling slightly. “I want to rule by myself.”

“Speak to your father. Your parents may be more understanding than you think.”

She took a deep breath and straightened up.

“Perhaps you’re right,” she said. “Send the ladies back in as you leave.”

And there was the Hnossa Thor had become accustomed to. Haughty and blunt, not so much as a ‘thank you’ for their advice.

He wanted so badly to ask Loki if he meant what he said. That he thought they were suited. But Loki seemed disinclined to talk, for once. Thor feared that his brother was over-thinking last night. That Loki was trying to rationalise it, when as far as he was concerned it didn’t need to be rationalised. Hadn’t Loki said himself that they weren’t like other siblings? Hadn’t he said that they were beyond so many things?

But maybe now he was reading too much into it. Maybe this was just a game Loki was playing. Everything was a game to him. Maybe he was trying to see how far he could push until Thor broke.

If that’s what he was doing, perhaps Thor was going to give him more than he bargained for.

The ceremony was long and tedious. Hnossa had to swear what seemed like a thousand oaths to her realm and her people before a new throne was revealed, carved for her from an ash tree. They expected her to grow and as such she was dwarfed by its size. It was also built for two, the left side remaining empty. Thor wondered briefly whether he would be sitting there now, had he agreed to the betrothal.

The celebratory feast was easily the loudest Thor had ever been to. Apparently they really knew how to party in Vanaheim. There was singing. There were speeches that Thor barely heard as they were seated at the end of a table, far from the speakers, and no one even tried to quieten the hall.

Thor found that he didn’t care though. The wine was pleasantly warm in his stomach and Loki’s physical presence, right up against him due to the limited space of the benches, was soothing as much as it was enticing.

He would make his desire clear as soon as they were alone. Let Loki decide what to do. He’d been stupid to think of it as a dance. If there was one person in the universe he could be comfortable and open with, surely it was Loki.

He made a special effort to touch his brother, just in little ways, enough that their closeness was emphasised without the risk of exciting himself too much. He kept an eye on Hnossa, knowing it would be considered rude to retire before her, but hoping she would leave for her bed early as she had the night before.

The evening proved impossibly long. Or maybe he just felt that it was because he had somewhere else he wanted to be.

“Are you well, Prince Thor?” a voice somewhere to his left asked.

“Yes,” he replied. “It has merely been a long day and I am a little tired.”

“Once Hnossa leaves, you can go to bed,” Loki said. “Don’t feel like you have to stay up on my account.”

“No, I will wait for you. I’m fine, really.”

Loki seemed to take his hint though, and soon after Hnossa decided to return to her own chambers with the cheers of her people following her, he indicated that they could safely slip away without being missed.

Thor wrapped his arm around Loki’s waist as they left. It was almost a familiar gesture, but it hadn’t meant much before this week. He wasn’t even sure what it meant now, just that it meant... more somehow.

“No one’s looking, you don’t have to hold onto me like that,” Loki said as the sounds of feasting faded away behind them.

“Maybe I want to hold onto you,” Thor said. “Do you mind?”

“No.”

“Good.”

Thor only let go to close the door to their rooms. As an afterthought, he locked it. The key had been in the lock on the inside since they’d arrived.

“Why did you do that?” Loki asked, sitting on one of the two chairs that furnished the room, removing the outer layers of his outfit.

“I don’t want to be disturbed.”

Loki frowned at him and Thor took a deep breath. He was actually going to do this.

“Not now I finally have you all to myself.”

Loki seemed faintly amused and perplexed. How could he be? Hadn’t he noticed? Thor wasn’t sure how to make himself clearer without becoming crude. He sat down on the other chair, opposite his brother and lowered his voice.

“I would have you in... in other ways. If you were willing.”

Loki turned to look at him, his face blank. Thor was seconds from panicking. He’d misread this. He’d gone too far. He’d gone too far! Loki stood up and Thor was sure he was going to yell or run home to Asgard, or simply tell him in no uncertain terms how vile his desires were; instead he turned to look right in his face. Thor braced himself for a tirade of abuse.

“I thought you’d never ask.” Loki said, clambering into his lap as he had the day before, but more certainly this time, latching onto Thor’s mouth, his hands roaming everywhere at once as though he couldn’t decide where to touch first.

Thor noticed with some surprise that he could feel Loki’s arousal unmistakably through their clothes, all the more evident as his brother ground against him, seeking friction, his chest heaving as he tried to get enough air while also trying not to let their lips separate for even a second. Thor had to forcibly push his face away with both hands. Loki panted, his face flushed and eyes blown wide. Thor had never seen him like this, not even when they shared Niorun.

“You’re beautiful,” he said without thinking about it. “You’re so beautiful.”

Loki lunged for him again but he turned away.

“I thought you wanted this,” Loki said.

“I do. Norns, I do. I just thought we could move to the bed and be more comfortable...”

He let Loki drag him forward once more, like he was starving and Thor’s mouth was the only food for miles around, greedy and desperate. Realising that they weren’t going to move if he left it up to Loki, he lifted him, feeling the grip of thighs around his waist as Loki kept on undulating against him even as he carried him to the bed and lay him down on the sheets.

If this had been anyone other than Loki, Thor would have been afraid of the feral look in his partner’s eye and the wild way his hands dealt with buckles and laces. Thor struggled to keep pace with how quickly Loki managed to remove his clothes, his fingers fumbling with every fastening of Loki’s attire. There was a whine from Loki when he moved back to shrug out of what remained of his formal wear quickly followed by a moan of satisfaction when Thor pushed him down to remove his breeches, far rougher than he had been on their first night here. Every inch of flesh was a new victory for him, another way in which he’d won because his brother was here, laid bare before him, willingly diving headlong with him into this madness.

“Beautiful,” he repeated, running his hands up Loki’s legs, and pulling him closer.

Their mouths met again, slightly less frantically now that their hands had bare skin to explore. Thor was still standing and Loki crossed his ankles behind him, trying to pull him nearer. Thor groaned into Loki’s mouth as their cocks touched and practically choked when he felt a hand around both their lengths stroking insistently.

But he wanted more, he wanted to do more.

He dropped to his knees without warning, yanking Loki’s legs over his shoulders and glanced up for just a second before he took his brother’s cock into his mouth. He swirled his tongue around tasting the saltiness of Loki’s flesh as a hand ran through his hair.

There was panting and moaning but Thor knew he wasn’t going to be satisfied though this alone, even if Loki returned the favour. He kept up until Loki was positively gasping for breath above him, the muscles of his thighs clenching, but then pulled off with a final hard suck.

“Please...” Loki said, his eyes flashing open from where they’d fallen shut.

“Let me take you. Please, Loki, please, I want...”

“Yes. Yes, there’s... there’s oil in my bag, I’ll get it.”

Thor lay on the bed properly as Loki fished out a small bundle. He unpacked it onto the floor by the side of the bed. Rope, a vial of oil, clean rags...

“Why did you bring such things?”

“I expected my own room. I intended to use some of them. Still do.”

“Why rope?”

“I like to use rope sometimes. Not tonight, though.”

“But another night? You expect a repeat performance?” His heart leapt slightly. He could have this. He could have Loki forever.

“Well,” Loki said, climbing onto the bed finally. “Let’s see if the first is satisfactory before we decide that.”

Thor threw his head back laughing. His desire was still urgent but he felt less concerned now he knew Loki wanted him too. But as Loki dipped his fingers into his oil and reached between his legs, Thor felt his lust uncoil once again, like a serpent in his breast.

“Hurry. I want you, now.”

“Have you had male partners before?”

“Yes. A few.”

“Then you should know how much preparation is required for them to take you...”

Loki grunted as he stretched himself, perhaps working faster than he usually did. One day, Thor swore to himself, he would do this to Loki instead and watch as he fell apart on his fingers.

“I’m ready...” Loki said. “Sit up. Sit up, Thor, I’m going to ride you.”

Thor rested his back against the pillows and Loki once again climbed into his lap.

They surveyed each other for a moment, faces so close, both apparently realising that this was the last border. They were transgressing.

Loki made the final move, reaching back to line Thor’s cock up with his entrance and sinking down upon him, something like a sob escaping from his chest.

“Loki?” Thor asked, concerned.

“I’m fine, it’s... it’s good, it’s so good, I’m just... I’m so full, I need a moment...”

Thor tried not to be proud of having reduced his brother to babbling so early, and kissed him earnestly, hoping a moment was an accurate assessment because all he wanted was to move and never stop. He had never felt like this with any previous partner. It wasn’t physical; it was because he had Loki engulfing him, Loki’s mouth against his and Loki’s cock pressed hard against his stomach.

After far longer than a ‘moment’, Loki began to move, carefully and slowly, rising and falling. Thor gripped his hips, trying to offer support and stop him from slamming down too hard too soon, feeling the sharp burn of Loki’s nails digging into his shoulders.

“Fuck...” Loki breathed. “Fuck, Thor...”

Thor wasn’t sure if it was an instruction or not, but he raised his hips up to meet Loki on the down stroke. Loki yelped, and Thor stopped instantly.

“No, please... Please, more, fuck me...”

Thor started to roll his hips, holding Loki still, watching how his brother’s face moved as he increased his speed and listening to his breathy moans.

“I love you,” he heard his own voice suddenly. “I love you, I love you...”

Loki didn’t reply, maybe too far gone to form words, but he grasped one of Thor’s hands and brought it to his lips. This also allowed him greater movement and he began to meet Thor thrust for thrust. Thor let Loki bring his hand down and took the hint to wrap it around his brother’s cock, trying to coax his orgasm from him. Loki rested his head against Thor’s shoulder, not even trying to disguise his cries now.

“I want you to fall first...” Thor said against his ear.

Loki moaned at that but obediently brought his hand down to join Thor’s, showing him how he liked it.

I’ll learn this, Thor thought; I’ll learn it so well that he won’t ever want to do it himself because I’ll be much better.

“That’s it,” he said when he felt the first pulses of Loki’s climax. “That’s it, brother, come for me.”

His own peak took him by surprise. One minute he felt as though he could keep ravishing Loki for days, the next he was crying out as Loki clenched around him, feeling Loki’s seed hit his stomach at almost the same time he released within his brother’s flesh.

They rested their foreheads against one another’s, breathing deeply for a moment before Loki claimed Thor’s lips again.

“Did we just come together?” he murmured when they broke apart.

“I think so,” Thor said breathlessly.

“Mmm.”

Thor didn’t want Loki to leave him and refused to let him out of the bed, even when he moved from Thor’s lap.

“I’m filthy, let me wash...”

“I like you filthy.”

Loki snorted. “Thor, please, I am covered in sweat, your come is running down my leg...”

“And yours is all over my stomach. We can wash in the morning...”

Loki made a face but indulged him.

“These sheets are going to be ruined,” he said, slipping under them.

“They’re not our sheets,” Thor pointed out, pulling Loki back towards him so they could kiss until they fell asleep.

Chapter Text

Someone was insistently pounding on the door.

Thor opened his eyes and briefly wondered why he was sticky. Then he remembered. And he was glad he’d decided not to wash because now he knew he hadn’t dreamt what they’d done last night. Loki really had kissed him and ridden him to completion.

More knocking. He got up, remembering to at least wrap a towel around his waist and hoping that whoever was there wouldn’t notice the dried smears on his torso. It took him a second to remember that he had locked the door.

Niorun. She took in the scene instantly and smiled knowingly.

“Fresh sheets, my lord,” she said, holding out a pile of clean linen. “We normally change them around this time.”

Thor frowned. “What time is it?”

“It is early afternoon, but fear not. You are not required today. Everyone is to recover from the celebrations. Food will be brought to you in the evening, unless you want to return to the hall?”

All Thor heard was that they could spend all day in bed and no one would question them.

“I believe we would like to recover, thank you,” he said.

Niorun’s smile widened. “Very good, my lord.”

He closed the door again, and turned to take in the sight of Loki, lying on his stomach, one leg hooked outside of the sheets, sleeping through everything around him.

Thor smiled down at him and tried to clear enough of the table one-handed to put the sheets down. Loki had spread all manner of books and papers out on it, like they’d be here a month instead of a week.

One in particular caught his eye. It had his name on it. He glanced furtively back to check that Loki was still asleep before he pulled it free.

“The court of Vanaheim welcomes Thor, Son of Odin, and asks that Asgard be prepared to make answer for we intend to offer him the hand of Hnossa Freyjasdottir, heir to the throne, in marriage.”

He read the message over and over again. This was the engagement proposal. The one that hadn’t arrived. But it was here, Loki had it. Which meant Loki had known about the intention of Freyr and Frejya before they arrived. It meant he had kept it from their parents. Kept it from him.

Maybe he’d done it so that the idea of marrying Thor off would never even enter Odin’s head. But if so, why not inform Thor of it? Why not warn him? Thor felt a deep gnawing sensation in the pit of his stomach. He suspected that he knew exactly why.

He shook Loki awake and held the message in front of his face. It took Loki a second to focus, but then his hand lashed out trying to grab it. And then Thor knew for sure. He shoved Loki onto his back and straddled him to pin him down.

Loki snarled, raking his nails harshly into Thor’s flesh.

“You little... snake! You poisonous little viper!” Thor growled, trying to catch Loki’s arms. “You planned this, you planned the whole thing.”

He remembered the rope from last night and snatched it off the floor where Loki had abandoned it with the vial of oil. Loki struggled desperately against him but Thor had always been the stronger of the two of them and eventually he had Loki’s hands bound tightly at the wrists in front of him.

“Explain yourself,” he demanded, trying to ignore the way Loki’s chest heaved with the exertion of fighting him, and the fact that they were both mostly naked.

“What’s to explain? I saw my chance and I took it.”

“Your chance for what?”

“Oh, I think you know.”

Thor felt sick. He could see how it had happened now. How easily he had played into Loki’s hands.

“You knew what they would ask me, and you planned an excuse. You made it so I would have to pretend to love you as more than a brother. You brought Niorun into our bed to test the waters; you used her to see if you could make me want. You made yourself vulnerable in front of me, so that I would forgive you for it. You knew the idea of joint-monarchy would be in my head while we were here. You knew that if you just gave me a little push you could make me do this, you could... You had the fucking oil in your bag! It’s all politics to you, isn’t it? You made me love you, you made me want you so that I would... And now you have all the power, you can tell Mother and Father at any time how I took advantage of you and I’ll be lucky to just be disowned...”

The words poured out of him, like blood from an open wound, hurting so badly. He felt the sting of tears in his eyes.

“You think that’s why I did it?” Loki said quietly. “You think I want you gone?”

“Why else?”

“Did you miss the part where I said that I only have power when I’m with you?”

“Lies, Loki. You always lie. If I were to die tomorrow, you’d be heir to the throne, and you’d be glad of it.”

“Oh, of course, because my lone rule would be greeted with nothing but joy from our people. The liar, the trickster, you say it yourself; everyone knows that I can’t be trusted. I need you, Thor. I need you to be the trustworthy one. I was trying to make you see that we need each other.”

Thor stared into his face, wishing that he knew how to tell when Loki was lying.

“Then why?” he asked. “Why did you lie to me? Why not just tell me?”

“You think that just asking you to break thousands of years of tradition would have worked? What would you have said if I had just come to you one day with this great idea that we could share the throne, as equals?” He sighed. “It wouldn’t even have to be official, Thor. I just... I think it would be better. For Asgard.”

“For you.”

“For you as well.”

Thor frowned as an additional question suddenly bubbled up in his mind.

“Why did you think you had to sleep with me to convince me? Why couldn’t you just demonstrate how much better we would be together? Why did you... why did you decide you had to seduce me too?”

Loki looked at him incredulously. “I thought it would be fun.”

“You thought it would be fun to play with my emotions and see just how quickly you could make me fall in love with you.”

“No. No, Thor,” Loki brought his bound hands up to touch Thor’s face. “I thought... I thought being with you would be fun. And I was right. Or didn’t you enjoy yourself last night?”

“You made me love you,” Thor said desperately.

“You already loved me. I just gave you permission.”

Thor shook his head because no, that wasn’t true, he’d never so much as had an inappropriate thought about Loki, he’d never looked at him with even the tiniest flicker of lust in his eyes.

“Brother,” Loki said. “You might not have wanted me, not quite like this, but you have loved me better than anyone since before we knew what love was.”

He managed to get his arms around Thor’s neck. “And I loved you. I wanted you and I thought that... maybe one day you would want me too. It was always going to happen, Thor. Please believe me when I say that this, this love between us, is no lie. It’s no game of mine. Please,” he placed the tiniest of kisses against the corner of Thor’s mouth. “Please.”

Thor felt like he was melting. He slumped forward, burying his face in the crook of Loki’s neck. He hadn’t cried since he was a child, but he couldn’t hold back and he knew Loki could feel the tears falling on his skin by the way he nuzzled against Thor’s hair and held on to him as best he could.

“It’s alright,” he said. “You’re here, you’re safe, we’re safe...”

Thor wasn’t even sure what Loki was trying to say they were safe from. Father? Freyr? Marriage? Each other? He knew that last one certainly wasn’t true.

“Father won’t approve,” he said against Loki’s skin.

“I wasn’t planning on telling him what we got up to. It’s hardly treason, so Heimdall can’t tell him. No one needs to know.”

“No, I meant... I meant he won’t approve if we tell him we want to rule side by side, never mind the... the incest. It’s not the Asgardian way.”

“By the time it becomes an issue, Father will no longer be there to tell us not to.”

Thor moved back in shock. “What do you mean?”

“I mean that when you are king, when Father has sadly left us... you can make your own decisions. You can decide who you want advising you.”

Thor still looked uncertain and Loki continued. “I don’t want titles or recognition, Thor. I just want to help you. I want to be with you, by your side, always.”

“Like you said?”

“Yes. Exactly. I wouldn’t lie about something like this, not to you.”

Thor considered his next words carefully.

“If we were Vanir, I would marry you.”

Loki blinked at him. “If we were Vanir, you wouldn’t have a choice. Did you not listen to Freyr? He never wanted to marry his sister, but such is their lot in life, and they find ways around it. So it is with us.”

“So you would not marry me?”

“I can’t marry you, Thor. The laws, the traditions... Here in Vanaheim they were only broken when a woman married herself. It was rather a one-off.”

“Hmm. I found your list of names and asked about that. There were three of them originally. No one knows where the third vanished to.”

“Except they do.”

“What?”

“Oh, it’s difficult to find it, but it’s there. An advisor. A woman, always close to the dual queens, her name never mentioned, but always there. It’s obvious, if you’re looking for it. I suspect that there were some laws too well-established to break, and having three in a marriage may have been one of them. But she’s there. And that is who I want to be for you.”

“My advisor?”

“And more. If you wanted it.”

He punctuated this last sentence by arching his back, making Thor acutely aware once again that they were both still naked. They’d been naked and almost embracing all through their discussion. Loki raised an eyebrow at him and leant up, letting Thor move in for the kiss.

He unhooked Loki’s arms from around him and made to undo the rope.

“No, leave it,” Loki said. “I like being at your mercy.”

“You deviant little...” Thor couldn’t even find a word to finish his thought and Loki laughed delightedly.

Thor would make him pay for that.

He moved down the bed and settled between his brother’s legs, wondering just how long it would take to turn him into an over-stimulated mess. He’d definitely start telling the truth then...

--

By the time food arrived, Loki was positively marinating in sex. Thor had untied his hands only to tie them again behind his back, limiting Loki’s movements even further. He wished there was a way to attach him to the headboard of the bed, but the solid wood prevented that.

It was new and exciting. Thor hardly ever had partners who stayed for a second round, let alone more than that. In retrospect, probably because they were reluctant to let Asgard’s crown prince know when he wasn’t satisfying them properly.

Loki had no such qualms. He praised what he liked, quickly put a stop to what he didn’t and told Thor exactly what to do. And Thor liked it. He liked having Loki bound before him yet still entirely in control. And anything that had Loki begging and crying out his name and writhing against the sheets was something he planned to practise and perfect.

He was holding Loki after a particularly energetic session where he’d almost managed to bend his brother in two, stroking his hair and letting them both get their breath back, when he heard the knock. He pulled his tunic on, knowing the room smelt unmistakably of their activities, and opened the door as little as possible to accept the tray.

Niorun didn’t seem surprised to see him as he was, face still a little flushed and hair tangled, red teeth marks visible where Loki had bitten his neck at one point, but she stopped him before he managed to close the door.

“I would be careful,” she said quietly. “Some of the other guests are complaining about the noise.”

She raised her eyebrows pointedly and left.

Thor fed Loki from his hands, still unwilling to untie him. Loki sucked shamelessly on his fingers every few mouthfuls and tilted his head back when accepting his share of the wine so Thor was forced to see the way his throat moved as he swallowed.

“We’re being told off for being too loud,” Thor said after a while.

“Hmm. Maybe you should fix that.”

“How?”

“The rags in my bag. Not just for cleaning up afterwards. They’re also long enough that you can use them to force me to be quiet.”

Thor imagined it, a thick wad of cloth in Loki’s mouth, wet with his saliva, that silver tongue trapped and the moans of his throat muffled.

“Or you could use something else...” Loki trailed off but Thor took his meaning.

He’d satisfied Loki a few times with his mouth as the day had worn on, usually while waiting for his own refraction time to elapse. But he hadn’t expected the same treatment. Loki grinned at the way his mouth had dropped open.

“I’ll need my hands though. I want to be able to push you away if you start to choke me.”

“I wouldn’t!”

“You’ve not experienced what I’m offering you yet. You wouldn’t be the first to lose himself in it.”

Thor was suddenly jealous of all Loki’s previous lovers. They couldn’t possibly know what a creature they had in their beds. They couldn’t possibly appreciate this the way he could.

“Prove it,” he said, pulling the rope from around Loki’s wrists. “Show me what you can do.”

Loki flexed his arms, slight pops emanating from his shoulders, and crawled backwards down the bed. He pushed Thor’s legs apart and lay down between them, his own legs bent at the knee and crossed at the ankles, feet in the air. He looked so casual about it, lying and regarding Thor’s cock with what felt like a critical eye before taking the head into his mouth. Thor had been flaccid while they ate and the feeling of growing hard in Loki’s mouth was something very new to him.

Loki made a pleased noise at his responsiveness and began running his tongue up Thor’s length, no pressure, his breath hot and relentless. He started to make patterns, zigzags and spirals, sometimes tracing veins and sometimes plotting his own path.

All the while, he kept his eyes trained on Thor’s. The sinuous motion of his head combined with the way his gaze remained steady was hypnotic and Thor was lulled into a state of hazy pleasure when Loki suddenly decided to lean forward and take his cock into his throat without warning.

Thor only just managed to resist the urge to thrust upwards, Loki’s hands already pushing down against his thighs as though fearing just such an action.

“Fuck, Loki... Fuck...” His mind didn’t seem capable of more precise thought.

He made a conscious effort to calm down. Loki was drawing this out for some reason, though Thor knew from experience that it was tiring to the jaw. He didn’t even question when Loki slipped one of his fingers into his mouth alongside Thor’s cock. It was a new sensation and Thor was too far gone to notice anything strange.

He yelped when that same saliva-wet finger probed at his entrance though. Loki hummed around his cock as though to distract him and insistently worked his finger inside. The intrusion was bizarre; Thor had never had this done to him before. Loki shifted his wrist as though searching for something and touched a spot inside which had Thor sitting up with a jerk.

Loki choked slightly at the sudden movement but Thor couldn’t let him stop, not now he was so close, and he brought a hand down to keep Loki in place. He expected protest at this, but Loki seemed to be chuckling as he started to bob his head more rapidly, his tongue massaging Thor’s cock and that finger continuing to press and rub against whatever magical point he’d managed to find.

Thor cried out as he came, moaned to see Loki pull off and swallow everything. He’d tried to do that but hadn’t been very good at it. He’d coughed the first time and ended up getting some in his hair. He dragged Loki up the bed and locked his arms around him, panting.

“You have to teach me that,” he said once his brain started working again. “I want to do that to you. For you.”

“It takes practise,” Loki said. “But don’t worry. I’m going to teach you everything. For a start, I don’t believe you’ve ever let another man take you.”

“No. No, I haven’t. I thought it would hurt.”

“It does a little to begin with, if you are not careful. But I would be very, very careful with you. And if I can make you feel like that with one little finger, well... imagine what my cock could do.”

Thor nodded eagerly. He wanted more of that feeling.

“Not tonight though,” Loki said, ignoring his evident disappointment. “We have to travel tomorrow and I’d hate for you to be uncomfortable.”

“But we will... at home, we’ll continue this? Despite the risks?”

Loki’s eyes sparkled with mischief. “I intend to, yes. Risk can be arousing. I intend to keep you a secret, something only I know about. No one else can know how much the mighty Thor aches and pleads and begs for it.”

“Have care, brother. Otherwise I might be tempted to think about how no one else knows how readily you spread your legs and your lips for me.”

Loki ran his tongue over his upper teeth. Thor couldn’t help but follow the motion.

“Perhaps we ought to admit that Asgard was right,” Loki said.

“In what way?”

“We do carry burning incestuous lust for one another.”

Thor laughed. “I don’t think Asgard knows the half of it.”

Chapter Text

Thor didn’t want to get out of bed the next morning. Especially not at the early hour Loki nudged him at.

“Get up, Thor. Long day of travelling ahead of us.”

“Not so long, we can stay in bed a while longer...”

“If you think for one second I am going back to Asgard without having a proper bath first, you are very wrong. I smell, you smell, we both smell of each other. Get up. Now.”

Thor grumbled as Loki rinsed their skin in the basin still sitting in the dressing room, just getting the worst of the evidence off so they wouldn’t cause a scandal when they walked through the palace to the proper bath house. Loki would have preferred to have several baths but only two were prepared so he decided one was for skin and the other for hair.

Thor tried valiantly to keep himself under control, but the second Loki asked him to rinse his hair again, the memories of a few days ago rose up in his head. Loki didn’t even try to shield his eyes this time, just closed them, trusting Thor to take care of him. He was also slightly more vocal in his appreciation of Thor’s ministrations, the way his fingers combed through his hair and gently caressed his scalp, little gasps and sighs escaping his lips.

“I know what you’re doing, Loki,” Thor said, trying to sound irritated. “Trying to get me all... riled up.”

“Then surely you must know what I’m planning to do to you...”

Sure enough, Loki dealt with Thor’s arousal once his hair was clean and then motioned for them to change places.

“Are you expecting the same treatment?” Thor asked, pleasantly warm after his climax.

“I think it’s only fair,” Loki said, working out a particularly harsh tangle. “And Thor? Make sure you swallow this time. If you get any in your hair after I’ve so carefully washed it for you, I’ll make you leave it there until we get home.”

As if he didn’t have incentive enough.

--

The Royal family seemed pleased to be rid of them. When Thor considered the insult his refusal had been and the trouble they’d caused since, he couldn’t be surprised. And he had a feeling that in the near future, Hnossa would be refusing to choose a co-ruler and mentioning the helpful advice she’d received from the princes of Asgard on breaking tradition... He hoped it would be some time before they were expected back.

The carriage ride must have taken just as long as it had on the way there, but it didn’t feel that way to Thor. Not with Loki sitting so close to him and occasionally running his hand up his thigh, pretending to be watching the landscape pass.

Loki refused to kiss him though.

“I would rather not have to face Mother and Father with blatant stubble-rash on my face. Especially not when it should have been several hours since I could have last been kissing anyone with stubble.”

Thor had to concede that he was right. “I should start shaving more often.”

“Or grow it out. But then again sometimes I like a little stubble rash...”

Thor kissed his hair instead, inhaling the scent of the perfumed soap they’d used that morning, and decided he would get a little sleep. He was tired from the day before and he didn’t imagine he’d get much sleep tonight either. He hoped not anyway.

Loki seemed to realise his idea and snuggled into his side, using his chest as a pillow.

Thor struggled to remember why he’d thought this was wrong.

--

The carriage driver seemed to be in an understandable hurry to get home, and their bags were already unloaded and waiting for them. They stumbled slightly as they landed back in Asgard; luggage always made the Bifrost trip feel strange.

Heimdall regarded them dispassionately and Thor’s blood ran cold for a moment. Heimdall knew. Heimdall had seen them. But he would say nothing; surely, he would keep their secret, as he kept the secrets of all in the realm outside of treason.

“Welcome home,” he said after an overlong pause. “I trust you are not too sore?”

“What?” Thor blurted.

“From travelling. The road from Vanaheim can be most rough.”

Thor could practically see the knowledge in his eyes and it made him feel sick. He looked at Loki, who was staring up at the gate-keeper, the smallest degree of challenge in his face.

“Your father wants to see you,” Heimdall continued. “Very urgently.”

And that had Thor almost reeling. Loki tugged on his arm.

“It wouldn’t do to keep Father waiting,” he said, practically dragging Thor away.

“He knows!” Thor hissed as soon as they were out of earshot.

“Heimdall sees everything, of course he knows.”

“But he’s told Father. Why else would he want to see us so quickly?”

“Thor, please calm down. Surely if Father had any indication of what we’d been doing, he’d have been here to yell at us the second we landed.”

“Perhaps... perhaps you’re right.”

They walked together, Loki brazen and unafraid, Thor trying desperately to hide his nerves. They were both about to be disinherited, surely. Cast out and left to fend for themselves. Everyone would know how Asgard’s princes had behaved, being so perverse as to desire each other. Mother would die of shame.

Odin sat in the throne room, waiting for them.

“So,” he said. “You’re back.”

There wasn’t really a response to that so Thor didn’t attempt one.

“Do you have any idea of the trouble you’re in?”

And here it came. They were doomed for sure. Odin stood up in his anger.

“We received word this morning that you behaved in the most appalling manner. Giggling during ceremonies. Challenging Freyr at dinner. Offering the crown princess advice that you knew went against her parents’ express wishes. And that’s before we get to the truly shameful news I have received.”

Thor braced himself.

“I expect this kind of thing from Thor, but Loki? I expect you to at least try to be subtle.”

Wait, what?

“Father, I’m sure we don’t know what you’re talking about.” Loki said.

“I think you do. The message clearly states that the bedding in the princes’ chambers was completely destroyed and that the noise of... of salacious activities disturbed other guests.”

Thor almost laughed. ‘The princes’ chambers’. Odin assumed they’d been housed separately, that they had both taken strangers to their beds. He was so far from the truth. Thor didn’t realise that a smile of relief had spread across his features.

“Do you find this funny, Thor?”

“No, Father. No, I am deeply sorry. We are sorry.”

“I should hope so. Your Mother would be ashamed of you.”

“Then you... you have not told her?”

“Certainly not. She doesn’t need to know what depraved creatures her sons have become. I thought we were beyond such punishments, but apparently not; you will spend the rest of the day in your rooms. Maybe once you’ve had time to think about your actions and how they reflect Asgard, you will at least act like civilised adults. I’ll have food sent up to you. Leave.”

Thor practically stumbled over his own feet.

“We got away with it” he said excitedly in the corridor.

“Of course we did. But keep your voice down.”

Thor suddenly realised that if he was banished to his own room, he was to be kept away from Loki.

“I know what you’re thinking, Thor. You really need to work on keeping your emotions away from your face. Don’t worry. I’ll be there.”

“How?”

“Leave that to me, you insatiable wretch. Leave everything to me.”

--

Thor leapt to his feet when he heard a knock at his door a few hours of boredom later. He’d been trying to read but hadn’t got very far; his mind kept straying. His face fell when he opened it to find a servant holding a tray of food. He took it inside, grateful to have something to devour. He hadn’t realised how hungry he was.

When a second knock came, he expected the servant returning to remove his empty dishes and dutifully shuffled towards the door.

“Don’t look so glum, Thor. I thought you’d be happy to see me.”

“Loki!”

Thor dragged him into the room, not caring for the way his goblet tipped over in his haste to lay the tray down outside his door to be collected.

“You can’t be here,” he said hurriedly. “You... how did you get away?”

“There are strict instructions not to disturb me, from Mother. They’ll think I’m in one of my moods again and steer clear. As far as everyone else is concerned, I’m still in my own room, petulantly complaining about how unfair this punishment is. Because it was entirely your fault, really. I behaved impeccably.”

Thor was sure there were several lies and insults he could be picking up on there but really only one word stood out to him.

“Mother?”

“Yes, of course Mother. She came to see me, asked me if the message was accurate.”

“Wait, the message? But Mother never saw the message.”

Loki scoffed. “Oh, Thor. Who do you think I learned how to subtly acquire information from? How did you think the engagement proposal ended up in my possession?”

Thor remembered Loki’s words to Freyr and Freyja: ‘One never knows if correspondence is being intercepted.’

“You... you stole it. It was addressed to me.”

“I read everything that’s addressed to you. In the same way Mother reads everything addressed to Father. Someone has to look out for you.”

Thor really wasn’t sure how he felt about that, but Loki was now insistently pushing him backwards towards the bed and kissing his neck and it was difficult to concentrate when that was happening.

He briefly registered that he’d given Loki yet another form of power over him.

And then his back hit the mattress and Loki was slipping out of the light robe he’d worn to walk along the short corridor that separated them. Thor suddenly felt deeply overdressed and started practically ripping his way out of his clothes.

“I think we need to make this quick,” Loki said.

Thor pouted at him.

“No, Thor, I’m not even meant to be here and we’re in enough trouble as it is. We have the rest of our lives to enjoy each other. This just isn’t the time. Now get out of those clothes immediately.”

Thor didn’t want fast. He wanted slow and careful and explorative. But Loki was flopping down on the bed and inviting him to roll over on top of him. He was just barely out of his clothes, but he couldn’t wait, he needed Loki under him again. His breeches tangled around his ankles and he made no attempt to get rid of them fully, reaching down between their bodies to prepare his brother. He started when he felt oil already there and looked up at Loki questioningly.

“I’m ready. Like I said, no time to lose,” Loki said. “Now get on with it.”

Thor knelt on the bed to line himself up and congratulated himself on his care as he managed to coax a needy whine from Loki. He pushed in slowly, savouring what he could, Loki pulling him closer with his legs and knotting fingers through his hair to kiss him as he began thrusting.

He let Loki pull his head roughly to the side, expecting kisses or bites against his neck, but Loki just panted against his ear for a moment. Then he began to speak, his voice low and secretive.

“I’ve been thinking about you all day while I’ve been by myself. Thinking about all the different things we’re going to get to do together. If we had more time today, I was thinking of having our positions reversed. I’d have opened you up ever so slowly, one knuckle at a time, feeling you get all loose and stretched for me, and then I’d have lain you on your back so I could see your face as I slid into you and you felt for the first time how it is to have someone move inside you. And I would take you deep and slow and make you feel every second of it.”

Thor groaned. He wanted that. He wished they had time. He wished they had the freedom to do this without fear of discovery.

“There’s one tiny problem here, Thor,” Loki half-whispered. “You’re fucking me the way I would fuck you, all gentle and careful because I know you’re new to it. I am not new to this. I want you to make me forget that.”

“What do you mean?”

“I want you to fuck me so hard that I forget there was ever anyone but you. Ruin all the other times for me. Make me remember you as the best I ever had.”

Thor slammed his hips harder, once, and Loki cried out at it. “You’ll be too loud, Loki. Someone will hear us.”

“Then turn me over and let me muffle my screams with the pillows.”

Thor didn’t really want to pull out, but this was what Loki wanted and Loki knew best. He did take the time to get completely out of his clothes though before kneeling up behind Loki and running a hand up his leg.

“Did you not understand ‘quick’? We can have foreplay some other time. I’m ready, you’re ready, get going.”

Thor shoved into him violently, making Loki fall forwards onto his hands. Thor lent over him, trying to get as close to his ear as possible.

“One day I will gag you, Loki. I’ll take my time then, not caring what noises you try to make. But if this is what you want then I expect I don’t have a choice about giving it to you.”

“Please...”

That was all the permission Thor needed. He’d always been worried about hurting his partners, but that worry seemed to have vanished along with any uncertainty about fucking his own brother. Loki let out choked little cries as Thor gripped his hips and pounded into him. If he had learned one thing this week though, it was not to chase his own pleasure without reciprocating and he felt Loki arch against him as he reached around to grasp his leaking cock.

This was primal, and although Thor was coming to terms with the fact that he had spent many years unknowingly being an inattentive lover, he would never have dared to do this with anyone else. But he was learning fast: he could be rough and caring at the same time.

He wasn’t exactly surprised when he came first, trying to swallow his shout. He pumped Loki relentlessly, keeping his softening cock deep within his brother to feel the clenching of inner muscles as simultaneously he felt unmistakable hot liquid spattering against his fingers.

He crawled up the bed and tipped Loki onto his back, kissing the gasps from his lips.

“Exactly like that,” Loki said. “Well done.”

Thor laughed at the faint praise.

They lay together for only a few minutes before Loki stood up and wrapped his robe around him. Thor wanted him to stay, but knew he couldn’t ask that. Not tonight. If they fell asleep there would be no hope of them getting out of bed until mid-morning the next day, at the earliest, and someone would notice.

“Will we always be like this?” he asked before Loki reached the door.

“Like what?”

“Mad for each other?”

Loki regarded him with something close to fondness in his eyes. “I hope so. I hope you never stop wanting me, now that you’ve started. But the initial passion will fade, I think.”

“I don’t want it to.”

“It must. Otherwise we’ll never get anything done.”

“It doesn’t ‘do’ to not get things done.”

Loki sighed. “There are other things in life than this. There will be other things. You’ll recover from this bout of uncontrollable desire in a few days and we’ll start to have a routine of meeting when we know we’ll be safe and it will become normal to you.”

Thor shook his head desperately. “This won’t ever be normal.”

“Familiar then.”

“I like the sound of familiar.”

He did. It sounded like family. Loki would always be his family, no matter what passed between them.

Loki unexpectedly moved back across the room and planted a kiss against his lips.

“Goodnight, Thor. And thank you.”

“What for?”

“For tonight. This week. The future.” Loki shrugged. “Whatever you want to claim credit for.”

He left and Thor stretched out on the sheets, inhaling Loki’s scent where it lingered on the pillow.

Credit. All he really wanted was credit for keeping Loki safe and happy forever.

He wondered if this was how his parents felt about each other.

He wondered if Loki felt the same way about him.

He thought so, maybe. Hoped so, anyway.

He had the next few millennia to find out.