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A victory always needs to be celebrated. There is always a banquet, a feast of some kind. Thor is always boasting, laughing with the woman at his side, whether it be Sif or a maiden actually interested in his boasting. Fandral loves it, the chaos of a two dozen hands grabbing food from a dozen bowls and dishes. He loves the shouting and the challenges, that Volstagg will have a leg of some such in one hand while he challenges Thor to a quest and Thor will answer, someone placing bets on the winner.

He also loves that in the chaos, no one much notices that Loki slides onto the bench beside him, half turned away because the Loki dislikes the din. He picks at the dishes around them until his own plate is full and does not smile at the jokes others tell. But he is turned in such a way that his ankle rests against Fandral’s.

This is incredibly new still, the casual touches that come from Loki. Fandral is an experienced flirt. He is used to having a hand on his shoulder or across his chest. He doesn’t want to say that it’s different because Loki is a man, same as him, but because now the touches don’t feel like enough. Before, there would be a hand on his shoulder and it would be nothing. Now Loki’s ankle is against his and lightly moving, and it feels like something that should be done in private, behind a locked chamber door.

“You decided to join us, then?” Hogun says, and it takes Fandral a moment to realize that he is talking to Loki.

Loki leans across Fandral, his elbow brushing Fandral’s chest, their thighs pressed together. “I’m sorry?” he asks, head turned so he may listen. Fandral could bend down and kiss the back of Loki’s neck, and he has to turn away so he does not.

Hogun repeats himself, and Loki is slow to pull away. They are before the entire court; Odin and Frigga are both less than five seats from them, and yet Loki’s touch lingers for too long.

“What are you doing?” Fandral asks, mouth against his cup of ale so no one can see.

Loki doesn’t respond. He pulls away and lets Nerthus pull him into a conversation. His thigh is still pressed very tight to Fandral’s, and if it weren’t for the spread of both their cloaks, someone could see.

Fandral sets his ale down and looks at Loki’s hand, where it rests against his leg. He draws it into his own lap, lacing their fingers together. His stomach tenses, because he is beside Hogun and Volstagg. Anyone could see this one indulgence. It was not unheard of, to have attraction to a member of the same sex. It was not unheard of, but Loki was a prince of Asgard.

It could be a scandal, and they both know it. But Loki’s fingers tighten in his, and he lets out a breath, just the hint of a smirk on the corner of his lips. If there were fewer eyes, perhaps just Sif, Volstagg, and Hogun, Fandral thinks that he would draw Loki’s hand to his mouth and press a kiss to his gauntlet, like he would a maiden he meant to court.

“Do not,” Loki whispers, and they are so close, too close, and someone will notice. Fandral cannot breathe for how this feels. He cannot hide what this means, nor can he be before most of his friends and feel this exposed and open; he stands abruptly.

“I must go,” he says, and he uses his cloak to hide his hands, both hands around Loki’s, and he wants everything to be visible then.

Loki does not let him go, not immediately, and he stares at Fandral. Fandral feels the heat rise in his face, and he has not blushed like this in centuries. He glances around the room, and he can tell Sif sees them, sees how close their bodies are, and his entire body is hot with the shame of her knowing, the joy of her seeing this. It is too complicated and too difficult, and he slides his hands away from Loki’s cool one.

He leaves the banquet hall then and knows at least two sets of eyes are following him.