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Walk Beside Me

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Loki disliked everything about the trudge home from battle. Even when they were unrelentingly victorious, as they had been today, she still loathed the smell of blood and sweat that lingered in the air around them. She hated the tuneless victory cries of Sif and the Warriors Three as they charged ahead back to Asgard, slapping her playfully on the shoulder as they went past to the head of the procession. But most of all, she was sick of having the same conversations over and over with the Goddess of Thunder.

“I do not know why you insist you cannot also carry a sword, in addition to your,” Thor paused to wave a hand ungracefully in Loki’s direction, “magic.”

Thor’s shoulder-length blonde hair hung loosely, like a disheveled halo around her face, as she walked along beside Loki at a jaunty pace. Before the battle, Thor's heavy armor had shone brightly, but was now dulled with the film of dust from the road that now covered it. She held Mjolnir proudly, as always, and held her head high. She was the perfect picture of the glorious warrior-princess that was hailed throughout Asgard as the chosen future Queen.

Loki sometimes felt drab next to her adopted sister, and now was no exception. Loki wore her longer, mid-waist, dark hair in a sensible ponytail when they went to battle, and at court she wore it in carefully curled ringlets that Thor had often called vain. Thor had no desires to dress up for the royal court, and even though Loki liked to wear the finest fabrics and richly embroidered dresses, whenever Thor entered the room in simple garb, or her armor, all eyes were immediately upon her.

Not that Loki was jealous, or anything.

“What use would a sword be to me? It would merely be cumbersome, and hamper my movements.” Loki hoped that the sword conversation would go quickly, not that it was any help if it did. When Thor was done berating her lack of weaponry, she would likely move on to implore Loki to wear armor, as opposed to the lightweight but practical and thick, dark cloth that comprised her battle outfit. Loki needed more freedom in movement, and without the larger muscles that Thor could easily boast of, armor only served to slow Loki down. She had explained this to Thor many times, and as many times as Thor had relinquished the point, she had only brought it up again the next time they went to battle.

“If you would give up your strange sensibilities and train with one, then I doubt you would find a sword ‘cumbersome,’ dear.”

Loki was quickly becoming exasperated. Pet names were another thing that Thor loved to use, and Loki didn’t. Of course, she could always—with a mere snap of her fingers, no less—teleport back to Asgard alone, and leave Thor to tromp her way home through the mud with the rest of the warriors.

She had, in fact, done that before. But she found that it had not been worth Thor’s anger. Thor had been furious with her, literally breaking down her bedroom door and demanding to know what she had done to offend Loki. Loki hadn't even been amused by the fact that Thor somehow felt that breaking down doors was a way to get back into someone's good graces.

So Loki sighed and reached at all the willpower she had within her to stay and reassure Thor once more that she did not need a sword. “Why must you continue this argument every time we return home from battle?” Loki asked, speaking her mind. “I faired perfectly well with my magic, did I not?”

“You were nearly struck down today, were it not for my hand, or do you not recall?”

Loki did remember the enemy that had gotten too close for comfort. Thor had taken the warrior down with a single blow from her hammer before Loki had received even a scratch from the unfriendly blade. Still, there had been many times, in Loki’s recollection, that the opposite had been true as well. She had used her magic to deflect enemy attacks from Thor’s pretty, golden head more times than she could count.

“And what of the times when I have saved you?” Loki inquired.

Thor remained stubbornly silent and twirled Mjolnir casually in her hand as though distracted.

“Ah. So I see. You are worried about me, then, is that it? You don’t think I can take care of myself?” Loki was beginning to become more invested in the argument. Thor could think however she wanted about Loki’s style of fighting, but Loki could not bear it if Thor thought of her as helpless in any way.

“Loki...” Thor’s tone took on the edge it did when Loki was winning an argument.

“No, say what you are thinking! Do you think I am in need of your protection, any more than you have need of mine? Do you wish I was more like you, or Sif, so you would not have to worry so?” In the heat of making her accusations, Loki stopped dead in her tracks and glared at her with green eyes that had often been rumored in Asgard to unnerve men and women alike.

Thor stopped just as suddenly, with the rest of the warriors behind them in their party scattering around them without a word, as though Thor was an unmovable boulder. Thor’s voice became uncharacteristically quiet, the words meant only for Loki to hear. “I would still worry over you, even if you carried a sword. Even if you were protected by a wall of archers, I would still worry when you walk into battle with us.”

Despite the earnestness of Thor’s confession, Loki was not ready to concede. “I can take care of myself. What do I have to do to prove to you—to prove to everyone, that I am not weak?”

“Oh, Loki. That is not what I think.”

“Then why do you so often treat me as though I were made of glass?”

At that, Thor’s hand went around Loki’s thinner wrist, as though weighing it up against Loki’s words. Loki accepted the touch for all of two seconds before turning her wrist freezing cold and causing Thor to snap her hand back in alarm.

“Loki!”

“Yes?” Loki smiled innocently up at her.

“You...you complete brat. You are not made of glass, but sometimes I wonder if you are not made of ice.”

Loki stared at Thor then, shocked that she had actually spoke of her heritage in such a way. “Why—what have I said to you, that you should feel the need to be so cruel?”

“Loki?” Thor sounded surprisingly baffled.

“I get it, Thor,” Loki ground out through clenched teeth. “We are not true sisters, and you find my manner of fighting repulsive. Leave me now, before I decide to turn you into a frog, and then we’ll see who draws more glances from the lords and ladies at court.”

“Loki—I didn’t—I didn’t mean it like that.”

“Oh? Tell me then, how did you mean to insult me?” Loki drew up to her full height to look Thor straight in the eyes. Loki tended to hunch in on herself, unconsciously attempting to disguise anything ‘giant’ in herself, but in reality was just millimeters from Thor’s respectable Asgardian height.

“I meant no insult—I only meant that sometimes it is hard to reach you. You push me away, and you can be so cold—like ice.”

“Well,” Loki said, allowing herself to relax a bit, “that’s hardly any better.”

There was a moment of silence then, in which Loki was unwilling to offer any further commentary on her own inner workings, and in which Thor was concentrating on thinking about whatever it is that usually went on in her head. It probably involved mead and roast pork. They hadn’t eaten since before the battle, and Thor didn’t like to go long without sustenance.

“Would you really turn me into a frog, Loki?” Thor asked, furrowing her brow and looking concerned. Loki nearly giggled at Thor being fixated on that one little detail, of all things.

“Maybe, if only to see the look on Fandral’s face. Just think of it--Asgard’s golden princess, all slimy and green.”

Thor made a face, and Loki could only assume that she was trying to picture it in her mind. “I would not be pleased. And do not call me that,”

“Asgard’s golden priiiincess,” Loki said in a sing-song voice, glad to be back on the proper side of things. She should be the one to do the teasing. Thor’s job was to act infuriated and look pretty while doing it, Loki thought smugly.

Thor frowned deeper. Then, looking around her to find that they were standing all alone in the dirt road, the rest of the warriors undoubtedly making a beeline for the post-bloodshed feast, Thor grinned almost wickedly.

“Thor, what--?”

And then suddenly Thor had Loki pinned to the ground, got her hands up under Loki’s tunic, and began tickling.

“Stop! Thor, really, now—gahhh!”

Thor didn’t stop until Loki had giggled so hard her eyes were leaking and she was practically breathless. As Loki began to get her breath back, Thor rolled off of her and laid next to her in the dirt.

“You—you—scoundrel,” Loki complained, pouting her most ridiculous pout in retaliation (Thor always felt guilty when she did that sort of thing). “And if I wasn’t covered in dirt before, now I’m positively filthy.”

“It will all come out in the wash,” Thor said, still grinning and reclining in a pose that was far too comfortable-looking for someone lying in a dirt road, with one foot in a mud puddle.

“Of course, I know you don’t care about going around looking like the Goddess of Bad Taste in Clothing, but some of us have standards—and why are you still smiling at me like that?”

“You look good. In the sunshine, I mean.”

“I look like a mess,” Loki corrected.

“You look alive. When you’re all tucked away with your books and spells, all prim and proper, I feel like I barely recognize you.”

“So, what—you fancy me drenched in sweat and smudged with dirt?”

“And sunshine,” Thor added. “Although I always fancy you, even when you’re hiding away with your books, growing ever paler by the day.”

“Do not toy with me, Thor,” Loki growled, hoisting herself up on her elbows to glare at her once more. “We both know that you are no good with words.”

“Then let me show you,” Thor murmured, moving forward and startling Loki by catching her lips in a kiss. It was warm and lovely, and somehow impossibly kind, and Loki only pulled away once she remembered that they both reeked of battle and she really would prefer to do things like this when she wasn’t filthy and lying in a road where anyone might happen upon them.

“I suppose this isn’t just some passing notion you’ve thought up on the spot?” Loki asked as they both stood back up and stared at their feet awkwardly.

“Um, no.”

“How long have you wanted to do that?” Loki asked, because she was good at gathering data for analyzing later. And she was curious. And, well...she had wanted to do the same for far longer than she could remember.

“A while,” Thor said vaguely. She picked up her hammer and threw it up in the air and caught it a few times. Only Thor would have nervous tics that were so unabashedly flashy.

“Fandral will be crushed,” Loki said gleefully.

“Hmmm...what?”

“I mean...only if...what do you intend by...?” Loki trailed off and gave Thor a couple meaningful eyebrow quirks.

“Well, that is up to you, dear. I would have you in my bed, as well as by my side—but I fear that you cannot want the same?” Thor looked so hopeful in that moment; Loki wished she could preserve it forever in a work of art. Something simple, and tasteful, that she could hang in her bedroom and gloat about. But why settle for a likeness, when she could soon have the real woman between her bed sheets?

“The entire royal court is going to have a collective heart attack,” Loki mused, taking Thor’s arm in hers.

“Does that mean...?”

“Come along, Thor. Let us return. We have so much to talk about.”