It was a well-known fact that on occasion, when he was not out causing mischief, Prince Loki could be found secreted away in the confines of his chamber: inclined to days of peace and privacy. Today was one of those days.
Reclined upon the numerous lavish pillows piled upon his bed, the trickster lay with books of stories and spells scattered around him, one of the many great tomes opened upon his lap as he devoured them one after the other.
But even while his brow furrowed determinedly, he began to fidget and squint at the pages, his fingers drumming erratically against the hard, worn-out cover. Finally, after several minutes of battling blurring words and a wandering focus, he shut the book with an exasperated sigh, resigning himself to a much needed break.
Loki let his head fall back as he draped himself across the bed, giving a soft groan as various joints clicked in protest, and used his thumb and forefinger to idly rub his weary eyes. He lay in silence, waiting for his strained eyes to cease their throbbing behind his lids. But he supposed their condition was understandable, given that had been reading solidly since he had managed to escape breakfast earlier that morning. If he had to make a guess, he would say it was now just breeching evening.
He exhaled heavily, listening to the comfortable silence of his room which had kept him company for the many hours of his seclusion.
But his brow creased, and the lazy kneading motion of his finger and thumb against his eyelids faltered. Loki fell completely still for several heartbeats, listening and waiting like a mouse who'd sensed the presence of a stalking cat.
He rose sharply into a sitting position, ears pricked for the soft sound which had first caught his attention. It was not loud, quite the opposite, nor was it unpleasant, but gentle and rhythmic. It was also a very curious but strangely nostalgic noise.
Finding this a suitable distraction from his studies the young trickster rose from the crumpled confines of his bed and left the room in search of the sound.
Loki traversed the corridors with a swift, purposeful stride, eyes set ahead as he weaved through the palace he knew as well as his very first spell book. The splendour of the artfully curved marble pillars and the many golden arches and spirals of the decor did not distract his eye, for he was intently stalking by ear.
The soft drumming noise, for it sounded like the march of a thousand distant soldiers, steadily grew louder as Loki emerged from the depths of the palace to the more public corridors. He took the grand staircase down to the ground floor and after several more passages, he turned a final corner.
The sudden cool breeze of Asgard kissed his warm cheeks and soothed his mildly aching eyes; a refreshing change from the stifling warmth of his room.
His boots moved quietly over the flagstone flooring of the corridor. However this particular hallway differed from the last Loki had passed through, and the many identical passages before that. The left wall was missing and was instead replaced by a short stone balustrade and the occasional supporting stone column which rose and curved gracefully up to the ceiling.
The sheltered balcony allowed Loki a view of the opulent palace gardens, thriving with exotic and brightly coloured flora and the occasional flighty critter. But what surprised him the most as he meandered more slowly down the corridor, his fingers gently brushing the smooth stone of the banister, was the rain.
It was not dark outside, and the clouds were not particularly stormy looking, instead tinged a blue-toned silver with soft white edges. A soft mist, barely visible but adding to the peaceful summer-rain atmosphere nonetheless, hung inches above the ground, and it was by no means cold.
In all, it was a beautiful summer shower, the droplets falling thickly, fat and heavy. But as Loki stuck out a pale hand the droplets connected with his flesh with no real force, instead they were more reminiscent of a kitten's paw batting against his palm.
Loki stopped when he came to a gap in the balustrade, the opening framed by two large pillars. His green eyes observed the wet stone steps before him which descended into the garden, and could not resist glancing down either end of the corridor to ensure he was alone.
After a moment's hesitation in which he assured himself of his privacy, Loki gave in to his own childish desire and left the shelter of the hallway to descend the steps, stopping half-way down. The rain soon came down upon him, rolling down his narrow features, dripping from the tip of his nose and dampening his dark hair.
It was a soothing sensation, feeling the cool moisture trickle down his temple and cling to his lashes, and he felt the tension from his body oozing away with each gentle strike of rain.
It amused him as he stood silent and solitary in the shower that he had not figured out the cause of the sound sooner. But then again, when he had glimpsed the sky that morning at breakfast it had been an affluent azure blue without a single cloud in sight; a sky that had soundly promised a truly splendid summer day.
He closed his eyes contentedly as he turned his face to the sky and smoothed all expression from his features, the water feeling like massaging fingertips against his exposed skin. He sighed again, but this time all exasperation and strain had fled and it was instead one of quiet appreciation.
Loki wasn't sure how long he stood unmoving in the rain, head tilted back to the heavens, but he was lucid enough in his tranquillity to sense someone's approach. He did not immediately open his eyes when he heard the advancing footsteps, or even when he felt the new presence linger nearby.
He needn't have looked to see who had joined him anyway, for soon enough the jovial voice of Thor, warmed with fondness, called out to him.
"Good evening, Thor" Loki returned, indulging his elder brother by turning his head a fraction and parting a single green eye to view his new companion. The blond remained in the shelter of the balcony, but he leant on the wet stone of the balustrade that encircled the corridor, watching Loki with a smile and doting eyes.
Loki's stare, previously impartial to Thor's presence, softened at the obvious affection in the elder male's gaze and he felt his usual stoicism waver.
"It is good to see you out of your chamber, Loki. I was afraid you had wasted away amongst your books and I was none the wiser" Thor joked lightly.
Loki 'hmmed' in response. "I was taking a break, and then I heard the rain and decided to take a walk" he explained, bending the truth only slightly. But Thor seemed quite content with the given answer.
Silence reigned for a minute or so after, until Loki could not help but speak, querying to his brother something that had been bothering him since he had taken his place on the steps.
"Why the need for rain, brother?" Loki asked curiously. "The morning had held promise of a lovely day"
"Aye" the other prince acknowledged with a nod. "But you like the rain more," was his simple reasoning, not even a question but a statement of fact.
Loki's brow arched. "Yes, I do" he agreed in kind, turning his head away and back to the sky, brow creased ever so slightly.
Then he began to notice things he had not before, like how the rain was perfect. It was neither icy cold nor warm, but tepid and refreshing. It fell at the perfect speed so that on contact it wasn't like the prick of a pin against his flesh, but nor was it so soft it was like intangible mist. It fell just so. So he was able to feel it connect with it skin and caress his face like a loving hand.
He stood there, and realised that his brother had altered the weather just for him. Pleasure bloomed warm and welcome in his chest at the thought.
He could not prevent the happy smile that curved unbidden on his lips at the gesture.