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It's An Institute You Can't Disparage

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Loki, flanked by his two elder brothers, faced their king across the icy waste of the throne room.

"The arrangements have been made with Odin, for your departure to Asgard." Laufey's voice was, if possible, colder than the room. Loki forced his hands to remain still by his sides, but, as usual, he could not meet the king's eyes. He focused on the dais upon which the throne sat, and remained silent. His father went on, "It has been decided the marriage will take place in a fortnight's time." Byleistr drew a little closer to Loki, touched his shoulder. This was normally some comfort, but the unease that always lived in Loki's gut had flared into a near-panic that made it impossible for him to respond, or even to breathe.

Helblindi, the eldest, the crown prince, spoke. "He is not yet ready for marriage, my king."

"I say differently," came the unyielding response.

Helblindi, his voice beginning to lose the level coolness demanded of his position, tried again. "He is not yet old enough to breed, Father. It would be dangerous-- "

"That," Laufey replied shortly, "is a risk he will have to take. Much as his mother did. Byleistr, see to your brother's packing. You will accompany him to Asgard."

Helblindi squared his shoulders. "I request leave to make the excursion as well."

Please, Loki thought, looking at the foot of the dais of ice, not daring to raise his eyes to the king on his throne. Please, please--

Laufey gazed at his eldest son, his heir, for a long moment. Then he cast a single glance at his youngest-- the runt, the kinslayer-- and gestured dismissively.

"As you wish."


"So the wedding is actually going to take place?" Fandral asked, as the warriors left the sparring grounds.

"You look surprised, my friend," Thor replied in amusement. "I have been betrothed to the son of Laufey since before he could toddle. Surely you knew the marriage would take place some time?"

"Well, yes," Fandral muttered. "I just didn't believe it."

Thor's laugh was a boom of joyous thunder, enough to make the Warriors Three and the Lady Sif join in. Thor clapped Fandral on the shoulder. And then Volstagg said,

"Laufey's youngest must still be quite a boy, though. It is hard to believe he is really-- " The big warrior broke off in embarrassment. Sif rolled her eyes, but Thor cast a look of tolerant understanding at his friend.

"The Jotun king is impatient to complete the treaty, and says his son is quite ready to take up his duties as consort. The Jotun delegation arrives in the morning. We shall see then."


Loki remained in his own form until he and his brothers arrived at the Bifrost landing site. Then, with assistance from Byleistr, he shook out the complicated clothing and ridiculously heavy cloak that would be required for an Aesir to avoid freezing to death on Jotunheim. Loki's throat was tight as he laid out the clothing, moving quickly to avoid damaging it with his very touch. Then he took a deep breath and prepared to change forms.

"Wait," Helblindi spoke quietly. "One moment." Loki looked up at his eldest brother, the crown prince Loki had always feared just a little, in spite of how much he also loved him. Helblindi was always so serious, and he looked much more like Father than the shorter, blockier, more playful Byleistr.

There was nothing to fear in his expression now, however. Helblindi looked down at his youngest brother, crimson eyes softer than Loki had ever seen them. Then he knelt, placed both hands on Loki's shoulders, and said,

"This is a great change for you, and must be rather frightening." Loki opened his mouth to deny it, and Helblindi shook his head. "I would be frightened, if I were in your position. There is no shame. But the Aesir are not monsters, whatever tales you have been told. They are strange in some ways but like us in others. This is your duty, but it does not have to be hateful, if you accept it with a willing heart. I will speak to the Aesir prince on your behalf. I believe he is capable of kindness."

Loki should have been offended, that his brother thought he needed someone to speak for him, but he was too relieved for that. Helblindi, in a gesture that for many years had been unaccustomed, pulled Loki into a tight embrace. Byleistr, too, knelt and did likewise.

"It will be all right," he said awkwardly, and then could not resist teasing, "I believe the Aesir only rarely devour their mates." Helblindi cuffed him, and in spite of his overpowering anxiety, Loki laughed.

Then his brothers stepped back and Loki changed into the uncouth form in which he would be expected to live the rest of his life. The pleasant spring breeze turned into a biting, howling blast, and Loki hastily dressed himself, as he had practiced, in the Aesir clothing.

Then he stood between his brothers, both of them careful now not to touch him, and Helblindi called for the Bifrost to open.


Odin clearly thought it an insult, that Laufey himself did not come to personally hand over his son and attend the ceremony. Only one who knew him as well as Thor did would notice the emotion, but even Thor had to agree this indifference possibly did not bode terribly well for the treaty.

The two elder princes, however, comported themselves with a becoming dignity and courtesy. Thor could feel his comrades, standing behind him, stare in disbelief at the enormous, rangy crown prince as he made his greetings to the Allfather in the manner of any nobleman.

Thor himself scarcely noticed Helblindi, at least not until a contingent of nervous servants had led away the two younger princes, to settle Thor's anticipated consort into his new quarters and prepare for the ceremony.

Thor was, of course, aware that Laufey's youngest was unusually small for a Jotun. That, in addition to his abilities as a shapeshifter, were the qualities that had convinced Laufey the boy was best suited to be given away in a political marriage in the first place.

Thor had not, however, expected him to be quite as small as this: in the form of a black-haired Aesir youth, the third son of Laufey appeared to be a half-grown adolescent, slender and coltish, the top of his head not yet level with the middle of Thor's chest. Volstagg's awkward reservations no longer seemed amusing. Laufey's assurances notwithstanding, Thor could not imagine that a... a child like this could possibly be ready for congress with anyone.

His increasingly uneasy thoughts were interrupted by the voice of Odin, bidding a final formal welcome to the crown prince of Jotunheim, and requiring Thor to show him to the chamber where he could refresh himself before the marriage ceremony. Then Odin withdrew, accompanied by his queen, Frigga, who cast one final extremely complicated glance at Thor before she did so.

Thor was familiar with his mother's extremely complicated glances, and he had little difficulty interpreting this one: speak to Helblindi, whose single glance at his youngest brother had held a certain tenderness, and find out exactly how closely the boy's current form mirrored his reality.

Helblindi, when he understood what Thor was asking, looked slightly amused. There was, however, something else underneath the amusement as he said,

"I assure you, in his native form, to we Jotun, he looks even younger. And no, he is no larger. My brother has a gift for shapeshifting, but to change into a radically different size or form is a considerable drain upon his energy. The appearance he has chosen is one he can maintain indefinitely, because the differences are largely cosmetic, aside from the facts he will be able to live comfortably in the heat of your realm, and his very flesh will not harm any Aesir who touches him. There is, however, little difference in size or shape between what you see here and what I have watched grow up."

The something else was close enough to the surface now for Thor to identify: Helblindi was anxious and possibly angry. He was fulfilling his role in this ceremony as a loyal son of Jotunheim, but Thor suddenly thought Helblindi would be only too glad to gather up his little brother and carry him back home.

That knowledge made it suddenly easy for Thor to ask for the information he and his mother wanted.

"I was assured he was quite ready to take up all aspects of his role as my consort," Thor said. Before Helblindi could speak, he added, "The contract will be binding, and the treaty hold, whether the marriage is consummated now or later. That is the nature of such pacts. I am perfectly willing to wait, if that would be best. I ask your advice as one who loves my intended mate."

Helblindi looked down at Thor with relief evident on his face. "He is not. Our kind mature later than the Aesir, and given his... differences... it is hard to say whether it will take him more time than usual, or less, to do so. Regardless, it may or may not have been explained to you that we Jotun go through what you Aesir might call a heat cycle, before we are safely ready to breed. It is not unheard of for one to become pregnant before that happens-- generally under... tragic... circumstances-- but the consequences to mother and child are generally very unfavourable. Death of both is not uncommon.

"My brother is years away from his full growth-- which I anticipate will leave him an apparently normal-sized Aesir, perhaps a little taller than most-- and it will be at least that long before he can safely conceive and carry a child." Looking uncomfortable, Helblindi added, "Until that time he will have little interest in sexual contact, and will almost certainly be incapable of arousal. You should have been told this already. I am sorry, but your proposed consort is still a child, old enough to understand what is expected of him, but nothing like mature enough to carry it out." He stopped, awkward, and appeared to be wrestling with the urge to say more.

Thor spoke before the Jotun could. "It seems to me rather strange that your king would insist upon the early completion of this marriage, given these facts. To say nothing of his insistence that your brother is actually ready-- " Thor did not finish his sentence. The mental image was unpleasant, though it was not as if he would have forced himself upon a frightened and unwilling child. He was unable to prevent himself from adding, "I would have expected more... concern."

Helblindi appeared to wrestle with himself once more, and this time he lost.

"My mother died bearing Loki. He was at the end of his childbearing years, and the healers think the magical qualities of the child were too much for his strength. My father was utterly distraught, and has never really recovered from the loss. The only thing that saved Loki at birth was the fact the midwife, while frantically trying to save Mother, handed him hastily to my brother and myself to look after. Father could not bring himself to add to our distress then by taking the babe away from us to kill. He later realized he could make use of Loki, but he has never been fond of him. It therefore does not matter to him whether Loki comes to harm from his mate, as long as the treaty settled by his marriage is valid." Helblindi paused. "I need hardly tell you that what I have just said is perilously near treason."

"None will hear it from my lips," Thor assured him.

Helblindi nodded in gratitude. And then, in the tone of one who cannot stop himself, he added, "You have said you are willing to be patient. It truly will repay you, if you are. My brother is of an affectionate disposition, although he has experienced little enough of affection from any other than Byleistr and myself. Be... kind to him."

Thor smiled. "That was my very thought."


The ceremonies-- one following Aesir custom, a second reflecting those of Jotunheim-- took far less time than Loki might have wished. His brothers were under orders from their father to see the marriage complete and then immediately return home, but Helblindi decided on his own authority that the celebration following the ceremonies counted as part of the wedding, and on behalf of Byleistr accepted the Aesir prince's invitation to stay a little longer.

Loki hoped his relief was not evident, because, for all his efforts at bravado, he had never been so frightened in his life as he was at this moment. On Jotunheim, the Aesir were always referred to as "the little ones," and Loki had never stopped to consider that he was, himself, tiny for a Jotun. The Aesir prince, while certainly very much smaller than Helblindi or Byleistr, was still a great deal larger and more powerful than Loki.

The prospect of being left alone with such a creature, amiable as he appeared in the presence of the court, filled Loki with terror. He understood what was expected of him, knew he had no other choice than to submit, but he was in dread of what would happen when the feasting ended and he was left alone with his new spouse. He sat in his place at table, with the Aesir prince on one side and the prince's mother-- as golden as he and making a very kindly effort to engage Loki in conversation-- on the other, and called on every scrap of prevarication he had learned in his whole life in Laufey's threatening palace to maintain his outward appearance of calm.

The feasting did not look like ending any time soon, not even after the queen rose, bid her son goodnight, and then most unexpectedly leaned down to kiss Loki gently on the cheek. The gesture was foreign but unmistakably affectionate, even without her murmured, "Welcome to our family, my dear. I hope you will be very happy with us." Loki looked at her mutely, too surprised, and frankly overcome, to think of a response. The queen smiled at him, touched his cheek in a petting gesture that made Loki's throat hurt a little, and left the hall.

In spite of his anxiety, the lateness of the hour eventually found Loki nodding. The armed woman who was clearly one of the Aesir prince's warriors finally called attention to it.

"It is not thoughtful of you, Thor, to keep your new spouse up quite so late after his travels," she pointed out.

"Indeed," the prince agreed, looking consideringly at Loki, who froze at the regard but did his best to return it impassively. Loki did not think the Aesir was fooled for a moment, but all the prince said was, "It is indeed inconsiderate of me. Come, I will accompany you to your chambers." Loki did his best not to flinch. "Your brothers may wish to come too, and bid you goodnight." Loki's hard-won talent for dissembling deserted him then, and the glance he cast at Byleistr and then Helblindi was frankly appealing.

"We would be grateful for the opportunity," Helblindi replied calmly, rising from his place.

Had be not been in this vulnerable Aesir form, Loki would have gladly clung to his brothers, but they at least remembered their touch could now harm him and merely walked with him back to the elaborate chambers, where they bid him goodbye. Loki's new Aesir eyes filled with moisture as he watched his brothers walk away, escorted by a soldier to help them find their way back to the Bifrost.

And then he was alone with the Aesir prince, who suddenly looked even larger and more intimidating than ever. Loki knew he should say something. He had in fact been provided with a speech of submission he was supposed to make at this time, but found himself utterly unable to remember a word of it.

Before he had time to imagine what might happen to him next, however, the prince reached out, with a gesture that mirrored his mother's, and brushed his fingertips against Loki's cheek.

"Your eldest brother and I have spoken already," the Aesir said kindly. "You need not be afraid of me, I have no intention of hurting you. Now, you look exhausted, so I suggest you get some sleep. I will come back in the morning and you can begin to get to know your new home. Goodnight."

Again echoing his mother, the prince leaned down and kissed Loki lightly on the cheek. Then he left the room, closing the door after himself.

Alone, Loki wrapped his arms around himself, around his strange new form in this strange new place. He looked down at his pale, alien hands and wrists, and suddenly the sense of desolation, of homesickness, was too much for him. He knew it was foolish, knew that aside from his brothers there was no one on Jotunheim who would miss him at all, but he was overcome with longing for that which was familiar, for a wish to be at home.

Without stopping to consider, to remind himself that he had no choice in the matter and therefore should accept his fate sensibly, Loki awkwardly stripped off the Asgardian robes and piled them onto the bed in the inner chamber. He extinguished the fire in the grate, using a jug of water left by the washstand, and waited for the room to begin to cool.

Then he banished the shapeshifting spell, watching his fingernails darken and the blue rush gratefully back into his skin. The peculiar, bright colours of Asgard changed and darkened to more accustomed hues as his eyes regained their natural crimson.

Then he called on ice, all the ice he could command in this strange place, and built himself a real bed in the outer chamber, where there was room for it. He crawled onto it, and within moments was asleep.


He woke, of course, on the floor, in a lake of cold water: the charm had failed as he slept, and the ice had all melted overnight. Loki sat up and looked around desperately at the flooded room. The mess was terrible and, if past experience was anything to go by, a servant would certainly report it to someone and he would get a beating for his trouble.

Loki scrambled to his feet and was trying to think of a spell to dry the water when the handle of the door moved.

"Loki?" called a deep voice from without.

Loki had, of course, not locked the door the night before: it had never occurred to him to do so, since he had never had the right to a place of his own. In his experience, doors locked exclusively from the outside. But at the moment, naked and blue and surrounded by a mess of his own making, Loki would have given a great deal to have barred the door.

He should, of course, have called to the prince to wait outside, but that did not occur to him either-- in Laufey's palace the runt had scarcely the right to request, let alone command-- and then it was too late: the Aesir prince opened the door and walked right in, accompanied by the armed woman.

The prince caught sight of Loki in his Jotun form and frowned. Even in his terror, Loki registered the fact he looked more startled than angry.

And then the prince stepped squarely in the water, and perhaps also on a stray surviving bit of ice, and his feet went out from under him. He clutched at the woman, who was strong and fierce-looking but a head shorter than he, and both of them fell heavily into the water, booted feet flailing in the air.

Loki could not help it, he uttered a peal of laughter-- they looked so funny-- and then realized his mistake and froze in panic. He would be beaten to death for this, and deservedly so.

The prince started to sit up, but his hand slipped and he fell back, landing heavily on the woman. She pushed at him, muttering ill-temperedly about his clumsiness and his weight.

And then both of them were laughing, sitting up awkwardly and splashing at each other like a couple of children. Loki stayed frozen where he was, watching the two Aesir warriors get to their feet, the woman wringing water out of her long shining black hair, the prince shaking out his soaked red cape.

He glanced at Loki and then turned to the woman. "Sif, would you please leave us? We will come find you presently."

"Certainly," the woman replied. "I will go have my third bath of this day. I have always held cleanliness to be a virtue, but I confess even I find this excessive." She cast a glance at Loki, swiftly averted it-- he momentarily thought this a sign of distaste, until he suddenly recalled he was wearing no clothes-- and then left the chamber, muttering something about how next time someone named Volstagg could accompany the prince to fetch his consort, since another bath more or less could only do Volstagg good.

And then Loki was alone with the prince. Keeping his eyes down, in the rather forlorn hope that a show of submission now would make up for the ill-advised giggle earlier, Loki waited for the prince to speak.

"Well, this is quite a wreck," said the deep voice, perfectly calmly. "I should call someone to clear it up. What possessed you to do it?"

"I... " There was nothing he could say that would not make matters worse, and so Loki did not even try.

"I had no idea the Jotun liked to begin their day with a refreshing swim," the Aesir prince prodded. Something in his tone made Loki look up in surprise: the tone was Byleistr's, teasing and friendly. Catching his eye, the prince smiled. "There, that's better. Tell me, were you overcome with the desire to swim? Or was this something else?"

Surely any idiot-- and the Aesir prince was quite evidently not an idiot-- could figure out what had happened here. Loki suddenly realized the prince simply wanted Loki to explain himself, in words. To speak up.

To speak for himself, and be heard.

The idea was a novel one-- so novel that it took Loki a moment to untangle his tongue. "I was... the room was so strange. It was all so new, and I felt... I am accustomed to sleeping on ice, and I thought there would be no harm, for one night... I did not stop to think-- "

"That is understandable," the prince said kindly. "Although not, perhaps, terribly practical."

"No," Loki agreed meekly, lowering his eyes again. He heard the prince sigh.

"A great deal is being asked of you, I know," the deep voice went on. Loki peeked up at him without moving his head, saw the big figure, dripping wet but apparently still not angry. "Neither of us had any say in this matter, but obviously you even less than I, to say nothing of this business of your having to get used to a new world, and even a new form. This must be very hard for you, but you understand, don't you, that the treaty is important to both our homes?" Loki nodded, dropping his eyes once more. "Very well. Since we neither of us have any choice in the matter, it seems to me that we should make the best of it. Does that seem wise to you?" Loki nodded again. "All right. As I told you last night, I have no plans to hurt you. I would, however, like us to get to know one another. Who knows? We might end in becoming quite fond of each other. My mother, who you met last night, is full of illuminating tales of other arranged marriages, her own included, that ended in happiness for all concerned. I would relate them to you, but she has asked me to bring you to her, after our tour of the palace and the grounds, and I am sure she plans to tell them to you herself."

There was a pause, which Loki understood was to give him a chance to speak. He did so: "I would like that, my prince." And then he flinched again at his own bold choice of words-- surely it did not matter to anyone what he would like-- but before he could think how to take back his words, the prince replied,

"Thor. My name is Thor. I would ask you to call me by it. And I am glad you are pleased to meet with Mother, for I should tell you, she sees herself as having acquired a second son with our marriage, and she is very much looking forward to getting to know you. I suggest you get dressed-- in whatever form and manner you think would make you most comfortable for now. I will go change into something drier and return for you shortly. I will also call someone to clean this up."

"I can do it," Loki said hastily. "I need only to think of a suitable spell."

The prince-- Thor-- smiled. "Very good. I will leave you for the moment, and then we can try again." And he walked out of the chamber, squelching and dripping, closing the door behind himself.

Loki stared at the closed door for a long time, longer than perhaps he really had time to, stood there thinking.

And then he looked down at himself, and after a moment watched as the blue faded from his skin under a tide of Aesir-looking pinkness.

It no longer seemed quite so hatefully strange.


Thor let his head fall back onto the pillow as his body relaxed, then stroked his fingers through the black hair in which they had been tangled as Loki moved up to lie with his head on Thor's chest, his ear over Thor's still-racing heart. Not quite satisfied with that, Thor pulled his consort up to kiss him, encircled him in his arms, Loki's skin cool against the sweat on Thor's.

The years since their marriage had borne out Helblindi's advice: Thor's efforts to win his consort's trust and affection had been repaid, indeed. Never having had anyone upon whom he could focus his affections, Loki had shown himself more than willing, eager even, to address them to Thor. After that first night, as far as Thor knew Loki had held his Aesir form at all times, except when they paid official visits to Jotunheim. Laufey always remained distant and indifferent, but Helblindi and Byleistr were visibly relieved to see their little brother apparently happy. The fact he came to them in his Jotun form, accompanied by his Aesir consort, seemed to do more than anything to reassure them about Thor's feelings toward their brother.

In the intervening years Loki had, indeed, grown nearly as tall as Thor, though it was evident he would never be nearly as broad. That was all right, Thor appreciated the lithe grace of his slender body, the pale smoothness of his skin. There was something a little different, a little other-worldly, about him even now, but it was not enough to draw attention to itself, or to cause him to have trouble fitting in at court. Particularly not when he was such a favourite with the queen. Even Odin, in his gruff way, had taken trouble at first to be kind to the shy child, and now seemed genuinely fond of him.

Sif had taken to Loki immediately, possibly because after their ridiculous first encounter it was impossible for her to stand on much ceremony with her old friend's young consort. She had decided that he needed training in combat, and Loki figured out for himself that, for Sif, instruction in deadly force was an expression of affection.

Loki was a quick study, and soon insisted on joining Thor and his companions on their adventures. Thor had demurred on the grounds that it would do the succession no good if Loki was to get himself killed on some distant realm, but Loki-- no longer at all afraid of his consort-- was quick enough to point out the same was true of Thor.

Sif and the others had backed Loki in the matter. Indeed, before long Fandral, for one, nearly always backed Loki when any decision had to be made on an expedition, on the grounds that plans suggested by Loki tended to involve less chance of glory, but also less risk of horrible death. Not even Thor could argue against that.

All things considered, Thor found himself grateful to whichever of his father's advisers had proposed the treaty with Jotunheim. At the moment, affectionately rubbing the back of Loki's neck, Thor had only one cause for concern about their marriage: in his Aesir form, Loki was by now quite obviously at an age by which Aesir youth typically would engage in sexual activity, but as yet showed no sign of interest. Thor understood this business of the "heat cycle" was not under Loki's control, but he was beginning to wonder when it would happen, and how they were supposed to recognize when it did.

He had tried not to allow it to be a source of trouble. When Loki was very young, Thor had simply continued to discreetly visit the house of pleasure, but that had come to an end when Loki was old enough to feel hurt and angry about it. Thor had honestly wanted to avoid making Loki feel compelled to do anything he found distasteful, but the blow to Loki's pride, to say nothing of his sense of betrayed affection, rendered the solution untenable.

However, by then Loki, though he did not yet feel arousal himself, was old enough to understand the matter was of importance to Thor. And it turned out that he was perfectly willing to exert himself to give Thor pleasure, even in ways he did not particularly understand yet.

Thor could not but consider this another imperfect solution to the problem. He had been a young man already when he was betrothed to the infant prince of Jotunheim, and understandably had considerable experience in the bedchamber. Thor had always made a point of ensuring his lovers were satisfied, and the current state of affairs felt, to him, distastefully like making selfish use of someone he loved.

Loki, almost distressingly practical and certainly no longer the timid child who had been delivered to Asgard, argued that since it gave him pleasure to give his consort pleasure, perhaps Thor should stop thinking so much and concentrate on giving instructions. Again, he proved to be a remarkably fast study, quick to interpret Thor's reactions and act upon them with his mouth and hands. Thor still could not help feeling a little guilty, but at least Loki took honest pleasure in being held afterward, obviously basking in Thor's real affection for him.

He also willingly allowed Thor to explore his body, satisfying his curiosity about the differences between Aesir and Jotun physiology. The Jotun being capable of either siring or bearing children, Thor thought he should have been less surprised to learn Loki possessed sex organs appropriate to both roles. In the course of these explorations, it had become apparent that not only was Loki currently uninterested in receiving sexual advances, the flesh that made up the entrance to his body was tough and unyielding, clearly meant to defend him from such activity before he was ready.

This reminded Thor quite forcefully of Helblindi's long-ago remark concerning too-early pregnancies that occurred under "tragic" circumstances. It was evident to Thor that considerable violence would have to be visited upon a young Jotun in order to affect such a pregnancy. Without anyone of whom to ask practical advice, Thor now wondered exactly how painful first encounters were for Jotun.

He voiced that, hesitantly, still petting the back of Loki's neck.

"I am not afraid," Loki assured him.

Thor felt himself smile. "Of course not. You are very brave."

Loki turned his head so he could dig his chin reprovingly into Thor's chest. "That is not what I meant. I meant, I trust you."

To that, Thor had no answer.


Loki had not been seen all day by anyone, and by early evening Thor was concerned that he might be ill. Returning early to their apartment within the palace, Thor knocked and called before letting himself inside.

"Loki?" he called from the outer chamber. "Are you all right?"

Loki appeared in the doorway of the bedchamber, shirtless and barefoot. For just a moment, Thor thought his fear was accurate: Loki's eyes were bright, he was flushed, and he looked a little feverish.

And then he walked into the outer chamber, reached up to cradle Thor's face in his hands, and kissed him. Affectionate as he was, Loki was never this forward, and Thor was momentarily taken aback, even as he opened his mouth to Loki's insistence.

And then he realized what was happening.

"Is this-- Are you-- ?" he almost stuttered, for once not older and wiser and in control of the situation.

"Oh, I think so," Loki breathed, caught Thor's hands and pulled him into the bedchamber.

Thor nearly stumbled after him, stopped at the bedside for another intoxicating kiss, and then scooped Loki up to deposit him on top of the covers and lie down beside him, tracing one hand down his chest to his belly, and then to the fastening of his trousers. Loki moaned. In spite of his own burgeoning arousal, Thor still hesitated.

"Are you sure-- ?" Thor began.

"I think," Loki replied, his voice rough, "that you should stop talking now." He kissed Thor again, opening his mouth to Thor's tongue, and then began undoing Thor's shirt.

A few moments later he turned in Thor's arms, apparently acting on instinct, so that he was on his belly underneath Thor. Thor kissed the curve of his neck and then ran a hand down his back, Loki quivering and opening his legs as the exploring hand reached the curve of his buttocks. Thor slipped the hand between Loki's legs, found him now wet and pliant and utterly willing. Loki hissed and raised his hips as Thor gently pressed a finger into him, pushing it in to the second knuckle and waiting while Loki clenched around him before pulling it back gently and pressing it back in.

"What are you waiting for?" Loki moaned.

"I promised I wouldn't hurt you," Thor reminded him, continuing to slide the finger gently but firmly in and out. After a few moments he withdrew, to a protesting whimper from Loki, and pushed a second finger in with the first, scissoring them as he moved them. Loki lifted into the pressure but his breathing was harsh and there was an edge of pain in the sounds he was making. Thor kissed the back of his neck again as Loki squirmed under him, made soothing noises until he felt Loki begin to relax.

Then, with a murmur of encouragement, he once again withdrew his fingers, this time taking himself in hand and sliding the head of his erection into the tight heat of Loki's body. Loki gasped harshly again, whimpered, but his legs involuntarily hooked around Thor's and he pressed himself backward as Thor, exerting every scrap of self-control he possessed, pushed himself forward slowly until he was fully sheathed in Loki's body.

By now Thor was not so much kissing Loki's neck and back as simply pressing his mouth against him, and he was not sure whether the moans he heard came from Loki or himself. Holding his weight off Loki with one arm, he wrapped the other around him, slipped his hand down to encircle Loki's cock, rubbing his thumb against the slit in the head and then tugging at him until Loki arched his back and nearly screamed. He climaxed quickly-- hardly surprising, the first time-- and Thor kissed him again before finally beginning to thrust in earnest.

Loki moaned and quivered under him, the muscles inside fluttering and clenching around Thor's cock, and Thor, remembering that crucial issue of Jotun physiology, realized he was not, in fact, finished yet. Clumsily but firmly, taking advantage of his much greater strength, Thor lifted his consort and turned them both until he was sitting with Loki astride him, so his thrusts came from a different angle, one that stimulated Loki's newly sensitized flesh while at the same time Thor caressed everywhere he could reach, and bit gently at his neck.

The sound Loki made, when he came for the second time, was enough to bring Thor to completion as well. Loki rode out Thor's final stuttering thrusts, then leaned bonelessly back into Thor's chest, gasping for breath. Thor withdrew, then lifted Loki back onto the bed, turning them until they were nestled together like a couple of spoons.

Loki, hands linked with his, was quiet for so long that Thor began to feel anxious about the possibility that he really had been hurt after all.

"Are you all right?" he asked finally.

"Oh, certainly," Loki replied, his tone dreamy. "I was just reflecting that, when my duties as consort were explained to me all those years ago, a few rather crucial details were left out." He giggled sleepily and added, more seriously, "Also, until now I really did not appreciate just how difficult it must have been, for you to be as patient with me as you have been. I... Thank you."

"Worth the wait," Thor assured him, teasingly. Loki twisted around in his arms and looked at him earnestly.

"Really?" he asked.

Thor kissed him. "Really."

Loki smiled, but there was still something underneath it. "I also... I remember, when Father told me it was time for me to come here. I was so frightened. It is hard now, to think just how frightened I was."

"I remember," Thor said softly. Loki shifted in his arms, and Thor turned onto his back, so that Loki could settle his head on Thor's chest.

"And my brother Helblindi told me... he said I would have to do what I was bid, but that he thought you were kind, and my fate did not have to be hateful to me. He is very wise, my brother."

"That he is," Thor agreed.

"I should be sure tell him he was right," Loki said thoughtfully. Then he turned his head, to dig his chin mischievously into Thor's chest. "Not, perhaps, the details," he added demurely.

"No," Thor agreed, starting to chuckle. "I feel sure he would prefer we keep the details between ourselves."

Loki reached up and kissed him.