“Hush now, my child, and have no fear,
You must no longer weep.
Disir and Alfar stand by you,
Ever their watch to keep.
May dreams of green and peaceful lands
Be with you while you sleep.”
A broad hand combs through lank hair as Thor sings softly to his brother. Loki lay restlessly on his bed, skin too pale, starkly contrasting the black rings around his eyes. He had lain feverish for ten days, drinking only what seeped from a wet cloth. Each day, Thor sat at his younger brother’s bedside and hoped that he would wake and each day he sang to him the songs their mother had sung when they were small.
“Now is the hour when all must go
Each to his own bed.
Rest my child, the whole night through;
Lay down your sleepy head.
Soon morning light the dawn will bring,
Sunna her path to tread.”
Sitting back, Thor swipes a hand across his brow. This summer was a hot one and Loki’s rooms were stifling. He had thought before to open the tall windows but worried that the breeze would chill his bother.
Indecisive, he simply dips a rag into the cool water at the bedside and brushes Loki’s lips with it. A few drops slip past his lips and his throat swallows convulsively. After squeezing a few more drops into his mouth Thor lifts the cloth away and lays it across the sweat dampened brow. Rather than remove his hand, the prince instead runs cards it through lank black hair, rubbing gently.
“Loki…my brother, we worry. You need to wake. Please,” and if his voice is a bit gruff, well, no one could hear his weakness.
No answer comes, not even a flicker of long eyelashes and hadn’t Thor heard that men typically had longer lashes than women? How odd. He blinks and presses a hand, cold from the water, against his forehead. It really was too warm. The heat could not be helping his brother.
With a groan, he hefts himself from his chair and tries to stretch the kinks out of his legs on the way to the windows. His brother must use magic to open his curtains, Thor thinks, for they are entirely too high to easily pull open by hand. He does manage, after a time, and begins to slide the glass open.
Immediately, a cool breeze blows through, ruffling the curtains around him. The pages of the books his brother has left open flutter softly and the wind makes its way to the bed, where it brushes against Loki’s sweating face. Thor’s face stretches into a smile at the sight and makes his way back to the bed. Rather than sit in the chair, which was really too small for him, he sinks onto the edge of Loki’s large bed and watches his face. He knows it is silly to think that such a small thing as opening windows will cure his brother, but at the same time he cannot bring himself to let go of such luxuries.
He hours pass as Thor waits on his brother and nothing changes. All the while he thinks of his brother and worries. There is a dark fear in the far reaches of his mind that whispers that Loki will not wake, that he will sleep forever and Thor will never see his mouth twist in mischief or his eyes flash with cunning and inspiration. The fear grows like cancer; it has grown, ever since the second day of his brother’s illness. Only when he is alone does Thor truly let his fears take hold. Looking down at the pale face drawn with fever, the fear finally consumes him.
Thor buries his face in his hands and peaks out as his brother as he gives a shuddering sigh. He does not weep, such would not be proper, but his eyes are slightly red and his throat is chocked with the fear that Loki will die. Something in his chest twists viciously and the skies above Asgard darken ominously. His throat tightens around the treacherous lump and he tries to swallow. A drop of water lands on the grass beyond the windows and a cooler burst of air enters the room. There are emotions tangled in Thor’s chest, squeezing his heart until it nearly bursts and more drops hall heavy to the earth.
Everything is falling down around his ears, it seems, and the first deep rumble of thunder rolls above as calloused fingers fist in long fair hair. This is not just about Loki’s illness, though that is how it started. This storm is for everything Thor has faced. Every cruel word that Loki has pierced him with, every vile rumor cast like stones by his people at his brother’s thin back.
Loki, ever sharp and deadly.
Loki, whose knife grin is broken sometimes, when he thinks Thor will not notice.
Loki, damn him, who despite everything is still more dear to him than any other.
Loki, his brother, who might die in his bed with Thor unable to anything but watch.
Throughout Asgard his storm rages. The rain comes in sheets that nearly flood the streets while winds buffet any who dare walk out of doors. Lightning flashes but does not strike and the thunder grows louder. Thor is oblivious, even as the rain sweeps into Loki’s bedchamber and cold wind lashes them both.
Frigga is standing over him very suddenly, ordering servants to wrestle the windows closed and to bring towels. She scolds him furiously for causing the storm and drenching them both. Thor listens only because he cannot stop his ears and feels rather detached from the whole affair until Frigga yells that he might have killed Loki with his stupidity, that a fevered person should never be so exposed to a storm.
That makes Thor listen with an almost painful shock and the blood drains from his face, even as a maid hands him a towel to dry himself with. He takes it with numb hands and she bustles off to attend his mother at Loki’s side and it is not until Frigga is in front of him again that he begins to pay attention once more.
She places warm dry hands against his cheeks and he tries not to lean into them like a child as she speaks in short sentences that are simple to understand, “Oh Thor. My brave son. Do not worry so. Loki’s fever is broken. He will wake soon and be well. I will stay with him. Go now, and rest.”
Thor nods and departs to his rooms to collapse and wait for news.
No one comes to wake him and it is late morning by the time Thor rises. He dresses mechanically and walks to Loki’s rooms. Before opening the door he pauses. If Loki has still not woken he does not know what he will do. He takes a moment to steel himself before quietly pushing open the door.
The curtains have been pushed back once more and morning light sifts through dust motes to lie across the bed. The bed where Loki sits against the headboard with a heavy tome, reading peacefully. The door’s opening has given him away and Loki turns from his book to look at Thor with tired eyes.
Thor cannot help but think, for a split second, that they are the most beautiful eyes in Asgard.
“Brother. I had wondered if I might see you today. Please, do come in,” there is a hint of a smile in his words and the air in Thor’s lungs whooshes out before he can stop it. He closes the door as he enters, Loki has never liked leaving it open, and walks to the uncomfortably small chair still sitting by the bed.
“How are you, brother? You have been unwell for many days now.”
One of his brother’s hands rests on his open book, the other massages the bridge of his nose and when he speaks it is more quietly than is usual, “I am tired and my body is weak, but my fever has broken, according to Mother. I shall be fine, brother.”
The tension flows out of Thor’s frame and for a time they sit in companionable silence. Among most Asgardians Thor is considered loud and often brash for all the love his people have of him. But here, alone with his brother who he trusts completely, he sees no need for words that will only shatter their peace.
In the end, it is Loki who breaks the silence, a pensive frown twisting his mouth, “Thor… brother, in my fever dreams I would swear I heard you singing Mother’s lullabies. I would not mention it save that I am surprised that I could sleep through such discordant music.” There is a mischievous glint in his eyes and Thor knows he cannot take his words at face value. It is good to hear Loki’s mistruths again and he cannot help but chuckle.