Thor loved his brother from the moment he first saw him. Now, that made it sound as if Loki had been born into the family; he wasn't. He was given - gifted - to Thor at the age of fifteen, slender-boned and sullen, a playmate and heartmate after a lifetime of solitude. Thor had long been the only child of Odin Allfather, Minister for Magic, and while he had never lacked for sycophants (and, on occasion, actual friends), neither had he ever been wanted for who he was, lumbering and adolescent and clumsy. He was always Odinson; he was never merely himself.
Loki, though - Loki was his brother, not a follower or a leader, not above him or below him in power or in stature (well, all right, he was rather tiny). Loki was his equal, the only one that could possibly love Thor for everything he was - and wasn't. And if, at the moment, it seemed as though Loki might hate him instead, surely that was only a matter of time, a temporary state of affairs that would resolve itself as Loki got to know him. Family couldn't hate each other. Obviously.
That, and Loki's aloofness had the prickliness of a cat's, a general sort of misanthropy, and Thor knew better than to take it personally. Sometimes, he even found it downright charming; Loki had a razor-sharp wit, and was readier with it than he was with his wand, able to reduce the fat, rich, babbling suck-ups that approached Father into piles of quivering, resentful lard.
Thor loved him for that, too - for how Loki dared to speak to them, when all Thor had ever managed was a strained smile. Everyone remarked on how well-mannered Thor was, how jovial and approachable, but the fact was that Thor was too paralyzed with fear of how he might seem, with fear of how he might disappoint his father. For all that he was a Gryffindor, Thor was beginning to realize, he was a coward; all he was good for was the brawny sort of valor, that earned all of the glory and none of the ignominy.
But Loki, now, Loki was brave - in an especially Slytherin way, the kind that had him face down hatred and malice and cruelty with a mocking laugh and an upstart sneer, and a steadfast refusal to be broken. Hell, it was thanks to him that Thor had realized Slytherins could be brave. Thor shamefully reflected on his own bigotry, that he had once thought Gryffindor the bravest House of all.
"Don't be a twit," said Loki, when Thor told him his thoughts. But an unwilling blush crept onto his face, as though it would've liked to bribe high-ranking Ministry officials not to be there.
Thor couldn't stop a grin from creeping onto his face, and Loki looked as ferociously displeased with it as he was with everything else.
"Archery," said Phil, dryly, and pushed his glasses up his nose. "You want to open an archery club."
"Yeah, well, not all of us are prissy little Head Boys with our noses in our books!" Barton, Gryffindor prefect and brainless thrill-seeker (that was obviously why he'd been elected; Gryffindors had no discernment whatsoever), could barely hold himself still. "I've got plenty of signatures. Look."
A scroll of glowing names unfurled itself in front of Phil's face, flicking him deliberately on the nose. Even Barton's magic had it out for him.
"See? Genuine magical signatures. Each one's unique."
"And what did you offer the owners of these signatures?"
"What?" Barton flushed. "What're you - what, are you saying I trade favors? Like some sort of trollop, is that it? Just because I've dated more people than you have, Coulson, doesn't mean - "
"I never meant to imply anything of the sort," said Phil, serenely, even though he had. "I simply find it unlikely that… Natasha Romanov, for example," Phil pointed at her name, "would cooperate. With anything. For anyone."
"Eh, we go back."
Phil's eyebrows twitched. "You dated her."
"No! No, that's - she's like a brother to me."
"A brother. A girl is like your brother."
"Why'm I justifying myself to you? Listen, you have to follow the rules. You're a stickler for rules, right? Here I am, bringing you a scroll with fifty sodding signatures, and you're worried about where I got them? What's your problem? I'd almost think you didn't trust me."
"I don't trust you."
Barton actually flinched. Much to Phil's surprise. "I - all right, so maybe I - got you in trouble, that one time - "
"You almost got me killed."
"If you weren't such a bookish Ravenclaw, you could've handled that!"
"Wonderful. I see your status has a prefect has been morally edifying."
"What did you even just say? Talk like a person, would you?"
"Hand me. The quill," Phil said, slowly. "Is that simple enough for you?"
"You're… going to sign it," said Barton, dumbly. "You're really going to sign it?"
"Yes, I'm really going to sign it, Barton. Like you said, those are the rules. Fifty or more signatures is sufficient to authorize the founding of a club." He made an impatient gesture. "Hand me the quill."
Barton handed him the quill.
Phil signed the bloody thing. The scroll practically hopped back to Barton, doing a triumphant little somersault in the air. Phil rolled his eyes. Barton's magic was ridiculous. Much like its wielder.
Barton was still staring at him.
"What? I gave you what you came for."
"I… yeah." Barton looked uncomfortable. Finally, after another moment of fidgeting, he blurted: "Thanks."
"Don't thank me. The rules are the rules."
Barton scratched his head. "Yeah, but - I thought you had a grudge against me. That you wouldn't sign anything I brought you, for any reason. Like you refused to sign that leave form."
"That 'leave form', as you put it, wasn't lodged as per the regulations. This application was. That's all."
"So you don't have a grudge against me."
"I don't much like you, Barton, but that doesn't give me leave to be unfair."
"Oh," said Barton, quietly. He had a strange, wondering expression on his face, as if he was seeing Phil for the first time.
It made Phil uneasy, so he turned away and returned to his book. Advanced Transfigurations, the cover read. He sighed and tapped it, and it automatically flipped to the last page he'd been reading.
An uncountable number of minutes later, Phil sat back, thumb pressed thoughtfully to his lower lip - and nearly jumped out of his chair.
"What are you still doing here?"
Barton seemed startled, too. "Uh. I. What?"
"Why. Are you. Still here?"
"Um. Just. Your fingers, I guess?"
"They're, um. They're. Neat. Like you. I guess." Barton went red. "Forget I said that. I - yeah. Thanks. Bye." He clutched his scroll to his chest and tumbled out of Phil's room, a flurry of robe and teenage boy.
Phil blinked after him.
Gryffindors. Their behavior always did defy logic.