1. Kiss it better
'This is your fault,' Loki moaned.
'I know,' Thor said apologetically, but it wasn't any use. The damage had been done. The two had been practicing sparring, and Loki, ever inept at the activity, and Thor, ever enthusiastic, had ended up in an accident where Thor struck Loki's knee and the prince fell face-first into the mud. Now his knee hurt, and his face was dirty.
'Should I go get help?' Thor asked.
'No,' Loki snapped. 'Father will be angry I couldn't defend myself.'
'We could ask the healers to keep it a secret,' Thor suggested, and Loki groaned again.
'Do not be so trusting, Thor. They are bound to Father before they are bound to us.'
'Okay,' Thor sighed, sitting down in the mud next to Loki. Thor was much more used to getting dirty than Loki. 'What should I do?'
'Nothing. I'll heal it with magic later, when I get my strength back.'
'Tired already?' Thor grinned.
'Some men fight with brute force, others with intellect,' Loki answered, glaring. He hated any slight over the fact that he preferred magic to knives and arrows, and he received many of them. He didn't need them from his best friend too.
'Don't be so offended, Brother,' Thor said cheerfully. 'Your magic will surely be useful to me when we go into battle together.'
Loki felt a little cheered by this, and smiled. What did it matter what everyone else thought anyway? He was a prince of Asgard, and Thor believed in him.
Suddenly, Thor leaned over and placed a kiss on the bridge of Loki's nose. Loki was astonished; Thor had never kissed him before. Judging by the look on Thor's face, he was also embarrassed, but remained resolute.
'The Midgardians think that kissing one who is injured will help them heal,' Thor explained, a flush colouring his face. 'You'll feel better soon.'
A moment later, Loki had subconsciously healed his knee by himself.
2. Play pretend
Loki would have liked to join in with Thor's and his friends' play, but they liked to play with wooden knives and flawed arrows and pretend to be warriors, while Loki liked to play with the little magic tricks he had learnt. Even Sif, who was a girl and would have traditionally been raised as a magician, played rough-and-tumble with them. They didn't mind if Loki did join in, but he usually ended up by the sidelines because they didn't know how to include him.
This usually ended with somebody tripping over a root that materialised out of the ground, or jumping around to avoid snakes slithering up their legs, and everybody else falling around laughing. Loki was always thrilled when people laughed at his tricks. It made him feel belonged, when he had always wondered why Odin preferred playing with and talking to Thor than himself.
Today, Thor wanted to play that a princess was kidnapped and he was the brave prince coming to rescue her. Loki made a gagging noise when Thor suggested it. Not only was that ridiculous, he was also jealous. Why would Thor ever want to pay attention to a princess? He knew for a fact that he was the most important person Thor would ever have in his life. Realistically, Thor would never actually storm a kingdom to save a princess. His honour, maybe, but for a princess? No.
'Sif, of course, will be the princess,' Thor said.
'What?' Sif yelped. 'I am not a damsel in distress! I'm as much a warrior as any of you!'
'But you're the only girl,' Thor pointed out.
'Let Loki be the princess,' Fandral said suddenly. 'He learns magic like a girl, and he's the weakest. He can't even win a spar against Sif.'
Loki flushed with displeasure at the jibe. More so because it was true. It didn't make Loki all that weak in his opinion though, because Sif could beat Thor on her best days.
'Don't call Loki a girl,' Thor scolded. 'Learning magic doesn't make him weak. He can even outdo some of the tutors with his magic tricks.'
The younger prince glowed with pride at the praise for a moment, until Thor said 'But we still need a princess! Loki, nobody else will do. Sif will not relent. Do this for me, please?'
Stupid Thor and his stupid puppy eyes. Loki glared, but ended up acquiescing anyway. Thor was overjoyed.
They made Loki sit at the top of the long flight of stairs that led from one garden to another, the latter being atop a hill. Fandral and Sif pretended to be the dragons keeping Loki inside the tower, and Loki watched with boredom. Loki had to attend most grand tournaments in Asgard as part of the royal family, but he never saw the appeal in watching men wrestle in mud. He was tempted to make Fandral trip down the stairs in revenge, but he didn't want to be the cause of injury.
And okay, maybe he wanted to pretend that Thor was fighting to save him. Why wouldn't he anyway? Thor was where Loki began, and Loki was where Thor ended. It was only natural that one would fight to protect the other.
Finally, Thor arrived in front of Loki, wooden sword hanging by his side, panting from exhaustion, but grinning widely. Loki smiled up at him.
'Dearest Loki, you are as fair as the rumours tell,' Thor said, picking up Loki's hand and kissing it.
Loki gave Thor a light push and attempted a scowl to hide his blush.
3. Before the battle
'Your first battle,' Loki remarked. They were both dressing up in their armour, and for the first time, it was for a real fight. 'Are you nervous?'
'Never.' Thor bared his teeth in a grin. 'Let them give to me everything they have. I shall slay them all.'
'Ah. Good strategy.'
'Please, Brother.' Thor turned the full force of his smile to Loki. It was oddly calming in a moment of tension. 'I am Thor, son of Odin, heir to the throne of Asgard. Nothing can come in my way.'
'I am sure of it,' Loki answered airily.
'Do you not believe in me?' Thor said with a hint of hurt at Loki's faith.
'Perhaps. You are not always wise.'
'And that is why I have you,' Thor said, instantly brightening. He flung an arm around Loki's shoulders, and Loki almost collapsed from the added weight to his armour. 'Are you not my main counsellor, Brother?'
'Yes, I'm sure,' Loki gasped, struggling to breathe. 'Let go of me, Thor, you're choking me.'
Thor's slipped his arm off, but then thumped Loki so hard, he might as well have hit him straight. Loki nearly fell over, and only managed to stay upright by grabbing a post.
'Be a sport, Loki,' Thor grinned, oblivious to Loki's pain. 'Surely a hug cannot cause you so much discomfort?'
'I'm flattered that you overestimate my body's strength so,' Loki panted.
'You are not my brother for nothing.'
'Of course,' Loki answered drily, taking a final deep breath. 'I am here to tell you that it is time to go now.'
'Already?' Thor looked around at the door, and Loki saw it. A flicker of emotion. It would be Thor's first foray into a real battle, after all, he was allowed some feeling. But Loki did not comment upon it.
'After you, my future king,' Loki said instead.
At that, Thor gave a huff of laughter and walked out, his shoulders relaxed in an easy stance.
Before they had reached the palace grounds, however, Thor stopped walking. Loki paused in surprise, and opened his mouth to ask, when he found himself in Thor's embrace once more.
'You will be assisting me?' Thor murmured into Loki's hair.
Loki tried to ignore how warm he felt, and how heat was spreading all over his body in dangerous form for a blush. 'Always.'
Thor pulled back, and looked into Loki's eyes. Loki bit his lip to control the warmth that threatened to colour his face. He wondered for a moment what it was that Thor was looking for in him, when Thor bent down and pressed a kiss to the top of Loki's head. He then abruptly released him and trotted out onto the palace grounds.
The last thing Loki remembered was a shield he had cast to protect Thor from a blow when Thor was distracted by Loki's injured state. Also pain. A lot of pain. On his side.
The first thing Loki saw when he awoke was Thor's sleeping face.
And then the circumstances of his condition flew to him. He had been wounded in battle. Severely, by the feel of it. He could feel that the skin and flesh had been healed by magic, but it was still a painful, throbbing ache.
Perfect. Another reason for Odin to be disappointed in him. His first battle and he had gone down. A prince of Asgard.
He threw the covers off and got up, grumbling. The pain in his side made him stumble a little, but it didn't deter him. If he couldn't keep his own in battle, then he would at least show that he could be up and walking in no time. Provided he hadn't slept for too long. He came to the conclusion that he couldn't have been asleep for too long, however, seeing as his side still hurt, and he was still in the clothes he had worn to battle, minus his armour.
Loki looked up with a glower. He pretended not to notice the concerned look on Thor's face. It was easier to pretend –
'Here to gloat?'
'Gloat over what?'
Thor looked genuinely confused as he stepped forward, arms extended as if to help Loki walk. Loki made an impatient noise and turned away.
'I'm fine,' Loki retorted.
'I'm sure you are.' Thor said tenderly. 'But you should rest longer.'
'What happened?' Loki asked abruptly. Asking about battles, whether real or practiced, always sidetracked Thor.
'It was glorious!' Thor beamed, predictably getting excited as he began to speak. 'We taught them their places! Sif has been honoured as a warrior – the first lady warrior –' Loki mentally scowled at the twitch in his chest at the pride in Thor's voice as he talked of Sif. Loki decided to at least sit by the bed, seeing as he couldn't very well leave in the middle of Thor's monologue.
He bore the rest of it patiently, until Thor said 'And you were felled by a warrior – I saw you. I was almost killed because of it, but you used your last conscious moment to conjure a shield for me.' Thor's smile could have lit up all the suns in the nine realms, Loki thought. 'I told you that you would always be useful in battle to me, Loki.'
'Well I wasn't about to let you be killed because of me, in front of me,' Loki said with a touch of disdain, although really quite pleased.
'Exactly!' Thor gushed enthusiastically. 'And so I returned the favour. I was the one who brought you to the healers.'
A blotch of red coloured Loki's features. How pathetic he must have appeared.
'Is Father angry?' Loki asked tentatively.
'Of course not. We won, why would he be angry?'
The younger prince sighed. 'No, Thor. Is he angry that I fell in battle?'
'What? No, I don't think so – why would he be? It is natural to be felled in battle, it happens to everyone at some point.'
'But then, you would not realise Father's anger unless it was directed at you,' Loki said pensively, a little annoyed at his brother.
'Do not think so negatively,' Thor said, placing a hand on Loki's shoulder. It was then that Loki realised Thor was still wearing his armour. Had he gone straight to Loki's side after the battle to wait for Loki's return to consciousness? 'Father loves the both of us, and he understands.'
Loki wished he could believe that.
Then, Thor's eyes became gentle, and Loki could see the touch of confusion and fear behind it. Loki's heart skipped a beat – what was it that was troubling his brother? Had Odin said something after all?
'I am glad you are awake, Brother,' Thor said.
Oh gods. Was that all? He wished Thor wouldn't scare him like that.
'I'm ... glad you won.'
Thor leaned in close, very close, the hand on Loki's shoulder travelling to his cheek. Loki's heart began beating very fast, and a yearning seemed to open up in his heart. For what, he wouldn't face.
'I did it, Brother. For us.'
Loki tried to nod, but he was cut off when Thor pressed his lips against Loki's own, and it was as if a dam had broken inside Loki, spilling a river of emotions. His mind screamed 'Wrong, wrong, wrong!' but he couldn't listen because Thor was kissing him and it was the most glorious feeling in all of Yggdrasil.
5. Come hither
Sometimes, Loki would think that the thing between him and Thor was wrong, that they were related, and it was forbidden between them. At other times, he wondered why it didn't bother him as much as it should. He released all inhibitions when he was with Thor, especially when they were in private. How did Thor do that to him?
Most of Loki's day had been spent reading and practicing spells. He was getting a little too old to play a potentially dangerous trick on the residents of the palace and bat his dark eyelashes with an innocent apology to get off the hook. These days he preferred something a bit more subtle. So for now, it was more research. Also, using his research to come up with more creative ways of playing tricks. Hopefully on Volstagg, he had been being an awful tease lately.
The door of the library opened and shut. Loki paid it no heed and continued reading, until the aroma of flowers reached him. He looked up from his book with a frown; who would dare disturb the peace of the library by bringing in such a strong-smelling bouquet? He had half a mind to get up and scold the wayward stray, when Thor appeared behind a shelf, a smile on his face.
'Good day, Loki,' he greeted cheerfully.
'Keep your voice down, Thor, this is a library,' Loki said, perhaps a little fussily. 'Are you the one who has brought perfume inside? You know that's not allowed.'
'Not perfume, Brother,' Thor said, producing a colourful bouquet of large flowers with a flourish. 'Flowers, for the one dearest to my heart.'
'I never realised you were a romantic,' Loki scoffed, but it failed to produce the intended effect, as a fonder expression crossed his face.
'I'm not a romantic, I'm a traditional king,' Thor declared, brandishing the flowers in Loki's face. 'Do you accept, gracious lover?'
'I suppose I have to, seeing as they are a gift from my king,' Loki sneered, although there was no spite in it. He took the flowers and laid them on the table. 'Is that your purpose in coming? Wooing me? You realise it is not necessary.'
'Yes,' Thor laughed. 'You will be by my side no matter what, isn't that right, Loki?'
'I concede it with regret.'
Thor leaned forward and kissed Loki, gentle pressure on the soft, dry lips. Loki returned the kiss to the bare minimum, reluctant to be distracted, and possibly caught in the throes of passion, in the palace library. Not that they had actually gone that far ... Thor appeared to be in no hurry, and they had centuries upon centuries left.
Centuries upon centuries to be caught, a dark crevice of Loki's mind whispered, but he quickly pushed it away.
'Now do leave me alone,' Loki said, withdrawing into his seat. 'I am busy.'
'If you intend to be busy, then why not be occupied with me?' Thor suggested eagerly.
'What are you offering?' Loki asked suspiciously with a raised eyebrow.
A shy look appeared on Thor's face, and he slowly said 'Anything you might like.'
'Anything?' Loki echoed.
'Anything,' Thor affirmed.
The blood rushed in Loki's veins as he realised the full implications of what Thor was saying. Thor was propositioning him. Heat crept onto Loki's face (Thor had been the cause of that far too many times lately), but he was excited too. He stood up, and touched Thor's hand.
'Lead the way, my king,' he whispered.
Thor grinned and rose as well, then kissing him once more. 'Worry not, Brother. I'll take care of you.'
Loki believed it.
+1. Never doubt
The night before Thor's coronation, Loki lay in bed with him, the two a mess of tangled limbs and satisfied pleasure. They were both naked except for the furs that covered them and kept them warm through the night. Thor's lips lingered on Loki's hair.
'What are your expectations of me, Brother?' Thor asked suddenly.
'What do you mean?' Loki said with confusion. It was a seemingly random topic.
'I am to be crowned king tomorrow,' Thor breathed with the faintest trace of a sigh. 'What do you think will happen during my reign?'
According to Loki's plans, Thor would not actually be crowned king tomorrow, but that was for Thor's own good. He would be in time anyway, so the question remained valid. 'I expect great things, Thor,' he answered.
'Can I be as fair and just as our father?'
'You will be better,' Loki said, and in this he was assured.
'What makes you say that?' Thor asked curiously, but Loki could hear the flattered grin.
'You have never discriminated between your subjects,' Loki said, touching on the subject that he most related to. 'You never put down Sif when she expressed her intentions to become a warrior.'
'Of course. Everyone deserves a chance to fulfil their dreams.'
'And you have never treated me differently from everyone else.'
'What?' said Thor, startled. 'Who dares disrespect you, Brother?'
'Do not go chasing after them, Thor,' Loki said a little wearily at Thor's obliviousness to the happenings around him. 'They are many, some your own friends.'
'That will not continue after I become king,' Thor proclaimed.
Loki chuckled. It was ambitious, a goal he could never completely achieve, but Loki appreciated the thought.
'And you, of course, will be made chief of my council.'
'You believe in me, don't you?' Thor asked, propping himself up on an elbow, suddenly looking worried. 'Be sincere now, Brother. Do not employ that silver tongue for a moment and tell me, truthfully.'
'If it is for you, then I am always truthful,' Loki said softly, which was actually not true at all, for though Thor was the person Loki most trusted, there were things that even from him that he hid. But it was what Thor wanted to hear. 'Heroes are remembered, but it is legends that live forever. And you will be a legend, Brother.'
'Is that what the snakes in the gardens tell you, Loki?' Thor asked, beginning to smirk again.
'What the snakes told me was entirely different. It was the stars that told me of your future legacy.'
Thor relaxed and fell back onto the bed. 'Thank you.'
Loki hesitated for a moment before closing the distance between them, and for the first time, it was Loki who initiated a kiss. Thor's surprise was evident, but he was quick in returning the gesture. When they stopped, Loki did not pull away, so his lips were still brushing Thor's.
'Sometimes I am jealous of the attention that has always belonged to you,' Loki murmured. 'But never doubt that I love you, in every way possible.'
'Never,' Thor said, and it was the feeling of a promise that erased every doubt Loki might have had himself.