School for the childen of Asgard is not a far cry from what it now is in much of Midgard. Of course, because of Asgard's small population, it rarely has more than a large handful of students taught by the gods who specialize in various subjects. There was also considerably more focus on fighting than on things like mathematics. The history was also considerably different, as was expected.
Thor found it exciting at first. It was the first time that he and Loki would be able to be around people close to their own age, rather than just adults at stuffy ceremonies and servants.
Loki found it nerve wracking for the same reason, but enjoyed learning more. He had already discovered the rarely used Asgard library and spent as much time as he could get there.
As time went on, Thor found most of it boring- aside from the fighting classes, which he enjoyed, and learning about wars and epic battles. Unfortunately, this did not make up nearly as much of their history as he had hoped. He was still glad to spend time around his peers.
Loki found it matched his expectations, he wasn't sure how to get along with the children and, next to his charismatic brother, never got the chance to find out how. He was not half as skilled in fighting as he was, but managed to excel in everything else. If only because he had nothing else to do with his time but study.
Among the other students their age was a girl, Sif, who planned to become a warrior goddess at a young age and was rather vicious in training her fighting skills for this reason. The only student who had any chance to get out of a fight with her without at least a broken bone was Thor, in part because of his skills and in part because of her blossoming crush. In addition was Volstagg, a pudgy young boy that at first was discounted but showed to be a skilled fighter who could give any of them a good fight, winning as often as he lost (they didn't really count fights against Loki in this tally, in part because he'd resort to sorcery the second the teacher looked away, in part because when he couldn't use sorcery he was beaten so easily). There was also Fandral, who had no head for names or dates and constantly struggled to learn their history. He was a very skilled fighter as well, but was unquestionably the worst student in the class when it came to everything else.
Over the years, all of the students became at least passable at the things they were worst with, but Fandral still struggled despite his friends' attempts to help him. He laughed it off, but it actually bothered him. Loki's snide attitude about it didn't help. Fandral could swear that every time he gave a wrong answer in class, the trickster scoffed or smirked. He was not proud to admit that, when he was assigned to fight Loki, he went a bit rougher on him than he probably should as a result. The day's after they sparred, Loki made his scoffing more audible- sometimes enough to get him told off- but on those days Fandral just grinned that he'd gotten to him.
"I don't know what to tell you, Fandral, I've tried everything I can but you still aren't learning," Bragi, the God who taught writing and history, told him. He had asked the boy to stay after, which of course meant that Thor, Sif, and Volstagg were all standing outside of the classroom doing their best not to eavesdrop while hanging on every word.
Fandral squirmed. He hated the feeling of disappointing someone. "I swear, I've tried as hard as I can," he said helplessly, "I just… can't learn this."
The teacher shook his head, "You need to. If you can't, I'll have to tell your family. I don't even know what will happen, it's been so long since someone failed…" Fandral winced at the thought of his father's face when he heard that news, thankfully he was too wrapped up in that thought to hear the bit about no one failing in so long. "You still have time- a few more years. But you have to find a way to learn… everything in that time."
Fandral nodded silently. He was allowed to leave then, and he walked out the room with his head hanging down. When he got into the hallway, his friends had managed to make a very convincing show of being involved in a discussion and not listening to what had been going on in the room. He was impressed.
"You heard all of that, didn't you?" He asked them with a half smile. The three babbled their objections for a moment before nodding.
"That's pretty rough," Volstagg said.
Fandral nodded, placing his hands on his head, "I don't know what to do!"
"Maybe if you spent as much time in the library as Loki," Thor half-suggested, "It's the only reason he gets the grades he does."
Sif rolled her eyes, "Lot of good it does him when it comes to fighting."
"But Fandral doesn't have a problem with fighting," Volstagg pointed out, "And missing a bit of training won't hurt you that much."
Fandral groaned, "You aren't serious?" he sighed to himself, "You're right. I should probably head over there now."
"I'd go with you, but there's some prince thing I need to do," Thor said apologetically.
"Don't worry about it, I think I'd rather go on my own this time," he said with a smile.
"You're certain?" Volstagg asked doubtfully, but Fandral brushed away his concerns with a wave.
"I'm certain. I think I need some time to think as well," he explained. The four said their good-byes and went their separate ways, Fandral trudging along the winding hallways of Asgard.
The library was a place that Fandral had rarely spent time in. He'd spent more time getting thrown out of it for ending up too raucous with Thor or Volstagg. It was as spectacular as any other room in Asgard, the walls covered in books with the occasional ladder that he only imagined could move, allowing access to the higher books. There were a few rows from the start, but he knew there were couches and tables to sit at to read the books. The smell of old books made him crinkle his nose.
At the entrance there was also a desk with someone sitting at it. She was reading a book and gave Fandral a warning glance when he walked in, recognizing him from one of the times he'd been tossed out. He managed a reassuring smile. She looked unconvinced but returned to her book nonetheless.
The boy sighed as he walked down the aisles, trying not to think just how many he needed to learn the contents of.
"How am I supposed to do this?" he asked himself quietly, shaking his head. He was wandering aimlessly, deciding to get himself acquainted with the place he'd have to spend more time around than he wanted to think about. It beat trying to decide where to start the hopeless task of attempting not to fail.
When he reached one of the areas with chairs, he stopped and quickly hid behind the bookshelf he'd just passed. Before him was a sight he hardly believed he was seeing. Loki, the ever prim and proper and collected, was lounging on a couch, with his jacket and overshirt next to him. He'd never seen Loki's arms. He knew that Loki had them, but it was a surprise to see them. More surprising, though, was the content smile on his face.
It made him look like a completely different person. It was far from the cold, indifferent, and occasionally smug expression he usually wore. And it was the only reason that a particular thought crossed his mind.
"Loki, it's wonderful to see you," he said with his warmest smile. The pale boy's eyes widened, the smile gone in an instant as he scrambled to grab his jacket, shooting a glare at the intruder into what he'd come to regard as his private sanctuary. Fandral shrunk back slightly.
"What do you want?" he snarled, his jacket once again on, he clutched it closed with both of his hands.
"I didn't mean to…" he didn't know what to apologize for.
Loki ignored this, "Fighting isn't allowed in the library so if that's what you want I suggest you wait until another time."
"That's not what I wanted," Fandral said, "I wanted your help."
"My help?" he asked warily, "With what?"
The dashing boy smiled sadly, "You probably know. I need help with school."
"You… want my help?" Loki asked, shaking his head, "You hate me."
"I hate the way you treat me," he corrected, not able to hide the bitterness in his voice, "Like I'm less than you."
The other boy's lip twitched at this, he glared and looked away, "You take it out on me well enough."
"If you'd just learn to fight—"
"I've tried!" Loki snarled at him, before regaining his composure. The cold expression returned to his face, "I'm afraid I was not blessed with strength the way you four were. I'd have to train constantly just to have a chance to keep up with you. I apologize that the thought doesn't appeal to me."
Fandral frowned, but decided to accept it, "Alright. I'm sorry."
Loki's eyes widened slightly at that and his face again lost the coldness, he let go of his jacket and picked up the book he'd been reading, which had been thrown on the coffee table in front of the couch. "I… can try to help you," he said quietly, smoothing down some of the pages.
"What were you reading?" Fandral asked, carefully walking over to the boy. He stopped when Loki glared at him, and the glare softened.
He shook his head as he closed the book, "Nothing, really, just some book. I found it the other day, it's about Jötunnheim- but not about any battle. Just about the world."
"That's interesting." He wasn't technically lying, it was interesting that this brought such a content smile to the boy, even if it sounded terribly boring. Fandral supposed he just liked reading.
"Mm," Loki responded, raising an eyebrow at the boy, "What do you need help with?"
"Everything," Fandral said quietly, bowing his head.
The trickster managed to hold back a sardonic response and instead nodded slowly, "That's a lot."
"I just can't learn this," Fandral said defensively, running a hand through his head. He started pacing while he continued in a panic, "I don't know what's wrong- I read the same books you do! But the words don't make sense, I don't know why. I try to pay attention in class and… I don't understand the way Bragi speaks. He's a poet- he speaks in verse!"
Loki stood up slowly and held his hands up to show he meant no harm, "It's all right," he said gently.
"How is it all right?" Fandral moaned, dropping himself into one of the chairs next to the couch and placing his head in his hands, "No one's failed in longer than Bragi can remember and I'm going to."
The trickster felt a pang of guilt for all the times he had teased or scoffed at the other boy for not knowing something. He swallowed uncomfortably, "I never realized it bothered you this much. I thought you didn't care."
"I tried not to," he said, taking his hands down and crossing his arms over his chest, "I definitely didn't want you knowing."
Loki nodded, "I apologize, for all those times." He would like to say that he wouldn't have been such a jerk if he'd known it bothered Fandral, but that probably wasn't true.
"Thanks," Fandral said quietly.
Loki looked over at him and smiled nervously, "Where do you want to start?"
"I don't know, where do you think is best?" Fandral asked, returning the nervous smile with a warm one. If there was one thing Fandral was good at, it was putting people at ease with a smile. It didn't work as well as he would have liked, but it also didn't make anything worse, and that seemed good enough for now.