They are young, still not old enough to care the way their hair might be tousled out of place. Nor old enough to care the way their limbs might fling, or the unabashed way glee clings to their faces. Their fingers are intertwined, and their laughter ripples and reverberates through the air. They skip in circles together, as if this is the only thing that life has to offer them. Simple pleasures with no consequences.
Laughter without pain. Golden, shimmering days and cool, calm nights that can only be made better as they join together as brothers. In mischief and merry-making.
They are young enough still, that this is the simplest and the greatest matter there is. And they dance in their circles together, hand in hand and mirror smiles on their lips. Loki and Thor are at peace together. And they can want for no more.
They are older now, still not quite into their young adulthood. The laughter no longer reverberates as easily in the golden halls. The smiles aren’t as flamboyant. Their fingers do not knit together in joy and merriment, or in the simple love for being near one another.
Thor is more concerned with learning how to fight and brawl. How to defeat great beasts, and when he can eventually go on the hunt. He no longer finds their dancing fun, and complains often of what he would rather be doing. It is only at Frigga’s insistence and the calm reassurance of his brother that he concedes to continue.
Loki is more swept up in books, in the flames and illusions he can conjure as easily as the breath that fills his lungs. More interested in knowledge than in the art of battle, the turn of a page than the swing of a weapon. He shies away from the sparring rings, turns away from the laughter of those around him. He twists his gifts into tricks and mischief, and lets his silver tongue become venomous with lies.
Their dancing is no longer the delights of two brothers coming together. Though smiles still ebb and sway between them, and they enjoy the more than few sparse moments in each other‘s company, there is but the flat of a palm against a palm. And formality in the place of simplicity.
It is the start of a divide.
Their dance floor is no longer saved to the long halls of Asgard. Their steps no longer those simply practiced and perfected together and then preformed at great events and feasts. Thor has long ago grown tired of that dance, and only at the unrelenting words of Loki does he bother to practice. There are no longer full smiles when they turn together, and their palms barely touch. Their eyes sometimes do not even meet.
The battlefield is Thor’s greatest stage, and though he follows his brother into it, Loki feels alone. They may dance together in the arc and sway of battle. In the thrust and parry, the side step and initiative. But their steps and choreography are as different as night and day.
Coiled in thick muscles and the swing of Mjolnir, Thor dances with the deadly grace of a warrior. All fire and passion, strength and determination. The arc of his hammer a destructive glory, an extension to the already fluid sway and cadence of his body.
In lithe limbs and staggering agility, Loki dances the quick, tantalizing step of the seid. Illusion and grandeur, fire that bites and burns and chills. Small daggers that seat themselves intimately in flesh, more closely than he may ever know the actual press of another. The pull and drag of his magic is cold and calculated, sensual and deceptive.
In this flurry of movements and gestures, Thor has many partners. Those he calls friends, Sif and the Warriors Three, can fall into his rhythm with the barest of ease. Move with him, step and undulate in a long familiar tread. It is the beauty of action without words. Movement without trepidation or the momentary hesitation of confusion. It is what separates them.
What isolates Loki, for even as they may come together as they once did in the golden halls; in the heat of battle, they are wholly apart from each other. And the trickster has no companions to join in his solitary dance.
It is but another fracture that breaks them apart.
Childhood merriment is forgotten, their once resonant mirth is silenced between the years. There are no golden halls, or sunsets where the light fractures magnificently over the horizon. There are no feasts, and there is no need of the formality of partners and well practiced movements. Laughter only comes with pain.
And any fleeting pleasure comes with greater consequence.
Their fingers do not knit together, their palms do not touch. They do not meet as brothers, but as enemies. Their dance is not that of adoration or delight, but that of deeply seated agony and uninhibited rage. Where once they moved as one, with the ease of simplicity on their shoulders; they now circle precariously, in want of all they once had.
Their movements are ripples and waves, surges of emotion. Of violence and longing. There is as much grace in the release of Thor’s hand, and the loosened arc of Mjolnir, as there is when Loki flees. Their dance spans miles and continents, the highest reaches of a mortal world. And when they come close together, between the blows and blood, there is apology in stormy blue eyes quickly swept away by disbelief in green.
Theirs is a desperate dance, a frantic turn and twirl and thrust. It is only when one gives out, body wracked in pain, hands covered in blood, that it finally ends. When a silver tongue is repressed, and hands are bound. There is no longer joy in the step, or happiness in their eyes. There are no shared smiles.
They return to those expansive, glimmering halls. But what once was, is but the echo of a memory, reflected in golden walls.
Loki’s well practiced, venomous tongue only knows freedom when the repressive gag is removed. His wrists only know weightlessness when the shackles are discarded. He knows only pain, and cold and bitterness, until Thor’s arms surround him.
He has no words to form into cruel daggers to twist into Thor’s flesh and maim his heart. He has no energy to struggle or fight, no will to refuse the suffocating warmth of his brother’s compassion. He can do naught by return the embrace, do naught but let his fingers splay against Thor’s back.
He knows, for long moments the most violently stabbing ache in his chest, the most intense strain in his throat; and the harshest sting of tears in his eyes. And with a brittle sigh it gives way, as strong, steady fingers card through his hair. His mouth pressed somewhere between shoulder and neck, muffled pain in sun kissed flesh.
Thor is real, and solid, and tangible, and yet he feels as if he is grasping as smoke and self-conjured illusion, his fingers biting into muscle and cloth alike. Only when plush lips kiss the trails of his tears away, does Loki fully believe that this isn’t a trick and lie of his own mind. A wish so ardent that he has deceived himself in his solitude.
They haven’t danced, or spun, or circled like they once did in years. But fingers intersect, palms warm, and soft and giving. Electric blue eyes meet with green, smiles spreading lightly as mirrors to each other. Lips meet flush, and bodies press intimately close.
And though the words do not pass between them, it is a new beginning.
What once was may be so again.