Deep under the roots of Yggdrasil, Hel laughs.
Heimdall sees a prow rising from the depths, a fully-formed ship built for giants. Giants, and Loki.
A volcano erupts on Muspellheim. Fire. Awakening. The glint of light off a sword larger than life.
The branches of the tree quiver. Beneath Heimdall’s feet, the cosmos tremble.
The end is soon.
The end is near.
And where was he, the one who taught Heimdall to see the colours?
“Something is happening.”
It is not a question, and it is an unusually sombre greeting for the jotunn lad. His face is drawn, and the mischievous gleam is absent from his blood-red eyes.
Heimdall reaches out, draws him in, tight. Vetr doesn’t protest, even as Heimdall’s fingers dig into his bony shoulder.
“Our time is at hand.”
“All nine realms will be sundered.”
“Even — even Alfheim and Svartalfheim? But why must all the realms suffer…?”
“It is time to begin again.”
And so Vetr understood that it was not a punishment, the end of things; it was a necessary machination, a wiping of the slate, a completion of a cycle, the three hundred and sixtieth degree of a circle.
But he did not cease trembling, and Heimdall’s grip gave no slack.
“How… how much time do we have?”
The Bright One bent his head, brushed his lips over the lad’s lustrous brown hair.
“Will we all… we’ll all die, won’t we.”
“Some will not. But we will.”
They spoke intermittently — Vetr asking a question in a small voice, Heimdall answering with subdued calm — but mostly sat in silence. Bluish fingers sifted absently through hair like spun gold, and the Guardian turned his head in Vetr's lap to allow better access.
“And I’ll have to go back home… only to return to…”
“To fight us.”
“I don’t want to fight you! I don’t want to fight at all!”
“You want to live, and love, and laugh, and be. I know.” Heimdall sat up, leaned in to brush his lips against Vetr's, completed his statement. “There is still time yet.”
“But… this is… You’re supposed to hate me!” Heimdall let himself be pushed away.
“I am not supposed to hate anyone. I am never called upon to pass judgement.”
“But you’re aesir!” Vetr, face contorted with nameless anguish, trying to find a button to push, a trigger to pull. Something that would make the Guardian’s inevitable fall — his own inevitable fall — less painful. Nothing would. “All of you hate us! It’s… it’s the way things are, or whatever! We’re not supposed to— this is wrong!”
Heimdall looked down for a moment, processing. He was slow, at times, Vetr knew. Vetr waited, breath soughing in and out of a concave chest.
But there were no more words spoken after that.
The golden one lunged forward with eyes blazing, trapping Vetr between his bulk and the expansive mattress. Before, because of his size, he’d often let the jotunn ride him, and was rewarded with an unobstructed view of the lad’s sinuous movements and arching spine. Now, he crushed Vetr beneath him, one hand fisting in fabric and sundering it, then snatching viciously at cold flesh, the lad’s muffled hisses and yelps like frost blooming on his flesh.
A slow, almost imperceptible grind of his hips coaxed Vetr into readiness — now, now that they had known each other in this manner many times, it was easier. Sometimes Heimdall’s commands were verbal, but many of them were not. They were obeyed, just the same.
There were no garments for the lad to rent in turn; the Guardian only dressed when he approached the bridge. Vetr's nails dug into bronzed flesh, leaving livid furrows when Heimdall pushed himself up and away, settling into a kneel.
Vetr squirmed under his gaze, splayed amongst the tatters of his garments, but Heimdall only took a moment to absorb this sight before snatching the boy up and to him again, frosty jotunn flesh against Asgardian heat, their cocks crushed together as Vetr straddled his thighs.
For a moment they struggled to catch their ragged breaths, but like magnets one mouth found another, and breathing was only a distant remembrance in the wake of their fervour. Heimdall’s fingers first dug into the narrow hips that ground against him, but restlessness overtook them and they roamed up an arching spine to grab fistfuls of longish hair and pull. The kiss was broken, a cry ripped from a curving throat, and Heimdall bit into the exposed flesh much the way Vetr had done him many times before.
There was no time, no patience, for preparation and insertion, for the slow, drugging ritual that had brought them pleasure in times past. Their coupling was a riot of harshness and friction, of nails and teeth and flesh that opened under their ministrations. Vetr scratched and slapped and snapped his teeth. Heimdall growled and pulled and gripped to the point of bruising.
They were alive, flesh, full of lust and fury and the indignation of knowing all of these things would be robbed from them by an indifferent universe. They were young and old, eternal, immortal, and yet their end was at hand, and they were not ready.
“I don’t want to go,” Vetr sobbed with an abandon Heimdall knew was his alone to witness, and the golden one silently pressed his lips to bruises blooming livid under bluish skin and closed his eyes.
With little deliberation, he made his decision.
Vetr awoke to the sun’s glow behind the bed’s curtains. Heimdall was absent, and he shoved the bedclothes away.
The Guardian was dressed, and not in the robes he wore to approach the bridge, the robes in which he was clad when Vetr first met him.
Armour so bright it blinded the jotunn, instead. Mail of purest gold, like the flecks in his eyes, like his hair when caught in the sun’s rays. And in his steady hands, a helm with horns like a ram’s.
He did not raise his eyes from the helm, but still addressed Vetr.
“Will you go?”
The lad trembled, but his voice was steady. “I will not.”
The Gatekeeper lowered his head and settled the helm over it. Beside him was the great horn that would herald the giant’s coming.
“Bifrost will shatter under their weight.” You will be trapped here. You will die with us.
“I will not go.” I will die with you.
The bridge was already trembling when Heimdall set foot upon it — a minute quiver that only he felt. He could hear Sól screaming.
He drank in its light for the last time.
He brought Gjallarhorn to his lips, the horn curved around his body. His breath was light upon the mouthpiece, and then, with a strong gust, he blew.
Vetr was cold, cold and small, against his back.
“The colours, Vetr,” Heimdall murmured, and Vetr sidled around him to watch the shimmering of the bridge.
“Look,” a small jotunn boy whose name he didn’t yet know had implored him, once, and Heimdall had not seen then.
“The colours… I see them, one and all…”