His brother was trying to be helpful, this much Loki recognized. Despite the fact that Loki's patience was steadily growing shorter the closer they got to his wedding day, Loki even tried to extend some patience towards Thor.
He was not overly successful at it.
"Put down the wedding suit, Thor!" Loki snapped exasperatedly, jerking his arm away from Banner's attempts to measure it.
"But it's quite dashing," Thor proclaimed, refusing to listen, because when did Thor listen to Loki? If one's answer was "as often as Loki listened to Thor," they would have been correct, but Loki would quite likely have denied such a truth.
"Loki doesn't like red, Thor," Sif reminded helpfully. Loki supposed it should not be surprising. Of all of their companions, Sif had been the most sympathetic to his current predicament.
Thor brushed his fingers along the fine red trim and the long black coat tails and shook his head in disappointment. "But you do look so dashing in the color, brother."
"But I like green. That's why our family went the expense of hiring Tailor Banner, because mother's so fond of his green suits."
"She does think his colors brings out your eyes," Thor said agreeably, though he continued to look through at the wrong ones.
Loki would have told him so, too, if Banner hadn't chosen that moment to stick him with a pin. "Ow! What on earth was that for?"
"Your mother hired me because I am the best, your lordship," Banner said contrarily, his tone clearly contradicting the politeness of his words. "Not because we happen to be fond of the same colors. You might actually show some enthusiasm for having the best prepare your wedding, instead of squirming so much about it."
"Indeed, Brother. Your wedding is to be a joyous occasion. Not one of sorrow," Thor instructed, and it was at that point that Loki definitely lost his patience.
"So says the brother who has continually post-poned his wedding," Loki said, nodding in the direction of Sif, and wincing when Banner intentionally stuck him with another pin.
"The Lady has other pursuits at the moment," Thor said loftily as he winked at Sif, managing to make pursuits sound like he was referring to Sif's university studies, instead of the fact that Thor and Sif were merrily bedding everyone they brushed up against. "As do I. As a younger son, your pursuits are not as ..." Thor trailed off, looking for the right words.
Occasionally, Thor could try for diplomacy. Loki would grant him that much, but not much more.
"As a younger son, your pursuits are best suited for giving Captain Rogers the political association he craves," Sif reminded crispy. "Which will pay for the ancestral home your aunt was so nice to leave you."
As if he wasn't well aware of that! As though Loki hadn't heard several lengthy lectures from his father about such a thing!
Still, it was always nice to hear that heavy sigh come from Thor, as it always did whenever the subject of Dear Old Aunt Gaea's will came up.
"Well, you'll have to forgive me for not being as enthused about my impending wedding to a strange American that I've never actually seen," Loki groused. "Who may be as attractive as Volstagg for all I know."
"Volstagg is a true and valued friend," Thor corrected, finally deciding to stop messing with the wedding suits. He instead turned around marched over to Loki.
Oh, excellent, a fight. Nothing calmed wedding jitters quite like a fight with Thor would.
In truth, nothing calmed any occasion quite like a fight with Thor.
"Volstagg has the intellectual capabilities of hot rolls he enjoys so well," Loki scoffed, and he would have continued to have scoffed at Volstagg's expense, if it were not for the sharp prick in his leg. "Ow! Stop poking me!"
"I have measurements to take, your lordship," Banner grumbled. "I will poke you as many times as it is necessary to get you to hold still. If I have to, I shall commence poking your brother, as well."
"There's no need for such harsh measures, Mr. Banner," Thor assured the tailor.
"I'll be the judge of that, my lord," Banner warned, and Loki was at least granted the peace and quiet that he deserved to mull over his impending wedding day.
As far as wedding days went, Steve realized perfectly that they were supposed to be making him nervous. Which is why he fussed with his uniform at least six times. It was after the seventh time that Bucky smacked him lightly upside the back of the head and went to get his mother.
Well, their mother, for all intents and purposes. Sarah Rogers had raised Bucky as one of her after Bucky's parents had passed away, and that hadn't changed at all when she'd re-married, even though the marriage to Stark had given her a third son.
Steve's mother came to her son's room in the church quickly. Seeing that her oldest born was fine, she smiled softly at him.
"This isn't nearly the tragic state of affairs James made it out to be," Sarah observed. "Getting cold feet, Stevie?"
Steve glanced at the closed door, as though he were afraid it would open at any moment. "Do you blame me, Momma?" he asked softly. "I know that what I'm doing is for the good of the family, but - "
"And you know that you would have my blessing if you were to decide to up and run away," Sarah told him firmly.
Steve blinked at that. "I can't - I can't do that."
"Why not?" Sarah moved closer to her son and began to fuss with the medal's on Steve's uniform. Steve took that as confirmation that he'd been right and Bucky had been wrong: they were crooked.
Steve let her fix his medals and tried to come up with a way to answer her that didn't put the weight of his decision on her shoulders, even though she had been instrumental in arranging his marriage. Because the main reason he wasn't running away was because he knew how much getting this marriage meant to the man she'd married. The oldest son marrying into a proud old English family, whose political connections rivaled that of the queen herself, made Steve's stepfather gloriously happy.
Steve, personally, didn't care about titles at all. He didn't even particularly care about the titles that the medals on his chest gave him.
But agreeing to this marriage would make his mother's marriage a happier one, and would, hopefully, lessen Howard Stark's unfortunate alcoholic rampages. Perhaps that would make things better for Momma, and for Tony, who had the dubious honor of still living at home.
Instead, he offered, "You know I don't like running away, Momma."
It worked as an explanation, because it was true, even if it wasn't the truth. Which maybe was a sign he'd been spending too much time around Natalia and Bucky if he was making those kind of excuses. His lieutenants had always been a little flexible with the truth.
"No, I remember the bruises you'd come home with, quite well, young man." Sarah finished fiddling with his medals and gave him a final surveying look. "Your intended's mother is very strong, Stevie, and she has an good relationship with her son."
"I don't see how that is going to make much of a difference in our marriage, Momma. There aren't going to be any mothers in our union."
Sarah gave a slight shake of her red-gold hair. "Things crop up. Observe the relationships you and James form, and compare them with the ones Anthony forms. I do not like to speak ill of any of my sons, but ... "
She trailed off and smoothed his uniform sleeves one more time. But Steve didn't need her to continue. There was a reason that Virginia was with Mr. Coulson these days, and not with Anthony.
"No families are perfect," Steve suggested. "Margaret tells me that the youngest brother in my intended's family ran off to France to marry an evil princess."
"I don't know about evil," Sarah answered, "but I do know that Margaret, James, and Samuel are waiting to serve as your wedding party. Shall we continue to keep them waiting, or shall we begin the show?"
"We'll begin," Steve replied, trying to ignore the flutter in his belly as he said those words.
As if hearing him, Sarah patted Steve on the arm. "Loki's mother tells me he likes the arts, just as you do."
Steve wasn't certain that was enough to build a life on, but he smiled at his mother and opened the door.
The wedding ceremony went as they always did: boring, stuffy and painfully repetitive. Captain Rogers spent the entire thing as rigid as a lamp post, and Loki was quite certain that he was marrying someone with the approximate personality of one, too.
By the time they made it to the wedding breakfast, Loki was even more certain of that fact. If the man wasn't boring, he was at least shy, and they were truly the same thing in Loki's mind.
However, for the record, Loki's brother thought Captain Rogers to be quite attractive. Loki wasn't sure why he actually needed that information, but midway through the wedding dinner, Thor leaned over and told Loki so.
"At least with a mate that handsome, you will not have to worry about the wedding night, brother!" were his exact words, in fact.
Loki hoped Captain Rogers hadn't heard him.
He really hoped so. But the way Captain Rogers choked on his cake made Loki suspect that his prayers had gone unanswered. The way that Margaret Carter glared at Thor, the way that Sif buried her face into her palm (oh, that pride wouldn't have prevented Loki from doing the same!), and the way that James Barnes laughed into his own drink made Loki rather certain that the entire wedding party had heard him - if not the entire dining hall.
For all that Thor pretended that he held his alcohol so well, somedays Loki doubted his word.
In fact, some days, Loki thought Thor was as bad as Balder.
Which is why he muttered under his breath, "I don't see why you couldn't have moved to France with Balder."
Thor did not take too kindly to that, being the upstanding and proud Englishman that he was. Nor did he take too kindly to Anthony Stark telling him to "shut up until it was his wedding."
Voices were raised.
Chairs were thrown.
Mothers were displeased.
But then Thor accidentally spilled his drink on Loki's nice green suit that Banner had spent so much time on, and that's when things really went to hell. Things always went to hell when Banner was angry, after all.
A significant additional amount of chairs were thrown at that point.
In the midst of all the chaos, however, Captain Rogers turned to Loki and said, "You know, I quite like France."
The way his eyes sparkled when he said it - in the middle of deflecting a flying soup bowl with his chair - assured Loki that there was some devilishness to Captain Rogers after all.
So perhaps not boring, after all, then.
Steve would readily admit that he took his time to say his goodbyes to his family and friends. Perhaps too much time, considering that a good number of them were quite drunk and would likely not remember the goodbyes terribly well the next day.
Still, his mother was not drunk. Nor was Samuel, nor was Margaret. So he clung tightly to them during his goodbyes.
"Keep an eye on the rest of them," he murmured to Margaret during his hug. "I'm afraid some of them are drunk enough to fall off the boat."
"Then they would no doubt deserve what they get," was her reply, and while it should perhaps have been expected, it made him worry enough to make the same appeal to Samuel as he had made to Margaret.
"Saving your friends from making fools of themselves," Samuel laughed into the hug Steve gave him. "Pretty damn familiar. Don't worry about them. Just worry about your honeymoon."
Worry about the honeymoon? After giving his mother the promise that he would visit as often as he could, Steve took his husband's arm, climbed into the wedding carriage, and proceeded to do just that.
Until his husband interrupted his train of thought.
"Your friends fight well. My brother was impressed," Loki noted midway through the journey.
"Ah, yes. I may have overheard his ... flattery, after the majority of the chairs were broken," Steve said, a bit awkwardly. Flattery was one way to put it, he supposed.
"Flattery? I'm not so sure your tailor took it as such," Loki scoffed. "My brother was quite amused at Mr. Barton's bravery, however. Rarely do people Barton's size decide they can take down my brother."
"Yes, I believe Clint was more interested in your tailor than your brother, romantically speaking," Steve admitted.
"There's no accounting for some people's terrible taste," Loki answered.
"Mr. Banner seems like a nice fellow," Steve remarked. "A little temperamental, perhaps, but - "
"You will stop thinking that the first time he has to dress you," Loki said disdainfully. "He is overly fond of his pins."
"Sounds painful," Steve said sympathetically. "I never had to worry about that with Clint."
If he sounded wistful, he didn't mean to. After all, they'd just left his family and friends, and truly, he was being ridiculous.
If Loki thought so, he did not say so aloud. "You miss them." Not a question, but a mere statement of fact.
Steve's husband was certainly very sure of himself, though Steve could hardly argue this particular point.
"Some of them I have known since I was a child. Even the ones that have gladly followed me into the pits of hell don't seem to mind that I'd much rather sit down and sketch than go into war." There had, of course, been those that had minded. But they hadn't been invited to the wedding, and Steve wouldn't miss them.
"Mm. Mother mentioned that you were a bit of an artist. Do you paint?"
"A little. I'm better at drawing, but I can do a passable painting. Not as good as the artists you're used to, in the Queen's circles, but they're decent enough."
"The Queen has terrible taste in art," Loki said, mournfully. "Fussy, overcrowded nonsense. I hope you can do much better."
Steve grinned, because the opportunity to discuss art with anyone who actually had opinions on it was rare. "Well, Loki, when we get to your cottage, I'll show you what I can do, and you can be the judge."
"That sounds fair. But I was hoping you'd show me your painting skills first," Loki commented, and Steve had been in the army long for him to understand the innuendo immediately.
He still blushed as he answered, though. "I think I can manage to forestall our wedding night long enough to do that."
When they reached dear old late Aunt Gaea's cottage, Loki quickly discovered several things.
One, Steve was a much better painter than he let on. The Queen would be lucky to have these things hanging on her walls instead of the current dreadful things currently decorating the place.
Secondly, the gentle way that Steve used his brush against the canvass made Loki think that perhaps there was a good deal more to his husband than a simple brute who enjoyed the rush into battle. Perhaps their mothers had made the right choice in their union, after all. At least, Loki's mother had.
Thirdly, Loki discovered that dear old Aunt Gaea's rugs were truly the best place to begin the celebration of his wedding night. Even if they never quite figured out how to remove the green paint that smeared its way from Steve's fingers onto the rug, Loki was certain dear old Aunt Gaea would have understood.
Fourthly, Loki discovered that the stamina that had made Steven Rogers the most prized of America's soldiers also made him the most prized of husbands.
Fifthly, Loki discovered that a bed was almost as comfortable enough to test that theory as dear old Aunt Gaea's rugs.
After both of their bodies were too tired for any further discoveries, Steve curled around his husband and brushed a finger along Loki's stomach, along a green smidge of paint that matched the stains on dear old Aunt Gaea's rugs perfectly.
"I like the way green looks on you," Steve murmured sleepily.
"I hope you like the way green looks off of me even better," Loki retorted.
"Do you need another reminder that I do?" Steve arched an eyebrow at him, and Loki laughed at the idea that either of them would be able to have anymore reminders that night.
"No, no. Go to sleep. You can give me more reminders tomorrow, husband."
"After breakfast," Steve suggested, yawning once more before closing his eyes.
Loki waited until after he was asleep to reflect on the day's events. As far as arranged marriages went, it could have gone far worse. At least there seemed to be no immediate need for either of them to have lovers on the side to satisfy them.
As far as their honeymoon went, dear old Aunt Gaea's cottage would certainly do. Oh, Loki had every intention of earning his own title from his loyalty to the Queen, and when that day came, they would move on to much bigger and better things. But as far as beginnings went ... this was an acceptable start.