Though it was a distant memory now, Thor still remembered the way his brother’s body moved when given the right melody. He remembered the long, flowing skirts – almost always emerald in colour – and he remembered the sound of golden tassels and other priceless decorations jangling along with even the smallest movements. But mostly the thunder god remembered the sway of Loki’s hips, the way he rolled them along with his abdomen, the spread of his fingers and flowing motions of his arms, the way his feet ghosted over the ground beneath them with such ease.
And of course he remembered how blessed he felt whenever Loki allowed him to watch.
When Loki was first brought back to Asgard after the havoc he had wreaked on the realm next door, he had been… somewhat difficult to deal with. He was more withdrawn in his imprisonment here than he was on SHEILD’s flying ship though, likely due to his lack of control in this situation. Loki was given his old room back in an unspoken attempt to placate the angered god, but he was no more a fool than they were. Loki was well aware of the strict watch he was under, the impossible locking charms attached to his windows and door and of course the severe dampener placed on his magical abilities. The room had also been stripped to its bare bones and so there wasn’t a single thing left in there that might have aided him in any escape plan. Only Thor visited the imprisoned god with any kind of regularity, each time trying a new method he thought may finally bring Loki around again. But Loki only ever responded in insults, sneers and insincere answers.
That was the case during the first week or so, at least. After that, Loki simply stopped talking.
But still Thor did not give up.
As the days turned to weeks, Thor began to spot beautiful fabrics lying around in Loki’s room; things he supposed had been deemed safe enough to let stay with their punished owner. With increasing regularity, he could also hear music coming from inside the room when he passed. And on one occasion, Thor had managed to enter while Loki was still clad in the familiar garments he once wore in his previous performances. It was clear now that Loki had begun to dance once again, even though he refused to do so with any sort of audience.
It was a few more weeks until finally Loki did not demand Thor leave him be when he entered.
On this particular occasion, Loki was sitting in a plush chair settled beside his bed and he wrapped in silks and satins with not much else besides his eyes and his bare feet and hands exposed. Even the portion of his face from the bridge of his nose down was concealed by the smallest of his veils, black but translucent enough to be able to distinguish the shapes of his face.
Thor paused, eyes questioning as they observed the younger god. “What is this?”
The trickster smiled from behind the veil, all teeth and no honesty. “Would you like to see what I have been doing all this time, brother?”
“…if you will allow it.”
When Loki rose to his feet, a soft jangling noise came from underneath his layers. “Sit.”
Thor did as he was told and crossed the room to take a seat on the edge of Loki’s bed. His brother then moved to the center of the empty space in his chambers, a space which he had clearly designated as his stage. With a wave of his hand, music began to fill the room.
And wrapped in all of his layers, each one a different colour and pattern, Loki began to dance.
It was not long before Thor’s eyes became transfixed on what was occurring before them. The arrangement of cloth covered much of Loki’s body at first, but still the thunderer could identify the moving body beneath, could envision the pale skin of his torso circulating already. Loki had never danced while dressed in such a costume before, and in the back of his mind Thor silently pondered why he was doing so now.
Although it had been ages since Loki last danced, let alone in front of his brother, the longer Thor watched him dance now the more it felt like watching the same younger brother he had known so perfectly years ago. The motions were a part of a different dance that he had never before laid eyes on himself, but somehow they still remained unique to Loki alone. The exact style in which those hips moved could be accomplished only the god of mischief himself, no one else, and it was all the thunder god could do but watch. It was as though Loki’s body was meant for the rhythm of the music, and as if the sound itself was meant only for the two of them. Observing him now, it was like there was never a moment in time where his little brother had ceased dancing. Like he could fool himself into thinking that Loki had never been filled with such blinding rage and so changed by it.
The expression on his face was familiar too – focused on the music more than the steps, his concentration kept on the rhythm even in the instances where he flashed Thor an insincere smile meant only to seduce and tease him. Only in his eyes was there a flash of something different; the remnants of the torment that had hardened him so quickly.
Thor was so engrossed in his brother’s moving body that he barely noticed two colours pooled on the ground between them where Loki had already shed two of his flowing veils. With them gone, he could now identify three more distinct colours artfully attached to Loki’s body. They too were soon used in the ritual of his dance, spinning with him and the currents of air until being gently discarded unto the pile of materials that were slowly becoming a tangled rainbow at Thor’s feet.
As the music flowed, so did the god before him. Colours flashed as Loki danced with his props, each one drifting to the floor when he was ready to continue onto the next layer, and the next, until the pale of his skin became visible once more. The last of the coloured veils was a shimmering gold, streaked with an angry red that blazed in the air like fire as Loki spun in circles on his toes, the fabric fanning through the air while remaining clutched within the long fingers of his outstretched arms.
Never had Thor been left so breath taken by Loki’s dancing before.
It was as though Loki and his veils were an extension of the music itself. There was such power in his movements, such expression – and for a brief moment in time as the trickster god spun within the center of his golden circle of fire while the drums beat heavy and deep along to the movement of his toes, his heart felt more exposed than ever.
The drums began to subside and the blaze around him fell, leaving Loki’s chest adorned in nothing but the golden necklaces that hung round his neck and his hips with nothing but the golden garment that his green skirts were attached to. With his layers shed and skin bared for his brother to observe, Thor did just that. Blue eyes, mesmerized, admired the way Loki’s abdomen continued to circle and drank in the lines of his back and curve of his rear when he turned.
Loki did not need his eyes on him to know his big brother could not look away.
As the music slowly began to calm, so did the trickster’s exposed body. Still his limbs and his belly moved with the sound, skirts flowing and jewelry jangling. He turned around to face Thor once again and he stepped closer to his solo audience, each footfall slow and meaningful. As the last dying beats of the song drummed themselves out, Loki raised a hand to grasp the end of the little veil still covering his face and tugged it off. The god’s hips were still moving when Thor’s hands reached out to gently grasp them without thinking; but the same instance that the seventh and final veil slipped from Loki’s hand to silently drift to the floor was when they finally stilled.
Then the music and the jangles stopped as well and there was nothing between them but the dancer’s breathing.
Thor’s eyes looked over his brother’s bare torso, observing the still body that had just captivated him so effortlessly seconds ago, captured by the way his chest rose and fell with each breath. It was at least a minute before either of them spoke or moved, Thor simply taking in the rare and undoubtedly gorgeous sight he had just bore witness to.
When he found his voice, it was softer than usual. “I know what dance that was, brother.”
“Do you?” Loki’s voice was but a whisper. Though he had tried to maintain a hint of anger or even a knowing tease, the malicious intentions slipped through the spaces instead and left only a question that felt rawer than he would have liked.
Loki recovered quickly. “Then you know you must give me anything that I desire.”
A small dip in the mattress formed beside Thor’s thigh when Loki placed his knee there, his bare leg slipping through the space between his garments while the front of his green skirts pooled in the thunderer’s lap. The hands Thor had lain on his brother’s hips slid across bare skin until they rested on his lower back instead, holding him there like he yearned for nothing more.
“And what is it you desire?”
There was no immediate answer. Loki only leaned down and let his warm breath touch his brother’s cheek, let the thunder god turn his face towards his with eyes that begged him not to be unreasonable. Of course, there was no true magic involved in what Loki had done – but there was great tradition. The performance of such a dance meant that Thor was honour bound to grant the performer anything that he or she wanted. It was an ancient and rare thing, something Thor did not even expect to see in his lifetime, especially not from his little brother… but it would seem that the god of mischief did not need his magic to force Thor under his thumb in one way or another.
Despite his initial silence, Loki knew from the beginning what he wanted. He didn’t really want to rule and he didn’t even want Odin’s head on a platter. Long, elegant fingers touched the left side of Thor’s chest. With his mouth barely a ghost away from the older god’s ear, Loki gave his answer.
He wanted to rip it out. He wanted to devour it. These were the things he told himself he wanted to do even though he loved his big brother still, almost as much as Thor still loved him. He wanted only to make it all stop and he could find no other way.
But Thor, the big oaf, either ignored Loki’s malice or misinterpreted it. With no hesitation he leaned up and kissed Loki’s dishonest lips. It was not at all what he had meant – but still Loki did not move. He had not expected such unfiltered love to expel from his brother’s mouth in such a simple gesture, did not expect such a willingness to bend to Loki’s perceived desire to be loved without a single restraint.
And perhaps it was a poor lapse in judgement, but for the moment Loki thought this may suffice.