"It is cold here, I don't like it."
"Hogun, you don't like a lot of things," Fandral retaliated.
The five of them, all young warriors, had slipped away to Jotunheim to explore the forbidden, barren land. It had been quiet upon their arrival, and even as they trekked through the blizzard and crunchy snow, they had yet to see any other life forms.
"What did you expect, anyway?" Volstagg joined in.
"A bit of life, perhaps," Sif muttered, eyes wandering the vast plain. At that moment, there was a shriek that caused them to flinch and raise their weapons.
"What was that?" Volstagg asked nervously, fingertips flitting along the wooden handle of his axe.
"Worry not, friends," Thor said determinedly, fixing his helmet and cape as he walked to take a place at the front of the group. "I shall go on ahead!" He marched on solidly, ignoring the protests from behind him. The soft crunching of their footsteps showed they followed him, as hesitantly as it may be. As he grew closer to the sound, he recognized the soft whimpering as those of pain. He cleared the thickets ahead, swatting them to the side with his thick hands until he came to a small bundle near the roots of a tree. When he stepped closer, he gasped in awe that what he once thought was blue fabric turned out to be the skin of a young boy, curled with his knees to his chest, wearing nothing but a fur pelt that clung to his bony hips.
"Hello there," Thor said softly just his friends appeared behind him with ungraceful bustling. The Jotun boy gave a small cry before turning in the opposite direction to flee. Spinning too quickly on his gangly legs proved to be too uncoordinated as he tripped and fell back down harshly, sobbing as he did so.
"Hold on there! We're not here to hurt you!" Thor said quickly, shooing his friends away. They shot him worried glances, but they knew better than to insult him by asking if he was sure he could handle the small boy. Reluctantly, they backed away from the scene, opting to wait elsewhere. The boy turned his head, and blinked his brilliant ruby eyes, shining with tears, slowly uncurling himself to reveal a deep, bloodied gash on his knee. He made no sound, just tilted his head slightly to curiously peer up at the odd outsider. Thor's breath was taken away by the sight - this boy was the most beautiful thing he had ever laid eyes on! He sank to his knees, hoping to make the other boy feel more comfortable and to get a closer look at the alluring picture in front of him. "I'm Thor... And I want to help you with your knee, okay?"
It took a few moments for those crimson eyes to scan him over before a soft voice finally spoke. "My name is Loki." His voice was gentle and melodic, completely enticing Thor further. As response to Thor's offer, he gingerly extended his injured leg, muscles tense and ready to flee should the situation become unsafe. His long tangle of limbs unwrapped themselves to reveal delicate raised markings and Thor studied them the whole time he reached for a healing stone.
"Here, this will help the wound go away," he informed Loki, who was peering at it curiously. "Do you not have these here?"
"No, I don't think so. We have a magic-wielder to tend to our wounds. I was going to learn how, one day," he said cheerfully, tucking his unruly black hair behind his ears.
"I'm sure you'll be very good at it," Thor assured. It earned him a wide smile of pearly white teeth that was so radiant, Thor momentarily forgot what he was doing. Snapping back to reality, he gently placed his hand above the faded pink scar now in place and settled onto the ground in front of Loki.
"No problem! You're my friend now, and friends help each other!"
The boy smiled at Thor again and started to sing to him. It was a beautiful song about the origin of the large tree they leaned against, and it was so enchanting that Thor asked for another.
"Only if you tell me a story first," Loki bargained.
And so they began to exchange stories of Asgard for songs of Jotunheim, completely losing track of time. When Thor's friends came back, they were frantic about having spent so much time away from Asgard, and that surely their parents would be worrying about them. Saddened, Thor stood up to join his friends but first had to say goodbye to his new friend, who was scrambling onto his knees to try and stop him from leaving.
"Don't worry, I'll be back," he assured. He unwound the scarf he had wrapped around his neck and placed it around the slender neck of the frost giant. Wrapping his red cloak around himself, he smiled at Loki. "You can keep the scarf... As a reminder of me, until I return."
He hated seeing those magnificent eyes pool with tears again, so he quickly kissed the cool forehead with one more promise to return soon, and waved sadly as he followed his friends out of the thicket.
"Do you have any idea how worried we were about you!? All of you!? " Odin bellowed, slightly red in the face as he sat upon the throne, the five children at his feet. "You are never to do such foolish things again! Now off with you, to your parents! They've been worried sick."
Hogun, Fandral, Volstagg and Sif all scurried off quickly, leaving Thor to fidget nervously now that he was alone with his father.
"Thor, my child, what were you thinking?" Odin asked exasperatedly.
"We were just exploring, father," Thor replied timidly.
"You know that Jotunheim is forbidden! And it is forbidden for a reason! You could have gotten yourself, and your friends, killed!"
"I'm sorry, father. I promise I won't be so foolish again!"
"Of course you won't. You are never allowed to return to Jotunheim without my permission and supervision, is that understood?"
Thor's mind raced to the small Jotun child. "But father, plea-"
"But there is a -"
"Thor Odinson, you are banished to your chambers for the night. A servant will bring your meal so that you may think about the harm you have put yourself and your companions in." With that, Odin strolled out of the room, ordering a guard in to accompany Thor to his room. The whole while, Thor kept thinking about his new friend - where was he now? What was he doing? Would he still be waiting for him?
Years pass by, and in Jotunheim years are long when it is cold and dark for all time. At first he begins to wonder how long it will be when the young Asgardian will come back. Then he starts to wonder if he'll ever see the boy again. Eventually, he begins to wonder what has happened to Thor - had he been injured? Or had Thor simply forgotten about him? It's been several lunar cycles now, and even as Loki grows out of his awkwardly long limbs and into the lean, muscular body of a young man, he still finds himself tracing the delicate scar over his left knee.
He keeps the scarf against better judgement. To this day, a part of him still hopes the Asgardian will come back, even though enough time has passed that he shouldn't even let the thought cross his mind. As he looks into his wardrobe, he smiles sadly at all the royal green and black, purposely picked out to match his scarf. He dresses in his finest silks, liking the way the light danced off the shiny emerald material. He strapped his black leathers and golden guards on afterwards, remembering that his father specifically asked him to be at his best. The delegation would impact Jotunheim's future, after all - perhaps even grant frost giants the ability to travel to Asgard, as they weren't allow to do so right now. As his fingers wound around the scarf to place on top of his ensemble, his heart fluttered briefly at the thought of encountering his long-lost friend again, but he quickly pushed the feelings aside.
It had been years. He never came back, and it was time Loki moved on from the surprisingly bitter betrayal. He had a duty to his father, and to his realm now. He strode gracefully into the Great Hall, where Laufey and two of his finest soldiers were awaiting him.
"Of course, father."
Thor hated political meetings of any kind. Being moulded to be the next king of Asgard was boring to the rambunctious god, and the upcoming delegation was a difficult test to pass. "Be on your best behaviour" Odin had warned him. The day was already beginning to drain him after listening to Odin and Karnilla negotiate back and forth about some sort of magical rune protection. The rest of the rulers followed after the Norn Queen, and King Laufey was the latest. When the door to the hall flung open, Thor shivered. Upon seeing Odin get up to greet his last guest, Thor followed suit, remembering to be polite and royal. Laufey and Odin exchanged a few words, and Thor looked at the guards Laufey had brought with him. They were just as muscular, dressed in armoured leathers and like Laufey, towered over the rest.
"... My son, Loki." He caught the last part of Laufey's sentence.
He turned his attention back to the Jotun king, who was introducing Odin to a lean figure, small in comparison to the rest but no shorter than an inch of Thor himself. Thor's eyes immediately stuck to the attire the prince wore - more specifically, the woven green scarf around his neck. It couldn't be....
Yet the more Thor studied, the more convinced he was that it was indeed the same boy from his adventures all that time ago. His hair was no longer a messy bird's nest upon his head but slicked backward neatly, flicking upward ever so slightly at the ends. His skin had deepened a shade as well, now a rich, royal cobalt instead of the pale periwinkle it had been when he was a child. Though his eyes were still a shocking crimson, they had a new gleam to them - they were wiser, and more appealingly mature now that they did not shine with tears. Thor's heart thudded against his chest as he picked apart all the finery he donned for the occasion and let his eyes set on the incredibly toned, mile long legs - and a faded little scar on his knee.
It's him. It's really him.
Thor stared in awe, wondering how it was possible for the little boy he once knew had grown so beautiful - even more beautiful than before. As if realizing that golden prince was scrutinizing him, Loki turned around and the boys stared at each other for what felt like an eternity. Swallowing thickly, Loki turned away first, perfectly fine with ignoring Thor for the rest of the evening, never leaving Laufey's side. Thor awkwardly tried to strike up conversation but was met with curt, terse answers, polite but obviously not wholehearted.
"Boys, would you mind stepping out of the room for a while as talk about a few things," Odin said, subtly dismissing them.
"Of course," Loki responded, bowing to the Allfather and quickly leaving for the doors. Thor, so wrapped up in the thought of finally getting a chance to speak to Loki, forgot about his manners and quickly dashed after the elegant prince.
"Loki!" he cried out. The boy in question froze upon hearing his name.
"So glad you could at least remember one thing," he replied cooly, his words cutting in like a hot blade, anger seeping from his very pores.
"I'm.. I'm so sorry!"
They held each other's gaze for a moment before Loki crumbled before Thor's very eyes. His face completely fell, and the ice in his words melted instantly. He looked at Thor sadly this time, "You said you would come back," he whispered.
As if they were young boys all over again, with Thor stumbling upon the frost giant in the midst of crying, he watched as the tears formed.
"I tried! I swear it, but my father forbid me!" Thor protested, heart aching at the sight of the exquisite beauty shedding tears because of his actions. "I tried to protest, I tried for years! But he wouldn't listen, and it was all my fault. I should not have been in Jotunheim that day, and it caused him to worry too much to ever let me go back. I'm so sorry I never came back... But... But I really wanted to."
The blatant pleading in Thor's voice was hard for Loki to ignore, and as he watched Thor's face closely, he could see no sign of dishonesty.
"I waited for you."
Thor gulped, ridden with guilt and sorrow. "I'm so sorry..."
"I wore this scarf all the time. I hoped it would bring you back to me."
Thor felt his own tears form in that moment, his next apology caught in his throat. All he could do was let his bottom lip quiver at the thought of this boy, waiting for him for all this time, and his failure to deliver his promise. He grabbed Loki in a fierce hug, sobbing quietly into the scarf around his neck, feeling the shoulders underneath him shake a heave as well.
"Could you ever forgive me? Even after breaking my promise to you?"
Loki gave a small squeeze around Thor's midsection. "You gave me a wonderful gift to remember you by, and we're here now. I suppose that's all that matters, right?"
Thor beamed at him, his heart soaring at Loki's gentle forgiveness, and making his mind up on the spot. "I have a different promise for you now, and a new gift." Loki watched curiously as Thor tugged his hauberk aside and hooked his fingers around a gold chain. Ducking his head and pulling it over, fishing the rest from underneath his armour, he slipped it over Loki's head, letting the charm fall against his flat chest. Loki stared down at the pendant hanging from the end before looking back up at Thor in wonder.
"Loki... Will you accept?" Thor asked, biting his bottom lip nervously.
It came out as barely a whisper, but it was exactly what Thor wanted to hear. "Yes."