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Not hate

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"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of beauty is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, but indifference between life and death. "

- Ellie Wiesel

„I am asking you, what are you prepared to do?" Rumbled Director Fury into Thor's face. Thor straightened, looking away, eyes unfocused.

What was he prepared to do? He had rather clear idea of what Nick Fury meant. Torture. He meant for Thor to march into the suspicious glass cell, and beat the information out of Loki. Thor had fought his brother before; he had no choice in that matter, but Loki had been armed and more than capable of fighting back. Blows had been exchanged, everything had gone by in a blur. Thor hadn't thought about anything else than stopping the madness of the opened Bifrost.

So what was so different now? There is a madness that has to be stopped just as there had been before. Loki might not be holding any sort of spear or knife, but he was far from powerless. Quite the contrary, he would probably continue his game of poking and prodding at every single one of these humans, just to tear them apart.

„Natasha, get in there, and try to get something out of him," said Fury, clearly losing patience with Thor's silence.

„No!" Thor yelled at Fury sharply. „Let me talk to him."

„You got ten minutes. After that, either get out of there, or go in and tickle him up a bit with that hammer."

Thor nodded, hiding his disgust and headed for the cell. „Turn off the sound of those... devices you have. This will be between my brother and me."


„Thor," smiled Loki as soon as he heard Thor's heavy footsteps approaching. „Are you coming to have another sentimental talk with me? Appeal to our brotherhood?"

„No," answered Thor simply. „Firstly, I want you to know that this conversation will be private. The devices are off."

Loki didn't react to that statement with anything other than a disbelieving scoff.

„It's true."

„Oh don't worry, I'm actually quite sure you believe that it is."

Thor was silent for a moment, then spoke again: „I think you lied when you said that all you remembered was a shadow. A shadow of my greatness."

„Who's the liar now? You claimed to have no interest in all this brotherly talk." Loki leaned a bit forward, hands clasped behind his back, eyes squinting in mock disapproval.

„I am not interested in it. I do not wish you to remember you are my brother. I wish you to remember the times when you craved not being my brother."

„What's that supposed to mean?" frowned Loki, this time truly confused.

„Was it not... " Thor paused and turned away from Loki a bit. „Was that not something that would ease your mind immensely?"

„Thor," warned Loki, a hint of fear in his voice.

„Did you not feel so very out of your mind? Did you not create fantasies where you and I were just two men? Unrelated? Free.. well, more free to do as we wished?"

Loki was silent for a long while, staring at Thor with unreadable face.

„Is this how you wish to break me?" he spoke at last. „Humiliate me into giving out the position of the Tessaract?"

„I do not wish to break you," Thor raised his voice. „I'm just asking you to remember who you are."

Upon hearing that, Loki turned away angrily, facing away from Thor. There were little other words that could agitate him as such.

Did he know who he was? He didn't lie about living in a shadow of Thor. It was the fact that it was not always unpleasant that he failed to mention to his brother. To Thor. Everything in life has always been about Thor. He rotated him like a moon would a planet. And for a very long time, he was more than happy to.

"What I am, is a Frost Giant. I have been lied to my whole life. I have always been put second. I was a king and I was betrayed and casted out. Now I've come to collect. That's who I am, Thor."

For a moment, it didn't seem that Thor had an answer to Loki's viciously spat words.

"No. "

"No?" mocked Loki, his eyebrow raised, a wide, slightly crazy smile, spreading his lips. "Then enlighten me, please."

"I have always loved you. I have always depended on you. I wanted you by my side, whether in battle or facing foreign diplomats. I never thought I could be a king without your support. I thought you knew this."

"So what exactly are you saying? That I should be content with being allowed to serve you? What an honor for the adopted son, for the monster to be tolerated in the presence of the most gracious Thor," hissed Loki, his fist curled up on the thick glass.

"You are not even trying to understand! You twist everything I say!" yelled Thor.

"Then perhaps it is time for you to understand that nothing you say matters to me," concluded Loki in a low voice.

Thor composed himself with a deep breath.

"Very well."

He walked over to the control panel, but before he could admit his ignorance as to its working, Agent Coulson walked into the room.

"Are you trying to get inside? We saw you looking at the control, but couldn't hear anything, in case you were saying something to us."

"Yes. Open it for me. It seems that there is nothing else my brother and I have to say."

Agent Coulson didn't look fully convinced, but quickly tapped at the panel several times.

"Go stand at the entrance," he gestured to Thor, then waited until he has done so. Only then he tapped at the panel one last time and repeated the motion nervously as soon as Thor stepped inside.

"Welcome to my humble dwelling," smirked Loki, seemingly unafraid of Thor's or Mjölnir presence.

"Tell me where the Tessarect is," simply ordered Thor, while inwardly steeling himself.

Loki laughed spreading his arms. "What will you do if I don't?"

Thor raised Mjölnir. "This is your last chance."

When Loki gave no answer but more laughter, Thor striked hard, intending to bring Mjölnir down on Loki. He realized too late the tell-tale vacancy of Loki's unsubstantial double's eyes and couldn't stop the hard blow. Mjölnir rattled ominously on the glass. For a split second, Thor could hear Loki's snickers behind him, Coulson's warning shout and then they started falling.

Scream escaped Thor's mouth. He was being thrown to all sides, deep noise filling his ears. Loki bounced off of him several times, his mirth forgotten in the acute danger of being smashed to pieces. Thor finally managed to get a hold of him and then put all his energy and wits into trying to break the glass with Mjölnir and fly them both to safety, but each short second brought them closer and closer to the ground.

Then, unexpectedly, Thor felt the well-known pull of transplanetal travel and, gripping Loki tightly, he wasn't in the deadly cage anymore, he was out of space and time and finally he hit the ground, crushing his brother beneath him.

They were back in Asgard.

Chapter Text

Loki's breath was knocked out of him both by the impact and by Thor's full weight crashing on him. He gasped involuntarily, and in response felt Thor shift immediately off of him, though his grip on Loki's arms never faltered.

He felt an incomprehensible mixture of anger, fear and relief, the last of which he quickly tried to suppress. There was nothing relieving about being pulled worlds away from his plan, and undoubtedly face what Asgardians would call justice.

„Thor! What happened?"

Loki cringed a bit at the sound of Allfather's voice and was glad for the opportunity to lay on the ground, facing down a little longer. His line of thought was however rudely broken by Thor pulling him up.

„Did you summon us back here?" asked Thor. Loki couldn't help and notice that Thor didn't obediently explain and replied with an answer instead.

„You. I summoned you. I simply felt that you were in mortal danger and pulled you back. Tell me what happened," repeated Odin impatiently.

„We were on a... flying fortress. The mortals have a cage there that is released when a breach is attempted. We were seconds from hitting the ground at a deadly speed."

Loki shot a quick look at Thor, though otherwise he thought it best to stay silent and still as long as possible. Something was very odd.

„Loki was captured then."

„Yes, father."

Loki was now intrigued. This was one of the moments spent with his supposed brother and father when he didn't mind being overlooked and it was also one of the moments when being overlooked seemed very unlikely. The tension between Odin and Thor was palpable.

„You were supposed to let me know and come back with him the instant you had him," spoke Odin with steel in his voice.

„Things are not done. The Tessarect is still in the hands of people who are controlled by Loki! Midgard is still in danger!"

Loki doubted that very much. The power he had over doctor Selvig, Hawkeye and several others was dependant on his ability to control the spear. He had been only shortly separated from it, and he had been still close enough, when they captured him, but now that he'd travelled to different realm, he was sure that the hold would break soon. His plan was thoroughly ruined. Not that he would volunteer that piece of information right now, seeing the interesting argument between Thor and Odin.

„Your allegiance lies with Asgard!" yelled Odin.

„The king of Asgard is the protector of the Nine Realms! Midgard cannot be just left in danger, and the Chitauri cannot get hold of the Tessarect. No place would be safe then," argued Thor heatedly, occasionally waving Mjölnir, to the point where Loki was slightly worried he would get hit. He started wondering if it was time to speak up.

Odin looked at Thor with scrutiny for a moment and then replied, in much more levelled voice: „I will have Heimdall carefully watch over the happenings on Midgard. In the mean time, we have other matters to deal with."

Loki's time-out was clearly over.

„Guards!" called Odin authoritatively. Two armed men stepped immediately into the room. „Chain him, gag him and take him to the prisons. At least three men will be on guard at all times. No one can see him but me, Lady Frigga, and Thor."

Loki considered breaking his uncharacteristic silence before he departed, but before he formulated anything, his arms were behind his back, firmly secured with chains, and to his displeasure, a nasty, heavy metal muzzle pressed his jaws together. He was lead out of the room and vaguely recognized the direction they were taking him to. Thor and Odin both stayed behind.

The cells under the palace weren't an actual prison, that was elsewhere, but were for various sorts of short-time detainment, whether it was for a drunk guard who left his duty or a courtier's wife that was suspected of poisoning her husband.

Loki was pushed into one of the finer cells, quite to his surprise. He hadn't dwelt on thoughts of what a potential captivity in Asgard would be like, but looking back, he never would have expected what just occurred. He'd have expected Odin to yell, maybe even strike him, or kill him on the spot, alternatively drag him to instantaneous set up court and call for justice to be had on him. Not that he would be ignored while Odin and Thor resolved their issues, and then whisked away to a nice cell without even being threatened.

Discomfort from the bound hands and silenced mouth begun as hours passed, as an explanation dawned on him. One that would certainly be in sync with almost everything he'd lived through on Asgard. He wasn't important enough. His machinations with the Frost Giants, his appearance on Earth with a plan to rule it. All would be seen as acting out. He would be punished like a child and then forced to live on Asgard, with everybody finally free to treat him openly with disrespect and disgust.

After several more hours, he heard Thor's step again. It was becoming a theme. Loki a prisoner, Thor his visitor. He got up from the undignified position on the seat he was forced to take due to his restraints. Thor entered, looking grave.

„Will you now speak with me in the boundaries of reason?"

Loki could only raise his eyebrow. His muzzle was still firm in place.

„I realize you can't speak at this instant. I asked you a simple question that can be easily answered without words," elaborated Thor.

Loki nodded, seeing no reason to be burdened with the nasty implement any longer.

„Very well," said Thor with relief and produced a pair of keys. He stepped to Loki, turned him around and gently unlocked the chains. As soon as his arms shifted into more natural position, Loki let out a pained sound that surprised even him. His arms have gotten so numb that he wasn't expecting such pain when they were released.

Thor wasn't unresponsive to this and after a moment that Loki considered hesitation, he slid his palms up and down Loki's arms to comfort them. Then he undid to muzzle too and waited until Loki overcame the pain in his limbs in favour of wiping his mouth clean of the smeared spit that the muzzle caused.

Loki was torn between being humiliated, angry, and grateful that it was Thor releasing him, and not someone who would rejoice in his current state. Whatever wrong-doings Loki had credited Thor with during his exile, and during their brief encounters on Earth, there was definitely no sense of glee, and no sense of cruel satisfaction coming from Thor.

„You will be tried. By the elders. You're charged with attempted treason."

„Attempted? That's rather surprising," reacted Loki and turned around to face Thor.

„You have mother to thank for that. She was very adamant that it was always your plan to kill Laufey and any other Frost Giant that you brought here and not let them do any harm at all."

Loki was quickly recovering from his meek mood.

„Of course. It's much better to have me look stupid than dangerous."

Thor didn't feel the need to react to that. He sat down and after a pause spoke:

„You are not yet charged with anything you did on Earth, and if you want it to stay that way, you should tell me what were the plans for the Tessarect and where it is."

„What could you possibly do from here? Didn't it ever occur to you that from some point, my involvement wasn't necessary?" Loki taunted, stalling some short moments before admitting his utter defeat.

„Heimdall hasn't said anything in all the hours we were arguing about you, so I assume it means nothing irreversible has happened."

„Why don't you ask him for details then? I'm sure he'll be quite chatty," quipped Loki.

„Because I am asking you," Thor stood up, getting angry. „I want to hear from you what damage did you inflict on the planet you're so jealous of!"

„Jealous?" retorted Loki, smiling coldly. „I wanted to rule the Earth, not slap it in the face."

Thor opened his mouth, his finger raising in a warning gesture, preparing for a sharp response, but seemed to stop himself.

„Just tell me."

„Your precious Earth will be fine," admitted Loki finally, with a small sigh. „The control I had over the people who were crucial to building the device is long broken now. I estimate no longer than two hours after we got here."

„And that wouldn't have been long enough for them to finish?"

„No," shook his head Loki. He sat down tiredly, the surge of his old-self that enjoyed taunting Thor fading.

For a long time, neither of them spoke, Thor occasionally pacing back and forth, Loki watching his shuffling feet apathetically.

„There was, uhm... footage. And photographs," started Thor suddenly. Loki looked up, waiting for him to continue. „They're images, moving images of what has passed."

„Yes?" nudged him Loki after Thor fell silent again.

„The S.H.I.E.L.D. had those of you from the moment you came through the portal. And some time after. You looked... bad," concluded Thor uncertainly.

Loki swallowed, though his mouth felt dry.

„Thank you very much for that compliment, your hair is way too long too, by the way," he answered with mirth, though it cost him some effort. Thor was far from fooled however.

„I am not joking, Loki," he crouched and looked his brother straight in the eye. „There is a reason why we don't communicate with many worlds beyond the Nine Realms. Those worlds are filled with darkness and..." he paused in surprise.

Loki's eyes have shifted from his brother's eyes and instead he was frantically blinking and switching his gaze from spot to spot rapidly. After long seconds, he seemed to be in control again and spoke softly:

„Do tell."

This confirmed Thor's fears. From the moment he saw the images of his brother, deadly pale with sunken, crazed eyes, he couldn't stop thinking about what places he could've possibly landed after he'd fallen.

„Loki," he started carefully. „If they made you do all this, you must say so."

Loki looked at Thor through almost closed eyes, contemplating what to say.

„Everything is so simple to you, isn't it? There is good and evil. Good deeds and wrong deeds. Either I came up with diabolical plan or I was tortured into being a puppet. There couldn't possibly be anything else."

„I don't think that," insisted Thor pleadingly. „Please just tell me what happened. I want to understand. After I thought you were dead, I learned more or less about everything that passed here when I was banished and you must trust me when I say that I no longer see things... you must trust me when I say I know now that you have been wronged and if I can understand you, I can also forgive you and maybe ask that you forgive me too."

Loki laughed, with a hint of hysteria creeping up.

„You understand nothing. You think that now is the time to reconsider? That now is the time to patch things up? Talk it out? Even if the elders don't sentence me to death, which I still think very possible, I failed them, Thor. The Chitauri. The Other. And they will come for me."

Loki's last statement was said simply, with no explanation, but Thor felt like he had been submerged in cold water, because such fear and resignation was like nothing he ever heard from his brother. At that single moment, all was forgiven. He understood his brother and he would never let him be hurt again.

„They will not. And if they will, they won't touch you and they will be very sorry they did," claimed Thor, sounding absolutely positive.

Loki closed his eyes.

Chapter Text

Loki stood as proudly as his restrains allowed him. Opposite him sat six members of the Elder Council. In his peripheral vision, he could just see Thor. Everything about him, from his clothes to his posture spoke of a fight.

Behind him, he could feel more than hear the vibration of a mass and the hate coming off of it. Odin and Frigga were sitting in the far corner behind the elders, simply watching for the moment.

Everything he saw was very slightly warped, like he was watching it through a thin screen of smoke. It was a result of a truth-spell that his former teacher, the best magician in Asgard just placed on him. He was familiar with the workings of the spell of course, because he had once hoped to use it in an elaborate prank.

"Do you admit that on the day your brother should have been crowned a king you cloaked three Frost Giants from Jotunheim so that they could slip into Asgard and steal back the casket that your father righteously won upon them?" asked one of the elders. Loki smirked inwardly. If this was the way they meant to interrogate him, they were making it awfully easy for him.

"No," he answered lightly.

"No?" repeated the elder, sounding slightly appalled. Loki put on his most polite and pleasant façade. It was obvious to him that the elders weren't as knowing about the spell (or him for that matter) as they should be. There was no reason to use it very often and if there was, the defendant was probably so scared by the concept of truth-spell that he spoke the truth anyway. As it was, Loki knew the spell was very sensitive in the matters of opinion – it saw truth as what the person it was placed upon saw as the truth. Loki didn't think Thor should have been crowned that day, he didn't see Odin as his father and he most certainly didn't want the Frost Giants to steal the casket. Luckily, the spell also couldn't make him share this.

Another elder spoke up, clearly catching on a bit better than the first.

"Do you know of which day we speak?"

"Yes," admitted Loki, feeling the force making him do so.

"Did you in any way assist the Frost Giants in entering Asgard?"

There was also no way out of this. "Yes."

"Did you do it in hopes that they would claim some of our relics? Or any kind of Asgard's possession?"

"No," answered Loki, nudged by the spell. He was actually rather pleased with how this was turning out. He could read a certain degree of disgruntlement on the faces of the elders, as well as hear discontent whispers from behind him. Were they all really expecting him to come up here and start spilling detailed descriptions of mayhem and death that he meant to unleash on Asgard?

"Did you do it in hopes that any Asgardian would be hurt or killed by them?" pressed the sharper elder.

"No."

Another wave of whisper.

"Spell's not working!" yelled someone in the crowd.

"Silence!" ordered another elder. The crowd quieted down.

"Why did you do it then?"

Loki thought quickly, exploring the possibilities of his answer. He decided that it would be best to stay as vague as possible.

"For protection of Asgard," he said, trying not to sneer at the shocked and appalled faces before him.

"For protection? Enlighten us. What's that supposed to mean?"

"It was my belief that the events of that day, if completed in that time, would only serve to hurt Asgard," he explained smoothly, fully concentrating on pushing the spell limits as far as possible. He didn't spare a thought for Thor.

"Speak clearly," spat the elder at him. "You meant to disrupt Thor's coronation then."

"Yes. So that it would be postponed," he nodded, this time adding more information that was necessary, for his own sake.

The elders briefly conferred between themselves.

"What about the second time that you brought Frost Giants to Asgard? Do you deny that you had attacked Heimdall and proceeded to bring the king of Frost Giants Laufey and his consorts to the palace to slay Odin Allfather who was without defence in the Odinsleep?"

"I do deny that," bowed Loki slightly.

"Why then?" gestured the elder, at this time used to Loki's unsatisfying answers.

"I temporarily detained an unfaithful servant to lure an enemy into a trap so I could kill him, which I did."

Silence cloaked the whole room. Loki could feel Odin's eyes on him, but made a point of concentrating fully on the Council.

"A... servant?"

"Yes. Or should I remind you that I was the rightful king of Asgard at the time?"

An elder who hasn't said anything yet spoke up. Loki realized that he was in some way related to Sif.

"And how will your silvertongue help you lie your way out of sending the Destroyer to kill your brother Thor, the Warriors Three, and Lady Sif?"

"I cannot lie, the Council has seen to that," noted Loki with a mocking air of grace. "Lady Sif and Warriors three had left Asgard without my permission. I had every right to punish them."

"And your brother?"

Loki stopped for a moment. He had been able to omit Thor in his answer because the elders repeatedly called him his brother, just like now. Did they not know? He had been expecting them to pull his Jotunheim heritage on him right away, to claim that he had found out and decided to shift his loyalty to the Frost Giants, but those charges were passed now and still no sign of it. Also, as much as Loki would like to mock the elders and think them stupid, they were on the Council for a reason. If they knew that he was not in fact Odinson, they would have stopped referring to Odin as his father and Thor as his brother, since it was rendering the spell almost useless.

He was not able to answer and so he didn't.

"Answer the question. Did you intend to make the Destroyer kill Thor?"

For the first time in the whole trial, the spell had truly taken hold of Loki and made him speak against his will. The answer slipped his lips before he realized it.

"I don't know."

While the elders were only further annoyed, Loki was deeply shaken. If he was free to lie to the Council, he would have said no to minimize his punishment. If he'd been free to lie back on Midgard, in middle of fight with Thor or one of his freaky friends, he would have said yes, to taunt him and hurt him. He wouldn't spare a thought for any sort of introspective contemplation of his actual feelings at that point.

In the corner of his eye he saw Thor looking at him.

"That's enough," decided one of the elders exasperatedly. "The Council will now confer."

And with that, they left and Loki was brought into one of the side rooms, three guards watching over him. On the way, he avoided everyone's eyes and held his head high instead. The wait was tedious and uncomfortable, interrupted only by the magician lifting the spell.

After an hour, he was summoned back.

"Loki Odinson," spoke the head of the Council. So they really didn't know. "We have reviewed the charges brought against you and decided. You are sentenced to ninety lashes of whip delivered in three separate days and half a year of palace arrest. If your behaviour is deemed flawless after that time, your offences will be fully forgiven and forgotten and you will be restored as prince of Asgard and it will be a crime from that day on to mention your previous misgivings."

Loki didn't even try to hide his scoff. Humiliate him and contain him. That's what they wanted.

He expected to be taken down for the lashing (something he had yet to decide whether was a small or a big price to pay), but instead most of the room was cleared out and only the elders, Odin, Frigga, Thor and several guards stayed. He was brought to a wall by one of them and asked to strip from waist up. He did so slowly and deliberately and felt sick satisfaction when he heard moth- no, Frigga, gasp. His formerly smooth, pale skin was marred with furious scars of cuts, slashes and tears. All part of his Chitauri negotiations. He could heal them, and he was planning to, in time, but it would have been very unwise when he was still in the land of The Other and after that he had more urgent matters.

He was chained up with his arms spread wide, his torso leaning on the cold golden wall. He could tell that the executor (and the weapon) of his punishment had entered by another disapproving sound made by Frigga.

Good thing about the following moments was the lack of any sort of prolongation or attempt to school him or scare him.

Without any words, without unnecessary pauses, he was delivered the thirty blows. He was gritting teeth in pain, trying to make as little sound as possible. His back soon felt as if on fire and he could feel ribbons of blood trickle down. Several times, he could feel one of his older scars reopen and that was when he had most trouble staying silent, the whole ordeal was however over quite soon. When he heard the guards approaching, presumably to release him, he tried to steady himself, but succeeded only half-way and wavered a bit on his feet when he was free of the chains.

He left the room without sparing a look at anyone. To his relief, he was brought to his old chambers and not the cell.

One look was enough to discern that nothing has changed, the room was kept free of dust, but his belongings were unmoved. Satisfied, he moved to the bathroom, longing to wash the blood off. Removing his trousers and shoes proved to be a bit of a challenge, since it involved stretching the skin on his back when he leaned forward, but he managed, and in a minute was standing under the soft, lukewarm stream. The contact of water with the wounds was painful at first, but slowly it started to help with the healing. He didn't push his magic reserve, relying on the help of the water element instead. When he exited the bathroom, his wounds were still sore, but the bleeding has stopped and they were covered with thin layer of skin. Loki didn't doubt that the second part of his punishment would come tomorrow and didn't see a reason to fully heal wounds that would appear so soon again anyway.

He lowered himself on the bed slowly, hoping to get much needed rest. The day had dragged out, it was already dark.

He was almost asleep when the door silently opened. He didn't need to open his eyes to know who it was.

"Go away," he murmured. "I'm sleeping."

To a point, Loki has always been aware of the potential impression he had on maidens if he put some effort into it, with his long, deceivingly strong limbs, raven hair and expressive eyes, but to his credit, in his sleepy state, he could never imagine the impact he had on his brother just then. There was no pose, no pretence.

His long body stretched out naked on the dark sheets, covered with old and new lashes, strong and delicate at once with ruffled hair and heavy eyelids. To Thor, there was no creature more perfect at that moment.

Loki slowly resurfaced and grasped the mood of the situation.

"Thor?"

Instead of response, he felt the mattress lower.

"Sleep," said Thor in a voice so quiet that it was hard to discern his tone. "I'll keep an eye on you."

"Yes, I was just about to put my diabolical escape plan into motion," Loki answered, his voice muffled by the sheets. He startled a bit when Thor moved towards him, pressed his lips into Loki's hair and whispered to him: "You know that's not what I meant. Now sleep."

And so he did.

Chapter Text

Loki was awoken by a strange sensation. His body was burning up, but at the same time he felt a mysterious relief shifting slowly all over his back. Something cold and wet was being gently pressed on his, as he realized, reopened wounds. He didn't move, trying to decide his next actions. Last night when Thor came in, he was too drained to protest and now was blaming himself for being so vulnerable. Naked and bloodied, he was getting petted like a kitten.

„I didn't realize my punishment was up. It's quite early in the morning," he told Thor venomously without looking at him. The soothing movement over his back stilled.

„What?" asked Thor casually enough, not yet responding with temper to his brother's comment.

„You are trying to torture me, correct? Because that's certainly what it feels like."

Thor sighed and moved of the bed.

„Your wounds reopened during the night. You didn't stay laying on your stomach and kept writhing around," he informed Loki briskly.

„And yet," yawned Loki, gingerly getting up. „it took you pawning over to make me actually feel the pain."

Thor slammed the bowl and cloth he was using on Loki's back on one of the several tables that lined the walls in Loki's room. The bloodied water splashed out and covered some books and papers that were spread messily on top.

„And now you move on to ruin my things," commented Loki, still standing near the bed, naked. He meant to get dressed, but for now was fully concentrating on staying on his feet. He got up too quickly and was experiencing a rather nasty dizzy spell. „You really should just leave."

Thor stared at some remote point on the floor. He was unusually immune to Loki's quips.

„Actually," he spoke heavily, „it's not that early. I had already left and then I came back. You slept right through it."

It sounded like a ridiculously mundane piece of information, but Loki wasn't fooled. Nervousness and unhappiness was practically pouring out of every pore of Thor. That, and he was stalling.

„There was need to... specify the conditions of your punishment," he finally spoke.

Apprehension dawned on Loki. „Council isn't playing very fair, now, are they?"

„I'm afraid the Council has nothing to do with it," replied Thor, finally looking up and meeting Loki's gaze. „Your punishment wasn't changed, but father had some say in how it will go."

„Oh for gods' sake, Thor, just tell me," exploded Loki, tired of Thor's fidgeting behaviour. „What is it? Palace arrest wasn't specific enough, so I am to go live in some cupboard instead of these chambers?"

„No. It's about the whipping. It won't be like it was yesterday. Father claims to see no need for it to be so public."

Loki raised his eyebrows. It hadn't been public. Only the Council and the royal family had been present.

„So...? " he started to inquire further, but the words froze on his lips.

„I am to do it."

Loki was speechless, emotions colliding in him in one chaotic mess. Thor. Thor was to deliver his whipping. Anger. Betrayal. Shock. Fear. Anticipation. Disgust.

He shook his head slightly, trying to get a grasp of the situation. He rested his hand on the bedpost to keep his balance.

„You take no pleasure in this," he remarked when he looked up, seeing Thor utterly miserable.

"Of course I don't!" answered Thor fiercely.

"So why is Odin making you do it?" questioned Loki, but half-knowing the answer already.

"I have no answer to that," stated Thor, fidgeting with one of Loki's quills.

"He's mad at you," pushed Loki. "This isn't about me. The executioner yesterday was no light-weight. It's not about finding the person who can hit me the hardest."

Thor put the quill down for fear of breaking it. "Isn't it though?" he said thoughtfully.

"You're being philosophical, Thor. It doesn't become you," told him Loki slightly dismissively. "I'm going to wash this blood off before you get on with your noble task and if it's not too much trouble, call for some food. I'm starving."

With that, he turned around and slammed the door of his bathroom behind him with relief. He desperately needed to regroup. For several brief moments after he woke up, he was determined to have it with Thor, to show him that he wasn't defeated, and that he was ready to fight for his position. To show him contempt and hate and then, when Thor finally left him alone, he would be free to figure out his future, his options, especially regarding avoidance of the Chitauri wrath. But instead, he was faced with the prospect of sharing something unbelievably disturbing and intimate with him. How can two people, with enough issues already, face a situation like that? Loki was reminded of the gentle way Thor took off his restrains when he came to visit him in his cell. He then too, had to contemplate ambivalence of his feelings.

Is it better to love or hate your captor?

He mechanically set to the task of washing himself, though there was little point. He would definitely want it to be over soon, which meant he would be covered in blood again shortly.

He exited the bathroom with cloth firmly secured around his hips. He didn't feel like going through the ordeal with pants like the day before, but nudity wasn't too tempting either.

There were several plates filled with Loki's favourite food on one of the tables. He grabbed a clean plate, filled it with some fruit, bread and cheese and took it to bed, since he would be most comfortable sitting cross-legged there. Thor watched him silently.

"You know," he spoke to Thor after a while, getting slightly annoyed by listening to only his own chewing. "Unless I'm also to be starved and that food is my month's supply, be so kind and get some too and stop staring at me."

Thor ignored this. "Tell me about all the scars you have. Why did the Chitauri torture you?"

Loki stopped mid-chew. Way to ruin a meal. He put the plate on the side.

"They didn't know who I was or what use I could be."

"How long have you actually been there?" Thor asked hesitantly, fearing the answer.

"Longer," said Loki simply. Thor got up and started pacing, clearly disrupted.

Loki thought about eating some more, but his appetite was gone.

"Shall we do it then?" he asked, forcedly maintaining air of nonchalance.

"But-" Started Thor, but Loki cut him off resolutely.

"I will not bear with your snivelling any longer. I want it over. So if you're truly as sympathetic as you have been hinting, you will remember that it's actually me who's about to get skin torn of his back, again, and you will do it now and quickly."

Thor looked deeply ashamed. "Of course. I, uhm, I have to chain you."

Loki nodded and looked around for a suitable place. Part of the wall to his left was free of any bookshelves and there was a chandelier that the chains could be attached to, though only nominally. Not that he was about run away.

Thor put Loki's wrists into cuffs (that he had apparently brought before along with the whip and hid them out of sight. Loki was weirdly amused by this) and not too carefully wrapped the chain around the chandelier.

"I'm sorry. I can't hold back. Heimdall is under orders to watch and if I do, we'll have to repeat it," explained Thor apologetically, still not ready to begin despite Loki's wishes.

"Well I hope you perform well enough then," Loki said through gritted teeth. He heard Thor take a deep breath and steeled himself for the blow.

When it came, he wasn't able to stop the scream. He had been wrong in thinking that the executioner wasn't much weaker than Thor and what more, his back was in bad state already. He felt the fire deep in his skin, threatening to consume him whole. This was definitely much, much worse than the first time.

Thor crushed the handle in his slightly sweaty palm. He couldn't quite believe that he was doing this. Loki's back was already full of bleeding, deep gashes, on top of closed wounds that covered his whole body (which he could very well see during the previous night, as well as now, with only small cloth covering Loki). He struck again, trying and failing to block out Loki's, this time more controlled, whimper. He tried very hard to concentrate on the count, since it wouldn't be good to lose track and give him more, or worse, give him less which he was sure would result in full repetition.

When he reached twenty, he paused briefly, the pain of seeing Loki slumped against the wall, sweat pouring of him almost gutting him.

His beloved brother was paying for crimes that weren't his. He was paying for being different. He was paying for Odin's mistake in bringing him to Asgard and lying to him is whole life. He was paying because he, Thor, still loved him, even though he was now considered a useless nuisance by Odin.

Loki was in no state to ponder about the reasons for Thor's role in this anymore, except for the occasional cursing of his brother strength. With each blow he felt like he was going to be split in half. He lost count around fifteen and vaguely hoped that Thor didn't.

"Just two more," he heard Thor murmur after what seemed like an eternity. When those two were over, he rushed to free him.

"Do you want to lie down or do you want to bathe?" asked Thor worriedly, trying to figure out how to support Loki, who was almost unable to stay on his feet, without hurting him further. He opted for putting one of Loki's arms behind his neck and letting him lean heavily on him.

"Bed," gasped Loki faintly. It was much closer. Thor complied and soon Loki was stretched on the sheets with some relief. Absurdly, he was feeling a tickling sensation on his sides from the blood drips. He laughed humourlessly.

Thor hurried to fill the bowl with clean water and upon settling on the bed next to Loki, he carefully poured in a healing infusion that his mother had given him. He had already used it this morning, but this time he decided that much bigger dose was needed.

"What is it?" asked Loki who had seen the motion through half-closed eyes.

"Mother's medicine," answered Thor.

"I can heal myself, you know," couldn't help a bit defiance Loki.

"You mean like you healed all your scars and the wounds from yesterday?" retorted Thor, his tone not hurtful, but Loki winced anyway. Anything he might have said in response however fled his mind as soon as the wet cloth touched his back.

"Ugh..." he let out. The relief was immediate. Thor managed a smile upon hearing that.

"This is how I know you were lying to me this morning. It did feel nice, because of the medicine at least," he teased.

"I always lie to you, Thor," sighed Loki.

"Well, you shouldn't. At least for now," chided him Thor. For a while, Loki withdrew from the conversation, enjoying the soothing feeling. Thor let him, but there was still something on his mind.

"How is it possible that you didn't know whether you had wanted the Destroyer to kill me or not?"

"It was an unprecedented situation in my life," answered Loki.

Thor laughed shortly. "I'm sure that you would be able to kill me if you put your mind to it at any point in our lives."

"I don't mean being in position to kill you," said Loki irritably. "I mean the power."

Thor was silent and thoughtful for a bit. "I understand that. I used to be power-hungry too and I had some form of power my whole life. Having it so suddenly must be even more trying."

Now Loki had to laugh at his brother's self-important statement.

"You still are power-hungry, you idiot. Just because you got slapped over your fingers and decided that it is not attractive to flip Mjölnir in the air or brag about your battles all night any more does not mean that you are not waiting eagerly to be the king."

Thor shrugged. "I have other reasons to want the throne than just to feel the power. How does your back feel? It's not bleeding anymore."

"It's better," admitted Loki and after some hesitation added: "Thank you."

"No need to thank me, I was the one who did it, after all."

"Right," grimaced Loki, slowly sitting up and resuming his cross-legged position. Thor made no movement to get off the bed.

"Also," started Loki, picking up an apple and playing with the stem absent-mindedly. "I was jealous."

Thor appeared confused. He knew Loki had just jumped back to some part of their conversation, but he didn't know which.

"Of what?" he asked carefully. For a minute, it seemed that Loki wasn't going to answer.

"That woman. She seemed awfully attached to you. Which is surprising since you weren't there that long," explained Loki casually, his fidgeting with the apple betraying his calm façade.

"We had goals that pertained to similar places and actions. I was rather... charmed by her midgardian ways. She was also very close to understanding the structure of the Nine Realms, which most humans aren't."

"Hm. How did you meet her anyway?" continued Loki his probing.

"Right after I got there... she hit me with a... car. You know, their means of transport."

That got some reaction from Loki. He looked at Thor disbelievingly. "What? Why?"

"It was an accident. She then did it one more time," laughed Thor. It sounded very silly when spoken out loud and apparently, so thought Loki, who was however trying to suppress his laughter, since it caused him some pain.

"I'm surprised you brought that up, though," said Thor more seriously after they were finished with their amusement.

"Oh, do not try that. You were more than ready to talk about our past when you were trying to interrogate me back on Midgard," answered Loki unhappily.

Thor leaned forward, putting his hand over Loki's where it rested on the bed.

"I was not trying to trick you or use it against you."

Loki looked away, though he didn't flinch away from Thor's touch. He felt himself slip into a memory.

There was a huge Yule celebration and even though he found himself discontent in the presence of his brother and their friends lately, he was just as merry as everyone else on this evening. He laughed at Thor's i nelegant jokes, amused everybody with sparks of colours that he was sending out from his palms and drank a lot of wine with cinnamon and clove.

Well after midnight, he and Thor headed back to their respective chambers, singing, laughing and leaning on ea ch other in a way that was bound to send them crashing to the ground any moment, since they were both so inebriated. They were almost at Loki's door in the palace wing that was more or less reserved for the two of them when Thor tripped and fell, pulling L oki down with him.

"Oof," let out Thor, Loki's weight resting on him. "You are very clumsy on this fine evening, brother."

He had not yet perceived the change in Loki's mood. Loki was suddenly breathless, hotness spreading on his face. He had been dealin g with most disturbing feelings in the past weeks and with his reservations greatly erased by the wine, he was about to act very rashly. He made no move to get up and looked into Thor's face intensely. Thor returned his gaze, not exactly sobering, but defi nitely catching on. Loki watched Thor's hand hesitatingly move up to his face, rough fingers touching Loki's cheek gently and then continuing to thread through his hair. Encouraged, Loki lowered his head and pressed his lips to Thor's. His whole world was  spinning, with only the slightly rough, slightly bitter feeling of the kiss anchoring him.

"Of course you weren't. You hardly could without exposing yourself too and I think we both know that they were all listening," answered Loki, snapping out of his reverie.

Thor smiled. "I think we might just have to agree to disagree on this. But no matter, I doubt we will visit Midgard any time soon."

A knock on the door interrupted their calm session.

"Yes?" called out Thor when Loki didn't react. A guard entered.

"His majesty Odin wishes to see you," he told Thor and exited with a slight bow.

Thor sighed.

"Will you be all right here?"

Loki made a face. "I am not an invalid, Thor. You run along to Father, I will entertain myself."

Thor rolled his eyes. "Fine. Be nasty. I will come see you in the evening."

He left with a little smile and Loki let out a breath.

"Please don't," he murmured to the empty room.

Chapter Text

Despite sleeping a lot that day, Loki was understandably drained by the ordeal and so he didn't really do much of anything. He browsed idly through his possessions, but the familiarity didn't calm him. He was bored, irritated and aching.

He had to wonder why Odin wanted to see Thor. Was it the matter of usual issues or did it have anything to do with him?

He thought back to his conversation with Thor. They had shared quite a lot, and Loki resignedly decided not to regret it. Perhaps it wasn't such a bad idea to re-conciliate with him.

For the first time since they were little, he felt like Thor was putting him first. He forgave Loki, he stood firmly on his side and he cared about him, perhaps more than ever before.

Today, Loki had laughed at Thor when he talked about having changed, but in truth, he saw it too. And the temptation to succumb to the safety of Thor was overwhelming.

Such was his mood when Thor finally entered. Loki was lounging on his stomach on the bed, the cloth long discarded. He had a book in his hands, but hadn't paid much attention to it.

"I hope you're bringing food," he said teasingly, testing Thor's mood.

"Good to see you too," answered Thor in similar fashion, smiling. "You know you are under palace arrest, not chamber arrest, right? You could go get the food yourself, or at least tell the guards, they're just outside."

"I shall adjust my behaviour," replied Loki graciously and they both smiled at the joke.

"How is your back?" asked Thor, coming closer to the bed and slightly halting when he saw that Loki still wasn't wearing anything. It was different finding him naked on the bed when he was freshly hurt and sleeping and when he was fully conscious and the room was lit with many candles and several torches.

"As well as can be expected," shrugged Loki slightly. "What did Odin want?"

Thor looked at Loki as if sizing him up or trying to read his mood and then went to sit on the closest chair.

"There were some usual matters to discuss, but he also questioned me a lot about your punishment."

"Well, what did you tell him?"

"I told him that you are positive that it was I who asked to be put in charge, so to speak. And that you are extremely angry with me and when I try to talk to you, you are so nasty to me that I end up relishing in your punishment."

Loki stared for a while, slightly shocked. "That's more lies in two sentences than you said in your whole life."

"Quite possibly," nodded Thor grimly. "Situation asked for it, though."

He got up, pacing the room.

"I am not taking lightly what you said about the Chitauri. You are not entirely safe and while you're incapacitated by the damn whipping, I won't leave you, but I'm afraid if father thought that we were... bonding, he would do something to prevent my presence here."

In a way, Loki was hearing everything that he ever wanted to hear from Thor and for that part, his heart was swelling with affection, but he had also been forced to learn to be his own man and his pride was hurting.

"I am not... unappreciative," he responded. Thor looked offended.

"That's all you have to say to me?"

"See?" Loki pointed a finger at Thor, angered by his retort. "Yes, it's all I have to say to you, exactly for the reason that you are asking me like that. I have told you this before. Don't expect me to lick your boots just because you treat me decently. Either way, I am prince of Asgard and prince of Jotunheim. I am not beneath you."

Thor mulled this over, settling back on the chair.

"You're right. I am sorry."

Loki nodded gently.

"It's the first time I hear you talking about your connection to Jotunheim like that. Last time you mentioned it, you wanted to destroy it."

Loki grimaced. "Yes, well. I was very angry. I would rather not it come to that, but I could theoretically raise a claim for the throne of Jotunheim. The place is a cold dump though. But there's no reason to destroy it."

"You would want to rule the Frost Giants?" Thor asked, surprised. "But they are..."

"They are what? Monsters? They are monsters because of what they do, not because of what they are. Even your precious humans slaughter each other."

Thor had to smile. "Is it that again? Controlling someone for their own good?"

"Well, you ruined my plans, not necessarily my opinions."

"I wouldn't dream of that."

Their banter, it was good-natured, but very revealing nonetheless, was interrupted by a knock.

"Yes," called Loki lazily. Two servants with huge plates filled with food entered. When they unloaded it all on the tables, one of them turned to Loki with a bow.

"Your mother wishes that you take good care of you and says that she will visit you tomorrow. I can also take any message for her, from you."

Thor shot Loki a quick look. He was very curious how he would respond.

"Just tell her that I thank her and to come in the evening. I might be slightly indisposed during the day."

The servant bowed out of the room and Thor looked at Loki contently.

"I am glad you weren't trying to dispute her title as your mother," he told Loki, who frowned and turned to him.

"What do you mean? I couldn't possibly say anything like that to a servant. I should be glad my lineage isn't common knowledge. I doubt I would be off so easily."

Now it was Thor's turn to be confused. "But it is. Common knowledge, I mean."

Loki raised his eyebrows. "Thor, the Council called me Odinson. They kept calling you my brother and Odin my father, even if it was messing with the spell. They don't know."

"No, you don't understand. It is known that you are adopted, but your position as a prince and as Odinson was formally established."

"I suspect that mother is behind that," noted Loki, trying to hide his agitation.

"Yes," nodded Thor, then added humbly: "And me."

"But not Odin," stated Loki neutrally.

"Forget about it," pleaded Thor. "Do you want to eat?"

"Yes. You go on and dig in, I'm going to get dressed," said Loki, his thoughts clearly elsewhere and started to get up.

"You don't have to. You could stay in bed, I mean," stuttered Thor when Loki froze and looked up at him. He then decide to ignore the awkward moment and put on his robe. It was a rather splendid piece of clothing – it reached his ankles and was made from the softest dark green satin (which is why it was the only thing he owned that wouldn't be unbearably painful to put over his sore back). They ate in companionable silence, something that Loki regarded as novelty.

He then returned to bed, stripping and getting under the covers, slightly tired and begun wondering if Thor was going to leave or stay. He waved his hand and most of the flames were put out. He closed his eyes and almost didn't notice Thor approaching until he was sitting down on the bed.

"Do you want me to stay?" Thor asked huskily.

Loki felt like they've reached some sort of breakpoint. Thor's slip before about his clothing was far from mood-inducing, but it was definitely enough to remind them both of their other issues.

Loki moaned as he felt Thor tongue slip into his mouth, but was quickly sorry that  he did, because the sound was clearly distracting to him and he pulled away, looking shocked and slightly worried.

"This... this surely cannot be right," he said, looking up at Loki who was lying on top of him, breathless and aroused. Loki kissed him again instead of answering and while he still felt Thor respond, worry and uncertainty were starting to prevail. He stopped for fear of being pushed away.

"I'm sorry," said Thor, seeing clearly his brother's hurt. Loki got up quickly.

"Good night," he said with as much dignity as he could muster and shut the door behind him.

"That's up to you," Loki answered. Thor had no trouble understanding. He put out the few remaining candles, stripped down to his underpants, and laid down beside Loki.

His brother was lying on his stomach, head, turned in Thor's direction, propped upon his crossed arms, covers reaching just the small of his back. Thor was on his side, looking at Loki. After a while, he hesitantly raised his hand and gently touched Loki's side, just bellow some of the lashes.

"I'm sorry I had to do this," he said. "I should have refused."

"No," told him Loki softly. "If you had, Odin would come up with something worse for me. Get a troll to do it."

Thor seemed to accept that, knowing the truth of Loki's words. "Still, I dread tomorrow. For you."

Loki desperately wished to lighten the mood. He already felt on edge, his senses heightened. Lying in dark, with Thor so close, with so many things unspoken between them was stirring all kinds of feelings inside him.

"Yes, it's a shame, really. If we knew Heimdall wasn't watching, we could make it quite pleasurable."

So much for lightening the mood. He heard Thor gasp slightly, the hand that was still touching Loki's side twitching.

"I doubt that. That thing is really purely for pain. It would have to be some smaller device. Perhaps a riding crop."

Now it was Loki's turn to be out of breath. He was hardly thinking when the innuendo escaped his mouth and he would never have expected Thor to answer so playfully. So... promisingly. Lying on his stomach started to get a bit uncomfortable and he was contemplating turning on his side. His thoughts however vanished when Thor's hand moved from his side to his hair, stroking slightly.

"Mmm," he encouraged him in a deceivingly innocent manner.

"Come here," murmured Thor into his ear and slid himself closer.

"Wha-?" Loki opened his eyes, but then understood Thor's motioning. He raised himself on his arms and moved carefully on top of Thor, though he was a bit decentralized, one of his legs still resting on the bed and his head positioned comfortably in the crook of Thor's neck. Thor couldn't put his arms around him, so instead he kept one at his hip and the other in his hair.

Neither of them spoke or attempted anything more, though it was long before they began slipping into sleep, each feeling the other's arousal on their thighs.

Loki wouldn't have made the first move even if he wasn't sore and tired, but he was relishing in this position. Pragmatically, he was much more comfortable like this than he was the previous night, but mostly he enjoyed the closeness of Thor, his warmth, his scent. At one point, he had to blow at a stray strand of Thor's hair which was tickling him on the nose, causing Thor to laugh happily.

"I've missed you," whispered Thor to him. Loki smiled, finally succumbing to sleep.

The next morning found them in very much the same position, though Thor was awake several times during the night, roused by Loki's thrashing and whimpering. He was having bad dreams, which Thor was able to banish by talking to him softly and stroking his hair, but it didn't seem that it woke Loki or that he was remembering the nightmares at all. Or he wasn't saying so anyway.

Upon waking up, Loki was still content with their arrangement, but was careful to wait for Thor's reaction. It wouldn't be the first time when he seemed to like some form of intimacy between them and then backed out.

"Good morning," said Thor, accompanying his greeting with an inconspicuous kiss to Loki's hair, perhaps sensing his uncertainty.

"Good morning," answered Loki, reassured. Then he sighed.

"What sort of irony is this?"

"I hate it," nodded Thor.

"Come on then. Let us get it done," said Loki and begun to get up, but Thor grasped his arms and pulled him back. Loki only had a split of second to look into Thor's eyes and see desperation before his lips were crushed on Thor's, and all thought abandoned him. The kiss lasted, neither wanted to break it. This time when Loki moaned, Thor didn't pull away, deepening the kiss instead. After a while, they broke away, both flushed.

"Just something to think about," said Thor and Loki laughed, though worry was dawning on him again.

They got up, going through some morning motions, attempting to act normal, occasionally smiling at each other. But there was no avoiding it and soon Loki was chained up at the chandelier. A tremor ran through him. He felt such strong anxiety that it was impossible to suppress it. He wasn't sure why, the pain was rather horrid, that was true, but this was the last time and if he wasn't mistaken, they had enough of the medicine left, so relief would be immediate when they were done. Still, by the time Thor retrieved the whip, he was shaking.

"Loki?" asked Thor worriedly, noticing the tremors.

"Go on," Loki forced out in response. In the next second, he heard the crack of the whip and in the indescribably small section of time before it hit him, he knew something was wrong. There was magic getting hold of him and as soon as the whip struck, it grasped him completely, erasing his realization from his mind and filling it with terror, fear, and repulsion instead.

The pain was worse than the previous two times, but it was nothing in comparison to the horror he felt. He was sure Thor wasn't going to stop. Why would he care that Loki was only supposed to get thirty? He was utterly helpless against him. He was going to keep him chained forever, always ready to please any of his perverse needs. Odin would be happy with such turn of events and Frigga would be easily silenced. Lash after lash he was falling deeper and deeper into the black hole that was now his mind and when the count reached twenty, he stopped making any sounds, fearing the retribution for them.

Thor was meanwhile scared witless, but not daring to stop. Loki seemed to be in much more pain than before and at one point he stopped screaming, though he was still conscious. When he reached thirty, he flung the abominable device away and ran to Loki, unchaining him and trying to keep him on his feet.

"Loki?" he inquired, trying to meet his brother's gaze. When he did, he was taken aback. It was like looking into eyes of wild, scared animal.

"Don't touch me... don't... hurt me," he sobbed before fainting.

Thor stood clock still, while his world came crashing down around him.

Chapter Text

Thor had to withdraw the hand in which he was holding a cloth soaked with soothing oils from Loki's back for it was shaking so much that he was afraid of hurting him. Loki had stayed unconscious even after Thor put him on bed and started to heal the lashes. He felt sick with worry. What has happened? Was the pain so bad that it darkened Loki's senses? Or had he not believed even before that Thor truly didn't mean to hurt him? Just the night before Loki said that he didn't blame him. They spent the night in embrace, Loki clinging to him contently and the morning kiss...

But that is all gone because I had succumbed to my father's twisted wishes and I was stupid enough to think I could kiss Loki at one moment and torture him in the second. Who could stand such thing? It is not possible. I am a monster.

He forced his hand to still and applied generous amount of the healing water on Loki's back.

First thought that entered Loki's mind when he woke up was flight. He needed to escape. He hadn't moved yet, so maybe Thor didn't know he was awake. He could feel his big hands maliciously squeezing some liquid over his wounds. He willed himself to stay still just for several more seconds, before the hand moved away. Then he bolted, snatching a sheet to cover himself (he couldn't stand the idea of being naked) and tried to make for the door, but he was weak, so weak that he was still two steps away from his way to freedom when he felt a deadly grasp on his arm, but then he slipped out and finally, he was at the door, before he could open it however, he was there too, holding the door closed and looming over Loki. His energy and courage left him and he realized his mistake. He shouldn't have done that. By gods, he shouldn't have done that. He slid to the floor, still feebly trying to cover himself, his eyelids firmly shut, and a sob unwillingly escaping his mouth.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry. Please. I didn't mean to do that. I'm sorry. Please don't hurt me," he pleaded, his horror controlling his words. Spasms were tearing through his whole body, in anticipation of the pain and abuse that was sure to come.

Thor looked down at Loki, almost crying himself. Something was very wrong.

"Shh," he said as gently as he could. "Loki. Loki, look at me."

Loki didn't dare disobey and forced himself to open his eyes and looked up fearfully. Thor was glaring down at him, no rage visible in his features, but Loki figured that that was even worse. His punishment will be slow and deliberate.

"Please just calm down," Thor said slowly. "You need to rest. Can you get up?"

From everything he has just said, Loki only seemed to notice the part about getting up and even that probably got warped in his mind, because he started frantically scrambling off the floor, apparently with no regard for the pain from his back, which started bleeding again.

"Steady," warned Thor and reached for Loki whose legs were very wobbly. He took him around the shoulders gently, but firmly and even though Loki flinched, he didn't move away.

"Let's go," he pointed him in the direction of the bed. Loki complied, looking very small, pained expression on his face.

He let himself be guided to the bed, resigned to his punishment. When they arrived, he wondered which way he should lay. Perhaps if he got it right, it would be just slightly less horrible. Thor let go of him, turning around probably to grab something to tie him down or hit him with and he decided to make himself look as compliant as possible, discarding the sheet and quickly laying down face up. The pain from his back almost knocked him out, but he was sure he made the right choice. He was naked, exposed, and in pain. There was no way he could do better than that if he wanted to make amends for his stupid escape attempt.

"Gods, Loki," jumped Thor when he turned back to the bed, the bowl in his hand again. "What are you doing?"

He rushed to him, shaken to the core. "Please, turn around. This must hurt."

Loki rolled back on his stomach, scared and disappointed that his plan didn't work.

Thor pulled a sheet over Loki's lower body. "Now please just stay calm and don't move. I need to apply the medicine on your back again."

Loki did as he was told, but the suspension of not knowing what was awaiting him was dreadful. He was sure that it would be bad though, because he realized that Thor wasn't lying about the healing. The pain was easing, but that just meant the wounds could be inflicted freshly again. Or that he would be physically able to be active in whatever twisted sex play Thor had in store.

"Now," said Thor after finishing a second round with the cloth. "Can you please tell me what happened?"

Loki swallowed. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have tried to run away."

"No, no," shook Thor his head patiently, lying down next to Loki, hoping to recreate some of their previous intimacy. "Why are you scared? We talked about the whipping last night, didn't we? You said you understood. And yesterday, we got through it. I had to do it, but I didn't want to and I helped you heal afterwards. Is that right?"

Loki looked at him doubtfully. Was he trying to trick him? Of course he had said it was all right, what other choice did he have? Any resilience was useless.

"Yes..." he said hesitantly. Thor sighed.

"I am not," he emphasised, "going to hurt you. Please tell me why you are so scared of me?"

"But, " started Loki, but then silenced himself, not wanting to do another mistake.

"Yes?" encouraged him Thor.

"But you always hurt me."

Thor's breath hitched in his throat. "No... Please, don't say that."

Loki ducked his head, burying his face in the sheets.

"I mean," Thor corrected himself, realizing that any sort of request would be seen as an order, "I'm sorry you feel that way. I wish it wasn't so."

Tentatively, he reached out and stroked Loki's hair. Loki tensed up, but didn't move.

"Can you tell me what do you remember from yesterday evening and night? Try to start when I got back from seeing Father," asked Thor, hoping that if Loki remembered first their camaraderie and then the tenderness they shared, he would stop being so worried.

Loki thought hard, still waiting for the other shoe to drop.

"You came back... " started Loki, but he wasn't sure how he could continue. What was it that Thor wanted to hear? Did he want him to talk about how he was rolling around in the bed naked, like some whore? Or about the so called conversation they shared, in which Thor revelled in talk about his whipping and then boasted about meeting the woman on Earth?

He decided it must have been his state of undress.

"Well, I was naked. I'm sorry if that was wrong, but you didn't tell me I could get dressed before you left."

Thor's mouth fell open with shock. That was completely unexpected. He sat up, running a shaking hand through his hair, then looked over his shoulder back at Loki, who probably thought he gave the wrong answer, because he was ducking his head again and shaking softly. Thor then realized that if he was to get anywhere and try and diminish at least some of Loki's fear before he could get to the bottom of what it was that made him so frightened, they needed to change their environment. It seemed that something Thor did made Loki think he wanted to molest him in some way, or use him sexually and therefore trying to calm him down when they were both in bed, Loki naked, was nonsensical.

"Can you get up? Slowly please," he added hurriedly. Loki nodded and raised himself carefully. Thor meanwhile, quickly got off the bed and went to what he knew was Loki's closet. He chose pair of comfortable leisure pants and then spent some time looking for the softest tunic he could find. With those items, he walked back to Loki, who was standing self-consciously next to the bed.

"Put these on," he asked him and then gave him a scrutinizing look. Loki's hair was a mess, so while he dressed, Thor grabbed a brush from the bathroom and when Loki was done pulling the tunic on, he slowly took it to his hair, combing it back gently. Loki made a surprised sound, body freezing up in anticipation of attack, but he somewhat relaxed after few strokes.

"There," Thor said when Loki's hair was tidily smoothed back and then waited for Loki to slip into his shoes.

"Come on," he gestured then.

"Where are we going?" asked Loki, since he wasn't told to be quiet.

"I just think you need some fresh air. You don't have to talk to anyone we meet, if you don't want to, but you can," said Thor awkwardly, but Loki didn't seem to notice.

"If you're tired, just say so and we'll sit down or come back," added Thor, desperately trying to cover all things with some sort of instruction, because that seemed like what worked best with Loki right now, whether it should be something to allow or deny him.

They slowly walked out of Loki's room and Thor headed in the direction of a not very used lookout. He and Loki used to sneak up there at night.

Loki felt miserable and defeated. He could no longer anticipate any of Thor's plans, so he had no means of preparing for them. He wasn't even trying to pay attention to their journey, though he noticed they were going up, not down, which would possibly mean to the dungeons, a fitting place for the tortures that were surely awaiting him. Maybe he was to be thrown of a high balcony somewhere, as a reminder of being thrown into the abyss.

When they reached the lookout, he looked up in surprise, a weird emotion stirring up. He remembered being happy here, but such thought was so foreign that it fled him almost instantly. It was a beautiful place, shielded from two sides by palace walls, that were windowless, which added to the privacy, and extended onto a platform above the city. In the middle, there was an old and warped tree, and in its shadow was a lovely bench.

Thor sat down and gestured for Loki to follow him. He obeyed, sigh escaping his lips.

"Do you remember when we used to come here?" Thor asked after they settled.

"Yes," nodded Loki.

"I could never memorize the constellations until you taught me. You had a story for every single one. I remember them to this day."

"It was a long time ago," shrugged Loki daringly. He could feel the sun warming him up and he relaxed just a little bit. Whatever was to come next would come and he would use the spare moments to gain some strength. He was not interested in Thor's journey down the memory lane, the past held too much pain for him.

"I wish I knew what happened. What have I done to frighten you so much? I truly believed that we ... we reconciled."

Loki didn't react. This pretended pleading held little importance to him.

"Loki, please," Thor was beginning to feel desperate. "Look at me."

Loki did, his eyes were wide and distrustful.

"We kissed this morning," whispered Thor, aware that someone might be listening, even if it seemed they were alone. "I thought you wanted it."

Loki began to show some signs of agitation, his hands fidgeting, his posture slumping.

"I just did what you wanted me to," he said defensively. "I try to do what you want me to do, and I try not to do what you don't. What else are you asking?"

Thor reeled back, once again struck with disbelief and pain. Meanwhile, Loki regretted his cheek.

"I'm sorry," he said shakily, turning away from Thor. "I'm sorry."

They sat in silence for a long time after that.

"Are you feeling rested?" asked Thor, struck with a sudden idea.

"Yes..." answered Loki warily.

"Why don't you try to heal your back with magic?"

Loki looked at him with suspicion.

"Please, try. I do not wish you to be in pain. You will see how much energy you can use."

Loki sat straighter, palms hovering just above his thighs. He closed his eyes, concentrating on the streaks of magic inside him. The warmth of the sun was comforting; it helped in bringing out his Asgardian magic. Slight tingling on his back reassured him; the wounds were closing. Encouraged, he continued, not feeling any sign that his magic was wavering. Instead, it was growing stronger and, as he realized belatedly, colder. He was tapping into the magic of his Jotun heritage.

A gasp from Thor's direction made him snap his eyes open. His hands were blue, as must have been the rest of his body. He was going to be punished for this. He was a monster and he would be treated as one.

Are you mad? What is wrong with you? You  can handle Thor a ny time of day. You are not his bitch.

Loki shook off the foreign voice in his head, along with his Frost Giant appearance and looked at Thor with fearful anticipation.

"Are you feeling well? Is your back healed?" asked Thor. Loki nodded, stretching gently to access the state of his skin.

"How come you changed like that? It's all right, of course," said Thor, intrigued.

"I didn't do it on purpose. I... I have two sources of magic. One is learned, it is the magic that I studied my whole life, and the other one I discovered only as part of my true lineage," elaborated Loki, even if he had misgivings about exposing so much to Thor.

"I see," nodded Thor as neutrally as he managed, not wanting to spook Loki unnecessarily.

The sun begun to set slowly after a while and Thor remembered that Loki was supposed to be seeing mother.

"Maybe you should go back to your room," he said to him. "Mother will be visiting you."

Loki gave him a strange look. "And you'll allow it?"

"It is not my place to forbid you anything," explained Thor patiently. "I will not even walk back with you if you don't want me to."

"Well, what do you want me to tell her?" asked Loki, still watching Thor suspiciously.

"You can tell her anything you want. Tell her that you are scared. Tell her everything."

Loki suddenly looked like his suspicions were confirmed. "But she won't believe me, of course. She'll come to you, and you will tell her that I am lying. Everyone will believe you, not me, the trickster."

Thor had to clamp his hands, fingers entwined, to hide the shaking. He really needed Loki to go now, before he broke down.

"Loki, I do not know why you are scared, but I know that you are. And she will see that. It is true that you are afraid, just as it is true that I don't mean to hurt you. It doesn't mean that she will have to choose between believing you or me."

Loki shook his head almost imperceptibly, but seemed to suddenly realize that he should take the chance to leave when it was there. Thor watched him hurry away, the small, quick and nervous steps sounding even after Loki was gone. Then he had to press his fist to his lips to smother the scream that was clawing its way out of his throat.

Chapter Text

When Loki got to his rooms, he was at complete loss as to what he should do, even what to think and feel for the matter. He was terrified of Thor, there was no denying, but there was something still nagging at him. Some forgotten thought or maybe the key to understanding why he was not currently chained and bloodied, tortured in some way that Thor thought fitting, or perhaps even raped. There had to be some reason, some hidden agenda and he was so close to knowing.

He didn't know how long he sat there, thinking, but he was rather startled at the silent knock.

"Yes," he called out, standing up. Surely that would be mother and not Thor.

"Loki, my dear," said Frigga, hurrying to hug her son, though she placed her arms around his neck, not torso, not knowing if his wounds were fully healed. He returned the hug, allowing himself a few moments of safety, before she turned her back to him, banishing him as she was sure to do when Thor spoke to her.

"I am so sorry you had to go through such ordeal. The Council was far too severe," she said gently, sitting down and motioning for him to join her.

Loki had no idea what to say. So many things were running through his head, fear and confusion mostly among them.

"Loki?" inquired Frigga, frowning slightly at her son's state. He was pale, dressed too simply for his usual taste, and his eyes seemed darker and wider than usual.

"Are you in a lot of pain? Let me see your wounds. I can heal them."

"No... I... I already healed them," he said. Frigga blinked, shocked at his subdued tone.

"Well, what about your scars? Darling, you must have been through so much. We need to talk. Let me help you," she spoke to him soothingly, reaching out and grasping his hand in hers. When he didn't answer, she settled with holding his hand and stroking it softly with her thumb, but after several minutes, a frown appeared on her face. Slowly, she extended her other arm and let it hover over Loki's heart.

"What are you doing?" Loki asked curiously.

"I think there is a spell placed on you," she answered, worried. "What are you feeling?"

Loki panicked. What could she mean? Was this some sort of a trap she and Thor came up with? The whole day, Thor pretended to be ignorant of his treatment of Loki and his vile intentions, claiming he did not know the source of his fear. As if! And now this. He snatched his hand back and jumped up so quickly that he sent his chair crashing down.

"You are asking what I feel? Why should you care? I am but Thor's slave, his own personal slave! He intends to keep me locked up here, so he can use me any time he wants!"

"Loki!" Frigga stood up too. "That cannot possibly be true. Thor didn't want to be the one to punish you! And he most certainly doesn't want you to be his slave. Where is this coming from?"

As after any previous outburst, Loki shied away. "Of course you don't believe me," he said, defeated.

"Just come here, please," she said and when he obeyed, she placed one hand on his heart and one on his forehead. After a minute or two of quiet murmuring, she pulled her hands away, as if burned.

"Oh dear," she whispered. Loki watched her impassively. He hadn't dare hoped that she would somehow save him from Thor, so he wasn't even really disappointed, though he wished they would both cease pretending that their intentions weren't harmful. It was nerve-wrecking and tiring. He would accept his torturous fate, but he didn't want to be made fool or madman any longer.

"I have to go. Don't worry, everything will be well."

With that, she left, leaving Loki feeling anxious and drained.


Frigga and Thor met halfway between Loki's and Thor's rooms, each rushing in different direction.

"What has happened?" asked Frigga while Thor simultaneously said: "Did you talk to him?"

They stopped, looking at each other with equal worry.

"I think there is a spell on him, something that makes him scared. Come somewhere private, we need to sort this out," said Frigga determinedly.

They covered the short distance to Thor's room and closed the door carefully.

"Everything was fine yesterday," started Thor. "He didn't blame me for being in charge of the whipping. He asked me to do it quickly and then I applied the medicine you gave me. He recovered soon and we talked for a long time. And today, I had no reason to suspect anything, until I had to whip him again. That was when everything changed. He was in much more pain then before, passed out after it was over and when he woke up... no, even before he fainted, he was suddenly absolutely terrified of me."

"So this fear started when you began whipping him?" asked Frigga thoughtfully.

"I'm not sure... I think he was scared even before, but not in this... sick, submissive way. He was shaking, but he told me to continue."

They were silent for a moment, Frigga deep in thought and Thor staring at her hopefully.

"I thought he broke down... that his mind simply couldn't stand everything that has happened to him. The Chitauri tortured him too."

"No," shook Frigga her head. "It can't be. Have you tried reasoning with him?"

"Yes," said Thor agitatedly. "That is what I have been doing the whole day."

"When I touched him, I sensed something dark. Like a cloud. So I examined him with a spell, and something unnatural is definitely there."

"Then we must get rid of it," said Thor decidedly, beginning to feel in control again. He had no means of his own to deal with magic, but the simple fact that magic could be dealt with was encouraging.

"Firstly, tell me where the whip is. It would be much easier to place such spell on an object than send it directly to him."

"I think... I left it in Loki's room."

Frigga gave him a meaningful look.

"I was worried about his bleeding wounds more than about the device that caused it," Thor defended himself.

"Very well," sighed Frigga. "We must go and get it then. I'm afraid we might cause him some more distress."

They quickly walked over. Now that Thor felt that he had an enemy to defeat, there was a renewed spring in his step.

Frigga knocked and softly called out: "Loki, it's me and your brother. Please don't be afraid."

They entered. Loki sat at his desk and except for the worried look he shot their way, it was an almost normal sight.

"Darling, I truly believe that there is a spell placed on you, one that is making you so terrified," started Frigga explaining. "You don't have to believe me, of course, I do not think you are even capable of it. I assume that it entered you through the whip, so I'm going to pick it up now and examine it. No one is going to hit you with it."

Loki didn't say anything. He was tired of their mockery.

Thor pointed to Frigga in the direction where he had thrown the whip, not having the slightest intention of touching it with Loki nearby. She picked it up, disgusted, and put it on the table. She then proceeded to hover her hands above it while chanting.

"Yes, it's definitely the source," she said after a while.

"Can you break it?" asked Thor eagerly.

"Yes, but the spell isn't in the whip anymore. I simply confirmed its nature."

She turned to Loki. "Will you cooperate? I promise I won't hurt you."

But Loki was already in the far corner of the room, shaking his head vigorously. "Get away from me!"

"Loki, I swear! The spell is clouding your judgement. You have nothing to be afraid of!" pleaded Frigga.

"No! You probably just want to maim my will, so that he," he pointed to Thor, "can control me more easily!"

"Loki, calm down and let mother help you," asked Thor firmly. Then he and Frigga had to watch the painful change in Loki's behaviour. Once more, he slid down the wall, tremors running through him.

"The spell is connected directly to you," explained Frigga quietly to Thor. "He may not trust me, but he is fully controlled by you. It is sickening, but we might have to use that so we can lift it. It will take time and I will need him to be still. If he fights me too hard, there might be some damage."

Despite Frigga's quiet voice, Loki heard it all and with every word, he felt more and more like the world was spinning and his head was about to explode.

He couldn't know this, but a war has started in his subconsciousness, or better, in his magic. Upon feeling endangered, the part of him that was controlled by the spell was warring against his Jotun magic which was untouched by it, but centuries of repression was making it hard for it to succeed fully.

Through the pain, he could see Frigga and Thor stepping towards him, and each kneeling by his side. Thor grasped his hand, and Frigga repeated her previous motion of putting one hand over his heart and one on his head.

He was positively restrained by the pain and by Thor's authoritative touch and after just several minutes of Frigga's chanting, he felt coldness spread through him. He was changing into his Frost Giant shape.

Look at yourself, you fool. They are helping you. Since when you are scared of Thor?

"Loki?" asked Thor.

Frigga was chanting with more vigour than before.

Loki looked up, his red eyes boring into Thor's. Thor was flooded with relief. Even in their foreign state, Loki's eyes held much more familiar expression.

"It's working," he said to Frigga. "His Jotun magic is helping you."

Frigga nodded, but didn't stop. Then finally, after long minutes, a violent spasm ran through Loki, he cried out and changed into his Asgardian form. Frigga stopped chanting.

Loki slumped back, breathing heavily.

"Gods," he gulped.

"Did it work?" asked Thor impatiently, not knowing whether he was asking Loki or Frigga.

"Yes, I believe so," answered Frigga, leaning on her hands, completely drained.

"Mother!" said Thor worriedly. "Are you all right?"

"I will be fine, but I am very tired. I must retire. Please take care of your brother. Dear Loki, please come see me tomorrow." And with that, she left. Thor was torn for a moment, unsettled by her quick departure, but then turned to Loki.

Loki thought he might be sick. He felt violated, like he was being drowned for the past day, or perhaps trapped in some horrible nightmare. His thoughts were all jumbled.

"Loki? Do you feel yourself now?"

"More or less," he said, not feeling like talking at all. He got up, walked past still kneeling Thor and went to the bathroom to splash his face with cold water. After few moments, he noticed Thor standing uncertainly on the doorstep.

"I'm going to sleep now. Please leave," he told Thor, not looking at him.

"Loki, I... " started Thor, though he wasn't sure what he was going to say.

"It was not your fault. I simply wish to rest," said Loki mechanically.

"I could stay with you, like last night," suggested Thor hopefully.

"No!" Loki almost yelled. Then he calmed himself with a deep breath, almost as startled by his violent reaction as Thor was. "Please. I just want to be alone."

"Yes... I am sorry. May I come see you tomorrow?" asked Thor carefully. Loki softened a bit.

"Of course," he nodded.

"Good night then. Sleep well," Thor wished him and left. Loki listened to the retreating steps and the loud click of closing doors. Then he almost jumped, covering the short distance between himself and the bowl and lost all the contents of his stomach. Breathing hard, eyes slightly watery, he climbed into the huge bathtub and let it fill with scorching hot water, hoping to loosen his tense muscles and put a stop to the tremors.

He deeply regretted binding the will of so many people on Midgard to his. Their ordeal must have been but a taste of his, but even that, he thought, was unforgivable.

He now remembered the happenings of the past days clearly, as they were, but the warped, clouded version was still there too. He remembered being warm and comfortable in Thor's embrace during the night, but he also remembered being held smothered against his will, evidence of Thor's sick, vile, need for being pressed on his thighs. He remembered a passionate kiss, one that he longed for so long, just as he remembered a disgustingly wet tongue plunging into his mouth violently.

And how he was to forgo those tainted feelings, and go back to loving Thor, he could not tell.

Chapter Text

Loki was aware that most of his nights were filled with nightmares, though he was blessed enough not to remember most of them. He could thank his magic for that, it was always protecting him on some subconscious level, similar to times when he was startled and his instinctive reaction was not to jump, as most people would, but explode something in the vicinity of the possible attacker.

This night, he wasn't so lucky. He spent it tossing and turning, often jerking awake, covered in sweat, some horrible imagery still fresh in his mind. And by morning, he hadn't forgotten any of it.

He was on his knees, bound and gagged, pain shooting though his arms and jaw. He could only see what was straight in front of him, but every nerve in his body was screaming from the danger behind him.

"Finally you are in your rightful position," he could hear the mocking voice of Thor. "On your knees, like the lowest of subjects, before your king."

He appeared in his line of vision, tall, huge and powerful. Loki could only cringe in fear.

"What shall I do with you?" asked Thor conversationally, obviously not expecting any answer from the silenced Loki. "I would have you suck my dick like the whore that you are, but I like this," he ran a finger around Loki's metal muzzle, "so much on you. I suppose I will simply have to fuck you first and then we shall see."

Loki tried to shake the dream out of his head. He crawled out of the bed, showering quickly and forcing himself to eat at least some fruit that was left in his room. To his content, eating two apples actually brought his appetite back to life, instead of satisfying it and he sent a servant for something more substantial.

After breakfast, he considered seeing mother, but decided against it. It was a bit too early and he didn't feel like talking to her anyway. He gave Thor half an hour to appear and when he didn't, Loki put on some fine trousers and comfortable shirt, adding a golden necklace and a fancy belt as an afterthought and started in the direction of the palace library.

He had been put through hell and what more, he had been put through hell by magical means and there was no option he could let it go. It was in his power to discover the nature of the spell, and consequently the most probable caster. This was his field, his strength. And whoever did this was about to pay.

Of course the last statement was a bit over the top. Loki was smart enough to know that there was a big chance that he would never be able to punish, or even call out the person who ordered such spell on him. It could have been someone from the Council, an elder who was not satisfied with the verdict. Or it could have been Odin himself.

An easy solution would be to consult Frigga first, she must have recognized the spell well enough to lift it, but Loki knew that either the caster was someone not powerful enough, someone acting out and in that case, she will step forward herself, or it really was Odin and she won't say so no matter what Loki does. Taking to her would be waste of time. That's what he told himself anyway, as he stepped into the monumental hall that was the library of Asgard. Despite the grandeur and smooth coldness of the place, it felt familiar and homely. After only several seconds of reminiscence, he busied himself with collecting books and scrolls that touched upon the subject of mind control magic, magic that could control emotions and everything else he could find that he thought fitting for his temporary condition.

After several hours, he gave up. There was nothing even remotely similar. On the other hand, he went through a third of what he estimated to be the amount of texts on the needed theme, so he decided to come back another day. On his way back, he paid close attention to reactions of people passing him. There weren't many, but while he had to endure some rather nasty looks, he wasn't attacked (something he thought to be a possibility), or even verbally abused, which was especially positive since he even met a group of warriors that he remembered hanging around Thor and his tight cluster of friends and that was exactly the sort of people he expected the worst from.

When he arrived to his rooms, Thor was there.

"Loki! How are you doing?"

"Better," answered Loki, closing the door behind him and steeling himself for the conversation, or even for looking at Thor in the first place. He had been seated, but got up and made his way to Loki, slowly, but decidedly. He gently caught him by the arms and looked at him searchingly.

"Let me guess," Thor said, smile obvious in his voice. "You were in the library. You have the look."

Loki was stunned, but tried to hide it, gently stepping out of Thor's grasp. "What look?"

"I am not sure how to describe it. But I can tell when you have been poring over books. Maybe your eyes a bit red from the reading... your forehead is creased," continued Thor teasingly, not noticing how flustered Loki was.

Loki stepped around Thor, trying to busy himself with putting food (freshly delivered, he noticed) on a plate. Inwardly, he scolded himself for his softness. It meant nothing. There was certainly no need to feel flattered and pleased.

"Well, what did you find?" asked Thor more seriously when Loki said nothing and begun to eat.

"Nothing so far," answered Loki simply.

Thor bit his lip, fully catching up with Loki's mood.

"I won't pretend to have consulted any books, but I certainly made some steps to uncover this mysterious spell-caster myself."

He paused, not really expecting Loki to answer. "I asked several of my good men to carefully check upon all magicians, to see if they notice anything amiss."

"For example?" Loki raised his eyebrows.

"For example a new-found wealth, which could indicate that they have been paid generously, not only for their magic, but also for their discretion."

Loki chuckled shortly, humourlessly and went back to his food.

"What?" demanded Thor, anger rising in him, though not all of it was directed at Loki.

"Forgive me, but I am truly amused by your naivety," said Loki bitingly. "At this point, I am almost sure that Odin did it and I imagine he didn't use the services of a market magician who would then proceed to show off his new gold."

"What? No! How can you think that!" yelled Thor, outraged.

"And who else? Who else wants you and me back to hating each other? You know this yourself! You even lied to him, so that he wouldn't be suspicious, but I imagine now that he could see right through you!"

"Does that mean that you don't hate me anymore?" switched Thor tracks quickly. Loki wasn't amused though.

"Is that all you heard from what I've just said?" he asked, fuming.

Thor sighed. "No, but you must forgive me. I will not pretend to understand what yesterday felt like to you, but it was not easy for me either."

Loki finished his plate in silence, and Thor, for once, let him.

"Do you want to go somewhere outside?" he asked uncertainly.

"No," answered Loki curtly. He rose from the table and moved slowly towards his personal balcony. Thor followed him.

For a while, they looked over the golden city. For Thor, there was no place more beautiful.

"How do you feel about Asgard? Truly," Thor turned to Loki quietly, studying him. Loki was gazing at the horizon, his posture relaxed enough, though his expression was a bit tight.

"I was a king here once and now I'm a prisoner. How can I possibly feel?" answered Loki.

"But that cannot be all. We spent centuries here. Don't tell me that you did not have many happy times here."

"In a way, I was already familiar with something similar to the spell I fell under yesterday. You have memories and while they have their own context, they are not carved into your skull. They are always influenced. When I was under the spell... " Loki faltered for a bit and Thor watched him worriedly, not understanding at all what he was getting at. "My memories were all the same. There were no new situations. It was the way I remembered them. How many memories do I have of you besting me at sparring? Some are humiliating, some are funny. Under the spell, they were all menacing. How many times have you hugged me? Or gave me a brotherly kiss? Suddenly all I could feel was being smothered and touched in an unwelcomed way. And with Asgard, it is similar. I know there were good times, but they are now tainted by what came next. I never belonged here."

Thor digested this slowly. "I am sorry. That must have been terrible. But please don't say that you don't belong here. That is not true. I realize now what I have done wrong by you and I will never stop trying to fix it."

Loki smiled at him tiredly. "I believe you."

Encouraged, Thor stepped closer to Loki, hugging him from behind and trying to rest his chin on Loki's shoulder, but Loki tensed up and immediately broke free of the embrace.

"Stop it. Someone might see," he said, scolding, but his true reason was different. He still felt unsure around Thor, images of his fear or nightmares flashing to his mind at the slightest hint of closeness.

He went inside, sour and in no mood for sunlight anymore.

"I am sorry. I will be sure not to take such liberties with you," he heard Thor's voice behind him, sounding very angry. He turned in surprise.

"Well, if you want to whole city to see, then please, go ahead," sneered Loki at him, sticking firmly to his excuse.

"Really? So if I touch you here, when no one can see, you will let me?" said Thor, still mad, while already stalking to Loki, gripping one his wrists with one hand while putting the other around Loki's waist and firmly pushing their bodies together.

Loki's knees almost gave out as panic seized him. "No, no, no, please let me go!"

"Loki. Loki, look at me," commanded Thor, not letting go of him. He was shocked and definitely had misgivings about not doing as Loki wished, but instinctively, he felt that he was doing the right thing. Such confidence was however rapidly crumbling when Loki went rigid; head turned to side and hissed through his teeth:

"Unhand me immediately before I hex you."

Thor let him go, staying close.

"What is this? Why are you still afraid of me?" he demanded.

"Have you heard nothing of what I just said? I just told you that I spent a whole day thinking that every time you touched me in the long centuries in our lives, you were going to mount me like a bitch, and you decide that now is the best time to go grabbing me and pawning over me without my permission? What is wrong with you?"

Thor took a step back, ashamed, but still agitated.

"But it is not true! You of course know that now!"

"Oh, I am sorry, I will be sure to remember that the next time you-" Loki stopped himself. "You just never listen, that's the problem. You never have. No one here ever has."

Loki dejectedly walked to the bed, flinging himself on it.

"Is that why you ruined my coronation?" asked Thor after a pause.

"Yes. You weren't ready. You know that very well now. But who would ever listen to me? Jealous, mischievous prince Loki," he scoffed.

"I used to depend on you more than on anyone. I am sorry it changed. I am sure you will see this as a sentimental promise, but when I am the king, I want you by my side."

"Of course. Oh, maybe we could both be kings! Perhaps if you stomp your foot long enough, you will change all the rules and turn all people's opinions in your favour. Or, even better, we could marry! Why should I be the king when I could be the queen," mocked Loki mercilessly.

Thor forced himself to stay calm.

"Maybe I deserve all this from you, but it will then make me so much happier when you see that I am true to my word. I will leave you now; don't forget that you are supposed to be seeing mother. I will come back in the evening."

With that, he left, stopping just at the door.

"By the way," he added, and Loki raised his head from the bed, surprised by Thor's suddenly playful tone, "you would make a beautiful queen."


"Loki, please sit down," welcomed him Frigga in her private quarters. "How are you feeling?"

"The spell has passed," he answered, not very comfortable under her studying gaze. His state yesterday was pitiful and it was slightly humiliating to face the people who witnessed it.

"I am not sure if this will please you or not, but I know who did it," she spoke in low voice.

"How can you tell?" asked Loki suspiciously.

"I have my ways," she said mysteriously. "But mostly I have eyes and ears and I was able to discern a bit of the spell-caster's signature when I lifted the spell."

"Yes? So who was it?" demanded Loki, suddenly restless.

"I am really sorry I have to say this. I worry what it will be hurtful," she told him gently. "She was your friend for so long after all."

"She?"

"Yes, my dear. I'm afraid that the spell was the work of Lady Sif."

"What?" Loki could hardly believe this. "But she's no magician!"

"No, she has studied magic for many years... she simply didn't tell anyone. I knew though."

Sif. Tough, pretentious, Sif who always disliked him. How many times had she mocked him for his use of magic when Thor was out of earshot? And all this time, she had been studying it herself and now used it against him in the worst possible way.

"She will be punished, of course," added Frigga.

"How?" asked Loki coldly.

"She will be banished from court and rid of her status. I believe she will have to marry a farmer to have at least some form of protection and livelihood."

Loki couldn't suppress a satisfied smile. That truly was a fitting punishment. Had she been subjected to some form of physical penalization, she would relish in it, showing her manly side, like she always loved to. But this? Out of sight, unimportant. It was perfect.

"It is very severe," he noted.

"I know it may seem so since you came to no long lasting harm, but the magic she tapped into was dark and ancient. It is very worrying that she was even able to learn anything about it. I shudder to think what places, what people she must have gone to. This is not the sort of behaviour that can be taken lightly. It would set very dangerous precedent."

He was in a good mood when he came back to his rooms, even feeling a bit sorry that Thor wasn't back yet. He filled the time with a book, content that it actually held his attention.

Upon hearing the decisive knock, he called: "Yes," and watched Thor enter, posture slumped, storm in his eyes, and as he belatedly realized, on the sky as well. Dark clouds covered every part of it, and lightning struck here and there.

"You heard," said Loki simply.

"Yes. She is lucky she's already so far. I would have throttled her."

"But she was your friend," objected Loki, testing how far Thor's anger reached.

"She was different ever since I came back from my banishment on Midgard. I belatedly realized that she fancied herself my wife and when she saw Jane... I think it brought up something rather unpleasant in her."

"Hm. It is a good thing that we have no reason to suspect that her actions rose from something more than her hatred of me. If she was also jealous, she might have tried to kill me."

"Oh I think she was jealous, only she didn't know how much reason to she actually had."

Thor then stopped, considering his own words. "She has, correct?"

"Has what?" feigned Loki ignorance.

"A reason to be jealous."

Loki swallowed. Damn his brother and his need for sentiment.

"Yes," he admitted uncomfortably. Thor's bright smile was rather rewarding though.

"Stay with me tonight," Loki said. "I am not making any promises, but..."

"Of course."

Chapter Text

They settled comfortably, not touching, but very close. Loki's heart was beating fast; he still had misgivings. He forced himself to watch Thor, carefully taking in his expressions, that's what helped the most. Thor was almost incapable of deception – if there was no threat to be seen on his face, then there was none. Of course Loki knew this, but still he had to convince a part of himself.

Carefully, he reached out to touch Thor's cheek, dragging his fingers gently through the stubble. His sweet, strong, handsome brother. He moved his finger along his lip and a soft sigh escaped them. Loki smiled.

Are you going to let Sif win? Are you going to let a spell, one that has been long lifted, influence your feelings?

Loki took a deep breath and leaned forward, kissing Thor. He responded immediately, eager, but trying to keep himself in check and let Loki set the pace.

Loki was torn. The kiss was lovely – gentle and slow and yet... yet he had to pull away, shivers running down his spine.

Part of him desperately wished to let Thor hold him, to succumb to his embrace, to shield him, but other part kept reminding him that the only thing right now that he potentially needed protecting from was Thor himself.

Maybe he made a mistake in inviting Thor to stay with him. What was he expecting? Hardly a chaste kiss and then sleep.

"What's wrong?" interrupted Thor his musings, clearly seeing the uncertainty on Loki's face.

Loki didn't answer, rolling onto his back and looking to the ceiling instead.

"I listened to you when you said no promises," Thor guessed correctly Loki's issue.

"Why though?"

"I don't understand."

"I know that you mean me no harm. But I suppose the spell made me realize how... unexpected it is. How surprising. And fragile."

Thor searched for words, wishing to diminish all Loki's fears for good. There was only one thing he could think of saying.

"I love you. I always have and I always will, whether as a brother, as a friend or as a lover."

Loki's bit his lip and his head whipped to the side, turning to stare at Thor before he could stop himself. Thor's expression was calm and earnest, the truth of his emotion openly reflected in his eyes.

Loki looked away; not really capable of withstanding something so pure. Not yet anyway. He heard Thor sigh almost inaudibly and immediately started worrying what his lack of response would bring, but it was all quickly erased.

"I'm touching your hair. Don't jump," said Thor with a hint of humour, bringing his hand up to Loki's dark locks as he announced. Loki relaxed, enjoying the sensation.

"I like this," he decided to share.

Thor smiled.

"That is good."

They stayed like that for a long time, Thor stroking Loki's hair, occasionally straying his movements to Loki's face or neck.

Despite the calming conditions, Loki's mind was never one to be idle.

"The Chitauri will come for me. I am surprised they haven't yet," he said, startling Thor, who was lulled into state of almost perfect bliss.

"Asgard is well protected. If they attack, I will lead all our armies against them. They won't stand a chance."

"And if they don't come with an army? What if they sneak in instead?"

"Well, no one has managed that either, unless they had your help," reminded him Thor.

"They could find help here in Asgard, someone could cloak them," continued Loki gravely.

"They would have to contact them first and that would not go unnoticed by Heimdall," Thor kept on quelling Loki's fears patiently.

"If he would care enough to come forward. Don't forget that I froze him."

"You could have killed him easily instead. I do believe he realizes that. Where are all these dark thoughts coming from?" frowned Thor.

"I have not been having the best time lately," responded Loki sarcastically.

"Tell me what happened in the realm of Chitauri," asked Thor, shifting to rest on his arms and looking down at Loki.

"No."

"Why?"

"It is not something I wish to reminiscence about, and I am not interested in more of your pity," said Loki curtly.

Thor looked at him intensely for a while, trying to read his face. Loki was closed up again, not willing to share anything else.

"Very well. May I kiss you?" decided Thor to go back to more pleasant themes.

"No. Yes. I don't know," stuttered Loki a bit, closing his eyes as an involuntary blush coloured his cheeks.

"Such a tease," laughed Thor and pressed a kiss to the heated area on Loki's cheekbone. When he withdrew, he was surprised by the animosity in Loki's eyes.

"Don't call me that," he objected.

"I'm sorry. It was but a joke."

"Well, I grow tired of your joking. I am going to sleep," announced Loki and turned his back to Thor. His attempt at being mad at Thor had however little effect and Thor instead took the perfect opportunity to curl his body around Loki's, perfectly copying his position and even sneaking one arm bellow Loki's torso to hug him tightly. He placed a gentle kiss on Loki's neck, just below his ear.

"Shall you sleep comfortably like this?" he asked Loki, while persistently nuzzling his shoulder.

Loki was slightly breathless. The whole length of his body was pressed up against Thor's; he could feel the heat of his brother, since they both only wore short sleeping pants. Thor's arms were around him, fingers of his right hand almost touching one of his nipples. It was a full, inescapable embrace and it felt amazing and terrifying at once.

"Well, I don't know about sleeping," he got out and then had to suppress a yelp when he felt Thor's tongue slide up softly along his earlobe.

"Just let me touch you. Let me please you. I'm not asking anything more," murmured Thor into his ear, hands already skimming over Loki's chest.

"Y-yes," nodded Loki, overwhelmed.

Thor made no move to change their position, focusing instead all his attention to Loki's neck, which he had a marvellous access to with his mouth and on stroking Loki's chest, stomach and his hips with his free hand. In minutes, Loki was breathing heavily, his neck and shoulder red and sensitive from all the lovingly administered biting, licking and sucking. All these attentions however didn't stop him from noticing the inconspicuous hand that slid over his stomach and made its way to the hem of his trousers. Before he could decide how to react, Thor stopped and asked:

"May I continue?"

It was the fact that he asked that made Loki nod.

He was fully aroused by the time and he awaited Thor's touch. When his strong, slightly rough hand finally curved around his length, he couldn't stop the moan.

"Good?" asked Thor, lips pressed to Loki's ear.

"Yes," answered Loki, getting impatient. "Please."

Thor began his movements slowly, his grasp firm enough to bring pleasure even with the light pace. He couldn't see much of Loki's face, but he looked at him intently anyway, searching for any sign of distress.

Loki was far from distressed though. He relished in the feel of Thor's hand, the pace quickly becoming not enough and he bucked his hips, trying to meet Thor's strokes, though Thor was only half compliant, bringing the speed up in his own merit. Finally, he was moving his hand as fast as he could, recognizing easily the signs of coming release. Loki's whole body tensed up, pleasure building and he unsuccessfully tried to muffle his scream as he came.

Thor was fascinated by the sight and feeling of Loki coming undone like this, and by his hand no less. Their bodies were so close that he could feel every move, every tremor, he could hear the air being harshly sucked into Loki's lungs and see one of Loki's fists clenched in the sheets.

All this almost made his lust take him over; he wanted nothing more than to push himself into Loki, take the last step, but he stopped such thought, he knew that was not possible yet. Instead, he gently worked Loki through his orgasm, letting go only after he was spent completely, even the last spasm subduing.

Loki melted hazily back, turning his head around to look at Thor who was smiling at him warmly and a bit proudly too.

"Don't be smug," laughed Loki softly.

"I am not. Just admiring my handiwork," cheekily replied Thor and Loki spluttered with more laughter.

"By gods, you are so crude. I cannot believe you just said that."

They shared the amusement for a bit longer, but Loki yawned repeatedly.

"Go to sleep," told him Thor, snuggling closer.

"But what about you?"

"What do you mean? I'm going to sleep too," feigned Thor ignorance, as if they both weren't very much aware of Thor erection that was pressed to Loki's thigh.

In response, Loki wiggled his arse and Thor firmly pressed his lips together to stop any sound from escaping.

"Loki, no. It is good enough for me that you invited me to your bed. We have time," said Thor, though inwardly he was questioning himself. He wanted this and if so did Loki... but no. They shouldn't rush.

Loki wasn't actually going to argue. He was sleepy, sated and not at all willing to push the limits of his newly restored ability to stand intimacy.

So they slept, Loki's nightmares for once kept at bay.

Waking up was equally pleasant, though Loki felt slightly disoriented upon finding all his limbs trapped and entangled. He rolled out of bed, smiling at Thor, who, only partly awake, mumbled something and tried to reach for him, and headed for shower. Under the stream, he thought about the next days. What will he even do? So far, planning had little priority. He'd had more urgent matters, but now he had to focus on the future. Half a year wasn't very long time overall, but he couldn't spend it whole in his rooms. There were always new things to learn, books to read, but contrary to the exaggerated opinions he often heard about himself, he wasn't that much of a bookworm that he could spend months doing nothing but reading.

Then there was of course plotting. What did he want? Did he want to be the king of Asgard? Of Jotunheim? Probably not. Did he want to rule the Earth? At that he cringed. While he had already once successfully claimed the throne of Asgard and while he could imagine overpowering the Frost Giants, Midgardians were something else entirely. They had evolved strangely. They had no magic, so they relied on science. They had forgotten their gods and they grew... what? Independent? Strong? Arrogant? Either way, it would be hard to rule them.

Loki saw no reason to make excuses to himself. He wanted power. And even though he had been... coerced by the Chitauri, he had thought their final deal was more than satisfying. He had been looking forward to owning Earth. But perhaps it was impossible. And he was no fool. He wouldn't chase smoke.

He was back, he had all faculties together, he would be fully restored as prince soon enough and Thor was on his side. Opportunities would show themselves, new goals will arise. Yes, the Chitauri were a threat and so was Odin, and quite likely many others, such as Sif, but he wasn't weak.

Wrapped in a cloth, drops of water still clinging to him, he exited the bathroom to face the new day.

Thor was still in bed, though awake and propped up against the headboard, eyeing Loki shamelessly.

"What are you going to do today?" Loki asked him, rummaging through his closet.

"Train a bit and then go to a feast. Some Elven diplomats are here. Father will not be attending, so I have to entertain them," answered Thor, sounding a bit disgruntled.

"Do you want me to come with you?"

Thor lit up. "Yes, of course. To the training also or just the feast?"

Loki quickly mulled this over. "Rather just the feast."

"As you wish," said Thor and got out of bed. "I must go, I need to change before I head out. I think it will make the best impression if we go to the feast together. I will come for you."

"But what about Odin? We are supposed to be on the outs, remember?" frowned Loki.

"I hardly think that matters anymore. I simply tried to prevent being pulled away from you when you were hurt. I will not hide or lie."

Loki smirked at that, letting go of the pants he had just picked up and took several steps to Thor.

"I'm afraid you are going to have to do both. We," he reached out, trailing his fingers slowly from Thor's collarbone, his stomach and finally ending on his hip, "are not acting exactly... brotherly."

Thor watched Loki intensely, then leaned in for a kiss, one quite more passionate than the one the night before. "We will figure something out."

He finished dressing and left with a small nod Loki, who was feeling a bit exasperated, even if he hid it well. What did his brother mean now? Their affection would have to stay secret forever and Loki didn't mind this. But Thor, he knew, was in core a romantic.

Loki spent the day mostly lounging in his room, firstly entertaining himself with a book, then he decided that he had been negligent to his looks long enough.

Both Odinssons have always been vain, except Loki admitted it while Thor didn't.

He stripped and one by one carefully vanished the scars that Chitauri left on his body. It was upsetting to be reminded of the pains they caused him, but he didn't let himself linger on such thoughts very long. Then he walked to a big mirror in the bathroom and frowned at himself with scrutiny. His hair was longer than he ever let it be before. After some thought (maybe too much thought for such matter), he shortened it just a little.

Next issue was clothing for the feast, which however wasn't a simple question of vanity or style. He needed to send a message with his attire as well. It wouldn't do to wear something too simple, but he couldn't yet dress as a prince either. In the end, he went for tight black pants, sturdy leather shoes that laced up almost to his knees (they were big and shiny and he felt it gave his step a good measure of vigour), dark green under-tunic, black jacket on top and a carefully measured amount of leather straps with gold to adorn it. No cape or armour, that would be too provocative and yet, he didn't look like someone to be ignored. Good.

Thor's expression when he finally came reassured him.

"Brother," he said, swallowing. "You look good."

"Thank you. Shall we?" smiled Loki back. For all his successful preparations, he was a bit nervous, it was the first time he would truly face the people of Asgard after his fall and return. The walk to the feast was not a short one, but he didn't speak and Thor wasn't trying to interrupt his silence.

When they arrived, the guards bowed slightly and opened the huge two winged doors and Thor and Loki entered, side by side.

The hall went silent.

Chapter Text

Everybody stood up to bow to Thor, but most eyes were on Loki, mixture of emotions, from distrust to open animosity reflected in them. Loki stood his ground, meeting gazes with his own, unwavering one and was pleased to discover that many quickly looked down. He and Thor then walked to the head table, where the Elves were already waiting. They were all introduced, Loki tentatively as Thor's brother and if the Elves knew about Loki's deeds, they didn't say anything.

Loki quickly assessed that their presence was but a formality. There was nothing to really discuss or deal with, which wasn't surprising. Allfather was feared and the trade had been set in the same tracks for centuries now. Thor appeared calm and sensible, which was something Loki regarded as novelty. He also noticed that he has barely touched his goblet. Interesting.

He himself didn't speak very much, opting instead to sweep his gaze through the crowd. While the head table where he, Thor and their foreign guests were seated was quiet and dignified, the rest of the hall was loud and many of the attendees were already very drunk. Bursts of laughter and shouting were filling the room, but what draw Loki's attention more were the tight clusters of solemn looking guests, heads together, discussing something in low voices. As someone who caused trouble on daily basis, he could recognize it when it was brewing.

Thor turned away from the Elves for a moment and followed Loki's gaze.

"I presume I don't have to warn you that something might happen," he told him quietly.

"Of course not. Is that why you are not drinking?" said Loki, unconsciously leaning into Thor to share their conversation in private.

Thor only chuckled in response, returning his attention to the diplomats. Loki smiled a bit, unwillingly impressed by his brother's change.

After perhaps another hour, Thor and the Elves stood up, Loki following quickly and with more formalities and bows, the diplomats left. The celebration was however still in full flow and soon the free places next to Thor and Loki were filled by the Warriors Three. They greeted Thor joyously, all three already inebriated and gave Loki cold nods. He had to fight the urge to roll his eyes.

Very shortly it became apparent what influence the absence of the Elves and the new presence of his friends had on Thor. The goblet that was untouched for most of the night was suddenly emptied and refilled in quick succession and when Thor's hand fell heavily on the servants shoulder, taking the whole pitcher from him, Loki decided to leave.

"I'm leaving," he said to Thor's ear. "Do not even think of coming to me like this."

Despite the drinking, Thor answered him in quiet and reasonably collected voice. "I am sorry. Send a servant or a guard with a message that you have arrived safely to your rooms."

"I am not defenceless, Thor," replied Loki with an edge, then stood up.

"I bid you all good night," he said expressionlessly, earning another round of nods.

He didn't get very far. Half way to the door, someone stepped aggressively into his path. He looked at the offender. Warrior. Drunk.

"Out of my way," he commanded in bored voice. Everybody was already noticing that something was up.

"Hmm, I don't think so," said the man, then laughing as if he had just said something very cunning. "Who do you think you are to tell me what to do anyway?"

Loki raised his eyebrows, though it was a bit disconcerting that he didn't in fact really know the answer. He couldn't say he was a prince, not publicly like this. He had half a year to wait for that.

"Maybe you should not worry so much about who I am, but what I can do to you," he said, the threat apparent in his voice.

"Let my brother pass immediately or I will have you hung upside down and flogged," came Thor's voice from the other side of the room, authoritative and angry. The man shrank away and Loki walked out, chin held high.

Inwardly, he was seething. How many of such incidents would he had to endure? Even more maddening was the way he kept checking his surroundings the whole way back, conscious of the possibility of attack. He weighted whether or not to fulfil Thor's demand of message and in the end decided to send it rather than risk Thor storming in to check up on him.

Disgruntled and tired, he fell asleep, thinking about the missing warmth as his last awake thought.


Thor stood in front of his father, clear-headed despite last night's drinking.

"Well, how did the dealings with the Elves go?" Allfather asked.

"I can report no disturbance or disagreement," Thor answered meeting his Father's gaze, already knowing that he held little interest in those matters.

"And yet I hear strange things about last night's feast."

"You mean that Loki was there," stated Thor firmly, unabashedly.

"No, Thor!" yelled Odin rather suddenly, getting up. "Loki may move freely around the palace and I hold little interest in where he goes. But you? Bringing him in there by your side? Letting him whisper to you? Do you not see how that reflects on the crown? He is a criminal and a prisoner and you take him to the table where our allies sit and you let him dictate you your dealings with them!"

"Loki is my brother and I do not know of what whispers you speak. He gave no advice to me about the Elves and I needed none!" countered Thor heatedly.

"Do no attempt to fool me, Thor. I had the most thorough reports of last night brought to me. All the eyes saw it!"

Thor reeled back, just now realizing the horrifying pettiness of the situation. When did his father, the wise, powerful Allfather become this angry, suspecting man?

"So you decide not to attend a feast, you put the task into my hands and then rely on spies to pass on whatever twisted version of reality they feel you will welcome the most."

"Perhaps I should just ask Heimdall then," said Odin in a calm tone, but the warning was apparent. "Perhaps I should ask a full recollection of everything you and Loki had done since you returned."

Thor's mouth was suddenly very, very dry. He wished he had Loki's mind now. Finally, he spoke.

"I do not care if you do. I have been reconciling with my brother and even if you do not wish it, it makes me happy to have him back, to have him talking to me and accepting me. I am not ashamed of that."

Now he could only wish his Father wouldn't call his bluff.

Some of Odin's anger and the underlying malice vanished.

"Thor," he said, suddenly sounding tired, sitting back heavily. "You misunderstand me. I spoke too rashly. You must realize... while you can, in private, forget for a while yours and Loki's position, as the heir of Asgard, it is inappropriate for you to treat him so forgivingly."

Those words made Thor rage more than before, even if they were meant to placate him.

"So what are you saying? To hide away the truth and mock Loki just to satisfy the masses?"

"And what is the truth, Thor?" asked Odin, deep in thought. "What is the truth? That you are blind to everything Loki has done to you and you forgive him foolishly? That it took him no time to realize how easily he could get right back to your good graces?"

Now was Thor so mad that for a while, he just kept breathing sternly through his nose, trying to stop all the words from tumbling from his mouth uncoordinated, for he was sure he would choke and stutter on them.

Odin continued, oblivious or uncaring.

"I mourned the loss of my son, Thor. I truly did. There are things I wish I had done differently, but we must not lie to ourselves."

"How... how can you discard him so? You lied to him his whole life, you fed us stories of great victories over the Frost Giants, the abominable monsters, you let him find out on his own that he was one of them and then you abandoned him and now you are shunning him away, like a broken toy!"

"I said," repeated Odin, "that I did mourn my son. I still do. But that does not change-"

"He is not dead!" screamed Thor.

"He is as good as!" yelled Odin in response, but immediately shook his head, "No, Thor. I did not-"

But Thor was already marching out of the throne room, for fear of what his rage might lead him to do. His legs instinctively took him to Loki's rooms. There was no person he wanted to see but his brother. He had to reassure himself of his presence, of his reality, shaken deeply by Odin ominous words. He knew that Odin spoke figuratively. In his opinion, Loki Odinson was history. But still...

He knocked, warmth spreading through him when he heard Loki's clear voice call out admission.

"Hello, brother," he said, a bit out of breath. Loki was reclining in a big leather chair, a book in his hands.

"What happened?" he asked, immediately seeing Thor's agitation.

"I had an audition with father that was wholly maddening, but there is no need to speak of it anymore."

"He did not like my being at the feast yesterday," Loki noted, eyes going back to his book.

Thor chuckled humourlessly. "More or less."

On impulse, he covered the distance between himself and Loki, dropped to his knees and put his head into Loki's lap with an exasperated huff. He hoped he wasn't overstepping any boundaries Loki had set for them, but Loki quickly discarded the book and buried his fingers in Thor's hair.

"I do not recognize him as the man I grew up looking up to," said Thor, voice muffled. Loki made a face, knowing Thor wouldn't see it.

"I shall just say I can relate."

They stayed like that for a while, Thor slowly calming under Loki's gentle touches. The carpet was soft under his knees and the feeling of Loki combing through the strands of his hair had almost magical touch to it.

"How do you regard last night? Success or not?" Thor asked.

Loki chuckled. "I am not dead nor injured, and I had to deal with only one instance of verbal abuse. Success it is."

Thor didn't speak, waiting for Loki to continue.

"Your friends were surprisingly civil. I would have expected... well. I should think they would like to at least state their opinions regarding Sif's... situation."

"I made it very clear yesterday that her banishment was entirely her fault. It is a punishment she deserves for the heinous thing she did to you."

Loki's hands stilled. "You kept the details to yourself I hope."

He most certainly didn't want the whole Asgard to know the particulars of the spell.

Thor lifted his head, looking up to Loki uncertainly. "What I told them was vague. I said that it caused fear to the point of physical pain."

"Good. That's good."

In a spur of gentleness, Loki lifted Thor's chin higher and kissed him. "You are getting better at lying. I like it. Just do not presume to try it on me. It will not work."

Thor laughed heartily, shifting himself to rest between Loki's knees and sliding his hands inconspicuously over his thighs. Loki in response sneaked one hand around Thor's shoulders while continuing to stroke his face.

"I have no reason whatsoever to lie to you. Quite the contrary. I many times wished you would see the truth of my words instead of rejecting it."

Loki looked at Thor intently, considering his words and Thor was once again struck with awe. Loki's hair was shorter now, he noticed, quite as he was used to it, mostly pulled back, but framing his cheeks. His face was pale, eyes sparkling. The contrasts were rather becoming and he wished to kiss every bit of Loki's perfection.

"I always believe that you mean what you say."

Slightly taken aback by Loki's sombre tone, Thor snapped out of his reverie.

"But you do not believe that it will last."

"It was often the case, yes."

"Even now you have those misgivings?"

Now Loki had to reassure Thor a bit, because his worried and sad expression left him far from cold.

"Not so much."

Thor's bright smile was rewarding.

"I shall try my best to make it 'never'. And I will show you that I am steady at my affections."

"I know you will," murmured Loki, leaning in for another kiss.

That was when the door flew open and they both felt the hairs stand up on their arms – unmistakable instinct of warriors telling them they were being attacked.

Chapter Text

They both jumped to their feet, Thor tearing Mjolnir from where it was tied to his belt and Loki materializing two razor-sharp daggers into his hands. They stood, muscles taunt, turned to the door, which was wide open and flipping back and forth. They didn't see anything, but the threat was there.

Just as they looked at each other in confusion, Thor was violently thrown across the room. He was caught unaware and arrived to the ground with a loud thump and groan. Loki braced himself for the attack, not yet able to find a solution to their situation, but instead he felt a firm grip squeeze his breath out of him and at the same time, invisible ropes (that's what it felt like anyway) were tightening around his legs and arms rapidly. He struggled, trying to suck in enough air to pronounce a spell, but it was in vain.

Cold terror filled him It was just as he had predicted. They were here. They've come for him and so far, they were very successful.

He was being pulled away, half way to the door already, when Thor finally caught up to him.

„Where is it?" he yelled.

„Behind me," coughed Loki. „Holding me."

Thor gritted his teeth and swung Mjolnir blindly down in the space where he estimated the creature to be, though he didn't put full force into the blow, afraid of hurting Loki. He hit the target. Loki cried out, the ropes painfully digging into his flesh, but the hold on his torso weakened and after taking a ragged breath, he murmured an incantation and materialized several meters away, free of the hold.

The problem was, they could no longer tell where the thing was and in seconds, Thor was attacked again, this time more viciously. A blow caught him in his midsection and another followed to his chin. He retaliated with full force, striking at chance. He managed to get several punches in and they both could hear a silent hiss before the thing drew back, ceasing its attack.

Loki tensed, correctly anticipating a move against himself.

But he wasn't going to just wait to be snatched away. It he wasn't grossly mistaken, there was only one of these things, whatever it was. Strong, yes. Invisible, yes, that was unfortunate, but as long and he and Thor could at least approximately pinpoint its location, they could kill it. He slowly shifted to the side, one careful step after another and chanted quietly. In seconds, the room was filled with at least twenty copies of both himself and Thor.

Thor had an expression of surprise, one that appeared on the faces of all the doubles. Despite the situation, Loki was amused. A dozen of wide-eyed Thors. What a sight.

On a wordless command from Loki, they all started mingling together, walking around slowly, postures speaking of fight. Loki blended in easily, trusting Thor not to stand on a spot and be obvious.

Suddenly, about two or three of the doubles were disturbed, fluttering and almost disappearing as something flew through them in a raging attack. Loki moved lightning fast, throwing a dagger to the empty spot at deadly speed. It stuck, seemingly mid-air, only the hilt visible as the blade was buried in the invisible flesh, taking in whatever magic was hiding the creature. Thor marched forward, his target now clearly labelled. He pounded at it with Mjolnir relentlessly, until he was almost thrown off his feet by suddenly striking only the clear air. The thing was down. Thor kicked around searchingly and Loki walked closer, eyes fixed on the empty spot on the floor.

"Do you think it's dead?" asked Thor.

"I think so," said Loki, frowning. "But more may arrive."

"Come, then. Heimdall will already know, but we must go tell Father."

Loki wasn't too thrilled with that idea, but there was no avoiding it. He dismissed the doubles with a click of his fingers. Thor blindly groped for the carcass, not intending to leave it Loki's rooms. They set out quickly in the direction, Thor dragging the invisible weight. Upon arriving, Loki threw the door to the throne room open, letting Thor pass.

"Father," announced Thor their presence loudly. "We have been attacked. Asgard has been breached."

Loki gasped.

Allfather was sitting on the throne, hunched forward, hand pressed against a bleeding wound at his side. Thor let go of his load and ran forward.

"Thor, careful! It may yet be here!" called Loki after him desperately.

"N-no," wheezed Odin. "I have slain it."

While Thor tried to attend to Odin, checking his wound carefully, and then, rather horrified, pressing his hands on it above his father's to quell the bleeding, Loki was frozen on the spot, filled with mixture of emotions. In the corner of his eye, he could see people rushing inside, healers, his Mother, finally even Heimdall.

He made himself move, made himself approach Odin who was now surrounded tightly by healers, even though they didn't have much space around Thor and Frigga and she was doing most of the work anyway.

He felt some regret, that was undeniable and it made him angry. How does one react to seeing the person who he had spent majority of his life loving and trying (and mostly failing) to make proud, but who he had come to regard as an enemy, with life fluttering on the edge?

"That's enough," said Odin, firmly for the state he was in and the healers drew back, while Frigga remained kneeling by his side, steadying the bleeding.

"Thor. The time has come-"

"Father, no. You will live," interrupted him Thor.

"I may not be brought down by this single wound, my son, but that does not mean my strength is not drained. I will enter Odinsleep and there is no saying when, or if, I will awaken. You are the rightful king of Asgard. You are my heir, my son. I trust you to do right. Better than I did."

At his last sentence, Odin's eye fluttered in the direction of Loki, and neither he or Thor missed that.

Thor bowed his head while Odin shared several private, tender words with Frigga. Then, with almost relieved sigh, his body slackened.


Loki couldn't deny feeling anxious as he waited patiently in the library, standing by a table upon which he had placed all the relevant material.

When he heard Heimdall's heavy steps approaching, he willed himself to relax.

"Heimdall," he greeted, voice steady.

"Loki," grumbled Heimdall, and Loki bit the inside of his cheek. "I see you have prepared everything."

"Of course."

In the next two hours, he and Heimdall worked out the source of the assassins (and abductors, as Loki reminded himself with a shiver), the point of breach and came up with a warding spell that should prevent them and any creature even remotely similar from entering Asgard again.

The reason the Chitauri assassins could slip in as far as to strike at Odin was chillingly simple. They were so foreign, never-before encountered that they could pass through Asgard's defences and their invisibility, crude as it was, shielded them from Heimdall's sight until he could see the results of their actions.

The need for Loki and Heimdall cooperating arose naturally. Loki knew the Chitauri and he was a sorcerer, while Heimdall could bring forth basically any intelligence they could need and guarding Asgard was, to put it simply, his job.

They would have to combine their knowledge of the Chitauri essence, their appearance and the general space in the universe from which they could come and construct a brand new warding spell.

Heimdall now carefully listened to Loki's descriptions of all the forms that the dark, evil race usually presented in. There were warriors, anthropomorphic creatures with lizard faces, clad in armour, tall, paper-thin, glowing servants of the twisted form of magic they indulged in and a rather colourful range of monsters – giant turtles, bulls and things that Loki couldn't find names for.

"But I have never seen anything like the assailants that came here. Nor did I think they had any particular inclination for invisibility," concluded Loki. "So this might not be enough."

"It will be enough," answere Heimdall. Loki knew better than to argue.

"Your brother is coming here to hear what ends we reached."

Loki looked up, surprised at Heimdall sharing this.

"I have one more thing to say to you, Loki. I do not make it my business to judge who beds who and how, so I shall be silent on that part, but I will give you a warning. Do not attempt to betray Thor."

Loki was stunned, blush creeping onto his cheeks. Once more, he was left speechless by Heimdall. He managed only to nod before Thor entered, looking grave.

"Brother, Heimdall," he greeted them. "Has everything gone well?"

They assured him that it has and then Heimdall excused himself, returning to his guarding position.

Thor and Loki stood in the tall room. They had spoken little since the attack – that was two days ago.

Thor had been understandably busy with preparations not only for coronation, but of course for his reign. Loki understood, he really did, even going as far as trying to banish any jealous feelings, but he was still growing uneasy.

He had opened up to Thor so much. He had shown him his love, even if subtly. They had crossed a line, ventured into a romantic, sexual relationship. Somehow, during the days after his return to Asgard, he thought he and Thor would have years to spend is Asgard as equals (because Thor didn't particularly care that Loki's title was as of yet stripped from him), finding their balance, discovering their new world-view, but that was all gone. Thor would always stand above him now.

Thor spoke first.

"I would like you to be the first to swear your oath tomorrow. Then you will take your place by my side and everyone who pledges their loyalty to me next will be also pledging it to you."

Loki almost automatically wanted to scoff, repeat some of his previous misgivings about what such actions would bring, he wanted to show that he didn't believe Thor was being serious, anything to protect himself. But he was looking into Thor's eyes who was meeting him with unyielding gaze, firm and... royal.

"As you wish," replied Loki formally. Thor's shoulders sagged and he stepped to Loki.

"Brother, please. Don't be... don't do this."

Thor's voice was so pleading, so familiar that Loki had to step forward, meeting Thor, drawn by him.

"I will take the oath. Thank you," he said softly. Thor sighed in relief and touched his forehead to Loki's. It was nice, calming and intimate and he wished they could stay like this longer.

"Go," said Loki finally. "You have much to do."

"It will get better," said Thor apologetically, stepping away.

"I know," smiled Loki half-heartedly and watched Thor leave.


"I do promise and swear that I always shall be to my true King, the protector of the Nine Realms and also the Royal House, true and faithful. I shall also with my life and blood defend the Royal form of government; all in accordance with the Realms Constitution, which I always shall follow and obey. This I promise to upkeep on my honour and conscience, so help me Gods to life and spirit.

"I pledge my loyalty, my mind, my soul and my magic to you and I bind my allegiance to you, hereby until the end of time."

Heavy silence filled the room, as impossible as something like that would seem with thousands people present.

Thor was sitting on the golden throne of Asgard, Gungnir in his hand, dressed formidably in armour, red cape pooling around his ankles.

There were not a lot of similarities between this coronation and the previous attempted. When the doors to the throne room opened, Thor was already sitting there. After the hall was filled, the most prominent persons entered one by one, lining up on the side of the throne to wait for their turn in saying vows.

Loki came last, and a wave of whisper and fearful shimmer ran through the crowd. Just like Thor, he had armour on, all leather and gold, green cape swiping after him, the horn on his golden helmet glistening.

At that moment, there were not many people who didn't think that Loki was about to challenge Thor and fight him for the throne.

Loki marched firmly forward, not seeing anybody but Thor, who at that moment seemed to return the sentiment. Upon reaching the steps leading to the throne, Loki stilled for just a second and without breaking the gaze, he took his helmet off, knelt down on one knee, set the helmet aside on the steps and bowing his head, he spoke the words of the oath.

The first part was customary and they were sure to hear it many, many times that day, but the second part, while it wasn't unusual to add something to an oath one was taking, caused quite the reaction.

Loki didn't care and neither did Thor. After finishing his pledge, he raised his head and their eyes met, unspeakable connection forming and strengthening. Loki's message was clear. Here he was, strong and dangerous, sharp as a razor, capable of challenge, but instead he was kneeling before Thor, swearing his every capability to him.

There was no single one person, creature, or god in the whole vast universe to whom Loki would honestly submit to except to Thor. He accepted his king, his brother, his love.

After what seemed like a longer time than it really was, Thor rose.

"Brother, stand and join me."

Loki did so, picking up his helmet and putting hit under his arm as he walked up the remaining stairs.

"I accept your pledge, my brother, my first and highest chancellor and I wish you always by my side," spoke Thor, voice final.

Others then came to swear their loyalty, all kneeling in front of both Thor and Loki.

Just like he had promised.

Chapter Text

The ceremony was long and the festivities that came after were even longer and would continue for days. Asgard was in raptures – no one except those immediately present to his parting regarded Odin as dead and so all that was left was the excitement of their beloved prince Thor finally becoming the formidable king that they had all always expected him to be, or at least that's what was often repeated over the goblets overflowing with mead and wine.

Loki sat through all this patiently on Thor's right, feeling calmer than he could remember being in a very long time.

In a way, it was anticlimactic. One could easily think that he was back to square one. A prince of Asgard, with Thor standing over him, this time not only as the heir, but as the confirmed ruler. He could tell himself that everything he has done since the day he let the Frost Giants in was for naught. That it was like travelling back in time, and not letting the magic flow and cover the intruders. Thor would have been crowned. Odin would have retired soon after, though probably without hinting that it was for good.

Of course, nothing could be farther from the truth.

For one, the man holding the Gungnir now was worthy of it as he hadn't been before.

And Loki himself... where could he begin? When and how would he have discovered his heritage if it wasn't for the rash quest to Jotunheim? Perhaps, in the great scheme of things, he learned it soon enough. It was hard to imagine the alternatives. The past was secure, if painful. He was alive. Thor was alive. No worlds have been shattered. Loki imagined what he would do if the bitterness that almost enfolded him before Thor's original coronation was left to grow under his brother's undoubtedly idiotic rule and only then he would have find out about his nature. Loki knew himself well enough to inwardly cringe with the feeling that it would have been much, much worse.

"You are deep in thought, brother," Thor's voice brought him back. "Planning on overthrowing me already?"

The jibe was good-natured, so Loki smiled.

"Hardly. I was simply thinking that maybe everything hadn't come together so horrendously. It of course yet remains to be seen just how much of a fool you will prove yourself to be on the throne, my liege."

"Well, you will be there to stop me before I can do anything truly stupid," laughed Thor, though keeping his words quiet enough so only Loki could hear. This was not the kind of thing that any other should hear during the celebration of his rule.

"If you listen to me," continued Loki their banter.

Thor smiled broadly, leaning back in his chair and looking over the filled hall.

He was feeling certain and confident, though not overly so. He was all too aware of the pressing matters of diplomacy and politics that already awaited him in his new office. Long gone were the days when he thought that being the king meant marching to war whenever he felt like it and coming back victorious and basking in the glory of it. Not a small part of that lesson was owned to his brother. Loki seemed... at peace. He had learned to read his brother as well as it could be managed and he knew the difference between a quiet, plotting Loki and a quiet, relaxed Loki.

No one else would be able to tell, of course, because in public, relaxed Loki was still dignified and stone-faced. But Thor saw. His movements were light, almost careless; in anger or malice, he would control them with vigour, he would be smooth and fluid, everything about him coldly perfect.

No, his brother was all right. Thor thought with warmth about Loki's vow.

As if reading his mind (which Thor wouldn't think impossible, but he guessed it was just a coincidence this time), Loki spoke up, turning his head to whisper into Thor's ear.

"I forgot to mention something during my vow," he said, and Thor's heart jumped at the sensual tone. "Or I rather left it out intentionally, because it was not suitable for the audience. Will you accept a small addition?"

"Yes?" breathed Thor, unnerved and excited.

"I pledge my loyalty, I said, of course. That's essential. My mind, we both know you will need that. My magic, well, that just goes hand in hand with that. My soul, that's a bit abstract, but you know what I mean by it... but there is one thing missing, Thor, do you know what is it?"

Thor shivered under the assault of Loki's quiet words.

"Tell me." He tried to make it sound as an order, but it came out as a plea instead.

"My body, brother," whispered Loki and Thor could feel the words as much as he could hear them, goose-bumps raising on his neck as Loki's breath tickled him.

Then Loki withdrew, straightening in his chair and reaching for his goblet, attempting to hide his smirk in it.

Thor was left slightly speechless, mouth dry, posture tense. He had intended to stay long into the celebration, but this rather crossed his plans. What did Loki mean anyway, exactly? Did he mean now? Today? And would he let Thor...? Or was it just teasing, a playful promise of something they would yet have to slowly work towards, unfortunate result of the fright of intimacy that lingered on Loki since he was placed under the spell?

They both stayed for a long time, it would be unbecoming of Loki to leave too soon, and for Thor, it would be almost impossible. But in time, the celebration was starting to resemble more a tavern bash and more and more people were coming to bow to Thor and excuse themselves if they had no interest in serious indulging.

Loki bided his time too and finally, he rose, saying goodbye to Thor formally and adding a quiet "I'll be in my rooms."

Thor thought himself capable of great restraint as he waited half an hour before he followed.

Loki meanwhile, shed most of his formal clothing, staying barefoot in loose pants and tunic. He was slightly tired since it was late, but too many things were running through his head to even think of resting.

He had invited Thor into his bed again, with quite the promise.

Loki seriously wished he either stopped making those or stopped feeling self-conscious about them after. It was annoying and not like him at all.

He was pacing the room without even realizing it and, after what seemed like a very short time, Thor came in with a subtle knock. Thor took in the sight of his brother with some surprise, Loki was frozen mid-step, looking at him a bit owlishly. He wondered if he had missed something. He hadn't exactly expected to find Loki spread on the bed, waiting for his breathlessly, but he had hoped he would be a bit more... accommodating.

"Is something wrong?"

"No, of course not. It has just been a long day." Loki walked closer to Thor to erase the awkwardness.

"That it has," laughed Thor, reaching for Loki and pulling him into an embrace. Loki sagged against him.

"Well?"

"Well what?"

"You are a king. How does it feel?"

"I... do not know. I suppose like I just have to do things one step at a time."

Loki disentangled himself gently and walked towards the bed. "Not a bad tactic."

"How do you feel?" asked Thor and started the long process of taking off his ceremonial armour. There was a lot of clasps to be undone and strings to be untied and he did not believe it would be good for the mood if he waited with it for a later time.

Loki sighed dramatically. "No, I do not wish to claw your eyes with envy and no, I do not plan another attempt at world domination. Not yet anyway."

"Not what I meant," smiled Thor, dropping his cape. Loki eyed the red fabric, a sudden vision of himself wearing nothing but that, shocking Thor into silence struck him. Well. Another time perhaps.

Watching Thor battle with his clothing, he slid up on the bed, staying on top of the covers, leaning against the headboard.

"Heimdall knows," he said conversationally and Thor tore the laces he was holding into two pieces.

"What?"

"You heard. He says he doesn't care though. I believe him. How many times was there a scandal of such nature in the court and he had been the source? I do not recall that ever happening."

Thor looked uncomfortable and Loki thought that perhaps he shouldn't have said that now.

"Hemidall, some privacy would be much appreciated," said Thor, blushing.

Loki chuckled.

"So, will you join me or do you yet have too many layers to pull off?" teased Loki, surveying the mess Thor made with pieces of his armour.

"Don't laugh, you had a head start."

Finally Thor got on the bed, crawling between Loki's legs and sitting back on his heels. Loki wasn't fully at ease, worrying his lip and staring at Thor. Thor has noticed this before – in moments of fear, Loki rarely looked away from him, opting instead to watch his every move. It was no different now.

"Do not be scared, brother," said Thor, but he was met with a scoff.

"Thor, don't talk to me like I am a virginal maiden."

And to give weight to his words, he leaned forward, hands grasping Thor's neck and face and kissed him deeply, with fervour. Thor responded without restraint, using his tongue and teeth to claim as much of Loki as possible.

His hands came to rest on Loki's thighs, massaging, squeezing and ever so slowly creeping higher and higher. He was almost shivering with emotions: happiness, love, desire and excitement swirling in his chest. Only a scrape of rationality stayed to remind him to check, and make sure that Loki was feeling the same, so he pulled back, gulping and searching for tell-tales in Loki's expression.

Loki was flushed, quite against his will, need surging through him. Need to finally be himself again, to let go of the past in the favour of future, to begin what surely would be the experience of a millennia, he and Thor together, Asgard theirs and the Nine Realms open to them.

He met Thor's gaze and smirked good-naturedly before insistently tugging Thor's tunic over his head, action which his brother wasted no time repeating. Naked from the waist up, they slid close, fingers running over skin, mouths exploring. Neither was shy to hide their erection, quite the contrary and after several minutes they were rubbing impatiently against each other until Loki took charge and pulled away long enough for them both to get rid of the last remaining articles.

"You are rushing this," laughed Thor, not really complaining.

"Says the god of patience and restraint himself," quipped Loki and then silence any possible retort by latching his teeth around Thor's nipple. It was glorious really, the amount of control this little action gave him. Thor was gasping, aroused by the sensation, but at the same time quite aware of the pinching scrape of Loki's sharp canines. Just a little bite and he would be screaming.

Loki didn't mean to torture his brother, not much anyway, and so he let go and licked away any hurts before coming back up to kiss Thor once more. His lips were wet and hot now, result of working his mouth over Thor's skin; it was a messy process.

Thor enjoyed this, laying on his back with Loki draped over him as he happily alternated between kissing his brother with abandon and marking every other part of him he could reach. Loki would be the one to set the pace and call the shots. Thor wouldn't risk a flashback by crowding him, no, he was too fond of his brother and too eager for this night to end pleasurably for both of them to risk that.

Loki let his senses tell him what to do. Everything he was hearing and seeing, Thor's hitched breaths and moans, body shivering with pleasure here and there, the smell and touch and taste, all was pleasing him to no end. He wanted Thor to come apart. And he knew just the way to do that...

Sliding down, he straddled one of Thor's thighs and wiggled along so that he, back arched, could run his tongue into the dip under Thor's abdomen.

"Loki... oh gods."

Loki was glad that Thor didn't try to stop him. He could see through his brother's tactics, he was being passive and not at all demanding. At first, Loki wanted to tell him to stop it, but perhaps it was for the best. Maybe he couldn't foresee his own reaction if Thor pushed him down and pinned him under his much bigger body and – or maybe that wasn't a bad though at all.

But right now, he was ready to make Thor scream.

Pumping on Thor's shaft slowly, he gathered enough spit in his mouth and leaned forward, taking him in. Just that made Thor moan obscenely loud. This would be easy. One of his hands still helping him with the strokes, he slid his mouth down and up several time, thoroughly wetting Thor's cock before he started toying with him, flicking his tongue over the head and suckling messily.

"Loki... yes... please."

Loki decided that this wasn't the night to be a tease and he sped up his movements, working his hand in a steady, quick rhythm while leaving the rest of his brother's length with attentions of his lips and tongue.

"Loki, stop, I'm going to-"

At this point, he was really amused that Thor thought it was ever his intention to stop. Instead he squeezed harder, fist coming down against Thor's abdomen, pulling the foreskin down to its limits and with a cry, Thor came. Loki made a point of swallowing the first two or three doses, put then pulled back, wiping his hands and mouth discreetly.

Thor felt like floating. He could say without hyperbole that he never felt anything like this before. His brother, his beloved Loki performing such task on him, and quite happily, because he positively gloated now as Thor looked at him from heavy eyelids, it was unparalleled.

But despite the release, Thor was far from thoroughly sated and so instead of succumbing to the haze of satisfaction, he quickly draw Loki up into his arms and rolling them over, he attacked Loki with his mouth, giving back the same that was given to him and with an interest.

"Do you like this?" he murmured after Loki shuddered repeatedly from the attentions on his nipples that turned out to be much more sensitive than Thor's.

"Yes," he managed between gasps.

As Thor was kissing his navel, Loki tried to regain his footing just a bit.

"Wait."

Thor's head immediately shot up, hands stilling. It was really heart-warming, all this care.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing, don't be so worried all the time. I just remembered... before we get too..."

Loki trailed off, already busy with rolling over the bed and opening a drawer in his bed-stand, taking out a corked vial filled with oil and putting it on the bed within the reach.

"There."

Thor swallowed. He was of course hoping that they would get to that, but this was decisive. He looked up at Loki who was smilingly at him knowingly.

"Yes, Thor. I want you to take me, but do not presume that at some point, perhaps not tonight, I will not do the same to you. In this bed, you are no one's king. You are just mine."

That send fire into Thor's veins and he lunged back to claiming every millimetre of Loki, steadily working his way down. He spent a long time, really long time in Loki's opinion, on kissing and sucking the skin of the inner-side of his thighs, absolutely fascinated by the smooth skin and by the intimacy of the place. Ever-generous, he wrapped his lips around Loki's cock, pleasuring him that way for a while, but then he withdraw and took the vial, uncorking it and dripping a bit on his index finger.

Loki was watching him with red cheeks, both from excitement and arousal, hair dishevelled and brow sweaty. When put away the oil, Loki wiggled on the sheets, bending one leg and raising his knee.

With more kissing on his thighs and abdomen, Thor implored with his slick finger at Loki's hole. Loki seemed to enjoy the sensation of simple rubbing, not breaching and Thor was hardly one to deny him and he doubled the sensation by stroking Loki with his free hand.

The rubbing seemed to scatter the oil too much though and Thor poured more, this time getting a bit messy, because he was almost shaking with want.

"Come on, Thor," encouraged him Loki, his own hand sliding in place on his own length when Thor was busy with the preparations.

"So needy," smiled Thor, but dutifully put his fingers back, this time one sliding in.

Loki was breathing hard. The sensation was... nice. Not bringing prodigal pleasure, but Thor's hand was back at his cock and he was feeling warm and slick and the sight of his brother between his spread legs, taking care of him so lovingly was making the gently moving finger feel very welcome and very arousing.

"More," he said a while later, feeling he was more giving Thor permission than encouraging him.

With two fingers smoothly pumping in and out of Loki, Thor changed his own position, no longer able to deny himself more acute closeness of Loki and the touch of his lips, so he let go of his cock and bracing himself on one arm, he stretched over Loki and kissed him. Loki seemed to appreciate this, arms wrapping around the broad shoulders before he brought one hand between them and alternated between stroking himself and Thor.

When there was almost no resistance for Thor's fingers, he pulled them out, Loki nodding, as if he had meant to suggest that as well.

Now Thor was completely careless with the vial, tipping it over his own cock and pouring the rest on Loki, trying to guide the stream with his fingers into the most concerned places.

Loki had to laugh fondly at that.

"We are going to need litres of that stuff over time!"

"Oh I hope so."

After the momentary amusement, they looked at each other, again appreciating the moment.

"You want this," assured himself Thor, even if his hand was eagerly spreading the oil over his whole length.

But Loki felt no fear, not anymore. Thor's strength didn't scare him, it never really has except for that one damned day and its resonances; it aroused him.

"Yes," he said simply, pulling at Thor's shoulders to get him closer. Thor was now breathing in hard through his mouth, guiding the head of his cock. It was a glorious feeling, he could feel himself brushing the underside of Loki's balls and finally, he reached the dip between Loki's cheek and started pushing gently.

He didn't enter Loki right away, there was not enough strength behind his movements, but just like before with his fingers, Loki loved the friction and Thor obliged him until he could not stand his need any longer and only then he increased the pressure and slid in.

Loki groaned, fingers curling around Thor's arms. This was... his mind was in over-drive. This was too good to be true. It was making him flare with desire and go wild. There was almost no pain, Thor has outdone himself in his patience and gentleness, and yet the stretch was hot and probing and so incredibly good.

"All right?" asked Thor, but the words were forced though his teeth, muscles straining.

"Thor, please," moaned Loki. "Move. More."

Words failing Loki, he yanked Thor down to his mouth, tongue plunging deep while Thor returned the sentiment and filled him up with his cock and after a few slower thrusts, he brought the pace up.

Loki was now holding on to Thor for dear life, legs and arms wrapped around him, straining his neck to capture Thor's mouth as often as possible. He wouldn't even call what they were doing a kiss, it was more of two mouth crashing together and trying to stay so despite the wild rocking motions.

Thor was grateful that Loki had taken the edge of his arousal before with his mouth, because otherwise he wouldn't last very long. Loki was tight and warm and perfect. His mood was in no way dampened by the need to continuously check Loki's response, quite the contrary; every time he saw another sign of passion and pleasure from his pale, beautiful brother, it added another surge of desire to his loins.

"Yes... yes!" Loki cried, hand sneaking down to curl around his straining erection and when Thor saw this, he shifted his legs for more support and brought his own hand over Loki's.

His thrusts were getting harder and faster and he was quickly losing control.

"Brother," breathed Loki and Thor looked at him, eyes glazing, mouth open, and there must have been something in his own face that struck Loki because seconds later, he threw his head back and Thor could feel his pulsing release even through Loki's own hand that was still beneath his.

One, two, three more forceful thrusts and he was coming too, seated deep and spilling repeatedly until he was a drained mess on top of Loki.

They rolled to their sides, legs still entangled and Thor's spent cock in Loki and even if it meant that one of Loki's thighs was trapped between his brother and the mattress, he didn't mind. The bed was soft and so it was actually rather comfortable, and definitely very satisfactory considering how close, how pressed to each other they could be.

They were silent, breathing through the sweet exertion until their heartbeats slowed a little. Then Thor slipped out and Loki had to suppress a really silly giggle at the feeling. Instead he brushed Thor's golden hair from his face; many strands have plastered themselves to his forehead and cheeks with the sweat.

With a last kiss and murmured affection, Loki drew a blanket over them and they slept.

Chapter Text

Loki threw another log into the fire and looked around the tent with what he hoped didn't look like a pout.

„If it wasn't me who thought this expedition necessary, I would be cursing whoever did right now."

„Now, brother, what is there to complain of? Everything has gone just like you predicted and we are housed in a royally built tent, complete with a fire and a bed," Thor laughed at him, his red cape drawn to ward off the cold.

„I should be stopping you from going to war, not suggesting it," went Loki on.

„Yes, but it was necessary. Besides, this isn't really a war."

"No, but the conditions are equally unbecoming."

"You are spoiled, my prince."

"Of course. I am the second man in Asgard," he paused. "Not as bad a position as I once thought."

"Surely it is not. You have all the power you ever wanted, because I give you everything you want and unlike me, you still do what you want and take breaks any time you wish."

At that, they laughed and Loki left the proximity of the hearth in favour of curling in Thor's lap and letting him wrap his cape around them both.

"Tomorrow we shall make a break-through. Then we can return home."

"Have you thought about what you will do with Sif's petition?"

That was a subject that Thor was glad to have left back in Asgard.

"I have thought about it, but I do not know the answer."

"I think you should pardon her."

Loki was aware of Thor's shocked gaze. "It has been long enough. She could be a powerful asset. You can always send her back if she isn't... respectful enough."

"You are forgiving, brother," said Thor, tightening his arms around Loki's lean, powerful form. "I am not sure I am so. I still remember you trembling under my touch, fearing violation."

Loki's jaw worked for several seconds. "As I have said. We can always send her away again."

"All right. We shall decide for sure when we are back."

They stayed silent for a while, both involuntarily thinking to the dramatic events, years passed now.

"We should also make another visit to Midgard."

"Earth, brother," corrected him Loki. "We have been taught the proper name."

"Yes and I remember you almost ripping the place to shreds when they did so," teased him Thor, fond of the memory.

Loki huffed in indignation, deciding it was time to silence his quipping brother with a kiss.

"I am tired. Shall we see if the bed is truly royal?"

"Lead the way."