Asgard is a realm of sorcery; of clever wit and magical duels. There is no place for brute force in the subtle nuances of Aesir society. As such, it’s quite the scandal when Thor, crown prince of the realm, born to the most powerful seimandr in an age, eschews his birth right and chooses to be known as a warrior.
There are hints, in childhood, of his unnatural inclination. Where most childish arguments are settled by sniping at each other until one party is suitably impressed by the other’s wordplay to concede victory, Thor chooses to smash the offender into the wall. In lessons, when taught to render objects and himself ethereal, he is much more interested in the sword used to test their charms.
But none truly thought it would last.
Some blame his parents (quietly) for encouraging him, for building him training yards and bringing warriors in from other realms to teach him. Some think there is an inherent defect in Thor, and suggest methods to knock the brutish urges from the crown prince to the Allfather; he rejects them all. Still others blame his brother Loki, beloved of the realm, exploiting his own seidr to its full potential, for going to the extent of having a proper hammer made for his deviant brother by the dwarves, who returns with his mouth sewn shut.
Loki maintains that it was worth it to see his brother smile.
Children play tricks on Thor, who is too open and honest and trusting to disbelieve them when they say they want to be his friend. Adults shake their heads and gaze pitifully at him.
“He will amount to nothing,” they say, not bothering to mask it or be out of his earshot when they do, and Loki squeezes his shoulder when he goes red with rage.
“They’re not worth it,” he says with a reassuring smile. Later they fall for a masterful prank and Thor laughs because he knows that Loki is the unprecedented master of tricks even in a society of tricksters.
Thor grows increasingly angry and alone as he struggles to use his seidr, but he simply doesn’t have the desire to do so. Their father teaches him enough to control his outbursts, but he has no desire learn further, so he does not push him. His sunny smile fades into a scowl as the years wear on and the teasing and tricks grate at his control. He throws himself into training, to do something he knows he can do, but is reminded of his inadequacies even in honing his skills.
He even starts snapping at Loki when he tries to defend him. He apologises later, but Loki doesn’t need an apology; he knows what Thor deals with for his choice. That doesn’t stop Thor apologising, and the more he snaps, the more frustrated and angry Loki gets with his brother.
“I am not responsible for your misery!” he shouts one day. Thor stares at him, eyes hard.
“Let me guess- it’s all my fault. Stupid Thor who cannot even conjure fire!” he shouts back.
“You make your own misery, brother,” Loki snarls.
Neither speaks to each other for weeks. Thor haunts the training yard; Loki the library. Loki’s apology is grand.
He goes to the dwarves. He comes back with sewn lips and a majestic hammer, and Thor is torn between his overwhelming joy at the gift and worry about his brother.
“Loki, you didn’t have to,” he breathes. “I…”
Loki smiles at him once he’s cut the stitches out.
“You deserve a proper weapon, Thor,” he says and closes his fist around the hilt.
Loki’s apology is implicit in the gift; Thor’s acceptance is in taking it. Thor’s apology is his concern over his brother before the hammer; Loki’s acceptance of it is in making him take the hammer anyway.
Loki never heals the scars, and every time Thor looks at his brother and his scarred lips, he sees both the love Loki has for him and his own guilt for forcing him to go that far, his own lack of control for snapping and making him apologise in the first place.
The hammer, Mjolnir, is a majestic weapon, and levels the playing field between Thor and Asgard’s sorcerers somewhat.
Everyone wants to befriend Loki; but in the end he chooses four very good friends and is only on amiable terms with the rest. Volstagg respects what Thor can do rather than judging him for what he can’t; Fandral thinks Thor is cute enough that he can overlook his martial prowess; Hogun is an outsider himself and doesn’t understand Asgard’s prejudice against warcraft; Sif treats everyone the same, regardless of their talents.
Thor calls them the Sorcerers Three with a sardonic lilt to his voice, and when Sif joins them mockingly bows at her and says he truly could not imagine lumping such a beautiful creature in with the lugs Loki has collected.
Sif sends him flying with a flick of her finger and catches him in the air, dragging him, scarlet with rage, to his knees before her and forcing him to apologise. In retaliation he hacks her hair off with his knife. Loki never forgives him; neither does Sif. Thor goes to the dwarves to get her new hair because Loki demands it, comes back with shining raven locks, but never apologises.
After that, Thor’s presence is only tolerated because Loki wishes him there.
Often on adventures Mjolnir and Thor’s mastery of lightening (which is not seidr based and thus not bound by anti-seidr wards) helps them. When they are surrounded by hoards that sorcery cannot defeat, Thor cuts them a path. When they get back to Asgard to tell the stories, though, no one except Loki affords Thor his place in the tales. The rest dislike and mistrust Thor (especially Sif, who refuses to acknowledge Thor at all when they aren’t shouting at each other and often proclaims that she’d rather be bald than accept anything from him; Thor retorts that he’d be happy to hack her new hair off too if she hates it that much until Loki forces him to apologise), and martial prowess is not well received in Asgard in any case, only tales of sorcery being greeted with enthusiasm, and they don’t consider his contribution worth mentioning beside their own. Thor’s role ends up being pushed into the background, as indeed does Thor.
Thor is determined to prove himself to everyone; he trains harder, quests more. But his efforts are never recognised. He is pushed into the background simply because he chooses to reject seidr and take up arms, because he is bitter and spiteful and holds grudges, is prone to fly into rage on the slightest of provocation.
The Allfather reminds people that Asgard was built upon strength of arms as much as feats of sorcery, but no one pays attention to him.
Thor scoffs as a child at the petty tricks the other children play; as he grows he does not change his assessment. He is called violent and brutish. He returns that at least he does not rely on tricks.
More than once Loki has to reverse some spell or other cast on Thor, and with each successive attack, Thor gets more hostile to seidr, even helpful seidr, even his brother’s. He snarls at Loki when he lights their way with magefire or magically heals him while berating him for not accepting the wards that would have stopped him from being hurt in the first place.
“Enough of your tricks, brother!” he snarls at him one day when Loki vanishes a particularly persistent vine that has trapped Thor. Loki scowls, affronted.
“My ‘tricks’ helped you, you brute,” he snaps back. “Who knows how long you would have been trapped there if I hadn’t interceded?”
“I would have been fine!” Thor shouts and storms off. Sif and the Sorcerers Three choose not to say anything, and Thor is still fuming when they make camp that night.
He stops going on their quests.
Loki stops asking him to come.
Thor is a thousand when his coronation is announced. Loki knows, beyond any shadow of doubt, that he is not ready, but he cannot convince Father to believe him.
“Father, he is reckless,” he pleads. “He is not ready.” Odin Allfather looks sternly at his second son.
“I know how you feel about your brother’s martial prowess,” he says, “But this is my decision. He will be a great king.”
“One day,” Loki agrees. “But he is not ready yet, Father. Hold off for another hundred years, another thousand- wait until he can handle the responsibility.” Odin resolutely does not budge. Loki makes other plans. He does not want to hurt Thor; but Father has to see.
Predictably, Thor screams for war in the wake of the attack. When he fails to convince Father, he throws a tantrum and goes very quiet when told he isn’t king, hearing Father’s obvious displeasure. Loki sighs in relief.
Thor plans to go to Jotunheim to get revenge; Loki goes to keep him safe, and Sif and the Sorcerers Three follow Loki. Scowling harder, Thor urges his horse ahead of theirs.
Everything goes wrong. War is started and Thor is banished. Loki tries to hold to his conviction that had Thor being crowned things would have been so much worse; but it’s hard to remember that when he sees his brother’s empty chambers, furs thrown back as if he’d left just that morning.
He will be back, Loki tells himself. He’ll come back. He’ll learn his lesson.
Thor does come back. And it is dreadful.
Thor attacks Asgard. He is subdued quickly, held down by invisible, unbreakable bonds, and screams himself hoarse at them, vile words of hatred and derision. When his bonds are lifted to take him into the city he calls Mjolnir into his hand and destroys the bifrost before throwing himself off the edge.
Odin is distraught.
“I should have never granted him the hammer,” he says softly. “I saw his despair, felt his remorse; I should have realised that he needed time.” Frigga, eyes red with tears, threads her fingers through his.
“You could not have known,” she replies. “It is no crime to want to see the best in your child.”
Loki stares hollow eyed at the bed he hasn’t been able to bring himself to make, remembering his brother falling, laughing, sneering, such an ugly expression on a face once so open and happy. He falls into it, wraps himself in Thor’s furs, breathes in his scent, and hopes that maybe, just tonight, he will dream of something other than seeing his brother fall.