Loki had accepted the fact that Thor was going to be King a very long time ago. He wouldn’t lie to himself and claim that, at times, it didn’t burn him. Every time Thor did some idiotic thing that nearly got people killed, it infuriated him that Asgard would prefer this spoiled child on the throne. Most of the time Loki wasn’t bothered that Thor was getting the throne. What bothered him was that they had been judged in the eyes of Asgard –in Father’s eyes- and Loki had been found wanting.
When the official announcement came –first to the family in private and then to the whole of Asgard- Loki was truly not jealous or angry. Jealous that Thor had their love and angry that, no matter what he did or how he tried, he would never be good enough for them yes, but not about the throne. He would admit to being worried, because Thor was rash, violent and had to tendency to act before he thought. Those traits were perfect for a warrior, but not a king. Loki did however, believe that Thor could be a good king if he was given a wake-up call and a few more centuries. Loki loved his brother, but he was the only one who wasn’t blind to his faults because of that love.
Thor was unbearable after the announcement, and no more than one occasion Loki was very close to turning him into the ass he was acting like. But he endured it, because that was all he could do. Loki was prepared to do all that until his father took him aside.
Odin was apparently concerned about how Loki was dealing with being passed over (whether it was concern about his feelings or fear of what he could do if he was upset, Loki wasn’t sure). Odin explained his decision with more care than Loki had seen since he was a boy. Thor would be King, but Loki still had a place. He would be an advisor, would help lead his brother along the right path. Odin did see Thor’s faults, and knew what problems they could cause, and knew that Loki would be able to temper his brother. Loki, who had patience, diplomatic skills and a silver tongue, would help his brother go from good king to great king.
Throughout his father’s speech, Loki nodded his head and kept a look of understanding, complacently and calm on his face. He answered ‘Of course Father’ when it was expected, and looked grateful when his father clapped him on the shoulder and left. Inside, Loki was seething. It was only years of practice that allowed him to keep his composure. Loki wanted to take a page of Thor’s book and destroy something.
His father, in not so many words, admitted that Loki was the son most suited to being King. He had just admitted that, despite the fact, he preferred Thor. Thor was becoming King for the sheer fact that he was Thor, not for any particular qualifications. And where was Loki through all this? He was meant to stand in the background, always in his brother’s shadow. He was expected to act from the shadows and let his brother bask in the glory of his accomplishments. Loki had done that his entire life, and now they wanted him to do it in an official capacity. His father wanted him, for all intents and purposes, to take the role of Queen of Asgard.
Loki loved and respected his mother, but no. He refused. He would not.
It was Thor that Asgard had chosen as their king, and it was King Thor that they were going to get.
Loki did what he did best- he planned. All of Thor’s boasting made him itch to completely ruin the ceremony, to let Thor do something stupid that would prove to everyone that he wasn’t ready. Loki refrained, because that was not how he wanted it. Loki wanted all to see that Thor was not suited for all aspects of the role he had been given. Loki was a hundred percent sure that Thor would do something stupid that would lead to trouble for Asgard. Loki was bitter enough that he wanted to watch them both flounder (not fall, never that, because he loved his brother and realm).
So Loki waited and planned. He put with Thor’s ego and let the coronation go on as planned. He acted just as was expected of him, including a little bit of mischief. It was playful really (Thor really did look fetching with his hair that shade of green, and really, he was able to hide it under the helmet, so Loki wasn’t sure why Thor pouted so), and nothing compared to what he could have done. If had done nothing, there would have suspicions, and he couldn’t have that.
He cheered and feasted with the rest of Asgard in his brother’s honour. When a very drunken Thor grabbed him in a hug and babbled something about brotherhood, he indulged his brother with a pat on the shoulder and helped him to his quarters.
It was the next day that Loki put his plan into motion. The best way to ensure that he was not in anyway involved in the All- Father’s plans, was to remove himself altogether. He could not play advisor if he was not in Asgard. If he just disappeared without a trace, it would seem as though he was merely pouting over being passed over for the throne. He also didn’t want it to be obvious to Odin that he was leaving solely to spite his plans. So Loki was going to call in a few favours.
He left the palace and headed towards the outskirts of the city. When he reached the home he wanted, Loki knocked on the door and waited politely. When Amora answered and saw him standing there, she cocked an eyebrow.
Loki grinned, “How do you feel about a small trip?”
Loki didn’t bother to lie to Amora, because he knew she would do nothing until she knew that he was actually wanted out of her. One of the reasons he and Amora, aside from their magic, got along so well was because they were similar. It would be a lie to say that he was completely honest with her, but he was more honest with her than most. Especially when he wanted something.
Amora was grinning by the end of his explanation, and Loki knew she would be going with him.
“I have been planning to search the libraries of Alfheim for a certain tome. I suppose I would not mind the company.”
Loki really could have hugged Amora, but restrained himself. He’d have to do something particularly special for her when the opportunity arose.
“Is there any time in particular that you wish to leave?” Amora asked, the glint still in her eyes, “or shall we leave that up to me?”
“Within the next few days,” Loki replied, “but I really should wait until the time is right to announce our trip.”
Amora nodded, “I’ll make preparations.”
. . . . . .
The time came three days later. Thor, Frigga and Loki were all around the family table having breakfast. Odin was in his study. The coronation had happened, but there were still things that needed to be done for the regime change to go over smoothly, and their father was making final preparations before Thor took over his official duties. Those duties would begin that afternoon with a meeting with several lords from the rural areas of Asgard. It was customary, nothing important, and the perfect opportunity for Thor to start his duties.
Frigga was going over what was to be expected in their father’s stead. Thor was nodding, though he didn’t bother to look excited. That wasn’t surprising- the only kingly duty Thor was going to act on with gusto was something that had to do with battle.
“Loki,” his mother turned her attention on him, “you’ve dealt with these lords before, have you not? Perhaps you’d accompany your brother to the meetings?”
Frigga’s voice and expression were completely serene, and there was no sign of duplicity coming from her. Had his father not explained the grand plan to him, Loki probably wouldn’t have caught onto it. Frigga was manipulating both sons (or perhaps only Thor, given his parents believed him involved in their plans) and was doing so wonderfully. Loki couldn’t deny that it stung, knowing that his mother agreed with his father that Loki should run the kingdom but bow down to Thor as King and let him have the glory.
Thor made no objection to Frigga’s idea, and that did not surprise him. Thor was so used to having Loki accompany him where he went (Loki could admit to, on occasion, following his brother like a puppy). He had no idea of the expectations of their parents.
It would be easy to do what was expected of him. Manipulating Thor was practically a pastime for him. It was not difficult, and without much difficulty, he truly could have Thor as a puppet king while he truly ruled the realm.
“Yes, I have,” Loki replied, taking a sip from his goblet, “many times, but I won’t be able to attend. I’ve promised Amora that I’d travel with her to Alfheim.”
There was only a slight widening of Frigga’s eyes to show her surprise and alarm, but Loki took another sip and ignored it. Thor made a comment, rather crude given that their mother was present, but Loki ignored it.
“I promised her that I’d help her find a magical text,” Loki lied effortlessly, and then finally looked at Frigga, “it was before Father announced the coronation,” another lie, this time telling that it was not against his father’s plans that he was leaving, before he knew of his importance.
“When do you leave? Surely it can wait?” Frigga’s voice betrayed nothing.
“She tells me that she needs it now,” was his smooth reply, “and I am curious to see what she’s up to. Besides, I’m sure Thor can remind you why it is never a good idea to break a promise to The Enchantress.”
Thor winced, and not even his mother’s presence could stop the smirk that overtook Loki’s expression. Frigga, for her part, mirrored both their reactions. She grimaced a little, remembering Thor’s predicament and smiles slightly at the same thing. Thor had, in his (brief and fleeting as it was), promised her many things. Those promises, of course, were broken quickly enough when Thor moved onto his next conquest. Amora was no fool, had known not to believe his words, but that didn’t stop her rage. She cursed him so that he couldn’t become physically aroused, no matter how much he desired his would-be bed partner. It had taken two months before Thor had finally begged Amora to remove the curse, which she did (personally, Loki would have let him suffer a little longer).
Odin had merely shaken his head and ignored the situation, while both Frigga and Loki agreed that Amora was justified in her punishment (this was shown in varying degrees, with Frigga acting as Disappointed Mother and Loki laughing outright), Frigga for Thor treating a woman in such a manner and Loki because Thor was idiot enough to enrage a sorceress as powerful and vindictive as Amora.
“Yes,” Frigga finally replied, “I do understand.”
“I plan to leave after breakfast,” Loki answered the second part of the original question, “I need only grab my things and seek out Amora,” his mother still didn’t look pleased, so he continued, “Don’t worry Mother, it’s merely a trip to the library. Unlike some people,” Loki looked directly at Thor, “neither Amora nor I enjoy running into lethal situations without a moment’s forethought.”
Thor just laughed his booming laugh, not hearing the obvious disdain in the words, “Come now Brother! I would be remiss in my duties of elder sibling if I were to let you spend all your time in your books! You enjoy our quests!”
Oh, Loki did for the most part. They tended to be, at the very least, interesting. Most of the time he enjoyed them, or at least the mischief he was able to cause while on them. Did he curse the blatantly stupid situation they ended up getting into, usually because of Thor? Yes. Did he resent the fact that Thor had no compunctions about pulling him out of whatever he was doing because Thor dismissed Loki’s interests as unimportant? A thousand times yes. It also frustrated him to no end that he was so generally below his brother’s notice that Thor seemed to believe that all he did was study. If that was all he did, Loki would never have earned the title The God of Mischief, now would he?
“I will accompany you to the Bifrost,” Thor announced, and then went back to eating his meal.
Loki just stared at him, “What? Why?”
“To have your company,” Thor replied, apparently surprised that he even needed to say it, “you will be gone for a fair amount of days, will you not? Surely I don’t need an excuse to spend time with my brother?”
Damn it. Damn him. It was easy to dislike Thor for the way he tended to treat him, until Thor went and said something like this in complete sincerity and completely effortlessly. Then Loki was reminded forcefully that Thor was his dearest friend, the person he loved most in the nine realms. It made him pause about his plan, made him begin to reconsider. He did not wish for Thor to fall, to make a complete fool of himself, at least not after a statement like that.
“You will not have time to miss me,” Loki replied, the sliver of guilt nagging at the back of his mind, “kingly duties, remember?”
Thor made a face at that, “Aye, but there will be nothing exciting there. It would be far better to travel with you to Alfheim, even if it was for some book.”
Here was a reminder that he needed, of why his parents had planned things the way they had. On the surface, Thor made the perfect king. Golden, mighty Thor, who’s words of bravely and battle could inspire even the meekest to take up arms. Thor, who was cheerful and giving, who had more heart than intellect, who would risk his life for a command and take his sword in the name of a just cause.
Those were the traits that kept a realm happy, but they were not those that kept a realm stable. Thor was perfect for the masses, but when it came to the intricacies of governing, not only Asgard itself but also in its relationships to the other eight realms. It required a sharp mind, a silver tongue and the ability to do very unsavoury and potentially unhonourable things for the good of the realm. If Thor was the heart, then Loki was the will and the mind.
Had the two of them combined into one child, it would have been the perfect Odinson.
“You haven’t even begun yet,” Loki was exasperated, “and already bored?”
A bored Thor was nearly as bad as an enraged Thor. Bored Thor itched for a fight and went looking for one, which would in turn result in enraged Thor. As a king, that could very well bring about war or rebellion- people would be much less forgiving of a king who did such things than they would a prince.
An Asgard at war is where Thor would excel, where he would life up to the expectations of them all. But an Asgard at peace? A great warrior like Thor wouldn’t know what to do with himself.
“You are impossible,” Loki said with a roll of his eyes, “truly impossible.”
Thor just grinned cheekily, “You’d have me no other way.”
Loki just sent him a flat look which, as usual, Thor happily ignored.
Nearly two hours later, after kissing his mother on the cheek and having her tell him quietly that she’d explain to Father and to have a good time, Loki had gathered his supplied, and with Thor in tow, set off to Amora’s. Thor chattered happily the entire trip, going on about his grand adventures the last time he was in Alfheim. He had apparently forgotten that Loki had been on that grand adventure as well, and knew what had actually happened (that had little bearing on Thor’s recollection of events). At least he didn’t take sole credit for something Loki did this time.
The closer they came to Amora’s home, the less boisterous and more agitated Thor became. Loki knew that Thor was far from scared of Amora, per say, but he was certainly not comfortable in the presence of the woman he knew (based on experience) could curse him in such ways. Loki assumed it also had to do with the fact that it would only take one false word of Thor’s part for Amora to recast the curse.
They finally reached Amora’s and she came to the door. A brief moment of surprise flickered across her face, probably at seeing Thor at Loki’s side. It was gone almost the moment it appeared.
“Hello Thor,” Amora purred, a wicked grin stretching across her face.
Most men melted at that tone, but Thor barely held back a flinch, “Amora,” was his stiff reply.
It wasn’t often that Thor fidgeted like an embarrassed child, and it was so delightful to watch. It was amusing Amora as well, if the fire dancing in her eyes was any indication.
“Are you ready then?” She turned her attention to Loki.
“Well then, do be dears and help me carry my things.”
Loki would normally have made a snide remark about how he was not a pack mule, but Amora was doing him a favour, so he refrained. That, and a comment like that would probably get him turned into a pack mule. Without a word he stepped into her home. Thor, on the other hand, hesitated. He could have teased, mocked Thor for being terrified of a woman, but he decided to be nice (also, avoid being cursed himself, as Amora wouldn’t take that taunting lightly for the implications towards her).
“I’m sure Amora and I can manage Brother. Feel free to wait here,” he couldn’t help but add a small dig, “that way you’ll be safe from all the scary magical tools.”
Amora closed the door to Thor’s indigent protests, and both of them couldn’t help but snicker that, despite his protests, Thor didn’t barrel in to prove them wrong. Loki walked through the house without being given directions. He had been here many times before and knew the way to her sleeping chambers.
“Why doesn’t your brother like me?” Amora pouted.
“It may have something to do with the two months he was unable to get hard.”
“What? That little trick?” Amora scoffed, “That was nearly a century ago. Surely he’s still not carrying a grudge over that.”
“I’m sad to say he is. Thor is particularly attached to his manhood,” noticing Amora’s pout was even more pronounced than before, Loki continued, “Don’t fret. You can do better.”
Amora’s pout turned into a self satisfied smile, which always happened when she received a sincere compliment, which this was (Loki was capable of sincerity, despite popular belief. Also despite popular belief, Thor was not the finest catch in Asgard. Amora would be bored to tears after the first month). And really, spending extended time with an unhappy and ego bruised Amora would only be detrimental to his health.
Amora had three bags (why she needed more than one he wasn’t completely sure) and they were ones she could very easily carry herself. He didn’t mention that, because there were many insults that could be thrown at him, but no one could claim that he wasn’t a gentleman.
“Shall we then?” He asked, turning back to her with her belongings in hand.
There was glee evident in her eyes when she answered, “Let’s.”
Thor was still waiting outside, looking as awkward as they had left him. Loki handed him one of Amora’s bags, and he took it without complaint (Thor had also sat through hours worth of Frigga’s how-to-treat-a-lady lectures, and some of it had managed to penetrate his thick skull).
This time it was Amora who did all that chatting, and took great pleasure in the discomfort she was causing Thor. She kept the topic on magic, curses in particular, and Loki made sure to add his own comments every once and awhile, because he was enjoying this as much as she was. He was glad Thor came (though, he was sure his elder brother was regretting it), and not just for the entertainment value. A part of Loki – the part that loved and idolized his brother since they were children and that he couldn’t seem to completely repress- was truly glad for his presence.
Part of this entire endeavour was because he had been rejected. And here was Thor, walking by his side despite his discomfort, for the simple reason that he wanted to spend time with his brother before he left. It was a simple gesture, one that Thor wouldn’t even think was anything special or out of the ordinary, but it meant more to Loki than he would ever admit. Thor might dismiss his talents, strengths and contributions, but, unlike others, he didn’t dismiss his person as well.
The walk to the Bifrost was not long, even at the leisurely pace they were going. When they reached the end of the Rainbow Bridge, Heimdall was waiting for them.
“Odinsons,” he announced, “Enchantress.”
“Heimdall,” Loki replied, “Amora and I wish to travel to Alfheim.”
Loki turned towards Thor, that sliver of doubt slipping to the forefront of his mind. His brother had no hand in the grievance he was currently feeling, and yet he was the one who would suffer most of all by the actions he was taking. It wasn’t Thor’s fault that their parents had manipulated things this way, or even that the people of Asgard preferred him, not really. In all honesty, it was Thor who was being offended the most, considering his parents had decided that he was too much an idiot and hothead to rule correctly. Thor was the only person innocent of any scheming, and he was the one who was going to end up looking like the incompetent fool.
The guilt wouldn’t let him leave the way things were.
“Elli is old, and dislikes change. Avoid mentioning any policy changes you may be considering, otherwise he will not listen to another word you say. Dagr is young and boastful, don’t let him goad you into any competitions of strength. He does not have the training, talent or pain tolerance to back his ego, but his father is overly protective of his only son and heir, and he controls most of the grain resources for all of Asgard. Angering him could cause many problems. If any debates arise, don’t bother to try and convince Forseti of anything, because he will only do what his wife says, no matter what argument you might give. All the other Lords should present no problems.”
Loki didn’t add that there shouldn’t be any problems whatsoever. This meeting was something that happened every year, and it followed nearly the same script every time with little variation. Both he and Thor had sat through many of them, and they both knew the proceedings by now. As long as Thor went by memory, there was no reason for problems to arise.
Thor looked at him in amusement as he clapped him on the shoulder, “Do not worry so!” It was obvious that Thor had already dismissed his words, if he had even listened to them in the first place, “Now go, and enjoy your books!” It was not said with contempt or condensation, which was a common reaction of others when Loki’s studies were brought up. Thor’s tone was one of bemusement, an older brother indulging the unimportant flights of fancy of the younger.
Loki’s desire to help his brother extinguished right there. He remembered why he was so willing to do this, to make Thor look like the fool, innocent of plotting or not. He wanted to punish Asgard for choosing an unworthy Thor over him, but he wanted to punish Thor just as much, if for different reasons. He was sick of Thor dismissing him and his talents. Loki knew people, could pick up on the subtleties, strengths and weaknesses, and more importantly, knew how to use and manipulate those things. Thor didn’t care, and would never care as long as Loki was there to do it. Loki refused to be undervalued anymore, especially by his brother. Thor would learn to appreciate him right along side Asgard.
“Of course Brother,” Loki replied through grit teeth, unwilling to let Thor see the anger and hurt.
With that, Loki turned and made his way into the observatory. Amora, after calling out in her most seductive voice, “Farewell Thor’, joined him. She said nothing, despite the fact that there were a few barbs in her mind. Loki’s mood was now dark, and Amora was not suicidal.
Heimdall was waiting for them, ready to open the Bifrost. There was suspicion on the Gatekeeper’s face, but that was nothing new. Loki just looked Heimdall straight in the eye and spoke, “To Alfheim, if you please.”