When they are yet children, huddled together on Thor's bed, Father's final words about frost giants and kings echoing in their ears, Thor whispers, "We'll be warrior kings and all the realms will look at us in awe and fear."
"Yes," Loki agrees, but he looks at Thor and he sees a golden future - and when he looks at himself, he sees nothing at all.
When they are grown, Loki tumbles through the abyss and Thor paces at the edge of the world.
When they are grown, Loki is hidden away in a cell and his name cursed in three realms.
When they are grown, Thor's future is golden indeed, while Loki's is grim and full of grief.
"Brother," Thor says, on the cusp of manhood. "When I am king, you will be my counsel and right hand."
"Of course, brother," Loki replies. Thor's friends already look at Loki with dislike, and Father's own council mutter about pranks and twisting words when Father is not present.
But Thor's future is still golden, and Loki's harder to find each day.
Frigga glances away from the loom while Loki flips through a book he's read before and Thor laughs with the Warriors 3. Sif sharpens her blade, eyes on Loki.
"Oh, my sons," Frigga murmurs, "I am so very sorry." But she cannot warn them.
All of the futures are clear to her, but she can never speak of what she sees.
When they are grown, Thor stares at Loki through a glass wall, spelled to be nearly as strong as Mjölnir. "Are you yet tired of brooding over me?" Loki asks, head tilted insouciantly and lips twisted in that damned annoying smirk.
"I'm waiting for the brother I knew to return," Thor says quietly.
Loki laughs, “Then you’ll be waiting until Ragnarök, and perhaps even after.”
But Thor only smiles at him until Loki narrows his eyes, because Loki could have killed him in New York and barely tried. “I’ll keep waiting,” he promises. “Until Ragnarök, and perhaps even after.”
Loki looks away and says nothing else, but Thor has hope and knows that the child he still loves so fiercely is in there somewhere, and he has finally learned patience.
Frigga closes her eyes and turns from the loom, burying her face in her hands. “Oh, my sons, my sons,” she cries.
“My lady,” one of her handmaidens calls, rushing over, but Frigga pushes her away. The handmaiden sees nothing on the loom but cloth, and so would Odin –
But Frigga sees a golden future for both her children and cannot speak of it.
When they are children, Loki shows Thor every spell he learns, every trick he tries, every illusion he masters.
When they are children, Thor teaches Loki every form of warfare their father insists he learns.
They both attend lessons on history and battle tactics, on statecraft and kingship. In everything, they are equal, two princes, brothers. Thor is older by a mere year, which matters little to either of them.
After all, their father promises they both will be kings, one day, when they are grown.
But they are children, yet, and Thor laughs at Loki’s pranks, and Loki follows Thor into all sorts of trouble, and the future is eons away.