“Well? What sort of curse has been cast upon me?”
After examining Thor’s neck for naught but a moment, Loki looked at his brother with sadness in his eyes. He shook his head, appearing unsure of what to say.
Thor frowned. “What is it?”
“This is no seidr, Thor. At least, not one cast by a mere sorcerer,” Loki said.
“Speak plainly, brother.”
“The marks are not a curse—the threads of this magic are rooted in Yggdrasil itself. They are the marks that tie your soul to that of your beloved.”
Thor stared at him.
“It is likely that they are just what they seem—they are but bruises, brother. I am sorry.” Loki gazed at him with pity in his eyes.
Thor brought a hand to his skin and felt a deep sorrow and anger surge within him, for the bruises that circled his neck like a noose were cruel, in the shape of fingers.
He attempted to contact his soulmate after that.
Thor had stormed the halls of the palace, sure that his beloved would be of nobility, but none had the matching bruises.
Perhaps they were of a different realm? The bruises were taking long to disappear, and not all other races healed as quickly as the Aesir. He contemplated visiting Vanaheim, entertaining the idea that his soulmate was Freyja, lithe and beautiful as she was. Or perhaps they were the strong and virile Freyr, who had shared his bed in the past.
For races as long-lived as the Aesir, it was not uncommon for those yet unbound to take on lovers. Thor has had many, and he treasured each of them so. He has always valued every single one of his partners, and would continue to do so for as long as he lived. Such is Thor; as a prince and the future king of Asgard, Thor always had plenty to give, plenty to share.
But even as he slept with them, Thor had known he would only ever make love to one person in his life. Thor shared most everything with the people of Asgard, but his heart belonged to his soulmate alone.
And now that he has found them, he would never again lie with another.
Thor shook himself out of his reverie, and focused on the task at hand.
Tracking spells did not work on soul bonds, that he knew. There was a simpler way to find his soulmate, however—and inwardly Thor cursed himself that he had not thought to try it sooner.
Thor sequestered himself in his study, gathering a quill and a well of ink. He put the quill to his forearm, writing the elegant runes of his name.
He waited. And waited. Thor needed to force himself to temper his impatience; it had only been a few hours, and his soulmate had likely not even seen the message yet.
Thor decided to wait a few days longer, and took extra care not to wash off the ink. Every night for three days, he eagerly took off his vambraces and had to quash his disappointment each time.
At the end of the week, Thor scrubbed the black from his arms. In his gloom, he failed to notice the fresh bruises on his legs.
Thor was angry. He’d been more irritable lately and had taken it out on the Warriors Three earlier during training. Sif, after helping a bleeding Fandral to his feet, had punched him in the face and called him an inconsiderate boor.
Already his right eye was starting to swell. It didn’t hurt, of course; no, he considered a black eye an inconvenience at most, a stark reminder of his shame. The people at court did not dare whisper as he stormed angrily past them. Nobody bothered Thor when he was in a mood.
Good, he thought. He wanted to be alone.
Thor headed for his chambers, deciding to bathe and take his mind off things. As he shed his clothes, something on his left leg caught his eye.
It was so small he almost missed it. There, near the juncture of his thigh and hip, were a set of letters, neatly written.
Are you okay?
He rushed into his room to retrieve a quill to write with. He’d tried to communicate often over the past few years, but his soulmate never responded. He’d not thought to use anything but runes, and while ordinarily that would frustrate him—it had been so simple!—he was excited at this turn of events, foul mood gone in an instant.
By the time he found a quill, the words had turned into a faint smudge. He panicked; he did not want his soulmate to believe he had ignored them.
Quickly, Thor wrote the sentence in a looping scrawl.
I am alright. This is nothing; it does not hurt.
Briefly, there was nothing, and Thor waited with bated breath.
After what seemed like an eternity, letters appeared slowly, the writing decidedly hesitant.
It looks like it hurts to me.
Can you erase your writing?
Thor frowned, and at once wrote back.
Why do you not wish for others to see?
He did not think it was for privacy. The first message had been wiped clean, even though it would be hidden by layers of clothing.
Nothing again, for a moment, and Thor honestly thought he’d scared his soulmate into silence. When the writing resumed again, he closed his eyes, immensely grateful. The feeling didn’t last long.
The words said,
My dad will get mad.
Thor clenched his fists.
Your father is the one who hits you? The reason you have bruises every day?
His soulmate erased their words again, and Thor stood to find a washcloth and do the same. He let out a breath, furious.
Trying to calm himself, something occurred to him. Thor wrote the words, in such a rush that his script lacked its usual grace.
What is your name?
Nothing for a long time. He wrote again.
I am Thor, son of Odin.
He hoped to spark recognition, anything. Maybe his beloved was a commoner; he would accept them nonetheless. Thor knew he was grasping at straws, for it was more likely they were from a different planet entirely; the realms he was familiar with such as Vanaheim or Alfheim rarely used this alphabet, and they did not write the way his soulmate did.
Thor was occupied enough that when new words appeared, their meaning did not reach him at first. When they did, his brow furrowed.
Why would you say something like that?
Thor wrote many things in return, questions and pleas to not stop writing, all to which his soulmate never replied.
Years passed and they never replied.
Thor was young and foolhardy. He quested with his party of friends, exploring worlds and frequently getting himself in and out of trouble.
He only recently discovered that the storm was his domain. Despite that, the people could not find it within themselves to be surprised. His powers manifested in strange ways—in light summer drizzles and chaotic hurricanes—still wild and untamed. His emotions rumbled in the air, plain for anyone to hear.
In Asgard’s eyes, he was merely a babe.
Thor had always been solidly built, but he has filled out in these past few years. He outgrew his tunics and armors more quickly than ever, and ate enough to satisfy a bilgesnipe.
Odin taught him how to be a warrior. He fought in countless battles, and immersed himself enough in them that, after a while, he could almost forget about the soulmate that did not want him.
Thor had a softness in his heart. He had the passion of the storm and knew only the limits of the sky. He remained full of hope, full of sentiment.
Thor did not hurt easily, because he had been taught not to. For years he soared higher and higher, certain that nothing could possibly bring him down.
After all, Thor was still a child.
Thor had bruises on his neck again. This time, the mark was an ugly purple bruise going all the way around from the hollow of his throat to his nape.
He was angry, and horrified, and so, so scared.
Are you there?
Please be alright.
Bruce sat in the emergency room with his aunt. He read the words on his wrist and cried.