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Seiðr power exploded in his sitting chamber, a wash of green that saturated every atom in its path. Emerald light illuminated everything within the room, draining color from the books shelved three stories high on two walls, highlighting the skulls on his trophy wall so their empty eye sockets glowed with a mockery of their former life. Power whipped tapestries, shuddered the furniture and cracked stone.

Loki leapt to his feet, hands conjuring wards against sorcery, the ancient tome he had been reading dropped and fallen to pieces on the floor. He circled, seeking the enemy out in every corner of his chamber, alert to all things visible and invisible.

Something slunk from a shadow. How had it crossed all his Wards? His hands sparked green with the charge of his own seiðr, eager for its target.

Something flitted from shadow to shadow. He turned, turned again, as it moved almost as fast as sight.

What is this? Who sent this? How to combat it?

Nothing. Nothing. Then—

A scarred face materialized an inch from his own. He leaped back, heart hammering in his chest. A blast of icy cold laid frigid fingers on his body, shaking his bones. He stared directly into the eyes of madness.

His eyes.

Green eyes fever-bright with flares of grief and desperation and madness.

His face, and yet not. Older – by what? Centuries? Millennia? His face, starved and scarred beyond healing, looming like a fanged monster about to strike.

Illusion! Which enemy is this? So much power – how to defend? How to attack?

He called Words to ward off this lying demon wearing his own face

Seiðr spat like a green aura around the outlines of its form as it laughed and spoke: “You know who I am.”

His voice, as well, but rough and damaged.

“I know who you pretend to be.” He spoke the words of a Binding spell.

The demon grinned and struck an insouciant pose, his leather and armored garments shifting fluidly around him, his long wild tangled hair, nearly waist-length, absorbing all light. “Newly learned, and your pronunciation is off.”

Loki burned with humiliation and tried again. Green light hit an invisible barrier and rebounded, knocking him to the floor.

He was on his knees and then his feet in an instant, ready to try again. “What do you want?” he demanded, hiding his growing fear with anger.

The demon ignored him and began wandering around Loki’s chambers. He stopped before the trophy wall, studying the display of the skulls and antlers and horns and crests of the most powerful beasts he had slain, Thor’s company a constant in all those journeys. The demon rested a careful finger on a horned dragon’s crest, one of the more fearsome beasts he and Thor had ever taken in the hunt. The demon smirked and repeated, “You know I am you.”

“Liar!” he said and the Mad One howled with laughter. He caressed the dragon skull with one fingertip. “A momentous night, as I recall.” He was no longer smirking. Instead, a soft smile briefly settled on scarred lips, and then was gone.

Loki froze. That night, fresh from the hunt, he and Thor had touched each other for the first time in lust. The first time. Though hardly the last.

The Mad One was fingering his books. “Ah,” he said and pulled one off a shelf. He materialized a pen from nowhere. He wrote quickly in the margins, then looked over the book at him and gave him a thin slash of a smile. He slammed the book closed against a table, and was suddenly there, pressed against him, baring his teeth in a demonic sneer.

Loki did not move, overcoming the urge to flee. “And why should I believe you? You could be any enemy seeking to deceive me.”

A ferocious grin lit his counterpart’s face. “We both know about deceit, Lie-Smith! I, at least, know the truth.”

He leapt back several feet and flung a knife directly at the Mad One’s throat. But the Mad One was already gesturing, and the knife sailed harmlessly wide then vanished in a shower of green sparks.

Strong, scarred, icy-cold fingers seized him by the throat. He choked; then his back was shoved against the nearest wall, knocking his breath out of him. He gasped, shivering in the suddenly chill air. A loud crack sounded sharply behind him.

The Mad One’s hands forced his wrists above his head, pinning them against the wall, capturing his magic. “I have unwoven many things to come here to give you the thread to weave again. Listen to me now, for everything you desire depends on it. I thought myself misused, taunted, insulted, not seen, filled with skills that none valued or cared to use, spoken of with contempt when I saved their lives. And then,” the mad gaze went distant, unfocused. “I wove a tale of insanity and destruction and death, and I am my final victim. I would fain pick the weave apart and make it anew.”

The Mad One released his wrists and stepped back an inch. Loki lowered his arms and pressed his hands against the cold cold stone, torn between disbelief and horror, never once taking his gaze from the thing standing so close its icy breath caressed his face.

“I will tell you these things. Your skin is not your own. Make claim to it, and all that you are. Whatever plans have been made for you, set them aside and make your own, but choose against mindless immediate vengeance. That will lead you to your destruction.”

Loki tensed, full of questions demanding answers. The Mad One set his cold hands against his shoulders and pushed, holding him in place against the wall. “Remember this: Thor does not lie. That is why I did not believe him. Thor does not lie. Thor did not abandon me, nor did his loyalty nor his love falter until I destroyed it. He is constant. Remember that, even if you forget all else.”

The Mad One tilted his head and whispered directly into Loki’s ear. “Paths fork ahead of you. Choose well, and find your own path through chaos, even if it is unapparent to other eyes. Do not destroy foolishly. Chaos creates from what it destroys, but if you burn everything nothing survives.”

The Mad One stepped away and grinned. “Succeed. Or fail. I give you this burden, the gift of my failure.”

“Tell me more!” Loki demanded. “What must I do? What must I leave undone?”

The Mad One snarled. “If it were easy to remake the tapestry then I would tell you all. Know this one last thing: the Weave struggles to retain its original form. Do not think any of this will be simple.”

His chambers shuddered and his other self drained away, substance first, then color, finally light.

Loki fell to his knees as the backwash of power snapped around him and vanished entirely.

Shaking, gasping for air, he staggered to his feet, calling his own power – a puny thing now – to reset and strengthen the wards in his room. He turned –

And stopped in shock at the sight of the wall his back had just been pressed against.

Cracks marred the stone, floor to the high ceiling three stories above, and each crack was filled with ice.

He raised a tentative hand – paused an instant before he touched one of the cracks, the chill already claiming his skin, a blue tinge washing his fingertips.

He snatched his hand back. Heart racing, he examined his fingertips. But there was no trace of blue on the skin of his fingertips. Had he even seen what he thought he’d seen?

He whirled – and saw shards of ice marking every footstep the Mad One had taken. Ice that melted, faded, vanished. He passed a hand through the air, commanding that all things sentient and invisible show themselves, but there was nothing left to reveal itself.

He focused on the book The Mad One had slammed to a table. He grabbed it, leafing rapidly through the pages, hands shaking.

Finally he found the page the Mad One had written on and examined the runes. A series of numbers. Coordinates, yes. Coordinates like those he made use of to travel the hidden pathways along Yggdrasil’s branches. But these coordinates he did not recognize, had never taken.

He contemplated the numbers. Midgard, yes. But why there, that backwater? He hadn’t been there in centuries. There was nothing of any interest on Midgard.

He slid the book shut, then thought to wonder, why this tome? It was a tedious chronicle of long-ago wars with Jötunheim, filled with endless descriptions of bloody battles and the valorous warriors who took part in them, all done long before he was born. Thor would love it, if he ever took the time to read anything at all. There must be a meaning to the Mad One’s choice of this book.

It would, it was certain, become plain once he gave it further thought. In all the tales, Fate was given to cryptic pronouncements, but the answers were there to be found. He was certain of it.

He took a deep breath and picked up the scattered pages of the book he’d dropped to the floor, placing them on his writing desk.

His mind seized on every word, every phrase The Mad One had uttered, his thoughts prowling and spinning and circling and turning upon themselves.

What did he mean about my skin? Why come here and tell me nothing useful? Thor never lies – why would I believe he lies? If Thor thinks it, he speaks it. Thor is as constant as sunrise. What did he mean about forking paths? What is the path I should take?

Fear fizzing in his brain, energy galvanizing his skin, he paced and thought and could not rid himself of the image that demons were pursuing him.

“By the Norns,” he whispered. Why is prophecy always so cryptic? Were the Norns laughing at him, even while they tended the roots of Yggdrasil, even as they wove? Laughing at Loki, always the one never content with simple tales and unquestioned tradition, always the one seeking the answers to questions no one else asked.

He suddenly smiled, a thin slash across his face. When had he found unknown paths things to be feared instead of welcomed?

“Midgard, then,” he whispered, and drew diagrams in the air to open the walkways between worlds.

* * * * *

“Brother! You missed a valiant tourney!” Thor strode into Loki’s chambers without bothering to announce himself, making everything seem much smaller by his presence. Loki ignored him, kept his attention on the book he was studying, trying to avoid looking up at his brother who seemed to be breathing all the air in the room. He reread a line, thoughts circling like a snarl of snakes tangling and biting and devouring their own tails. What did it all mean? What was he meant to do? Why was he not able to understand?

“And we missed you at the feasting! You spend overmuch time alone.” Thor circled behind him and hands came down over Loki’s shoulders. How many times had he sworn he would add wards to his room preventing Thor’s unauthorized entrance? He used them to keep everyone else out. And yet he never had.

Thor massaged his neck. Loki huffed in exasperation, then sighed and leaned back into the warmth, enjoying momentarily the spread of comfort through his body before pulling away. He groaned and glared balefully at his vast library. He had spent every minute since his return from Midgard hunched over his vast book-cluttered table, bespelling his library to bring those volumes he most needed to the fore, reading everything he could about destiny and how to avoid it. The legends, however, were filled with dire tales of those who attempted to cheat fate, and no legends told a tale quite like the one he had experienced the day before.

“Was there a difference between this and any other tourney I have ever witnessed over the past centuries?” he commented drily.

“None at all.” Thor laughed, and added, “Brother, I have brought you a repast.”

Two servants stood at the chamber door bearing heavily laden trays. Loki wordlessly gestured and his wards allowed the servants to enter, bow respectfully, and take the food to the stone table on the balcony outside his chambers. The smell of roast boar, savory soups, flatbread and stewed fruits wafted through the air.   The servants laid out the meal, returned inside, and bowed before departing.

Thor had completely destroyed his concentration, he thought, irritated. Well, he was hungry. Walking the branches of Yggdrasil was difficult and required much energy.

He had gone to Midgard as its star was dawning on that portion of that world. He had found himself in a barren wasteland, the land very different from those portions of Midgard he had visited before. This land was separated from the lands he knew best by half the world’s width. Here, the land had been small rolling hills, dotted with only sparse scrubby plants, with unfamiliar mountains in the further distance, and the air had been quite warm.

There had been a Midgardian village close by. He had walked, invisible, among the mortals, but saw nothing of interest among their meager dwellings and peasant activities. They had made some improvements in their technologies since the last time he had walked on Midgard; they had harnessed the power of lightning and had created metal vehicles to travel in, but otherwise the mortals seemed much the same as they always had been. He inspected every building, and found nothing of interest in the dwellings, the stables for their metal vehicles, the eating establishments, the drinking halls, except for the oddity of one place dealing in the sales of small live animals which did not seem meant for the table. He found nothing to indicate why the Mad One had felt it necessary for him to journey here.

As he had walked back out into the lifeless landscape surrounding the village, ready to travel back to Asgard, a strange, doglike creature, filled with seiðr, had set its yellow eyes on him, seeing him despite the spell that made him invisible to all inhabitants of this world. He stopped, motionless, and met its gaze, his every sense alert. This being must be why he was here.

It had made no move toward him and had not broken silence as they stared at each other.

“Do you have anything to tell me?” Loki had asked eagerly, impatient for answers to all the questions that crowded his mind.

The creature’s eyes were unblinking. He got an impression of amusement, and then a strong message that whatever business had brought him here was none of its concern. It was rooted here, he saw; a Midgardian spirit of some kind, belonging to this land. And yet… he had sensed a type of kinship; a similarity to himself he did not understand.

It had vanished seconds later. His mind was filled with even more questions as he took the pathways back to Asgard. Had he missed something important? Had he asked the wrong question? Had the animal spirit been meant to tell him what he was supposed to know or do there? What had he done wrong?

Or, as a Midgard spirit, was it merely a sentinel, and nothing to do with him?

He knew so little of Midgard, and none of this portion of that world. He reviewed every detail of the unsettling encounter again. He hated feeling this uncertain of his own understanding. He–

“Father,” Thor stated, “is a fool.”

Startled, Loki brought himself out of his reverie. He took another bite of boar, enjoying the salty taste. It was seasoned just the way he liked it, and he was certain Thor had requested it be prepared that way for him. Thor was seated opposite him, drinking another goblet of mead. Thor had been babbling on about the tourney for some moments now, but the sudden change of subject had caught Loki’s attention.

Loki raised his brows. “What revelation is this, brother?”

Thor’s countenance was the image of the storms he controlled. The sky darkened. Loki raised an ironic brow.

Thor gave him a rueful smile and the clouds began to disperse.

“Father has become overly cautious,” Thor went on. “There are rumors of war everywhere; the realm is not safe. It is good he is stepping down now. When he became King he was ready for battle. His glorious victories! He defeated the Frost Giants and the Fire Giants, the curs that they are. All realms respected his might and power. All realms bowed to Asgard. But now – there are those who claim we have become weak, that we do not deserve respect.”

“Thor,” he said, with a hint of impatience, “There have been nothing but minor skirmishes, brigands and pirates, easily put down.” And taking far too much of his time, he thought.

“An ember is the sign of fire,” Thor said, quoting a common cliché.

Loki resisted rolling his eyes. “And what would you do in his stead, brother? Your upcoming coronation has obviously filled your head with plans.”

“Well,” Thor said, and expounded on his plans for blood and glorious battles and death and mastering all who opposed Asgard’s might.

Blood. Death. The walls of his chamber dissolved from his sight and he saw it now as he had pictured this scene countless times over the centuries: a vast battlefield, and Thor’s body, ripped and torn and shredded and lifeless with his life’s blood flooding the ground beside him while the ravens wheeled above and screamed in mourning.

Loki forced his imaginings away. Thor was talking about insults hurled at Asgard from the Muspelheim Giants, and Loki suddenly understood he must destroy Thor’s plans. Still shuddering at his thoughts of Thor’s death he suddenly realized he wanted nothing more than the comfort of Thor’s body. Wanted to cling to that strength, cage it forever, and never, ever let go. Wanted his brother with him, always, hale and whole, looking at him with the regard he shared with no one else.

Thor did not abandon me, nor did his loyalty nor his love falter until I destroyed it.

He dug his nails into his palms. What did it mean? What did he do to cause so much damage?

Thor stopped expounding and took another long draught of mead.

He would keep Thor here, with him. He would undo what he had done. That fate which would lead to the Mad One’s insanity would never happen. He would never allow it to happen.

“Thor,” Loki said, “that is all very well, but I have other sport in mind now. Shall we to my bedchamber?”

Thor’s face lit up. Loki smiled a small triumphant smile. Thor was always trying to talk him into bedsport, and usually succeeded, but there were times when nothing could distract him from his books and spells, not even the wicked prospect of Thor’s hands and mouth on him, the dark pleasures he had from having Thor’s cock deep inside him.

Tonight was not that night. Tonight, he suddenly wanted to thrust away the useless knots of his thoughts and feel Thor’s hands scoring his skin, feel that hard cock ravaging his body.

They were on their feet and through the opening into his main chamber in seconds. Thor stopped just inside, where they were shielded from all eyes, and pulled Loki to him, mouth descending to his willing lips. Loki wrapped his arms around Thor, pulled back an instant and whispered, “So eager, brother! Is it to be the floor, then?”

Loki liked to magic off their garments, but Thor preferred a more primal approach and started ripping at Loki’s clothing. Then, suddenly, he stopped, his attention caught by something over Loki’s shoulder.

“What?” Loki demanded and followed Thor’s gaze.

Thor pointed to the cracks marring the height of Loki’s entry wall. “Brother, what happened there?”

Loki, hard already, scowled at the interruption, unwilling to harbor those thoughts, not at this moment. “Nothing.”

“That does not look like ‘nothing’ to me,” Thor growled.

“A spell gone wrong, that is all.” He took advantage of Thor’s inattention and magicked their clothing away, then ran his hands down Thor’s torso, stopping to thumb nipples and trace the carved musculature with his long fingers.

Thor pushed him away and held him at arm’s length. “Brother. Be careful. What you do is dangerous.”

Loki sighed. “I say the same to you in all your battles, Thor, but you heed me not.”

He wrapped his arms around Thor and crushed him close, reveling in the feel and scent of Thor’s big body, sharp teeth already nipping at Thor’s neck, his shoulder. Thor put his mouth to Loki’s neck, set teeth there, set fire flickering along his skin. The strong throb of Thor’s cock against his made him hiss with pleasure.

Mine! His mind sang as he marked Thor’s shoulder again with his teeth and ran his hands down Thor’s sides, scratching with his nails. I’ll never let you go.

He grabbed Thor’s hand and half-pulled him toward his bedchamber, certain that Thor would forget all about the damage to the wall, if he hadn’t already. He turned suddenly at the entrance to his chambers, claiming Thor’s mouth, and wound his arms around Thor’s back. He quickly gestured to cast an illusion to conceal the damage to his wall so there would be no trace of it left to remind Thor of its existence once he was ready to depart his chambers. Just as quickly, he added that spell to his wards so no one but himself would ever see it again.

Then he turned inside Thor’s arms, broke away and half-ran into his bedchamber. He glanced over his shoulder as he darted around the lounging couch placed before his enormous fireplace. Thor, laughing, made as to make after him and he raced to his bed, large enough to hold three men the size of Thor, dived in, and caused the rich gold-and-green hangings to curtain the bed completely. He conjured a witchlight for illumination, lounged back against his multi-colored pillows and waited for Thor to work out where he had concealed the entrance this time.

It didn’t take long before Thor poked his head through the draperies near the far side of his bed, gave a pleased growl, and leapt in. He was on him instantly and they were rolling together, their hands everywhere, Loki laughing, skin alive to Thor’s touch as Thor’s rough calloused hands scraped against his skin. Thor pinned him down and turned his head sideways, kissing and nibbling the length of Loki’s long neck, and Loki’s cock hardened even further.

He put both hands against Thor’s shoulders, pushed as he twisted, and Thor fell, laughing, onto his side. Loki moved quickly, pushing Thor onto his back, then rose to his knees. Thor’s lust-filled eyes searched his, his thick cock jutting into the air.

Loki straddled him, lowering himself, skin to skin. Thor moaned as Loki grasped him in one hand, long fingers circling the shaft, gently easing the foreskin down, exposing the head, which was already wet and flushed a dark red. He matched Thor’s cock to his own, dragging them together, gasping a little as bright pleasure lit his mind. He fell forward onto his elbows, black hair curtaining his face, breathing Thor’s name as they slid and rubbed their erect cocks against each other. Lifting one hand, he explored the hard nub of a nipple, loving the way Thor’s body jerked and dragged against his. He traced the ridge of collarbone with a thumb, then bent forward, biting Thor’s shoulder again, then licked his neck.

Thor grabbed his arms, digging in strong fingers, and Loki groaned in pleasure, picturing the bruises already forming. He rubbed his face against the beard scratch of Thor’s jaw. Tangling strands of black and gold hair together, he found Thor’s mouth and dragged his tongue across Thor’s lips. Thor’s mouth opened and their teeth clashed together, then Thor opened fully to him, allowing him this penetration at least. One of Thor’s hands was tight against his neck now, the other sliding down the length of his back and he shivered in anticipation.

Loki ran his hands through Thor’s golden hair, wrapped strands around his fingers and pulled tight as he delved his tongue inside Thor’s mouth. He explored teeth and tongue, humming a bit, enjoying the vibration as their hips rutted against each other. Thor was damp with sweat, and his electric blue eyes were fastened on Loki’s as if nothing else existed anywhere.

Thor’s hands were all over him, exploring the length of his back, the curve of his ass. One finger played against his opening, reached further, caressed the underside of his balls. His breath hitched and he rocked back, staring down into Thor’s lust-filled eyes.

He shifted back, further, further, dragging his heavy cock reluctantly away from Thor’s hard warm skin and kneeled back on the bed, erection thrusting into air. Thor had stilled and was watching him closely as he rested one hand on one of Thor’s thighs, ran his fingertips gently against Thor’s balls, then tugged.

Thor groaned and his entire body shuddered. Loki reached lower, and pressed his fingertips against the opening to Thor’s body. Thor’s eyes snapped open. He sat up and yanked Loki’s hand away, denying him, as always, his dark forbidden desire. Loki always tried for this favor. He always failed, and the failure always sent a lick of anger through his veins. Thor would never allow this. Because Thor, of course, was not ergi.  Not like him, who had always desired what a man should not desire.

Thor was suddenly on his knees. His hands shifted to shove against Loki’s shoulders, forcing him back against the bed. Thor grinned down into his face, moved to grab both of Loki’s wrists and forced them above his head. He used his teeth against Loki’s neck, and rubbed the lengths of their cocks together.

Loki magicked himself away and Thor fell against the bed. Thor reared up, electricity crawling on his skin. Loki appeared behind him, encircled him with his arms and pressed his body to Thor’s heavily muscled back, trapping his cock against heated skin. He placed his chin on one broad shoulder and whispered into his ear, “Shall you breach me now? If you wish it, lie down on your back and I will do it for you.”

Thor whipped around, pupils blown wide. Loki gave him a filthy smile and magicked oil onto his fingers. Before Thor could react, Loki reached beneath himself and thrust two, then three fingers inside his own body, preparing himself in haste. Bracing his hands against Thor’s shoulders, he shoved him back against the bed. He straddled him again, and grasped and aimed Thor’s cock, centering it against his opening. Pushed down. He sucked in breath at the blunt invasion and kept moving. He took Thor’s cock inside him, inch by inch, loving the burn, loving the sheer size of it filling him. He pushed all the way down as Thor thrust up with a groan torn from deep inside his body, his hips jerking until their bodies met. He cried out in triumph as he seated himself and reveled in the feeling of possessing Thor so completely within his own body.

Thor thrust, thrust again, and Loki rode him, his mind chanting, Mine! I will change it all; I will defeat Fate. I will never destroy your love for me! He thrust forward against Thor’s chiseled chest, then rocked back into the hardness filling him, finding his rhythm. Thor grabbed his cock, fisting it.

Electricity crackled against his skin from Thor’s touch and he keened with the desperate pleasure of it, up, down, again, again, fire shooting along his nerves with every movement. He knew exactly how to angle each downward shove against Thor’s cock to jolt sparks of ecstasy inside him. Thor stroked him in match to his rhythm, his rough calloused fingers like lightning against his cock. Thor rolled his head, golden hair spread in a wet sweaty tangle against the pillow and muttered incoherent words of lust and love. Loki bent forward and stopped the sounds with his mouth, closed Thor’s mouth with his own, then tilted back as Thor roared with pleasure and erupted inside him, and he was spilling too, body clenching spasmodically, Thor pulling out the last of his ecstasy with final strokes of his hand.

He shuddered and collapsed against Thor, joining him skin to skin, sweat to sweat and his own spill. Loki licked a bite mark he’d made on Thor’s neck, nuzzling while Thor made soft sounds in reply.

Long moments later he rolled free, lying on his back by Thor’s side. He lay still, enjoying the delicious lassitude, savoring the ache inside him, the feel of each bite mark, each small hurt fading and healing within moments. He stared into the star and nebula-filled darkness beyond his balcony. Thor had fallen deeply asleep, and was taking up far more of the bed than seemed possible. As usual. He discovered Thor’s fingers lying slack against the sheets, and interlaced his own fingers with them. Pressed tight.

Loki smiled into the darkness. The plan was forming in his mind. Thor was not ready to be king; that much was certain. Their father was the wiser, choosing the longer game, the greater objective. If Thor became king now, he would attempt to smash everything with his hammer, and they would be in for another thousand years of tedious bloodshed, much hacking and slashing with swords and axes, too many warriors boasting at drunken feasts of their prowess, and too many boring poems and sagas all reciting the same stories of glorious valor.

Too many dying, and where was the fun in that?

Thor dying, and the thought filled him with horror. Oh yes, the Valkyries would escort many heroes to Valhalla, and should Thor fall in battle he would be at their head.

But he, Loki, who many called ergi, many called níðingr,would never be among their number. He would never go to Valhalla.

Better to live a long life, and enjoy its fruits, and learn as many secrets as could be found out. Better to live. Better to have Thor live and be with him as long as possible.

I wove a tale of insanity and destruction and death, and I am my final victim.

I will never be that Mad Thing! he swore into the darkness. How could he ever have met such a horrific fate? With this warning he would change his destiny; he would never become that vile hideous insane beast.

Choose well, the Mad One had said, and oh yes, he would do that. He was seeing more and more details of his plan.

Find your own path through chaos, even if it is unapparent to other eyes. Do not destroy foolishly.

Yes. His plan would work. It had to. Thor was planning chaos, and not the kind Loki enjoyed. Thor was planning to destroy foolishly.

This must be why the Mad One had chosen the book he had. That must have been why the Mad One had filled the cracks in the wall with ice so chill that Loki’s fingertips had turned blue when he had reached out to touch it.

It was to remind him he knew paths to Jötunheim. It was to direct him to the correct course.

As for the curious quest to Midgard – well, he could not yet see how that backwater played a role in this game. It would at some point, he was sure, but that would be many threads down the weave. He would be ready.

He contemplated journeying to Jötunheim. It would be dangerous. It would be exciting!

And if it all worked at as planned – and there was no reason why it shouldn’t – why, what better time to create mischief than when all of Asgard was there to fall into hubbub and discord? It was delightful to imagine the reaction of the full court when Thor failed to become king.

And then they would have many more centuries together before Odin decided Thor was truly worthy. Many more centuries of adventures. Many more centuries – he smiled fondly at Thor, pressed up against his side, and reached a hand to stroke the long blond hair – of frantic fucking, and long slow fucking, and lying side by side, here, or under the stars, while Loki told tales half false, half true, and Thor, who could never tell the difference, would laugh or murmur sorrow at tales of folk who existed still, or never would be. Many more times of lying in Thor’s arms, with Thor focused on him alone, enjoying those small fragments of time in which he understood what it was to be content, to be cherished, to not think at all.

You will not die in some useless, vainglorious battle, he promised Thor. You will live. And I will never doubt you. I will change the course of fate. I will never be that mad thing.

And all he had to do to accomplish that was ruin Thor’s coronation.

His smile spread into a grin. It was going to be so much fun!