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Blond Hair, Chubby Cheeks, and Cold Skin

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Thor’s first memory is of Loki. He does not know how old he is. A decade, or a century maybe, but he wobbles on chubby legs and messes up word pronunciations, and he is learning his place in his life as a prince. He is older than Loki, but he does not know how much older. Loki is a small babe when Thor first meets him, and he is laying in a crib that Thor stumbles to while holding his mother’s hand.

Frigga picks Thor up and Thor puts a tight grip on the top of the bars, peers into the crib with a toddler’s curiosity. He wants to climb in, to see his new brother up close, but Frigga does not let him despite his whines. She instead changes the position she holds him so he is able to lean further into the crib, and he stares at Loki with the type of pride that he plays with his toys with. Loki smiles at him, and it makes Thor chuckle, which in turn makes Loki’s smile grow wider. He makes a pleased noise and kicks his legs and arms around.

The babe sparks a feeling inside Thor that he cannot describe. They look at each other with equally bright eyes that reflect the candle off of them. The babe makes a noise and reaches for Thor’s hair, but does not come close to grabbing it. Thor’s hair is barely to his shoulders, and Loki’s arm does not even span a quarter of the crib. The corners of his mouth tug downwards and Thor tries to lean down ever further, but Frigga’s strong grip does not let him.

“Would you like to hold him?” Frigga asks and Thor nods with jerky movements. She sets him down and Thor immediately pushes his face in between the bars of the crib. They are a cold metal that almost burns his skin, but Thor is too young to think anything of it. He keeps his eyes trained on Loki and Loki looks at him with curiosity until Frigga’s hands on his back and neck distract him. His neck falls limp as she picks him up, so she readjusts her grip to be on the back of his head.

Loki smiles at Thor and motions towards him.

“Go sit down,” Frigga gently tells Thor. Thor scrambles into the closest chair he can find, but it is too tall for him and he must climb onto it and spin to sit on his bottom. He happily holds his arms out for the babe.

“His head must be supported.”

“Yes, Mother.”

Frigga lets go of Loki into Thor’s arms, careful to adjust Thor’s hands correctly. Loki immediately goes for Thor’s hair and he wraps a tiny fist around a strand. Thor leans his head down to release some of the strain off his skull as Loki pulls the strand closer to him.

“His hair is soft,” Thor says, and he pointedly looks at Loki’s head. He slowly strokes Loki’s hair. The strands are thin, they barely cover his head despite being so dark, but they are softer than any of the pelts Thor has felt.

“As was yours when you were his age,” Frigga says with a soft smile.

“Was I this small, Mother?” Thor’s voice is full of breathy disbelief. Loki’s entire height is about the length of Thor’s arm.

“Perhaps not as tiny, but small, of course. We were all a small babe at one point.”

Thor’s eyes widen. He cannot comprehend the size, especially as he looks over Loki. He is smaller than any of the babes and children he has met before. “Even you?” he asks in hopes of clearing his confusion.

Frigga chuckles, graces her hand over Thor’s hair. She starts to message Loki’s hand, coaxing him to let go of the strand of Thor’s hair. “Of course.”

“Father?”

“Yes.” Thor is in utter shock. His father is so much larger than him, tough and course, and when he thinks of the delicate nature of the babe he holds now, he cannot imagine his father ever being so small. Did his father once have two eyes?

Loki lets go and holds onto one of Frigga’s fingers instead. His eyelids are getting heavy already and light bubbles leave his lips as he breathes.

“Is he tired?” Thor asks.

“I am afraid so. It is time to put him back in his crib.” Thor is upset at hearing this and he tries to tighten his grip on Loki, but Frigga manages to work her hand under Loki’s head and lift him out of Thor’s arms. She presses him against her breast and he makes a relaxed noise and falls asleep. Thor whines and motions for Loki to be given back to him, but Frigga tells him no.

“Babes require sleep. We must leave him.” She places him into the crib and then scoops Thor up from the chair, has him rest on her hip. She is walking out of the room, but Thor does not want to leave Loki. He keeps his eyes trained on the crib until Frigga closes the door to his chambers and Thor can do nothing more to see Loki.

Thor rambles about his brother for the rest of the night as he plays with his toys with one of the many servants. Most of what he says is gibberish, or made up stories about he and Loki that are obviously not true, but the servant indulges his imagination and plays the made up Loki Thor creates. Loki is a fearless warrior that darts through trees to slay dragons and rescue princesses, and he fights entire armies to protect his kingdom. He loses his eye to a vicious skeleton army, but he cuts through the bones anyway. Thor is always next to Loki in the adventures, as a somewhat right-hand man. They are the perfect duo, Thor tells the servant.

When Frigga comes to put Thor to bed, Thor requests to sleep with Loki in his crib. Frigga denies his request, and Thor almost cries.

“You are both much too small to be trusted together at night, Thor,” Frigga tells him. Thor is frustrated at her words; they make no sense to him. If he and Loki are both small, then they would surely fit in the crib together. What more is there to trust?

Thor is put to bed and Frigga leaves him alone with a candle slowly burning in order to protect him from the dark. He waits a while before he falls out of his bed. It is taller than him and he has to put the support on his upper body in order to relax into the last few inches onto the floor. He grabs the candle and holds it as carefully as he was taught by his mother, and he sneaks out of his bed chambers. His blanket drags behind him. Loki’s bed chambers is the room next to Thor’s, a wall is shared between them, and so the trip is short and easy to stay quiet. He delicately closes Loki’s door behind him and he sets the candle down after making his way to Loki’s crib.

Loki is asleep, his eyelids not quite closed because of his weak muscles. He does not wake up as Thor climbs into the crib with unrefined movements, his foot almost falling on one of Loki’s hands. He settles onto the bed with Loki and he puts his blanket over Loki and himself. It barely fits both of him, less than an inch of wiggle room, and so Thor snuggles closer into Loki. He is surprised to feel Loki is as cold as his crib bars, and he decides that Loki needs the blanket more than he does. He sleeps with nothing more than the warmth the room provides.

Frigga finds them early in the morning and she is none too happy about it. When she pulls Thor out, Loki cries and his tiny fist holds onto the blanket Thor had covered him with. Thor holds onto the other end and refuses to let go despite Frigga’s angry insistence that he does so.

“Thor, I will tell the Allfather of your refusal to follow my instructions!” she threatens, but Thor does not respond. Frigga is unable to walk any further towards the door without straining the already weak threads of the blanket. She is forced to go back to the crib and take the blanket from Loki then pry Thor’s fingers off the bars before she is able to take Thor out of the room. Thor is sobbing when Frigga puts him onto his own bed, and he wraps himself in his blanket. Frigga leaves him to tend to the also crying Loki.

Thor cries louder to try and gain the attention of his mother, but she does not bother. She spends her time comforting Loki, and Thor falls back asleep with a sob still on his lips.

Odin later comes into his bed chambers and yells at him and tells him he is punished to his bed chambers for the next day. Thor cries at Odin’s words, but he does not fall asleep again. After he calms down, it is time for dinner, and a servant brings a platter to him, but he does not touch the food. He lays on his bed, staring at his brick wall and cuddled into his blanket.

During the middle of the night, Thor decides his punishment will not stop him from being with his brother. He goes to him and he creates a trend for years to come. He finds his way to Loki almost every night and he learns to sneak back into his own chambers with the sun. Eventually, Loki learns Thor’s pattern and he stops falling asleep before Thor can join him in the crib. On the rare nights when Thor stays in his own bed chambers from either illness or exhaustion, Loki does not sleep well. He is cranky for the day, unwilling to nap and unwilling to eat.

In time, Loki passes the age where he is expected to say his first word. He is silent for his babehood, much to Frigga’s worry. The medics tell her that he is healthy, just silent.

Thor overhears Frigga expressing her worry to Odin and decides to help coax Loki into speaking, if only to help his mother. He spends weeks in bed with Loki, pleading for him to say something and giving him suggestions of what to say. At first the suggestions are words Thor would have liked to have as his first word, but they slowly dwindle into any word Thor can think of.

Loki finally says his first word in the middle of the night, for Thor to hear only.

“You did it, Loki!” Thor happily says. Loki smiles at him, a smile older than when Thor first saw it, but still just as immature. Thor laughs and cuddles into Loki.

Loki is not hesitant to say the word to Frigga the next day, happy to receiver her praise and, unexpectedly, her tears. A feast is thrown to celebrate Loki’s accomplishment, a banner of the word hung at the front of the castle to invite everyone in. Thor is proud, his toddler face beaming throughout the feast.

Loki develops normally after that. When he learns to walk, Thor is inseparable from him. He constantly helps Loki wobble around and he comforts him when he falls. Loki never cries when Thor is the one to help him. He puts his complete trust into Thor.

Thor shares his toys once Loki is old enough to appreciate them. His toys consist of wooden weapons and wooden animals, silky dolls and silky dress-up clothes.

Loki takes a liking to a wooden sword painted green and to a smooth robe that flows behind him as he charges at Thor with the sword. Thor has a shield he uses to protect himself from the viciousness that is Loki with a sword.

They use the shield and sword to conquer a pretend kingdom together. A mighty and prosperous one much like Asgard but without the worldly and otherworldly restrictions. Servants pretend to be citizens of the kingdom and they request various things from Loki and Thor, who grant every wish and whim.

They move up in the world. They rule a realm instead of only a kingdom, add real life issues to make the game continuously entertaining in their age, deny servants occasional requests.

And so they grow and mature with little grace. They fight, they hurt each other, and they make up within minutes. They get into trouble together and they escape punishment together. At times they attempt and fail, at other times Loki is too loyal to Frigga to succeed.

On an immature day, they are in the royal garden alone despite their mother’s rule not to; they are young and curious. However, it is easy for them to be lost in the tall flowers and full bushes. Frigga does not want to risk them getting hurt by thorns and poisonous plants grown for war.

Thor convinces Loki to play in the garden. Loki is hesitant to do so, but he is unwilling to leave Thor’s side, so he follows Thor deep into the garden during late afternoon and he follows Thor as they run through flowers and sitting areas and countless paths. They duck into the tallest bush they can find as a servant rings the bell for dinner. They stay down with many giggles and failing attempts to quiet each other down, expecting for a servant to come find them and bring them inside with a weak scold.

They are surprised to hear Frigga’s voice calling their names with a slight panic. Loki almost springs up at the sound of the voice, but Thor grabs his forearm and forces him down with a violent tug.

“No, brother!” he yells with a hushed breath that is much quieter than their giggles. “We will get in much more trouble from Mother than a servant!”

“She will worry!” Loki hisses back at Thor and Thor shakes his head. Loki attempts to reveal himself once more, but he fails as badly as the first time.

“Let her,” Thor says.

Loki is devoted to Frigga in a way he is not devoted to Thor. He is attached to Frigga differently than he is attached to Thor. While he is more likely to do anything Thor asks of him, he is more likely to do anything Frigga demands of him. He is willing to get himself in trouble in order to sedate Frigga and guarantee her love for him. Thor gives him an unconditional love that Loki can feel in the darkest of nights and in the quietest of moments.

Loki breaks Thor’s grip and he reveals himself. Thor follows suit, knowing there is no point in trying to hide himself. He and Loki are always together, their mother knows that. Thor is angry at Loki though, and as they walk to their mother, he does not hesitate to pinch him where he knows his skin is the thinnest.

With age, they stop sleeping in the same bed, maturity separating their sleep. Yet, they are inseparable during the day. Thor starts his school lessons before Loki due to their differences in age. He learns to read and write while Loki meanders around the castle with his hand in Frigga’s, she too untrusting of his mischievous soul to let him alone with a servant.

He starts to garden with Frigga, grows beautiful daisies and gorgeous lilies, helps Frigga bless a plentiful crop of wheat and barley. It is normal for Thor to find Loki in the garden, covered in dirt and sweat. He lets Loki ramble about the plants he grows, lets him ramble about everything Frigga teaches him, and he wrestles Loki afterwards. They fight in the dirt and the mud, brush themselves off or let a servant hose them down before entering the castle. Frigga chuckles at her children, holds their hands as she leads them to the bathing chambers.

They bathe together, turning the water a murky brown, leaves and grass floating on the surface. Thor splashes water in Loki’s eyes, and Loki dunks him under the water in retaliation. Thor comes back up spluttering, shoving his hair out of his eyes.

Their laughs echo off the bathroom walls.

A month later, Loki throws Thor off when he runs and jumps on his back, sends them tumbling to the castle floor. Their elbows are scratched up once they finally slow down to a stop and Thor almost yells at Loki, but Loki is smiling, his two front teeth missing, making the smile look odd.

“What was the reasoning behind that?” Thor asks instead of yelling.

“I have received exciting news!” Loki says, his voice a little too loud and a little too shrill, but Thor prevents himself from grimacing. Thor shoves Loki off him, still slightly irritated at Loki’s less than orthodox arrival.

“And?” Thor prompts him after he does not continue.

“Mother says she will share her magic with me!”

“Share?” Thor stops dead from standing up.

“She says she can transfer half of her magic to me, but she needs to build it up first.”

“Like…gift it to you?”

Loki looks to the side of Thor, thinks for a moment. “No, I do not believe so. She said she will have to teach me to use the magic, and I do not suppose she can do that if she gives me all her magic.”

“Yes, I suppose so,” Thor says. “How is your elbow?” Thor worries the moment he catches a flash of red on it.

“No more scratched than normal. Do not worry. My elbow is not the focus here. I will receive Mother’s magic!” Loki says, a quick frown shown and replaced before Thor can truly see it.

“Well, I am happy for you. Perhaps you will finally be on my level during our battles,” Thor says with a lopsided grin.

“I am not far behind you as it is.”

“But you are still behind me.”

“Well, yes—” Thor pulls Loki against his side and tussles his hair, making Loki squirm and try to pull his hand away.

“Older brother advantage, younger brother disadvantage,” Thor chuckles and lets Loki go. Thor hops up and holds his hand out to help Loki stand. Loki takes it.

“How long shall you wait?” Thor asks. Loki shrugs.

It takes three weeks for Frigga to build enough magic for her and Loki both. In that time, Thor cannot help but be jealous. Why would Frigga choose Loki over him? Loki is great, of course, but Loki has yet to start school lessons and he has not proved himself worthy of such power, unlike Thor. Thor is excelling in all his classes.

Frigga must love Loki more, it is the only conclusion he can come up with. Thor is as worthy of magic as Loki is, possibly worthier.

When he lets his arrogance take over his manners, he asks his mother why Loki is to receive magic but not him.

“You will learn soon. Sooner than you think,” she responds.

Thor does not understand, but Frigga does not expect him to.

Frigga sets up a private room while they eat dinner. When she is finished, she beckons Loki to follow her. Thor follows as well, though Frigga is hesitant to let him enter the room.

“I will only let you in if you promise to not touch Loki once I start, no matter what,” she demands, her voice tough, sharp. Thor promises.

The lighting is low; only a couple candles burn in the corners of the room. A medic is hidden in the shadows, her expression vacant. She is only here to make sure Loki is okay, Frigga explains, and Loki nods, visibly nervous.

Thor steps closer to Loki, gets a nod of permission from Frigga, then he puts his hands on Loki's shoulders. He grins at him, holds him steady, then graces a hand in the hair across his shoulder. He leans down and places a delicate kiss on Loki’s forehead—it tastes like honey and sweat. He lets the taste linger on his lips. “You will be safe,” he tells Loki. Loki smiles and his eyes are soft in their nervousness.

Frigga gently separates the two and Thor easily steps to the side, out of the way. She takes Loki's hands in hers, traces his soft skin with her thumbs.

“I am going to start now,” Frigga says and she squeezes his hands.

He can feel warm magic spark from her hands and it hits his nerve endings, makes his hands go numb. It crawls up his arms slowly and then spreads throughout his body quickly.

It stops, leaving Loki feeling cold and empty, the change as abrupt as the magic entering him. He grimaces as the magic burrows into his bones, and he feels weak. He almost collapses, but he manages to hold himself up.

“That was not much,” Frigga says. She squeezes Loki's hands, encourages him to let the magic settle. “But the first feels the worst. The magic needs to absorb into your soul before I can build it up.”

“It is not so bad,” Loki says. However, he is shivering profusely. His soul is cold down to its bare essential. The medic runs behind him and drapes a thick, woolen blanket over his shoulders that Frigga is quick to wrap tight around his neck.

“You are changing with the magic. There will be pain that comes soon. I am sorry, my son,” she whispers. She continues to fiddle with the blanket, trying to tighten it even more around Loki, but it can only get so tight. The cold is internal, the blanket is not much help.

And then Loki screams in pain, his knees finally give up and he falls to the ground without any resistance, he is barely able to catch himself. Frigga follows down, pulls his head onto her lap and tangles her hands in his hair. He is sobbing into her, clutching and scratching at her back, his teeth ground together and making noises that cause Thor to wince. Loki can barely breathe, his lungs are being pushed together and pulled apart and his eyes are popping out of his head, he is sure of it.

He screams again, his voice cracking yet still powerful. He is positive his bones have shattered apart and are now attempting to sow themselves whole again. It is too much all at once, and he is clutching to his mother for dear life, but she can do nothing to help him. The pain is worse than anything he has ever felt, and it simply will not stop.

It takes everything in Thor to keep his word and not run to Loki’s side. He wants to do something—anything, but he is as helpless as the other two in the room. He feels terrible, weak, pathetic.

Loki screams again, and it echoes in Thor’s ears before it burrows its way deep in his memories.

Then he feels the electricity. It sparks around him, gives him goosebumps and raises his body hair. He assumes it is from the magic Loki is radiating as his body takes it in, but Frigga looks panicked when her eyes meet Thor’s. She promptly walks from Loki after gently removing his head from her lap. She stops at Thor and reaches out to grab him with the same panic, but she stops herself as quickly as she had started.

Her fingers twitch. Thor thinks he sees sparks of electricity from them.

“You must leave, Thor,” Frigga says, her panic finally putting Thor on edge.

“He is in pain,” Thor says, his voice fuzzy, choked. It does not feel natural, it forces its way from his vocal chords with bursts.

“He will be in much more if you do not leave now.”

Thor is scared. He wants to fight against it, fight to stay with Loki, but his mother looks more panicked than he has ever seen her, and he does not understand why, but he wants to help her, so he leaves, closing the thick door silently behind him.

He slides down the wall, the brick burning his skin where his shirt rides up. He hopes to hear something from the room, but the brick is much too thick. In an attempt to ground himself, he pushes the palms of his hands onto his eyeballs until all he sees are the stars and the pale colors that surround Asgard every night.

He feels like he is going to cry, his body tense, almost shaking. The electricity had followed him out of the room and it sends shocks through his skin, reminds him of its existence. He wants to know how the magic has spread to him.

Suddenly, he sobs, and he pushes on his eyes harder. A kaleidoscope of colors explode beneath his eyelids, he sees color he can not even name. Violent blues, brash green, and harsh reds mixing into bold pinks and splashy oranges. Every single color takes the shape of a lightning bolt that traces the veins in his eyelids and burns into his retinas.

Loki wails loud enough for Thor to hear it through the brick and his hand shocks his right eye and he screams and quickly pulls his hands away. He scurries away from the wall and crawls as far away from the room as he can, but the electricity does not stop and his eye burns with it. He cries harder and the tears hurt his eye, but the pain makes him cry more. He is confused and scared and he does not know what he needs to do to get away from the electricity and all the pain.

He gets up on shaky legs and he can barely see anything but the colorful lightning bolts as he makes his way to his chambers to try and calm himself down. The electricity follows him as he goes and it still surrounds him even as he lays in his bed.

He grabs his baby blanket, the one him and Loki shared for many nights, and he ignores how it shocks him. He wipes his nose and left eye on the blanket, but is careful to not touch his right eye.

He stops crying only when he falls asleep. Frigga wakes him up sometime during the night, pulls him into her arms and makes sure his blanket still covers him. Thor whimpers, snuggles close into his mother’s chest. He stirs awake, but his mother is warm and he is close to falling asleep again within moments.

They sit in silence for a long while, Frigga rocking Thor slowly. He is unable to cuddle as closely and snuggly as he remembers , he has gotten too big, but the embrace still makes him feel like a babe again.

“I hurt my eye,” Thor mumbles, not bothering to remove his face from his mother’s bosom.

“How badly?”

“It stings.”

“Can you see?” She sounds worried and it hurts Thor to hear.

“I am not sure,” he answers. It is a half-truth; the lightning bolts still scurry around his eyes like half-hidden spirits.

“It is too dark to test right now. Bringing a medic to you would be useless. Do you think it will be okay until the morning?”

Thor nods. He does not want his mother to worry about both of her sons tonight.

“I am truly sorry,” Frigga says.

“Why?”

“For allowing you to harm yourself.”

I did this to myself, Thor thinks, but does not say.

They are silent again, this silence longer than before. Thor is very close to sleep when his mother's voice keeps him awake.

“You are the god of thunder,” she says.

Thor leaves her bosom, takes in a breath of fresh, cold air. He pulls the blanket closer to him.

“What do you mean?” he asks, slightly slurred with sleep.

“You have the power of electricity. You were the one shocking the air.”

“It was not your magic?”

“No.”

“Oh.” Thor pauses. The lightning bolts dance. “How did I do that?”

“That is not for me to know or explain. It is for you to learn.”

Thor does not like the answer and he untangles himself from Frigga, slides next to his pillow with his blanket. It is the first time since he hurt his eye that he tries to see out of it, but the only light in the room comes from a low-burning candle. He can make out the large details of his mother with his left eye, but only sees random shapes and colors with his right. It burns after only a moment, the lightning bolts returning to their initial painful colors, so he closes it again.

“Go back to sleep, my son. We will talk to the Allfather in the morning,” Frigga says, getting up. She smooths Thor’s hair from his shoulder to his back once before leaving.

Thor falls into slumber again without much protest.


Chapter Text

Thor wakes with the light and he is immediately reminded of his eye. The light is watery, practically nonexistent, and he is unable to focus on anything, but his thoughts go to Loki and the screams he heard last night.

He bursts into Loki’s room, baby blanket gripped tightly in his hand--almost tripping on the way because of his one-eyed perspective.

Loki is peacefully asleep under multiple thick blankets drawn up to his chin. He looks exhausted, the color drained from his skin. He looks almost ...blue. Thor chalks it up to the lighting, curtains drawn over the natural light from the window.

Thor climbs into bed with him. Loki is freezing to the touch, yet clammy as if he had been sweating all night. Despite this, Thor cuddles close, makes sure he is as tight against Loki as he can be. Loki stirs and makes a weak noise, tricking Thor into believing him awake, but Loki only adjusts himself into Thor.

Loki’s lack of body heat makes Thor shiver and he finds his way under Loki’s blankets and his own baby blanket. It is as if they are very young children again, down to how cold Loki is. Thor remembers finding Loki most nights without a blanket, cold enough to be shivering, but perfectly still. Sometimes he would make Thor shiver himself, even though Loki would be perfectly fine. Thor got into the habit of lugging along as many blankets as he could each night to cover Loki with, but he does not remember it ever doing much to help.

Soon, he falls asleep again, his sleep much more peaceful and fulfilling next to Loki than in his own empty bed. He is reminded why he enjoyed sharing Loki’s company at night.

He awakes much later in the morning to Frigga gently shaking him. He tries to hide under the blankets, or press close to Loki for protection, but he catches a glimpse of his mother's eyes to find them soft and concerned.

“Come,” she whispers. Thor obeys, leaving the room with his hand in hers to lead him through his groggy steps. She says nothing as she takes him to the medics across the castle.

“What about Loki?” Thor mumbles. He is dragging his baby blanket behind him as if he is a toddler again and not the child he is.

“Loki needs to rest for a long time. He will be okay.”

The walk is silent and long and unfamiliar to Thor. He has rarely been to the medics, has only gone for routine health check-ups, which are few and far between.

The medics seem excited to see him as they surround him and compliment how large he has grown. Thor takes the compliments with nothing more than a tired nod and Frigga reminds that Thor would only visit if he was hurt or ill.

“Shoo, he is a patient, not a pet,” one of the medics say, and the others scatter in an instant. The medic who told them to leave is the same one from last night, the one that was useless to stop the pain from torturing Loki.

A red, hot, flame shoots into Thor’s very being. He lets go of his mother’s hand and his baby blanket and runs at the medic with a growl deep in his throat.

“He was in pain ,” Thor shrieks . “You didn't help !” Frigga catches him with the palm of her hand slamming on to his chest. She is too strong for Thor to keep charging, but he does not give up, mind too full of rage to simply move from her palm.

The lightning bolts are in his eye again, burning red around the watery room.

“Thor, stop!” Frigga demands and Thor realizes that she has been telling him to calm down for a couple minutes now, yet his head feels foggy and he is not quite positive he is breathing right. “She did the best she could! Loki agreed to the pain I warned him of,” Frigga continues.

Thor stops pushing against Frigga's palm, his body going lax. He slumps down on the ground with heavy breaths.

Frigga places her hands under his armpits and lifts him up. The lightning bolts start to hurt his eye again and he shuts it. Frigga and the medic lug him to a bed and let him sit down long enough to catch his breath after his unnecessary fit.

“Are you calm now? Can she check your eye?” Frigga asks. Thor nods, his arms crossed tight against his chest.

Frigga motions at the medic to start. The first thing she does is grab a soft towel to dab at Thor’s eye with. It has been non stop watering since he woke up, water falling down his cheek and tracing down his chin. His shirt has a damp spot. He had not noticed.

She dries his eye and his face then sets the towel aside.

“Open it for me,” she directs and Thor follows.

His eye is red, viens making themselves known. His pupil is heavily dilated, and his it waters twice as much open as closed. Thor wants to shut it again before the burning becomes any worse.

The medic dabs at it again. She tells him to wiggle it around as she pries his eyelids open further. He starts to dig his fingernails in his palm to distract himself from the pain, but Frigga notices and grabs his palm. He squeezes her hand.

“What type of pain is it?” the medic asks.

“Stinging. Burning,” Thor answers.

The medic comes to the conclusion that his eye will heal in time, but light coming into it will make it take longer and cause a lot of unnecessary pain. She gives him an eyepatch and Thor eagerly slides it on. It has a strap to keep it on, unlike his father's, which stays in the socket of his eye, and the eyepatch is plain, black fabric made of sheepskin.

He finds a mirror and looks at himself, and smiles brightly. “Like Father!” he says.

Frigga grins at him. “We are to talk to him now.”

“For what?”

Frigga thanks the medic and takes Thor out of the room without telling him why. Thor remembers shortly after the walk is started that Odin needs to explain his identity to him. He remembers the confusion he felt last night and the absolute fear that only went away once the pain from his eye took over. He remembers how badly he needs an explanation.

Odin is lounging on a couch, back straight with good manners and a book in his hand. Thor cannot tell what book it is, but he closes it and sets it aside upon seeing his son. Frigga leaves him alone with Odin, shutting the door behind her with a quiet click.

“I quite like your eyepatch, Thor,” Odin says with a soft smile.

Thor folds into his nervousness. He is not as much himself around Odin as he is with Frigga. Frigga is comfortable; she is his mother. She has comforted, bathed him, played with him. Odin has done none of those things.

“Thank you,” Thor says, because it is polite.

“There is no need to be nervous of me,” Odin smoothly replies.

“Okay.”

“Frigga told me you shocked your eye? How did you manage that?”

“I got scared and upset for Loki.”

“Why would you harm yourself for him?”

“I did not intend to.” If Thor was older, or a little less scared, he would have realized how dismissal of Loki Odin's question is. He would have defended Loki.

“Why did I not know I had that power, Father?” Thor asks.

“You had no need; You did not have the power until last night. Have you controlled lightning before?” His eye is tough, and telling of wisdom Thor is not meant to know.

“No.”

“And you have already learned an important lesson. Power is dangerous, it must be controlled. Must be. Power is nothing unless it is controlled. You might as well not possess it if you cannot control it.”

“Then why do I possess it?” Thor asks, a lightning bolt in his hurt eye striking.

“It is in your blood; your soul. Your lineage.”

“Will Loki have a power?”

“No, he is not the same as you and me. I will not explain any further,” Odin says, almost defensively. Questions race through Thor’s head.

How is he different? He is my brother, right? Why will you not explain? Am I to never know?

What else do you hide?

“Okay,” Thor says.

“There are ways we can help you control your power so that,” Odin points at Thor’s eyepatch, “does not happen again. You will start lessons in both the knowledge and the force of the power. You will learn to fight with various, important weapons.”

Thor is excited for a quick couple of seconds. He thinks of the maturity Odin is offering him, he has only just started his normal lessons and he is already being entrusted with more, but then he remembers Loki, bedridden with probable pain, and how he does not want to leave Loki.

“What of my free time?”

“You will have little, but you will get used to it.”

Thor shuffles around, realizes he has had his weight on only one foot since he got in.

“May it be delayed until Loki feels better?” Thor asks, timidly.

“I am afraid not. You must learn as much as possible while still young.”

Thor expects the response, but it still stings.

“There is nothing left for you to know. Enjoy the day, Thor, and I will send a servant tomorrow morning to escort you to your new classes.”

The day has already surpassed afternoon when Thor finds Frigga next to Loki once again. There is a bowl of broth on the table next to his bed, and it looks cold, but barely touched.

Thor is still young, but he is taller than Frigga in her current position. She kneels by Loki’s bed with one of his hands in her motherly grasp. Thor places his hand on Frigga's shoulder and squeezes down, but the touch is not familiar to give. He has seen Odin comfort Frigga in such a way, but never done it himself. Still, he does not remove his hand.

“I am sorry about your lessons, Thor,” Frigga says, her voice slightly choked. Thor cannot see her face.

“I must take them eventually,” Thor expresses with maturity he has never known. Frigga pulls his hand on her shoulder to her lips and she kisses it before softly rubbing it. Her other hand still rests on top of Loki's.

The lessons take up all of Thor's day. The servant promised to him comes early in the morning and takes him to a class he has already started. She waits outside of the tutor's quarters before taking Thor to another class, and more after that. He is not done until deep in the evening and shortly after his normal dinner time. He eats dinner alone, but not because of the difference in time, but because Frigga stays in Loki's bedchambers to help him through his illness.

The days morph into one and the same. He goes to classes when he wakes, eats dinner, then spends the rest of the day on the sparring court with a different weapon in his hand (or no weapon at all) and a different tutor to teach him all about it. He only manages to retain half of the information the sparring tutors tell him, but he soon learns that they are to repeat himself with the weeks. Some are irritated Thor can not remember what they teach, while others understand.

The days do not belong to Thor anymore. They belong to tutors and to Odin for assigning the classes. But the nights are for Thor to keep, darkness bringing the freedom Thor yearns for during the day. The freedom he uses to be near Loki, as close as he can be as possible.

Loki sleeps deeply for weeks, only waking up enough for water and to murmur incoherent syllables before sleeping again. Frigga leaves him at night to return to Odin and Thor can feel it in his gut that Frigga knows he comes every night. He also takes note of the extra glass of water left thr side of the bed not occupied by Loki. Thor sleeps lightly so he can make sure he hears Loki stir awake whenever he has needs, but he does not sleep badly. The comfort of Loki makes ten minutes worth of sleep feel like eight hours.

Loki is always cold, but he sweats incessantly. Thor had brought blankets to Loki for a couple of nights, but the blankets had done nothing but make Thor hot in his sleep, much like when they little. The one blanket Thor continues to bring is his baby blanket.

The blue tint in Loki's skin returns, much the color it was when they were babes and toddlers. The color is almost relaxing to Thor, as if he is in Loki's crib again, with nothing more than the idleness of sleep to cloud his mind of play. Life seems more complicated now that he has to worry about lessons and sparring and tutors and especially now that he has to worry about his eye. Luckily, his eye is only a temporary problem. The lightning bolts have already disappeared.

Staying with Loki during the nights seems to be his only comfort. He should not be surprised, there is good reason he has spent most of his life by Loki’s side and nowhere else. It is unusual to be split from him and they have been apart for weeks now, longer even since Thor started his initial lessons. It has felt like a lifetime, though Thor believes it to only have been half a year. Half a year too long, nonetheless.

Thor is surprised when he finds Loki sitting up in his bed, a spoonful of soup in his mouth, about four weeks after Loki had gotten sick. His hands shake profusely, spilling most of what he gets in the spoon before it reaches his mouth. Thor looks around for Frigga, as if it would be possible to miss her, but she is nowhere in the room. She is gone for the night.

“Are you feeling better?” Thor asks, though the answer is obvious. Loki has not sat up without Frigga or his help since he became bedridden. Loki does not answer, but that is possibly because he is focusing on reaching another spoonful of soup to his mouth. Thor finds his way onto the bed and he drapes his baby blanket across their feet so it does not fall into the soup. Loki stares at it, almost tense, but he forgets about the spoon and spills all the contents on a blanket. He sighs.

“Would you like help?” Thor offers. Loki shakes his head and places the spoon into the soup. Thor looks at Loki’s hands, barely able to hold the bowl still, and Thor feels a burning pain in his stomach.

I couldn’t protect him .

“Water,” Loki croaks out, but barely any of the syllables are formed.

Thor grabs the glass of water closest to him and places it in Loki’s open hand, but he does not let go of it. Loki seems to want Thor to, but he does not put up much of a fight. Perhaps he realizes that if left solely with the glass, his shaking would pour the contents out. Thor allows him to move his own glass, but he makes sure the glass stays steady.

Loki drinks a good half of the water before he prompts Thor to put it back on the nightstand. Loki tries to go back to the soup, but his hand seems to be shaking even more, and he gives up. “Take it,” Loki says, his voice sounding only slightly better. If Thor did not know Loki so well, he would have no idea what Loki was asking. He takes the tray with the soup on it and places it next to the water.

Loki does not have to do or say anything for Thor to pull his baby blanket over to Loki's lap rather than his feet. Loki smiles at it and bunches it into his hands, taking it to his face. He keeps it there and breathes into it happily.

“What does it feel like?” Thor asks, referring to Loki’s magic. Loki rubs his throat in response, showing that he is not willing to talk. Thor understands.

“Eye?” Loki does try to say though, pointing a shaky finger at Thor’s eyepatch. Thor realizes Loki has not been awake long enough to know why Thor has an eyepatch. He may not have even noticed until now.

“Did you notice when I left?” Thor asks.

“Not until it was done.” Loki's voice is weaker.

“Oh,” Thor mumbles, and it makes sense, yet he is somehow disappointed of Loki for not noticing. “Well, Mother had to force me out.” Thor tells the story with a muted voice unusual to him, and Loki intently listens. The story is not long, of course, especially without the context of why Thor was upset.

Loki is half asleep by the time Thor has him all caught up and he struggles to stay awake through the end of Thor's rambling. The moment Thor finishes, he notices Loki, and he gives him a soft smile.

“I need to sleep too. Come on,” Thor says. He takes Loki down into the bed with him and pulls the blankets high onto them. He has his arms wrapped around Loki and Loki shuffles into him. It is the first time he has cuddled into Thor consciously since he has been in bed.

Loki tucks his head into Thor’s neck and breathes deeply. Thor shuffles so his nose is pressed into Loki’s hair. It is greasy, a few weeks unwashed, but Thor does not mind. It smells so uniquely like Loki, like sweet tree bark and muddy dirt. It makes his nose sting, almost as if he is breathing in cold air, yet the smells are spring-like. Thor would not have it any other way.

Loki falls asleep long before Thor does.

He wants to play with Loki. He wants to get muddy with him, catch small creatures with him, climb trees to a dangerous height with him. But Loki is stuck in bed, and Thor is stuck at classes.

“Not permanently,” Thor reminds himself, quiet as ever. Loki makes a subtle noise and Thor tenses, fearing he has awoken Loki. He only relaxes when he is sure he did not.

His mind wanders towards Loki during his lessons in the morning. He wants nothing more than to leave his lessons and wake Loki up so they may play; It has been months since they played and Thor had not realized how restless he has become. His tutor chastises him when she realizes he is not reading the chapter she assigned.

Later, as he practices sparring with a sword and shield and he trips over his own feet, sending him tumbling to the ground, he feels like crying as a lightning bolt shoots across his eye. He misses Loki more than he is willing to admit.

As suddenly as he is sad, it is replaced with anger. He is angry at Frigga for hurting Loki, at Loki for letting the pain overtake him, at Odin for giving him all these lessons, at the tutors for teaching him, and, most of all, he is angry at himself. He is angry that he can not focus today, he is angry that he fell, he is angry that he could not protect Loki, he is angry that he ruined his eye.

He gets up slowly, ignoring the pain of his scratched leg, and he attacks his instructor with a fierceness he has never known. From his place on the ground underneath Thor, the instructor praises him.

“Yes, use the anger!” he yells. Thor throws the sword and shield across the sparring court, deeming them useless, and he swings his fist back and punches his instructor right across his cheek. It is sloppy and hurts Thor probably as much as it hurts his instructor, but it feels too good. He punches him again. And again. Again and again.

His instructor is telling him to stop, please, “you have used your anger efficiently!,” but Thor is long gone from paying attention to what his instructor is saying. His instructor is now bleeding from the mouth, getting blood all over Thor’s fists, and he has given up on yelling for Thor to stop.

It takes a servant to finally notice something is amiss and pry Thor off of his instructor. Another servant grabs Odin from where he resides hunched over papers and brings him to Thor. The instructor is sent to the medics. Thor sees the lightning again.

Thor can feel the blood dry on his hands as Odin scolds him roughly and loudly. He avoids looking at Odin even though Odin forces his chin straight multiple times.

There is not much blood, but it takes a while for Thor to realize as it looks like much more to his young eyes. He rubs the tip of his fingers together and sees the dried blood roll off.

“Thor!” Odin booms, and Thor's head shoots up. “If you are not going to listen to me, then you are simply wasting more of my time. What I speak is important,” Odin says.

“Then why does it not seem so?”

Thor knew it was a mistake to say before the words finished leaving his mouth. Odin's eye narrows and he forcefully grabs onto Thor’s wrists. Instinctively, Thor closes his fists, but the blood is on the outside of his fingers.

“You are hurting me, Father!” Thor exclaims, and he tries to take back his hands, but Odin’s grip is tight and persistent. Thor kicks back his leg and arches his back downwards in his attempts, gritting his teeth all the while.

“Look at how you hurt your instructor, Thor! Look at the blood on your hands! Do you not care to realize the pain you have caused? You are much too young to be so dense!”

Thor knows Odin wants him to look down, to look at the blood he had just been playing with, but Thor is unwilling to do so. He screws his eye shut as a sign of his defiance. Odin’s grip clamps down tighter and Thor tries even harder to escape to no avail, hurting his back in the process of it all.

Odin jerks Thor up to his full height and pulls him through the castle into his bedchambers. He pushes Thor in and Thor goes flying, landing roughly on the ground with a jolt to his head. His teeth clank together, causing more pain to his head and it loudly throbs from all the trauma.

He crawls into his bed and is upset to realize his baby blanket is still in Loki's bedchambers and it is enough to make Thor start crying. The stress hits him like the bricks he landed on and he sobs into his pillow, using it to muffle the loud cries. The sobs do nothing to lessen his headache, and they probably make it worse, but it does distract him.

He cries for longer than he is willing to admit before he falls asleep, his eyepatch soaked through and a wet spot on his pillow.

Frigga does not wake him up, and neither does a servant in the morning. His head is throbbing once he finally awakes on his own accord and he has to manually remind himself why he is alone in his own bed and not with Loki. He panics for a moment, believing Loki to be removed from his own bed, but when he looks around he knows he is not in Loki's room. He is in his own bed, alone.

He tries to leave his room. The door is locked. He doesn't panic or do anything of the such, he simply sits on the ground with crossed legs and waits.

He spends the time doing idle activities, like taking off his eyepatch and twirling it in his fingers, while in the back of his mind he fears he has been forgotten with the hours. No servant brings him any meals, there is not even any water to drink. Loki does not come for him, nor does Frigga.

When his eye starts to burn again, he puts the eyepatch back on, and leans to the floor. He stares at the ceiling made of the same brick as the rest of his room. He thinks he falls asleep just like that, because the next thing he remembers is waking up with no light around him and a soft tap on the brick to his right. He whips his head around, scared to find the source coming from inside his room, but it is much too dark for him to see anything.

The tapping stops, then picks back up after a few minutes. Thor’s eye has become more adjusted to the lack of lighting since the last taps came to pass, and he can obviously see there is no one in his chambers. It occurs to him that Loki's chambers reside next to his on the right side, and he feels stupid for not realizing earlier.

He scrambles to the wall that Loki knocks on, and he knocks in return, albeit harder than Loki does. There’s no response for a few minutes, and Thor fears that he had it wrong--that Loki is not the one tapping, but the response comes.

They can not communicate in any other way and Thor suspects Loki to become tired quickly, but they go back and forth for hours on end. Eventually, Thor's knuckles start to crack, his own small amount of blood mixing in with the miniscule amount of his instructor's that still remains.

Their knocks get farther apart as the night wears on and when Loki does not knock for a while, Thor assumes he is asleep. Thor falls asleep in no time at all, Loki only a wall away from him.

A servant wakes him in the morning with a plate of breakfast and a command for his lessons, but nothing more. Thor makes his way through the day expecting a word from Odin,  or more fittingly, a lecture from Odin. Or a beating.

Nothing comes.

Thor waits and waits, waits to be violently pulled from a lesson, waits to be gently talked to during his dinner. Nothing comes.

Odin is with Loki that night, it is the first time Thor sees him there. He looks cold and distant in Loki's warm room, and he looks like he does not belong. He is not near Loki, he barely looks at Loki. Odin's stare seems to linger on Thor for a long while and he does not seem pleased to see Thor climb into bed with Loki, but Thor does it anyway.

“Father is here to check on me,” Loki says with a smile. Odin locks eyes with Thor and nods so slightly that Thor barely notices.

“That is kind of him,” Thor lies, still set on Odin’s face. His father is playing a game, he is sure of it, but he is not quite sure what game. It doesn’t feel like anything he has played before.

“Yes, I know,” Odin says with a lilt of something in his voice. Aggression, or strength, or maybe dense joy.

Thor tears his eye from Odin's and moves to Loki. He lets Odin leave his mind as he grins at Loki and hugs him with a tight grip.

“I missed you last night,” Thor mumbles into Loki’s hair. It has grown an inch since Loki first became sick and it is now way past his ears.

“You must have heard my knocks. You responded, right?”

His voice sounds almost normal after so long of not being used. The medics must have given him something, considering he could not talk but a few words at a time a few days ago.

“Of course. Who else?”

Loki’s next smile is soft and Thor swears he sees sunlight hit the side of his face, but it is night.

“Are you feeling better?” Thor asks and Loki nods.

“Much.”

“So you feel better after one night away from me?” Thor feigns offence. Loki smacks his arm weakly, Thor can barely feel it, but he doubles down with giggles after seeing Loki’s frown. He laughs so hard that the laughter moves into Loki and they end up a blubbering mess of giggles in the bed, until Odin clears his throat and it immediately stops.

“Stay kingly, boys,” he says. They straighten their backs and fix their hair and Odin nods a stoic movement. “Laughter is a sign of weakness. Now, Thor, you must get out of your brother's bed and go into your own. I let you enjoy a few minutes, but your habit of sleeping with him has become ridiculous. You must grow independence from him if you are to be a good king.” Odin takes Thor's hand in his and he tugs slightly.

“That is many years from now!” Thor yells back, remembering the feel of Odin on his skin the other day before throwing him to the ground. He pulls his hand away with the strongest pull he can manage and it hurts his fingers as Odin tries to tighten around them at the last second.

“Please do not pull me to my room again,” Thor says with a much weaker voice than his previous words.

“Then follow my instructions when I tell them.”

“Your instructions are foolish.”

“You do not know what foolish means!”

Odin is right, of course, Thor has only recently heard the word and has no clue to what it means, but the context seems correct, and Thor is not in the mood to give his dignity to his father. He says nothing and crosses his arms, believing it to be a better solution than admit the fault.

Odin sighs and wipes a hand across his face.

“You will be king before you know it, Thor.”

“Is that why I do not have free time anymore? Is that why you separate me from Loki?”

“Is that what this is about? Your inability to handle your lessons?”

“They are too much, Father! I miss Loki. Please do not take me from his nights.” He starts out with an edge to his voice, but finishes with an almost pathetic softness. It is weak, and Odin knows it, and Thor knows it.

“Asgard can not afford to care about your wishes and misses, Thor. The sooner you learn that, the better.”

“You do understand he is nothing but a child, right, my king?”

All the heads in the room turn to the entrance to find Frigga leaning against the doorway, arms crossed and a cold expression etched into her face. “Is he not allowed to enjoy his childish whimsy? Is he not allowed to grow? Am I not to put a say in how he is raised?”

“You do not know how to raise a king, my queen .”

“Leave Loki and Thor alone, it is time we discuss this in private.” Frigga motions towards Odin and the door, her eyes set like stone. Odin calmly gets up from the bed and smoothes out his clothes. He shuts the door behind him with no words to his wife nor his children.

Thor looks at Loki, who has wet streaks down his cheeks. He sniffles and wipes them, away from Thor's eyesight.

“Brother…,” Thor mumbles. He sets a delicate hand on Loki’s shoulder and strokes it.

“Thor, have you ever--” his voice chokes off and he desperately clears his throat, wipes his fingers directly under his eyes. “Have you ever thought me not an Odinson?”

“What do you mean?”

“Father does not talk to me like he does you. I thought--I thought he wanted to see me . He did not. He does not. He only wanted to get to you. He only cares about you, Thor. So am I truly of the same blood as you?”

“You are mistaken. You have to be. Father can be cruel, but he loves you. He loves both of us.” Yet Thor was not quite sure he believed his own words.

“Father barely pays me mind.”

“Mother pays you enough,” Thor continues making excuses for Odin.

“But where is it fair that you have two parents while I have one?”

“I do-- I do not know.”

“It is not fair,” Loki answers his own question. He wipes his eyes again. “That I am to doubt who I am.”

“Please stop crying, brother,” Thor begs. “I know you are an Odinson. I know Father will be impressed the moment he sees how talented you will be in magic, and he will talk with you! He must.”

“Maybe.”

“Not maybe, I know.” Thor sounds confident, but it is false confidence. He has no proof for what he claims, and he is sure he would not be able to find proof even if he actively looked.

Loki does not respond except to sniffle and burrow himself into Thor, along with Thor's baby blanket. Thor takes ahold of one side of the blanket not tucked into Loki, and he puts it up against his face, breathes it in.

Loki’s breathing has already evened out, and Thor is sure he is already asleep. He hopes Loki will be well again soon. For now all he can do is position himself more comfortably and fall asleep.

Chapter Text

Thor finds himself in the garden amongst tulips, only a few sections from where Loki grows his own plants. The weather is warming up, and Loki has flowers desperately trying to sprout, but unable without the push of fertilizer and extra watering. The tulips are perfectly ripe, almost close to dying already, but they are gorgeous as they last. Thor falls to his bottom next to them, and he plucks one from the dirt. The flower comes off with barely any stem, but it is enough for Thor to twirl in his fingers.

He does not know why he is not at his lessons. He thinks he should be at them, but when he went to his tutoring room, his tutor was not there. No servant had given him any information, so he went to the garden.

Will he have time for the garden when he is king? He has not seen Odin here. Odin does not seem to do much but look over papers and make hard decisions from early morning to late at night. It seems boring. Not that twirling a tulip between his fingers is much less boring.

Thor is at the sparring court when he is supposed to be, but no instructor finds him there. He debates practicing by himself, but decides against it after looking at the weapons in the weapons shed and finding nothing that looks interesting.

So he wanders around the castle for a few hours unattended by a servant or his mother. He thinks it is the first time he has ever been allowed access to the castle by himself, but he cannot be sure.

He finds locks doors in wings he has never been down, and he finds rooms inside of rooms inside of rooms. Most rooms are dusty and have too much stuff in them--like they have not been touched since before his birth. Others look to still be in use, but by who, Thor is not sure. He may have accidentally walked into a servant's quarters, but he leaves as quickly as he enters from fear of getting in trouble.

The one room Thor finds that sparks real interest inside him is a room full of weapons stacked on top of each other and on top of white sheets. It has no candles in it and no windows, and so Thor grabs a candle from the hall and tentatively steps into the room. The room is shaped like another hallway, but the end is so far that Thor can not see it. Given, the one candle does not give off much light.

The flame illuminates the dust that swirls around as Thor makes his way farther into the room. The dust is overwhelming, thick everywhere, and Thor leaves definable footprints as if he is walking through snow. He briefly wishes he was wearing shoes, but it is too late now, his feet are already covered.

He picks up weapons hesitantly, scared to simply touch some and scared to hurt himself with others. The weapons look ancient, as if Odin was not the one to stockpile them in this room, like Odin's father or grandfather did. He is scared that one will be so fragile in its age that it crumbles to dust with his touch.

Still, he eventually gathers enough courage to look at some of them. He finds an axe with a jigsaw style blade, a sword that is missing its hilt and has no dull side (he almost cuts himself on it), a bow and arrow that is painted a wide array of colors but has no arrows with it, he even finds a boomerang.

It is when he is messing with a mace that is too heavy for him to pick up does he notice the dagger buried under dust and a few other weapons. It is shiny, catches his eye with a sparkle, while most other weapons are matte with dust or rust. He abandons the mace in favor of it, pulling it out of the pile with a clean stroke. It is a dagger as green as the grass during summer and it shines through the dust that comes off easily when Thor swipes a finger across it. The dagger is also cold, a constant temperature that fails to warm even as he holds his candle against it. It has an inscription in an unknown language on the hilt

It buzzes and green sparks shoot out. Thor is mostly sure it does it itself as if it is alive. It seems to scream “I belong to Loki.” Thor thinks of Loki, still stuck in that damn bed, and he knows the dagger is right, it belongs to Loki. But not in this state--it is dusty and dull. The dagger sparks its agreement. Thor giggles then makes his way out of the room.

He goes to one of the many bathing chambers and dunks the dagger in a warm bucket of water and covers it with the oil he uses to clean his body. The oil does not harm it, luckily, and it eats through the layers of dirt. As he washes it, he notices the blade is an iridescent green rather than a solid color. Loki has always loved color shifting fabric and Thor cannot imagine it would not be the same for medal.

He is clumsy as he sharpens it, barely knowing the proper technique to weapon sharpening. It eventually gets done well enough that Thor accidentally cuts himself when testing it.

The blade looks brand new once he finishes it and Thor realizes it has become night without his notice. He debates waiting until the morning to give it to Loki, but he has no idea if his lessons will start again by tomorrow. He is too excited to possibly wait until tomorrow night, and if that happens, him waiting an extra day would make no difference as it would be night again.

Loki is eating dinner--a hearty looking meat--when Thor walks in. He has the dagger hidden behind his back, his excitement making his palms sweat, though the dagger remains cold. Loki obviously notices Thor come in, but he does not notice Thor has something hidden behind him.

Thor comes and sits on the bed with him, the dagger placed on the sheets behind him.

“How has your night been?” Thor asks.

“Nice. It has been a while since I have eaten anything but broth. I was able to bathe, as well.” He sets his plate down on his lap and wipes his mouth. Loki is as delicate and clean as ever despite his long bedrest

“Well, I am to make it better.” Thor whips the dagger out from behind him recklessly and keeps it in front of Loki, probably too close to his face for him to properly focus on it.

Loki wraps his hand around Thor’s (they do not shake) and the dagger falls easily into him.

“It is my favorite color,” he says with a smile. Thor shimmies Loki's hand off his and flips the dagger backwards, the hilt facing Loki, in what he knows is proper weapon safety.

“It is yours,” he says. Loki looks at him with thoughtful eyes, believing the dagger now in his hand alone too good to be true.

“How do I thank you?” he mumbles, his voice slightly cut off as he looks down at his gift. He holds it wrong, his fist wrapped around it too tightly, thumb included.

Thor grins and moves to correct Loki's hold, shifting his thumb to stretch over the hilt. “Hold it correctly. With your thumb there, you will have an easier time controlling the blade.”

Loki experimentally slashes and it makes a noise as it cuts through the air. “I think it has magic in it,” he says, mystified.

“How can you tell?”

“It feels like… like I did when Mother gave me the magic. Fuzzy.”

Thor's heart rate speeds up, his anxiety high. “Is it causing you pain?” he rushes out. Loki quickly shakes his head and holds the dagger close to his chest.

“Please do not take it away from me,” Loki mumbles. Thor delicately pulls it from his chest, careful to not frighten him, then he reaffirms Loki's grip on it. Thor's heart still races.

“No, of course not. It is yours as the magic is yours,” Thor gently says.

“Mine,” Loki says.

“Perhaps in time it will become as annoying as you,” Thor jokes. “Then it will truly belong to you.”

Loki smiles at Thor and holds up the dagger as if Thor had never seen it before. Thor knows it is Loki's way of expressing gratitude and he does not care how dangerous it is when he hugs Loki. Loki's just smart enough to move the dagger from being squished between them and he drops it onto the bed so he can hug Thor with both arms.

"I am glad to have a brother like you," Loki says, and Thor kisses his forehead like he did so many weeks ago.

 

Thor's eye patch comes off around the same time Loki can walk around again. The medic takes the eye patch and asks simple questions,

“Does the light still hurt your eye? ...Can you see clearly? ...Are you comfortable without the eye patch?”

His answers are satisfactory to the medic, and to his mother, who sits with Loki a few feet away. Loki has a blanket wrapped around him, but he does not look cold. In fact, he looks nothing but excited to be out of his bed chambers.

The medic writes something down on some paper, then takes the eye patch from where she had it sat on a table and she dangles it from her pinky finger towards Thor. “Take it. If you have any kind of eye pain, put it on and come see me.”

Thor is glad to have the eye patch back in his hands. He is happy to have it off, to see from both eyes again, but the eye patch had been the one consistent thing in his life since he got it. His lessons were constantly changing, Loki had only been awake and well recently, and Frigga was either in Loki's room or nowhere to be found. The eye patch was always there, though, on his face, keeping the light from stunting its ability to heal.

The medic had since changed her attention from Thor to Loki, but Frigga made her way to Thor. She put her hand on his knee and made him jump out of his trance. He bunched the eye patch in his hand, as if he had to hide it. Frigga massaged Thor's hand open, like she used to do with Loki when he was a baby. His hand falls open easily, and Frigga takes the eye patch out.

“How does it feel to have it off?” she whispers. Thor smiles as he looks at it, eyes a little unfocused.

“Weird. My head hurts,” he stops. “But good. I had forgotten what seeing with both eyes is like. It is good.”

“Imagine how your father feels. He has not seen from both since I met him.”

“Wow,” Thor mumbles, the word barely there. “Do you think he ever misses it?”

Frigga puts the eye patch back in his hand and closes it around it. “I do not believe he thinks of it much anymore. People get used to things until they can not remember what life was like before. Do you remember the time before Loki?”

“No.”

“My point proven. Now, get back to your lessons. You missed enough when the Allfather granted you your break. I love you, my son.” She kisses his cheek and shoos him out of the room.

He stuffs the eye patch in his pocket.

~

“Are you sure you are up to parr with me, little brother?” Thor asks, paying particular attention to the “little” of “little brother.”

Loki sticks his tongue out at Thor and spins the dagger smoothly in his fingers. Thor can see the magic come off of him in steady waves. With Frigga's lessons, he has gotten strong the past few years, but not strong enough to hide the magic.

“The same can be said to you.”

“Minus the ‘little’,” Thor reminds him. “Not everyone has the pleasure of being the youngest.”

“The pleasure is solely mine.” Loki gives a fake courtesy, pretending to hold up a skirt that is not there. He ignores the pang in his heart that reminds him Thor is the oldest, and the heir to the crown. The favorite of their father.

The brick of the sparring court is different than the brick of the castle, but Thor's feet fall as naturally into the grooves as the other brick. He curls his toes towards him and repositions his feet. He wears no shoes for no reason except it is early in the morning and he had felt like testing his ability to fight outside of his comfort zone. He had somehow convinced Loki to be his fighting partner.

“Are you happy with your weapon of choice?” Loki questions. Thor tightens his grip on his sword, the perfect weight and fit for him.

“Are you?” Thor shoots back. “Or are you procrastinating?” The dagger he gave Loki shines in his eye, almost blinding him, and it is enough of a distraction that Loki is able to charge at him. He catches Loki's wrist right before the dagger hits him, but he lets Loki twist out.

When they first started practicing together, Loki had a stage dagger, the kind that pushed in with any pressure, and Thor used an old and dull sword--he had just enough experience to be trusted to not hurt Loki. Now, they use sharp and real weapons, the ones they will take to future battles. They have hurt each other before, sent each other to the medics with a cut that is just slightly too deep, but nothing worse than that.

"Would you be offended if I were unhappy with my choice of weapon?" Loki slides out.

"Aye, but only because you waited so long to tell me," Thor says back. Loki drags the dull end of his dagger across Thor's skin and it makes Thor shiver. While he is distracted, Loki snakes around to Thor's back and places the tip of it at the small of Thor's back.

"That is quite uncomfortable," Thor says, and he takes a chance in turning quickly, hoping that the dagger does not cut his shirt, or his skin. If it does, he does not notice.

Thor's sword meets the armor plated on Loki's side with a loud clunk. Though the sword does not cut, the blunt force throws Loki to the ground, his dagger clattering across the brick.

"Watch your strength!" Loki yells, his breathing heavy. He flips himself from his front to his back and he closes his eyes.

"You will have foes stronger than you. Come on, you can not be finished yet." Thor pokes him with his sword and Loki bats it away.

"Let me breathe!"

"Breathing is not that important." Loki glares at him and Thor starts to laugh.

"I am done solely because of that terrible joke." Loki holds out his hand and Thor takes it in a tight grip, lunging Loki up to his feet and letting go so quickly that Loki stumbles, almost falling again. "Your help is as useless as your jokes."

"Do not be embarrassed at your quick defeat, brother! I have practiced longer than you."

"I will catch up when you least expect it," Loki says, brushing off his clothes. There is dirt on them that can not be brushed off, but he seems to be adamant on it. Thor picks up his dagger for him and holds it out to Loki. Loki takes it with a sneer, but Thor only grins at him. Loki points at the knees of his pants where the dirt stains them.

"I have to wash these now." Thor's grin just grows larger.

That night, Odin requests to talk to Thor privately. Frigga gives him a half-smile when he looks at her, trying to gauge the situation.

Odin is busy far past sunset, forcing Thor to stay up past the normal time he goes to sleep. He is almost asleep in one of the large chairs strewn around the castle when a servant finally comes for him.

Odin is not at his desk like Thor would expect, but instead in a chair by the fireplace, a book balancing on the arm rest.

"Come, sit next to me," Odin says. The chair Thor sits in is completely identical in style and position to the fireplace, except it sits facing the opposite direction. The warmth of the fire hits his skin in a rush. "The news I have for you is good, do not worry."

"I was not," Thor responds.

"Ah, I see your lessons have been working. Worrying does not help a situation in a constructive way."

Thor smiles. "I have learned much."

"Of course. And you have them in the morning, correct?"

"Yes."

"Then I will be quick as I have already kept you up long enough. There is a hammer, made specifically for you, from the strength of a burning star. It is stronger than any weapon you have ever wielded. You will not have the hammer until you come of age, but you must be told so you can practice with weapons of similar style and weight. Do you understand?"

Thor is shocked, mostly. He does not know what he expected, but being told he has a weapon specifically made for him was not it. His mouth feels dry and his heart does leaps in his chest, but he responds with a calmness he was not sure he would be able to find until it came out.

"Yes, I understand."

"That is all. I will teach you more as you age. You are dismissed."

Thor's excitement outweighs any questions he has and he practically runs from the room, a joyful scream trapped on his lips. The idea of his own weapon was never one he would have thought of, and definitely not of a hammer. He has liked a sword since his lessons started, but after hearing his father tell him hammer, it makes more sense than he would like to admit. He swears he can already feel the exact hammer he will get, though he has never seen nor felt the weight of it. His frame of reference is limited, he had become attached to a sword a few years ago and had rarely ventured out since.

He bursts into Loki's bedchambers with heavy footsteps and does not even notice Loki peacefully asleep until he has already screamed his name and woken him up.

Loki groans and pulls his blanket over his head. Thor jumps onto his bed and straddles Loki, each knee on either side of Loki, and he starts bouncing up and down, his hands on Loki's shoulders for balance. "I have exciting news!"

"Not important," Loki grumbles. "Go to bed."

"I must tell you now, brother!" He stops bouncing and rolls to the side of Loki where he starts to shake him. Loki is smacking him now, pathetically so.

"Okay, fine! Tell me," Loki bursts out, sitting up only to convince Thor he is awake enough to listen.

"Father told me I have a weapon made specifically for me!" Thor beams at him, sated enough to at least sit still.

"Well?" Loki motions to Thor. "Where is it?" he asks as if Thor had bragged about already having it. He does not look pleased about being awake, and definitely does not look excited for Thor.

"I do not have it yet."

"Then why must you wake me?"

Thor frowns. Loki is staring at him coldly, a hint of something in his eyes that Thor can not figure out.

"I thought you would want to know," Thor says, disappointment laced in his voice.

"Perhaps in the morning. Close the door on your way out." Loki flops back down and wraps his arms around his pillow. Thor does not know how to respond except to follow Loki's instructions and go to his own bedchambers. He shuffles to them, now less hyper than he was just a few minutes ago.

He does not sleep well, rather from excitement or disappointment, he has no clue.

 

When Loki was first gifted his dagger, he carried it everywhere. Thor would see it attached to his hip with a makeshift holster. He would notice when he took it out to fiddle with it, and he definitely noticed the small cuts that Loki caused to his hands from it.

Now, Loki has the dagger against Thor's neck, a grin smeared on both of their faces because they both think they have the upper hand. He still carries the dagger with him, though it remains hidden and seems to come from thin air when he wants it, but how Loki does it is above Thor's head.

"You are doing much better than yesterday," Thor teases. Loki presses the blade further down, but careful not to hurt Thor. He is not scared that Loki will hurt him, anyway. "But I am clumsy with this weapon." Thor throws his hammer up and back into his hand, but he almost misses because he is not used to the way gravity affects it.

"My achievements are not a product of your faults," Loki says.

"Oh, I know." Loki's stance is loose, allowing Thor to push the dagger away from his neck and duck under him. He smacks the back of Loki's knees with his hammer and sends Loki to the ground in a similar fashion as the previous day. "But my faults triumph your achievements."

To follow the pattern so far set, Thor holds his hand out for Loki. Loki stares at it for a few moments, then deliberately ignores it as he comes back up to his feet. Thor is smiling at him, but Loki glares at him then turns around and walks away with nothing more, leaving Thor to stare at him dumbfounded.

Loki is at the garden when Thor finds him later in the day as the sun graces the horizon. He is not doing anything, simply sitting on the dirt looking at his dagger. Thor sits cross legged next to him and says nothing, scared of chasing Loki off, but Loki does not move. In fact, Loki does not show he notices Thor join him.

Thor watches the sunset, the colors changing from pale pinks to strong oranges to dull blues then to nothing. The temperature immediately drops and Thor can feel cold wind smack his exposed arms. Loki is covered in a long jacket.

It is fall, the garden covered in dry and crunchy leaves, servants spending the sunlit hours raking leaves. They used to play in them, mess up the perfectly pointed piles, and Frigga would not stop them, but she would not force the servants to re-rake the leaves. The leaves would stay a mess until Thor and Loki raked them to mess them up again because Frigga never let them in a different pile.

The garden was always the dullest in fall, all the flowers dead and their seeds ready to hibernate for winter. Yet, somehow, it was always the most fun in fall.

"Do you think we could rule together?" Thor asks after at least an hour of silence.

"No," Loki responds with no hesitation. He finally lets the dagger slip out of his hand and make a dent in the soft dirt.

"Why not? We did fine as children."

"Imaginations allow anything to work. The real world is not based off imaginations. We can not rule together as brothers, that is how monarchies work," Loki says, matter-of-factly.

"You could be my queen."

"Did you forget so soon? We are brothers."

Thor shrugs and looks at the side of Loki's face. He is frowning, his brows furrowed up.

"What if we change the way monarchies work?"

"How?" Loki seems more interested in the conversation with the suggestion, but his eyes are still trained on his hands.

"I do not know. The idea needs brainstorming."

"It would not work. No matter the brainstorm," he shuts down quickly. He is depressed, that much is obvious to Thor. What is not obvious is what Thor is supposed to do to help.

They are quiet again until they can hear the crickets from a few feet away. Thor has goose bumps as his body tries to fight the cold until he feels like he is going to start shivering. He gets up and, once again, holds his hand out to Loki. Loki does nothing for a moment, then grabs his dagger and takes Thor's hand.

"What if we are not brothers?" Loki says as they walk to the castle.

"What do you mean?"

"I do not know. Ignore what I said."

Thor follows Loki's request, but his mind stays on the topic. Loki had done this once before, doubted his family lineage, but he had not brought it up since. It is true, Loki does not look like them and his personality varies from the family, but he is Thor's brother, through and through. He has to be.

He remembers how Loki cried last time, the same night Odin tried to get them to stop sleeping together, and he fell asleep still sobbing. He remembers waking up to Loki crying again, soft sobs bubbling from his lips, and Thor had said nothing but pull him closer.

Life does not work the same now. Life is not much different, but they have slept in separate rooms for years. If Loki is to cry himself to sleep, there is nothing Thor can do.

Loki stays quiet for the next few days, and when their time free from their lessons overlap, Thor finds him in the garden. They never talk, just sit in slightly uncomfortable silence until one day Thor decides to practice sparring in his free time and Loki stays in the garden and for the first time since Thor met Loki, they separate themselves.

 

 

Chapter Text

Thor takes the frustration of not seeing Loki out on the practice dummies of the sparring court. He tears apart many with his sword, beheads even more with his hammer, and it gets to the point that not enough new dummies are sowed for how quickly he destroys them. He is forced to reuse old ones or bring a servant out to be a dummy, but he is not that cruel. He has his trainers with him as often as possible, but each of them have families to tend to. 

Frigga comes to him one evening after he ignores multiple summonings to dinner from servants. He is covered in sweat despite the cold air, and his knuckles are ripped to shreds from dragging them across the cement and punching the dummies as hard as he can. They bleed down his fingers, scabs weeks old broken open and unable to heal.

Frigga waits for Thor to notice she is stood there, and he does not notice until he decides he needs a break to catch his breath. 

"You have been out here for hours," she calls to him. He meets her eyes, his chest heaving. 

"Aye," he responds. 

"Are you not hungry?' 

"Nay." 

He can see her sigh, her shoulders falling, and she makes her way to him, shoes hitting the brick loudly. 

"He misses you." Thor knows she means Loki. He whips his hammer at the dummy as fast as he can and is surprised to see it break clean through its chest, but Frigga distracts him just as quickly as the hammer had been flying. "Do you miss him?" she continues. 

Thor moves his eyes to watch his hammer smack into the castle brick and make a sizeable dent. 

"He misses you too." The hammer is loid as it hits the ground.

"Then why will he not see me?" 

"Because you will not see him. Did you two fight?" 

"No." 

"That is the same thing Loki says. Where did this stubbornness manifest from?"

Thor has nothing to say. He tries to think of something, any type of excuse, but there is nothing.

"Ones who are inseparable are not meant to be separated," Frigga says.

"Aye, that is the meaning of 'inseparable'," Thor quips back. Frigga lightly chuckles and Thor smiles at how he can light up his mother's face. 

"The sarcasm is inescapable between the two of you. Come, join our lessons tomorrow. He will be glad to see you." 

"I possess no magic." 

She starts to walk back towards the castle, stopping for a moment to throw the sword she conjures up into the dummy, hitting it at its heart and making it fall. "You need no magic to learn it." With a flick of her hand, the sword dissipates. "I will have a servant leave a dinner plate in your bed chambers for you tonight." 

Thor smiles as he replaces the ruined dummy and picks his hammer back up. 

Frigga keeps true to her promise. There is a dinner plate on the desk by his bed, heaped with meat long turned cold and a side of mashed potatoes. He bounces onto his bed with the plate, a few loose scraps falling. 

He does not know what comes over him when he knocks on the wall next to his bed. 

Loki knocks back.



"I am ready to learn magic," Thor says with a smile as he walks into the library and pulls a chair to the table where Loki and Frigga sit. Loki frowns to see him; he looks almost distraught. 

"You cannot work magic," he says, looking directly at Thor. Before Thor can respond, Frigga is talking,

"Yes, but he can learn about it. You need the history sometime, Loki." 

"Why does he need the history?" 

"It is impossible to learn too much history." 

Loki crosses his arms and slides a couple of inches down his chair. "Do not act like a babe," Frigga pointedly says to Loki. 

"I am not," Loki says. 

"Show Thor what you learned with your dagger." Loki straightens and uncrosses his arm, a small grin playing on his face. He seems to have brightened immediately. 

Loki puts his hand to about face level and he stares intently at it, until his dagger starts to flicker into view, trying to form from the bottom up. He is moving his fingers around, straightening them then tightening them, but they do not form a fist. Suddenly the dagger falls in his hand and he struggles to catch it. 

"I learned that last week," Loki says.

"And now you two are to learn how that happens," Frigga says before Thor can react. "Do you guys understand the Quantum Realm?" 

Both shake their heads. 

Thor joins their lessons until Loki is willing to sparr Thor again. It seems to be back to normal, Thor and Loki are inseparable. It makes Frigga smile everytime she sees them. 

Yet, Loki is not the same. He is not distant anymore, quite the opposite, happy to be with his big brother again, but he seems more cruel, more willing to break the rules. 

There is a time when they are watching two noblemen sparr and there is a clear winner halfway through, but Thor is divisive and decides to bet Loki on the winner. Loki knows the winner, of course, as does Thor, but since Thor introduces the bet, he gets first pick. Loki is stuck with the one they both know will lose, he is out of breath and clumsy on his feet. Loki is not able to stand that Thor will win and he manipulates the clear winner with magic, making him stumble into falling and declaring his sparrer the winner. Thor sees a smirk on Loki's face, but he tells no one and says nothing. Thor turns before Loki can say anything and walks off with a glare. 

Eventually, Loki joins Thor in his sparring lessons. Thor is too far advanced for moving to two-on-one to affect him, and Loki has shown that he has learned magic easier with Thor around, despite Thor not doing any of the magic.

His tutors focus on Loki for longer in the lessons, teaching him how to hone in his gracefulness to make his actions flow smoothly. They do not sparr often in the lessons because of how far advanced Thor is in comparison and it tends to turn Loki's moves violent when he is clearly losing. Sometimes, though, the tutors want that anger to come out so they can teach him how to control it. Those are the days when they sparr nonstop for hours on end, until Loki is unable to any longer. 

Noble children join their lessons occasionally, the ones with parents who are high up and have direct conversations with Odin. Loki becomes attached to none, he is too dependent on Thor to guide him through life that he barely notices other children around them. Thor befriends a particular four who already know each other from lessons beforehand, but befriends no other. Three of the four call themselves The Warriors Three, two of the young boys take pride in their fighting skills, and the fat one pride in his fighting and eating skills. The fourth child is a young lady with pale skin and delicate features, void black hair and bright blue eyes. She is gorgeous, even Loki can admit.

“My father told me I would be meeting the prince, but I did not comprehend it,” the fat one says. His mouth is slightly open and he accidentally breathes on Thor, but Thor does him the favor of ignoring it. 

“Ah, not just me,” Thor says and pulls Loki flush against his side. Loki is glaring at the four children, his arms crossed with disdain. “Both princes.”

“Hello,” Loki says so Thor does not get onto him for being rude. He scans the children and quickly decides they are not suitable friends for Thor.

There is one that has a weapon slung behind his back despite his small size. His eyes are smaller and a different shape than any Asgardian eyes, and Loki frowns at him.

“Where are you from?” he spits out. Thor notices the disdain in Loki’s voice and he elbows him directly on his side, right above his hip. Loki almost yelps.

“Vanaheim.”

“That is very cool!” Thor says. He lets go of Loki and leaves his waist feeling cold. “And your name?”

“Hogun.”

“And I am Volstagg,” the fat one says as he pushes himself back into the conversation.

Thor gives a polite nod to each of them, then he looks at the third boy. He has blonde hair and he is the tallest of them all.

“Fandral. Fandral the Dashing,” he says, tucking his hair behind his ear as a sign of the charming beauty he is to grow into. 

“Please, Fandral. You have given yourself that name, you can not tell the princes that,” the fourth child says. The female. 

“No, it is alright. I quite like it,” Thor says. He nods at Fandral. “And you, my lady?” he says as he locks eyes onto the girl. His voice is as smooth as he can make it with his young age, almost like the voice he hears his father use for his mother late at night.

“Sif. My name is Sif,” she says. She picks up her dress and bows with her ankles crossed.

Loki lets out a silent scoff at her over exaggerated manners. Thor sends him a look that goes unnoticed by everyone but Loki, and Loki looks away from the group, taps his foot.

Thor easily becomes distracted by his newfound friends and forgets about Loki after only a couple of attempts to get him to play with the group. Loki refuses each time, does not say why he will not, but Thor knows. Thor always knows. Loki leaves. Thor doesn't let it deter his good time. 

The Warriors Three and Sif put up a fight against Thor unlike anything Loki has ever been able to offer. Each of their techniques show something about their personality in their own unique way.

Fandral prefers to skirt around Thor’s eyesight, to confuse his opponent before attacking violently and roughly. Thor stops him by pretending he has no idea where he is when he is behind a pillar at the southeast end of the training yard. Fandral believes he has the advantage on Thor who is purposely stumbling with his weapon and flicking his eyes everywhere. Fandral silently charges at Thor, his sword drawn straight. Thor catches his movement from the corner of his eye, and he smoothly turns and dodges Fandral before catching Fandral’s hand and twisting the sword from his grip.

“Nice try,” he says, a twinkle in his eye. Fandral looks proud of himself for impressing the prince rather than upset at losing.

Volstagg uses his size as an advantage in tackling and defeating his opponent. He is not dependent on his weapon, though it is powerful. He often lets it lay loosely in his fist, almost as if it is going to fall from his grip, but it never does.

His size is a clear advantage over Thor. Thor is small still in his age, but he is powerful everywhere Volstagg is not. Thor has excellent blocking and dodging skills and Volstagg has no talent in dexterity, he never manages to catch Thor’s dodges, and he can not anticipate Thor’s moves beforehand. Thor beats him when he makes Volstagg charge at him, but he trips him by shifting over slightly to the right as he reaches him.

Hogun is perhaps better than Fandral and Volstagg, but he is still not good enough for Thor. His moves are calculated, but easy to anticipate. He is not good at hiding what he plans to do, but his strength manages to pin Thor against a wall in the training yard. Thor gives him an easy smile, and manages to duck out of the position until it is reversed and Hogun is against the wall. Hogun is barely taller than Thor, but he lowers himself to show a defeat to the prince.

“So soon?” Thor asks, thinking nothing of it. Hogun gives a slight nod and a small bow.

Sif is the hardest to defeat. She is unpredictable, she is wily, and she is as confident as Thor. She is more determined and hardworking than The Warriors Three and it shows in the way she places her feet and stares down at Thor with bright eyes. Her pupils are small, almost gone in the blinding light. 

Curiously, she still adorns her dress. Thor wonders how she is to fight while wearing a dress that reaches her ankles and flows about her thighs. Perhaps she will not fight and is instead putting on a show for Thor’s sake, but the sword in her hand tells another story. She grins at Thor with a cunningness that reminds him of Loki. Did her eyes just flash a bright green? No, they did not. Thor is simply too used to battling Loki.

Thor’s wandering thoughts make him lose the upper hand and he is tripped by a forceful blow. His back meets the ground first and he is left gasping for breath for a couple seconds, having to remind himself how to recover from this situation. He had learned it recently.

Breathe. That is simply the answer. Act weak. Do not get up right away. Act like the upper hand is completely away from you.

But it is not, and it never will be. Get back up.  Pretend to be weak. You’re not actually weak, you have never been weak and you will never be weak. This is not a fight to lose. You are a disgrace if you lose this fight.

Thor takes a deep breath, places his feet flatly on the ground. He readies his hammer, spins it with long fingers. “No,” Thor says. “Not good enough.”

Sif smiles at him, her front teeth showing. “Although, quite impressive, my prince. I would like to remind you I have a dress on.”

“Exactly the reason my distraction caused your triumph.”

“Ah, so you admit I have won.”

“Of course not.” Thor charges with his hammer, ready to land a blow on her, but she easily blocks him. Her feet are placed down steadily, but she slides a couple of inches backwards when he hits her. Thor is surprised and it shows on his face. He uses his unoccupied hand to push her chest while she is distracted by the hammer close to her face. She stumbles backwards, loses her stance, and Thor uses the chance to try and hit her with his hammer again. The hit takes and she is spent sprawling to the ground. She immediately attempts to get up, but she steps on her own dress and falls back down.

“It is your turn to admit I have won,” Thor quips. Sif looks at him, and she wants to keep going, and perhaps if she were not wearing a dress she would, but she holds her hand out for Thor to help her up. There's some blood on it from the top layer of her skin being torn off from her fall to the ground.

Thor happily takes it and hauls her up. When she is on her feet, he shakes her hand and smiles.

“You put up a good fight. I would love to do it again at a time when you are not wearing a dress.”

“As would I, my prince.” She does another curtsy, her dress now dirty.

Thor doesn't think anything of Loki until the next day when he realizes he hasn't seen him all day. So, he goes searching.

He finds Loki in the garden with Frigga, gloves on his hands and dirt on his face. He is holding a flower, the roots overflowing in his hands. He still looks irritated when he spots Thor, and Thor thought they were over this.

“Hello, Thor,” Frigga says, taking off one of her gardening gloves. “Loki told me you made some friends, but he did not seem very pleased about it.”

Loki sets the plant down with the same delicacy that he folds his clothes with before bathing. It’s a type of delicacy Thor is unable to get a grasp on, himself much more brash and impatient.

“No, he was jealous of my attention,” Thor says.

Frigga turns her attention to Loki. “Loki, he is allowed to give attention to others. You two do play often enough, right?” she tries to reason. Loki pulls off his gloves and wipes some of the dirt off his face, but he smears it more than removes it. Thor wants to laugh, but the air around them is awkward.

Loki does not respond to Frigga, he simply stands there before leaving with no further words. Frigga sighs. “Make sure your new friends treat Loki well, okay?”

“They did not treat him badly. He left before introducing himself to them,” Thor defends.

“I figured as much, but Loki is not as personable as you. He will always be easier to attack and insult. The sooner you understand that, the sooner you two will live better lives.” Frigga looks almost sad, and it leaves Thor feeling confused when Frigga chases after Loki.

He is not the one at fault here, in fact there is no blame to place. There was no attack, no insult. No issue. 

Dinner is quiet and cold and for some reason the food tastes worse than normal. Frigga and Loki are unusually quiet, and Odin only ever talks if he has something to add. With nothing being started, there is nothing to add. Thor finishes the food as quickly as he can and gets himself excused. Loki follows suit and walks with Thor to the hall with their bedchambers. They stop in front of Loki’s door, Thor only hesitating because Loki does.

“You do understand I will never abandon you, correct?”

Loki crosses his arms. “I’d like to go bathe,” he mumbles, hand reaching out to his door handle. Thor grabs it once it reaches halfway, and Loki meets his eyes. They're soft, and it makes Thor do a double take. They're both silent for a long time, Thor eventually loosening his hand on Loki, until it falls out. It hits Loki's side. Thor looks at it, and by the time Thor looks back at Loki's face, there are tears running down his cheeks. He looks helpless and so… so young, that Thor can not help but wrap Loki into a hug. Loki instantly relaxes into it, tucking his head into Thor's neck and sloppily breathing into his hair. 

"What do you cry for, brother?" Thor asks, resting his hands on the lower of Loki's back. His thumbs smooth circles in the wrinkles of Loki's clothes. 

"I am--" Loki tries to start, but he is choked off from his own sobs. 

"Loki, please tell me," Thor begs. 

"Mother told me that," Loki forces out, and the words are hard to understand, "I am so scared of losing you that I would rather push you away than let you leave on your own." 

Thor pushes Loki from him forcibly, and he stumbles backwards, almost tripping over his feet until Thor catches his arms. 

"Sorry," Thor says. "But that is ridiculous. What would I abandon you for?" 

"Anything. What if Father told you to?" 

"I would tell him he is out of his right mind, Loki. The assertion is ridiculous that you do not trust me enough to stand up for my own brother," Thor accuses, his tone rougher than it should be. 

Loki looks even more hurt than he did before. Tears still make their way down his chin. 

"I do not mean to be so blunt, but I can not believe you would think that. It's insulting." 

"I'm-- I'm sorry," Loki stutters. 

Thor stares into his eyes, Loki almost scared to meet Thor back. "Yeah," Thor says, and then he walks away, leaving Loki in a cold hallway.