Work Header

What measure is a man of magic?

Work Text:

"I can't see into the future, I'm not a witch."

"No? Then why do you dress like one?"

Loki looked at his brother for a moment. The word Loki had used was völva, fortune teller.  On the face of it, Thor’s comment was innocent enough: when Loki practiced seiðr, magic of illusion, sexuality and fortune telling, was he not the same as a völva? He supposed the distinction was a silly one on his part, but fortune telling had never been part of his practice, even though it was for some practitioners of seiðr, but it was always part of what a völva did. The comment felt deeper than that, though.

There was no doubt in Loki’s mind that Thor hadn’t meant anything by it, but the implication was culturally undeniable: Loki, a seidman, was dressing like a woman, and that was something to be mocked. In their culture, men were not supposed to look into the future or to use trickery, those were womanly wiles and any man who picked them up was halfway a woman for it. 

Now Thor believed no such thing, of course. Not Thor, who admired the valkyrjur, had helped Sif be a shieldmaiden and now embraced Earth culture, but it didn’t really matter. Snears of argr, unmanly, had followed Loki his whole life. He hadn’t know it at the time, but as a frost giant, magic was as natural a part of him as breathing, and the teaching by Frigga had not only been welcome, but necessary. Still, their culture had scrutinised him. Was he merely as argr as any seidman was by the inherent nature of seiðr? Or did he go so far that their traditions were threatened? He wasn’t the only seidman, far from it, but he was young and in the spotlight and hadn’t the protection of being well-loved by a small community. He was a prince, distant and scrutinised, unknown apart from his father and his magic, easy to condemn next to Thor. Loki even suspected that some of the men who’d flirted with him throughout his adolescence had been send by political opponents to figure out if he was so argr as to be sorðinn. He never slept with any of them, not with eyes and ears so near everywhere in Valhal, but later exploration did confirm what he had already suspected: that he enjoyed bottoming and did not see why he ought not to, why it was so condemnable. But then, he was so deep into seiðr that any grip on manhood had slipped from him anyway, so how was he to know what a proper man was to feel? How could he feel the shame he was supposed to, when he had already transgressed?

Loki doubted that Thor knew much about these aspects of his life. When they were young, Thor had not had the time to notice much else than himself. They had been friends, back then, and Thor hadn’t like it when others made comments about Loki, his magic and his manhood, but Thor was, after all, a product of their world as well, and so could not help but make his own jokes, now and again. Thor was the golden child, his manhood only a more shining example of what the concept ought to entail next to Loki’s failure at it. Where Thor was brave and rash as their culture loved for a young man to be, Loki was cowardly and calculating, even in his trickery. Loki had blamed him, once, as he had blamed everyone. He didn’t, anymore. Didn’t blame Thor and didn’t blame anyone else. He was too tired, now. He wanted revelry, distraction and little else. Where a thirst for power and revenge had once reigned, a thirst for pleasure now did.

While Loki thought he’d given up on feeling diminished by the constant, though subtextual, accusations of argr that still followed him, it was only after their mother died he truly did. So much anger had left him at that point, so much resentment. A deep emptiness filled the parts of him where those feelings had once resided. All there was left of Frigga were memories. Memories and his magic. He was a creature of magic by birth, but it was Frigga who had taught him how to use it, it was Frigga who had taken his hand as he looked at Thor brandishing weapons joyfully and effortlessly, and who had told him that there was something he could do, too, that would leave him feeling the same. Where he had once restricted himself, he now used every single trick he knew. He was already a war criminal, after all. What did it matter if he was an argr one, as well? It hadn’t mattered to Frigga and Frigga was, increasingly, the only thing he would allow himself to care about.

On Sakaar, the solution to Loki’s problems suddenly seemed so unendingly simple. Thirst for pleasure was thirst for survival was thirst for pleasure. Would the Loki of the past have slept his way to it? Doubtful, but he didn’t care. It was effective, it was easy and it was in a place where no-one was in a position to judge. It was a freeing place, a situation that made everything so… simple. There was something about having to get yourself out of a bad situation that put everything else into sharp focus, removed all the lingering fears, inhibitions and restrictions. Strange, indeed, that it was in being a slave that he felt free.

The feeling changed when Thor showed up, the inklings of shame he still possessed crept up on him as the likelihood of Thor figuring out what he had done to get where he was increased. But where in the past he might have felt deep shame, he now only felt discomfort. He wasn’t who he had been, Thor wasn’t who he had been, Asgard wasn’t what it had been. Soon, Asgard wouldn’t be anymore, he supposed. With his people would die his crimes and his fears and he could finally reach the pure hedonism that he told himself was all he really wanted out of life. Perhaps descending completely into argr would mean that the accusation would never have any hold over him again. Perhaps.

“I guess what I'm trying to say is that you'll always be the God of Mischief, but you could be more.”

Or perhaps, impossibly, Thor might be right. Loki will always be the God of Mischief, he will always be a seidman, he’ll always be argr and sorðinn. But he could be more.