Their eyes meet at the same moment, each held frozen by shock. Before now, Thor could not ever fathom something so beautiful hidden within the frozen wastes of Jotunheim. He already knows, after only a minute, that he has been captivated.
The Jotun is small for one of his people, perhaps even shorter than Thor himself. Dark gems woven throughout his plentiful black hair shine subtlety as the small Jotun tilts his head. Red eyes change from being wide with shock to narrowing in anger, Thor’s only warning.
He leaps out of the way just in time to avoid any fatal damage, but ice still cuts deep into his side. By the time Thor is up again, the Jotun is gone.
“I cannot decide if you are stupidly brave or bravely stupid.”
The small Jotun, the one that brought him back to Jotunheim, stands in the entry way to Thor’s cave. A blizzard had cut him off from the Bifrost site, and forced him to seek shelter. “Probably both,” Thor admits. His heart leaps into his throat, pounding rapidly in his excitement, but he does his best to repress it. He does not want to end up a frozen pin cushion again.
The Jotun snorts before sauntering into the cave as if he owns it. Thor does his best, and fails rather spectacularly, not to stare at those swaying hips. “What fascinates you so, that you must continue annoying me with your presence?”
“First I came for adventure,” Thor admits. He does not relax completely, he can still see the tightness of the Jotun’s muscles. His companion may be sating his curiosity for now, but he is still ready to strike. “But I saw a curious thing, something that has taken root in my mind and refuses me rest.”
The Jotun’s jaw tightens for a brief moment, seemingly unsure how to process Thor’s answer. “I will not be your plaything, Odinson,” the Jotun snaps.
“Ah, so you know who I am then.” Thor keeps his tone lighthearted. He does not want to scare the Jotun off. “I assure you, oh mysterious one, I have no intention of ever capturing you. I…” Thor pauses, unsure of how to actually put into words the obsession that has taken over his mind. “I deal with all manner of creatures each and every day when they come to my father’s court, but I have never seen someone like you before.”
The Jotun rolls his eyes and makes a noise of disgust. “So I am merely a passing fancy for you. Lovely.”
“I highly doubt that.”
His name is Loki.
It takes nearly a year of sporadic visits before Loki finally tells Thor his name. Thor laughs with joy when he first hears it, and brings his lips down to press against Loki’s.
Loki punches him in the stomach, and Thor goes down hard. While sprawled out on his back, Thor stares up in shock. His jaw works up and down a few times as he tries to spit out an apology. But it doesn’t come out. Loki drops down, straddling Thor. He presses their lips together again, demanding and challenging. Thor responds, and is immediately rewarded with a moan of pleasure escaping Loki’s beautiful throat.
He knows then that they have gone too far in their forbidden romance. So long as Thor did not admit to himself that he is in love with Loki, they could have continued treating each other as curiosities. But now, now Thor knows there is no going back. He is in love with the son of his father’s greatest enemy.
“I tried to stop him,” Loki says the moment he enters their cave.
Thor had planned on raging at Loki, demanding an explanation, but the moment he sees the fear in Loki’s eyes, all that anger melts away. He wraps his arms around Loki, holding him as close as possible. “There is nothing I can do. Father will retaliate, he has to.” Thor turns his head, inhaling the wintery scent clinging to Loki’s hair. “We are at war, Loki.”
“I know,” Loki whispers back, burying his face against Thor’s chest. “We can run, Thor. We’ll leave now, forget about Asgard and Jotunheim. It will just be us, no duties or expectations to keep us apart any longer.”
Thor stays quiet for a long time. He is tempted, so much more than he ever thought he would be. But shame and guilt settle in his gut. “I cannot abandon my home.”
Very slowly, Loki untangles himself from Thor’s embrace and steps away. The whole while there is a voice screaming in Thor’s head. He knows what his decision will cost him, but he still has time to take it back.
Thor stands still as Loki slips out of the cave and disappears into the snow.
He knows it is hopeless, but that does not keep Thor from coming back.
Thor waits in their cave long past the time he knows he needs to leave, least he be missed back in Asgard.
He waits in vain.
Loki does not even bother looking up when he hears Thor’s tell tale sigh of relief. Thor’s strong arms, warm to the point of being hot, wrap around him, bringing him close. Loki cannot help but think of the last time they touched like this, the last moment of sentiment he allowed himself over his forbidden lover.
“I was so worried,” Thor murmurs in his ear. “I thought they had killed you.”
“I would have preferred they did,” Loki says softly. He feels Thor tense, hears his heart skip a beat.
“You promised I would never be your plaything,” Loki reminds Thor, keeping his voice even and neutral. He knows it will have more effect than shouting. “Yet here we are, I am your prisoner. You have taken my freedom because you are too selfish to deal the final blow yourself.”
Thor takes a deep breath, reining in his anger. It takes him a few minutes, still running high on battle frenzy, but he is finally able to look at Loki once again. “Call me a hypocrite-”
Thor’s fists shake, but he holds his temper in check, and continues. “I love you. Not even the threat of your hatred could make me take your life. Yes, I will keep you as my battle prize. I will allow no other to claim you for themselves. These are the circumstances we find ourselves in now, and I am trying to make the best of them.”
“And I despise you for it,” Loki finally snaps, tilting his head up to glare at Thor. “Always remember, Odinson, you had your chance to have me to yourself, along with my love. You threw it away in favor of those berserkers now killing my people.”
“Your people were the ones who started this war!” Thor retaliates.
“All the same, I chose you, and you threw me away. Whatever dreams you have of salvaging what was between us are futile. I despise you, and I will make your life miserable, right up until the moment you finally lose that famous temper of yours and bring that hammer of yours down on my head.”
Thor’s face flushes red with his anger. And then, surprisingly, he turns away. Thor heads back to the opening of his tent. “Your anger is understandable, but I cannot abandon Asgard. Nor can I abandon you. I will protect you, Loki, even if you hate me for it.”
He leaves, the tent flap falling shut behind him. Loki tests the chains again, despite knowing that they will stay no matter what he does. Odin had seen to it that the perfect trap and restraints be set in place to take Jotunheim’s most dangerous sorcerer out of the battle.
From the safety of Thor’s tent, Loki tries not to listen as his people are slaughtered, sealing his freedom as Thor’s most prized reward.