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“Mama, why has Brunnhilde not been attending to you?”

Thor swayed his legs under the table as he moved bits of corn around on his plate. Brunnhilde was his favorite of his mother’s handmaidens. She was an omega, like him, and she always had candy in her pockets for Thor. He had looked for her this week to show her the tadpoles he’d found in the pond in Mother’s gardens, but he had not been able to find her.

“Brunnhilde has been wed,” Frigga explained with a smile. “She and her mate have decided to take a trip to Alfheim for a week. I gave her my blessing.”

“Brunnhilde and her mate are both omegas, aren’t they, mother?” Loki asked.

Thor gasped, and his head swiveled to stare at Loki. “Both omegas?”

“Yes, I do believe so,” Frigga said with a nod. “They seem very happy together.”

Thor’s mouth was still hanging open, and Loki took advantage of the moment to shove a spoonful of peas into it.

“Do you think I can marry an omega someday, mother?” Thor asked through a mouthful of green mash. Beside him, Loki paused where he was bringing a spoon up to his mouth.

There was a delicate pause, punctuated only by the scrape of silverware, and then Frigga smiled and said, “You may marry whomever you wish, my darling.”

“He will marry who he’s told,” Odin said, from the head of the table.

Thor’s legs stopped their incessant swaying and he frowned.

“Why?” he asked, before he could stop himself.

“Father—” Loki started, and Odin cut him off with a gruff, “Because it is your duty, boy.”

Loki gets to do whatever he wants,” Thor said petulantly. “And you and mother are both alphas! Why can I not marry an omega?”

“You will marry an alpha of proper breeding. It is for the good of the kingdom,” Odin said with finality.

“But what if I don’t like them! What if they’re mean!” Thor cried, startled by the breadth of his own emotion.

Loki’s hand went to his shoulder in a soothing gesture, but Thor shrugged it off, pulling himself off his chair and standing up.

“I’m not hungry anymore,” Thor declared.

“Sit down, and finish your meal,” Odin said, the tone of his voice pitched dangerously low. Thor felt a shiver go through his spine and he fought the urge to bare his neck. His breathing grew shallow, and he was gripping the edge of the table so hard that his knuckles had gone white.

“Father,” Thor whimpered. Alpha, his brain said, and Thor bit his lip, hard, to stop himself from apologizing.

“Father,” Loki said, voice urgent. He, too, stood up and Thor’s overwhelmed senses frayed further at the screech of Loki’s chair.

Odin, stop,” Frigga said, and the tension in the room snapped.

Thor gasped for breath as the oppressive energy of Odin’s command was released, his vision swimming.

“Thor—” Frigga started, standing up and reaching out to him.

“I hate you!” Thor cried. “I hate you!” He knocked his chair backwards as he ran out.

--

He was curled up in a ball in the middle of his bed when Loki knocked on his door and let himself in, spelling it shut with seidr.

“Sunshine,” Loki trilled softly, sitting on the edge of Thor’s bed and carding a hand through Thor’s hair where it peeked out from beneath his sheets.

The Thor-shaped lump under the covers sniffled and curled up tighter, and Loki sighed.

“He means the best for you, you know,” Loki said, still gently stroking Thor’s hair.

“He hates me,” Thor said, muffled.

“Father doesn’t hate you,” Loki said, and it was true enough, Thor supposed. Odin didn’t care about him enough to hate him.

“Would you like me to go?” Loki asked, after a while had passed and Thor had not spoken.

No,” Thor cried, throwing off the covers and launching himself into Loki’s arms.

They both knew that they should have outgrown these childish displays, but Thor could never help himself where Loki was concerned, and Loki always indulged him. Thor found himself with his head in Loki’s lap, his older brother braiding his hair with little points of starlight that Loki pinched from the open window of Thor’s room.

“Will you visit me when I’m wed to an ugly, smelly alpha?” Thor asked, picking at an imaginary thread on Loki’s trousers. Loki’s trousers had no loose threads; he was too proper to allow his garments to fray.

“How do you know your alpha will be ugly and smelly?” Loki asked, amused, as he stroked Thor’s hair from his face.

“All alphas are ugly and smelly,” Thor said petulantly.

“Oh my,” Loki said, with a mock gasp, taking his hand away from Thor’s hair to place it dramatically over his mouth. “I do apologize, brother.”

“Not you!” Thor said, and dragged Loki’s hand back in place.

“You’re the only nice alpha,” Thor continued. “Can’t I marry you instead?”

Loki’s hands stilled for a moment, and he laughed, leaning down to bestow a kiss on Thor’s brow.

“We both have our duties to the realm, brother,” Loki reminded him.

Slowly, Loki’s ministrations made Thor drowsy.

As he drifted to sleep, he thought: Loki had not said no.

--

Marriage would not come for Thor soon, at least not for a few more centuries. In this time, he was taught the proper ways to be an omega spouse: how to hold a conversation and an alpha’s attention, how to run a household, how to bear and raise children. It was all unbearably boring, and the highlights of his days were the times Loki would sneak him away from his tutors under the guise of needing to attend to royal affairs.

Loki could charm a snake into eating its own tail, Thor thought as he watched Loki guilelessly explain to the tutor why Thor was urgently needed at the tailor. By the end of it, the tutor was profusely apologizing for taking up Loki’s time. He shooed Thor away, and Thor had to bite his lip and keep from skipping as he followed Loki out into the hall.

Loki put a finger to his lips as he led them to a secluded alcove. He looked around them, making sure they were alone, then pulled something out of space with a gesture of his hand. On his palm sat a glowing blue cube. The Tesseract, granted upon him in his coming-of-age ceremony, where Odin had also named Loki his heir.

(For Thor’s coming-of-age ceremony, Odin had gifted him with a box. Thor had taken one look at what was inside and had hidden it under his bed. He had not looked at it since.)

“Where are we going today?” Thor asked, grinning.

“I think your sword work needs practice,” Loki said, grinning back.

With a quick, lurching tug and a flash of blue light, their surroundings dissolved and they found themselves standing in an open clearing. Thor knew they were somewhere in the woods outside of the palace, but they had never travelled to here on foot, only through space.

Odin had forbidden him from the training fields, and could not be swayed, even by Frigga. To make up for it, Loki had secretly been taking Thor to the forest to spar for the past century, teaching him how to use a sword, a dagger, a war hammer. Thor was an omega, but he could fight, and just as well as an alpha—though he had not yet beaten Loki once in their sparring sessions. Loki was, after all, the best of all alphas, and Thor only needed to be half as good as him to beat anyone else. That was what Thor told himself, anyway.

Today, though, his concentration was off. In sword practice, Loki disarmed him in less than a minute, and in hand-to-hand combat, Loki had him on his back in less than ten moves. Even if Thor could not win against Loki, he usually got a few hits in before his brother forced him to yield.

“You’re distracted,” Loki said, after Thor had missed every one of Loki’s targets during dagger practice. “Something’s on your mind, brother.”

“It’s nothing,” Thor said, sullen, picking daggers up off the ground.

Loki raised an eyebrow, but desisted.

“How are your studies?” Loki asked instead, as they went about clearing the field.

“Awful. The health tutor has been telling me about childbirth,” Thor said, unable to help making a face.

“Ah,” Loki said.

“I don’t want to go into heat,” Thor blurted out, and, embarrassingly, felt his throat go tight. Beside him, Loki drew to a halt.

Thor took a shuddering breath when Loki turned to face him, placing a hand on his shoulder.

“Sunshine,” Loki murmured, and Thor shook his head.

“I know I’m being childish,” Thor said, raising a hand to his eyes to rub at his stinging eyes. He was well past the age where crying was appropriate, even by omega standards. 

“You’re not,” Loki said. “What is troubling you, Thor? You can tell me.”

Thor shrugged. “I don’t even know it, myself. It is only, I don’t—” he swallowed. He didn’t want to be touched, didn’t want to be seen when he was at his most vulnerable. He didn’t want an alpha who would treat him like some sort of prize. He didn’t want to be used .

“I don’t want my first heat to be passed with a stranger,” Thor admitted softly.

“Father will find you a suitable alpha,” Loki said, placing a hand on Thor’s neck for reassurance. The gesture was familiar, and usually filled Thor with relief, with comfort. Instead, he found that his heart had started pounding wildly in his chest.

“I don’t want a suitable alpha,” Thor slowly, like the realization was unfolding as he said it.

The silence between them stretched taut, and Thor felt like the air was heavy as molasses as he forced himself to look up into Loki’s gaze.

Loki’s eyes were wide, and his hand twitched, as if to move away. Thor swiftly raised his own hand and kept Loki’s in place.

“Brother,” Thor said, suddenly filled with urgency.

“No,” Loki said, harsh, and pulled away. He turned his back to Thor and Thor saw that his shoulders were heaving.

“Loki,” Thor tried again, and Loki growled.

Thor’s legs gave in, and his knees hit the ground.

“Fuck,” Loki said, and Thor heard it as if it came from very far away.

Alpha,” Thor heard himself say in a high, keening voice.

A hand grabbed at his collar and hauled him roughly off of the ground, and Thor didn’t care, couldn’t care, because Loki was pushing him against a tree, and his body was warm, and Thor could hear the beat of his heart and smell the rush of his blood. Thor slumped against the tree on weakened legs, his vision blurring in front of him, the bark rough underneath his hands. He wanted.

“Thor,” Loki said, firm. “Look at me, brother.” Loki’s hand cradled his cheek, and Thor blinked up at him, turning into the touch at the same time.

Loki searched his gaze, and Thor wondered at what he found there, but it must have been enough: Loki swore again, and there was a flash of blue light, and they were in the palace once more.

In Thor’s chambers.

Thor’s heart pounded, and he made a noise when Loki pulled away, only a fraction.

Shh,” Loki murmured, taking Thor’s hand and leading him—leading him to the bed.

Everything in Thor seemed to throb, and it was all he could do to put on shaky foot in front of the other and follow Loki.

“I wanted to do this properly,” Loki said, sounding rueful, as he sat down at the edge of his bed and drew Thor between his spread legs.

“You wanted—” Thor said, his tongue thick and heavy in his mouth. Loki wanted. Wanted him. The thought of it made him shudder, and he felt suddenly, uncomfortably wet between his thighs.

“I’m in heat,” he said, as soon as he realized.

“Thor,” Loki said, speaking slow and clear, “the gift father gave you when you came of age, where is it?”

Thor already felt too warm, flushed all over, but somehow he felt even hotter at Loki’s question.

“I—it’s under the bed,” he mumbled, thinking of the box and its contents, which he had not touched since receiving it. “But I don’t want—brother, I want you,” he said, his voice going up in a whine.

“And you’ll have me,” Loki murmured, soothing. “Get on the bed for me, sunshine.”

Thor stumbled to obey, gingerly setting himself on the bed and curling up on one side. Even the softest silk felt rough against his oversensitive skin. Loki leaned down and kissed his forehead—a fiery touch—and then bent down to search for the box beneath his bed.

For a few, hazy moments, Thor closed his eyes and let his mind wander. He could not latch on to a single proper thought, only: I am in heat. I am in heat and Loki is here with me.

Loki made a noise of triumph and straightened, holding something in his hands. Thor squeezed his eyes tight in buried his face in a pillow. He could not help the noise that escaped when Loki’s hand settled on his cheek.

“Thor,” Loki murmured. “I can help you through this, or I can take you to the Healing Chamber. Eir can give you a tincture to delay your heat, but—”

But then father would find an alpha for Thor and Thor would not be able to say no and—

“Stay,” he choked out. “I want it to be you.”

“Brother,” Loki said, voice solemn. “You have given me the greatest honor.”

The words nearly brought tears to Thor’s eyes. It was not supposed to be an honor, not for Thor. It was duty, and nothing else. He had been taught, in the most academic of terms, how his heat was supposed to go. Despite all the clinical descriptions of hormones and biological reactions, Thor knew there was only one thing for him to do: he had to spread his legs and take it.

It had to be Loki. It would be a humiliation either way, but he’d rather it was his brother, his dearest friend, instead of a stranger. Maybe Loki would be kind. It was all Thor could hope for.

Thor keened when Loki pulled away again, but he forced his eyes to stay open. To watch his brother unbutton his high collar. Thor’s mouth went dry. Loki undressed himself efficiently. He was soon down to only his trousers, the rest of his clothes crumpled on the ground.

Loki didn’t do that, Thor thought giddily. He would never be so messy. But there was a look in his eyes, hungry and dark, and Thor was reminded that Loki was not just his brother, but an alpha and his future king.

“On your knees, now, brother,” Loki said, his voice barely a murmur, but echoing inside Thor’s head.

Shakily, he obeyed, feeling, with no small measure of embarrassment, the slick that was dripping down his thighs.

Loki made a sound, bitten off, and stepped forward with a deep, measured breath. He ran a hand through Thor’s hair, gentle, and kissed the side of his head.

“Are you sure, Thor?”

Thor could not speak, could barely think through the rush of blood in his ears. He nodded, a jerky motion, but Loki understood.

His brother undressed him gently, drawing his ruined trousers down and off his legs, his tunic off his shoulders and head. And then underclothes, peeled off where it was sticking to the sweat of his skin.

In moments, Thor was naked, and though he was not cold, he shivered anyway.

The box had been set beside Thor’s head, but Loki ignored it for now, instead placing a soothing hand on Thor’s shoulders, then his back, pressing down, forcing Thor’s ass higher in the air.

“Oh, gods,” Thor choked out, shuddering all over at just that gesture.

Loki hummed, then he was picking the box up and settling himself behind Thor, the bed dipping with his weight.

Thor closed his eyes, waiting for Loki to cleave him open, for the pain that was to come—what pressed against his slick, sensitive hole was not Loki’s cock, but something smaller, cold but warming up as Loki eased it past his rim and into his ass.

Thor clenched around it without meaning to, and shuddered all over.

“Why—”

“To get you used to it, sweetheart,” Loki murmured. His thumb rubbed up against Thor’s puckered rim and Thor groaned in pleasure.

Oh, he thought hazily. Pleasure. He had not expected that at all.

“But I want your—your—”

“Patience,” Loki murmured. “Though I do think you’re quite ready for the next one.”

The second one was bigger, and Loki fucked Thor with it in a steady rhythm, leaning in to—

Nngngh—aaah—” Thor cried out, body singing with pleasure as Loki dragged his tongue down Thor’s rim to his balls, then wrapped his mouth around Thor’s cock. Wet heat engulfed Thor’s cock, and lightning zipped down his spine.

Thor could not help himself, he buried his face in the pillow and sobbed with abandon as his balls drew up and he came, helpless and embarrassed.

“Sssorry,” Thor mumbled, blinking back tears. Something hot and shameful was burning in his chest, and he could not help the tears that dripped down his face.

Behind him, Loki went still.

“Sunshine,” he murmured softly, drawing himself up the bed to peer at Thor. “What’s wrong, darling?”

“Messy,” Thor mumbled, ashamed. “Dirty. I didn’t mean to—”

“You are perfect,” Loki said, cutting in swiftly. “And your pleasure is perfect. I want you to feel good.”

“The tutor—that’s not what—please don’t be mad at me.”

Loki’s mouth had pressed into a thin line, and he took a quelling breath before he spoke again.

“I’m not mad at you. And I’m having that man sacked at the end of the week.”

“The end of the week?” Thor asked, heartened by the expression on Loki’s face. Angry not at him, but for him. It made his heart feel like molten lava.

“I don’t think we’re getting out of bed for another three days,” Loki said, sounding sheepish, and with a kiss to Thor’s cheek, he shimmied back down.

The box held four rods in all, growing steadily in size, and it took the better part of an hour before Loki was satisfied that Thor was sufficiently ready. Thor also came twice more, both times without shame, though some part of him was still confused. He hadn’t thought this was how it was supposed to go at all.

Emboldened by Loki’s steady, generous fucking, the praise that poured out of his mouth, Thor turned around and met Loki’s heated gaze.

“I want you, brother,” he said, though it did not sound quite like the demand that he wanted it to. Helplessly, he added, “Please.”

The growl that ripped out of his brother’s throat made Thor’s cock twitch.

He knew he looked a mess, with his come in a puddle between his legs and his slick still dripping steadily down his thighs, but somehow Loki looked like he had journeyed through a storm. His hair was in disarray, his cheeks flushed red, and he did not seem to know what to do with his hands.

With a jolt, Thor realized he had done that. He was the reason his regal, composed brother was wild-eyed with need.

Boldly, Thor swayed his hips. He licked his lips and said, “Alpha.”

Loki hissed between his teeth, his eyes squeezing shut as if he had been wounded.

Before Thor could say anything more, Loki’s hands were on Thor’s hips and he was pressing in, closer, draping his chest against Thor’s back and nudging his hips into Thor’s backside. There was the unmistakable slide of his cock against the mess of Thor’s ass, hot as a brand, and Thor lost his boldness entirely, dropping his face into the pillow and keening like a pup.

“You have no idea,” Loki was grunting behind him, “no idea what you do to me.”

And then his cock was pressing in and Thor understood why Loki had taken the time to prepare him. His breath was forced out of his lungs in wet pants as Loki took him, slow and steady. Every nerve in Thor’s body was singing, pleasure firing insistently, incessantly, until he was sure that the only thing keeping him together was the press of Loki’s hands, almost painfully tight, on his hips.

His heart was going to beat right out of his chest, Thor thought hysterically, as his brother claimed him, as his cock made a place for itself inside Thor’s body. The press of skin upon skin was unbearable; Thor could barely draw a breath from the sheer intimacy of the position. It should not have been thus, he and Loki were not lovers—Thor could not even see his face—but he felt ensconced, cherished.

Safe.

And then Loki started moving, and Thor was lost.

In the midst of the unrelenting pleasure that rolled over him in waves, Thor was stupidly grateful that it was Loki. He did not know how he could have done this with anyone else—he was sobbing with abandon, now, his mouth open in endless, keening whines, his legs spread as far as they would go, his hips jerking of their own accord. And through it all, as he moaned and shuddered and fell apart, and Loki was there, whispering comfort into his ears even as his hands stroked Thor’s cock, tugged at his hair, pinched his nipples into sensitive red peaks.

Eventually, Loki slowed down, his cock grinding deep into Thor, and he wrapped his arms around his brother and murmured, “Still, now, sunshine. Stay still for me.”

Thor could do nothing but obey, though his body twitched helplessly.

Loki’s cock began to swell inside him, but this was something Thor was prepared for. He had dreaded this, and closed his eyes against the pain. It never came. There was slight discomfort, and Loki was moving his hips in gentle thrusts that made Thor pulse with slick, but it was not painful.

“It doesn’t hurt,” he mumbled, surprised.

“I’m going to murder your tutor,” Loki said darkly, and then he was laying Thor gently upon his side, and scooping him up from behind.

Thor’s heat was not over—he still felt it in his belly, his chest, his ass—but his mind was clearer now.

He was struck with the urge to hold Loki’s hand, and reached blindly for it, only to have Loki catch his fingers in his and press them together.

“Thank you,” Thor sighed, cuddling back into Loki’s heat, clenching around his knot with deep satisfaction.

“Of course,” Loki murmured, sounding tired but content. He pressed a kiss to the back of Thor’s neck, and Thor could not help what he said next.

“Will you stay?” he asked, and bit his lip, forcing his gaze to the wall.

“Will I—” Loki started, then his hand was on Thor’s chin, gently guiding Thor to look at him.

“Why would I leave?” Loki asked, his brow furrowed in apparent confusion.

Thor’s cheeks burned. “Oh,” he said, soft.

“Yes,” Loki said, an answer to the question Thor could not bring himself to ask.

There was something else in the box, Thor knew. He had caught sight of it, that single time, and it had lingered longer in his mind than anything else.

“Will you not put it on?” Thor asked.

“The—” Loki bit off the rest of the sentence with a quiet growl of displeasure. “You are not a dog to be collared so, brother.”

“How will they know you have claimed me?” Thor asked, then bit his lip again. He hadn’t meant to assume—but Loki said he would stay.

“They will know,” Loki said, confident.

“I want them to,” Thor said. And then, shyly, “Alpha.”

Loki groaned, and his knot twitched pleasantly inside Thor.

“Mine,” Loki murmured, nuzzling against the back of Thor’s neck.

“Yours,” Thor said, with wonder.

“As I am yours,” Loki said, firmly.

Thor’s heart ached, heavy and full, and he blinked back tears.

“Mine,” Thor said, the word caught between a sob and a laugh.

It was dark, Thor realized as caught sight of the sky outside the window. He breathed in, and keenly recognized, for the first time in a very long time, the way the air filled him to the brim, the burn in his lungs that said: there was no part of him left empty.

As the expanse of the sky began to fill with stars, Loki, spooned up behind him, began drawing starlight into his hands, and weaving it into Thor’s hair.