He had never been lied to by his parents. From the moment Loki was old enough to understand Odin told him of his origins. Told him who his true father was and that Loki was the hope of uniting their realms one day. It wasn't until he was older that Loki would look back and think that it was an awful lot of responsibility to place on one child. It was his brother standing by him though that gave him strength to carry on with the burden. Even when no one outside of their family knew the truth Loki felt as if all the eyes of Asgard were staring at him.
"I'm a monster!" he shouted many days, but this one in particular more harsh. They were far in the belly of Asgard where no one ever traveled, but the brothers found themselves there more often in the aftermath of the Truth. "A hideous Frost Giant. I am what parents tell their children about!" He kicked a loose stone and found little satisfaction in the small whole it made in the wall.
Thor was sitting quietly, as he did when they found themselves in these private halls. Neither brother was unchanged; Loki, who had always taken after Odin in his calm mannerism, was full of anger any more. Resentment. Thor...was quiet. Where a day wouldn't have gone by that he wasn't spinning a tale of when he was old enough to slay all the Frost Giants, now he thought carefully of his words before speaking them. Their friends saw the differences in them but were young enough and respectful enough not to make mention on them.
"You're not hideous." Thor said when Loki fell next to him on the floor. Loki scoffed and rolled his eyes. "You're not." Thor put his arm around Loki and pulled him close. "You're still my brother and you'll never be a monster, Loki."
"Ask Volstagg or Sif that." Loki muttered and would never admit that he curled into Thor's side seeking the comfort freely given.
Thor laughed, "That is because you tease them with your tricks." He was quiet a moment, "You'll let me know if anyone ever gives you trouble, wont you?" There was the unmistakable feel of fingers shifting through his hair.
Loki grunted and pulled himself away from the warm embrace. "I am not some child. I'm nearly thirteen. I can take care of myself." Thor's cheeks grew flushed and both squirmed in their discomfort.
As the minutes stretched out neither knew what to say and it was surprisingly Thor that broke the silence. "Even when we are grown men I'll want to protect you." There was pleading in his voice and when Thor touched Loki's wrist both jumped at the contact.
Loki pulled himself to his feet quickly, the sudden change around them making him uneasy. "Do not say things like that." They left their sanctuary on a more somber note than usual and when they met up with their family and friends for dinner it was with a forced cheerfulness that neither of them felt.
They continued using the belly of the city for their get-a-ways when it became too much for either of them to bare. More and more their friends wanted explanations out of them that they could not give and even Odin had pulled them aside separately trying to coax them into revealing what was stressing them so.
"You can always talk to me, Loki. If this is about..." Loki didn't know if Odin's trailing off was because even the Asgardian ruler couldn't bare to voice It out loud again or because the fire Loki suddenly felt inside him was visible through his all-too-expressive eyes.
Loki forced himself to remain next to his father and not flee down the hall and into one of his many hideaways. "I talk to Thor, Father," He some how managed to say without sounding rude.
Odin smiled gently. "Then you are in good hands. It's good that you two begin to rely on each other now." Odin did not elaborate further on that statement and Loki could not help the unsettled feeling deep in his gut that said even now their father was still keeping some secrets to himself.
"We always will." Unbidden his mind continually traveled to their awkward moment.
The first time they knew their relationship had moved away from that of brothers and into something new and completely different they were, of course, hidden away. Like a storm on the horizon this moment had been building between them for years. Not ignored and never acknowledged it boiled itself right over into their lives without warning or preparation.
Asgard was in the middle of one of their harshest winters and it was the first time Loki was physically aware of his differences. Thor, Loki, and their friends had decided to take a hike in the mountains; something to expend their energies and after weeks of being walled up inside they are were ready to stretch their legs. The cold be damned, seeing something that wasn't the heated insides of Asgard was more welcomed.
It did not take long before the entry party was shivering inside their warm jackets and everyone's cheeks were a rosy-red. After a romp in the snow where they made snow angels, a fort and even engaged in a vicious snowball fight everyone was ready to return back in doors. Only Loki was unaffected by the cold, though he did well to play along and fool his friends into thinking that he too could not wait for a warm drink (and in Volstagg's case warm meal.) No Loki's mind was focused on how not-cold he thought it to be and just how blue his hands were turning, and for a fearful moment he thought even his face could be turning the awful shade.
Thor caught his anxiety, could read just from his face what Loki feared and wasted no time in making their excuses. Suddenly Odin wanted to see both of them and they would catch up later before dinner. They made it as far as Loki's room before he could not keep it in any longer and felt a sob trying to erupt its way out. Thor stood there unmoving while Loki tried desperately to keep himself from making a fool in front of his brother.
Thankfully Thor took the option away from him. He took two steps toward Loki, paused and finished the journey by wrapping his arms around his shoulders. "I could pretend," he muttered. "I could pretend until now that I wasn't really any different from you or father or mother. I imagined that some times it was just father's way of showing me that not all trickery is amusing. That sometimes it can hurt." Thor's arms tighten and Loki found his own hands buried in Thor's shirt at the small of his back. "But you saw. You saw, didn't you? The cold didn't affect me and my hands...my hands." Loki refused to finish the sentence. "Monster," he finally whispered.
"Shut up." Thor's graveling voice cut through Loki's misery. "Stop it now." He took Loki's face between his warm hands. "I told you years ago you would never be a monster. Never." It was too intimate the way they stood there with Thor's hands holding Loki's face and Loki's hands still clutching behind Thor's back. There was no room between them and each of Loki's harsh breaths brought their chest dangerously close. "You are my-" Thor paused, his eyes boring into Loki's and he could see as he searched for a word not "brother." "You are my, my Loki. And I will not have you speak so horribly about yourself any longer."
"Thor," It was all Loki could say before Thor was capturing his lips in a chaste kiss. Maybe both of them would like to deny that there were no signs leading up to this moment. That it was chance and circumstance. Even shock from spending too much time outdoors in such a harsh winter. But they would be lying. There had been touches, and things said. Since that very first time in their secret halls when Thor's touch electrocuted Loki, and many dozen times since. A waning interest in anyone outside each other and their miniscule friend base. A non-existent interest in any significant other for Loki and Thor's enjoyed conquests were less than a handful.
It seemed a long time coming.
They pulled away but Thor rested his forehead against Loki's. "You have always been mine," Thor whispered against his lips.
"I-" His normally so-quick tongue felt like lead in his mouth. "I do not believe this is what father had in mind. For uniting our realms." He stuttered out the words, fearful that even thinking them would be enough to bring wrath down on them.
"To Helheim with what anyone thinks," Thor said viciously. His hands tightening where they had finally come to rest on Loki's hips. "Is this what you want? I haven't misread-"
"No!" Loki closed his eyes and forced himself to calm down, "No. This is exactly what I want."
"Then I say again." Thor leaned in and placed another kiss to Loki's lips and this round neither wasted time deepening it. Falling on Loki's bed they silently agreed to worry tomorrow about what father would think. Tomorrow worry about their friends and their people, and tonight enjoy these moments alone, together. Hopefully forever.