His brother had insisted on meeting here in this barren place, so he came, but only to humor Thor. While waiting out the longest night they drank and ate and watched sparks from the fire swirl up into the darkness. They barely spoke. He was still unsure why Thor seemed so intent on observing this archaic Earth tradition. He had found the entire night oddly unsettling.
The longest night. Holding out hope while enduring the darkness. Waiting for the light to return. As if the sun’s rise would somehow deliver the promise of forgiveness.
Instead, dawn brought only bitter cold to this snow covered hill. Not simply a chill upon the clear morning light. Frigid emptiness. Desolation. It reminded Loki of Jotunheim. A bleak place, void of color, as if all life had been stripped away leaving only shades of grey.
At his feet, remnants of the bonfire lit to burn through the night. Warmth. The flames of hope. Now nothing more than grey ash, and bits of charred wood. Perhaps a faint smolder lay buried beneath the black. But he could not see it. No sparks. Nothing.
Now, beside him, wrapped in red, Thor stood, watching the pale sun lift over the bleak horizon. “It is beautiful, this Midgard Solstice.”
Loki shook his head. “You find beauty so readily.”
“And you see only darkness Brother.”
He allowed his true heritage to seep through for a moment. Not his skin though. The revulsion he knew he would find upon Thor’s face was too much to bear. So, just a hint of red, and he turned, now facing his brother. “What else but darkness might I see through these eyes?”
Thor reached out and brushed his fingertips along Loki’s cheek, smiling softly. “Loki... It changes nothing.”
How like Thor. Always simplifying the complex.
Feeling more than a bit contrary, he loosened the magics veiling his skin. Blue flickered through, as if he was mortal and had frozen to death during the long, frigid night.
But Thor only sighed while pressing the warmth of his hand against Loki’s face. “You think this upsets me?”
Loki cringed, then jerked away from Thor’s gentle touch while quickly disguising the blue with his usual pale, nearly bloodless, skin. “It should. I find it horrifying.”
“Hating yourself for that which you cannot alter has nearly destroyed you.”
Though no revelation to him, this was indeed a profound observation coming from his brother. “When did you become so philosophical?”
“You think me unaware? A dull-witted fool?”
“Well...” he began, then paused and rolled his eyes at his brother. They both laughed, a jarring sound amidst the silent dawn.
But as the brief moment of levity faded, Loki saw something more upon Thor’s face and in the azure depths of his eyes while the rising sun glinted golden in his hair. Then Thor smiled, a soft, gentle smile that nearly undid Loki completely. Lost in his brother’s beauty, bright like this most poignant morning, he found himself unable to speak.
Thor opened his arms, and welcomed Loki into his embrace. Loki accepted.
They stood there, together, as the sun reached over the snow, shimmering pinks at first then fading as it lifted higher into the brilliant blue sky.
Loki stirred first. He raised his head from Thor’s shoulder and looked up. Thor gazed down at him. His heart nearly broke at what he found there. Even after all the strife between them, the destructive fury and his jealousy fueled hatred. Even now, knowing they were not brothers in blood.
Concern. Acceptance. Love.
Never had they shared a more honest moment. Stripped of all words, only this steady gaze between them. And more.
Then Thor closed the distance between them, bringing their lips together.
He wanted to fight. But there was a tenderness in Thor’s touch that soothed away any need he had to deny this. What they both wanted. Had maybe always wanted.
They made love on their capes, a blanket of red and green mingled together and spread over the carpet of snow. He gave himself to Thor, opening his body, taking all that he could. And Thor rose above him, burning bright, plunging inside him as if he could banish the darkness and forbid the night from ever returning.
Only they existed, taking and giving and losing themselves in each other. No past. No future. Only this, now.
In the end, Loki found his release first, a gathering storm unleashed by Thor’s touch. But even as the intense physical pleasure began to drown him, he heard Thor cry out, felt him thrust deep, deeper, merging them into one as white hot light stole them away.
The sun now arched high overhead, reflecting bright off the drifts of snow. Together they lay unclothed and tangled beneath their capes, warm in each other’s arms despite the frigid cold. Their rapid breaths rose, meeting the air and wreathing them in white.
Thor gently rubbed his back, the contact comforting after their fierce, yet tender, lovemaking. “The longest night is but a memory.”
Loki shivered. “For now. But it will return Thor. An unending cycle. The dance of light and dark. Fire and ice. Love and hate.”
“And through it all, I will love you Loki. Always.”
Wrapped in the warmth of Thor’s powerful arms, Loki thought perhaps he could finally accept this gift. The constancy of Thor’s love, solid and unwavering, there to ground them both for eternity.
Without moving, as if he might shatter this fragile moment, he whispered, “Someday perhaps I will be able to return your gift.” But even as those words passed his lips, he realized Thor knew he lied.
Thor pressed a gentle kiss into his hair. “You already have Loki. I need not hear you speak the words to know what dwells in your heart.”
Ah. It hurt, this honesty, like a blade cutting away all the tangled words of denial he might have spoken. How well Thor knew him. Better than he knew himself.
And so on this frigid Midwinter morning, surrounded by an endless blanket of snow glittering in the returning sun’s light, he relaxed fully into Thor’s embrace.
Warm. Safe. And loved.