When Thor was six years old, it was decided that he would marry a prince of Jotunheim to unite the two previously warring nations. Thor, of course, didn't have a say in it, but as Frigga pointed out, if Thor wanted out of it, he could easily do so, and the two kings would be able to do nothing about it. Laufey assured her that Thor would be smitten by Loki, his second son, who even at a young age, was charismatic, charming, and loyal. Frigga was still sceptical, but she had to agree to the matter.
Since then, every winter, Laufey would send Loki to Asgard to better know the kingdom he would soon rule at Prince Thor's side. Loki was the second son, and ever since young, his preferences had been girlish, and he would be a fine queen for Asgard, Laufey thought.
If Loki would actually reconcile to the idea of being a princess, that was. As it was, Loki was stubbornly referring to himself as Prince Loki, and set small fires at the feet of anyone who dared try correct him. Well, that didn't have to matter yet.
Anyway, those winters. Loki, besides having girlish preferences (mostly in the study of magic, but still. Girly), was also the most sensitive child Laufey knew. It drove him half-crazy when Loki would rather stay indoors during winters because it was too cold outside for him. Too cold. For a Frost Giant. So to spare himself the shame of being seen with a son bundled up in furs when he had to go out, he sent him to Asgard where it was always warmer.
At the beginning of every visit, Laufey would stay for two or three days, to ensure that Loki settled in properly, and to rub shoulders with Odin, the Allfather. Every time, Laufey would observe with satisfaction that Thor and Loki got along very well. Thor always brought Loki gifts with a huge smile, and Loki played tricks on him, which Laufey knew was Loki's method of displaying affection. He said as much to Loki, and brushed off Loki's scowl as shyness.
Truth of the matter was, Loki and Thor kind of hated each other. In front of their elders, of course Thor was sweet and kind and generous, but behind their backs? He laughed at Loki's tricks, called him 'a little princess', and tackled him into the mud whenever Loki was wearing his best clothes. Pranks were absolutely not Loki's way of showing he appreciated the attention and was returning the gesture, absolutely not.
See, the first time they met and Frigga told them to run off and get to know each other, Thor asked 'What kind of things do you like?' and Loki answered: 'Magic,' his eyes alighting as they always did whenever he talked about it.
Thor, however, frowned and tilted his head to the side. 'What kind of magic?'
'Like this,' Loki said, raising a hand. Little balls of light whizzed out from his finger tips, shooting around the hall. He turned to Thor with a triumphant smile which quickly faded upon seeing the look on Thor's face.
'Magic is lame!' Thor said. Loki was hurt and taken aback.
'What can you do?' Loki scowled.
'I'm a warrior!' Thor grinned, brandishing an invisible sword. 'I can fight and beat down the warriors twice my size already!'
Loki scoffed. 'Only fools fight with brawn instead of brains.'
'That's how we do it on Asgard,' Thor said. 'You're going to have to learn, if you want to become my queen.'
'Who said I want to become your – I'm not a girl!'
'Then why am I the one who's supposed to be the ruler of Asgard and you're the one who's supposed to have my kids?' Thor asked with wide eyes, the picture of mock amusement.
'Shut up,' Loki said heatedly. 'You're so narrow-minded. I can call myself a boy and have children. It's only you Asgardians that think the task of bearing children is solely for women.'
An odd expression crossed Thor's face, like a cross between dawning realisation and indignation. And then he gave Loki a push, shouted 'Princess!' and ran off.
So those boys? Totally did not get along.
And those gifts. Thor totally did not give them as indirect apologies for all his slights. And they were totally not in the bottommost drawer of Loki's bedside table. Not at all. Anyone who said they did was a liar. And whoever said that Thor gave him an emerald from his own chest of collected gems and that it was Loki's favourite thing ever and was always in his pocket was making it up.
Alright, so Hogun once asked Loki if he wanted to join in their play and Loki spat back 'I would, but Thor wouldn't let me,' and Thor immediately said 'I never said –' so Loki shyly came into their circle and was their 'consulting magician'. And afterwards, he always played with them, but his role was minimal. Sif and Fandral looked down on him, Volstagg was indifferent, Hogun didn't mind, and Thor pretended it didn't bother him. Loki often ended up hurt that he was ignored, and those were usually the times that Thor would come in, tell him he was a big baby, and give him something that did not cheer Loki up okay, shut up.
But they ended up happily married anyway, and this was the first step: when Thor was 16 and Loki came for his yearly visit, Thor stepped forward, took his hand, and kissed his cheek.
The adults exchanged delighted glances, Loki stared, and Thor grinned. Being the more diplomatic of the pair, Loki waited until they were far from the throne room before pulling away from Thor's grip and hissing 'What was that?'
'A kiss,' Thor said happily. 'Have you never received one before?'
'Not from you.'
'Well there was the first one.'
Loki stared at him for several moments. Then he leaned in and pecked Thor's cheek. Before Thor could say anything, Loki haughtily marched away, saying 'Debt repaid.'
Unfortunately for Loki (or not, but he would never admit that), Thor took this as a challenge.
Later in the afternoon, Loki wandered out to the garden, partly to look at the plants that were flowering at that time of the year, partly to see what the Warriors Three and Sif were up to. He found them sparring, of course, in danger of damaging Frigga's precious flowers. Loki had been watching them pensively for several moments when Fandral called out 'Princess Loki! Come join us!'
This made Loki scowl, but then Thor looked up and beckoned him over as well. Loki hesitated before coming, asking 'What is it?'
'Practice with us?' Thor suggested.
'Why would you want me to do such a thing?' Loki asked confusedly.
'I would like to spend time in your company. Is that wrong?'
The Jotun prince was surprised. Why was Thor acting so friendly to him all of a sudden? 'You know I am weak at sparring, Thor,' he said finally.
'That is why one practices, Princess,' Thor said, his smile showing his perfect teeth.
Oh, so still a tease. Loki gritted his teeth and left, but not before casting a spell so that Fandral tripped as he was battling Sif, falling face-first into the dirt at Sif's feet. Everyone roared with laughter, and the slight up-turn of Loki's mouth would be forever denied by the young prince.
Every time something like this happened (i.e. every day Loki was at the Asgardian palace), however, Loki would always end up coming back, and sometimes they treated him nicer than before. The next day was no different. Loki was looking for berries, and again, it was Fandral who said 'Looking for ingredients to make pie for your husband, princess?' Loki froze, but what really shocked him was Thor's answer to Fandral.
'Quiet, Fandral!' Thor scolded. 'Don't call him that.'
Loki unabashedly stared at this. Thor smiled at him a little self-consciously. There was a moment during which the two simply looked at each other, then Volstagg nudged Thor with a knowing wink, and the spell was broken. Thor blushed and turned around, and Loki was left to his thoughts.
Laufey was to leave after dinner, and Loki took his place next to him just before the meal started. Thor came in a moment later, and Loki paid him no mind until he felt a gentle pressure on the top of his head. He started and looked up. Thor was standing behind him, making to sit next to him. Then Loki realised Thor had kissed him. He said nothing at the time, however, and began to eat, resolutely ignoring every time Thor's hand brushed against him, or when they bumped elbows.
Before Laufey left for Jotunheim, he stopped and turned to his son. Loki waited for him to speak with his head bowed.
'I am glad to see you becoming even closer to Prince Thor, Loki,' Laufey said. 'You two will make a very fine match, and a loving couple.'
'Yes, Father,' Loki said, doubting everything the king had just said.
When Laufey had gone, Loki lingered behind the procession, waiting for the adults to leave so he could talk to Thor in private. Thor seemed to sense this, and waited with him. When he was sure they were alone, he turned, and reached up to kiss Thor's forehead. A wide smile appeared on Thor's face, and Loki ignored the way it made his heart skip in his chest.
'What has gotten into you between this winter and the last, Prince Thor?' Loki asked coldly.
'Do you find me changed from last year?' Thor questioned genially.
'Do not act as if you do not know what I am speaking of,' Loki snapped. 'The kissing, telling Fandral to stop teasing me – that's not like you at all.'
Silence reigned for several moments, during which Loki glared up at Thor and Thor watched Loki thoughtfully. Finally, Thor said 'How do you feel about me, Loki?'
The question was so sudden, Loki took a step back. 'Wh-what?'
'Your feelings for me. What are they?'
'Y-you know very well how I feel about you,' Loki said because it was easier than trying to sift out his emotions to find the answer.
'Why would I be asking you if I did? You have never given me any clue. You scowl and glower and hiss at me, but –' Loki stilled when Thor reached forward and put a hand into his pocket. Then he flushed up with embarrassment when Thor drew out the emerald Thor had given him when he was nine. 'You keep this.'
'Your gifts has its uses.' Loki snatched the stone back from Thor, slipping it back into his pocket. 'Where is this line of questioning going?'
Thor sighed and said 'Loki, do you like me?'
Which, wow, okay. Unexpected. Loki never thought it had actually mattered to Thor whether or not Loki liked him. 'What does that matter to you?'
'Everything!' Thor said exasperatedly. 'We are to be wed. How can I wed with a free conscious if the person I am to marry does not like me?'
That was far more considerate than Loki would have ever given Thor credit for. 'Do you like me?' Loki challenged.
He noted with satisfaction that Thor swallowed before replying, but his answer erased any feeling because it was 'I have realised that I enjoy your company very much, and that you are desirable as a life companion.'
'You have never treated me as if you had affection for me,' Loki protested.
'Would you have paid as much attention to me had I been polite to you?' Thor said, beginning to smile again.
Loki glowered because it was a good point.
Anyway, what if Loki did like Thor? He was supposed to anyway. Loki had always known Thor had potential for compassion because he was nice to all his friends. And thinking back, the way Thor treated him had been special. Not just as any other friend, but as someone who stood out. And maybe Loki liked it because at home, nobody treated Loki like he was special. That was all bestowed on his eldest brother.
'I – I do not find your company unpleasant,' Loki said, attempting to appear detached and ending up looking awkward.
It was as if a light had gone on over Thor's face, so bright did it become. He bent down, and for a moment, Loki thought Thor would kiss him properly. He ended up with a kiss on the nose instead.
Then Thor fled back to the palace.
Great, now Loki would have to hunt him down to repay his debt.
At the time Loki knew Thor usually went to bed, Loki was waiting at his door. Their rooms were only adjacent to each other, and would be combined when they were wed, so it didn't bother him to wait. When Thor arrived, humming and already undoing his cloak, Loki rushed to his side, reached out to pull Thor down onto his level and kissed Thor's nose. And then he kissed the Asgardian prince's cheek for good measure.
'Consider that a gift. Don't kiss me again,' and Loki walked away with a huff. He would never acknowledge that he had seen Thor smile and it made his mouth twitch too. He had been far too nice that day to think about such a thing.
If Loki had thought the kissing battle over, he was misguided. The next morning, Loki woke up, dressed, and had hardly stepped out of his chamber before he found Thor's lips against his ear, and then against his temple.
'Good morning, Loki!' Thor said with his usual radiant smile before sprinting away.
The Jotun prince seethed for a moment. Then he marched into the dining hall purposefully. Thor was his betrothed after all, who cared if he kissed him in public? So before he sat down next to Thor for breakfast, he leaned forward and kissed Thor's forehead. Then Thor kissed him on the cheek again, narrowly missing his mouth.
Loki really couldn't bother hiding a groan.
'Goodness children, do settle down,' Frigga reprimanded fondly. 'It is early in the morning yet.'
So it continued to the end of the winter. Loki would try to 'repay' his debt in kisses, and Thor would make him owe another one (or two). It was all quite frustrating.
But it was impossible to stay a whole season with another, using up half the time to kiss each other, without feeling more strongly towards each other by the end of the visit than they had in the beginning of it. As a matter of fact, Loki began to ease up, and was not so hesitant to admit that he was fond – maybe not very fond, but still – of Thor. Which was good. He supposed. It wouldn't do to have to spend centuries with someone and not have feelings towards them.
When Loki was to go back to Jotunheim, Thor accompanied them to the Bifrost. He tried striking up conversation with Loki the whole time, and they sometimes got as far as five sentences about one subject. Loki ended up more amused by Thor's attempts than anything. It was somewhat charming.
'I won't see you until next year,' Thor said when they were only a few minutes away from the Bifrost.
'No, you won't,' Loki said with a hint of mirth. Thor had never expressed regret at his going before.
'Do you like me better now than you did at the beginning of the season?'
'I suppose I do,' Loki answered casually, but it was a careful answer.
For his efforts, Loki received a kiss on the cheek. Now that was two kisses he owed Thor.
Laufey had appeared to pick up his son, and began to engage in small talk with Odin and Frigga. Loki ignored them for a moment in favour of putting his arms around Thor, pulling him down to his level, and kissing his forehead, and then his temple.
'I always miss you when you're gone,' Thor said, and there was so much sincere honesty in the words, Loki could not help but be touched by them. Thor was hardly one for lies and trickery (that was Loki's job), that it was hard to disbelieve him.
'Thank you.' Loki waited for Thor's disappointed look before he laughed and added 'I anticipate my next visit, Thor.'
'You will have a lot to look forward to then,' Thor replied gladly.
'You mean … what? You?' Loki said with a sceptically raised eyebrow.
'Certainly. I am ever improving, Prince Loki.'
It was the first time Thor had called him 'prince', which was actually kind of pathetic, but Loki was too pleased to realise.
'Ready to go home, Loki?' Laufey asked, approaching the pair.
'Yes, Father,' Loki answered courteously.
'Very well, say goodbye to Prince Thor.'
Thor grinned and kissed Loki's forehead. 'A parting gift,' Thor said, because he knew Loki would only see it as another debt to repay.
Another two years passed along with another two visits. Thor and Loki kept up their little war (as Loki preferred to call it, because wars were what Thor loved best, and it made it sound a little less loving than it actually was), and when it was one month before Thor and Loki were to be officially wed, Loki lay in his bed in the Jotun palace and contemplated.
One thing that felt remarkable in his mind was this: he was beginning to feel that his returns home were constantly disagreeable. The servants were not half-amused by his pranks, the children were dull and unimpressed by magic, and the young men and women his age were not a fraction as interesting as Sif and the Warriors Three. This he admitted easily, and without conscience. Jotunheim was not his to rule, after all.
But most of all, and also what he was least ready to confess, was that he had come to like Thor quite a bit. A little. Alright, a lot. He was fond of Thor. Affectionate, even.
Okay, okay! I'm in love with Thor!
Which made Loki feel very disgruntled for a few moments, until he remembered that he was going to marry Thor in a couple of months, and he loved Thor. The notion made him still underneath his sheets. He was betrothed – was going to marry – a person he loved. Spend the rest of his life, centuries upon centuries, with him.
Loki had been born a small, sensitive child, an oddity who did not belong in Jotunheim. It had never occurred to him that a greater lot than that of being affiliated with the house of Laufey might ever be his before he met Thor. And when he did meet Thor, he thought him a brute, and good for little other than the hard-headed warrior he had been taught to be. Now he wanted to be by Thor's side, and it was almost breathtaking to think that he had been so ... blessed.
Two weeks later found him by Thor's side once more. It would take a long time for the wedding preparations to be ready, and Thor and Loki were to be present for the whole thing. Loki was just too glad to get away from Jotunheim. And so was his father, for the uniting of Asgard and Jotunheim was an event well-anticipated.
As usual, Thor met Loki as soon as they exited the Bifrost.
'How are you?' Thor glowed as warmly as ever, and kissed Loki's cheek. Loki quickly returned it with a kiss to Thor's jaw. It was such a sweet feeling, to act so intimate with the one you loved, that for a brief moment, Loki was vaguely worried that he might switch to sincerity.
'Well. You, of course, are never ill or hurt,' Loki answered.
'If I were while you were in Jotunheim, would you come see me?' asked Thor.
'No,' Loki said arrogantly, but he ended up smiling too much to be taken seriously. It made Thor laugh, and then Thor helped Loki onto Loki's horse, despite Loki's objections that he was not a poor damsel that needed assistance from a 'gentleman' like Thor.
'Are you – are you looking forward to – the event?' Thor asked haltingly as they rode up to the palace, side by side.
'What event?' Loki asked with amusement, just to tease Thor.
He was not disappointed. Thor blushed and glanced down, and Loki allowed himself a triumphant smile tinged with fondness.
'Our wedding, I mean,' he said finally, taking a peek at Loki's face and quickly looking away again. 'Do you anticipate it?'
'Our fathers certainly do,' Loki said, enjoying Thor's pain.
'I did not ask after our fathers!'
Loki finally gave in out of pity and laughed. 'I suppose I am. There are worst men I could get married to.'
'Meaning you like me,' Thor said, perking right back up.
'I said nothing of the sort.'
'Well you did, once. A few years ago ...'
'That was once. How do you know my sentiments have not changed?'
'You – you would have wormed out of the engagement by now if that were the case, I'm sure.' Alarm began to arrest Thor's tone. Loki wondered if Thor actually thought that. Left to Loki, he certainly would have done it in a more dramatic fashion than had just been implied. Perhaps by having a guard run in just before the ceremony to announce the marriage void, or by smashing Thor's ceremonial helmet. If he was going to break a few hearts, he might as well do so in a way that would be remembered.
He ended up sighing in answer. An anxious look appeared on Thor's face, but Thor said no more until they had arrived at the palace gates and were dismounting their horses. Then he kissed the back of Loki's head. Loki unconcernedly pulled away, not missing the fleeting look of chagrin on Thor's face.
Why had he never done this before? Taunting Thor was so much fun. Especially since Thor pretty much liked him now.
The last thought made his insides squirm and his heart fill with something that made him want to laugh with glee. Thor was a step behind him, and he was seized by the urge to take Thor's hand. He pondered this for a moment before thinking, why not.
Thor was absolutely bewildered. Loki thought the centuries to come were looking more and more enjoyable, even without the feelings he had developed for Thor. They walked into the throne room together, and as they were going up to the dais, Thor released his grip on Loki's hand and put an arm around his shoulders instead.
'You're heavy,' Loki said.
And just like that, two weeks began to rush by. Loki hardly saw the days. He contributed to the preparations as much as he could so that he would have more leisurely time at the end of the day – a strategy he thought worked very well in comparison to Thor's plan of chipping in only when he was called. Thor only ever rested for five minutes at a time.
Despite that, he still found time to kiss Loki. Loki had to wonder if it was as much a game to him as it had been two years ago, or if it was all out of affection now. He might have hoped the latter. Maybe.
'It's not fair they work us like this before the wedding,' Thor complained to Loki as they were eating dinner a few days before the actual ceremony. 'Should we not be well-rested so we may look our best on the day?'
'You merely detest work, Thor,' Loki replied. 'We have hardly been worked over our capacity.'
'It's tedious,' Thor moaned.
'It's only tedious because you make it so.' Loki let out an exasperated puff of air. 'They only mean to make sure we will both be satisfied with the outcome.'
'I simply want to marry you, is that not enough?' Thor said with frustration. Loki quickly shovelled a bite of something, he didn't notice what, into his mouth to stave off the feeling of something flipping inside him.
'Let them have their fun,' Loki said when he thought it was safe to speak again. 'They will be happy when it is over.'
'Why should they be the ones who are to be happy? It is our wedding.'
'Thor ...' Loki resisted the urge to sigh again. 'Please just eat. Are you not hungry after being so exerted?'
'I have more strength than you.'
'Then why were you complaining?' Loki demanded, utterly baffled.
'I was worried for you.'
At that, Loki pretended a scowl when he couldn't stop the rush of blood to his face. 'I do not need protection,' he said before promptly taking another bite of food to avoid answering whatever Thor would have to say.
'I am sure of it, but it is still my duty to think of you so.'
Loki wondered if they were getting closer, or if it was all wishful thinking and hopefulness on Loki's part.
Moments before the wedding, while Loki was in his room admiring (glaring) at his robes, Thor snuck in.
'You are not supposed to be here,' Loki said without any trace of disapproving.
'I am to be crowned the king of Asgard,' Thor said, almost-but-not-yet boasting. 'The servants would not begrudge me a visit to my ... betrothed,' he finished lamely, apparently deciding against the word 'bride'.
'And to what do I owe this visit?' Loki asked as he rotated the crown on his head this way and that to see how it best looked on him.
'Um ... Sif told me to do this,' Thor began tentatively.
Oh? This would be interesting. Was Thor backing out and Sif had told him the best way to do it would be to clock Loki over the head before running away? It was just the sort of thing Sif would do, he was sure. Sif defined herself by her abilities as a warrior.
Thor scratched the back of his head and smiled sheepishly. Loki couldn't help but find it terribly endearing, and then the thought of Thor leaving him at the last moment crashed into him, and fear gripped his heart. He couldn't go through that, he absolutely could not. Thor made him feel like luck had always loved him, and if Thor left him, he would have nothing left, and maybe that was as much as he deserved.
'I think – I do believe – well no, not believe, I know –' Thor stammered, and Loki absolutely had to smile, it was so attractive, even as his heart beat in his throat. 'I – that is, there is no shame in what I am about to say. I should not – be so nervous, I think, because already you have –'
That did not sound like an abandonment at all, and Loki began to relax, even as he raised a curious eyebrow.
'L-Loki, please make this easier for me,' Thor plead.
'How am I to make it easier for you when I don't know what you are about to say?' Loki said in perplexity.
'I like you,' blurted out the golden prince of Asgard, the dignified ray of sunshine of the palace, in the most undignified way possible, tripping over his words and knotting a strand of hair around his finger. 'In a – I'm in l-love with you, Loki, and I am – very glad it is you I am marrying today.'
It was so sudden, a thunderbolt crashing out of a blue sky, but that was just what Thor always was, was he not? And Loki would usually have deflected it because the Trickster did not do with petty emotions and feelings strung on a heart and worn on a sleeve, but it reached him, so deep into him, that he was just taking.
Before he could say anything, however, a sharp voice outside said 'Thor, are you in Loki's chambers? You know you aren't supposed to go in there before the ceremony!'
'Oops,' said Loki amusedly, pushing Thor out the door. 'Better escape while you can, Prince.'
There was desperation in Thor's eyes, like there was so much more to say, but Loki quickly cut him off, saying, 'Go now, Thor. Whatever more it is you wish to say can wait for the eternity we are to spend together.'
This seemed to put Thor at ease, and he went out with a happier smile. Loki went back to fiddling with his robes with a calmer smirk.
The ceremony took place on the open balcony of the palace, above the town square. Most of the citizens of Asgard were there, along with the royal staff of Jotunheim. Loki had never had so many eyes on him before, and while he did enjoy attention, he did not think he could endure so many on him ever again.
With his and Thor's hands joined on the traditional royal Asgardian sword, they were made to say their vows, accompanied by shouts from the crowd below after every three words uttered. Loki Silvertongue had no difficulty in pronouncing his promise to serve faithfully at Thor's side, but Thor fumbled and stumbled for several moments, casting unheavenly despair on the respective kings of Asgard and Jotunheim. But he got it right in the end, and the crowd cheered mightily.
'Congratulations, Prince Thor,' Loki said sardonically as a servant took away the sword. 'You have married the second prince of Jotunheim. How does that feel?'
'Like I had to fight my way to Valhalla without Mjolnir,' Thor muttered.
Yells from the crowd interrupted them before Loki could laugh. They both looked out over the railing, and Loki realised with a jolt that the crowd was chanting for them to kiss. Presumably a proper kiss on the lips, maybe with a little tongue. And Odin and Laufey were looking triumphant and obviously expecting no less.
He wasn't looking, but Loki could just hear Thor's nervous gulp.
'They will not allow us leave until we do,' Thor said.
It really was not the time, but Loki could have sighed. How typical of Thor to be so flustered about kissing him all of a sudden. He reached up and turned Thor's face to him.
'Thor Odinson,' Loki started gently, 'I am honoured to be by your side today, and to remain here for centuries to come.' A lump was rising in his throat, but Loki ploughed on past it, because the Silvertongue did not allow such insignificant things to stand in the way of any speech. 'I love you, and am prepared to continue doing so forever.'
It worked. Thor's hard figure seemed to sag a little, and he leaned into Loki's touch. Then Loki reached up and brushed his lips lightly against Thor's. Encouraged, Thor deepened the kiss, and the crowd was deafening, but oddly enough, Loki was only aware of this as if he was watching a muted picture. His whole existence for that moment centred on Thor and the delicious kiss he was receiving, with Thor's tongue darting out to touch Loki's bottom lip.
When they broke apart, for the very first time, Loki was grateful for the fortune that was his. If being the unfavoured prince of Jotunheim meant that he was to spend the rest of his life in the beautiful realm of Asgard with the man he loved, then he would take it all without complaint.