Loki looked at Thor inquisitively before looking down at the small box in his hands.
Unwrapping it delicately, Loki’s softened green eyes turned a sharp harlequin.
“Thor? What do you…” Loki let his question drift with the subtle winds sweeping by them.
“I mean for you to have it. It is only right.”
Loki let the box slip from his trembling hands as the delicate silver chains wove their way around his fingers. The pendant hanging from it bore the exact same three-pronged swastika as Mjolnir did – which was symbolic of thunder. This was Thor’s sigil.
“But for me to bear your sigil… It would mean…” Loki again left his sentence unfinished, still processing the gravity of Thor’s gift. Loki’s heart was swelling with fear and anticipation. Surely Thor understood what this meant, right?
“I must court as well, Loki… but I cannot look upon anyone without wishing they were you. Asgard is not the same without you, and I wish to have you by my side again, by whatever circumstances necessary.”
Thor’s face was sincere, and pinched in fear. Desperately awaiting Loki to say yes, he was unprepared for what followed.
“I… I cannot, Thor. I am… sorry,” Loki dipped his head at the last few words.
“Loki…?” It was odd that Thor’s voice cracked as much as it did, but it only resembled how his heart was feeling.
“You do not understand. I am not your brother, nor am I the one you grew up with. I have changed. I am different. We have hardly seen each other, there is no possible way you could know what I’ve become.”
“Give me the chance to, at least! Brother, the days you visit me are the happiest days, and I await them each time. You cannot toss aside our childhood simply because you have been forced to live in a different realm. I will always remember you as my little brother, but I see you now as someone I have grown to love as well. Can we not try?”
Loki slowly looked up to meet Thor’s pleading eyes – eyes that made Loki’s body melt on the inside, reducing him to a boneless heap without logic.
“I still do not think you understand my position – my difference,” Loki said bitterly. Didn’t Thor understand? Didn’t he realize that it was not because Loki wanted to push Thor away, but because he didn’t want Thor to push him away once he had seen Loki’s true form?
“Come with me. To my coronation. It would… explain much.” Loki couldn’t believe he had just uttered those words.
After hiding from Thor all this time, he was about to reveal to Thor what he had grown to be, something Thor would despise. This was the last and final step of his relationship with Thor, for after this, it would surely be no more.
“Of course, brother.” Thor said all too cheerfully.
Sigh. If only he knew.
And so, in a much different scenario, the brothers set off to Jotunheim, side-by-side again, Loki's palms sweating nervously.
As the two arrived in Jotunheim, Thor panicked that he would not be welcomed, but Loki led Thor to the palace, and assigned the guards to treat him well, and to make a seat for him at the head table during the feast. The guards either didn’t recognize him, or respected Loki too much to show Thor any sign of hostility. Loki promised he would see Thor as soon as he could, but needed to prepare for the prestigious event. With a nod, they parted ways and Thor was escorted into a Great Hall much like Asgard’s, but more delicate and beautiful in an odd way Thor was not accustomed to. He took in the intricate details of their architecture, noting the inside was much, much different from the outside. It was also not as cold as he had expected on the inside, and he found it pleasantly cooling. Still keeping a careful eye out for any who may seek vengeance upon him, he realized that this was Loki’s big day – and nobody seemed to care for his existence at all. Though he was puny and they took some care not to step on him, it dawned upon Thor that these Jotnar held a great deal of respect for Loki to be treating his guest with such care.
When Laufey stood, all stopped.
Impressive. Thor noted.
His eyes glanced at Thor in acknowledgement before retuning his attention to the rest in the room.
“As we gather here today to celebrate my eldest son’s name day, it is with great joy that I announce your upcoming King of Jotunheim. Loki Laufeyson, my first born, my heir. You have performed your duties as prince well, and you have given Jotunheim a new future so that we may rise from the ashes.”
A collective cry and round of deafening applause roared through the hall, so loud that Thor could feel the vibrations through the floor. His heart pounded nervously as he caught sight of Loki, gracefully making his way upon the platform by Laufey’s throne.
No longer did he wear his pelt and bracers, no he exchanged them for the most majestic fashion Thor had ever seen. And he was… blue. Two polished golden plates set upon his broadened shoulders, each bearing scratch-like, circular markings that Thor saw upon Loki’s pale blue face – Loki’s sigil.
The plates led to golden weaving, crossed in an “X” in front of Loki’s tight black chainmail, which was strapped only halfway up his chest. Loki’s favoured dark green swept in and around the gold bracers and armlets, leaving much of his muscle on display and the cape he wore fluttered soundlessly around his ankles, which where clad in sophisticated royal combat boots. The room was deadly silent as they drank in Loki’s beauty and silent strength – Thor included. He had never seen Loki like this before, and took the opportunity to drink in every detail his eyes could trace. He marvelled at how the majestic robes fit Loki so perfectly, showing off his new build that Fandral would surely be jealous of. His brother had never looked so regal… so handsome. His raven hair was still slicked back, dancing just above his shoulder blades. His eyes were as red as the precious rubies of Frigga’s jewellery.
He faced Laufey, so that his back was turned to the crowd.
“Son… Do you swear to uphold this title of King in the highest honour?”
“And do you swear to reserve this peace, and to restore Jotunheim to its former glory?”
“And do you swear to pledge yourself to the absolute good of this realm, stopping at nothing to achieve what is best for it?
“Then on this day, I Laufey, First of My Name, descendant of Ymir, First of His Name, will proclaim you King of Jotunheim.” Laufey rose and placed a dazzling crown upon Loki’s head, jewels gleaming in the light. It looked right on Loki, like it was always made to be. Thor was actually envious of Loki’s crown – his own back on Asgard seemed only half as
impressive. If possible, the applause was louder the second time around – Thor resisted covering his ears.
As they settled down, Loki turned to face them, and Thor was winded by his astounding beauty once again.
“I would like to begin by thanking you all for your support. Without the people, a king is nothing but a man with a crown. He exists at the will of the people, and he exists to serve the people, not the other way around. This simple philosophy is often overlooked by those in power, as I have witnessed in other realms, but I promise you now, that will not be the case during my rule.”
This time, Thor really did have to cover his ears, for the cry was so thunderous, he feared he would become deaf if he didn’t. He could see the walls shake from their joyful cheers, but they seemed not to care, so Thor joined in as best he could, trying desperately to make eye contact with his brother as he and Laufey walked side by side down the middle of the hall along the golden carpet. They walked deliberately slowly, smiling and hearing the people praise them. When Loki finally got to Thor, his smile fell just slightly, eyes averted, before continuing to the end.
Thor was confused – had he misread Loki’s signals?
As everyone around him settled down into large banquet tables, he found his designated spot, with Laufey and his best guards – and Loki. Trying his hardest to beam proudly at him, he stepped very carefully to his place and whispered to his brother.
“You look absolutely stunning, brother.”
Loki seemed taken aback, no doubt not expecting Thor’s answer – but why shouldn’t he? Thor thought.
Thor’s tone was genuine, and it was unlike his brother to lie, but Loki had not expected Thor to take so kindly to his… true form.
“Are you drunk already?”
Thor gave a hearty chuckle, “Brother, you think so terribly of me?”
“No, don’t be foolish, merely… surprised.”
“Your form does not deter me, if that is what you thought. It is you. Bringing me to your coronation was your way of scaring me off after my gift, was it?” Thor asked, clueing in.
“Why would he do such a thing?” Laufey interjected, overhearing the last bit of their conversation.
Thor opened and closed his mouth, looking to Loki to explain as he didn’t quite know how courting customs worked in Jotunheim. And he didn’t want to be squished. There was that too.
Loki cleared his throat, stalling for an extra split second – but that was all he needed. “Father, I had hoped to speak to you about this after the ceremonies had come to an end, but I had some… ideas about our diplomatic situation.”
“As you know, my travels have been reassuring more than just temporary peace and slippery treaties that would be broken in some way or another. Upon crafting my plans, I took into account all eight realms – since we are excluding Midgard. Seven of them have taken an oath – a sworn oath of permanent peace, bound by their words and promised with their own blood.”
Laufey looked impressed, and Thor was barely keeping up - how did Loki manage all that within such a small span of time? - which urged Loki to continue, “Asgard is the last of the realms I had to visit, but I thought it best to wait.”
“Until my coronation?” Thor asked.
“Until your coronation. You offer more than Odin can for me you see, and I would like to propose permanent peace with Asgard, finally uniting the realms instead of watching over them. I seek a form of... liberation, if you will.”
“I…” Thor fumbled. He wasn’t prepared for this. What did he say? He stared into Loki’s bright red eyes and felt a nudge under the table. He furrowed his brow the slightest before seeing Loki slowly reaching up with a slender finger, pulling his chainmail to one side, revealing a slight silver chain, which Thor recognized instantly. A rather conspicuous wink gave Thor an understanding of what was to happen.
Loki smoothly continued, “It is only fair that I ask you first if there should be any proposals or requests that you make for your sworn word, as I have offered the other realms. Should it be within my power, I will grant you your request.”
Even Thor caught on this time. Confidently, he said in a voice he hoped was serious, “I would take you as my courted.”
Laufey and the nearest guard looked on with curiosity.
Loki addressed his father, “As my predecessor, my primary advisor and more importantly, my father, I would like your opinion on this matter. I personally believe that is within my power, and as all here witnessed, I swore to grant any request that should so.”
“You are a wiser king of less than two hours than I have known any king to be, son. I believe your choices are by far the most impressive anyone in the nine realms has seen. But as a father, I only wish for your well-being.” Thor felt Laufey’s dark, broody eyes scan him over from head to toe, studying him. “You were once a boy trying to prove himself a man, but I can see that you have grown since then.”
“I have found humility, and grounded my ignorance. I am a changed man. I am now a king. And above all, I care deeply for your son, and I care deeply for the realms. I wish to unite us, and I wish to unite our kingdoms.” Loki gave him an arched eyebrow of where-did-you-learn-to-speak-so-gracefully?
“Spoken like a true man and a true king,” Laufey notices. "Do you mean to take Loki as your Queen?"
"No, sir," Thor said quickly, because those were not his intentions. "I have been informed of your ways when it comes to siring or birthing children, but that does nothing for a title to be held as ruler. I wish to take Loki as my equal, and I wish to be taken as Loki's equal, if I may." More of Loki's bewildered eyebrow-arcing. Thor noted how fitting it looked on Loki's face, always so calculating and sceptical.
"We would share and split time in the realms," Loki added. "As equals, we will spend half a year in Asgard, and half a year in Jotunheim. I propose spring when life is renewing and autumn when life is depleting in Asgard, and the winter when Jotunheim is thriving and summer when it is tentative. That way we are present for when each of our realms is at it's strongest, so we may nourish, and at its weakest, to defend and uphold. It assures our kingdoms we are not gone for too long, yet we remain at each other's side to show unity."
Both Laufey and Thor were blown away by how fluid the words sounded as they rolled of Loki's smooth tongue
“You have my blessings,” is all Laufey could say to his son's wondrous (and obviously prepared speech). He looked back between Thor and Loki before rising at his table. Again, this mere notion had the hall hushed to silence in no time.
“May I present Loki’s first act as ruling King.”
Loki gave Thor a smirk before following his father’s lead. “Thor and I shall wed within the week, solidifying the uniting of the eight immortal realms so that peace may come for the millennium to come.”
For the millionth time that night, Thor allowed his ears to ring with the ongoing, violently gleeful cries of happiness from the Jotnar as he felt Loki’s cool fingers slip between his and wrench his arm in the air.
When the feast finally ended and Laufey had left the two of them alone, he saw Loki’s form ripple before revealing his Aesir glamour.
“Loki, your true form does not bother me if that is what you think.”
“I know. I’m… getting used to it. It’s easy when everyone else looks you, but with you this form feels just as natural. Either way, I feel safe in my own skin around you, whatever it may be.”
Thor held Loki in a tight embrace, and they stood there for a while, drinking in the other’s warmth and chill respectively.
“Will you stay the night?” Loki asked in an innocent voice while his bright green eyes contradicted his tone and glowed with mischief, his arms still wrapped around Thor’s back.
“Brother I’m Aesir, you know we are not made for the cold!” Thor said teasingly. “Unless of course, there is some way you can think of to keep me warm?” He reached one hand up to softly follow the curve of Loki’s straw jawline, ending up in his smooth black hair.
Loki’s eyes closed as Thor’s fingers danced down his scalp, landing at the base of his neck in a soft massage. He hummed, “I’m sure I can think of a way.”