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In less than an hour, everything I have ever known, everything I have ever loved, enjoyed, grown comfortable with, will change .

He doesn't know it yet. He doesn't think anything will change, but my golden haired brother has always been rather.... dense, when it comes to such matters. Delicate situations, such as they are, are often mishandled, thanks to his brash and visceral reactions. I do not fault him for it. I suspect that Thor does not have the ability to wade through the thick of most politics, but even if he did, he would not have the patience.

I do not fault him, in fact, this simple mindedness only endears him to me. He has a drive that not many have, an energy that brightens every room he steps into. I have never been immune to it either. I am no exception. Often, he is the only one that has ever been able to draw me out a foul mood, or a dark period of introspection. Often, he has been the only one able to make me smile again.

I have waited patiently in this room for nearly an hour now. For him . Dressed in my best, I have tried to make myself appear ready for this change. The weight of my polished, golden-horned helmet is nothing compared to the weight of my knowledge. His coronation is soon, and I know he is probably off drinking wine, making merry until the last minute, until his new responsibilities as king settle on his shoulders. Until things change.  

He doesn’t realize it yet, or perhaps he doesn’t want to believe it, perhaps he simply turns away from it and blindly hopes everything will remain the same.

But I know.

When he is crowned king, our time will come to an end. My time with him will come to an end. He doesn’t want to see it, but I cannot help it. Reality looms, and despite everything I tell myself, it frightens me. I have known, for a long time, that I will lose him to this, to the throne. I will lose him to the title of King, and with it shall go the title of ‘lover’ he bestowed on me long ago, in the dark of his chambers.

I feel his presence before I hear his footsteps or hear the door open. Such is his power. He approaches, his booted feet sending soft echoes throughout the dimly lit halls. His voice rings out next, loud, demanding. I am not startled. I have grown used to the ways of my brother.

“ANOTHER!” It is just as I suspect it might be. An hour from his coronation, and he has been busy drinking. Silly God of Thunder.

I turn to see him, watch as he throws his glass of wine into the torch on the ground. The fire billows and flares, a delightful show that briefly casts the hall in a brighter glow and throws my shadow against the banners hanging in the room. He has always been fond of showing off. As have I. Our pride is one of the things we share. Perhaps it is because we both knew, from an early age, that only one of us would claim the title of King.  Each of us has spent our lives trying to outdo the other to prove that we are both worthy.

Of course, he has always been the chosen one. Firstborn, golden, brash, beautiful,  Thor. We have both always known that he would be the one to ascend, but it never stopped me from competing.

We are not competing here, not  now. The choice has been made. Change is coming.

He stands next to me, and I take my place beside him, though I do notice him  fidgeting in an odd way for such a confident man. Such a confident God. His hammer is held at his side, as is normal for him, the weapon hardly ever leaves his possession these days.

I force myself to speak, to break the uncomfortable silence. Nothing would please me more than to put this day off indefinitely. I don’t want to lose him.

“Nervous, Brother?” I ask him softly. It would be right for him to be nervous now, anyone in their right mind would be.

He laughs, and even his laugh is nervous, though his words are full of denial. “Have you ever known me to be nervous?”

Of course I have. He is my brother. I have seen him in nearly every situation the mind could imagine. He has been nervous during battles. He has most certainly be nervous in bed with me. I can not say that aloud however, his attendant is arriving, likely with the wine he has requested. I can hear the soft shuffle of his rich fabrics in the shadows. So I choose to remind him of one of our battles, instead of the gentle, exploratory touches of our first few trysts. How I wish I could remind him of our trysts, remind him that change is not always good, even though it may seem that way at first.

“There was the time in Nornheim...” I say fondly, knowing that he will remember, and he will likely deny it, for he is to be crowned King soon. A King can not admit his faults..

“That wasn't nerves, brother. It was the rage of battle. How else could I have fought my way through a hundred warriors and pulled us out alive?” He boasts, but his smile invites a jest, he knows that we both shared a part in that battle. His prowess is nothing to scoff at, but neither are my magics. I may not have his brute strength, but I do have my mind, and my mind is as sharp as any knife or axe.

I respond as he expects me to, for I do not yet want to see the smile gone from his face. I do not want to dull the blue of his eyes. The attendant slithers out of the shadows as I respond, a goblet on a golden platter for the would-be king. He has another , as my Prince brother has requested.

“As I recall, I was the one who veiled us in smoke to ease our escape.”  I say, coloring my voice with slight  offense, though I am not truly, this is how it has always been. We jest, we fight, we argue, but we each know that the other is there should we need him. But now, not willing to give any quarter, especially not in front of another, Thor responds once more.

“Some do battle, others just do tricks.” This truly does prick my pride, and I glance at him, wondering if he knows it, if he’s doing it for show, or if the change has already begun. The attendant snickers softly, and my ire rises. I smile, a feral smile, and extend my hand, calling my powers to the fore. I turn the wine into a set of snakes. That is enough for now, combined with the soft shriek and the clatter of the golden platter and goblet as they drop to the floor. My wine-turned-snakes writhe on the ground for a few heartbeats, as I take pleasure from the fear in the eyes of the man I did not invite here. He has learned his lesson for laughing at my ‘tricks.’ I do not think he will soon forget it.

I laugh softly, my teeth bared in another feral smirk, showing my own enjoyment. They do not yet know the animal I can be.

“Loki.” Thor berates me softly, as if he is my better. Soon, he will be, but not yet. I turn my gaze to him, as he continues, his mood slightly dampened now that he can not have another cupful.

“Now that was just a waste of good wine.” he says, his brows furrowed as he turns a slightly sullen expression back to me.

I laugh again, my own amusement growing. My ‘tricks’ have real consequences, as he will soon find out. I don’t intend to lose my laughing, smiling lover to the title of “King.” He does not know it yet, but he will. I already have plans in place. I gesture at the snakes, and they burn away into nothing.

“It’s just a bit of fun.” I say in my defense, turning my emerald gaze on the man who had brought the drink. He seems shaken, and I enjoy it as I address him. “Right, my friend?”  The robed man still seems unsure, and he kneels to retrieve the fallen objects as my brother and I share a chuckle at his expense. We are careful to keep an acceptable distance between us, for what we have shared is taboo, and no one else has ever known. I cross my arms, placing them carefully in front of my person, my smile not yet faded. Hopefully this will not be the last laugh we share as lovers.

The attendant scurries away, but there to replace him is another, armored. He carries Thor’s helmet and the silence grows heavily pregnant between us as Thor inspects it. I inspect it also, though I do not think it worthy of sitting upon his golden head. It is silver, with wings crafted to look like an eagle’s. The work is beautiful, art even, but still, unworthy. This attendant moves away, and we are left alone once more.

“Nice feathers.” I murmur, to break the silence apart once more, and it works, at least for a time. He laughs, and I am glad to see his smile again as I open the door for him to take a jab of his own at my helmet. It is another humorous exchange, one we have often shared.

“You don't really want to start this again, do you, Cow?” he asks, turning his body toward mine. Perhaps he has partaken of more wine than he should. Perhaps I have misjudged the degree of his nervousness. I turn toward him, in an attempt to diffuse the situation. He is my brother, and I love him. This is a big day for him. Maybe.

“I was being sincere,” I claim, though we both know this is not the case. I have been gifted with a silver tongue, and enough skill to weave such a web of lies that even a god will find it hard to unravel them.

He calls me on it with a simple, “You are incapable of sincerity.” He knows I lie.

“Am I?” I ask, as I stare into his blue eyes with conviction. Our gazes link, and never break, and I know he needs more. He needs my support, and I hope this truth will be enough for him, because I do not believe I will be telling him the truth again anytime soon. Not with what I have planned. He can never know that what will happen soon is my doing. I give him what he needs right now, I want to make him believe it, for it is the truth, and it needs to be spoken . A hushed whisper will not do here.

“I have looked forward to this day as long as you have. You are my brother and my friend. Sometimes I am envious, but never doubt that I love you.”

And the ‘I love you.” carries with it all that I can say now without breaking my own heart; it is heavy with feeling, with things left unsaid. I have said it countless times before in the darkness of our rooms. Now I have said it again, and he believes it. I can see it in his eyes, I can feel it in the hand he places on my nape, and all I can think of is that I wish the damned outfits we wear were gone. I want his warm hand on my pale skin again, with nothing separating them. I will never get enough of it, or the hoarse whispers he unleashes when we are alone together, lost in our own senses, in each other.

Almost all of it is true, except for the first sentence. The truth is, I’ve dreaded this day more than any I can remember. My gut twists with the thought of what will happen if he is crowned. Brothers can not be lovers. He will be expected to take a wife, produce little ones, take care of Asgard. He will have no time for me, for us , and I can not accept this. I will not.

Though I am envious of him, I have known my entire life that this is how it would be. He has known. Everyone has known that the crown has belonged to Thor since birth, and while I am envious of him for it, in this moment, I am more upset that Thor also belongs to the crown, and that the damn thing will wrench my brother from the circle of my arms.

“Thank you.” he says simply, with a soft voice and a softer grip, looking deep into my eyes. I know he has to feel it, my need for him, my desire to keep him close and at my side. I will not let him leave me behind, this dear brother of mine.

Our gazes have still not broken, and I know we are alone now, the only breathing in the room is our own.

“Now give us a kiss,” I say, and he laughs before hitting my breastplate, raising a finger as if he thinks I jest. Already the change is happening, and pulling him away from me. Is it because he thinks we might not be alone; or because he knows that after this day, everything will be different? My heart contracts, and I laugh as if I am as amused as he, but deep inside there is an ache I refuse to grow used to. I am determined he will stay mine . At least for a little longer.

We turn away from each other, but the silence again falls like night between us, dark and thick, humming with the nervous energy of shifting storms. My pride hurts that he will not humour me, that he will not give me a kiss. I have never known him to be selfish. Outspoken, rash, temperamental, yes, but never selfish, not Thor.  I cringe to think we might have already shared our last one. Lost in my thoughts, it takes the span of several heartbeats for me to realize that he is the one that has broken the silence this time. . Quickly, I press the hints of words I have only half-heard together into a phrase that is easy to understand.

“Really, how do I look?”

How do I tell him that that to me, he will never look as glorious as he does when he is over me, inside me, with his lips on my body, and passion in his eyes? That even in his magnificent armor, he will never come close to looking as beautiful as he does in the thick of battle, his face alight with bloodlust? That even with that meticulously crafted helm on his head, he will always look best with his golden hair freshly tousled by my slender fingers?

I don’t. I say the only thing that is acceptable here, in this room, right now. He will hate me if I say otherwise, if I protest this change.

“Like a King.”

He knows. He knows what I want to say, but he doesn’t respond. Instead he stays stoic, he stays quiet, he doesn’t laugh, and the change becomes more pronounced, the distance between us growing more profound and impassable as the seconds tick past. The hurt in my heart grows with each beat, the pain spreading through my breast with each breath. It becomes unbearable, and to ease my own hurt, I speak.

“It is time.” It is not time... We have nearly an hour still, this exchange has only taken place in the span of a few minutes that feel like forever, but I have to say something, anything, to get away from here, from this brother who will be King, from this brother who still thinks nothing will change. But things already have, and it hurts, and I can’t deal with the way he looks past me when he should look at me. I can not deal with the emotion welling inside me, the inability to say all the things I need to say to him. My silver-tongue is not used to being leashed, and it is damaging for me to do it, even if it is for my lover’s benefit. I feel the need to flee, and I know he can feel it too.

“Go ahead.” He’s going to let me do it. He’s going to let me run. He insists I run, instead of giving me a few moments of comfort. He knows how much I need him, and yet the change has taken hold, and I know he already sees himself as my lover no longer, but my King. I look at him for a long moment, hoping he will change his mind, hoping he will ask me to stay, but he insists, and part of my soul shrivels and threatens to die.

“I'll be along. Go on.” He repeats himself with more authority, and the dying part of my heart throbs in pain, and I can’t catch my breath as he tries to hurry me along. There is nothing more I can do, except hope my plans will succeed. It is out of my hands now.

I have only taken a few steps forward when I hear him call after me, his voice low, nervous, and plaintive.

“Loki?” I stop and turn once more to face him. If things do not go as planned, I will have lost him. These are our last few moments as us , as we . I am in no hurry to quicken their pace, even though each moment is another sharp pin pressed into my very soul.

“I have changed my mind about that kiss.”

His helmet and his hammer clatter loudly as they hit the floor, forgotten. The tools he will use as King, cast to the floor as if they were nothing more than the platter and goblet that attendant took away.

Our eyes meet once more, and before I can utter a reply or reproach, he is upon me, pressing my back against the unforgiving wall, his lips on mine, desperate, hot. The banners flutter around us. His skin is like fire, warming me to my core as he grips my jaw and pulls my lips open; His kisses are sweeter than any dessert or treat I have ever consumed, but I know I am the one being consumed, and he takes, as he has always taken. I give him everything I have as he struggles with our ornate vestments, but his hands are as heavy and careless as when he battles, and the seams of my clothes creak in protest. I murmur to him, a soft reminder that he is to be king, and he must look the part. Though he pauses in the middle of trying to rip my garments off my person, it does not stop him from ripping my own helm from my head and dropping it to the floor as carelessly as he has dropped his own.

His fingers wind in my hair, and I do the same to his, gripping, pulling, as we reassure one another without words, but with a kiss that I never want to end, of our bond, and our love. Perhaps he is more aware of the change than I think, my idiot brother. I can feel he is as frightened as I am, I can feel his desperation now that he has abandoned pretense. His hands seem to be everywhere at once now, as if he cannot get enough, as if he is committing my body to memory one last time. I can react no differently, for we are doing the same things, tucking away each touch and kiss to tide us over through what is to come.

He raises several sharp, vivid bruises on my neck, at my nape, where no one will be able to see; I know it is his favorite place to lay them. He likes claiming me in this way and always has, where an errant breeze could reveal our secret to the world. He has always been incautious in this manner, I cannot fault him for it, for I am as much his, as he is mine.  I hear myself gasp as pleasure and pain mingle and I clutch him to me as hard as I dare, my knuckles white with the pressure I put on them.

Will his future wife be able to see any of the scratches I have left on him when he beds her? Will he tell her the truth, that they are from his dear brother, the one he truly loves? The one he has taken countless times in his rooms, in my rooms, everywhere we can wrangle a moment’s peace?  This line of thought does not please me, and I banish it to the farthest corners of my mind. Whatever girl he chooses as his bride will have no place between us, not even in thought, I will not allow it. He is mine.

My fingers dig into his nape, bruising in turn as he settles for jerking my trousers undone and shoving them low on my hips. I am hard, achingly so, and I can feel that it is the same for him. I return the favor, though my hands are shaking and it takes me several seconds to undo the ties that conceal him. He passes those few seconds distracting me with kisses along my jaw, my neck and my ear, tongue even darting out to flirt with the lobe. My blood boils, and my heart has made its way to my throat, its beat loud and clear at my temples.

He groans, a low, guttural thing,  when I am finally able to free him from his trousers, and presses forward, grinding his hips into mine and pushing our lengths together.  Our pants slip down our thighs, forgotten as we simply bask in the tactile sensation of flesh against flesh. His strong arm wraps around my back, hauling me closer, driving me mad. It is not enough for me, and it is not enough for him. Our greed is another trait we share, along with our pride, and we both want to have it all. We simply go about it in different ways.

His hands slide back to my hips and he grips them bruisingly hard, spinning me around and pressing my cheek to the cold stone as he flips up my jacket and my tunic. I press my palms to the wall, feeling my heartbeat even in my fingertips. My brother can be such an undignified brute sometimes. This is only reaffirmed when hear him spit into his palm. But there is no time for a long, gentle fuck complete with something more appropriate for lubrication now, there is too much need , and too little time. He presses his cock in the crevice between my buttocks a few times, and I watch him out of the corner of my eye. He tips his head back and groans with pleasure as he takes himself in his slick palm and strokes. I feel a familiar flush creep over my cheeks. I know what is coming, and I long for it.

His beard tickles my shoulder as he fastens his teeth around my nape, a claiming that is animalistic in nature, wild and untamed. A breath later and he is inside me, and my body feels as if it has been struck by lightning. Goosebumps race down my arms and back and neck, and I have to bite my knuckle to keep myself from screaming as the electricity of his touch sets every nerve in my body to trembling. His thrusts are rough; our last tryst was not so long ago, and he knows I am ready, he knows I want this. My own cock brushes the smooth wall with each thrust, teasing me, hinting at the potential for further sensation. As if our minds are linked, he reaches around, wrapping his strong, still-damp fingers around my length and strokes firmly.

I am helpless now, the armor of my mind has been undone and cast away, my thoughts have fled, and all I, Loki, the silver-tongued God of Mischief can say, is his name.

“Thor.” I whisper, as he moves within me, and he answers my call by moaning my own name in a gravelly, voice painted with need.

“Loki.” His mouth is at my ear now, and he sucks on it, needing somewhere to put his mouth as his free hand lifts from my hip and tears my knuckled away from my mouth. He presses my hand flat to the wall in front of us, covering it with his own in the same manner as his body covers mine,  before twining his large fingers through my own, more slender digits.

His breaths are harsh, as are mine, but that thought is quickly swept away in the wake of the storm between us. Once more, maybe for the last time, there is nothing but he and I. There is nothing but us , and we move together in a culmination of our long relationship. Everything we have ever said to each other passes between us without words, we are one, bound together by fate and love, and lust and need. We are brothers, but we are so much more, and I will not have us threatened.

We come together in a furious tornado of almost silent whimpers and moans, for we must remain quiet now, this is the most public place we have ever indulged. My body spasms, clutching him deep, and I am unwilling to let him go until I have used my talent to milk every bit of pleasure I can from him. He fills me up, and I need to remind him of what we share, while we are still equals. Soon he will be King.

As he withdraws from me, I glance down to make sure I have not soiled my own robes, and am half relieved and half embarrassed to see that the robes are clean, but the wall has not fared so well. I shall leave that to the servants to find and wonder about.

He pulls himself from me slowly, as if unwilling, and I know he is unwilling because his hand still wraps around mine in a vice grip, holding strong and steady.

I reluctantly untangle my fingers from his, so that we can both straighten ourselves up, and turn as I re-fasten the buttons on my trousers. We need say nothing now. Everything has already been communicated. We exchange smiles, both of them sheepish, though I know mine carries a shadow of my sadness.

He makes himself presentable once more, and I gently smooth his hair back into place before I allow him to retrieve his hammer and helm. I lift my own indelicately by the horns and we put them on as one, though we are no longer us. It is only by luck that neither are scuffed.

It is still not time, but the hour looms closer, and I must take my place beside the throne, as any good brother should, when the man he grew up alongside is to become King. I step out into the great hall before him, and take my place near my father’s throne, waiting until the ceremony begins. Sif is to my right, Frigga to my left.

It is a glorious thing, this ceremony; beautiful, grand, awesome to behold, and I can do nothing but seethe behind the mask of a smile. The hall is packed with our fellow Asgardians, but I can not bring myself to love them as he does. These people would call my brother’s attention away from me, and I will not have that. He and I barely exchange glances as he approaches the throne, hiding the secret, nervous part of him he has only allowed me to see. The change has come creeping back over him, and as the time approaches, I worry that my ‘tricks’ will not be enough to stop it from happening.

Thor shows off for his soon-to-be subjects, tossing his hammer and smiling, encouraging them to cheer as I stand next to our mother, who is radiating pride as he kneels in front of our father, and the Throne that will soon be his.

They are too late. My mind screams this at me, as the Allfather begins to swear my brother in, and there is nothing that I want more in this moment than to object, to scream, to use every tool at my disposal to stop the march of time and pull my brother off with me into another adventure

I want to scream, ‘But I am a more fit companion for him than that Hammer will ever be!’  My fists and my gut clench tighter and tighter with every word, and change is so close I can feel it, breathing at my neck like a hungry wolf, ready to rip me apart. I am choking, drowning, hoping against hope that this will not come to pass, but time marches on and the pain in my chest grows like an infection, about to burst.

At the very last moment possible, before my father passes the title to his firstborn, golden son, he pauses.

“Frost Giants.”

Relief floods me so quickly and so thoroughly that I nearly sink to my knees. But I do not; such an action would be unbecoming of one who is supposed to be  a strong Asgardian prince.

It has worked. He will still be mine . At least for a time.

Oh yes, my tricks have consequences. Though I have orchestrated this trick to benefit me in the short term, even I am as yet unaware at how far, and how deeply its ripples will span. The change that I fear will come, and soon, more devastating to us than I have ever imagined.