In place of trees are marble pillars. In place of simple beasts lurks a green-eyed creature all too sly to be easily captured. But captured he will be.
They both know the story. Both have re-enacted it for a hundred years, and they will re-enact it for a hundred more. The details differ; the intent does not.
Ten years ago they were finally wed, shortly after Odin Allfather’s demise necessitated Thor’s ascension to the throne and the storm-wielder’s impulsive nature made a shrewder, more deliberate counterpart a wise addition to Asgard’s throne. Now they rule the golden realm eternal – as kings, as kin, as lovers. Yet while they wear the mantle of kingship well, Loki has ever been one for mischief. One dull day he slipped from a council meeting and caused a minor upset when his absence became suddenly apparent. An incensed Thor was forced to pursue him through endless hallways and hidden passageways. His fury, when it finally met with Loki's cool kiss, was hot as the coals of Muspelheim. They clashed; they fought; they claimed each other like an act of war. It ended with the clang of ceremonial armour on the floor and the sliding of skin against skin.
It has ended that way ever since, more or less.
The rhythm of the hunt sings in Thor’s veins. Off the battlefield, he leaves his hammer in favour of his unarmed senses, which are so attuned to the scent and sounds of his beloved that he feels they are one and the same being, conjoined by an invisible thread and never truly apart. Away from deer and boar and bilgesnipe, he seeks a far more satisfying quarry.
To tease him is to prolong the hunt. To prolong the hunt is to heighten the pleasure. Loki knows this.
It is why he plays the yearning lover one second and elusive siren the next. Why he leaves trails of frost or flame that end abruptly in a bare wall. It is why the clothes on his body shift constantly like sand, revealing everything and nothing.
Though they have played at this countless times and the games vary, a few themes have become their mutual favourites. And these steps they dance to again and again.
* * *
1: The Treasure
Loki Laufeyson, jewel of Jotunheimr, has escaped the confines of his sheltered life to seek adventure in the wilderness. Laufey-king seeks the services of famed bounty hunter Thor to bring back his errant son. Hence begins a tale of a skilled and ruthless hunter intent on claiming a generous reward at any lengths. That is, until he meets his bounty and is smitten by this winterchild, this exotic beauty who wears gold and precious gems on his naked limbs. Loki pretends to acquiesce; to follow him back to Laufey’s side; but then tries to stab Thor in the back, only to be held back by the force of his own desire. Desire turns to love. Love turns to escape. A tale as old and retold as an ancient skald-song.
2: The Slave
Thor Odinson, warrior chief of Asgard, has conquered the strange shadow-lands he sought to make his mark upon. And he chooses the most beautiful and skilled of the civilians as his personal slave: a bewitching dancer with a quick mind and wicked tongue and hands that pluck a lyre with almost painful grace. From thereon commences struggling, and curses, and biting, before Loki is finally subdued and chained. Thor places his slave upon a temple pedestal and conquers him there and then – in every way possible. It ends with the thoroughly violated Loki sobbing beneath the weight of Thor’s post-coital kisses. But the sobs are tearless. And then Loki loops the chain around his captor’s neck and traps him in turn.
3: The Changeling
A sleekly muscled silver stallion runs across the fields of Vanaheim, crossing the proud hunter’s gaze. It would make a fine steed indeed for the soon-to-be-king. But Thor finds the beast to be as proud and wilful as he is, buckling at his every touch and constantly an inch from trampling him to death with gleaming ebony hooves. When he is finally close to mounting the horse, it melts beneath his hands into a beautiful young man as graceful and untameable as his beast-form. Thor offers a stolen apple from the garden of Idunn as a gift. The changeling takes a bite of the fruit, and from that moment they are bonded in every way known to man and god.
* * *
The very air is an illusion.
Silvery dewdrops and falling leaves rain from the eaves and corners as Thor pursues their conjurer down a narrow hallway.
Joy courses through his heart and quickens his steps. Greater joy still will find him when he finally grasps the slender whipcord arm and wraps it in invisible chains. When he takes the reins of the elusive stallion and finds it its place a river of naked skin and wanting lips. When he steals a frost-skinned prince from his throne and fucks him until the icy blue turns soft and warm in the promised land so many lovers seek and so few find.
Thor will have his prize. And then he will lose it, so he can reclaim it in a thousand ways, for the next thousand years, forever until the second End, and the third.
They will paint the skies with their hard-won love, and the mortals will taste the sweet aftermath in the scent of the air after a thunderstorm.
It is a taste worth savouring indeed. For the sweetest promise of all, Thor knows, is the one found in the curve of a liar’s tongue.