Thor's laugh was forced, "Have you ever known me to be nervous?"
"Well," Loki shrugged carelessly, "there was that time in Nornheim."
His own nerves were strained tight. The portal was open.
"That wasn't nerves, Brother," Thor corrected, "that, was the rage of battle."
"Ah," Loki nodded, jerking himself back as best he could. "I see."
He'd gone out, flushed and hassled, to try and calm himself in the air that was more vibrant and fresh than anywhere in Asgard. For whatever reason, even amid the stresses that the situation presented, he found the space stilling. In Jotunheim, of all places.
He'd heard them. Heard the harsh laughter of the hunters. He left tracks behind in the snow, bare and obvious like gaping bloody wounds, and he'd left the portal wide behind him.
"How else could I have fought my way through a hundred warriors and pulled us out alive?"
It was the right thing to do. It was what had to be done. One day, Thor would understand.
Loki frowned, "As I recall," he said, "I was the one who veiled us in smoke to ease our escape,"
One day, Thor would understand. Not that he would ever know. Loki would never be able to tell him. He didn't need to know. He wouldn't understand it now, and by the time he could, it would be centuries-old and useless.
"Yes," Thor said, "some do battle, others just do tricks."
A serving man offered Thor a goblet, laughing at what the Golden Prince had to say.
Loki's eyes snapped.
He recalled the sardonic lilt to the guard's mouth when he'd spoken to them and the heat of it washed up in his belly, driving away the guilt. He felt he ought to thank the fool of a serving man. The idiot offered up, all unwittingly, a marvelous opportunity.
Twisting his hand he cast an illusion of snakes and the man gave a startled yelp. His hand fell and the goblet clattered to the floor, spilling its castlings in a pool on the ground and breaking apart, cup from stem.
It was as much a release for himself as it was entertainment for Thor, and vengeance on both of them for the joke.
And it worked. Loki laughed.
"Loki," Thor sighed, "now that was just a waste of good wine."
But the sigh had a laugh in it.
"Oh it's just a bit of fun," Loki peered forward to see the man's face, eyes hard with what it was he meant to say to the fool. "Right, my friend?"
Try it once more.
No matter how many times he played the same trick, they never seemed to expect it.
Obligingly, Loki put out a hand to dispel the image.
Bowing low to the ground, the man gathered up the fragments and backed away. All the while, he threw furtive looks at the younger prince.
Loki was pleased with that.
No sooner was he gone than a guard appeared, offering Thor his ceremonial helm.
Loki noticed how Thor hesitated before taking the thing, and the manner in which he did so. He accepted it graciously, not with his usual bravado.
He meant this far more seriously than Loki had ever expected him to, and that made his heart give a little in his chest.
"Oo," he said, shoving that away, "nice feathers."
Thor turned on him, grinning like the brash boy he'd been.
Boys are not made kings.
Somehow it had all felt less real, before.
Thor shook his golden head, "You don't really want to start this again? Cow?" he gestured to Loki's own helm.
Mock offense, "I was being sincere!"
"You are incapable of sincerity."
It was so like the old days. When Thor would trust him with his heart.
But what was done could not be undone, and the security of the realm counted for more. The words were heavy on his tongue, but he couldn't tell Thor now. He wouldn't understand and all would be for nothing. Thor would understand eventually.
He had to.
"I've looked forward to this day as long as you have," Loki promised, longing with all that was in him for one precious moment that he could tell Thor everything, "my brother, and my friend," he prayed that Thor would remember this. Prayed to anything that might listen that Thor would understand, though he knew that could never happen. "Sometimes, I'm envious, but never doubt that I love you."
Thor's eyes were deep and dark in the hall where they stood, solemn to their depths. "Thank you," he said.
Loki grinned, pushing away the awful certainty that knew how Thor would hate him if he knew what he had done. "Now give us a kiss,"
Laughing in spite of himself, Thor shoved him back, "Stop it."
He wanted to tell Thor. Wanted to warn him.
Thor asked, "Really, how do I look?"
They weren't boys any longer, but Thor still trusted him. Still looked to him for the truth.
The guilt curdled in his throat.
But he was the only one here. The only one to help. Of course Thor would look to him now. If his friends were about the question would never have occurred to him.
And that helped.
Blonde and handsome, strong beneath his glorious armor. Thor looked every inch the hero of children's tales yet untold.
"Like a king," Loki said.
Thor nodded, distracted yet with his thoughts.
He had to understand. But nothing was left to remedy that now.
For heaven's sake, just to get this over with –
"It's time," Loki said.
"You go ahead."
Loki looked at him, incredulous.
"I'll be along," Thor protested, "go on."
And Loki abandoned him to his thoughts.
He was pacing back and forth, agitated, gripping the handle of Mjolnir in his fist.
Frigga remembered how he had been as a boy, and she knew deep in her heart that he could do this. It was time.
"It's all right to be nervous," she said.
Thor turned and faced her, "Why does everyone keep saying that?"
She smiled softly to herself as he strode past her in the little space.
"I'm not nervous!" he protested.
At that she smiled outright. He was yet little more than her boy. "You may be able to fool the rest of Asgard," she said.
"Yes," he stopped in front of her, the hammer tight in his fist, "But never you," in spite of his tone, his electric eyes softened, "I know."
"Just remember," she drew close to him, "that you have something even the great AllFather never had."
His eyes flickered with curiosity and amusement, "And what's that?"
She smiled at him, "Me for a mother."
She passed by him, brushing his thick arm with her hand.
Coming to the edge of the stair, she turned back.
He was smiling after her.
"Whenever you're ready, my son," she said, "The ceremony awaits."
Both of these are deleted scenes. I merely read in thoughts and motivations that I thought in character.
Thoughts? Comments? Let me know what you think of this arc I've drawn out here. Now that I've finished, it's easier to actually discuss it. No more surprises lurking.
What did I miss?
Also, neat detail about the name of this fic that I actually only just caught, In the End is the name of a song by Linkin Park that is amazing and also weirdly applicable. It's also a key phrase in The Avengers. "In the end, you will always kneel." How's that for subconscious foreshadowing?!
And for proof that I really am working on a sequel? ;)
If you have requests for deleted scene style fics, alternate sequels or points I never thought to make, let me know! No promises as to what I'll actually write, but if it fits into my scheme of their arc and it bugs me enough, I guarantee you that it will get written!
I'm currently working on a fic during Thor -Avengers-Dark World from Loki's POV to continue the arguments I've made in this one. And I'm planning companion fics from Thor, Odin and Frigga's points of view that I may release simultaneously. You know, so as they're being released you get all four of them at the same time so it comes out in a kind of chronological order, but by the time they've been out a while you can read each of them as their own story. You maaaay have to wait a leeetle longer for those 'cause I like to finish them before I publish, just so they can come out a little more polished…but I think I can venture to guess that you guys don't mind ;)
Favorite, Follow, or whatever if you're interested. I may also have some myth-inspired stories and/or AUs. I got a lot of nonsense knocking around in my head. We'll see what I get to. I do write things other than fanfictions, so we'll have to see who claims more of my heart and demands my typing time
Thanks so much for playing along! It's been great!
Let the movie begin ;)