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Sweat slid down Loki’s brow, stinging his eyes—still green, despite his best efforts—and dripping near-silently to the floor.

He took a deep breath and focused on his reflection in the tall mirror, watching as a deep wash of blue slowly crept further up his arms, deepening in color in the crook of his elbows, kin-lines unfurling and rising on his skin. He grit his teeth at the slow pace of the transformation, then pushed—too hard, too fast—and growled in frustration when the blue slid out of him, leaving him peach-pale and wholly Aesir. 

“Patience, my son,” Odin said from behind him, hands clasped loosely behind his back.

“Father,” Loki sighed, wiping his sopping wet hair off his forehead. He was raw from the exhaustion of attempting to wrest his Jotun form from within himself, an endeavor he’d started hours ago under the watchful eye of the Allfather. 

“It will come,” Odin said, with a firm nod. “Come, sit and recover your strength. You’ve made much progress today.”

Soothed by the reassurance, Loki abandoned the mirror and took a seat at his father’s desk, lifting a goblet of ice water to his lips and drinking hungrily. 

It should have come easily, Loki’s true form. It was maddening that it did not. That Loki, as a newborn babe at the edge of death, had used his considerable reserves of seidr to take on a form that would ensure his survival—the one that had endeared him to Odin One-Eye, King of Asgard.

Snow-shy, they called Loki now. The first summer he’d spent on Jotunheim had been miserable. Somehow he was even less hardy in the icy realm than Thor, Aesir-born and sun-warmed. It had rankled at him, as it always did, that things that were difficult for Loki seemed to come so naturally to Thor. 

But Loki had learned not to hold a grudge. Thor was, after all, his betrothed, and everything that belonged to Thor would belong to Loki, including kingship of Asgard and the Nine Realms. 

Not too bad for a babe who had been tossed out into the snow by his own sire. Loki already had his bearer’s blessing, and Farbauti was the only person who held his regard on Jotunheim. If it were entirely up to him, he’d give up his ties with the realm altogether. But Loki needed Jotunheim for legitimacy, and Jotunheim needed his betrothal and subsequent marriage to Thor for prosperity. 

Thus: the hours and hours poured into calling back his Jotun form in preparation for his coming-of-age trial. Loki could not wait to be done with it and marry Thor, and ride his cock happily into the sunset. 

“It will come,” Odin said again, as if reading his mind, and Loki’s face went hot. He should have been well past embarrassment in this. Both Odin and Farbauti had agreed on the arrangement: Loki and Thor were to be raised as brothers and betrothed. Unorthodox, but not unheard of. 

“I know,” Loki said, setting down the goblet and rubbing at his tired eyes. “I don’t mean to be impatient. It is only—”

“Thor’s feelings will not change,” Odin said, his mouth lifting into a smile, which made Loki want to sink into the ground. It was difficult having a father who was practically omniscient, especially when you were betrothed to his other son. 

Papa,” Loki groused, close to whining. “I don’t mean that. I meant—everything else. The Convergence is coming in less than a century. There are rumors of the Mad Titan on the edges of the universe. And—” Loki swallowed, his hands fidgeting. 

“Ragnarok,” he whispered eventually.

Odin reached out and laid a hand on Loki’s shoulder, squeezing and shaking him gently.

“You burden yourself with much, my child,” Odin said. “Rest, for now. Be merry. You and Thor will be ready when the time comes.”

“Thank you, Papa,” Loki murmured, relaxing in increments. 

Odin squeezed his shoulder once more.

“And,” Odin said, “if you do manage to maintain your Jotun form, as I am sure you will in no time at all, there’s a very simple spell that you and Thor can use to—”

“I actually have to meet with Fandral at the stables,” Loki blurted out, blushing furiously as he shot up from his seat. 

Odin’s eye twinkled with amusement. “I see,” he said. “A conversation for another time, then.”

“Another time,” Loki said hastily, and thought he heard Odin chuckle as he shut the door behind him.

--

Loki sighed and tilted his head further into the steaming water, his arms floating at his side and his legs kicking lazily. The ceiling high above was enchanted to show the sky outside, and now displayed a grey winter morning. It was early in the season, but it had snowed already just this dawn, and the turning weather filled Loki with equal parts dread and excitement. Sparrows wheeled in and out of view, late in leaving their nests for their warmer wintering grounds. 

Loki looked up, distracted, when the chamber door opened, and saw that it was Thor who had come in. He was sleep-rumpled and yawning, and entirely too endearing.

“May I join you?” Thor aked, fingering the hem of his tunic with a small smile. He’d learned his lesson early on, when Loki would freeze the water if Thor stepped into the bathing pool without permission. Betrothed or not, brothers or not, Loki was particular about certain boundaries.

Loki waved his hand out of the water in assent, and soon Thor was sinking into the pool with a sigh and swimming towards him.

“Hi,” Thor said, the water rippling as he drifted closer on his back, glancing sideways at Loki. Loki flicked water at him lazily, still staring up at the ceiling.

“Mama reminded me to be packed by the end of the week,” Thor said, charging blithely on despite Loki’s apparent disinterest. “I can’t imagine how cold it’s going to be. I’ve asked Inge to dig my warmest furs out of storage. I still have that one Farbauti gave me three Jols ago, do you remember? With the dragonscale—”

“Thor,” Loki said, closing his eyes.

“Are you nervous?” Thor asked.

Loki let himself sink like a stone to the floor of the pool, then rose to the surface and stood up in the chest-deep water.

Thor stood up too, his face cast with worry. “You know that I think it is unnecessary. I would marry you, whether or not—”

“You shouldn’t say such things,” Loki grumbled, but softened when Thor waded closer, putting his hands on Loki’s waist, boundaries forgotten. 

“I would, Loki. Brother. Beloved. You must know this.”

“I do,” Loki sighed, “if only because you will not stop loudly declaring it to anyone who ever makes mention of our betrothal.”

“Good,” Thor said, smiling brightly.

“It is not the trial that I am nervous for,” Loki said, “but what comes after.”

“The wedding?” Thor asked, tilting his head like a confused puppy.

“Kingship, you dolt,” Loki said, tugging on a lock of Thor’s hair even has his brother (betrothed, beloved), leaned in close, pressing them together skin-to-skin from collarbone to thigh. 

“What have I to worry about, with you by my side?” Thor asked, charming and smug to a fault.

“You are impossible,” Loki said, though his mouth quirked into a smile.

“Tell me something I don’t know,” Thor murmured, nudging his forehead against Loki’s and pressing their mouths together in a devastatingly soft kiss. Centuries of this, and still Loki crumbled. 

“I’ve been practicing,” Loki said, sighing as Thor’s fingers pressed tight around his hips.

“Practicing? You mean…?” Thor’s eyes widened, and Loki recalled the first day they’d come out of their lessons with a thorough understanding of Jotun anatomy. 

“Mm,” Loki hummed, drawing Thor closer and walking them backwards so that his back hit the side of the pool.

“Norns,” Thor swore softly as Loki demonstrated what he’d learned, raising his hand and letting blue creep in from the tips of his fingers to his wrist. 

Thor watched, breathless, as Loki dipped his hand back into the water, then curled it around Thor’s already-bobbing cock.

“Oh, it’s, oh—” Thor flushed, despite the coolness of Loki’s hand, and Loki’s smile turned wicked.

Thor shrieked and flailed backwards, splashing loudly as Loki’s hand went from cool to freezing. In a flash, Loki hauled himself out of the pool with a cascade of water, and Thor could only watch Loki’s pale ass as he ran away, cackling.

His cock cold (but his heart helplessly warm), Thor sank back into the steaming water with a sigh. 

--

Jotunheim was colder than Loki remembered. In his defense, he’d never been in the realm during its winter before. 

Farbauti stood tall and regal at the edge of the Bifrost landing site, waiting to greet them. Loki would have been embarrassed to be accompanied by his entire family—not just Thor but Odin and Frigga as well—if he wasn’t so wretchedly grateful for their company.

Loki stepped forward first, letting Farbauti eclipse him in a tight embrace. 

“Bearer,” Loki murmured, returning the hug with equal strength. He only came up to his bearer’s chest, but someday, Loki hoped, that would change. When he was able to tap into his Jotun form and draw power from Asgard and Jotunheim both, he would be able to shift into whatever form he wished.

“Welcome back, my dear heart,” Farbauti replied warmly. “It is good to see you well.”

Farbauti greeted the rest of the family with a graceful nod of his head, then swept out an arm to gesture to the enormous sleigh that would take them to Utgard. The massive elks that drew the carriage were a familiar sight.

“Can Loki and I ride up front?” Thor asked, already walking over to Miskunn, whose antlers had somehow grown even more menacing since their last visit. Though his nose was already turning red, Thor seemed unphased by the snow, in which he was sunk down to mid-shin. 

“Miskunn would feel awfully bereft if you didn’t,” Farbauti said with an indulgent smile.

Loki’s stomach did a somersault as Thor stroked the elk's muzzle, watching as she folded down to her knees to let him clamber on. 

“Come on, Loki!” Thor called out, waving him over. He was resplendent in his dragonscale coat, having grown into it in the three years since it had been gifted to him, and his golden hair shone even in the weak ever-twilight of Jotunheim’s winter. 

Loki was once again reminded of the importance of his trial. Triumph at his ceremony, wed Thor, rise to power. It was almost in his grasp. 

He settled himself behind his brother, and was grateful when Thor made no mention of the way Loki tucked his nose against Thor’s nape. 

He wondered when it would stop surprising him, that Thor knew him so well. 

Miskunn rose easily, bearing the weight of two Aesir as easily as she bore the weight of snow on her back.

They set off for Utgard.

--

“Do you have any idea what the trial will be?” Thor asked, leaning further into Loki’s embrace. His back was warm against Loki’s chest, dispelling the chill that still saturated the room despite the fire roaring in the hearth. 

When Thor had come in, the room had been freezing, Loki sitting in bed poring through a book without even feeling the cold. Thor had started the fire, then convinced his brother to set the book aside. As they lay in bed now, Thor could feel every inch of Loki’s body, wound tight with nerves, against him. 

“Some idea,” Loki said vaguely. “I’ve spoken to my bearer about it, and I read all the records I could find when we last visited in the summer.”

“Ah,” Thor said, wincing slightly, likely recalling how he’d spent almost the entire summer in Jotunheim out in the Ironwood with Loki’s Jotun kin, hunting and adventuring and gallivanting while Loki barricaded himself in the dusty libraries of the palace. One last ride, they’d said, before Thor was chained down forever. Well, he’d been plenty repentant after his return was met with Loki’s cold shoulder, immovable no matter how many pelts and fangs Thor presented to him. Now, when courtiers whispered that the Jotun runt had Thor firmly by the balls, Thor only smiled and agreed.

“It is always a challenge of a sort,” Loki said, benevolently avoiding Thor’s sudden awkwardness, “and no two are ever the same.”

“Will it take long?” Thor asked. Loki’s fingers toyed with his hair, tugging at the strands with an aimlessness that spoke of a preoccupied mind. Thor wiggled, then, turning in the embrace until he was facing his brother.

“Not if I am competent,” Loki said. He kissed Thor’s mouth absently, just because it was there for him to do so, and then sat up. Thor followed, setting a hand on Loki’s nape.

“Is it dangerous?”

“Not if I am competent,” Loki repeated.

“You will be,” Thor said. “You always are.”

“There is something else,” Loki said. He didn’t look at Thor, face turned consciously away.

“What is it?” Thor asked, suddenly nervous. “You can ask anything of me, beloved—”

“I want you to be the first,” Loki blurted out, and as Thor stared at him in confusion he could see the blush that was beginning to spread on Loki’s cheeks. “The first to—to see.”

Thor blinked. “Oh,” he said, feeling stupid.

Loki exhaled, and his blush slowly grew darker in shade, until it was lavender, and Loki’s skin was blue. He turned his red eyes towards Thor. 

Ohhh,” Thor said again, with emphasis this time. “Can I—”

Loki nodded, bottom lip tucked under his teeth. 

Thor carefully placed a hand on his brother’s cheek, warm palm meeting cool skin. Loki stiffened at the touch, and then relaxed, eyelids fluttering. 

There was a ridged line on Loki’s cheek, rising upwards across his cheekbone, then branching out in two. Thor’s eyes followed its forked path until it disappeared behind Loki’s ear.

“Can I kiss you?” Thor asked.

“You don’t have to be so careful,” Loki snapped. “I’m not any different now.”

Thor frowned. “What’s wrong?”

Loki, if possible, flushed even darker, from a lilac to a deep, dusky violet. Thor thought he would turn away even further, then, or shift out of his Jotun form altogether, but instead Loki turned his face into Thor’s palm with a sigh.

“Sorry,” he mumbled. “Feels—different. More. When you—touch me.”

“Bad different?” Thor asked, starting to pull away.

Loki’s hand wrapped around his wrist, and saw Thor that his nails were black. He shook his head. “Good different.”

“More nerves on your skin,” Thor murmured. “The kinlines?”

“Maybe,” Loki said. “I—” he swallowed. “It feels good.”

“Oh,” Thor said again, his thoughts petering to a halt as Loki began to nuzzle into his palm like a cat. All that was left was for him to purr and sprout a tail. 

“Is there anything else you want, beloved?” Thor asked, putting his other hand on Loki’s other cheek. 

“We—we shouldn’t,” Loki whimpered, his face cradled in Thor’s large hands as he shook his head. 

The noise, unfortunately, went straight to Thor’s crotch, where his cock suddenly realized that his brother was more than just beautiful this form—he was hopelessly alluring, with eyes the color of a fierce sunset and skin flushed purple from Thor’s most innocent touches. 

Shouldn’t has never stopped us before,” Thor said, and it was true. Once, their parents had tried to keep their rooms in separate wings—it had lasted for all of three weeks until they found that Loki had taken to sleeping in Thor’s bed anyway. 

Their dalliances were not unknown. 

But this—

Thor slid a hand down to grasp Loki’s neck, and when Loki’s mouth opened in a soft moan, Thor saw that his teeth had changed too: his incisors were sharper and longer. His tongue was purple now as well, and the inside of his mouth was dark. 

Thor suddenly needed to know how else Loki had changed.

“I won’t if you don’t want me to,” Thor said, “but if you would let me...if you would let me, I would put my mouth on you.”

“Gods,” Loki groaned. “Yes, fine, yes. Brother.”

Thor surged up to kiss Loki, swallowing his keen into his mouth and steadying him with a hand on his jaw and another on his waist. All the touching seemed to send Loki into a frenzy, and soon he was pushing Thor away—and then down. And then he was squirming out of his breeches, all long blue legs and slender feet, round toes, tight calves.

Still the same but for the color of his skin, until Thor allowed his eyes to alight on what lay between Loki’s legs.

“Oh,” Thor said, once more for good measure. 

“Oh,” Loki sighed, when Thor wrapped a hand around his cock. He sighed and rolled his hips into it, then slapped Thor’s hand away and crept up his body. Then higher, until he was straddling Thor’s face, his head tucked against the soft furs lining the headboard of his great Jotun bed. 

Loki’s cock was still the same, its heft and weight perfect, as it always was. But beneath it, where Loki’s stones should be, were two plump hills of warm flesh, hairless. And between those, a wet slit, its inner lips wrinkled like the ruffle of a dress.

“Well?” Loki asked, sounding impatient but breathless, slightly dazed. 

“It’s, ah,” Thor licked his lips, trying to find the right words, trying not to tilt his face upwards and bury himself in Loki’s sex. “It’s...pretty.”

Pretty?” Loki asked. 

“Pretty,” Thor confirmed, taking his thumb and forefinger and gently pinching Loki’s folds between them. 

Thor,” Loki whined. 

“Let me, please,” Thor whispered, already leaning up to nudge his nose against Loki’s cunt, its soft, smooth skin, the whisper of wetness it left on Thor’s beard.

Loki sobbed in reply, then ground his crotch down into Thor’s face in assent. 

Thor reached around and cupped Loki’s ass with his hands. He was well-used to Loki riding his face; it was one of their favorite activities. But while his ass was a shy thing, requiring coaxing, his cunt opened for Thor greedily. 

Thor let his mouth hang open, let his tongue trace the opening of Loki’s cunt, upwards to where it met the base of his cock, over and over again. He put his whole face into it: jaw, lips, tongue, nose, eating Loki out like he was a man starved.

Thor had never had anyone besides his brother, his betrothed. They’d known from the start that they were meant for each other, and so had come into each other’s beds with an openness that Thor was grateful for. And though sex with Loki was never boring, having entirely new parts of him to devour sent something galloping wildly in Thor’s chest. 

Loki, for his part, did not seem disappointed—the cries that spilled out of him reminded Thor of when they were younger and everything was new. That intense, insensate first touch of pleasure, where nothing had come before. 

Their relationship went far beyond the physical, but the physical was a lovely, heady part of it as well. 

Loki’s slick dribbled down Thor’s chin, and Thor could hear the sound of his brother fisting his cock even as his own hand went down to fist his. Loki’s thrusts grew erratic, his cries winding higher as he slid one hand into Thor’s hair, tugging at the strands as if they were reins on a horse as Loki bucked and bucked, crying out as he crested, his legs shaking on either side of Thor’s face.

Thor licked steadily into his brother, keeping the same pace even as Loki whimpered in protest, hands returning to Loki’s ass to spread his cheeks open and tease a finger against his other hole. 

Thor was rewarded with another shudder of those beautiful legs as Loki came again, gasping heavily. 

“S-stop,” Loki heaved. “Please, brother, oh—”

Thor allowed himself one more indulgent lick before letting Loki go and letting him to tumble off Thor’s face and back onto the bed.

Thor wiped his face and chin with the edge of a blanket and waited for Loki to come back to himself. He turned to the bedside to pour them a goblet of water—Loki did not like being coddled as he came down from his climax—and when he turned back around, Loki was fingering his own cunt.

“I’ve performed a contraceptive spell,” Loki gasped, throwing his head back to bare his long neck, carved with kinlines. “If you want to be inside me—”

Thor’s mouth opened, but he could say nothing, could only stare as Loki turned his pleased, half-lidded gaze towards him, then slid a hand another his knee to draw his other leg higher, so Thor could see his two slim blue fingers slip into the clutch of his body. 

“Are you just going to stare,” Loki asked, “or is your cock going to do something about this?”

“We shouldn’t,” Thor parroted, grinning, and Loki threw back his head and laughed.

They did—Thor folded Loki’s legs on either side of his face, praising the Norns for his brother’s flexibility, and fucked his cock into the warm, wet heat of his Jotun cunt. Then they went again, with Loki riding his cock, back to Thor’s chest as Thor pinched his nipples, and then again, with Thor’s cock in his ass and three fingers in his cunt. 

It took all that to have Loki limp and lazy in his arms, sleeping through the night instead of knotting himself into a worried mess.

It was Thor who could not sleep, not even with the warmth of his brother, now Aesir again, tucked against him. There were questions he had not asked, answers that he had not wanted to hear.

Will you succeed?

What will I do if you do not?

What will I do if I lose you?

--

The endless ocean of Jotunheim, uncharted and unchartable, spread out before them like a work of the greatest seidr-weavers: a myriad different shades of blue rippled along its weft and warp.

This early in the morning, Jotnar were off to fish for the day, sailing out to sea in boats large enough for only one or two to fit inside. Others waded waist-deep into the water, spearing reef fish, gathering clams. And in the distance bobbed the dragon-headed hunting ships—prowling for wolf-whales, precious for their hide and meat and fat. 

It would have been an otherwise ordinary day, but for Farbauti, King-Consort of Jotunheim, and Odin All-Father and Frigga All-Mother, Rulers of the Nine Realms, who were gathered upon the shores of Aurgelmir for Loki’s challenge. 

His sire was noted only by his absence, but Loki had long learned not to let Laufey’s lack of regard sting. Odin and Frigga were here, and Thor, and Farbauti. 

And Loki, in his Jotun skin, no longer as ill-worn as it had felt before last night. 

In his right hand Farbauti held a sword. It was an unremarkable thing, having neither name nor history.

Loki tried not to stare at it, telling himself it would do no good to attempt to ascertain his challenge before it happened. Beside him, Thor shifted on his feet—Loki had caught him surreptitiously hiding a yawn at least three times. 

“Are you ready, Loki, son of Odin and Frigga, son of Laufey and Farbauti?”

Brother and betrothed and beloved of Thor, Loki thought to himself. What a drearily long title that would make—and yet he still thought it.

“I’m ready,” Loki said. 

Farbauti nodded. He turned to the sea, and raised the sword above his head.

Loki swallowed—would it be a battle? Would Loki have to fight his bearer to be acknowledged as a child and successor of Jotunheim?

But then Farbauti drew back his arm, and in one swift motion threw the sword into the air. It flew as if carried on fleet wings. It crested, peaked, and then began to fall into the sea: a mere pinprick in their eyes now.

“Your challenge, Loki, is to find the sword and bring it back,” Farbauti said, turning to him with his face carefully blank. 

“It will be done,” Loki replied, his mind already racing. He let his fur coat fall to the sand and breathed in the sharp, cold air of Jotunheim. 

A bird, he thought, and opened his mouth around a caw, flapping his wings as he took to the air.

“Be well, brother!” Thor cried, apparently unable to help himself. 

Loki crowed once more as the wind lifted him higher, then higher still, until he was soaring out across the sea. 

--

Thor waited on the shore. Even as the sun set and rose and set again, he waited.

The Jotnar living by the coast caught their food and ate it on the beach, and so for three days Thor joined them. When the tide was low, he went out with the artisans’ assistants to pick byssus mussels on the rocks, further out into the sea than he could ever go when the tide was in. 

He picked the shells for Loki, who would be glad of them when he returned: he had made mention to Thor many times that he wanted to weave a coat of sea-silk. 

And as he picked and dug and toiled, he looked out into the vast rolling waves of the Aurgelmir, and prayed for it to return his brother (betrothed, beloved) to him.

On the third day, as Thor sat his vigil, Loki’s coat wrapped around him, he saw something slink out of the ocean. An Aesir-sized Jotun, glimmering in the light of the full moon and the weak winter sun.

Thor’s breath caught in his throat as he stood and watched Loki slowly emerge from the water. His heart sank—Loki’s hands were empty. What did this mean for them, now? If Loki was not acknowledged by Jotunheim, by his sire, if the challenge was not complete—

Then Loki straightened up, bringing his hands together in a twist and a flourish, and the hilt of a sword appeared in his grasp. With what remained of his strength, Loki plunged the blade into the sand. Instantly, it lit up in a blinding flash, and from its hilt a beacon emerged, shooting straight up into the sky, miles and miles above them for everyone to see. 

And Loki fell to his knees.

Or would have fallen to his knees, if Thor had not caught him.

“Beloved,” Thor whispered, afraid to talk too loud. He wrapped his arms around Loki’s legs, under his ass and thighs, as Loki drew his arms and legs around Thor, clinging like a barnacle. 

“Did it,” Loki whispered, then laughed, hoarse and triumphant. “Now you have to marry me.”

Thor laughed in reply, then kissed his brother, his beloved. 

Loki tasted of the sea: not just salt but life, and not just life but not-life. And death, and the crush of rock and bone under the relentless weight of water. 

Behind them came the loud rustling of feathers, and Thor turned his face, even as Loki tried to kiss him again, to see Farbauti drop quietly onto the sand. For such a large being, he barely made a sound—Thor suspected the noise had been for their benefit, and blushed.

“What?” Loki mumbled, his brow furrowing in displeasure. “Kiss me.”

“Your bearer,” Thor said, soothing Loki with a peck to his cheek. 

Farbauti made no comment on the two of them, only strode to where the sword shone in the darkness. He wrapped a hand around its hilt, and it flared brightly once more before returning to its dull state.

“It is done,” Farbauti said with a nod, making the same flourish Loki had and vanishing the sword. “You have done well, Loki Odinson.”

“Oh, good,” Loki said, then his head fell limp against Thor’s shoulder in the deep sleep of the truly exhausted, though the grip of his arms and legs was no less strong. 

“He did this for you, you know,” Farbauti said, after a moment. 

“I know,” Thor said. 

“You waited for him,” Farbauti said.

“I would have gone after him after the third day,” Thor admitted. 

Farbauti grinned, a sharp thing that reminded Thor keenly of Loki.

“You have my blessing, Thor Odinson,” Farbauti said. “Now take my child to the palace. You both require rest.”

“Thank you,” Thor said.

Farbauti nodded. “He is no ordinary thing. I trust you know this as well.”

“I will honor him for the rest of my life,” Thor promised, then watched as Farbauti swept his feather cloak around his shoulders and disappeared into the sky with another loud rustle. 

He adjusted Loki in his arms, and carried his brother back to Utgard.

-- 

Loki woke up at the smell of food as Thor bore him to the kitchens. It was past midnight now, and the feasting halls were quiet, but there was a pot of stew on a tremendous fire that had bubbled long before Thor was born and would continue to bubble long after he died. He settled Loki down on a bench, set a bowl of soup in front of him, and went to find some bread.

By the time he returned with the bread, the soup was gone, and Loki was still ravenous and now gnawing on a piece of kelp that had been stuck in his ear.

Five bowls, three loaves of bread. Thor ate with him, though less voraciously. Loki could not even talk through his hunger, but Thor was content just to listen to him slurp and chew, loud in a way that Loki would normally never allow himself to be.

After they ate, Loki’s eyes slipped shut again, and Thor had to catch him before he fell backwards off the bench. He tucked his brother into his arms, tossed the bowl into the sink, and took him to bed.

Then they rested, Thor and his beloved, the rise and fall of Loki's breath sounding like the sea after the three days Thor had spent by its side. 

When they woke up, they were covered in a thin crust of salt. 

--

Epilogue

Inexplicably, Loki was nervous. His hands came together to fidget, and he remembered he was still wearing his golden sea-silk gloves. He carefully stripped them off just as Thor walked into the room, thanking a servant for the flagon of wine he held in one hand. 

Then the door was shut, leaving the two of them together. 

“Husband,” Thor beamed.

Loki’s breath caught in his throat. 

“Husband,” he replied. That was right. They were wed now. Bound together. Thor was wearing a sea-silk cape, woven by Loki’s own hand. It would have to be removed carefully, and stored in a special chest to preserve it. Someday, maybe their children would wear it. 

Gods, their children. They were—Loki was expected to bear a child now. Thor’s child. Because he and Thor were wed, Gods, they were—

“Beloved,” Thor murmured, resting the flagon of wine on the dining table and coming over to Loki’s side. 

“What if we grow tired of each other?” Loki asked, then clenched his jaw, tight. 

“Don’t you think we would have already?” Thor asked, his eyes crinkling as he smiled his damnably soft smile. 

“What if I stop loving you?” Loki asked. 

“Then I would spend the rest of my life winning your affections again,” Thor said easily.

“And if you stopped loving me?”

“Loki,” Thor said, raising an eyebrow.

“You’re right,” Loki said. “That would be impossible.”

Thor laughed, leaning down to catch his mouth, and Loki could not help but melt for him: centuries of this, and still, he knew he would crumble. 

“Now,” Thor asked, pulling away. “Do you have any more questions, or shall we start enjoying our wedding night?”

“Take the cape off first,” Loki said, even as he wound an arm around Thor’s neck to drag him down, closer. “It took me months to weave.”

“You can weave me another one,” Thor said, though he obliged and began to undo the clasps on his shoulders. “We’ll make a trip of it—I’ll pick mussels on the beach and you can go out with the hunting parties. I’ll wait for you to come home each day, and each day, I’ll make love to you in a bed of sea-silk.”

There were a dozen things Loki could say in protest—that they would be busy with kingship soon, that the King of Asgard could not wade into the sea and pick byssus shells by hand, that they could purchase all the sea-silk they wished when they came into power—but instead he let Thor’s fantasy unfold in his mind. 

There would be time for it. There would be time for anything. They had such long lives, after all, and centuries to live through with each other. 

Loki intended to love Thor in every way he could: as brother, betrothed, beloved.