"little lion man" Genre: Drama, Family Rating: G Time Frame: Pre-canon Characters: Loki, Thor Summary: "Brother, don't you want to be king?" Notes: Because, Loki and Thor have my muse's undivided attention right now, and I needed to exorcise a feeling or two. Enjoy! Disclaimer: Nothing is mine, but for the words. "little lion man" by Mira_Jade The sounds of the feast echoed up from the halls of Glaðsheimr far bellow. The bronze ceilings of the feasting hall arched to bow before sky, left hall half open to the sight of the cosmos, turbulent and dancing, far above them all. The heavens flashed red and orange as Sól dipped through the evening sky, ready to surrender herself to the night. The waterways that flowed through Asgard caught the light and reflected it; the sound of the falls below the palace thundering as the first-son and his second made their way higher and even higher still. They climbed the tall towers of the palace, where the gild of their home fought with supremacy over the mountainside that cradled their ancient home. The rocks were mossy from the nearness of the water, the gold slick from the mist of the spray. But Thor only smiled as he lifted himself up upon the summit. He ascended first, and held down a hand to his brother below. A moment of hesitation passed, and then Loki let the other pull him up the rest of the way. When they were as high as they could go, they plopped down on the balcony there. This place they had claimed as their own over the years, it being tradition for them to steal away when the feasts went on long into the night – slipping from the eyes of those who were supposed to be watching them in order to look down from high above on those far bellow. That night, the King Gandalf and his retinue from Álfheimr were visiting the High Realm for the Autumn Meets, bringing with them the gifts of the Álfar-woods, and the scent of seiðr and forest green. This feast would be the first of several as old friendships were affirmed and the festival days were celebrated together. Earlier that evening, Odin had presented both of his sons to the Álf-king, whose eyes were old, even though his face was young and fair – and for the first, he had called Loki prince, and Thor, my heir. Loki had not been the only one to blink at Odin's words – for what was every day assumed was not every day spoken, and for the rest of the night Thor had gone though the motions of the feast without blinking, uncomfortable in his own skin. Loki had not been the only one to notice his brother's distraction, their friends picked up on his unease, as well. Thor's melancholy lasted until Sif herself had finally stepped in Thor's path in order to ask him point blank why he wore his face so long and drawn, like that of a horse. Thor hadn't answered, for his tongue was ill suited to lies, but she had understood the unspoken as easily as Loki had. With an ease of long practice, Sif had held her hand out to Loki, and he uttered the words of power that would let her wear the illusion of Thor's face and voice. The would-be shield-maiden would play Thor's part for the rest of the evening, and they would be free to go. Loki didn't bother creating a double for himself. It was common for the second-son to slip into the shadows, and no longer did anyone ask of his comings and his goings. Now, Thor had his fresh air and his starlight, and still he was silent. He swung his long legs over the edge of the balcony, looking down with a pensive eye on the gathering far below from where he had pressed his face between the gilded beams of the railing. Loki rolled his shoulders, content to wait his brother out as he waved his hand and summoned a long wave of water from the cascade that fell right beside their balcony. The white foam stilled, loosing its frantic rush for the river below as it floated above his palms. Thor watched as the water took on the shape of wolves in his hands, dancing over his skin and howling at the small green flame that he had previously lit to light their climb. Managing two elements at once had taken much for him to master, Thor remembered Loki speaking of his arts, but now he could not tell where the difficulty had been. "Brother?" Thor asked after a long moment. "Don't you want to be king?" Loki was quiet for a moment. He made a fist of his fingers, and the wolves howled. The green flame above them shivered. "I dare say that I could only listen to Lord Grímarr's idiocy for so long before I would be tempted to turn him into a toad," Loki responded instead of answering outright. "Seeing that you have not the ability to turn him into a toad, the kingship would be far safer in your hands." Thor snorted, waving his hand through the water his brother manipulated. The wolves fell apart to splash on Loki's lap. "And would I not have the same desire? Indeed, my patience is even less than yours." "Well," Loki tilted his head thoughtfully, miffed as his spell was disrupted. He flung his fingers to clear them of the lingering droplets. "I do suppose that I could be convinced to do your dirty work for you. I shall turn your courtiers to toads, but only when they are particularly vexing." "We shall have a court of toads then," Thor made a face at the room below, their laughter reaching their ears far above. "Toads, snakes, and peacocks, how fitting." Loki turned to lay over on his stomach, knocking his elbow against his brother's as he crept forward to peer over the edge of the balcony. "Or," he drawled. "You could just learn patience yourself, and no such spellwork shall be required. The bamrammir's spells do become tricky at times." Thor made a face, swinging his legs from the balcony's edge so that he could mimic Loki's pose. He let his head fall into his folded arms, as if the weight was too heavy for him to bear. "Better would I give the crown to you, if that be required." Loki snorted. "A second son holding the throne of Odin?" he countered. "Bor Firstfather would turn in his grave if he knew." Thor raised a brow. He was silent for a long, long moment. "You truly do not want it, then?" When he spoke, the jest was gone from his voice. Loki was silent as he considered his reply. He counted out his heartbeats as he felt the Mother's branches sway beneath them. The seiðr in his veins fluctuated to match, rising to answer the wave of the cosmos above. "Odin has said from his own mouth that you are his heir and successor. Why would I want his crown when to gain such, I would have to go through you?" That, at least, was a truth from his mouth. The thought of doing elsewise stabbed at his stomach, turned his bones to sharp points underneath his skin. Thor rolled onto his back. His eyes tangled with the stars above. "Indeed, the idea is laughable." He snorted, unable to comprehend such a thing. "You? Take up arms against me?" "As I thought," Loki gave, the corner of his mouth hooking up in a grin. "You shall just have to resign yourself to the idea of leadership, brother." Thor folded his hands on his chest. Loki looked over and raised a brow, seeing the tight line of his mouth, the restless set of his limbs. He sighed, waving his flame away so they had only the starlight above. "You shall do our father's name proud," he said quietly. "You are so quick to face down steel and foe, and yet you would let the court, of all things, turn you craven?" Thor's nostril's flared. Loki could see where the worry turned to anger. He smirked. "I fear nothing," Thor returned, his voice fierce. "Then do not allow this to be the thing that defeats you," Loki waved his hand. "It is unbecoming of a son of Odin." Thor sniffed, realizing that his brother's words had entangled him again. "It is silly to think on now, either way," he said. "Many centuries shall pass before Father takes his final sleep." "And by then I shall be able to think of something more creative than the form of a toad for your courtiers," Loki provided helpfully. "Indeed," Thor laughed. "We shall be unstoppable. My steel and your silver tongue – the Realms shall quake before us." "You shall pardon every maiden who comes before the Allfather's justice with a sobbing tale," Loki added to the vision. "And you shall make sure that the treasury is not spent on Ivaldi steel and feasts and mead -" " - I do not know," Loki said solemnly. "If you were to take the feast from your court, I see only treason and a dead king in the future." "How comforting to know that toads do not require more sustenance than flies, then," Thor gave, and at that, they both laughed. Loki felt an ache at his side with the laughter, too long had it been since he last done so – light words covering only so much when, at times, he could see only the stare of his father and the whispers of the court. The unnatural son, the sorcerer prince who prefers spell and scroll over steel and the honor of battle. His throat was tight, it was hard to breathe underneath the thoughts of less and never enough that threatened to consume him at times . . . A coward's weapon of thrown blades he prefers, the Weapon's Master said frankly to Odin when he refused to take to the sword. A woman's art of seiðr he learns - it isn't natural for a race born of flames, others still told while his Father listened silent and watching. Loki, who was pale and dark by turns, growing only taller where Thor grew vast and strong like the Mother tree herself. Loki who was winterlight and shadow to Thor – golden and honest and brave. . . . and yet, Thor was looking at him as if he loved nothing better than him in the Realms, and Loki swallowed past his serpent shaped thoughts and thought only let them whisper. For Thor thought him worthy; Thor thought him honorable and good. And so, Loki would be – for Thor. "I shall be king," Thor finally said then. Conviction and let it come colored his voice. His gaze challenged even the heavens above. "And with you at my side, there shall be nothing we cannot do." Loki shuffled, unable to find a place for his bones. He smiled, and told himself that it was only the starlight in his eyes that made them flinch. "Nothing," still he echoed his promise – he gave his vow, fealty sworn and promised, and together they listened as the feast continued on below.