Title: A new beginning
Chapter: 7 – Rage (words: 7835)
Genre/Warning: OOC, fluff, slash, angst, OTP
“Must the blade speak, and speak not blood and doom,
While the dead stars rip the whole land apart.
Must the blade speak, before the last is thrown,
To let the chosen rise and the great havoc thwart.
Must the blade speak, to break the barrier down,
And to the One return what was thieved from his heart.”
“[...] When the blood is shed, the Unworthy becomes Worthy.
Wax seven moons and seven moons wane,
Waiting for the One who was born with his eyes open.
Allies the Mightiest and the Darkest became;
Amongst the gods walks the Unforeseen,
And from the depths comes the bane,
Before what had been scattered becomes a whole again.”
Those were the last words Loki could read on the last written page of the Ancient Book of Oblivion. They decided to bring it along, as Heimdall suggested, when they left for the Sea of Fear the morning after, together with some other stuff whose purpose Thor didn’t explain.
They rode calmly and almost in silence, exchanging intense glances and knowing smiles every now and then, mutually fortified by their mere closeness. Both nevertheless mindful of the strange events that morning coloured their awakening with.
That morning, before they left, Heimdall asked to see them.
And that same morning, as they finally stepped out from the palace, Loki rose a puzzled look up to the sky.
“Don’t you think the daylight looks... darker than it should be?” he asked, vaguely worried. And actually, even if the sun was high already, an odd greyish blanket made the outside light sombre and burdened everything with a listless veil of dullness.
“Indeed, little one,” Thor answered, pensive, rising his sight above as well. “Darker. And heavier.”
Much more disturbing things grew when, trespassing the main portal of Asgard, Thor found him there. Standing perfectly still right on the sideway. Waiting in the trembling mist his cloak was made of. Real. Real as Loki’s arm when he squeezed it at once making him stop, real as Mjolnir’s handle when he grabbed it instinctively.
“Do you see him?” he whispered at his brother, keeping his eyes on the little figure that showed no sign of willing to make a single movement.
Loki frowned, feeling a shiver running down his spine as he clearly caught Thor’s unease, yet not being able to see a possible source of it.
Thor gritted his teeth, and grumbled in his throat, for he could not give a name to the unnerving twist boiling inside his stomach. He just hinted at the little fellow, dithering on what to do next.
And – while a more and more worried Loki shook his head in jitters - as the child lifted his head, slowly, to stick his all-black eyes right into his own, Thor finally saw, in the dull, real light of that altered morning.
He saw his real face.
Of that he was quite sure, he saw his real face.
But he was not sure at all of what he saw.
“...Thor?”, he heard Loki saying, he caught growing distress in his voice, he felt his hand grasping his arm convulsively. But nonetheless, he had to take some steps towards that creepy creature and, step after step, under those empty eyes, his anguish swelled together with a diffuse sense of confusion.
All the nightmares, all the curses and all the deaths, all the masks of damnation and all the ghosts whirled on that face that was not a face, in the blink of an eye shifting into one another without pause and regaining in-between its improbable, soulless childish look.
In a sudden rush Thor made as if to grab him, “What the Hel are you, what do you want from me?!”, he growled, but as he stretched his hand out the child just stretched his own in turn and touched him in the middle of his chest.
An instant. An invisible strike, a blink of blackness, some fleecy words whispered in a thick fog, and the child changed into something else. Before he could realize, it swiped through Thor’s clothes, then through his skin, then through his stern, piercing his heart itself with an unexpected pang that made him stumble and fall on the ground on his own knees.
“Thor!” Loki uttered, dismayed, by instinct he sustained him, unable to believe his mighty god had just been struck down. He gasped in concern, helping Thor to stand up on his own legs again.
“It’s alright, it’s alright,” Thor hurried to reassure him, willingly neglecting the painful jab still crushing his chest. Just to be sure that nothing major happened, he took a quick look at his own skin under his clothing and sighed with relief, for not even the slightest sign was there. “He just caught me unprepared.” Flooded by Loki’s anguished eyes he stroked his cheek, he smiled. “I said it’s alright.” And kissed his lips, delicately.
As he glanced up over his brother’s head, straight to the top of the main walls of Asgard, he saw the child again, standing on the highest border and looking down at them.
Thor scowled at the small figure, never turning his eyes away from him, while he kept his arm tight around Loki’s shoulders.
“But we definitely need to get your magic powers back.”
He shuddered inside, mechanically.
An involuntary reflex to the new gained strength forced into that shell now way too tight.
All the demons he was screamed together in silence. Tamed at once.
He had come halfway on the task he had been sent to accomplish, and from on high he watched them wandering away. He simply watched, not allowed to add to that mere act a thought, and not a feel, and not a breath. Not even allowed to actually see in the same way anyone else was used to.
He watched them walking until they disappeared from his sight.
He had to follow them.
But first, in the distorted non-light of that morning that he himself provoked in order to move easily, he had to disencumber. And give a start to what was going to come after him.
Out in the open of the awakening city, and despite that still undetected, he let his body change according to his needs. He inflated his chest, he tensed, he opened his mouth as though he were about to shout.
He didn’t shout.
He had to follow them.
From the top of the main wall of Asgard, he spitted.
The dark, dried corpse of which once was a star, the smallest one, the first he swallowed on his first night in Asgard, hit the ground far enough to lead people to think that was nothing more than an odd weather trick.
He had to follow them.
And in the meanwhile, there where the dead star fell, a black lightning ripped the skies and a crack cleaved the soil.
The late afternoon breeze caressed gentle their faces and a blurry sun seemed to hesitate to set under the horizon; some wolves somewhere started howling their ordeals in cuts and thrusts at the incoming twilight and a lone black crow, above their heads, aloft, flew his way to the mountains.
“You didn’t tell me about those visions of yours,” went Loki at some point, his body following sinuously the pace of his horse. “About that... child-looking creature... that only you can see.”
Thor shrugged, keeping his mount so close to his brother’s that their legs could skim each other.
“I thought that was a dream.” Annoying, the general unease he started feeling right when the child raised his hellish eyes on him and not yet gone. “Apparently, I was wrong.”
“Heimdall said someone was coming...” Loki said, pondering. “Maybe he is the one he was talking about.”
Thor looked at him, he took a deep breath, he assented.
“Possibly.” But still, he felt vaguely dubious. “There’s that child look, however, it’s... I don’t know, makes the whole thing sound kind of... unlikely.”
At the same time, on the other hand, he knew there must be all the darkest wizardries involved and, actually, everything could ostensibly be. And Loki’s following words helped to lean towards that likelihood.
“He also said he’s not what he looks like.”
Staring at his face, grazed by the fading light that made it pearly, Thor nodded, halfway between being worried and enraptured.
“I guess you’re right, little one, it must be him.” He shook his head, as to dissolve the fog keeping on clustering in his brain and preventing him from seeing the situation clearly. “It’s just... I’m feeling... weird.”
As weird was that persistent burning sensation there where the child had touched him, although he had checked his own skin again and found nothing anomalous. Dark sons of Hel, magic tricks, Odin involved, Asgard at the crossroad between a mad almighty old king and a potential new one who at the moment was sailing across a sea of uncertainty...
“How presumptuous of me hoping the All-Father could let go of his millennial delusion of omnipotence and accept the established facts as I forced him to see them.” The emphatic words Heimdall told them that morning suddenly came to Thor’s mind. “Whatsoever is going to come from his obsession will not change the point: you are the one who is meant to take his place. It is already written. But it’s up to you, Thor, to decide to what extent you are ready to push yourself in order to save Asgard. I am sure you understand what I mean.”
Without any doubt he understood. And whatsoever would come, couldn’t be worse than what already happened. Worse than being forced to face his Loki’s death. Now they were side by side again, rejoined more than ever, and more than ever soon ready to fight. For once Loki had recovered his full abilities, nothing in the known worlds and further could have stopped them.
It is already written.
There, at once, overlooking his feelings, he smiled at Loki and strengthened his grip on his horse’s reins.
“Well, we will see. Now, let’s hurry up, we’re almost there.”
And they spurred their animals at full gallop.
“Are you still sleeping, All-Father?” said she. “While you are sleeping, they weave. While you are sleeping, your own, ungrateful son is plotting and menacing your authority. While you are sleeping, they put the foundations of your Realm itself at risk. Don’t be so sure you will have enough power to contain that.”
“Are you trying my patience, you doomed creature?” he roared. “How do you dare to speak such words? Have you forgotten that you would not even exist if I did not allow you?”
“How blind of you,” she grinned. “Your subjects and your warriors, great part of them at least, side with your son already. The same does your All-Seer, and many of your Elders. And all that you can do is spitting your threats against us?” Her grin grew into a laughter. “You will need us, instead, us, and our armies. So, be sure you’ll be awake, when their time comes.”
She waited for his nodding, that came, rigid, after a while.
“After you let him take his beloved trickster away from your Realm, my son is trying to restore his powers,” said he, caustically sarcastic. “If he succeeds, a new age of disgrace will fall upon us all.”
“We didn’t let him, bleary-minded old ruler, he cheated on us”, she growled. “And he will pay for that outrage!”
“Oh, he will. They both will.” His voice, acrimonious, echoed in the ancestral void. “And that other renegade who calls himself the All-Seer, who tried to take advantage of a brief moment of darkness in my mind to induce me to think Loki was... worthy.” He sniggered. “Fools. I’ll make them taste the depth of their mistake.”
“Let your son and his beloved trickster follow their purpose,” she parroted his sarcasm with no shame. “Just grant us the support of your mighty wizardries. We know how to take care of the thunderer.” Her hissing cut through the darkness around. “Oh, and don’t forget to look after what is left of your Realm and of your forces.”
And then, before he could retort against her arrogance, she broke the link, to be left finally alone, unseen.
Nothing was visible on the Sea of Fear when they arrived in the dusky dim that forewarned the night, except the silver of the water lapping the shore, and a low, milky mist caressing the sparse grass on the ground. Thor wasn’t surprised, and worried even less, for he remembered when he was there the time before. And he told Loki of all the marvels concealed inside that place now still invisible, he told him how it shone from the light of his creator’s soul, and how it changed on his feelings; he told him how he saw him making it snow blue in the sun, and how there time and space carried no meaning; he coloured his words with all the shades of wonder, to savour the awed look shimmering on Loki’s face while he was speaking.
“Come,” he said, holding his hand and driving him on the exact point he remembered to lead to Loki’s secret shelter. With a big smile of confidence, he gently dragged his little one towards the water, foretasting his reaction at what was going to follow. As one, holding their breath, Loki’s eyes closed, they moved their feet beyond the shore...
...and nothing happened.
The sudden disappointment on Thor’s face looked almost hurting, while they both remained still, disheartened, dunked in the frozen water that skimmed their ankles as if to mock them.
“I... I don’t understand,” muttered Thor. “Perhaps this is not the right spot, perhaps my memory is failing me.”
“Or perhaps I am not ready yet,” Loki whispered, and smiled at him, tugging him back on the dry bank. “Perhaps I actually need that... help Heimdall told you about.” He laid a sweet, knowing look on him, for the first time since he got back from Hel trying to be the one making the other feel reassured. “You brought along what is required, didn’t you?”
Thor simply nodded, demoralized. And that odd feel of fatigue, that vexing sting he kept on glossing over, but that were there, undeniable, added weight to his discouragement.
It is already written.
“Alright,” he went at last, finally cracking a smile while grazing Loki’s cheek with a soft stroke. “It will get cold tonight, if we are going to stay here longer than I presumed.” He got back to his horse, to unbind his sack tied to the saddle. “Let’s light some fire.”
And so they did, and that made the night less dark, less burdened with dismal omens. The sea was an expanse of sparkling gems, in the pale moonlight trembling on their vague sense of precariousness, while the nocturnal creatures all around, unseen, slowly started their whining. From the tangle of the little wood nearby they heard a caw, they absently glanced at the big black crow flying down all alone and alighting discreet on a dry twig, not far from them. It shook its quills and then stayed there, quiet, like it was seeking company yet being too shy to dare a further approach.
They just sat comfortably near the crackling fire, one between the other’s legs, Loki laying his back against Thor’s lap and Thor enclosing his brother’s waist with the gentle might of his arm. With the tip of his nose Thor brushed his temple, drowning in his scent, he made him turn his head a bit to stare at him and then to reach his lips, he lingered on them forever, for that probably was the last time he could have that pure, innocent Loki there with him.
Both quite reluctantly restraining their untamed passion, they let go of that kiss, little by little, to try and focus on what seemed more convenient to do next. Enlivened by the soft breeze, improbable silhouettes of fire and embers danced their surreal suite, crooning mysterious riddles to the two silent gods; had they been able to understand that bizarre language, they could have played with them that grotesque game.
Never slackening his hold around his brother’s body, Thor took a deep breath and grabbed his sack. He tugged it right in the middle between their touching legs and slowly opened it, under his little one’s attentive eyes. First he took out the old book, and then his journal, still locked but always brought along, and handed them to Loki, who leant them on the ground right at their side; at last, he picked out a small leather bag that he held, thoughtful, on his free palm before his brother’s face.
“That’s it,” he murmured, and let his little one take the small bag in his hand.
“That’s... it?” repeated Loki, not sure on what to think. That was such a little thing, and looked so... harmless. He shook his head, he smiled, confused. “How can this be... so...”
“...dangerous?” Thor finished his sentence and, talking right on his cheek, he untied the sack to let him look inside. “These are your secret herbs.” Holding his brother’s hand with the bag on, he slid his fingers in to take a pinch of the dried mixture. “The magic herbs you happened to use... when your plain powers seemed not enough to you.”
Loki frowned and bent his head a bit, to take a closer look at the quirky contents, and suddenly he wrinkled his nose in revulsion.
“It smells... strong...”
“I never tried them, but I saw... I saw what they can do. I saw it on you.” There, Thor’s voice got deeper than it already was, and a gloomy veil of gravity wrapped the words that followed. “You used to claim your herbs allow your eyes and mind to see beyond any border, in any dimension. And magnify your abilities beyond any possible imagination.” He leant an intense look on Loki’s intrigued face. “They do indeed, I saw they do. But along with that they also awake the darkest ghosts hidden into your soul, and once awaken, those ghosts are no longer under your control.”
He paused, to be sure his little one could fully catch how seriously he was talking.
“The last time it happened, way long ago already,” he resumed then “I had to watch you crying in pain, and screaming like thousands blades were tearing you apart, and begging for a help I couldn’t give you.”
Shivering from the growing cold and from the disquiet those words provoked, Loki looked at the little sack with new concern, huddling up in his arms.
“Now you... you are scaring me.”
Thor rubbed his cheek on his hair, holding him tight.
“At that time we were not yet... you know... lovers... but nonetheless, seeing you like that and not having any means to give you help was... devastating.” He took the bag from Loki’s hand and held it, glaring at it with rabid repugnance. “Thereafter, that day, when you finally regained mastery on your feelings and thoughts, I made you promise you’d never used these herbs of yours again.” The memory of that day caressed his soul with a feeble tinge of warmth. “And I’m so glad you kept that promise.” Why must be my own self forced to break it, now? “Now, if I let you take them, I... I don’t know what they can wreak on you. You were not able to control the effect when you were fully powerful, now that you’re so... vulnerable... maybe they can drive you mad forever, or even... kill you.”
Loki shook his head mildly.
“But Heimdall said...”
“I know what Heimdall said!” Thor burst out, unable to contain his anguish any longer, raising his voice at once and flinging the herbs bag away. Loki had a sudden startle, a disoriented look seized his little face in front of a reaction he’d never expected. All in one second, Thor thereon sighed, blaming his own coarse instinct, he frowned with regret, he took his brother’s head in his hands, gently. “Sorry, sorry, little one, I didn’t mean it.” He ran his fingers through his silky hair, softly. “I just wish there were another way.”
Loki just nodded, wrapping him in the endless field of his eyes, and raised an airy smile. He stretched out one hand to reach and grab the book that laid in wait for their attention.
“Maybe there is.”
Perhaps that was just mere suggestion, but he was sure he felt the tome’s cover getting warmer and warmer under his fingers.
“Must the blade speak, and speak not blood and doom,
While the dead stars rip the whole land apart.
Must the blade speak, before the last is thrown,
To let the chosen rise and the great havoc thwart.
Must the blade speak, to break the barrier down,
And to the One return what was thieved from his heart.”
“It ends here,” said Loki after he read those lines aloud. “I can see there must be words following, but they’re just shadows.” He paused for an instant. “Must the blade speak...” He raised an eager look on his god’s face. “Tell me more about that... magic dagger.”
The dagger had to be the crucial tile in that fanciful jigsaw, Thor was aware of that; he took it from his belt – where he had always kept it –, he leant it on Loki’s palms and told him everything. Under Loki’s awed eyes, and on Thor’s words, the peerless blade pulsed with feeble glaring, as though the closeness to the one on whose soul it had been forged awakened its hidden forces. A new turmoil of images, of undefined feelings grew inside Loki’s mind and heart, making his breath heavier; with the tips of his fingers he grazed the glowing blade, now perfectly smooth and with no sing of nicks.
“You had to let me go...” he whispered, almost inaudible, his eyes ecstatically locked on the magic weapon. “...to have me back...”
Thor grabbed his arms, forgetting the herbs, forgetting Heimdall’s advices, forgetting everything, just flooding him with a swamping look that needed no voice to talk. Confused, and almost panting, as though he followed what his subconscious told him, Loki then dropped the dagger on his own lap and picked Thor’s notebook up from the ground, holding it in his hands with a sort of new awareness. He had asked himself several times why Thor looked so caring about that obscure notebook, why he had always denied to tell him what its content was because “I want you to read it with your eyes when it will be”; and now, when that notebook came tamely open at his first try, as if it had been there for him to leaf through it since ever, they both held their breath for a long while, stunned, in silence.
Before Thor’s captivated gaze, Loki glanced through the journal page by page, more and more shocked, his eyes filling with tears while he read on. And when he reached the last page he closed it carefully, devotedly, keeping it in his hands like the most sacred thing, his throat gone dry. Reading those words was like hearing Thor’s heart talking, it was like having an ultimate vision on the miracle that their belonging to each other was; it was like feeling all the feels just in one time, even if still not remembering the mere facts, and being struck by them as by a blow of light.
One single, little flash, at last, made its own way through the boiling muddle of his reshuffling memories, and when he could see it, clear, he just raised a huge pair of eyes on Thor, forcing his trembling lips open and his voice out.
“I heard you, Thor. That night.” His voice, broken from crying, and nonetheless stroking Thor’s heart like a panacea. “After I... after I died. I heard you. Calling my name.”
From the bottomless chasms on the whole land the bowels of earth started throwing up.
A thick, black sludge that had no shape slithered along the surface for a few meters, hissed ominously and rested, feebly pulsating.
He was long gone after he vomited the last carrion of the last dead star out of his stomach.
He had to follow them, and complete the task he was sent for.
Stood the All-Father in his most secret chamber brandishing Gungnir, and summoned the ones still at his mercy and of his darkest sorceries; not long it took him to convince them that an already too far gone conspiracy headed his unworthy son to undermine his throne, turning upside down the millennial order of things; not long it took him to persuade them that for the highest good some external, peculiar help was strictly needed.
In vane tried the All-Seer to send him the last vision on what he could let out from what he saw; more useful it turned out to gather all those ones who could plainly understand how deep and dangerous Odin’s blindness had grown. And keep them ready.
They jumped up on their feet in the glimmering night, Loki clasping the dagger in one hand and Thor’s fingers in the other, so thrilled they didn’t care at all of the few nightly beasts that came snooping around and that now leapt away in fright, nor of the lonely crow still there, fluttering its black wings tensely. Thor did not even mind but for one second that Mjolnir felt oddly heavier than it should be when he grabbed it up, too joyful he was that sparkle finally lighted up in Loki’s memories without any other need except his words.
They ran to that same point along the shore, they dunked their feet in the water, and they were in.
Loki froze at once, looking around, confused. On his face, his anticipation, his surprise and then his disappointment talked with no words, while his panting gradually quietened. How could it be? Thor told him of golden walls, and crystal stairs, and cascades of light, he described him that place as almost living. Whereas everything his eyes could reach was simply... grey. All the same, dreary, silent shade of grey, on the walls, on the roof and on the floor, changeless grey everywhere. And stillness. Like therein every single particle forming those walls, that roof, that floor – being made from such a unique material - had been put in deadlock, waiting for their builder’s soul to recover its wholeness.
When he turned his questioning eyes on Thor, he saw the same perplexed look, a fleeting veil of bemusement and then, brightening up, a smile of retrieved confidence.
“I think we just have to find your secret room inside here,” Thor went. “And then let this place do the rest, as Heimdall said.” He squeezed Loki’s hand in his. “Do you remember the way, little one?”
Only then, under his sweet god’s eyes oozing conviction, Loki realized the link between that place and his own soul was real, whilst still so feeble that at first he had to focus on it with all his strength.
“No...” he answered, softly. A link he felt growing more and more perceivable as he more and more confidently listened to it. “But I think I can... feel it. I think it’s... calling me.”
Headed by Loki’s inner voice they crawled into the improbable warren of that place. Step after step Thor couldn’t help but thinking they were leaving behind that matchless piece of their existence, that scrap now going to fade relentlessly into the greyness flowing in their back, that splinter of life all soaked with a pureness they had never experienced before and never would again. Come what may, as you said, my little wise one, he told himself right then, following his eager Loki, nothing will ever change what we are, he smiled silently, and almost without noticing they found themselves there.
Loki stopped, panting, and Thor stopped thereby.
In the dullness gravitating all over that concealed den, something was glaring, and palpitating, effusing a soft cloud of light whose nuances went through all the shades of green. Agape, Loki got lost staring at it at once, totally drawn, while the shimmering casket pulsated more and more brightening as he moved a few, trembling steps towards it. Loki could feel it, even if not remembering, the changeling chest was recognizing him. It was vibrating in tune, like it couldn’t wait any longer to finally re-open to his master its unique and long forgotten treasure.
In the growing light that coloured and revived the grey around, Loki took the last step, holding the magic dagger tight in his right hand; the blade never stopped flaring shinier and shinier, irresistibly aiming to what it was meant to rejoin with. Loki’s breath hastened, Thor, it’s trailing me in, I can’t control it, he coiled the hilt with both his hands and instinctively rose the dagger, I can’t think, I can’t talk, I can’t see, slowly, mesmerized, over the dazzling chest. I can’t turn around, Thor, are you still there? Oh, Thor was there, yes, right at his back, in silence, he felt him, sheeting him with the reassuring cloak of his presence, he felt him, ready to guide him if the need had occurred, while in a decisive rush he finally stuck the blade into the casket.
The blast of light was blinding.
And as it hit him through the blade, then through his arms and mouth, then all across his body making him shake frantically and flooding him like a storm, Loki’s scream was devastating. His eyes glimmered under the wave of all the powers, all the forms he had worn and all the sins, all the feats he achieved and all the lives he lived, that overwhelmed him all in one instant, knocking him out; hadn’t Thor been there to catch him in his arms he would have fallen on the ground, stunned.
“Keep the passage open. Keep it open. Open.”
“It will not last long. It is too well penned even for my might.”
“We need it to stay open. To let them pass. To let them raise. To let us do what we must do.”
“What you must do? I am wondering where all this confidence of yours comes from.”
“Wonder whatever pleases you most. On this you must agree. We need your son out of the game.”
In the meanwhile, from the mud that the earth regurgitated all over the lands around the city of Asgard, something, shapes, still undefined, started taking form.
As fast as it blew up, the burst of light faded out and the casket vanished together with the dagger, leaving them in a silence now pregnant with a regenerating flux of life.
The whole place around was now pure light, pulsating vivid, alive, quivering, while the last sparkle disappeared from Loki’s eyes as he opened them under Thor’s anxious face.
Thor, calling his name, sweetly.
First thing he did, as he could look at Thor with his newly replenished sight, he threw his arms around his neck, suffocating him in a long, desperate hug.
“Oh, my sweetest one, my one and only! How could they even think that they could stop you?” he uttered on his hair, overpowered by that frenzy, by that turbulent stream of renewed vigour whirling under his skin. “Not even death can! And I am me, I am me again!” He laughed, he kissed him. “No, what am I saying, I am a better me!” Astride on Thor’s thighs he just couldn’t keep calm, he grabbed his head, he kissed him again, exultant, because for the first time in aeons he felt amazingly good, he felt invincible. “The whole me is back here, and the darkness is gone, and I’m so... oh, I am a god again. I am an enchanter again.” His lips leant a bead of light on Thor’s, he blew a musky veil of evanescent leaves on his nose, smiling, in bliss. “Your little god, your little enchanter.”
Words erupted from his mouth like a river in spate, unstoppable, on the waterfall of offhand tricks he started throwing here and there before Thor’s pandering eyes, eagerly, more and more jubilant, more and more endearingly out of control. On his palm a golden rose took form and then changed into a million different flowers, then into gems, then into other shapes twirling implausible, while at his next gesture a rain of piebald drops fell from the invisible roof, and a sky of feathers opened over their heads, and a crystal mist sliding on the walls around started singing improbable tunes, in a prodigious and befuddling jumble, until Thor grasped his wrists, blocking him gently, amused.
“Will you stop it already?” he giggled, delighted by that joy so radiantly gone wild, and stuck his eyes in Loki’s, soaking up his elation as lifeblood, while all the incantations splintered away into a soft, silvery dust.
Loki just shook his head, still crazily euphoric, his voice coming out mixed with laughs and tears.
“I know, I know, there is so much at stake. But... can you just... imagine?” He grabbed his hands, throbbing. “I have so many things to tell you, so many, oh, too many...” His eyes sparkled with unleashed emotion. “I remember, Thor, I remember everything.” Clasping his head, his thumbs pressed on his cheeks, he leant his forehead on his brother’s forehead. “I mean, I remember... not remembering, and being a white canvas yet to be painted on, I remember the innocence, how it was like, how... sweet it tasted.” He rubbed himself on Thor’s legs, seductive, he stroked his hair, his face, his neck. “How sweet you tasted, taking care of that innocence, and how you drew on that canvas that I was, little by little, giving life to a miracle after another, and after another... Oh, Thor...” He could not stop kissing and biting his brother’s lips, feverishly, he sighed on their groins brushing each other through the clothes, he chortled. “It was so... enlightening, so reviving, so unconditionally fulfilling... So simply... flawless.” Thor’s hand reached his skin under his vest and Loki shivered, he smiled again, again he kissed him. “Like rediscovering everything between you and me, and adding perfection to perfection.” On his fervent enthusiasm, on Thor’s speechless rapture in front of the new wonder that once again gave him his Loki back, time begged to be frozen anew to let them fly, just for a while, a while, a short, unending while. “And now we will carry all this with us forever. I am sure this was written in the fates, together with my death. Makes me thanks the fates that wanted me dead.” At once, as if that memory all of a sudden stood out among the others, he pointed his index right at Thor’s smile, flaunting his most adorable sassy face ever. “Oh, and you never told me before about those... kinky itches of yours.” He giggled at Thor’s wink, letting his own jolly exuberance overwhelm his sweet god with no restraint. “As you want me I want you, now, I want you to take me, I want you till the end of the universes, I...”
There, tangled up in that compulsive eagerness, Thor grabbed his brother’s nape and closed his lips with the deepest, the slowest kiss he could fill that alluring mouth with. He savoured the replenished wholeness of his Loki, whose hands slipped skilful under his clothes to feel the might of his bare shoulders, both unable to tame their mutual arousal, both craving for nothing else but getting lost in a renewed hurricane of passion.
It was then that Loki felt it.
When his greedy fingers slowly slid down on Thor’s chest.
He delicately came off from that kiss, his face clouded at once, his euphoria forced to extinguish into a thick halo of apprehension. He peered into Thor’s eyes, that he caught unaware, and vaguely surprised. He grazed his cheek.
“Are you... feeling alright, my sweetest?”
Thor winced, taken aback.
“What do you mean, little one?”
“I mean that I also remember... her.”
Loki nodded. His voice now sounded nervous.
“I can... feel her. The child I could not see is her child. One from her offspring. Being there in Hel at her mercy created some sort of link, so now I can feel her. And I know she is plotting something.” He blinked, focusing on his perceptive abilities, for so long dormant and now shouting out to be unchained. “And I can feel him too. The All-Father is being blinder than ever.”
Humming in distress, Thor inhaled deeply, assenting, again trying not to pay more attention than he felt necessary to the scattered numbness floating more and more notable across his limbs.
“By the way, I am alright, yes, I am just...”
But Loki’s hands were already unlacing the vest on Thor’s bosom, carefully, to uncover his skin and lean on it a pair of disconcerted eyes. Addled by the sudden anxiety he saw replacing the excitement on Loki’s face, Thor looked at his own skin in turn, confused, unable to understand.
Loki’s voice died in his throat, a long, creepy quiver shot him all across his spine, for there where Thor could not see anything, not being gifted with the means of sorcery, he instead could.
And he saw.
His blood ran cold.
Marring the perfection of Thor’s chest, right in the middle, there where Thor’s heart pulsed in its unconscious pureness, a wound.
A deep, terrible wound.
Loki’s lips trembled, while he hesitantly apposed the tips of his fingers to the border of that wound, not daring to touch it.
It was not an usual wound. Not from an usual source. No blood was dripping from that wound, but a feeble trickle of light poured out slowly and faintly, nevertheless unceasing. The same light that flared inside Thor’s soul, the same light that sparkled in his eyes, the same light that generated the power of thunder.
Now being stolen from him, drop after drop.
Anguished, while his breathing grew into panting, with the palm of his hand Loki shrouded that wound, trying to push his sensitivity more deeply, trying to search for a possible way to stop that dreadful plunder, and finding none. He put his mouth close to the wound, lightly, he breathed from it and blew on it to make at least less painful what he knew his sweet god must be enduring, even if not showing it. Thor just felt his lips grazing his skin, and then saw his sight rising directly into his own.
“She... she is doing this to you...” muttered Loki, on the quizzical look that showed up on Thor’s face. “I can’t... I can’t stop her from here, and she is trying to take advantage, while we are here...” He looked around, agitated. “She’s got Odin’s help and she’s trying to use the passageway...”
“Loki, what are you talking ab-...”
But Loki leapt up at once grabbing Thor’s arm with both his hands and almost pulled him up by force.
“We must get out of here, quickly!”
They were out, and he was there.
They froze right on the shore, Mjolnir getting heavier and heavier in Thor’s hand and Loki staring at the child standing still a few meters from them. He could see him. Now he could see him. And as soon as he could see him, he understood. On the forearm of the child, stayed the crow. That same, black crow that followed them on their way from Asgard, that same crow looking so harmless when it flew down there near their bonfire. He saw, and he saw the child could see he saw, even if not supposed to. He caught in him something next to surprise.
Everything, too fast.
He needed time to readjust, he needed time to get used to his retrieved plenitude, he needed time with Thor. His Thor. He needed his eyes looking at him with renewed desire, he needed his hands running along his body with fervent impatience, he needed to get lost in his arms to find himself, to find themselves again building a new stupefying maze of lust. He needed time to feel him melting under his skin, and completely merging his soul with his own one. He needed time just to rest on his lap and loosely flow on the wholeness of being one again, complete again, together.
He needed time for his love.
But there was no time. No time. Behind their backs, from the dark waters up towards the darker sky, a whirling vortex, black as the depths of doom. The same vortex Thor saw in Odin’s sleeping chamber, and now opening there only thanks to the passageway that laid concealed in Loki’s secret place. No time. No time to think, no time to talk, not even time to take a single step forwards or backwards. In the right moment Loki stretched his hand out to unleash his powers, in the right moment Thor tried to raise Mjolnir against him, the child let the crow free. Loki managed to pick a few stones from the ground, he blew some magic words on them, he threw them rabidly and when they fell they grew into a circle of splinters around the child, trapping him in. But what only in seeming was a bird had already... changed. Its murky wings, gigantic, flapped rumbling over their disoriented eyes, triggering a swirling wind that quaked the whole land, raising the dust, the stones, the bushes, the trees. The hellish creature that was now a flying monster, huger than them both together, at once towered them, aiming at them. Aiming at Thor.
“Beware!”, Loki shouted, too late.
The magic darts he threw could not break the invisible shroud that must protect the creature, nor could the hidden forces of the woods and of the rocks that he evoked. That had to come from Odin’s sorcery, Hela was not that powerful, not to embody such a serious challenger to his whole self. Nearby, an astounded, shocked Thor couldn’t find in his muscles strength enough to swing his hammer before the enormous claws stuck into his shoulders, into his living flesh, rending from him an excruciating shout. Loki shouted in turn, he gasped, he hobbled in the whirling dust that filled his mouth, that filled his eyes, while the horrific bird lifted off carrying its priceless quarry; he saw Mjolnir dropping down from Thor’s grasp, again he cried out, “Father of all the dooms! Let him go, or I swear you!”, he desperately tried to grab Thor’s hand before the feathered beast lifted him too high, his throat bursting in throes, “I swear you! I will rip your heart out from your breast with my bare hands!”, but nothing he could do, “And I will swallow it!”, nothing, but throwing up his rage, hallucinated, while the vortex devoured raptor and prey and sealed up on them in a few moments, inexorable.
It took him several seconds to tame at least his wheezing and regain a vague sense of reality after the vortex vanished. But he did not intend to tame his wrath.
The wind calmed down, the emerald of his eyes sparkled fierce while he turned them around and locked them on the changeling figure still trapped inside the magic circle. Nothing seemed to affect that vicious entity, nothing let catch in him any sort of emotion, except that twisted look of astonishment in front of someone who should not be aware of his existence.
The voice from Hela’s child was many voices. And it came out like someone else pushed it out from another dimension.
Deep, hoarse, unreal. Unnatural.
Loki stepped towards him, slowly, his lungs still hurting, his throat still burning, his chest still throbbing violently from the ceaseless sobbing. Pain. Despondency. Rage.
Never in his whole life he felt his rage burning so wild, and nonetheless so lucidly righteous.
He inhaled all the air his breast could house, before he snarled his next words grinding his teeth.
“Who am I?!”
His first strike crumbled the stone circle to pieces.
“I am one, and I am many.”
He sniggered at the creature. Once freed, the child stopped being a child and from his eyes, from his mouth, from his hands he released all the demons he was, becoming every nightmare in everyone’s worst sleep.
But Loki grinned again, gulping down his own tears, foretasting the bloodshed about to come.
And then stepped forward.
“I am the cursed raven coming to bring you oblivion.”
A blast of cracking energy hurled from his hand and struck implacable, one time, and then a second, and a third, thoroughly ruthless, intently lethal.
“I am the misty horse riding waters and clouds.”
The devilish things grew feral, they growled, they spewed, they ripped the air with their claws, they slithered foaming to reach and coil his legs.
But yet, Loki stepped forward. And his voice echoed in the starless night.
“I am the immortal snake hissing your souls empty.”
From his eyes, glaring more dazzling than a hundred suns, swirls of green light streaked in an unsparing row into the monsters’ jaws, and heads, and shanks, and hearts, and bowels, forestalling each one of them, from all sides, indomitable. And arms, paws, limbs, tentacles were ashes, and nothing could the rotten clots, the poisoned flames, the fetid scorching breaths they tried to spit on him.
Loki stepped forward, all his body exuding the vivid light of his power, stoked by a fury that was not meant to die down.
“I am the rabid wolf howling your hearts frozen in the night.”
He howled, and his howl bashed the few demons still standing, that vomited a gush of black fire before letting out a deadly rattle; they staggered an instant, they morphed back together in an amorphous bulk and then they remained still. Frosted to death.
“I am the oncoming darkness...” Standing a few meters far, Loki just raised his hand and clenched his fist, fiercely, before that ghoulish statue of ice. Shattering it into flakes. “...and the dawn that splinters it.”
He didn’t even give a second look at what was left of Hela’s offspring, forgetting it as soon as he restarted listening to his own heart.
The silence wailed on his tears, and only then his wrath slowly faded into desolation.
When his eyes looked around and fell on Mjolnir.
Laying lifeless, abandoned, lost in that lost land after losing its master.
He dragged himself there, wasted, extinguished.
“I am many, and I am one.”
And despite what I am, I couldn’t save you.
I couldn’t save you.
His fingers trembled skimming the hammer’s handle.
He crumpled on his knees in front of Mjolnir, sobbing convulsively.
And contemplating the endless joy they just re-conquered crushing into despair.
“...I am Loki. His Loki.”