AN: Obviously, our title is German. It refers to the the German fairytale by the Brothers Grimm "Mother Holle". The direct translation of the title would be "Pitch Mary", and in German, "Pech" not only means "pitch", but also "bad luck". Both of these translations are apparent in this story; and you'll see how when you read it.
Loki clenched his teeth and fought to keep his expression indifferent. He had won this fight, he had won and if Sif could not accept that, it was her problem and she should not make it his.
But of course, she could never leave such matters alone – if anyone was a sore loser, Loki thought gloomily, it was the Lady Sif. And of course she would drag the Warriors Three into the discussion, and of course they took her side.
"She is right, Loki,"said Volstagg, in a voice that was probably meant to be placating but only served to fuel his bad mood. "It was not a fair fight, you cheated."
He had not cheated. He had not. Magic was as much a weapon as any sword or axe, and if he could wield it as such, he did not see a reason why he should not use it to his benefit.
But apparently, the others did not quite share this view. "Come on, Loki," said Fandral with a laugh and swirled his sword in his hand, just barely missing Hogun's arm in the process. Loki cringed inwardly. "Why don't you just use a real weapon for once instead? All this... magic..." He gestured around with his free hand and shrugged, still grinning. Sif next to him wore a scowl on her face.
"Indeed. Let us see you handle a sword, or at least a staff, instead of hiding behind tricks and illusions like a coward! You are a prince of Asgard, you really should be capable of fighting properly." Her glare intensified, but her voice suddenly became smug. "Or are you afraid that in a fair battle you would not be able to beat me?"
Loki bristled indignantly. Just because he was using a weapon none of them could ever hope to be able to wield, they thought the fight was unfair? If he were as unable to fight with a sword as they seemed to think him to be, it would be unfair to place one in his hand and expect him to fight with it. Why could they not let him choose the weapon he wished for?
"Now, look at that. He actually listened…" Volstagg balanced his axe in one hand like an oar, pointing it to the edge of the arena and as Sif followed his peek, she noticed Loki's lanky figure right next to the wooden rack which held their training weapons. He seemed to be hiding in the black shadow the rack was casting upon the golden sand and the heavy axes and swords positively seemed a little out of place in his seely hands. Yes, the dagger he was currently fumbling with, Sif thought, would suit him best but of course he put it aside. "Quite a surprise indeed…" Sif mumbled, turning her head.
"Yes, and most surprising because it was you who said it!" Volstagg laughed his good-natured rumbling laugh and followed Sif, who was walking straight back into the arena but was stopped by Fandral, as he ran his fingers through her sunshine-blonde curls. "I am sure, in a fair fight, you would earn the triumph…" he said with his flattering voice. Sif slapped his hands away with her sword. "Stop it, Fandral" she spat, putting on a face that carried glimpses of that of a queen. "Oh but, I do want to see you two fighting as soon as Loki decided for his weapon!" A smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. "Oh, do you?" For a moment Sif savoured Fandral's confused expression but then she whirled her sword around to attack. Fandral countered her move. "I do!" Another whirl, another cling as the metal swords collided.
"I wish Thor was here to see this!" Volstagg called out from behind, his deep voice swallowed by thundering laughs.
"Where is Thor anyway?" Sif asked panting and turning her sword around to meet Fandral's blade, her hair wrapping around her face like a golden veil.
Volstagg shrugged, forgetting that Sif and Fandral were currently too engaged in their battle to look at him. "I have not seen him since last night. Perhaps he has indulged in too much mead at the table and does now not feel up to joining us yet?"
But Hogun next to him shook his head, not taking his eyes off of the whirling swords. "His company was requested by the Allfather," he said, forcing Sif and Fandral to cease their sparring in order to hear his quiet words.
"Oh yes, it was indeed." They all turned around to find Loki smirking at them, a light sword sheathed at his side and twirling a narrow dagger between his fingers. Sif scowled and was about to reprimand him for sneaking up on them, but Loki was already elaborating. "My dear brother has received an order to accompany the king on a diplomatic duty to watch and hopefully learn... since unfortunately his skills in this regard are sorely lacking. So, I am afraid, you will have to make do with me in his stead for today." He casually touched his dagger's tip with his thumb, as if to test its potential to cut through skin. Apparently satisfied, he looked up and set his eyes on Sif. "And I do believe there was still a matter we have to resolve anyway, was there not?"
Sif shared a glance with Volstagg and stepped forward, sheathing her sword and matching Loki's gaze calmly. "You mean it?" she asked sceptically. "You will fight with actual weapons this time? No tricks, no illusions?"
Loki nodded, a sharp smile on his features. "I promise. I will fight using these weapons, and there will be neither 'tricks' nor any illusions. Everything will be quite real."
"Well then." Sif nodded her consent, and the Warriors Three all took a few steps back to give them space. Loki gripped his dagger tighter, and Sif put her hand on the hilt of her sword, none of them letting the other out of their sight.
Loki mirrored her, touching his sword, a constant grin edging his lips. Was it a malicious grin? Was it a playful grin? No one could tell. The air around the fighters was vibrating with their breath, framing them in a void, where only watchfulness was able to grab hold on them. The pebble stones seemed to tremble in their sand blankets when they both took a step forward. As Sif was averting her eyes from her opponent to grip hold of her sword, it was Hogun who saw Loki lifting his hand and with it, he lifted the gleaming weapon from its sheath. He was not touching it, not a single finger rested on the hilt, it was hovering in the air, only guided by a spell unknown to its unimpressed witnesses.
Sif gripped her sword tighter, clenching her teeth as she met Loki's pleased expression; he was fooling her with his very eyes, still holding his dagger in the other hand.
"You said-!" Sif was unable to finish her sentence as she was caught off by a mere wave of Loki's hand, leading the sword towards her. She dodged his abrupt attack and tossing back her hair she glared at him, wrath written on her features.
"I said, I will use these weapons. Am I not?"
Not properly, Sif thought, but properly or not, she was not willing to get caught in a discussion with Thor's snake of a little brother. So she simply let out a yell and stormed forward to fight.
He made the sword leap to meet Sif's attack, it only cost him a flick of his elbow. The blades connected with a metallic rattle and he didn't even have to leave the exact spot he had been standing on when they had gotten in place. The sword glided through the air giving an uncanny whoosh as it missed Sif's bare arm by a hair. Her moves were nimble, she was fast – and yes, in a way, it was impressive, how she was countering Loki's moves in a way that definitely showed technique. Up. Down. Up. Down. Loki moved his hand as if conducting an orchestra and in the process, he was conducting his sword, flying after Sif, forcing her to duck down, to kneel before him, to jump back up to meet his blade. And while Sif was panting and running and dodging his foreswings, her sword upheld to shield her, he was standing still, only moving his hand and making the sword chase his opponent with an amused expression.
"You bastard!" Sif yelled and when she countered a first swing of Loki's sword and dodged a second and avoided a third, she stormed towards him, lifting up her sword with a howl. Loki used his dagger to protect his face, as she attempted to hit him with her weapon. He shoved her back and chuckled. "What? Out of breath already?"
She answered with a growl and with another whirl of her blade, she cut open the fabric of his sleeve, drawing a scratch onto his skin. "You're tricking, tricking again!"
Instead of replying, Loki lifted his arm to pull back his sword and as Sif turned around to evade the flying blade it nearly brushed Fandral's cheek and cut off a strand of Volstagg's red beard.
"Careful!" Fandral called out.
And at that exact moment the sword whooshed back at Sif, who tossed back her tresses that got caught in her eyelashes and Loki's weapon tore through them in a tidy cut. And as the blade divided her hair it sounded like her locks were made of pure gold.
For a few seconds, nobody said a word, all of them seemingly frozen in place. Loki's hand had lowered and so had his sword, hovering just above the ground. Volstagg wore an expression of vague shock, and Fandral looked as if almost scared of Sif's reaction, while Hogun merely appeared to be in an even darker mood than usually.
Sif slowly lifted her hand and touched the ends of her formerly long hair, of which the longest strands now reached just below her chin. She grasped at them, tugging lightly, as if she was trying to pull them further down to make them achieve their original length, and then left her hand there and stared at the soft, golden threads that lay spread in between sand and pebbles.
"I... I'm sorry." Though Loki's voice was barely above a whisper, the sudden noise seemed to startle Sif out of her near frozen state. Her hand fell, curling into a fist, and ignored Loki's seemingly horror-stricken look as she advanced on him.
"You're sorry?" Her voice was deceptively calm, only her flashing eyes betraying her rage. For anyone who saw her in that moment it was quite clear why she had chosen to become a warrior. "You cut my hair. You cut my hair! You insufferable-!" Loki stumbled back as Sif suddenly raised her sword again, ready to strike him. His concentration had broken and his own sword clattered to the ground while he instinctively raised his dagger to defend himself, but Sif did not actually lash out at him with her weapon, instead throwing it to the side with a furious yell.
"I know," Loki said, raising his hands in a manner that wasn't really calming since he still held on tight to his dagger. "I did not-"
"How could you do this? Not only did you go against your promise by using magic again, but also you simply... oh, put that dagger away!" Seething with fury, Sif caught him by surprise, knocking the blade out of his hand so it landed amidst the shining strands to their feet, and before he could react, her knuckles had connected painfully with his cheek. She had backhanded him.
Gingerly touching his now softly throbbing jaw, Loki assumed an apologetic expression, but he was not allowed to get a word out just yet.
"This was just childish, Loki." Volstagg suddenly stood next to Sif, Fandral and Hogun close behind, and looked at Loki in an almost disgusted fashion.
"Childish?" Fandral chimed in, eyes flashing daggers of their own. "It was cruel and utterly uncalled for!" He softly threaded his fingers through Sif's leftover strands, and for once she didn't protest. She was a warrior, yes, but despite everything she was still a woman, and she had been quite proud of her golden locks. And she was certain that any male warrior would be just as irate about an incident like this as she was.
Loki looked like he would prefer to be in the depths of Helheim instead of in their somewhat hostile company. "I swear, it was not my intention! It was an accident, Sif, I would never... your movement came as a surprise to me, and I could not react fast enough! Truly, I am sorry..."
Sif scoffed and turned away from Loki, gathering her sword off the ground as she prepared to leave. She knew better than to trust the trickster god's false apologies, she told herself. "You will pay for this, my prince."
Loki watched as the others one by one followed after Sif, sparing him nothing more than the occasional glare and, in Fandral's case, a muttered "wait until Thor hears of this."
In that moment, Loki couldn't care less. It didn't look like the others counted this as a win for him, but what did it matter?
The sunset illuminated the corridor and painted the sandstone walls blood red and golden. It truly was a beautiful sight but Thor's eyes were hidden beneath a veil of fury. Enraged he stormed down the hallway, his body tense with aggression, his hair waving behind him, flapping in the rhythm of his hasted steps. On his way to Loki's room, he passed a magnificently carved wooden table, which carried a pretty vase that held a bouquet of colourful flowers. But he didn't waste a second rejoicing in their sight. Instead he smashed the vase with a growl, leaving shards, lonely flowers and water all over the floor. Panting he resumed his run until his brother's door came into sight.
"LOKI!" he thundered long before he could even grip hold of the door handles. Soon, he pushed open the door with a loud bang, making the room fall into an awkward silence in which one could hear the dust snowing down from the cupboards and tables. And Loki was, as he found him, lying on his bed, reading hypocritically and almost dropping his book at the unexpected noise of Thor's typical loud arrival. Loki's face was masked with a bored expression, as Thor started to yell at him, "What's gotten into you, brother?!" With a sigh, Loki put a bookmark between the pages he had just been reading, knowing he would not be able to continue just yet. "Could you please explain this mess to me?!" Thor shouted.
"Good evening to you brother, and welcome back home – I see your voice works just as fine as it did this morrow. Now, may I ask what you're speaking of?" Thor quickly snatched the book from his brother's hands and slammed it to his bedside table, still panting from storming up the stairs and through the long corridor. His blue eyes were shielded by an angry expression. "Oh, don't pretend you don't know! I just met Sif in the hall and she seems deeply upset about the new headdress you forced onto her! So let me tell you, no matter how fond of tricks you might be, that this time you have gone too far!"
Loki merely raised his eyebrows and, with a regretful sounding sigh, glanced at his poor book before swinging his legs over the edge of the bed. As his little brother leaned forward, Thor found himself met with a wry, contemplating stare. "Of course. She told you I did it on purpose, did she not?" Before Thor could respond, Loki narrowed his eyes in an expression of righteous anger. "It was an accident, Thor! I did not mean for it to happen – what good would cutting her hair do me?!"
Thor took a purposeful step forward and then suddenly grabbed the bedpost, as if he had to stop himself from outright storming at his brother.. "An accident, you mean to tell me? Well, Sif seemed quite sure that it was not! She assumed you may have taken revenge in that malicious way of yours for her mocking you for not being able to use weapons in a fight, but hiding behind your magic... and I'm telling you, it is not your right to chide Sif for a childish notion in a way as cruel as this!"
Somewhere along Thor's tirade of rage, Loki had gotten to his feet and now balled his hands to fists, actually looking slightly hurt. "So she says it was done on purpose, and so of course it must be the truth! But, while I would have had every right indeed to chide her for her untrue and insulting words, I did not resort to such a manner in order to hand out punishment!"
He backed away a few inches as Thor leaned closer, hand still clenched around the bedpost. "I can only repeat what she told me. She was merely telling you to try a sword and fight properly, whereupon you attempted to enchant the sword on fighting for you. Even if I were to believe you that it was an accident, I must indeed agree with Sif's words. You must learn how to handle a weapon without any use of magic – a sword cannot be controlled like that, accidents are bound to happen that way!"
Loki's teeth clenched in response, but he managed to keep his voice relatively calm. "I can handle any weapon as well as anyone, the difference being that I also know how to use magic to my advantage. So since I can do both, is it not my choice which of them I wish to use in a battle?" With a sneer, he crossed his arms in front of his chest. "In a true fight, Sif would not complain about having her hair cut by accident, instead she would be thanking the Norns that it was not her arm, or her head!"
Thor sucked in air sharply as if in pain, he loosened his grip around the bedpost and took a step forward, raising his index finger, preparing to shake it at his brother in a scolding manner. "If she wasn't so sure it wasn't an accident, I am certain she wouldn't complain as much…" He met his brother's even face that was not betraying any emotion, neither guilt nor dismay. "So next time," he continued, "better lead the weapon with your bare hands as you are supposed to do and leave your little magic tricks [out] of the fights!" Loki merely shrugged.
"I do not care how much she complains – I already gave her my apologies, it is but hair, it will grow back!" He gave his brother an angry glare. "And as to my magic 'tricks' as you choose to call them, I do not see a reason to stop using them in any way I see fit. My hand could have slipped just as much as the sword did without it!"
Thor took another step, bending his knees, looking down at his brother and making the tips of their noses almost touch in the process but Loki didn't even flinch. As he spoke, he effectively shook his index finger at him, "If this is the truth, if your hand merely slipped, just hope she will get over it…" His eyes narrowed, "And stay away from her or I am sure she will cut your magic hands off!" Thor bent down further, their eyes locked, it was as if he was trying to see through them into his brother's very skull to find out what he was thinking. His voice was softer as he resumed his speech, but it also had a darker shade to it, "But if you're lying… let me tell you that it might be wiser to never play a trick like this on anyone again! You may despise Sif in a way, but grudges like that do not belong on a real battlefield! If you haven't learned as much, then you don't belong in a real battle…" With this, Thor straightened and turned to leave but he was held back, as Loki didn't have any intention to let his brother get away with this. Even though he knew it certainly was wiser to not provoke Thor any further, he still raised his voice and called after him, the corners of his mouth pulled downwards into a disapproving frown.
"Whether you think me to be lying or not – must I remind you that, while we have not been to war – neither I nor you, brother! – we have both seen our share of battles, and more than once have you been grateful for my 'tricks' when they got you out of trouble?"
But Thor merely shrugged and looking over his shoulder, his foot already on the doorsill, he muttered, "Tricks like this can easily be misused… they aren't as trustworthy as a simple sword or spear… So keep yourself in check…"
Loki turned back to his room after his brother had left and grabbed his book again. Really. It was just hair.
The early morning found certain members of the royal family in an uproar once again. The first rays of Asgard's sun had just begun to appear on the horizon, slowly creeping over the cities and into darkened rooms where the curtains hadn't been closed properly the evening before. Asgard wasn't exactly sleeping anymore – a lot of farmers, bakers, and other workers were up and about already, as was most of the palace staff, but for the realm's young princes sleeping habits were different. Thor, if left to his own devices, slept happily until noon no matter when he had fell asleep, and Loki, while preferring to do more than sleep half of the day, often stayed awake until the early hours before succumbing to his fatigue, thus making it unlikely for him to see the sun rise.
Therefore, seeing the barely dressed older prince storming out of his chambers and straight towards Loki's at this time was quite an unusual sight.
Not caring for the passing servant's confused glances, Thor pushed the heavy door open with a mere flick of his wrist, and upon seeing his little brother blink blearily at him against the light now falling through the open door, he strode to his bed and instantly tore his blanket away from him. "You lied to me, Loki! You LIED!"
Loki flinched at the sudden onslaught of cold and tried his best to wake up and get his mind to working properly. It proved quite a difficult feat, for he had indeed retired to sleep only a few hours ago and hadn't expected to instantly be assaulted by his brother. "Wha... what?" Sitting up slowly, he tiredly rubbed at his eyes. "What do you want? Why are you even awake?"
The glare he received in return, sizzling with fury, did little to improve his comprehension. "Sif's hair has turned pitch black this morning! Don't even [try] to talk yourself out of this because this revealed it – it was NOT," Thor slammed his hand against the bedpost with vehemence and they both could hear a distinct cracking sound, "an accident!"
Green, tired eyes blinked sluggishly at him for a second or two until their owner finally grasped what this was about. With a groan, Loki slumped back down on the bed, hiding the beginnings of a satisfied smirk in his pillow. "I know not what you speak of, brother, but I suggest you forget whatever dreams you have been having and return to bed." He let his eyes fall close again until they were startled open by a hand on his shoulder, grabbing him roughly and pulling him up before Thor is suddenly in his face, all but screaming at him.
"Sif's scream was not to be overheard – oh, don't pretend you didn't hear it! So better explain to me how you can still believe this to be funny!" Wincing, Loki tried to pry Thor's hands off, the fingers of which are digging painfully into his flesh.
"Funny? Did you hear me laugh? I did not hear any scream, I only just went to sleep not long ago and was sleeping peacefully until you decided to barge in like a rampaging bilgesnipe and rob me of my rest for no reason – how could I have turned Sif's hair black? Would she not have noticed my sneaking about in her chambers?!"
He dropped Loki, as if he was nothing but a basket of hay he had brought for his horse, but Loki missed the edge of his bed by a mere inch and slipped down to the cold, hard floor, tearing down his blankets in the process.
"However you did it," Thor rumbled, "whatever you did, no one but you could have done it! So albeit being a fool for even daring to trick her like this, would you at least admit your guilt and not hide beneath your lies?!"
Loki's response was an icy scowl. He sat still, not making a move, not attempting to get back up. He simply shifted to settle himself in a more comfortable position and as he spoke, his voice was calm and severe, making a fine contrast to his brother's deep growls.
"You must think me a fool indeed if you believe I would do a thing like this. It has not escaped me how furious the Lady Sif was yesterday about a mere accident, do you truly expect me to act in a way that would only fuel her anger at me?" He tilted his head up, his green eyes beaming like two emeralds. "I do value my life, Thor."
"Then it must have come with the cut…" Thor's rage still caused him to breathe heavily. "I don't know how you did it and I do not ask you to give me a detailed description, I just want you to confess. Don't be a coward, Loki!"
Loki's jaw clenched. "I am not a coward!" Angrily he lifted one hand from the floor as if to strike Thor from his feet, but knowing it wouldn't be of much use, he stopped the movement only halfway. "There simply is nothing to confess, for I have done nothing to warrant your ire." His lip trembled as he put his tightly clenched fist in his lap, his face an unheard cry for trust and understanding. "Why is it," he muttered, "that every time something goes wrong, you look for blame in me?"
Thor lifted his hand, putting his fingers in the crook his eyes and nose were forming, slightly shaking his head. "No." he said. "I don't believe you. I don't." Loki winced at his brother's words as if his heart had been stricken by one of Thor's lightnings. His eyes shone like two mirrors, the heralds of tears shimmering in his pupils. But Thor remained nearly untouched by Loki's ailing expression. He only calmed down his words, lifting his brother from the floor and placing him at the edge of his bed, his hand rested at Loki's shoulder as he continued his rant. His words were softer, but what they carried upon was still harsh.
"Look, I seek to bring back order and I want you to stand up for what you have done." He squeezed Loki's shoulder. "Didn't I tell you before? Didn't I tell you that tricking each other isn't a good base for a partnership? Didn't I tell you before that grudges should be cleared and not avenged like this?"
Loki breathed out hard through his nose, fixating his brother with an exasperated and incredulous expression. He shoved his hand away and rubbed his aching shoulders, absently noting to check them for bruises later which he could already feel starting to form. "You do not seek to 'bring back order'," he muttered gloomily. He frowned, his next words sounded hurt and biting. "No, what you seek is to make up for whatever happened to Lady Sif's hair, quite likely simply because you are smitten with her, no matter how subtle you believe yourself to be. But in order to impress her, you must find someone to blame, and isn't it just convenient that your little brother already viciously attacked the fair maiden's hair a mere day ago?" He turned away and slid backward on the mattress until he could lean with his back against the wall. "I care not what you believe, brother, but do not assume that just because you are my elder you can still lecture me in any way you see fit. We have long outgrown that age when you could frighten me still with your presumed wisdom and superiority."
"You little-" Thor, who up to this moment had exercised a surprising amount of restraint, now obviously had reached the end of his tether. He grabbed Loki at the waist and shoved him hard against the wall, still holding him up as if he weighed nothing at all, and took then a hold of a fistful of long, dark hair. "Don't attempt to fool me now, I know – I know that look!" A rattle and a shake and Loki found himself all but compressed into the cold stone behind his back, gasping at the unexpected assault while his brother yelled irately at him. "I KNOW IT WAS YOU! So SAY IT!" A fist was lifted, held threateningly in front of Loki's eyes. "Or I'll have to beat the truth out of your lying mouth!"
Loki was blinking frantically as he tried to clear his vision after the collision with the wall. His head swam. "Ah... I... s-stop that!" He lifted his hands, attempted to push Thor's fist aside as he eyed it wearily. He had not seen his brother this angry in quite a long time, and he had no real desire to be at the receiving end of his ire when he was like this, especially not at so early an hour. "Can you not behave like a half decent person for once?"
He came to the conclusion that the Thunderer indeed could [not] do that, since he was only pushed against the stone wall once again. "CAN YOU NOT SPEAK THE TRUTH FOR ONCE?!"
Turning his head aside as well as he could manage, Loki coughed drily against the pressure and did his best to swallow. "If- if I promise to tell the truth, will you at least let me go?" He modelled his expression into an anxious, vulnerable one, but for once it didn't seem to have much of an impact when his brother just bored his gaze into Loki's.
"Promise." After a second or two, he suddenly loosened his grip, and Loki collided hard with the floor, knocking over a small table in the process and making a few papers and books clatter to the ground together with their owner.
Loki gave a pained groan as he pushed himself back up, his movements stiff, his limbs aching. He glared at Thor muttering insults under his breath he couldn't even understand himself. He casually leaned back against the wall, lifting one hand to rub the back of his throbbing head and curling the other one almost protectively around his middle. And as he spoke he only watched Thor with half an eye.
"I enchanted the sword yesterday so it would cut her hair, and for it to turn her hair black the following morrow." A snort. It was almost angry. "Did you really think I have so little control over my magic that it would slip like this?"
Thor was now positively boiling with anger and no longer able to keep himself in check. With an angry thundering growl he threw his tightly clenched fist hard against Loki's cheek and nose; and almost immediately there was blood streaming down, framing his brother's heart-shaped lips. "No. Don't worry, I did not think that." Thor stared at him, still panting. "I know your tricks brother. But this is not funny!" All but screaming out the end of his sentence, he stormed at Loki, his hands closed around his throat and as he spoke, his voice was trembling with fury, "How… could you?" Long, golden gleaming hair was every maiden's greatest pride. Being burdened with glorious tresses was like carrying a trophy, was an ideal, a woman's greatest desire. But Thor could read in Loki's horror-stricken face that he did not understand why this incident infuriated him so much. And as Loki felt Thor's hands close around his neck, he merely gasped, suddenly terrified as he realised how serious Thor was taking this all. "It's just—just h-hair!" He choked slightly and coughed at the sensation of blood running into his mouth as he helplessly tugged at Thor's hands. "Thor, you idiot, let me—let go!" He shifted and tried and tried to pull his brother's big hands away but it was useless. He struggled to swallow and breathe and his eyes brightened up as he finally managed to kick Thor's shin, but he only intensified the pressure he was putting on Loki's throat.
"You will regret this, brother!" Loki felt like he already did. "But first – I want you to tell Sif and I want you to apologise: to really apologise. And I want you to mean it, do you hear me?" As if the Lady Sif wasn't already convinced it had been the liesmith anyway. He wouldn't need to confirm her suspicion. And he wouldn't need to listen to his brother's almost motherly scolding. He sputtered and as Thor eased up only a tad bit, he could speak again, his voice still hoarse. "You sound like mother did when we were children."
Thor didn't seem to care. Ignoring the comparison he shook his brother and screamed for reassurance. "DO YOU HEAR ME?!"
Cringing, he let his eyes fall shut for a moment as if it would protect his ears from Thor's loud, boisterous voice while he attempted to keep his breathing steady. "You c-certainly are... loud enough."
The next second found him on the floor once more after Thor dropped him without any consideration for his well-being. "Oh, there is one more thing I ask of you, Loki." Gasping for breath, he looked up at his older brother, dreading what more was to come. "You will reverse your spell and give her back the golden hair she once possessed..."
"That's..." Loki frowned as his voice cracked, clearing his throat forcefully and lifting a hand to massage the sore skin as if to rub away the burning sensation beneath it. Oh, this was certain to leave bruises now, and of course it would be up to him to think of a way to conceal them. "It's impossible. I cannot." The look he sends in Thor's direction is wary, but defiant, and he slowly pulled himself to slightly shaky feet while he elaborates. "Not every spell can be reversed..." And she deserved it.
Thor seems to enjoy manhandling Loki for already he can feel his large hands on his shoulders again, but this time only to turn him around and force him to face him. "Are you telling me her hair is to remain black her entire life?!" His blue eyes seem to have darkened considerably, emitting a low, angry glow, and he took a step forward, obviously intending to intimidate his little brother. "Oh, I think this time she will kill you indeed. If I'm not killing you first."
Swallowing painfully, Loki faced his brother, willing himself not to take a step back. "I am certain she still looks as stunning as ever. And at least now the colour of her hair is quite unique in comparison to all other maidens, is it not?" He averted his eyes for a heartbeat to glance at his own strands, pitch black and tousled from sleep as much as from his brother's rough handling, before looking back again. "Do not force me to defend myself against you."
And Thor laughed. Loki was trying to sound menacing, to ban all signs of fear from his voice, and the result was Thor laughing. "Just try."
But no, he wouldn't take this. Eyes flashing in anger, he lay his hand on Thor's chest, and pushed, managing to move him away at least a little. "Shut up. Leave me in peace. You got what you wanted, now go. I am tired."
His response consisted of an incredulous look. "You do not really think I let you go to bed and sleep now, do you?"
"Yes, I really do think that," Loki groaned in exasperation. "What more do you want?!"
Without a word, Thor took a step and as Loki blinked, he just lifted him up and threw him over his shoulder as if he was not more than a flour sack. Loki sucked in a startled breath. "You come with me and confess to Sif what you have done to her." And with this he started walking. Automatically, Loki's fists clenched and he started hitting his brother's broad back in protest.
"Thor, you oaf, let me down this instant or I will—" He let out an exasperated scream and frustrated he landed one last futile blow before he closed his eyes. And he willed his tired mind to concentrate. There was a spell, a spell he had practised for quite a while now and while it might not be useful in battle as it required too much concentration, this particular moment might prove just perfect for trying it out. Thoroughly ignoring his unpleasant situation and Thor's rocking footsteps, he forced his usually cool skin temperature to rise. Rise, rise, rise until he knew Thor must feel it, until he knew it must feel scaldingly hot to his brother's bare skin. And yes, soon Thor gave a hiss of pain and instantly let go of Loki, causing him to fall to the stone floor – again. "Fffh-ahh!" Thor yelped, "What on—?" He looked at Loki. All he had achieved was but a glare and a spat, "Fine. You may get dressed first."
Loki smirked despite the ache he slowly but surely felt all over his body.
"Or" he claimed, "you could just leave me in peace, lest I be forced to take more drastic measures. I have no intention to apologise."
Thor turned by taking a single hasted step. "Very well" he murmured, "I will tell her…" And he just left his brother sitting on the cold floor, rubbing his elbow and as he reached the end of the corridor, he turned back one last time and he shouted over his shoulder, "And I will tell father!"
"Wait, no!" Loki felt his cheeks started burning again, but this time they were burning with anger and embarrassment. Hastily he scrambled to his feet. "Don't… don't tell father." But it was too late. Thor had already descended the stairs and he didn't want to storm after him like a child. Most certainly not. He should better go back to his room and sleep. He needed to be well prepared for the battles that would follow.