Notes: Well, it only took me something over a year to finish this fic, but I finally did. I hope that you all enjoyed this fic!
Title: How a Heart Breaks
Part: 2 / 2
Fandom: Thor
Pairing: one-sided Thor/Jane ; Thor/Loki ; implied Sif/Jane
Rating: pg13
Words: 6215 words
Beta: elliott ashes
Prompt: AU where Thor and Loki are soulmates or bonded or equivalent. It could be official, intentional, accidental, or maybe they don't even know. But when Thor is exiled and begins to fall for Jane, it starts tearing at the bond, driving Loki slowly mad.

How a Heart Breaks, Part 2

For Thor, Earth was an extremely confusing place.

And it wasn't just because he'd been stripped down to the status of a mortal either – which came with many unexpected complications. No, it was just an all around strange place. It was so different from Asgard that it was hard from him to wrap his head around.

Some of it he grasped onto quick enough, but he was anxious to return home and reclaim what was his.

He hadn't expected to be unable to lift Mjolnir. Nor that this was all his father's will.

He had felt as though the entire weight of the planet had been dropped on his shoulders. He wasn't used to not getting what he desired and Mjolnir was his, not the property of these mortals.

Although... that somehow didn't seem right. Mjolnir did not belong to him any longer. It belonged to a different Thor; one who was strong, powerful, selfish, and arrogant. After all, hadn't those been the very things which had landed him in this situation in the first place.

It was a hard and bitter pill to swallow.

And he had a lot of time to think over it too. That man who was in charge, he had left Thor there to think over his answers to the man's questions – answers which Thor didn't have – but instead he was thinking of other things.

That weight on his heart was eating at it now.

He'd felt heavy and not quite complete ever since he'd been banished here. At first, Thor had simply thought that it was a result of his now mortal status, but that should have worn off; or, it should have because he should have gotten used to it by then. It had to be something else, but Thor wasn't sure what that was.

The only thing he could think of... was Loki.

Had something happened to his brother? That concerned Thor the most, since Loki – while an extremely powerful magic user and a deadly opponent to boot – was an awfully fragile individual. He'd been sickly as a child and prone to being bullied by the other children of various noble families. Thor had always been protective of him, he'd felt it was his duty as an older brother.

I do love you dearly brother, never doubt that.

And he'd dragged Loki right into Jotenheim, without a single regard for his safety. He'd been such an idiot. He hadn't thought – he deserved this. All of this was his fault.

He wouldn't be surprised if his father never summoned him back.

Thor continued to stare blandly at the wall across from him. It looked as though it was made of mirrors, but he had a sneaking suspicion that they weren't actually mirrors. He didn't completely understand the technology behind it, but he trusted his instincts; they'd never led him astray before.

The minutes seemed to stretch on for what felt like an eternity to Thor. He had nothing to think upon other than his banishment and that striking realization that it was all his fault.

And now all he could do was wait.

– – –

It was an unconscious gesture, but Frigga continually glanced at the windows that she passed by. She kept checking her appearance, making sure that even in the garb of a common, modern mortal, she still looked as regal, but approachable, as she always did. If she was to speak with her son, she wanted him to respect her but also see her as his mother and not a queen.

But still, old habits were quite difficult to let go of.

The streets were, at this hour, deserted with one or two exceptions. Frigga could see a few people stumbling drunkenly about and a little ways ahead of her there were several homeless individuals conferring at the mouth of an alley.

Smoothing out the fabric of her dress, she carefully tucked an imaginary strand of hair behind her ear and pulled her coat tighter around her. She tugged down on the bottom of it and brushed imaginary dust away. Mortal clothes were quite a bit more finicky than what she was used to, although formal wear for her as queen could be quite complicated and elaborate.

Frigga had not told anyone she was coming – with the exception of Heimdall, of course. She felt that as this was a family issue, it was best to be dealt with in privacy.

Locating her son had been rather easy. The town was small and she had easily located an establishment for socializing and drinking and from there she had been given a description and directions to where her son was. Frigga had been polite, thanked the man who had told her for his help, and continued on.

She was taking her time, even though it was of utmost importance that she and Thor speak. Frigga had no idea of how to break this news to Thor. Perhaps he had worked some aspect of it out for himself already, it would certainly save her time.

But still, there was no way for her to revoke Odin's banishment of Thor. That was up to Thor to figure out.

Time seemed to fly by and she quickly found herself standing in front of the small residence that she'd received directions too. She stared at the door for several moments, steeling herself for what she had to do.

She reached out and rapped at the door sharply with her knuckles. Then she waited.

A loud thud echoed into the silence, followed by grumbling that sounded decidedly drunken in nature. It didn't sound like Thor.

The door swung open, revealing a greying, older man who swayed on his feet. He blinked blearily a few times before his eyes focused, somewhat, on her.

"Uh... hello."

"Good evening," Frigga greeted. She paused, "Are you alright?"

"'m fine. Just... just a little... sleepy."

"Then I will not keep you from your rest much longer. Would you happen to know where Thor is?"

The man paused, the question clearly taking time to sink in and then for him to understand it and process it. He brightened when he comprehended it and sloppily gestured towards the building nearby. "Roof... I think... Jane's with him... maybe."

Jane? Frigga offered the man a smile, "Thank you. I shall not keep you from your rest any longer. Good night."

He nodded and swayed on his feet before he shut the door and stumbled his way back to bed to sleep off all of the alcohol he had consumed.

Well, it seemed that some of Thor's traits were rubbing off on those around him.

Reaching the roof was a little more confusing and it took Frigga a couple of attempts to slip into the building without making too much noise. Then, it took her a few more minutes to find the stairs leading up to the roof.

When she got there, she had to pause in the doorway and lean against it. She felt her heart fall just a little.

Thor and a young woman – most likely the Jane the man had mentioned – were leaning towards each other, engaged in what looked like a happy discussion on something. Frigga couldn't make out their voices, but she could simply tell that there was a growing fondness and affection between the two. It might not have been love yet, but it was well on its way to that.

It was in the way that Thor leaned towards her, the way his eyes glittered in the moonlight, how he gestured as he spoke, and how open his expression was. Thor had always been an expressive person, but Frigga knew that even then he would keep certain emotions carefully locked away. He was affectionate, but he kept it mostly friendly and physical, never letting too many people very close.

As for the young woman, her smile and her bright eyes along with her rapt attention as Thor spoke told Frigga volumes. She was obviously quite smitten with her son.

Oh, how life and love can be so cruel.

Frigga stepped forward, letting the door close behind her. It closed with a rather loud click, which drew the attention of the young couple towards her. Frigga offered them a warm smile despite her aching heart.


"Mother?!" He sounded awfully surprised.

The woman, Jane, glanced between the two of them, clearly confused. She chose to remain silent, even when Frigga addressed her.

"I apologize if I'm interrupting something important," Frigga said. "But it is urgent that I speak with my son, may I borrow him for a few minutes?"

Jane nodded mutely, watching as Thor stood up and walked over. The two of them retreated a small distance away to speak in relative privacy.

"What brings you here, mother?"

"Many things, Thor, but one is that your father has fallen into the Odinsleep."

Thor seemed surprised by this and glanced down, "That... is news. What of Loki?"

"He is very ill, Thor, I will not lie to you about this. His condition is critical." Perhaps it was a good sign that the first person he asked after was his brother. But then she remembered him and Jane and her heart felt as though it would crack more.

"Do you know what it is that ails him?"

"Yes. But there is nothing I can do to help him, nor the healers."

She watched as Thor's shoulders and expression fell. He looked lost. While this gave her hope, that would be meaningless if Thor was unable to find the purpose in his father's actions.

"There is still time," Frigga continued softly. "If you wished to see him..."

Thor, though, looked distant. There was a sadness in his eyes that Frigga could not recall ever having seen there before. Thor had always been straight-forward, rarely considering the consequences of his actions, always stubborn and hot-headed; to see him like this was... it was a change. One that Frigga was unsure to make of, but it might have been the change that Odin had been after.

But, knowing her husband as she did, Frigga knew that Thor would need to prove that he had changed.

"Father banished me..." Thor began, voice soft. "I do not believe he would welcome my return. And Loki... my actions have hurt him."

"So you are saying that you have... accepted this as punishment?" Frigga watched her son nod. "There is purpose in everything your father does. He may be complicated and difficult to understand, but he has always had your best interests at heart – as he does Loki's."

Thor stared at her for several long moments, his expression indistinguishable. Then, "You believe I could return."

"It's always possible," Frigga murmured. "Odin would not be so cruel as to forbid you from ever returning to your home."

The two of them stood in silence for several moments before bidding their goodbyes. Before Frigga left, she heard Thor say, "I am not sure it would still be home..."

Her heart cracked just a little more.

– – –

That night, after Frigga had left and long after Jane had fallen asleep, Thor dreamed.

In his dream, he was cold. Cold and alone. Each breath was torture, as though claws were being dragged along his throat. The cold pierced through to his very core, straight to his heart which beat slowly.

He thought that he would die.

There was nothing but darkness around him. It surrounded him and he could see nothing – not even his own hand in front of his face.

Where am I?

Just as he thought the question, a small pinprick of flickering green light lit up in the distance. He stretched out his hand twoards it, but his fingers couldn't reach and his legs felt as though they'd sunk into quicksand – it took so much effort to move them... but he just neededto reach that light.

I'm coming, he tried to say, but his voice was stuck in his throat. Please wait for me.

The light flickered once – in agreement perhaps? – but it grew just a little fainter.

Wait for me...

– – –

He felt as though a heavy weight was lodged somewhere in his chest and that weight had sharp edges. Thor felt his heart ache and a chill had settled deep into his bones. It felt like he was back on Jotunheim but... different. This cold permeated straight through him and refused to leave.

Jane was concerned and softly asked him as the two of them prepared breakfast, "Something wrong?"

"My mother tells me that my father has fell into the Odinsleep," Thor began. "But it is my brother's illness that concerns me more..."

"Oh." Jane looked down, "Will he be alright?"

"I know not," Thor flexed his hands, trying to work out some of the tension that had settled into his muscles. "But mother says that it seems he will not... survive."

He had to force the last word out and even then it sounded quiet. Thor could not imagine life without Loki; they had been raised together, fought together, always at each other's sides and protecting one another. It was impossible to remember a time before Loki and he could not fathom what life would be like without him.

Jane stopped, setting aside the pot and spatula in her hands and placing her small hands gently over his. She managed a small smile but it didn't quite reach her eyes. "I'm sorry."

"I feel like it is my fault. He has... always needed me and I have always needed him, but I fear that I will never be able to tell him so." Thor frowned, brows furrowed. "I cannot conceive living without him... knowing that I never told him how much I..."

Jane touched his cheek; her fingers were light, gentle, and so soft. Perhaps once Thor might have found this to be a romantic gesture, but now... now he could only summon a mild form of affection. Her beauty had not decreased, but Thor could no longer view it the same way he had before.

"There is always hope. Don't give up. You might get that chance yet."

He reached up and gently took her hand in his, giving it a comforting squeeze and offering a small smile of gratitude.

"Thank you, Lady Jane."

She flushed and nodded, "It's nothing."

– – –

The cold chill remained with Thor. He could still feel the loneliness and isolation from his dream. His heart was still heavy in his chest.

He wasn't sure what to do.

Thor felt like an alien in his own skin. Everything he did felt... mechanical, routine. He followed Jane's actions, imitating what she did as the two of them worked; taking out plates and glasses to Darcy and Selvig, who were seated at the table. He managed a smile for them when he did.

Words were jumbling together in his head.

He was worried for Loki. He wanted – no, needed to see him again. Not for the last time. Loki was... Loki was important to him, more than anyone else. And Thor felt like it was his fault that Loki had fallen ill.

If he had never taken him with him to Jotunheim, if he hadn't behaved so irrationally and rushed in like always, then maybe... maybe Loki would not have fallen ill. And Thor would be with him.

Please, Loki, please hold on.

He sent all of his prayers, wishes, and hopes to Yggdrasil, only being able to believe with all of his being that they would reach Loki. And maybe, just maybe, they would offer him some balm in his illness.

Loki had helped him, now he wanted to help Loki.

All of those years, he had stood by Loki and protected him as best he could; only to fail him. It was his fault that Loki was ill.

He had failed him.

Thor felt his heart crack a little and his tightened his fists, sending every prayer and hope he had, having nothing but faith that they would reach Loki.

Hold on, I will come for you. I promise you this. But please, hold on.

– – –

Midgard had changed significantly over the years since Sif had last visited. Heimdall had been difficult to convince to let her travel to Midgard alone, but Sif had already given the Warriors Three orders to remain in Asgard and guard Loki and their queen.

With the Allfather in the Odinsleep and problems from some of the Frost Giants, the realms had been plunged into dangerous times. Even if Sif didn't trust Loki, she knew that Thor did and loved him dearly. She would make sure that no harm would come to him.

There had been attacks.

Guards killed, frozen in their tracks. Each attack happened on the fringe of Asgard and, while they knew who was responsible, there was nothing that could be done. Laufey had denounced those who continued to fight – he, at least, recognized when he had lost and when it would be pointless to continue fighting – but, as with any war, there were those who believed otherwise.

What was most worrisome, in Sif's mind, was the fact that each attack grew closer to both the royal chambers and Odin's treasure vault.

It was for these reasons that she had followed Thor to Midgard.

At least, that was what she told herself. This was a journey of practicality; Thor needed to know of the danger and that there was potential for him to come to harm. Even if she was worried for him and longed to see him again, it was the pragmatics of the situation which won out in the end. She just... needed to convince herself wholly of that.

There was a settlement close to where the Bifrost had set her down and, with nowhere else of note in sight, Sif had made her way there as quickly as possible. Thor was there, of that she was sure, and he would be in that town. She had heard their queen speak of the town and of the young woman there who seemed to be winning Thor's heart.

Sif had to stop and take a deep breath, calm herself. The stab of jealousy, hurt, and rage stewed deep in her stomach, but she would not let it rule her. If Thor did not want her, she would not begrudge him for finding love in another. She knew that he cared for her, that would... that would have to be enough.

Once she was calm, or as calm as she could be, Sif continued on. There was a bit more force in her step, but she didn't notice.

It took her a few hours before she reached the town, making it mid-morning or early afternoon when she finally did. There were people milling about in the streets and all of them looked at her with shock, and perhaps a little fear, when she arrived. Sif ignored them, easily locating the building which Frigga had described.

Sif looked into the windows and she couldn't stop the silly smile on her lips or the way her heart hammered in her chest when she saw Thor there. She knocked rather enthusiastically on the glass to get his attention.

He looked shocked to see her, his mouth falling open a little, but he recovered quickly. A wide, boyish grin – one which never failed to make her heart flutter just a little in her chest – as she wrenched open the door and hurried in.

Thor's companions looked much more shocked to see her; one of them dropped the cup he was holding which shattered on the floor, brown liquid forming a puddle.

"Sif, my friend, it is wonderful to see you once more!" Thor clasped her firmly on the shoulder and pulled her into a tight embrace that, in her opinion, didn't last nearly long enough. "Allow me to introduce you! This, my friends, is the Lady Sif; Sif, this is Eric Selvig, the Lady Darcy, and the Lady Jane."

Each of them managed a smile and a nod, but they didn't seem to quite know what to make of her.

Sif smiled at them and stepped forward, giving a small bow, "It is an honour and a pleasure to meet all of you."

"Whoa," the one named Darcy said. "You look like you're about to march into battle."

Thor looked at her, a frown marring his brow as his smile fell just a little. "Sif, what is it that brings you here?"

She knew that he would ask that.

Taking a deep breath to steady herself, Sif turned to face Thor. She was acutely aware that the Midgardians were paying her very close attention, but she ignored it, "There have been attacks on Asgard."

"From the Frost Giants?"

"A small group of them, yes," Sif replied. "They have apparently been waiting for even the slightest pretence to attack us. I – we had feared that they might target you as you are vulnerable while you are here."

"Where are the Warriors Three?" Thor's voice was hard and he crossed his arms, frown settling deep into his brows.

"I gave them orders to remain in Asgard and guard your brother and the queen." Sif felt a sense of calm steal over her; this was a Thor she knew, one who she would follow into battle without question. He was a warrior; it was silly of her to worry over him as though he was unable to defend himself.

"You must also return," Thor said.

"No, I will remain here and fight alongside you if the Frost Giants attack."

Thor managed a small smile, "I'm afraid that I would only be in your way if that were to occur."

"Frost Giants? You mean... there's more than just... those from Asgard?" Jane interrupted.

Sif started and reached for her weapon; she had forgotten that they were there. Luckily, the only one who noticed was Thor and he only spared her a glance before turning his attention to Jane and her companions.

"There are nine realms that are connected by way of Yggdrasil," Thor spoke softly. "I spoke of this last night; the Frost Giants are those who inhabit the frozen realm of Jotunheim. There has been an uneasy peace between Asgard and Jotenheim for many years, but there are those who wish to continue it. I once counted myself among them..."

Once?Sif thought. Something must have changed for Thor to give up his beloved war. She glanced at Jane, looking for any sign of affection. There was a soft, wistful look to Jane's eyes, but Sif had seen many a maiden in love, but this seemed different somehow. Jane was, of course, quite fair to behold, but Sif had never seen Thor look upon anyone with love and this time was no different.

"They have been moving between the realms without the aid of the Bifrost," Sif added. "Her majesty fears that they are making use of some dark magic to do so for Heimdall cannot see them."

"That is–"

Bright, blinding blue light erupted somewhere along the horizon. It was followed by an explosion that made the floor underneath their feet shudder and quake violently.

A growing sense of horror crept through Sif's veins. She cursed herself for being so foolish as she realized what the light and the rumbling of the earth must mean. The Frost Giants would not have been patient to wait around forever; they would wait, create chaos until Thor revealed himself. When that failed...

She had led them right to him.

– – –

He was trapped in the darkness of his dream.

There was no way to escape as it pressed in on him from all sides, suffocating him. He could feel it crushing him slowly as his heart struggled to keep beating in his chest. There was no escape, nothing to be done.

He was reminded of his dream, only this time there was no waking up.

That bright green light pulsed once, twice, he tried to reach his hand to it but his muscles refused to move.

I'm sorry, he tried to say, but the words were stuck in his throat.

Perhaps it was a hallucination brought on by death, but Thor could have sworn that he heard Loki's laugh; bright and beautiful and full of life, followed by his voice, "It isn't like you to give up so easily."

If he'd had the strength, Thor would have laughed.

He could picture Loki as easily as breathing – although, he wasn't breathing, not then – sitting at his side with a frown on his face; his exasperation and worry about Thor's latest wound, usually caused by his rushing recklessly into battle or, rarer still, caused by an ill-advised attempt to protect Loki himself.

But he would always save a genuine smile for him for when the healers had left the two of them alone.

"I am capable of protecting myself,"Loki would say; he would try to sound disapproving and irritated, but the worry won out in the end. And Thor would just smile and, eventually, he would fall asleep with Loki sitting vigil at his side.

Even then, he could hear the words that Loki would say into the silence when he thought Thor was asleep.

"Thank you."

His heart felt heavier and it pained him as though it had been run-through; but the pain was greater than any blade could cause. He had been stupid, foolish, and, in the end, it had cost him what mattered most to him.


There was nothing to be done. His mother would not have lied to him; Loki would be dead and it would be Thor's fault. Whatever it was that had caused him to fall ill, it was killing him and it was Thor's fault. And he would not even be there to try and ease Loki's suffering in any way.

I'm sorry, he wanted to say. He tried to force the words past lips that refused to move.Forgive me?

Even as he floated there, thoughts gradually fading into the nothingness that surrounded him, the green light flickered but Thor lacked the energy to try to reach it. Nonetheless, he still tried.

"There is nothing to forgive."

The light seemed to glow brighter and nearer. It threw off warmth that shot straight through Thor and he took a gasping breath, feeling as though thousands of needles of ice were stabbing into his lungs as he did.

And he knew; knew what the light was even as it burned brilliant green and gold and warmed him straight to his core, filling him with life and energy. Thor reached out as though to capture it in his hands.

I will come. I love you. Wait for me.

And with that, he opened his eyes to the world as Mjolnir flew to his upraised hand.

– – –

The familiar melody of battle didn't sing to him the way that it used to. Its pull was still there, as it always had been, but the allure was gone. Thor still found that he enjoyed it, but it had cost him something that he loved dearly – something that he loved more than anything else.

It was time for him to return home. He needed to return to Loki.

"Thank you," he said to Jane. "For everything."

He took her hand and kissed it, just as he had the first time they had parted ways. He offered her one last smile before he turned away, bidding goodbye to Darcy and Eric Selvig as he did.

"Darcy, Eric Selvig, thank you. I greatly appreciate what you have done for me; I shall not forget it." Thor gave them a smile.

Sif bid her goodbyes as well, though Thor noted that her eyes lingered far longer on Jane than they did on Darcy or Eric. She bowed to all of them and offered Jane one of her rare smiles, making Jane blush. It was something good to see.

"Thank you all for aiding Thor when he was in need of it," Sif said. "Again, it was a great pleasure to meet you all. I hope that we might meet again in the future."

"Oh, uh, yes!" Jane sounded startled, as though she wasn't sure what to make of this. But then she smiled one of those sweet smiles of hers and nodded, "Yes, I'm certain we'll meet again. Soon, hopefully."

"I will look forward to it," Sif said. She bowed again before turning away to Thor, her expression giving one to one of steel. As always, Sif was the perfect warrior; Thor would have no one else at his side when plunging into battle than her.

The two of them left for the Bifrost site with little conversation between them; they moved as one, each perfectly synchronized with the other. Sif had long been one of Thor's most trusted battle companions, second only to Loki.

And he might lose him.

That was something that he couldn't live with. He had promised when they were children that he would always be there for Loki, to protect him no matter what might happen. Thor would keep that promise. He couldn't... Loki was his everything. Loki had always been there; he couldn't lose him.

He couldn't. And he wouldn't.

Thor would save Loki, no matter what it took. He'd fight a thousand battles to save him. No matter what stood in his way, he would overcome it. He would save Loki no matter what.

No matter what, I will save you. I promise.

– – –

Thor returned to Asgard to find that the Frost Giant rebels had attempted a coup. There were bodies, Heimdall had fought but been overwhelmed when the rebels had reclaimed the casket. He had charged Sif with taking him to the healers, Thor had other business to take care of.

He followed the trail of carnage through the halls, the Warriors Three had done quite a good job, but there was still small pockets of resistance that Thor had to stamp out.

Frigga nearly took his head off when he charged into the room.

"Thor! You have returned!" Frigga nearly dropped the sword she held in shock. Instead, she threw her arms around Thor and held him tightly. When she pulled away, there were tears sparkling in the corners of her eyes. "My son, I am so happy... I had feared that you would not return soon enough."

Thor held his mother tightly with one arm, never loosening his grip on Mjolnir. He would hold tightly to Mjolnir until things were safe – not until Loki was safe.

"Loki," he said, voice choking as he spoke. "How is he?"

Frigga pulled away, eyes downcast, "I will not lie to you, Thor; he is not well. I do not believe that... that he has long."

He held tightly to her shoulder, meeting her eyes, "Is there nothing that can be done?"

For several long moments, Frigga looked at him and it was like something had dawned in her eyes. She spoke as though in a daze, "There is nothing that the healer or I can do for him, but you... you, Thor, can do what we cannot."

"Tell me."

His heart had leapt into his throat, pounding wildly as hope that he hadn't thought he had left surged through him. There was a chance. He wasn't going to give up, not yet, not when there was still a chance. I will not fail you now, Loki. I love you as I love no one else. He would do anything for Loki, of that he was sure.

"There are legends, of course, about those who share a soul; a soul split between two beings," Frigga began softly. "That these beings cannot be parted nor can they truly love any other, for to love another is to ensure death. Thor... you and Loki are one of these couples. I said nothing for all these years. I had thought that there would be time for this later, after your coronation."

Thor inhaled sharply; he hadn't thought of this. He knew the legends well enough, but he had never believed...

Frigga continued, undaunted, "When your father brought Loki to me after the battle for Jotunheim, I knew. I have and will always love him as my son, for that is what he is – regardless of the fact that I didn't birth him. He is still your brother and the other half of your soul. You are the only one who can save him now; I have done all I can."

A heavy silence filled the air after Frigga finished speaking. Thor was still trying to process everything that his mother had told him because... if Loki had been adopted, was not his brother by blood, then that meant that there was no reason to hold back. Thor already would have done anything to save Loki, but this threw it all into a new light.

But, at the same time, Loki was adopted. Shortly after the last battle of the great war with the Frost Giants, Odin had brought back an infant Loki to be a part of their home. That meant...

That meant that Loki was a Frost Giant.

There was a sinking feeling in Thor's stomach at that revelation. A tangled combination of emotions was roaring inside of him, each one as powerful as the others. There was betrayal and anger, though never at Loki – Loki could not have known, not until Thor had dragged them to Jotunheim on a fool's errand in search of war.

"Why did you never say?" Thor asked, keeping his anger tightly in check.

"Loki is my son and your brother," Frigga replied firmly. "There will never be any question of that. I love him as I do you, Thor. And I know that you love him just – if not more – dearly than I do. However, your father insisted that this matter remain between the two of us and Heimdall."

"Heimdall knew?"

"He sees everything. He knew of the bond between you and Loki before I did. It was him who told me."

Thor took a deep breath as he nodded, forcing his head clear. Despite everything spinning around inside of his head, Thor knew what he had to do. He had a promise to keep.

"Tell me how to save him."

Frigga nodded before she stepped away, closing the doors to the chamber. Then, she turned to her eldest son, "Kiss him."

Thor looked at his mother, incredulous. Frigga simply smiled, "Where else do you think such a legend came from?"

Deciding not to question his mother any further, Thor turned his full attention to Loki. He was dismayed by what he saw.

Loki was usually pale, but his skin had taken on a horribly sickly pallor that Thor had only seen on warriors for whom death was inevitable. His eyes were closed and looked sunken, with dark circles around them. Even his hair seemed somehow like the life had been drained from it. This was not the Loki that Thor knew and loved.

Gently, Thor reached out and brushed the backs of his fingers along Loki's cheek, noting how cool it was. He was far too close to losing Loki and he couldn't bear the thought of it.

Thor sucked in a breath as he brushed back Loki's hair. There was a knot of fear deep inside his chest that whispered that his mother was wrong and that no matter what he did, he would lose his beloved Loki. Thor squashed it down. He would not lose Loki; he wouldn't.

Leaning down, Thor closed his eyes and pressed his lips against Loki, hoping with everything that he had that this would work.

I promised that I would come and save you; don't leave me now, I love you.

It felt like an electric current had shot down his spine, leaving behind a tingling sensation along with a feeling of completion that Thor had never felt before. Parts of himself that he had never realized were empty and aching suddenly felt as though they were full of something. Everything seemed to click together and, for a moment, Thor forgot where he was.

Content to bask in that feeling of finally being whole after so long, Thor remained perfectly still for several moments. Eventually, though, he pulled away, opening his eyes to search for any sign of change in Loki. Certainly... certainly that had to have worked.

For a couple of minutes, there was no change and as each ticked by, Thor felt that bubble of joy and elation in his chest slowly begin to deflate as hopelessness sank in. Had he been too late?

But then, Loki took a deep gasping breath of air and Thor let out a breathy laugh in relief. He smiled and looked to Frigga, who had tears in her eyes even though there was a smile of absolute joy on her face. Loki was still unconscious, but he already was looking far more healthy than he had before.

Loki would live. And Thor would never let him go again.

– – –

Recovery was a slow and frustrating process at times. Loki needed help with a number of activities and – he would never admit it, but he enjoyed it – he needed Thor's help with a lot of things. And Thor was, of course, as helpful as he always was and more than willing to help out his beloved Loki.

What the bond had created between them was still new and fragile – and at times overwhelming – that relayed each other's emotions, whether they were happy or sad or in pain. There was no way to hide it, as Loki discovered to his dismay.

Still, Loki supposed a little lost privacy was a small price to pay for not dying. Now that he knew what it was that had been affecting him, he'd managed to locate the appropriate texts and he knew what fate would have befallen him in the end. It wasn't a pleasant death; the nightmares he'd experienced had been bad enough, the death he would have suffered would have been far worse.

And there were worse fates, Loki thought, than being bonded to that charming idiot of his.