Disclaimer: I do not own any Marvel characters. I'm just playing with them and then I will give them back, promise.

Rating and Warning: T for Angst and violence in upcoming chapters. Not sure of where my devious mind will take this so, Rating may go up.

Beta: LaughingLadybug, this would be awful without her amazing punctuation skills and careful reviewing. Go read (and review) her stories!

Mischief in his Heart

Chapter 1

Loki was six- years- old and had been deemed too small to begin battle training. It felt, to him, a terrible injustice since Thor had been allowed to train and spar when he had turned six.

Thor began his training over a year earlier and Loki thought the time would never pass as he excitedly cheered for his brother from outside of the ring, eagerly waiting for his own chance to fight in the circle.

His brother had been generous with his newly discovered skills and often engaged Loki in a play-battle. At the start, Thor had been enthusiastically rough with his younger brother, causing Loki's slight body to bruise and lump. Loki never complained; he enjoyed the play, even when it hurt.

When Thor's wooden sword had sliced into his lip and the torn skin pulsed blood down his chin, Loki bore the pain without a whimper. Thor called him brave. Loki's small chest puffed with pride and he was determined that he would not to let a tear fall from his welling eyes as the cut was stitched.

It was Frigga who first scolded Thor when Loki came to the evening meal with purpling bruises on his face and arms. Thor had ignored her chastisement, though Loki enjoyed her attention and pushed his lip out a bit until she embraced him.

While Thor shrugged from her embraces and distressed petting, Loki reveled in it. He would often point out a small wound with large eyes, thrusting out his arms to his mother. He would nuzzle his face into her neck as she plucked him from the ground and enveloped him. Thor often wondered if the reason Loki didn't mind getting hurt was so that he could offer his wounds to their mother in exchange for time spent in her arms.

Frigga's words had done nothing to soften Thor's ardor for their battles and Loki was glad of it.

Thor excelled in his training and Odin started to come to the practices so that he could witness Thor's progress first hand.

Odin beamed with pride to see Thor's young strength blossom and Loki enjoyed holding the father's hand or sitting, trembling with excitement, on the father's knee when he had come to view the competitions.

Thor was very good at fighting and Loki would often get so caught up in the thrill that his feet would stray into the ring, wanting to join his brother.

If Odin were present, he would jerk Loki's arm back roughly and put a hand on his shoulder to steady him. At first Loki was afraid that the father was angry with him, but when he peered back through hooded lashes, he saw only protectiveness in the All-Father's eyes. There was no malice in his gaze.

Loki would obediently stay by Odin's side after these reminders, more determined to make the father proud than to watch his brother fight. Loki hoped that one day the All Father would look upon him with the same prideful scrutiny he placed on Thor.

It was only a week after Loki's lip had been stitched that Odin burst into the library where Thor had initiated a battle and pulled him off atop his younger brother severely with a bellow.

Loki stumbled to his feet awkwardly watching the father with frightened eyes as he held Thor by the collar of his tunic. "Care you not for the words of your mother?" Odin roared. "He is too weak for such boorishness!"

Loki's brow wrinkled in anger. He knew that it was wrong to speak back to the All Father but the words would not stay locked in his chest, they bubbled out of his mouth in a rush before he could think.

"I am not weak father!" Loki shouted, he thumped his small foot on the floor obstinately.

The corner of Odin's mouth twitched upwards unwillingly.

Loki balled his tiny hands at his sides furiously, still clutching his wooden sword, following his statement with a passionate claim that he would be the fiercest warrior in Asgard one day. As soon as the announcement left his lips he stuck out his chest and tried to make himself look menacing, furrowing his brow and narrowing his eyes.

Odin restrained his amusement at the spectacle his dark haired, mite of a son was making and released Thor. He stepped forward and plucked the wooden sword from Loki's babyish hand.

Thor could not restrain his conspiring smirk, in awe of Loki's boldness to stand before their father with such fury. It was not long lasted though, as he suddenly worried for his little brother.

Odin turned toward Thor once more, "You will be gentler in your play with your brother," The All Father then cast his stern eye toward Loki, "For he will never be as mighty as you."

Loki scowled despite being desperately fearful when the father grasped his narrow wrist in an enormous palm, pulling him from the room. Loki looked back to catch Thor's sorrowful face before he left his sight.

Loki skipped along the father's side to keep up as he was wrenched to the bedroom he shared with Thor down the hall. Upon reaching the bed, Odin sat precariously on the edge and pulled his small child in front of him. Loki tried to be brave, but he trembled. The father was like a mountain before him. He kept his gaze down at his diminutive, black boots until Odin lifted his quivering chin with a colossal finger. Loki's green eyes swam with tears as the father surveyed him without expression.

"Think you it is permitted to rebuke thine own father little Odinson?" Odin questioned the boy softly.

Loki quickly shook his head in the negative, shaking a tear loose from the corner of his eye.

Wishing to spare the child but maintain his own authority, Odin quickly draped the boy over his immense lap and gave Loki two tempered slaps upon his tiny backside.

Though the slaps stung him mightily, the pain in Loki's heart was more than he could bear and he burst into tears. All he had wanted was for the All Father to give him that look of pride he had reserved only for Thor, now he was certain that he had committed a grievous sin and he would never again be in Odin's good favor.

Odin righted his delicate child and clutched him against his breast, desiring to calm this boy who had both charmed his heart and tore at his soul in the same breath. He was ever doubtful of his choice to take the babe from so foreign a world and raise him alongside his heir, his blood.

Loki's skittish hand reached up to nervously stroke Odin's beard, something he had done since his infancy for comfort. Odin's heart softened further at the endearing motion.

He stroked Loki's back as tenderly as one would stroke the down of a baby bird until the boy fell asleep, fingers buried in the thicket of Odin's beard.

Loki awoke in the twilight to Thor's lead-footed steps approaching their bed.

"Loki?" He whispered harshly in the darkening of the room. The energy ball Thor clutched in his palm illuminated his face, "Loki are you well?"

Thor approached the small bed and the light burned Loki's eyes causing him to wince, "Yes brother." He replied meekly.

Thor set the ball on the small table next to the bed and crawled into the bed encompassing Loki with his thick arms. The slender boy tucked his head under Thor's chin.

"I am regretful," Thor stated simply, "it was never my intention to harm you in our play, do you believe me brother?"

Loki bristled. "I am unharmed. I would have beaten you if father had not prevented us from finishing our battle."

Thor pulled Loki closer to his own small chest and grinned in the dark. He adored his much smaller brother's fervor, it did not matter to him that it was misplaced.

Thor determined that he would still engage his brother in battle, though he knew he must learn to be gentle. He could feel Loki's bird-like bones under his own brawny hands. Even though he was just over a year older than his brother, his body engulfed Loki's.

"What did father say to you?" Thor whispered curiously in the dark.

"Not to speak out of turn to him," Loki replied stiffly, and then added, "then he struck me twofold upon my backside," Thor gasped. Their father had never struck him. It was then that Thor decided he would let Loki win a battle or two to reconcile for the terrible punishment that had been visited upon him.

"He should not have struck you Loki; it was my doing that caused you to be in trouble." Thor didn't know what else to say so he simply held Loki until his slighter body slacked and they both fell asleep.

Loki had not grown much in the months that followed up to his sixth birthday but despite this, he was flushed with excitement when the day arrived. He was certain that he would finally be allowed to properly train. He could even have a real spar with his brother if he wished. No longer would he be coddled and sheltered from preparing for battle like other Asgardian boys.

Thor was happy for him as well, it would be enjoyable to have his brother rightly train with him, even if he was rather puny.

Loki babbled joyously at the morning meal, eager for it to finish so that he could try on armor and receive his weapons, even if they were purposely dulled for the use of children.

Odin took Loki by the hand to the training grounds as Thor followed behind watching Loki grin happily at their father.

Loki felt important; the father had taken him to the armory himself. Loki couldn't have been more pleased. Odin had not gone with Thor to see him fitted with armor.

His mood altered when, after an hour, the trainers could not find mail or a plate that did not dwarf Loki's thin limbs and narrow chest.

Loki looked to his father, stricken to see it darkened with doubt.

Thor came to his brother's side then, putting an arm around Loki's shoulders, "I suppose we should have Loki special-made armor," he paused looking at his brother's crestfallen expression, "Then it will be all yours Loki, just think, you will be the only boy with brand new armament."

Loki tried to smile at Thor, it was a kind thing to say and Loki knew it. He tried to lift his head from where it was hanging in shame but he simply could not.

"No…" Odin's deep voice rumbled, "I think not."

Loki swallowed thickly and didn't dare look up, fearful of how the All Father would look on him like a pitiful weakling.

"Loki is not meant for battle," Odin decreed. The All-Father turned his back and began walking back, back to the castle. "Come Loki," he said, not even looking behind him to see if the boy was following.

Loki did follow, tears dripping silently off of his chin. Thor trailed behind him, his seven-year-old heart aching for his brother's pain.

When they reached the throne room, Odin turned his eye to the dejected form of his youngest and dismissed Thor gently. Thor refused to leave at first, reaching out to hold Loki's hand but relented at the sharp look his father cast upon him.

When Thor's echoing steps left the hall, Odin bent to his knee and opened his arms to embrace Loki's fragile body and bruised soul. Loki entered into the circle of the father's arms, his hurt overflowing.

"Precious child," Odin rumbled into the shell of Loki's ear, "I mean not to because you sorrow," Odin was never so gentle with anyone but this boy in his arms. "You are meant for finer things than battle."

Loki did not take courage at the words, his spirit was crushed. He only burrowed deeper into the father's chest for comfort. He wants to fight with Thor, he wants to be Thor, anyone but Loki, who is not broad shouldered like the other boys of Asgard.

Odin feels his cruelty keenly; it would not be difficult to make Loki his own little set of armor. The All Father wants to smile at such an image, his tiny boy with the heart of fire, dressed in battlements made for his reedy limbs and scant chest. He shakes the thought from his head.

He remembers when he found this little god, blue and dying on that frozen world.
Odin remembers what he had stolen the babe for…peace; there had been enough battle, enough war.

Loki's hand is again at Odin's beard; he tried to shelter beneath it, hide from this world where he knows he does not belong. "Father," Loki finally chokes the word out, "why must I be so…unlike…Thor?" He doesn't know how to ask what his mind wonders. Why is no one like him?

Odin does not know what to say to this so he says nothing.

Loki knew this meant that he would never be as important as his brother.

He hides behind Odin's beard where it is white like snow and his heart pleads for the Father to love him though he will never be Thor.

TBC

A/N: I know, I know, you are just here for free entertainment. Honestly though, if you want more, leave a review. It's easy!