Thor © Marvel.

AN: Just a follow up to Illusion, but you don't have to read that to understand this. Hopefully.

Illusion: Reckoning

It took two days before Odin publicly announced Lynn's capture and crimes to Asgard. The Warriors Three and Lady Sif were the first to come to learn the truth for themselves, rather quickly to Loki's dismay. He had been hoping for a little longer to keep his family to himself, to recover in peace, but it would seem that fate would not be so kind to him.

They were in the very empty banquet hall by the time they were found. Loki sat on the table, legs crossed, wearing nothing but a black tunic and trousers and boots. Thor was actually standing on the table, dressed in red and brown, and trying to hang something on the chandelier above him. It was a tradition that they had started when they were kids – on certain special occasions, they would make an ornament and hang it on the chandelier to celebrate. It would stay there until one of the adults noticed, and Lady Frigga would take it and keep it safe for them.

Thor considered his brother's return a special occasion. "I seem to recall this being much harder when we were kids." he mused.

Loki laughed. "When we were kids, we had to stand on each other's shoulders to reach it." he pointed out. "Even then, I think we got help from Heimdall a time or two." He examined the gleaming emerald and ruby hanging from the silver chain. "How long has it been since we've done this?"

Thor grinned. "Right before the coronation ceremony. Remember?" Loki nodded. That time the ornament had been a tiny gold replica of Thor's hammer. "Mother said that one went missing. It was gone before she could take it down."

"I took it." Loki admitted. "After you were banished. I was going to give it back when you returned, when you were truly crowned king. I imagined we would hang it together again." Thor smiled and opened his mouth to say something, but the banging of the door stopped him. They turned together to see Sif, Volstagg, Hogun, and Fandral standing there, watching the two of them. Thor jumped from the table and greeted them, but Loki stayed where he was. He watched them warily.

"The Allfather told us we could find you here!" Fandral said brightly. His gaze slid past Thor and landed on Loki. Something dark flashed across his face. "I'm surprised Odin doesn't have him locked up."

"Loki is innocent." Thor said. "Why should Father punish him for something he didn't do?"

"Didn't do?" Fandral laughed. "Thor, honestly! We all saw him!"

"Who else could it have been?" Sif demanded. Thor's gaze darkened.

"Did you not hear Father's announcement?" he bit out. "There will be a trial in a week. You will learn the traitor's identity then. You'll just have to take my word for it for now." He turned away from the others and joined Loki at the banquet table once again. "Forgive me, my friends. I have better things to do with my time for now."

Loki hid a smile. Thor's friends left, confused and flustered, yet Thor stayed with him, just like it was supposed to be. "You don't have to babysit me, you know." he said softly. "If you want to be with them – "

"I don't." Thor sighed and sat down on the table next to Loki. "I owe you an apology, brother – we all do. The entire time I fought Lynn, I kept trying to figure out what I had done to earn your wrath. What had happened to make you change so completely. In the end, it never occurred to me to question if it was really you. I'm ashamed of that."

Loki looked up at the chandelier. "You shouldn't be. Lynn's spell was complete. Whatever gaps in my personality he couldn't mimic with the spell he did through knowledge of me. I knew from the start no one would see the truth."

"I should have." The younger didn't respond. Thor glanced at him. "I would like you to stay with me until the trial." Loki's gaze snapped from the ceiling to him.

"Why? I am a big boy, you know. I can sleep alone."

"Call it intuition." Thor said flatly. "Just – please. Humor me this once, would you?" He looked away, and Loki realized his brother was genuinely concerned for him. He sighed.

"I will. But only until the trial. I prefer my own bed."

"You're just afraid I'm going to roll over and flatten you." Thor teased lightly.

"There's not that much of me to flatten." Loki shot back. "I would be a pancake on the bed, and you would never know."

They continued to harass each other for the rest of the day. None of the servants complained about having to set the table around them.


Loki really, really hated it when Thor was right. He woke that night in a cold sweat, not quite comprehending where he was or how long he had been there. Something was tight around his wrist, and in a panic he reacted, struggling to get free. He whimpered.

Had it all been a dream?

Suddenly strong hands were holding him down, trying to calm him, but it wasn't until he heard the voice that he was able to pull himself out of his panic.

"It's okay, brother, you're safe." Thor soothed. "Hold still now, you're tangled up in the sheets." He kept murmuring nonsense words to him until he had freed Loki's wrist from the sheets. "There. You're safe now, it's over. It's all over."

Loki lay there, letting Thor hold his wrists in his hands as he struggled to control his breathing. "I'm fine now." he whispered. "It was just a dream."

Thor didn't bother to ask him for details. "It's okay. I have them too." Loki was aware of him leaving the bed, but he came back quickly enough. Something warm and solid was pressed into Loki's hand, and he laughed when he recognized the shape of it.

"Does Mother know you have her dream-stone?" he teased. He could imagine Thor's impish grin. Most of Asgard thought Loki to be the perpetual trickster, but Odin and Frigga knew Thor wasn't above the occasional prank as well. It never took much to convince the elder to join him in whatever mischief Loki had planned.

"Mother gave it to me not long after the Bifrost was destroyed." Thor no longer referred to it as anything relating to Loki, and for that his little brother was grateful. Loki nodded and held it tight in his hand. Frigga had claimed it helped stave off bad dreams, like a Midgard dreamcatcher. "You should sleep."

Loki reached out with his free hand and grabbed Thor's wrist. "You too."

The nightmares didn't come again for the rest of the night.


It became a pattern that they fell into for the next week. Thor and Loki were rarely seen out of each other's company, and it relieved Odin more than Lynn's discovery had. He had seen the potential for darkness inside his youngest son (and as far as Odin was concerned, Loki was his son), and he knew Thor was the only one who could keep that darkness from surfacing. It made him proud, to know that his sons were looking out for each other.

It made him ashamed that he had ever doubted Loki.

The brothers shared a room up until the day of the trial, and while Odin would normally have said something about this, he let it pass. He was not unaware of Thor's fears, or Loki's nightmares. If closeness was what it took to heal his family, he would let them have it. They were still so young by Asgardian standards, after all.

Then the trial came, and Odin wound up standing before a kneeling Lynn with the entirety of Asgard watching him. Thor and Loki stood to his right, standing together instead of on either side of him like they normally would have. It was drawing attention, but no one dared speak against it.

"Asgardians," Odin's voice boomed out over the crowd. They all fell silent, listening intently. "A week ago this man was captured. He is charged with the kidnapping and impersonation of Loki Odinson. I myself witnessed the magick that allowed him to completely mimic my youngest son. And now he stands before you all, given a truth serum I myself created, to tell you all the truth of his actions, so you may never again doubt my son's loyalty to me and his brother.

"Lynn. Did you take Loki and hide him away for your own purposes?"

Thor tuned out the interrogation. His focus was on his friends. They were at the front of the crowd, able to hear every word that the traitor said. He wanted them to know the truth, wanted to see their faces when they finally realized how wrong they were about Loki. He wanted them to understand.

And if they didn't, well, Loki came first. He always did.

Odin's voice broke through his musings.

"What did you do to Loki while he was in captivity?"

Loki's breath hitched. His eyes widened slightly, but he struggled to control his reaction. Of all the questions to ask, why had Odin asked that? He didn't want the whole of Asgard to know what he had suffered! He didn't want Thor to know why it had been done.

Lynn smirked. "Everything I could think of."

A collective shiver ran through the people. Odin's eye narrowed. "Why?"

"Because I couldn't do it to Thor." Lynn's smirk grew. "Have no fear, Allfather. Loki asked it of me. He begged me to hurt him, instead of hurting his precious brother."

Thor's gaze snapped from Lynn to Loki. His brother appeared to be perfectly calm, but Thor alone knew how to read past that. He could see the fury and despair hiding in his brother's eyes. It made his blood boil. Now he understood the truth of Loki's nightmares.

He would have done the same, in Loki's position, but no one had the right to hurt his brother. No one.

"I do not believe anyone here doubts Lynn's guilt, or my son's innocence." Odin announced. "There is only one punishment I can think of that suits this crime. Thor." The eldest straightened up, turning his attention back to his father. Odin nodded to him. "Do with Lynn as you see fit."

Thor's responding smile was nothing short of vicious. "Yes, Father." He stepped forward, but Loki stopped him.

"Father." Odin's attention firmly on him, Loki continued. "I would not have my brother kill an Asgardian just for my sake."

Odin snorted. "Would you not do the same for him?" Loki tilted his head in acknowledgement, but did not back down.

"Do not worry, Loki." Thor said, never taking his eyes from Lynn. "I will not kill the traitor if you do not wish it."

Loki breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank you."

He was not the monster Lynn had tried to make everyone believe he was. He was going to prove it.


The next day, Odin officially crowned Thor king of Asgard, as he should have been the entire time. As he stood by Odin, staring out at the crowd who cheered for him, his eyes sought out his brother.

Loki stood to the other side of Odin, where his place was. He stood tall and proud, and it warmed Thor to finally have him there. With a small smirk on his face, he casually looked up. Thor followed his gaze.

A small golden hammer hung from the chandelier.