A/N: It's official. I've lost my soul. Loki stole it from me by being, well, Loki. There's never been a character that can warm my heart and then break it like Loki can, which I love and hate at the same time.
Not to mention his relationship with Thor. I just want to see Thor give Loki a big hug, and then magically, and unrealistically, everything will be all right again.
Disclaimer: I do not own Thor.
The Way Back
After Thor and Loki returned to Asgard, and Odin came to meet them, the All-Father had discovered the manipulative magic at work in Loki's mind at once, and the decision was immediately made that Loki would not be punished for the events on Midgard.
Odin ordered Loki into solitary confinement in his own room, with no visitors except Odin himself allowed, as Odin worked to remove all traces of the spell clouding Loki's mind. This, he said, was Loki's punishment for what he had done during his time as king, as the process required was rather unpleasant and painful for the trickster. After it was finished, Loki would be free.
Finally, about four weeks later, on the night before the final treatment, Odin told Thor to visit Loki, and Thor did not need to be told twice. The guards posted at the door moved aside at once for the crown prince, having already received word that he would be coming.
Thor knocked twice, and entered. He squinted as his eyes struggled to adjust to the darkness inside the room, for all the curtains were drawn and there were no candles lit. Once he could make out where the closest window was, Thor pulled the drapes open, allowing light from the full moon inside, and surveyed the room. He finally saw Loki sitting in a corner, curled up, as if to make himself appear as small as possible, with his knees drawn up to his chest and pressing his face into them. "Loki?"
"Go away." Came the emotionless reply.
Thor strode over to the corner, and knelt before Loki. "Brother, father sent me to see you. I can hardly just leave." He attempted to give a light air to his voice, but his concern kept him from being entirely successful.
"Don't call me that."
"What, this again? I have told you, despite the fact that we do not share blood-"
"No." Loki interrupted quickly, remaining motionless. "It isn't that."
"Then what?" Thor asked.
No answer came.
"Loki, brother, look at me." Thor said gently, and when Loki didn't, he put his hand on the top of Loki's head, and tilted it upward to face him.
What he saw shocked him. Loki's face was thinner than ever, with dark shadows under his dull eyes, which had a hint of red around their edges, likely from many shed tears, and he also noticed Loki's clothing was loose on him. Obviously whatever treatment their father had to use to help Loki also had a negative psychical effect on him.
Loki swatted Thor's hand away, but did not hide his face. "You see why I didn't want you to see me."
"Why did you tell me not to call you brother if it isn't to do with the fact that you were not born my brother?" Thor asked, ignoring Loki's state for the moment, thinking it might do more harm than good if he fussed over Loki.
Loki stood and moved away, to the window with the drawn curtains, his back to Thor, hiding his face once again. "I… I can't be your brother. What have I done to deserve such a title from you?"
Thor's eyebrows knit together in confusion. The last time they had discussed this topic, Loki had considered it an insult when Thor called him his brother. Now he was speaking of it like it was an honor he didn't deserve. He voiced these thoughts to Loki.
Loki gave a dry and empty laugh. "You have no idea what magic was in place in my mind, what magic is still in place."
"So, you never truly did stop thinking of me as your brother?" This realization caused Thor great happiness and heartache at the same time. What must have been done to Loki if that was the case?
"In the depths of my soul they could not reach, no. But what have I ever done for you? I was bitter, jealous, I ruined your coronation, and everything else as a consequence of that."
Thor came to stand beside Loki, putting a hand on his shoulder, although Loki kept his face turned away. "You know, if you keep your face turned away, people might get the impression that you are lying."
Loki finally turned horrified eyes to Thor. "I'm not… I don't-"
Thor gave the smallest of smiles. "I know."
Loki sighed, eyes drifting toward the floor.
"You have ruined nothing. This is just a way to start over. "
"I tried to kill you. Even before they got their hands on me."
"I think you knew you couldn't." Thor said. "I think you were just trying to distract me."
"And what proof do you have to support that assumption?"
"None. I suppose I am just being a sentimental fool." Thor said lightly, and feeling satisfaction when Loki rolled his eyes.
"I'm lost Thor. Even with the All-Father's help I'm still lost."
"Then I'll show you the way back."
"It isn't that simple."
"Only if you make it that way."
Loki frowned. "What makes you think you have a better idea of how much hope there is for me than I do?"
"Because you are still trapped, even if just barely, in the spell that was put on you. I think, after tomorrow, when you are free, things will look different. And even if they do not, our family will do everything to change your view on the matter." Thor replied, giving Loki's shoulder a comforting squeeze.
Loki sighed again, rubbing his eyes. "I'm too tired to argue with you anymore."
"Then get some rest brother. It appears these treatments take much of your strength, so you had best replenish it before tomorrow." Thor was surprised when Loki went back to the corner he had been in when Thor had entered the room. "You sleep sitting on the floor?"
Loki shrugged. "I'm more comfortable here."
"I doubt that. Are you punishing yourself by depriving yourself the simple comfort of a mattress?"
"Maybe I am. It doesn't make much difference, I barely sleep at all. Side effect of the sessions, perhaps."
Thor made his way over to Loki and sat beside him, slinging an arm around Loki's shoulders and pulling him close.
"You aren't planning to stay with me all night, are you?" Loki asked incredulously, frowning at Thor yet again.
Thor gave Loki a small shake. "And what if I am?"
"Then I'll tell you I'm not a child and I don't need-"
"That may be so, but I wish to. I have the right to do as I wish." Thor interrupted.
"If you're doing this because you think it is some kind of duty-"
"It is partly is because of that, yes. My duty as your older brother."
Loki gave one attempt to pull away, but then went slack, his head resting on Thor's shoulder. "Oh hell with it."
Thor smiled in triumph and kissed the crown of Loki's head. "Sleep brother. Tomorrow you will be free."
Odin entered Loki's room the next day at dawn, and was surprised to see Loki and Thor sitting on the floor, both sleeping, with Loki's head leaning against Thor's shoulder and Thor resting his own head against Loki's. Odin allowed himself a small smile, his heart warming at sight. He wanted to leave them be, but this process had been draining on him as well, and he knew he would fall into the Odinsleep soon, and he had to finish before then. He came to kneel before them, placing a hand on each of their shoulders, and reluctantly shaking them awake. "My sons."
Both of his sons began to open their eyes, blinking away the sleepiness that still clung to them.
Loki's face took on an expression of apprehension when his eyes came to rest on Odin's face, but there was no malice, like there had been when they had begun to undertake this feat so many weeks ago.
Thor clapped Loki gently on the shoulder before he began to rise to leave, but was stopped by Loki reaching up and grasping his hand desperately.
"Stay… Please… Brother…" Loki was begging. Whatever was coming must be something extremely unpleasant if the thought of it made Loki beg.
With a nod Thor settled back down beside him, not letting go of his hand.
"Are you ready Loki?" Odin asked, his voice more comforting than Thor had ever heard it sound in his life.
Loki took a deep breath, nodded, and closed his eyes.
Slowly, Odin placed his hand over Loki's forehead, and Loki visibly tensed. Odin's mouth began moving, chanting out silent words.
Loki began shaking violently, and Thor looked at his father in accusing shock, moving a hand to rest on Loki's back, and Odin glanced at Thor sternly, communicating through the look that Loki's reaction was what was supposed to happen. Thor felt a wave of horror at the thought that this was what Loki had been enduring every day ever since he returned home.
After long, silent minutes, Odin finished chanting and removed his hand, looking weary. "Loki?"
Loki didn't open his eyes for another long minute, as his shaking continued. Finally, when he did open them and looked between Odin and Thor, they were wide with terror and flooded with tears. "Fa- father, Thor- brother, for- forgive me…." And then he collapsed completely onto the floor, sobbing hysterically.
Thor pulled Loki back upright and held his curled up form to him, giving their father a questioning look.
"The last of the magic to remove was blocking his ability to feel true remorse over the attack on Midgard. I saved it for last because I knew it would be the hardest for him, and thought maybe if he was almost completely himself again, it might be slightly easier for him, because he would accept our comfort and help." Odin explained, his voice thick. Odin rested a hand on Loki's shoulder. "Loki, I would stay here with you, but I fear it is time for me to fall into the Odinsleep. I will speak to you in a few days when I wake. Just know that you are forgiven, my son."
Loki was completely unable to speak through his tears, but nodded.
Odin gave Loki's shoulder a single squeeze before making his way out of the room, leaning heavily on his staff.
Thor now turned his full attention to Loki, rocking him slightly as Loki clutched at Thor's tunic. "It's over Loki. It's all right. This will pass. All will be well."
"Thor- Thor- Brother, help me…" Loki managed to gasp out before his ability to speak was taken by a fresh wave of tears.
Thor pressed a kiss to his brother's forehead. "I said I would show you the way back. And I will. I promise."
A/N: OOC? I dunno, I thought maybe Loki would end up being a little not like himself after having somebody control him and then have to go through unpleasant measures to be freed from it.