Hey, there! I know it's been a long time but I just want to say that I didn't give up on my stories. Too bad my writing depends on time, inspiration and real life (which really got in the way.)
I hope you like this chapter!
Every day, the Crowned Prince Thor Odinson would walk towards what he claimed to be the torture tower to study. Every day until sunset, he would enter Loki's room with his books, both boys would glare at each other and then read the pages ordered by Thor's tutors.
Thor never remained on one place for more than a few minutes. In the last few days, he had inspected every corner of Loki's room, tried to escape earlier through the guards and even consider jumping through the window and try to land on the next roof. All that had been met with an apathetic look by the younger boy.
"I am bored," Thor moaned.
"I know. You already said that," Loki answered without taking his eyes of his book. "Twice."
"Then I am even more bored! I don't want to be stuck in this damn tower anymore" the blond tossed his book to the bed with a grimace and approached the open window. The sky was clean and blue, while the sun shone brightly over Asgard's golden buildings. It was a glorious day for training, yet Thor was forced to stay inside with those useless books.
On the other end, Loki seemed completely satisfied with his studies. Even though he didn't have to report to the Mages and Scholars like the prince did, Loki devoured all the knowledge he found in those books like a thirsty man on a water fountain. A thirst for knowledge Odin claimed his elder son unfortunately lacked.
Suddenly, Loki frowned at the book, his red eyes filled with frustration as he read the same paragraph over and over.
"What?" the blond asked.
"Nothing," the younger boy answered.
"Then why are you glaring at the book?"
"I'm not! It's just… this sentence does not make any sense."
Thor walked through the open books and glanced at page, before Loki angrily pulled the book against his chest.
"Hey! I just want to look!"
Loki pouted for a few seconds before he finally relented. He never allowed himself to forget that he was an unwanted stranger in the land of his people's enemies. Odin's word could easily change if his people or his son complained enough about the Jotun. Maybe that was the reason Odin didn't visit him anymore. He probably didn't want to get too attached to someone he would need to put to death.
Thor stared at the text for a few seconds and looked at Loki again. "What do you mean? It's a story about Alfheim. There is nothing complicated about it."
The Jotun's cheeks would have blushed if he had that ability. "I know that. I just don't understand some of the words."
Thor blinked, genuinely surprised. "You mean… you do not know all the words."
"I never learned them all," the younger boy answered defensively. "I never had tutors to teach me. I learned from watching Father's mages."
"Really? Laufey did not you force to study? You were lucky." Thor said.
Loki remembered the dark room where Laufey tossed him every day, yelling to never allow anyone to see him. He remembered the death threats, the beatings, the shame…
"You know nothing, Odinson." Loki whispered, burying his head in the book once again.
Thor's smile vanished. "Did I offend you?"
Loki didn't raise his eyes from the book. He couldn't wait until sunset so that he could be alone again and away from this big-headed oaf.
"I'm sorry, Loki."
In awe, Loki finally stared back at Thor. He was expecting scorn or false courtesy. Instead, he faced the prince's apologetic blue eyes and was completely taken aback. Since he didn't know how to respond, the blue skinned boy looked down and remained silent.
"Do you miss him? Your father?"
Loki tensed. He needed to be very careful about his past and his real feelings towards his father or Odin was going to find out about his act.
"Father… was all I had," he answered slowly, avoiding those bright eyes. It was a trick. It had to be. Why would Thor suddenly start to treat him nicely if not to lure him into a trap?
"Here! Let me help," Thor said, sitting next to Loki. "Tell me what words you don't understand."
"So you can read the entire book, of course. Now, tell which ones."
Shocked and suspicious, Loki pointed the words he didn't know one by one as the older boy explained them with some sort of strange pride. At first, Loki thought that the blond was making fun of him, but he seemed somewhat happy to be able to teach the younger boy.
"This one means green" Thor explained. "It says "the green plains of the elf realm shine like emeralds underneath the sun"."
"Yes, green. The color."
Loki's expression remained confused so Thor reached out for another book. After a searching for a few seconds, the older boy placed the open book on Loki's lap. It was a painting of the plains in Alfheim where the light elves danced amidst the flowers and trees.
Loki's little fingers touched the painting slowly and carefully, his red eyes wide with wonder. "Is this… green?"
"The grass? Yes, it's green. You never saw plants?"
"There are no plants in Jotunheim," Loki said, still staring at the painting. "There is only snow, ice and rocks… white, blue, black… and red. When we bleed, there's red."
Thor nodded and stared at the boy who was so much different from anyone he knew. "What did you do in Jotunheim?"
The young Jotun frowned. "What do you mean?"
"What games did you play there?" Thor went on. "You know… with your friends."
Loki's lip trembled and he closed the painting. "I don't… have friends. I stayed inside with Father."
Thor stared at him, his blue eyes surprised and confused. "All the time? You did not leave?"
Loki knew he was talking too much. He had learned that from Laufey. Revealing too much of himself was always a mistake because people wouldn't hesitate to use it against him.
"I don't want to talk about it anymore, Odinson," Loki said, picking the book they were supposed to be reading.
Thor closed his mouth and picked up his own book. "Alright." However, just a few seconds later, the blond was already distracted and touching Loki's arms.
"What are you doing?" Loki cried out, moving away from Thor's prying hands.
"Your skin is cold," the older boy said.
Loki rolled his eyes. "I am a Jotun. Of course it is cold."
"You mean you cannot get warm?" Thor insisted. He really wasn't going to study today, was he?
"Yes. That is why we are called Frost Giants. Our skin is cold because Jotunheim is cold. It is so to protect us. The older Jotuns can burn the enemies' skin with their touch."
"Oh! I heard about that, the frostbite," Thor exclaimed excitedly. "Are you always cold? Do you dislike the heat? Is that why you never wear more than a tunic?"
Loki nodded, rubbing his bare arms uncomfortably. "We should be studying…"
"I heard Jotuns could create ice swords over their hands," Thor continued excitedly. "Is that also true?"
Loki sighed. He couldn't study like this and Thor wasn't going to leave him alone any time soon. "Yes."
"Wow! Can you do that too? Can you show me?"
"Oh, come on! I just wish to see it."
"No. I can't… I can't do it," Loki felt the same shame he always carried on Jotunheim. He felt pathetic and weak.
"Why can't you do it?"
Because I am an embarrassment to my entire race that should have died upon birth instead of burdening my father and king with my accursed existence, Loki thought. "I am a weak Jotun. There are a lot of things I cannot do."
"What do you mean?" Thor asked.
"Are you blind? I am a runt, Odinson," Loki answered bitterly. "I am too small, too weak… I was born wrong."
This seemed to shut up the blond prince, but Loki regretted his outburst. Once again, he was revealing too much about himself and losing his patience with Thor could be a deadly mistake.
However, the blond didn't look angry with his words. Instead, he stared deeply at the younger boy from head to toe.
"You don't look wrong to me," the older boy said softly.
Loki barely had time to register what Thor had said before one of the guards knocked on the door and entered the room.
"Prince Thor, it is time. Your parents wait you for dinner."
Thor stood up, stretched up and started to pick up the books except the one on Loki's hands.
"Keep that one, Loki. You must be bored in here," the prince said, leaving the room followed shortly by the guard.
Finally alone, Loki stared at the book, Thor's words echoing on his head. Suddenly, the room felt too quiet.
"Father? Is Loki a runt?"
Odin stopped eating and frowned at his first-born. "That is very insulting, Thor. You should not call Loki that."
"I did not, Father. He said so himself," the boy explained, putting down his glass. "He said he is a weak Jotun and that he was born wrong… What does that mean?"
Odin closed his eyes and ate his stew before answering. "Loki is definitely shorter and weaker than most Jotuns his age. He looks perfectly normal for an Aesir or a Midgardian, but not his own kind. Laufey wouldn't have been happy with a frail heir."
"And his mother?" Frigga asked.
"Farbauti? I heard she came from a long line of strong warriors, which made her the perfect candidate to mother Laufey's children. Unfortunately, Loki was her first child and Laufey did not tolerate such an affront to his bloodline. I believed she was punished and banished."
Thor played with his food, remembering his conversation with Loki. "Do you think they are going to want him back, Father?"
"No. Most Jotuns didn't even know about Loki's existence. Why do you ask, Thor?"
"Humm, just curious."
Odin couldn't help but smile. "Do you think I should send Loki back to Jotunheim?"
Thor's blue eyes widened as he stared at his father. "Why would you send him back now?"
"You don't want him to go back? When he arrived, I remember you practically begged me to throw him over the Bifrost."
"That… that was before I knew him," Thor blushed, remembering his cruelness. "He is not so bad. Too studious and he never does what I tell him, but he is not… horrible. I think we should keep him here. I am not saying he is going to be my brother, I just think he should stay. I taught him today."
"You have?" Frigga asked with a warm smile. "What did you teach him?"
Unconsciously, Thor felt himself swell with pride. "He didn't know all the words, so I taught him. He didn't know the color green either. He said there are no plants on Jotunheim, so I showed him a picture of the elves' plains."
Odin nodded as he heard his son talk. Thor probably didn't realize it, but his joy and sudden feelings of protection towards Loki were similar to the ones of an older sibling trying to teach the younger.
"So… Is Idunn really coming with her apples?" the boy asked.
"Yes. She will come to Asgard as soon as the Golden Apples ripen."
In her seat, Frigga moved uncomfortably. If Idunn had already complied, that meant they really were going through with the ceremony. Thor was too young and had never seen someone who wasn't an Aesir eat the Golden Apples, though he knew that they could be used to turn anyone into one of them. What he didn't know yet was that there was a huge risk. If Loki ate one, it would either transform him into a real Aesir or kill him. It all depended on his body's strength.
Frigga smiled at her son and her husband, although her mind wandered to the little boy she barely saw and who was dinning alone on that tower, unaware of his fate.
It was about time she paid him a visit as well.