A/N: And here's our last chapter. I am terribly sorry about all the grammar errors in the last chapter. I will look into it.
It turned out that the brunette healer who had spoken to Thor that night was named Bodil, a senior healer. How did he know this? Because she was now teaching Thor the basics of healing arts, which seemed entirely focused on extremely long lists of names for…things. He swore that he didn't know what half of them were and what the different between one and another type of 'thing' was. However, they existed in his body and so he had to learn what they were.
She tried to make it enjoyable, he was aware of that, but it didn't stop him finding the whole ordeal dull and tedious. It was difficult, hard to understand and worse to remember. What Thor found difficult, Thor did not like. He would welcome physical challenges with open arms, but not this mental tedium. It did not help his concentration that his thoughts constantly drifted to Loki. He still had not awoken and it had been five days. The healers were worried, his parents were worried and this made him worried. He was aware that the only reason he was here was because of Loki, a constant reminder that made it impossible to focus on his work, which at present were the organs of the body.
He had once again failed to point out where all the body parts were, his mind thick and heavy with all the information he was trying to cram inside, when Bodil smiled across at him.
"Perhaps a break is in order. We have less than an hour left, I think maybe that time would be better spent in private study. Let us finish there for this morning, but you must promise me that you will study until noon after you leave."
She waggled a playful finger at him and the prince grinned.
"You have my word, Healer Bodil," and he grabbed the book, all but fleeing the room as if a host of draugr were on his heels. He didn't need time to consider where he was going, heading straight to his brother's room. He wasn't surprised to see his mother inside. Her chair was pulled up to the bed and in her hands lay her stitching, much like the first time he had arrived. As the door opened she looked up and upon sighting him frowned.
"You should be in your lessons."
"The healer allowed me to study in private for the final hour."
Her frown melted into a small smile, understanding and warm. "You find it difficult." It was less of a question and more of a statement.
"There are too many things to remember," he grumbled, not ashamed to admit his lack of skill in an area that he was short of any true interest in. "It holds no relevance to me."
"If you know the body then you will know where to strike your enemy," his mother tried to appeal to his interests.
"I already know where to strike my foe."
"Then perhaps this will mean that you can aid you injured comrades in future."
"That is why we have healers."
"What if you travel alone with your friends?"
"Lo-," he suddenly remembered that his brother may not make it to his adventures, "My companions would be better than I ever could, I will let them deal with the matter," Thor crossed his arms over his chest stubbornly.
"Perhaps if you had some basic knowledge in the beginning, we would not be here now."
Thor looked ashamed, turning his eyes to the books in his lap. Frigga's word had not been accusing, stern or angry, but they sounded much like something his father would say and the truth was a heavy burden. The woman sighed. There was a rustle of material and his mother was by his side, smoothing down his hair.
"Sometimes," she started, "a little knowledge can make a big difference, even if it is something as simple as knowing when to seek help."
The prince nodded, his eyes not leaving the closed book.
"I must speak to Master Healer Eir, can I leave you here to sit with Loki while you study?"
Thor nodded and he heard his mother rise and leave to room. He supposed she was right, there was no harm in knowing this and at least it was useful. He just wished it wasn't so numbingly boring. He opened the book to his place and stared down at the image of the body and organs. He closed his eyes, concentrated and placed a hand in on his chest. "Heart," he breathed and moved his hands to either side. "Lungs." A hand rose to his head. "Brain." His right fingers rested against his abdomen. "Liver."
"The liver is higher."
Thor's head snapped up at the voice, seeing two green eyes staring back at him. He blinked four times as his mind scrambled to put everything into place, before breathing out. "Loki!?"
His younger brother slowly nodded. "Unless I am very much mistaken."
Thor leapt up and nearly launched himself at his brother before he thought wiser of it. He didn't want to hurt his brother again when he'd just woken after scaring them half to death.
"How long have you been awake? Are you well? Does your head hurt? Why did you not say anything?"
"You looked so thoughtful, it happens so rarely that I did not wish to spoil this momentous occasion." Thor could ignore the barb, Loki was alive and awake, and that was all that mattered. His brother could run and tell all of Asgard that Thor had been beaten by a lady for all he cared now, just as long as he stayed with them.
Loki frowned, his eyes sweeping the room. "Where am I?"
The older boy paused, realising that Loki had not been awake since the evening meal five days ago. He looked at his brother, really looked. The younger prince's eyes were slightly clouded. Though awake and aware they lacked their usual alertness. He seemed sleepy, which struck him as odd after such a long rest. The colour had not returned to his skin and he looked thinner than normal. However, the corner of his lips twitched upwards, his humour creeping through as he watched his older brother.
"This is the healing rooms." Thor slipped back into his seat, watching his brother. "What do you remember?"
Loki scowled. "Dinner, we were eating with Mother and Father. He was checking my head, where I hit it…" The boy's hand drifted up to the spot and a strange expression that Thor did not quite understand flittered over his face before quickly changing to confusion with a hint of alarm as his fingers traced the bandage round to the front of his head. "What happened?"
"You fai-," he looked for a less feminine word, "collapsed at dinner. Mother says the healers had to drill a hole in your skull."
His brother paled even further, if such a thing was possible, and he struggled to sit up. "What?"
Thor quickly stood and gently pushed the younger boy back into the pillows. "You should lie down."
Loki reluctantly did as he was bidden, most likely too weak to truly object, but he did rephrase his question. "Why did they feel my head needed another hole?"
"I didn't fully understand what they said; you will have to ask the healers or mother. All I understood was that your wound was more than it seemed. Somehow you were injured within your skull. We were worried."
There was a pause while Loki processed the information. "I must have struck my head harder than I realised after all."
"I am sorry," Thor blurted out.
Loki blinked at him. "Whatever for?"
The blond prince swallowed, so Loki didn't remember how he'd come to receive his injury. Thor knew he should tell his brother, but he still couldn't bring himself to do it. Not to Loki's face with the guilt still hot in him. He looked down at the book in his hands.
"I did not take you here. I should have done so straight away, but did not. If it was not for father, for us eating with him, than I fear that such a misjudgement would have been the end for you. I am sorry." He looked up to meet his sibling's startled expression. "Believe me, brother, when I tell you that I truly did not think you were in mortal danger. I thought that as you were awake that you were well. I am sorry. Can you forgive me for my misjudgement?"
Loki shook himself from his stupor. "It is almost worth it to hear you admit that you were at fault, but what really plagues your mind? I know it is not just your negligence to seek help."
Thor swallowed; even sick Loki could read him as easily as any book. A half-hearted lie drifted across his mind and he bettered it to the side knowing that his brother would see through it as clearly as if it were water. His brother would find out the truth eventually perhaps it would be best to just tell him now and have it from him. He just prayed that Loki would not hate him.
"I…I pushed you. We were fighting and I pushed you harder than I realised, you fell into my cabinet."
Loki frowned and then slowly nodded. "I wanted to talk to father, I had a plan for something, and you wanted to keep it a secret. I remember."
Thor wasn't sure if he should be relieved for not about that. "I underestimated my strength."
"So you feared if you went to the healers you would have to admit that the fault was on you." Something that Thor could not quite place filtered across those green eyes, a strange look that he had never seen before, but somehow it made his heart sink.
"But I truly did believe that you were not gravely injured. Otherwise I would have brought you straight here. You would not think that I would do something to put your in danger, not purposely?"
He watched nervously as Loki digested the information. Surely his brother knew this much, he couldn't think...
"Why did I need to talk to father?"
"We broke the Statute of Bor."
Loki gently nodded again. "Has father mentioned the statue again?"
Thor stared at him, startled by the sudden change in subject. "No, not once. I believe he has forgotten all about it."
Loki gave him a smile, normally radiant, but there was something in his eyes that contradicted the brightness. It was small, but it made a part of Thor mourn, though he could not say why.
"Well then, I suppose we should count ourselves lucky. We seem to have escaped quite lightly. If father had found out about our little accident then I really would be dead and you with me. So, let us not give him any reason to rethink the matter. It is all best forgotten."
"You are not furious with me?" Thor dared to voice his worry. "You do not hate me?"
"I could never hate you, brother," the smile became 'brighter', "not even for this."
Thor could not help but feel that this was another of his brother's half-truths, that while Loki may not hate him, he was surely upset. He nearly asked, but held his tongue, preferring this illusion that all was well again. He clung to that and prayed it would not be shattered.
"I should alert the healers that you are awake."
He walked to the window and opened it. He would have gone out in search for a healer, but he was scared that he would return to find this was all a cruel dream. No one appeared, so he waited.
"You may be there for a while if your plan is to wait for one to happen by," Loki commented from his bed.
Thor turned his head to look back at him. "I do not wish to leave you."
The younger boy actually looked amused by this statement. "I will not run. Go, I can stay awake until you return."
Thor hesitated, glancing back out the window to the empty garden square and then back to his sibling. "If you are certain?"
"Go," Loki reassured him and, to make sure he wouldn't drift off again, he pushed himself up the bed.
"I will return soon," the elder boy said as he moved to the door. As he reached it he paused, his hand on the handle. "I am glad you are awake."
"So am I; being dead would have been very dull."
"I am sorry," Thor repeated for the thousandth time that evening. "I just did not want you to tell father. I just got carried away."
His brother said nothing and the silence stretched on, crisp and thin as new ice. One step and he would go plunging down into icy depths that you would steal his breathe and turn him numb. He nearly spun back to the bed, but Loki spoke.
"I know," the reply finally came. "Now, go or I really shall fall asleep again."
And Thor did as he was bidden.
Thor watched as Eir sat by Loki's bed. A bed table had been placed over the younger prince's lap, and several playing cards lay face down on top. Thor and Frigga stood by the window as they watched him try to remember which card was which. It was worrying; Loki was getting by far the majority wrong. It was a game that his brother would normally breeze through, now he struggled to get half of them right. It terrified Thor to think that he may have caused permanent damage to his little brother. Though, he also suspected that Loki's efforts were hampered by his apparent drowsiness and new-found short attention span. It was clear that if Eir spent too long talking or if the boy spent too long thinking on any of the tasks he was set that his mind would wonder. Since Master Healer Eir had entered, she had had to bring Loki's attention back to the matter task at hand twelve times, less than once every five minutes.
As the cards on the table were turned over and the younger prince's face fell when it was revealed that he had only identified one card correctly. Still, Master Healer Eir was smiling.
"You did well, Your Grace."
The young prince rubbed his eyes irritably. "I only got one correct and most of my answers to your questions have been wrong."
"But you have given more than a fair number correct." Judging from his expression, Loki felt as sceptical as Thor.
"I cannot think clearly," the patient sullenly defended himself.
"A very common result from your injury," the healer reassured him. "That blow to your head was severe." Thor shifted uncomfortably, drawing Loki's attention away. "Your Grace," the healer gently called the boy's attention back to her. When she had it, she continued. "It is common for those in your position to easily tire and be distracted. Other effects are only to be expected, but you have been very lucky in that your's are minor and with some work and practice will fade away."
Beside Thor, Frigga relaxed. "He will return to normal?"
The healer looked up to her queen. "I believe so. He has difficultly creating new memories and his mind does not understand what his eyes see as well as they should. However, as I have said, they are not as severe as I had feared. His movement and speech appear to be fine. He should make a full recovery with time," she smiled down at her patient, "There is no need to fear, My Prince."
She stood, gathering up the cards and bed table. "Now, I believe it is time for you to rest. I shall return in late afternoon, but for now we will leave you in peace."
"I want to stay," Thor objected, but a soft hand on his shoulder stopped him. His mother looked down at him, understanding, but firm.
"Your brother needs rest which best had without us."
The boy looked to Loki who was lying back down, his eyes already closed and drifting to sleep. Perhaps leaving his brother was for the best. He let himself be guided from the room. As the door closed quietly behind them, his mother once again turned to him.
"Now, I believe that you have lessons to attend to."
"Not for another forty minutes."
"You would not want to be late."
Thor scowled, knowing when someone was trying to rid themselves of him. Spinning round he marched down the corridor, threw open the door, but didn't quite close it on the way out.
"Eir…" he heard his mother begin, a small plea in her voice.
"I meant what I said, Frigga," and the healer's tone was no longer that of a woman talking to her queen, but her friend. "The effects are relatively mild and can be mended easily enough. Your boy will recover and be his normal self again in no time."
Relieved, Thor let the door closed, feeling lighter in the knowledge that all would be well again.
Odin All-father examined the paper in his grasp, his mind not fully applied to the task at hand. The knock at office door was a welcome break from his thoughts and he gladly called out for the person to enter. A young girl came in, wearing the colours of the healers and an apprentice badge. He fought down the quick rush of fear that threatened to rise up. The girl's wide eyes fell on him, clearly nervous to be before her king, before she remembered herself and quickly curtseyed deeply.
"All-father," she never raised her eyes from the floor.
He dropped the papers in his hands, knowing that the girl had to be here about Loki. He sincerely hoped that the fact that an apprentice stood before him was a good omen. If the worst had happened, then he was certain that Master Healer Eir would have come personally. One did not simply send a child to tell a king that his prince had died.
"I assume this is about my son."
The apprentice nodded. "Master Healer Eir has sent me to inform you that Prince Loki awoke not an hour ago. He is being seen to as we speak, but my master believes that His Grace is healing well and is expected to recover soon. He will live."
His heart lifted, relief begging to break through his kingly visage, but instead he took a deep breath. "Thank you, that is good news, you have done a great deal to ease my mind. I will speak to your master this evening. You may leave."
The girl nodded, curtseying again and daring to raise her eyes to look at him for a second before she retreated from the room. As soon as the door closed Odin sagged back in his chair, slipping his eyes shut and allowing his relief to flood through him. He had feared for his youngest's life. Loki was a mere slip of a boy, no match for his brother in body. It would have been so easy Thor's strength to have gotten the better of them once and for all, as brash and quick-tempted as his eldest was. He underestimated his strength and learned first-hand how disastrous that could be. Odin could only hope that Thor would take this lesson to heart and extend some level of caution in the future. He knew that Thor would never want to harm his brother, but 'want' was the predominant word in this case.
Still, some of his anger and disappointment at his eldest faded with the knowledge that Loki was alive and on the road to recovery. He had grown to love Loki as much as any blood son. Such intelligence was rare and he felt a surge of pride each time the boy gave them a demonstration on just how clever he was, whether it was through a small spot of mischief or a lie to save his skin. Sometimes it amused him, sometimes it angered him, but there was always pride mixed in there. Odin did wish the boy took more psychical activities to heart, however, what he missed in Thor he found in Loki; he was a fine counterbalance to his brother.
It did make him glad that the two boys were so close, after Thor's initial adverse reaction to his 'stupid brother' that is. Thor did care deeply for Loki, he knew that he never meant to hurt his sibling; perhaps now that tragedy had been averted he could be more lenient on his son.
He stood and made his way to the large window, looking out over Asgard and the healing rooms far, far below. Yes, he wouldn't be as harsh as he initially intended to be with his eldest. Though he had become attached to the idea of Thor having basic knowledge of medicine and the body, he would let him return to arms training after three months. If he had not learnt everything he needed to by then, the boy would only return for a couple of the mornings a week. The better he did in his studies the longer he could spend on the field; it would be the right incentive to make him work harder. It would work nicely.
Turning away from the window he returned to his work. With the weight of Loki's health off his mind, he found his head clearer and the document not so tedious and unimportant. He would see his youngest tonight, until then, a realm required his attention.
Bodil smiled across at Loki, looking up from his writing. "Well done, Loki. You really are very talented."
The young prince gave her an off-handed shrug while his brother seethed a little in annoyance. Thor knew his brother was intelligent, far more so than he ever would be, and that he picked up these things quickly. It was also true that Thor had little interest in healing arts, or any study for that matter and therefore had little desire to excel or even to do well at all, but Loki was making him look positively idiotic, not to mention that his little brother's memory was still a little sluggish.. It was far worse than any other subject the studied together. Thor was just so lost in healing. It was embarrassing and the only reason Loki was even doing this was because he was bored.
It had been four weeks since he had awoken and while was healing quickly enough, Master Healer Eir had asked that the youngest prince of Asgard remain in the healing rooms for a few days longer. The healers were not keen to lose the boy after everything, merely because they were too hasty to err on the side of caution. However, it did mean that Loki was confined to his room. For the first week, he had mostly slept. In the second week, he alternated between reading and sleeping. During those first two weeks, Thor noticed how long it took Loki to finish a book, having to go back over passages and pages when he could not quite remember what he had read moments ago. Now the prince spent the majority of the day awake. While he was happy to read, even the bibliophile grew restless. Though, if truth be told, Thor suspected this was more due to the fact that he was barred from wondering and heavy exercises more than because he actually wanted to do something else with his time. Forbidden fruit was Loki's greatest weakness.
Last week, after listening to Thor complaining about the healing lessons, Loki had requested that he join in so that he may at least break the monotony of his day in the mornings. So, they had reconvened the lessons to Loki's room. It had taken him a lesson to equal Thor, the memories of books he had previous read slowly trickling back to him. After several days, Loki had shot ahead of him and it seemed more than a little unfair. He supposed that was why Father had allowed it, to make him more humble or some other matter that his father seemed to deem important these days.
Still a not-so-small part of Thor was glad for his brother's company; it made the whole ordeal more pleasant. While Loki was sprinting ahead of him, he also slowed his pace to explain points in a manner Thor could understand. With the younger prince there, they could joke and laugh together as they worked. There was also the fact that, at this present time, having Loki able to join him at all was a relief and a joy. It would fade with time, but for the moment he was more glad than resentful of Loki's presence.
In the afternoons, Thor returned to the library for his usual subjects, but they felt wrong with his brother to whisper in his ear, grow bored with, argue with their tutor and just be present. It was lonely and he longed for Loki to join him again and alleviate some of his boredom. Thor always returned in the evening with cakes and sweets for the two of them to share and spoil their appetite for dinner. He would tell Loki all about what he had learned and occasionally the younger boy would correct him on the details here and there.
Healer Bodil continued to talk, but Thor barely listened. Soon, within the next two weeks, everything would be back to normal, except that he would no longer be spending his mornings with Loki. Soon, the healers would clear his brother to leave the healing rooms, and soon after that he would be permitted to return to training while Thor was stuck in more tedious lessons. He was already feeling jealous.
The elder prince looked to his little brother whose attention had returned to the book in front of him as the healer read from her own tome. Feeling his brother's eyes on him, Loki glanced up. An eyebrow rose questioningly, but it didn't hide that slight change in those emerald eyes. Ever since Loki had woken and discovered what had happened, something had shifted and he could not say for sure what. It was as if…there was an edge disappointed or anger or resentment in the younger prince's gaze. As if something had shattered and he wasn't sure if it was all in his mind or if it was real. Thor loved being the big brother, not just in the eyes of his parents and realm, but also in the eyes of his own younger sibling. To think that Loki had lost some of that regard for him was painful.
The other boy looked away, his focus back on the lesson and asked a question that Thor didn't entirely understand, if at all, something about magic and sensing the body.
Bodil looked wistfully at the clever child. "If you were not a prince, then you would have made such a fine healer."
Loki wrinkled his nose a little. "I doubt that, I have little interest in the practice, my passion lies in sorcery. However, the subject is interesting enough and healing magic is fascinating."
"It will be a great shame to lose you when you return to your swordplay."
Thor felt the tremor of envy return. He knew his brother would much rather be here, he would switch in a heartbeat. It was unfair. He briefly and wistfully wished that Loki was his twin so that they could trade places and none would be the wiser. Or that Master Healer Eir would say that Loki needed more time to recover he would not leave him so soon.
"Could I not continue my lessons with you?" Loki asked, leaning forward and shaping his expression into a gentle plead. "I would make prefer it."
Bodil hesitated. "I do not think the All-father would approve, he may prefer you to strengthen your body and not your mind. It is better suited to a prince."
"But… if I only came twice a week, I could keep up with the lessons I am much quicker than Thor," the comment made the older boy frown, "and I would still be going to practice."
The healer didn't seem quite convinced. "I am-"
The younger prince interrupted her. "And if I am to follow my brother then would it not be best if I at least have a basic understanding on how to heal him when he undoubtedly finds himself in need of a healer, but far from one. Someone needs to stop him from dying."
Thor nearly objected, but halted when he noted that the woman seemed to be considering his brother's words. She was clearly eager to keep her favourite student.
"I will speak to Master Healer Eir. If she is in agreement, then he will speak to the king on your behalf."
"And I shall also ask him, I can be very convincing."
A smile twitched her lips up. "I have no doubt that you can, Your Grace." She looked back down at her book and turned the page. "But for now we have a lesson to finish."
Loki's eyes returned to Thor without turning his head more than inch, a small smirk daring Thor to break out into a grin. The sparkle was back in Loki's eyes and Thor liked to think it was because, no matter what, they were in this together. It warmed the older boy's soul and pushed away any doubt he had. He must have been imaging the change, and if not… Well, if there was a little disappointment in his brother then surely it was fading fast, for Loki wanted study with him. Soon things would be as they were. Within the year this incident would be all but forgotten and the sooner it happened, the sooner Thor would be happy. Until then Loki would still remain by his side. Perhaps this was a sign that no matter what, he would forever stand by his brother.
Forcing his mind back to the lesson, he felt lighter than he had for days, confident that he still had, and would always have, his little brother.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand we have finished. Thank you so much to every single person who has fav'ed, followed and especially those who have reviewed. I'm so happy every time I get a message from in my inbox. Now that the sorry is finished, I'd love to hear what you all thought about it. The good and the bad.
I hope I see you guys around, I have a couple more (and longer) Loki fics in the works now. One is taking the same basic concept from this (and the original concept scene I wrote for it), but turning it into something bigger and more epic. If you're interested, keep an eye out for 'Over the Edge'.
Thank you once again for reading :D