Pulled on the Harp Strings

Loki has been isolating himself from the family and Thor is asked to speak with him. Loki could just be behaving like his normal, anti-social self... but more troubling matters seem to be plaguing him. What are they?

(Takes place during the events of 'Thor'.)

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1. Chapter One: The Sound of Music

Thor walked purposefully - well, normally for him - down the eerie halls, which he called home. The tentative, amber-flamed candles lit his way politely as if they knew exactly where is was headed.

As he approached his destination, he came into range of a rather peculiar yet pleasant sound. The moderate tempo and delicate melody seemed to dance upon the surface of the shining, sapphire tiles.

It was music.

Thor had no doubts of whom its maker was. At the thought he grew slightly apprehensive as he was drawing nearer and nearer to the ornate, wooden door.

The door to Loki's room.

The reverberation of his echoing footsteps died gradually as he quietened his walk and slowed his pace. As daintily as his physique would allow him, he paused to appreciate the purity of the notes; they fluttered as if melodic butterflies.

Thor inhaled, exhaled, wrapped his palm around the golden handle and opened the door.

Loki did not even acknowledge his brother. He remained committed to his instrument with his entirety; his skeletal fingers proving meticulously agile as they plucked the silken strings, caressing them lovingly as he customised the piece with the occasional glissando.

That harp was his pride and joy.

There were times Loki would pass hours upon hours embracing the curves of grandiose, golden swirls; tied to the tune with such devotion, until his fingers bled.

This was one of those times.

Thor hadn't even seen him for three consecutive days, now. Loki had not eaten, bathed or even spoken, as far as he knew. Still, that form of behaviour was typical of his little brother. When fond of something, Loki would utterly saturate himself with it; he would live and breathe his passions, whether that was books, magic or music. 'Almost obsessive', Thor would ponder with concern.

The God of Thunder stepped forward cautiously and then dared to converse with the porcelain prince:

"Loki, father insists you dine with us."

Silence.

"Loki, please; he is worried about you."

The younger God omitted an ironic snort; it was soft but still embroidered with bitter malice. He gave a sarcastic smirk, attention still fixated on the antique harp.

"Loki-"

"I'm not hungry."

Loki's voice was cool and calm; however the undertones of ominous acidity in his words convinced Thor that it was foolish - and potentially hazardous - to persist any further.

Instead, Thor began to circle the sculptural scene of the prince and the harp, observing his brother with curiosity.

Loki appeared in a trance of unadulterated serenity. His piercing eyes swam with suppressed emotion, gazing solemnly into the abyss. All the while, his slim, spindly fingers continued to attend to his precious tune as if the art of making music was merely subconscious to him. Thor sighed; why was the mind of his little brother always somewhere else?

Thor decided he would attempt to make conversation:

“‘Tis rather sombre, is it not?" He critiqued of the piece, gesturing towards the harp.

Loki sighed wearily. "You forget that music is more than a mere soundtrack of which to consume alcoholic beverages, brother." Loki tried to conceal a smirk at his own cunning jibe, still refusing to submit to eye contact.

Thor clenched his fist slightly, "I'm just saying you could put a bit of life into it-"

"No..." Loki sighed wistfully as he began to recite his muse, "...no, brother. Music has the ability to articulate such content of the soul that even we - as Gods - cannot verbalise." He gave a romantic sigh, gazing dreamily at the harp.

Thor rolled his eyes with a slight smirk; Loki liked to think of himself as a philosopher. However the smirk turned into a warm smile of sincerity as he saw a feeling of content dominate his brother's pale countenance. Loki smiled whimsically.

A rare event, indeed.

The raven-haired God paused momentarily and an eerie silence occupied the room. Loki then closed his eyes as he immersed himself in a rather tender but tragic concerto.

"Whose piece be this?" Asked Thor softly, not wanting to disturb his brother too severely.

"An original composition."

Thor widened his eyes, eyeing Loki, as if rather impressed. Sombre or not, the piece was beautiful.

"You play exceptionally, brother." Thor reached out to lay a warm hand upon Loki's skeletal shoulder as a form of appraisal.

"Don't patronise me." He muttered darkly. Thor pulled his hand away in silence. He should have known any attempt to compliment Loki was futile. Then again, sincerity had never been his brother's expertise... in any context.

"That was not my intention." Thor replied as he turned to leave, admitting defeat.

"Thor?"

Loki's voice echoed in the sudden silence. The music had ceased. The call to him seemed sad and questioning, lined with the innocence of a mere child. Thor turned back to find his brother staring at him intently. His emerald eyes wide and expectant, sparkling in the candle-light like precious diamonds. However the diamonds seemed... liquefied. He mimicked his brother's gaze. It almost looked like he was−

"I'm sorry." Loki could speak with such tenderness when he allowed himself. He swallowed and inhaled; his breath quivered slightly. "I thank you," he concluded gently.

"Are you sure you will not join us?" Thor had to try once more, at least.

"No."

"But-"

"Thor, please." His eyes closed in an attempt to compose himself.

"But father-"

Loki plummeted upward from the stool in impulsive anger, clenching his fists, adopting a maniacal stance.

"I care not about father!"

His burst of rage tore the silence apart like a rabid animal. He spat the last the last word with such venom that droplets of saliva projected from Loki's pale, pink lips.

"Then do you not care of mother? Of me?"

Thor's voice wavered with emotion... and Loki noticed. For he responded with a gaze of such apology and guilt it would've broken the heart of a Frost Giant.

"Of course, brother." His voice so soft and sorrowful as he stared with dismay into the ground.

Both God's heads snapped simultaneously towards the doorway as a face peered cautiously behind the great, oak door:

"Apologies, sires but Odin wishes to speak with you Loki, at once. I think it's-"

The tentative voice of the quivering servant died away as Loki threw him a murderous glare. His face then twisted into a foreboding sneer:

"Am I in trouble?"

"Sire, I must insist you accompany me. Your father requests-"

"Oh, well, if All-father Odin's tooting his trumpet, we mustn't dilly-dally, must we?" From an inexperienced ear, Loki's voice would seem genuine but Thor could detect the bitter taste of sarcasm bubbling below the surface.

The obsequious servant nodded frantically - cowering slightly in Loki's presence - before shuffling awkwardly from the room.

"Sycophant." Loki hissed sotto voce into the servant's retreating back.

He appeared to smile - but what really was more of a leer - as he bounced playfully out of his room. Thor merely sighed, eyed the now- abandoned harp for one last time, turned on his heel and left the room.

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