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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3. Chapter Three: The Blood of Brothers

The corridors were infected with an eerie silence; however Thor decided to disregard the discomfort it caused. He had other things on his mind. He walked purposefully - for the second time that evening - toward that dreaded destination. Unfortunately, the apprehension he'd felt previously had intensified a significant amount.

To be honest, he felt afraid.

Not of Loki; at least, not right now. No, he feared what he would find... behind that ornate, wooden door.

There were times - such awful times - when Thor thought his brother possessed some form of catatonic schizophrenia; sometimes the nature of Loki would be impassive, statuesque and numb to any form of feeling but there were other times - darker times - of which Loki would experience emotion... to a terrifying degree. The chameleon would suddenly show his colours: happiness would become manic delirium, anger a feral creature and sadness— Well, sadness was the worst: the hideous collage of tears, sweat and blood.

For Loki, sadness was the abyss: his façade would not break but shatter, he would not dry his tears but would spill his own blood, and he would not love but live within loathing.

He always faced his sadness alone... but not this night.

Despite his fears, Thor blatantly refused to simply accept his brother's distance. He would not leave him alone; he was his brother, after all.

Wasn't he?

Thor battled - to no avail - to eliminate those words the younger prince had uttered to their father in the Throne Room. Thor felt a small pang of nausea morph into a cancerous doubt as he pondered those words:

"...as cold as ice."

'What does it mean?' He pondered, brutally convincing himself he was oblivious to what his brother's words implied. He ignored the foreboding sensation of epiphany twisting in his gut; he blinked rapidly in a feeble attempt to crush those incessant thoughts of realisation; they must be eliminated, like all opposing foes of the God of Thunder. He pushed all possible answers to the sordid riddle aside; willing himself not to believe. That didn't change the fact he knew.

"To know and to believe are two very different matters, brother."

Thor visibly winced as his brother's words of wisdom - from an adolescent memory - danced amongst the troubles of his mind. Then he smiled; Loki had always been bright and insightful beyond his years. He could even tell the All-Father a thing or two... Well, he'd certainly tried. Thor couldn't help but smirk, at the thought.

It made sense to him now; the proverb 'clicked' inside his mind with a sense of satisfaction; he knew his 'brother' may not be so by blood... but he would always believe it.

Suddenly, a malicious shiver of dread crept across his broad shoulders; the door was in sight.

However - instead of engaging in a moment's hesitation - the God of Thunder barged into the chambers of his brother with impulsive determination; lost in his slightly deluded self-righteousness. He would find his brother, he would help his brother, he would reassure him - with undying conviction - that everything will be al—

Thor's attempt to console quickly became a verbal corpse; his jaw clenched as his stance remained rigid and frozen. He immediately regretted his rash entrance... for he was not prepared for what lay before him; a horrific tableau.

That harp was Loki's pride and joy. A pride and joy that was now utterly destroyed.

Jagged shards of opulent gold scarred the ground, forming a hideous collage of passionate rage; the carnage illustrating the chaotic tendency of a broken heart. The slithers of silver strings surrounded a hunched figure, a mere skeletal silhouette secluded in the dim light of dusk.

It was Loki.

Again, he did not acknowledge his brother's presence but - sadly - undue to musical serenity; on the contrary, he was devastated.

He knelt amidst the debris, unable to lay his gaze upon his crime of anguish; his slender fingers compressing into the depths of his ebony tresses, clutching it in clumps with untameable desperation. His withered form shuddered relentlessly as he attempted to compose his heaving breathes - dangerously erratic - which were occasionally punctuated by an agonised sob. He mumbled a sadistic curse - to but himself - despising himself for exposing the bottled poison of infectious emotions. He smothered his face within his scrawny arms, consumed by shame, refusing to omit any further sounds of sorrow.

"Loki—" Thor attempted in vain; his voice hoarse with horror.

Suddenly, Loki's lanky arms flopped to his slender sides in utter defeat; crescent indentations - caused by horrifyingly enraged fingernails - oozed trickles of scarlet across the midst of his glistening palms. Yet more blood tattooed his alabaster arms; the gory liquid cascading, forming crimson veins of anguish.

He dared to survey the collateral damaged he so, violently enveloped himself within; eyes heavily embroidered with an abundance of scarlet threads. They ached with sorrow. He blinked rapidly in a feeble attempt to combat those cursed tears that threatened an escape. The hopeless oblivion which swirled within those hollowed eyes was accentuated all-the-more by the sickly, dark rings surrounding them; the ominous, grey shades of exhaustion grazed his cheekbones and - simultaneously - highlighted his malnourished countenance.

"Brother, I—" Thor tried - with all his brutish might - once more. But the words fettered away to nothing. The traumatic scene had stunned him.

Loki's head snapped towards the door, his eyes - swimming with devastation and rage - penetrated his brother with an almost feral glare.

Thor could only stare into the silence, could only watch this broken shadow, he called 'brother'. A callous pain twisted inside Thor's chest as he watched Loki's bloodied hands stretch outward; slender fingers quivering and shuddering as they seemed to claw the air, scratching amongst the stillness. Thor thought he looked like he was falling...

...maybe he was.

Loki's spattered hands curled into livid fists, however his facial expression depicted no-such rage; his angular features contorting into the very definition of enervated.

"Why, brother?"

His words were dangerously close to an ominous growl; a growl interlaced with a heavy breath of exhaustion. The eyes of the golden God suddenly darted towards his brother, trapped within undivided attention.

"Why?" He repeated, his voice softer - more fatigued - as he allowed the depths of his weariness to become audible.

A rare event, indeed.

Thor was unsure of how to reply - still apparently stunned - therefore Loki extended his ultimate question, his exhaustion all-the-more acknowledgeable:

"Why does something as pure as truth cause such infernal suffering?"

Thor couldn't answer that. Could anyone really justify that question with a response? Thankfully for Thor, the enquiry was rhetorical therefore a reply wasn't necessary.

Loki merely gazed into the silent abyss as he seemed to delve into his menagerie of inner demons: pained pondering, quizzical questions, dastardly deceits and hellish hatred, all boiling beneath the surface of snow-white skin of such a flawless façade... but all things break, in the end.

Loki sighed in defeat, closing his eyes as a form surrender. He appeared lost in his fluttering thoughts; the amount of time Loki spent in his own head genuinely concerned his elder brother. There were times - all-too-numerous - of which Thor would rather remain ignorant of what occupied the mind of his brother.

A mind a-kin to Pandora's Box.

Loki then opened his eyes and his pale, pink lips dared to curl into a saddened smile, "...and they wonder why I tell my tales with such great ease." He chuckled... but then such aloofness abruptly halted as he cast his gaze open the jagged fragments of his murdered passion. His lugubrious gaze vanished when Thor found his voice:

"Is it not better to endure the truth amidst compassion, rather than to tell falsehoods within solitude, Loki?"

Loki tilted his head slightly, analysing the question. If he wasn't so emotionally fragile, he would've congratulated his brother for being so, uncharacteristically astute.

However, Thor watched the delicate brow of his little brother furrow with hurt as if the answer to the question physically pained him to know:

"Solitude occurs by default, brother..." - he all-but-spat into the sea of shards as he submitted himself to the gaze of his elder brother, eyes glistening like lost spirits - "...when there is no compassion, for company."

Thor stood aghast as his brother's words left him trapped in horror; had Loki truly convinced himself he was unloved or unworthy? Why? Thor could not bear it; the thought of his dearest brother being belittled... and becoming so bitter as a result.

Loki was changing - morphing into a man Thor barely recognised - and it terrified him to the point of tears.

Speaking of which...

Thor snapped from his reverie as his attention was drawn to a curious, sniffling sound; tender breaths omitted relentlessly, as if the unloading of burdens that had been carried for far to long.

'All things break in the end.'

The words snaked amidst Thor's darkened thoughts as he watched the product a nightmare: Loki - bitter, bloodied and broken - sobbing as though his heart would break...

...maybe, it had.

Loki's skeletal form racked with every heaving sob - the jolts of his abdomen mimicking those of one undergoing repeated punches to the gut - his thin shoulders quaked in a feverish manner as he surrendered his spirit to his emotions; as he... gave up.

Thor could not bear to merely stand by and watch any longer. In moments, he was by his brother's side, wrapping his broad arms of brutish strength around the quivering skeleton; cocooning the still-crying Loki as the God of Thunder rocked his thin frame back and forth like a babe in a cradle.

"Please, don't cry, brother."

The words quiet and motherly as they slipped gently into Loki's ear. He lifted a shaking hand, to wipe his bleary eyes in an air of defiance. Bearing a weakened smile, he mumbled:

"A p-prince should..." - he sniffled, again - "...not w-weep."

"But a brother always may." Thor smiled, tenderly. He ruffled Loki's dishevelled mass of hair, just as he did when they were younger princes.

Loki hummed softly in appreciation, allowing his smile to grow broader. Then, suddenly, his expression dropped to something quite serious. He turned to face Thor, gazing directly into those brilliant blue eyes. He spoke with what could only be described as complete sincerity:

"Forgive me, brother."

He spoke affectionately; words so tender and melodic, akin to the manner of which he played his harp:

"Forgive me for what has come to pass and for what has yet to happen."

Thor returned an expression of confusion, unsure as to what his brother referred. Loki merely smiled - tears still sparkling in his eyes - and brought his delicate hands to Thor's face, boring his gaze into that of his brother to accentuate his honesty:

"I am truly sorry."

He paused - to give the words time to percolate - then patted his brother playfully on the cheek. He then shifted, dropped his hands and returned his gaze to the floor, returning to the dark pit of his reveries. 'Gone all too soon', Thor pondered, solemnly.

"Now, if it is not of any inconvenience to you, brother, I would prefer to spend some time alone, now."

Thor sighed in reluctant understanding and rose to leave his brother be. However, Loki continued, voice wavering with emotion:

"However, your company has been very much appreciated. I can assure you of that."

Thor smiled with gratitude - bowing slightly - before replying:

"It was not company, brother but compassion.

Loki closed his eyes, his face a-glow in the amber light of evening, a sense of peace caressed his elven features; he sighed blissfully as if he'd been waiting to hear the utter of those precious words for thrice millennia. His eyes of jade opened to reveal a blazing supernovas composed only of joy. He laughed... and it was beautiful, for it was pure.

A rare event, indeed.

____________________________________________

And, so, the brother's then headed their separate ways but, of course, were never, truly apart; for a brother must always follow, no matter where the other may tread.

Brothers of yin and yang that - all along - were Gemini.

Change has intertwined amongst siblings and wove its malice curses; an expected pain but pain, all the same. However, a wondrous contrast occurred: the God of Thunder knew Loki was not his brother but believed so and the God of Lies knew he was loved by Thor... but had still yet to believe it.

Perhaps that day shall come - a brother can only hope - and, on such a joyous day, sweet music shall again be heard amongst the halls of the House of Odin.

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