Dulce et Decorum est Pro Fratre Mori (written by Agenthill )
Tranquility. Ennui. Resentment. Enmity. Hostility. Remorse. Reconciliation. Tranquility. Ennui. Resentment.
The cycle repeated ad infinitum. Endlessly the brothers warred, between their more vicious struggles was interposed a hiatus of a few decades at the longest before Loki’s accursed nature propelled them once again toward the unending conflict that had come to dominate their existences.
Now in the peace of a warm summer night, there ought to be nothing between the two of them but the air they breathed, but though they lay beside one another, limbs entwined and breath synchronized, Loki’s thoughts stray far from this moment of peace between them, turbulent and unyielding, they haunt him in the quiet hours before morning. When he is with Thor all should be well, and on the surface it is, but even so there is something always there, at the edge of their sight, something dark that pulls him away, and eats away at Thor.
It’s in the corners of Thor’s smile, pulled tighter than is comfortable, the way Thor says his name when they make love, a voice full of longing for lost things, it’s there in the way Thor clings to him in their sleep, the fear Thor lives in that one day Loki will leave, and this will be the time Loki does not come back.
But there is a darkness in Loki’s heart, a wanderlust and wildness too. Try as he might Loki cannot last in this haze he and Thor exist in when they are together, longs for freedom and chafes at the peace, the silent sea they float on now. The serenity stifles Loki an eventually he must lash out, is compelled to resume the struggle against his brother. Others think he is blind to the pain he causes his brother, but Loki knows as only the wielder of a blade can how deeply his callous actions cut his brother. And how simple it would be to twist the knife and break the cycle. Loki knows that he hurts Thor, and Loki, for his part, regrets. Had he the choice he would cease, would leave Thor in peace, but Loki is incapable of doing so, it violates his nature; for Thor, Loki would give everything, everything but that.
Try as he might Loki cannot change his nature, just as he and Thor cannot cease loving one another—though he has tried both falling out of love and changing himself, he was ultimately unsuccessful. Therein lies the problem, if it were not for his love of Thor, Loki would care not for Thor’s happiness (or lack thereof), and if Loki were not as he was Thor would be happy, but both his his nature and his love of Thor are inviolable truths. Thor hums in his sleep, and Loki pulls him closer, wishing that his very proximity to Thor might instill some goodness, some nobility, whatever it is that Thor has which Loki finds himself so utterly lacking in.
Loki breathes in deeply, holding his breath, then inhaling, but is just as empty as before. In the moment Thor’s scent fills his lungs, Loki always feels as if he could be the man he had wanted to become, but it cannot last, for Loki cannot hold his breath forever, and without Thor, there is nothing good of Loki left. Perhaps there was nothing good of Loki to begin with; few would be surprised to learn that, was it indeed true.
There was a time when the brothers had dreamed of an eternity between them, first as friends and brothers, then as lovers, but now Loki knows that it can never happen. He wonders idly if Thor still wishes for an eternity side by side. It is probably for the best that such an avenue is barred from them—with an eternity together they might have come to take their love for granted, and it is far too precious for that.
Tonight, though, Loki will give Thor his eternity, as he whispers sweet dreams into his lover’s ear. When they had lain together it had been slow and reverent, gentle and loving. Loki thinks of the stars overhead that watched them through the open window, the sighing wind which blew their curtains. It is a good end, sweet and calm.
Like an old man passing in his sleep their love has run its course, and will slip silently out of existence, no one the wiser until morning comes, what was lost in the night. And so Loki places one last kiss on Thor’s brow, at once a farewell and an apology, and leaves a double curled around Thor, that his brother might sleep peacefully at least this one final night. Quietly, Loki removes himself from the room, watching Thor as he leaves, not wanting to look away until the last possible moment. What Loki does, he does for Thor, and so though he wishes he might look upon that golden face forever, he knows their time must draw to a close.
The door clicks shut behind Loki, but he cannot linger; if he is to accomplish his task it must be before daylight, and he had lingered for as long as he could already. Swiftly he traverses the unlit halls of the palace, and tries not to think of games of chase he and Thor once played around the great pillars, of the echoes of laughter long since silenced.
Some assert that there is beauty to be found in sadness, virtue in self-sacrifice, but Loki sees none of it now. But then, Loki never was an expert on virtue, and he is not going to become one now. Perhaps thinking that way would make it easier to let go, but Loki’s hand shakes as he opens the door to his chambers and he nearly gives up, because he cannot follow through with this, for Loki has always been too much concerned for his own well-being, and he cannot bring himself to do this. But then, it is that self absorption, the need to place himself before others that has so hurt Thor all these years, and Loki knows what needs to be done.
A coward he is not, and he shall face his death honorably, without the comfort of seidr, but at the point of the blade as all warriors ought. Just once in his life, Loki will do something the right way, will not shy from honor and what is good and proper; he sullies the name of his family enough with this act, so he had best do it in the most proper way he is able. In death, Loki will accomplish what he never could in life; acting not in his own interests but for the betterment of others. Thor will be proud, Loki thinks, once he has recovered from the initial shock. Thor will know that Loki was capable of doing what was right, and not just what served him best. When Loki dies, Thor can finally be proud of something Loki has done, and Loki cannot possibly do anything to ruin what little good he has accomplished when he is dead. Even Thor must appreciate this cosmic joke the Norns have played on them all.
He fears that Thor might not understand why it is he does this, but cannot bring himself to write a note, for it seems too final, and he knows that whatever he writes would be scoured over by Thor in a vain attempt to discover what Thor had done wrong, what might have saved Loki. Wishing to spare Thor such agony, Loki thinks it best to leave nothing, for then his words may not be twisted to find new meaning. Loki will stay silent for once in his long life.
When they were far younger, Thor had given Loki a set of ornamental daggers as a gift, and Loki, touched, never sullied them with the blood of war, for he could not bring himself to turn this gift from his brother against him; it seemed too cruel. Now it is these daggers Loki reaches for, untainted by the pain of their rivalry, they will draw forth only peace for the brothers. Gingerly Loki seats himself at the edge of his bed, removing the longest of the daggers, finger ghosting over the edge to find it still sharp as the day it was forged. It is unique to the set in that the others are throwing knives, but this one was intended for defense, not for plunging into eyeballs but for slicing tendons, its delicacy belying its deadliness. “It reminded me of you,” Thor had said when he gifted it to Loki, and Loki thinks that there is some irony in this situation but he cannot find humor in it now. Maybe one day Thor shall see it this way, and will appreciate the poetry in the act.
Perhaps, but Loki thinks not; Thor has ever been one for bravado but he finds little amusement in symbolic acts such as this. Loki however, prefers more nuanced showings, and he hopes—though he fears it is in vain—someone shall admire this, his last great performance. But then, that also is a selfish desire, and he means for this to be a selfless act, as much so as is possible for one such as he. Altruism suits him ill but he hopes that he can pull it off just this once.
Honor is critically important to those who reside in Asgard, and there right and proper are synonymous; as such there is a right and proper way to do everything, including how one ought to die. Being slain in battle is preferable to death by any other means, and though suicide might be considered most dishonorable in many occasions, what is most important in any death is not the method itself, but the purpose. Honorable suicide is possible, given the proper intention. In this Loki hopes to save Thor, and to die for him is decorous, by Asgardian definition. As such there is a procedure for death, exsanguination, as a slow death tests the resolve of those who choose to die, and Loki thinks it a cruel tradition, prolonging the suffering of they who would give all. He shall follow it, however, that Thor, and the rest of their family, might be spared further dishonor in this act.
Still he hesitates as he makes the cut, but he breathes in slowly, once, twice, thrice, and steadies his hand long enough to make the cut. He draws the blade across slowly, that he does not damage the nerves, it stings as he slices open the flesh. To him those brief seconds seem far longer, and he must struggle to keep going, but Thor is foremost in his mind, and he presses on knowing that he must do this, for the good of his brother, whom he has loved since before he knew what love was. He presses on and soon enough the cut is completed, and there can be no turning back now, for even this one cut may kill him, given the time.
Were it not for the matter of time and ceremony, he would not make the second, but he must and so he does, the pain of it less this time as already the blood loss is affecting him. He cuts deeply for he wishes his suffering to be short. The pain from the cuts nearly overwhelms him for a moment, and all he can focus on is the bright hot pain and the warm blood flowing out, onto the neat bedspread, now stained by his blood. Gradually the pain begins to fade, and his thoughts are once again his own; he does not regret this decision, even as he bleeds, but he is beginning to wish he had waited longer, had another day or two with his brother, that he might have exchanged one more glance.
Fortunately, he has not long left to regret. Swiftly his blood flows from his veins and he knows he has not much longer in this world, a comforting thought as it is far more painful to die thus than he had wished. Time seems to stretch as his pain recedes, and he pictures Thor with him now, holding him tightly, or perhaps he is not imagining it, perhaps his brother has come. His hearing is fading in and out but he hears Thor shouting for someone, anyone, to come help, to bring healers, though surely Thor realizes they cannot help Loki now; he is beyond the point where one might be saved.
It is right and proper, he thinks, even as he can see the fear, the desperation cross Thor’s face. For even when Loki helps Thor, does what is best for his brother, he cannot do so without hurting him. Loki’s mere existence precludes Thor’s happiness, and though he does not know it, Loki is doing what is best for him. Still it is painful to watch Thor as he breaks, tears now falling from his normally stoic face. I did this to help you, Loki wants to say, but finds he can no longer force his mouth to move. I did this so that you could be happy.
All feeling is fading, now, from Loki’s body and he knows he has but seconds left, and he watches unable to respond as Thor pleads with him to stay alive. Noble Thor was not meant to beg, and Loki is glad when it ends, until he sees the defeated look on Thor’s face. Never should his brother admit defeat, but it seems he has. As Loki tries not to see the agony that pains his brother’s face, he hears a whispered, “I love you,” and then he knows no more.