Note: Written for norsekink prompt: Loki exists only in Thor's imagination.
"Where is our young prince?" The raven asked the wind. "Where is the only son of the All-Father? Where is the child with the heart of rain and thunder?"
"He has hidden himself away in his mother's garden, in the deepest grove of leaves and shadows. He is yet again grieving for a brother whom none has seen nor heard, for whom the Norns have woven no thread."
"Who is with him? I hear the whispers of the deep roots, and they tremble in fear."
"Who is this stranger to intrude into the Queen's garden? Who is he to hide from even the eyes of Heimdall the All-Seeing?"
"A stranger, no more and no less. Tall and pale is he, with coal-black hair and lake-green eyes. He wears a youthful countenance, though still much older than our prince in years. He tells his name to be Ikol, but admits it to be a lie. 'My true name is a curse, my prince,' says he. 'As for you, I know your name well, though I dare say it not, lest it burns my lips'."
"What does the stranger with the cursed name want with our prince? I hear the whispers of the brittle stems, and they tremble in fear."
"Nothing but to comfort him," sighed the wind. "Or so says this stranger. Once he had a brother, too, but they were torn apart for all time to come. In all the nine realms, there is no bridge on which they shall meet again."
"He speaks madness."
"He speaks of regret, something the child is too young to understand. He also speaks of loss, of pain, of knowing there should be two but only one remains."
"Madness! Madness! Why should the only-born son of Odin know such unimaginable sorrow?"
"Surely our Queen knows. She knows all that is to come, though she reveals the future to none. She never contradicts her son, even when all in the kingdom would laugh at him for this strange fancy. 'I believe you, my child, my joy, the song of my soul,' says she. Yet her august heart is burdened, and even the golden apples cannot bring back the warm glow that once graced her brow."
"What the Queen knows, she knows alone. What lies has this stranger told to our prince? I hear the whispers of the verdant leaves, and they tremble in fear."
"'Would you still long for your brother, if he betrays you and steals your crown?' The stranger asks. 'Would you still love him so, if he runs a spear through your chest, or delivers poison into your bloodied mouth with a kiss?'
"'My brother would never do such a thing,' the prince replies. 'He is terribly clever and mischievous, aye, and sometimes he gets us into troubles which I cannot explain to those who don't understand. But when he smiles at me, I know that he loves me best and will always be at my side. He has told me so. I know it to be true, because I feel the same for him.'
"'Then my heart is at rest. Good-bye, sweet prince.' The stranger leans down and kisses the prince on his forehead, touching a lock of his golden hair as if to evoke some distant memory. 'May you never taste the bitterness of betrayal. May you never know my sin.'
"And with that, he is gone."
"Whence he came. An echo of time and space."
"Where is our king?" The raven asks the wind. "Where is the just ruler of Asgard? Where is he, the one with a heart of rain and thunder?"
"He has stolen away to Valaskjálf, that dwelling of pure silver. He sits upon Hlidskjalf, the high seat that once belonged to his father and mother. He is searching the nine realms for his never-born brother."
"He searches still."
Note: My characterization of Loki of late has been heavily influenced by the latest Marvel storyline, so he is quite gentle towards Thor here. The idea is that having experienced pain of brother killing brother, Loki grows remorseful and decides to change the past by making sure that Odin did not adopt Loki, thus he and Thor would never meet. However their bond was such that even *this* Thor experienced an echo of what should have been.