The wise thing to do would have been to permanently isolate himself from the rest of the palace. But after Thor’s surprise visit, Loki didn’t want to lead with such drastic measures. Eir had given him something to experiment with, and so he led with that. Being unable to smell or taste anything was a cruel side effect, but one he felt was worth it if it potentially led to his freedom. After he woke the following morning, he hid himself from his own view, inhaled Eir’s disgusting potion, choked down his breakfast, and settled into his work for the day. He couldn’t help but feel like Odin had given him a heavier load than usual, but it was something to do, and the tedium of combing through reports and carrying out audits was better than staring at the walls.
And then the wind shifted, and with it, a familiar feeling began to stir in Loki’s loins. He cradled his head in his hands and growled in frustration. Even though it wasn’t the all-consuming lust that had overcome him before, it was still a distraction. Worse, it meant he still could not be trusted.
Eir had given him a second, stronger potion. Loki pulled that from her basket and examined it, finding it much like the first. It was a bit thicker and darker, and a bit stickier, and inhaling it made him gag so hard he nearly choked. Slowly, he began to feel numb behind his face, and even more slowly his lust began to fade. Loki moved to the window, breathing deeply just to see whether he could get on with his day, or if he needed to take more drastic measures. He could see Freyja in her own chambers, still unaware that she was being watched. But now, watching was all he did. He wasn’t being driven to insanity by her very presence, though now he found himself wondering how much longer she would continue to make his life misery.
Once he was certain the second potion would do its job, Loki returned to his desk and resumed his work. When his supper was brought to him, he forced himself to eat, though he only managed to finish half of what he was brought before grew too disgusted to continue.
Each day was the same. Each morning he woke, changed himself so he wouldn’t have to see his own flesh, used the first potion until the afternoon winds shifted, and choked down meals he could barely stand to look at. He was tempted to start with the second, but he knew she had given him two for a reason. Often, Thor would visit in the evenings, bringing wine Loki couldn’t even stomach and refused to share. He ignored the servants who came and went, tidying up around him and bringing him anything he needed, and idly wondered how difficult it had been to recruit several young men for the role. Finally, after weeks of the same routine, day after day after day, the afternoon winds shifted without Loki noticing. He was able to work through until supper was brought up, and it was only when he realised he could taste a slight sharpness in the cheese that he knew the worst was finally over.
The first potion wasn’t strong enough to stop the entire process. But it was enough to buy him time, and allow him to keep his wits and remedy the situation. And he still had not needed to get into the draughts she had sent, which was enough to make him think he might be able to beat this. He composed a note for Eir, asking her to send both potions in greater quantities, and had it sent to her that evening.
When his door opened some time later, it wasn’t Thor coming to pay him a visit. It was Odin who found him where he lay sprawled out in bed, reading until he grew bored enough to fall asleep.
“Eir tells me her potions are working,” Odin said, pulling the chair away from Loki’s desk.
He sat near the fire pit, in a parody of casual conversation.
“They seem to be,” Loki said.
He wasn’t sure what else to offer. The whole disgusting ordeal was one he’d rather have swept under the rug and forgotten about forever. Discussing it with his father was the last thing he wanted to do.
“I’ve also been told you’re not eating,” Odin said.
Loki took a deep breath, focusing on the pages in front of him, rather than looking up at Odin.
“It’s a side effect of the potion,” Loki said. “I find later meals easier to get through.”
He wondered if he ought to confess that it was because the potion had begun to fade by then. But it was an easy enough fix if anything arose from it, so Loki kept that information to himself.
“And if I were to release you, can you be trusted to behave yourself?” Odin asked.
Loki nodded. “Yes, I believe so,” he said.
Odin nodded in return. “I’m glad to know one of us is confident,” he said.
Loki’s heart dropped, but before he could voice his crushing disappointment, Odin continued.
“You are not to leave these chambers unchaperoned,” he said. “And if you cannot control yourself, or otherwise remove yourself from the situation, you will find me much less lenient next time.”
Loki nodded. “Of course,” he said.
Odin stood, stepping forward to drop his hand on Loki’s shoulder.
“I wish things could be different,” Odin said.
Without another word, he walked out of the room, leaving Loki to contemplate his future. His freedom may have been restored, but what freedom did he truly have when it was no secret at all what had happened? Still, he could not live the rest of his life in a cage. At least on a leash he was more free than he’d been.
It was Thor who came to fetch Loki in the morning. He wasn’t yet dressed, finding it suddenly difficult to haul himself from bed now that he had a reason to get up. Loki had barely managed to disguise himself for the day, and hadn’t even decided how he intended to handle any unwanted situation.
He barely greeted Thor at all as he inhaled Eir’s potion. It never got easier, and the way it stuck to his insides nearly made him gag every time.
“Is that it?” Thor asked as Loki returned the pot to its place on his desk.
Loki nodded, still trying to get through the worst of it. Thor picked up the pot and opened it, cautiously sniffing the thick jelly inside.
“What does it do?” he asked, returning the lid and putting it back down.
Loki sniffed harshly. “It destroys my ability to taste or smell anything,” he said bitterly. “So I’m afraid I’m skipping breakfast.”
Thor shrugged. “Just as well. Father wants you hearing requests today.”
Loki would have rather been trapped in his chambers all day.
“Of course he does,” he said with a heavy sigh.
Thor laughed. “He says you’re best at it, because of how much you hate it.”
“Yes, listening to squabbling peasants is the height of entertainment,” Loki said bitterly.
He turned to get dressed for a day of doing exactly that.
“Exactly,” Thor said. “It’s easier for you to not pick sides, because you hate all of them the same.”
Rolling his eyes, Loki pulled a tunic on and tucked it into his breeches.
“I hate them, because they’re like children fighting over toys,” Loki said.
He grabbed the first topcoat his fingers touched and pulled it on, taking time to make sure everything was straight and tidy. Then, he used his fingers to comb through his hair and somewhat tame his curls before turning to fetch the boots he hadn’t worn in weeks.
“How long does that slime of yours last?” Thor asked.
As he sat on the bed to pull his boots on, Loki considered his options.
“Not long enough,” he said. He pointed to the basket Eir had given to him, on the shelf near his desk. “There’s another in there. Toss it over.”
Thor pulled another pot from the basket and casually tossed it over to Loki. Loki caught it from the air and opened it to check that it was the right one, thicker and slightly darker of colour. He wasn’t sure that he’d be able to excuse himself from any unexpected situations, and make it back to his chambers without incident, so he slipped the potion into one of his hiding places so he had it when he needed it. With his boots on, and as prepared as it was possible to be, he stood and shrugged. It had been weeks since he’d been seen in public, and now that he’d been allowed back, he wasn’t sure he truly wanted it.
“Let’s get this over with,” he said.
Thor held the door open and walked with Loki out to the corridor. The guards that had become a permanent fixture outside his door did little to hide their distaste of the entire situation, but Loki ignored them and followed Thor through the palace and to the throne room. Loki had expected to find Odin waiting for them, but it was empty, save the ever-present guards.
“Have fun,” Thor said, already turning to leave.
“Hang on, you’re supposed to stay with me,” Loki said, furious at being left to this task alone.
Thor laughed and pointed to the guard as he retreated further.
“You’re his problem now. I’ll come fetch you later.”
“You ass,” Loki said.
Thor laughed some more and disappeared, leaving Loki to his task all alone. He slouched down on the throne, and soon the first in a long line of annoyances was let in to beg for favours, and Loki immediately remembered exactly how much he hated hearing requests. He hoped that whatever duties Thor had for the day could be handled quickly, and that he’d return to rescue Loki from his torture, but the day dragged on with painful lethargy. With each request, Loki grew more and more fed up, and began denying requests and issuing confusing judgements on principle. If he didn’t like a man’s beard, denied. Someone repeated the same word too many times, denied. One party seemed overly certain of his own position in a squabble, judgement for the other man.
By the time Thor finally returned for him, Loki had slid so far down from his seat that he was halfway on the floor. Thor laughed as he walked across the throne room, stopping below the dais with his hands on his hips.
“Loki, what are you doing?” he asked.
“Dying,” Loki said flatly. “Of ennui. Because you left me here for so long.”
“Yes, well. Father won’t like it if you die there,” Thor said. “Go do it somewhere else.”
Loki sighed dramatically before hauling himself to his feet, glad to finally be released from his torture. Together, they walked from the throne room to the banquet hall, but Loki stopped short just beyond the entrance and stared in at the crowd. A familiar tightness began to rise within him, giving him only moments to make a choice.
“I think I’d prefer to dine alone,” he said lowly.
Thor turned to look at him. “Are you certain?”
Loki nodded. “I need to leave.”
Without waiting for Thor, he turned to head back to his chambers. Thor quickly caught up with him, walking close by his side. Neither said a word until they reached Loki’s chambers, and he was safely inside.
“Shall I have something sent?” Thor asked.
Loki nodded again, and then pushed the door shut between them. Even with the distance between him and whoever had set him off this time, his lust was reluctant to subside. He leaned against the wall, sliding down to the floor as he loosened the laces on his breeches enough to reach inside. His cock was already hard and straining beneath the leather, and once again almost entirely unresponsive to his own hand. He bit his lip and tried to coax it into spilling quickly, but it only made him want more. He leaned forward as he worked himself, bracing against the floor with his free hand. Rather than using his hand on his cock, he began fucking his own hand, rutting against it, and that was almost better. He got up onto his knees, giving himself more room and moved against his hand as though it were someone beneath him. To better convince himself of just that, he lowered to press his chest against the ground, with his ass in the air. He imagined that the ground was a body beneath him, pliantly taking his cock. It worked, and he spilled onto the stone floor with a muffled shout, continuing to rut against his hand until he had nothing left to spill. With his face burning and his heart pounding, Loki sat up and looked at the mess he’d left, ashamed at the sight of it. Grimacing at his own behaviour, Loki looked around the small chamber for anything to clean up with, and settled on pulling a blanket from the sofa that was only steps away. With it, he mopped up as much as he could, and then tossed it over to a corner to be collected later.
Finally catching his breath, Loki sat up onto his knees and put himself back together, tying his breeches shut before getting up to go hide in his bedchamber.
Thor seemed a bit more aware of the situation than Loki wanted to acknowledge, because it was nearly half an hour before a servant brought him his supper. Loki didn’t even acknowledge him as he left the tray on the desk and retreated.
Loki had done as he had been told. He had removed himself from the situation before it had become a problem. So why didn’t it feel like he’d done the right thing?
After the third day, Loki was convinced that hearing requests was Odin’s true punishment for his behaviour. Being allowed the privacy and solitude to sort himself out was a mercy. Having to listen to farmers bicker about land borders was going to kill him. And each evening, his choices were the same. He could try to eat a meal that may as well have been made of sawdust, or rush past the banquet hall as quickly as possible and hope to make it to his chambers before he lost what remained of his sanity. Thor didn’t even bother asking the third time, leaving Loki to his shame without another word. This time, he managed to shed his topcoat and make it to his bed before his hand found its way into his breeches.
With his entire body trembling, he managed to gather several of his pillows and pile them beneath him. With his cock in hand, he rutted against the mass, letting his weight sink into it. He could almost convince himself it was a body beneath him, grunting and sweating along with him. He felt like an animal, rutting against it like that, but he couldn’t stop. His body was not his own, and would not be his own until he could sate this insane urge. He buried his face into the mass beneath him and screamed in frustration as still his lust only rose higher and higher. His cock was so hard in his hand, he felt like it might burst.
Loki managed to stop long enough to free himself from his breeches, letting them fall down to bare his ass. Instead of holding his cock in hand, he rutted against the pillow itself, letting the difference in texture and the weight of his own body do the work. It was just different enough that he spilled onto the fabric with a force so hard, he screamed again. With his eyes screwed shut, he continued to slowly rut against it until he had nothing left to spill, sobbing silently to himself. Once he finally stilled, he rolled over onto his back and threw the pillow across the room, furious with himself for all of it.
He couldn’t keep doing this. This wasn’t keeping himself in control. This wasn’t anybody’s idea of proper behaviour. He was a fool to think he might have ever been able to go back to living a normal life. Nor could he isolate himself forever. The rules had changed, and these were not rules he could bend or twist to suit him.
When Thor fetched him from his own personal hel the following day, Loki didn’t immediately rise to meet him. Instead, he summoned Eir’s disgusting potion and hoped to choke on it as he inhaled it. Then, he waited a few moments longer, to make sure it had a chance to take hold before finally rising to his feet.
“I’m going to jump off the Rainbow Bridge,” he said as he trudged after Thor.
“Loki,” Thor said. “Don’t say things like that.”
Loki didn’t respond. He didn’t want to hear anything else Thor might have had to say. As they reached the banquet hall, he was tempted to continue on to his chambers anyway, just for the novelty of returning as himself, and not as a wild beast that made a mess on every surface he touched. But he followed Thor into the hall, taking his usual spot amongst their friends, and immediately regretted it.
“Look who’s finally decided to join us,” Fandral said.
“Don’t talk to me,” Loki said, leaning as far down onto the bench as he could without falling off.
Thor poured him a cup of ale, but without any flavour at all, it was like cotton in his mouth. The boar was the same story, nearly making him gag as he tried to eat it. He got through two bites before giving up and rising to his feet.
“Where are you going?” Thor asked.
“To bed,” Loki said.
Behind him, Thor growled in frustration as he got up to follow him. Loki wanted to tell Thor to leave him be, but he knew it wouldn’t do any good. Instead, he said nothing as he strode quickly back to his chambers. Again, Thor left him without a word as he barricaded himself inside. He threw his topcoat at the sofa and strode to his bed chamber. Loki fell face down onto the bed, not moving at all once he landed. He stayed there, barely moving at all until a servant let himself in with what Loki could only assume was a tray for supper.
“I don’t want it. Take it away,” he said, his voice muffled against the bed.
For a moment there was only silence, until finally he heard the servant turn to leave. Only then did Loki roll over onto his back and stare up at the ceiling. He needed to decide what was more important, whether it was the ability to stomach even a single meal, or his dignity.
He couldn’t survive on scraps. Dignity meant nothing if he slowly starved to death. He would simply take supper in his rooms going forward. The following day when Thor gathered him up, Loki had a new plan. The solution was obvious, but he had been too busy following Odin’s rules to realise it was right in front him.
“I’m going to my chambers,” he said as Thor approached him.
“Very well,” said Thor. “Let’s go, then.”
Loki took a deep breath. “No,” he said. “I will be taking myself.”
Thor nodded slowly, and Loki could see him turning the idea over in his head.
“You know you can’t do that,” he said. “Father won’t allow it.”
“Thor, I’m starving,” Loki said. “If I walk through the palace, I will lose my mind. Meet me there if it makes you feel better.”
Thor frowned, grumbling quietly.
“Father won’t like this,” he said.
“So don’t tell him,” Loki said. He shrugged and finally stood. “But I cannot keep doing this.”
Finally, Thor nodded, and looked at the guard behind Loki.
“Ten minutes,” he said. “Do not let him leave before then.”
The guard nodded, and Loki rolled his eyes. He sat back down on the throne and watched as Thor turned to leave. He was certain the guard’s ability to keep time was lacking, but Loki stayed where he was, not daring to even look like he was trying to leave early. If he was ever to regain enough trust to be able to come and go entirely as he pleased, he needed to show that he could be trusted. So he waited, growing every more impatient to leave by the second.
“My lord,” the guard said finally.
Loki stood and turned to the guard to acknowledge his release, and with a single step forward took himself straight to his chambers. For the first time arriving in something even resembling a decent mood, he took a moment to shed his topcoat before opening the door to the corridor. Thor stood outside, frowning sourly, which Loki answered with a smug grin.
“Have something sent for me, will you?” he asked.
“I don’t like this,” Thor said.
“I don’t care,” Loki said.
He shut the door on Thor’s face, knowing he’d be getting an earful from Odin about it later. But he wanted to enjoy a meal in peace, for once without the shadow of shame and humiliation hanging over him.
Loki traded his leather breeches for a looser linen pair, and had the time to get comfortable in bed before the servant arrived with his meal. Loki ate right there in bed while catching up with the rest of his work for the day, taking his time to get through all of it. Once he was finished, he left both his tray and his work staked on his desk to be taken away the following day.
Finding himself with little else to do, Loki returned to bed with a book and cup of wine, eager to enjoy the evening. He was halfway through his wine when he realised he had read the same line six times. He sat up, frowning at the room around him, hoping his concentration was slipping because he was simply tired. But he knew that wasn’t it. Deep down, he knew exactly what was happening. The breeze through the windows had picked up someone’s scent. But it was faint, so Loki picked up his book again, determined to ignore it. If he could ignore this, perhaps he could train himself to ignore it when the urges grew stronger. But ignoring it was not the same as regaining his focus. He stared at the page before him, no longer even trying to read the words as he forced himself to remain still.
Unable to stop himself, he began rubbing himself through his breeches, rolling into his own touch. He let his eyes drift shut and dropped the book to the bed beside him, deciding this was fine. He wasn’t behaving like an animal. This was perfectly normal lust. Nobody would fault him for this. He hummed quietly as he rubbed himself through the fabric, not even needing to touch himself properly. This was enjoyable, as taking himself in had had not been in far too long.
He let himself enjoy it, wanting to savour this in case it never happened again. Part of him was surprised he could even still enjoy his own hand, and he teased himself until he could take no more. Finally, he unlaced his breeches and took himself, gasping at the touch. He rolled his foreskin between his fingers, and tugged at his sac, trying to see exactly how long he could hold out.
Loki leaned back against the headboard as he began stroking himself with just the tips of his fingers. Somehow even that had become too much, and his own spend took him by surprise. He gasped quietly as he coaxed the rest out, having nearly forgotten that it wasn’t supposed to hurt. It wasn’t supposed to even be difficult.
And that it hadn’t been this time gave him some amount of hope. Perhaps he could find a way to beat this foul thing and truly move on with his life. But even as he picked up his book, he realised the distraction was still there. It wasn’t as though he were losing control of his body, but he still could not focus on the words before him as once more he felt that familiar stir rising with him.
“Oh, come on,” he said, tossing the book aside again.
He got to his feet and strode over to the window, wondering if he would even be able to tell if it was someone’s scent on the air, or if his body had just become accustomed to the abuse. As soon as he leaned his head out of the window, he had his answer. He wasn’t sure if he could truly identify any specific scent on the air, but as he leaned into the breeze his lust grew stronger. He tried to find whoever was doing this to him, but he had no idea where to even start. As the breeze picked up, it only grew stronger, and once more his hand was down his breeches. Only this time, it wasn’t enough. He rubbed his length with his palm, pressing his cock against his stomach. He leaned out of the window as far as he could dare, still trying to find the source. The longer he spent trying to identify it, the harder it became to think about anything else. He rutted against his hand, trying to find a way to use the windowsill to give him better leverage.
He needed to step away before he fell. He could see the ground below, but even as he leaned out the window, he couldn’t find it a serious enough threat to stop.
It took every ounce of will he had to pull his hand out of his breeches and step away. With his legs trembling beneath him, he barely made it back to his bed. He needed a body beneath him. Any body. That’s what felt natural. That’s what felt right. But he was locked in his chambers for the rest of the evening, and even if he wasn’t, he was too far gone to even try to leave. He should have stayed put. If he hadn’t gone investigating, he wouldn’t be in this position, but now he was writhing and panting on his bed with his hand on his cock and no end in sight.
Loki managed to get up onto his knees, giving in to the only thing he knew that worked. Loki let his breeches fall so his cock stood free, and gathered his pillows to mount them like a dog. He rutted against it, panting and whimpering quietly with each thrust. Keeping his eyes screwed shut so he didn’t have to face the reality of what he was doing, he tried to imagine someone on all fours beneath him. He let his weight fall against the pillows, letting his arms cage them as if they were a body, his own twisting and squirming out of his control. It still wasn’t enough. It would never be enough. Loki managed to shift himself to move his hand to press his cock harder into the pillow beneath him, holding his palm flat against its length. With a shameful grimace, he cried out for more, rutting harder and harder with each thrust of his hips until once more his spend hit him like a punch to the stomach. And still he couldn’t stop rutting through it, even as the ache turned painful. Still, he couldn’t stop until every last drop had been spilled and smeared onto the fabric. He rolled off, weeping as he struggled to even breathe, and threw the spoiled pillow across the room. He could barely breathe, and his heart felt as if it might burst.
He couldn’t live like this. Not with that scent still in the air. Before it could catch it again, he forced himself to his feet. His legs were like jelly, and he nearly fell as soon as he stood, but he caught himself on the edge of the bed, and began the painful walk to his desk.
He inhaled Eir’s potion first, hoping to stop anything before it started again. Then, he grabbed one of the draughts that still sat unopened in the basket, and pried the cork from it. Unsure how much to take, Loki took a swig large enough to fill his mouth, swallowing down the bitter liquid.
Loki had a choice, and it was a simple one. He could starve to death with dignity, or he could rut himself to death on a full stomach.