Thor’s demeanor was much changed after his adventures in Midgard. He was certainly quieter, but he was something more than that, too. Diminished, perhaps, as though something inside of him had gone out. He still smiled, but he did not grin, and his laughter had become a precious commodity.

“It is to be expected,” his companions agreed among themselves. “He pines still for this Jane Foster, he shall recover in time.” All that could be done, they concluded, was to try to take his mind from his short-lived romance.

“Stay awhile longer,” Sif insisted, while Fandral and Volstagg bellowed drinking songs off-key, swinging their tankards and sloshing their ale on the floor.

“I have had enough for one night,” Thor said, smiling that strange new small smile and setting aside his half-finished drink. Sif protested again, and Thor could see the naked pity in her eyes. She placed a hand against his chest. He took his leave.

Thor’s room was dark when he returned, save for a single candle one of the servants had left burning. Thor shed his armor wearily, letting it lay where it fell, and then he stumbled to the small table in the dark. He moved to snuff the candle when the flickering light caught something in the corner of his vision. He turned to look, and he drew in a sharp breath.

With slightly trembling hands, Thor took the object from its spot on the shelf. The golden surface was pitted and scarred from their battle. Thor rand his thumbs along the rough edges. The metal was cool against his fingertips, like his brother’s icy touch. He had teased him about that, when they were young, and Loki would smile at him, and press his cold fingertips to the back of Thor’s neck.

“What did I do?” Thor asked softly. He turned the helmet over in his hands, but like his brother’s cryptic smile, it held no answers for him. He stared into the dull gold surface, and his brother’s face flickered at him, angry tears welling in his eyes. Thor pressed his forehead to the brow of of the helmet, and wept.

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