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No Such Liberty by Xparrot, thor & loki + other asgardians + avengers + thanos, action fic, redemption fic, 147k
    Thor takes Loki back to Asgard in chains, but this does not mean that the god of mischief's schemes are ended, or that Thor has or ever will give up on his brother. But when Thanos threatens the realm to claim his lost prizes, on which side will Loki fall?
    Note: I don't believe I've done a rec for the fic as a whole, but instead wrote chapter by chapter recommendations (for awhile), which I do eventually want to pick up again. This fic is very dear to me, I was lucky to test read it as Xparrot was writing it and so I claim no objectivity at all, except I still think it's objectively one of the best the fandom has to offer. Certainly, this fic spoiled me for Thor characterization and the entire fic is so worth the ride. Even if you normally only read pairing fic, I still recommend this one for Thor/Loki fans!
    Chapter 01: Oh, you guys. I am going to write the worst recs for this fic. The absolute worst, because I'm going to have a hundred feelings all at once and I'm going to nearly keyboard smash my way through a rec for probably every chapter as it gets posted and flail wildly and nobody's going to take me seriously and I know all of that ahead of time, but, god, this Loki. This fic is going to be so good for me. Even when the first chapter is mostly just Thor and Loki showing up in Asgard again after the events of The Avengers movie, what this fic is already doing is taking its time to lay out the groundword of the aftermath--their arrival, Thor talking with Odin (and, oh, this Odin really gets under my skin, because I can't entirely blame him, but sometimes I worry so much about what's in his head...!), then Thor talking with his friends--every inch of this fic is already working towards getting inside Thor's head and trying to get him to understand Loki, showing that Loki is not so easily swayed, if only he were, because that would be so much easier, and even in just a few lines, just a sentence of description of when Thor looks over at Loki when they arriave, it says everything about Loki and what he is/isn't. It's one of those fics that seems fairly straightforward on the surface, but the more I read it, the more I realize everything that's going into it, the more that's being woven in that I never saw the first time around, and the more I love it.
    Chapter 02: Ahhh, the second chapter of this fic is so good. It's two scenes, both set from Thor's point of view (as the fic is a Thor pov piece), one with Frigga and then one with Loki. Both of the scenes put this dull ache in my chest while reading, an emotional weight there that comes from just starting to wade through the aftermath of The Avengers, of finding Loki back in Asgard for the first time, and how there's so much to untangle. This Frigga is absolutely gorgeous, the way she loves her sons so very much, even as she is ever calm and graceful, the way the slightest tightening of her lips, the way Thor hurts for her and for his brother, the sense of... just not quite knowing where everything went wrong or how to approach this. It's a stunning scene with beautiful background details of the world around them and their childhood woven in. It's the same for when Thor goes to see Loki for the first time since they came back and Loki is so... he's so incredibly hard to read, everything could have a dozen different meanings, and each one of them heavier and harder than the last. This Loki is stunning, he's graceful and deadly and all he has to do is stand there and tilt his head this way or twist a question around so that you have no idea what he means. It's gorgeous to watch Thor slowly start to try to parse Loki's words, that same heavy weight in my chest at how I just want things fixed already.
    Chapter 03: I loved this chapter because it does such a lovely job of building up the things that don't often get built in fic--the background world and the more mundane things like actually rebuilding the Bifrost--and yet does it in such a way that's both interesting and serves purpose! This chapter does a lovely job of showing how Thor has grown as a character, when he's in a situation where he has to be more diplomatic rather than a warrior, yet without sacrificing everything that makes him Thor. And I am delighted by how well rounded the dwarves and builders feel in this fic, because they actually feel like they have their own reasons and motives and personalities! And this chapter also starts to touch on Odin's role in all of this, who is so inscrutable and hard to read (which drives me up the wall because I just want my happy family back--!) and, when Loki picks apart the exact words Odin says to Thor, it's this... it's almost like this game of chess between two brilliant people, two people that are more similar than a lot of people seem to realize, two people who are out of Thor's league when it comes to logic. This fic does a beautiful job with that, does a beautiful job with showing Thor actually taking steps out of his usual comfort zone to help his brother, which gives me SO MANY FEELS, I just love Thor's character SO MUCH here, but also shows that Thor is growing into this even more amazing person and just... I really want to roll around in the feels with this fic.
    Chapter 04: This fic is RUINING me, you guys. Like, you don't even understand how badly. I fell in love with it because of the intensely fantastic Loki characterization, but where it really got me is in the way it slowly sneaked up on me with the Thor feels and, wham, all of a sudden I realized, whoa, this is actually some really thoughtful, incredibly insightful Thor characterization. This chapter isn't even really about Thor himself that much, but about Loki and the beginnings of his twisty and turny interactions with Odin and whatever it is that he's plotting to get himself out of trouble and yet it's still ruining me! Because this Thor is thoughtful while still being a warrior at heart, because he loves Loki dearly, but he hopefully knows better than to trust him. Plus, this chapter has some gorgeous delicate word choice from Loki, who really is a wordsmith here, who knows exactly the right thing to say to get the reaction he wants, who knows how to weave or undo a spell at the perfect time, and this fic has the single best use of "Laufeyson" I've yet come across in this fandom, because it makes sense here! Ugh, this is turning into my favorite Loki characterization and favorite Thor characterization in the fandom. Fuck this fic for being so good.
    Chapter 05: Yes. Yes, I am going to do separate recs for each chapter (despite that I've let the fic build up for a bit) because I am so dearly attached to this fic and it's one of my favorites and has been deeply influential on my thoughts/feelings on the characters in fandom. By which I mean, fuck, this fic is ruining me for Thor characterization in fandom! Though, this chapter really allowed Frigga a chance to shine, when she visits Loki in his cell and, oh, it's perfect, especially as seen through Thor's eyes, the way Loki is softer towards her, the way he'll accept things from her he won't for others, the way her words aren't twisted around by him, the way he makes his first semi-apology to her. You can feel the weight of emotion there between both of them, despite that they're both such elegant, reserved people and that's perfect. But this chapter sings in other ways, especially the little details being worked in, like Thor's remembering of when they shared a bed as children, with absolutely delightful Loki characterization even just in Thor's thoughts! Or how there's a sense of... even when Loki is right in front of Thor, it feels like he's slipping away and that's gorgeously done, too.
    Chapter 06: As much as I love this fic for the Thor characterization (and, boy, do I), I also love it for the Loki characterization! The way Loki... he has a way with words here, even at a distance, the way he can stir people up and throw chaos bombs into a situation while not even being in the room is beautifully done here. He doesn't even have to work terribly hard at it! They don't even have to know it's his influence! And that is what I love in Loki characterization in fic. That as well as the way the builders and dwarves approach him--thinking that he can only lie so much about physical properties of things, it's not like he can just make stuff up about basic physics, and that's where he gets you, I keep thinking, EVEN WHEN I AGREE. But also this chapter has some amazing Odin moments, who is almost as much fun to try and analyze when seen through Thor's point of view, because he knows some things about his father, but can't follow all the complex, twisty thoughts that must be going on in his head, which also adds further twistiness to the questions of Loki's motives, because Odin's vague answers are SO INTERESTING and they capture my imagination and I just... want to pull all the characters apart and see what makes them tick!
    Chapter 07: One of the other things I love about this fic is that it's so filled with background stories in Thor's thoughts, which accentuate the present, rather than getting the current Loki lost in the vision of the past. What I mean is... Thor is working to see Loki as he is now, he's so much more clear-eyed on who his brother actually is, but Thor is also putting this together with the memories he has of when they were younger and that is so much what I want. Not everything was terrible or a lie, not everything should be forgotten, not everything was untrue. So, Sif bringing up a memory that she's reminded of when watching Loki, it makes you question his motives now, what Loki is planning and plotting (because Loki must always be doing so), it left me with a sense of unease toward Loki's character even when I couldn't pinpoint what it was he was doing, but also worked to paint a fuller picture of who Loki is over the expanse of his entire life, not just that Loki and this Loki. Also, Loki showing more of his true self and thoughts (instead of being diplotmatic for once) around Thor? Yes, good for me, give me that. And, oh, be glad that chapter 8 has already been posted, because this one would have ended on a bitch of a cliffhanger.
    Chapter 08: This chapter is very difficult to talk about without getting into spoilers, but here goes! As I was rereading this chapter, the pacing of it struck me as being so well done, that this chapter has the kind of direction of story that makes a reader think back on everything they've read up to this point, it makes a reader desperately want to get inside Loki's head and examine every little gesture or word he's said. It's extremely satisfying--even if it's not something I can say I wanted to happen--because it was obviously inevitable and such an important turning point in the story. Rereading this chapter, I remember the first time I did so, how it was a bit confusing as to what precisely just happened at a certain point, but that I could trust the fic to explain it (and, oh, it will) and how much this chapter ripped my heart out, how it put tears in my eyes because I just cared so much about everyone here. And, oh, this fic has one of the best Frigga scenes I've ever read, pretty much.
    Chapter 09: And this is the chapter where everything falls apart, where there is so much hurt and heartache, it's a terrible chapter to be left on a cliffhanger for, but I know this author can be trusted to have written such a situation because she uses them to break the characters down so that she can build them back up. I don't mind angsty stories, I eat them up frequently! But the angst needs to have a point for me (aside from "they're a doomed pairing!") otherwise it's not satisfying--but, as painful as this is, and I believe it should be the nadir of the fic, there's a reason for it here. And that makes a huge difference to me. All the more so, because this is used as a way to show that Loki is Loki, that Loki will always be Loki and that one of the greater points of this story is that Thor has to see Loki for who he truly is, that he has to accept both the good and bad in Loki, if he ever wants a real relationship with his brother again.

And, yes, things are harder now because Loki is still so damaged and twisted up inside after the events of the movies, he's still so freshly wounded here, but... the other point of this fic is that, even when there are explanations for Loki's behavior, they do not excuse it. He is just not justified here. That also makes a huge difference to me! But the real reason this fic is one of my favorites is, for all that I love Loki, it's that Thor as well has so many important things to go through, he has to learn to think, to learn to puzzle things out. Loki is the perfect motivation for that, because Thor loves his brother so dearly and he has to work so hard to genuinely understand his brother, which is a natural extention of what was (hopefully) started in the movies. This fic gives me as many Thor feels as it does Loki feels, because I never side against him, no matter how much I desperately love Loki, and there is little that I want more than for BOTH of them to have to progress as characters.

And, one more thing, Frigga continues to be amazing here. I love her just for herself, because she makes me feel all these things for her character, for how much she loves both her sons, for how she loves Loki, but she also loves Thor, how she's refined and elegant, how she's regal and calm, but you can just feel so much right along with her. She's beautifully characterized here, but it's also in the way that she's used to show that there is more than one side to this issue. Little turns me off faster in Thor&Loki fic where one side is completely in the right and the other is completely in the wrong. Here, I understand where everyone is coming from and I love that Frigga is used to further this, that Loki is not justified, he's done terrible things that cannot be swept aside, but neither is he without explanation. This fic is ruining me for the rest of fandom, goddammit.
    Chapter 10: I realize that nearly all of this fic has been posted and normally I would read through everything that had been posted since the last time I did an update rec, but this fic is special to me so I'm going to do what I want, Thor. I will eventually do an easier to read rec once the whole fic is finished, but in the meantime I just have so many things to say that I'm going to do this for awhile. (Since this recs blog is my way of vomiting up my feelings, this works best for me.) One of the things that this fic taught me was that it's brilliantly structured, so that there is no point in the fic where my attention lulled as much as it might have, given that there are so many high points and exciting things happening, which is one of the things brilliantly captured in this chapter. Beyond this point I am going to talk about SPOILERS FOR UP TO THIS CHAPTER, which means you shouldn't read this if you haven't started in on the fic yet!

In the previous chapter, Loki made another grab for the Tesseract and came dangerously close to succeeding before they managed to stop him. After scenes like that, it can be difficult to go back to quieter events in the aftermath, unless the author takes the chance to really capitalize on what those events change for the characters. This is a major turning point for the characters and the plot, because Loki's motivations were revealed and this is what he was counting on and, oh, you can feel his desperation here when his plans have gone awry, in that way that's just the hint of mania leaking through that you know means there's so much more under the surface. And this Thor is exquisite in just how angry he is with Loki, how very close to the line of just being done with his brother that he is, except you can also feel the love underneath that. With most of the story, the focus is on Thor, but this chapter especially shows Loki and, oh, he's so perfect here. This is absolutely pitch-perfect post-Avengers Loki, that precarious balance between a master manipulator and someone who genuinely is on the brink of losing his sanity, someone who is all sharp edges and desperation even as he's brilliant. This is a Loki that you're always looking to see what's underneath everything, until you catch that glimpse of something so painful and heartbreaking that it just punches you in the feelings. There's one of the most powerful scenes for that in this chapter.

But there's also an action scene, where the fight between Thor and Loki is beautifully done and does justice to both characters and there's this sense of... this scene is almost cathartic, whether for the characters or the reader, to have some of Loki's anger finally vented and, oh, what's beautifully done as well is the progression of Thor's feelings. After Loki did such a terrible thing previously, how can they possibly go anywhere from there? But this fic achieves that and I cannot tell you how impressed I am by that.
    Chapter 11: For all that the central focus of this fic is on the Thor&Loki relationship, for all that the plot and the heart of the story revolve around those characters and their relationship with each other, this is also a fic about Thor as a character and the progression of character he undergoes. The fic never directly spells it out for you, but one of the best things is that you can feel that it is because of Loki that he goes through so much maturing, even if it's by painful means. You can feel that in this chapter, where they do not interact directly, where instead Thor converses with the dwarves and Sif instead, but his thoughts never stray far from Loki, nor is there any cessation in Thor's constant struggle to figure this morass out. Beyond this point I'm going to talk about SPOILERS for up through the chapter previous to this, so please only continue if you've already read that far.

In the previous chapter, the confrontation between Thor and Loki was about how Loki's plans have fallen to pieces and that causes Loki to spin out of control again, which shows more of the chaos that's roiling inside him and it gives Thor a lot to think on. That's at the heart of this chapter and I love that the fic does a couple of things with it--the use of his conversation with Sif here to parse the events of the previous chapter is lovely. It would be easy to be frustrated with Sif, who does not love Loki as Thor loves him, but if you think of her position, it's entirely understandable--I, too, am far less forgiving of those who hurt my dear ones than I am of those who hurt me directly. Sif's anger is at the burden this has placed on Thor and I can't help but understand that, even as I rather desperately want to leap to Loki's defense.

But it's this conversation with her that allows Thor to confess what happened there, when Loki goaded Thor into nearly killing him and just what that means and how deep Loki's damage runs. It's satisfying to see Thor realizing more of what's truly going on with Loki, learning to read his brother better than ever, but also just because it's emotionally satisfying as a dramatic twist to the plot. And that's what I love about this fic, there's so much thought and care in everything that happens, it always serves a purpose and moves the story along. The rebuilding of the Bifrost is focused on in this chapter as well and it's utterly delightful on a world building level, because I love that it makes sense that they would of course be working to rebuild it as quickly as possible, it lends a sense of a more fully fleshed out world and plot to this story. I love stories that deal with the culture and world of Asgard, to have them truly a part of a story that's still about the Thor&Loki relationship at its heart is just the best for me.
    Chapter 12: In a way, it's difficult to limit myself to one chapter per night these days, because I don't want to conflate the events of one chapter with those of another so I force myself to just one, because the fic is so well structured that, even knowing what happens, I just want to continue reading because I know that there will be more feelings just around the corner and each chapter is well designed to flow into the next. And I love that, even a couple of chapters after Loki's grab for the Tesseract and how that destroyed all the trust he'd built up, we're still feeling the aftermath of it so intensely, which I love because you can feel the nadir of that event slowly passing, that it's slowly smoothing out again, even if the fic keeps you devastated at just how damaged Loki is and how he really is like an onion being peeled back, both in terms of his lies and what he's covering up by acting like he's still together.

This chapter is pure Thor&Loki feels, with Loki's mind just being an endless series of more and more bags of cats, and there's this beautifully heartbreaking sense of just how chaotic it is in there, even to Loki. I love the way this fic manages to get me to enjoy Loki's vulnerability, because that's when you can get the best chance of getting real truth out of him, yet my heart still breaks for him, and it's all done in a way that I have the utmost respect for. These moments are so hard won, so complex and convoluted to how they get there, it's tiring just to think back on all that's happened to get them here. There's so much conflict here, in this chapter especially, but also in the fic as a whole. The entire thing is about conflict and the characters struggling through it--Loki's conflicting desires and conflicting signals that he gives out, sometimes on purpose, sometimes because he's not entirely sane, the conflict between those two things, and the conflict to understand him. There's also so much conflict in Thor, who struggles to figure Loki out, to figure out how to believe in him after all that's happened, then struggles to let go of him, because he wants to walk away and be done, if Loki is going to do such terrible things, but Loki being so broken and damaged, without that excusing his actions, but at least explaining them, that further feeds into the conflict and struggle that Thor faces.

It's such an endlessly complicated and complex story that's being woven here and this is a chapter that is much quieter, but is used to show the greater struggle for it. Loki lays himself bare more than usual, so very tired and unsure of himself anymore, heartbreaking in the way that he thinks he's truly lost and doesn't know where to go. There's an incredibly difficult conversation about what happened the last time Thor visited him, when Loki nearly goaded Thor into using Mjolnir to kill him, and whether or not he still feels that way, which had my heart twisting around painfully all over again, as you could feel Thor imaginging Loki taking his own life again, you could feel all the images that evoked in Thor's mind as well as your own, you could feel the clawing need to make sure that didn't happen.

At this point, I think it's only about a third of the way into the story and yet the pacing feels perfect, for how it's taken this long just to crack Loki open just this much, so of course it's going to take even longer to get him to start setting himself to rights. Plus, this chapter also has Loki sleeping against Thor's shoulder and the revelation of just what's going on when Loki sleeps and how absolutely terrifying that is to learn at this point, to wonder how long that's been going on, to find yet another piece of the puzzle of Loki's damage. And it's gorgeous for that.
    Chapter 13: One of the recurring themes in this fic is Loki feeling used by Odin to sharpen Thor into a better king, that Loki himself isn't important beyond what he can be used for Thor's sake and how difficult it is to show someone that that's not true, when they're set on believing it. The scene in this chapter, between Frigga and Thor, also deals with this, in parsing truth from the twisted version of it, because brothers inevitably shape who the other will grow to be, as that's the way of any relationship, which fits with the larger theme of this fic. That it's difficult to figure out where the truth of such a question's answer can be found, the struggle to find it reflects Thor's greater struggle to find the truth of Loki in amongst the half-truths. And it's all the lovelier for Frigga's interaction with her son here and how much she loves both of them so much.

There is also a delightful reveal here about an earlier scene and how the author clearly planned this ahead of time, the revelation being worked into the narrative in a natural way, that it would come up in this conversation. I adore scenes with Frigga in them, especially because we get so few between Frigga and Thor, where you can feel how caught she is between all these extreme players who are at odds with each other, but she loves each of them so very dearly. That Frigga is such a calming influence, that she has insight to offer that none of the others in Thor's life could offer, especially because Loki is not entirely unlike his mother in many ways, especially all those that are graceful and subtle, all of that is wonderful to read here and makes this chapter no less enthralling for me than the high action scenes.
    Chapter 14: This is one of my favorite chapters from this fic, because the two 'sides' of the chapter are both things that I love with a fierceness and also show off just how much thought and care have gone into this fic once again. The first half is a scene where Odin visits Loki in his cell and there's so much to pull apart in that scene, so much to really look at and think about and contrast and compare, with these two characters that the writing does justice to, especially given how twisty and complicated they both are. The author does a brilliant job of showing how complicated these two are, because everything has double meanings and they both have these labyrithian thought/speech patterns, you see how Loki is very similar to his father in this respect! At the same time, the author uses this conversation between them to show Loki's unravelling state, that he has so much less than usual to hold him together, that he flies apart so much more easily, when put against another wordsmith who has the power to pull him apart.

It would be easy to cast MCU Odin too far to one side or another, either too soft or too hard on his son, but this fic does a gorgeous job of constantly making you unsure of what's going on with him, that it's so complicated, because Loki is his son, but he is also a king and a steward for so many that he must be responsible for and Loki has brought something truly terrible to their doorstep. This is not a character who is perfect, he probably steps over the line here, but I cannot hate him for it, because he feels so very real here. He feels weary and tired and powerful and torn between love and responsibility and, if I am going to give Loki some slack for character depth, of course I would want to do the same for Odin, even if we are never really inside the character's head.

The other half of the chapter is a scene between Thor and Loki, after Odin leaves and Loki is more of a wreck than usual and, oh, oh, oh, this is why I read h/c fic, because the comfort afterwards is what makes it so worthwhile. When Thor sees Loki like this again, when he's been pulled apart enough that Thor can genuinely start to understand him, when this hard won insight into his brother allows him greater understanding of just how much Loki suffers (even as that does not excuse his actions!), it's heartbreaking and breathtaking. I love all of it for the character progression, how this is as much about Thor learning to think even more deeply about the world around him as it is about Loki coming back from the edge, that sometimes you have to be broken to set things right, and that's a painful process. But I love it even more for the way Thor comforts Loki here, that doesn't even need to be about my usual preference for romantic interaction between them, because it's just so damn emotionally satisfying that it doesn't need to be anything more than what it is.

But truly best of all? While this is a fic that makes me feel so desperately for Loki, that makes me want redemption for him, that makes me aches for what he's been through, that shows his situation was so much more sympathetic and complicated than people might realize... while it does all of that, it never takes away from Loki's choices or that he continues to scheme and plot and do terrible things. This is a fic that's about untangling everything with his character, set through Thor's character progression, but is about understanding, rather than excusing. This Loki made his choices and there is so much good still possible, but it's not going to be without bumps along the way that Loki's hand put there.

The Honey is Sweeter than Blood by netla, thor + avengers, 1.9k
    If you had asked Thor what he would miss most before he moved to Midgard, hed have said the company of great friends, the assuring presence of his family, the grand vistas and expansive palace grounds, and the rush of adventure in beautiful lands. If you asked him after, hed say the food.
    I am always and forever looking for fic that focuses on Thor to explore the character depth that he has, as well as fic that focuses on the cultural differences between Midgard and Asgard. This was a short piece, but the focus on the food and the detail of it was very nicely done, there's a richness to the way things were described that fit very well with Thor's character, that food wasn't just about the food, but also about the memories and people associated with it. That's a lovely tack to take with Thor, who is very much the extrovert, while not limiting his character to being defined through those relationships. They're part of him, but so is the way he looks at the food and the way he thinks about these mortal customs. This was a nice addition to the collection of my Thor character exploration fics!

Cultural Differences (Thor is not an idiot) by TamrynEradani, thor & loki + avengers, thor-centric, 39.3k
    Thor brings Loki and the Tesseract to Asgard and returns to Earth only after promising to return for Loki's trial when the time comes. In the meantime he tries to navigate Earth's foreign customs and not kill his teammates who insist on treating him like a small child rather than the god and prince that he is.
    You know those fics that you've been half-daydreaming about finding in the fandom, that you only find once in awhile, never enough? Where you hope you might get something halfway interesting to read, but then find yourself knocked on your ass over it? I have a handful of fics in this fandom that have really good Thor characterization, not nearly enough of them dealing with the aftermath of Loki's attack on Midgard, not nearly enough of them dealing with Thor as a warrior, a prince, and a god. When I started this fic, I was hoping that maybe I might get something to at least tide me over for awhile, re: my need for good Thor writing. Instead, I got some fucking exquisite Thor characterization that has left me a little breathless with it.

This fic did so many things right that I will have trouble talking about it, that desperate, clawing urge I have to talk about absolutely everything that left me with that punched-in-the-feelings sensation. The only thing I could really find to quibble with is the brief scenes in Asgard during Loki's trial, where I wouldn't have portrayed Asgard as that cruel, and even that is a half-hearted quibble at best because the author uses it to beautiful effect. Everything about this fic is beautiful to me, really. It starts with Thor in Midgard, navigating the culture shock with those who are less inclined to be kind (the Avengers are not as kind-hearted as Jane and Darcy and Selvig), which grates at Thor, who is a prince of Asgard and a battle-hardened warrior, who does not take kindly to being treated as an idiot. Thor's anger in those scenes, especially as Tony can't help needling him (and, oh, that Tony reminds Thor of Loki was also gorgeous), that this is a god who is to be feared if you cross him, but who is also a good person, oh, the author does it brilliantly. This is what I want from Thor characterization!

I would have been satisfied if that's all this was. But the fic then starts to delve into Thor's slowly developing friendships with the other Avengers (or at least comraderie, if not precisely friendship), how he gets along with some of them, but others not as much, and I could have just rolled around in feelings at, yes, yes, yes, Thor hardly knew these people, the building of relationships would be fraught with bumps along the way like this! And I fucking loved that it was actually Clint of all people who noticed the most and got it the most, understood why it was a good idea to redirect conversations, understood what it was like to need to step in and diffuse a situation because no one else was going to. This author did an absolutely stunning job of building on Clint's character from the movie and making him a real, living, breathing, fully fleshed out character that I loved.

Not that the fic stopped there. Thor's love for his brother, that Loki was constantly in his thoughts as he made his way through Midgard, that everything reminded him of Loki, it was gorgeously done. Oh, the feelings I had at how much Thor loved him, that Thor would be willing to forsake everything else for his brother, would have run away with him if Loki had asked, it was so fucking satisfying, I feel I can never do it justice. I read this fic for the Thor characterization, but wound up with Thor&Loki feelings out the goddamned wazoo here. They're just brothers here, but their emotional relationship is the most important to both of them, and, oh, yes, that's what I really want. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.

The fic also does something I don't usually like--rotating povs within a single scene! Usually that drives me to distraction, but the author was consistent (often starting with Thor's pov, then switching to another of the Avengers' povs and sticking with them, eventually giving all of them a chance, giving the reader insight into each of the characters in gorgeous ways) and really used it brilliantly. That each Avenger had their time to be focused on, to deal with the aftermath of the movie's events, to bring something to the plot, oh, that just made this fic even better. The author does beautifully at balancing a group like this, too.

I loved this fic for all the character reasons, but I also love it for what it does on a technical level. The writing is perfect, it suits Thor's character so well, that balance between faux-Shakespeare and his directness and bluntness. The brutality of Thor and Asgard and that world is all the more impactful for how direct the story is about it! At the same time, this is not an overly violent, gruesome story, but instead one that has more of a touch of realism about what kind of world they would live in--as realistic as you can get about space viking warriors, of course. Loki's trial is something of an exception to this, I admit to reading a little more quickly because I almost couldn't bear the thought of Loki being thrown to the metaphorical wolves like it was suggested. But I'm sensitive to these things and it was so very worth it in the end.

It was worth it because, holy shit, Steve's part of the trial was one of the greatest things I have pretty much read ever and I could have nearly just fucking cried over how much I loved the character and cheered for how much I loved the direction the story took then. I actually wound up feeling physically wrung out after reading this fic, it's so densely packed with everything I wanted from this kind of fic. I actually physically hurt a little from the tension and the emotions this fic evoked in me. Maybe I'm being a little ridiculous in this rec, but I don't care. This fic just consumed me tonight.

The Road to Redemption is Pitted with Potholes by TamrynEradani, thor & loki + steve & loki + other avengers, loki redemption, culture shock, 36k
    Loki is on Earth serving out his punishment, and he has to contend not only with a foreign planet, but being a hostile. He learns the meaning of love from the children he visits at the orphanage, the meaning of family from Thor, and how to be human from Steve. Somewhere along the way, he also learns how to be himself.
    Note: This is a sequel to Cultural Differences, which I do recommend reading first, but it's not 100% necessary, as you could probably glean what you needed from the fic itself.
    Loki Redemption fics with the Avengers are one of those things that I will always, always want to read and snatch up whenever I can. I've been reading this fic over the last few days and it's one of those that I both didn't want to stop reading once I'd gotten started, but also kept forcing myself to put it down, lest I tear through it too quickly. The fic is plotted so well that it became an effort not to just tear through it because I always wanted to know what happened next. I hate fic like that because it's always over too soon, but love it because it's also the most satisfying. I do have one caveat about the fic, which is that this Loki isn't really angry anymore and is much more open to putting himself at the mercy of the Avengers, he's genuinely trying to follow the rules. This works here, because he's had time to sit in a cell and cool off, because he accepted death as his fate, so a second chance (one that hinges on Thor and what it would do to Thor to have to be the one to carry out that sentence, should Loki turn again), and he's very Loki otherwise.

One of the best things this author does is that the sense of culture shock is very much here, in the way Loki really doesn't get how humans work. He tries and he's smart about it, he quickly catches on to things, but you often get the feeling that it's like he's doing math--he understands the theory of it, but he doesn't feel it. Which is at the heart of this fic, that Loki has to eventually grow into actually feeling empathy and not just being forever calculating. And I really intensely love that, especially when it's balanced with slowly forming or re-forming relationships with people that are so good for him and help him to learn to care about others.

In this fic, Loki starts out with working with children at an orphanage, practically stumbles over them by accident, and it really works for me, because the running trope in fandom of Loki being good with kids and having a lot of empathy for them, using that as a place to start building his character back up again is one of my favorites and gets right at my feelings. It helps that it's used as a starting point, that Loki genuinely cares about the children, but there are other things going on as well, including the absolutely SO FUCKING EMOTIONALLY SATISFYING relationship with Thor, who loves his brother so much and wants him back so very badly. I love that it doesn't come easily, that Loki is too used to hiding himself and there are still stirrings of resentment and anger, even as he's quietly terrified of what stepping out of line means for Thor. It would be heartbreaking, that it's fear that keeps Loki in line, except it doesn't stay that way, it's not what the point of the story is about.

This is a story about Loki slowly re-learning how to let his brother in, how he finally (if so very slowly) learns how to let Thor love him. It's a story about Loki forging a friendship with Steve as well (LET ME TELL YOU ALL MY FEELINGS ABOUT LOKI AND STEVE FRIENDSHIPS), learning to not just follow the rules, but to genuinely understand other people and caring for them better. Steve is such an excellent choice for this, the way the author has him as part role model and part parallel to Loki works wonderfully, it enhances everything else that's going on in the fic. I love that there are so many different things adding to Loki's relationships with other people and his learning to care, because they're all emotionally satisfying in their own way. But, yeah, okay, I can't lie, it's Thor&Loki that's the best here. When Thor thinks, at one point in the story, that Loki has died and is about ready to FLIP HIS SHIT about it, terrifying everyone around him, that was SO GOOD. When Thor tends to Loki afterwards, when he practically hovers in that way he has? SO GOOD. When Loki first starts opening up and being genuine with Thor again? UGH, SO GOOD. So many emotionally satisfying moments that I could just read forever. /ridiculous feelings about Norse brothers

dream state by bomb, thor/loki + ending thor/jane + other marvel characters, NSFW, post-thor 2, prostitution, amnesia, 25.3k
    Years after losing his brother, Thor sees someone who looks exactly like him.
    This fucking fic. Jesus christ, to think I picked it up only on a whim and started in on it properly by happenstance, that I might have otherwise missed this gorgeous, gorgeous fic. It's one of those where I'm not even sure how to talk about it, how this is a Thor pov fic that actually knew how to write Thor and it was so fucking exquisite that I want to shove it at people and make them experience this fic like I did. The concept seems a bit cracky at first, where Thor meets a hooker who looks exactly like Loki, but it makde perfect fucking sense to me by the end! This fic did gorgeously at everything it set out to do, down to plot, pacing, and character voices. Even the sex was ridiculously hot! Moving the characters from brothers to bringing up that undercurrent beneath their familial interaction, so that it felt like a smoother path than jumping straight into the fucking, so when Thor finally reached his limit, hoisting him up agains tthe wall and fucking him, it was so, so hot, but also perfectly characterized.

There was not one moment in this fic where I paused or disagreed, this was absolutely the god of thunder, the warrior prince, the good man, the headstrong but caring Thor. The sheer determination and strength of character, the way he is a man of actions, the way he knows what he's doing, all without losing what it is that makes me feel for him! This fic is absolutely in my top 5 fics for getting Thor right, the nobility of him, the strength that is emotional just as much as physical while also being so (so to speak) human. I was a mess after reading this because goddamn there were all these little moments that were just so spot on.

The build towards a physical relationship, the way Thor cares for many people, but Loki above all, the way Thor decided to play along with this game at first, the way he fights (GOOD FIGHT SCENES!!!!), the way he fucks, the clear and direct way he looks at the world, oh my god, this fic is better than I deserve, but I have it now and it's mine. Such fucking presence, like, I could be ruined by this fic's spot on characterization. And now I really, really need others to JUST FUCKING READ IT.

Postbellum by Shiny_n_new, thor/loki (pre-slash?) + odin & frigga + other thor characters, 22k
    While Loki is imprisoned for his attempt at taking over Earth, he discovers Thor is sneaking off to Jotunheim.
    I'd seen this fic around while it was originally being posted and I was curious, but it wasn't a priority until someone on ffa mentioned there was Odin & Loki interaction, which piqued my interest. And, oh, this is one that would have been a shame to miss! I am glad that I read it after it was finished, because the wait to know how things would turn out would have been a little brutal, but now I'm also kind of sad because I read this fic in two sittings (only stopping because my hoarding urges were kicking in with this fic--when I really, really love a fic, I don't want to finish it because then I'll have no more of it!!) and now I have no more of it. It's only ~20k long but it packs in so much I want to talk about!

The characterization in this fic is absolutely stunning, because Loki is solid and that's not that remarkable (but no less cherished for it!) but Thor. Thor was fucking exquisite in this fic, this is one of those stories that I want to shove at everyone when they want to read a good Thor characterization, which is all the more fantastic because the author does a gorgeous job of keeping this from Loki's pov, but structuring the story so we're still seeing what Thor is up to. Loki's secret scrying on Thor allows the best of both worlds--to see Thor being fantastically written and brilliantly spot on, but also getting to see Loki's feelings on all of it. And, oh, this is subtext done right. This is everything we see of Loki in the movies, that love and jealousy and admiration and fury mixed together because Thor is so... Thor. He's impossible not to love, he's so huge in body and presence, he is the focus of Loki's thoughts genuinely!

The fic balances those things but also understands both of these characters. It does a gorgeous job of showing Thor working in Jotunheim, the way he interacts with people, how he has matured so much, but is still absolutely and completely Thor. And Loki is wily and cunning and twisting, that sharp blade that cuts and yet is so fragile in other ways. When Loki loses his shit because of what he sees, it's perfection, it's both completely in character and built up to perfectly, the narrative does its job to make you understand what's going on underneath the surface, but without having to spell it out for you.

That's where the subtext is done perfectly--this could work as genfic, if you wanted to see it that way, there's no resolution to any physical or romantic attraction or even direct mentioning of it, but boy do you feel it here, so I didn't mind at all! (It helps that I also knew this going in.) The depths of Thor's affection, the way they are the most important people to each other, the extreme intensity of the feelings between them when things become stressed, the twistiness of Loki's feelings and how it cuts through everything, all of it is breathtaking in this fic. This is an absolute must read in this fandom, if you like the interaction between these two or just simply want to read some good Thor characterization. It's still about twisting these two together, this is a Thor who does not want to give up on Loki, so he doesn't, this is a fic about the two of them together, but it does not sacrifice Thor's life outside of Loki for it. And that makes it fucking perfect. Also, there's some really excellent scenes with Odin and Frigga! Ahhh, so good. (MILD SPOILER FOR THE ENDING: This fic deliberately chooses to not resolve things, it works surprisingly well in between The Avengers and The Dark World, all things considered, but it starts happy and... it's not tragic, I think this universe will ultimately end well, but it's not going to be in this specific fic.)

The Weight of Family by Shiny_n_new, thor/loki (pre-slash?) + odin & thor, thor 2 spoilers, suicide ideation, 6.2k
    Loki sees the past through new eyes and learns more about Thor than he ever intended to.
    After I'd finished reading Postbellum, I had to immediately seek out other fic by the author and, oh. This fucking fic. Literally the only problem I have with this story is the lack of resolution and that's a deliberate choice by the author. Otherwise this fic is fucking exquisite and literally perfect. It's everything I have ever wanted, where it's basically Loki posing as Odin and the ravens being vicious trolls to him because they don't like him and then they mind-whammy him with showing him the past when he's seeking it and oh my god this is what I want. This is it. Shove it in Loki's face that Thor went utterly batshit over his loss and make it so that Loki cannot deny it and yet still keep everything brilliantly in character and thus find a balance between that sort of idfic thing I love (viewing the past is a thing that scratches my id perfectly when it's done well, okay) and yet... it's stunningly, genuinely good.

That this doesn't immediately solve everything is so fucking good, despite that even I watched the aftermath of Loki's suicide attempt with verging on misting up eyes, the scene between Odin and Thor being utter fucking perfection. And just. This author writes an utterly exquisite Thor characterization, to the point that I would honestly read 100k of this writing and whine that it wasn't nearly enough--every scene he's in is fucking perfection. And Loki! Coming to realize that posing as Odin is just another cage he's built for himself! Goddamn, that's so fucking good in this author's hands! There is insight and depth woven into every single line of this writing, both in the dialogue and the descriptions, the balance of Thor being both a warrior and pure power and terrifying force and good heart and maturing man. The awe-inspiring rage and sheer fucking presence he has! And yet no one is as good as Thor. Oh, an author who writes good Thor and emotions and subtext and a Loki who is brilliant and clever and sharp and dangerous and entirely his own worst enemy more than anyone else? I literally hurt after reading this, goddamn. I want to shove this author's fics at anyone trying to write Thor ever.

unttitled by thegoodlannister [ mobile ver. ], thor/loki + background avengers, valentine's day, fluff, 1.1k
    "Loki, get your ass down here and deal with your brother before Im forced to do something I regret! The intercom crackles around Starks voice as Loki groans into his pillow. Its far too early to deal with Starks childishness.
    If I could, I would make Cat write in this fandom forever, because this is exactly what I wanted from a Thor/Loki Valentine's Day fic. It's just so much fun and I'm serious that I literally smiled the whole way through until my face hurt, it's happy and warm and all things good, but without sacrificing the sharpness or characterization for it. It's fluffy but this is really, really good Thor characterization and this is Loki who knows how to accept affection, but is still so jagged and this Tony voice is superb and I was all set to be tetchy at the way Clint talked to Thor, except then it was perfect. This is Thor with diction and though and care and this is how he would approach a Midgard holiday. And I loved this so very much, it really is a beautiful, beautiful piece.

Faceless by thefirstwhokneels, thor/loki, NSFW, anonymous sex, 6.4k
    There is a special tavern in Asgard where, in complete anonymity, anyone can have their desire granted. Both Thor and Loki share the passion for what the tavern provides - it is only that they don't know it of each other...
    A story like this runs the risk of losing intimacy or being awkward enough to give me second-hand embarrassment, because of the anonymity of the sex and the inability to see your partner's face or talk to them. But the fic keeps the intimacy with just enough communication through body language that I stayed connected to it. The mid-scene rotating povs was not only not distracting but enhanced the fic, where the author chose really good moments to do a 180 whip around, so I liked the structure as well as the story itself! Loki enjoying the anonymity, both for something like punishment (whether of himself, of his title, of those who hold him to the role he has, or some combination of all those) combined with his enjoyment of people not knowing he might have had sex with them really worked for me--it's another reason why the anonymous/faceless sex doesn't make me uncomfortable in this story. Thor's reasons for going to this tavern, where you couldn't see the person you were having sex with, were solid as well, which is important when you're not just going for pwp fic. Well, it is pwp fic, largely, but it's more than that, too.

Because there was characterization here and there was care put into the very delicate balance between keeping them as themselves, of giving them some communication with each other that was true to each of their personalities, but not so much that they wouldn't recognize each other. Add into this that each was (if lightly) reminded of their sibling and yet still didn't make the connection, that's a fragile line to walk, but it really worked for me here! And then there was the sex itself, which was lengthy and detailed and filthy and scorching hot. The hints of Thor teasing him before properly fucking him, the keeping Loki just on the edge of coming, which completely wrecks his cool, so that he's desperate for more and writhing against the bed, and finally Thor practically holding him up to fuck him? Jfc. The sheer powerf of Thor, felt even anonymously was so hot. What a great read, especially if you're in the mood for porn + sharp characterization.

Unmasked by thefirstwhokneels, thor/loki, NSFW, anonymous sex, 10k
    Sequel to Faceless. Thor and Loki don't know of each other that they visit the same special tavern for special needs... Can this stay forever this way, or like every secret, it's bound to be revealed, too?
    Once again, this fic skirts around potential awkwardness and second-hand embarrassment, instead making this something good, the way Loki enjoys being taken like this and it's a subtle reflection of his relationship with Thor, while continuing to maintain believability that they don't put two and two together. That balance is such a delicate thing to build, but when there's a moment Loki is asking for Thor's trust, who realizes this is a test, despite that neither of them know who the other is still, it's a tense but great moment, because you recognize both characters, you recognize Loki putting a test to his partner, you recognize Thor understands this because of his relationship with Loki. And that's even before the sex gets even hotter, because Thor passes the test and then Loki's riding him, teasing him, until Thor thrusts up hard into him and, oh, I was nearly done right there.

But the fic continues on and you know eventually they have to find out. The reveal was intense and satisfying in an explosive way, which is important when you have Big Revelations, that the moment be satisfying after all the build up to it, and the fic finds the sweet spot between how horrified they are and yet not going too far into horror to ruin the fun of that moment. And this fic has really excellent Thor characterization, when he won't just back off from the tension between them, even if he doesn't quite know how to fix it, he keeps trying. It's fantastic for how it doesn't make Thor helpess or overly hesitant but neither does it let up on Loki's wrath, Thor's reactions were just as important to the scene.

And when he comes back from the hunt? Still in hunter mode and you feel the presence of the god of thunder? Jfc, no wonder Loki was so desperately turned on. This is build up, where Thor has had it with the tension between them, he loves Loki and enjoys fucking him and so he's going to have him and the sex is again lengthy and powerful, like Thor is unleashing one his storms on Loki. And there's still playfulness there, but that power Thor has, when he keeps fucking Loki through a second orgasm, when he pushes Loki's face down and grabs Loki's hips to roll into him, all that sheer power and presence, all that storm god might, it is the hottest fucking thing. Admittedly, it's one of my favorite things, so it hit my buttons especially hard, but this is absolutely a worthy follow up to the previous fic and resolved absolutely everything that needed to be done, emotionally and physically.

Life of the Party by TheOtherOdinson, thor & loki + other asgardians, 2k
    When the God of Mischief is bored, he has to find some way to amuse himself. If only his brother would stop being such a killjoy.
    This fic was fantastic, so gorgeously written and so pitch-perfect in characterization, as Loki entertains himself at a dull political party and Thor tries to get him back in line. I'm biased because it was based on a headcanon of mine, but the magic of this piece and the spot-on details are all completely the author's own and so legitimately great. This fic utterly sparkled and nailed the sharp sides of all the characters in it and is absolutely, 100% true to everything of all of them. It's SO GOOD, READ IT, OKAY. ♥

You Shouldn't Have by TheOtherOdinson, thor & tony + thor & steve + thor & clint + thor & natasha + thor & bruce, humor, 2.1k
    Thor takes gift-giving very seriously. (aka, Thor trolls the shit out the Avengers with tacky gifts)
    This was beautiful and perfect, the greatest fic that could have come from that headcanon post I made. The gifts that Thor gives each of the Avengers, the glorious and grand and tacky gifts that Thor gives to his new friends as he stresses the importance of accepting Asgard's Crown Prince's gifts is a great and utterly fantastic Thor characterization. I am 100% convinced that this could legitimately happen, that Thor fucking would do this because he thinks it's hilarious. This is an amazing Thor fic and it makes me love him and the world all the more. Fucking bless.

In which Thor is an Epic Troll by notbeloved07, thor + avengers + loki + other mcu characters, humor, 5k
    This is the story of how Thor trolled the hell out of everybody, with a little help from Captain America, Dr. Jane Foster, and eventually the God of Lies himself. Because really, what sort of demi-god couldn't win his brother back from darkness by the power of love trolling?
    This story has trouble tracking at times and doesn't always connect the dots, as well as it tends to hurry through everything with Loki, but it has a ton of heart, where chapters 1 and 3 are perfect examples of the way Thor absolutely would troll the Avengers. The use of All Speak especially made me laugh ridiculously hard (and genuinely!) and this is a greatly fun piece for when you want some Thor characterization. It could use some polish, but it absolutely has some great ideas and is headed in the right direction! Bless this author for writing it, seriously.

Five Times the Villain's Weapon Didn't Work On Thor and the One Time It Did by TheOtherOdinson, thor + avengers + loki, humor, 3.9k
    Just what it says in the title.
    This. Was. Amazing. Each and every one of these had me smiling so much my fave hurt, right up until I cackled at the ending lines. Oh, this was such great comedic timing and the right amount of details to make each scene fit the theme and yet not be reptitive and just... on a technical level, everything about this fic was brilliant, but it also had soul. I had such affection for every Avenger, even as this was a Thor fic, they all had amazing moments (Loki as well), they had lines that had me shrieking in laughter, and just. Everything is good and this is the kind of fic I dream of having, those neat ideas that pop up in headcanon/want posts, except the author breathes such life into them that they're entirely their own.

TheOtherOdinson never fails to deliver and I'm just basking in what a great Thor fic this is, because it does a wonderful and sharply brilliant job of showing what having an Asgardian on the team is like, what having Thor on the team is like! It's a fic that shines a spotlight on him, shows the ways he's such a fantastic character, and doesn't forget that his teammates are awesome at the same time. I can't tell you how happy in my soul this made me.

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