Chapter 26

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Once again Thor felt terrible for Loki. He wasn't really sure what Loki's plan had been, was he just going to live the rest of his life not knowing how to read? He doubted Loki even had a long term plan, he just didn't want to have to tell people he couldn't read. Thor also felt angry, angry at Laufey for how he treated loki, he didn't just abuse him physically, he abused his mind as well, he didn't let him learn simple things that everyone should have the right to learn. No wonder Loki saw himself as a slave and as a piece of property, everything about him had always been controlled, Laufey decide what he could learn and what he couldn't, laufey ordered him around and snapped orders at him, laufey decided how his time was spent. he had no freedom.
"I- I'm sorry" Loki said, seeing the anger in Thor's face and once again misinterpreting it. He thought Thor was mad at him.
"For what? What are you sorry for? Why do you always apologize? Not everything is your fault Loki, stop apologizing for the things Laufey has done to you" Thor said, he wasn't trying to sound mad but it still showed in his voice. Every time Loki apologized for something that clearly wasn't his fault all Thor could hear was the outcome of Laufeys abuse.
"I'm- I lied. I said I could read and-" Thor didn't let him finish.
"Yeah I would've lied too!" He yelled "if I didn't know how to read and I had the life you did and then was brought to another realm where a bunch of royals were hovering over me I'd probably tell a lie too, I don't blame you for not wanting to tell us!" Loki wasn't sure what to think, Thor was yelling slightly but he was also telling him that he didn't blame him for lying. He didn't know if he needed to be worried.
"Are you angry?" Loki asked, he just wanted to know if he needed to prepare for a whipping or not.
"Yes of course I am, but not at you. I'm mad at Laufey" he said, Loki was confused.
"W- why? He didn't- He didn't hurt you" he said.
"He didn't hurt me, but he hurt you" Thor said "and every time I think I know everything he's done to you I find out there's more." He said. There was a second of silence and then Thor yelled again
"How could he not teach you to read?!" He said in exasperation. Reading was much different than a lot of other things, not letting him eat at the table was cruel, but not teaching him to read was also symbolic, reading represented some form of freedom, so keeping that away from Loki showed hat he was not in any way his own person. Laufey made sure Loki knew that he owned him.  "Calm down I'm not mad at you" Thor said more calmly, seeing that Loki was in a state of very confused panic. Loki relaxed very slightly but he still looked tense.
"Seriously, I'm not mad at you" Thor said again, more convincingly this time.
"you aren't?" Loki asked. Thor sure sounded mad to him. "No il not. and I know what you're thinking, I won't tell my mother or father that you lied about it. Not because I think they'd be mad, but because I'll take care of the problem and they won't ever have to know" he told him.
"What- what problem?" Loki asked.
"You not being able to read, want to learn?" Thor asked. Loki's eyes widened slightly and he felt a hint of excitement that he hadn't felt before. He'd always wanted to be able to read but Laufey never let him, now Thor was just offering it casually.
"Learn? Really?" He asked, Thor was surprised to find that there was no fear in Loki's voice now, he sounded eager and excited and he seemed to forget that a moment ago Thor was yelling and annoyed.
"Yeah, obviously... did you think I was just going to leave you faking it forever?" He asked. Loki was quiet for a minute. No, he didn't think Thor would just walk away after learning this information, but for some reason he was still surprised when he said he would be allowed to learn.
"I don't know... maybe... I just- I've never been able to... learn... anything" he said, going back to seeming unsure and cautious like he normally was.
"Yeah, I'm getting that now" Thor said "anyway, do you want to learn? I'll teach you" he said.
Loki, once again, looked slightly surprised.
"Why- why would you do that?" He asked.
"Because you're my friend" Thor said with a shrug.
"Friend..." Loki muttered more to himself, he wasn't used to the word. "So that's why you were mad at- at Laufey even though he- hadn't done anything to you" he said, he sounded more like he was processing it in his own mind, but he was loud enough for Thor to hear him clearly.
"It would seem you're getting it now" Thor said "look it might be a little weird for both of us, but you need to know how to read if you want to function in society and someone has to teach you, so instead of letting everyone know you don't know how to read I'll just teach you and we can pretend you always knew how. Sound good?" He asked, hoping Loki wouldn't feel uncomfortable with Thor teaching him something like that.
"That- thank you. Yes, it's- that-" Loki was stuttering but Thor guessed it was because he was flustered from excitement, not because he was afraid.
"Alright, then we can start right away if you want. I'll go get some books that you can learn from and I'll be back in a few minutes" Thor said as he stood up to leave, but that he wanted to ask him something else.
"Loki.... why did you tell my mother you liked to read?" He asked "she didn't ask you if you knew how, she asked you if you enjoyed it, why didn't you just say no? Why did you say it was something you liked to do?" He asked. He understood why Loki didn't tell them he couldn't read, but why did he go further than he needed  to? He could've said he didn't like it and they wouldn't have kept bringing books in for him to read.
"I don't know..." Loki said "I was- she- the queen seemed like she wanted me to- to say I enjoyed it and- I didn't want to- I was afraid I'd get punished if I said no" he said nervously, Thor always seemed to get irritated when Loki said he was afraid but that was the truth and there was no other logical reason for him to lie like that. Thankfully though Thor didn't seem annoyed his time.
"Alright... is there anything else you're hiding? I promise you won't be in trouble, I just want to know what I need to know to help you" Thor told him. Loki shook his head a bit.
"Nothing else" he said simply. Thor nodded.
"Alright, be back in a minute" he then turned and left the room, closing the door behind him.
Loki had been so tense through the whole conversation that as soon as Thor left he released a breath he hadn't realized he was holding. Thor found out he was lying and not only did he not punish him, but he's helping him? Loki couldn't get his mind around it. But after a few minutes Thor came back and looked ready to instruct.
"Okay, I don't know how much you know, if anything, so I'm going to start at he beginning" he said as he grabbed two chairs and sat down on one, then gestured for Loki to sit in the other. "Have a seat, you should get used to using furniture." He instructed, loki got up off the ground and sat in the chair across from Thor.
"if I start explaining things you already know stop me and we can move on" Thor told him as he put the books down next to them. Loki nodded a bit and looked very attentive.
"Okay, before you can learn to read you have to know what the symbols even mean, so we can start easy with the alphabet" Thor said, trying to not sound condescending. It was a little hard to teach someone the alphabet without sounding like you're talking to a child, but he did his best as he picked up the first book and started to teach Loki the symbols and what sounds they represented.
Loki felt stupid and as soon as he had to ask a question he knew Thor saw him as an idiot, and he wished he could go back to the morning when Thor was impressed by him. But even though he felt stupid and foolish and pretty humiliated he knew he was learning something necessary, he knew he would eventually be able to learn and then maybe then he wouldn't feel so trapped all the time. Maybe he could start to feel like a person and not a pet. He wished he didn't have to tell Thor he was so uneducated, but at the same time he was glad he figured it out because now it could be fixed.

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