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Treasured Birds

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Loki was at the market of Alfheim when he spotted something that drew his attention. Thor was off with his friends so Loki was searching for anything that might draw his attention. Currently the only thing that did was a large golden cage that was surrounded by people from various realms.

He moved through the crowd to see what was within the cage that drew so much attention. When he reached the front his eyes widened at the child sitting within the cage. The child was no more than six or seven with such sorrow filled honey brown eyes. On his back were the most beautiful wings of golden feathers Loki had ever seen. The boy was dressed in a backless gown that matched his golden feathers. Loki noticed a few things that were odd about the boy. First was the golden cloth kept the boy’s nose and mouth hidden. The second was the fact that the long sleeves of the gown kept his hands hidden. His posture said he was uneasy and Loki thought the boy would be looking ready to fight yet his hands were held together in front of him where they were hidden from sight beneath the sleeves.

“What is this boy?” Loki found himself asking before he could stop himself.

The merchant who was clearly the one selling the boy eagerly walked over to Loki.

“He is a rare treasure, a song bird born to the mortals of Midgard. I fear he is unable to sing but just his beauty alone would make any know you are a man with fine tastes and to be admired. Song birds are so rare and their beauty is admired by all. Surely if one such as yourself were to purchase him all would look upon you favorably for having such a rare treasure.”

Loki was staring at the boy as the merchant spoke. He saw it deep within the boy’s gaze, defiance and strength. He hid it so well yet Loki couldn’t understand how a boy at such a young age could mask themselves in such a way.

“What is his name?”

Now the boy was looking at him with a curiosity hidden beneath layers of caution and suspicion.

“You may name him whatever you want should you purchase him.”

“That is not what I asked.” Loki snapped at the merchant.

The crowd gasped in awe making Loki look at the boy who was how standing at the edge of his cage with his wings flared a bit and his eyes locked onto Loki.

“I’m sorry, he’s name is Anthony.”

The boy’s wings snapped out showing his displeasure. Loki smirked.

“Name your price and I shall pay it.” Loki said deciding this boy was perfect as he neared the cage.

The price was high but Loki cared little when it gave him such an amazing treasure. He reached to unlock the cage but the merchant advised him not to release the boy he referred to as a bird instead of a person. He claimed the boy would fly away if he unlocked the cage but Loki ignored him. He opened the cage and stepped away from the opening. The boy glanced at the merchant before he stepped out of the cage. Loki smiled as the boy flared his wings at the merchant as a last move of defiance before he took his place next to Loki. The prince petted the boy’s dark locks affectionately making the boy look up at him. Loki wondered how such a being from a realm of mortals could hold such beauty. He was truly a wondrous creature and Loki would treasure such a beautiful creature. To the boy’s surprise he picked him up to hold him against his side with one arm. The boy looked at him never making a sound or moving his hands from where they were clasped beneath the sleeves of his gown.

“Prince Loki you needn’t worry about feeding him. Song birds do not require sleep or food.” The merchant explained before Loki returned to Asgard with Anthony.

Loki teleported directly to his room to avoid anyone bothering him regarding the boy he’d purchased. He placed the boy down and had those honey brown eyes looking up at him again. Loki knelt down in front of the boy who was oddly calm and silent.

“Can you speak?”

The boy stared a moment before he shook his head but then nodded.

“You can but something is stopping you then. Are you cursed to be silent?”

The boy moved his still clasped hands to the cloth covering his mouth. Confused Loki first moved the sleeve of the gown to see why he wouldn’t move his hands. He was shocked to find the boy’s hands were bound together. He cursed in a language he knew the boy wouldn’t understand. He worked his magic to remove the bonds making the boy move his fingers as though it had been quite some time since he last moved them.

“Now let’s remove this, I wish to see your face.”

When he moved to remove the cloth the boy moved away from him terrified. Confusion was the first emotion Loki felt before it was quickly replaced by concern.

“You will remove that cloth now. Whatever the issue is I shall fix it.”

The boy looked panicked but returned to Loki’s side. When he removed the cloth his hands trembled as he gasped at the sight. Anthony looked away in shame while Loki quickly picked up the boy pressing Anthony’s face into his shoulder. He rushed from the room and went to the healers ignoring anyone trying to talk to him as he went straight to the lead healer Eir.

“I need you to help Anthony.”

The healer was an older goddess who had helped Loki on several occasions. He placed the boy down on one of the nearby beds and the goddess sucked in a breath seeing the boy’s lips sown shut.

“You need to hold still. I’m going to remove the threads but I need to disinfect this.” Eir said quickly getting to work.

Anthony held still and didn’t cry or scream as the threads were removed. Loki wanted to go back to the merchant and slice his throat because there was no doubt in his mind that he had done this to the boy. When the threads were removed and the wounds cleaned Eir left them to have a moment alone while she retrieved medicine for the boy to help with the pain.

“Are you alright Anthony? Did that merchant do this?”

Anthony looked away.

“Yes.”

The boy’s voice was soft and almost musical. Loki reached out petting the boy again and he seemed to glow with the affection.

“Why were you with that merchant if you are of Midgard?”

Anthony’s fingers open and closed as though he was nervous. His wings were pinned against his back but they trembled a bit.

“Sold by Howard. Didn’t want me.”

Loki moved to lift the boy’s face to look at him.

“I will protect you.”

The boy actually smiled.

“You’re kind just like Jarvis.” The boy’s smile faltered and suddenly he looked saddened.

“What’s wrong?”

The boy was looking nervous before he spoke carefully.

“C-can I ask a favor? I heard the merchant call you a prince so you could probably help but…”

“Ask me anything Anthony.”

Anthony looked up at him with a pleading look in his eyes.

“My sister is like me. A song bird. I don’t know if Howard is going to sell her to or hurt her like he did with me.”

Loki felt his blood boil knowing it was this boy’s father that had harmed him.

“What is Howard’s family name? I shall find him and retrieve your sister.”

“Stark.”

Loki waited for Eir to return with the medicine before he picked up Anthony and went to his mother. Frigga was in love with the child but hearing Loki had bought him she frowned at him.

“Loki you know how I feel about slavery.”

“I know mother, I do not intend to treat him as a slave. He is strong and I feared another would manage to break that strength. For now can you watch him? I’m going to go see if I can find his sister.”

Frigga took the boy and the medicine promising to try and keep Odin from noticing his absence. Loki petted the boy before he left to find Howard Stark of Midgard. He was easy to find as he was quite famous in the mortal realm. Loki walked the halls of the mansion cloaked in magic so none would see him. He only revealed himself when he found the one called Jarvis. The man was startled by his sudden appearance but didn’t look alarmed.

“You are Jarvis?”

The elderly man nodded.

“I am Edwin Jarvis, butler to the Stark home.”

Loki smiled at this man who had been kind to Anthony.

“I am looking for the sister of Anthony. He requested I help her for he fears she will be sold or harmed as he was.”

Jarvis quickly grabbed him and began dragging him along. Loki was a prince and a god who normally did not allow such things but the man looked fearful. Loki understood the man’s fears when he opened the door of a small dark room. Within the room in the far corner sat a child with scarlet red hair and black wings. Loki thought of a black widow as he stared at the combination of red and black.

“Child, are you Anthony’s sister?” Loki asked kneeling down to be more on the level of the child.

Her eyes were strong like Anthony’s and he could see she was cautious like her brother. She was studying him and he knew she was determining whether he was a threat and could be trusted. Such talented children and they had been wronged far too greatly.

“Natasha it’s alright, he will take you from this place of pain.” Jarvis told the child causing her gaze to flicker to him before it locked onto Loki again.

She stood as her face remained blank but Loki could see how she favored one leg over the other and even she couldn’t hide the blood from the gash on her leg. Loki scooped the child into his arms to keep her from hurting her leg further by standing on it.

“Please take care of them.” Jarvis’s voice was pleading and Loki knew the man was the only one who had cared for these children.

“I swear to you upon my honor as a prince, a god, and a warrior that I shall protect this child and her brother.” Loki swore to the man before he took the girl far from that place and the father that had hurt her.

Natasha was silent and her gaze was carefully taking everything in. It was unnatural for a child but Loki swore he would do right by the two children. When he arrived in his mother’s garden where she was showing Tony how to care for the plants, Natasha flared her wings trying to free herself. Loki quickly released her allowing her to fly to her brother. Tony hugged her tightly and both were quietly whispering to each other refusing to let go of the other. When Natasha finally pulled away she touched Anthony’s lips that had been sown shut before she glared at Loki. Anthony pulled on her shirt making her look at him and shook his head in a silent way to tell her he wasn’t the one who had done it.

“Would you two like some time alone for a bit?” Loki asked and both looked up at him with those blank masks that must have taken years to master and that just broke his heart.

“No…we’d like for you to stay.”

Anthony hesitates before he holds his hand out. He looks nervous but he hides it for the most part. Loki sits beside him and holds his hand gently. It’s the first step and he knows Natasha doesn’t trust him nor will she make the first move to show she’s willing to trust him for some time.

 

~

 

Loki had managed to hide the two for a month before Thor bursts into his room one morning. The sound of his booming voice brings both children out and Loki stares at Natasha wondering when she had managed to swipe one of his daggers. Anthony has himself placed between Thor and Natasha and while her face is blank Loki has no doubt that she would slice Thor’s throat and watch him bleed out without an issue.

“Brother, when did you get song birds?” Thor asks foolishly approaching the two even as Anthony flared his wings in warning.

“Thor leave them be, they do not like strangers approaching them.”

Thor looked confused before he saw Natasha ready to strike with the dagger held tightly within her hand.

“My apologies brother, I came to see if you wish to join us on a hunt.”

Loki glared at Thor.

“I do not wish to go Thor so leave.”

Thor looked at Loki with those sad eyes that use to work on him when he was younger. Clearly Thor hadn’t realized yet they were ineffective from overuse.

“Very well but perhaps you should give one of the song birds to father. They are so rare and surely he would love one.”

“No.” Loki snapped dreading the thought of separating the siblings or even Odin hearing that he had the two song birds.

“But-”

“Leave Thor and do not speak of them to anyone else. They are under my protection.”

Thor leaves and Loki carefully approaches the two. Natasha moves the dagger behind her back staring at him in challenge. Loki smiles at her before he pets Anthony.

“You did good protecting your sister. Natasha if you are to be using daggers I shall have some made for you but I would ask you allow me to train you properly. Daggers are my preferred weapon when I am not using my magic.”

Natasha studies him in that way she normally did. Calculating and careful reminding him yet again that she and her brother had suffered far too much.

“Ok.” She finally agrees while Anthony nudges his hand that had stilled on his head.

Loki pulled Anthony close and continued to pet him. Natasha stared as her brother smiled at the affection. Loki had yet to offer such affection to Natasha as she wasn’t quite as friendly as Anthony. He was surprised when she came to his side and sat down. She said nothing but Loki considered her move as a show she was opening up to him. He placed a hand on her head and when it caused her to tense he pulled away but she glared at him. He returned his hand and petted her. Her wings fluffed for a moment before she controlled them as though she had to hide all her emotions.

“You want to eat breakfast with mother before I have to tend to my duties?” He asked having taken to eating with the siblings even though they didn’t need food but they could eat if they wanted.

“Food.” Anthony said happily.

Loki carried Anthony as the boy was quite affectionate and favored contact while Natasha walked at his side. Her wings were pinned to her back careful to hide her emotions and as always her gaze watchful of everyone and everything around them. It was only when they arrived at their destination that she relaxed and Anthony’s wings moved a bit to show his excitement as Frigga came over to hug him.

“How are you doing?” She asked them all.

“Thor attempted to drag me off for a hunt again. Does he not recall we both have duties to attend to today?”

“You know how he is Loki.”

He sighed while they sat down for their usual breakfast. While Thor would eat hearty meals of various meats and such Loki had never been fond of meat. Luckily for him neither of the siblings seemed to like or could eat meat. Both were quite content to join him of the vegetarian breakfast. Of course Natasha was careful to keep things she believed to be weakness hidden. The first time he had noticed the siblings not eating meat she had noticed and was willing to force herself to eat something that would no doubt make her sick just to hide it. Anthony had to take the meat from her before she ate it and told her to trust them. She had kicked Anthony under the table making Anthony yelp in pain. Loki had been careful in scolding her for hurting him while offering for them to eat alone if she didn’t want him knowing what she could and couldn’t eat. After that she had accepted trusting him and his mother at least in regards to what she could eat.

By the time breakfast is over Loki must hurry to his duties to avoid Odin’s wrath. He doesn’t mind risking it because he can help the kids to recover from their past pain. He promises to see them later and try to make it for lunch with them. Before he left instead of only petting Anthony he also did so with Natasha seeing as she was warming up to him a bit. He’d noticed with the amount of affection he offered Anthony he seemed to be healthier and his wings almost seemed to shine. Anthony beams at the affection and Natasha simply looks like she tolerates it.

He should have worried when Thor found out about the siblings. He should have made precautions. Loki realizes he’s a fool as he rushes to where his mother watches the siblings when he’s busy during the day. As he nears he hears his father’s angry tone and finds himself freezing.

“Loki should not waste his time with such things. They are song birds that cannot even sing. They’re useless.”

Loki feels his heart hurt at such words directed at the children but he can’t get his feet to obey to save the children from such harsh words.

“Odin they’re children. He saved them and he cares for them.”

“They are birds and of no use. Get rid of them and I shall deal with Loki and his habit of picking up useless things.”

Loki finally thinks to move to protect his two children but finds himself frozen again as a beautiful melody echoes from the room. It’s a truly beautiful sound but the language isn’t English like the siblings had been speaking the few times they spoke. Loki moves entering the room to see Anthony sitting there between Odin and Natasha his eyes closed as he sang a song that reminded Loki of a mother’s lullaby. Loki notices even Natasha is surprised by her brother singing. Loki can’t speak as Anthony continues to sing for several minutes. When the song comes to an end Anthony stands nervously gripping the red tunic Loki had gotten for him. He faced Odin that familiar strength and defiance in his eyes.

“Please don’t be angry with Loki. I will sing whenever you want…just don’t hurt him.”

Loki freezes realizing whatever reason Anthony had for not singing he had forgotten it in order to protect him.

“Father.” Loki finally manages but Odin ignores him.

“You will learn our native language and sing in that. I want you ready by the next feast. We will have visiting nobles from other realms and I will have them entertained by good music.”

With that Odin left saying nothing to Loki. Loki goes to the siblings to see Anthony had collapsed trembling and Natasha rushed to his side pulling him into her arms. It was the only time she showed emotion and suddenly she looked like a protective younger sister as she smoothed his fears.

“Anthony I’m so sorry.” Loki said kneeling beside them but uncertain if he could touch either without them reacting badly.

Natasha looks at him while Anthony falls asleep in her arms. Loki feels oddly small under her gaze as the softness from before disappears and she is once again blank and guarding her emotions well.

“He doesn’t sing because it reminds him of mother. She died when I was born. He does not speak like he use to because they sealed his lips shut when he would speak too much. They bound his hands because he would want to study things he wanted to understand. You swore to protect us so protect us.” She said making Loki realize he’d failed them but she was offering him another chance which was something he doubted she’d do with anyone else.

He picked up Anthony cradling him close while he took both children back to his rooms. Anthony he settled into the adjoining room he turned into their shared bedroom. Natasha watched his every move and when he had the child sleeping comfortably he asked Natasha to join him in the study he had within his adjoining rooms. She followed him staying with her back against the wall as she stood in the study.

“You said he liked to study things he wanted to understand. What things would he want to understand?”

She studied him a moment and while he wanted to speak he resisted.

“Technology. He likes to build and invent.”

Loki pulled out some parchment and began making a list.

“So I shall retrieve things he can work with and study. I also need to teach him languages and you require lessons with daggers. Anything else you both need?”

Natasha studied him again.

“Training to fight, for both of us.”

Loki added it to the list without question.

“And magic training.”

Loki glanced at her.

“I have been studying magic since my youth but it is considered a woman’s craft. Will Anthony be alright with that?”

Natasha nodded so Loki added it to the list.

“Magic my mother can teach you both as she taught me. I shall teach you to use daggers and I shall arrange tutors for the other things. I shall ensure mother supervises so no one will harm you.”

He was making notes on which tutors he’d trust when he heard her almost silent whisper.

“Thank you.”

He glanced at her and saw her face had the rare show of emotion before it vanished completely. He swore he’d do right by these children. Their father Howard Stark was he was underserving of such children. They were his now and he would raise them right and protect them.

 

~

 

Loki was busy with his usual tasks as a prince but he changed his route to head to his next task to pass by the training grounds. He spotted the siblings being taught with his mother supervising. Relief washed over him but he paused seeing Natasha climb her tutor wrapping her legs around his neck and pressing her fingers against his throat to have the lightning she summoned to her fingertips knock him out. As he collapsed she jumped off earning a smile from Anthony. He couldn’t understand how she had done that in the few short weeks they had been training. Their days were now filled with training both physical and magical, studying languages, and learning the various skills that interested them. For Natasha that meant daggers with him and for Anthony it meant the dwarf he’d managed to bring in to teach Anthony his craft. It seemed too much for the children but both were beyond anything he could have imagined.

He continued on his way knowing Natasha would at least know he’d stopped by. She was far too observant but in this he was thankful for. When he saw them at the end of his day he unfortunately had Thor with him. Fandral had joked that the siblings were his offspring and now Thor was excited to be an uncle so he insisted on being a part of their lives. Loki could not get Thor to leave them alone but had managed to convince him to at least only come around when he was present. Natasha was still uneasy around Thor while Anthony had adjusted and even seemed to like the thunder god.

When Loki entered his chambers he felt himself instantly relax hearing the gentle melody that Anthony was singing. He entered the room with Thor close behind. It was one of the reasons Loki was thankful for Anthony’s singing as a song bird. It was the only thing that ever truly silenced Thor. The boy didn’t stop singing as they entered. Natasha had her head resting in his lap and while her eyes remained closed Loki knew she had awakened the moment she heard them approach the room. Neither needed sleep but if they relaxed they could. Loki motioned for Thor to sit down as he sat back relaxing to listen to Anthony’s song. It was mostly in their language but where he hadn’t yet learned the words it was in Italian. Loki had asked for the backstory there and Anthony had told him it was what his mother had sung in.

Loki found himself drifting off as he listened. The songs never failed to relax him and even while he normally avoided being overly touchy with Thor because the older god had a habit of squeezing the life out of him he found himself falling over to rest against Thor’s side as he slept.

He doesn’t know how it’s possible but he woke the next morning with himself still plastered against Thor’s side. When he was a child he’d sleep beside his brother when he suffered nightmares but that was centuries ago. He should feel embarrassed but as he shifted he found that he had Natasha lying against him and saw Anthony was sleeping against Thor.

It was oddly comforting to wake up with his family so close. He knew Natasha was awake but he smiled as he gently ran his fingers through her red hair pretending for once he could gently awaken her in the morning like a real father. Her eyes flickered open and she looked up at him.

“Good morning Natasha.”

She paused before she spoke, “Good morning faðir.”

He was frozen in shock which earned him a small smile from her. It quickly vanished and soon she was up waking her brother. Thor grumbled in protest as Loki shook him awake. Thor seemed just as surprised that he’d fallen asleep there but he greeted them in his usual booming voice.

From then on it seemed a habit at least once or twice a week that they would fall asleep to the gentle melody of the song bird and the children would curl beside them. When the day of the feast came Loki had no duties and was helping Anthony to prepare. Natasha helped him to groom Anthony’s wings and to ensure he looked his best. It was customary for song birds to wear the type of gown Anthony had been wearing when Loki purchased him.

Anthony didn’t like the gown but he knew not to argue. Loki actually liked Anthony to voice his opinion and what he wanted. Knowing that doing such a thing was what had his lips sown shut he understood his hesitation. Loki never pushed with either child and both seemed to realize his care with them.

As he came out with the gown for Anthony the boy’s eyes lit up. It wasn’t pure gold like his previous one. It was his favorite color of red with embroidery in gold. Natasha refused to leave her brother’s side when going to a feast with so many strangers. Because of this she too had to wear the gown which had her showing her distaste but she obeyed. She was at least satisfied with the colors. It matched her brother’s in style but the colors were black with red embroidery. When Loki had explained his thought when seeing her hair and wings after the girl was a bit more comfortable with him she had smiled. Now he would sometimes call her his little spider and she seemed to like it though she didn’t outwardly show it. He helped groom her wings while Anthony sat with Frigga who was explaining who would be at the feast.

Anthony didn’t seem nervous but Loki still worried. Normally a servant would retrieve Loki for the feasts but due to the siblings joining it was Thor who arrived telling them it was time. Loki wanted to carry Anthony like he normally did but he knew it wouldn’t be appropriate and he didn’t want the two getting into any trouble with Odin. Loki led the two where they needed to be before he and Thor joined their parents. Anthony began singing while Natasha stood at his side watching over all those in attendance to spot any danger that might arrive.

It was a lovely feast and the visiting nobles were quite entertained and distracted by both song birds and their beauty but after a comment from one of the elves about Natasha not singing Loki feared Odin would get angry with her. To his surprise a second voice joined Anthony’s in singing. Everyone was silent now as they turned to look as the two song birds that were holding hands as they looked at each other as though their song was just for the one standing beside them. Anthony’s voice soft and delicate and Natasha’s somehow mixing together perfectly in its low and almost mysterious tone. It was as though they had been born to sing together.

By the end of the feast several nobles were discussing with Odin business but Loki knew they were only so eager to increase their alliances with Asgard so they could visit more often to see and hear the two song birds. When Loki could finally take the two from the feast he does so careful to end any conversations that people try to start with him quickly. One noble from his mother’s homeland has the audacity to ask him how much he would consider selling them for. Only centuries of being raised to be a proper prince stopped him from yelling or worse killing the man.

“My apologies but they are not for sale. If you’ll excuse me but we must be going.”

He escapes making certain both are close behind him and that the noble doesn’t try anything. He sees the noble reach out to touch Anthony’s wing but the boy presses them painfully close to his body to avoid his touch. Loki makes a mental note to torment the noble later with some mischief for his disrespect of his child. When they’re out of the feasting hall he quickly picks up both children as it will be a faster way to escape before anyone tries to follow them.

He feels Anthony trembling knowing the noble had nearly touched him. Loki hears Natasha whispering comfort to him and Loki makes a note to increase their training as well as show them the hidden passengers between realms in case anyone attempts to capture them. He wants to make sure they have a way to return home. He rather it not happen but he was one to make certain he had a plan for everything. Once in their room he put the two down and checked on them.

Both are alright and only a little shaken from their first time as the center of attention. He knows the number of feasts requiring them as the entertainment will likely increase. He can only hope he can eventually convince Odin that the two were people, not animals to be caged and called upon for entertainment.

 

~

 

Loki grumbled as he felt someone jump onto his bed. He pulled the furs over his head to ignore the one trying to wake him. Feeling the weight suddenly disappear from his bed he knew he was in trouble. He was about to shoot up when the furs were torn free and he was shocked enough that he was quite certain his hair was sticking up. He glared at Natasha who was giving him that bored expression that told him she regretted nothing.

“Truly I would like one morning that you both do not make my life a living Hel.”

Anthony grins wide and charming with just a hint of mischief in his eyes. Thirteen years old and he’s already more charming than Fandral and nearly as mischievous as Loki. Truly if they were gods Loki would be outdone by the time the two were a century old. Natasha only two years younger than her brother was somehow just as mischievous but also cunning and quite frightening to say the least. She had favored lightning type magic for the sole purpose of knocking out enemies quickly or in this case waking him up quickly and efficiently while attempting to make him suffer a bad hair day.

“Have I forgotten to mention that it is impossible to make my hair anything less than perfect?”

She raised a perfect brow which he regrets that she learned that from him. He grumbled getting up to get ready for his day. He felt as though he should remember what was so important about the day as he wandered his room to gather his things. It was only when he entered the bathroom and found Natasha waiting there for him that he realized whatever he’d forgotten had her pissed off. Clearly she had been practicing her magic far more than he’d originally thought.

“Little spider?”

“It’s his birthday.”

He cursed in about seven different languages, three of them being dead languages.

“I can’t believe I forgot. I swear this is Thor’s fault; he was numbing my intelligence with his useless talk of quests and his foolish comrades last night. I will be ready to do whatever he wishes, just give me a few minutes.”

She seemed satisfied as she disappeared. He hurriedly got ready and when he came out both were perched on his bed and somehow Thor had joined them without alerting him. He narrowed his eyes on Natasha thinking his little spider was giving Thor lessons on actually being silent to sneak up on him.

“Brother! Come we are going to celebrate young Anthony’s day of birth.”

Loki wanted to use a silence curse on Thor sometimes when he spoke so loudly.

“Of course brother we are going to celebrate. Where did you wish to go Anthony?”

Anthony had a grin that could outshine the sun. They found themselves in Midgard not long after and both Anthony and Natasha were enjoying the sights of London in their own way. Anthony was eagerly asking about everything in whatever electronics store he could find and Natasha was doing her usual sweep of the area but was also looking with interest at the sights.

Thor was eager to try all the foods he wanted. Loki was smiling as he walked after the three. He was wearing slacks and a green button up while Thor was wearing jeans and a blue t-shirt. Natasha was wearing jeans and a backless red blouse and Anthony wore jeans and a green t-shirt that had holes for his wings. They looked normal enough though Natasha’s blank expression was out of place for a child and Anthony perhaps was asking too many questions. Thor’s appetite might get them into trouble to.

“Little spider.”

Natasha looked up at him.

“While hiding your emotions does protect you, adapting to avoid detection is also a useful skill. As you are now you stand out.”

She studied the others around her that were her age. She took in everything quickly before she hooked her arm with Loki’s and smiled at him.

“Loki let’s check out that shop.” She said pulling him along looking excited but not overly so. It was quite frightening how quickly she adapted.

Loki ended up buying Natasha a few outfits as she played up being a normal human. He was good at reading people but Natasha had always been hard for him. He honestly couldn’t tell if she was actually enjoying herself or if she was playing a part. When he caught her looking at a necklace that she held gently in her hands with a slightly faraway look he realized it wasn’t all an act. She had been denied a life in Midgard and perhaps coming here had reminded her of that. Loki took the necklace from her seeming to draw her back to herself. Before he could remember here they looked to close in age to be father and daughter he placed a gentle kiss on her forehead.

He bought the necklace for her and when she looked surprised and smiled at him he knew it was real. They rejoined Anthony and Thor after finding the two eating some sugary pastries. Anthony offered them some clearly having thought to buy enough for them to. Thor was shoveling food into his mouth without a care and for a moment Loki questioned how his brother was not as big as Volstagg.

“Brother this world and its food is truly amazing. Why is it father does not allow Asgard contact with this realm as he does with the others?”

“I don’t know Thor. Perhaps he has his reasons but when you become king you could always change things. Though I am not certain how this realm will react to knowing they are not indeed the only beings in the universe.”

Anthony smirked and Natasha actually smiled. After eating the snack Anthony dragged Loki away while Natasha went off with Thor. As they walked Anthony didn’t release his arm or hand the entire time. He didn’t think anything of it until someone brushed a bit close to Anthony and he tensed. Loki realized the contact grounded him and kept him from freaking out in the strange realm with people that could potentially be threats.

“I shall protect you.” Loki whispered putting Anthony at ease.

The few hours in Midgard were interesting but it also helped Loki to understand a few new things about his kids. Loki had missed many things in the beginning such as how Anthony’s fingers twitched when he wanted to study something new but didn’t dare ask or how Natasha kept her back to walls when near people because she feared an attack from behind.

He tried not to miss anything now. He saw the wonder in Anthony’s eyes and how he tried time and time again to hide it or control his expression. He saw how Natasha held regrets that sometimes she couldn’t hide. Perhaps she wanted to be a normal girl that hadn’t been made aware just how cruel the world was at a young age. Maybe she just wanted a few simple things that anyone her age had. Normal humans her age had friends her own age. Loki considered how to help both as they readied to go home.

He was still considering it long after he left the siblings to celebrate Anthony’s birthday alone as they did every year after the four did something together. Even after all this time the two were quite close and Loki knew no matter what no one else would replace the number one spot in their lives. He was so distracted that he didn’t realize Thor had been discussing some matter with him until his brother placed a hand on his shoulder to stop him.

“Loki are you alright?”

“I am well brother, simply considering something.”

“Something for your children?”

He couldn’t explain the warm feeling welling up within him at Thor calling the siblings his children. He offered his brother an honest smile before he continued walking as he considered. It wasn’t until he found himself sitting in his mother’s garden as she sat beside him waiting for him to speak that he found the best way to help the two.

“Anthony and Natasha have been denied a life they could have had.”

“They’re happy here but you’re right my son.”

“I wish to offer them the chance to experience that life and choose what path they take.”

“They are still young Loki, they have time.”

“They are mortal mother. Time is limited for them.”

His mother just smiled and he knew she was leaving it up to him to decide.

“Natasha has mentioned when she was younger she wanted to be a ballerina.”

Loki considered that as he began making plans. First step was discussing it with Odin who he doubted would be happy with the two song birds leaving Asgard. He worked his magic discussing the possibilities of having the two experience their home realm and that he would have both under his protection spells as well as visiting regularly. Odin was not overly fond of the idea but as long as the two still made it for feasts to sing he would allow it.

Loki was careful to approach the two only after the time when their usual birthday celebration was over. Loki had interrupted it once by mistake. God of thunder as a brother or not, Natasha knocked his ass out. He had been twitchy for days afterwards. As he entered the room he found the two parked on his bed clearly waiting for him. He narrowed his eyes on them.

“You two know something.”

Both titled their heads with that far too innocent look on their face that told him they had been evil little children and spied on either him or someone he knew well enough to care what they knew. It was an adorable look and he swore if they could still manage this look when they were adults he’d probably do something insane like kiss Fandral square on the mouth. If that ever happened he was going to tell Thor to just kill him with his hammer.

“We don’t know anything.” Tony said clearly in a false innocent tone.

“Surely not, it’s not like we spy on people.” Natasha matched her brother in tone except she added a hint of overly sweetness to it.

“You’re both evil.” Loki said with a laugh.

“So we hear all the time from Uncle Thor’s friends.”

“We hear you have surprises for us.” Natasha said with interest.

Loki sat down on the bed beside them and had two sets of interested eyes staring at him.

“I was thinking you both might like knowing your home realm. Anthony you are quite smart and beyond other mortals your age. I believe at fourteen you should be able to attend college. You could learn study Midgardian technology there.”

Anthony looked hopeful and excited before he frowned and looked at his sister.

“But then I wouldn’t be able to see Natasha…or you or Uncle Thor. Will grandpa Odin allow me to go? Won’t grandma Frigga miss me?”

“Anthony you needn’t freak out. It is your choice. If you wish to go we can visit you. You would still need to be here for feasts and if Natasha is interested I was thinking we could visit you after weekly ballet classes.”

Natasha perks up and doesn’t fully hide her interest.

“But we wouldn’t be with each other every day like we have been. We’d be worlds apart.”

“I can teleport between realms and I would have you under my protection spells.”

Natasha got up and dragged Anthony into their room likely to discuss it. Loki waited as he lay on his bed feeling a bit tired from the day’s activities. He ended up falling asleep as he waited and woke to two smaller forms crawling into his bed. He peaked his eyes open knowing he had been asleep at least a few hours.

“You better visit me.” Anthony whispered as he curled against his side.

“We’ll visit. We don’t leave family behind.”

That earned him Natasha curled at his side as well. Loki fell back to asleep feel comfortable as both wrapped their wings around him like a protective shield.

 

~

 

Loki could feel the anger from Natasha as they arrived late to Anthony’s apartment. It was close to the school MIT that he was attending. He shared the apartment with another student that he had become friends with. Loki was only alright with James Rhodes due to Natasha officially signing off on him. They were running behind due to Loki getting distracted with trying to contact Thor for the visit. He had a way to contact between the realms but Thor hadn’t answered and he’d made the mistake of attempting several times to contact him. That put them behind by several minutes which was unacceptable to Natasha. Loki was pretty sure he should be questioning his parenting skills that Natasha terrified him when she was angry. It was like a silent rage that promised murder.

“Natasha!” Anthony cheered when he opened the door to see her.

James poked his head out and waved a greeting. Loki waved as the man returned to his own room. James didn’t know who they were exactly and only that they were family. Anthony was registered at school as Anthony Romanov and Natasha used the same name for her ballet classes. In Asgard they were Anthony Lokison and Natasha Lokidottir as the siblings were more or less recognized as his children as he had been raising them since their arrival in Asgard. Both siblings had refused to use the name Stark and Loki couldn’t blame either for that.

“Hey Tones we still ordering pizza?”

“Yeah Rhodey, we just have to get extra for my family.”

Loki raised a brow still adjusting to mortals giving each other nicknames. He settled into the couch feeling a bit odd wearing mortal clothing so often. Natasha settled in next to her brother as he explained what he was doing with the computer in front of him. He had taken up fixing electronics for some income. He was talented with technology and he could fix anything fairly quickly. Loki was content to just watch his kids as they interacted. He’d been worried about how they would handle being apart but both were doing quite well. Natasha was still training daily and was still sneaking around everywhere. Loki had heard just the month before that she had managed to startle Heimdal. Loki hadn’t believed Thor when he boasted about it to his friends. As it turns out he had honestly not seen her coming nor was he expecting her to suddenly speak up directly behind him. To say he was a bit wearier around her was an understatement and Natasha clearly loved it. Anthony of course loved the story and had burst out laughing.

Anthony found all of his sister’s slightly frightening habits hilarious. Loki had seen the extent of her skills and he honestly hoped she never decided to honestly try to kill him. He had seen her drag answers out of people with seemingly normal conversation. She had also yet to lose a fight against any of the warriors she trained with and that included the warriors three and Sif. As much as Loki wasn’t overly fond of the warriors he couldn’t deny their strength as warriors. Loki had heard that song birds were fragile creatures but neither Natasha nor Anthony were weak by any means. He suspected it had to do with how he treated them. He still recalled how Anthony seemed to glow with the affection he gave him. Perhaps they were stronger with proper care.

Anthony was still practicing his magic when James wasn’t home. Natasha was using magic to help with her natural skills that made it seem that being an assassin was the perfect career choice for her. Loki wasn’t sure he should be concerned about that but he had decided not to linger on that too long. Thor hadn’t seemed concerned either and claimed she was a fine warrior.

“What kind of pizza does everyone want?” James asked.

“Something with no meat.” Three answers came at once causing James to make a face.

“Vegetarian weirdos.” James said rolling his eyes as he went to order the pizza.

“Your friend is odd.”

“Hey Nat no being mean to my platypus.”

Natasha playfully slapped his shoulder making him stick his tongue out at her. Bad move and one she was expecting as she zapped him. He cursed in Old Norse as he elbowed her. Loki chuckled as he laid back to relax. They would stay the night and head back to Asgard in the morning. Loki couldn’t deny James had won a few points with him when he hadn’t even questioned him and Natasha staying over. Mortals were odd creatures but Loki found he actually liked them.

He woke when pizza arrived as James kicked the couch to awaken him. He glared at the mortal but the man just winked at him as he set pizza down. It was another thing he found he favored of mortals. They did many things that interested him that would be considered inappropriate among the Aesir. Shameless flirting even among males was alright here. The Aesir did not believe in any relationship that could not end with producing a child. While Loki could have a child with either gender if he shape shifted such things weren’t acceptable either. It was considered unmanly to shift into a female form. He found it entertaining and had performed plenty of tricks as Lady Loki. His mischief was yet another thing that wasn’t looked down upon. He had played several pranks on James during his visits and not once had been disappointed when the mortal pranked him back.

The pizza was good and he enjoyed the film that was turned on as they ate. He fell asleep before it ended but that was normal. He had been working quite a bit to do the tasks Odin left to him. It seemed when Thor would be named king he would be doing most of the work that required a brain. Loki was fine being an advisor but honestly Thor needed to know somethings himself. If he relied too heavily on Loki he was quite certain he’d go insane. Perhaps he could frighten Thor into doing his job as future king by sending Natasha after him.

 

~

 

Loki was so shocked by the sudden blaring noise in his bedchambers that he actually jumped out of his bed and was in a fighting stance in the far corner of his room. He looked to see the smiling faces of both his children and Thor. He glared at them both as Anthony turned off the sound system he had somehow set up while he was still sleeping. The god awful noise that humans called music was repulsive and Loki would have to burn the mortal who corrupted his son with it. He was almost afraid it had been James. He liked James, he didn’t want to have to burn him but he would if he had to.

“Why?” He hissed.

“Why what faðir?” Natasha asked far too innocent and honestly Loki owed Fandral that kiss because even now when she was in her late thirties and Anthony forty both could look so innocent.

“Do you mean why would we be responsible adults and wake you for the day that Uncle Thor is crowned king?” Tony added.

Thor was grinning and Loki would have to do something terrible to him later because he was enjoying this.

“Uncle Thor do you hear this? Faðir doesn’t want us to be responsible adults.” Natasha said looking honestly concerned for Loki.

“That’s just poor parenting.” Anthony said the act starting to fail as a grin began to overtake him.

“You’re all evil and I swear Thor if you do not stop grinning I shall end you.” Loki said his eyes narrowed on Thor as he was to receive the full force of his rage because he could never be angry with his children. It had nothing to do with them being adorable mini mischief makers; he was just terrified Natasha would murder him in his sleep after Anthony blew him up because Anthony had a habit of blowing things up.

Thor kept grinning as he dragged off the siblings. Loki sighed as he ran a hand through his hair. It was getting a bit long but he had been letting it grow out. Natasha said he’d look good with long hair and he had taken her advice as her hair was currently rather long and looking quite nice. He was happy Thor was finally being crowned king. Loki was actually looking forward to seeing him bring Midgard into contact with the other realms. Loki knew Anthony wasn’t happy with having to use magic to hide that he hadn’t aged since he was twenty. Loki had convinced Odin to grant the siblings a golden apple. As Midgard didn’t know of anyone outside their own realm both had to hide themselves among the friends they had made there.

Loki knew little of Natasha’s friends as she was more or less secretive but he knew her best friend she called a hawk. He didn’t understand that and honestly questioned if she had befriended a bird. They were considered predators so he was half expecting one day a fierce bird to swoop in and claw his eyes out. It seemed like something his little spider would do but he was a bit unwilling to ask her. He would just accept his fate when she eventually killed him for whatever reason she had at the time.

He dressed for Thor’s coronation and when he joined the others he saw both Natasha and Anthony dressed in the gowns that were still required of them for any major event. Both had stayed with the style of the first gowns Loki had made for them. The embroidery was a bit different and Natasha’s gown at the level of her hip had the shape found of a black widow. It had become a bit of her trademark and she wore it proudly. Anthony’s gown had a mechanical rectangle that had become a trademark of his since returning from MIT. When connections were made to Midgard Anthony intended to use the technology he had crafted to help the mortal realm become more advanced like the other realms. The shape he wore in his clothing was of one of his greatest inventions that he had within his workshop that only family was allowed to enter.

Odin and Frigga both looked upon their son proudly as he approached to be crowned king. Loki knew it was customary to name one’s queen upon being crowned but he knew that Thor had no one that held his heart yet. While Thor was a warrior, Loki and he suspected Natasha knew Thor would not find his queen among warriors or even in Asgard. He and Natasha had a bet going on regarding Thor’s future queen. Loki was certain he would meet his queen in Midgard within a year of connecting their realms. She for whatever reason bet within a month. Loki was quite suspicious of the bet and was nearly certain he was going to lose. He knew from the many complaints among the warriors that Natasha had never lost a bet.

As Thor was crowned king and offered his speech claiming he would rule Asgard fairly and just, he also claimed he had yet to find a woman worthy of being named his queen nor one worthy to stand at his side to help rule their glorious realm. Loki hid his smirk but he saw Natasha look at him as though promising the bet was already won. Anthony knew of the bet and had said nothing on the matter. That was even more suspicious and he was tempted to question his son. There was a fifty/fifty chance he’d talk. There was also a ninety percent chance he’d lie even if he did talk and Loki wouldn’t be able to tell. These two taking after him were the reason he was quite certain he’d never have any children of his own blood. The two were bad enough but someone actually sharing his genes would put him into an early grave. He was quite certain in the event that would happen Natasha would bring him back just to kill him herself. Truly Loki wondered how Frigga and Odin had not gone insane raising children.

A feast followed Thor’s crowning and both siblings sang a beautiful song fitting of their new king. Loki sat at Thor’s side happy to join in the celebration as he had quite a bit of hope for Thor’s rule. Perhaps how his brother had been before he began maturing with his title of uncle Loki would have intervened to save their realm from Thor’s foolishness but now Thor was a man worthy of the throne.

“To our king.” Volstagg raised his mug of mead in a toast.

“To our king.” The warriors raised their own mugs in agreement.

The celebration came to an end with both princes, the warriors three, and Sif all drinking far too much. Loki woke the next day hung over and cursing Thor’s name. He was also considering cursing Fandral and Volstagg to be bald for the remainder of their days because both had encouraged them to drink so much. Seeing as he was in his bed alone he suspected he either learned to hold his mead better or one of his children was kind enough to keep Fandral from seducing him. Seeing Natasha standing in the doorway leaning against it with a slight smirk he knew she had helped him. This was either very good or very bad for him. She liked calling in for when payment was due. There was no such thing as kindness with her, all debts were due and the little spider knew how to collect.

“If I just offer you my soul will you please reframe from making me suffer wondering what my debt will be?”

“That’s not how this works and you know it.”

He growled in annoyance wondering how he had raised her in such a way. Then again he did like to collect on debts to. It was one of his many joys and he knew he should be proud his child growing up to be very similar to him.

“Name your price; I cannot stand to be awake with my head pounding as it is.”

Natasha smirked.

“I’ll let you know later when I’m ready to collect. Thor needs you for something.”

Her voice is just as blank as her face that no longer showed the humor from just moments before. He looks at her and as she glances around she allows the mask to fall away.

“He looks worried.”

She leaves after that causing Loki to hurry to go see what has his brother worried the first day of his rule. Thor is awake and already knee deep in his duties but he drops everything when Loki arrives. Surprised and confused by the bone crushing hug Loki has to struggle to focus on what Thor keeps chanting in barely a whisper.

“You’re still my brother, nothing will change that. I promise Loki nothing will change that.”

Dread fills him as he worries what would cause his brother to say such things. When Thor releases him he pulls Loki fully into the room and closing the door behind him.

“Thor? What has you so worked up?”

Thor stares at him for what seems like a lifetime before he speaks.

“Father took the time to tell me of things I must know now that I am king. He warned me that such knowledge does not need to be known for it would only bring harm should you believe you are anything but a prince of Asgard…I have never lied to you nor will I start now.”

Loki isn’t quite certain what happens when Thor tells him the truth. He thinks he might have screamed and might have cursed Odin’s name. He isn’t quite certain on the details. All he knows is he awoke safe in his own chambers to the sound of twin voices singing him the very first song he’d heard from Anthony. A mother’s lullaby in Italian. It is a beautiful language and the gentle voices as the warmth of feathers surrounding him like a protective shield drive away his fears and worries. He cries for the first time in front of his children that day. Crying for he has been nothing but a lie to them. Cries because such beautiful creatures had been raised by a monster. He screams and curses for he never had a place in Asgard. They do not give him reassuring words nor do they deny his claims. Instead they just sing. It’s all he needs for the very first time he ever heard the song bird’s melody it was to protect him. For he had been the one to comfort and save them. For he had raised them when he owed them nothing. For he was their father and had loved them unconditionally. That is why they had sung when they would never do so for anyone else.

They did not scream or turn away when he had his true flesh revealed. They did not hesitate to touch him and hold him close as they would before. Nothing had changed even if the truth was his pale form was a lie.

 

~

 

Loki finds himself humming as he grooms his children’s wings. Such beautiful things that had changed with age. They were still the same color but Anthony’s seemed to radiate light with a brilliant glow. Natasha’s jet black wings were sleek and healthy and while Anthony’s wings were a clear display of his emotions hers were controlled nearly all the time. Loki had often envied his children for their gift of flight. It wasn’t often Natasha flew as she preferred to be on the ground but when she did fly she and her brother were such beautiful creatures and a sight many nobles still visited to see. Both were old enough to be courted and many had taken an interest not only due to their nature as song birds but because Thor had recognized them both as prince and princess of Asgard when he became king. They were in line for the throne after Loki though Loki would dread ever being king. Not just because it would mean something happened to Thor but because he had always dreaded the thought of ruling. He was the trickster god and did not wish to be chained to such a responsibility.

When they were ready for the event Thor had planned for bringing together the nine realms Loki stood tall willing to stand among those that had once been considered monsters. The Jotun had been invited to the celebration as well as representatives of each realm including Midgard.

The ruling family of Jotunhiem, which no longer included Laufey, was the late king’s wife and her two sons. The usual guests of the other realms were to be there and from Midgard they were sending a trusted leader, several of their warriors, a healer, a scientist, and one of their inventors. Loki knew both children were nervous as it was the first celebration they were a part of truly.  Thor had promised them they were welcome guests and he would never expect them to be entertainment again. Loki had been beyond thankful and had willingly let Thor attempt to crush his bones with a hug.

“Shall we?” Loki asked and both followed without question.

The rare silence was enough to express their nervousness. Anthony was normally talking enough that you’d think he’d die if the silence existed for even a second. Natasha’s expression was blank but her hands were held together in front of her to show her unease with the new situation.

As they entered the feasting hall Loki saw Thor had outdone himself.  He had brought in elven musicians to play music fit for dancing and while there was food available there was also room to simply stand and talk or to dance. Many sets of eyes looked up when they entered which was of no surprise. The song birds had always drawn attention for their seemingly unnatural beauty. Both stood on either side of him and Loki held himself as a proper prince but there was an edge of protectiveness to his gaze to show these were his children and they were to be respected.

“You’ll end up frightening everyone Faðir.” Natasha said with the hint of a smile on her face.

“You shouldn’t frighten them, I want to dance.” Anthony teased him and Loki ended up laughing which seemed to put many in the hall at ease.

The three made their way to Thor and Loki was careful in studying whose gaze lingered to long on his children. Both Natasha and Anthony were free to court whomever they wished but Loki would destroy any who were unworthy of their affection.

“Brother, my apologies for arriving late.” Loki greeted Thor politely doing well to mind the man that was well dressed speaking with him.

“You needn’t worry brother, meet the son of Coul.”

Loki smiled politely at the man who held out his hand.

“Agent Coulson of Shield, a pleasure.”

Loki accepted the hand and shook it.

“Prince Loki of Asgard, I assume you are the trusted leader sent by Midgard?”

“Well I work as the right hand of one of the trusted organization that keeps our world safe. I’m afraid Director Fury was unavailable to attend this event but he sends his regards and hopes we can sit down to discuss an alliance between our worlds.”

Loki looked over the other mortals with interest. There was a man dressed in a blue suit with a shield on his back. Another man looking a bit nervous and dressed a bit more casually with a pair of glasses and salt and pepper hair that looked as though it was forever a mess. Another man with sandy blonde hair had a bow with him which seemed an odd weapon for one of Midgard but it drew his attention. There was an older man with white hair and a mustache that he was quite certain should look familiar though Loki honestly couldn’t place the man. The woman with long brown hair was the only one of their group currently making an effort to speak to the other visitors of different realms; she seemed to draw Thor’s attention though Thor himself didn’t seem to notice his gaze lingering on her. The last of their group was a man with a metal arm that had a red star. His brown hair was pulled into a man bun and he was dressed in a uniform of some kind and gave off the impression of someone dangerous.

“You’re comrades are quite interesting.” Loki said which seemed to draw the attention of several of them.

The one with the bow narrowed his eyes as he studied Natasha for a moment. Loki didn’t like how he was looking at his daughter and wanted to do something but the man Coulson pulls his attention.

“Please let me introduce you to everyone.”

Loki notices the Jotun having a discussion with the light elves before he turns his attention to the mortals. He isn’t surprised no one else had taken interest in the mortals. They do not know anything of Midgard but the lies that had been told of them being stupid creatures incapable of much.

“This is Dr. Bruce Banner.” Coulson says motioning to the nervous man.

Anthony takes that moment to approaching looking at the man in awe.

“Dr. Banner, nice to meet you. Your work on anti-electron collisions is unparalleled. And I'm a huge fan of how you lose control and turn into an enormous green rage monster.”

The doctor seems taken aback by that as he shakes Anthony’s hand.

“Um…thanks.”

Anthony smiles as he looks over at his sister.

“Sis, come meet my favorite doctor.”

Natasha arrives with a slight smirk on her face eyeing her brother.

“You despise healers; I suppose this is the Jolly Green that you’ve become fond of from your visits to Midgard?”

“No this is Bruce not Jolly Green; I’m totally looking forward to meeting the other guy.”

Coulson eyes Anthony with interest while Natasha offers her arm to Bruce.

“Care to dance? Otherwise my brother will talk your ear off, I’ve seen him do it before and I like your ears where they are.”

Bruce shifts uneasily but Natasha’s smile is reassuring as he relaxes a bit. Still he politely declines the offer to dance.

“I’m not much of a dancer. You might try Steve, that’s more his thing.”

Coulson introduces Steve next as Bruce mentions him. Steve is a rather strong looking mortal with blonde hair who holds himself like a warrior.

“This is Steve Rogers; he leads our group called the avengers.”

“The national hero who was a Capsicle, nice to meet you. You’re not planning on taking another seventy year nap on us anytime soon are you?” Anthony asks greeting the man who seems taken aback by it but smiles in a way that shows he’s amused.

“Not if I can help it. I’m afraid I didn’t catch your name.”

Anthony smiles as he shakes the warrior’s hand.

“Anthony Lokison, this is my sister Natasha Lokidottir. You should accept her offer to dance, she’s very good and I swear she won’t kill you with so many witnesses.” He says with a playful wink.

Loki thinks for a moment if Odin were still king he would be appalled by Anthony’s antics when meeting visitors of other realms. Thor is allowing Anthony to use his charm that has Steve laughing good naturedly.

“Bucky come over here, you’ll love this guy.”

The man called Bucky walks over and Anthony’s eyes lock onto the piece of technology attached to him and doesn’t hesitate to latch onto it to begin looking it over.

“This is a glorious piece of technology but I can do better. Judging by what I can see its weight is too much even with your enhanced abilities as a human, I could make one lighter, stronger, and far more durable that wouldn’t hurt at all. This one allows you to move it like a real arm but it lacks the ability to feel. If you give me a chance I can build a better one that can allow you to feel…what’s the red star for? You were clearly a soldier, is this like a tattoo? No…Steve talks to you like he’s known you his entire life but he’s from the 40s…you were frozen to but you look like you’re more accustom to the  present…not on ice constantly. They didn’t do tattoos back in the day so it has another meaning. What is it? Clearly whoever made this doesn’t care about your comfort because if they were capable of making this they would have known it weighs too much. So you had to have been captured and it forced on you that they didn’t care. Who held you captive? I’m sure you suffer PTSD from that, I can make you something to stop that to, nightmares are terrible and sleep is precious. And-”

“Brother, perhaps you should release our guest’s arm before you decide to drag his arm off to wed it and then I must explain to grandfather why his future grandbabies are half metal.”

Anthony is pulled out of his admiring of the technology and looks startled.

“What? Oh was I talking too much and making someone uncomfortable again? Sorry, quickly Natasha tactical retreat.”

She offers her arm to dance but Bucky grabs his arm to stop him startling the siblings and Loki.

“Name’s James Barnes but my friends call me Bucky, care to dance doll? At least so I can say I got to dance with you before you go elope with my arm. Promise Stevie here will offer your sister the best dance of her life for a man with two left feet from the 40s so she won’t be without a dance partner.” He says with a natural charm that has both siblings smiling genuinely.

“Such a charmer clearly I’m already doomed.” Anthony says pulling the man to the dance floor.

Steve looks a bit red with embarrassment as he offers his arm.

“Ma’am, may I have this dance?”

She looks at him happily taking his arm.

“Don’t worry, I’m a great dancer and will be happy to help show up your friend.”

With the four gone Loki carefully watches them for a moment before he turns his attention back to Coulson.

“I don’t believe we’ve met either of your children before. Have they been to our world before?” Coulson asks treading carefully but Loki can read through his words easily and knows he’s suspicious.

“Actually yes, my son went to one of your schools. He was at the top of his classes at MIT and currently as three doctorates. He’s quite the engineer.  He began his schooling there when he was fourteen and probably could have received a few more doctorates if he hadn’t decided to come home.”

Coulson was impressed but he carefully hid it. His words however attracted the older man of the group.

“Your son sounds quite talented. If he ever wants a place in our world my company would love to hire him.”

“I thank you for the offer for my son but he plans to begin his own company if your realm would allow it.”

The man hid his disgust at being denied and was about to say something when Coulson spoke.

“If you don’t mind me asking how did he attend school in our world?”

“I arrange both him and my daughter to have false identification. Both of my children are actually from Midgard but I had nothing of their original identification so I was forced to create a fake ID for them both. If that is an issue I assure you I will be happy to make up for having to do such a thing. I only wished for them to know their birth realm.”

The older man was watching the two now and Loki didn’t like the look within his eyes.

“They were from our world? If we can figure out who they were before you adopted them we can correct all the paperwork. May I ask how they came to be in your care? I fear our organization was under the impression the first time you had contact with our realm was when you reached out to us.”

The man was clearly lying but Loki kept the fact he knew this hidden. He gave a sad smile.

“I fear my children’s past is not something I wish to speak of at the moment. This is a joyous occasion with our realms finally uniting as allies.”

The archer that had been watching Natasha on and off finally walked over to Loki and Coulson.

“Hey you said you had to make a fake ID for your kids. Natasha wouldn’t happen to be Natasha Romanov would she?”

Loki tried to act friendly but he was quite protective of his children.

“I believe most begin with introductions.”

He looked up startled like he hadn’t realized as he was watching Natasha that he’d walked over.

“Shit sorry, Clint Barton also known as Hawkeye. So Nat, her last name when she was in our world?”

Coulson was giving Clint a look while Loki couldn’t help but laugh.

“I’m not quite certain whether to be relieved or concerned. When I thought you were an actual hawk I was quite certain she’d trained you to claw my eyes out. Now I fear you may simple do the same task with your bow.”

Clint grinned.

“Knew it, so you’re her old man? Not looking that old for someone who’s her father but whatever. I can totally see where Nat gets her best features from. Did you teach her that weird eyebrow thing?”

Loki raised a well-groomed brow making the hawk burst out laughing.

“Yep, she totally got it from you.” He hesitated as he glanced at the others and shrugged. “Fuck it, I can’t dance worth shit but do you want to see if we can look more lovey dovey than Natasha? I’ve got a bet going on with her and I intend to win.”

Loki stared at the arm offered and smirked.

“I look forward to losing together with you in your wager then.”

“Yeah I know, she’s never lost a bet but we’ll look better losing than she does winning. C’mon handsome.”

Loki danced with the archer that was shorter than him. He carefully took the lead and found the man truly didn’t know how to dance but he while his carefree personally suggested he was not the smartest, he was quick to adapt. Loki noticed both children offering small smiles when they thought no one would notice. Soon the entire dancefloor was filled with people. The woman that had drawn Thor’s attention had been asked to dance by the thunder god and had accepted. The new king of Jotunhiem had taken a light elf to the dance floor while his younger brother was dancing with a dwarf. Several others paired off dancing in a way normal for their realm and while Loki noticed Coulson wanting to sit back and observe it seem the late king Laufey’s wife had taken an interest in the human and insisted on dancing.

“So what does a guy have to do to get a date with a prince?”

Loki stared down at the mortal shocked by his bluntness. Surely this was one of the reasons he and Natasha were so close.

“And for what reason does one such as yourself seek my attention?” He asked carefully ensuring he continued to lead the mortal without having his feet stepped on by the inexperienced dancer.

“Besides being hot as hell and likely just as frightening and badass as Natasha? She’s kind of been hinting at you and I being a good match for each other. Normally I don’t let friends set me up with dates but so far Nat’s had a good eye and everyone else she’s gotten together are married. I don’t want some half assed relationship that’s doomed to fail.”

Loki glanced at Natasha uncertain whether to glare daggers at her or be happy she had been attempting to carefully select a mate for him. He had not been in a relationship with anyone during the years he’d raised them nor for several centuries before then. He had not had the best experience with marriage with his ex-wife. It had been an arranged marriage and they had never consummated their marriage as she had no desire to be touched by him and had satisfied her needs with other lovers.  Upon seeing those she had taken to her bed Loki had seen she only agreed to the arranged marriage because she believed she would be wedded to Thor. Loki hadn’t been her type and while he had attempted to keep her happy by showering her with gifts and affection she had turned away every attempt and eventually ran off with a lover.

“You need not do anything but be loyal. That is how to draw my attention though if you are attempting to bed me for some advantage against my realm-”

“Woah, no way. Dude I’m a simple guy with simple needs. What the hell would I need an advantage against a golden city? By the way this place is pretty bright and shiny, should have warned me to wear sunglasses.”

Loki chuckled as he leaned closer to the archer’s ear.

“Then I shall accept your offer to court me little hawk, do try to keep my interest.” He whispered in a silky tone before he parted from the man and gave a slight bow as thanks for the dance.

When he rejoins his children both are standing to the side with drinks in hand talking among their respective dance partners. Loki carefully places himself beside Natasha which is enough for her to know that he knows what she’s done. She only glances with the slightest lift of her lips as a smile of sorts. He hears Anthony and the one called Bucky shamelessly flirt with each other while Steve is a bit red with embarrassment as he talks with Natasha. She doesn’t flirt as blatantly as her brother but subtlety that seems to make Steve at ease with the situation.

Before long other nobles and visiting royalty talk with the mortals and Loki shares a knowing look with his daughter. Both had noticed Thor had so far been unable to part ways with the Lady Jane of Midgard. Yet another bet he had lost because he foolishly decided to make a wager with Natasha.

The others guests were eating or talking among others when Loki stood alone with his two children. He was tempted to ask if they had truly taken an interest in the mortals they had chosen as their dance partner when the man from earlier whose name he had oddly not gotten yet walked over.

“I do not believe I got your name before.” Loki greets the man.

“I was wondering why you rejected my offer to hire your son. I’m Howard Stark, CEO of the world’s leading weapons manufacturer.”

Loki heard two drinks drop and looked over in time to see Natasha faint. Or at least pretend to. Anthony quickly caught her and Loki quickly excused them to get his children far away from the man that had sold one child and locked away the other. When they were away from the hall and the man who had made the siblings suffer Natasha jumped out of Anthony’s arms and punched the nearby wall.  It was a testament to how strong song birds could be when showered with love and affection that her fist when through the wall that couldn’t break even under the strength of the strongest Aesir warriors.

She withdrew her broken hand that was already healing. She stormed off saying nothing and Anthony glanced at Loki before following her. Loki would tear the man apart if it wouldn’t possibly start a war between their realms. He didn’t know how long he stood there fuming in anger before Thor came shaking him out of his thoughts.

“Brother what happened to Natasha? I saw her faint; she has never done such a thing before. Is she well?”

“Of course she’s not alright Thor.” He snapped before he controlled him running his hands down his face. “Thor that man is their father, their birth father.”

Thor paled before it reddened in his anger but Thor had come a long way and didn’t retrieve his hammer to smash Howard’s face in.

“I will make certain he suffers for his crimes against your children.”

Loki leaned against the wall.

“Brother you are attempting to form an alliance with their realm. This will not end well if you choose to fight one of their people.”

Thor placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.

“I shall not fail you and our family Loki. I will find a way to bring to light the crimes he has committed. Trust me brother.”

Years ago he would not trust his brother’s word. Now he rested his hand atop Thor’s smiling at his brother.

“I have trust in you Thor; just do not jeopardize your place as Asgard’s king. I will go see how they’re doing. I doubt we will be present for the next few days.”

Thor hugged him before he left. Loki found both children in Anthony’s room. They had long since moved out of his rooms that had been their home during their childhood. He was quiet as he entered the room and found the two perched on the balcony looking at the night sky. For once silence was a comfort to them both. He leaned on the railing looking out the beautiful city below. Asgard had always been his home and he had known no other world. He could not recall the frozen wastelands of Jotunhiem when he was an infant nor could he recall his birth parents’ reason for throwing him away. It was painful not having answers but he knew the pain the siblings shared for knowing the reason for their rejection from their father was a thousand times more painful.

The silence was unnatural between the siblings. Loki was so use to Anthony talking enough for an entire court yet now he sat oddly still and completely silent. It was unnatural but he dare not speak for fear he would upset the siblings. Silence was not so strange for Natasha but the pure emotion showing her pain was. It was out of place and for once he cursed them being song birds for even in their pain and sorrow they still held an unnatural beauty that drew one’s eye. They did not require sleep but he did. He remained in Anthony’s rooms as he slept as he would not part from his children’s side.

By morning they were still in the same place unmoving and their expressions no different than the night before. Loki went to retrieve breakfast hoping they would at least eat but found himself with a servant handing him a note from one of the guests. It was for Anthony. He continued only to be stopped twice more with two other notes. One for himself and one for Natasha. The writing was different on each and he suspected their respective partners from the night before were attempting to contact them.

Breakfast was ignored by the siblings as were the notes. Loki ate little as he was upset for his children having to encounter the monster from their past. He opened his letter to see surprisingly beautiful handwriting from the hawk. He was expecting some kind of courting letter yet it was filled with concern for his daughter and hoping he was alright if she was unwell. Such concern he never expected from a new suitor. He found himself smiling before he rejoined his children waiting for them to speak.

Days pass with their unnatural silence and each day a new note with concern. Loki finally sent a note back to Clint informing him Natasha was just unwell and he and Anthony were watching over her. He would inform his comrades so they would stop worrying.

It’s on the fifth day of them more or less being locked away in the room that a knock comes at the door. Loki glances at the two and neither look any different other than Natasha’s blank expression had returned the night before. He went to answer the door and found himself frozen in shock at the sight of the three mortals standing there. Clint had within his arms enough mead for the six of them, Bucky held flowers, and Steve had within his hands what looked like a fresh baked pie.

“Heard Nat wasn’t feeling well. Hoped these would help her feel better.” Bucky said glancing at Clint thinking he was an idiot for bringing alcohol.

“I know Nat doesn’t get sick. Tell her if she wants to drink out her problems I’m always up for it.” Clint said with a shrug but it was clear he cared and was concerned.

Steve looked a bit embarrassed.

“I had to bug the kitchen staff for a few days to get them to let me use the kitchen. Ma would always make some treat when we had the money and I wasn’t feeling my best. It helped a lot…I was kind of a sick kid when I was younger.”

Loki felt a presence close at his back and turned to find both children standing there. Neither had made so much as a sound and Natasha was oddly smiling seeing them there.

“Clint you know just how to make me feel better.”

Clint grinned.

“So we going to party until we drop?”

Natasha motioned them inside. When Steve tried to explain the pie to her she silenced him with a kiss on the cheek.

“Get your sexy Midgardian ass in here and drink with us. I’m going to drink you under the table.”

“Not before I drink Anthony under the table and make out with him there.” Bucky said making Loki glare at the mortal.

Bucky didn’t seem to care and Loki could admit if the man had the balls to not be afraid of Loki he was either too stupid for his son or brave enough and a warrior worthy of him. While he noticed his children were still upset by Howard being in Asgard for the week with the other guests from Midgard, the three appeared to help lighten their mood. Clint’s idea was apparently helpful as Natasha relaxed as she drank and after three large cups of mead she was attached at the hip to Steve. He was red with embarrassment which Bucky gave him a hard time for when he wasn’t kissing or groping Anthony. It had Loki glaring at him which in turn caused Bucky to stare at him in challenge as he groped Anthony. Loki was quite certain he would either really like the man or end up killing him and staging his corpse as a warning to other unworthy suitors of his son.

He was successfully distracted though as he found himself with a lapful of giggling archer as he attempted to win playing footsy with Natasha under the table. Clint was clearly drunk and yet he was managing to hold his own against his little spider as though this was a regular event for the two.

He had some hope for his children’s happiness as he woke the next morning hung over with the archer drooling on his back where he had decided to sleep, Natasha cuddling Steve, and Anthony was either really comfortable or attempting to suffocate his suitor by sleeping sprawled across his face.

“Anthony, I taught you better. That’s not how you suffocate someone and there are far too many witnesses.”

Anthony raised his head looking groggy from drinking too much and waking to early.

“Lies, there’s going to be no witnesses when I’m done.” Then he proceeded to pass out again.

Natasha kicked him or attempted to and ended up kicking Bucky. Loki decided today Natasha was his favorite child. He tried to get up but Clint grumbled protests and had the audacity to bite him to try and stop him. It was successful for something but probably not what he intended. He laid down again hating how the ground was uncomfortable against his hard on. Damn mortals.