Thrice Loki’s body swelled with life as he fell through the darkness of the void, those that had long since been cast out and banished, seeking a way to be reborn. And trice did Odin come and take his children from him, all the while ignoring Loki’s soundless screams. It mattered not that they were not of Loki’s choice. All that mattered was that they were his.
When the fourth and fifth—twins—came to Loki, he held no hope to ever see them with his own eyes and cried no more tears as his heart had hardened, frozen as solid as the world that he had been stolen from as a babe. Odin, the Allfather, was not Loki’s father because no father would stand by and watch his child suffer as Loki suffered. No father would contribute as Odin did to his agony.
Child-thief—if Laufey had known what Odin was, of Odin’s greatest crime against him, Laufey would have fought until his son was returned to him or until the last Frost Giant of Jotunheim drew his final breath. For all Loki may have been raised as an Asgardian, there was no stopping the truth in his blood as each of his children were ripped from him before they could draw their first breath. The children of the Frost Giants were few and far between, and each was precious, cherished, a miracle. There was no greater crime than one against a babe.
Finally found by Thanos and given a purpose, Loki was a shadow of what he had been, a broken god of mischief and deceit turned towards a new purpose. Vengeance and destruction. Nothing else mattered because if Loki failed at this, the babes growing inside him were as good as dead. His actions endangered them, but better a swift death than the barren imprisonment thrust on them by the Allfather. In waking dreams, Loki heard the screams of the children taken from him, felt their anguish as they begged for freedom, for release, even for death as they were bound far more cruelly than anything the void could do to them.
With the Tesseract, the armies of the Chitauri would soon be his to control and this Midgard would kneel or face its ruin; Loki carried not which. Loki had never meant for it to come to this, had never meant to become this, but there was no other choice, no other way. There was no going back, no redemption, not for him, the monster that Asgardian children were told tales of, taught to fear. There would be no acceptance; Loki’s childish actions had seen that.
Thor’s arrival had not been unexpected, but the tinge in Loki’s frozen heart had been. He pushed it away as he twisted the truth into lies. Liesmith, silvertongued-Loki, not even Thor was immune to it. Thor so blinded to the greatest liar of all, Odin. If only he could see that—but no, Thor would never trust Loki again, not to speak the truth of others. He would believe any lie Loki spoke of himself because they were easy to believe, because Thor wanted to believe them.
Thor, his brother, how Loki would deny it aloud, but in all the ways that mattered, they were. Finding out that there was no blood between them didn’t lessen the disgust or shame that Loki felt over his attraction to his brother.
It was far too effortless to turn the so called Avengers—such fragile, petty creatures—against each other, and Loki was almost disappointed. Thor; always predictable Thor; righteous, loyal Thor fell into Loki’s trap just as easily as though it had been rehearsed. Loki knew that it would not kill him. Gods were not so fragile after all, but he’d hoped that it would hold Thor until it was too late (and keep him safe).
Loki truly hadn’t expected to survive it, had hoped for death. To be chained by Thor hadn’t been unbearable, but knowing that he was going back to Asgard, the source of his nightmares, was. The gag was of particular cruelty. (“I have no wish to hear more of your lies, brother,” Thor had said.) But there would have been no lies, not in this. Loki was almost thankful for it though because he would have set aside his pride and begged, begged for death, for freedom, anything but to be brought before Odin.
There were no guards to meet them when they materialized on the remnants of the bifrost. The long corridors mocked Loki as he was led by Thor to the throne room, a place that he’d once looked upon with an equal mix of pride and envy, but now the thought of it, did nothing but sit like a stone in his stomach. Thor was strangely silent as they walked at a faster pace than Loki would have liked, each step bringing them closer to the one that had done this to him.
Only upon stopping outside the tall, gold doors did Thor look at him, his previous hardened expression cracking as the worry shone through. Loki had no illusions to hide behind, no masks to protect him. His eyes were wet, but the tears did not fall, and he trembled in his bindings, not allowing himself to place his hand desperately over his stomach in a foolish move of protection that would do nothing to guard the tiny lives there. There was no safety to be found here.
“Brother,” Thor hesitantly began, but whatever he might have meant to say died on his lips as the door sprung open.
Loki stumbled as he was pulled forward into the massive room.
“Thor. Loki. Odinsons,” Odin greeted from his massive throne. “Thor, release your brother from his bindings.”
As Thor touched a spot on Loki’s chains, the binding fell away to clatter on the floor. Odin stood and strode down the stairs, moving forward as though he meant to embrace him.
Loki stepped back away from him, but Thor’s hand encircled his wrist, preventing him from moving further as it also kept the cold that threatened to overcome him at bay. “I am no son of yours, Allfather,” Loki spat. “No father would have taken from his child as you have taken from me.”
Poor, naive Thor looked between them in confusion.
“What? Father, did not tell you that I lived? That I survived the fall. That thrice he visited me?”
“Father?” Thor questioned with hurt disbelief at the same time that Odin’s face grew hard, his voice like a whip as he chastised him like he was a child. “Loki!”
“I am no longer afraid of you, Allfather. There is nothing that you can do to me now that you have not done to me already. Thrice you came to me, and thrice you stole from me, took the lives that grew in my body.” Loki trembled and finally the tears fell.
“They were abominations!” Odin shouted, spittle flying. “They would have destroyed the realms.”
“They were mine!” Loki shouted back. “It should have been my choice.”
“Stole….” Thor looked in horror between his father and brother. “Father, you knew he was alive, you left him there, stole his children?”
Odin’s face hardened. “You do not understand the destruction we would have faced, had I not done what I did. I had no choice.”
Loki didn’t expect it when Thor placed himself between himself and Odin, a living shield as though he could protect him from the Allfather. The sentiment was welcome, but Loki knew that Thor was not yet strong enough to truly stand against his father. The days he’d dreamt of this, the time that Thor would stand against his father were many, but it had never been in this situation, never like this, never in the protection of Loki himself.
“There is always a choice! You could have saved him. Instead you left him there. I shall never forgive you for this, father. You go too far. For all your talk of peace and acceptance, you treat your own son, your own grandchildren as monsters. How could you, father?” Thor’s hand was tight around the handle of Mjolnir, his knuckles white.
As though a switch had been flipped, Odin suddenly sank into himself, looking so very old and fragile. “As much as it pained me, I did what was required of me. Not all the right decisions are good. Sometimes sacrifices must be made.”
Thor shook his head. “I was right the first time: you are an old man and a fool. Your wisdom is based on fear of possibilities that may not even come to pass.” Drawing himself tall, Thor said, “Loki is under my protection. Come near him, and I will fight you. I may not be strong enough to defeat you single-handedly, but I don’t think you want to subject our people to the civil war that would surely follow.”
Thor didn’t wait for an answer as he stormed from the throne room, pulling Loki behind him. He didn’t stop till they reached Thor’s quarters, the rooms much the same as Loki remembered seeing them that last time he’d been here so very long ago. “Loki, had I known—”
“There was no knowing, brother,” Loki said as he moved across the room toward the window, staring out at that which had once been so beautiful, but now seemed cast in shadow.
“Loki,” Thor said from just behind him, his voice rough.
“The Allfather was right. They were abominations.” Thor’s touch on his shoulder was hesitant, and when Loki didn’t shrug him off, he was pulled back against him. It was strange, Loki though, to be touched without the expectation of violence. “But they were mine.” Loki turned, his eyes wild. “Can you understand that, brother? He didn’t even let me see them, didn’t let me choose. I could have made the right choice. I could have done it.”
Seizing Thor’s hand, Loki pressed them against the slight swell of his belly. There was no pleasure in seeing the shock crossing Thor’s face, only desperation as fear swamped him. “Promise me! Promise me that you’ll let me see them before Odin takes them from me. Promise me!” At Thor’s hesitation, Loki surged forward, capturing Thor’s mouth, hoping to ply him with pleasure.
Thor pulled back, but didn’t release his hold on Loki’s hips where they’d raised to grip him in surprise at the kiss. His face was a mask of pity, something Loki normally hated, but now, he’d take it, if only Thor would agree. He’d do anything. But there was something else, something he couldn’t name, that stilled Loki’s tongue.
“Loki, brother. If it was within my power and you desired it, all you had to do but was ask. There has never been need of trickery with me. I am quick to action, but given time, I could often understand your lessons. I have seen the errors of Odin’s ways, and I have blindly followed him for far too long. As long as I still draw breath, I shall protect these children.” Thor’s hand curled protectively against Loki’s stomach, causing Loki to draw a startled shuddering breath. “This I swear.” For a moment it was as though the worlds held their breaths around them as if his words changed the cosmos.
Maybe they had. For this night, Thor continued to surprise Loki. “Thank you.” The words were not enough. Not nearly enough to express Loki’s gratitude at this.
“I do not seek your gratitude, but I ask for your loyalty. There is still much to forgive, and much trust loss between us.” Thor intertwined his fingers with Loki’s. “But I hope that someday, we can move past that.”
For the first time in many year, Loki felt the faint stirrings of hope and let himself believe in a future that wasn’t so bleak. “Thor, brother, I give my life unto yours for as long as you have need of me. This I swear.” Again it was as though the realms held their breaths before all was right again.
Thor drew a startled breath, his brow creasing in surprise as the magnitude of the words hit home. “There was no need—”
Shaking his head, Loki interrupted him. “There is every need. Few will welcome me back, and even less will believe a word I say. With this, they will be less likely to demand my blood.”
“No! I have changed. I am not the same as I once was. There is no going back to that. We can only go forward. I can make no promises outside my loyalty to you. There is a darkness inside me that grows daily, that hungers. I fear—” Loki broke off, unable to admit that weakness aloud, not after everything he’d already revealed, not after what he’d done.
Thor’s hand rose and cupped Loki’s face as he lead their foreheads together, locking their eyes. “We’ll find a way to break this curse that has been placed upon you. Together.”
Loki found himself nodding, wanting to believe that it was something outside of him that had caused this, rather than some innate. With Thor’s infectious conviction, Loki let himself hope.