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Besieged, Beguiled, Beloved, Betrothed

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-

 

 

Tony Stark is interesting.

 

 

Amora is pacing, stalking from one end of her workshop to the other. Loki watches her with a bored expression, lounging against the edge of a table. He still thinks she’s overreacting. When he tells her so, she comes to a halt and glares at him. “How am I supposed to refine my spell when you throw a magical tantrum because I attacked one of our enemies? He insulted my craft!”

 

 

“He was insulting me. Stark and I trade insults all the time,” Loki points out. “You shouldn’t have interfered.”

 

 

“You and your flyting obsession.” She folds her arms. “I’ve never understood why you enjoy it so.”

 

 

‘You? Considerate? More like deliberate.’

 

 

Stark hadn’t even been trying to flyte. If he already has such an affinity for rhyme, imagine what he could be capable of by putting in real effort.

 

 

Amora’s still glaring at him. Loki straightens, returning her gaze coolly. “Do you want my help or not?” Expression souring, she nods. They both know she has no choice if she wants to meet her aims. “Then Stark is off-limits.”

 

 

Stark is an amusement. His insults, diverting. Nothing more.

 

 

-

 

 

Doom doesn’t seem all that impressed, though this may be because he’s still sore about the ease in which Loki bypassed all his security measures to gain access to his laboratory.

 

 

“I can even bolster your Doombot ranks with a number of illusions,” Loki says reasonably.

 

 

Doom’s eyes are wary behind his mask. “It’s unlike you to make such an offer without requesting a favour to be owed to you by Doom.”

 

 

“No favour.” Loki assures him. “It’s purely a bit of mischief for the Avengers.”

 

 

The man is still suspicious. “Doom has heard Iron Man seeks to track certain magics.”

 

 

“Does he?” Loki asks idly, pretending to survey the partially disassembled Doombot on the worktable. It’s harder than he expects to keep his expression from revealing anything.

 

 

To hear Stark flyting in earnest was everything Loki had thought it would be. His opener had been well crafted, and the quality of his form hadn’t lessened at all when he’d been responding to Loki’s insults. Clearly, Stark’s quick wit and ingenuity isn’t limited to his combat ability.

 

 

It felt so good to have a worthy opponent. And Stark had offered to flyte with him again, after all.

 

 

“Do you think Miss Storm will think less of Mr. Fantastic for outsourcing a solution?” Loki glances up, tuts lightly. “He certainly doesn’t have the aptitude to contest my barriers himself.” Doom is always desperate for any opportunity to humiliate Richards, thinking it will somehow impress Storm. And sure enough, the man now looks thoughtful. “Iron Man will be my concern, and easily managed.”

 

 

He wonders whether Stark will realise he’s orchestrated this entire venture.

 

 

-

 

 

He infiltrates General Ross’s compound out of curiosity; he knows the man is obsessed with Doctor Banner’s inner beast. His research seems to be about replicating and controlling creatures of that ilk rather than destroying them. Either way, it’s not something that would usually be worth Loki’s time.

 

 

But Stark likes Banner and the Hulk. And Stark really dislikes Ross.

 

 

He can understand why, when he’s subjected to Ross’s smug face. The man is an imbecile if he truly thinks the soldiers levelling their weapons at him pose any sort of deterrent.

 

 

“I wonder,” he remarks innocently, “how relevant it would be for me to call these experiments of yours Abominations.”

 

 

An imbecile, with no sense of humour, Loki concludes as he’s placed into a holding cell. He doesn’t respond to any of Ross’s comments on his inferiority; the man may think he’s being insulting, but Loki’s become spoiled for better.

 

 

Shortly afterwards, the mutated soldiers escape their confinement. Ross’s face is a blotchy red as he shouts. “What did you do?”

 

 

“Nothing.” Loki smiles widely from where he’s lazing casually on the floor. “But I’m a god: chaos tends to follow in my wake.” It’s mostly the truth; though, in this case, he also slowed the rate of the sedatives which were being administered by half, suspecting it would be enough to rouse the subjects.

 

 

“I will make you regret this!” Ross storms off, bellowing orders at his soldiers.

 

 

Loki leaves an illusion of himself behind in the cells and prowls invisibly through the compound. Just as he locates the laboratory where the genetic samples are being kept, there comes the sound of a distant commotion. The Avengers are clearly on the scene. He teleports outside and finds a mutated soldier with its hand around Iron Man’s throat.

 

 

A possessive fury rages through him. The only one allowed to lay hands on Stark’s neck is him.

 

 

The urge to gut the creature, to mark Stark as his while they’re both splattered with its blood, is rather unexpected. He elects to hurl the creature aside instead.

 

 

They are ‘Loki’ and ‘Stark.’ Stark’s eyes are bright with humour as he peels away the damaged pieces of his armour. He calls Ross an imbecile and bats his eyes, as if he can entice Loki into action armed with nothing more than his own nature. Loki is not so easily swayed.

 

 

“Pretty please, terror tease?”

 

 

Loki returns to the genetics lab because he feels like it, not because Stark asks. He takes the vial containing the original blood sample. He has no real need for it, but it will make for useful leverage against any interested parties. He destroys everything else in the room.

 

 

Stark is ‘Iron Man.’ Is bold enough to call him ‘Laufeyson.’ Loki responds in kind, with Stark becoming ‘Anthony.’

 

 

“I’d hurl insults at the All-Father.” The man says, as if this is something he’s been wanting to do. “Because he’d deserve every moment of the public humiliation I’d serve him. But I’ll only flyte with you, Snowflake. We should team up for that actually.”

 

 

The thought of Tony Stark standing fearlessly before the throne, daring to offer insult, wielding his words with precision enough to affect Odin, leaves Loki breathless. The very notion of the two of them, together against the whole of Asgard, nearly overcomes him. He wants.

 

 

Given how the man’s pupils dilate when Loki moves closer, to hand over the vial, perhaps he isn’t the only one.

 

 

-

 

 

Loki wonders whether he may be in trouble.

 

 

He’s thought about sex with Tony before – almost everyone probably has. Even when he’d been spearheading an invasion Loki had noticed the man held a certain physical appeal.

 

 

Tony has a reputation for enjoying sex, for being an extremely generous lover who’s never left the other participants feeling dissatisfied. He openly embraces his passions, regardless of the opinions of those who would shame him for doing so. And Tony flirts more easily than he breathes. Thinking of sex in relation to Tony is to be expected.

 

 

But now, Loki cannot stop thinking about Tony’s declaration to flaunt his flyting skills on Asgard, with Loki, as Loki’s equal. It’s becoming impossible to think of anything without also thinking of Tony.

 

 

Loki always keeps tabs on any Avenger related plots – one must be aware of threats to their investments – and he finds intel in the headquarters of a division of A.I.M. This particular faction has been irritating SHIELD for months over a string of minor thefts. But their next mission is to secure a prototype which will be showcased at a gala held by the Maria Stark Foundation.

 

 

He makes a copy of everything related to the operation and sends it all to Thor. He then proceeds to ignore all of Thor’s calls. It’s harder to ignore him when the dolt turns up to his apartment in person, but Loki does his best.

 

 

The event goes ahead as scheduled, giving SHIELD the opportunity to apprehend all of the A.I.M operatives; a gift which will undoubtably make Fury suspicious enough to confront the Avengers about the flyting. Loki attends the gala as well.

 

 

Tony’s expecting him.

 

 

Afterwards, alone in his apartment, Loki takes himself in hand, his thoughts still on the event. The lingering warmth of the scotch in his throat. The snug fit of Tony’s dark suit, the sharp curve of his smirk. The shine of his reactor, just barely visible beneath his shirt.

 

The rhymes sliding sensually off Tony’s tongue. Their exchange regarding horses and mares; the associated imagery of Loki being mounted, mounting Tony in turn. The feel of Tony’s pulse racing beneath his fingertips.

 

 

Tony’s mouth at his ear, his voice low, offering to kneel.

 

 

Loki throws his head back and surrenders, with Tony’s name on his lips.

 

 

He’s definitely in trouble.

 

 

-

 

 

Magneto doesn’t even blink at Loki’s presence in his command centre. He merely goes about his tasks, patiently waiting for Loki to broach the silence. After three hours, Loki finally says “I didn’t expect this to happen.”

 

 

“One never does.”

 

 

Loki considers the mutant leader. Erik Lehnsherr is, at his core, an honest man who has learned how to wear deceptions as a practicality, even in the face of what it costs him. “What does one do, when one finds a hero fascinating to the exclusion of all else?” Loki keeps his tone mild, as if the question is an idle one.

 

 

But Magneto answers with the weight it deserves. “Consider what you want; what he wants; and which of these things are mutually exclusive.”

 

 

Loki tries not to wince. “But I’m a…” He wants to say ‘villain,’ but the word doesn’t capture his complexities. “And Tony’s…” But ‘hero’ isn’t exactly good enough do Tony justice either.

 

 

“Stark has never been one to be afraid to fight for what he wants.” Magneto smiles, genuinely, though it has a bittersweet edge to it. “If you both want the same thing, I’m sure you’ll find a way to achieve it, together.”

 

 

Loki mulls this concept over; that he and Tony can adapt and integrate their plans. Mutual satisfaction rather than mutually exclusive. He likes the idea.

 

 

He smiles at Magneto. “Do give Professor Xavier my regards.”

 

 

-

 

 

They appear in Loki’s bedroom, still kissing. Loki supports Tony’s weight easily, enjoying the clench of the man’s legs around his waist. He slides one of his hands from Tony’s thigh to settle on his ass, and Tony makes an approving sound into his mouth. Loki responds by pulling back, smirking.

 

 

“Oi, don’t stop,” Tony protests. He tugs on Loki’s hair a little.

 

 

“Just admiring the view,” Loki drawls. “Flushed and wanting is a good look for you.”

 

 

Tony treats him to a sultry look, complete with a pout and half-lidded eyes. “As much as I appreciate ogling you in your armour, I’d rather you out of it.” Loki leans in to catch Tony’s mouth again. Tony isn’t so distracted he misses the shimmer of magic. He takes in Loki’s wardrobe shift into the leggings and tunic he’d been wearing before heading to the park. “Day off, was it? I’m flattered.”

 

 

Loki chuckles. “I could put my leathers back on if you’d like.”

 

 

“Fuck that.” Tony’s legs loosen and he drops his feet to the floor. Loki allows Tony to press him against the wall. The next kiss lands on his collarbone instead of his mouth, and Tony’s hands slide down his chest, curving around his sides to settle on his hips. “I mean, maybe later, because you in leather, always yes. But this makes things easier.” And then–

 

 

“Hhnnnguh,” is Loki’s eloquent reaction.

 

 

Tony grins up at him, from where he’s kneeling before Loki, and slips his hand below the waistband. Fingers trace along his hardened length teasingly before taking hold with a firm squeeze. Loki chokes on a curse. Tony’s spare hand pushes Loki’s tunic up so he can press a kiss to his navel. “Doing okay there, my Silvertongue?” He starts stroking, a leisurely pace that Loki knows is deliberately meant to frustrate him.

 

 

Loki grapples at Tony’s shoulder, fisting at the fabric of the man’s shirt. “More,” he demands, thrusting into Tony’s hand.

 

 

“More?” Tony’s eyes are dark with arousal, despite the unwavering amusement in his tone. He efficiently pulls Loki free of his pants and though this allows for a much better grip, Tony doesn’t increase his speed. Instead, he ducks his head forward. Loki feels the swipe of tongue against the tip of his length, where he’s leaking fluid, and his breathing stutters. Tony makes a show of licking his lips when he leans back. “Thought you wanted your leathers?”

 

 

“I want your mouth.” Loki’s head falls back against the wall, but he’s quick to lift it again; he can’t properly watch Tony with his head tilted back. Tony’s lips part.

 

 

“It’s called a blow job

Yet one will suck and swallow;

Why the misnomer?”

 

 

Tony on his knees and reciting verse. Loki cannot prevent the desperate whine which escapes him. Thankfully, Tony grants mercy to him, taking Loki into his mouth without further delay.

 

 

The heat of him. Loki digs the fingers of his free hand into the wall and struggles not to buck his hips. The wet slide of Tony’s tongue is divine, and as the tension builds in him Loki may brokenly pledge an oath of fealty as encouragement. The muffled sound Tony makes is a greedy one, sending vibrations shivering up through Loki’s entire body. “Tony,” Loki gasps. “Tony.” But Tony doesn’t pull back; he leans in even closer, moaning. Loki unravels with a shout as Tony swallows him down.

 

 

When Loki regains the use of his senses, he finds Tony’s put him back together and is sitting on his heels, looking extremely smug. He decides this needs to be rectified and promptly seizes his mortal, scooping him up in a smooth movement. Ignoring the surprised yelp, he dumps Tony onto the bed. Tony lands on his back, limbs sprawling out, and the sight nearly steals Loki’s breath all over again.

 

 

“Well then,” Loki enunciates slowly as he leans over Tony. “Where should I start?”

 

 

“Your hands,” Tony demands immediately, wriggling his own fingers as he beckons Loki closer. His voice is hoarse. “God, Loki, anything you want but your hands first, please.

 

 

Loki peels Tony’s jeans and undergarments away as swiftly as he’s able. He catches Tony’s wandering hands, pinning his wrists above his head. Using one hand to keep them there, he sets a finger to Tony’s bottom lip.

 

 

Tony nips at it. “I am not above begging,” he declares desperately.

 

 

This is intriguing information, and Loki plans to investigate the claim in detail at a later opportunity. But for now, he doesn’t bother teasing. He shifts his hand to wrap it around Tony’s length and immediately starts stroking.

 

 

Yes, yes. God. Do you know how long I’ve wanted your hands on me? Oh, fucking hell. Your stupid, brilliant fingers, working – ah! Working magic. Elegant. Perfect. Fuck, yes, just like that. Loki, god. So good, you’re so good. Drive me crazy. Yes! Do that again! God, god, my god. Mine. Do you even know how hot you are when – gah – everything about you. Loki. Yes. Loki! Loki. Loki, Loki, Loki, Loki, Loki –”

 

 

Watching Tony fall apart is possibly the most beautiful thing Loki’s ever seen.

 

 

Tony seems to float in quiet bliss as Loki sets about cleaning up. He stirs only after Loki moves away to manually undress. Sitting up to strip off his own shirt, Tony tosses it in the direction of his pants and flops back down again, eyes tracing leisurely over Loki’s body.

 

 

Loki returns the favour, appreciating the uncovered view of lean muscle, scars, and the metallic housing of the arc reactor. Beautiful. “You look satisfied.”

 

 

“I am. You were amazing, of course.” Tony stretches a little, grinning when he sees Loki’s own pleased smile. “Figures you have a worship kink, and that’s good to know. So, was I as awesome as you imagined then?” Loki feigns disinterest. “Or do you swear allegiance to every pretty face you take to bed?”

 

 

“Oh, hush,” he says as he crosses back to the bed. Tony quirks an eyebrow at him.

 

 

“My mouth: tongue and voice

An instrument to please you

Now you want silence?”

 

 

Loki slides his fingers over Tony’s jaw, tilting his head back. Their kiss this time is slow, but no less passionate for it. “I suppose you were adequate, Anthony,” Loki informs him, his tone imperious, as if he’s doing Tony a favour.

 

 

“Oh, so, I’m Anthony again, am I?” Tony pulls Loki down to lie beside him. “I know I heard you call me Tony before.”

 

 

“Hmm.” Loki drags a hand lazily up Tony’s side. “Perhaps you should attempt to earn it back.”

 

 

Tony’s eyes sparkle with mirth. “Earn it?” He nods slowly, looking faux-thoughtful. “And would it be appropriate to pay my way by making you a morning-gift?”

 

 

Loki’s breath catches in his throat. The connotations of Tony specifying a morgengifu – surely he cannot mean what he’s implying. And yet, there’s a clear challenge smouldering in Tony’s gaze now. “Then it would be remiss of me not to gift you one too.” He means it to sound like a threat, but Tony kisses his fingertips, then presses them to Loki’s mouth, obviously happy with this response. Loki finds more words to offer him.

 

 

“My star, ever bright

You blind me and consume me

A black hole, burning.”

 

 

Tony huffs, still smiling. “I’m going to take that as a compliment.”

 

 

“If you must,” Loki says, even though he rather did mean it as one. He traces his fingers around the rim of the arc reactor. When this garners no protest, he lays his hand over it. The casing, and the thrum of power beneath it, are cool against his palm. Tony hums contently and combs his fingers through Loki’s hair.

 

 

It’s reasonable to conclude the morgengifu exchange is to declare their intentions to only be sexually available to one another. But Loki cannot help but wonder if it’s possible Tony may also actually, truly, be hinting there’s another form of commitment on his mind.

 

 

-

 

 

Loki stands towards the back of the room, watching Tony work the press. It’s an artform and Tony is quite the performer, holding the attentions of his audience. Loki stops sliding his thumb along the edge of his phone and opens a new message.

 

 

I require Tony Stark’s phone number.

 

 

Loki could obtain it himself by other means, of course, but he thinks perhaps Thor has earnt some slack.

 

 

Of course brother! :D :D :D :D :D

 

 

Loki rolls his eyes at the enthusiasm, even though it does make him smile faintly. This text is followed by an attachment pre-filled with the information, which suggests Thor had help sending it. Loki saves the contact, then texts Tony.

 

 

Tony’s delight is obvious to everyone in the room.

 

 

Loki’s phone vibrates with the response. The Avengers Assemble app takes only a few moments to load, and the icon of his helmet is conspicuous amongst the rest. Loki selects it. A new window opens, the background rendered with a parchment effect. ‘Insult of the Day’ is written across the top, and taking up the remainder of the screen space are the words:

 

 

‘Your armour may look glorious,

But mine’s always victorious.’

 

 

Loki bites his lip. How is it possible for this man to be so perfect for him?

 

 

One of the reporters finally asks Tony about Loki. It’s gratifying to watch Tony play the room for his benefit. As the man dramatically moves to leave the press conference, Loki wonders whether he should join Tony at his car, just to give the press a further show.

 

 

Glass explodes and Tony is attacked.

 

 

Loki shouts his name – Anthony, for appearances sake – but he isn’t too worried. Not until, despite the arrival of the Iron Man armour, Tony is struck again. Loki appears at his side in time to see Tony’s eyes roll back in his head. “Tony!” A quick assessment reassures him that aside from being unconscious, Tony shows no serious injuries. Loki stands. “Guard your maker,” he instructs the empty suit. Then he steps forwards, materialising his own armour.

 

 

Artax falters mid-speech at the sight of him and raises his gauntlet again. “Stay back! I’ve defeated Iron Man! I’ll defeat you too!” His colourless face and wide eyes betray his fear.

 

 

“You’ve hardly defeated him,” Loki mocks. “Tony was unlucky. The Iron Man suit could handle you without its pilot. But that would be a kindness.” Artax shrieks in terror as the real Loki appears beside him, seizing his arm. “I’m not kind.”

 

 

The illusion smiles maliciously before it dissolves. Loki tears the gauntlet away, then breaks Artax’s arm. Artax drops to the floor with a wail, cradling his injured limb and scrambling backwards. Loki doesn’t let him get very far before bringing his foot down on the man’s ankle. The sound of bone crunching is audible even over the pitiful scream of pain.

 

 

“You insect,” Loki hisses. He sets the curve of his knife against Artax’s jaw. “I should flay you.”

 

 

He hears his name called by his brother, who arrives with Captain Rogers in tow. “We can take it from here.” Rogers says cautiously. “Hand him over, Loki.”

 

 

Loki hauls Artax up so his feet dangle above the ground. “Certainly. Once I finish breaking all his remaining bones.” Artax whines.

 

 

Rogers frowns but stays his tongue at Thor’s hand on his shoulder. All Thor says is, “Tony requires aid.”

 

 

Loki scowls. There are irritating downsides to Thor gaining newfound understanding of Loki’s priorities. He throws Artax across the room to land in a heap at Roger’s feet.

 

 

Once he has Tony safely in his arms, and the Iron Man armour has taken flight to return to the Tower, Loki makes an offer to teleport them all directly to SHIELD’s Hellicarrier. Rogers accepts. Their arrival is heralded by alarms blaring loudly and several agents pulling weapons on him. Director Fury looks even less happy than he usually does but orders his minions to stand down.

 

 

Rogers actually manages to keep a straight face as he explains matters to Fury. Loki strokes his thumb over Tony’s knee, mirroring Romanov’s demure smile when she tracks the movement.

 

 

“Is that the gauntlet?” Fury asks. The sentence has barely left his mouth when said gauntlet spontaneously combusts, green flames erupting in Thor’s hands. Thor sighs, but Loki doesn’t see why he’d complain; the fire isn’t harmful to him.

 

 

“Oh dear.” Loki smiles brightly at Fury. “Did you want that? I don’t see why, it’s ridiculously inferior to any of Iron Man’s technology.”

 

 

“Get him into a cell,” Fury instructs his minions, indicating Artax. Then he turns his stare on Loki. “I’m tempted to put you in one too.” As if one of his heroes isn’t, quite literally, in Loki’s hands.

 

 

Loki’s grin sharpens. “I could make it up to you by assisting with your interrogation. He doesn’t need all of his limbs, surely.”

 

 

“If you’d like,” Romanov says agreeably. Artax makes a high-pitched squeak and scoots backwards into Roger’s legs. Romanov’s smile widens. “I could take Tony–”

 

 

Loki tightens his grip on Tony, who unconsciously turns into the gesture, nuzzling his shoulder. “I’m keeping him.” He keeps his tone light, but he sees how Fury cants his head slightly at the words. Loki drops a kiss to the top of Tony’s head.

 

 

“I’ll escort you to medical then,” Romanov says, humour dancing in her eyes. Once they’re out of earshot, she says, “Fury’s still in denial. He finds it simpler to think you and Tony are still playing each other, and the rest of us.”

 

 

“Simpler, perhaps.” But where’s the fun in that? Loki slants her a look. “I take it you and your teammates have a different view.” Romanov just laughs.

 

 

When they arrive at medical, she passes him over to Doctor Banner, who dismisses the SHIELD medics altogether and sees to Tony himself. Banner hands him Tony’s phone, which he pockets, and tablet. As Loki makes himself comfortable in the chair by Tony’s bedside, the tablet in his hands turns itself on.

 

 

“Greetings, Mr Lie-Smith,” a crisp voice says.

 

 

“JARVIS, I presume,” Loki replies. “I’m pleased to properly make your acquaintance.”

 

 

“Thank you. If I may clarify, as per Sir’s suggestion, Lie-Smith would be your preferred form of address?” When Loki agrees, JARVIS suggests he may peruse the contents of the tablet until Tony awakens. “I will permit you access to the files I deem pertinent to you.”

 

 

Loki raises an eyebrow, first at JARVIS’s emphasis, then at Banner as he stifles a laugh.

 

 

“Sorry,” Banner says with a shake of his head. “It’s just, JARVIS has been very, uh, forthcoming lately.”

 

 

“Is this so?” Loki eyes the tablet. “Very well, JARVIS. Proceed.” It only takes a few minutes for Loki to stumble over a file containing very detailed notes on Norse poetry and he grins. “I doubt Tony would think this ‘pertinent’ to share.”

 

 

“I was merely using Sir’s own standards to go by.” JARVIS replies dryly. Then, a soundbite of Tony’s own voice plays: “if it’s about me, then I can read it.”

 

 

Loki chuckles. “You do him proud.”

 

 

“A suggestion which may also be to your liking?” JARVIS offers, sounding quite smug. A new file opens. “Sir bookmarks his favourite entries.”

 

 

Loki’s certain all of these tales will mention his name.

 

 

-

 

 

Credit where it’s due, none of the Avengers act like Loki deciding to join them all for breakfast is anything new. Tony is breathing worship into his mug of newly re-permitted coffee, while Banner is trying to stress that coffee does not equal carte blanche for Tony to consider it his only necessary food group again. Romanov is talking to Rogers about a SHIELD assignment at an art gallery, and whether he’d like to join her. Barton casually asks Loki to pass the salt and pepper, and no one so much as blinks when Loki uses magic to float them down the length of the table.

 

 

“Oi!” Tony says, as Barton swiftly spears one of the sausages from his plate. “How dare you. No arrow upgrades for you. Special privileges revoked.”

 

 

“Unfair,” Barton says, but he’s grinning. “Loki’s taken three – why aren’t you revoking his privileges?”

 

 

“My fiancé has special-special privileges.” When Loki then pilfers another sausage, Tony merely kisses his cheek.

 

 

“You need to save privilege revoking for special occasions, you mean.” Loki corrects airily, hoping his face doesn’t look as warm as it feels. “For villainy and treachery.”

 

 

“Hmm. Depends who the target is.” His fiancé winks. “If we’re avenging, then it’s enacting justice.”

 

 

He kisses Tony, much to the amusement of the room. “I’m not joining the Avengers.” He nips at Tony’s lip to emphasise this point before withdrawing.

 

 

Tony is smug. “We’ll see.”

 

 

Loki only realises Thor has been conspicuously quiet thus far when his brother clears his throat. “I wonder if you and Tony had any definitive plans today, brother.” Thor aims for casual and misses by a mile. The others look over curiously. “Or for the week?”

 

 

Loki sets down his fork and gives Thor his full attention. His brother doesn’t quite meet his eyes, his demeanour awkwardly guilty. “What did you do?” Loki accuses, more puzzled than anything else.

 

 

“I might have…accidently…given mother news of your betrothal?”

 

 

The quietly strangled noise of surprise apparently comes from him. “Thor!”

 

 

“I am sorry!”

 

 

“I shall not rule out stabbing you with this butter knife!”

 

 

“It was an accident, Loki! I swear it!”

 

 

Rogers cuts in, a little concerned. “Is there a problem?”

 

 

Loki sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose. “It’s not a problem, per se.” He glances at Tony, who’s looking entertained by the exchange and unfazed by the news. “Mother will be disappointed we didn’t perform the lucet blessing, as is customary for families of magical practitioners. The braiding of the lucet cord brings fortune to the family’s negotiations and offers foreknowledge as to whether the prospective partner is to be a good match.”

 

 

“Because, traditionally, all the family members are involved before the betrothal,” Tony clarifies for his teammates. “But, hey, Thor and I spend loads of time together, gossiping about Loki, so that must count for something. Right?”

 

 

Banner looks equal parts amused and exasperated, which is a common reaction to Tony. “Please tell me you haven’t managed to offend the rulers of Asgard by blind-sighting them with your engagement.”

 

 

“Mother isn’t offended,” Thor offers, but doesn’t voice that this may be solely accredited to Thor’s previously offered tales of his shield brother. Nor does he voice that Frigga will be wary of Tony and his proposal, and suspicious of Loki’s acceptance. He doubts the possibility of their mutual sincerity has even crossed her mind.

 

 

“And the All-Father?” Loki prompts.

 

 

Thor grimaces slightly. “His royal majesty the All-Father, King Odin Borson; ruler of the golden realm of Asgard; wielder of the spear Gungnir, and of the Odinforce; hereby issues a formal summons to his highness Prince Loki and his betrothed, the Midgardian warrior of Iron; to present themselves before the throne, concerning the matter of their intentions to be wed.”

 

 

After a brief pause, Loki says, “so; he’s displeased, then.”

 

 

“I thought mortals weren’t allowed on Asgard.” Romanov taps the tip of her knife against her lip, openly interested.

 

 

“There is a clause for betrothal which grants an exception to that rule,” Thor explains.

 

 

Rogers turns towards Tony. “You expected this?”

 

 

He nods. “It’s not like Odin was going to Bifrost himself down onto my balcony. He’s the sort of man who makes others come to him. So yeah. A formal invite is much better than being abducted though. Ooh, that reminds me. JARVIS; status of Project Dowry?” Tony looks very pleased with himself when six pairs of wide eyes abruptly fix on him. Loki’s feeling a little stunned.

 

 

“The render is complete, Sir.”

 

 

“Excellent.” Tony smiles brightly at Thor. “Then, yes, I’m ready to go today.”

 

 

“Project Dowry?” Barton repeats. “And when exactly did you start working on that?”

 

 

Tony tilts his head from side to side, wearing a vaguely thoughtful expression that fools no one. “Huh. You know, I can’t recall.”

 

 

“I first made note of your design suggestions after the incident with the zombie-soldiers; and you assigned the project name–”

 

 

“JARVIS!”

 

 

“– after the gala. I was only trying to be helpful, Sir.”

 

 

Tony points his fork at the ceiling, ignoring the muffled laughter around him. “Don’t get cute with me, J. You’re grounded.” But Tony ruins his reprimand by smiling, and Loki wants to kiss him again.

 

 

“If you’re going off-world, you’ll have to give Fury a proper explanation.” Rogers is quietly firm about this.

 

 

Tony pulls a face. “If you insist, Cap.” He thinks a minute, then points a finger in the air as inspiration hits. “J! Send Fury an audio file with the records of our flyting. Stick some instrumentals in the background, something with a good beat. Tell him I’ll let him debrief me – or us, whichever he prefers – when we get back.”

 

 

That conversation would be interesting to observe. Tony and Fury are both skilled liars, especially when hunting truths. “Very well,” Loki says, addressing Thor. “But if this doesn’t go well, I reserve the right to stab you later.”

 

 

“As if you won’t do so anyway,” Thor remarks, clearly relieved.

 

 

“It’ll be fine,” Tony offers. “In fact, it will be awesome, because I’m directly involved.”

 

 

“And on that note,” Banner says, “while you’ve been cleared for battle, Tony, I’d prefer if you try to avoid it.”

 

 

Tony just smiles, and the other Avengers are probably even less confident when Loki and Thor exchange dubious looks.

 

 

-

 

 

When the three of them emerge from the Bifrost, Heimdall’s only reaction is to raise his brows, which is enough to make Loki preen. Tony looks incredible, attired in the red and gold leathers Loki presented him for his morgengifu. The design mirrors Loki’s own style but resembles the Iron Man armour enough to near seamlessly match the gauntlet on Tony’s right hand and shows off the brilliant shine of the arc reactor.

 

 

Loki’s wearing the daggers Tony gifted him in return, sheathed at his waist, openly displaying them when he usually keeps his weapons concealed. And Thor’s holding a cube identical in appearance to the Tesseract but rendered in Iron Man’s colour scheme.

 

 

Heimdall recovers quickly. “Welcome back, my prince,” he greets Thor. “The King and Queen await you all in the throne room.” Heimdall glances at Loki. “As do the rest.”

 

 

Thor frowns. “The court’s in attendance?” Heimdall nods, ignoring Loki’s muttering about how of course they are, then turns his gaze on Tony.

 

 

“You’re the all-seeing guardian, right?” Tony says, without preamble. “You must have been great at hide-and-seek.” Heimdall’s eyebrows lift again, but he doesn’t comment.

 

 

Loki has Tony sit before him as they mount the horses and ride towards the palace. Tony cranes himself up for a better view. “Ooh, pretty. I wanna pull up a piece of this bridge, for science. Wish I’d bought JARVIS along to record everything. Ah, well. Next time.” Tony leans his weight back against Loki. “So, what are these court assemblies like?”

 

 

Thor speaks up from where he’s keeping pace beside them. “It’s usually only a formality, to announce the matches once they’ve been registered, but–”

 

 

“– but that’s after the negotiations are finished,” Tony concludes. “I expect your parents are going to ask me about my intentions then.” He doesn’t sound worried, further evidence this man is amazing.

 

 

Loki doesn’t think this assembly’s been called because Odin’s upset Loki – and Tony – have been advancing the stages of the courtship at their own discretion. “Thor wouldn’t be subjected to such a public trial.” He’s mildly gratified when Thor concurs.

 

 

Tony tilts his head against Loki’s shoulder. “Don’t pout, sparkles. This is going to be fun.” Both Loki and Thor eye him incredulously, but Tony pays them no mind, attention captivated by the surroundings as they enter the city limits.

 

 

Tony continues twitching with restless energy as they head for the palace, making adorable noises of excitement and interest, but once they arrive at their destination, he immediately settles himself. When the three of them enter the hall, Tony assumes a confident strut and a casual air, which Loki knows is a practised front to lend to the impression he’s a man who knows just how good he is.

 

 

Loki lets Thor lead, mainly so he can observe the moods of the crowd. He realises it’s more than just the court gathered; most of Asgard seems to be here. There’s a curiosity about Tony – a Midgardian, Thor’s teammate, interested in Loki – but overall the general atmosphere indicates they seem underwhelmed by him. Odin, on the other hand, takes one look at Tony and dismisses him entirely. Frigga’s expression is inscrutable.

 

 

Thor halts before the stairs at the base of the throne, and bows. “I’ve returned with Loki and Iron Man, father.”

 

 

“So I see.” Odin looks meaningfully at Loki.

 

 

Loki strolls forward and performs his bow with as much dramatic flair as he can muster. “We’ve arrived as you commanded, All-Father.” Loki gives Odin an unpleasant smile. “It overjoys me, that you’ve made me and mine feel so welcome.”

 

 

Odin’s jaw clenches, and Frigga touches his arm. She offers Loki a polite, if somewhat reticent smile, proving he was correct in his earlier theories about her concerns. “We are pleased to receive you, my son. Will you introduce us to your guest?”

 

 

Loki nods, gesturing Tony forward as he steps aside. “Mother, All-Father; this is my betrothed.” He speaks the word with pride, relishing it and the reactions it causes throughout the hall.

 

 

Tony folds an arm across his chest and bows in the Asgardian fashion. “Anthony Edward Stark, Iron Man; benefactor and warrior of the Avengers; Merchant of Death, architect of living intelligence, and household name throughout the Earth, the realm known as Midgard.” He straightens and treats them to his most charming smile. “But you may call me Tony, Lady Frigga. I appreciate the invitation, Odin All-Father. It’s an honour to grace the halls that Loki called home.”

 

 

Loki grins as Odin’s eye twitches. “You have been summonsed to address the throne as to this betrothal,” the king says, as if they need reminding.

 

 

“Sure thing.” Tony’s smile doesn’t falter. “I’ll start with my gift then, shall I?” He beckons and Thor steps over obligingly to pass him the cube. “I had his highness hold onto it for me, for everyone’s peace of mind.” So it wouldn’t be presumed to be a weapon, Loki knows everyone hears. Which, of course, is made redundant by the gauntlet he’s wearing. “Thanks, buddy.”

 

 

Loki’s surprised when Thor clearly states “not at all, my friend. It’s my honour to assist you.” For Thor to speak out of turn, merely to affirm Tony is worthy of his respect, is practically akin to Thor bellowing to the hall that he approves of the match. Thor grins at him as he retakes his position and Loki returns it, genuinely touched.

 

 

Tony looks to Frigga again. “Both your sons have spoken highly of your weave work, your majesty. And while I’m no expert with physical thread, I thought I’d try applying similar principles to my own craft.” He kneels, setting the cube on the floor and pressing one of the indents on the side. A holographic tapestry flickers into existence, projected above the cube. Tony then addresses Odin. “We mortals on Midgard have a collection of tales and mythologies about you, your kingship. This is a representation drawn from that knowledge.”

 

 

The tapestry depicts Odin, as a bearded man with one eye, a pointed hat, and a gnarled wooden staff. The two ravens circling overhead – Huginn and Muninn – are obvious choices to include. But there’s also a giant wolf on the horizon, which Loki knows is Tony referencing the tale in the Edda where Fenrir devours Odin come Ragnarök. The border framing the edges is comprised of three recurring symbols; one is the valknut, which is associated with Odin, but also represents the transition from life to death. There’s also the svefnthorn; a symbol the tales tell could be used to put an opponent into a long and deep sleep. The third symbol isn’t Norse but Midgardian – he believes it’s the one used for their planet Mercury. Loki absently makes a note to ask Tony about its significance later.

 

 

“A passive-aggressive ‘fuck you’ to Odin,” was all Tony had said about what Project Dowry was before they’d taken the Bifrost.

 

 

The gift is well crafted and honours both the Queen and the King in its composition. Only when one looks beyond the surface can one see the insults it offers Odin, and yet they are subtle enough that Tony can convincingly feign ignorance if confronted.

 

 

Loki’s grin widens. Asgard is not prepared for Tony Stark at all.

 

 

Tony meets his gaze and drops him a quick wink. “I hope you both like it,” he says as he makes the image vanish again.

 

 

“It’s a finely executed piece,” Frigga responses diplomatically, without revealing an opinion. Loki’s affection for Tony soars. His mother is rarely caught unawares by anyone, and he can tell she has no idea what to make of Tony or the nuances of his gift. She turns her eyes to him, her gaze searching. Loki simply raises an eyebrow at her.

 

 

“My intention was to offer this as my dowry, your kingship.” Tony tells Odin. “But if you’d rather consider it an early wedding present instead, I understand.”

 

 

Odin is now eyeing Tony with a far more calculating air than before. “This remains to be seen. We have heard much of your deeds from Thor, who claims you to be his shield-brother. But now I would charge you to speak for yourself, Midgardian.” Odin bangs his spear against the floor once. “What measure of man are you, and why have you asked for Loki’s hand?”

 

 

“What sort of man am I?” Tony asks, as if to himself, if not for the way he projects his voice for the entire hall to hear. A thrill of anticipation runs down Loki’s spine. Tony tilts his head, strikes a pose, then continues.

 

 

“What sort of man am I?

One sought to justify

My deeds and my life, or

Misdeeds to account for.

 

A pseudo prince on my world, in wealth and in worth,

A mechanic, a blacksmith, a patron to Earth.

Clever, creative, a man of acclaim,

Further advancing my family’s name.

Alas, where this epic truly commences:

A land of sand and consequences.

 

An ambush awaits!

A bomb detonates!

 

Healer’s hands halt the descent to death’s door;

The captor commands to own weapons of war.

Mount a star in my chest to showcase my mettle;

Defiance, encased in an armour of metal.

Break bones and fell foes; trade terror; scorch shame;

Arise from the ashes; a phoenix aflame.

 

And though home I return,

My amendments are spurned.

 

Twisted by jealousy

My mentor betrays me.

Discards me to die, but

I’ve proof of my heart.

So I take to the skies

Make him pay for his lies.

And defeat him with ice,

Lightning, fire, and spice.

 

A new game plan:

I am Iron Man.

 

But palladium poisoning: not very nice.

A grudge between fathers; must I pay the price?

Percentages climb, as does discontent;

Some serious science: a new element.

A demo, deception, with rogue drones unveiled;

A physicist loses and a tool is jailed.

 

Iron Man: Yes – Avenger intended;

Yet Tony Stark is Not Recommended.

 

The Tesseract tears open a portal in space;

A god tumbles through with psychotic grace.

Loki of Asgard, with glorious purpose;

Come to cause chaos and make people nervous.

An awesome arrival; an easy surrender;

Good move; and now this prince is my prisoner.

 

Lightning lights up the sky!

The Thunderer is nigh!

Some Shakespeare in the park?

Weareth drapes as a lark?

 

Thor has a mean swing but I’m just as tough,

Through battle he learns that he can’t take my stuff.

The Trickster is caged; it’s part of his scheme;

He scatters our heroes, divides our team.

 

Now where would he go?

To put on a show?

 

A daring diva, a formidable force

Seeks out a monument: Stark Tower, of course.

I threaten, he mocks, I drink and we flyte

He’ll fall short, he’ll fail; I fall, then take flight.

 

Avengers! Assemble!

Chitauri! Tremble!

The battle breaks out, our fighters competed.

With a weapon I win, and Loki’s defeated.

Beaten not broken;

Broken not beaten.

 

Countless conflicts carried out;

Damages dealt devoid of doubt;

Enemies? Easily. Besides,

We’re standing on opposing sides.

Taunts exchanged;

Then, a change.

 

A vanished voice vexes a rival;

Witty words are a welcome arrival;

Intelligent insults, vociferous verse,

Offensive odes, poems perverse.

But the thing about rhyme:

It means more over time.

 

Loki the Lie-Smith!

Warrior wordsmith.

Smart and shrewd; a sorcerer skilled;

Sassy; sarcastic; and strong willed.

 

By nature and nurture, twice royal is he;

A Would-Be-King, Should-Be-King, obviously;

But this matters not, though it may sound cliché,

What I most desire is his smile turned my way.

I respect him; with me he’s just as impressed;

Shall I worship you, godling, the way I know best?

 

Fighting –

Cunning, cool, and creative in combat

Flyting –

Words wielded well which weaponize wit

Flaunting –

Showmanship’s a speciality

Flirting –

A courtship of cravings and ecstasy

 

Besieged –

Persistent pursuers; perfectly paired

Beguiled –

Elating, endearing; emotions ensnared

Beloved –

You’re mine: value greater than gems or gold

Betrothed –

I’m yours: to honour, to have, and to hold

 

I do what I want, and I want as I please!

Loki’s the same; and the best one for me!”

 

 

Absolute silence rings in the hall for several long moments. Tony nods his head decisively, again as if to himself, then looks back up at the throne. “I’m Tony Stark,” he says simply. “And Iron Man. That’s pretty much all the explanation there is. And I offered Loki my hand because I want to marry him.” More silence follows this.

 

 

Loki wants him. Here, now, witnesses be damned. While Tony had indeed promised an epic soliloquy, Loki hadn’t expected him to deliver it like this. He feels as though every nerve in his body is thrumming, as though Tony deployed each word like he would his repulsor beam, increasing the intensity of its impact with each moment.

 

 

Thor’s hands clamp down on his shoulders, perhaps anticipating Loki’s urge to steal Tony away to his rooms this instant. He sighs a little, for effect. “And I accepted because I wish to marry you as well, beloved,” he declares. Tony turns and blows him a kiss, his face flushed with self-satisfaction. Loki does not swoon. But he’s abruptly glad he didn’t shake off Thor’s grasp, because he’s finding the contact quite grounding.

 

 

Frigga’s eyebrows have risen so far up, they’re in danger of joining her hairline. Odin blinks once, twice, but it’s only when whispers begin to creep in through the crowd that he bangs his staff on the ground.

 

 

“Perhaps we see the matter more clearly now,” Odin says dryly. Loki doesn’t care how manic his grin makes him look; he’s never been prouder in his life than he is of Tony right now.

 

 

Frigga descends the stairs, her expression composed again. When she reaches the end of them, she announces, “I, Frigga, mother of Loki, hereby accept the heimanfylgia offered by you, Anthony, Iron Man.”

 

 

Tony smiles brightly at her. “I thank you, and am grateful, your majesty.” He hands the cube over to her. Frigga turns so she can look expectantly at Odin.

 

 

“Loki,” Odin commands, gesturing him forward. Thor relinquishes his hold and Loki obligingly moves to stand beside Tony. He reaches for his lover’s hand, lacing their fingers together. He sneaks a glance at Tony to find him doing the same, and they go from exchanging a conspiratorial look to supressing laughter in an instant. Loki looks away, back up at Odin, who’s risen to his feet.

 

 

Gungnir bangs against the floor once more. “I, Odin All-Father, hence decree that the betrothal between Prince Loki and Anthony Edward Stark is recognised by the throne. As such, a feast will be held on the morrow, in honour of their pact.” Another bang of the staff, this one signalling dismissal to the crowded hall.

 

 

Loki sends a sharp grin towards Odin. The king may have granted the throne’s acknowledgement, but Loki’s prepared to wager that Tony will somehow manage to wrangle Odin’s blessings before they leave Asgard. Loki would still think such a thing impossible, but ‘impossible’ is a concept that does not apply to Tony Stark.

 

 

When the room is empty bar the five of them, Thor bounds over, slapping both him and Tony on the back. Thor leaves his hand on Loki’s shoulder again and Loki sniffs. He’s capable of restraint, when he chooses.

 

 

“I should’ve known you’d speak for yourself in verse.” Thor chuckles, beaming at Tony. “It was well done, my friend.” Thor leans forward, looking towards Frigga. “Didn’t I say they were well matched, mother?”

 

 

Loki sees Odin twitch again, frowning at Thor. Yes, he thinks gleefully, let’s see how well you do at trying to undermine me when I have Thor’s support on this. “Why thank you, brother,” he says, then makes a noise of protest when Thor envelops him in a hug. Tony, the traitor, laughs at him. “Release me, you oaf.”

 

 

“As you say, brother.” Thor pulls back, grinning broadly.

 

 

“How familiar are you with our courtship traditions, Anthony?” Frigga asks, obviously probing despite her civil manner. “Are you aware the pacts are usually documented before the gifts are exchanged?”

 

 

“Tony, Lady Frigga,” he says easily. “I researched Norse marriage customs and assumed they applied. Loki and I, we’ve got an informal set of rules we’ve been keeping to, which we’ll outline in a proper legal contract before the wedding. I’ve already arranged a meeting with a, hmm, consultant of sorts to help with that.” Oh, Loki realises, and is immediately amused at Fury’s expense. “Besides,” Tony adds, “Loki is a Trickster god. It seemed a fitting tribute to him, for our courtship to be unconventional.”

 

 

Perhaps it was a good idea for Thor to hang onto him after all.

 

 

“To court Loki is to court chaos,” Thor remarks, clearly quoting something Tony’s stated to him before.

 

 

Tony nods, then smiles rather sheepishly at Frigga – an expression Loki knows is as emotionally genuine as it is strategically displayed. “If the disordered schedule really bothers you, I can try to cobble together the rest of my bride-price before the wedding instead of after. I’d planned to give your family dowry and wedding presents both; I enjoy giving gifts to those I consider family.”

 

 

Odin interjects then, his gruff tone openly suspicious. “And I presume your elders will then expect numerous gifts, as equivalent payments.”

 

 

“You presume incorrectly, your kingship,” Tony replies, his tone light so as to appear respectful. “I don’t really have any elders. My parents and mentors are dead. I do have a kind-of-guardian, but he’s what I think your culture would deem my ‘familiar,’ and doesn’t need material possessions.” Tony’s brow furrows and he looks to Loki questioningly. “I guess Steve could accept, technically? He knew my father.”

 

 

He needs to nominate a recipient to accept on his behalf; it’s an insult to Loki’s family for Tony to accept the gifts for his house himself. Loki nods, then holds up his hand as if presenting the sudden inspiration. “Might I also suggest Director Fury? You mentioned he knew your father too; and the Avengers Initiative was his idea.”

 

 

Tony grins. “Ooh, yes. Fury and Cap. Genius.” Turning back to Odin, he says, “your family’s contributions can go to Captain America and Director Fury; their expectations will cancel each other out.”

 

 

“Expectations?”

 

 

“Oh, it’ll be easy enough to tailor to their interests,” Tony reassures Frigga. “Cap’s very much like Thor; and Fury’s rather like the All-Father, only not so stately.”

 

 

Loki sees Odin tighten his grip on Gungir, hard enough to turn his knuckles white, a sign he’s irritated by this mortal. Loki’s so thrilled he takes a moment to seriously consider whether he’s somehow created both Tony and this situation entirely out of his seiðr.

 

 

“Oh, hey, that reminds me.” Tony taps Thor’s arm. “I’ll have something for you too, Point Break; part of the dowry, also as thanks for your help and such. The gauntlets are next on my queue to finish, so shouldn’t take too much longer.”

 

 

Thor waves off the apology about the delay, immediately citing Tony’s generous spirit and extensive workload, but Loki’s distracted by the sudden shift of Frigga’s mood, the attentive glint in her eyes.

 

 

“Gauntlets?” She asks with interest.

 

 

Tony blinks. “Yeah. I’m making Thor some iron gauntlets. Not as delicate and function specific as mine –” he tilts his arm demonstratively – “something a little more Asgardian-esk. An aesthetic, to match Mjölnir.”

 

 

Frigga considers Tony thoughtfully. Loki holds his breath, knowing that something significant has just happened. He feels Tony’s fingers twitch against his and squeezes reassuringly. Then Frigga smiles, warm and sincere. “You are an interesting being, Tony. Loki chose well and wisely, I feel. You have my blessings.”

 

 

Loki startles, and feels Thor and Tony react the same. Even if they’d been courting in the traditional manner, Loki wouldn’t have expected Frigga to accept Tony so quickly. Odin stares at his wife, his expression one of betrayal, which makes the victory altogether better.

 

 

“I look forward to getting to know you further.” Frigga considers the dowry gift in her hands, seemingly more charmed by it than she’d been earlier. She holds out one hand to Loki, and he permits her to tug him in so she can kiss his forehead. “We shall speak more later. You and your betrothed may retire to your quarters.”

 

 

Thor makes quick work of steering him and Tony away from Odin’s glare and out into the corridor. “I’m happy for you both,” Thor says warmly. “I knew mother would see the wisdom of your match.”

 

 

“That was nice of her, and more than I expected.” Tony runs his fingers through his hair. “This feast tomorrow, is it an official thing too?”

 

 

“Consider it semi-formal,” Loki replies. He steps smoothly into Tony’s space so he can wrap an arm around his waist. “You’ll be able to misbehave somewhat, don’t fret.” Tony snorts. “In fact, everyone will likely be disappointed if you don’t give them something to complain about.”

 

 

Thor glances between them, looking thoughtful. “Indeed. Well, I promise to run interference if needed, but I’m certain you and Tony can handle yourselves.” Then Thor slants him a look which always precedes brotherly teasing – it’s been a long time since they’ve been comfortable enough with each other for Thor to use it. “I’ll take my leave now. I know you’re eager to get Tony back to your quarters.”

 

 

Tony squints at Thor’s back as he walks off. “Did he just innuendo out?” He mutters to himself. “He did, didn’t he? I knew he was doing that on purpose.”

 

 

Loki sets this aside in favour of teleporting them directly into his quarters. He barely gives Tony a moment to take in their new surroundings before kissing him. It’s edged with all the desperate desire Loki’s been stockpiling all day and Tony melts into it, taking everything Loki gives him.

 

 

When his mouth is free again, Tony’s words are rather breathless. “I did okay then?”

 

 

“You. Were. Glorious.” Loki runs his hands greedily over Tony’s form, relishing the stiff leather under his fingertips. “My betrothed; my beloved.”

 

 

“Yours,” Tony agrees eagerly. “And you’re mine.”

 

 

Yes. “I’m feeling a pressing need to lavish you with my appreciation.”

 

 

“Lavish to your heart’s content.”

 

 

-

 

 

Because Odin forgoes making any lengthy speeches – a slight which doesn’t go unnoticed by Loki – the feasting portion of the feast quickly gives way to the merrymaking phase. As the musicians begin to play, Loki pulls Tony onto the dance floor and into a waltz.

 

 

“If there’s a special Norse courting dance, let me know, so I can annoy everyone named Odin by performing it flawlessly at our wedding.” Tony smiles up at him when he makes a noise akin to a purr. “You’re unfairly good at this, by the way.”

 

 

“I’m good at everything,” Loki replies calmly, but the casual praise sets his heart racing, as usual.

 

 

Tony does a double take at the buffet tables being arranged down the side of the room and chuckles quietly. “You aliens and your bottomless stomachs.”

 

 

“You realise you are the alien in this scenario?”

 

 

“Which is kind of brilliant, actually. When we get roped into the inevitable press conference back on Earth, can you please give them the lovely soundbite of ‘mom, dad, subjects; meet my alien boyfriend.’ The alien jokes will have a much better payoff coming from you.”

 

 

Loki responds by dipping him. When Tony comes back up, he laces his fingers together behind Loki’s neck. Loki pulls him close and they spend the next few dances swaying back and forth despite the music’s change of pace. Eventually, they leave the dance floor in search of drinks. Tony barely gets out his question about using a drinking horn for the mead when their path is intercepted.

 

 

“Loki!” Volstagg announces boisterously. “Let us meet your mortal; and offer our congratulations!”

 

 

Loki offers his brother’s friends a saccharine smile. “But of course. Your congratulations first?”

 

 

Hogun huffs a quiet laugh. “Congratulations, Loki. Will you introduce us now?”

 

 

He barely refrains from rolling his eyes. “This is my beloved, Tony Stark of Midgard. Tony, these are the Warriors Three: Volstagg, Hogun, and Fandral; and the Lady Sif.”

 

 

“Ah.” Tony nods. “I’ve heard of you guys, from Loki and Thor both.” All four of them perk up when Tony drops Thor’s name.

 

 

“Well met,” Fandral says, as he gives Tony a once over. “We were glad to hear Loki had somehow managed to find himself a warrior of good repute to be his partner. Thor speaks highly of you, Tony. I hope you’ve heard good things of us in return?”

 

 

Tony’s eyebrows rise as Fandral speaks. Loki’s smile shifts into something more indulgent. Like Loki, Tony considers their flyting to have laid a claim of ownership, for exclusive rights to offer insult, and will suffer no others believing they’re allowed to do so themselves. And Loki has bought him to Asgard, where the standard opinion of Loki is an unflattering one. Oh, how quickly everyone will learn to watch what they say.

 

 

Tony’s lip curls up in a lopsided smile. He leans in a little, all charm and pleasantry.

 

 

“Loyal friends of the prince.

How can you call yourselves

Anything less than this?

Do you deserve

Insults and disrespect;

Bitter whispers of treason.

But I know the truth of it.

Mighty warriors of honour, I say

I’m pleased we have met.”

 

 

Tony leans back and into Loki’s side then, flashing him a much slyer grin. “I love palindromes. They make sentences so fun.”

 

 

Loki considers this statement, then reruns through the poem – but this time with the sentences in reverse order and, oh. “I completely agree.”

 

 

The Warriors Three keep their smiles fixed awkwardly in place, unsure whether they’ve been insulted. Sif is more suspicious, narrowing her eyes at Tony. “I was surprised to hear Loki had chosen one of Midgard’s defenders as his intended. Were you two not enemies?”

 

 

“I prefer ‘adversary’ to ‘enemy,’ but yes. I guess what they say about poetry being the food of love is true after all.”

 

 

Sif looks even more put-off by this. “But you are Thor’s comrade.”

 

 

This is usually when Loki retorts with a pointed comment about her pining, so he’s pleased when Tony – who’s equally adept at hearing the subtext behind people’s words – responds along similar lines. “You mean, why didn’t I pick Thor instead? Look, I understand why you might want to court him, but I absolutely consider Loki the better option.”

 

 

Sif flushes a dangerous, angry red; she’s a warrior, not a rose-dusted maiden, as she’s so often said. “I meant, why did Loki choose you?”

 

 

“You could just ask me,” Loki remarks idly.

 

 

“Because I’m exactly what he needs.” Tony frowns at her. “What does Thor have to do with any of it? Not sure I’m following you.”

 

 

“Ah, forgive our interest,” Hogun says as he lays his hand on Sif’s shoulder.

 

 

But Loki doesn’t pay attention to whatever else is said, because the pieces take shape then; interest; Thor’s comrade; Loki’s enemy. Incredulously, he interrupts with “do you think I’ve bespelled or coerced him?”

 

 

Startling, all of them hesitate too long on giving an answer.

 

 

“You’re all idiots,” he declares in exasperation. He’s not even angry because their distrust is so predictable. Norns forbid Loki making decisions because he’s happy and in love; of course, they’ve assumed it’s a trick. “Thor approves of us; are you suggesting he’d be complicit in such a scheme?” The colour drains swiftly from their faces, much to Loki’s satisfaction.

 

 

“Of course not. Thor’s too honourable for that. But you’ve tricked him before.” Tony’s voice is as smooth as a polished blade and promises to cut as easily; the smile he gives Sif is just as sharp. “A marriage contrary to my free will gives me the right to respond with death, maiming, or divorce. Which do you suggest, if Loki’s lying to me?”

 

 

Sif’s saved from the peril of answering by Thor himself, who abruptly arrives. “Here you are, my friends!”

 

 

“Thor, buddy, we were just talking about you,” Tony says in the same tone, eyes still on Sif. “Your friends want to know more about me, and my liaison with Loki.”

 

 

The word must mean something to Thor. “I’d be happy to regale them with tales. Loki, the honoured venerators were hoping to speak with you.”

 

 

“We shall take our leave then.” Loki offers Tony his arm and leads him away. When they’re out of earshot, he innocently asks “did you not like them?”

 

 

Tony sniffs. “I’m sure they’re decent enough friends to Thor. I’ll reserve judgement.”

 

 

Though Thor was lying about the venerators, Loki introduces Tony to the mages anyway. The elder women usually have nothing more than two words to say to non-practitioners, but Tony’s playful flirtations have them all giggling and fawning by the end of the conversation. Tony’s less engaging, more cordial with the other individuals who deign to speak with them while they lazily traverse around the room.

 

 

Loki’s unsurprised when Bragi finally approaches; the man had been loitering nearby a while. “Greetings, Bragi. I must say, I’d never thought I’d see the day you proved to be right.”

 

 

Bragi is immediately wrongfooted. “Oh? How, pray tell?”

 

 

Loki turns to Tony, still amiable. “He once told me the day would sooner come that a conquering enemy would recite poetry to honour me than I would be wed.”

 

 

“Is that so?” Tony’s just as pleasant. “Well, what did you think of my poem, Bragi?”

 

 

Bragi launches into a favourable review, full of flattery and thoughtful appreciation – all of which would probably be more impressive if Tony hadn’t already heard Loki use every single variant of it already.

 

 

“Bragi is the god of poetry,” Loki explains when the man finishes laying out his opinion.

 

 

Realisation lights Tony’s expression and he snaps his fingers. “The flyting! That’s where I know your name from.” He follows this up with a question about official matches. Loki recalls his perusal of Tony’s copy of the Lokasenna, which JARVIS had very kindly added annotations of all Tony’s commentary to. His summary of Bragi had been ‘clearly insecure about Loki being better than him.’ Loki smiles. Tony wasn’t wrong about that.

 

 

“We have a tournament scheduled for the weeks end.” Bragi states. “There’s no space for additional competitors, but it would be our privilege if you considered opening the event.”

 

 

Interesting. The tournaments aren’t usually held during this season, so Loki suspects this has been a hastily organised affair in response to Tony.

 

 

Tony’s nodding. “I’ve heard there’s a monolith recording the names of the best performers.”

 

 

“Yes indeed.” Bragi slams a fist to his chest. “My name is quite prominent. I’ve won many a tournament,” he slants a loaded glance at Loki, “with honours.”

 

 

Tony treats Bragi to an identical look. “Ah, but this is after Loki stopped competing, I guess.” Bragi blinks but before he can respond Tony’s already continuing on. “Loki’s so talented and brilliant. We’ve been trading verses, you know.” Tony tilts his head as he looks up at Loki. “Do you have one for this moment, my poet?”

 

 

Well, Loki’s hardly going to turn down an opportunity to show off for Tony.

 

 

“Death.

Is there hope without fear?

To surrender now – never again!

Trust yourself.

Save lives and worlds.

Break down, fall, always hurting.

Scars and wounds: these leave enemies.

Across glass, drag yourself.

Broken, are you?

When judgement issues only vengeance, choices are illusions.

Deception or betrayal?

Consider.

Betrayal or deception?

Illusions are choices.

Vengeance only issues judgement when you are broken yourself.

Drag glass across enemies,

Leave these wounds and scars hurting, always.

Fall down.

Break worlds and lives.

Save yourself.

Trust, again? Never.

Now surrender to fear.

Without hope, there is death.”

 

 

Tony licks his lips. “A masterpiece.”

 

 

“Well, I try.”

 

 

Tony laughs. “Oh, don’t be modest, it doesn’t suit you.” He looks back at Bragi, who swiftly rearranges his expression, so it no longer looks like he wants to take an axe to Loki’s face. “Loki and I will be delighted to perform the opening ceremony for the tournament. We’ll see you there.”

 

 

“Do give my regards to Idunn, if you see her,” Loki adds as a parting shot as Tony tugs him along. “Not that I object, but I’m starting to think you’re not going to find anyone on Asgard agreeable.”

 

 

Tony hums. “Well, your mom’s cool. I already like Thor. And I love you, of course.”

 

 

“Of course.”

 

 

“Those venerators were civil to you, even if they don’t respect you as much as they should. If the rest want me to like them, they’ll have to earn it.” A pause. “And if I have to go through every Æsir one by one, to avenge all the hurt they’ve caused you, then I will.”

 

 

The dark promise in Tony’s voice sends a rush of heat through Loki. “Avenging is your calling,” he says, using the pun purely to make Tony cackle.

 

 

Tony plucks a handful of grapes from the table as they walk by it, pops one in his mouth. “Is Idunn Bragi’s wife?”

 

 

Loki shakes his head. “They courted for a time, but they fell out after he slayed her brother.” Tony splutters a laugh. Loki traces his eyes along his face and, as casually as he can, adds “remind me to introduce you to her someday.”

 

 

Tony’s gaze goes soft and warm, suggesting he may know a little about why Loki may wish to facilitate a meeting between them. Loki’s so caught up in the anticipation of the possibility he doesn’t notice the approaching woman until she’s right beside them.

 

 

Prince Loki.”

 

 

He restrains the urge to summon a glass of wine, so he can toss it in her face. “Lorelei. What do you want?”

 

 

She pouts. “Merely to greet your lover.” Her eyes glitter wickedly. “Do you not trust me…or him?”

 

 

Loki does roll his eyes at this. “Poor girl. Do you still lament the accident that befell Thor?” He smiles sweetly. “I’ve no objection to this meeting.” Not with the layer of magical protection he’d sown into Tony’s leathers, at any rate. “This is my love.” To Tony he says, “this is Lorelei; sister of Amora.”

 

 

Lorelei leans forward a little, to draw attention to her cleavage. She extends her hand, looking at Tony from beneath lowered lashes. It doesn’t mask the interest in her eyes. “Oh, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

 

 

Tony takes her hand with his gauntlet-clad one, nods his head. “Iron Man, and yes, it is.” He holds on no longer than he has to, obviously having understood the correlation between her being a seductress and a mage. “The first time I met your sister, she’d accidently bespelled Thor too. She was upset I didn’t think her pretty enough to tempt me.”

 

 

Loki only pays partial attention to their flirtatious exchange – Lorelei observing how handsome Tony is; Tony remarking how enthusiastic Loki can be about this – and assesses the room to see who else is taking notice of this exchange. Most onlookers are only keeping them in their peripheral view. However, the dark eyes of the two ravens perched in the rafters are intent on them.

 

 

But then Lorelei makes a comment about beauty being skin deep, and about blue, and Loki’s gaze snaps to her. She quells a little under his glare.

 

 

“Was that aimed at his Jötunn heritage?” Tony asks fiercely. “Joke’s on you, harpy. I like the blue. And the cold. And I really liked tracing all his markings with my tongue.” Loki leers at Lorelei, but he’s quietly awed, because he’s yet to show Tony his Jötunn form. Perhaps he should consider doing so, if this would be Tony’s response. “So, goodbye to you then.” Tony makes a shooing motion with his hand.

 

 

Lorelei fights back her annoyance to give him a coy look. “Come with me.” Her command tingles with magic.

 

 

Tony’s reaction is boredom. “No thanks.” Lorelei frowns, clearly infuriated, and Loki’s unimpressed with her. Does she really think he’d leave Tony vulnerable? Tony shakes his head. “Why are you still here? Is Amora smarter than you, as well as prettier?”

 

 

Outraged, Lorelei points at Tony. “Adore me!” A magenta sphere, crackling with magic, leaves her fingertip. Loki hadn’t anticipated her losing her temper enough to strike openly but he’s not worried; she isn’t strong enough to overcome his protections.

 

 

But before the magic hits him, Tony’s already speaking.

 

 

“Magic   yields    chaos,     tempts   passion

Yields    beauty   without   bodily   forms

Chaos   without  emotion  needs   more

Tempts  bodily   needs     into       waking

Passion  forms   more      waking  dreams”

 

 

The magenta projectile impacts Tony’s chest dead centre and is immediately diluted by green sparkles, a barrier forming between the spell and its target. But with each word spoken, blue glows beneath the competing colours. The arc reactor flares with light; the shimmers of green becoming cyan instead, and racing up through the magenta, shattering the spell apart completely.

 

 

The magical shockwave makes Loki’s bones hum with resonance. Tony rocks back slightly, but Lorelei is knocked off her feet. A hush falls over the crowd around them.

 

 

Loki gapes. The protective spell he’d crafted was defensive only, not reactive. Tony doesn’t possess magic, yet he somehow managed to recalibrate Loki’s own magical signature.

 

 

Tony’s looking rather surprised too but laughs a little. “Well, that worked.”

 

 

How?” Is all Loki manages.

 

 

“Words of protection?” Tony puts a hand over his arc reactor, peering at it. Loki has a split second of panic over its functionality, but Tony’s only curious, not distressed. “Figured your seiðr would make use of them.”

 

 

“You.” Loki stares some more. This insane, impossible man. “I love you.”

 

 

Lorelei groans as she sits up. Tony gives her such a condescending look it actually makes some of the surrounding crowd wince. “Nice try, trying to whammy me, Aphrodite. I’m not interested. I’m very happily betrothed to my Loki. And I’m fairly sure you don’t want him to have to defend my honour.”

 

 

“Your sister had more sense, to stay away from what’s mine.” Loki remarks, needling her with another comparison to Amora. Lorelei prepares to respond but then goes quite still when Thor emerges from the crowd, looming over her with a scowl.

 

 

Tony’s arms wrap around his middle. “Now I’ve fulfilled my obligation for a scandal, shall we bail on the rest of the party?”

 

 

Loki’s once again pleased by Tony’s genius and complies.

 

 

-

 

 

They arrive at the tournament mere moments before it’s due to begin. Loki smirks as Bragi grinds his teeth together upon seeing the marks Loki’s left on Tony’s neck. It’s difficult to tell whether the fellow will decide he hates Tony on principle or will try to woo him to make Loki unhappy. His envy of their relationship is amusing either way.

 

 

“Hello all.” Tony flashes the gathered assortment a smile. “Which of you is hosting this thing?”

 

 

One of the men steps forth from the rest. He bows to Tony, surprisingly respectful. “I am Aegir, of the sea, and at your service, prince consort.”

 

 

“Prince consort,” Tony repeats, glancing at Loki. “I like that. Yes, that’s a definite thing now. Well, hi, Aegir.”

 

 

This has been a strategic appointment, clearly, as Aegir is the only one here Loki hasn’t really had any previous dealings with. “Begin your introduction then, Aegir, and Tony and I will perform the opening bout.” He then ignores Aegir’s speech in favour of identifying all the competitors for Tony, murmuring their names and relations as Tony nods along. When Aegir finishes and looks expectantly at them, Loki leads Tony onto the dais.

 

 

Tony strolls forward until he’s centre stage. He spins on his heel, so he’s turned towards Loki, and begins the ode.

 

 

“My thanks and all such respect as shall be due

To Aegir, our host; but not to your servant

For Eldir is swift to speak words so untrue

In fact, all of you here are unobservant.

 

You know, Loki – Eldir claims you are dismayed

For there are none you have truly befriended

And thus, desperation led you to find a short-lived, mortal fool.

 

You know, Loki – threats and boasts Bragi has made

That you too deserve to lose your intended

Broken bones for you, and broken heart for me, would be justly cruel.

 

You know, Loki – Gefjun says I love your crown

Not you; when we bed others, there’ll be no blame;

Njorth too sees no fault in men who sleep around

It’s men who act as women who should feel shame.

 

You know, Loki – Tyr talks of trouble and tears

That you were conquered, chained; a captive consort

He’s gladdened to think you hold no love for me and resent your fate.

 

You know, Loki – to hear us snark, Freyr sneers

Crafty comments are worthless if not for sport

He judges our insults will wear thin, turning enjoyment to hate.

 

You know, Loki – Byggvir suspects it is you

Who hunts for honour via a husband’s grand hall;

And Skathi mocks, now while your mirth may ring true,

It will end when you’re bound, ever under my thrall.

 

You know, Loki – of them all, it is Beyla

Who utters the phrase they all voice when they’re lost:

‘Thor, who knows best, he must disapprove, and agree with us, rather!’

 

What would they have him say; Thor, god of Thunder?

‘Heed my wisdom or die, creature of frost?’

‘You are unworthy, mortal of Midgard, to be my shield-brother?’”

 

 

Tony ends the strophe with a wink. Loki responds with the antistrophe.

 

 

“I say to Eldir – you’re foolish aplenty

So hush, lest you suffer as Fimafeng did.

And to Bragi: coward; words bold and petty

I’m always the victor, in slander or deed.

 

I say to Gefjun – try not to confuse us

Me and mine need not seek our pleasure elsewhere

Yet a young cur bought into your chambers with merely a necklace.

 

I say to Njorth – still bitter over that fuss

Bought low by two maidens with their own affair

Unmanned, you feel, and know naught of passion save your sister’s embrace.

 

I say to Tyr – pleased to see you’ve ‘held’ a grudge;

When Fenrir took your hand, for three days you cried.

As for Freyr – you believe you’re fit to judge?

What’s your marriage worth? You paid gold for your bride.

 

I say to Byggvir – always scrounging for scraps

From greater gods, to worship at their altar.

Many have you sought to be your master, begging on bended knee.

 

I say to Skathi – is it envy perhaps

That Tony I bed, yet turned down your offer?

Or you’re still upset by my part on the day you father did flee?

 

I say to Beyla – such a sorry pretence

To make it appear you have thoughts of your own.

And I say this – I heed Thor when he speaks sense

His good opinion of Tony is well known.

 

And to Tony, my lover, mortal or not

Your mischief assured you as god of my heart

If our courtship is to be a contest, then I feel we’ve both won.

 

To treat you with respect, they shall be taught

For with wit and wiles, you are my counterpart.

So shall we demonstrate; make it clear we are united as one?”

 

 

They recite the epode together.

 

 

“There’s something we think you need to understand

Though we smile as you try to offer insult

Neither threat nor bargain nor bribe nor demand

Could cause us to bring what we have to a halt.

 

Be wary: think of Baldr first and foremost

He who felt mistletoe down to his marrow

Those who’d try to sunder us apart shall suffer much of the same.

 

And for last, we turn our thoughts back to our host

Do you now regret taking charge of this show?

You shan’t host again, not after how this one has gone down in flames.”

 

 

Having slowly narrowed the distance between them during the last verse, Loki takes Tony’s bare hand in his, raising it so he can kiss his knuckles. Tony cackles quietly, and Loki takes a moment to appreciate the scandalised fury on everyone else’s expressions.

 

 

“Oh, they’re mortified.” Tony stretches his other arm lazily out, the palm of his gauntlet facing upwards rather than at their crowd. “We’ve humiliated them. And serves them right, for gossiping about us.”

 

 

Loki smiles brightly, which disturbs their audience enough to shake them from their stunned state. Aegir gives them both a wide berth as he retakes his place on the dais, haltingly thanking them before announcing the next phase of the tournament. As the actual competition gets underway, Loki proceeds to give Tony a tour of the theatre grounds as if the session isn’t occurring, much to the annoyance of all the others.

 

 

When they reach the monolith bearing the names of the honoured performers, Tony descends into a hysterical fit of laughter. Loki regards him fondly. “Did you expect anything less?” He pretends to examine the monolith, which has a decent sized plaque on the front, with a sensibly plain list of names engraved into it. Loki’s is recorded several times, of course, in succession for the entire time he competed. Loki’s name is also engraved in a repeated pattern on the entirety of the other three sides of the monolith. He’d carved them using magic, so they couldn’t be removed. “I still think it’s understated.”

 

 

“Your…name,” Tony gasps out, bracing himself on his knees. “Is plastered…all over it!” When he regains his breath he says, “it’s genius. A monument to your victories.”

 

 

Loki eyes the plaque. “Hmm.” He points at it, and after a swift gleam of magic there’s a new engraving on the list. Prince Loki and prince consort Tony Stark. “Yes, it certainly is.”

 

 

Tony pulls him into a swift but fierce kiss. “You romantic.” He grins a little as he reaches out to trace the letters of his name. “Shall we go to the library then? You can show me more of your favourite old books.”

 

 

“Perhaps,” Loki teases.

 

 

Tony takes the most direct route towards the exit, which leads him back towards the dais. Loki follows at a lax pace. Rather than go around the dais, Tony steps up onto it and walks between Bragi and Njorth, interrupting mid-verse. “Don’t mind me, boys. Carry on.”

 

 

Bragi moves quickly, making a violent motion for Tony’s arm, but Tony is faster. The blast from his gauntlet throws Bragi clear off the dais. Loki sighs appreciatively at the elegance of Tony’s manoeuvre.

 

 

“You went easy on him, my friend!” Thor comments cheerfully from the sidelines, abruptly making his presence known, and Loki struggles not to laugh at the panicked looks this causes. Bragi, frozen in an odd half-crouch, has lost all the colour in his face.

 

 

Tony blinks at him. “Hey Thor. How long have you been here?”

 

 

“Oh, for a long while,” Loki says, just to stir the panic further. “Were you planning to follow us?” While Thor’s made jests about fulfilling his brotherly obligation to chaperone them, there’s been genuine worry over if they’re being treated well. Loki would feel more surprised about it, if he didn’t keep catching the pointed looks Tony and Thor keep exchanging when they think he’s not paying attention.

 

 

Thor huffs a little and shakes his head. “Mother wants to see you both.”

 

 

-

 

 

Loki knows they’ve been set up when Odin conveniently appears moments after Loki’s hands become occupied, holding the collection of threads for Frigga, and Odin asks Tony to walk around the garden with him.

 

 

“Sure,” Tony agrees before Loki can protest, getting to his feet. “Excuse me, your majesty.” He flutters his fingers at Frigga, then presses a kiss to the corner of Loki’s mouth. “And excuse me, my majesty.” Tony throws an arm out, gesturing grandly. “Lead on, your kingship.”

 

 

It’s a sudden revelation to Loki that Tony’s deliberately avoided calling Odin ‘your majesty’ all this time. And Tony chose now to address him as ‘majesty’ because Loki would be too distracted by this revelation to be properly annoyed about how they’ve been set up. He sighs, rolling his eyes, but then grins at his hands.

 

 

“Well,” Frigga says, the word layered with her all-knowing wisdom.

 

 

Loki wrinkles his nose at her. “Yes, yes. I’m certain you wish to use this time to interrogate me about him, but instead I’d rather…” He lets a spark of magic blossom up from his fingertip, spinning out into a small and flat rectangular shape, about the dimensions of a mobile phone. Tony would approve of the imagery.

 

 

“Did you and the good Lady Frigga have a long courtship?” Tony’s voice sounds out as though he’s still beside them, and not halfway down the garden path.

 

 

“It was of sufficient nature,” Odin replies, the gravitas of his tone making the answer sound more substantial than it is.

 

 

“Loki,” Frigga chides lightly, but she doesn’t actually object to his eavesdropping, so he doesn’t bother with any disingenuous apologies. “He isn’t what I expected, for your betrothed.”

 

 

Loki frowns a little, looking at her, as Tony and Odin exchange small talk about managing Stark Industries R&D and ruling Asgard respectively. “What were you expecting?”

 

 

“A craftsman from Niðavellir, to be honest.” Frigga continues her weave work. “And a marriage forged on mutual convenience. You don’t often find people interesting enough for genuine affection to factor into a decision like this.”

 

 

She’s fishing with this last comment, so he addresses the first. “A dwarf? Is this about the gauntlets?” His eyes flicker to the threads in his hands. “Oh, please say you’ve told Odin my marriage to Tony is foretold by the Norns.”

 

 

“I’ve said nothing of the sort.” Frigga clicks her tongue at him. “Why would you think that?”

 

 

“You gave Tony your blessings, mother.”

 

 

“It doesn’t have to herald a prophecy, Loki. Must you be so dramatic?” Her eyes reveal her amusement though.

 

 

“Always.” Loki looks over at Tony again; he and Odin have come to a halt by the pond on the far side of the garden.

 

 

“You truly believe you are worthy enough to wed Loki?” Odin couldn’t sound more condescending if he tried.

 

 

“Curious choice of word there: ‘worthy.’ I’m perfect for Loki, in every way. More than capable of handling any royal pressures, if that’s your concern. Pseudo-prince, remember?”

 

 

“Hmm.” And Loki’s long learnt to be wary of that cadence of thoughtfulness from Odin. “Even expectations to provide an heir?”

 

 

Loki makes a noise torn between outrage and mortification. Frigga’s eyebrows raise, but she doesn’t pause in her weaving.

 

 

The question is obviously supposed to fluster Tony, but he handles it smoothly. “Wouldn’t have thought there’d be much urgency, given the current line of succession. Having an heir isn’t necessarily a problem. I’m technically both the mother and father of four children. Plus, there’s always adoption, which can be wonderful when done the right way.” Tony pauses, to give this slight room to settle.

 

 

“Four children?” Frigga asks delicately.

 

 

“His sentient creations,” Loki elaborates, nodding. “I’ve only met his familiar, JARVIS, thus far. I’m sure I’ll be as fond of the others.” They’re Tony’s, after all. He pauses, then adds, “Tony would have loved Fenrir.”

 

 

Her expression tightens with sympathy at the mention of Loki’s own familiar, long since lost. Loki wonders about Tony’s use of Fenrir in his heimanfylgia, and whether Thor has told him about what happened.

 

 

“As for providing an heir, well.” Tony drawls this word out just long enough to be suggestive. “Loki and I haven’t talked about children yet. The logistics – Jötunn physiology; the validity of mythology’s take on Loki’s shapeshifting biology; or other quirks of magical incomprehension – I’d rather discuss it all with him first, rather than you, your kingship. I’m sure you understand.”

 

 

“By the Norns,” Loki chokes out, unexpectedly aroused, but also terribly entertained.

 

 

“Huh. Should that be contracted, our potential chaos babies? Maybe that possibility should be contracted.”

 

 

Loki loses hold of his composure and starts laughing, loudly enough it makes Odin and Tony look in his direction. When he manages to get himself back under control, Frigga observes, “he makes you happy.”

 

 

“Yes, I suppose,” Loki says, trying to brush her off so he can listen to Odin’s next line of questioning.

 

 

But Frigga talks over the exchange. “What would you suggest for Tony’s mundr?”

 

 

Loki is bold with his answer. “There’s only one marriage gift I’d want to bestow Tony with, but it’s not one the All-Father would grant.”

 

 

Frigga blinks, her hands stilling. “It’s too soon for you to decide that, surely.”

 

 

He smiles. “I came to the conclusion Tony Stark was wasted as a mortal long before I’d considered him anything more than an adversary.”

 

 

Frigga mulls this over, though before she can respond Tony speaks, his tone abruptly losing all its flippancy. “Shall we cut the bullshit now, Odin?” Loki’s fingers twitch. It takes all his willpower not to stare at Tony.

 

 

“Speak your mind then,” Odin says, just as seriously.

 

 

“You and I don’t have to like each other. In fact, I’m determined not to like you, after everything you’ve put Loki through. But I respect that you’re king of Asgard, and I get that sometimes your heart and your crown can be in conflict.” Tony pauses, probably to shrug or gesture. “So. I don’t particularly care for your opinion of me. But whether you like it or not, Loki’s chosen me. I’m prepared to be civil with you, for his sake. To be practical, about having a working relationship with you.” Another pause. “But if you ever hurt him again, you’ll wish for Ragnarök, compared to what I’m capable of.”

 

 

Loki forgets how to breathe. He twists the thread around his fingers as there’s a long silence.

 

 

“You are already a king at heart.” Odin states finally. “And you understand Loki’s heart, it seems. I still dislike you, Anthony Stark. But you shall have my blessings to wed Loki, for what it’s worth.”

 

 

Frigga lets out a quiet exhale, reminding Loki that breathing is advisable.

 

 

“I’m glad we’ve settled that.” Tony turns away from Odin and starts back towards them. Loki lets his magic unspool and vanish.

 

 

His expression must be something, because Frigga says “oh, Loki.” When he looks at her, she’s regarding him with gentle fondness. “You truly do love him, don’t you?”

 

 

“My seiðr has an affinity for him,” Loki admits, ducking his head down so he doesn’t have to witness her awestruck reaction. Such connections typically only happen in the old tales.

 

 

Tony’s arms slide around him as he braces his weight against Loki’s back. “I think I convinced him I’m not marrying you to conquer Asgard.”

 

 

Loki snorts. “Of course not. I’m marrying you to conquer Earth, remember?”

 

 

“Eh. Being an overlord is not as exciting as you’d think.” Tony reaches out to poke at the thread Loki’s holding. “We’d probably sign the planet over to Pepper within a month.”

 

 

-

 

 

When Director Fury opens the door to his office, he immediately halts at the sight he finds within. Loki takes a moment to congratulate himself and Tony on the aesthetic: both of them are lounging in the chairs in front of Fury’s desk, bodies angled to mirror each other. They’re both dressed down – Tony in his jeans and band shirt, and Loki in his tunic and leggings – their casual attire a statement in of itself. Loki’s holding several rolls of parchment, and Tony has his tablet perched against his knee.

 

 

“Let us talk terms of engagement,” Loki says pleasantly.

 

 

“As in, our literal engagement,” Tony adds, and wiggles the fingers of his left hand, as if showing off an invisible ring.

 

 

Fury appears entirely unamused, looking from Tony to Loki, then back again. He takes a deep breath, then releases it slowly. “I’m going to need coffee for this,” he informs them sternly. “But I’m listening.”

 

 

-