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Paying Love's Penalty

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Loki knew he should eat. It would take a while until he’d have the opportunity again but he couldn’t bring himself to do it, not when –

His stomach felt like it was trying to claw its way up, to vomit itself out of him. He couldn’t fault it for doing so given the circumstances. It was an extremely unpleasant sensation. It was horror that made him realise how silent his rooms were. Had they always been that quiet or was this just in this special moment? So that he could get used to the silence?

He swallowed dryly. The smell of the porridge hit him in the face. It smelled good, no question asked. The cooks of Asgard were amazing and never failed to turn even something as simple as porridge into an incredibly tasting well dish. And yet the thought of eating didn’t sit well with him.

He needed Anthony, not food.

Anthony.

With a pang he realised he wouldn’t even have Anthony anymore either for a long time, maybe even never again. With a sigh that sounded more like vomiting, he closed his eyes and buried his face in his hands. He marvelled at the smoothness of his own skin, wondering if it would stay that way or if it would become scarred.

Was he a fool for fearing Odin’s punishment for being discovered being indiscreet? Yes, yes, he was. The mead hadn’t been touched yet either. Was this truly to have him eat and drink something, to get nutrition while he was able to or was this a gesture of mockery? He wasn’t sure what to hope for.

Get your mouth sewn shut for blowing the one you love.

Poetic Justice, he supposed.

There were times Loki could appreciate the art and finery in politics but not today. In fact, neither today nor tomorrow. And he supposed, neither in the near future.

He remembered the guard dropping his spear when he discovered Anthony sitting on the prince’s bed and the prince himself, kneeling and blowing the nobleman with feverish enthusiasm. There had been a scream. And had Loki not realised what was happening too late, maybe then he could’ve stopped the guard from running. From running away and telling everyone what he’d seen.

A prince wasn’t allowed to be that way, to be ergi. The other way around would have still called for repercussions and a political drama at court but nothing that drastic.

You’re debasing yourself, Odin had called it in a dry manner and his hands had twitched at his side. Then he’d gotten louder. Forgetting yourself and what shame this brings over your house. Your family, disgraced.

It wasn’t fair. Thor was allowed to get down on a woman should he wish to and nobody would say he’d bring shame on the family. Only because Anthony was a man– it made Loki feel sick to the core. Odin wasn’t perfect, he had known that. How could he not think so? The All-Father had made many mistakes in the last few decades, some too grave to mention. It was no wonder Thor was the same – not when nobody dared to speak up against Odin because they feared what he might do to them.

And now they will know he doesn’t even make stop for his son. Loki’s stomach clenched. Cold dread settled in his limbs. He couldn’t cry. Not even when he wanted to, he felt too exhausted and was too afraid to do something this mundane.

He wasn’t sure where Anthony was. They had taken him away under protest from his and Loki’s side, until there was nothing to be heard anymore. Who knew what punishment Odin would put onto Anthony for daring to defile– and here he could picture Odin’s despicable snort – the second prince of Asgard.

Had they only kept their hands to themselves yesterday. But the news that Thor was insisted on going alone on his coronation trip – which took around a year or more – had been so exciting that they decided to celebrate. There would be no Thor who was always a threat on walking in on them since the oaf had a six sense for them getting it on. And locking the door when Anthony had been seenwalking to Loki’s rooms?

Suspicious.

It had been a risk, not more than usual and in Loki’s opinion, even less so. Of course that was when it had to go wrong. He hoped Anthony was all right. He hoped they would survive this although he knew the chances weren’t high. They were slim to be honest.

There was always the chance that after Loki had served his punishment they would find and see another again – because he would be kept in the royal wings so that his shame could be forgotten over the time while he suffered in silence.

Who knew though where Anthony would be then? Maybe fortune would be thrown his way or a royal decree, offering him a chance to become a lucky man somewhere else. Maybe they would find a wife for him. Loki flinched. He wouldn’t be able to bear that, seeing his love with someone else, happy, laughing, smiling, content. Before he had to see that, he’d leave the realm for an extended vacation on Vanaheim. Deny himself for a few more centuries the sight of his love but it would be better than to be reminded of what he used to have and lost in a mad gamble he thought had been secure.

His fingers were trembling, little tremors, betraying how nervous he was. He wanted to run away. But they would only capture him and then he’d be punished even more. Maybe they would bind his legs together to prevent him from running fast. Break them again and again and again until he could forget to walk without pain ever again. And of course, he’d still get his mouth sewn shut. There was sourness in his mouth, biting and sharp. No, he would notretch now. After the humiliation he’d have to bear in a few minutes, he would not give the guards the pleasure of getting evidence how blank his nerves were.

Midday tomorrow, Odin had decreed with Gungnir in his hands, stamping it on the ground.

“I don’t want this,” Loki said, his voice still functioning and audible. Soon this wouldn’t be the case anymore. Communication would have to happen by using his seiðr. He wanted it to be over it as soon as possible and in the same moment, he didn’t want time to progress in the slightest. He only wanted Anthony with him. Pathetic, that’s what the Asgardians would call him for thinking so. Can’t even stand being alone.

Was it so bad to wish to be in the arms of the person he loved, who accepted and took him as he was? In his probably darkest hours? It felt like the needle was hanging over his head. He missed the smell of oil, of fire mingling with a smooth baritone, a goatee scratching his face, lips capturing his in a tender moment. Why was this so frowned upon if it made Loki feel more alive than he ever had? When Anthony made him feel like he could fly without his seiðr, when his life simply became better.

Loki had doubted so often his importance of being here, if it would matter would he just disappear because there were instances he thought it would be for the better. It was what many wanted, no less. And then, there was Anthony. His nobleman who stood in a forge despite having people working under him, a smirk on his lips and always the right words to soothe and entice Loki. Who made him see the sun when it was dark and rainy, who kissed him in the gardens at night and grabbed his hands during council meetings before they had to go separate ways again. How could this be wrong?

Someone was knocking at his door.

“Enter,” he said loud enough to be heard. He willed his fingers to calm down.

The Einherjar opened the door. His eyes were directed towards the floor, not at Loki.

He didn’t know how to feel about that. He stood up without further prompting, not that there had been one needed in the first place. There was nothing he could do to stop the inevitable. Unless he wished to worsen things but really, there was no need to. For now he had to walk towards his fate and accept it with all the dignity he had been left with. He was still Prince Lokieven when the title seemed to have no worth unless there was a “Thor” attached to it.

The throne room was filled with men from court, their wives on the other side. In a few eyes Loki thought he could detect pity. In most he detected lust for a spectacle. Hunger for something new was always present in an Asgardian. Humiliation was what made their day and seemed to enrich their lives.

He kneeled where Odin indicated him to be, sinking down slowly and effortlessly on the red pillow on the ground.

The question was only was this for his benefit to spare his knees or to spare the servants the hassle of getting bloodstains from the stone floor? Odin read out loud his crime – being ergi for someone lower – while Loki’s eyes kept searching the crowd. He had already seen the needle on a small pillow in his mother’s hands, had seen the tears in her eyes and her stiff back. He had noticed how a mother covered her kid’s eyes despite their protest at this. Anthony wasn’t among them.

He felt –

He felt lightheaded.

“Do you accept your punishment, Loki?”

Loki rose his eyes to the man who called himself his father. Where was the love and compassion that were supposed to come with the title now? Why punish him instead of being happy for him that he found someone? It occurred Loki that he might have severely overestimated the man he called “father”. It seemed there was more of a king to him nowadays. Perhaps always had been but Loki hadn’t been able to see.

“I do.” Because what other choice did he have?

His knees felt shaky when Odin reached for the pillow in Frigga’s hands. He swallowed. Opened his mouth, let air stream in, cold and soft in him, like the touch of Anthony felt – just without the love.

He must have zoned out. He must have because surely Odin had not announced that Anthony Howardson was to step forward, to act out the punishment. He must have.

“Anthony,” he whispered, his voice no more than a distinct sound of disbelief as his love stumbled forward. The bags under his eyes were heavier than ever and his eyes were coloured in bright red. His fingers were shaking.

“No,” Loki said and shook his head. “NO!” He repeated, a shout and turned his eyes to Odin. Don’t do this, he begged silently. Not this.

“Proceed.”

He didn’t know what to do apart from watching his lover take the Norns forsaken needle in his hands and turn towards him, his face pale and shaken.

“Anthony,” he said again.

His lips trembled. Anthony’s neverlost his façade in front of others.

Odin Borson, Loki thought without any emotion. You are a cruel man.

“Anthony.”

A gentle hand decorated with callused took his chin tenderly, like it was something delicate that could break under too much pressure.

I didn’t want this for you.

He was a Prince but he was also Anthony’s lover – and to comfort him was more important than try to preserve his dignity. This was Odin’s mastery, his true punishment. Punish them both in the same moment and ensure they’d never forget about it. Who was to say they could meet again and not look at another without guilt, remorse, pain? Loki knew he’d never blame Anthony – the villain for him was Odin. Never his sweet Anthony who was his life.

“It’s all right.” A smile tugged on his lips.

“No, it’s not.” Anthony swallowed.

Loki huffed gently. “I love you of course everything is all right.”

“You’re unbelievable,” Anthony mumbled. His hands stopped trembling.

He was ready, Loki realised and he was glad that this was the case. He’d rather have his love be ready and prepared than a shaking mess and doomed them both to be here for an eternity until Odin would come up with a better, even crueller punishment.

“I love you too.”

Then Anthony sank to his knees as well and pulled Loki’s face towards him, kissed him.

It was too short, it was too long. It was sweet and more than Loki could have hoped for coming here. And it was cruel. Were sewn lips even able to kiss? It was a harsh reminder of what he’d be deprived off in a few minutes but he didn’t want to let go as first. This was theirs and nothing could change that for now.

But good things had to come to an end as well and so did their kiss.

The needle felt wrong against his lips, too cold, too harsh, too unyielding.

He looked in the eyes he trusted with his life as the needle pushed through his upper lip first. He held onto the red rich tunic his lover wore as the strand pulled his lips together and turned him mute.

Nobody said something or Loki simply blended them out too well. He felt warm huffs of air on his face and they felt familiar, it were still the same callouses as earlier that held him and made sure he’d get through this. This was Anthony and would always be his love despite the circumstances and people standing against them. He hoped that the sight of him bleeding from his mouth would never hunt Anthony and if it did, Loki would remove it from his mind – his love would not suffer from this much more than he already was.

The needle fell with a sharp click to the ground, missing his pillow by a few inches.

His mouth felt raw and the burning sensation he experienced, multiplied in the next second. It was as if he was waking up from a good dream to realise he was living in a nightmare. Cold blood was running down his mouth, his chin and tears stood in his eyes.

And he could only look at Anthony and hope he was all right.

“Are we done, All-Father?” Anthony asked sharply in the silent round. “Or do you wish to humiliate us further?”

Startled gasps.

Loki reached for his lover’s hands and clutched them. They were familiar. Calloused, warm. Tender, despite the blood on them.

“You may go,” Odin announced after an all too long while.

Loki stood up, his hand still clutching Anthony’s tightly and refused to look at the man who was his king.

Anthony led him outside of the courtroom.

Loki didn’t know where they went but he recognised the smell when they came to a stop.

It were his mother’s -, the queen’s rooms.

“We’re only here to pick something up,” Anthony said in a hurried tone. “Loki, I know it hurts.”

He nodded.

“-only do when we’re away from here.”

Away.

He whined softly.

“I’ve got her knife. Let’s go, now.”

Knife.

It hurt. His mouth hurt from the strand which pulled his lips further together when he tried to move them out of familiarity.

Where they went Loki did not know. He passed out when Anthony pulled him in a boat and told him his mother had enhanced the boat.

He woke up with a scream –

And there was his voice.

“Shhh, shhhh, I know.”

He turned his head around, his hand flying in disbelief to his mouth.

“Don’t try to talk just yet,” Anthony said and his hand stroked over Loki’s cheek tenderly. “The wounds haven’t healed fully and I don’t want to see you in any more pain than you already are in.”

Where are we? Was Loki’s next thought and he took a deep breath, tried to calm his fast beating heart.

“We’re in a house on Alfheim. It belonged to my mother.” Anthony smiled at him. “We should be safe here.”

But for how long?

“The queen made sure a note would reach me in my cell that a boat would be waiting for us after the-“ he broke off.

Loki understood. He nodded.

His mouth still hurt from the strand.

“Sleep,” Anthony said quietly, “I will be there when you wake up. I promise.”

Loki could trust Anthony. He was the one who never let him down and broke him out of a punishment. He didn’t dare to think how great the punishment would be were they caught but that could wait for another day. He was content with his love beside him and closed his eyes to the all familiar smell of oil and fire.