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It was unclear how their arrangement came to be and neither of them would be able to recall it until the day they faded to dust. Nonetheless, if they were forced to admit it, both would agree that it started after what should have been nothing more than a brawl between siblings. But then, they could not agree on how the brawl had started.

They were at an impasse.

Thor remembered pinning Loki's arms high over his head to prevent him from moving, not that it stopped his brother from squirming in his grip. Thor remembered staring at Loki's parted lips as he panted beneath him before crashing their lips together and sinking into the demanding kiss.

Loki remembered glaring up at Thor as his body was rendered immobile and opening his mouth to protest before being silenced by the other's lips on his. Loki remembered a tongue slipping into his mouth and drawing a noise from him that he would never admit of making, nor the noises that came after.

They both remembered pulling at each other's clothes before Loki whisked them away, enabling them to run hands over bare skin. They both remembered Thor entering Loki, thrusting into him, drawing illicit moan after moan. They both remembered agreeing to never speak of that night.

Except that was not the only time it happened. A week, a month, a century later. Again and again, the brothers tumbled into bed together.

Knowing he could become pregnant for most of his life did not ease the impact of the news of his state. Or at least, Loki thought he was with child. There were many other things that could be causing his affliction, and if Loki were to go to the Healing Rooms, he could be free of doubt, but that wasn't an option. And anyway, there were not a lot of things that could be draining Loki's seiðr. Perhaps it shouldn't be that big of a surprise, but how could it not be?. Loki had been careful to avoid this, but more importantly, the rare Æsir hermaphrodites were supposed to be barren. And perhaps that's precisely why it shouldn't be a surprise. Loki had slacked in his cares thinking that, despite his parents’ early warnings, he couldn't actually become pregnant, and this were the results.

Loki was with child.

And it was his brother's.

For centuries, Loki and Thor had been in an open relationship. Thor had his lovers and Loki had his, but at the end of the day, it was each other they put above the rest. Thor had his fair amount of admirers, but Loki didn't doubt he was the only male lover Thor had taken to bed. Loki, in contrast, didn't discriminate between male and female, nor was Loki fond of one stands. Sex, for Loki, was an art. Seeing people fall apart from his touch made Loki giddy in a way that he would exchange for almost nothing. With one stands, Loki could never quite learn the kinks he loved to exploit. The issue was that, when Loki took someone to his bed more than twice, they expected him to make commitments. But they, especially men, had never understood. No one could own Loki.

And that’s how Loki knew the child was Thor's. For almost a century, Loki had not exposed himself to anyone but his brother. But Thor wouldn't believe that, so Loki refrained from sharing the news until he could no longer hide the growing child within him.

It was a lost cause.

Loki wanted a child, albeit perhaps a little later in life and, of course, under more ideal circumstances. He was still young, true, Loki would be the first to defend that, but not so young that he couldn't care for a child. Sacrifices, Loki knew, would have to be made. A lot of sacrifices, truth be told, but Loki had always known that. The upside, in a way, Loki thought, was that he would be the one to carry the child, which would increase the chances of the child preferring Loki's seiðr over the inferior seiðr of whoever Loki's father had planned Loki to marry.

It's a shame his plans won't come to fruition, Loki thought with a curl to his lips.

It didn't mean Loki was happy. He dreaded the upcoming months. There was no doubt Loki would be disowned nor was Loki looking forward to the jeers and insults that would follow him through his pregnancy as his belly, swollen with his brother's child (not that people would know it was Thor's), made it clear to everyone that Loki had submitted to another man. Loki was also well aware that his child would be treated no different, well aware of the cruelty of wittingly exposing his child to such derision. So perhaps this is where Loki's selfishness came into play. Loki could rip Thor's seed from his body if he so wished, walk away and pretend it never happened. But the child wasn’t just Thor's, it was his. It was Loki's, and Loki had no intention of getting rid of it, even if it meant he would have to leave his life of luxury behind simply because he was not letting them take what was his. Even if it meant cutting ties with Thor.

Thor, who had accused Loki of whoring around the night he discovered Loki's pregnancy.

His brother had left on a quest with his idiotic friends for which Loki was grateful for once. It had given Loki time to decide that yes, this is what he wanted. His situation had looked more complicated when Thor was in the palace, seeking pleasure at night and jokingly pointing out to Loki that he looked bloated, and after Thor left, Loki realized that Asgardians wouldn't know his child came was a result of sleeping with his brother unless he or Thor told them. By the time Thor came back, Loki had almost reached his fifth month. Loki's slim figure made his bump more noticeable than it should be in Loki's opinion and his seiðr was been drained fast; Loki could no longer sustain a proper glamour and had no choice but to come out with it.

That night, Loki had been supporting a book on his protruding stomach and reclining against a few pillows as pain radiated down his back and legs when Thor entered his chambers with a broad smile on his face and air of triumph that Loki thought wasn't warranted. “I'm back,” Thor boomed and Loki chuckled when Thor crawled into bed. Having recognized the lust in Thor's eyes, Loki spread his legs on instinct for Thor to settle between them. They were about to bring their mouth together when Loki remembered a slightly important detail and placed a hand on Thor's chest to push the other back.

Loki scrutinized Thor's frowning face and swallowed thickly before admitting, “I'm with child, Thor.”

Thor's frown morphed into more of a scowl. “What? What do you mean you're with child?” Loki thought what he had said was pretty self-explanatory. Thor pushed the forgotten book out of the way as Loki tried to move back and stared down at the mound that was Loki's belly.

Loki's breath hitched. “It's yours, brother,” he whispered.

Thor shook his head and chuckled. “No, you're not pinning this on me.”

“But it is,” Loki insisted.

Thor shook his head more vigorously. “No, I know not with whom you slept, but you're not holding me responsible.”

Loki clawed at Thor's tunic. “Thor, brother, you know I've only been yours for a century.”

“No, I don't,” Thor denied. Loki pulled at his brother's tunic as Thor tried to pull away and Thor sneered at him. “Get your hands off me, you little whore.”

Loki did as asked, reeling back as if slapped. He had expected disbelief from Thor, but of all the scenarios Loki had envisioned, he hadn't imagined his brother would react this strongly. Tears stung Loki's eyes as he watched Thor leave his chambers, but Loki reminded himself he had prepared for this. All the same, as he cradled his belly, Loki couldn't stop himself from whispering, “It's yours,” at the closed door.

Thor would admit that in the beginning, when he had tried to get away from whatever his thing with Loki was supposed to be, he'd had other lovers aside from his brother. That had changed. It wasn't fair when Thor knew he would always choose Loki. Thor couldn't remember with precision the last time he had lost himself in pleasure with someone that wasn't Loki. His brother, however, still offered himself to whoever caught his fancy that day. Thor told himself he didn't care. Loki was free to bed who he wished for they had never agreed to be exclusive. And yet, when Thor saw his brother leave with some stranger, the itch to reclaim Loki was unbearable.

It should have been a warning sign for Thor that something was amiss when Loki stopped initiating their encounters and insisted Thor be gentle with him, something that Loki had never requested before. Quite the opposite, actually. Thor had feared his brother was losing interest in him, but if that had been the case, Thor didn't doubt that Loki would have made it clear as day. That hadn't been the most reassuring. Thor wanted Loki to be his and no one else's, but it was no secret to Thor that that desire was what made Loki discard people as if they were nothing more than old, worn clothes. And yet, when Thor first noticed Loki's bloated stomach, Thor couldn't help but think that if Loki's belly were to swell with his seed, at least one part of his brother would be his.

It was deprived of him to wish to make a child with his brother, Thor knew, to imagine Loki growing fat with his child so he could stack his claim over the rest. Nonetheless, it was an idea Thor couldn't stop toying with during his quest. Thor's friends had remarked that he had been distracted, and it was true. Thor hadn't been able to take his mind away from Loki. From the thought that his brother was letting himself be taken by some lowly guard. That if he had gotten Loki with child, he wouldn't have to worry about this. That despite the interest it sparked in him, Loki would never be able to give him a child.

It was a lost cause.

They were brothers. Even if Loki agreed to give Thor a child, Asgard would never accept it. Just the fact that they had slept together would be enough to disown both of them. Thor would have to content himself with their continued arrangement for as long as it could last.

It didn't mean Thor had thought about it for long. It was a recent development, something that occurred to Thor a couple months ago when for whatever reason his brother's abdomen wasn't as flat as it used to be (and Thor should have known then that Loki was pregnant). It wouldn't do Thor any good to get a child from his brother, anyway. Their illegitimate child would never get a chance to be Thor's heir, if it even had something to inherit. Loki would never be Thor's and Thor would never be Loki's. Not in the way Thor wanted; as more than brothers, more than forbidden lovers. Thor had always known that.

Thor had been looking forward to seeing Loki again after returning to Asgard. Now that Thor was back, he would be able to ensure Loki had only time for him and to remind his brother of why he kept coming back to Thor, and so he entered Loki's chamber with one of his beaming smiles, confident that he would wash away the stench of whoever had dared to touch his brother. Loki had readily spread his legs for him and Thor had thought that was invitation enough. But apparently not. Loki pushed him back and Thor conceded, looking down at Loki with a frown.

Fear crossed Loki's face and Thor saw him gulp. Whatever it was, it must be of grave concern. His brother never hesitated. But then, the words that Thor thought he would never be able to hear from Loki came out of his brother's mouth. “I'm with child, Thor.” Thor's pulse speeded up. That couldn't be. Loki would never permit someone to get a child on him. His jokes about his brother's stomach came back to haunt Thor. Loki tried pull back from Thor as Thor's eyes roamed his body and Thor's temper sparked. Thor pushed away what was obscuring his view of Loki's abdomen with no amount of gentility.

Loki's whisper of, “It's yours, brothers,” made Thor's blood boil. If Loki's bastard were truly his, Thor would have known long before Loki's skin began to be pulled taut. Loki's insistence that the bastard was his were a mockery of Thor's dream, as if Loki knew Thor had been wishing for a child from him and was mocking Thor for it. 

“No, I know not with whom you slept, but you're not holding me responsible.”

“Thor, brother, you know I've only been yours for a century.”

If Loki had remained faithful to him, he would be clutching at him for a completely different reason, Thor thought, because what Thor knew very well was that Loki had not stopped his dalliances even though Thor had dedicated all his attentions to his brother for centuries. It was audacious of Loki to claim different when Thor had seen him leave with an ambassador of Álfheimr at the last feast. For all Thor knew, the hybrid growing inside his brother was just that ambassador’s. The hands that Thor had praised countless times in the past for their skill and grace aroused revulsion in him as they tried to keep him there, so close to the womb where only Thor's children should be allowed to grow. “Get your hands off me, you little whore.”

Loki recoiled from Thor; Thor's eyes widened. Thor hadn't meant that. Those words were never supposed to leave his mouth. Norns alone knew Thor loved his brother too much to ever think of Loki in such a way. Thor resented Loki for sleeping with whomever he pleased and Thor would never forgive Loki's transgression, but Thor could not for a moment think of Loki as a… as a whore.

Loki's face was turned sideways, raven hair falling like curtains around his face, as if Thor had dared raise a hand against his porcelain skin. For a moment, Thor was tempted to caress his brother's cheek, but then his eyes strayed to Loki's bulging stomach and Thor remembered how they had gotten here. Loki's eyes burned into the back of Thor's head as Thor left his brother's chambers and heat crept up Thor's neck and face. His turbulent mind was screaming at Thor to go back, but it was Loki who tore them apart.

That night, Thor shifted around in his too large bed, sheets tangling with his limbs, as his hand reached for a body that was not there.