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Gold Hair and Lightning

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Thor’s breath is muggy against the back of his neck, fanning the hair that clings feebly to his damp skin. Loki can’t think beyond the feeling of Thor inside him, sliding in and out, the pain flaring up his spine and around to his stomach where Thor presses one heated palm. He keeps his own breathing even and controlled, silently forbidding any hint of his discomfort to slip through his carefully collected façade.

“Loki,” Thor murmurs, lips grazing his skin as his hips falter, movements turning sharp and ragged before he finally stills, hips flush against Loki’s buttocks. Loki doesn’t attempt to pull out of the grasp, letting Thor remain inside him, his body relaxing minutely with the knowledge that the act is over for another night. Thor finally drags himself away, the slide out rough and uncomfortable, mouth wet against Loki’s shoulder as he whispers quietly.

“Perhaps this time,” he says and Loki shuts his eyes, hoping that he’s right, if only to put an end to the nights he spends using his magic to heal himself, cleaning his body of the stickiness Thor leaves between his legs.

Thor falls exhausted to the side, Loki eventually rolling off his knees, swinging his legs over the side of the bed to stand and make his way into the adjoining washroom. There’s blood once more from not being prepared well enough as he swipes his fingertips across where he’s sore and aching, but he knows it’s the least of his problems as he stands in front of his reflection, running one hand over his disappointingly flat belly. He’s heard people talking, knows what they say about him with their voices hushed at his back as he passes them; they believe him to be using his magic to prevent himself from becoming with child, stopping himself from giving Thor a true heir.

As much as he wants to, he knows he cannot risk doing so, the brittle ties between himself and Odin, who expressly made clear that he has been spared precisely to bear his son’s children, too weak to attempt anything of the sort. Despite how much it pains him, his need to keep his magic prevails over his want of happiness, locking him into a life he hates, but endures in the hope of an ending. If he can produce an heir, perhaps Odin will finally release him from their bargain.

He mutters a quick spell, soothing his pain and cleansing his skin of sweat and seed, before blinking himself away, transporting his body back to his own rooms, where cool sheets await his fevered skin with a silky welcome. He slips between them, snapping the lit torches to extinguish themselves with trembling fingers, and rolling onto his side. This is how his life goes now. The regretful, but inevitable taming of Loki; no longer a maker of mischief, but the fool of Asgard and all the Nine Realms.

*

The days Loki hates most of all are the ones preceding and following fights. Not between the two of them, but when Thor disappears for an entire week hunting down a beast or creature that imposes some sort of danger upon Asgard. Loki never knows the finer details – no one ever tells him – but he hears it later, like everything else, when he traverses the palace gardens or disguises himself and walks through the markets.

It always puts the red in Thor’s blood, giving him strength that not even Loki would ever want to go against, and an unquenchable thirst for passion. Loki usually finds himself being taken against a wall or while strewn across a table laden with half-eaten meats and half-drunken spirits.

On this particular morning when Thor returns, the sun barely starting to peek above the horizon, Loki is awoken by the tug of sheets down his body, the cold unable to seep under his skin as Thor quickly covers him with his equally bare form. Caught off guard, heart racing with panic, Loki spreads his legs hurriedly, feet winding and locking behind Thor’s back as though they belong there, assuming the position he knows Thor wants him in.

Thor’s fingers are slick and quick in preparing him, though his body is still loose and relaxed from sleep, barely awake when Thor slides into him, breathing heavy relief against his throat.

“Loki,” he sighs, hips unrelenting as he thrusts into him, the build-up of desire clear in his movements.

Loki’s cock rubs uncomfortably between them, the want and need that Thor seems to hold foreign to Loki and his body. Thor smells of sweat and dried blood and Loki, despite everything, still traces Thor with his magic, checking for wounds of Thor’s own; there are only a few minor cuts and it’s with gentle, surreptitious fingertips that he heals them before Thor can realise and stop him. He apparently doesn’t notice, too caught up in his pleasure, but Loki thinks it for the best; his magic has been the subject of much fighting before and he doesn’t need it to be again.

Thor is rough, hips slamming forward, arms braced either side of Loki’s head, making him feel trapped by his enormous muscles, but he shuts his eyes and lets Thor bite bruises onto his skin. His moans are muffled by Loki’s throat, but his unsteady gasps say more in the silence as his breath stutters, hips losing rhythm, and Loki knows the end is in sight; Thor, unable to have Loki for six nights in a row, has hardly any stamina as he bucks and thrusts forward only a few more times before falling still.

Thor’s chest heaves against Loki’s and he feels Thor’s heart thrumming above him in a quick, but even beat of its own. He remains quiet and motionless, allowing Thor to lick the marks he’s left behind, sliding his mouth up Loki’s jaw before finally pressing their lips together. Thor kisses him slowly, tongue hesitant, but part of the act as Thor seems to attempt to draw a reaction. On the silent cue, Loki hums against his mouth, winding his fingers into Thor’s disarray hair as though he wants what he’s being given, as though he’s been thinking of nothing more than their reunion for the past week.

Thor slides a massive hand up his waist, over his ribs, shifting his hips and finally slipping out of Loki’s tense body, rolling them over onto their sides. Loki accidentally catches Thor’s lip between his teeth at the sensation, an apology quick on his tongue to soothe Thor’s pride, but Thor just rumbles against his chest, breathing a soft laugh into his mouth. Eventually Thor draws away, an expression of his face that says he’d rather not have to, but he runs his palm over Loki’s stomach as he leaves, sliding free from the tangle of sheets around their feet. He stumbles over his armour, which Loki realises is scattered about in a line leading from the door to the bed, as though shed in haste, and makes his way into the adjoining room, the sound of rushing water filling the silence.

As Thor bathes, Loki takes the time to clean himself, pressing a hand against his lower belly and hoping that one day it will swell with child. He checks using his magic, but finds nothing more than his own grumbling insides as they beg for food after being awoken so vigorously. He sighs in disappointment and rolls over, dragging the sheets back up over his cooling body.

He hopes Thor will take his time scrubbing dirt and grime from his skin, but Loki is given only a short reprieve as Thor returns, a towel slung low around his waist only a quarter-hour later. With a boastful grin, he tugs it away, rubbing his wet hair quickly to stop it from dripping everywhere before dropping it to the floor like his clothes and slipping once more under the sheets, pressing his chest along the length of Loki’s back.

“Let me rest only a moment,” he requests, mouth sliding against Loki’s neck. “I want to have you again before breakfast. I missed you, brother.”

Loki doesn’t reply and thankfully Thor must believe him to be asleep because a hand curls over his hip and then all Loki can hear is Thor’s soft, even breathing. Despite his exhaustion, Loki knows he won’t be able to do anything more than lie awake and wait to meet more of Thor’s demands. The only thing that comforts him is the fact that at least his brother smells a great deal better than before.

*

“Come here, brother,” Thor whispers, leaning back in his chair and watching each and every movement Loki makes. Loki obeys because he must, his steps quick, without a hint of teasing, which seems to disappoint Thor with the way his forehead furrows and his eyes hold a dark sadness. When Loki stands before him, Thor rises, placing them eye-to-eye, his fingers slipping under Loki’s tunic and pulling it gently over his head. Loki remains motionless, even as Thor unlaces his trousers and pushes them over his hips, leaving him entirely bare before him. With a careful touch on his elbow, Thor encourages Loki to step out of his clothes, pushing them to one side with his foot.

He seats himself once more and – for the first time in his life – sits still, allowing only his eyes to roam over Loki’s body.

“You are magnificent,” he says quietly, breath soft against Loki’s skin.

Only a few moments pass before Thor seems unable to stop himself from touching Loki any longer, his fingers coming up to trail across Loki’s stomach, leaving a prickling feeling in their wake.

“So smooth,” he murmurs, voice clearly full of something more, deeper intent. “If it comes to pass that you are holding back on purpose, the All-Father will never forgive a second time, not with the agreement you promised to uphold.”

Loki pushes his hand away, stomach churning with anger.

“You believe the rumours and lies of Asgard?”

Thor catches his wrists, holding his hands together as he places a kiss atop his knuckles.

“I am merely thinking as the Loki of past would.”

Loki blinks, keeping his face schooled.

“That Loki is long gone; you and the All-Father have seen to that.”

The slap Thor delivers, although expected, still stings across his cheek, face thrumming with heated pain. Immediately, Thor’s palm cups the sore skin, thumb gently stroking and soothing, and though Loki wants nothing more than to pull away, he remains in place, fulfilling Thor’s wishes.

“You should be grateful, Loki. Our father is a merciful god, and you would not have been spared if it were any other in charge of your fate.”

Loki bows his head, refusing to let Thor see the anger in his eyes at his words, knowing it will only get him into deeper trouble. Thor seems to mistake it for modesty as he stretches an arm up to run his fingers through Loki’s lank hair.

“Come,” he says gently, voice and hands soft once more, tugging Loki closer, further between his open knees. “This is not what I want to discuss.”

Loki finally raises his head again.

“What is then?”

Thor’s hands slide to Loki’s waist, thumbs tracing over the blunt angles of his hipbones.

“It is a sensitive issue,” he begins and Loki’s never known Thor to falter; he braces himself for the worst. “Why is it that you never find release when we are together?”

Loki almost laughs, turning it instead into a sharp cough at the last moment.

“That is just the way it has been for as long as I’ve known.”

He doesn’t mean with just Thor, but also with his own hand; the need to touch himself just doesn’t exist and the times he’s tried, he’s remained limp and sore between his legs without even a hint of want in his blood. Thor watches his face carefully as though looking for lies; he bites his bottom lip and tightens his grip on Loki ever so slightly.

“Let me try,” he says and Loki doesn’t know if it’s a request or an order. He tips his head to the side and shrugs.

“Just do not be disappointed if your attempt is in vain.”

He nods as though he understands, but Loki would bet he has no idea what he means by it. Slowly, Thor takes one hand off his hip, gripping him firmly around the base of his flaccid cock, and stroking just once as though weighing him in his palm. Loki watches, feeling more blasé than anything of a sexual nature, but he allows Thor to continue. Thor happily does so, dipping down and taking the head of Loki’s length between his lips, sucking with just enough force that Loki takes a small step forwards, his cock slipping further into Thor’s mouth. Thor glances up as he bobs his head, hope clear in his eyes, but Loki just adjusts his stance and runs his fingers through Thor’s hair, ignoring the way the suction begins to irritate his skin.

Loki will admit that the sight is perfect: Thor debasing himself, bowing his head to Loki and exploiting himself for his own pleasure. He thrusts his hips, pushing harder between Thor’s lips, despite his own discomfort, if only to see Thor accept it, take what he’s giving and not once complain. The sound is exquisitely vulgar, the slick wetness of Thor’s tongue and throat moving around him, letting him slip in and out with a sweet slide that he knows would drive any other man wild. Instead, it makes his stomach cramp and his cock remains unresponsive.

Loki eventually pushes Thor’s head away with gentle hands, twin sighs of disappointment slipping from their mouths, though for two entirely different reasons.

“It is not you, Thor,” he lies. “I have never been one for desire.” Thor wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and lets go of Loki’s cock, allowing it nestle back against his body, looking red and wet and not at all pleasured. “I am sorry.”

Thor shakes his head.

“No,” he says, curling his hand around Loki’s thigh. “I should never have pressed you.”

Despite everything, Thor drags him forward onto his lap and not five minutes later takes him on the thick rug in front of the stone hearth.

*

Seated in the warmth of Thor’s room, reading a large text about past civilisations, Loki glances over at the time, noting that both hands point well after midnight. He yawns behind his hand and Thor shifts on the bed, unclasping his fingers from the back of his head.

“What if I’m not virile,” he says suddenly and Loki almost knocks a pot of quills off the desk in his haste to turn.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Loki snaps because it implicitly questions his own fertility.

“What if I’m not?”

With an exasperated sigh, Loki raises his hand and waves it in Thor’s direction. In his mind, flashes of Thor’s vitals appear, showing an even, steady heartbeat, an ideal respiratory rate for someone of Thor’s size. He lowers his hand slightly and he’s shown an eighty-percent-digested dinner, a regularly balanced colon, and the statistics of Thor’s reproductive system. He ignores the trivial information and the numbers below feel like a punch in the gut; Thor has an almost perfect probability of getting his partner pregnant.

“Have no fear,” Loki explains in a dull voice, “you are as fertile as Yggdrasil itself.”

He watches Thor wet his lips and turns back to his book, unable to handle Thor’s curious, searching eyes.

“What about – ”

“It would serve you well to drop that thought immediately.”

Thor thankfully falls silent, but Loki’s mind never does. If it’s not Thor, it only leaves one other option and Loki’s pride cannot handle the insinuation, not after everything else.

For once, Thor leaves him alone, quietly preparing for bed and dropping a kiss to Loki’s jaw before curling into the covers and beginning to snore lightly. Loki dims the torches in the room, despite Thor’s ease to fall asleep, but keeps the small candle next to him brightly shining. He tucks his book away before trawling through his minds for titles he has read before and may offer assistance. He calls up an old tome, one falling apart at the spine and held together seemingly with sheer willpower alone.

Flipping through, he quickly locates a section of spells and enchantments to increase procreativity and runs a finger carefully down the page. It only takes a moment for him to slam the book in frustration, drawing a soft rumble from Thor as he shifts in his sleep at the sound, and he curses the text silently. It’s all proposals and predictions, nothing concrete, nothing at all helpful. Loki doesn’t think prancing about in his smalls under the light of the full moon on the anniversary of his birth date will hardly do anything at all except make him look like a fool.

He lets his face fall to his cupped palms and lets out a long sigh.

*

As foolish as Loki thought he’d look, it isn’t half as bad as it makes him feel.

He doesn’t end up following the book’s instructions on purpose; it’s all rather accidental, really, as Thor manages to talk his way into a nightly stroll, though only because of Loki’s high spirits, or at least the high amount of spirits inside him after celebrating all afternoon. Now, clad only in his undergarments, he slouches back into the shadows of the forest’s edge cast by the bright moon above, while Thor slips out of the last of his clothes and carefully lowers them both to the soft, damp grass below.

He should have known Thor had other intentions.

“Happy Birthday,” Thor whispers, lips at his ear, breath further inside. He presses a hand between them, curling his fingertips over the loose waistband of Loki’s smalls, the laces already untied. He tugs them over his raised hips and it’s about that moment that the memory blindsides Loki and leaves him blinking up at the sky while Thor occupies himself with his body.

He curses the higher gods and means every word of his thoughts.

*

The feeling hits Loki as suddenly as a thrust of Mjölnir against his chest, bile rising in his throat, mouth watering with the promise of imminent sickness. He pushes aside Thor’s heavy arm, slipping from the bed, and rushing to the washroom, only making it as far as the sink before expelling the contents of his stomach. His oesophagus burns and his stomach clenches as another bout of illness washes over him, knocking the wind straight out of him. He grips the cool counter, pressing his bare chest to as much of it as he can, hoping to soothe his burning skin, but it doesn’t stop the roll of his stomach as he pitches forward once more, sure that there can be nothing more left inside him.

Though his hands shake and the use of his magic makes his head spin dizzily, he conjures himself a carafe of water, rinsing his mouth and the sink out before taking large gulps of it to relieve his protesting throat. The nausea passes for a moment, but it hits him once more when the feeling of a palm smoothing down his spine shocks him into a bout of dry heaves.

“Forgive me,” Thor says quietly as Loki rights himself and drinks more of his water. “I didn’t mean to make it worse.”

Loki tugs a towel from a hook on the wall and wipes his face and mouth, not trusting his voice just yet, but when his stomach eventually settles, he exhales shakily and touches Thor’s elbow gently. He can feel something thrumming through Thor’s body, his magic picking it up enough that Loki finally glances over his shoulder at him in curiosity. Thor smiles crookedly at him and Loki sees the anticipation in his eyes long before Thor reaches a hand out and touches Loki’s stomach gently. He thinks Loki is with child.

He blinks in surprise and takes another mouthful of drink to delay the inevitable destruction of Thor’s hope. After a moment of silence, he pushes Thor’s hand away and shakes his head.

“I am sorry, Thor, but it is not that.”

Loki sees Thor’s disappointment in the way his smile and his shoulders droop minutely, and he looks away to stop the guilt rising through him and making him sick once more.

“Do you feel better?” Thor asks and Loki lies, nodding slowly, allowing Thor to lead him back to the bedroom, and obeying Thor’s encouragement as he lifts the sheets and tucks them carefully around Loki’s body after. “Rest and I will bring breakfast to you.”

He sets Loki’s jug of water by the bedside, easily within Loki’s grasp should he need it, before he dresses and leaves Loki alone. Loki shuts his eyes, wishing the room would stop moving long enough for him to get his balance, but it doesn’t and he finds himself feeling as though he’s been strapped to the mast of a ship that’s rocking fitfully through a storm. He falls into a restless sleep and forgets why Thor left him.

*

It may be days or weeks that drag by, but either way they pass in fits of a high fever and more sickness. He remembers Odin’s best healer visiting, laying cool hands upon his skin and muttering spells to drive out whatever’s plaguing him, but after that it falls dark on his memory and the next time he wakes, he finds himself alone, curled up in his own bed. He feels weak, body drained of energy and magic, but he sits up against his down pillows and glances around for water to soothe his parched throat.

He finds a glass waiting for him as though only just poured out, condensation still clinging to the outside, but he can feel the exhaustion in his bones as he reaches out to pick it up. It slides from his grip and he winces as it hits the floor, smashing immediately and spreading across the pale stones.

“Loki?” comes a voice and a few seconds later Thor’s head peers around the doorway to the washroom. He steps into view, wiping his hands on a small towel as he takes in the mess.

“Beg pardon,” Loki whispers hoarsely, feeling horribly unable to cope alone, but with no other choice.

“It is nothing,” Thor says waving an arm, though he steps around the mess and calls for attention from one of the maids passing by the open doorway. She quickly clears the glass and mops up the water with experienced hands, leaving with the promise of having a new tumbler brought up; it arrives in the hands of another, younger servant, who exits with a low bow after.

Thor pours the water for Loki, holding the glass up to his lips and allowing him to take small sips. When he can part his cracked lips and unstick his tongue from the roof of his mouth, he swallows and turns his head away, prompting Thor to set the glass back down on the side table.

“How long have I been out?” he asks, raising a hand and attempting to flatten his hair, which he can feel is sticking in every direction.

“Three days.”

The answer surprises Loki; he was sure he’d been out longer.

“You moved me?”

Thor sits on the side of the bed, mattress dipping under his weight.

“Your magic didn’t leave much of my room behind. The bed is charcoal and there’s a hole in the roof where the rain comes through.”

“I didn’t mean to, I swear it.”

Thor places a palm against his forehead, pressing him back from where he leans forward, and hushes him softly.

“We know you are not at fault. Father says it happens to those with powers like yours; the magic attempts to protect the user, striking out at random to those near. The poor nursemaid lost one eyebrow when it decided to set alight the towel in her hands which she was using to wipe your brow. You’ll be pleased to know that I waited until she had left the room before I laughed.”

Loki can feel the blush of shame that sits high on his cheeks, burning across his skin in a cheap imitation of his fever past. Thor’s thumb rubs across one side of the mark, skin cold compared, but it soothes surprisingly in more than one way.

“It could not be helped, brother; you must see the lighter side of it as we all do.”

“I am tired,” is all Loki says in response and Thor’s arm jolts backwards as though physically pushed away. Despite Loki’s protests, he helps him to lie down, pulling the sheets until they cocoon around him warmly.

“I am glad you are okay,” he says quietly, meeting Loki’s eyes before leaning down and pressing a chaste kiss to his lips. Loki shuts his eyes and doesn’t even need to put on an act as true tiredness washes over him and he sighs gently. Thor drops one last kiss to his mouth, as though he can’t quite help himself, and Loki ignores the way his skin tingles at the touch, already half-asleep.

*

Loki feels strange, as though he’s in the wrong skin, body humming with more power than he’s used to. He lifts a hand in front of his face, fingers sparking and air crackling around him.

“Are you sure this is normal?” he asks the healer flits around him, checking his reflexes and making notes on long length of parchment.

“As normal as to be expected from a being such as yourself.”

“An abomination?”

“A sorcerer.”

Loki hums in his throat before standing and tugging his tunic back into place.

“I’m not finished,” the medic complains, but Loki doesn’t even look over his shoulder as he begins to leave.

“You are now.”

The fizzle of magic is audible as he snaps his fingers to automatically open the door in front of him and two torches nearby simultaneously extinguish themselves. He leaves the clinic with the distinct feeling that he should be careful with his magic, at least for a little while.

*

The only good thing to come of his illness, Loki thinks, shedding his robe and slipping one foot into the large bath he’s filled for himself, is the fact that Thor has left him alone for almost two weeks, long enough to fully recover and sort out the majority of his excess magic. He steps fully into the tub and sits, hissing slightly at the high temperature, but sinking down and letting it curl around his muscles nonetheless.

He dims the lights, magic easily controlled now, and shuts his eyes, sighing long and low, remaining in his hunched form, nose only just above the waterline, for a long while. When he eventually moves once more to wash his hair, his skin feels wrinkled and tight, uncomfortable until he levers himself up, stepping free from the water and whispering a spell to dry himself completely.

Feeling warm and relaxed, Loki strolls completely bare to his bedroom, falling backwards onto the soft sheets of his bed, and shutting his eyes once more. He dozes easily in the quiet room, the sound of warm wind whistling over and through his open window sending him to sleep in a matter of minutes.

He dreams of Thor as though his subconscious wishes to torment him and remind him of the duties he must still perform when Thor eventually seeks him out once more. However, when his dream-self lies beneath Thor, he arches his back and cries out softly, begging for more in a voice Loki has never heard himself use. It’s sordid and feels a little like he’s intruding until he wakes with a jolt and slings an arm over his face in an attempt to hide the flush across his cheeks, despite there being no one around to witness.

He sits up, his hand automatically dropping to his lap, and tries his best to ignore the strange and uncomfortable feeling between his legs, quickly dragging his fingers away before they get any ideas of their own.

*

Thor doesn’t find him, rather sneaks into his rooms one night when he’s flat on his back, sprawled across almost the entire width of his bed, taking full advantage of sleeping alone. He hears the handle of his door turning and the creak of hinges before the latch falls into place with a thunk that couldn’t signal anything but Thor’s ineptitude at silence. He remains still and silent, hoping Thor will think him to be asleep and will leave once more, but instead, the mattress dips to one side and Thor’s breath plays across half of his face.

He blinks blearily, pretending to wake, but Thor just huffs a laugh against his skin.

“The day I’m able to sneak up on you, brother, is the day Jötunheim thaws.”

He presses his mouth to Loki’s own, his lips quick and rough, telling of how much Thor has missed his body, how he needs sweat-slicked limbs splayed and entangled together. Loki shifts, sheets slipping over his waist with help from one of Thor’s hands, his fingers quick to latch onto Loki’s bare hip, tugging him under Thor’s raised body. Loki’s hit with a quick vision of the dream he had not two days past, but if he tenses, Thor doesn’t seem to notice, apparently too focussed on trying to find a way to remove his clothes without having to let Loki’s mouth go. Thor lets out a whine of Loki’s name and Loki doesn’t even blink before using his magic to vanish the final barriers between them, too intent on satisfying Thor’s needs quickly and hoping it won’t hurt too badly after so many days without being stretched open.

Thor blindly reaches across to the nightstand where he drags a well-used bottle of oil free and clumsily slicks his fingers, spilling more on Loki’s stomach than anywhere else. He spreads Loki’s thighs and finally breaks the kiss, leaning back to lift Loki’s legs one after the other until his feet rest flat upon the covers, knees open, shame almost non-existent after being in the exact position so many times before.

The first finger inside him feels normal, a little painful from his disuse, but nothing he doesn’t expect. However, when Thor eventually adds a second, Loki’s hips involuntarily buck and he lets out a small noise, which he can’t quite figure out, left in confusion over whether it’s from pain or a sudden sense of pleasure. Thor has a strange expression on his face, but Loki tugs him down into a quick kiss, his powers of distraction second to none.

The third finger sends an unmistakeable twinge through his stomach, but he bites his tongue sharply and holds back all sounds that threaten to spill out. It’s definitely not what he anticipates and puts it down to the fact that Thor hasn’t touched him for so long, his body unused to everything and relearning the feelings. The tug and slide of Thor’s fingers is precisely the same, but this time when they slip free, Loki feels the welling of a sigh of disappointment in his throat and he clamps his lips together to stop it from escaping.

Thor doesn’t wait for Loki’s signal to continue, apparently too used to Loki’s passiveness during their trysts, just hitches his hips up in his large, warm hands and nudges the head of his slick cock against his entrance. Loki’s legs feel boneless, hanging limp from his body, sprawled every-which-way across the bed, but he feels the muscles of his thighs twitch as Thor pushes the tip of his length into him and keeps sliding inside.

Despite having had Thor within him hundreds of times before, it feels different now somehow, as though he has an itch that he just can’t reach to scratch.

“Brother,” Thor murmurs, lips almost touching Loki’s own, “are you feeling well?”

It’s a little late, Loki thinks, but the fact that Thor even asks is something to commend.

“I am,” he breathes, trying to focus on something other than the gentle thrusting of Thor’s hips, his body shuddering at the strange tug that once was easy to ignore, now impossible. He digs his fingers into Thor’s broad shoulders and attempts everything he can think of to stop himself from pushing up into the steadily increasing pace and murmuring words of encouragement.

“I have been worrying.”

“Do not trouble yourself,” Loki begins, voice cutting out abruptly at a particularly hard thrust, before he regains composure and carries on. “It was nothing.”

Thor presses his face against Loki’s throat and Loki feels his mouth moving against his skin, teeth raking gently over the curve of his neck, and his body responds, head tilting automatically to allow Thor to continue, despite his mind setting off warning alarms. He’s sure he’s never felt at all similar before, and his only thought is to continue blaming it on the time lapse since their last meeting.

Thor holds him tighter, the rough movements of his hips turning sharp and quick, and Loki finds himself wrapping his legs around Thor’s waist and pulling him in with every shift of their bodies. Thor draws away suddenly, though his thrusts never falter, and he stares at Loki as though taken aback by something.

“What?” he gasps out, knowing Thor is close by the way his thighs tremble against him.

“You never respond.”

Loki digs his nails into Thor’s skin and locks his ankles, forcing his brother to thrust deeper within using short, swift cants of his hips. Thor lets out a strangled moan and grips Loki’s waist tightly with bruising force as he rolls his head back, eyes shut tightly. He mutters curses to himself and Loki lets him continue moving until he flops forward, weight, thankfully, not entirely on Loki’s ribs. He mouths at Loki’s collarbone and Loki knows that he’s speaking from the way his skin vibrates, but he can’t hear the words; eventually, Thor moves his mouth away and speaks clearer.

“Loki,” he whispers, and Loki’s stomach rolls pleasantly at the feeling of Thor’s cock shifting and softening inside him. He waits for the praise Thor always leaves him with, but instead, he catches Loki by surprise. “Loki, you need to let me go.”

Loki flushes darkly as he unwinds his legs from around Thor’s body, entirely forgetting they were even there, continuing to hold Thor close. Thor lets out a quiet laugh and kisses Loki’s face with soft, clearly exhausted lips as he slips free.

“You have changed,” Thor says, “though do not get me wrong; it is for the better. I like this side to you. If I weren’t so tired, I would make you show me more.”

Loki turns his sigh of relief into a familiar disbelieving snort, one he knows Thor has heard many times before and will think nothing of.

“The only change is that you are imagining things now.”

“You deny scratching the skin off my back then? I have the marks to prove it.”

Loki pushes at Thor until he finally rolls to the side, giving Loki space to breathe and hide his embarrassment. Thor presses his mouth to the skin just below Loki’s ear and exhales softly.

“Maybe it is a sign of good fortune,” he says as his hand slides over Loki’s stomach, thumb rubbing at his navel. Loki glances down at Thor’s tanned skin above his own paleness, body twitching with interest, and lets his magic secretly search for any signs that he might have finally become pregnant, but it comes back with the same negative reading.

“Perhaps,” he replies, keeping his tone even to stop Thor from noticing anything different, but he need not worry, as Thor distracts himself with a patch of skin just above Loki’s left nipple, worrying it with his teeth until Loki hisses and pushes his head away. “We are done,” he insists, but he can feel Thor’s smile against his body when he leans in once more.

*

The strange feelings remain with him long after Thor leaves, slipping back out of his room with nothing more than a gentle kiss and murmured affection. He sits up, lighting the torches in the room with a flick of his wrist, and stares down at his naked body, trying his best to figure out if there’s something different about it that he’s missed.

It appears to be exactly alike; the same slight muscles of his chest, the same dip of his belly and high arches of his hips, and the same trail of hair leading lower. The bruises on his waist are new, however, and he trails one fingertip lightly over the purpling skin before moving his gaze lower once more.

His cock is red, looking the same as after any past encounter, but instead of aching with an unexplainable soreness, it twitches with a low thrum of something deep in his stomach. He rests a hand over it, feeling the heat it gives off, and it’s with tentative fingers that he lifts it, rolling his wrist and letting it slide into his palm. It’s a little like being at the receiving end of a stunning curse and his whole body jerks at the touch, leaving him light-headed and needing more.

He gently strokes himself, tugging and waiting for his body to realise what he’s doing and become disinterested, but instead, his cock twitches once more and begins to swell softly, the same way Thor’s does when he wraps thick fingers around himself while watching Loki carefully. At the thought of Thor touching himself, another jolt of pleasure sweeps over him and his eyes shut briefly at the sensation. He tries valiantly not to, but the more he remembers the feelings from only moments ago with Thor, the worse it gets, until he’s left with a painful erection he never thought he’d see between his own thighs.

He breathes quickly, head feeling faint and rather fuzzy, but he doesn’t let go of himself, continues twisting his palm around his length, fingers running experimentally over the curved head. It hits him suddenly, like a blunt force across the temple as he realises exactly what he’s doing and he draws his hand away with a sharp tug, curling his fingers into the covers to avoid accidental contact.

His chest heaves and body aches, but despite it all, Loki slips off the bed and pulls on his clothes, mind already made up. He quietly leaves his room, surreptitiously adjusting his trousers underneath the hem of his tunic as he stalks through the abandoned hallways which eventually lead him outside into the courtyard where the night air seems cooler and fresher. He takes in deep lungfuls and stares up at the sky as it slowly bleeds red with sunrise, quietly cursing the day he was made.

*

He avoids Thor for as long as he reasonably can, making excuses of nonexistent importance, until one evening Thor eventually corners him after he slips from dinner early, hoping to lock himself away with a few good texts.

“Are you angry with me?” he asks, sounding genuinely confused, taking a hold of Loki’s wrist suddenly as he walks through the corridors, halting him mid-stride.

“What makes you think that?”

“Brother, if I’d seen you any less, I wouldn’t have seen you at all. Is it something I’ve done?” Loki tugs his arm free and continues walking, though he lets Thor fall into step beside him. “Is it something I’ve said?”

“It is neither; the matter has nothing at all to do with you.”

Thor sighs as though he doesn’t believe a word and slows to a stop when they reach Loki’s bedroom door.

“At least tell me this: is it anything I need worry about?”

Loki meets his eyes, keeping his face open to allow Thor to see there are no lies hidden within.

“No,” he says, but there is a reason he is a master of trickery and deceit, and as Thor gently smiles and seems to believe him, he understands that there is one part of him that will never change.

*

Loki doesn’t know why Thor bothers knocking, because he doesn’t wait for an answer before he slips into the room, locking the door behind him. It is still early, Loki having only just awoken, his mind at war over whether to sleep a few more hours, though with Thor’s presence, he supposes he doesn’t have a choice anymore.

He sits up against his pillows and thinks briefly about escaping to the bathroom, but that’s when he notices there’s a part of him that must have woken early.

“I am feeling unwell this morning,” Loki says, bunching the sheets up over his lap, hiding his insistent problem.

Thor looks concerned and moves closer, sitting crookedly on the edge of the bed and reaching a hand out to touch Loki’s forehead.

“You feel warm,” he says before stroking his palm down Loki’s cheek. “You said you were in perfect health the other night; what has changed?”

“Maybe it is nothing and I just need a good meal,” Loki lies. “Go fetch us something from the kitchens.”

Thor laughs and leans in for a morning kiss.

“We have servants for that, brother. Why don’t you summon them and we shall spend the day in bed.”

Thor moves to tangle one arm around Loki’s waist, but his wrist accidentally knocks Loki’s erection through the covers and Loki only has time to muffle half of his quiet gasp. Thor looks even more concerned.

“Forgive me, I should have known better. Are you tender?”

He holds his palm over the V of Loki’s pelvis as though the warmth of his skin will help. Unfortunately, it does, because Loki’s cock twitches and not even he can cover up the shifting he knows Thor must feel. Thor blinks as though trying to figure everything out without asking for Loki’s help, but then seems to give up halfway.

He grips the edge of the sheet across Loki’s stomach and tugs it down, Loki powerless to stop him from revealing his secret. He stares at Loki’s cock as though he’s never seen it before in his life.

“You were lying to me the entire time?” Thor says quietly, his anger carefully twisted around the words, the hidden strength of it all hitting Loki like a blunt force to the gut.

“No,” he says quickly, hoping Thor won’t fetch the All-Father before he can explain. He turns his face away, staring at a point across the room, and leaps without looking down. “My body hasn’t been right after my illness. I don’t know why and I don’t know how, but I do know that it is wrong and there is naught to do about it.”

Thor suddenly laughs and it catches Loki completely by surprise, snapping his head around to stare at him.

“Loki, this is what has made you so down recently?”

Loki nods tightly as though answering a trick question; Thor just laughs again, the skin around his eyes crinkling softly.

“This is what we all must go through to become who we are. My body reacted the same way once, though I was much younger than you are now, but it is no different.”

“It is normal?”

“In some shape and form, yes. Didn’t mother tell you about it?”

Loki attempts to cover himself back up, but Thor’s hand blocks his way.

“No, it must have slipped her mind,” he says, sounding as bitter and embarrassed as he feels, but Thor doesn’t laugh again. Annoyingly, he begins to rub the pad of his thumb against Loki’s inner thigh instead, leaning in closer until he feels his breath on his face and has to meet Thor’s gaze.

“Have you done anything to alleviate the stress?”

“No,” Loki says abruptly, but for once entirely truthful.

“Perhaps I should just show you.”

“I think it rather too late for that now, Thor, what with us already having consummated Odin’s bargain.”

“But that was for my benefit. And father’s,” he adds seemingly as an afterthought. “Let this be for yours.”

“I hardly think I have a say.”

This finally seems to rile Thor as his brow furrows and his mouth shifts into a thin line of tension.

“You may not always be granted permission, but you will always have a voice here, no matter what.”

“Well, how can it be punishment if I enjoy it?”

“Is that what you think this is: punishment?

“Is it not?”

Thor sits back as though Loki delivers a physical blow and Loki almost feels regret over the sharpness of his words, albeit the truth they hold for him. Before Loki has time to apologise, Thor surges forward, claiming his mouth with his own, showing nothing but passion in his actions. Loki cannot help but open under him, jaw softening and lips parting, body responding the same way it would to any of Thor’s other advances, as though trained to answer to Thor’s touches alone. Slowly Thor pulls away and Loki embarrassingly finds himself leaning forwards slightly for more. Thor pushes the hair away from Loki’s face and cups his hand behind his head.

“You are my brother and my lover, as I am to you. One day, whenever that might be, you will bear the heir to the throne and be father to the king of gods. If you think that is punishment then I fear I do not know you at all.”

Loki glances away, guilt rolling inside him and as much as he does loathe to admit it, upsetting his brother is one thing he doesn’t truly enjoy.

“I spoke out of line,” he says eventually and Thor’s face softens, his relief visible.

“No matter,” he says, stroking his hand up and down Loki’s thigh in a thoroughly distracting way. “Allow me this.”

Unless he would like to upset Thor further, he knows there is only one answer to the request. He shifts back against his pillows, making himself comfortable, and openly inviting Thor to continue with a slight spread of his legs. Thor’s mouth is upon his once more almost immediately, his apparent need to please Loki drawing a quiet noise from him in his enthusiasm. Thor’s hand is strong and firm and doesn’t hesitate at all as it wraps around Loki’s still-interested cock.

He tries to hold back, but his hips lift and his hands find their way to Thor’s biceps as Thor’s fingertips gently tease along his length, drawing pleasure Loki’s never felt before. He thrusts into Thor’s grip as Thor nips at his bottom lip and murmurs soft, muffled words into his mouth. His fingernails bite into Thor’s skin, but Thor doesn’t complain, just continues touching him with steady strokes of his palm.

It doesn’t feel at all like his own hand, too rough and calloused to belong to anyone but Thor. It makes him whine foolishly against Thor’s lips, the sensation just too much, too soon, and when Thor’s free fingers slide and press so perfectly behind his sac, he tenses, body locking up. Thor kisses him gently, mouth moving slowly against Loki’s own in an all-too-familiar way and as pathetic as Loki feels, he cannot stop himself from releasing, coming hard and dry, with nothing more than a harsh exhale.

Thor’s touches soften, but he doesn’t stop, not until Loki sags against his skewed pillows, arms falling limply to his sides. He can’t even muster the strength to open his eyes, his breath ragged and not helped at all by Thor’s mouth upon his own. Thor finally loosens his hold, letting Loki fall limply against his thigh, twitching sensitively every now and then. Thor strokes a hand down Loki’s chest, apparently attempting to soothe him, though not entirely successful in his endeavours.

“How was it?”

“To be expected, I suppose,” Loki eventually says as he once more masters the power of speech. He opens his eyes, glancing down, before flushing deeply. “I didn’t – it wasn’t like you.”

“It is your first time, I am not surprised. Your seed will come in time. Do not be shocked to find yourself sticky with it some mornings; that is normal too.”

“Yes, Healer Thor,” he replies, pleased that his sarcasm hasn’t been completely destroyed by Thor’s hand. Thor laughs and kisses him again until Loki’s stomach grumbles loudly in the silence.

“What do you say to that breakfast in bed now, brother?”

Loki will admit it is one of Thor’s better ideas.

*

Thor’s hand slips to the ties of his trousers, palming him gently through the material, but the moan that falls from Loki’s mouth is anything but real. Even Thor seems to notice as he sits back, tugging his arms back to his sides, and regarding Loki slowly.

“You do not want this?” he asks and Loki feels the heat of embarrassment upon his face. Thor kisses his cheek then his mouth. “Perhaps it is a part of the adjustment? I shall wait and all you need do is tell me when you are ready once more.”

For a moment, Loki believes him to begin watching from the bedside, literally waiting for the impotence to pass, but then he pulls entirely out of reach and steps away from where Loki rests.

“I’m sure it is nothing to worry over.”

The door clicks softly behind him and Loki wonders how long Thor will last before he’ll want to eat his own words.

*

Two weeks without contact, Loki starts to notice the way Thor stares at him, eyes hungry, mind possibly listing all the things he wants to do with his brother, however, Thor keeps his word and doesn’t initiate anything more than a few stolen kisses.

Three weeks without touching and Loki can see that Thor begins to struggle, and more than once has to pull away from Thor’s wandering fingers during enthusiastic embraces. Despite the minimal slips, Thor’s resolve remains strong and it almost impresses Loki that he’s held out so long.

A quarter of the way through the fourth week, Loki feels like he’s been sucker punched by the passion of Freya herself.

He wakes in a mess of his own seed, but even after cleaning the sheets with magic and bathing for the better part of three-quarters of an hour, he finds himself antsy and restless, body aching with the strange need of Thor’s touch. He almost digs himself a trench with his own pacing at the foot of the bed until his determination not to do anything at all finally snaps and he finds himself stalking the corridors in the half-light of dawn, making his way to Thor’s door.

He doesn’t knock and he knows he’s nothing but silent as he locks it and steps closer to Thor’s bed where he’s sleeping soundly. With care, Loki sheds his clothes and slips beneath the heavy duvet, sliding closer to Thor’s warm body. Thor shifts, but doesn’t wake, his chest rising and falling against Loki’s own with each breath. He waits, seeing if his presence alone will be enough to rouse Thor, but he continues sleeping and Loki watches him quietly.

It is strange to see Thor so vulnerable and open, but he knows even the greatest warriors have weaknesses, and his brother is no exception. He uses his magic to carefully fold the covers away from Thor’s body and Thor rolls of his own accord onto his back, making Loki’s life easier. In the dim light, he maps out each and every scar marring Thor’s skin, from the tiny scratch under his collarbone, to the large stripe across Thor’s hip. With magic, he knows he could remove them and leave Thor blemish free, but he knows each one means something, a proud moment, a regret, a lesson to learn from.

He runs his forefinger across a mark near Thor’s navel, feeling the slight indentation of missing and regenerated skin. Slowly he leans down, tracing the same line with his mouth, and it’s when he pulls away, the taste of Thor on his tongue, that he notices Thor watching him, finally awake. His heart seems to triple in speed for a second at being caught, but he hopes his surprise doesn’t show and shatter the illusion that he actually knows what it is he’s doing.

He blinks away and rubs his thumb over a mark lower on Thor’s stomach, mouth following once more and the closer he gets the Thor’s groin, the stronger he can feel the quickening pulse under his tongue. Thor remains silent, though Loki sees his lips part and hears the softness of his breath. Loki trails kisses further, tongue itching at the scratch of wiry hair the lower he goes down Thor’s body, but it doesn’t dissuade him.

He presses his lips along Thor’s length as it begins to swell and rise between his thighs, and as he reaches its faintly glistening head, he swipes his tongue across it and listens to the noise Thor seems unable to contain. He takes Thor into his mouth at last, any plan he’d previously had vanishing in an instant, as Thor lets his head fall back to his pillows and digs his fingers into the mattress.

He has never once pleased Thor with his mouth and he feels rather lost about what next to do, but Thor seems content with lying sprawled out below him. He swirls his tongue and takes Thor deeper, throat opening as though it wants to let more slide in. He bobs his head slowly, trying to maintain a steady rhythm, until a hand slips around the back of his skull; it doesn’t force him down, just touches and holds him as though for comfort.

“If you do not move faster, you will be the death of me,” Thor mutters quietly, voice heavy with sleep and pleasure.

Loki glances up, meeting Thor’s gaze and Thor lets out another sound of need. The thumb of his free hand presses against his lips where he’s stretched wide around Thor’s length and Thor seems fascinated by it, smoothing it around his mouth before gently pressing it in alongside his cock. Loki’s jaw aches, but he allows it, speeding his movements up and tasting the pre-come that the suction draws out.

It is only when Thor’s fingers curl into his hair and his hips begin to thrust upwards – signs that he is near his release – that Loki draws away slowly. Yet, Thor doesn’t argue, he just exhales loudly and remains still, as though allowing Loki to decide what to do next. For Loki, it is an easy choice, especially with the gnawing need inside him, wanting to take everything and more that Thor’s body has to offer.

With only a muttered spell, he prepares himself, too distracted to bother with slow fingers, and he finds his head dropping to Thor’s hip with the pleasure that washes over him. His waist lifts slightly, searching for more of the feeling, and for a moment he cannot think of anything more than Thor kneeling behind him, holding him up with a strong grip, spreading him open, and taking him forcefully. He digs his teeth into Thor’s skin, muffling the groan he accidentally allows to slip beyond his mouth, before letting go and laving his tongue against the slight grooves he leaves behind.

Mustering enough strength, Loki crawls up over Thor’s body, thighs either side of his waist, face dangerously close to Thor’s own. Without looking, he shifts his hips, searching for Thor’s length blindly until the head nudges against his entrance. He doesn’t think twice before beginning to lower his waist down, slowly filling himself with what he’s been looking for all along. Despite the preparation and the oil, it still stretches him further, sending a pleasant burn through him, teasing until he finally takes in Thor’s entirety, sitting heavily in his lap.

He doesn’t wait for his body to adjust, just pulls himself up and slides back down once more, palms braced on Thor’s chest. He rises and falls, movements speeding up as he gains momentum and finds a quick rhythm. It doesn’t feel at all like any of their previous encounters and it takes Loki’s breath away with the amount of sensations rolling through him.

Thor’s hands move to his hips, gripping tightly, but not hard enough to hurt. Loki curls his fingers around one of Thor’s wrists, pulling it away, and moving it further down, sliding his palm against where he wants it most. Thor is quick to respond, grip tightening and hardly stuttering as he begins to stroke Loki’s cock. It only takes a few pumps before Loki curls over, moans falling thick and fast from his mouth as he comes across Thor’s knuckles and his own stomach.

He collapses almost immediately after, as faint tremors rock his body until Thor lets him go. With his chin against Thor’s shoulder, he doesn’t even attempt to stop him as he rolls them over and begins thrusting into Loki for himself. The most Loki finds himself able to do is clutch at the sheets below, fingertips not strong enough to do more than rub over the material. Thor slips his hands behind Loki’s knees, spreading them apart wider, pushing them up towards his chest, changing the angle and leaving Loki gasping for breath he hasn’t yet been able to catch.

The rolling of Thor’s hips quickens and Thor leans in, capturing Loki’s mouth with his own, the heat and wetness encouraging Loki to part his lips and let his tongue slip inside. Loki’s stomach flips as Thor leaves his mouth tingling with soft bites, head reeling at the feel of everything still around him. He knows Thor’s close from the wavering of his moans and his arms feel like heavy weights as he moves his hands to Thor’s thighs, holding him tightly against him as he bucks into him. With a final nip upon Loki’s bottom lip that leaves a metallic tang in his mouth, Thor slips his entire length into Loki and shudders violently.

For a long time, neither of them moves, Loki’s arms tangling around Thor’s waist, while Thor doesn’t even pull away, though his softening cock does so of its own accord only minutes later. He continues kissing Loki, both of their mouths pliant in the aftermath, and cards his fingers through Loki’s hair. Eventually Thor rolls onto his side, taking the remaining weight off Loki, who lets out a long sigh of satiation.

Afraid that he will outstay his unexpected welcome, Loki sits up at the edge of the bed, swinging his legs over the side, preparing to leave. Before he can stand, a strong forearm wraps around his stomach and drags him easily back.

“If you think you are departing after that, brother, you are sorely mistaken.”

Before Loki can reply, Thor silences him with his mouth and pulls him back under the covers.

*

It’s an ordinary day when Loki finally notices it: the faint stirrings of his magic. He’s sitting in the quietest corner of the courtyard, a book open across his palms, but his eyes shut and face turned up towards the warm sun. It is then, in that moment of silence and solitude, that his stomach lurches and he can’t stop the soft oh that escapes him.

The old tome thuds against the stone floor and he presses one hand to his belly, numbers and statistics spiralling through his mind until he finds it. He double and triple checks himself, but there’s no denying it: he’s pregnant at last. The feeling that washes over him is neither happiness nor disappointment, but for the moment, he can do nothing except touch his stomach and wonder what kind of child he will bear.

“Unlike your father,” he whispers quietly, “you will be free to do as you please.”

It is not until the light begins to fade around him that he realises he’s been there all afternoon, the sun now setting and bathing the garden in a warm shade of orange. He stands, and as he bends to retrieve his book, someone touches him gently on the waist, but he knows in an instant it is Thor from the soft laugh he lets out.

“You should drop things more often,” he jokes, sliding his hand quickly across Loki’s buttocks. Loki steps away, text in hand, before turning to glare. “Were you ever thinking of joining us for supper?”

“I have been busy.”

“Well, I have been sparring with Sif just beyond that archway for many hours and each time I glanced over, you hadn’t moved.”

“I have been busy, deep in thought.”

“About?”

“I shall tell you later, when it is more appropriate.”

Thor raises one eyebrow and smirks.

“You have been deep in dirty thoughts then?”

Loki chooses to ignore him, turning on his heels and heading in the direction of the library to return his book to the shelves, Thor following rather much like a domesticated beast, before turning the opposite way in the last corridor, heading towards their private dining hall.

“Hurry, or there shall be nothing but bones left,” he jokes and Loki continues on without laughing.

*
He tells Thor the news that night when Thor is deep inside him, Loki’s legs wrapped tightly around his waist. Thor’s thrusts falter with shock at his admission for only a moment before they turn quick and hard, hips slamming against the backs of Loki’s thighs.

“Loki,” Thor exhales as he releases, hand still tugging at Loki’s cock, face pressed against the curve of his neck. He pretends not to feel the dampness on his skin, the shine of Thor’s eyes as he watches Loki follow suit, without anything more than the tip of his head and the openness of his mouth, letting out nothing but silence.

*

The one thing Loki doesn’t expect is the flaring of his magic at the presence of another growing inside him. He only mutters a spell to tug a book from the uppermost shelf, out of reach at least three metres above his head, when the whole bookcase shudders and rains more than ten large tomes over his head. He attempts to stop them with a click of his fingers, but they continue downwards, knocking him above the brow, despite the arm he throws up to protect himself.

The white heat of pain bursts across his face and he stumbles back into the wall behind, clutching one hand to his head. When he pulls it away, there’s blood across his palm, enough that it drips down the inside of his wrist. He doesn’t trust his magic enough to staunch it with a spell, so instead gathers the hem of his robe up and holds it firmly against the wound. Though his head throbs with the promise of an imminent migraine, he stacks the fallen books on a nearby table and begins to make his way to his rooms.

Once there, he stares into his looking glass at the cut across his skin, the purpling bruise around it, and the noticeable swelling underneath. There’s nothing he can do, his knack for concealing a part of his magic and therefore redundant. He sighs knowing Thor will surely have something to say about the issue then moves into his washroom to find a cold compress to soothe his thrumming skull.

He is correct in his prediction when that evening Thor’s face darkens at the sight of the injury.

“What have you done?” he asks, stepping closer, eyes darting about.

“There was an accident in the library. It was a careless mistake, that is all.”

“You have not been hurt elsewhere, have you?”

His eyes fall obviously to Loki’s stomach and his hand is halfway towards touching him before Loki steps back, out of reach.

“Your child is safe.”

Thor pauses for a moment, as though about to say something saccharinely sentimental like “our child,” but then seems to think better of it, shifting his stance and glancing once more at the bruise.

“You didn’t heal it,” he says instead, a question clear in his tone.

“I did not think it worth it.”

Thor remains silent, regarding him carefully.

“You are not telling me something.”

“Because it is nothing which concerns you.”

“Why not see a healer?”

“They would realise I was pregnant the moment I stepped into the room.”

Loki likes to think Thor is rather thick for his breeding, but it takes him by surprise as Thor proves him wrong.

“It was your magic? That is the only explanation.”

Loki says nothing for a moment, unmistakeably confirming Thor’s theory, which he knows, but cannot help.

“Will you stop me from using it now?” he asks bitterly, but Thor doesn’t flinch.

“Will you use it knowing you could hurt either yourself or your child?” Loki doesn’t reply, but he knows the answer: no. “Wait here, I shall fetch a salve and blame my imaginary aches on a prolonged session of sparring.”

Loki opens his mouth, on the verge of telling him he need not worry, but Thor silences him with a finger over his lips.

“Hush,” he orders and Loki bristles with annoyance while Thor disappears from the room, returning only minutes later with a small jar in his hands.

“Sit,” he says pointing to the edge of the bed and Loki follows command, knowing he truly has no choice.

Thor’s fingers are cool against his skin with the cream upon them, rubbing in light, careful circles to minimise the pain, but Loki’s head still thumps in time to his heartbeat.

“Are you sure there will be no lasting problems?”

“It happened this morning, Thor; things would have already turned for the worse if they were going to.”

Thor sighs and mutters Loki’s name under his breath as though in admonishment, but tucks the ointment away into a drawer and wipes his hand on his tunic, seeming not to care at all about the state it gets into. At long last, Loki’s bruise begins to hurt less, the stretching of his skin over the swelling seeming to loosen slowly. He exhales relief, his anger starting to dissipate along with the pain, and shuts his eyes to savour the moment.

“Better?” Thor asks as though he already knows.

“A little,” is Loki’s only reply.

Thor stands, pressing a quick kiss to the top of Loki’s head as he moves away.

“We shall eat in here tonight,” he says, leaving no room for argument, but Loki doesn’t have the strength. He says nothing as he gently lies back across his bed as the tension begins to leave his body. The door clicks signalling Thor’s exit and it’s the last thing he hears before falling asleep.

*

Loki doesn’t notice the swelling of his stomach until he strips for a bath and catches sight of himself in the mirror. With one foot in the porcelain tub, he blinks in shock and steps out once again, moving closer to the full-length looking glass. He runs one palm over the bump before staring down at himself, wondering how he could ever have missed it; it’s unmistakeable – certainly not excess weight, for his diet has not changed except for the removal of excess mead and wine.

He doesn’t feel any different apart from the few minor spells of nausea when he perhaps strains himself too hard physically on long, restless days. Not even Thor has noticed, perhaps too caught up in seizing as much as he can whenever he sneaks into Loki’s room and takes him for his own satisfaction.

With one last brush of his fingers across his stretched skin, he slips into the bath and sinks beneath the warm water, his belly not yet big enough to rise above the surface, but Loki still finds himself unable to look away.

*

Thor leaves Asgard with the fire of battle running though his veins and the promise of a swift return on his lips. Loki enjoys the quiet for the most part of two weeks, but when the third drags around and he finds himself restless and in need of Thor’s touch, there’s worry deep within his stomach, niggling at his mind. He does everything he can think of to distract himself: takes walks deep in the forests of Asgard, changes his appearance and spends the day discovering rumours in the town market. He even goes so far as to fashion small children’s clothes with a length of wool and a few researched spells, though he ends up throwing them in the fire after a night worrying about Thor, which he blames on a change in his hormones.

It’s precisely twenty-five days after Thor leaves that he finally returns, stepping into Loki’s room without so much as a knock to signal his entrance. He stands silently by the door as though waiting for Loki to say or do something.

Loki is halfway across the room, hand raised and ready to strike Thor, before Thor moves, grabbing Loki’s wrist and halting the blow. Before Loki can open his mouth to curse him, Thor lifts him easily, hands tucked under Loki’s buttocks as he pulls him up into a kiss that knocks the breath straight out of him. His response is immediate as he winds his legs around Thor’s waist and parts his lips, kissing as though meeting him after a year-long separation, instead.

“Careful,” Loki murmurs when Thor tightens his hold. Thor loosens it once more, kissing Loki until they both draw away, chests heaving, and he sets Loki back down on the floor.

“You are well?” Thor asks.

“It is not me I worry for.”

Thor glances at his stomach.

“Nothing has happened, has it?”

“Do you think I would let it?”

Thor doesn’t answer, but it’s clear in his apologetic gaze. Loki folds his arms and takes in the sight of Thor, seeming impossibly large after having been gone for so long.

“And you?” he asks before his eyes land on the red running from a fresh wound in Thor’s side. “Slow as ever, I see.”

“It is nothing,” Thor replies, placing a palm over it to hide the sight.

“You should have stopped by the healer before coming here,” he complains tetchily.

“It looks worse than it is, I am sure.”

Loki’s face darkens.

“You’d rather not be here for the birth of your child then? Or would you prefer me to heal you before your blood poisons?”

“The last time you used your magic, brother, you ended up with a bump on your forehead the size of Asgard itself.”

Loki sucks his teeth in annoyance.

“You think I haven’t learnt to control it since then? It caught me by surprise that day; I have not given it the satisfaction of doing so again. How do you think it is that no one knows about this child still?”

Thor blinks as though taken by surprise.

“You’ve been using concealing charms?”

“I’ve been heavy with this child for seven moons, Thor; if I was not showing yet, I’d be concerned.”

There’s a pause before Thor speaks.

“Let me see,” he says quietly, as though expecting Loki to deny him, and he almost does, but the look of thinly veiled excitement on his face changes his mind. He is cunning, not cruel.

With a wave of his hand, the charm falls away, leaving Loki in his true form and Thor doesn’t utter a sound. Instead, he steps forward, hands rising and falling as though he’s unable to make up his mind whether or not to touch Loki. In the end, Loki grabs one wrist and tugs on his arm, placing Thor’s palm upon his rounded belly. Thor remains silent as though stunned by the reality. He glances at Loki’s face before his eyes trail lower, back to Loki’s stomach.

“You can feel it moving?”

“He kicks like a mule; he must be yours because you’re as stubborn as one.”

He moves Thor’s hand further around the bump, placing it on the side where he can feel the child shifting; Thor’s fingers twitch and press into his skin gently.

“It’s an heir?”

“It seems I’ve kept my end of the bargain after all.”

Thor looks at him with sadness in his eyes, as though upset at being reminded of the truth. They do not say the truth hurts for nothing, this he is sure of. As though picking up on the bitter air, the boy within him kicks roughly and Loki lets out a noise of complaint and pushes against the spot that twinges.

“You’re in luck,” he says, resting a hand on his own lower back to quell the ache, “it seems he is a warrior.”

Unexpectedly, Thor leans down, capturing Loki’s mouth and silencing him before he can mutter anything else. Loki bites his lip sharply and attempts to pull away, but Thor slips a hand behind his head and holds him still. He’s rough, but behind it all Loki can taste the desperation, the necessity for passion, and his own body, needing Thor’s touch, responds and he gives himself over with a tilt of his head. Thor’s mouth is hot against his, moving so quickly Loki struggles to keep up, though mostly because as Thor busies himself undoing the top fastenings of Loki’s tunic, he presses a palm to the wound on Thor’s side and heals him; Thor doesn’t even seem to notice.

Thor tugs the shirt over his head and Loki almost stops to warn Thor to be careful, but when his hands fall back to Loki’s stomach with gentle touches, he knows he doesn’t need reminding. His thick fingers slide under the snug waist of his trousers, untying them without looking before returning to trace his thumbs across the fullest part of Loki’s belly.

“This will not hurt him, will it?”

“No, Thor,” Loki murmurs, unable to keep all the humour from his tone. “Unless your plan is to throw me down upon the floor and flog my back before having your way with me.”

Thor’s laugh is startling, though perhaps a side effect of the good news of a son.

“Maybe we should stop then.”

Despite his words, Thor doesn’t pull away, instead pushes the rest of Loki’s clothing down his legs, helping him to untangle his feet from the mess of fabric. He finds Loki’s mouth once more, walking them backwards towards the nearest wall where, with the help of Thor’s large cushioning hands, they bump against it with nothing more than a gentle touch. Loki attempts to begin unfastening the clasps of the remaining armour on Thor’s body, but Thor captures his hands and finally breaks the kiss. Loki watches him carefully, unable to guess what he’s thinking, but Thor just turns him around, setting his hands flat upon the wall with his own.

“Do not move,” he orders and Loki obeys, though he still turns his head to watch Thor over his shoulder. He would be a fool to leave his back open.

Thor quickly sheds his clothes, letting bracers and shoulder straps clatter noisily to the floor, the sounds so loud that Loki almost hushes him, inexplicably paranoid that people nearby will know what they’re up to, as though there is a person in the whole of Asgard who doesn’t know whom Thor takes to bed each night.

Once bare, Thor rummages through phials on Loki’s side table until he pulls one out – Loki recognises it as oil, the same he uses to cure the dry skin his pregnancy brings about – and moves back to stand behind Loki. A hand upon his spine encourages him to widen his stance and arch his back, easing the angle as Thor begins preparing him with quick, easy fingers.

By the time he is done, Loki only just believes himself able to remain standing, his legs trembling and knees threatening to give way at any second. A hand on Loki’s jaw turns his face to the side, allowing Thor to kiss him again, even as he cups one hand around Loki’s stomach, pillowing it and keeping it from knocking into the wall accidentally as he presses into him with a quick flick of his hips. The cry Loki lets out catches even himself by surprise, the noise so genuine he hardly thinks it could come from him, even muffled against Thor’s lips.

Thor’s grip tightens ever so slightly as he begins to thrust, leaving Loki tripping over his feelings, unable to catch up and push back into the movements. However, Thor seems satisfied, his mouth still moving over Loki’s own, chest flush and heating the whole of Loki’s body. His nails scratch fruitlessly against the stone wall, attempting to find some sort of purchase and failing miserably. His palms ache with the pressure of need, his cock throbbing and bobbing painfully between his legs, though he knows he doesn’t have the strength to brace them both and touch himself at the same time.

He vibrates his discomfort into Thor’s mouth, but Thor leaves him untouched and wanting more, only canting his hips, moving inside of him quicker. He arches his back further and Thor’s length rubs perfectly over a tender spot inside him, drawing another unexpected sound from him. At the current rate, by the time he comes he’ll have no dignity left to worry about, which is slightly comforting.

Thor’s lips move down his jaw, dotting kissing along his skin, all the way down the length of his throat to his shoulder.

“You are perfect, Loki,” he breathes. “I would have you no other way.”

Loki blames it once more on Thor knowing he’s soon to have an heir, but his stomach still jumps at the words, the acceptance rolling in warm waves down his spine.

Even at the awkward angle, he twists his head until he’s able to glance back and meet Thor’s eyes; he’s never seen them so blue, so filled with affection and happiness, but before he can look away, Thor leans in and kisses him softly just once and he can’t help it when he gasps for air.

“Thor!” he cries out and it’s finally then that Thor wraps a hand around his cock, tugging gently, but enough that Loki comes, the force of his orgasm turning his vision to nothing but whiteness. His hips shift of their own accord, breaking Thor’s rhythm, but Loki doesn’t care, not when it feels like his skin is melting straight off his body from pure bliss. He doesn’t stop moving, not until Thor pinches at the skin of his thigh with tightly clenched fingers, his body jolting, teeth digging into his shoulder as he clearly experiences his own climax.

He mouths at Loki’s neck, his hips slowing gradually, and it’s with a sigh of regret that Loki feels him slip out of his body. Thor turns him in place, stepping back slightly to accommodate Loki’s stomach, but curves over it to kiss him softly.

“Do not hide your form,” he says, stroking his hands up and down Loki’s sides. “Let the whole of Asgard see you and what we’ve created together.”

“They will find out soon enough,” is Loki’s only response.

“All the more reason to reveal the secret now.”

“Do not make me, Thor. I have followed each of your requests before this, but you have found my limit.”

He can see the disappointment on Thor’s face, but he still quirks his mouth up into a small smile as though it does not matter.

“As you wish,” he says quietly and Loki shows his appreciation by pulling him into a deep kiss, his thanks remaining unspoken, but there nevertheless. He slips from Thor’s arms and quietly whispers a cleansing spell to rid himself of oil and come, before heading to his bed to rest.

As Thor cleans himself and dresses across the room, Loki plucks a book from his shelf and slides onto his cool sheets, balancing it on his rounded belly to read more comfortably. It’s after he hears Thor buckle his belt that he flips a page and finds the whole thing levitating from his grip. Thor’s face looms above him, disapproval clear in his expression.

“That cannot be good for our son.”

“The baby will not break because of one book,” Loki complains, snatching the tome back and placing it on his stomach to resume note-taking mentally. “I thought you’d have realised that after earlier.”

“I made sure he could not be harmed by anything. I would not risk the life of my child.”

“What about my own elevated heart rate? The force of my muscles tensing around him?”

“You were lying when you said our embracing would not hurt him?”

Loki sighs at how dense Thor’s seems.

“No, Thor, I am just saying that there are greater threats to an unborn child than a small paper volume about birthing charms.”

That silences Thor for the moment, his curiosity apparently piqued as he peers around the edge of Loki’s book. Loki flips it shut, just to spite him.

“If you leave me in peace, I can continue to figure out how to make sure your son is born healthy. And whole.”

Thor’s fingers brush his forehead softly and he leans down to press a kiss to Loki’s belly.

“I just want you to be careful.”

“You are playing the role of worried, overprotective father well, Thor, though I’d prefer it if you’d do it elsewhere, somewhere I am not.”

Thor lets out an unfathomable noise, but finally leaves the room with a slam of the door.

*

He’s curled up in a quiet field just beyond the borders of the palace, sun gently warming his body, when he feels the first twinge in his stomach. He almost mistakes it for indigestion, rolling over onto his back to ease the pressure, but only a few minutes pass before it returns, feeling a little stronger. He presses one palm over the curve of his belly and lets his magic flow through; the baby kicks and it’s with a swooping sensation that he realises the truth: it is the beginnings of labour.

With a heave, he hoists himself up, sliding the concealment charm into place as he walks back towards the courtyard, trying to remain calm and remember where Thor said he would be for the day. Instead of guessing, Loki uses a tracking spell and finds him standing in the great hall. The contractions get stronger the more he exerts himself and it’s with a deep breath and a lot of acting that he steps through the door, casually strolling to Thor’s side, despite the glances.

“Thor,” Loki whispers, gritting his teeth tightly against the pain. “I have need of you.”

Thor turns mid-laugh towards him and smiles.

“Can it not wait until Hogun has finished his tale?”

“I would not have come if it weren’t important,” he stresses, casually placing one hand over his hidden stomach to make his point perfectly clear. Thor covers his shock surprisingly well with a polite bow of his head.

“Of course,” he says before turning to his friends. “Forgive me, I shall return soon.”

They walk an arm’s length apart until they reach the quieter hallways and then Thor takes Loki’s elbow, gently helping him as he attempts to regulate his breathing. By the time they reach Loki’s rooms the pain almost doubles him over with each wave and it’s only by Thor’s strength that he finds himself flat on his back upon his bed.

“Should I fetch a midwife?” Thor asks, letting Loki grip his hand with numbing force with each contraction.

“Not yet, not until he’s born. I need towels.”

Thor leaves his side only to rush into the washroom, coming out with an armful of Loki’s best towels, but he doesn’t have time to complain. He holds his hand out for one after magically disposing of his clothes, draping it over his lap, though not for modesty as he then whispers charm after charm to numb and sanitise his skin, before splitting it with another spell, blood pouring freely then beginning to stem with more muttered words. All the while, Thor stands at his side, carefully observing and surprisingly not getting in the way. However, Loki realises his mistake when he’s wrist-deep in his own body.

“Thor,” he breathes, voice slightly hoarse. “You must pull him free; I cannot reach from this angle.”

Thor doesn’t even blanch at the request, just carefully steps closer, leaning over Loki as he slips his fingers beneath his skin. It’s a remarkable sensation the moment Thor tugs the child free, his bluish skin turning pink quickly as Loki takes another towel and rubs his body gently to make him cry. With one last spell, he cuts the cord keeping them attached and flops backwards. He can feel his stomach slowly stitching itself back up, the charms he’s learnt working better than expected.

He doesn’t have the strength to sit up, but even from where he is he can see the amount of blood everywhere.

“I think we need that midwife,” he says above the noise of their newborn crying before exhaustion rushes over him and he slips into unconsciousness.

*

Loki lies despondently in his bed, sweat sticking his hair to his face, body feeling exhausted and entirely drained of everything. The only one nearby is the midwife as she folds up bloodied towels and discreetly vanishes them with a curl of her fingertips, leaving only the buzz of magic in the air.

He shifts, letting out the faintest hum of annoyance.

“Prince Loki?” she questions, though by her tone she obviously means to ask if he is okay. He mumbles a response and his skin itches as she checks his vitals once more. Despite the constant painful ache across his abdomen, there’s apparently nothing wrong as she quickly resumes cleaning.

“When can I heal myself?” he asks, keeping his arms pointedly at his sides, removing the temptation to run his palms over his empty belly.

“As soon as your magic ceases to flare.”

As she says it, a plume of dark smoke slips uncontrollably from the ends of Loki’s fingers, filling the room before the midwife waves her hand and dispels it.

“What can you do for the pain? I wish to sleep but this is uncomfortable.”

“Do you not wish to see your son?”

Loki can hear them in the hallway: his brother and the Warriors Three celebrating, and he knows his son is being introduced as Thor’s heir. Nothing more and nothing less. He presses the side of his face into his pillow and breathes deeply.

“Did I stammer?” he asks and with a quick apology, the midwife raises her hand and sends him into a peaceful sleep.

*

When he wakes, it is Odin who sits beside him, face giving away nothing and his armour just as thick as his aged skin.

“Does this not please you?” Loki says, trying to sound less tired than he feels. “Was this not what you wanted when you forced me to return to Asgard?”

Odin’s mouth thins, but his voice is even when he speaks.

“I had hoped, by now, you’d realise it is not entirely about giving Asgard an heir. Loki, you were walking a dangerous path, one I’d never want any of my children to go down – ”

“Then it is lucky that I’m not yours.”

Odin sighs, the noise holding sadness and disappointment.

“After all this time, you still wish to leave?”

“Yes, of course. I believe you have humiliated me for long enough. My name has been ruined at the hands of your little plot; I hope you are happy.”

“I am sorry, my boy,” he says quietly.

“Did you really believe anything would change? Would it not stand to reason that a scheme such as yours would do nothing but increase my want to escape?”

“I had thought you would rise above the challenge.”

Loki laughs icily.

“I am pleased to disappoint you so, All-Father. There is nothing I want more in life.”

Odin sets his face in his hands as though about to weep, but when he sits back up, his eyes are dry.

“There will be no one to stop you at the gates of the new Bifröst any longer, Loki, Prince of Asgard,” he says rising from his chair, movements slow and giving away his age. “Should you choose to leave, no one except your shadow shall follow you.”

Loki waits for the excitement to fill him with the thought of finally being free, but it never comes, just leaves an empty space within him. The only sound in the room is the faint knocking on the door as Thor pushes it open, one arm curled around his infant.

“Forgive the interruption,” he says, voice soft as though trying not to wake the sleeping child, “but I thought it was time Loki saw his son.”

Loki looks away, refusing to answer, but he can feel Odin stepping away and Thor moving closer.

“Think hard upon your choices, Loki,” Odin says before leaving them alone.

“What choices?” Thor asks curiously after the door shuts behind their father, sitting on the edge of the bed and sliding the baby onto Loki’s lap, where his arms automatically support it, as though second-nature. Loki stares down at the tiny face in front of him, the one that has his exact nose, and the lies fall easily from his mouth.

“Names,” he says. “Choices of names.”

“And have you thought of one?”

“The All-Father’s suggestions were abysmal, so I am no further in my decision, unless you’d rather propose some.”

Thor traces his thumb over the infant’s brow, accidentally waking him and revealing copies of Thor’s blue eyes. He doesn’t cry, just stares solemnly up at Loki as though he knows what he’s thinking.

“What are your thoughts about Torleik?” he mumbles quietly before glancing up at Thor, whose face would split if he were smiling any wider.

“Perfect,” he replies placing one hand over Loki’s own.

His stomach turns as apprehension floods through him.

“I would like to rest once more,” he says and Thor reaches forward to take the child again, running a hand over Loki’s shoulder and squeezing gently.

“Yes, you shall need your strength for when we reveal our son to the people of Asgard. It will be the largest celebration yet.”

Loki settles back against his pillows, shutting his eyes, and ignoring the feeling of dread that fills him, prodding and mocking him. He will leave Asgard, he promises himself, regardless of Torleik’s newfound life and Thor’s unreasonable amount of optimism.

*

Forcing the nursemaid into a deep sleep seems like second nature when his magic returns to normal some weeks after giving birth, and it’s with no uncertainty that he slips into the room beside her snoring form. Torleik is only a few steps away in his crib, waving his arms about and entertaining himself quietly. When Loki stares down at him, he stops and looks up, his toothless mouth pink and wide as he gurgles and kicks his feet; Loki doesn’t move, too captivated by the innocence and vulnerability of the child.

Torleik wriggles and holds his hands out as though wanting Loki to humour him and give him a toy, but when Loki continues to remain still, his eyes crinkle and imminent hiccoughing sobs fall from his mouth. Loki shushes him quickly and slips his hand over the side of the cot, pressing a finger into Torleik’s grip. His mood switches almost immediately at the touch, a look of wonder upon his face as he clenches at Loki’s digit, stubby fingers sticky with spit from where he’s recently gummed at them.

For a second, Loki changes his form, skin slowly turning blue as the Jötunn in him spreads through his veins. Torleik watches for only a second before his face crumples and he lets go of Loki, crying loudly. Loki instantly switches back, leaning down, and scooping the infant into his arms.

“Hush now,” he murmurs, pressing his mouth to Torleik’s soft cheek, supporting his small body with gentle hands. “It was just a trick.”

Torleik’s cries soften, but he continues sniffling until Loki holds him at arm’s length and lets him see his normal appearance. He sighs and holds his son close once more.

“You are an Aesir through and through.”

He peers down at Torleik’s wet, red face, watching as his eyes dart about until they finally land on Loki.

“When you are older,” Loki begins quietly, “remember me as the one who bore you, not the one who ran. And do not believe the rumours; the people of Asgard talk too freely of their royalty. You are my son and nothing shall change that.”

He presses a kiss to Torleik’s forehead then places him back in his crib, watching as he yawns widely and his eyelids flutter with tiredness. He hesitates for only a moment before he vanishes into a flurry of air just a second before the nurse can awaken and find his son fast asleep.

*

Heimdall’s eyes are heavy with judgement as Loki slips into the Bifröst, a destination weighing down his tongue.

“I have orders to let you pass, Loki Laufeyson – “

“Then you had better.”

“Thor may trust you, but I do not. Know this: fleeing will not help. I would have thought you would have learned the first time. Perhaps you are not as cunning as I believed you were.”

“Hold your tongue if you wish to keep it. I shall not ask you to open the gate again.”

Heimdall finally unlocks the Bifröst doors, wind sweeping around them, lightening flicking electric across Loki’s fingertips.

“I will see you,” Heimdall says, but Loki doesn’t even glance back as he steps through into the portal, away from Asgard.

*

He hears the whispers of the universe, the voices of all, spreading almost as fast as he can travel; word has escaped of Thor’s heir, a boy birthed by Jötnar, born as Aesir. It’s a strange sensation that sits within Loki’s chest, a tightness he cannot rid himself of, which turns his stomach when he focuses on it too much.

He finds himself many places, but never for long, his need to keep moving overpowering the way his body begins to grow weary.

What are you searching for? his mind asks and his heavy limbs are too weary to reply.

He eventually collapses somewhere near Vanaheim, his magic only strong enough to offer a simple disguise for him to slip unnoticed beyond its borders and barter for medicine. The healer he meets stares with knowing eyes, her lips a tight line as her brow furrows.

“You are not from here,” she says. “My sight allows me to see.”

“I am a long way from home, but even further from good health, which is why I have sought you out.”

She passes a hand over his form, eyes shutting as she hums in thought.

“I cannot see your past, son of Laufey, father of Lokison, but I can see your future.”

Her words take him by surprise, but he allows none of it to show on his face.

“Do I make it beyond today?” he asks dryly and she stares at him with a curious look.

“You make it further than any I have met before, but you do not remain here.”

Loki swallows thickly, stomach rolling uncomfortably.

“Do not say another word. Heal me to the best of your abilities and let me move on in blissful unknowing.”

“I cannot help you when there is nothing to fix.”

Loki’s face darkens in anger.

“I am sick: my magic is weak and my body even more so. I hardly doubt there is a better candidate to see a healer than I.”

“You have a beautiful son, who, it seems, has inherited your powers. If anyone is to blame, it would be he. Your vitals are normal, but there is an aura around you that is not yours. He does not like that you have abandoned him and you would fare well to return to him.”

Loki freezes and dread runs through him.

“How certain are you?”

“Completely.”

He sets his face in his hands and lets his disguise fall away.

“I have never liked children,” is all he says before disappearing from sight.

*

He makes a quick stop before slipping into Asgard using one of his old pathways, keeping away from prying eyes and quickly transporting himself to his old rooms.

He finds them as they once were, still kept tidy; he can even smell the scent of fresh sheets on the bed. Either someone has moved in, or else Thor has remained far too hopeful for his own good. He doesn’t even have time to cross to his desk to set the box in his hands down before the door swings open and Thor stands in the entranceway, gold hair and lightning whipping through the air.

“Heimdall informed me of your return.”

“If you are here to make sure I do not cause trouble, you will be rather disappointed in my lack of mischief.”

“I am here to see what you have to say for yourself. You left,” Thor states, his voice a mixture of sadness and accusation, but Loki meets his eyes defiantly.

“I returned,” he pauses before adding, “with gifts.”He sets the box on his desk, but Thor doesn’t even glance at it. “It is your son’s fault; I had no plans to return.”

“He is your son too.”

“Yes, a fact I cannot ignore, it seems.”

Thor quirks his eyebrow and folds his arms, silently asking Loki to continue.

“It appears he has inherited my magic. A Vanir healer – ”

“Vanir? Healer?”

“I was a long way from home with as much good health as a Náir.” Thor doesn’t even smile at the joke, but Loki continues. “She had enough sight to inform me that my sickness was thanks to Torleik. It seems the swine has somehow bonded to me and with his uncontrolled powers, his disapproval of my absence comes out through a rather nasty charm.”

“How could you have thought otherwise?” Thor says as if he’s completely idiotic. “He is your son; you are bonded by blood, the strongest connection there is.”

A wave of nausea washes over him and he places a steadying hand on the back of his chair, trying to make it look as casual as possible.

“Can I see him? I should like for this to stop if I can talk him out of it, though I hardly think he has the capacity to understand.”

For once in his life, Thor doesn’t respond to Loki’s request, just stands and regards him carefully.

“How do I know you won’t just take him and leave?”

“I won’t risk what little freedom I’ve been given, Thor. I already gave you what was asked of me; do not expect more.”

“After all this time, I thought you’d see things differently.”

“It seems you are not the only one, Thor, but I will not apologise for who I am.” Thor’s expression of disappointment doesn’t disappear. “Do not expect a miracle; I cannot change as quickly as the tides. All I can ask is that you trust me as you did before, despite that I failed you. All I can promise is that I shall try my best to please you and your son.”

Thor still doesn’t move and Loki grows frustrated, cursing his lies and trickery for the first time in his life. At the end of his rope and the extent of his attempts at an apology, he stoops as low as he can manage without completely destroying his pride.

“Please,” he says quietly and he knows he finally has Thor in the way he glances down, looking rueful. Eventually, Thor sighs softly.

“Wait here,” he orders and Loki doesn’t dare disobey.

He returns some minutes later, a small bundle in his arms; Loki doesn’t move, letting Thor take his own pace, and he’s soon peering down at Torleik’s face, his wide blue eyes coolly regarding him in return. Thor carefully hands him over, remaining close to Loki’s side as though expecting Loki to return to his old tricks. Instead, Loki presses his lips to his son’s temple and breathes in the clean smell of his skin.

“Remember me as the one who returned,” he whispers, holding his tiny body close. Torleik gurgles, saliva dribbling from his pursed lips down to his chin. With a murmured spell, Loki wipes it away, leaving his face pink and dry, regardless of the fact that Torleik continues smacking his gums wetly, moving his lips wordlessly.

It’s hardly noticeable, but there’s a tickling across his palms, as though Torleik’s magic is searching for his own, winding around his wrists and tugging gently. Almost immediately, the rolling feeling within his stomach disappears, replaced by a calm, soothing quiet that he relishes. He carefully twists his own magic around his son, cradling him in a peaceful static and Torleik kicks, letting out a hiccough that sounds rather like a laugh. He presses his smiling mouth against Torleik’s cheek and exhales softly before pulling away.

“Thank you,” he says quietly, unsure if he’s addressing Torleik or Thor, but both of them seem to smile in the same crooked way. He hides his laugh with a well-timed cough, turning slightly as he does so and catching sight of the box he left of the desk. “Here,” he says, getting Thor’s attention and gesturing with his head. “Open it.”

Thor steps around him and gingerly takes the lid off, laughing unexpectedly when he peers inside.

“Is there something from every realm in here? Loki, you will spoil the child.”

“The boy must be educated about surrounding kingdoms and it would do well to start early, so I brought souvenirs.”

Thor pulls out a large stone that sits on top and holds it up.

“I’m sure he’ll love playing with this. It weighs more than him, Loki.”

“We’ll wait until he’s older then.”

Thor laughs again, replaces the rock, then slips the lid back into place.

“It is the thought, I suppose” he says, cocking his head. “That’s new for you.”

The truth stings, but Loki hides his wince well, tucking the blanket around Torleik tighter and rubbing spit off the child’s fingers with his own.

“It will not be easy,” he replies carefully, “it is not in my nature to be nice. I may need reminding every so often.”

Thor steps forward, holding his arms out to take Torleik from his grasp, and after one last kiss and some reluctance, he eventually hands him over, praying the sickness remains away; it thankfully does.

“If you’re willing to stay in Asgard, I will be more than happy to do so.”

Torleik slips into the curve of Thor’s arm as though the two were made to fit together and Thor leans forward slowly. Loki thinks about stepping away, but he instead swallows and lets Thor press a gentle kiss to the corner of his mouth.

“We’ll see,” Loki says as Thor pulls back, eyes somehow still full of hope. “As long as Torleik will allow it.”

FIN