The All–Father pronounced the ruling in a grave voice that echoed through the throne room: life confinement on the Room of Repentance. Loki went rigid on hearing the words, his eyes widening slightly and filling with hatred so strong and cold that Thor was sure if Loki could still access his magic, Odin would have frozen to the core right here. Thor drew in a sharp breath, a tightness seething on his chest. His gaze darted between his brother and his father, struggling to talk past through the lump in his throat. His brother certainly deserved punishment for his crimes, for all the years he’d raged war and strife on the Nine Realms after his initial attack on Midgard failed, but this... this was almost unheard of. The Room of Repentance was so seldom used that many people believed it a myth. But Thor knew it was very real, and it was going to become Loki's last abode.
“Father, please...” he pleaded, but Odin cut him off by banging Gungnir on the floor.
“No, Thor. The time for compassion has passed. He has taken advantage of your love for him repeatedly, and I have allowed you to sway me before. But no more.” Odin’s voice did not falter. “I will not allow his wickedness to run free on the Nine Realms any longer. My word is final.”
“Showing your true colors at last!” Loki sneered, but he dropped his gaze when Frigga let out a pained, broken sob.
The sentence was to be carried out immediately. Odin ignored Frigga's pleas, denied her request to be allowed to embrace her son for one last time. The Room of Repentance was located in the deepest level of the palace, carved into the rock by Odin’s magic. The All–Father unsealed the heavy oak doors of the Room’s stairwell and lead the procession down, his footsteps echoing on the deserted walkway. Seven fully armed Einherjar followed him, forming a tight circle, with Loki walking in the middle with his head high and his step steady and regal, despite the chains that bogged him down. Thor followed, holding a sobbing Frigga in his arms while his mind raced for a solution, for an alternative, for something that may change Odin’s mind. Sif, the Warriors Three and several other people trailed after them, but Thor ignored them. His eyes didn't stray from his brother.
The passage smelled slightly of mildew and stale air and the torches cast eerie shadows as they advanced. They stopped in front of an immense double door, almost five meters tall and three meters wide, with hinges bigger than Thor's arms put together deeply set into the surrounding rock. The golden panels were so heavily carved with magical runes that Mjolnir started to buzz with a dull restless hum. Odin inserted Gungnir into the massive lock and his arms bulged with the effort to unlock it. A loud bang echoed through the hall as the lock released. Odin stepped back as the doors opened by themselves, slowly spinning in its hinges with a high-pitched sound that grated on the nerves of everyone present.
The doors stopped with a dull clank that reverberated for several long seconds, revealing a cavernous room without visible limits. The walls were completely white, granite polished to shine, with no decoration or furniture in sight, and illuminated by bright light from no discernible source. The doors were also white on the inside, so once closed nothing would break the infinite whiteness of the room. Nothing to distract its occupant, to provide even temporary relief from the blinding monochrome. Loki's spine straightened at the sight and a small shiver ran through his body. Thor realized that Loki would go mad very quickly in there. His overactive, brilliant mind was not made to cope with the boredom, the stillness, the blandness, the never-ending brightness.
Odin stepped aside, and the Einherjar forced Loki into the room. He turned around slowly, his eyes darting around the chamber wearily until he stopped facing Odin. His face was tight, jaw clenching painfully, and the venom and hate in his gaze would have made any lesser man run for cover, but not Odin. He stood his ground with his chin high and shoulders set while Gungnir hummed, and Loki’s gag and handcuffs fell to the ground with a heavy sound.
“For all your crimes against Asgard, Midgard and the rest of the Nine Realms, you are to remain in this place for the rest of your natural life.” Frigga's heart–wrenching sobs where the only counterpoint to Odin's steady voice. “Once the doors close, they will not open again as long as your heart still beats. The room will provide you with food and drink and care for your physiological needs, but nothing else.” Odin’s back was straight, his shoulders set, and he didn’t drop Loki’s gaze. “If you are capable of sincerity and deeply repent for your misdeeds, you may find your way to Valhalla after death, and reunite with those you have left behind. If not, you shall spend eternity in Hel. This is the will of the All–Father and thus it shall be done.”
“You think I'm the only one here headed to Hel? I'll see you there, dear father, and I shall have my revenge on you then!” Loki snarled and spat at Odin’s feet.
Frigga's knees failed her, and she slipped out of Thor's arms to fall to her knees, shivering and clutching herself tightly, though her pained stare never left her son's proud form. Sif kneeled by her side, embracing her protectively as she rocked back and forth. Loki's eyes darted to his mother, and Thor saw them soften in sorrow as his shoulders slumped, the first real feeling other than hate and anger that Loki had displayed since his falling, all those years ago.
Odin banged Gungnir against the floor, and the doors started to close. Loki's gaze shifted to Thor, who held it unwaveringly. Loki’s mouth lost his snarl, drawing a sad curve. His eyes were over-bright as he trembled with minute shocks and he bit his bottom lip hard enough to draw blood. Loki averted his gaze from Thor’s, squeezing his eyes shut as his left hand clenched over his chest. A single tear escaped Loki's right eye and trailed down his cheek. Swallowing heavily, he slowly opened his eyes again, fixing them on Thor while he licked the blood from his lip.
Thor’s heart clenched painfully. It was almost like having the old Loki back, and not the resentful creature that tried to kill him several times over the past years.
But he would never deliver the final blow, his treacherous mind whispered. Not when he had bound him to a mountain with Fenrir’s unbreakable chains, and had killed one of his own allies when the man impatiently tried to kill Thor, loudly proclaiming that Thor was his to kill, and nobody else’s. Not when Thor had lain defenseless in the deep sleep after the injuries he endured in the battle against Thanos and Loki slipped into Odinsleep chamber in Asgard, unseen until their mother interrupted him. Not even when he temporarily dislodged Sif’s soul from her body and inhabited it while Thor had slept trustingly at her side after their lovemaking.
Their passionate lovemaking. Wildly passionate and desperate as Sif herself had never been before of after. Because it was not Sif you made love to that night, he abruptly realized.
And suddenly everything made sense to Thor: every jibe, every hurtful remark, every misguided accusation, every time that Loki had seemed to be dragging his feet until the other Avengers arrived (which Thor stupidly attributed to his diva tendencies), his deep-seated hatred of Sif and Jane, how he swore time and again he never wanted the throne and yet seemed so bent on conquering it, with plans that always ended up dragging Thor in and how he always engaged everyone else on the battleground with other threats to concentrate solely on Thor.
It had always been about him.
With his heart racing in his chest, Thor’s feet moved of their own accord towards the closing door. Odin tried to stop him when he passed by his side, but Thor shook him off with a glare that stopped him abruptly: Thor had never looked at him with hate before and it broke the old king’s heart. He broke into a run as the doors were about to close, slipping between them at the last possible moment.
“Thor, no!” His mother's anguished wail was the last thing he heard as the doors closed behind him with an eternal finality. His cape got caught between the doorjambs and the Room's magic sliced it neatly in two as he stepped into the room. Loki stiffened beside him, his eyes widening and a gasp escaping his open mouth.
“You... you imbecile! What have you done?” Loki yelled, emphasizing each word with flaring arm gestures. “You can’t ever get out of here! You will never see your cherished mortal again or your precious friends! You will never be king of Asgard! You will never see the skies or battles you adore so much! You'll be here for the rest of your fucking life!”
Thor took Loki's face between his hands, his thumbs caressing Loki’s cheeks as his fingers skimmed over the jaw line, his nerves tingling from the contact. He smiled softly. His brother was trembling, and Thor was unsure if it was only in rage.
“Why do you smile, you fool? You've condemned yourself to death, and doomed me to endure your company in the process! Could you not let me have even my punishment in peace?”
Thor’s eyes twinkled as he licked his lips. Bending down slowly, he kissed Loki, tasting the blood still flowing sluggishly from the self-inflicted wound. His lips were soft at first, just a caress on Loki's, but then he pressed harder as warmth spread through his body. Loki brought his hands up, pressing them against Thor's armored chest, but not pushing him away. Thor took it as encouragement and deepened the kiss. Loki shivered as his lips parted and Thor dove inside, chasing Loki’s tongue and learning every inch of his mouth, every nuance of his taste. Loki left out a choked sound, kissing him greedily as his hands slid into Thor's hair to pull him closer. The kiss went on for several long minutes, breaking only when breathing became an issue.
“I don't care. I have all I need right there with me.”
“You oaf” Loki replied halfheartedly as he sank into Thor's arms, which encircled him protectively. Thor dropped a tender kiss on Loki's head as his brother started to sob and he smiled softly.
An eternity with Loki, either here or in the afterlife, sounded just perfect.
- END -