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A life for a life

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Thor bit his finger until a bit of blood flowed and drew a short line on the wall, parallel to the one from the day before. It was the last one in a long row of similar marks, stacked under several other long rows, counting the eight years and three months that had passed since the day the doors of the Room of Repentance closed after him.

Thor turned around and smiled. Loki was still sleeping soundly in their nest of blankets, his blue skin a stark contrast to the infinite whiteness of the Room. A familiar warmth spread through Thor’s chest at the sight, an elation he had yet to get used to. It had been only recently that Thor had managed to convince Loki to spend time in his true skin, to try to overcome his ingrained self hate. Just last night, he’d spent several hours tracing the raised lines on Loki's body, worshiping every centimeter of skin before settling himself between Loki's legs and proceeding to relearn the unique taste of Loki's hidden sweetness, bringing him to release several times before slipping inside and joining him in oblivion. As much as he's enjoyed Loki's manhood all these years, there was something addictive about the juices that flowed from his female core that made him spend hours there, until his jaw ached and his beard was drenched. He may need another eight years to get enough of it. Or maybe more.

Thor went to the toilet cubicle and relieved himself. The breakfast has already appeared on the food shelf, but he hesitated. Loki was sleeping so peacefully that he decided against waking him up. Instead, he bounced back to their makeshift bed and pulled his brother into his arms. Loki immediately burrowed into him with a drowsy noise. Eight years and three months and Thor didn't regret a single second. He fell asleep with a smile on his face.

̶

A sound entered Thor's dreams but he wasn't ready to get up yet. He turned around to spoon his brother, but his arm fell on empty sheets. Surprised, he opened his eyes and the sound finally registered. Thor hurried up to the toilet cubicle, where Loki was bent over the toilet, throwing up the remains of last night’s supper. He knelt next to his brother and gently patted his back.

“Are you feeling sick again?” He asked, and received in response a patented Loki glare that made him wince. “Sorry, dumb question.” He fetched a glass of fresh water and frowned when he saw that the small medicine shelf next to the basin was empty. “Still no medicine and it's the fifth day in a row you’ve awoken like this. The Room is supposed to give you what you need. Maybe the magic is failing?”

“No, the magic works fine” Loki answered after he drained the water. “It's just not prepared to deal with this.”

“With what?” Thor inquired. Loki took Thor's hand and brought it up to rest on his belly, then sent a pulse of magic through their joined hands, and received a small echo in response. Thor gasped.

“That’s…”

“Our child.”

̶

Thor sat with his back against the wall, with Loki safely ensconced in his arms. They were naked, for they had discarded their clothes years ago, and skin contact brought comfort to both of them. He held his lover tightly, chin resting against his head.

“This is no place for a child. No place to grow up, no place to live, no place to dream.” Loki shuddered, arms crossed protectively over his belly. “We can't condemn her...”

“Her?” Thor interrupted. Loki just smiled.

“Yes, it's a girl. I can feel it.” Thor gently caressed Loki's belly, still amazed of the miracle they have created.

“I hope she looks like you.” Thor admitted. “And has your brilliant mind and wit.”

“And your heart. Your capacity to love. Then she’d be really lucky.” Loki whispered. “We can't condemn her to a life in this damned place, Thor. We have... we have to find a way to get her out there.”

“We will, my love, we will” Thor assured him, laying a kiss upon his hair.

̶

Loki started showing in his fourth month. For the Room, however, it seemed the baby didn't exist, for they got the same amount of food they always had: two servings of baked bread and plain cheese for breakfast, chicken or deer stew at midday and two bowls of vegetable soup with boiled mead or smoked fish for supper. Today it was salmon, and Thor cut Loki a bigger portion, forestalling Loki’s protests with a pointed look at Loki’s rounded belly. His brother sighed and started to eat. It was a discussion he’d lost too many times already.

At night, Thor spent long hours making slow, sweet love to Loki. Afterwards, he spooned behind him, unable to sleep even after Loki was resting, too consumed with the thoughts racing through his mind. He could imagine their future daughter growing up inside the Room, never knowing the warmth of the sun on a summer day, the smell of earth after a storm, the beauty of a field of flowers in bloom, the melody of birdsongs in spring, the companionship of a friend, the joy of first love or the elation of winning a tough battle. He slowly caressed Loki’s growing belly while whispering reassurances to his unborn daughter.

“We’ll find a way, my princess, I promise.”

̶

Thor's hands were bloody and raw but he kept hitting the Room's doors with all his strength, the sound of his fists hammering the door reverberating inside the closed room. His muscles strained from the effort and his skin glistened with a thin sheet of sweat. The previously spotless white panels were painted red with his blood but they had not even a scratch. Mjolnir lay bloodied and useless on the polished granite floor, for even the mighty hammer had been impotent against the magically reinforced metallic doors.

Suddenly, Loki’s arms encircled him from behind, trapping his arms against his body.

“Enough, Thor. It’s enough,” he pleaded.

He could feel the swell of Loki’s belly against his back, and that made him stop. He fell to his knees, taking Loki with him, hot tears of rage cascading down his face.

“I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry... I can't get her out there,” he sobbed.

“Don't worry” Loki comforted him. “We'll find a way.” But Thor could feel the moist warmth of Loki’s tears on his neck.

̶

It was on his seventh month of pregnancy that Loki realized the solution.

“For the Room, the baby doesn't exist,” he explained, from the safety of Thor's arms. “The magic of the Room is latched onto our heartbeats, because we were the only ones inside when the doors closed. The Room doesn't know what to do with another heartbeat that has originated inside, so it ignores it. That's why we don't get extra food or anything for the baby.”

“At that means...”

“That means that when our heartbeats stop, the Room will think its mission is accomplished and the doors will open.”

They both stayed in silence for a long time.

“Mom will love to raise her. She'll adore her.” Thor afirmed, tightening his hold on Loki.

“Yes, she will.” Loki acknowledged, pressing his lips together and burrowing further into Thor’s chest.

They stayed like that for a long time afterwards, Loki rubbing his rounded stomach while Thor’s tears fell on his hair for hours even after the Room’s lights dimmed for the night.

̶

“Shit, it hurts!” Loki hollered. “I hate you so much right now!” It had been six hours since Loki’s water broke, his body was covered in sweat, he ached all over and he just wanted to meet his daughter already.

“I know and I'm sorry” Thor winced when Loki squeezed his hand strong enough to break something. “But I can see her! Just one more push and she’ll be with us!”

Loki screamed as the contraction hit and he pushed one last time, their daughter sliding out of him safely into Thor's waiting hands. She was crumpled and bathed in birthing fluids, yet it was the most beautiful thing Thor had ever seen in his long life. She squirmed on his hands and let out a strong wail, as if she wanted to announce the whole Nine Realms that she had arrived.

Thor cleaned her up gently with a towel and wrapped her in clean one. He pulled her to his chest, and cooed at her while trying to swallow through the lump in his throat.

“Let me see her.” Loki demanded. Thor laid her softly on his brother's breast, smiling at them both. She calmed down almost immediately when Loki caressed her pale check, traced her button nose and counted her fingers and toes, his eyes bright with unshed tears. “She's perfect.”

“Have you decided on a name?” Thor asked. They had shortened their list to three names, but Thor had left the final decision to Loki.

“Kára. Her name is Kára.”

The stormy one. Thor smiled approvingly.

̶

They stayed with her for three days, each second making their decision weigh more heavily inside their chests. While not nursing, Loki spent hours putting protective spells on her and signing the nursery rhymes they remembered from their own childhood. Thor just kept them both in his protective embrace as much as he could, watching her sleep safely in Loki’s arms, unable the get the words he needed past through the lump in his throat.

On the third day, after nursing her one last time, Loki made a cradle with the blankets, and laid her here. She fell asleep almost immediately. Thor laid beside Loki, and they made love for a last time, slowly, savoring each other, each moment, each touch for they knew it would not come again. They would be together in Hel, but souls could not share this kind of carnal intimacy. They spent hours kissing breathlessly, touching, licking, biting and relearning every part of the other for the thousand time, and mouthing promises of forever into each other’s skin. When Thor finally slid inside Loki, he paused, savoring it and looking straight into Loki’s eyes. His brother smiled softly, raising a hand to caress his face, then crossed long legs around his hips and pulled him in further. Thor began to rock slowly, slower than ever, trying to make the moment last, to delay the inevitable end as much as possible. And when they finally came, it was with the greatest pleasure and the sweetest sorrow of all.

Afterwards, they both kissed their daughter’s brow softly, taking care to not wake her, and laid together on the floor. Thor spooned against Loki who curled protectively around their sleeping child.

“I love you, and I don't regret a single thing.” Thor whispered to Loki's ear.

“Nor do I,” he answered, squeezing Thor's hand.

Loki then pronounced the spell, and their hearts stopped gently, without pain. The lock on the Room of Repentance clicked open with a loud bang and the doors opened with a dull clank that reverberated through the stone-carved passage.

An armor-clad valkyrie materialized in the Room, her golden tresses framing an understanding face. She gently pulled their souls from their bodies until they were standing in front of her. Thor took Loki’s hand on his and, with one lingering look towards their child, their souls followed the valkyrie to Hela’s realm.