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Fever

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He woke to pain unlike anything he’d ever imagined. It was like someone had shoved a hot brand straight through his chest. A hot brand coated in acid.

And he was falling. Why was he falling? There seemed to be nothing but sky, dark clouds streaking by.  A distant, muted sun. Or was it a moon?

His eyes wouldn’t focus. Limbs turned to lead. Even his neck refused to support his head.

Helpless. Spinning. Falling.

And the pain, a searing presence that overlaid everything, occupying his consciousness with relentless brutality.

No more, no more.

He closed his eyes, willing it to stop. The pain, the spinning. Everything.

And then, blessedly, it did.

_____________________________________

When he woke again it was dark. Pitch black.

At first, the pain was far away–-a pinprick of light in the vast darkness. Distant, as though it didn’t belong to him.

And then the light grew bigger, opened, dilating like an enormous burning eye.  

Blinding. Crippling.

There was a sound like breath and gravel–a moan?

Had he made that sound?

His eyes wouldn’t open. But he didn’t want to be awake anyway. He struggled to pull away from the pain, wanting to fall back into the darkness.

As if in rebellion, his consciousness rushed toward the light.

It was hot. Scorching. Or was that just the pain? It seems to be everywhere in his body, like a fever, radiating from the blazing hole in his chest, charring every nerve ending as it flooded his limbs, his brain. Even his skin seemed to ache and cringe, as though it would crawl off his body to escape.

The ground seemed to be sliding beneath him, grinding at his back and legs.

No. Someone was carrying him–-dragging him.

Eyelids cracking against his will, he looked up at a blinding white sky, eyes rolling. Caught a blurred image of his own legs, limp, booted heels leaving shallow grooves in dry, gray earth. There was a shadow, too–not his own. Someone leaning over him. Holding him.

The pain pulsed and grew, inflamed by the pull at his shoulders, under his arms.

Let go, he tried to say. Leave me.

But no words came–just that weak, dry-gravel sound.

Stupid. Pathetic.

Just let me die.

His head lolled to one side, cheek resting against a small, cool hand.

And then–sweet relief–the darkness swallowed him again.

______________________________________

There was no sense of time–-only a series of brief images and sensations, in no logical order.

Cool air. The pain. Blessed stillness.

A wall of stone looming above him, jagged with shadows.

The sound of footsteps crunching on dirt.

Someone peeling away his armor, baring his chest–-a moment of icy relief and then the pain again, redoubled.

His own gasps echoing around him strangely.

Darkness and more pain.

And cold. Biting, blessed cold, numbing everything.

Someone leaning over him. A small face half in shadow. A slender arm peeking out of dark fur.

Icy water flowing into his mouth, down his throat.

The red glow of a fire.

And hands. Gentle hands on his chest, making the pain flare unbearably and then, somehow, chasing it away

The first time he truly came back to himself she was there, leaning over his naked chest, touching the ragged hole below his sternum.

The pain was a deep, dull throb that seemed to flee from her fingertips.

What are you doing? he demanded. Stop. Let me die

But again, no sound came. His lips wouldn’t even move.

She looked at him with dark eyes, face illuminated by a soft golden glow. Her lips parted but she said nothing.

After that, he started to dream. Fractured scenes of his mother–the death he hadn’t witnessed.

He saw it happen from inside his cell in Asgard. Saw her run through with the Kursed’s sword. Stood there helpless, beating his hands against the barrier, screaming as Thor bent over her, tears gleaming on his face.

But they couldn’t hear him. No one could ever hear him.

Sometimes it was his own death he saw, as if from outside his body. Watching voiceless as that monster came up behind him. Watching the blade pierce his chest. Reliving the pain each time.

Sometimes it was Frigga in his place, dying on the Dark World with an elfin sword in her heart.

Worst of all were the dreams in which it was he who killed her, thinking she was the enemy–realizing the truth too late.

Holding her in his arms as she died.

She always smiled. Forgave him with her eyes.

Mother.

What have I done?

I didn’t know, I didn’t know!

And when he woke from these dreams in an agony of grief and guilt, the pain in his chest was almost a relief.

Other times the two pains bled together until they seemed one and the same.

It might have gone on like that for weeks or months. The dreams and the pain and the strange woman in the dark, touching him. Healing him.

Over and over he tried to tell her to stop. To let him die. But he was too weak. Eventually, he gave up trying to speak. Surrendered to his own helplessness.

Once, he woke in the freezing night and she was lying beside him on the ground, her body very warm against his side, head resting on his shoulder, one arm lying protectively across his abdomen.

It had been so long-–isolated, ostracized, imprisoned. And before that, exile and torture. He couldn’t remember the last time anyone had touched him like this, held him.

It felt good. So good that his eyes began to burn and the pain of his wound was eclipsed by an entirely new pain–one that brought everything around him into crisp, agonizing focus for the first time since he’d fallen on the Dark World.

That was when he knew for sure that he was going to live.

Whether he liked it or not.

__________________________________________

He was in a cave. Or perhaps a sort of natural tunnel, if one considered how narrow and deep it was. He couldn’t see the entrance. Judging by the light that flooded in come morning, it was directly behind him and some ways off. In the other direction, the rough walls seemed to go on indefinitely, disappearing into impenetrable blackness.

A few feet away lay the cold remains of a fire and a pile of dully glinting metal. His armor.

It was quiet. The woman had gone. She’d piled his cloak and clothing over him, along with the musty old fur she’d been wearing.

The air was cold on his face, though it didn’t approach the deep chill he’d felt in the night. He was hot and itchy under all the layers, but when he tried to lift his arms to push them off, he found he didn’t have the strength. Just turning his head was a herculean feat.  Besides which, even the smallest movements made his wound protest loudly.

The pain in his chest was awful–an enormous, burning ache that radiated from back to front and down both arms, seeming to fill the entirety of his upper torso. It was no longer crippling though. If it weren’t for this blasted weakness, he would be on his feet.

Dammit. He had to urinate. But he couldn’t bloody move. And he was thirsty, too. Mouth like a sand pit, lips papery and cracking. 

Loki had never experienced such weakness. It was agonizing to be so helpless. Everything ached. His skin felt tight and dry. And he was trembling

A fever, he realized.

It couldn’t be an infection. His kind didn’ t get infections. There must have been some sort of poison on the Kursed’s blade. It was the only explanation. 

Where was that damnable woman? She wouldn’t have left him, not after caring for him all this time. He felt sure she’d been using some form of magic to heal him, or else he would be long dead by now; the Kursed’s sword had pierced his heart–he felt fairly sure of that. And yet here he lay, alive and…recovering.

How long had it been since the battle on the Dark World? And where the hell was he, anyway? He could make little sense of anything he remembered after losing consciousness in Thor’s arms.  

He must have fallen through a portal during the convergence. And then that woman had found him and dragged him here. 

He tried to lift his arms again and was rewarded with a vicious, stabbing pain through his chest. The resultant wave of exhaustion made his eyelids suddenly heavy.

Loki fought to stay awake for the space of a few moments and then simply surrendered to the blackness.

_________________________________________

Hours later he resurfaced to the tingle of healing magic and opened his eyes to find the woman kneeling at his hip, one hand touching his naked chest.

The breath left him in a rush of relief as the pain ebbed away to a distant throb.

Who are you? He tried to say. All that came out was a dry, voiceless rasp.

Her eyes rose to meet his. Large and luminous; a deep, translucent mix of green and brown. Stunning eyes–with thick chocolate-brown lashes–in a soft, rounded face. High cheekbones. Tawny skin. Rich, coppery brown hair to her shoulders.

Loki blinked for a few seconds, startled by that face and its unusual combination of innocence and sultry femininity.

She was just looking at him, expression tinged with surprise and curiosity. Her dark brows rose slightly in expectation.

Why doesn’t she speak? 

Loki swallowed arduously. Water, he mouthed, unable to produce a sound.

She frowned a little and her gaze dropped to his lips. He tried again, but still no sound. He wasn’t even sure he had shaped the syllables correctly.

There was not a hint of understanding in her expression, but she turned and picked something up–a hollowed out gourd of some kind, with a cracked, jagged lip.

She lifted it to him and he heard the liquid slosh, smelled a whiff of fresh, clean water. But the exhaustion rose again, and he couldn’t turn his head or make his lips obey. The water trickled down his face, very little actually making it into his mouth.

The woman made a small sound–of frustration or apology, he couldn’t tell. Then she lifted the gourd and took a mouthful herself. When she bent to him, Loki closed his eyes–humiliated and grateful at once–as she held his face and gently sealed her mouth to his.

The water was still cold–icy, in fact. It trickled down his throat and he swallowed reflexively. Then she sat back, took another swig, bent to him again. And then again, and again.

Her lips weren’t dry and cracked like his. They were soft. Cool.

When he could take no more she set the gourd down and turned to pull the blankets over him. Night was coming; the light was dimming and he could feel the chill on the air.

Loki felt another spike of humiliation–and anxiety. He still needed to urinate. He was bone-weary though. It took an enormous effort just to produce enough sound to get her attention; she’d moved to start the fire and her back was to him.

The sound he managed to produce was hardly more than a whisper, but she turned immediately.

How the hell was he supposed to communicate his need to her though? The exhaustion was dragging at him. His head began to swim and there was a tremor starting somewhere in his core, traveling outwards in waves. 

She came to his side and touched his chest very gently over the coverings, giving him a questioning look.  

Are you in pain? 

Loki tried to shake his head–managed a minute wobble.

She touched his lips. More water?

Too tired to shake his head again, he simply closed his eyes. When he opened them, her hand was hovering over his groin.

He exhaled loudly by way of confirmation and she rose, crossing to the opposite wall of the cave. When she returned there was another gourd in her hand–smaller than the first. 

Expression impassive, she drew the coverings back to his hips. Loki looked down as she opened his trousers and realized with a start that his skin was blue.

He’d reverted to his Jotun form.

A welling of very unpleasant feelings rose to mingle with the humiliation of lying helpless while a strange, beautiful woman held his genitals so he could urinate into the mouth of a gourd.

Loki cursed silently. Shut his eyes. The sight of all that ridged, blue flesh filled him with disgust and rage–-a sharp edge of shame.

He wanted to snatch at the coverings–to hide himself from her–but even if he’d had the strength, he would never have done so. Then again, if he had the strength to do anything, he wouldn’t have reverted to his Jotun form. 

With his eyes closed, the exhaustion seemed to swell. He wondered what she was thinking–if she knew what he was. Her touch was gentle, unshrinking. She’d certainly shown no disgust before.

Perhaps she knew nothing of Jotunheim. 

Clearly, she was a healer–an experienced one, if her calm, practical demeanor was any indication. He wondered briefly what her name was, and how she’d come to be here, all alone. 

Wherever here was.

And then his thoughts began to crumble, exhaustion swamping him, dragging him back into unconsciousness. 

Just before he lost all sense of himself, Loki felt her draw the coverings up, tucking them carefully around his shoulders. Later he would think he had imagined it, but at that moment, he was sure she touched his face. Very gently, fingers warm and soft and… inexplicably tender.

And then he slept. 

________________________

Chapter Text

Even in sleep, there was no peace. Tortured by his dreams and drained by the fever, Loki’s recovery came with agonizing slowness.

For three days he slept in fits and starts, waking to take water, receive healing, and empty his bladder. The woman went out at sunrise and dusk--he presumed to look for food. Sometimes she came back with bits of cactus or roots and he watched her taste them, clearly testing to see if they were edible. Often she spit them out immediately, face contorting. She offered him what she seemed to deem safe but he had no appetite.

During the day she went deep into the tunnel and came back with fresh water. Once she returned with a bizarre, colorless fish, which she cooked over the fire, using a piece of his armor as a makeshift skillet.

He'd recovered enough strength by then to rasp, “No,” when she brought him some of it, but she held it to his mouth and scowled insistently until he took a few bites. It was rather mushy, although it tasted alright. Chewing required enormous effort, but he was afraid if he failed that she would chew it for him, and that was more humiliation than he could bear.

When he finally swallowed, she smiled with genuine pleasure. It was the first time she’d done so, and he felt an unwilling tingle of gratification. That smile was… dazzling.

She was dazzling.

Well, she was interesting, at least. Fascinating, if he was honest. She wore a faded brown tunic and loose leggings that could easily have belonged to an Asgardian peasant, only they were in a style thousands of years out of date. She never spoke, nor seemed to understand him when he did. Most of the time her face was inscrutable, utterly calm. But her eyes were expressive. Compassionate, intelligent. Completely empty of judgment.

She was a mystery. One that plagued him--if rather pleasantly.

On the third day, he was strong enough to speak in complete sentences. He asked her what her name was and she looked at his mouth, frowning as though the words made no sense to her. He tried half a dozen different languages, to no avail. All she ever did was give him that same little frown, brows drawn slightly together.

Nothing seemed to phase her. She tended to his needs with a combination of duty and genuine caring that left him feeling… what?

He had no words for it. But somewhere along the line, he began to feel a strange sense of loss when she left him. A shameful sort of anticipation of her return. A deeply disconcerting surge of pleasure each time she reappeared.

He told himself it was because he had no choice but to rely on her--that he missed her when she was gone simply because he needed her to survive.

But that didn’t explain the warm, expanding sensation in his chest when she crawled under the coverings and snuggled up to him at night. It didn’t explain the fact that he frequently fought to stay awake just so he could enjoy the sensation of her body against him.

You’ve gone too long without a woman’s touch, that’s all.

There was no shame in enjoying the contact, he told himself stubbornly. It was his only reprieve from the pain and the fever. And the nightmares.

She touched him rather frequently, much to his surprise. And not always out of duty.

During the night, he sometimes woke from fever dreams to find her touching his face, smoothing his hair. He’d turned away at first in shame, angry that she was there to witness his suffering: the silent tears he cried for Frigga, for himself. The guilt that plagued him.

But she didn’t stop, and eventually, he found himself submitting to it. Lying stiffly under her touch, aching and furious. Pretending that he felt nothing. Wanting to push her away--wanting to draw her closer.

Finding himself starved for it.

When morning came, it was easy to pretend that nothing had happened. She looked at him no differently--showed no sign that his nightly episodes disturbed her.

Everything about her was utterly disarming.

In the day she sat beside him, combing his hair lazily with her fingers or using a damp scrap of cloth to clean his face. During these strange little episodes of intimacy, her expression was always very soft, eyes half-hooded and peaceful--almost affectionate.  

How she could look at him like that--with his blue skin and crimson eyes, the face of a monster--he didn’t know.

If he could have spoken--if she could have understood him--he would have made some cutting remark to deflect her tenderness. But she couldn't understand him, and he was so damned tired . From his wound, his grief, the lingering fever. And...tired of fighting everything. Of being angry. Bitter.

It was ironic, really. The Cosmos had delivered to him an opportunity--a call to be other than the hardened man he had become.

With this strange, silent woman, he had no past. No agenda.

No defense.

He didn’t have any choice but to surrender to her care. To accept the unexpected compassion--which he most certainly would have rejected under any other circumstances.

It was oddly freeing.

As his strength returned, his frustration and humiliation ebbed away. He forgot that he was Jotun. That he was a criminal. An outcast. Betrayer.

They seemed to exist in a bizarre little bubble--a world of only two, with its own rules. Its own dimension. A world in which a wounded exile could share vulnerability with a woman he'd never met.

In the protective isolation of that bubble, Loki began to unabashedly enjoy her companionship.

______________________________________

On the morning of the fourth day, after she’d healed him and made him eat some of the fish and tubers she’d cooked the night before, she sat beside him with her hip resting lightly against his.

“What’s that?” he asked, watching her fiddle with a bundle of string and something metallic.

Of course he didn't expect a response, but he couldn’t seem to stop himself talking to her anyway.

She glanced at him, smiling a little--she seemed to like it when he spoke to her--and then went back to untangling the bundle.

After a while she sent it down with a sigh and brought her knees up, folding her arms across them and resting her chin on top.

Her gaze fell to him, traced his features absently. Loki watched her face relax by degrees, eyes becoming unfocused, thoughtful.

One of her hands rose and he felt her fingertips on his jaw, pulling a strand of hair away from his cheek.  And then the minute tug of individual follicles in his scalp.

She was playing with the ends of his hair.

“What are you thinking?” he murmured, watching her eyes.

Beautiful eyes--pupils ringed with a starburst of light, dusky green. Striations of honey brown darkening to a deep chocolate at the outer edge of her irises.

She shook her head a little in response to his question. Touched his ear very lightly, still with that absent look. Trailed her fingers down the side of his neck.

It wasn't the first time her attention had aroused him, but it was surprising to find that his body was strong enough to muster a genuine physical response; heat and pleasure trickled along his veins, pooling between his legs.

The temperature in the cave had risen significantly since sunrise--as it did every day--and Loki was beginning to feel warm and itchy under all the coverings. He shifted uncomfortably and her eyes came into focus again. She gave him a questioning look and patted the upper edge of the fur.

“Please,” he replied.

She folded the coverings down to his waist and looked at his chest. The wound was almost completely closed now, despite their lack of medicine and dressings. The fever had finally broken sometime last night.

She smiled and patted him lightly on the belly as he drew his arms out from under the bedding.

“Thank you,” he said.

Still smiling, she shifted positions so that her legs were folded to one side, which brought her thigh against his flank. There was no place for his right hand to rest comfortably that didn’t bring it into contact with some part of her body, so he laid it across his stomach.

But he wanted to touch her.

She certainly felt no hesitation about touching him . At the moment she was tracing the Jotun ridges that marked his right upper-arm.

Why not?

Loki moved his hand to her leg, letting his open palm come to rest above her knee.

He expected surprise--perhaps discomfort--but she only looked at his hand and then let her fingers trail lazily down his arm to his wrist, settling her hand there with a sort of platonic intimacy that felt... bizarrely natural .

And then her fingers curled under his palm and her expression shifted from absent to something very near sadness.

Without thinking, Loki turned his hand over. Her fingers threaded into his as though it were perfectly normal for two people who hardly knew each other to be holding hands.

“What’s your name?” he asked roughly, hating that there would be no answer.

She met his gaze, brows lifting slightly.

“I’m Loki.”

She looked at his mouth.

“Loki,” he repeated, feeling stupid and hopeful at once.

“Loki,” she parroted, and then frowned a little, intelligent eyes trained on his face. “Loki?”

“Yeah. That’s me.” He gestured to himself with his free hand.

Her brows shot up instantly in understanding, sadness gone, chased away by a smile of triumph.

Beaming, she let go of his hand to touch his chest. “Hi, Loki.”

She seemed as startled by the greeting as he was--her expression bounced from shock to confusion.

“Hi,” he said, heart pounding. “Do you have a name?”

Her eyes widened. “Name!” she cried, with a sudden bolt of recognition. I know that word!

“Yes. Your name. What's your name?”

Her excitement faltered, uncertainty crowding the smile from her features.

“You do have a name, don’t you? You must.”

Expression crumpling with frustration, she shook her head. I don’t know.

That was when he realized there was something truly amiss with her.

He’d started using Allspeak the moment he’d regained enough strength to do so, but she still couldn’t understand him. He’d thought for a while that she was mute, but that didn’t explain why she seemed to have no language.

“You do understand me sometimes, though, don't you?” he said, watching her closely. “What happened to you?”

She shook her head again, lips compressing.

He had an idea then--and perhaps it was foolish to exert what little strength he had for such a thing, but he wanted fiercely to know her.

Loki lifted his hand from her thigh and touched her forehead, gathering a brief pulse of Seidr to look into her mind--into her memories.

Her eyes widened as the transfer occurred.

What he saw shocked him. She’d come to this planet much as he had--in a blurred tumble through the convergence. He saw her walking over a blazing desert, stumbling across what appeared to be his own corpse. Dragging him nearly a mile to the cave.

But before all that...nothing.

She had no memories. No past. No knowledge of herself.

Nothing.

Someone had wiped her clean.

Chapter Text

“You’re Vanir,” he said in realization. That explained the clothes. The Old Gods favored the old ways–-including their style of dress.

The woman blinked at him, expression flexing with a sort of distant recognition, like someone trying to place a familiar face out of context.

It also explained the memory wipe.

Aside from Asgard, only Vanaheim had the sorcery to wipe a person’s mind completely clean. And only the Vanir were known to actually use such an awful spell.

“You must have committed a pretty serious crime,” he said, watching her eyes darken with confusion. “Last I heard, the Vanir reserved full wipes for only their most dangerous criminals. Generally, as an alternative to execution.”

“Vanir,” she said faintly, leaning towards him with obvious concentration. That sound familiar.

“Yes. Vanir. You are of Vanaheim.”

“Vanaheim.” Something flickered in her eyes-–a flash of pain breaking through the confusion, a glimmer of loss.

“Vanaheim,” he said again. “Your home.”

Soundlessly, her lips shaped the word. Home.

Loki watched her try to make sense of it. Watched her eyes narrow with concentration, lips parting. Frustration creeping in around the edges of her features.

“It’s alright,” he said softly. “You don’t have to remember now.”

The truth was, she might never remember. Loki had not seen it at work himself–-at least, not to this extent-–but he knew from his study of sorcery that the spell was a lasting one. Some of her memories would undoubtedly return over time, but… there was no telling which, or how many.

She might be like this for the rest of her life.

The effect the realization had on him was astounding; his heart dropped, squeezed with regret.

Stupid. What do I care?

“You must have a strong mind,” he told her quietly, “Or else the spell might have ruined you.”

“Spell?” she murmured, eyes still glazed with sadness and frustration.

“You’re a Volva. Or you were,” he went on, thinking aloud. “And I’ll wager you’re a goddess of healing, else you would have forgotten the art when you were wiped.”

The fact that she remembered how to do healing magic at all–-or rather, that the instinct remained-–was enough to convince him of that. Perhaps her healing abilities had protected her mind somewhat as well. A full memory wipe could cause serious damage, to the extent of leaving the sufferer with compromised brain function.

“I might be able to help you recover some of your memories. When I’ve regained my strength, that is.”

She was frowning, holding his hand again–-when had that happened?–-and leaning down a little.

“Loki,” she murmured, free hand rising to his face, fingers to his lips. She shook her head. Stop. Rest.

The spell and all the talking had worn him down, he realized. His throat was dry, voice rasping.

“Water,” he said. “Please.”

She turned and picked up the gourd, tipping it carefully to his mouth.

On impulse, he turned his chin away. “You do it.”

Her gaze flickered with surprise, a trace of confusion. He’d been drinking from the gourd on his own since yesterday. She lifted it again, not understanding.

“No.” Again, he turned away. “I want it from your mouth.”

His tone gave her pause; it was dark--hungry. Her eyes widened slightly.

There was no reason for her to do it. They both knew that. But she understood him.

Just saying it--remembering the texture of her lips--made him buzz with desire. It was more than that, though. He wanted to test her. To push her. See if she would understand his intentions. If she was receptive to them.

His heart pounded with anticipation.

Slowly, she lifted the gourd to her lips. Bent and pressed her mouth to his.

Loki opened for her, took the water in a soft, passive kiss, eyes half closed. His skin seemed to tighten. Arousal settled into his body like a fever–-hot and aching.

When she sat back from him, he could see on her face that she had felt something–-that it had affected her. She gave him a shuttered look, confused and just a bit uncomfortable.

“I want you,” he rasped, startling himself.

It was an unexpected relief to say it out loud, knowing she couldn’t understand.

His tone had reached her though. She was giving him a penetrating look, trying to read him–-eyes a little hooded and gleaming with emotion.

“Do you want me?” he asked, watching those eyes. Wondering what the hell he was doing.

She was still holding his hand against her thigh, slim, tawny fingers threaded with deep azure ones.

“Would you let a Jotun touch you?” he asked roughly, looking at their tangled appendages. Torturing himself with the thought. “Would you be ashamed to take me into your body?”

Her eyes darkened with concern at the ragged edge in his voice. “Loki…” she murmured in a gentle, quelling tone.

No more. Please rest.

“Alright,” he relented, “Alright.”

She drew a single layer of the coverings up to his chest and smoothed it with one hand, unwittingly caressing his torso, making his whole body tighten with heat.

Then she set the gourd beside him and rose, leaving him to drift off into a whole new flavor of fever dreams.

____________________________

The next day his wound was fully closed and he was strong enough to sit up, with some assistance.

The woman did most of the work getting him off the ground, but once she’d propped him against the wall with the fur at his back for cushion, it was no great effort to hold himself there. 

The process that was both painful and rather pleasant; it made his wound ache, but it also acquired a great deal of physical contact, which brought his hunger for her back to a fine simmer.

She moved away as soon as he was situated, however, gesturing toward the dark end of the tunnel with the larger gourd. She was going to get water.

Loki nodded and then watched her stride away, wondering for the first time how she could see in the darkness. Just before she melted into the shadows, however, a little ball of golden light appeared beside her.

Perhaps she was gifted in more than healing magic, he thought. To wield Seidr so effectively without conscious training was quite unusual.

She really was an impressive little creature.

Eventually, the ball of light disappeared–-around a bend in the tunnel, he suspected–-and Loki was alone.

He shoved away the surge of loneliness.

It was good to be upright again. He could finally get a clear look at the cave. The distant entrance was blazing with desert sunlight. The woman had been collecting things on her excursions and there was a pile of random objects near the opposite wall: a pile of wood for the fire, several gourds, some rope, a rusted knife, scraps of cloth, and what looked like a bag made of rough, tattered canvas.

She’d taken apart his armor, separating metal from leather. The breastplate lay turned over with a collection of vegetation resting inside it. She’d been using the backplate as a cooking surface. His vambraces were untouched, though. They lay in a neat stack to one side, along with his spaulders, shin guards, and boots.

He wondered how she’d started the fire. Probably another spell. There was no kindling to speak of.

Impressive indeed.

What in the name of all the Gods had she done to get herself wiped? It was hard to imagine such a gentle little creature committing a crime heinous enough to warrant that punishment. Healing deities were rarely violent, though it wasn’t uncommon for one to be trained as a warrior. She did have a certain air of physical competence–-a grace and agility-–that spoke of battle training.

Vanaheim was a fairly bellicose culture. Not much different from Asgard.

Perhaps she’d betrayed her people somehow. Like Loki.

It didn’t warrant much thought at the moment, though. What did concern him was figuring out where the hell they were. The convergence could only have brought them to one of the nine realms. Loki had come from Svartalfheim, so it couldn’t be that. Nidavellir was out as well; dying neutron stars did not have land mass at all, much less scorching deserts.

Asgard certainly had no deserts, and neither did Vanaheim or Alfheim. Nor, of course, did the icy worlds of Jotunheim or Niffleheim. Muspelheim was a realm of fire; there were no cold nights. That left Midgard.

By the Allmother, please tell me I’m not back on Earth. Anything but that!

It was the only explanation, however. Midgard had many deserts. He wasn’t sure about the cold nights, but weren’t there human tribes living in the deserts? The woman had certainly found evidence of civilization, though everything she brought back from her excursions was old and had the look of things long abandoned.

Well, he would be on his feet in another day or two, he felt sure. Then he would go out and investigate for himself.

What he would do after that remained to be seen. Getting off the planet could pose a serious challenge… but he’d done it before.

And then what?

He wouldn’t return to Asgard just to be imprisoned again. Although, it was possible that Odin would forgive his crimes in light of what he’d done on Svartalfheim.

Was it worth the risk though?

While he sat contemplating this, the woman appeared in the dark tunnel, her little golden light-spell catching his eye.

“Hi,” he said, watching her approach, heart secretly lifting.

She smiled. Came to him and held out the gourd. There was another of those strange colorless fish dangling from her other hand.

Loki took the gourd, deliberately holding her gaze as he sipped from the broken lip.

Clearly, she remembered their kiss the day before; it was there on her face, in her eyes.

It had been a kiss. A poorly disguised one. They both knew it. He’d tricked her and he had not the slightest regret.

Whether or not she would let him kiss her again was a question he dearly wanted answered.

“Your hair is wet,” he commented. “You had a bath.”

Her head tilted quizzically to one side.

“Your hair.” He pointed, then touched his own. “It’s wet.”

Her hand rose to the water-darkened locks currently leaving wet marks on the shoulders of her tunic.

“I could use a bath myself,” he said, thinking of her undressing somewhere deep in the bowels of this cave, slipping into the icy water alone. “Perhaps next time you’ll take me along.”

She gave him a muddled look. His tone had become husky, dark.

“Bath,” he repeated, gesturing to the dark tunnel.

Recognition lit her features and she touched her hair again, gesturing to him with the other hand, eyes raised in question.

“Yes. I’d like to go, too.”

She made a series of gestures–-pointing to him, mimicking the rise and set of the sun several times, and then using her fingers to indicate walking into the tunnel. Combined with her little shrug, he took it to mean, Maybe in a couple days.

Loki smiled. “Lovely.”

Her answering smile was genuine, almost innocent.

Meanwhile, he was still imagining her wet and naked in the dark.

________________________________

The day went slowly when one was unable to move about on one’s own. He slept only a few hours that afternoon and then sat himself up again, this time without her assistance. That small triumph lifted his spirits considerably.

The fact that the woman returned from her dusk excursion with a tattered old book written in the language of Vanaheim, even more so. 

So, they weren’t on Earth after all. That was a relief. Yet they couldn’t be on Vanaheim, either.

And then he recalled that the Vanir had attempted to build colonies on at least one of their moons a few hundred years past, but they’d abandoned the project after realizing that the climate couldn’t support trees. 

The Vanir certainly did love their forests. 

So, that was it, then. The convergence had dumped them on one of Vanaheim’s moons. It certainly explained the severe weather and lack of sentient life. 

It also presented the possibility that they would be completely unable to escape. Unless the Vanir had also abandoned at least one functioning ship here, which was unlikely.

Well, that was a concern for another day.

In the meantime, Loki was preoccupied with his own recovery–-and with the woman currently sitting beside him, leaning against his shoulder as though it were the most natural thing in the world, listening to him read a book about Vanir agricultural practices.

 “This is incredibly boring,” he interrupted himself to say. 

The woman tapped the open page insistently. 

“Do you really want to hear more about the storing and preservation of mani seeds?”

“Mm.” She tapped the page again. 

Sighing, he read some more, mollified by the fact that she snuggled closer and tucked her hand into the crook of his arm. 

After a while he grew tired and she took the book away, motioning for him to lie down. Night had fallen and the fire was getting low. Loki stretched out on his back while she fed a few dry old branches into the flames.

This time when she slipped under the covers he turned onto his side so she had no choice but to tuck herself against the front of his body.

Which she did, after only a tiny moment of surprised hesitation.

By Valhalla, that felt good. He curled his arm around her and pulled her closer, until they were touching from knee to sternum. She let him do it, but he could feel the hesitance in her body.

It stung a bit, but it didn’t surprise him. She was used to a passive, semi-conscious bed partner, not an increasingly vital, assertive one. The sudden shift made her uneasy. 

That’s good , he told himself. He didn’t want her to think of him as an invalid anymore.

But he also didn’t want her to be wary of him.

“It’s alright, “ he said quietly, forcing himself to relax. Willing his body not to respond to the delicious pressure of her breasts and belly and hips. “Go to sleep.”

It didn’t work, of course. He was well and truly hard, and she couldn’t possibly fail to notice. But he squashed the urges that rose with the lust. He was tired–-still much too weak to act on those urges, despite his increasingly rapid recovery. Besides which, he was well aware that she had shown no distinct receptivity to his sexual interest. 

Nor had she shown any particular resistance, however-–only uncertainty.

Perhaps, because she remembered nothing of her life, she didn’t fully understand the implications of his hungry looks or the erection currently pressed into her belly.

Or perhaps she simply wasn’t attracted to him, blue and ridged and red-eyed as he was.

Neither thought was comforting.

After a few minutes of passive silence, the woman sighed against his chest and the tension left her. A moment later, her arms snuck over his side. 

Loki’s heart swelled with gratification and a host of disconcerting, possessive feelings. Lust aside, her affection for him was real. That was something. 

And in a few days, when he was strong enough to recover his Aesir form… 

Well, he would just have to wait and see. 

Chapter Text

When he woke the next morning the woman had already gone. She’d left him the water and some food on a clean scrap of leather.

He felt better today. Much stronger. Sitting up was easy--his wound hardly protested at all and the scar was already beginning to shrink.

Standing was a bit of a challenge though. His legs were weak from disuse. But he did it, leaning heavily against the rough stone wall until he felt steady.

The woman returned to find him standing at the mouth of the cave, shirtless and smiling smugly.

The sun was just breaking away from the horizon and the heat was incredible already. The woman had come walking along the strip of shade still clinging to the edge of the cliff. She was carrying the canvas bag and a bundle of dry wood.

She started when she saw him, dropping some of the wood.

“Loki!” she cried, half pleasure and half worry.

“Hi,” he said, grinning. Hoping she couldn't see the fine tremble in his legs.

She scrambled to pick up the fallen wood and then hurried across the sand to him.

The world beyond their little hideaway was stark and dry. Flat, dusty grey earth broken only by the occasional cactus, a jutting ridge of rock, or the sun-bleached corpse of a tree.

In the distance, there were low mountains capped with what looked like snow, but it was probably only naked white rock.

The woman ushered him back from the cave mouth as she neared, dropping her burden and coming to touch his chest, checking his wound.

“I’m fine,” he said, looking down. It felt strange to be standing next to her. She was smaller than he’d thought. The top of her head only reached his shoulder. For some reason, it sparked the hunger again and he found himself tingling with arousal.

She tilted her face up to look at him and that tingle solidified into a slow burn. It was the first time he’d seen her in broad daylight. Her coloring was richer than he’d realized. Her eyes paler, brighter. Light, coppery skin and hair a vibrant, burnished bronze. Plump, peachy lips.

“You are beautiful,” he said huskily.

To his surprise, she flushed.

By the Gods. “You understood that, didn’t you?”

“Beautiful,” she said quietly, touching his chest again, watching her hand.

“Yes. You are.”

She shook her head, splayed her fingers over his heart. “Loki.”

“What?”

But she didn’t answer. Instead, she leaned forward and rested her forehead against his chest.

“What’s your name?” he asked, hands rising to her shoulders, desire curling in his belly.

She sighed. Shook her head again and stood back, pointing into the cave.

“Alright. It is getting rather hot.”

She gathered the wood up and watched him closely as they fell into step.

“I’m fine,” he said, “Just a little slow.” But the walk out had drained him. They had to stop halfway back to the camp so that he could rest.

She sat beside him against the cave wall and pulled a small gourd out of her bag. “Water,” she said, smiling a little.

Loki was impressed. “Two words in one day. You’re making progress.” He took the gourd and lifted it for a drink.

When he returned it to her, she said, “Thank you.”

He grinned, “Well, well. You’re welcome.”

She smiled and leaned against his shoulder.

While he rested she gave him another healing. Some of the strength returned to his limbs. By the time they’d arrived back at the camp, however, he was exhausted again and his legs were cramping viciously.

Perhaps his recovery wasn’t quite as far along as he’d thought.

The woman made him lie down and then pulled his legs across her lap, rubbing the spasms away with startling strength and expertise, beginning with his calves and working her way up.

It hurt like hell until she reached the uppermost part of his thighs, at which point it abruptly began to feel...good. When she started working her thumbs into the muscles where thigh and hip came together--slow and deeply--simple pleasure kindled into genuine arousal.

“You’d better stop that,” he rasped after a few minutes, arms draped over his eyes, fever pulsing in his veins.

Her hands paused and he peeked down at her.

She was looking at the erection tenting the front of his trousers. And then she met his gaze.

Bloody hell. Memories or no, she did understand. The awareness was there in her eyes.

Her gaze was shuttered, though. Hesitant. Was that desire? Disgust?

Dammit all, he couldn’t tell.

Frustrated and inflamed--and feeling an unexpected jab of humiliation--he covered his eyes again. 

A moment later he felt her draw away and cross to the opposite side of the cave. Listened to her quiet footsteps returning.

She knelt beside him and touched his shoulder.

He pulled his arms down. “What is it?”

She didn’t flinch at his brusqueness, just set a leather-wrapped bundle of cooked tubers at his shoulder and held up the now-empty water gourd.

“Fine,” he grunted. “I’m going to sleep.”

And then he put one arm over his face again, knowing he was being childish and not giving a damn.

“Loki…” she murmured.

“Get lost.” 

To his surprise, she took hold of his arm and peeled it back. He glared.

Unphased, she bent and kissed his cheek, right at the peak of his cheekbone. Very lightly. Lingeringly.

And then she kissed the other one just the same way. And then his eyebrows. And then his chin.

Lastly, his mouth, in a slow, feathery glide.

Frustration evaporated, heart pounding, he just looked at her.

She looked back.

And then she smiled. “Rest.”

Loki watched her rise and disappear down the tunnel with that little ball of light at her shoulder, wondering what the hell had just happened.

________________________

He slept most of the afternoon, recovering from the morning’s exertion. After nightfall, when they'd eaten and the woman had given him another healing, he rolled onto his side with his back to the fire.

He’d been surly and quiet all evening, but she took it in stride.

When she slipped beneath the covers, he lay very still as she fitted herself to his back.

Soft fingers touched his waist and he obediently lifted his arm so she could reach around him. Her hand found his belly, palm flat, fingers splayed. And then moved up to his chest, touching the Jotun ridges that marked his pectorals.

“I hope you understand that this is not platonic,” he said very softly.

She stilled against him--no doubt confused by his tone. He was nearly growling.

“When I’m well again, don't expect me to lie here passively for all this cuddling and touching.”

Her fingers flexed minutely against his skin. “Loki?”

He covered her hand with his and pushed it down over his belly to the edge of his trousers.

Her arm stiffened briefly--in denial or simply in surprise, he couldn't tell--but she let him do it.

Loki held her there for a moment and listened to her breathing; it was shallow now, a little fast.

Slowly, he guided her fingers to his sex, brushing over the head of it--just enough that she would know how hard he was.

“This is what you do to me.”

He was beginning to ache with unresolved desire--hunger solidifying into painful frustration. He could still feel her feathery kiss on his lips: craved more with a force that hounded him mercilessly.

But he let her go, thinking that even if she didn’t understand the words, the warning was clear enough.

Only she didn’t move her hand away.

After a breathless moment of hesitation, her fingers slid lower, gliding over leather, following the shaft of his erection.

“Don’t,” he warned. “Don’t start something you can’t finish.”

Slowly, slowly, she cupped him.

The breath left his body in a hissing gush.

“Loki…”

Those two whispered syllables hit him like a lightning bolt--sent him reeling.

They were heavy, helpless--laden with desire.

This wasn’t some innocent exploration. It never had been. She knew exactly what she was doing.

She wanted him.

He lay there frozen with shock as her fingers tightened. Stroked him slowly.

Loki groaned low through his teeth--pushed her hand away and tore at the fastenings of his trousers in an impatient flurry.

The moment the leather parted her hand was there again, taking hold of his naked cock, measuring his length in a slow, silky caress.

But he didn’t want slow and silky--he was desperate, wild for it. He took hold of her hand and fisted it around his shaft, pumping himself rapidly in her grip. Once, twice--half a dozen times--making deep, primitive sounds as the orgasm swelled and crackled along his nerve endings.

When he came she cried out with him, her soft, wordless exclamation muffled against his back, nearly drowned out by his guttural sob of release.

But Loki heard it--heard the pleasure she took in his pleasure.

No one had ever cried out for him like that before. It touched something deep inside him. Pushed him higher. Made him jerk and tremble helplessly in her grasp.

It made his heart burn with joy.

Afterward, as he lay panting and intoxicated, she pulled away and returned a moment later with a scrap of cloth in her hand.

Touch very gentle, she cleaned him up and then bent over his shoulder to kiss his face just the way she had before: softly, lingeringly.

His heart squeezed.

“Tell me your name,” he whispered hoarsely. “Please.”

It came out slow and heavy. The syllables felt clumsy in his mouth.

She settled against his back and sleep dragged powerfully at the edges of his consciousness.

“Rest,” she murmured, touching his chest again. Tracing the ridges that marked him Jotun.

Helplessly, he did.

____________________________

The next morning he woke well past sunrise and the woman was sitting against the wall near his legs, the Vanir agriculture book open in her lap.

She was frowning at the pages with great focus, turning them slowly. Clearly looking for something.

“Good morning,” he said.

Her gaze snapped to him and he waited to see if there would be some sign of what they’d done last night--a flicker of shame, or desire, or even reticence--but there was none. She smiled openly in greeting, crawled up beside him, and pointed at something in the book.

Loki propped himself on his elbows and she held the pages up for him.

“It says ‘Chapter Nine: Cultivating Eirflower.’” He looked at her questioningly. “Is that significant?”

“Eirflower,” she repeated, brow furrowed in concentration.

She was trying furiously to remember something.

“Eirflower is a powerful healing herb. You must have worked with it on Vanaheim.”

The woman shook her head. Not in denial, but in frustration. She was staring at the words in the book again, chewing her lower lip rather charmingly.

“Would you like me to read to you?”

She looked up, blinked, full lip popping free of her teeth.

“Or perhaps a kiss?” he suggested, looking at that lip, blood heating. “I wouldn’t be opposed.”

She tilted her head quizzically.

Loki sighed. “Nevermind.”

Her gaze dipped to his chest and she touched the mark where his wound had been.

“Yes, it’s healed up quite nicely,” he murmured. “You’ve done an excellent job.”

Her fingers circled the fading scar and he looked down, feeling the warm tingle of her magic.

Golden light spilled from her fingertips and flowed into his chest. The scar shrunk before his eyes. In a moment it was completely gone, replaced by smooth, unmarked azure skin.

When she took her hand away he could still feel the spell cycling through his veins, pouring strength into every muscle, all the way down to his bones.

“Better,” she said softly, lips curving.

“Yes,” he replied. “So are you.”

Her smile widened and the pleasure in that look warmed him deeply.

“I believe I’d like a bath today,” he murmured. “What do you think?”

“Bath?”

He nodded, gestured to the dark end of the cave. “Bath. With you.”

She seemed to understand. Now there was a glitter of awareness in her eyes--a hint of the hunger he’d heard in her voice last night.

An answering hunger sizzled along his spine.

“Bath,” she agreed softly.

Chapter Text

The walk into the cave was longer than Loki expected, and more treacherous too. In some places, the way became so narrow that he had to hold his breath to squeeze between the walls. In others, the ground was jagged and slippery with some sort of moss. The air became very damp and increasingly chilled.

The woman moved along confidently before him, pausing now and then to point out a danger, or to wait for him to catch up.

It chapped his ego a bit that he couldn't keep up with her, despite the fact that she was clearly slowing her pace for him.

His strength, evidently, was still not at full. However, his legs didn’t tremble or cramp, and that was no small relief. He was tired when they reached their destination, but not exhausted.

The cavern into which the tunnel opened was a small one, though the ceiling sloped to a peak so high the light from the woman’s torch spell couldn't reach it at all.

It smelled of damp moss and the musk of wet stone and minerals. The ground was a solid slab--smooth and coated with moss, like the walls. Everything glossy with ambient moisture.

As they moved deeper into the space, the light fell on a wide black pool, reflecting soft golden eddies onto the walls. The water moved gently, issuing from beneath a rocky overhang on one side and disappearing into a narrow crevice in the opposite wall. A natural spring, then.

The woman dropped her bag near the edge of the pool and turned to smile at him, face half illuminated in golden light.

And then she dropped the torch spell.

For a moment they were in complete darkness, and then a faint green glow began to fill the cavern.

Loki looked up in surprise. The walls and ceiling were alight with phosphorescence. Even the stone beneath their feet was glowing. It was the moss.

After a moment, it had grown so bright that he could see the woman quite clearly, her skin limned brilliantly green.

He looked down at his body and found that the green light made his skin appear quite black.

Loki wondered how he looked to her at that moment--if she found him desirable.

Not for the first time, he felt a welling of anxiety about his appearance. She wanted him--he sure of that now--but he was still Jotun. He couldn’t imagine how she could find this form arousing.

He hadn’t been sure that he would have the strength after the long walk, but as she crossed to him, he drew on his sorcery and shifted back into his Aesir form.

The woman stopped dead in her tracks on a sharp gasp. One hand rose from her side in surprise, as though she would touch him to see if he were some kind of illusion.

“Loki?” she said softly.

“This is what I normally look like,” he said, hating the edge of vulnerability in his voice.

She closed the space between them and looked up into his face, clearly confused.

“I thought you might prefer this form to the other,” he murmured gruffly.

Hesitantly, she touched his cheek. Traced his jaw with a conflicted sort of wonder painted across her features.

“Perhaps we ought to undress,” he said.

She’d made him put on his boots and undershirt shirt before they left camp, though the fabric still bore a blood-stained hole where his wound had been. He was eager to take the soiled things off now. Eager to wash the remnants of that battle away at last.

Eager to share his body with her.

But it seemed the change of form had discomfited her.

When he moved to disrobe, she stepped back, watching almost warily as he took off the shirt.

“It’s alright,” he said. She was staring at his chest. His white skin glowed very brightly in the dim cavern.

“Come here.”

Slowly, she came.

Loki took her hand. “Touch me. I’m real. This is me.” He placed her hand on his chest.

She shook her head--in denial, or perhaps simple confusion--but her hand glided across his skin. Across the place where his Jotun markings would have been.

The Jotun markings she had idly touched so many times.

By the Allmother, was she actually missing that form?

“Do you want me change back?” he asked.

But of course she didn’t understand him--just looked at him with her brows slightly furrowed.

Frustrated, he bent to unbuckle his boots, toeing them off and then glancing at her again as he brought his hands to the placket of his trousers.

Her expression of discomfort had shifted to something much more encouraging, eyes reflecting heat and vulnerability.

She wanted him to undress, though she was still a bit unsure of his new appearance.

She watched unabashedly as he peeled trousers down and stepped out of them, gaze following each movement. Taking him in.

He didn't like that trace of hesitation, though. Perhaps he should change back.

Instead, however, he just stood there and watched her gaze move over his body. And when her eyes finally met his again, he turned and went to the edge of the pool, lowering himself onto the smooth lip of stone so that his legs slipped into the water and he sat with he back to her.

The water was cold. Positively icy, in fact. Not very inviting, even to a Jotun.

He looked back at the woman and found her undressing silently, tunic pulled halfway over her head. She wore nothing under it but the leggings.

Her breast were much fuller than he’d expected. Belly smooth and slightly concave. Waist deliciously small above the sharp flare of her hips.

She dropped the tunic on the ground and wiggled out of the leggings, revealing long, sculpted thighs and a patch of dark curls that he could tell was just as bronzed as her hair. She turned then and came to the pool as he watched, stepping lightly across the glowing moss and lowering herself beside him to slip directly into the water.

There was no slope there--the stone lip dropped straight down--and she hung for a moment, fingers curled over the edge, looking up at him with the ends of her hair floating around her naked shoulders.

“Aren’t you cold?” he asked, heart thrumming in his chest.

Her gaze dipped to his lap and caught there. He was hard, of course. Almost painfully so.

And then she kicked away from the edge and ducked below the surface. When she didn’t reemerge immediately, arousal dimmed in deference to anxiety. The water was impenetrably black and he couldn't see even a flicker of movement below that shimmering surface.

Vanir were a hardy people, much like the Aesir. He knew logically that she could withstand the cold, and probably hold her breath for several minutes, but as the seconds ticked by, his anxiety grew.

But then he did see movement. Movement, and light. It started somewhere in the depths--that same green phosphorescence--and blossomed towards the surface, spreading outwards until it reached the ledge he sat on and the opposite wall as well.

With the water lit so from below, he could see her--a dark silhouette rising toward the air in a halo of small, sparkling bubbles.

By the time she’d broken the surface and swam back to him in a leisurely breaststroke, the phosphorescent light had begun slowly to dim.

He could still see her clearly when she reached him--her legs, her breasts, everything crisply silhouetted, distorted only slightly by the reflection on the surface.

Hair slick and dark, she smiled up at him and curled her fingers around his ankle, tugging lightly.

“Come,” she murmured.

“If you insist.”

Steeling himself for the cold, Loki shifted forward and slid into the water, gasping slightly as the icy liquid embraced him.

The woman treaded water just in front of him, smiling at his expression of discomfort.

“This is not nearly as conducive to lovemaking as I had expected,” he told her, a little breathless. The cold seemed to sink directly into his bones.

But she was too damned tempting, bobbing there within arms reach, wet and naked and smiling.

He reached for her, pulled her close, wet skin slipping against wet skin.

“You’re shivering,” he said, drawing her closer and stroking his hands down her back. “Bloody hell. And you’re so damned soft.”

To his pleasure, she tucked in, burrowing for warmth. Her arms curled around him, legs slipping against his as they both treaded water.  One of her thighs brushed his sex and his breath caught.

“Gods, this feels good.”

She kissed his throat and he groaned softly, hands shaping her waist, gliding over her hips. He was half-hard again despite the cold.

“It also kind of hurts, though,” he murmured. “I’m starting to go numb.”

“Mm.” She kissed his throat again, just under his jaw, mouth open, tongue very hot.

Encouraged by her boldness, he brought his hands around to touch her breasts--brushing them lightly--floored when she curled her arms around his neck and leaned back, looking down at his hands as he cupped her.

Her nipples were impossibly hard from the cold. He rolled his thumbs over them, fascinated by the contrast between the hard little tips and the silky soft mounds themselves.

Thinking about sucking them.

Then it occurred to him that he hadn't even kissed her properly yet. With that in mind, he let go of her breasts and pulled her in again.

“Give me your mouth,” he growled, leaning down.

Her lips parted just before he took them and he wasted no time giving her his tongue. Her mouth was hot, lips cold. She kissed with a melting fluidity that made him feel positively feral.

He yanked her closer, wanting her breasts against him, wanting to press his cock into that taut little belly--but he’d forgotten where they were and the proximity made it impossible to tread water.

They immediately started to sink. He let her go, both of them sputtering a little.

And then she started to laugh.

He’d never heard her laugh before. It was high and feminine, musical. Utterly contagious.

He laughed with her, reached for her again. Followed her to the center of the pool when she swam playfully away.

There was a narrow ledge against the opposite wall. She led him there and then slipped away again--much to his disappointment--diving beneath the water.

The underwater phosphorescence had long since receded, but it blossomed again--apparently responding to her touch--and the woman surfaced a few seconds later with a clump of some strange water weed in her hand.

She swam back to him and showed him that it could be used for washing. The long, tongue-like leaves produced a thick, oily substance when squeezed. It smelled very faintly of lemon. The woman went back for another handful and then returned to the ledge where they’d entered, climbing out to wash herself.

Loki watched intently from across the pool.

She was shivering visibly, though she didn’t seem unhappy. She smiled at him when she saw he was watching, and then went on about her ablutions unselfconsciously--rubbing the oil through her hair and under her arms. Between her legs.

When she slipped back into the water to rinse off, he crossed to her, drew her in for a slow, wet kiss, then hoisted himself out of the water to do his own washing.

She stayed for while, bobbing near his feet, gaze very dark in the strange light, watching him with undisguised enjoyment.

The plant oil had a very smooth texture--surprisingly luxurious. When he began to wash his sex, what began as dutiful self-cleaning turned into something else.

The oil made him slick, and he’d been hard for what felt like hours. Her gaze followed his hands with obvious hunger. Before he knew it he was stroking himself deliberately, breathing hard, watching her face.

She swam closer, between his feet where they dangled in the water, looking up at him. The desire in that look was incredibly gratifying.

Her hands slid up the insides of his legs, lightly stroked his inner thighs. Her touch made the pleasure spike and he groaned softly.

“This is not how I intended this to go,” he said roughly as she kissed the inside of his knee, then leaned forward to scrape her teeth against his inner thigh.

“Gods,” he rasped, nearing his limit, “Do that again.”

She turned and nipped the other thigh,  higher this time, licking the spot and then dragging her hot little tongue up, up.

Loki stopped stroking and simply held himself as the orgasm threatened. Her face was so close to his sex that his hand would have bumped her cheek anyway.

She turned and licked him then, tongue pink even in the green light, tasting the seam where his fingers sealed his shaft and then gliding upward.

“Do I taste good?” he murmured.

Lifting herself with her hands on his thighs, she leaned forward to suck the head into her mouth, tearing a ragged groan from him. Loki flexed his hips forward, watching her lips stretch around him, shuddering as she circled his tip with her tongue.

“Alright,” he rasped, right on the edge. “That's enough.”

She let go and looked up. “Loki…”

Even without the words, he understood what she wanted.

He wanted to make love to her, though. To come with her slender legs around his waist, her sex rippling around his cock.

“Come up here,” he rasped.

She shook her head. “Rest.”

It took him a moment to understand her meaning; she was worried sex would tax him too greatly.

He was tired. And they did have a long walk back to camp.

Damn it all.

“We can rest here after,” he replied stubbornly.

She shook her head again. “Cold.”

“I am Jotun,” he growled. “I can handle the cold.”

But then it occurred to him that perhaps she couldn’t. Even Gods could suffer hypothermia in extreme conditions.

“Get out of that water,” he said angrily.

She frowned and Loki leaned down, lifting her out but the upper arms and pulling her directly into his lap. Her limbs were positively icy.

“Did you stay in the water so long just to prevent me making love to you?” he demanded, rubbing her arms in an attempt to warm her. “That was stupid.”

Shivering, she leaned against him and pressed her face into his neck. “Mmm…”

“Don’t make sounds like that if you want me to keep my cool,” he growled.

Slim, wet arms curled around his waist.

“And don't get too comfortable, I still have to rinse off.” But he pulled her closer anyway, enjoying the pressure of her thigh against his cock, her cold, wet breasts against his chest.

After a moment one of her arms slipped between them and her hand settled on the head of his sex.

Loki was very aware that with only a few physical adjustments he could be inside her.

But he let her stroke him, kissed her neck and shoulder as the pleasure built. With her thigh in the way, she could only reach the head and a small portion of his shaft, but she worked her fingers on him with great success--he was near to bursting again in mere moments.

“What’s your name?” he gasped as the orgasm began to flutter at the base of his spine.

She didn't answer, just shifted back so she had space to stroke his entire length.

He moaned, “Coming,” and she kissed his open mouth, licking his lips while he panted helplessly and his cock began to jerk and spasm in her hand.

Pleasure swamped him. He sucked her tongue and rolled one breast in his palm, groaning into her mouth while his seed spilled hotly on her thighs.

Afterward, he looked down at the glistening ropes of come on her water-beaded skin and rasped, “Now you.”

Chapter Text

“Eir,” she whispered. “Eira.”

“What?” Loki asked drowsily.

They were lying together on the soft moss beside the pool, pressed close for warmth, waiting for wet skin to dry.

“My name.”

It took a moment for the words to truly register.

Abruptly, he sat up. “What?

She lay there gazing up at him calmly, wet hair fanned around her head.

Loki’s heart was pounding.

Eira. Eir. It sounded familiar.

Yes. Eir, the Vanir Goddess of Healing.

“You remember now?” he demanded. “Can you speak?”

She opened her mouth but then frowned as though the words wouldn’t come.

“But you understand me. You understand everything I’m saying?”

She nodded.

“When did that happen?”

Her blush said it all.

He’d just given her two orgasms. One with his fingers, while she sat squirming and panting in his lap. And then again with his mouth, lying in the moss with her legs bent over his shoulders.

He could still taste her sex–lemony from the plant oils, sweet and feminine underneath.

Apparently, the pleasure had jogged her memory. It made sense somehow. Intense experiences often unlocked the mind in unexpected ways.

She had cried out rather loudly. Especially the second time, with his tongue making rapid circles around her clit and his fingers buried inside her.

He leaned over, propped on his arms above her, grinning slowly. “If that’s what it takes to jog your memory, I’m happy to be of service.”

She frowned repressively. “No more.”

“I have plenty of energy,” he lied.

“Rest,” she said stubbornly.

He sighed. “Stubborn woman. I’m perfectly well.”

She gave him a wry look, lips pursed.

“Do you remember anything else?” he asked, “Anything at all?”

“No.”

“Well, all in good time. I know a few tricks that might help you recover at least some of your past,” he said, and then flashed her a grin. “Besides the orgasms.”

She flushed again, very prettily.

Bending to kiss her, he murmured, “We can start now, if you like.”

Her little sound of denial came muffled into his mouth.

Loki kissed her for a while in a leisurely haze. She cupped his face in both hands and kissed him back.

He liked the way she kissed. Deeply, almost lazily–-yet with incredible, sensuous focus. Like she was hyper-aware of every sensation, every glide of lips and tongue, every taste and texture. He also liked the way she held his face and dug her hands into his hair. The way she scraped his shoulders with her nails at times, clutching him closer.

There was something almost desperate about it; as though she couldn’t get enough.

How she could kiss with such a combination of urgency and deliberation was a mystery. The fact that she did so without dominating the kiss-–that he found her mouth both meltingly receptive and responsive…

Well, needless to say, kissing her was intoxicating. Wildly so.

He could do it all day.

Which was good, because he really was drained from all the activity. The walk back to camp would be long and arduous.

But tomorrow he would be stronger. In the meantime, he was content to kiss her and to touch her delightful little body.

She sighed then, humming contentedly into his mouth–almost as though she’d read his mind and the thought had pleased her.

Eira.

It meant “peace,” in the old tongue, which suited her perfectly.

Not that she inspired peaceful feelings in him–quite the opposite, really. But she had a certain equanimity about her that he found terribly arousing.

Perhaps because he wanted to make her wild–to see that tranquil expression eclipsed by passion. To see her come completely undone.

Even in the throes of orgasm, her face had remained almost serene–though she had writhed and whimpered rather delightfully. But he hadn’t been inside her yet. That would be the real test.

And Loki was very much looking forward to crying her name in the heat of passion.

 


 

Eira gave him another healing before they returned to the camp. She also used a rather clever adaptation of her torch spell to lure another of those fish to the surface of the pool, where she snatched it right out of the water with her bare hand.

It made him feel an odd little spurt of pride to watch her do it.

He’d already begun to think of her as his, he realized with a start. His woman.

That was a little disconcerting.

At least, it should have been.

They were the only two people on this Godforsaken moon. She’d saved his life. Healed him. Given him affection. Tenderness. Made love to him with her hands and mouth.

It was natural that he should feel possessive, wasn’t it? There was nothing wrong with that.

For the first time in days, he thought about what he would do if they found a way off this moon. What she would do.

If she would want to stay with him.

But that train of thought brought a barrage of other unanswerable questions. About her memories, and why they’d been wiped. If they would return at all. If she would remember what he was and the hatred her people had for Jotunheim.

Hell, even the Aesir and Vanir had unresolved resentments, despite the historical intermixing of their bloodlines.

Too many questions. And who was to say he should take her anywhere? He was in lust;  there was no telling how long it would last.

Hell, there was a good chance would be stranded here indefinitely, anyway.

“Loki?”

Eira’s voice snapped him out of his thoughts. She was holding their clothes, looking at him with a quizzical expression.

“Yes,” he said taking his shirt and trousers from her, “I was just thinking.”

Her expression said clearly, About what? but he pretended not to notice and set about dressing himself.

Putting their dirty clothes back on was an especially unpleasant endeavor. But they couldn’t wash them because Loki didn’t dare risk the energy required for a drying spell, and Eira shook her head when he asked if she knew how to do one. Walking back to camp in icy, wet clothes wasn’t a very attractive notion either, though Eira could have easily taken them out to dry in the desert sun.

Well, they could return to wash their clothes another time. Gods weren’t prone to sweat or body odor, so it wasn’t as though their clothes were terribly soiled anyway–aside from the desert sand. And the blood on Loki’s shirt.

In any case, he rather liked sitting around shirtless all day. Eira certainly seemed to enjoy his naked chest, going by how frequently she touched it, even in his Jotun form.

He abruptly remembered the look on her face when he’d changed forms.

“Eira.”

She had just put in the leggings and was bending to pick up her soft leather slippers. “Hm?”

“Do you like this form?”

Her brows rose in surprise. “Yes.”

“Better than the other?”

“No.”

The quickness of her answer startled him. Not an ounce of hesitation.

“Would you like me to change back?”

She looked at him thoughtfully for a moment–considering his question. Considering him. And then she looked up into the cavern as though trying to find the words.

Finally, haltingly, she said, “What you like.”

For some reason, he couldn’t let it go.

“Would you make love to me in my other form?”

Again, no hesitation. She nodded.

Heart pounding inexplicably, he said, “Do you miss it?”

She smiled. “A little.”

“Why?”

Her mouth opened. Shut again. She sighed. The words wouldn’t come. Then she crossed the few steps between them, put her hand on his chest, looked up at him and said simply, “Beautiful.”

Loki was floored. “You found that monstrous form beautiful?”

Eira nodded.

And then he remembered her saying the same thing when they’d stood together at the mouth of the cave. She’d put her hand on his chest, looked up at him exactly the same way and said, Beautiful. And of course, he’d misunderstood.

For some reason, it made him angry.

“I’m Jotun,” he grated. “Frost Giant. When you remember what that means, you may feel differently.”

She shook her head and patted his chest pointedly. “Loki.”

And even though he wasn’t sure he could have put into words exactly what she meant by that, he understood.

 


 

Eira made him lay down as soon as they arrived at camp, and Loki didn’t argue. He did, however, pull her down beside him and hold her there with both arms, laughing as she tried to squirm away.

“Loki!” she protested. “No more!”

He had both hands up under her tunic. “I’m just touching.”

“Rest!” she squeaked, trying to push his hands away from her breasts.

“Kiss me first.”

“No!”

“Just one,” he wheedled, enjoying himself immensely.

He bent to claim said kiss and she put her hand over his mouth, glaring repressively. Which meant she only had one hand to defend her breasts.

She moaned softly when he cupped her. “Loki…”

“Just the one kiss, I promise,” he said, muffled by her hand.

“Lie,” she accused huskily.

He stopped caressing her breast and pulled her hand from his mouth. “I’ll let you go, I swear. Just the one.”

She hesitated, trying to read dishonesty in his face. Finally, she said, “No hands.”

Loki held his hands up in surrender.

“Stay,” she commanded.

“Absolutely. No problem.” But his grin made her suspicious.

To his surprise, she pushed him onto his back and straddled his waist, took hold of his wrists and pinned them to the ground above his head, holding him there with astonishing strength.

“Oh my, this is nice,” he said, right before she kissed him.

The kiss was quick, and hot, and a little rough. Then she popped to her feet and backed away before he could grab her again.

Loki lay exactly as she’d left him, hands above his head. “Very satisfying, thank you.”

“I’m going out,” she replied, giving him a stern look. “Rest.”

She took the bag and the small water gourd and left him there with his hands folded behind his head and his ankles crossed, grinning smugly.

After she’d gone, however, he found himself thinking about their conversation in the tunnel. About his Jotun form.

He’d never been quite so near to death as when she found him, or else he wouldn’t have been in that form at all–-much less for such a long period. He’d hated it from the moment he’d first understood what he was.

Yet Eira had wanted him in that form. She still did.

And there had been a certain sense of freedom in the experience.

While he lay there waiting for her to return, he let go of the spell that kept him in Aesir form. A spell he’d cast instinctively as a mere infant, in an effort to ensure his own survival.

There was relief in the change. He’d never been aware of the energy it took to hold another form. When he was at full capacity, it was effortless.

He lifted a hand and regarded it thoughtfully. Tried to see the blue skin and raised markings without the lens of his upbringing–the stigma, the hatred.

He tried, for just a moment, to see that form as Eira saw it. Without the influence of the past. Without the knowledge of the many crimes of Jotunheim.

Without shame.

He couldn’t do it, though.

The thought of making love to her in this form was disgusting. But…. it also filled him with a bizarre sense of longing.

Confused and frustrated by the feelings this line of thinking inspired, Loki shoved the subject away.

Physically, he was Jotun. He couldn’t escape that. But in every other sense, he was Aesir. He’d made his peace with that.

Or so he thought.

 


 

He slept deeply while Eira was out. So deeply, in fact, that he didn’t wake at all when she returned, or even when she crawled into bed.

He did wake, however, in the aftermath of a terrible nightmare about his mother. About returning to Asgard and finding himself on trial for her death.

About standing before all of his people in chains, unable to hold his Aesir form. Watching their faces twist with disgust as they saw him for what he truly was.

The details of the dream slipped away almost the instant he opened his eyes, but the rage and pain, the grief and humiliation–-those stayed.

He found himself shaking and gasping in the dark, holding on to Eira as she touched his face and kissed him slowly.

Suffering turned abruptly to need. Her touch was gentle, comforting. But the lust that sparked from her lips was even better comfort. Loki grasped it gratefully, kissing her with tongue and teeth–-with everything he had. Rolling her over and sighing harshly at the pleasure of her body under him. Burrowing for bare skin. Touching her breasts with barely leashed aggression.

He didn’t think about what he was doing. Didn’t pause to wonder if she wanted it–if he was being too rough, if he was pleasing her. He didn’t think at all, lost to her heat and the texture of her skin, to the way her body seemed to cradle him, to the sounds she made as he plunged his tongue into her mouth and raked his hands up and down her body.

He didn’t remember undressing her either, or opening his trousers, but suddenly he was inside her--encased in hot, slick, satiny flesh--body sealed to hers, heart beating against her breast as he thrust and thrust, drinking the breath from her open mouth, swallowing her cries.

How long it went on, he couldn’t say. In the end, he didn’t cry her name at all-–he was beyond words, beyond conscious thought. He simply rode her-–rode the enormous wave of his emotions. His pleasure, his pain. And when he reached the crest of that wave, the forces inside him coalesced into something almost violent. He held her down and pumped fiercely, bit her throat and shoulders, her breasts, fisted his hand in her hair and growled like a beast when she bowed beneath him, orgasm squeezing his cock like a fist. He thrust sharply into that delicious tightness as he came, driving deep, every nerve alight and burning, hyperconscious of each wet spurt, each jerk of his cock as he spilled himself at the mouth of her womb.

And when it was over he simply collapsed, using the last of his energy to roll off of her as the darkness welled up to claim him.

Chapter Text

Eira was still asleep beside him in the morning. Naked and silky. Delightfully warm.

The light at the end of the tunnel said it was almost daybreak.

Loki curled his arms around her carefully, trying not to wake her. His cloak slipped off her shoulder and she shivered against the cold air.

As he shifted to draw the covers back up he saw that his hand was blue. At almost the same moment, he noticed the bruise.

He'd taken her last night in his Jotun form, and his teeth marks were imprinted neatly on her neck in a dark purple blossom.

He cursed softly and her eyes popped open.

“Loki,” she murmured, mouth curving in a slow, drowsy smile.

“Good morning,” he replied gruffly, waiting for her to remember what he'd done. To look at him with accusation in her eyes.

But she only snuggled closer and sighed contentedly.

“Are you well?” he asked nervously.

“Mmm.” Her lips grazed his chest, breath soft and warm, tickling his collarbone. And then her hand was there, following the ridges on his shoulder, down toward his left pectoral.

Against his will, his body began to respond to her touch and the press of her belly against his groin. The contact was skin-to-skin. He’d never closed his trousers after making love to her last night. 

Well, “making love” was, perhaps, not the right term...

“Eira--” he began, and then broke off, startled when her hand slipped between them and trailed his stomach. “Hold on, we should--”

He broke off again on a low groan as her fingers found his sex. It was hard already, straining between them.

She made a little humming sound of pleasure and stroked him lightly.

“Be gentle this time,” she murmured. “I'm sore.”

It didn't even occur to him that she'd spoken so easily and in complete sentences.

“I'm sorry,” he rasped, “I was a beast last night.”

Her only response was to nip his chest--quick and hard. Loki jerked against that small, sharp pain, surprised--and then fiercely aroused.

“Don't antagonize me if you want me to be gentle,” he growled.

She giggled. Her hand dipped lower and cupped his testicles. “An eye for an eye.”

Loki yanked the covers back and rolled her beneath him, regret forgotten--until he propped himself up on his arms and got a look at her breasts.

Even in the dim light, the bruises were vivid. Shocking.

“Bloody hell.”

Eira looked down. “They'll heal in a few hours,” she said mildly. “Besides, I liked it.”

Well. That was gratifying--though it didn't entirely assuage his guilt.

Wait a minute.  

“You're speaking in full sentences.”

Her brows rose. “So I am. That's rather nice,  isn't it?” She smiled.

“Did you remember anything?”

She thought about it. “No.”

“You don't seem particularly distressed by that fact. Don't you want to remember?”

“I don't know,” she answered thoughtfully. “I think...maybe I wanted to forget.”

Nonplussed, Loki just looked at her.

“I feel sad when I try to remember,” she explained. “Like I lost something.”

“You did. Your whole life.”

“That's not what I mean.” She frowned, shook her head helplessly. “I can't put it into words, exactly. I just get the feeling I chose this.”

Huh. “Then you don't want me to help you remember?”

“No,” she murmured, reaching between them. “I want you to make love to me again.”

Breath leaving him in a gush as she took hold of his cock, Loki said haltingly, “I thought--you wanted me--to rest.”

“That was yesterday,” she replied, watching his face as she stroked him. “Your energy field is much improved this morning.”

Loki felt much improved. Especially with her fingers working up an down on his erection like that, slow and silky.

And then she opened her legs and drew his hips between them, holding him there with her thighs.

“Wait,” he protested when she angled his cock downward, lifting her hips at the same time.

But it was too late. The head slid between the warm lips of her sex and stretched the opening to her body. The urge to thrust was too strong to resist. A moment later he was buried to the hilt in hot, wet woman.

She echoed his rasping groan with a soft, breathy one of her own.

Loki closed his eyes. “Generally one expects a bit of foreplay,” he said huskily, “Before the main event.”

“Not this one,” she murmured. “Not today.” And then she rolled her hips up and ground herself against him, making him groan again.

“Look,” she whispered roughly.

Loki followed her gaze to where her burnished pubic curls met his glossy black ones.

“Stay still,” she said, rolling her hips again. 

Tingling with lust, Loki obeyed.

Together they watched her ride him, feet braced so she could lift her hips completely off the ground, body undulating beautifully.

It was strange to see his Jotun flesh against hers--to watch that vibrant blue column appear and disappear between the lips of her sex, glossy and suffused with blood.

It should have disgusted him, but it didn't. He touched her breasts with one hand and found that he liked the sight of it: warm, coppery skin spilling between long azure fingers.

“Eira,” he rasped, bending to suck one tawny nipple, plumping her breast with his fingers so the tip stood up tightly for his mouth. “So beautiful.”

She moaned and moved a little faster, hips rolling, belly flexing against him.

Her nipple hardened in his mouth and he sucked it some more, pulling until the tip had grown utterly distended, then rolling it with his tongue. Pulling back a little to drag his lips across it, aroused by the sensation.

Eira was panting raggedly now, holding his hips and working herself on him with increasing urgency.

Gods, it felt good.

“Do you want to come like this?” he asked, switching his mouth to the other breast, mumbling around her nipple, “Or shall I ride you again?”

The words made her shudder and squeeze tight around him.

“Loki…” she breathed. “Yes. Ride me, please.”

Growling with satisfaction, he pulled his mouth from her breast with a  wet little pop! and sat back on his heels so he could hold her hips and give her his cock in a deep, steady rhythm.

Arched that way with her hips in his lap and only her head and shoulders touching the ground, she looked incredibly erotic. Her eyes were closed, mouth half-open, panting raggedly. Breasts bouncing. Hair lying around her head in a glossy reddish tangle.

He was beginning to like the look of his marks on her now, too.

Loki thrust a little harder, pleasure building to a fever pitch, mindful that she'd asked him to be gentle.

“You’re soaking wet,” he growled breathlessly. “I can feel you fluttering around me.”

“Close,” she whispered tightly.

He thrust harder, growling, “I want to bend you in half and ride you like an animal.”

She made a soft, airy sound of approval and Loki wasted no time folding her legs back tight against her body, lifting himself so he could watch as he thrust downward, cock moving into her like a piston.

The angle made her cry out and he adjusted carefully. “You're so tight,” he rasped, “Does it hurt?”

“No,” she panted, face flushed, eyes rolling with pleasure. The word fell from her mouth again in a senseless whisper, over and over. No, no, no, no, no...

“No?” he murmured, amused, thrusts coming harder despite himself. “You want me to stop?”

She shook her head fiercely.

“Good,” he grunted. “I'm going to come soon.”

She started keening then, high and breathy, clutching him with both hands, stiffening as she tipped into orgasm, repeating his name in a whimpering, mindless rush.

Loki Loki Loki Loki--!

“Eira,” he groaned hoarsely. “Gods!”

The way she cried his name and the rippling of her inner muscles sent him rocketing over the edge. The pleasure rose along his spine in a scalding rush. He rode her roughly for a few seconds, throwing his head back as the orgasm wracked him, hips snapping, cock pulsing inside her.

By the time he'd returned to himself she was holding his head against her chest, fingers gliding through his hair, against his scalp. He’d let go of her legs at some point and they were curled loosely around his hips.

Loki lifted away from her slowly, groaning a little as his cock slipped free.

“Are you alright?” he asked roughly.

“Yes,” she whispered. “I'm a lot tougher than I look.”

Actually, she looked soft and satiated--cheeks still flushed, eyes glazed, breathing fast.

Satisfied--indeed, feeling quite smug--Loki settled against her side, leaning onto his elbow so he could look at her. The sun was up, but the air in the cave was still cool. He drew his cloak up around their hips.

“Are you cold?”

She shook her head. “You put out a lot of heat when you’re aroused.”

That was news to him. Frost Giants generally had a much lower body temperature than other creatures, and Loki was no exception.

“I must not be much help to you at night in the cold,” he said, drawing her closer. “When I’m not aroused, that is.”

“Loki, you’re almost always aroused.”

Well, that was true. “You knew from the start that I wanted you, hm? Even when you couldn’t understand me.”

She turned toward him and draped her arm over his side. “You weren’t particularly subtle about it.”

“And when, exactly, did you start wanting me?”

She didn’t answer for a moment and he pulled back to look down at her.

“You're blushing,” he said, amused.

“It’s kind of embarrassing to admit to lusting after an unconscious man.”

Well. Now that was a revelation.

“I don’t think so,” he said, to cover his surprise and the surge of elation.

She made a little self-deprecating sound. “A mortally wounded unconscious man.”

Loki chuckled. “I’m not complaining.”

Her hand slipped down his side to his waist and followed his hip, then came slowly back up. Pleased by her affection, he bent and kissed her naked shoulder, brushing over the bruise there. It was already beginning to show green around the edges as it healed.

“I had no idea you wanted me until you touched me that first time,” he purred. “You hid it well.”

“I was afraid you would try something--despite how weak you were--if I'd let on that I wanted it.”

He thought about the last few days. The ever-growing haze of lust. “Mm. I almost certainly would have. Though you could have stopped me easily enough.”

“That's the trouble. I wasn't sure I could resist you.”

Loki laughed. “I can be terribly persuasive.”

“And smug.” She nipped his chest again and made him grunt, then sucked the spot very lightly.

“Don't start that again,” he warned. “We'll be in bed all day.”

“Mmm. There's not much else to do.”

The idea of making love to her for hours on end was wildly attractive. However… “I'd like to go out, actually.”

Eria tilted her head back and glanced at the cave opening. “It's too late now. The heat is dangerous during the day. We'll have to wait until evening.”

“Well, in that case…” he rolled onto his back and pulled her up over his body. “Perhaps you'd like to ride me this time.”

Smiling, she sat up and braced her hands on his chest, straddling his hips. “That sounds fun.”

He stroked her thighs, thumbs brushing up towards the curls between her legs. He could feel the wet lips of her sex parting over the shaft of his renewed erection.

“You're dripping,” he said darkly.

“That's from you.” She rocked herself on him, rubbing up and down his shaft as his seed trickled warmly from her body.

With all the lubrication, the movement was gloriously slick. Loki watched with burgeoning lust as she angled her hips to work her clit against the ridge of his cock.

After a while her eyes drifted closed, lips parted as she began to breathe harder. Loki lifted a hand and slid his thumb between them, watching her jerk with pleasure as he found the swollen nub of her clit and rubbed it leisurely.

“Ride my mouth,” he said huskily.

Her eyes popped open. “What?”

He lifted himself up on his elbows. “Come here. I want you to ride my mouth like that.”

Her expression flexed with surprise. “I'm covered in your…”

Loki arched a brow, “So?”

“You don't mind?”

“I want to suck you,” he growled. “Stop asking questions.”

She came forward on her knees and Loki used one hand to position her hips where he wanted them, staying propped on the other elbow so he could still have some leverage and she didn't have to lower herself to him.

“There,” he said huskily, with her sex positioned just above his mouth. He licked her once, slowly, and she shuddered. “Now ride me.”

When she pushed against his mouth he groaned his approval, rewarding her with a long, wet pull, tongue delving even as he sucked her.

Eira gasped, fingers sliding into his hair to hold him in place as she began to move. He hummed again in satisfaction as she rocked her hips, arching into the suction, breath hissing sharply.

Gods, her clit was engorged already, hot and hard between his lips. He rolled his tongue around it and then sucked it into his mouth, watching her twitch and gasp, pulling and licking in an alternating rhythm until she began to tremble above him.

And when she was right on the edge, panting, Yes, yes, right there! he let go, yanking her hips forward so he could dip his tongue inside and taste their mingled essences at the opening of her sex.

Loki…” she moaned breathlessly.

“You want to come?”

“Yes,” she breathed.

He licked her, nice and slow, from the mouth of her sex to the top of her slit. “In my mouth?”

She nodded.

“Not on my cock?”

He was so hard the damn thing was standing straight up, head of it nudging his belly button.

“I want to suck you after,” she murmured.

Loki opened his mouth for her and she pushed forward, rolling her hips into the instant suction he gave her, whimpering loudly at the strength of it.

By the time she came, she was in a frenzy, grinding into his mouth, clit jumping against his tongue, whole body shimmying with spasms.

The sounds she made drove him crazy. As soon as the last spasm ebbed he flipped her over and mounted her, thrusting inside with a growl.

“Loki!” she protested, expression still glazed, “I wanted to--”

“Later,” he interrupted, pumping savagely. “I need to fuck you.”

She gave a low, shuddering groan and lifted herself to him in surrender.

In just a few minutes he was at his limit. Loki bit her again--less violently this time--knowing he was losing control and unable to stop. Spiraling into an orgasm so intense that he lost himself for a few seconds, gripped by a searing, electrical pleasure that stole his breath and made him stiffen helplessly from head to toe.

Eria came too, in those last few heartbeats. He was vaguely aware that she cried out--felt her nails digging into his hips and her sex tightening like a vice on his cock.

Gods...so good, he thought afterward, drifting down from a sweet, hazy high with her body beneath him and her slender limbs holding him loosely. Eira…

“Mmm?” her hands slid lazily up his back.

Had he spoken aloud?

She was kissing his ear and jaw now, almost absently, fingers slipping into his hair.

“I don't want you to remember your past either,” he said without thinking.

Her reply was absent, unhurried. “No? Why not?”

Loki hesitated, but he was still intoxicated from the pleasure, inhibitions lowered. Heart unexpectedly open.

The words spilled out.

“Because until you get your memories back, you're mine and mine alone.”

Chapter Text

 

"What makes you think I wouldn't be yours if I did remember my past?"

She said it unhesitatingly. Like she had no doubt about it.

She already considered herself his.

Loki lifted himself to look at her. "You don't know what I am."

"You keep saying that." She touched his face, drew him down for a slow, melting kiss. "I don't care what you are and I can't imagine I would, even if I remembered everything."

"Jotunheim is a monstrous culture," he replied stubbornly.

"There's nothing monstrous about you though."

He barked a sharp, caustic laugh. "You don't know me very well."

Eira tilted her head to one side. "Do you want me to think poorly of you?"

"No," he growled angrily.

"Then tell me what you're afraid I'll remember so I can show you that it doesn't matter."

Loki hesitated. What the hell was he doing, spilling his guts to her like this? What possible good would it do to tell her?

But the rules were different here in their little hideaway. What he would have guarded jealously in any other situation came spilling out of its own accord.

"The Frost Giants were once known to steal and eat the children of Asgard and Vanaheim. Or to make them into slaves."

"I see," she said gravely.

"They are savage. Merciless and unforgiving. A hateful people without honor or compassion."

Her mouth quirked. "Clearly, you're not a prime example of the race."

Loki scowled. "I'm the rightful heir to the throne of Jotunheim."

Her brows rose. "Are you really?"

"I'm also the adopted son of Odin, King and Allfather of the Aesir."

She blinked. "Aesir?"

"Does that sound familiar?"

"Sort of..." she frowned. "You said I was Vanir."

He nodded. "The Aesir and Vanir are sister races. My mother--my adoptive mother--was Vanir."

"Your upbringing sounds...complicated."

"It wasn't..." he began bitterly, "Until I found out I was Jotun. For most of my life I believed I was full-blooded Aesir royalty."

"How did you come to be adopted?"

"Front Giants are enormous creatures. I was born a runt. King Laufey cast me out. Left me to die."

She seemed to take him in for a moment. "You don't look like a runt to me."

"Do I look like a giant?"

"Point taken. So this Odin Allfather took you in?"

Loki nodded.

"Hmm." Her legs tightened around his hips. "That was kind of him."

The rancor must have shown on his face.

"Was it not out of kindness?" she asked quietly.

"It was strategy. Jotunheim and Asgard were at war. Odin thought he could use me to... foster peace."

Eira frowned thoughtfully. "Were you happy? Did they treat you well?"

The words struck an unexpected cord--made his heart shrink with grief and anger.

"I'm sorry," she murmured, reading his face. "You don't need to answer that."

He did though. He'd never said it aloud before, and suddenly it was important that he did. "I don't believe Odin ever cared for me, but..."

She touched his face while he struggled with his next words, stroking his jaw, fingertips grazing his ears.

"...Frigga loved me as her own." 

Eira's hands abruptly stopped, eyes flickering with recognition. "Frigga?"

"You knew her, didn't you?" he said softly. "I wasn't sure but...I'd heard of you. Eir, Goddess of Healing. I believe you were one of her handmaidens on Vanir, before she wed Odin."

Which made her at least a few hundred years older than him.

Her expression crumpled into something like worry, green-brown eyes turning luminous with emotion; there was pain lurking below the surface of her consciousness.

"I don't want to...I don't want to think of that."

"Alright," he replied quietly.

"What did you do when you found out your true heritage?" she asked, voice still trembling slightly with unexpressed emotion.

"I...went a little mad, to be honest."

She regarded him seriously. "I think that's fairly understandable."

Loki smiled a sharp, bitter smile. "I tried to kill my brother and take his place as King of Asgard."

Her eyes widened. "Oh."

"And I attempted to destroy Jotunheim."

He waited for judgment, but all she said was, "You didn't succeed?"

"No," he grated bitterly. "I did not. But I killed Laufey."

There was unexpected compassion in her eyes, but no pity. No recrimination.

"Do you regret it?"

That startled him. No one had ever asked him if he regretted his deeds. Not even himself.

"I don't know," he said honestly.

She was touching his face again, tracing the marks on his cheeks. After a long silence, she murmured, "I still like you."

"I haven't told you everything."

"You don't need to."

He didn't want to. But his past was like an ax looming over them. He felt compelled to tell her.

To be free of it, whatever the consequences.

"I left Asgard and fell in with some of the worst people you can imagine. I made an... unholy bargain with a madman. A very powerful madman. I waged war on an innocent planet, Eira. I killed hundreds of people."

"Why?" she whispered.

Because I wanted to rule--I deserved to rule. The answer came into his mind by rote, but for some reason, he couldn't bring himself to speak the words aloud. 

And then he realized they weren't true. "Because I had lost everything," he blurted. 

Eira's eyes widened. 

Lokie cursed sharply. Why did I say that? But he wasn't finished. More words came, spilling out of him unbidden. Burning his throat like acid. "I wanted revenge against everyone who had looked down on me. Odin, Thor. All of Asgard. Even Jotunheim."

The reality--the truth of it--hit him like an avalanche. He hadn't told her about letting himself fall into that wormhole, because he didn't want to admit that he'd done it thinking he was going to die. Nor would he tell her about the torture--about Thanos' way of ensuring obedience. None of that mattered. The truth was, he'd wanted to conquer Earth... Because he had been lost. Furious. Wounded.

And like a wounded animal he'd lashed out. Taken what power was offered to him because he couldn't stand to be powerless any longer. And then he'd used that power to hurt the ones who had hurt him. Because he'd had nothing else.

Nothing.

And now he had even less. Frigga was dead--the last person in this Godforsaken universe who'd actually cared for him. Accepted him. Loved him.

Loki hung his head and pressed his face into Eira's hair, not wanting her to see his grief. His shame.

Her arms curled tenderly around his shoulders.

"Still like you," she whispered.

And he laughed--wetly, bitterly--crying slow, stinging tears into her hair. "You're a fool."

"Maybe," she murmured. "But it doesn't feel foolish."

He turned his face until his cheek touched hers. "No?"

"Hm-mm. Feels good."

... ... ...

Eira, it turned out, very much enjoyed being naked.

For most of the day they were either making love or simply talking, and she never once moved to cover herself. And since it was warm in the tunnel during the day, there was really no reason to dress.

Loki found this incredibly delightful. Her body, her affection, and the constant hum of sexual fever were a wonderful distraction. A balm on his ragged heart.

After their conversation veered away from his past, she rose to make them breakfast and then sat naked against his hip and absently fed him little morsels of fish while she told him about the world outside their cave.

Apparently, she'd been all about the immediate area and found little signs of civilization. However, a few days ago she'd noticed a road half concealed by drifts of sand. It led up the mountainside into which their little cave was set. She hadn't followed it yet because the daylight hours when it was cool enough were too short, and she hadn't dared to leave him alone for long while he was recovering.

They decided they would take the path at dusk and find a place to camp along the way if necessary.

After the fish was gone, she peeled his pants completely off, lay on her side across his thighs, and sucked him slowly to a deep, groaning orgasm.

The sight of her lips wrapped tightly around his stiff blue shaft was almost more than he could bear. Somehow, it was so much more erotic to see her sucking his Jotun flesh than it had been in his Aesir form. He came in record time, despite himself.

Loki would have reciprocated in some way, but she insisted she should go to fill the gourds and he should stay behind to rest.

"I thought we were past all this resting business," he said.

She rose to get the gourds and her bag. "You're not at one hundred percent yet, and if we get caught out there come sunrise, you could be in trouble, what with your Ice Giant constitution."

"Frost Giant," he said, smirking. "Are you going to go tromping through the cave completely naked now?"

She looked down at herself and gave a bright, startled laughed. She'd put the bag on over her bare shoulder.

"I suppose I should wear shoes, at least."

Loki watched her dress with unabashed appreciation. Her body was exquisite. Smooth and curvaceous. Soft where it ought to be and firm in all the right places, too. She was a little thin from their limited diet, but just looking at her--faded bruises and all--made him start to ache again.

"Hurry back," he said huskily.

Eira looked down at him. He was lying on his back, hands behind his head. Naked and blue from head to toe.

And hard.

"You are insatiable," she murmured.

She knelt beside him and Loki lifted himself on his arms for a kiss. While he suckled her tongue he felt her hand slip down the front of his body and touch his cock.

A moment later, she pulled back, turned and bent to kiss the tip of his sex. Her pink little tongue snuck out to taste him.

"Don't tease me," he rasped.

Her response was to scrape him very lightly with the edge of her teeth and make him gasp.

"What did I just say?" Loki growled.

"Mmm," she pulled back and looked at his cock in her hand. "It's so pretty. Makes me want to be mean to it."

He laughed. "Pretty?"

"Mm-hm. See how it turns from blue to mauve?" She followed the change with her fingers, "And the head is so pink."

Loki groaned under her touch. "Be mean to it all you want."

She bent again and closed her teeth gently on the little band of tissue connecting the underside of the glans to the shaft.

"Meaner," he rasped.

She bit down harder, pulled that little bit of flesh and made him groan again, then soothed the spot with her tongue.

When she pulled back there were neat little indentations of her teeth in his flesh. The sight of it seemed to arouse her. She took the head into her mouth and sucked it roundly, using the tip of her tongue to worry at his little slit until he was breathing raggedly.

"I sincerely hope you're not planning to leave me in this state," he said when she let him go.

She put the bag down. "Shall I suck you again?"

"I have a better idea."

Loki took hold of her waist and yanked her down onto the bedding, positioning her on hands and knees beneath him. An instant later he had the leggings pulled down around her thighs.

"Loki--" she broke off on a gasp as he pushed inside, and for the next thirty minutes or so, she didn't say another word besides his name and the occasional muffled cry of affirmation.

 The position was delicious. One minute he was leaning back to watch her sex swallow his shaft in a slow, liquid glide--the next he was holding her arms down, molding himself against the curve of her spine, pumping hard. He couldn't get enough of it. She felt so small and delicate beneath him--utterly submissive this time--shaking and whimpering sweetly as he dominated her.  

He made himself go slowly at first because the ground was hard, even with his clothing and the fur to cushion her, but in the end he was leaning into her and thrusting so deeply that her arms gave out and she lay with her chest to the floor and her thighs folded tightly beneath her.

She came twice, which was no accident. He'd already figured out the rhythm that worked best, the words and angles that made her wild.

She liked it when he was fierce. Uncontrolled. When he was deliberate and teasing. When he was genuinely rough. And she liked when he switched from one mode to the other unpredictably, murmuring dark commands one moment and growling wordlessly the next. Teasing and then taking. Tender and then savage.

At the end of it--with his cock encased tightly in her heat and her orgasm milking his pleasure from him in long, liquid spurts--he thought, She's perfect.

And for the first time in his life, he believed the Fates might finally be orchestrating in his favor. Looking after him. Helping him.

What he had done to earn such favor, he couldn't possibly imagine. But why else would he have ended up in this particular place, with this particular woman, at the exact moment in time when he needed her most?  

Chapter Text

Eira returned with the water well before dusk and they supped on the last of the root vegetables and cactus she'd collected the day before.

Afterward, leaning back against the cave wall, Loki pulled her across his lap and started undressing her again.

"Loki--" she protested, trying to pull her tunic back down, "You need to save your energy!"

"What I need is to be inside you again," he growled, reaching under the fabric and grasping her naked breasts with both hands.

"We've made love half a dozen times already," she countered breathlessly. "You cannot possibly need to do it again."

"Tell that to my cock," he replied, mouth open against her throat. "And it was only four times."

To prove his point he pulled her hips forward and pressed his erection between her open legs.

"As much as I'd like to accommodate you, I do feel a certain responsibility for your physical wellbeing."

Her voice was a little strained. Loki was using one hand to keep her pressed to his cock while he caressed her breasts with the other, rubbing them up and down, left and right, in long, firm strokes.

"Well, fortunately, I'm prepared to let you do all the work," he said.

"How generous of you."

He grinned. "Is that a yes?"

"It would be, if you could be trusted to remain passive."

Loki held up one hand. "I swear on my father's grave, I won't move a muscle."

Her little snort of derision ruffled the hair over his ear as she curled her arms around his neck and pressed close. "I might believe you if you swore on your mother's grave."

Loki stiffened instantly.

She pulled back. "Shit. I'm sorry, that was a stupid thing to say."

He hadn't once spoken of Frigga's death. But Eira had been sleeping beside him for days; she knew about the nightmares. She'd comforted him many times.

She was doing it now, holding his face and kissing him tenderly, murmuring, "Forgive me," against his lips.

"Did I speak of her in my sleep?" he asked quietly.

"A little. When you were still feverish."

He wanted to brush it off--make a clever, sarcastic comment to deflect the vulnerability that threatened--but the grief simply swamped him, stole his savoir-faire.

His heart felt like it would crack.

"Please forgive me," she whispered.

"It's nothing," he said stiffly.

She sat back a little and placed her hand over his heart. "It's not nothing, Loki. I can sense the wound."

Suddenly, inexplicably, he was angry.

Grief, tenderness, shame...these were unnavigable to him. But anger--that he could deal with. Take refuge in. 

He latched onto it desperately.

"And will you fix that for me too, oh merciful Goddess of Healing?" he sneered.

She didn't even blink at his sudden animosity. "I can if you let me."

"If I let you?" he repeated caustically.

"Yes. Emotional healing works differently than physical healing. You have to want it enough to let it happen."

"You think I want this pain?"

She hesitated. "That's... a complicated question."

"It's a yes or no question, Eira," he snapped.

Her sigh was one of reluctant surrender. "Then, yes. I think you want to punish yourself."

Loki was stunned silent for a few heartbeats.

"Am I wrong?" she asked gently.

Furious, anguished, laid painfully bare, Loki couldn't even summon an answer.

"Don't glare at me like that," she said, with quiet reproach. "I'm not trying to insult you. And I certainly don't believe you're responsible for your mother's death."

"What if I am?" he rasped harshly. "You weren't there."

"Then tell me."

The look in her eyes was like salt on a fresh wound.

"I don't want your pity," he snarled.

"This isn't pity, Loki. It's empathy. Your pain--your grief--I can feel it."

His laugh was flat and utterly acrimonious. "Oh, dear. I'm so sorry for your loss."

Loki waited for the look of reproach. The hurt. The recrimination. He could have defended against almost any response--anger, resentment, shame, even tears--but once again, she completely disarmed him.

Eira sighed in defeat and leaned forward, slumping helplessly against his chest.

"I love you," she mumbled into his shoulder. "Is that stupid? I can't remember if I've ever been in love before."

Loki froze.

The whole world seemed to tilt wildly on its axis.

If he had been able to speak at that moment, he probably would have said something like, Yes, it is stupid. In fact, it's completely moronic. But no words would come. She'd turned him to stone. The emotions warring within him rose like bile into the back of his throat and choked him into silence

She loved him. She loved him?

He couldn't even begin to make sense of it.

"Should I not have said it?" Eira whispered, turning her face to his neck and kissing his throat very lightly, lips trailing aimlessly up to his jaw and then back to his ear. "I didn't think you would mind."

Then she took his earlobe into her mouth and nibbled it a little bit.

The knot of emotion that choked him abruptly began to loosen.

"Eira..." he rasped.

"Hmm?"

The outrageous woman had started to suckle him.

"What are you doing?"

"Comforting you?" she murmured around his earlobe.

Heat and arousal spilled from the touch of her mouth and flowed down his body in a hot, tickling rush. But it was a hard switch from everything that had come just before. Loki felt completely out of alignment with the lust her "comfort" inspired.

He sat there stiffly beneath her, thoughts scattered and disjointed, pulled in every direction by emotions he was ill-equipped to process. The anger had slipped away, but the grief still sat on his heart like a stone. 

And that blasted I love you had hunkered down right at the base of his throat.

Still, his body paid no attention. His cock grew hard again in cheerful defiance of his state of mind--and his heart.

Eira seemed to sense his confusion. She didn't touch the greedy organ, though she could hardly fail to notice it, twitching against her belly as it was. She stopped suckling his earlobe in order to nuzzle him in a terribly tender and melting manner.

Against his will, he softened. The I love you dropped down into his chest and lodged somewhere just above his heart. The grief began to crumble around the edges, but it didn't go.

"Do you still want me?" she whispered into his hair.

If he'd been thinking clearly he would have understood that she didn't mean sexually--she could hardly be unsure of his desire, what with his cock dancing hungrily between them--but he wasn't thinking clearly.

The word fell unbidden from his lips. "Yes."

"Do you forgive me?"

For loving me? he thought stupidly. "Yes."

She made a small, happy sound. Her mouth found his ear again and made him shiver.

"You are the most beautiful man I have ever met."

It was like someone had taken him off pause. With a jolt, his mind stuttered back to life, driven by a burst of unexpected laughter.

"High praise, indeed," he rasped, "considering you can't remember any of the others."

Smiling, she pulled back to kiss his mouth and he opened for her readily, heart still aching underneath the warmth of lingering humor.

"I feel like I could come just from kissing you," she whispered against his lips, following the words with her tongue.

She kissed him for a long time and he let her do it because he was still tangled up inside and the wet glide of her mouth made that tangle slowly loosen. 

After a while, his hands found their way to her hips, then slipped upward to stroke her back in a hungry, searching kind of way. His erection was still blazing between them, but Loki remained strangely disconnected from it. It was a bizarre sensation.

All of it was bizarre, really. Her confession. The tangle of his emotions. The fact that he was letting himself be comforted. Again. In broad daylight this time, with no darkness to buffer the reality of it. The terrible intimacy of it.

He was beginning to feel--rather distantly--that he didn't know himself any longer.

If he had taken the time to think about it--which was impossible while Eria's tongue was in his mouth--he would have realized that everything had been like this from the moment he'd arrived here, helpless and on the verge of death. And it had spiraled further and further out of his control.

Unable to care for himself, he'd come to rely on Eira. Isolated with her, away from judging eyes and the burdens of his past, he'd fallen helplessly prey to the intimacy of the situation and the allure of the woman herself.

Without his consent, some inner door had cracked open, and Eira had slipped inside him. And now he couldn't get her out, or defend himself against her at all.

If he had been able to acknowledge this, he would have understood that his vulnerability to her was utterly agonizing for him. Indeedit was terrifying. And these emotions--along with the grief of his mother's loss and the sexual fever Eira's mere presence invoked--were the individual strings that made up the tangle of confused feelings currently holding Loki hostage.

But it was easy to avoid understanding when one was an arrogant God of Mischief, willfully distracted by worldly pleasures--like the tender torture of her mouth on his. The sensation of her hands in his hair and her body curled warmly against him.

Like the wet grip of her sex and the taste of her breasts in his mouth.

Finally, his body seemed to catch up with his mind. The need coiling in his belly took hold and he heard himself whisper roughly, "Eira. Take me."

And then he helped her shed the rough leggings and held his cock while she lowered herself onto it, subsiding into a lust-drunken haze as he watched her ride the vivid blue column--allowing the pleasure to silence all his inner clamorings. Shamelessly relieved when the tumbling emotions receded.

Much later, when he found himself hopelessly in love, he would look back on this folly and wonder why he hadn't seen it coming. 

...   ...   ...

They were halfway up the mountain path when the sun finally kissed the horizon and the temperature dropped to a biting chill. In his Jotun form, the cold was nothing, though he suspected it would fall well below freezing before the night was through. Not that he expected to be in any danger of hypothermia. Eira, on the other hand...

Loki had put on all of his clothes and armor--besides the breast and backplate--and when their breath began to show in the air, he stopped Eira and made her take his cloak.

"I'm not cold, Loki."

"You will be," he replied, arranging the heavy green fabric around her shoulders.

She looked up at him in the growing moonlight. "What about you?"

"I'm Jotun. This is like a summer night for me." And then he grinned at her suspicious look.

She lifted the cloak with both arms. "It drags on the ground. I'm going to trip on it."

"No, you won't. I've put a spell on it. It will behave itself perfectly."

"Your cloak behaves?"

He turned her around and urged her on up the narrow path, following closely enough at her heels that he could grab hold of her if she happened to slip. Her torch spell preceded them, shedding its golden light on the dry, jagged ground.

"Have you ever worn a cloak before?" he asked. "Well, I guess you don't remember. They're terribly inconvenient. Always catching in the wind, flying up into one's face, or tangling in one's legs during battle. Only a fool would wear one without a safety spell on it."

She glanced at him over her shoulder, "A safety spell?"

"Face forward. It keeps the fabric from doing anything likely to trip you or limit your movement in a fight. Including get under your feet or catch on rocks and branches. It cannot, however, prevent you from falling down a mountainside because you're not watching where you're going."

"Hm. Seems like it would be simpler to wear a coat."

"Cloaks are more versatile, less constricting, and provide faster access to concealed weapons."

"Fair enough." She picked her way over a rocky outcropping where the path doubled back on itself. "It does make a lovely blanket."

Loki watched until she was well out of the way and then navigated the narrow turn himself. "It also has a number of insulation spells on it. One to keep out the cold, another for heat. It repels water as well."

"My, you've thought of everything."

"Well, I am a warrior. And a Master Sorcerer. I can hardly go into battle wearing plain old wool. Wouldn't be prudent."

"Too bad it doesn't also make you stab-proof," she replied with a smile in her voice.

"Yes, well, there are limits even to my abilities."

She chuckled. "I suppose I shouldn't complain. If your cloak were stab-proof I wouldn't have had the pleasure of nursing you back to health."

Loki stopped dead in his tracks. "You are a bit macabre, you know that?"

She flashed him a grin and then slipped on the hard-packed dirt and went down on one knee.

By the time he caught up with her, she was on her feet again, dusting off her pant leg.

"By the Fates, woman, I know I'm handsome, but do try to keep your eyes on the path. It's a long way down if you fall, and I'm not nearly as talented at healing magic as you are."

"I'm fine, Loki. I wasn't even looking at you when I fell."

He grunted. "That is not at all reassuring. Also, just a bit rude."

"You are outrageously handsome." She smiled up at him. "Is that better?"

"Marginally."

Her arms snuck out of the cloak and curled around his waist. "Would you like to kiss me on a treacherous mountain path in the dead of night?"

"I would, but there will be no one to appreciate my looks if you fall off this mountain. Especially if you take me with you." He smirked, "So, try not to swoon, then, hm?"

"I will do my best," she replied gravely.

Kissing Eira on an icy desert mountainside was a great deal more stimulating than he'd expected. Her lips and cheeks were cold and her tongue very hot. He'd long since adjusted to the temperature, so the heat of her body was almost searing. She folded the cloak around him and pressed herself flat against his length.

"That was...terribly erotic," he mumbled a few minutes later, breaking away just enough to buss the icy skin of her cheek. "Now, kindly release me, you succubus."

She laughed and planted a lingering kiss on the end of his chin, but her arms fell away and Loki found himself once again embraced by the cold air.

"Come on, I think we're almost there." She turned and continued up the path with renewed vigor, torch spell bobbing along before her. "Yep. There's the arrowhead rock we could see from the bottom."

Loki looked up, following her gesture. There was indeed a very large, fluted triangular rock jutting out of the mountainside not far above them. The open sky was visible directly behind it, deep blue and speckled with stars.

Sure enough, a few minutes later, they reached the crest of the little mountain. Eira stopped so suddenly that he bumped into her from behind. Her soft gasp echoed on the night air.

The mountain range extended far into the distance, low peaks descending to a broad valley, beyond which the horizon stretched flat as an ocean. Half visible above that horizon loomed an enormous green planet, it's surface smeared with spiraling white clouds.

"Do you recognize that planet?" Loki asked.

Eira took a step back as though she would retreat from it--from the knowledge and from the planet itself. The movement brought her up hard against his chest.

Loki put his hands on her shoulders and found her trembling slightly. "It's Vanaheim," he murmured. "Your home."

Chapter Text

"I don't want to remember," she whispered. And then she pressed back against him as though she would sink directly into his body.

"I'm not asking you to." Loki settled his hands on her trembling shoulders. "Eira, relax."

Some of the tension left her, but there was still a hum of strong emotion moving through her frame. Loki was willing to bet she had remembered something.

The thought gave him conflicted feelings. He wanted to know her past, he could admit to that easily enough. But her lack of history put him at the very center of her world, which was a position he liked very much. If she remembered her family or a lover... but he didn't allow himself to entertain that thought, nor to acknowledge how selfish it was.

Instead, he pointed down into the valley, hoping to distract her from whatever memories were looming.

"Look there."

The light reflecting from Vanaheim cast the moon's surface in long, inky shadows, but he could see a series of buildings at the base of the mountain, connected by what looked like enormous greenhouses.

This was where the Vanir had undoubtedly begun--and abandoned--their terraforming work.

"What is that?" Eira took a step towards the edge of the peak on which they stood.

"Careful," he said, taking hold of her arm. The drop off was steep.

"Are those buildings?" she asked. "I can't see very well."

Apparently, his night vision was better than hers. Another benefit to his Jotun form. "Yes. The path is over there, see? We can make it down in another hour, I think. Maybe we'll even find a proper bed to sleep in."

"Good," she said, with obvious relief. "My nose feels like it's going to fall off."

"Put the hood up." He moved around her, towards the head of the path leading down to the valley. "I'm going first since my night vision is better."

"I don't need night vision," she countered, falling into step behind him. She sent her little torch spell up ahead as proof.

Loki started down the path, not bothering to look back. "Fine, I'm going first so that if you fall I can catch you."

Her footsteps were almost soundless as she followed. "So romantic."

Loki snorted. "Would you prefer to be the one to catch me?"

She didn't even hesitate. "I would love to catch you. But you would never deign to do anything so undignified as falling down."

Fighting a laugh, he replied dryly, "It's amazing how you manage to flatter and insult me simultaneously."

"I believe it's called flirting."

"Hah! Bit late for that, don't you think?"

"I'm making up for lost time."

"I see. Can I expect a proper courtship as well, since we're doing things in reverse?"

"Well, considering that you've already surrendered your virtue, I think we can skip the posies and hand-holding."

Loki tsked. "You mean don't want to hold my hand? How disappointing."

"I will gladly hold any part of your body you wish to extend to me," she replied silkily.

His laugh echoed roundly down into the valley below. "I'll remember that when we reach the bottom of this blasted mountain."

"Why wait? My hands are free right now."

He grinned into the dark, eyes trained on the path beneath his feet. "Tempting, but what I have in mind might compromise the safety of our descent just a bit."

"Not if I go first."

By the Norns, this new glibness was terribly charming. And arousing.

"Have I shocked you?" she asked curiously.

Fighting a chuckle, he made himself reply mildly, "Not at all. I was simply imaging you leading me down this mountainside by my cock."

"Oh. It sounds even better when you say it out loud."

The path had doubled back on itself and he took the opportunity to stop and look up at her. "If you're trying to antagonize me into molesting you on this freezing mountain, you should know you're fast approaching the point of success."

She paused just before the turn and her grin was illuminated brightly for a moment by the hovering torch spell. "If I was taller, I would suggest we do it standing up."

Biting back another laugh, Loki made a show of glaring repressively as she rounded the corner and came down onto the path beside him.

"Do you have any idea how uncomfortable it is to exert oneself in this manner while sporting an erection?" he demanded.

"I should think an erection would be rather difficult to maintain under these conditions." She brought the torch spell closer until it fully illuminated the front of his body. "Oh. But I guess that's not an issue for you. Do you want me to, erm...?" She held up her hands and wiggled her fingers suggestively.

"You are incorrigible."

Her eyes glittered with humor. "I suppose I am. I have to say, getting to know myself has turned out to be a very enjoyable endeavor."

"I certainly does have its perks," he drawled, turning to continue down the path.

"You think so, too? Do elaborate."

He paused to help her over a precarious outcropping of stone. "Fishing for compliments?"

"Absolutely." She took his proffered hand without hesitation and hopped neatly over the obstacle.

"Well," he thought about it as they continued down the steep incline. "Your breasts are exceptional."

"Hm. Are breasts considered a personal trait, though?"

"Oh, were you looking for a character reference?"

"I was hoping you would say something about my sparkling personality."

He chuckled. "'Sparkling' is one way of describing it."

"Thank you. I daresay I'm quite clever as well, don't you think?"

"Oh, certainly."

"And...?"

"Impish, apparently."

"Ooh, I like that."

"Brazen as well."

She giggled.

"I would even go so far as to say you are thoroughly tolerable."

She made a cheerful little hum of gratification. "You really do know how to flatter a lady."

Loki glanced back at her pointedly. "I'd like to flatter you right here in the dirt."

That got him a high, musical peal of laughter.

"Would it lower your opinion of me if I said, 'Yes, please'?" she rejoined.

He smirked. "Not at all."

"Well, then..." Her footsteps behind him stopped.

Loki turned. "What are you--?"

She was fiddling with the tie on her leggings.

"C'mere," she beckoned.

"Eira," he started, drifting back to her. "You are not undressing right now. You'll freeze to death."

"It's not that cold."

"You're shivering." 

The temperature had dropped considerably in the last hour. Loki pulled the cloak closed around her, but she continued to fuss with her leggings. "Eira stop. I was joking before. I'll make love to you when we get down to the shelter."

"Shh." She wiggled inside the cloak and then looked up at him with the hood shadowing her face. "Come here and warm me up."

The look in her eyes and the idea that she might be at least partially naked under the cloak drew him unwillingly closer. She let the heavy fabric open just enough to draw him inside it.

"Ooh, that's nice," she breathed into his chest, squeezing him with both arms.

And then she tucked the edges of the cloak into one hand, held in a fist behind his back, and drew her free hand to the front of his trousers.

"This is incredibly ill-advised," he said, body thrumming with anticipation as she opened the placket. "Also, your hand is freezing."

"Good thing you're Jotun." She stroked him slowly and he gasped. Her cold fingers were a shock, but not an unpleasant one.

In fact...

"Gods, that feels amazing," he rasped.

She started backing them towards the rocky face of the mountain behind her, looked over her shoulder, and stepped up onto a low rock. It put her almost on eye level with him.

"Hi," she smiled and lifted her face for a kiss, hand still working expertly on his cock.

Groaning, Loki bent to kiss her. Cold lips, hot mouth. Breath caressing his face in a steamy plume.

She tucked the edges of the cloak into the back of his pants and then brought her other hand around between them.

Loki broke from her mouth when he felt her bare belly against his cock. "What the hell are you doing?"

"Shhh," she repeated, holding his shaft and lifting herself on her toes, hips jutting against him.

Loki heard himself issue a harsh, guttural groan as the head of his cock sank past crisp pubic curls and silky flesh, directly into the flexing mouth of her sex.

By Valhalla, her pussy was so hot!

"How in the name of all the Fates am I inside you right now?" he moaned.

"You're not very far in," she said in a strained voice. "Perhaps you could...?"

Loki took hold of her hips and thrust upward until he was grinding against her mons. Eira cried out and tightened around him, gripping his shoulders with both hands.

"There," she whispered shakily. "That's deep."

And then she started moving.

Loki cursed. "Eira, this is madne--Ah! Sweet Allmother--!"

She was bearing down, sheath of her sex clutching him from base to tip. The sound she made when he started thrusting into that tightness made his head swim.

Sexual aggression swamped him, driving out reason, concern.

If she wanted to be fucked in the dark on a dry, frozen mountainside, then Loki would fuck her.

It didn't take long. Something about the cold and her heat drove him to the edge in just a few short minutes. It was wildly erotic to be ridden in this position too, with the only skin-to-skin contact being his cock and the wet sheath of her sex. The angle made her tighter as well, he realized, looking down into the little cave the cloak created. She had to keep her hips thrust forward to take him, and their movement consisted of only a shallow sort of rocking, bodies pushing gently forward and then back, thighs bumping. He could just make out his shaft between them, peeking under the bunched hem of her tunic. He was so hard that his cock didn't move at all under their thrusts.

"Stay still," she whispered. "Let me do it."

When he complied, Eira moved herself faster on him, gripping his waist with both hands. The cloak came unhitched and cold air rushed in. Eira grabbed it and held it around him, pressing herself to the front of his body by necessity.

The sensation of her torso undulating against him as she worked herself on his cock was so erotic that he gritted his teeth and growled, "Come now. I'm not going to last much longer."

Eira shook her head, gasping, "Not yet."

He pushed her hips back and brought one hand to her sex as the orgasm gathered, rubbing her clit with his thumb.

The cloak fell open again but she made no move to retrieve it. Her head was tilted back, eyes half closed, chest heaving. Little white puffs of breath issued from her open mouth.

Loki kissed her as the pleasure raced up his spine and burst along the length of his cock.

"Coming," he growled, bucking against her.

She tightened, whimpered, rode him so hard he had to widen his stance a bit to keep from losing his balance.

His cock had just released its final spurt when she cried out and stiffened in his arms.

Gritting his teeth, Loki fucked her straight through the spasms, still rubbing her clit, holding his arm around her waist to steady her.

She cried his name and shook all over.

"You are so sweet," he whispered, pulling her closer and biting her earlobe. "Coming in my arms. Trembling like that. Say my name again."

Eira shuddered and softened. "Loki..."

"Mmm." He suckled her lobe the way she'd done to him earlier, gave her a little thrust. "Feel that? Still hard."

She moaned into his neck.

"When we get to the bottom I'm going to bend you over the first table we find and fuck you from behind."

"Oh..." she breathed. "That sounds nice."

"It won't be," he growled. "Because I'm not going to be gentle."

She shuddered again. "Even better."

Loki bit her neck and sucked the flesh into his mouth until she whimpered.

"Rope," she whispered.

He pulled back. "What?"

Her eyes were wide and dark, gleaming with erotic intent. "We need rope."

Not quite believing his ears, Loki stood very still and waited.

And then she murmured darkly, "I want you to tie me."

Chapter Text

The temperature had dropped so much by the time they reached the valley that Eira's teeth were chattering and she was shivering so hard she began to stumble on the path.

It was a short enough walk to the nearest greenhouse structure, but it was well below zero and Loki didn't want to risk any more time in the cold. He scooped Eira up and carried her the rest of the way in long, purposeful strides. The earth here was flat and dry--hard-packed like the mountain path instead of soft and sandy as it had been on the cave-side.

"We shouldn't have dallied," he grumbled. "That was idiotic."

"It was w-wonderful," she said into his neck, muffled by the hood. "I'd d-do it again in a h-heartbeat."

"Shut up," he ordered.

"I l-like it when you're bossy."

Loki smiled despite himself.

The first greenhouse structure was enormous--big enough to house fully grown trees of nearly any variety--though many of its cloudy panels were missing or broken.

There was no door on the side where they approached, so he walked along the panels until he found one with a crack in it.

Eira jumped when he kicked it in. It made a sound like an iceberg cracking; the glass was thick, crystalline in structure. He'd seen the technology before. The panels were powered using Seidr so the sunlight could be filtered to specific parameters.

He stepped inside with Eira's torch spell trailing behind him.

The woman in his arms lifted her head and gave a soft, regretful, "Oh."

Inside the towering structure, the earth had been tilled and planted. The corpses of hundreds of trees stood like skeletons in long rows, their branches dark and leafless.

It was warmer inside, though not by much. Eira wiggled in his arms and he put her down.

"I w-wonder why they all died," she murmured. Her hand slipped into his, fingers still icy even to his Jotun flesh.

"The soil must be barren. Even with Sorcery, they couldn't sustain anything if the earth itself is sterile."

She nodded, gazing up at the branches above them.

"You're still shivering. Let me carry you."

"I'm fine. Besides, your body temperature is like fifty degrees right now. Walking will warm me up faster." She gestured toward the opposite end of the building. "Let's go find a way inside."

Grudgingly, he let it go and they walked together between two of the rows. Eria's hand warmed slowly in his. By the time they reached the wide double doors on the opposite wall, she wasn't shivering any more.

"Please let it be unlocked," she muttered.

"It doesn't matter either way."

"No? You going to kick it down?"

"No need." Loki released her hand and strode up to the doors. They slid open the moment he touched the panel.

"Is there still power?" Eira exclaimed.

As if in answer, the lights in the hallway beyond flickered laboriously on.

"Must be solar." Loki stepped into the broad passage and looked both ways. "Three doors," he said. "Judging by the view from up the mountain, that one--" he pointed to the door at the end of the long hallway, "--leads to another greenhouse. One of these others ought to be the entrance to living quarters." He looked back at Eira. "Shall we split up?"

She tilted her head to one side. "What if one of us finds a table?"

It took him a moment to figure out what the hell she was talking about.

Cheeky woman.

"Eira, you need rest. You're recovering from hypothermia."

"You promised, though."

He fought not to smile. "I most certainly did not. I threatened."

"You can't renege on it now, Loki. I really had my hopes up," she said reasonably.

"I can't renege because I made no promise," he returned easily. "We'll make use of a table tomorrow."

She gave a deep, martyred sigh and followed him into the building.

"Which one?" he asked, having decided arbitrarily that they wouldn't split up after all.

Eira didn't question it. She took his hand again and pointed to the door on the left.

It opened into a large storage room with shelves and shelves of wooden crates, each one labeled in the language of Vanaheim.

"They're seeds," she said, looking at the nearest shelf.

"Hmm. Best try the other door then."

Sure enough, the second door led to a series of underground living quarters cut directly into the earth and lined with smooth grey stone. There were four units, each one branching from a large central room with a kitchen, dining area and lounge, clearly designed to accommodate several families. Affluent ones, if he wasn't mistaken. The units themselves had generous living spaces and several bedrooms apiece. Everything was furnished simply enough, though with quite luxurious materials, and in typical Vanir style--similar to Asgard, but with softer, earthier tones: greens and browns, copper and bronze metalwork, polished wooden bed frames and couches with silk upholstered cushions, heavy embroidered blankets with rich forest imagery.

"Where are the bathrooms?" Eira wondered, after they'd toured the second unit.

"Good question."

They went back to the kitchens and found another sliding panel in the floor that led down into a startlingly elaborate community bath. The broad rectangular pool was lined with brightly painted tiles and the ceiling had been carved into a series of graceful arches, each one decorated with more tiles.

"Well, this is decadent." Eira bent to test the water. "It's warm!"

"Must be spring-fed. That or they hooked it up to the greenhouse system and they've been piping in solar heat. Toilets are over here." He pointed to another panel. "Seems we have no need to return to the cave, hm?"

Straightening, she smiled at him brightly. "Fancy a bath?"

Without waiting for an answer, she started stripping, hanging his cloak and her tunic on the hooks set into the wall beside the entrance.

Loki watched her peel off the leggings with a combination of lust and reluctance. The lights in the metal wall sconces were soft and warm, which made her skin glow a rich, golden hue.

"If I get into the bath with you, there will be more than bathing," he warned.

Her only response to that was a smile. "Do you think there's some soap around here somewhere?"

He tore his gaze away from her delicious body and turned to scan the room. There were several showers on the wall to the right of the pool. Beneath each spout was a small shelf.

"Here," he said, crossing to the showers. Two of the shelves held partially used bars of soap. Loki turned one of the taps and then moved aside as water gushed from the spout above.

"It's warm," he said, letting the water splash off his fingers.

Eira appeared beside him and stepped under the spray. He watched for a while as she let the water sluice over her head and down her back, sighing happily. He'd never really gotten a look at her body in full light, so he took his time with it.

He hadn't been exaggerating when he'd said her breasts were exceptional. They were firm and perfectly formed: very round and gently upturned. Soft, slightly puffy nipples that only protruded when touched or suckled. And the color drove him wild, for some reason. Her areolas were almost exactly the same color as her skin, but the very tips of her nipples were ever-so-slightly pink. Every time he looked at them he wanted to suck them--to bite and pull and generally abuse the tender little things.

No woman had ever inspired such aggression in him. It puzzled him, though not unduly. Perhaps it was because of her size. She was quite petite compared to most Aesir women--Vanir, too--though not outrageously so. There was an elegant sort of symmetry to her limbs that many women lacked, though. An exquisite balance between feminine softness and athleticism. She could stand to put on a few pounds--her ribs stood out a bit and her collar bones, too--but even so, her hips and thighs retained a subtle softness that made his mouth water. And her ass...Gods. Sweet little upside-down heart. Firm and smooth.

With a week or two of proper diet, she would be positively maddening to look at. Even better to touch. Just thinking about it made his blood pressure rise.

Every now and then he thought about how they must look together--this gorgeous, coppery little Goddess and he, with his blue skin and crimson eyes.

But she looked at him like he was beautiful. Touched him like she couldn't get enough, Jotun markings and all. He was actually starting to believe this form was beautiful. Then again, if she liked him as a Jotun, he couldn't help thinking that she would come to want his Aesir form even more.

And for some reason, that made him not want to change back. He didn't want her to prefer white skin to blue. Was that crazy? Stupid? The sight of his body--his fingers, his cock, his hips thrust against her--had become a special sort of pleasure.

Blue against copper, Jotun to Vanir, monster and Goddess--the contrast made him wild.

Perhaps he was developing some sort of fetish. That would explain the insatiable, overpowering quality of his need for her.

Then again, he also wanted to kiss her and hold her hand and cuddle her mercilessly--none of which were entirely sexual urges, he'd begun to realize.

If he could have gone more than ten minutes without succumbing to the sexual fever that hovered between them, he might have had a chance to process the fact that he was half in love with her already.

Maybe more than half.

Eira picked up the soap then and turned to him with her hair slicked back and little beads of moisture clinging to her eyelashes. "Wash me?"

He growled. "You know where this leads."

"Yes, I do." She looked down at the front of his trousers. "We're halfway there already."

"I told you. Tomorrow."

"I'm perfectly fine," she said, smiling. "I promise. You could use some rest though."

"Oh, really? And yet here you are playing seductress."

"I said you need rest, not that you're too depleted for sex. The cold seems to have been some benefit to your system. You're perfectly capable of making love to me again." She held out the soap to him.

"I know I am," he drawled, taking the bar from her. Then he leaned one shoulder against the wall and gave her a smug look. "But I haven't got any rope."

She surprised him by flushing a little bit, but her green-brown gaze remained direct. "You're strong enough to hold my wrists in one hand."

His body pulsed with need. Blasted woman. One day of making love to her and he was already addicted.

"Not here," he growled. "I want you in a bed."

"Don't forget about the table."

Loki started stripping. "Believe me, I won't."

Chapter Text

 

It felt good to be clean. The plants they'd used to bathe in the cave had been fairly effective, but real soap was a treasure by comparison.

After their bath--and a brief but titillating episode of touching and kissing in the big pool--they went upstairs naked and found the biggest, most luxurious bedroom in the bunker.

Loki stretched out on the rich green coverlet and watched Eira rifle through the closet.

"They left all their clothes," she said, pulling out a simple brown dress with a braided green bodice and long, cream-colored sleeves. "Do you think they meant to come back?"

"I doubt it. They probably had weight limits on the return trip. Whoever lived here was low-level aristocracy anyway--undoubtedly the head of the terraforming project. They wouldn't mourn the loss of a few dresses and such."

"There's some men's clothing as well. Looks like they should fit you..." She rustled around in the closet some more and reappeared with a pair of soft brown leather trousers and a plain white shirt. "Well, the shirts will. The trousers might be a bit short." She eyed his naked legs up and down. "Maybe a little loose in the waist, too."

Loki tucked his hands behind his head and crossed his ankles. "The other rooms might have something better. They'd have recruited a few farming families to do the heavy lifting around here. Probably had at least a few big, strapping peasants on site."

She put the clothing back and crossed to the vanity opposite the bed, perching on the small cushioned stool. "There's not even dust on anything. They might have left here yesterday, by the look of this place."

"Preservation spells," he murmured, admiring the curve of her naked back. "They'd have used them to protect the place from the weather and the dirt." 

Her hair had begun to curl as it dried. It hung in rich bronze waves against her shoulder blades. It was an ongoing pleasure to see her in proper lighting. Her coloring really was extraordinary. 

"Ah," she said softly. She'd begun opening the little drawers in the vanity, pulling out a number of typical feminine items. Hairpins and various lotions. She turned with a wide ivory comb in her hand. "Shall I brush your hair?"

"Mmm. If you like."

She rose and crossed to the bed as Loki sat up, climbing onto the mattress behind him.

The gentle tugging and the scrape of the comb against his scalp was delightful. Loki found himself turning into melted butter as she worked the tangles from his hair.

She kept on combing long after the tangles were gone.

"Do you think they left any food?" she asked, having abandoned the comb in favor of running her fingers through his damp curls.

"Mmm...probably."

He felt her lips on the back of his shoulder, and then the base of his neck, nuzzling through his hair. "I would kill for something other than fish and cactus roots," she murmured, pressing closer.

Loki reached back blindly for her hand and drew it around to the front of his body. "This first," he said huskily, molding her fingers to his cock.

Eira flattened her breasts against his back and curled her other arm around his waist, slender thighs bracketing his hips. "Are you hard from having your hair combed?" she asked playfully.

"I've been hard since the bath and you know it," he growled. She'd been admiring it on and off the whole time.

The little sound of pleasure she issued against the back of his neck made him shiver. "How do you want me?"

"Bound and helpless," he growled, turning to pin her roughly against the pillows. "But since we haven't any rope yet, and I'm not prepared to go looking for some right now, we'll have a game." Then he pushed her legs up and thrust unceremoniously inside.

Eira made a sound--half yelp and half gasp. It made his blood boil and his cock jump hard inside her.

"Quiet,"  he commanded.

Her eyes widened.

"Not a sound," he continued darkly. "No moaning, or whimpering. Not. A. Peep."

Her gaze darkened in understanding.

This was the game. And since Eira was quite vocal, it would be a difficult one for her to win.

Loki planned to make it very difficult, indeed.

With that in mind, he pushed deep, until she shuddered and tensed around him. 

"You may gasp," he said, "A long as there is no vocalization." 

The breath left her in a loud, shaky gush, but she nodded.

"Good," he crooned, bending to her, "Give me your mouth."

She lifted her head and opened for him, gasping around his tongue as he began to thrust.

Loki held her legs up and to the side with one hand behind her knees. With the other hand he grasped her breast and held on, pumping forcefully.

After about half a dozen thrusts, he paused to wedge himself deep, rooting for the mouth of her womb.

Mouth closed, teeth clenched, Eira gave a soft, muffled whimper.

He pulled out immediately and her lips parted on a gush of breath. "Loki--" she protested.

"Quiet," he snapped, releasing her breast to stroke himself roughly, holding his cock over her sex so he could look at the swollen lips while he touched himself. "You get one more chance."

Her expression was agonized, but she kept quiet. Her head fell to one side.

"No," he growled. "Watch me."

Luminous green-brown eyes focused reluctantly on his moving hand.

"Can you see how wet I am?" he asked darkly. "My cock is slick from you."

Her throat worked silently as she fought not to moan.

"Are you going to be quiet?" he asked. "Or shall I make myself come like this?"

She shook her head vehemently.

"Say it. 'I won't make another sound, Loki.' Just like that."

"I won't make another sound, Loki," she whispered, eyes glazed with hunger.

Loki pushed back inside and started pumping again, nice and hard, watching her face. She licked her lips, then bit them anxiously, eyes nearly closed, brow furrowed with focus.

He rode her like that for a long time, alternating between aggression and tenderness, rough and them teasing, working her into a frenzy.

She managed to remain silent for much longer than he'd expected, though her soughing breaths became more and more ragged.

But he wasn't done with her yet.

"So good," he breathed, tucking her knees over his shoulder and holding her thighs against his chest. "I'm going to come soon."

Her pussy tightened.

"Gods, you're so wet. You like this game, hm?" He bent and nipped her breast, bending her double in the process.

The angle made her gasp and stiffen.

"Does that hurt?" he asked wickedly, thrusting harder, hitting bottom.

She nodded once, eyes squeezed shut.

"Shall I stop?"

Immediately, she shook her head.

"Mmm. Good girl. You're starting to flutter inside. Are you going to come?"

Again, she nodded.

"Not until I say, alright? I want to come with your orgasm milking my cock."

Eyes still closed, she nodded.

Then, as the pleasure gathered, Loki proceeded to feed her a long, erotic description of how her pussy felt around him, how sweet her little body was folded up beneath him. How hot she was and how he wanted to make her come.

Spoken in a low, silky growl, the words made her wild--just as he knew they would.

As his orgasm began to coalesce into a pulsing burn, she let loose a soft, helpless whine--well, Loki tore it from her with a series of punishing thrusts.

When he pulled out she gave a tiny sob of frustration.

"You broke your promise," he growled. "And I was right on the edge. No orgasm for you, I think. How's that for punishment?"

He expected a pleading look--maybe even another whimper--but she glared at him.

Just try and stop me, that look said.

His cock twitched hungrily against the lips of her sex.

Time to up the ante. 

Loki gave her a heavy-lidded stare of challenge. "How shall I finish myself off, hm? Between your breasts? In your mouth?"

Still glaring, she waited.

"Perhaps I should sample a different orifice this time," he murmured.

Her eyes widened a fraction.

"No? You don't want my cock in your ass?"

Eira swallowed loudly, said nothing.

"Undecided, then." He grinned. "I suppose you don't remember if you've ever been penetrated there before. It can be quite pleasurable for a lady if done correctly. It can also be very painful."

Her glare subsided into a mistrustful pout.

"I want to come inside you," he went on, ignoring the pout. "I can fuck you that way without making you come, I feel quite certain."

"Loki..."

"I did not give you permission to speak," he snapped.

Her teeth clicked together, cheeks flushing.

Gods, this was a delightful game. He put his fingers between her legs, slipped one digit inside.

"Still wet," he crooned. "Even wetter than before, actually. You're enjoying this."

She glared, but her thighs flexed together, pussy tightening on his finger.

"I can turn you over and spend in your ass," he said, "Or I can fuck your mouth. Your choice." He let go of her legs and sat back on his heels. "If you make it good for me, I might let you please yourself on my fingers afterward."

Eira set her feet on the mattress beside his hip and lay there glaring up at him with narrowed eyes.

Loki openly admired her breasts and belly while he waited. The bruises he'd left the day before were nearly gone--nothing more than faint yellow shadows on her coppery skin.

He would have to give her more, he decided.

"You have 30 seconds to choose," he prompted, "Or I'm going to finish myself off with my hand and leave you to your own devices."

To his surprise, she turned over onto her belly.

By the Allfathers, this woman was going to kill him!

Releasing his breath in a loud gush, Loki crawled up her body and straddled her ass, bending down to press his face into her hair.

"You wicked little monster," he groaned, resting a good deal of his weight on her. "You called my bluff."

She looked back over her shoulder in surprise.

"You win," he mumbled into her hair, pleased and disappointed at once.

"You're not going to do it?" she asked huskily.

"I can't take you that way without considerable lubrication," he explained. "I was only teasing."

She sighed and dropped her head to the mattress. "That was mean."

"And terribly fun," he added. "Did you really want me to do it?"

"I just want you inside me," she replied in that same husky tone. "I don't care where."

Bloody hell. Now those were words a man could get used to hearing.

"I really thought you would choose to suck me." He nudged his cock into the crease of her ass and rocked gently. "But I would like to fuck you here."

For some reason, the thought of having access to every orifice in her body filled him with a ferocious sort of possessiveness. Also, intense lust. He wasn't particularly partial to anal sex--nor opposed to it--but he wanted Eira in every way that he could possibly have her.

She shivered a little beneath him. "Add it to the list, then."

"What list?" he asked, licking her neck and rubbing the tip of his cock against the puckered little mouth of her anus.

"Item one: over the table. Item two: bondage. Item three..."

Loki chuckled. "I guess we do have a list." He lifted himself a bit and guided his cock between her legs.

Eira gave a surprised little squeak as he penetrated. She was so wet her sex seemed to draw him directly in.

"I thought--" she broke off on a low moan. He'd seated himself to the hilt.

"You won our little game," he said. "Now you tell me what you want."

Her answer was immediate and wonderfully decisive.

"Fast," she breathed. "Hard. Bite me. And don't be gentle."

Gratified--and more than a little enamored of the woman burning like small sun beneath him--Loki enthusiastically complied.

Chapter Text

 

They found a considerable store of food in a larder panel in the kitchen. The larder itself had been sealed with exceptional preservation spells, so the sacks of grain and flour, crates of vegetables, dried fruits and meats were perfectly fresh.

There was even wine.

"There's enough food here to last us a year," Loki exclaimed as Eira set about lighting the heavy steel stove.

"I find it difficult to believe they would leave all this here without intending to return," she said, taking the paper-wrapped bundle of meat he handed to her.

Loki chose a pair of plump green squash, a fat onion, and a bottle of wine. "It is a bit strange." He set the vegetables on the white stone counter beside the stove and started opening cabinets, looking for a cutting board. "Terraforming work is usually done in stages over the course of several decades. Perhaps the families working here were on a rotation and the project was canceled between phases."

"That makes sense." She pulled a large iron skillet out of a low cabinet and set it over the lit burner. "Did you see any oil in there? Or butter?"

Loki's stomach growled. "I'll look again." He went back to the larder, adding, "As much as I enjoy the view, you should probably put something on before you start cooking that or you're likely to burn yourself."

Eira looked up with the slab of raw meat in her hand. She was still naked. They both were.

There wasn't any pressing reason to dress, after all. They were alone, and the temperature inside the bunker was perfectly regulated.

"I saw an apron hanging on the door in the pantry there," she pointed.

Loki handed her a small tin of butter, retrieved the apron, and then looped the strap over her head and tied the ties for her as she set the meat into the pan.

He was still standing behind her, shaping her little waist with both hands and admiring the curves of her ass when she said, "Will you cut the vegetables?"

"Of course," he murmured, bending to kiss her shoulder.

The easy domesticity with which the evening progressed was unexpectedly comfortable for Loki. Cooking, eating, retiring to the big bed, falling asleep with Eira curled against the front of his body... It should have been strange. Awkward.

It wasn't.

He'd never lived with a woman this way. Never shared domestic tasks. In fact, he'd never shared anything with a lover before, besides his body, and occasionally his bed. He'd never wanted to.

It occurred to him briefly that this fact might have some import--that his pleasure in sharing everything with Eira might represent some deeper emotional significance than simply lust, but of course he didn't pursue the thought.

He did, however, settle firmly into the knowledge that whatever happened--however they manage to get off this moon, and wherever they might end up after--he had no intention whatsoever of letting Eira go.

... ... ...

Their first full day in the bunker was one he would remember vividly for the rest of his life.

It started with a lazy bout of lovemaking that began and ended before either party had fully awakened.

Loki simply rolled toward her and pulled her beneath him, drawn by the silky heat of her body. Her legs parted and his morning erection seemed to find entrance of its own accord. With his face tucked into the crook of her neck and his weight pressing her into the mattress, he completed the act in a series of rocking thrusts that brought them both to a slow, shuddering orgasm.

Afterwards, he dropped off to sleep again with Eria's fingers in his hair and her breath tickling his ear.

A few hours later he climbed out of bed and found her sitting naked at the big dining table, drinking a mug of tea and reading another book about agriculture.

"Didn't they bring books on any other subjects?" he asked, stealing a sip from her mug.

"There were some children's books, too," she replied. "And history books. But I wanted to read about Eirflower."

Loki perched himself on the edge of the table and her gaze slid down his body. His cock immediately began to stir in response.

"And what did you learn?"

She looked away in an uncharacteristic show of avoidance. "Nothing important."

Loki didn't push it, though he did think the behavior strange.

"Have you eaten?"

Her gaze returned to him, lingering on his thighs and then his sex. "No."

"Would you like to do so before we take care of item one?"

Green-brown eyes rose slowly to his face.

"No."

There was a moment of silence and burgeoning sexual tension, and then he murmured, "Stand."

She licked her lips. Glanced again at his cock, which was standing up quite stiffly now.

Slowly, she stood.

"Lick your fingers."

Her brows rose a little in surprise, but she lifted her hand and licked the pads of her first three fingers.

"More," he said, watching with predatory interest.

She stuck the fingers in her mouth and sucked them a bit.

"Now touch yourself."

Swallowing audibly, she put her fingers between her legs.

He watched the slender digits slip into the hair there, and then between her little folds.

"Is it hard?" he asked softly.

Her answer was breathy and almost soundless. "What?"

"Your clit. Is it hard yet?"

Her lower lip disappeared between her teeth. She nodded.

"Were you waiting here at the table for me to come and fuck you?"

Her lip reappeared, mouth opening on a shudder of breath. "Yes."

Pleased, Loki began to stroke himself. "Do you remember what I told you?"

"Not gentle," she repeated, watching his hand.

Gods, this was going to be good.

"Put your fingers inside."

Eira widened her stance a little, hand delving between her thighs, belly flexing.

"Now, show me how wet you are," he growled.

The slender fingers she extended to him were glossy and slick.

That was it. He grabbed her arm and spun her so fast she cried out. An instant later he had her pinned face-down over the table, one azure hand splayed in the center of her back. The book fell to the floor, swept aside by her arm, small hand scrabbling for purchase on the broad oakwood surface. The mug skittered over the edge in the other direction and shattered on the floor as he kicked her legs apart and positioned himself against the lips of her sex.

"Say you love me," he commanded.

She tried to look back at him and he growled low in warning.

"I love you," she gasped, jerking hard as he thrust inside.

The words made him feel wild. 

He withdrew until he could see the edge of his glans peeking from the entrance to her body.

"Again," he demanded.

"I l-love you," she whimpered.

Loki thrust so hard she sobbed and scraped her nails on the table. The impact of his hips rang loudly in the room. He pulled back and watched the skin of her ass flower red where he'd made contact.

"Say it again," he rasped, cock pulsing.

This time she could barely form the syllables, but he drank them down anyway, and then he made her say it again, over and over, riding her so roughly that the heavy table began to jump across the floor.

The first time she came he bit her shoulder and rode it out in a punishing rush. A few minutes later, when she began to shake and clench again, he stopped moving and watched the mouth of her sex clutching at the base of his cock, holding her hips so she couldn't rock back into him.

After that, he decided to see how many times he could make her come before he reached his own end.

What he found--with a dark, animal sort of delight--was that there seemed to be no limit to the number of times he could bring her.

After the fourth, she began to beg.

"No more," she cried, back bowing, legs trembling.

He'd aborted his own orgasm half a dozen times already. His testicles had begun to ache, drawn tight to his body.

But he'd fallen into a reptilian haze, focused on her responses--every clench, every cry. The way her insides fluttered and gushed in response to certain angles and alterations in his rhythm. The sheen of sweat on her back and the way her spine rippled when the next orgasm began to break.

After the fifth time, she started trying to get away. Loki pinned her arms and sunk his teeth into the back of her neck. Rode her faster, battering her cervix and then shortening his thrusts so the head of his cock worried at that little pleasure spot just inside.

"Please," she gasped, bucking under him, pulling at his grip on her arms. "Loki, please!"

He growled roughly against her neck, hearing the animal sound as if from far away. He felt like an animal. And his prey was writhing deliciously beneath him, pussy tightening again, sucking him in.

"Come, please come!" she sobbed, words breaking up into ragged, meaningless little sounds as her body seized a sixth time.

Loki had read once that it was possible to drive a person mad with pleasure. Some small part of his mind was still lucid enough wonder which of them would go mad first.

Or perhaps the were both lost already.

When Eir came down from her sixth orgasm, she seemed to have lost the ability to speak, subsiding into a low, constant keening that filled him with enormous satisfaction. She'd stopped fighting too; her surrender was almost as sweet as her pleasure had been.

Despite his state of arousal, the violence drained away and he took his final pleasure in a tender haze, licking the marks where he'd bitten her and thrusting unhurriedly into her wetness.

At the very end he heard himself whisper, "Say it again," in a voiceless rasp.

She moaned very softly, "...love you..." and Loki bowed above her, white light bursting behind his eyelids, mouth open and gasping against the back of her shoulder as he poured his seed into her body.

She might have come again--her sex was almost painfully tight around his final thrusts--but he was so lost to it that later he would wonder if he hadn't blacked out.

When he could think again, he found himself on the floor with Eira collapsed on top of him, her hair in his face and their combined wetness tricking across his upper thigh.

She was completely limp, one leg trapped between his, cheek pressed to his upper chest, arms flung across his own. They were both still gasping.

By the Norns, he'd never had any woman so deeply and with such animal violence.

And she'd come from that! Over and over, she'd come! He could still feel her little pussy clutching hungrily at his cock.

Loki lifted himself on trembling arms and looked down.

"Eira," he managed hoarsely. "Are you alright?"

Her only response was a reedy little whine.

Perhaps he'd gone a bit too far...

"Look at me, sweetheart," he rasped.

She shook her head so minutely that he almost missed it.

Loki made himself sit up, holding her against his chest when she would have slid off. He lifted her, rearranging her carefully across his lap.

Her face was flushed, lips parted, hair damp and sticking to her cheeks.

"Open your eyes, love."

Her eyelids cracked a little, but her gaze was unfocused.

"Have I broken you?" He tried to make it sound playful, but his heart was pounding.

Her lips moved; no sound came out.

Loki put his ear to her mouth. "What was that?"

Two faint syllables formed in her throat.

"...killed me..."

And then her gaze focused laboriously on his face and her lips curved upwards at the corners.

His gushing sigh of relief ended on a low laugh. "I may have lost control of myself," he admitted. "Shall I begin apologizing profusely?"

Her head lolled a little in negation. "Kiss..." she breathed.

"You want a kiss?"

She managed a nod.

Amazed, swamped with unexpected gratitude, he kissed her with such care and tenderness that she hummed into his mouth.

"Good," she murmured when he let her go.

Loki stroked her back. "Yeah? You mean the sex or the kiss?

"You," she sighed, eyes slipping closed.

He chuckled. "You had me worried there for a minute."

"Mmm..."

"Would you like to go back to bed?" he asked. "Or perhaps a bath?"

She nodded.

"Which?"

"Bed," she whispered.

Loki rose carefully and carried her back to the room. She held on when he would have tucked her in.

"Cuddle," she demanded softly.

Loki's heart did a funny sort of two-step. Which was stupid; he'd cuddled her before countless times.

But she'd never asked him to, he reasoned. And certainly not in that melting, pleasure-drunk voice. So he followed her down amongst the blankets and folded himself around her.

"Just for a little while," she mumbled.

"For as long as you like," he replied gruffly.

She sighed. "Loki...Love you..."

And though he laid very still and said nothing, Loki's heart answered so loudly that he could no longer pretend it hadn't. 

Chapter Text

The rest of the morning passed in a languid haze.

Loki rose while Eira was napping and made them breakfast, returning with the tray so they could eat together in bed.

Afterward, he drew the covers back to examine her body, lingering over the marks he'd left. He'd bitten her half a dozen times, though he didn't remember them all. Her thighs were bruised where his thrusts had driven her against the table, too. And though the flesh was only red, she claimed her bottom ached as well.

"What about inside?" he asked, still touching the marks on her thighs. "Do you hurt there, too?"

She nodded. "In a good way, though."

Loki had mixed feelings about how roughly he'd used her. "You told me to stop."

"Did I?" She was kissing his chest, licking the Jotun marks below his collarbones. "I don't remember."

"You begged me, Eira."

"Hmmm. I just remember coming and coming til I thought I would die. And the sounds you made." She shivered a little. "I was afraid you would eat me."

He fingered his teeth marks on her shoulder. "I very nearly did, it seems."

Eira's mouth trailed up his is throat to his jaw. "I like it when you bite me."

Loki felt a low rush of arousal despite himself. "You get tighter when I do. It makes me crazy."

"Me too," she murmured. "And when you ride me so hard like that, and growl in my ear."

He chuckled. "And here I thought I'd taken advantage of you."

"Next time," she whispered, "When you tie me..."

"Yes?"

Her teeth grazed his chin. "I want to fight you."

That surprised him. "Oh?"

"Mm-hm. I might say no, and try to run. Is that okay?"

Loki though about how she'd struggled earlier. Her pleas and the way she'd writhed.

And then he thought about chasing her down, tying her forcefully. Knowing the whole time that she wanted it.

Taking her while she was helpless, immobilized.

"Gods," he groaned. "You'll drive me mad, Eira."

"Is that a yes?"

"Yes. By all the Gods, yes."

She made a happy sound and snuggled closer. "Did you know you get harder when I say 'I love you'?"

He stilled. "I...yes. I did know that."

"And you twitch inside me."

He closed his eyes and made himself breath evenly. "I suppose I do."

She touched his half-hard sex very lightly, fingertips trailing his length.

"Is it normal to be like this?" she asked quietly. "I can hardly think of anything else but having you inside me."

"No," he rasped. "I mean, it's... unusual."

"Is it bad, do you think?"

Loki pulled back to look into her face, but her eyes were downcast, looking at his body, or perhaps avoiding his gaze. Or both.

"Why would it be bad?"

She shrugged. "I never seem to be satisfied. Almost as soon as we've finished, I'm thinking about the next time." She did meet his gaze then, and her eyes were luminous, a little self-deprecating. "I might be obsessed."

Loki grinned. "That is...incredibly flattering."

She slapped his chest. "I'm serious."

"So am I."

Her lips quirked unwillingly.

"It's also mutual," he added.

"Yeah?"

"Mm. The Jotun call it 'eildr-ast.'"

"What's that?"

"Translates roughly to 'lust fever' or 'affection sickness.'"

He did not tell her that it was also their word for love. Frost Giants considered love a weakness and frowned upon personal attachments, especially romantic ones. Lust, however, was perfectly acceptable in Jotun culture.

Hence their only word for love was also their word for the intense sexual fever that sometimes results from genuinely romantic couplings.

"Lust fever, huh?" Eira touched his cock again, fingers circling the head in a feathery caress. "That seems pretty accurate."

And then, of course, she asked, "What's their word for love?"

Bloody hell.

"Ah...they don't have one."

"They don't have a word for love?" she exclaimed.

"Love is... not a championed concept in Jotun culture."

"How strange. A culture without love." Her hand left his cock and slid up to his chest. "Do the Aesir believe in love?"

Loki cleared his throat uncomfortably. "Yes."

She looked up at him. "And do you?"

The implications of the question froze him for a moment. "I'm... not sure what you're asking," he said warily.

She seemed to think about it. "I guess I'm asking if you identify more with your Jotun ancestry or the Aesir when it comes to love."

He told himself to answer lightly. To deflect. Hell, even an outright lie would be preferable to...

"I was raised Aesir," he replied, cursing himself silently. "I suppose that's answer enough."

Apparently sensing his discomfort, she smiled up at him. "I'm not hedging for any professions of romantic feeling, Loki. I just want to know how you tick."

And for some bloody, idiotic reason, he suddenly wanted to tell her. Not that he loved her--because he hadn't fully admitted it to himself yet--but that he wanted her. In his bed and out of it. He wanted her body and he wanted her company. Her affection.

By all the Fates, he wanted her love. Wanted it so fiercely that he'd made her say it a dozen times while he fucked her like an animal.

She had to know, right? She was too clever not to have noticed. Well, she would have to be an outright idiot not to.

While he was grappling with that, Eira's mouth drifted across his chest and found his left nipple. Loki jerked in surprise, thoughts scattering.

"Ooh, sensitive," she murmured, coming back for more.

"Eira--" he groaned. Gods, she was nibbling now, pulling the little protrusion with her teeth. How the hell could that feel so damned good?

"Eira, stop."

"Why?"

"Because--" he broke off when she started stroking him.

"Oh, that made you get hard fast," she murmured darkly.

"You're bruised," he groaned, holding her wrist to stop her hand. She switched to her other hand and started sucking his nipple again.

"You little fiend," he rasped. "I want you to rest at least a few hours before I take you again."

"I did rest."

"Not enough. You should heal a little more before I risk...brutalizing you again."

That gave her pause. "Loki, I can heal myself right now if that's what you want."

Why had that not occurred to him? "Yes. Dammit. Please do so."

The blankets were still folded back, so he had a clear view when she touched the bruises on her upper thighs. Golden light chased the angry marks away.

"Better?" she turned her face up to him.

"What about the bite marks?"

"I want to keep those."

Bloody hell.

"Did you heal yourself inside?" he managed to ask, fighting a surge of raw lust.

She nodded. "Though I rather enjoy feeling bruised from your cock."

"I do not mean to be that rough with you again today," Loki growled.

She pouted a little. "You liked hearing me say that, though. Your cock twitched."

"I like a lot of things." He sucked in a breath when her fingertip tickled the little opening at the end of his sex. "That doesn't mean I'm going to do them all to you every day."

"I guess you haven't realized how big your cock is," she replied, amused.

"I...beg your pardon?"

"You bruise me every time, Loki. Even when you're gentle. Why do you think it's so easy to make me come? You practically split me open."

He pulled back sharply. "Are you telling me I hurt you every time we make love?"

She grinned. "Only in the best possible way."

Digesting that--with decidedly mixed feelings--Loki frowned down at her.

"Why does that upset you?" she asked. "You hurt me on purpose half the time."

"Hurting you on purpose to increase your pleasure is very different from hurting you unintentionally and not even being aware that I'm doing it," he grated.

She smiled. "I like all the ways you hurt me."

"Did I hurt you this morning?" he demanded, "The first time, in the bed?" They'd never done it that gently before.

Eira nodded. "Just a little."

"How?"

"I told you, Loki, you're big. I'm small. You stretched me. And you hit my cervix at the end, when you were coming. You always do."

"It's because I don't prepare you," he grumbled. "We hardly ever engage in foreplay. You wouldn't feel stretched if I did it properly."

She took hold of his face. "You idiot man, listen to me. I like it. like feeling so full of you that I'm afraid I'm going to split. I like that you take me without warning or foreplay. I like that you hurt me when you're lost in your pleasure. In fact, I love it." She kissed him once, with tongue and teeth, and then pulled back to say, "I want you to do it right now."

Mollified and terribly aroused, Loki rolled her over and kneed her thighs apart. She opened and he wasted no time thrusting himself inside her wet-hot little channel.

Her sharp, gasping moan and was like music.

"Are you stretched?" he growled.

Her eyes were closed, mouth open. "Yes..."

Slowly, he began to thrust. "There's a bottle of oil on the nightstand," he said softly. He'd brought it from the kitchen with their breakfast.

Her eyes fluttered open. "Oil?"

"Mm-hm. For item number three."

Her eyes widened. "Now?"

Slowly, he shook his head. "When I have you tied, I think."

He thrust deep, until the head of his cock kissed her cervix. She gasped and her eyes rolled back just a little.

"I'm going to use you quite thoroughly," he explained. "My cock in every orifice."

She shuddered and tightened, rolling her hips into his thrusts. "Yes..."

He brought one of her legs up over his shoulder and started moving faster. "I made you come seven times today, counting this morning in bed. Or was it eight?"

"Don't know," she breathed.

"Last time, did you come at the very end, when I did?"

Eyes closed, she nodded.

"Eight then."

"N-nine," she whimpered, lifting her hips and clutching his waist.

"Mmm, that's so sweet." Loki pumped through the spasms, watching her face go slack with pleasure.

When she softened into the afterglow, Loki pulled out, cock standing up rigid and glossy as he sat back on his heels.

He waited for her eyes to open. When she looked up, he lifted one hand and drew on his seidr, conjuring the bundle of rope he'd found in the storage room that morning.

Eira's breath caught, eyes widening.

"Now," he growled, "Would be a good time to start running."

Chapter Text

Still flushed from her pleasure, pupils wildly dilated, Eira lay frozen for just a moment, looking at the rope in Loki's hand.

Then she rolled off the bed and darted away, bare feet almost silent on the stone floor. She was faster than he'd expected and wonderfully agile. But the chase was over in just a few short minutes.

He caught her at the base of the stairs leading into the bath and took her straight to the ground.

She panted and moaned even as she fought him, as though the act itself gave her pleasure.

It was much harder to bind her than he'd expected, too. Eira was stronger than she looked, and slippery as well. It was like trying to tie a wildcat--only she didn't claw or bite, thankfully. She simply writhed and twisted in his grip until he pinned her flat, using all his weight to keep her still.

Of course, once he had her pinned, he realized there was no way to bind her unless she cooperated, at least a bit. 

Or... 

"Cheater," she hissed when she found her hands held to the ground above her head by bands of unbreakable green light. 

Loki grinned. "I think you mean 'winner'."

And then he set about binding her legs up with the rope. 

Loki considered using seidr for the whole process but decided the rope would look much more erotic. And he didn't want to have to worry about accidentally releasing the spell while he was having his way with her. He wasn't at all sure he could maintain the proper concentration for spellwork while he was driving his cock into Eira's tight little body. 

Meanwhile, the Goddess herself was not at all defeated by the spell holding her wrists. She fought until the end, kicking her legs and twisting her torso right and left until he sat across her hips and bound her thighs together that way. After he'd done that, the rest was much easier. 

Loki was so hard by the time he had her done up with her thighs roped to her chest and her wrists tied behind her knees that he took her right there on the cold stone floor. He was utterly intoxicated by the sight of her and the sensation of power it gave him to mount her like that--to feel her little body folded up tight and motionless beneath him. 

It was fast--he only meant to take the edge off so that he could think clearly and take his time on the next round. 

She came anyway. Twice.

"Call me 'Laufeyson' if you want me to stop," he said after.

Still panting, she nodded.

"Say it now so you won't forget. 'Loki Laufeyson.'"

"Loki Laufeyson." She said it like a caress.

Satisfied, he carried her back up to the bedroom, where he positioned her on her back at the edge of the mattress.

He meant to tease her for a while. Oil her up. Prepare her for item three. But the sight of her lying there, eyes glazed with hunger and trepidation, panting like a frightened animal, pussy exposed and vividly pink...

He took her again, standing over her so he could watch those pink lips furling around his cock.

It was too bad the position hid her breasts, but she was so compact this way, and she couldn't defend her sex; he could position her any way he liked, take her from any angle. In any orifice.

Loki could feel himself slipping into that reptilian haze again, his consciousness narrowing, centered on Eira--on her body, her pleasure. On the insatiable throb of his cock.

He knelt beside the bed and used his thumbs to open her sex, licked the inner lips and circled her clit. His come was dripping out of her, trickling down over her ass. It lubricated his fingers and made the penetration effortless.

Eira whined and flexed against the ropes.

He took his time sucking her. Brought her right to the edge of orgasm and then stood, turned her onto her side and mounted her roughly.

When he didn't move for a few seconds, she began to squirm in frustration. And then he brought his wet fingers back to her sex and began to rub her.

"Loki..." she whimpered. "Fuck me."

"Hush. I'm going to bring you like this, just with my hand. I want to feel you milking me."

It took a little longer without his cock sawing inside her, but she came long and hard. Loki kept on rolling her clit under his fingers until she started the ascent to a second orgasm, and then he pulled out.

"That was good," he crooned. "You nearly made me come."

"What are you doing?"

He'd walked to the bedside table. "I think you know."

When he turned with the bottle of oil in his hand, she closed her eyes and shuddered.

Loki knelt again and took his time stretching her, working the oil up inside her body, sucking her sex a bit while his fingers pressed and pulled at the tight ring of flesh.

When she was ready he paused with his fingers still inside and put the first two fingers of his other hand into her pussy.

She jolted, cried out.

"Are you going to come?" he asked.

Eyes squeezed shut, she nodded.

Curling his fingers inside her--digits moving against each other through the flesh that separated the two channels--he leaned forward and sucked her clit into his mouth.

She bowed instantly and gave a hoarse, broken cry, both orifices clenching, clit jumping under his tongue. 

"That was gratifying," he said a few minutes later, standing to rub oil over the length of his cock. "Now I'm going to fuck you."

Eira's eyes rolled toward him, gleaming with apprehension.

"Are you frightened?"

Still flushed and gasping, she nodded.

He wanted to reassure her, but they were playing a game and to do so would break the unspoken rules.

"I promise you, Eira, you will come with my cock in your ass."

That was enough, it seemed. The apprehension in her gaze was joined by hunger.

Pleased, Loki pushed inside.

He made himself go slowly, but Gods it was good. She was almost unbearably tight, and every thrust made her spine bow.

Watching her ass swallow him like a hungry little mouth while she lay there bound and shaking undid him in only a handful of minutes.

He pushed his fingers into her sex and pumped both entrances in counterpoint until she screamed--actually screamed--with orgasm.

Loki let himself go then and started thrusting furiously into the sucking grip of her ass, climaxing just on the tail end of her pleasure, watching the base of his cock pulse wildly with each spurt.

Within minutes, he was hard again.

He took her back down to the bath and cleaned her up, leaving her propped at the edge of the pool when he was done. Still bound, she watched with a helpless, glazed expression while he washed himself.

And then he brought her into the water and held her cradled against his chest. Fucked her like that, slowly, with the water sloshing gently around them, lifting her up and down on his cock.

It lasted much longer this time. He'd brought the oil--which kept the water from making the penetration dry--and though he hadn't planned to, he'd taken her in both orifices before the episode was done. After she came with his cock in her pussy, he simply lifted her and brought her down again, working himself into her other entrance. 

The pleasure was incredible--incendiary--crackling up his spine and out through the tip of his cock.

Eira was limp afterward. Nearly as unresponsive as she had been after their episode in the kitchen.

He wanted to do it again, suddenly. To fuck her with that same violence. Wanted to ride her into another wild, orgasmic haze.

He was drunk, he realized. Utterly sexually intoxicated.

"You haven't called me Laufeyson," he said huskily, settling onto one of the underwater benches with Eira in his lap so that he could wash her again.

"Never," she mumbled, head lolling against his shoulder.

"I can go on like this all day," he warned. "If you don't say it I'm going to take you back up to the kitchen and find something delicious to lick off of you. Maybe honey? I might have you on the table again, or the counter. Possibly both."

She shivered. "Can you re-tie me?"

"Why, are the ropes hurting?"

"No." She wiggled her hands where they were trapped between her knees. "I miss your mouth on my breasts."

Loki cursed. "You are going to kill me, woman." But he slid his hand between her knees and her chest, cupping one breast and squeezing it.

"I love you," she said, rather unexpectedly.

Her eyes were still closed, but her lips were parted. Loki kissed her hungrily.

"You haven't fucked my mouth yet," she said when he broke away.

Loki growled, "I shall remedy that immediately."

He lifted her from his lap and set her on the bench where the water was shallowest, washed his straining cock, and then stood before her.

"I love you," she said again, looking at his renewed erection.

"Are you saying that because it makes me hard?" he demanded, stepping closer.

Eyes still trained on his sex, she nodded. "Also because it's true."

Loki took himself in hand. "Suck me."

She did--with mindless enthusiasm--allowing him to thrust into her open mouth. Drinking his come when he spilled in the back of her throat.

Looking up at him with love in her eyes.

It filled him with a soaring, hungry sort of joy.

Something had shifted inside him that day. First, when he demanded that she say the words--and when she'd compiled. And then again, when she'd let herself be bound.

Perhaps, with her healing gifts, she could see that every time she surrendered herself to him--and every time those three words fell from her lips--a little part of the burden he carried was chipped away: the pain, the grief, the shame and anger.

And though he failed to return the sentiment--in word or even in thought--she never seemed bereft. Never showed even a flicker of hurt.

Instead, she took him into her body in every way that she could. His fingers, his tongue, his cock. Wherever he wanted her. However he wanted her.

And each time she came, he felt like the king he'd given up believing he should be.

... ... ...

Loki made good on all his threats. He re-tied her with her arms behind her back and her legs splayed wide. Licked honey from every erogenous zone on her body. Sucked her breasts until the nipples were swollen and nearly raw.

He took her in the kitchen with her legs dangling over the edge of the counter. In the lounge, balanced on the back of one of the couches. On the staircase that led up to the greenhouse, growling fiercely and pressing her into the steps with his weight.

Gods, he felt like a rutting beast. The fever was unrelenting.

He carried her back to the kitchen and sat with her on his lap so he could feed her. Brought her to orgasm with his fingers between her legs while she ate little bits of dried fruit and honey from his other hand. Sucked her again until the lips of her sex were deep vermilion, swollen to nearly twice their normal size, clit like a bright red button, gleaming with his saliva. 

Then he fucked her on the table again--not as roughly as before, but with that same animalistic focus.

Finally, she began to beg.

No more, Loki. I can't come again. Please, no more

But she didn't call him Laufeyson, and when he asked, she turned her face away. 

He re-tied her a second time--rearranging her legs so that she could rest comfortably--and left her on one of the couches in the lounge for a while. Then he went to the kitchen to make them a proper meal. He took his time, returning an hour later with the tray of food. He found her asleep as he had left her, tucked on her side against the cushions, arms still folded behind her back, legs drawn up, ankles bound together so she couldn't get up and walk away.

Suddenly fiercely aroused again, he set the tray silently on the low table beside her and positioned himself over her. She woke a moment later to the sensation of his cock filling her in a thick, liquid glide. 

"Still wet," he breathed, thrusting slowly and palming her breast. "Dreaming of me?"

Eira moaned. "Loki..."

"Yes?" he purred, watching her back arch and her head tip back, eyes closed, throat working around a low whimper.

"Is that good?" he asked, when she didn't answer.

Her only response was a long, shuddering sigh.

"Do you know how delicious you look? I can't get enough of this, " he murmured, "Gods, you're so wet."

Eira keened almost soundlessly and Loki stretched himself over her, tucking his body against her, nuzzling her neck and cheek. 

"Kiss me," he commanded in a whisper.

Eira turned her face to him blindly. Loki latched onto her mouth and held it with voluptuous leisure, matching his kiss to the languid rhythm of his thrusts. 

He kept on kissing her until she began to squirm with impending orgasm and make soft, helpless noises into his mouth. Letting go, he turned to lick the marks on her shoulder and neck where he's bitten her, thrusts coming harder as her pussy began to constrict.

"Yes," he murmured. "One more time, Eira. Let me feel your sweet little pussy sucking me."

She made a strangled, desperate sound and bucked once, hips jerking, then subsided into a rash of quivering spasms as Loki bent her legs to her chest and plunged into his own orgasm.

"Laufeyson," she whispered afterward, when he'd tucked himself in behind her on the couch. "You win."

Loki kissed the back of her neck and curled his arms around her. "I thought you said 'never.'"

"Didn't know..." she mumbled. "...so many times..."

He chuckled. "I do have exceptional stamina. I think it's the Jotun blood."

"Insatiable," she whispered drowsily.

"Can you heal yourself now?" He touched one of her inflamed nipples and she twitched a the contact. "You must be aching."

She nodded and Loki set about untying her, then propped her up against his chest and watched her touch her own breasts and between her legs, healing the abused flesh in a matter of seconds. 

She gave a little sigh of relief when it was done. "Thank you."

"For untying you?" he asked, kissing her idly when her head dropped back onto his shoulder. 

"For everything," she murmured. "It was good. So good..." 

Immensely gratified, Loki kissed her again and she licked his mouth in a delightful, lazy sort of way.

"I brought you dinner," he said after. "But I think I'm going to put you to bed first, hm?"

Her eyes opened slowly. "Dinner time already?" 

"Mh-hm." He rose with her in his arms and headed for the bedroom. "We've been at this all day."

"Mmmm..." she hummed, turning her face into his shoulder. 

He put her in the bed and retrieved their dinner. Fed her until she could eat no more, and then set the tray on the floor beside the bed. When he slipped under the covers again, she pulled at him until he nestled close and began to kiss her. 

He thought it strange, but they lay tangled together for a very long time like that, simply kissing. Loki hadn't kissed anyone this way in ages--since he was a lanky pubescent boy. But he couldn't stop. Her mouth was so sweet, and soft, and she kissed like...like it gave her nourishment. Like his lips and tongue were made of ambrosia.

It was at this juncture--in a surprisingly gentle and unobtrusive moment of self-awareness--that Loki realized he was in love with the Goddess of healing. 

The feeling was there between them; a warm, swelling kind of fullness--an aching pleasure that had nothing at all to do with bodies.

When at last she had drifted off to sleep, he lay beside her in the bed for long, interminable minutes, turning this realization over in his mind--exploring the very sensation of it--with a blank sort of wonder.

It brought no anxiety, much to his surprise. No doubt. Not a shred of displeasure. 

It simply...was.

And, he decided, he would let it be. What had he to lose, after all?

In the morning, however, he would look back on this thought with an icy, bitter sort of irony. 

Because in the morning Eira was gone. 

Chapter Text

At first, he thought she must have ventured into one of the other wings of the bunker. He checked them all.

Nothing.

And then he figured she'd gone outside again for some reason. He put on a pair of ill-fitting leather trousers and went up into the greenhouse.

It was blazing hot, though the sun hung just above the horizon still. He could see it like a great, searing eye, distorted through the greenhouse panels.

The rows of skeletal trees were just as forlorn and abandoned as they had been before. The dry soil showed two sets of tracks leading up to the door where he stood--his and Eira's. There were no fresh footprints heading back out. She hadn't come this way at all.

Where the hell had she gone?

Retreating back into the bunker with a rising sense of anxiety, Loki checked the rooms again, and then the kitchen, the bath, calling her name the whole time.

And then he remembered the other buildings they'd seen from the mountain. Other greenhouses.

She must have gone exploring.

But where had she found access? He'd been all around the bunker and hadn't found it himself.

Dammit, Eira! Where the hell are you?

In the end he resorted to a seeing spell, casting seidr in every direction until it found her energy signature.

Except it didn't.

Drawing on far more power than he should have--enough to drain him considerably--he cast the spell all the way back to their little cave on the other side of the mountain.

Still, nothing.

She really was gone.

Loki stood in the central room of the bunker for several minutes, mind racing.

And then it hit him.

She'd been snuggled up to him in bed an hour ago. There was really only one way she could have disappeared so abruptly and without a trace.

Son of a bitch!

"HEIMDALL!" he bellowed.

It was stupid. He knew full well what he would be returning to. Odin's judgement. Imprisonment. Thor's self-righteous glory.

The gaping absence left by his mother.

Going back wouldn't guarantee that he could keep Eira, either. If they'd taken her, it was because someone on Vanaheim wanted her back. She was a goddess, after all. Royalty.

Someone loved her.

Even if Odin permitted Loki to see her--if they hadn't already returned her to Vanaheim--what could possibly come of it?

He was better off in exile.

Yet staying here alone suddenly seemed like a fate worse than death.

"Heimdall, you bastard! I know you can see me! Bring me back!"

But there was no response. No blast of rainbow energy. Nothing.

Nothing, nothing, nothing.

No Eira, no Frigga, no home. Just a barren moon and his own bedevilled company.

It was worse than any prison cell, he realized. Or better, from Odin's perspective. Because Loki could never escape, and needed no guard. He could receive no visitors, yet he had everything he required to go on living here for years.

Perhaps they would even send him supplies when he ran out. It would be simple enough.

He could live out the rest of his days on this abandoned rock without harming anyone ever again.

The realization made him so furious--so frantic--that he began to pace the bunker like a madman, tearing at his hair and cursing under his breath, grasping wildly for hope.

Eira wouldn't leave me here, would she? She would insist they bring me back.

No, that's stupid. Why would Odin agree to that? Just to appease a woman with no memories, who abandoned her people? A woman who'd been cavorting with the infamous God of Mischief, like a common whore--

No, they won't blame her for that, will they? She doesn't know what I am--not really.

And then the shock of painful realization.

Gods, they'll heal her won't they? Odin will undo the memory spell and send her back to Vanaheim. To whatever life she left behind.

It pierced his heart like the Kursed blade all over again.

She would know. Odin would tell her everything and she would... but she claimed to love him. And he believed it, in spite of himself. In spite of everything.

Would that just...go away when she regained her memories? Would she care about his past? About hers? Would she want to return to her home?

But none of that mattered a whit if Odin decided to leave Loki stranded here on this moon.

"Heimdall, please!" he cried, looking up helplessly at the blank stone ceiling. Not caring that he was begging. Not caring that his return to Asgard might result in even greater heartbreak.

Because he did love her. 

How long had they been here together? Two weeks? And they'd been making love for only three days.

Three days of her body, her tenderness, her cries of pleasure. Three pathetic little days, and he was in love. It wasn't just stupid--it was positively moronic.

But it was true.

The pain of her loss was proof enough.

"Heimdall," he said in utter defeat. "Please. Please. Don't leave me here like this."

Once again, there was no answer.

And there wouldn't be for three and a half more long, agonizing days.

... ... ...

When at last the bifrost plucked him from the bed where he and Eira had slept, Loki was stiff and cold with rage.

He hadn't slept or eaten since she'd been taken. For the first day and most of the second, he'd been angry, restless. Pacing, thinking. Cursing Odin. Cursing Heimdall. Cursing himself. Agonizing over what they would do with Eira. Wondering if she had already been sent back to Vanaheim. If he would see her again.

After that he'd settled into a stony kind of resignation, emotions hardening to an icy crust on his heart.

He arrived on Asgard in the same ill-fitting leather trousers and stood shirtless before Heimdall, Odin and a handful of his private guards.

Their red cloaks, golden armor, and the richness of the expansive observatory room were both familiar and a strange sort of shock after weeks in relative squalor. Everything seemed to glitter almost blindingly.

Only Heimdall--standing on the dias in his heavy bronze and gold armor with Odin and the bifrost sword beside him--failed to react to Loki's Jotun form. At the foot of the dias, between the two Gods and Loki, a few of the guards actually gasped. Odin's one eye widened visibly, though his craggy face remained otherwise still.

It was a wonder to Loki that he felt no shame standing before them all in his true form. But he didn't. Instead he felt viciously gratified by their discomfort. Especially Odin's.

Here I am, father. Your shameful secret come to light. How does it feel?

"Loki." The old man's voice echoed with authority. And something else. Was that... regret?

"Odin," Loki answered smoothly, though his voice rang with disdain. "So kind of you to fetch me back. I was beginning to think you had forgotten about me."

The Allfather regarded Loki silently for a moment, as though gauging his response.

"We believed you dead," he said finally.

"Dreadfully sorry to disappoint," Loki sneered.

Odin's one pale eye flickered with some emotion Loki couldn't place. "We know of your sacrifice on Svartalfheim."

Loki laughed bitterly. He didn't give a damn about Svartalfheim. "Where's Eira?"

The demand seemed to surprise Odin even more than Loki's Jotun form. Beside him, Heimdall's mouth quirked almost imperceptibly.

"She is here, in the palace."

Relief drained some of Loki's anger. Not all though. Not nearly.

"What have you done to her?"

Odin's brows lifted. "Done to her? I've done nothing. She is well and safe."

"And her memories?" Loki demanded.

"Her memories have been returned."

Loki cursed and surged forward a step. The guards tensed, hands to their weapons.

"She didn't want them back!" he snarled.

"Her wishes were unfortunately moot on that point," the old man replied levelly. "It was essential that we know what happened to her on Vanaheim."

Loki was shocked to find his eyes burning as rage and dismay chased themselves around his heart in an agonizing loop. "Why?" he spat. "What benefit was there to you in forcing her to remember? Some political gains in your relations with the Vanir?"

Odin's face remained still, but his blue eye sparked with anger. But still, there was that odd little ghost of something else. Not regret, but maybe...sadness?

"Perhaps you should speak with Lady Eir yourself on that count," the Allfather replied.

The thought of facing Eira now was horrible. Loki's heart seemed to shrink from the very prospect, and at the same time to ache--indeed, to burn--with longing.

"And how shall I accomplish that?" he hissed. "Will you send her to visit me in my cell?"

"There will be no cell, Loki. You will return to the palace."

Loki's anger faltered under a bright surge of shock. "What?"

"Your sentence has been commuted," Odin returned. "Asgard welcomes you home."

The words rang loudly in the room, heavy with import.

Stunned, Loki could only stare. He'd considered this possibility but... he hadn't really believed...

"We mourned you, my son," Odin continued more quietly. "Thor especially."

My son? Loki's heart seemed to expand and contract at once. It was a terribly painful sensation.

"When King Njord called for aid and Heimdall found you with Eir on Árvakr, the people of Asgard rejoiced. It has been our greatest wish to see you return home, Loki."

"Our?" Loki croaked, overwhelmed with conflicting emotions. King Njord...Asgard rejoiced...Our greatest wish...

Odin continued gravely, "You gave your life for Asgard. For your brother. That is no small sacrifice."

Loki swallowed and tried to muster his usual sass, but the words came out grave and subdued. "I did what I did for Frigga."

Odin nodded once, solemnly. "Your mother would have been proud."

To speak of her--and to hear Odin speak of her--made Loki's insides bristle with pain and resentment. He pushed that away.

"So that's it? You've forgiven me? Just like that?" It was difficult to believe.

Impossible to beleive, actually.

But Odin nodded again, just as solemnly. "Your place on Asgard is restored."

Loki's eyes narrowed. There was a very familiar sort of restraint in Odin's voice. Unspoken reservations. And the tension amongst his guards spoke loudly of their suspicion.

Forgiven he might be, Loki thought, but trust him they most certainly did not.

"Why did you wait so long to bring me back?"

Heimdall glanced at Odin briefly as the older man paused to gather his response.

That glance made Loki quite suspicious.

"Lady Eir needed time to recover, and I to decide what course of action best in regards to her well-being," Odin said finally.

Her well-being, huh?  Right .

"What harm could my return have done?" Loki turned his glare briefly to Heimdall. "You must have seen us on that moon together. Did you truly think me a danger to her?"

"It was not that we considered you a danger, Loki," Odin replied. "The girl was quite distraught when her memories returned--"

"When you forced them on her, you mean," Loki interrupted angrily.

Odin glared. "King Njord has demanded her return to Vanaheim. He plans to wed her to his son, Loki. His heir, Frey. Her memory wipe was quite suspicious. Would you have had me return her to him in such a vulnerable state?"

Loki was reeling. Eira was to be queen of the Vanir? And married to Frey?

Frey was Frigga's younger brother--a man reputed to harbor a very lasting grudge against the Aesir, since the Aesir-Vanir war nearly two thousand years ago. He'd been passionately against the truce that culminated in Frigga's marriage to Odin.

And now he would be king? With Eira as his queen?

No wonder Odin was hesitant to return Eira to Vanaheim. The implications for political relations between Vanaheim and Asgard were potentially quite serious if Frey took the throne.

Yet, they were even more so if Odin didn't return her.

The old man was most certainly orchestrating the situation to his--well, to Asgard's--benefit. Just what he might be planning--and what he had discovered with regards to Eira's memories--Loki had no idea. The thought that Odin placed Eira's well-being over the well-being of Aesir-Vanir relations, though, was laughable.

And, admittedly, understandable.

As much as Loki hated to admit it, Odin was a proper King. A good one, even. Leadership did require a certain ruthlessness, after all. A willingness to make sacrifices other people would shrink from...

But there was a much more pressing issue in Loki's mind than Odin's plans.

The question caught hard in his throat while he struggled to decide if he was prepared to hear the answer.

Odin and Heimdall both watched him with sharp, calculating eyes. The guards stood like statues, faces impassive.

Finally, he pushed the words out.

"Does Eria want to return to him?"

Chapter Text

 

 

Odin was true to his word. Loki’s sumptuous royal chambers had been made up for him, and he was free to roam the palace as he pleased, though there seemed to be thrice as many guards posted about the place as usual--and all of them watched Loki's movements with poorly disguised suspicion.

Freedom restored, indeed, Loki thought, though not with any great temper. They're poised to clap me in chains at the slightest provocation.

He was willing to bet he'd find himself under lock and key if he so much as glanced at a ship--or took a stroll to the Bifrost.

No way he was getting off the planet any time soon. Meanwhile, Thor had apparently gone off to travel the universe and sow his wild seed, or some such nonsense.

Well, Loki wasn't keen to leave anyway. At least, not until he'd spoken to Eira.

Odin had told him nothing of her desires--if she wanted to return to Vanaheim, if she wanted to see him. If she was happy here on Asgard.

The Allfather said only, “Ask her for yourself.”

And so, back home at last, forgiven, clothed once again in fine Asgardian style, waited upon hand and foot, Loki found himself adrift in the sudden change of circumstances and the feelings they aroused.

Instead of pleased, he was anxious. Instead of relieved, he was angry. Instead of confidence, he felt terribly, painfully vulnerable.

He didn’t wonder what she would say when he spoke to her--he couldn't even bring himself to entertain the possibilities. He had no idea what he would say. Everything he considered seemed awful. Clumsy. Humiliating.

Hello, Eira. I hear you've got your memories back. Do you still want me?

The mere thought made him cringe with shame.

And so he paced his rooms just as he had paced the bunker, finding little relief in the change of scenery.

And then he realized what a coward he was. Would he avoid her forever? She must be expecting him to come to her.

Suddenly galvanized, Loki left his rooms, cornered the first servant he saw and demanded to know the whereabouts of Lady Eira of Vanaheim.

The servant--a young girl in a chamber maid's attire--just barely managed not to shrink away from him in terror as she stuttered that the Lady had gone to the gardens, last she heard.

Steeling himself, Loki wasted no time.

He was walking along the path that edged the rose gardens five minutes later when he saw sunlight glinting in deep, burnished hair.

His heart seemed to stop. His feet did the same.

She was walking away from him, towards the very vine-choked arbor his mother had favored for an afternoon read.

She wore a dress of soft, pale green, trimmed in deep bronze satin with little bits of gold embroidery. Her hair had been styled in a simple crown of braids and decorated with small golden flower pins. He’d never seen it up before. The lines of her bare neck and shoulders above the wide neck of the gown brought back rushes of memory that scalded his consciousness. There were no bite marks on her. No little bruises where he'd sucked her flesh. No sign at all of what he'd given her on that lonely moon.

Yet his body certainly remembered. The fever came back to him in such a rush that it stole his breath. He'd somehow managed to forget how intense it was.

When she turned to sit her gaze caught on him instantly, standing half a dozen yards away at the top of the stone steps leading down to the garden.

For just a moment, her eyes held only mild curiosity, and Loki realized with a distant pang that she didn't recognize him. It shouldn't have been a surprise--he'd returned to his Aesir form before arriving at the palace--but it wounded him somehow, nonetheless.

And even as realization blossomed in her eyes that she did know him, Loki’s world was tilting wildy on its axis once again--because he hardly recognized the woman staring back at him.

The features were the same: the copper skin, the green-brown eyes, the rich, blazing hair. Even her shape under the dress was clearly familiar.

But the woman looking out of that face was a person he had never seen before.

If asked, he could not have described exactly what the difference was except to say that there was knowledge in that face. In the eyes. An awareness--a lack of innocence--that hadn't been there before. Indeed, there was a whole person in that look who had not been there before.

And that person didn't know him.

Oh, she remembered their time on the moon--what was it called? Árvakr?--the memory was vivid in her eyes. But those two weeks had happened to someone else, and not the woman he was seeing now.

This was exactly it, he realized. This was what he'd been afraid of, why he'd avoided her so long. Not because he feared rejection. This was a hundred times worse than rejection.

Eira--his Eira--was gone. She'd existed only in the absence of this woman and her memories.

The woman watching him from beneath his mother's abor was Eir, the Goddess of Healing.

And she did not love him.

…  …  ...

Loki returned to his rooms at a dignified stroll, undressed down to his trousers and undershirt, and then sunk into a thoughtless numbness.

He was not sad--he would not grieve. There was nothing to grieve. What had he really lost, anyway? The mirage of a woman--the caricature left behind after her whole life had been stripped away?

What was there to mourn?

This was a far as he thought on the subject, subsiding into his favorite cushioned chair before the fireplace in his rooms--and into that blessed numbness as well.

It was a relief not to think. Not to feel.

It was all that he could do to avoid the cracking, tearing pain in his chest.

He might have thought of his mother briefly. Perhaps because the pain he so adroitly avoided echoed very similarly the pain of her loss.

But he did not make this connection, or any other.

He simply sat, and when the servants brought him dinner, he thanked them hollowly and sent them away. And then he sat some more while his dinner cooled and congealed, untouched on the low table before him.

The soft knock that came some time later did not disturb him. Reflexively, he called, “Yes,” in an even, emotionless voice.

The door opened, presumably to admit the servants again, come to remove his uneaten dinner and fold back the bedding on his enormous four-poster bed in preparation for his nightly sleep.

But the rustle of fine silk skirts and the faint whiff of roses was all wrong. Servants did not wear silk, and they certainly didn't smell of his mother's roses.

He looked up.

“Hello,” she said evenly, eyes both dark and strangely luminous in the low light.

Awakening slowly from his stupor, Loki blinked up at the Goddess of Healing. She’d taken the braid out of her hair and it hung in loose waves over her shoulders. She'd also traded the green dress for a long silk dressing gown in a shade of blue so dark it was nearly black. Her ivory satin nightgown peaked below the gold-embroidered hem.

Her face was calm, a little grave.

She said nothing. Loki said nothing.

They simply looked at each other.

He wanted her to leave--and at the same time, he couldn't bear the thought of it.

Her gaze catalogued his face and then dipped to his throat, his body. Starting with the open neck of his shirt. Then his chest and legs.

There was no heat in that look. Her expression was impenetrable.

Then she came around the table and sunk to the couch opposite him. “You haven't touched your dinner.”

Soft, grave voice. Painfully familiar. Alien at the same time.

Now she was looking at the tray before him, the plates of food, clean glass, and full decanter of wine.

Loki looked at it too, wondering why he didn't speak--why his silver tongue had deserted him. And then he looked at her again, because he couldn't help himself.

The five days on Asgard had done her well, he noticed, taking in the details of her person in crisp and vibrant detail. Her face seemed a bit fuller. Skin brighter. He was willing to bet her ribs didn't show any more either.

He had a flash of her sitting naked at the big table in the bunker and hastily shoved the thought away.

No, that was not a productive line of thinking. The lust it inspired felt wrong somehow.

Loki considered her steady gaze, the prim, aristocratic posture and the angle of her jaw, her shoulders. Even the way she held her legs.

Everything was the same--accept the look. She'd never looked at him that way before: like she was seeing him for the first time, peeling him back in layers, trying to confirm some unknown suspicion about the exact shape and color of his character.

She hadn't looked at him that way before because she hadn't been she, he reminded himself. This woman--this beautiful, intelligent, soft-spoken, wildly arousing woman wearing nothing but her night clothes and a pair of soft blue slippers--was an unwanted revelation.

“You're not Eira,” he said aloud, willing his body to acknowledge the fact. “Not the one I knew.”

He sounded angry, though he hadn't  realized that he was.

“Who am I then?” she replied, and though she said it calmly, there was a hint of something there--a ghost of vulnerability. Like she wasn't quite sure of the answer herself.

“Princess Eir of Vanaheim, Goddess of Healing,” he said, and then added flatly, “Future Queen of the Vanir.”

Her expression remained impassive. “Future Queen of Nothing.”

“Oh?” That should please him, he thought distantly. But it didn't.

Eir drew both feet up onto the couch and curled her arms around her knees, tucking the robe demurely about her ankles. The posture was painfully endearing to him, especially with her hair spilling over her shoulders in thick, glossy waves like that.

“Why didn't you come and find me?” she asked.

Loki was still sprawled in his chair, legs wide, arms resting on the curved armrests. He lifted one arm from the elbow and turned his head to rub the bridge of his nose. Suddenly he was very tired.

“Because I knew what I would find,” he sighed.

“Eir, and not Eira,” she murmured.

Loki didn't bother to confirm. He simply looked at her. What did you expect?

Her lips thinned again--not in disdain or even irritation--in aquiensence.

And a touch of disappointment.

“Why didn't you come and find me?” he returned, hating that his voice had gone husky.

“I did,” she replied quietly, gaze wandering down his body again. This time there was memory in that look. Memory, and a hint of confused curiosity.

Like she was trying to marry the man in her memory to the man before her now.

“Don't look at me like that,” he growled.

Her gaze snapped to his in surprise. “Like what?”

“Like you're thinking about--” he cut himself off, suddenly feeling that to speak of their time on Árvakr would corrupt it in some way. He wanted to leave those memories in the protective bubble where they'd happened.

Maybe someday he would be able to enjoy them.

“I just wanted to talk,” she murmured.

“Talk then.”

Her eyes held a wounded gleam. “I can see that this is hurting you. That's the last thing I want.”

“Say what you have to say,” he snapped hoarsely, tamping down a miserable surge of hope. “Just get on with it.”

“This is all so strange.”

When he glared instead of responding, Eir looked away uncomfortably.

“I wanted to see you.” She picked at the golden embroidery edging the cuff of her sleeve.

There was an apology there.

“But?” he prompted.

Her gaze was still downturned, shielded from him by long, heavy lashes.

“I also didn't.”

He could relate to that, though it stung like hell to hear her say it.

“I had to think and...process.” She did look at him then, gaze somber. “I couldn't reconcile myself with the person I was on Árvakr. I still can't.”

Green-brown eyes pleaded with him for understanding, though the rest of her face remained composed, almost expressionless.

Loki said nothing--couldn't muster a word.

Finally she went on again. “There were things I didn't know about myself--things you showed me--that I'm not sure…” she faltered, lips twisting a little. A tiny line appeared between her brows.

“What?” he rasped, in a voice that sounded as dry as the earth on that desert moon.

“I don't know,” she whispered. “There's just so much to--you, and Odin, and Frey, and--me." She pressed her lips together, hands rising to her face, fingers curling before her brow. Abruptly, she put them down again and her features crimped with frustration. “I'm not making sense, am I? Nothing makes sense now.” Her voice quavered slightly--a hint of anguish and aggravation surfacing through the calm facade. “I'm not sure that I know myself anymore.”

That, Loki understood. As Eir put her fingers to her brow again, eyes glittering--not with tears, but with the possibility of them--he remembered vividly the sense of unreality that had swamped him when he’d learned of his true parentage; the crippling confusion he'd experienced as everything he'd known about himself seemed to unravel from its very center.

He couldn't help her find herself again, but he could perhaps make things easier--at least with regards to himself.

He could free her of whatever tie it was still binding them together. And there was a tie, he knew. She was here, after all. She'd come to him.

So, he could cut her loose. Or... he could refuse to let go.

He could pursue Eir in the absence of Eira.

“Do you still want me?” he demnded in a low voice.

Her throat worked for a moment. “I don't know how to answer that.”

“If you don't,” he grated, “Then say it.”

“I can't,” she whispered helplessly. “I don’t know.”

He glared, heart fisting angrily in his chest.

Eir sighed, and when she spoke again, the words were nearly soundless. “I'm two people, Loki. One of them wants you, and the other doesn't even know you.”

There, he thought numbly, that's the center of it.

She put her head in her hands, elbows resting on her silk-covered knees. “I hate this.”

Loki watched those slender fingers dig into her hair--fingers that had caressed him in a hundred delicious ways.

“It'll pass,” he heard himself say. “Eventually.”

Eir was silent for a long time, narrow shoulders stiff. She was crying, he realized. Her tears were utterly soundless.

They made Loki feel like his skin was being stripped away in shreds.

Eira, he would have held and kissed. The urge was still there. But he didn't know how to comfort the woman before him and he doubted she would welcome his embrace.

“Will you return to Vanaheim?”

She looked up, blinking at the abrupt question. But the answer was quick enough.

“No.”

There was a lot of emotion lurking behind that single syllable--behind that inscrutable, tear-streaked face: anger, fear, determination.

Loss.

He wouldn't ask her what had happened on Vanaheim. Not now. She didn't want to go back. She didn't want Frey.   

And she was here, in his rooms. Wearing nothing but her night clothes.

Maybe there was hope after all.

“I still want you,” he said. The words came out clipped and hollow. He felt like he was standing on a precipice, toes dangling over open air.

“You don't know me,” she replied gravely.

It made him angry, for some reason. “I know the truest, most uncluttered version of you,” he snapped.

The words surprised them both--partially because he hadn't known he was going to say them, but mostly because...well, they were true.

Some unnamed, displaced piece clicked home inside Loki as that truth sunk in.

There was shift in Eir, too. A thread of tension left her, slender shoulders dropping just a fraction. Those incredible, luminous eyes held steady on his, searching him. Flaying him to the bone.

At length, she said quietly, “I don't know if I can be that person again.”

There was a long, trembling silence--the first that wasn't entirely uncomfortable. They looked at each other, green-brown eyes trained on blue-green ones.

There was a ghost of his Eira in that look.

“I'm not asking you to,” he said.

Chapter Text

“What now?” he asked.

She shook her head. “I don't know.”

Loki watched her dully for a moment. “Do you still feel it?”

He didn't need to say the word. She understood immediately what he meant.

Eilder-ast.

Slowly, she nodded.

“That's your answer, then.”

Pink lips parted on a soft, nervous breath. "It frightens me.”

He wanted to curse. Clenched his jaw instead.

“Why?” The word came out low and angry.

“The things we did…” she whispered helplessly. “I've never...I didn't know I was capable of such…”

“Passion?”

She nodded.

“Are you ashamed of it?” Are you ashamed of me?

That little line appeared between her brows again. “No…” she said slowly, as though realizing it for the first time. “I'm afraid...that I won't be able to be that way again. With you.”

Loki felt a strange, conflicted surge of emotions at that. Hope and hunger. Regret and...anger. Anger that settle hotly on one man. The man who had taken Eira from him--who had taken everything from him.

“There's only one way to find out,” he said finally.

There was a long, heavy silence while she considered this--considered him: the thought of being with him again.

“I miss the other you,” she whispered.

Gods, that hit him like a giant fist. His heart rose and fell at once--expanded, then squeezed painfully.

“You know what I am now,” he said. “What it means that I'm Jotun.”

Her mouth curved in a small, rueful smile. “The Vanir don't despise Jotunheim nearly so much as the Aesir do,” she murmured. “Queen Skadi was Jotun.”

Loki opened his mouth and then closed it again. Of course, he knew that. Every Aesir child learned it in primary school; the Vanir had occasionally mixed their bloodlines with the Jotun for thousands of years. Why hadn't he remembered that all this time?

It occurred to him briefly--and for the very first time--that perhaps his own hatred of Jotunheim had blinded him...That perhaps his ancestry wasn't quite so universally abhorrent as he'd imagined.

“My great grandmother was Jotun,” Eir added quietly.

That would have knocked him back a step, if he had been standing.

Eir was part Jotun.

A small part, admittedly--and, historically speaking, the Frost Giants known to have married into Vanir culture had been of a different (smaller and more civilized) tribe than the one from which Loki descended, but…

Eildr-ast,” she murmured then, gaze shuttered.

It was as if she'd read his mind.

It cast everything in a new light: the powerful lust they'd shared, the fierce, nearly violent couplings...the urges he'd had to mark her, over and over, to dominate her as he had never dominated another woman in his life.

They were Jotun mating behaviors.

By the Fates, she really was perfect for him.

And bloody hell, how he wanted it to be that way again; to be unmasked, with her. To see his azure skin against her coppery flesh. To feel at home inside himself as he had, with Eira.

But the thought of revealing himself to Eir was...painful. Almost abhorrent.

All the comfort--all the ease they’d had with each other on Árvakr--was well and truly gone.

But perhaps there was hope that they might have it back.

Perhaps.

“I miss the other you as well,” he said finally, and meant it.

…   …   …  

He'd decided not to seek her out; she hadn't given any clear sign that she welcomed his desire, after all. But he couldn't avoid her either.

Literally. They seemed to be magnetized. Since that night in his rooms, they'd run into each other at least twice a day. In the halls or the garden. Sometimes the library. Once in the stables.

At first these chance encounters consisted of nothing more than a meeting of gazes--a brief and wordless acknowledgement. Moments of awkward silence laden with everything they'd been through--and everything that remained unresolved between them.

And then, somehow, it had become a sort of amusement. Loki would turn a corner and find her walking directly towards him. Her lips would compress and her eyes spark with wry amusement. 

That little spark galvanized him.

He started putting himself in her path on purpose.

Her daily habits were not difficult to predict, he discovered. She was a creature of habit.

She rose early for a walk in the gardens. Then breakfast in her rooms. Then the library for several hours, where she liked to sit and read on one of the cushioned benches tucked into little nooks around the edge of the enormous vaulted room. She invariably chose one of the ones with windows that faced the gardens.

She loved books--and the gardens--as much as Frigga had.

Their other similarities did not escape him either.

Over the space of a few days, he began to see that Eir had the same quiet regality as Frigga. The sort of soft, dutiful grace he'd come to associate with queenliness. But Eir's bearing was more subdued than Frigga's had ever been. The younger woman was generally very serious, even somber. She didn't have that undying glint of humor in her eyes, as Frigga had--as Eira had--nor the ready smile.

The compassion was there, though--that same deep well of kindness.

She was so much different than she had been on Árvakr. And, at the same time, so much the same.

Word of Eir, Goddess of Healing, had reached all of Asgard within a day. Healing powers such as hers were rare. Eir could mend bones and reverse ailments faster and more skillfully than the best of Asgard's healing technology. And she could, apparently, do it for hours on end without exhaustion.

The wounded and ailing began to pop out of the woodwork, and there were more of them each day. So many, in fact, that Eir's afternoon hours found her set up in the healing room, tending to Lords and ladies, warriors, servants, and peasants alike. Even animals.

She'd found a purpose on Asgard, and Asgard drew her directly to its bosom.

Loki, meanwhile, remained adrift.

Odin might have forgiven Loki's crimes, but the old man certainly didn't trust his adopted son enough to let Loki resume a prince's duties. There were no council meetings or diplomatic audiences. He wasn't even allowed to attend the weekly civil justice hearings.

Well, it had been long time since he'd last stood at Odin's elbow, anyway--back when Loki had still believed himself Aesir by birth. When there had still been some chance he might find himself on Asgard's throne.

That dream had deserted him, though--somewhere between Earth and Eira.

It was a strange thing to realize. He felt adrift in that, as well. Nothing to do, no goal to pursue, no place in the world. At least, not one that made any sense to him.

Was he to be the unwanted prince forever? The watched and untrusted? Never to have anything of his own?

It was an awful, itchy, restless place to be. He found himself pacing the palace as he had paced the bunker, feeling alone. Oddly abandoned. Frustrated, angry and morose at turns.

And all that restless energy had only one point upon which to focus.

Eir.

He found himself pursuing her shamelessly: putting himself in her path as frequently as he could without appearing to do so on purpose.

After a week of daily “accidental” meetings, she began to smile each time she saw him. Tentatively at first--almost shyly, which was both strange and rather charming--and then with increasing enthusiasm.

One afternoon he surprised her as she left the healing room. That day, her smile was bright and utterly unabashed.

It was Eira's smile; the smile she'd bestowed upon him daily during their time on that lonely moon.

That smile changed everything.

Loki dispensed with pretending and began to pursue her openly.

It was strange to find himself behaving like a prince again, yet the old habits returned almost effortlessly. Eir was a proper lady--royalty, in fact--and the only way to court her, he decided, was to be the proper gentleman.

He waited for her at the south entrance to the gardens each morning, offered her his arm, and then walked with her among the roses, making idle conversation.

He escorted her back to her rooms afterward and deposited her there with a smile and a small, princely bow. Kissed her hand and asked if she would ride with him in the evening.

She received his attention with a reserved sort of pleasure. Smiled when he flirted. Agreed unhesitatingly each time he asked to see her again.

Her proximity and the polite touch of her hand made him burn. Even the faint rosy scent she wore was delicious torture. But worst of all, he found, was her composure. The steady, serious gaze. The careful way she listened when he spoke, no matter that he spoke of the weather, or the roses, or the mundane news of the kingdom.

This reserved, serious woman was not Eira, and if not for their time on Avarkr--if not for his knowledge of the passion lurking beneath her measured demeanor--he might have found her dull.

Had they met in their previous lives, he might not have even noticed her, despite her exceptional beauty.

But the knowing made him wild to crack her open again. To gain access to the unrestrained passion she held tucked away inside. To see her reservation dissolve and hold that blazing, delicious woman in his arms again.

The trouble was, he wasn't sure how to make it happen.

She enjoyed his attention, of that he was sure. But she gave no sign that she wanted more. There were no flirtatious glances, no hint that she might welcome more than just proper, gentlemanly touches.

After two weeks of careful courting, Loki couldn't even bring himself to steal a kiss.

And he was burning--positively blazing--with the need of her.

The hunger was eating him alive.

The hell of it was, he understood women very well. He'd courted and flirted and dallied with dozens of proper ladies in his previous life. He knew when he was wanted--when his attention was well received.

Eir wanted him. She would let herself be kissed, he felt fairly sure of that. But Loki wasn't sure he was capable of soft, gentlemanly kisses.

If he kissed her, it would be hot and hungry; the banked heat inside him would come blazing to the surface, and he may well eat her alive.

And while she might welcome kisses--even passionate ones--he doubted she was ready for the wild, possessive lust that pulsed through his veins every time he considered touching her.

He would touch her--there would be no stopping it, if he kissed her. And if he touched her… things could snowball so bloody easily.

He could just see himself taking her in a mindless rush--up against a tree in the garden or in a back corner of the library like a goddamn animal--when he'd only meant to kiss her.

And he doubted she would thank him for something like that. She might let it happen--she'd said she still felt it, after all--but if she regretted it after…

The thought made him furious, anguished. He wanted her to give herself willingly. It was that, or nothing.

So he resigned himself to waiting. Taking it slowly. Burning away in a silent agony of unresolved lust.

Praying that one day she would simply say, Loki, I want you, and put him out of his misery.

A very annoying little voice at the back of his mind told him in no uncertain terms that this was wishful thinking. Eir, the voice insisted, would never want him as Eira had--and even if she came to his bed, it wouldn't be the same.

And, the voice taunted mercilessly, she would never love him.

Some of this unwelcome dialogue, as it turned out, was perfectly true.

Not all of it, though.

No, indeed--much to Loki's releif--not all. 






Chapter Text

Things changed very suddenly one day after Loki joined Eir for their morning stroll through the gardens.

She'd looked especially decadent this morning in a pale lavender dress with a wide, square neckline and flowing, slitted sleeves that bared her slender arms whenever she raised them. Something about that color against her coppery skin had made him feel a bit reckless.

He returned her to her rooms as usual, but this time, instead of kissing her hand, he'd kissed her cheek.

It had been impulsive. In fact, he'd come very close to kissing her mouth, but she'd stiffened as he bent to her, and so he'd aborted at the last moment.

He'd walked away feeling both disappointed and a little bit drunk. The sensation of her smooth cheek under his lips would linger with him for the next hour.

Right up until the moment he heard the soft knock on the outer door of his chambers.

He'd sent the servants away after they'd cleared his breakfast dishes, intending to take a few hours of solitude.

He rose from his chair and opened the door.

"Eir," he said in surprise.

She was standing there in the same lavender dress, hand clasped tightly as her waist. There was an aura of tension about her he hadn't seen before.

She looked up at him, hazel eyes determined. "May I come in?"

Loki took in her expression and the anxiety evident in the angle of her shoulders.

He leaned out into the hall, looked first one way and then the other. There were two servants standing down near the arched passage that led to the throne room. One of them glanced in his direction.

"I don't think that's wise," he said reluctantly. "The servant will talk--"

"Let them," she interrupted with uncharacteristic abruptness. "All of Asgard thinks me yours already."

"Eir--"

"I came once before--in my night clothes, no less," she said impatiently, "There can hardly be any harm in entering your private chambers fully dressed and in the broad light of day."

"There certainly can," he insisted. "It's one thing to sneak in at night and entirely another to broadcast such intimacies--"

"Would you say no if I said I wanted you to take me to bed?" she countered brusquely.

Loki very nearly laughed. She had him there.

"So much for appearing the gentleman," he said wryly, stepping aside.

"That's exactly the problem," she replied, brushing past him and then spinning back sharply as he paused to shut the door behind her.

"Problem?" he repeated, turning to face her.

She still had that determined look, but it was edged with vulnerability. Whatever she'd come here to say seemed to be stuck in her throat.

"What is it?"

Her lips compressed. She took a deep breath. "I need you to stop playing the gentleman," she blurted.

Liki blinked. "I...I beg your pardon?"

"It's driving me mad," she explained. "I mean, it's charming, and you're very dear, but please stop. I can't take it anymore."

Loki was stunned. "Eir--"

"And by all the Fates, please stop calling me that," she cried in a low, urgent voice. "It's Eira. Everyone calls me Eira--well, everyone I'm close to, which is really only you anymore--but I hate it that you're so formal with me. It feels as though you're constantly holding me at arms length and all I want is to be closer to you."

She had paced away from him during this quiet, yet strangely frenetic tirade, and now she turned back with half the room stretched out between them.

"I'm babbling," she said. "Forgive me."

One of her hands settled very lightly on the back of his favorite chair, like a bird that might flutter away at any moment.

"There's nothing to forgive," he replied, rooted to the spot, heart pounding. "Please continue."

She nodded absently, as though agreeing with some unfortunate truth, clearly preoccupied with whatever inner storm had brought her here.

"I suppose this had been building for weeks," she went on, more calmly now. "I should have said something sooner, but it's been so terribly awkward between us, and I didn't know where to start." She looked down at her hand on the chair, fingers moving minutely against the polished wood trim.

When she spoke again, the words were very quiet and grave. "I want to talk to you. And not about the weather or whatever book I'm reading."

Loki swallowed. Half a dozen responses flitted through his head. Finally he settled on, "I'm listening."

She shot him a glare from beneath her lashes, hazel eyes dark with resentment. "You're still doing it."

"Doing what?"

"Being a gentleman," she said impatiently.

His little huff of laughter made her cheek twitch angrily.

"Shall I be a prick instead?" he drawled.

She crossed her arms tightly over her chest. "Please. Anything but this false politeness."

Again, Loki was stunned. "False? You think this is false?"

"It's certainly not you," she countered. "Unless the way you behaved on Arvakr was the falsehood and this is somehow the real Loki."

Suddenly he was furious. "If I were free to behave as I did on Arvakr I would have you bent over that chair right now with your petticoats flipped up around your ears," he growled. "But seeing as how you expressed a certain reluctance to resume our relationship, such as it was, I've had to adjust my behavior."

Her shoulders dropped a little, mulish expression softening around the edges. "I suppose that's fair."

"It is," he grated, then stalked past her to the bar set against the far wall and set about pouring himself a stiff drink.

There were a few beats of silence, punctuated only by the crystal clatter of Loki's glass and the bottle of Asgardian whiskey he tipped into it.

"I'll have one as well," she said quietly.

Wordlessly, Loki poured a second glass. When he turned she had come a little closer and stood by the table where Loki took his meals, chin tucked and arms crossed.

He went to her, held out the glass, and she took it without looking up.

Still angry, he had meant to walk away from her, but her proximity--in combination with the things she'd been saying--made him suddenly want very much to linger.

She didn't want him to act the gentleman anymore, huh? And she wanted to be closer to him. She knew well enough what to expect if he dispensed with princely politeness, he reasoned.

His anger drained away, replaced by a slow, simmering heat--the ever present lust-fever rising through his body.

Before he could decide whether or not to take advantage of the situation, she lifted her head and pinned him with a very direct look.

"Perhaps you can find some happy medium between how you were on Arvakr and this perfect Prince character," she said, arms still crossed, holding her untouched whiskey in one hand with the glass tucked into the crook of the other arm.

"I suppose I could," he conceded. "Provided you are prepared to field some very un-gentlemanly advances."

He expected her to recoil a little at that, or at least to tense up. Instead her mouth quirked ruefully on one side.

"I can't be as easy with you as I was before. I've a lifetime of lady-like inhibitions to contend with this time around."

He looked down at her for a moment, reading the nervous submission in her eyes.

Please be gentle, that look said. Go slowly.

Loki tossed back his drink and then--slowly, deliberately--bent very close to her, reaching past to set the empty glass on the table behind her, breathing her scent in deeply as he did so.

His chest brushed her folded arms during this maneuver--and not at all accidentally.

She swallowed loudly as he straightened.

"You said you wanted to talk," he murmured. "Let's start with that."

Looking at his chest, fingers tightening on the crystal glass still clutched in the crook of her arm, she said very softly, "You never asked me what happened on Vanaheim. How I got my memories wiped."

Loki felt a spurt of anxiety. "I didn't want to pressure you."

Green-brown eyes rose to meet his. There was a spark of anger in that look.

He sighed. "And...I suppose I'm a bit reluctant to know the truth."

"Why?" she whispered.

Gods, how he wanted to lie to her. But that luminous, penetrating gaze was impossible to deny.

Tell me the truth, it demanded.

"Because I'm afraid to hear that there's some reason--or perhaps some person there that you might want to return to."

"There's not, Loki," she murmured. "There's nothing for me on Vanaheim."

"You've no family?" he asked. And then made himself swallow the words, No lover?

"My parents passed when I was a child," she said. "I've been a charge of the throne ever since. Njord placed me with Frigga until she wed, and then I served as the royal healer."

The mention of his mother was an unexpected blow. Of course, he'd known about Eir's position as Frigga's handmaiden. Perhaps that was another reason he'd avoided asking about her past.

To speak of his mother--even just to hear Frigga's name--was still painful.

"And then Njord decided to wed you to Frey," Loki said roughly.

Eir nodded, gaze searching his face. "There was no one else, in case you're wondering."

He smiled despite himself. "There must have been someone. You weren't a virgin."

It wasn't uncommon for Asgardian women to take lovers before marriage, though it was frowned upon among royalty.

She blushed a little bit. "There hasn't been for a very long time. Njord decided to give me to Frey when I was just a girl, but I abhorred the match. Frey tormented me mercilessly when I was a child. I couldn't stand the thought of marrying him."

Anger and possessiveness rose to join with the fever. "He tormented you how?"

She looked away. "I don't...I'd rather not speak of that. He's a cruel, angry man. I did everything I could to make myself undesirable to him."

"Including take a lover."

She nodded, still looking somewhere past his shoulder. "As soon as I came of age."

Loki found himself moving closer, until his chest was nearly touching her folded arms again. She still hadn't touched the drink.

"And what did he do when you took this lover?" he prodded gently.

Her lips compressed. "He had us both beaten. Whipped like disobedient slaves before everyone in the palace." She did look at him then, eyes dark with the memory--with anger and helplessness. "I thought he would cast me off, but it only made him more determined to have me. To punish me, I think. Maybe for the rest of my life."

Loki understood then, what kind of man his uncle was. Not just cruel, but sadistic. Controlling.

Perhaps he had seen in Eir some hint of her passion--her capacity for submission-- and he'd wanted to own her. To bend her to his will.

And her rejection of him had only fueled that desire.

"You're free of him now," Loki murmured. His hands had risen of their own accord and he found himself rubbing her upper arms, thumbs dipping into the slits of her sleeves to caress naked skin.

She shivered a little and her eyelids lowered, but she made no move to resist.

"What about the memory wipe?" he asked, nudging fabric aside to cup her bare arms unimpeded, stroking her slowly from shoulder to elbow, marveling at how soft she was. He'd nearly forgotten the fine, silky texture of her skin.

"That was an accident, I think," she whispered, swaying towards him a little, eyes nearly closed.

They were so close that her forearms were brushing his chest again, skirts resting lightly around his legs. He took the glass of whiskey from her hand and set it beside his empty one on the table, then resumed touching her.

"Tell me."

She swallowed, licked her lips absently. "Even Njord wouldn't force me to wed if I refused outright," she whispered, leaning into his touch. "So Frey had to find a way to make me agree."

"And he chose to manipulate your memories?" It was a struggle not to let the rage he felt seep into his voice.

"Yes. To make me forget what he'd done to me. But there was too much to erase, going back too far into the past. He bungled the spell, and one of the servants helped me escape. I don't remember that part clearly--some things still haven't come back."

Her arms came unfolded and she leaned into him then, resting her forehead in the center of his chest. "Your heart is pounding," she whispered.

"You have that effect on me." He let go of her arms to draw her closer, hands splayed in the middle of her back, caught between his rage and a rush of elation as she allowed herself to rest fully against the front of his body.

"This feels good," she mumbled.

"Mmm." He lowered his head to put his face in her hair, wondering if she wouldn't object to having her neck kissed. Positively burning to taste the tender skin under her jaw.

"You smell so good," she breathed.

The words came on a muffled sigh of feminine pleasure that sent arousal bolting straight to his groin.

Loki pulled her closer, forgetting that they had been talking, that she'd been confessing the secrets of her past. Suddenly all he could think of was the gentle pressure of her breasts against him and the shape of her waist under his hands.

Then her arms curled around his chest and her belly came up against his groin.

Immediately, she stiffened.

But she didn't pull away. That was no small relief.

Loki gave in to the urge to taste her neck and she gasped a little bit, hands fisting in the back of his tunic.

"You are in grave danger of being kissed, my Lady," he murmured, drawing her earlobe into his mouth.

"Loki..."

Intoxicated, it took him a moment to register the reluctance in those two syllables.

He drew back, heart dropping. "What is it?"

She looked up, said nothing. Eyes full of need and hesitation.

"You don't want me to kiss you."

He released her and stepped back.

"Loki, I do," she said quickly. "Just not... like this. "

He was already walking away, pacing towards the windows, stung and angry, fighting with himself not to lash out at her.

"Oh? And under what benighted circumstance, exactly, would you welcome my kiss?" he sneered.

She didn't answer. Finally, he turned, gave her an expectant look.

She stood exactly where he'd left her, watching him with a pained expression from across the room.

"I don't want to offend you," she started, and then seemed to stall again.

He laughed bitterly, strolled to the couch and sprawled negligently in the center of it, draping his arms across the low back. "Well, you're off to an excellent start."

She sighed. "You're beautiful like this, you really are."

It took him a moment to catch her meaning.

"You mean this form. My Aesir form."

She nodded.

There was a long, crackling silence. Eir looked at him the whole time, gaze steady, a little guarded.

And then he understood.

"You don't want me like this," he said softly.

"It's not that I don't want you," she whispered, almost imploring. "But...everything here is strange and new. I'm even a little strange to myself after everything we..." she trailed off, tried again. "I've had to get to know myself all over again. And you..." She shrugged helplessly.

By the fates, he felt like such a fool. All this time she'd been so hard to reach.

I miss the other you.

She'd said it that first night with tears in her eyes, face still and grave. And he hadn't quite understood.

He'd been so consumed with this strange new Eira that he hadn't even considered how he must seem to her: suddenly white-skinned and blue-eyed, acting the consummate prince.

Like a completely different person.

"Gods," he rasped, arms falling from the back of the couch. "Eir--"

"Eira," she said stiffly.

"Eira," he repeated.

And then he dropped the spell that kept him in Aesir form, watching her face shift as the change came over him. Half a dozen expressions flitted past on her features; surprise and recognition. And then a strange sort of relief, like someone who's lost a thing held very dear and then found it again unexpectedly after having given up hope that she would.

And then came gratitude, followed closely by hunger. Not lust, per se, but something deeper and more complicated--or, perhaps, something infinitely more simple.

Either way, that look pinned him like the weight of a small moon. Made every cell in his body vibrate with recognition.

There was love in that look.

"Eira," he said again.

She seemed frozen there, body half turned away from him, hugging herself with both arms.

"Come here," he demanded.

Oddly, she nodded--a minute, unconscious gesture--but remained rooted to the spot, holding him hostage with her eyes.

There were tears gathering there.

Loki watched them spill--one from each eye, rolling slowly over the fringe of her lashes to leave faint silvery trails down her cheeks.

Every muscle in his body was tensed to carry him across the room to her, but Loki held himself still by sheer force if will. He felt sure--without really knowing why--that it was imperative he wait. That she must be the one to come to him.

And she did, eventually--after what seemed like breathless eons--drifting soundlessly across the heavy rugs to stand over him with her arms hanging limp at her sides, every line of her body marked by surrender.

He might have reached for her then. All he really remembered was the way she sunk directly into his lap and collapsed against him.

Like someone who's walked for days without rest, stumbled the final few steps to home, and given in at last to sheer exhaustion.

 

Chapter Text

He couldn't have said how long they sat together like that, Eira half-curled against him with her face nestled into his throat, hot tears dripping onto his collarbone.

Nor could he be sure exactly when the kissing started, or which of them had initiated it.

All he knew was that Eira was holding onto him with both arms, suckling his tongue each time he dipped it into her soft, sweet little mouth, and making breathy sounds of pleasure that set him on fire.

In fact, he was entirely lost to her--and would remain so right up until his hand found its way under her skirts and slipped between her legs.

It was at this moment that she gasped sharply, mouth breaking from his, thighs snapping together tightly on his hand.

"Shit," he said immediately, voice thick with lust, still dazed. "I'm sorry."

She was looking down at him, startled, panting, eyes glazed. Her lips were puffy; he'd been using his teeth, though not roughly.

Eria took a short, shaky breath and smiled a little bit, almost sheepishly. "I didn't expect you to do that."

Loki grinned. "You should have."

Her tongue peeked out to wet her lips and Loki's cock jerked hungrily under the weight of her hip. She was looking at his mouth again.

"If you want me to stop, you're going to have to let go of my hand," he said cheekily.

His fingers were still trapped against her, pads of his first two digits buried in soft, moist curls, resting right at the seam of her sex.

"Do you want me to stop?" he asked a moment later, when her thighs remains clamped on his hand.

"I'm still deciding," she said seriously.

Something was different about her, Loki realized. Not just the solemnity, or the inhibitions.

Something about the two spots of color standing high on her cheeks and the intensity of that hungry glaze in her eyes. She tasted different, too, somehow. It was hard to pin down though--especially with his system drowning in lust.

"Shall I offer a bit of persuasion?" he murmured, and then, without waiting for an answer, he curled his fingers.

Eira gasped again, jerking in his arms as his fingers parted hot flesh and discovered the well of wetness just inside.

He groaned, composure abruptly crumbling. "Stop me now or I'm going to take you right here on the couch."

Again, she didn't answer immediately. Instead she leaned forward and rested her forehead against his, warm breath bathing his lips in heady little puffs.

"Eira," he prompted, fingers gliding slowly upward, drawing wetness straight to her clit. She was swollen already. Her thighs flexed around his hand.

"We are fast approaching the point of no return, here," he warned.

"I know," she whispered. "I'm not as scared as I thought I would be."

Dammit it all. "But you are scared."

"Only a little." She tilted her head and nibbled at his lips.

"I don't want you scared," he said, opening his mouth for her.

She kissed him for a long moment, tongue delving, tracing the roof of his mouth.

"You did before," she whispered. "When you had me tied."

The way she said it--almost gravely--was somehow even more arousing than if she had said it deliberately to entice him.

He circled her clit slowly with his fingertips and she squirmed in his lap, breath catching.

"That was different, " he rasped. "You asked me to do that."

"What if I asked you to take me here on the couch?" she countered, still with that delicious gravity.

"By all means," Loki growled. "I will happily oblige."

At last, her thighs relaxed and he was free to withdraw his hand. Or...

Eira whimpered when he dipped his fingers inside, pussy flexing against the slick intrusion.

"Say the word," he murmured, stroking her deeply.

"Nnn..." Her eyes slipped closed, head tilting back a little, hips rocking.

Loki leaned forward to kiss the exposed column of her throat. "Is that a no?"

She shook her head.

He found her clit again, with his thumb this time, rubbing it and curling his fingers inside her at once.

She moaned.

"Tell me yes."

"Yes..." she breathed.

"Mmm." He nipped her chin, licked the delicate line of her jaw. "Ask me to make you come."

Her pussy rippled around his fingers.

"Loki...make me come..."

"'Please.'"

"Please..."

"Good girl."

It didn't take long. Perhaps a handful of minutes with his fingers working inside her, thumb rolling her clit in lazy circles, and then she stiffened and shuddered in his arms on breathy, ragged moan.

He kept on stroking until she slumped against him, head lolling onto his shoulder.

Then, in a haze of masculine pleasure and anticipation, Loki withdrew his hand and brought the glistening fingers to his mouth.

And that was when he knew what was different--why she didn't taste quite the same. Why her skin seemed to blaze a little hotter than before. Why her eyes held that deep, languid glaze.

He cursed softly. "Eira."

She lifted her head, mumbled thickly, "What's wrong?"

"Nothing," he muttered, "Accept that I can't make love to you."

She sat up slowly to look at him. "Why not?"

He sighed. "Because you're ovulating."

... ... ...


The women of Vanaheim--much like those of Asgard--being exceptionally long-lived, only came into season once every several years, depending upon their age.

And since these periods of fertility were so rare and easily identified, neither culture had bothered to develop contraceptives.

Which meant that if Loki took Eira to bed any time in the next two to three weeks, he would almost surely end up a father.

Upon hearing the news of her fertility, Eira began--rather inexplicably to Loki's mind--to laugh.

"I fail to see how this is funny," he growled, pacing his bedchamber like a caged animal, still wildly aroused.

Eira, who had come into the room to use the lavatory, was now perched on the edge of his enormous bed, still giggling helplessly.

"It's just--the irony," she managed, and then went off into another bout of hilarity.

He stopped pacing to point at her angrily, "You wouldn't be laughing if our positions were reversed."

She followed his sharp gesture to the erection tenting the front of his trousers.

"We don't need to have sex to take care of that," she replied easily, face still bright with humor.

If he hadn't been so frustrated, that face would have thrilled him. He hadn't seen it on her since Arvakr.

"I still can't believe you could tell just by tasting me," she said, watching him pace some more. She was blushing a little bit. "I thought that was a myth."

"It's not a myth," he grunted.

The change in body chemistry produced a particular flavor of sweetness with a distinct, though subtle, tang of apples. Some men--usually celebrated womanizers--claimed they could discern this change in a lover's flavor.

"My senses have always been sharper than average," he grumbled distractedly.

"Because you're Jotun."

He stopped pacing again to look at her. She wasn't smiling any more, but her eyes sparkled.

Loki's temper began to drain away. "I suppose so."

"I'm sorry I didn't anticipate it, Loki. I should have remembered my time was coming. I guess I was a bit distracted."

She'd gone serious again. Not quite grave, though. There was a lingering brightness in her face that spoke of good humor.

Drawn by that glow, he crossed the room to her. "I don't suppose you're inclined to help me out with this."

He didn't need to specify what "this" was. Her gaze dropped immediately to the front of his trousers.

She flushed a little. "What did you have in mind?"

"You," he said bluntly, "Touching me. With literally any part of your body."

That started another little laugh out of her, though he hadn't meant it to be funny.

"I suppose I can figure something out," she murmured, "If you would be so kind as to undress?"

His brows rose. "Completely?"

She hesitated. "I'll leave that up to you."

Loki moved closer, feeling predatory. His knees bumped her legs where they dangled over the edge of the bed.

"Would you like me to undress completely?" he asked silkily.

Nervous, she licked her lips, gaze darting up to his face and then away, settling somewhere on his torso. Finally she nodded.

"Would you like to undress me?"

Loki was beginning to enjoy that ready blush quite a bit.

In the end she did undress him, hands trembling ever so slightly, pulse beating visibly at the base of her throat. And when he was naked she stood before him, still fully clothed in her lavender dress, and touched his cock with soft, tentative fingers.

"You remember how to touch me," he mumbled after a few moments of her light, torturous exploration. "There's no reason to be shy."

"I do remember," she said quietly. Her grip on him tightened and he groaned a little bit.

"It came so naturally before," she went on in a low, distant voice. "Like I already knew what to do. Only I didn't, not really."

She looked up at him, hands working his length very slowly, deeply. "Is that strange? It was like I already knew your body."

Loki swallowed a keening breath. It had been so long--her touch was pure, erotic bliss.

"Gods, that's good, Eira. Don't stop."

"I remember everything," she whispered, green-brown gaze almost dreamy. "It felt so natural to touch you. To do all those things. Things I've never even imagined doing."

She looked down at her hands, at his cock twitching desperately between them. One hand dipped down to stroke his base, fingers squeezing. The other twisted tightly around the head.

"I didn't know it could be so good," she went on in that dreamy tone. "So wild."

"Eira," he groaned. "I'm going to come."

Her hands moved faster and he took hold of her shoulders to steady himself as he began to thrust helplessly into her grip.

"I never tasted a man before you," she breathed, still watching. "I never wanted to. But your cock is so beautiful, and the way you smell..."

"Gods, Eira, you're killing me," he rasped, right on the edge.

Abruptly, she let go. The next thing he knew she was kneeling at his feet in a spray of lavender skirts, drawing his cock into her open mouth, one hand fisted around his shaft.

He watched in shock for a moment, and then the orgasm was there, spiraling at the base of his spine. Her velvet tongue seemed to draw it directly out through the tip of his cock as she sucked him, eyes closed, face slack with pleasure.

He heard himself cry out--rough, barking moan--hips snapping, half collapsing over her to brace his hands on the edge of the mattress just behind her shoulders.

She made a sound then--one that he would remember for the rest of his life--a low, humming sob of eagerness, as though each wet spurt was the most dire and delicious thing she had ever tasted. As though she had waited a lifetime for the sensation of his liquid orgasm coursing down her throat.

Afterward, she would say that she had no memory of that sound--only that the sounds he'd made and the pulse of his cock had nearly brought her, too.

"It's even better than it was," she said in quiet awe. "How can it be even better?"

Loki had drawn her up onto the bed with the last of his strength and they lay belly to belly, her lavender skirts tangled around his naked legs and her hair trapped under his cheek.

"I don't know," he replied drowsily. "Maybe because you're ovulating, your body is extra sensitive. Or maybe because it's been so long and neither of us was sure it would ever actually happen again."

"I was sure," she said quietly.

Loki leaned back to look at her in shock. "You were?"

She nodded.

Something about that serious expression and the flush still lingering in her cheeks made him suddenly ache to be inside her again.

He rolled on top of her, rucked her skirts up and pushed her legs apart.

"Loki, what--?"

"Shhh." He leaned down to kiss her, cock finding entrance at the same moment. She gasped around his tongue as he slid home into incredible heat and wetness.

"Only for a minute," he murmured, shuddering at the sensation of her. "I just need to be inside you."

She nodded and kissed him again, arms curling tight around his shoulders, legs lifting to hold his hips.

"I love you," he said roughly, helpless to stop it. "Eira...Gods. I love you."  

Chapter Text

"You shouldn't linger here any longer," Loki said later, both of them still lying in his bed. "The servants will be coming soon to bring my midday meal, and if Odin finds out I've been defiling a proper Lady under his roof, he'll have a roaring fit."

The old man was nothing if not traditional.

Eira snuggled into him, skirts rustling faintly. "He knows what happened on Arvakr, Loki."

"I'm sure he does, thanks to Heimdall. But allowing me to have my way with you here, in his own house, is an entirely different thing."

Her lips grazed his throat. "What can he do?"

"Force us to marry, most likely."

She laughed.

"I'm not joking."

"I know you're not. But Odin can't force me to wed any more than Njord could."

Loki sighed. "He can send you back to Vanaheim, Eira. Would you marry me to escape that fate?"

"I would marry you if you asked," she replied easily.

Loki lay very, very still, ears suddenly full of his own pounding heartbeat.

"Did I hear that right?" he asked in a low, disbelieving voice.

Before she could answer, there was a light rap on the outer door of his chambers.

"That'll be the servants, I guess." Eira sat up, hair a wild, burnished mess. "Should I hide?"

Loki was already on his feet, pulling his trousers on and lacing them rapidly. "Stay here. I'll come get you when they've gone."

He left the bedchamber in a daze, closing the door behind him.

"Enter," he said, and then abruptly remembered that he was still in his Jotun form.

He shifted back as the door swung open on one of Odin's personal envoys, dressed in distinctive red and gold livery.

"Prince Loki," the man bowed dutifully. "The Allfather requests that you and Lady Eir attend him in the throne room at once."

Loki blinked. "Lady Eir?"

"Yes, your majesty. The Allfather awaits you now."

Son of a bitch!

"Thank you," Loki managed stiffly. "Please tell him we will be there directly."

... ... ...

"I guess the servants talked," she said when he told her.

"That, or Heimdall has been keeping an eye on us," Loki replied, yanking on his clothes in a quiet fury.

He caught Eira's disconcerted expression. She sat in the center of his bed, surrounded by a pool of rumpled lavender skirts.

"You hair is a mess," he grumbled. "You look thoroughly ravished. He'll probably banish me back to Arvakr for this."

She smiled. "No, he won't."

"Come here and let me fix your hair," he said impatiently. "There's nothing we can do about your dress, but you should at least try not to look like you tumbled directly out of my bed."

She rose and came to him, stood there dutifully while he used his own comb to tame her hair.

"There. That'll have to do." He looked her over. "You're still flushed. Kindly put a stop to that."

The corners of her mouth kicked up. "You just told me you love me. I'm going to look like this for days."

Again, Loki found himself speechless--if only for a few seconds. Finally he said, "You didn't answer, as I recall."

That seemed to surprise her. "Didn't I? I'm so sorry. I love you." She gave him a broad, almost beatific smile.

"Excellent," he managed faintly, heart beating so hard that it ached. "Now we should hurry to our sentencing."

... ... ...

"So," Odin's voice echoed sharply through the glittering throne room. He sat almost negligently atop the dais, holding his golden staff in one grizzled hand. Looking down at them with his faded but penetrating blue eye. "You've reconciled at last."

"What's this about, father?" Loki demanded, making the word an insult.

Eira's hand slipped into his. He glanced down at her in surprise and she gave him a small, encouraging smile.

"It's been nearly a month," Odin replied calmly, ignoring Loki's venom. "I cannot put Njord off any longer, child."

Loki's eyes narrowed. The old man was looking at Eira, though not unkindly.

Her fingers tightened in Loki's grip.

"What are you--" Loki began.

Odin cut him off. "Njord is dying, son. Frey is eager to take the throne and he has demanded Eir's return. He claims she agreed to the match and he's threatened to end the truce between our realms if I should detain her any longer."

Loki stiffened with rage. "So you'll send her back to that odious bastard?"

"Not if there is just reason for her to stay," the old man replied.

"You mean more just than her right to be free of a man who would abuse her, force her into wedlock, and manipulate her memories?"

"Loki..." Eira murmured quellingly.

Odin stood. "What would you have me do, Loki? Sacrifice the peace between Asgard and Vanaheim for the sake of one woman?"

Loki cursed, let go of Eria's hand to pace away from the base of the dais in a barely controlled rage, one hand slicing through his hair, mind racing.

He spun back and they were both watching him. "What would Frigga say to this?" he demanded fiercely. "Eira was with her for nearly three hundred years. Do you think she would approve of this monstrosity?"

Odin's face stiffened at Frigga's name, but he spoke calmly enough. "Your mother would understand that sacrifices must be made in the name of peace."

Loki swore. "Sacrifices. Of course. Cast an innocent to the wolves so that you can sleep well knowing peace has been preserved," he spat. "Meanwhile Frey will take the throne and have a king's power to back his hatred of Asgard. His hatred of you, father. You truly think your precious treaty will last long under his reign?"

"What would you have me do, Loki?" the Allfather demanded, descending slowly from the throne now, golden armor glittering in the sunlight streaming between the broad pillars on the west side of the room.

"You're the bloody king," Loki snarled, returning to Eira's side as Odin approached the bottom few steps of the dais. "You tell me. There must be something. Some loophole in the treaty. Some way to keep Frey from the throne."

Odin settled on the last step. The low, metallic crack of his staff coming to rest beside him echoed in the momentary silence.

"There is," he said gravely.

Loki blinked. "Well, what the hell is it?"

"Frey must be charged with treason for his attempt to manipulate Eir's memories."

Eira took Loki's hand again and squeezed.

"Treason?" Loki repeated blankly.

"Yes. Memory manipulation--except as a sentence for capital crimes--is a capital crime itself, on Vanaheim and Asgard alike. And since Eir is a descendant of the royal family--"

"His attempt to wipe her represents an attack on the throne," Loki finished, anger draining away on a spark of hope. "But a charge of treason must come from the throne itself. You think Njord would charge his own son?"

"No," Odin said, "But I would."

"I don't understand. How can you charge Frey with treason?" Loki looked to Eira. She was biting her lip, gaze averted. She knew something, he realized. She knew where this was going.

"What the hell is this about?" Loki demanded, looking from Eira to Odin. "What aren't you telling me?"

Eira said softly, "If he's to charge Frey with treason, I have to be a legitimate member of the Asgardian royal family. That's the loophole."

Understanding struck him in a slow wave as she tilted her head back to meet his gaze, green-brown eyes wide and regretful.

"You want me to marry you," he said, in utter disbelief.

He heard her voice from earlier, when they'd lain together in his bed, his confession of love still fresh in the air.

I would marry you if you asked.

"I'm sorry," she whispered, reading his face. "It's not what you think."

"I told her this was the only way before we brought you back from Arvakr, Loki," Odin's deep voice brought Loki's head around to him. "She asked me for time--to find out if the match could be a real one."

"I never would have agreed to such a thing otherwise," Eria added quietly.

A sharp, barking laugh escaped him. "You expect me to believe you would have returned to Frey if you'd found me an unsuitable partner?"

"No," she answered immediately. "I wanted you from the very start. I'll return to Frey only if you find me unsuitable."

Loki just glared at her for a long, heavy moment, during which the throneroom seemed unnaturally still and quiet.

It was too much for him--too impossible to believe. His heart had shrunk painfully in his chest.

Without another word, Loki turned sharply and walked out of the throne room, out of the palace, and down to the stables.

Every movement measured and somehow very brittle, he saddled his horse, mounted calmly, and then rode out into the woods surrounding Asgard's capital at a steady, dignified canter.

He did not return until well after nightfall.

... ... ...

Eira lay curled up in the center of his bed when he arrived back to his rooms. She was asleep, wearing that deep blue dressing gown again, bare feet peeking below the scalloped edge of her satin nightgown.

He stood beside the bed for several minutes looking at her. She'd been crying.

Stupid woman.

He went into the bath and filled the big copper tub, stripped and got in, leaving the door open so he could see Eira sleeping while he washed away the dirt and horse sweat from his ride.

She stirred just as the water was beginning to cool and Loki saw her sit up as he rose from the tub. He pretended not to notice her watching him dry off.

Finally, leaving the towel on draped over the edge of the now-draining rub, Loki strode naked across the room to her.

Eira watched him come with grim, vulnerable eyes.

"Alright," he said when he'd reached the foot of the bed. "Let's hear it."

She took a deep, silent breath. Hesitated. Tried again.

"I'm sorry."

He sneered. "Yes, you mentioned that."

Her eye glittered. "I love you."

"You mentioned that as well." The words were brittle. Bitter.

Eira said nothing more, just watched him with that grave, wounded expression.

Loki walked around to one side of the bed, yanked back the blankets and climbed in. The mattress was so big that he hardly disturbed her in the process. When he settled on his side with his back to her, he could just feel the faint dip in the mattress surrounding where she sat.

After a moment she murmured, "Would you have felt obligated to marry me if I'd told you from the beginning?"

"No," he snapped.

There was a soft, trembling breath.

"Would you have felt pressured, knowing it was Odin's idea? His wish that you wed me?"

Loki didn't answer, anger surging, flooding his head.

"Would you have come to love me if you'd married me out of necessity?"

This question was delivered in a soft, solemn voice, quavering ever so slightly on the word 'love.'

"I loved you on Arvakr," he growled. "You should have told me."

He could actually hear her swallow.

"I'm sorry, Loki."

Good.

Her quiet sniffle made him feel both triumphant and... like a damned beast.

"You should have pursued me more aggressively if you wanted a marriage," he grated. "Or is that why you asked me to dispense with being a gentleman? Were you waiting all this time to be seduced?"

"It wasn't about seduction," she said quietly.

"No? What was it about then? What was your plan all this time? You can't have believed I would simply propose all on my own."

"There was no plan," she replied faintly. "I was trying to figure out if we would still suit. I wanted to tell you, but you were like a stranger--"

In a flash of rage, Loki sat up and turned on her, throwing the blankets back.

"So this is my fault?" he hissed.

"No!" she cried, and then gave a little yelp of fright when he grabbed the front of her robe and yanked her across the blankets to him.

"You wanted to know if we would suit," he growled, "If you could still stomach my attentions now that you remember you're a proper lady."

Her eyes were wide, face pale. "Loki--"

"Yet you want me to stop treating you like a lady."

The apprehension in her eyes both gratified and shamed him, but there was no going back.

"It seems you don't know what you want at all, Eira."

She shook her head, eyes glazed with tears now. "I want you. You know I do," she whispered.

"Let's see how true that is," he said darkly.

Chapter Text

She didn't fight him--though it may not have mattered at the time if she had. In his haze of lust and rage, Loki might have enjoyed it if she fought.

"Tell me you don't want this," he snarled, pushing her down onto the mattress and ripping at her nightclothes. "Say it now."

She shook her head, but her face was pale and she shuddered when he palmed her naked breasts, whimpered when he yanked her legs apart.

"Last chance, Eira."

Again, she shook her head. Her eyes gleamed with tears.

He touched her sex, gritting his teeth against the desire to be rough with the tender flesh. She was so wet that his fingers squelched audibly when he put them inside.

That was it--the last of his control burned away in a searing flash. He flipped her over, tore the ruined robe and nightgown away, mounted her, and drove his cock into that tight, weeping little channel.

Her pussy clutched him, so slick there was almost no resistance, inner muscles fluttering already.

He rode her hard at first, hands braced on the backs of her shoulders, watching his shaft flash in and out of her body, each thrust striking her ass with a loud smack!

She was making a sound he'd never heard before--a continuous sobbing, keening sound that drove him wild, for some reason.

When her ass shone bright, blazing red from his thrusts, he lay himself flush against her back an sunk his teeth into the crook of her neck, not caring that he got some of her hair in the process, nor that she clawed at the blankets and screamed when he did it.

She was coming, he realized distantly, listening to that high, ragged sound as her pussy nipped his cock in rolling spasms.

With one hand he pulled her hair back, forcing her spine to arch--Gods, so beautiful--and bit her a second time, below the ear.

Again, she screeched, pussy clutching him. Loki slowed his thrusts, angling for depth, tip of his cock searching for her cervix. He found it, made her sob and shudder, withdrew completely and slammed inside, straight to that smooth little knot in her depths.

She started making that delicious keening, sobbing sound again.

Loki continued that way for some time, lost to the pleasure of her sounds and the minute reactions of her inner muscles, growling his satisfaction each time she trembled with orgasm, small body shaking helplessly beneath him.

Then he pulled back and watched his cock for a few beats, arched down to leave a trail of bite marks in the smooth muscles of her back, pausing each time his orgasm began to gather. Withdrawing completely because the flexing of her pussy threatened to bring him even when he wasn't thrusting.

He teased the entrance to her body for a while with just the rounded head of his cock, relishing the tight little ring of flesh and the visible wetness flowing from it. And then he took her again in a slow, fluid penetration, down to the the hilt and back, watching the tip pop free of her body before he dipped inside again, cataloguing her inner textures, the soft, wet sounds of their coupling, her harsh breath and his bleeding together in his ears.

When a last he could hold his orgasm back no longer, Eira was limp and almost unresponsive beneath him. She made soft, helpless sounds from time to time, tensed a little when he bit her--but inside, she trembled, pussy weeping continuously, fluttering and seizing.

The pleasure made him feral. He told her what he was going to do in a low, rasping growl as the orgasm solidified at the base of his spine.

"I'm going to come inside you."

She made no protest, only shuddered, head turned to one side, face flushed and slack, eyes closed.

But her pussy rippled. Sucked his shaft in silent eagerness.

Loki hissed with the pleasure of it.

"Coming, Eira... Ahh, gods...coming!"

His animal cry seemed to echo in the dark room as the orgasm swelled and broke like a tidal wave, wracking him from head toe, cock blazing, spine tingling.

She moaned as the first spurt left him, lifted herself minutely to his final, furious thrusts. Climaxed one last time in a slow, silent spasm around the violent jerking of his cock.

And then subsided into the blankets with tears leaking silently from her closed eyes.

...   ...   ...


The shame was almost immediate.

He lay on top of her for only the space of a few ragged breaths before it set in.

Gods, what did I just do?

He lifted himself from her. Looked down. She'd turned her head, face obscured by a dark curtain of hair.

"Eira," he rasped.

She was covered in angry bite marks, cheeks of her ass brilliantly red even in the dim room.

Her breath shuddered.

Gods, she was crying.

Loki picked himself up carefully and knelt on the mattress beside her hip, heart pounding, burning all over with regret. And fear.

She would never want him to touch her again, would she?

He sat back on his heels with a blank sort of resignation.

"It's done," he said roughly, hating himself. "You can't return to Vanaheim now. Frey won't have you. Not with my child growing in your belly."

Eira gave a near-silent sob, shoulders shaking. And then she rose gingerly on trembling limbs, as though her body ached.

Loki braced himself for the look in her eyes. The pain an accusation.

But she didn't look at him. She turned and crawled into his lap.

He caught a glimpse of her face just before she pressed it into his chest--flushed and tear-streaked, creased with red lines from the wrinkles in the bedding.

And then she put her arms around him and released a deep, shuddering breath.

"I'm sorry," she whispered. "Please forgive me."

Loki just sat there, dumbfounded.

"You're still apologizing?" he heard himself asking. His arms rose to cradle her of their own accord.

"I knew you wouldn't do it," she mumbled. "I tried to tell him it was useless. But I couldn't help hoping..."

Odin, she was talking about Odin.

"You couldn't help hoping what?"

"That it would work out somehow..." she sighed into his neck. "I meant to be the one who proposed to you... but I was so terrified you would say no." And then she stunned him by issuing a small, muffled giggle. "I never imagined this outcome."

Loki's head was spinning. "Why are you laughing?"

Her shoulders were shaking with it.

And then he felt fresh wetness on the side of his neck.

By all the bloody Fates, was she crying again?

"I cannot possibly be expected to understand what it happening right now," he said.

Another muffled giggle--a very wet one this time--and then she sat back to wipe the tears from her face.

"I'm relieved, is all," she sniffled, then smiled up at him. "I don't have to go back to Frey, and you gave me a baby." Her eyes welled, "Thank you."

Loki's throat tightened, heart thumping. "There's no guaranteeing you're pregnant," he said gruffly.

It was likely though. Very likely. Asgardian women were incredibly fertile during each period of ovulation. The Vanir--being close genetic cousins to the Aesir--couldn't be any different.

Eira laughed with tears running down her face. "Try again, just to be sure?"

"You want me to fuck you again?" he asked incredulously. "Now?"

She nodded.

"You weren't frightened? You were crying."

"I was," she admitted. "But only because you were so angry and I didn't want to lose you."

It dawned on him finally that all his fears about her had been unfounded. She was the Eira he'd had on Arvakr. Different--shyer, more serious, and quicker to tears--but still the same.

"Did you like it?" he asked roughly.

"Of course I did," she murmured. "I wish you hadn't been so angry, though."

"Because I hurt you?"

She tilted her head to one side. "No. I was a little frightened, but I wanted it. I missed it."

His relief was so intense that his eyes burned a little.

"I love you so damned much, Loki," she said.

"Good," he rasped, pushing her down onto her back and crawling on top. "That works out well for me."

And then he made love to her until the wee hours of the morning.

...   ...   ...


Loki woke from a deep, exhausted sleep to the booming sound of his father's voice.

"You've decided to take Eir's hand, I see."

Eira bolted upright beside him on a sharp gasp, clutching the blankets to her chest.

"There can be no other reason that you would take advantage of an unwed Lady under my roof," the Allfather concluded.

Loki rolled over lazily and glared at the old man standing just inside the bedroom door. Odin's one blue eye glittered with challenge.

"Good morning, father," he drawled.

"I shall announce the union this evening," Odin went on as though Loki hadn't spoken. "We will have a feast--only a small one, mind you, since there's little time to prepare. And tomorrow we hold audience with Njord."

Eira drew in a breath beside him--undoubtedly to tell Odin there would be no wedding--but Loki put one hand on her thigh.

"Perhaps we should invite them to attend the ceremony," he drawled. "As a show of good faith in the continuing peace between our nations."

Odin gave him a martyred look. "You will not bring Lady Eir into your private chambers again until the union is official." With that he turned, red cape flaring behind him as he swept out.

When the outer door clicked shut, Loki turned to look at Eira. She was frowning down at him with an interesting mix of confusion and irritation.

"You didn't really think I would impregnate you and then leave you to raise the child out of wedlock?" he said.

Her lips compressed, eyes sparking. Then she slapped him once rather soundly on his naked chest and cried, "You prick!"

"You asked for it." Grinning, he rubbed the stinging spot on his chest and quoted, "'Anything but this false politeness.'"

Her mouth wobbled unwillingly toward a smile. "That was mean. "

"Well, I'm a terribly vindictive man."

She let go of the blankets, giving him a nice glimpse of her breasts as she bent to kiss him. "You're a treasure."

He cupped her gently and brushed his thumbs over her nipples while she sucked his lower lip. "And you are covered in bruises," he said when she sat back again.

There were marks from his mouth decorating damned near every part of her body, with particular focus on her breasts, hips, and shoulders.

He'd come away with a few marks from her as well this time.

As though reading his mind, she touched the little bruise just above his right nipple, where she'd bitten his chest last night in the grip of an orgasm.

"Do you want me to heal it?" she asked.

"Only if you're planning to give me another this morning."

She smiled. "I think Odin would disapprove of me lingering in your bed that long."

Loki took hold of her arm and pulled her down again, murmuring, "Hurry then."

She had only just climbed over his hips and taken him inside when there was a loud, insistent knock on the outer door.

"That'll be the guards, come to escort you back to your rooms," he said, hands on her thighs, watching the base of his shaft appear and disappear between their bodies.

"Loki, quit," she hissed, bracing her hands on his abdomen in an attempt to quell his lazy thrusting. "What if they come in?"

He took hold of her hips and lifted her far enough to see the edge of his glans, then yanked her back down again. "Mmmm. They won't. Ride me."

After a few more moments of hesitation--and some shameless coercion on Loki's part--she started moving.

It was quick--delightfully so. The guards were still pounding at the door when they reached orgasm together. Eira jammed her hand against her mouth and bit her own knuckles to keep from crying out.

Afterward, Loki dressed her in one of his shirts and dressing gowns--her own nightclothes were unwearable--and walked her to the door with a murmured promise that he would meet her in the gardens later.

Then he dressed himself and went to see his father.

 

Chapter Text

"I don't want her in the same room with that bastard."

"Loki," Odin replied sternly, "It is appropriate that the Lady be present when her abuser is formally accused."

They were in Odin's study--a big, airy room not dissimilar to the central library, though rather more elegantly furnished. The old man stood beside his enormous gilt-trimmed desk, dressed in a simple gold tunic and light armor, his cape and formal breastplate removed.

Loki faced him angrily, arms crossed, legs braced apart as though for battle. "Appropriate it may be, but I still don't want her there."

"Do you think the girl too weak to face him?" the old man countered. "You have so little faith in your woman?"

Loki snorted. "Frey has proven himself unpredictable. She claims he's violent as well. Why should I let her be exposed to potential trauma?"

Odin's eye narrowed, but there was a tiny spark of amusement in the look. "Perhaps you should take this up with your fiance. I wonder if she would appreciate such proprietary behavior."

"I don't give a damn if she does," he lied. "I'm not putting her in danger for the sake of tradition."

"Loki," the Allfather said in tone of fatherly admonishment. "You ought not to think you can deceive me so easily. Whatever you are planning--"

"I'm planning to protect what's mine from a goddamned madman," Loki growled.

Odin regarded him sternly for a moment. "I know you very well, boy. You will not antagonize Frey into an altercation and jeopardize the civil execution of his punishment."

"I wouldn't dream of it," Loki sneered.

Odin's lips thinned. "Very well. If Eir does not wish to attend the audience with Njord, I will allow her to remain safely in her chambers. She will, however, be required to attend the sentencing and give testimony to his crimes against her."

Loki grunted his assent and offered his adopted father a mocking little bow. "Much obliged."

Then he turned and marched out of Odin's office with a grim sense of anticipation.

... ... ...

Meeting in the gardens was a less satisfying affair than Loki had expected. Odin must have put out orders that Loki and his fiance be kept from spending too much time alone with one another; the gardens were alive with palace folk. No sooner did Loki pull Eira into a shady corner or behind a hedge than a trio of chattering Ladies or a couple arm-in-arm came wandering oh-so-casually past. He managed to kiss her a few times in a furtive rush, and once she got her hands inside his trousers for a few delicious seconds, but that was it.

"Come to my rooms tonight," she murmured after their final frustrating episode. "Odin said you weren't to have me in your rooms, but he neglected to mention mine."

Smiling ruefully, Loki shook his head and took her hand, willing his cock to subside as he led her back towards the palace. "As much as I adore your thinking, it's moot. He'll have someone standing guard at your door."

"Would it help, do you think, if we told him I'm already pregnant? There's not much purpose in keeping us apart at this point."

The hedge-lined path grew narrow, forcing them to walk so closely that her skirts nearly tangled in his legs and her shoulder bumped his arm.

"We don't know for sure that you are pregnant," he hissed. "And Odin will have me drawn and quartered if he catches wind that you might be, so keep your voice down."

"I am though," she whispered.

Loki glanced down at her. "There's no way you could--" The look on her face cut him short.

Her lips curled mischievously, eyes sparkling.

"I can feel it," she whispered, putting her free hand on her belly. "There's a little pulse, like the promise of a heartbeat."

"That's ridiculous," he said, though he sounded quite unsure of himself, even to his own ears.

They'd stopped walking and turned to face each other.

"Check," she urged in that smiling whisper, standing so close that their bodies nearly touched. "Use your Seidr, Loki. It's there, I promise you."

But Loki didn't need to check. He'd noticed it immediately, when he'd first kissed her in the back corner of the rose garden half an hour ago.

She didn't taste like apples anymore.

He'd told himself it was his imagination--that he couldn't possibly tell just by the taste of her mouth. He would have to taste her sex to be sure. But she had tasted different yesterday, and now she didn't anymore.

Eira was pregnant.

Only another practiced Volva would be able to confirm it, but she knew. Her eyes were dancing with the knowledge.

And so Loki could no longer dispel his own sureness.

"Loki..." Eira's voice reached him as though from very far away. "Are you alright?"

"I'm fine," he managed. Each syllable seemed to fight his tongue in an effort to remain un-spoken.

He hadn't thought this through, he realized. He hadn't bothered to imagine what it meant that he'd impregnated her. He'd only been thinking to save her from Frey. And... yes, to bind her to him, too--to mark her his own in a way that no one could ever dispute.

He hadn't actually considered the reality of it, though.

His ears began to ring. Eira's face blurred a little before him.

Something touched his cheek--something smooth and very warm. Her hand.

"I'm fine," he said again, not at all sure that it was true. And it must have been clear to Eira, too, that he wasn't quite "fine," because he drew her closer even as he said it, clutching her a little, seeking anchor. Bending to press his face into her hair, her neck, holding her tight against his body.

Eira put her arms around him and held on, fingers in his hair. She was kissing his jaw and cheek in a meandering sort of way. And then his mouth--not meandering anymore at all but drawing and delving.

There was sound nearby--someone clearing his throat. And then a nervous feminine titter.

Loki ignored it and let Eir kiss him--found himself kissing her back in a familiar feverish haze.

Eira was pregnant. Carrying his child. His child.

At last, in a delicious, creeping fog of lust, holding the woman he loved in his arms, Loki let the truth solidify in his mind with all the ringing finality it deserved.

I am going to be a father.

... ... ...


Eira, as it turned out, did want to be present when Frey was charged.

"Absolutely not."

"Loki," she frowned, "I need to face him."

They were in the outer room of Eira's chambers. The door was open. Two guards were posted just outside. Eira had been appointed a lady's maid as well. The girl--now expected to play chaperone--was on the settee in the sitting area, looking down at her hands where they lay clasped in her lap.

Loki looked at the top of the maid's bent head. Her blonde hair was done up in tightly coiled braids. It was the same style Eira wore on a daily basis.

"Astrid knows, Loki. You can speak freely in front of her."

He turned a silencing glare on Eira and hissed, "Why does she know?"

Eira shrugged. "I was happy. I had to tell someone."

"Did you tell the guards as well?" he growled very low.

She gave him a wry look.

"That is exactly why I don't want you in the same room with Frey."

Eira drew him further from the open door, towards the opposite wall and the cold fireplace there. "Frey won't try to harm me in front of everyone. Besides, how would he find out about the pregnancy?"

Loki glowered.

Eira's features lit with realization. "You plan to tell him, don't you?"

When he continued to glower instead of responding, she said, "What good will that do, Loki? It'll only make him furious."

"Let me worry about that," he said finally.

Eira frowned. "You're going to pick a fight with him, aren't you? Why?"

Because I want to kill him.

"Loki," she whispered urgently, as though he'd spoken the thought aloud, "You don't need to do this. Odin will put him away for the rest of his life."

She'd come very close and taken hold of the front of his leather coat. Her proximity and the faint rose scent of her skin brought a flush of heat.

"I don't know what you're talking about," he said, looking down at her decolletage.

She tugged his lapels. "Promise me you won't do anything to antagonize Frey," she whispered.

"You sound just like Odin," he grumbled, hands circling her waist, drawing her closer.

"Promise me," she insisted.

Loki bent to kiss her neck, just above the edge of her gown, murmuring, "I promise nothing."

Her fingers tightened on his lapels. "You will make a mess of things, Loki."

He pulled her flush against the front of his body and kissed her neck again, higher this time. "Things are already a mess, my love."

Eira shivered and curled her arms around his shoulders, turning her face up for a kiss.

The maid--Astrid?-- cleared her throat hesitantly.

"My Lady..." she mumbled.

Eira seemed to remember herself at the last moment, turning her head toward the maid. Loki's kiss landed on her cheek.

He held onto her for a moment, grinning playfully and nipping at her ear as she tried to extricate herself from his embrace.

"Loki, stop!" she cried, struggling not to laugh. "Astrid has to report our behavior straight to Odin, you know."

Reluctantly, he let go and Eira walked over to sit beside the blushing Astrid.

"Do you think he'll be surprised to find out that I've been kissing my fiance?" he asked, resting one arm on the fireplace mantle.

"Don't be flip," she replied. "And please don't do anything rash at the meeting with Frey. Please, Loki."

He gave her a resentful look. "What's in it for me?"

Her lips compressed. "A happy fiancee."

"And how will you express this happiness, hm?" he arched his eyebrows suggestively.

"Not by letting you molest me in front of Astrid."

The maid had gone brilliant red right to the roots of her hair.

"Perhaps young Astrid can be persuaded to look the other way," he suggested.

"Loki, please." Eira attempted a quelling look, but her lips twitched.

In the end Loki managed to steal one very brief kiss before they were called to the throne room to await King Njord and his party--including the illustrious Prince Frey.

... ... ...


Loki and Eir stood side by side atop the dais, right at Odin's elbow, when Heimdal and the King's private guard led Frey and two other Vanir warriors into the throneroom.

"Allfather, I present King Frey of Vanaheim," Heimdall announced, bowing formally before stepping aside.

Beside Loki, Eira stiffened. Frey's narrow grey gaze settled on her almost immediately. Loki took her hand and that cold regard snapped to him. Frey's face showed nothing, but the look in his eyes was deadly.

The man wore elaborate silver armor with a finely wrought design of leafy vines along the edge. His cape and trousers were deep, forest green and his blonde hair peppered with grey.

"King Frey," Odin rose from his throne, voice echoing. "What of your father?"

"My father passed yesterday morning," Frey replied, utterly without emotion. His resemblance to Frigga was uncanny, though everything that had been soft and warm in her form was cold and sharp in Frey's.

"I am grieved to hear it," Odin replied. "How did he die?"

Frey blinked at this, and both Loki and Eira glanced at the Allfather in surprise. The question was an inappropriate one--one that suggested suspicion.

"He was very old," Frey replied coldly. "It was his time." He looked at Loki again, and then at Eira. "I've come for my woman. I see you've taken good care of her. I thank you for that."

Odin lifted one hand minutely and his guard, stationed in groups of three at intervals around the outer edge of the throne room, came to attention with a rattle of armored feet on stone.

"I'm afraid the Lady does not wish to return to you, brother," Odin replied.

Loki smiled.

Frey and his two men looked around at Odin's guard as they stepped forward in their red and gold armor, weapons at the ready. There were more than twenty of them. Frey's two guards raised their swords and crouched in defense of their king, but their eyes were wide, nervous.

"What is the meaning of this?" Frey demanded.

"King Frey Njordson of Vanaheim, you are charged with treason for the abuse of Lady Eir by forceful memory manipulation," Odin announced. "Surrender your weapons."

"What?" Frey bellowed. "You can't charge me with treason--"

"I can, and I have," Odin interrupted. "In a few days, Lady Eir weds my son, Loki."

Frey's eyes widened with rage as Odin's guards closed in. The Vanir warriors dropped their weapons and Frey spun on them, bellowing, "How dare you! Pick up your weapons and protect your king!" But the two men looked away and held up their hands in surrender.

"Cowards!" he screamed, then rounded on Odin again, lips drawn back from his teeth in a furious grimace. "You have no right to take what is mine, you arrogant old man," he snarled, gaze flicking to Eira. "You've already had my sister. Now you'll take my wife and my throne as well?"

"I've no interest in your throne, Frey," Odin answered calmly. "And I find it telling that you do not deny the accusations of abuse against Lady Eir."

Loki looked down at the woman beside him. Her face was pale, eyes trained on Frey with visible anxiety.

"Of course I don't deny it," Frey spat. "To deny the accusations of that worthless slut would only give them credence."

Rage brough Loki lurching forward, conjuring a knife in one hand, consumed with the thought of burying the blade directly in Frey's gut.

Odin caught his knife arm and Eira clasped his other hand in both of hers.

"And what say your men?" Odin asked, never taking his eyes from Frey as the guards closed in on him and his two warriors. "Do you stand with your King? Do you believe him innocent?"

The two warriors looked at each other, hands still held up in surrender.

"Speak!" Frey barked.

One of them, a young man with black hair and wide blue eyes blurted, "He killed King Njord."

Frey turned on him, sword drawn, and the throne room erupted in violence.

 

Chapter Text

It was over in seconds. Two of Odin's guards yanked the young Vanir warrior out of harm's way and another blocked the lunge of Frey’s sword. There was a brief fight--the clang of blades and the cries of several men rang loud in the room. Loki broke away from Eira and his father, but before he reached the bottom of the dais, the guards took Frey to the ground.

The Vanir King cursed and spat as they chained him, looked up at Eira when they yanked him to his feet and cried, “You whore! I'll see you hanged for this!”

Loki crossed to them in a rage and struck Frey a ringing blow to the jaw. The man went limp between the two guards that held him, blood trickling from his open mouth.

“Loki,” Odin barked. “There is no honor is striking a helpless man.”

“Perhaps not,” Loki replied. “But there certainly was a good deal of satisfaction in it.”

One of the guards holding Frey smirked.

The two Vanir warriors had been drawn away from the fight and stood in a circle of Odin's guards.

“You,” Loki pointed to the younger one with the black hair. “Did you see him murder Njord?”

“Yes, your Majesty,” the man replied. “We were sworn to secrecy under threat of death.” He glanced at the other Vanir warrior, a slightly older man with sandy brown braids. The older man nodded. “He had all the guards loyal to Njord executed.”

“Bring them here,” said Odin, descending the dais now to stand beside Loki. “And take Frey to his cell.”

The guards holding Frey nodded dutifully and dragged the unconscious man away. The others brought the two warriors forward.

“Loki, tend to your woman,” Odin gestured behind him.

Loki looked up the dais as Odin began to question Frey's warriors.

Eira stood beside the throne, hands clasped tightly at her waist, face pale.

Not my woman, he thought. My wife. Mother of my child.

The thought filled him with pride and something like triumph.

“Eira,” he held out a hand, returning his knife to the place from which he'd conjured it.

She came down the steps to him and he saw that she was very near tears.

Behind him, the two Vanir warriors were confessing that Frey had gone mad when Lady Eir disappeared.

“He imprisoned his cousins when Njord fell ill,” the older one was saying. “Because he thought they were plotting to take the throne. He beat the palace servants for the smallest slights. Tormented the ladies who once served his sister. He even went into town and…”

Loki lost the rest of it as Eira reached him. “Let's go,” he said, leading her away. “It's done now. There's no reason for us to linger.”

Eira nodded, eyes filling. Her hand shook a little when she placed it in his.

“I thought you were going to start a fight,” she murmured as they passed out of the throne room and into the hall towards Loki's chambers. “But he did it all on his own.”

She laughed a little bit, but there was a sob just underneath the quavering sound.

Loki drew her into the nearest alcove and pulled her in for a kiss. She turned her face up and opened her mouth to him. He tasted tears and held her tighter.

“It's alright,” he said a moment later. “It's over.”

“I love you,” she breathed, eyes closed, cheeks wet, kissing his chin and jaw.

“Mmm,” he stroked her back. “And I love you.”

She leaned into him, reaching for another kiss. Sucking his tongue when he gave it to her, flat belly pressing his cock.

“What now?” she whispered.

“Now,” he peeked down the hall towards the throne room, “I make love to you while Odin and the guards are distracted.”

…  …  …

 

They didn't even make it to the bed. Loki closed the door of his chambers and pushed her against it, yanking her skirts up as he kissed her, lifting her just high enough to push inside when she freed his cock from his trousers.


Eira gasped and wrapped her legs around him, gripping his shoulders with both hands, rolling her hips into each urgent thrust.

“Mine,” he growled, sucking her neck.

“Yes,” she whispered. “Faster, Loki. Bite me.”

Loki complied, driving her against the heavy wood panel so hard it actually creaked a little, bending to suck the upper slope of her breast between his teeth.

She came when he bit down, and then again a few minutes later when he reached his own peak.

Her sex was still fluttering when he pulled out and carried her to the settee, where he knelt between her legs and growled, “Hold this,” as he thrust her skirts up over her chest.

Then he sucked her for a while, scraping the lips of her sex with his teeth and making her gasp. Holding her open so he could worry at her clit with lips and tongue. Pushing his fingers inside to feel her clench when the orgasm gripped her.

And then he had her again with her hips dangling over the edge of the cushion, torso curled against the back of the settee so her chin rested on her chest, thighs spread wide around his body.

“I want the real Loki this time,” she whispered, eyes dark with hunger.

Loki shifted back to his Jotun form and drank her expression of lust and pleasure straight into his heart.

“Look,” he whispered, holding her crumpled skirts flat across her abdomen, “Can you see?”

Eira looked, hazel eyes hooded.

“See how wet?” he rasped, watching his thick blue shaft move between the lips of her sex. “How pink you are?”

He touched her swollen clit with his thumb and she moaned, eyelids fluttering.

“Look, Eira,” he growled. “Watch me.”

Her gaze focused between their bodies. Loki pulled out, cock impossibly stiff and gleaming. She touched the glossy pink head with warm fingertips and he thrust against them.

“Want to suck you,” she whispered.

“Not now.” He pushed inside again, straight to the base. “Gods, you're so tight.”

“Please, Loki.”

Hearing that soft, husky plea, he relented. Crawled up onto the settee on his knees, straddling her hips, naked cock bobbing above her face.

She lifted herself far enough to take him and he watched the round head disappear between her lips, groaning as she began to suck.

Her low hum of pleasure went straight to his balls.

“Use your hands,” he rasped, then gripped the back of the settee above her head and thrust gently into the tight grip of her fingers, into her mouth.

She took him so deep he felt her tonsils around the head. Felt her swallow convulsively. Drew back and then groaned again when she followed the movement, tongue writhing, sucking him like she would draw some much-needed nourishment directly from his cock.

“Gods, that's good. Don't stop, love.”

She cupped his balls and rolled them tenderly. Pleasure throbbed in every nerve, bouncing between her hands and her mouth. Thrumming along his sex, along his spine.

“Coming,” he rasped, and then watched his shaft pulsing in her mouth as she drank it.

“Eira, bloody hell, that's good!”

When he finally withdrew she licked her lips and looked up at him, face flushed.

“Again?” she asked.

Loki laughed raspily and collapsed beside her on the settee, head coming to rest on the low arm, one leg tangled in her skirts. “I don't think we'll have time for another. Odin will realize soon that we're unsupervised and send us a chaperone. Or two.”

“He thinks you're comforting me, though.” She pushed her skirts down and crawled on top of him, sprawling across his chest.

“I was comforting you, wasn't I?”  

“Mmm,” she snuggled in. “Quite skillfully.”

Pleased with himself, limbs heavy, Loki touched the naked skin above the back of her dress with long azure fingers, stroking lazily. “You're welcome.”

They lapsed into silence for while. And then Eira mumbled unexpectedly, “I should have said something.”

“What?” Loki leaded sideways to get a look at her face. “What are you talking about?”

“Frey,” she said, turning her face down so he couldn't read her expression. “I should have confronted him.”

Loki wanted to tell her that was silly--she never needed to speak to or think of that bastard ever again--but the words caught in his throat.

“He tormented me for so long…” she sighed. “I was too afraid to confront him, even with you and Odin there. Even with the guards holding him.”

He could hear the resentment in her voice. She thought herself a coward.

“You have nothing to be ashamed of,” he murmured.

There was another silence. Finally she said, “He kept me isolated from everyone in the palace. I don't know what he told the other Ladies, but they wouldn't come near me. Even the servants weren't allowed to talk to me about anything beyond their duties.”

Loki lay quiet beneath her, feeling that if he spoke--if he said the wrong thing--she would stop talking. And he wanted fiercely to know what she had been through.

“The first time I openly refused to marry him, he cut off all my hair and locked me in my room for a week and wouldn't let the servants bring me any food.”

She delivered this story in a dull voice, as though it meant very little to her, but Loki understood there was rage and pain beneath that dullness. He felt rage and pain--for her.

“That was a year ago,” she went on. “The second time I refused he had my herb garden burnt. All my healing herbs…” her voice broke a little. “Do you know how long it takes to cultivate Eirflower?”

“No,” Loki said quietly.

“Fifty years before the plant matures enough to produce blossoms. Fifty years. Eirflower tonic will heal almost any wound, Loki. And he burnt them.”

At a loss and aching with the need to comfort her, Loki simply drew her closer and held on.

“I wish I could hate him,” she said bitterly. “But I guess I don't have it in me.”

“I hate him for you.”

She pressed her face into his chest, slender shoulders tense.

“It’s alright,” he murmured. “Go on.”

She sobbed once quietly, and then again on a soft gasp. Her whole frame shook with it.

It seemed a long time before the shaking stopped. The front of Loki's coat and tunic were both damp when it was over.

When she lifted herself from his chest he produced a handkerchief and watched as she wiped her face.

Then she handed it back to him and started pulling at her skirts, positioning herself across his hips.

“What are you doing?”

“Once more,” she whispered, movements suddenly urgent. Her hand found him beneath the voluminous fabric of her dress, stroked him quickly.

“Eira--” he began, cutting off on a groan when she brought herself down on the head of his cock. He went from half hard to fully erect in a matter of seconds as she worked his length up inside her body.

“By all the Fates,” he breathed, gripping her thighs. She was already moving, rolling her hips in tight figure eights, up and down, panting above him with her lips parted and eyes half-closed.

“Loki,” she whispered roughly, “Make me come.”

He reached under her skirts and found her sex, worked her clit between his thumb and forefinger.

She climaxed in seconds, gasping sharply, hips bouncing with an intensity that made him breathless, face contorted with something like desperation.

He was still hard--buried to the hilt inside her--when she stopped moving and slumped onto his chest.

“Sorry,” she whispered raggedly. “Loki...sorry.”

“Shh.” He put his arms around her, wondering what she was apologizing for. “It's alright.”

Exhaustion seemed to swamp her. Eira grew limp against him, breath slow and even.

Even with his cock at full attention, Loki felt no desire to continue. He touched her back again, her hair, thinking about the things she'd told him. The years she'd spent alone on Vanaheim, surrounded by people who should have been caring for her. Protecting her.

Well, that was over now.

“I'm here,” he murmured, touching her hair again.

It was a good feeling. Almost as good as the feeling of Eira's breath on his throat. Her hair slipping between his fingers.

It was peaceful.

He was just drifting off himself when the outer door swung open on silent hinges.

Odin stood alone in the doorway, craggy face lined with temper.

Loki smiled. Held one blue finger to his lips and whispered, “Shh. She's sleeping.”

Chapter Text

He didn't see Eira for the rest of that day, nor during the night. Loki was confined to his rooms, and Eira as well.

Odin probably had her cloistered with a bevy of servants to prepare her for their wedding. She didn't have any family to tend to her during the preparations--normally her mother, sisters, or other female family members would be with her.

She wouldn't have any ancestral gift for him, either--another tradition of the union. He would receive no family sword or other heirloom weapon to symbolize the passing of protective duties from father to husband.

Not that he gave a damn about the rituals. Eira would be his, that was all he cared about.

Although, he did look forwards to his own part in the matrimonial exchange. Loki was expected to offer a family weapon to Eira as well. One that would be passed down to any son she might bear him. He'd chosen the knife Frigga gave him the year he'd reached his own maturity. It had been her grandfather's.

He would teach his son to use it, when the boy came of age.

Of course, they might have a daughter, he reasoned. Loki was surprised to find the thought of a daughter equally pleasant as that of a having son.

He would teach her to use knives, too, he decided. And if any of their children had the gift--they likely would, given the gifts of their parents--Loki would teach them sorcery as well.

The prospect of fatherhood had become quite a delight, he realized. His initial shock had been short-lived. There was still a lingering sense of dread though, which he pushed to the very back of his mind and summarily ignored.

He hadn't spoken of these things with Eira yet. Suddenly he longed to do so.

In a few days, he thought. Plenty of time after that. All our lives to talk. And make love.

Hell, they might end up with a whole litter of children, the way things were going.

Not that he would complain. Eira would be an excellent mother. Like Frigga.

The rest of the palace bustled with preparations--for their engagement feast tomorrow as well as the wedding. Loki’s wedding clothes were brought to him for a final fitting, and he wondered idly what Eira would wear. Mostly because he was looking forward to taking it off her.

Though... it might be nice to consummate their union fully dressed. He liked the idea of making love to her with her wedding gown pushed up around her hips. It had been terribly arousing to take her that way against the door. And on the settee. Not that he intended to consummate their wedding on the settee. He would have her in the bed, of course. Then perhaps a round or two in someplace less traditional.

Asgardian honeymoons consisted of a seven day period of isolation, during which the newlywed couple were expected not only to consummate, but to get to know each other. Royal matches were usually diplomatic affairs, as opposed to romantic ones. It was somewhat unusual for the bride and groom to have more than a cursory courtship, much less already be in love. And pregnant.

He found himself pacing his rooms with a full blown erection, thinking of those seven days alone with Eira. He discarded the thought of relieving himself in favor of storing the sexual energy for his wedding night.

She would be his wife the next time he had her. The thought made him throb, for some reason. Lust and love and half a dozen other feelings swirled through his body.

Gods, I'll drive myself mad thinking about it.

He tried to read, to no avail. Paced his rooms some more. Considered what kind of wedding gift he would give her. It wasn't tradition, but Odin had given Frigga a gift--a beautiful hand-wrought gold and silver cuff she'd worn every day of her life. He wondered briefly what had come of that cuff. Figga would have been pleased to see it passed down to her first daughter-in-law.

Then again, he liked the idea of giving Eira something original--something of his own making.

Something she would never forget.

The idea came almost instantly.

Oh, yes. That's perfect.

Suddenly his desire to see her redoubled. He would give his gift to her now if he could.

Loki stuck his head outside in the hopes that the guards may have been called away for some reason.

Nope. They looked at him with eyebrows raised. One of them smirked in understanding. It was the same guard who had smirked when he punched Frey, Loki realized. A man Loki's age, with dark red hair and blue eyes.

Loki gave him a wry look and withdrew into his rooms again. Paced some more, aching for Eira's company. He could get by the guards easily enough. Odin knew that. The armored sentries were less a hindrance than a reminder that the Allfather was watching. Or, rather more likely, Hemdall was watching. Loki could conceal himself from the Guardian as well, if he really wanted to, but his disappearance would draw instant suspicion.

There was really no way to get to her without Odin finding out.

At least, not physically.

Abruptly, he had an idea.

Why he hadn’t thought of it before, he could not imagine. Even Heimdall couldn’t see psychic projections.

Loki went into his bedroom and closed the door, sat on the edge of the bed, and projected himself into Eira's rooms.

He kept himself invisible at first, but somehow it didn't surprise him the Eira knew he was there.

She was sitting at the table in the outer room of her chambers, looking at reams of fabric with a trio of servants.

“I like this one,” she was saying, touching a length of luminous green fabric. It was Loki's green. Several of the reams were. “But I'd like the bodice to be blue.”

It was at this point that her back stiffened slightly and she turned to look over her shoulder. Directly at the place where Loki's invisible projection stood.

Her mouth quirked.

“Blue, my lady?” the eldest of the three servants asked in surprise. Eira turned back to the palace seamstress--a plump, aging woman with tightly woven salt-and-pepper braids. “But yer own colors are green and red,” the woman was saying. “And Prince Loki's green will blend so prettily…”

“I know,” Eira interrupted gently. “I'd like our greens blended in the skirts. My green at the bottom, and Loki's at the top. The bodice…” she flipped some fabrics aside and pulled a wide book of samples from beneath the pile. A moment later, pages open, she pointed to a swatch of deep, vibrant azure. “This one,” she said decisively.

Loki felt a jolt of surprise and something else. His heart twinged. Swelled.

The swatch she'd chosen was exactly the color of his Jotun flesh.

The ladies around the table were exclaiming over her choice, saying things like, “Oh, my Lady, you'll have the most beautiful dress!” and “Won't this color look so lovely with your skin!”

“I'd like the bodice to have snaps down the front as well,” Eira said. “For easy removal.”

The ladies tittered and blushed--all but the seamstress herself, who nodded sagely. “We can disguise them with a beaded pattern like this,” she laid a design on top of the book and Eira smiled as the ladies went off into another storm if excited compliments.

Eira glanced back at him--at where he would have been, if he were visible--and tilted her head towards the bedroom door.

“Ladies, thank you so much for your assistance. I'm very excited about my dress, but I am a bit tired now. I think I might take a wee nap, if you don't mind.”

There was a chorus of feminine agreement. Two of the ladies gathered their books and fabrics and exited Eir's chamber. The third, he realized, was Eira's maid, the young Astrid.

“Will you see than I'm not disturbed for at least an hour?” Eira asked her.

Astrid nodded. “Shall I postpone your lunch, my Lady?”

“Please.”

Loki was already in her room, beside the bed, when she slipped in and shut the door behind her.

He hadn't been in her bedchamber before. It smelled of her--roses and clean skin. The bed was a bit smaller than his, done up in soft lavender bedding.

“Show yourself, sir,” Eira said in a low voice, hands on her hips.

Her face split in a smile when he did.

“Why did you not tell me you could do projections?” she demanded, crossing the room to him.

“Didn't think of it.” He smiled down at her as she brought a hand to his chest. Her fingers met with bright green light and empty air.

Her face lifted to his. “Kiss me, ghost Loki.”

He chuckled and bent, brushing her mouth in a flare of green light.

“Mmm. It tingles a little,” she murmured.

“Is there anywhere else you'd like me to tingle you?” he asked.

“I could think of a few places, but I do believe we're meant to be saving ourselves for marriage.”

Loki watched her back away and lift herself onto the edge of the bed, kicking off her slippers as she went.

“Well, I don't think making love to a ghost really counts,” he said.

Her lips curved up at the corners. “That’s true. Do ghosts even have the proper equipment?”

“This one does.”

One of her eyebrows arched. “Let's see it.”

Back in his rooms, Loki opened his trousers. His projection did the same.

Eira regarded his erection hungrily. “I do believe it's even prettier than the real thing.”

“Shh,” he said, taking hold of it with one hand. “You'll embarrass him.”

Her gaze followed his hand as he stroked himself.

“This is really not where I anticipated this would go,” she murmured, blushing a bit.

Loki drifted closer, until he stood directly in front of her. “Want me to stop?”

Still staring at his hand--at his cock--she shook her head. “Gods, no.”

“Care to join me?”

She did look up then, brows lifting. “Huh?”

He gave her a dark look and her blush deepened.

“I'm not sure I'm quite that bold.” That green-brown gaze dropped to his sex again.

“You were very bold yesterday,” he said, stroking himself down to the base. Watching her eyes darken.

“I was,” she said faintly.

“Lie back.”

She hesitated, biting her lip.

“Go on,” he murmured. “I'll make it good. I promise.”

Slowly, she scooted back and lay down, lower legs dangling over the side of the mattress.

“Lift your skirts.”

She licked her lips nervously, gaze dipping again to his sex. But her hands began to bunch the fabric around her thighs, revealing her legs to him a few inches at a time.

When she had the hem gathered nearly to her hips, he said, “Legs up.”

She hesitated, drew her feet up onto the mattress, knees together.

“Open,” he rumbled. “Show me.”

Swallowing, she obeyed.

“Wider,” he growled.

Smooth copper-skinned thighs parted wide, exposing a patch of glossy curls. The flesh beneath them was already flushed with arousal.

Loki’s breath came a little faster. “You're so pink here,” he murmured, stroking himself a little faster. “Gods, every time I look at it, I want to suck you.”

Eira licked her lips nervously, face almost as pink as her sex. But her gaze was steady, moving between his face and his cock.

“Your breasts,” he rasped.

She let go of her skirts and tugged at the bodice of the dress until her nipples popped free of it.

Loki made a low sound of appreciation. The stiff fabric held her flesh up high, biting into the undersides of those smooth, silky mounds.

“Touch them,” he commanded.

She did it hesitantly at first. And then--reading the pleasure on his face--with more confidence, fingers sliding, plumping. Pulling the little pink tips until they hardened.

Loki groaned. “You are so beautiful.”

A trickle of glossy fluid shone at the entrance to her body.

“Now your sex,” he demanded.

Her hand appeared over the parted lips and dark reddish curls. Slender fingers slipped between.

“Inside,” he rasped, and waited until her fingers obeyed. “Now your clit.”

The little nub glistened with wetness when she touched it, slipping this way and that under the pads of her fingers.

“Rub it like I would,” he said, watching hungrily as she complied. “Gods, yes. Like that, round in circles.”

He wanted to get closer to those slender digits and the little ball of nerves rolling wetly beneath them, but if he knelt she wouldn't be able to see his cock anymore, and her eyes were trained there even now,  glazed with arousal. Her other hand gripped one breast almost roughly--unselfconscious now--and then moved to the other, rolling the flesh just the way he would have done. The way he had done many times.

By Valhalla, it was arousing to see her pleasure herself, knowing she imagined his hands on her body.

“I'm touching myself in my rooms, Eira,” he rasped, hand moving faster on his cock. “When I come it will be real.”

She made a sound like a sob, breath catching, hips flexing.

“Make yourself come for me,” he rasped.

She nodded, eyes hooded now, fingers working, lifting herself to her own touch. He was right on the edge, watching her.

“I can see your pussy flexing,” he rasped, pumping himself rapidly now. “Gods, I want to put my cock in you.”

She moaned. Whispered, “Loki….close.”

“Me too. Right now…” he fisted himself and pumped the head nice and fast, imaging Eira's sex clutching him. Wet and tight and so bloody hot. “Ah! Eira...coming!”

She cried out as he arched above her, both of them watching the spurts leave his cock in quick little arches, disappearing before they could land on her exposed sex, on her still-moving hand.

Eira whimpered seconds later as she came, hips lifting clear off the mattress, legs shaking, head thrown back in ecstasy.

There was a knock at the door before her final trembles had ceased. They both froze.

“My Lady?” came Astrid's muffled call. “Are you alright? I heard a cry.”

 

Chapter Text


Loki smirked down at his fiancee, hand still on his cock. Eira’s legs snapped shut. Her face went very, very pink.

Astrid rapped again lightly. “My lady?”

“Yes!” Eira called, paralysis broken. She sat up, pushing her skirts down, voice husky and breathless. “I'm fine Astrid. I've had a bad dream is all.”

Loki smirked and she gave him a quelling look.

Astrid called, “Would you like some tea, my lady? Or perhaps a tonic to calm your nerves?”

“No, thank you, Astrid,” she called in a slightly more composed voice. “Don't trouble yourself, dear. I think I'll have a bath. I'll be out in a little while.”

“Yes, my Lady.” The girl actually sounded disappointed.

“A bad dream, was it?” he murmured.

Eira glared repressively and batted Loki away as he tucked himself into his trousers.

“She might have heard you,” she hissed.

“Your maid adores you,” he said. “I'm willing to bet she'd let me sneak in if you asked her.”

Eira was straightening her skirts and attempting to smooth her hair. “Yes, and I'm rather fond of her as well, which is why I won't ask her to lie to Odin on my behalf.”

Loki sighed. “I suppose that's reasonable.”

Her braids had come undone in a few places, little reddish curls poking out here and there in a very charming manner.

“She does a lovely job with your hair,” he murmured. “Would you like to keep her when we're married?”

Eira rose from the bed and crossed towards the bath. “That would be wonderful, actually. Will we stay here at the palace after the wedding?”

“Perhaps for a week or two,” he replied, trailing behind her. “Odin will likely give us an estate somewhere in the country for our permanent residence, though. Someplace near enough to keep an eye on me, but far enough that we can have a bit of autonomy.”

“That sounds nice,” she said, flipping on the lights and bending to open the taps over the enormous copper tub.

“You look delicious right now,” he murmured, watching her pull the pins from her hair and set them on the vanity, bronze locks falling loose around her shoulders. “You always look delicious. May I join you for your bath?”

She smiled at him. “I would be terribly disappointed if you didn't.”

“Wonderful. Give me just a moment to clean up the mess I've made in my rooms.”

She blushed. “Of course.”

Loki withdrew his projection long enough to clean up the cooling ropes of come now decorating the floor beside his bed. Luckily, they'd fallen on the hardwood and not the rug.

By the time he returned to Eira she was out of her dress and peeling the silk slip off over her head.

“What a lovely view,” he said, making her jump.

She laughed a little when she saw him standing in the doorway. “That was fast.”

He grinned. “Didn't want to miss the show.”

She tossed the slip onto the puddle of fabric that was her dress.

“I know you can't get in,” she said, looking him up and down, “But it seems ages since I've seen you naked.”

Her nipples were tight, the burnished curls between her legs visibly damp.

“You mean since day before yesterday?” He grinned.

Her gaze had settled on the tent forming at the front of his trousers.

“Has it only been that long?” she murmured.

Loki smiled and began to undress as Eira stepped into the tub, submerging herself slowly in the steaming water. He could have easily used seidr to make himself appear naked--or to simply remove his clothes all at once. But undressing the old fashioned way brought it's own special pleasure.

Eira’s gaze followed every movement, remaining locked on him until the last garment was discarded.

Loki perched naked on the edge of the tub beside her. “Is there anything else I can do to please you, my Lady?”

Slowly, water licking at her chin, she nodded.

A few minutes later, turned toward Eira so that she had an unobstructed view, his ghostly legs glowing green in the gently sloshing water, Loki brought himself to orgasm again for her pleasure.

At his direction, she sat up on her knees and brought her breasts just above the waterline as he neared climax. Had he actually been in the room, his come would have landed directly on the glistening mounds.

When it was over, he said something to this effect. She flushed deeply and replied, “If you were in the room I would have let you.”

After she washed, he ordered her to stand beside the tub with one foot on the lip and insert the handle of her silver hairbrush into her body. She came like that, pumping the brush inside and rubbing her clit with the other hand.

He told her to close her eyes while she did it and imagine it was his cock inside her.

“It doesn't feel like you,” she said. “Too small.”

“Use your imagination,” he growled, stroking himself again, inflamed by the sight of her.  

Afterward she let the hairbrush clatter to the floor and slumped into a sitting position on the edge of the tub.

“No more,” she panted. “Astrid will think I've drowned if I don't come out soon.”

Loki relented, still blazing with fever despite his recent orgasm.

“It's not as satisfying this way, is it?” she said a few minutes later while he watched her dress. “Two orgasms and I’m aching like nothing happened.”

“It's not,” he agreed. “But it was lovely, wasn't it?”

She smiled. “I never imagined watching you do that could be so arousing.”

“You've seen me touch myself before.”

“Not all the way through to the end,” she replied. “I want to see that in person next time.”

“You mean on our wedding night?” He grinned. “You want to consummate our vows with masturbation?”

She shook her head--not in denial, in wry (and slightly embarrassed) amusement.

“I think I'd like you to tie me again, too,” she murmured, avoiding his gaze.

“Eira,” he rasped, on a hot surge of lust, “I will gladly debauch you in whatever way you like. We should, however, be cognizant of your delicate state.”

She licked her lips. “If you're going to be gentle with me for the next fifteen months until this baby is born, I will lose my mind.”

“Eira…”

“You can't hurt the baby by making love to me, Loki. I promise you.”

She was right, of course. And the idea of restraining himself for so long was agonizing, but doing what he'd done to her on Avakr, or even taking her as roughly as he had less than two days ago…

Dammit. Why couldn't Vanir women have such blessedly short pregnancies as humans?

“Our child will be more than half Jotun, Loki. He can handle a little jostling,” Eira insisted.

The anxiety Loki had pushed to the back of his mind came surging forward. More than half Jotun. His chest tightened.

Loki forced a smile. “I suppose you're right. You think it's a he, hm?”

Her gaze was steady, knowing. “Mm-hm. I had a dream about him last night.”

“Oh?” The volva of Vanaheim were well known for their prophetic talents. Dream-seeing was a common gift among them. “What did he look like?”

Fully dressed now in a simple blue gown, Eira drifted closer to him where he sat on her bed. “He was beautiful.”

“Yeah?” He couldn't keep the note of doubt from his voice.

“Loki...” she murmured, reading his face. “I wish I could touch you right now.”

“I'm alright.” He waved her concern away. “Did he look like you, or like me?”

She touched his cheek, projection glowing green where her fingers passed through. “Both. More like you though.”

His heart squeezed. “How much like me?”

Eira smiled. “Your face, your lips,” her fingers grazed them, “Green eyes, my hair, but with your curls.”

“And his skin?” he prompted.

Eira bent to brush her lips along his ghostly cheekbone and he wished like hell that he could feel it. “Like yours,” she murmured.

Loki closed his eyes. “Blue, you mean.”

“Mm-hm. Lighter though. Like the sky on a summer day.”

He released a long, shuddering breath. “Did he have the markings?”

“No,” she said, with a touch of disappointment. “But he had your gifts. He changed into a wolf and called me Mama.”

Loki leaned forward as though to rest his head on her breast, eyes suddenly burning. Pain and joy fought for dominance in his heart.

“What shall we name him, do you think?” she asked quietly.

“I don't know,” he said, thinking. Heart aching. “How about Ulfr?”

It was a good name. A warrior's name.

“Mm. I like that. We'll spell it the Jotun way, with an i. Ulfir. Best of both worlds.”

He laughed almost voicelessly. It was a humorless sound. “You don't care that your child will be different from every other child on Asgard?”

“Of course I care,” she replied. “I'm thrilled.”

He looked up at her, eyes burning. Angry, he realized. And wounded. It was an old wound, though. Reopened by the thought of his son growing up in the glittering court of Asgard.

“The people of Asgard see my kind as monsters,” he rasped.

Slowly, she shook her head. “Your people love you, Loki. You should hear the way the ladies speak of you. They may not understand you, but they love you anyway. They will love our son as well.”

He couldn't quite believe it, despite her conviction. “If he has my gifts, it will be easier.”

She frowned. “You will not teach our child to conceal himself from the world, Loki. You were unfortunate enough to grow up thinking that what you are is monstrous, but that doesn't mean our son should, too. ”

“This is Asgard. Have you read our history books? Heard the bedtime stories mothers tell their children here?”

“No, I have not,” she shot back. “And if they have anything to do with your hatred for your ancestry, I never will.”

“He'll hear things from other children, Eira. He'll see the way people look at him. Can you protect him from that?”

Her eyes blazed. “I don't care. I won't encourage my child to be ashamed of who and what he is. And if you do, Loki, so help me, I will make you regret it.”

There was a terse, angry silence.

Loki shuddered, hands fisting. Fought the emotion tightening his throat.

“Come to my rooms,” he rasped.

She frowned, confused by his sudden turn. “You know I can't.”

“I need to hold you.”

The temper in her expression faltered, and then bled quickly away. She took a step towards him, one hand raised, and then seemed to remember that she couldn't touch him.

“Loki…” She sighed. Looked at the closed bedroom door and thought for a moment. “I'll see what I can do.”

She sent him back to his rooms with directions to project himself again if he didn't hear from her in half an hour.

Twenty minutes later there was a knock at his door.

She was there when he opened it, along with her maid and the two guards Odin had assigned to her. With Loki's two guards in the mix as well, the hall outside his room was very crowded.

He didn't care.

They all looked away when he embraced her, said nothing when he kissed her. Stood in silent acquiescence for long minutes while he took his fill of her comfort.

And when at last he let Eira pull away, Astrid was beaming, despite her blush. Even the guards were fighting not to smile.

Loki ignored them.

“I love you,” he said, looking down at his fiancee.

She grinned. “Me too. So much.”

Chapter Text

The engagement feast began early the next afternoon and lasted well into the night. It was a small one, as royal feats went, but lavish nonetheless.

Loki danced with his fiancee all night, sat beside her at their table on Odin's dias and fed her from his plate. Kissed her shamelessly in front of his father and all of Asgard's lords and ladies. Drank deeply of the perfumed wine the Allfather reserved for special celebrations.

And when he drew Eira out into the gardens after dark, both of them nearly giddy, no one protested, and no one followed.

He took her to his mother's arbor, pausing several times along the way for a series of hot, fumbling kisses, and then drew her into his lap when they'd settled on the heavy stone bench.

“Are you going to debauch me in your mother's rose garden, Loki?” she grinned down at him in the moonlight.

“Certainly not,” he answered, mock-haughty. “I am, however, going to take down your hair.”

He began to do just that and she gave a little pout. “How disappointing. Why are you taking down my hair?”

“Shh, it's a surprise. A wedding gift.”

Her eyes widened playfully. “Are we doing wedding gifts? I had no idea you were so progressive.”

Loki had both hands in her hair now, pins scattering all around them, glittering in the folds of her skirt and on the bench beside his leg. Even in the grass at their feet.

“Astrid will be terribly upset if I don't come back with all those pretty golden pins, you know.  They were a gift from your father.”

“Hush,” he said, undoing her braids and running his fingers to the ends of her hair. Seidr made the strands glow bright green in the darkness.

Eira's breath caught. She looked down into his face, serious now. He started the movement again, dragging his fingertips against her scalp and down to the ends of her hair, seider lighting up the night around them.

“It really does tingle,” she murmured.

“Mm. Almost finished.”

She rested her forehead against his. “Don’t stop. It feels good.”

Loki smiled. The final pass of his hands brought the ends of her hair right down around his knees.

“There. All done.”

He sat back a bit to look at her. With her hair hanging loose like that in heavy waves around her body, she looked like some kind of ancient goddess of the wild.

She gazed at him in the dark for a moment, eyes gleaming, and then she conjured a very familiar ball of golden light.

Hair was a serious thing among the Aesir and the Vanir, especially for women. Long hair was sign of status and power. A symbol of beauty.

Frey had shamed her--indeed, he'd publicly devalued her--by cutting it.

“What do you think?” he asked, watching Eira draw a big swath of hair over her shoulder and look down at it. The locks shone brilliant copper and bronze by the light of her torch spell. They pooled in her lap, thick and glossy.

“I seem to have made it curlier than it was,” he said, nervous now as the silence stretched. “I'm not sure how that happened.”

“Loki…” She trailed off, lifting the mass of burnished locks to her face with both hands. Her shoulders curled forward.

“Are you crying?” he asked.

Face still hidden in her hair, she nodded.

“You seem to be doing a lot of that lately.”

Eira tipped forward, slumping onto his chest with her arms trapped between them.

“I take it you're pleased,” he murmured, touching her back.

Her only answer was to turn her face into his neck with a sigh.

Loki held her for a while in a happy, wine-fueled languor.

“I haven't got any wedding gifts for you,” she said, muffled into his neck.

He chuckled. “Our son is gift enough, I think.”

She sighed again, a soft, happy sound. “Are you sure you're not going to make love to me?”

Grinning, he gathered her a little closer in his lap. “Our wedding is in three days. Don't you think we ought to wait?”

“Mmm.” Her arms curled about his neck. “Three days seems like forever.”

“It does, doesn't it?”

Loki's cock, currently at full attention under the weight of her thigh, agreed wholeheartedly.

“Think of how good it'll be,” he murmured.

“Mmm…” she wiggled closer, though they were about as close as two people could be without making love.

The wind shifted and brought them the smells and sounds of the feast still going in in the great hall. Music came tripping along the air, muted but jaunty.

“Shall we go and dance some more?” he asked.

Eira nodded and drew back. “Kiss me first, though. We might not get another chance to do so unsupervised before the wedding.”

Loki happily obliged--an endeavor that lasted ten minutes or more, ending only when Eira began to squirm in his lap and wiggle her fingers behind the waistband of his trousers.

“You cannot return to the party in this state,” she reasoned when he tried to put her off.

“Eira--” He pushed her hand away and then groaned when her other began stroking him through the leather.

“Just my hands,” she murmured, kissing his throat in a wildly arousing, open-mouthed manner.

“We talked about this. Besides, I'll be hard again almost the minute you've finished,” he said, taking hold of her wrist to pull her hand away. “You know how this works.”

After a few minutes of her maddening coercive touches and seductive whispers, Loki relented. Her hands were deliciously warm and smooth, working him in the cool night air. It only took a few minutes. She used his handkerchief to catch the mess and then tucked it into her bodice.

He fully intended to return the favor--in fact, knowing how wet her little folds would be after all that kissing and touching had him nearly mad to touch her--but she bounced up off his lap and danced away towards the hall. By the time he has his trousers closed and caught up with her, she had nearly crested the steps leading to the walkway.

He caught her at the top and yanked her into the shadows just beyond the golden pillars that marked the entrance to the hall. Surrounded by the nearby sounds of music and laughter, he pinned his squirming, giggling fiancee against the nearest pillar and--after a brief, near-silent tussle--managed to get one hand up under skirts.

“Quiet,” he breathed, fingers buried in hot, wet woman. “Don't cry out or they'll hear you.”

She nodded and gasped, gripping his upper arms as he began to stroke her, shuddering and bucking a few moments later when he pulled one breast free of her bodice and sucked the nipple into his mouth.

He put his fingers inside when she came and she rode his hand in a furious rush as the pleasure took her.

“See?” he said, after he had licked her taste from his fingers. “Now I'm hard again.”

“It's your fault for molesting me,” she whispered, fixing her bodice and smoothing her skirts down. “We could have gone straight in.”

He grinned. “Worth it. Your hair is a mess, though. We forgot your pins.”

“Oh no!” She turned as though to run back to the arbor but Loki made her stay and went to get them himself.

“The walk will calm me,” he said, gesturing to the front of his trousers.

When he returned she had fixed her hair and it hung in a smooth cascades, one over each shoulder, the ends curling around her hips.

“You look amazing like this,” he murmured, putting the pins in her upturned hand. “I can't wait to see you naked beneath me with all that hair spread out on my pillows.”

Even in the dark he could see her flush.

“I just made love to you with my fingers where anyone could have seen us, and that makes you blush?”

“It's different hearing you say these things aloud,” she said. “I was never this bold in my previous life.”

Loki grinned, offering his elbow as they turned to re-enter the great hall. “To corrupt you has been my honor.”

Her smile faltered in the hush that fell on the room when they entered. In the way of aristocrats, everyone had surreptitiously been watching for their return.

For just a moment, there was no sound but the music, and it seemed nearly every head in the room turned toward them. There were soft gasps and a rash of excited murmures.

And then a swarm of of ladies in glittering dresses descended on Eira, exclaiming over her hair.

Just like that, the party resumed. Eira murmured something about it being Loki's wedding gift to her, and suddenly he found himself the recipient of a flurry of beaming feminine smiles and compliments.

“Oh, your majesty, what a wonderful gift!”

“So thoughtful!”

“Doesn't she just look divine?”

Even a few of the gentleman clapped him on the shoulder and offered their praise. Loki did not miss the looks of masculine appreciation directed at his fiancee, but he made himself smile and nod instead of baring his teeth like a jealous beast. It was a party, after all, and she deserved every ounce of the admiration.

The ladies drew Eira away under the pretense of reapplying the golden pins to her hair, but he thought there would be a good deal of gossiping about him as well. Eira shot him a helpless look as they swept her off and all he could do was smile.

Alone, he returned to the dias upon which they'd taken their dinner with Odin. The Allfather was there with a pair of elderly Lords, the three of them half reclined on a pair of low, cushioned couches with their goblets of wine or mead and a spread of fruits and desserts on the table between them.

Odin murmured something when he saw Loki coming and the two men rose to leave, each one offering the God of Mischief their smiling congratulations as they passed.

“Loki,” the Allfather said, “Come and sit with me, son.”

With some reluctance, Loki came.

“I'm afraid we must speak of Vanaheim,” Odin began as soon as Loki took his seat on the opposite couch. “The kingdom is in turmoil.”

The old man paused, blue eye trained on Loki's face as though waiting for a response.

“I suppose it would be,” Loki replied, nonplussed. He glanced at entrance to the lounge where Eira had disappeared with her ladies. “Is this really the time for such a discussion?”

Odin nodded. “Though I've no wish to burden you on such a joyful occasion, I’m afraid it is an urgent matter. Frey has been taking over his father's duties for some time. It seems that, as Njord descended into his illness, Frey was busy terrorizing the aristocracy, bribing and threatening the councils, and eliminating anyone who might stand in the way of his plans for Vanaheim's future.”

Again, the old man paused expectantly.

“I see,” Loki said. “I take it his plans were nefarious ones.”

“He meant to see me assassinated and to make himself Allfather over the nine realms.”

Loki sat back hard against the couch. By Valhalla, the man truly was mad!

“In so doing,” Odin continued, blue eye calculating, “He has eliminated anyone suited to rule and quite possibly crippled his kingdom beyond repair.”

Loki frowned, gauging Odin's face, wondering what the hell the old man was getting at by telling him all this.

“What do you plan to do?” he asked finally.

Odin seemed oddly pleased by this question. “What would you suggest I do, Loki?”

“I?” Loki repeated, stunned. “Why would you ask my opinion on the matter?”

The Allfather answered unhesitatingly, “Because your fiancee is the last remaining descendent of Njord's line capable of ruling.”

It took Loki a few beats to convince himself he'd heard correctly. “You want Eira to rule Vanaheim?” he barked.

Odin glanced at the throng of Asgardians still feasting and dancing beyond the dias. Loki cleared his throat in embarrassment. No one seemed to have noticed his outburst.

“She is well-liked on Vanaheim, despite Frey's efforts to isolate her,” Odin continued. “The palace servants conspired to help her escape after Frey's memory spell left her helpless. Several of them were tortured for information on her whereabouts. Not one betrayed her.”

Loki made himself speak in a normal voice, though he was well and truly furious. “What game are you playing, old man? Am I supposed to believe you want to make me king of Vanaheim when you've never once believed me fit for rule?”

Odin gave him a resentful look, but there was an edge of regret in it, too. “It was only your motivation that I questioned, Loki, not your ability.”

This softly spoken admission struck Loki like the charge of an angry bilgesnipe: eight thousand pounds of muscle behind a rack of tearing, razor-sharp antlers.

Odin went on as though Loki hadn't turned to stone before his eyes. “Eira was not raised to rule. You were. If she's to take the throne, she will need you.”

It took Loki several aching heartbeats to regain his voice. Finally, he said, “Have you asked her if she wants it?”

Again, Odin seemed pleased. “No.”

“Why not?”

“She has been through a great deal in the past few weeks. Even more in the past few years at Frey's mercy. She deserves a reprieve, to enjoy these new beginnings--her safety, the wedding, you.” His craggy face softened. “I can give her that, if little else.”

By all the Fates. Loki stared at his adoptive father in shock. The old man loved her. It was there in his eye.

“You've spent time with her,” Loki said.

Odin blinked and the softness in his face was gone. “We've had to discuss Frey. And you.” He paused as though weighing his next words. Finally he said, “We spoke of Frigga as well.”

There was a silence--one filled with crackling emotion. Her death hung between them like a physical presence.

“She would be proud of this match, Loki,” Odin said quietly. “Of you, son.”

Stop calling me son! he wanted to say--to snarl around the emotion suddenly choking him. But the words never made it to his mouth. Instead, he leaned forward and put his head in his hands, heart cracking.

Mother.

She would be happy. She'd been close to Eira once. And she'd told him many times since he'd come of age that she wished to see him wed--that love and family would do him well.

His eyes blurred.

A fall of soft green skirts appeared beside his leg. Loki looked up into Eira's smiling face.

The pain in his chest shifted, expanded.

The ladies had braided her hair with little green ribbons. Most of the shining mass still hung loose around her body, though.

Beautiful. Mine. My wife.

“What's the matter?” she asked, touching his cheek. Her fingertip came away with a little bead of moisture clinging to it.

Loki cleared his throat. “My father has been threatening to disown me if I don't make myself a perfect husband to you,” he said, forcing a smile.

She laughed a little at this obvious lie, glancing at Odin, whose face remained utterly impassive. Then she sunk into the couch beside Loki and--to her credit--played along flawlessly.

“I hope his threats were properly compelling,” she said with a grin, reaching up to kiss his cheek.

“I told him I would dissolve your marriage and wed you off to someone richer and better looking,” Odin supplied, deadpan.

Eira burst into laughter. “Good luck finding someone who fits that description.”

Odin smiled. “Actually, I was thinking of myself--If I were about a thousand years younger.”

They laughed together at that. Even Loki couldn't hold back a smile, though his face felt stiff and brittle. As did his heart.

“Well,” said the old man, rising. “It's about time that I seek my pillow.” Eira smiled up at him as he passed. The Allfather paused and set his hand on her shoulder. “Enjoy your celebration, child. I look forward to your wedding with great anticipation.” And then to Loki, “We should continue this discussion tomorrow. In the meantime… Congratulations, son.”

Loki nodded mutely.

“Was he terribly mean to you?” she asked when they were alone.

“Don't make fun,” Loki grumbled. “I'm supposed to be enjoying myself.”

Eira kicked her little silk slippers off and pulled her feet up onto the couch, turning toward him, knees resting halfway in his lap. Her breasts pressed his arm as she leaned up to kiss his jaw. Then she breathed a little puff of warm air into his ear and took his earlobe into her mouth.

“Mmm. That's better,” he murmured, curling his arm around her and leaning back into the couch.

They cuddled there on the dias for a while as the youngest and oldest of Asgard’s aristocracy began to drift away to their beds. And then Loki drew her back onto the dancefloor, where there were still a dozen vibrant young couples spinning and laughing to the music.

It was long past midnight when they finally parted ways and returned to their separate rooms.

 

Chapter Text

"Loki, what are you doing here?" Eira moaned groggily.

She rolled over in bed and looked up at him, eyes bleary and face creased with sleep.

"Torturing myself," he replied. "That nightgown is positively obscene."

She sat up amongst the tangled blankets and looked down at the flimsy satin garment.

"Obscene is a strong word," she mumbled, still bleary.

In all honesty, it was a perfectly normal nightgown. "I haven't touched you in days," Loki said. "I can see your nipples. I'm going to lose my mind."

She gave him a wry look. "You touched me quite a bit yesterday, as I recall."

"Not nearly as much as I would have liked."

Her lips twitched. "We could have made love in the gardens. You were the one who insisted we wait until our wedding night. Where is Astrid? Did she see you?"

"I deeply regret my self restraint last night," he said gravely. "Astrid is still abed."

She flopped back onto the pillows and rolled away from him. "It must be ungodly early if Astrid isn't up yet. Why did you wake me, you awful man?"

"I didn't," he said. "I was standing here quite innocently, watching your breasts strain at your nightgown, when you opened your eyes and demanded an explanation for my presence."

Her sigh was deep and her voice drowsy. "I was dreaming about you."

"Oh? Do please elaborate."

"Mmm...your were all dressed in black and you made love to me in my wedding dress."

"Really. How delightful. I was just thinking about that yesterday. Having you in your wedding dress, that is. Was I good, in this dream?"

Her giggle was soft and slightly muffled. "Of course."

"What a relief."

She wiggled down into the bedding and drew the covers over her shoulder. Mumbled in a sleep-drunk voice, "Not as good as the real thing though."

"Mm," he smiled. "That was going to be my next question."

Eira lapsed into silence after that, and Loki watched her side rise and fall in a steady fashion until he was sure she'd fallen asleep, then he released the projection. He'd only meant to check in on her, after all. But she looked so delicious sprawled in her bed with the sheets all wrapped around her legs and her breasts encased in cream-colored satin. Her hair had been braided into a long, glorious rope with a small green ribbon tied at the end. Loki's green.

For some mad reason even the ribbon aroused him.

Lying in his own bed, he touched his straining cock and thought of her breasts and her hair and that silly little ribbon. Then he thought of the curve of her ass and her bare legs tangled up in the sheet.

She slept fitfully without him, it seemed. On Avakr--and during the one night he'd had her on Asgard--she'd slept peacefully, curled into him like a kitten.

He imagined she felt incomplete--her bed woefully empty without him. It was a pleasant thought.

Perhaps he slept a bit fitfully too, without her silky little body to warm him. He'd woken every night since Avakr and felt bereft the moment he realized she wasn't there in his bed.

Two day. Just two more days.

He made himself rise and bathe, ignoring his cock until it subsided. Diverting his thoughts away from Eira in order to prevent it from stirring again.

It wasn't as difficult as it might have been. As soon as he pushed her from his mind, there was Odin, sitting across from him in the great hall saying, It was only your motivation that I questioned, Loki, not your ability.

His heart raced each time the conversation came back to him. Anger and anxiety. And hope, blast it all. Hunger. The thirst to prove himself.

Eira was not raised to rule. You were. If she's to take the throne, she will need you.

Loki still wanted to rule.The desire was undeniable. It was too deeply imbedded to discard, he realized. Indeed, it was a part of his very identity. He might have been able to let it go, with Eira and children to look after. But now...

Vanaheim needed a king, and Loki had taken their would-be queen. It made perfect sense for him to take the throne as well, didn't it?

Didn't it?

Again, he heard Odin's voice.

It was only your motivation that I questioned, Loki.

It niggled at him. Tormented him.

For the first time in his life, he found himself questioning his motivation.

He'd always seen ruling as his birthright. And wasn't birthright enough? It was in his blood. He'd been groomed to rule since he was old enough to speak. What more motivation did he need than that?

But the words played over and over in his mind.

It was only your motivation that I questioned.

What the hell kind of game was the old man playing, anyway? Why would he suddenly want to give Loki a throne now, after everything he'd done?

It didn't escape Loki that his own schemes to seize the throne of Asgard hadn't been so different from Frey's. Surely it hadn't escaped Odin either.

The Allfather could easily preside over Vanaheim himself, or appoint one of his advisors as regent, even if there weren't any royals fit to rule. Or he could simply absorb Vanaheim completely. Their two races were already intermixed. Why would he trust Loki with it?

It didn't make sense.

Which was exactly why--after turning it over in his mind for more than an hour--Loki left his rooms in a simmering temper and went to find his adoptive father.

...   ...   ...


"Tell me why."

Odin looked up from the scrolls laid open on his desk as Loki strode into the King's cavernous golden study.

"Good morning, Loki," said the Allfather.

Loki came to a stop directly across the broad wooden desktop and glared Odin down.

"Why would you offer me the throne of Vanaheim?" he demanded.

"I haven't offered it to you yet, son," the old man replied mildly.

"No," Loki spat, "Indeed, you only dangled it before me like a carrot. Did you expect me to lunge at the opportunity? Was it some kind of test?"

Odin regarded him sternly for a moment. "In a manner of speaking."

Loki growled, pulse pounding, and slammed both hands on the surface of Odin's desk. "Why?"

"To see if you still had the same mad hunger for rule that led you to sabotage your brother's coronation, attempt to kill him, and then wage war on Midgard."

Odin's faded blue eyes glittered with challenge.

Abruptly, Loki's rage bled away, leaving him drained and defeated. He had done those things, of course. And he couldn't deny the bolt of shame he felt--over the attempt on Thor's life, mostly. But he'd been mad with grief and betrayal at the time. Heartbroken. Enraged.

Lost.

Was that an excuse? Perhaps not. But it was the truth.

Loki straightened from the desk and regarded his father dully. "You have never understood me, old man. Never."

Odin looked up at him, face stony, unreadable.

Loki waited for a response. A frown. A dismissal. Anything. But Odin merely looked at him.

Finally, comsumed with helpless bitterness, Loki turned to go, casting a parting shot over his shoulder as he went.

"Do what you will with Vanaheim, father. I won't strive for your approval any longer."

"Loki."

The God of Mischief paused in the doorway, heart stony. When he didn't turn back, Odin's voice echoed across the room to him, low and grave.

"I've seen a change in you, since your return from Arvakr."

Loki said nothing, hand on the door. Had he changed?

"The love of a good woman frequently has that effect," the old man murmured. "I speak from experience."

Loki turned his head slightly towards his shoulder, towards Odin. "I've no need to change," he grated. "She wants me as I am."

It was the first time he'd said it aloud. Perhaps the first time he'd truly acknowledged it. Something broke loose inside him. The brittleness around his heart was pierced by a surge of joy so intense it bordered on giddiness.

After a moment, he did look back, keeping his face blank, cool. "I've no need of your approval any longer, father. Nor a throne to give me value and purpose. I've a wife. And a son."

Odin's face was no longer blank. He look older now. Lined and weary. Sad.

"A son," the Allfather repeated softly. "She is with child?"

Loki nodded. His eyes began to burn. "He will know his worth and who he is from the moment he's born."

The Allfather was very still, face blank.

Again, Loki found himself waiting. For what, he didn't know.

At long last, the old man said gravely, "I've made many mistakes as a father."

Stunned, Loki turned. His hand fell away from the door.

Odin's broad shoulders drew back slightly. "Perhaps it is well that you hate me. You will not make those same mistakes."

"Oh, I see," Loki said coldly, "Shall I thank you for being a terrible father, then? Because your example has taught me how not to raise my own child?"

The Allfather sighed, craggy face lined with defeat. "No, son. I only meant to say that I have faith you'll be a better father than I."

Loki's eyes blurred with angry tears. One slipped out, trickled slowly toward his chin. "You keep calling me son."

"You are my son, Loki. Whatever you may think of me. I've never once thought otherwise."

Loki laughed, low and nearly voiceless. "Easy enough to say, isn't it?"

Sitting back in his gilded chair, Odin gave his adopted son a look of pure defeat. "What can I say to make amends? That I regret my choices? I do. That I was cruel? I was. I'm sorry, Loki. I never meant to alienate you so. I raised you and Thor as my father raised me. It is all I know."

"You didn't treat us the same," Loki said in a low, quavering voice. "You favored him. You always favored him."

That faded blue eye seemed to dim with regret. "I won't deny it. You were right when you said that I never understood you. Thor was an easy child. You were never easy, Loki. But I didn't love you any less. I still don't."

Loki swiped the tears from his face with one hand, quick and angry. He wanted to believe it. Odin clearly believed it.

"Forgiveness is not in my nature," Loki said stiffly. And I'm not sure you deserve it, anyway. There was still a hard, painful lump in his heart.

Odin simply nodded. "Do you want the throne of Vanaheim?"

The question startled him. Loki wanted to lie, but what did it matter anymore? He'd just laid himself bare. No use denying that part of him still wanted to be king, to prove to Odin that he was capable--that he was worthy.

"Yes," he said dully.

Odin's shaggy grey head bobbed once, blue eye shuttered. "I suggest you discuss the matter with Lady Eir. After the wedding, that is."

Curiously, Loki felt nothing. "And if she agrees, you'll put me on the throne."

"Yes."

There was a long, empty silence as the two men regarded each other over everything that stood between them. More than a thousand years of lies. Betrayal after betrayal. Jotunheim. Thor. Earth. Eira.

Frigga.

Finally, feeling oddly empty, Loki simply nodded, and then tuned to go.

"Loki," the Allfather said again, more softly this time.

And again, Loki stopped in the doorway, looking back. "What?"

For the first time in all his life, Loki read anxiety on his father's face. Fear, even. It was just a glimmer--a faint tension around the eyes--but it was there.

"Will you let me see my grandson, after he's born?"

The silence, this time, was filled with crackling new emotions. Strange, blossoming sensations of hope and anxiety.

"Yes," Loki replied finally, very quietly. "I will."

 

Chapter Text

Loki did not return to his rooms. He went straight to Eira's.

The guards outside her door blinked at him, and then at each other. Loki wondered what his face must look like. He felt very strange. Far away from himself. Calm, and yet on the verge of some great turmoil. Everything inside him suspended, waiting to crash like an enormous wave.

“Go and speak with Odin,” he said to the guard on the left. “He won't keep me from my woman any longer.”

And then he pushed past them and opened the door.

She was there with Astrid, sitting at the table, drinking tea.

They both turned when he entered. Astrid's eyes went wide. Loki motioned for her to go and the girl snapped to her feet and scurried out.

“Loki--” Eira said, rising much more slowly as he crossed the room to her.

He gathered her up against his chest and held on, tangling his hands in her long hair.

“What is it?” she whispered, arms curling around his chest.

“Nothing,” he breathed. “I love you.”

She laughed a little bit, very softly, turning her face to his neck. “Doesn't feel like nothing.”

He lifted her without a word and carried her into the bedchamber.

“Loki,” she admonished, utterly without sting. “What are you doing?”

“Nothing,” he said again, depositing her on the bed. But he was stripping off his coat, and then his tunic.

“You know we can't,” she murmured, a little nervous now, watching him. “Odin will be furious.”

“I'm not going to make love to you,” he replied, bare-chested now, bending to remove his boots.

“No?” she seemed skeptical.

“No,” he repeated.

Loki crawled onto the bed and started pulling at the laces on the bodice of her gown. A moment later he pulled the whole thing off over her head and tossed it onto the floor. She wore nothing but a silk shift underneath.

Loki drew her down on top of the bankets and molded her to the front of his body.

“Tell me you love me, “ he demanded quietly, pulling the pins out of her hair and and unwinding the little braids twisted around her crown.

“I love you,” she said gravely. “More than anything.”

When her hair was loose he pulled the whole shining mass over her side and draped it across his upper body like a blanket.

“More than books?” he asked, settling his arm around her again, belly to belly.

“Infinitely more,” she answered, completely without humor.

“More than roses? More than Eirflower?”

She smiled and pulled her hair up over their heads so they lay cocooned in a soft reddish glow. “More than all the flowers in the universe.”

“More than my cock?”

He wanted to be playful, but the words came out soft and serious.

“Loki, what’s wrong?”

He sighed. “I told Odin you're pregnant.”

Her eyes widened. “Oh, no.”

“He’s not angry.”

That surprised her. “Really?”

Loki nodded. “He won't keep me away from you anymore.”

“He said that?”

“No. I decided.”

“Loki,” she gave a little huff, half laugh and half sigh. But she didn't argue. Instead, she leaned forward and started kissing his chest.

Loki shifted back to his Jotun form and she made a soft sound of pleasure. Her lips followed the markings under his collar bones and down across his left pectoral.

“He wants to spend time with our son,” Loki mumbled, closing his eyes against the pleasure of her mouth.

“Of course he does.” She touched the lines on his belly, hand drifting down to the vee of muscle that shaped his pelvis. “Thor doesn't have any children, does he?”

“No.”

“Then Ulfir will be his first grandchild,” she murmured, with obvious pride.

She stroked his hip and then his side, fingers soft and reverent. Her hair slipped down from his shoulder and gathered at his waist, but she didn't push it aside. She stroked him with it. The silky strands tickled his back, his ribcage.

“He said he was sorry,” Loki mumbled.

The words surprised him. He hadn't known he was going to say them, and they came out husky with emotion.

Eira looked up. “For what?”

“Being a bad father. Favoring Thor. Not understanding me.”

Her brows rose. “That's a big apology.”

It hadn't seemed big at the time. Such little words to answer for all that suffering. The wave of suspended emotion inside him threatened to crash.

Loki looked at his fiancee's mouth. Pretty pink bow. Soft and full. Perfect distraction.

He kissed her slowly, tasting the tea she'd shared with her maid. Eira liked sugar and cream in her tea. Her mouth was sweet.

She cupped his face with both hands, fingers gliding through the tears that squeezed stubbornly from the corners of his eyes.

When he let her go, her lips were a shade darker and a little puffy. Loki pulled her closer and pressed his erection into her belly.

Neither of them spoke for a long time. The wave inside him seemed to subside in the warmth of Eira's presence--to melt away, leaving behind a bruised but peaceful feeling that Loki found both strange and… oddly wonderful.

“Have you ever met my brother?” he asked, surprising himself again.

She nodded. “Once, when your mother came back to visit. He was just a babe though.” She frowned, remembering. “She had an argument with Frey that evening. I was in the room next door. I could hear him yelling at her. Breaking things. Thor was crying. That was the last time I saw her. She never came back to Vanaheim.”

“My father wasn't with her?” Loki asked.

Eira shook her head. “Frey hated him. Frigga probably convinced him not to come so as to avoid a confrontation.”

“You were just a child then yourself,” Loki murmured. “It must have frightened you.”

She nodded. “I hadn't started my cycles yet, so Frey had little interest in me beyond the occasional playful cruelty. I was afraid he would hurt your brother, or Frigga.”

Loki pushed her hair away from their faces so that he could see her clearly. “Do you still want to confront him?”

Her hazel eyes were dark with fear and vulnerability. “I don't know.” And then, when he said nothing, she finally whispered, “Yes.”

…   …   …


Eira seemed surprised when he got up and retrieved her dress. Even more so when he drew her to the edge of the mattress, sat her up, and started dressing her.

“Loki…” her fingers grazed the front of his trousers.

“I said I wouldn't make love to you,” he murmured, drawing her hand away from his erection. “And I meant it.”

“All that undressing, though…” she said wistfully.

“I needed to be close to you.”

She smiled.

It occurred to him briefly how strange it was that he could admit such a thing so easily. That it had become natural to seek her comfort at all. Maybe Odin was right. He had changed.

But Eira hadn't changed him. She’d accepted him. There was freedom in that, he realized. The freedom to be himself in a way he’d never known he needed.

Frigga had accepted him, too. But she'd participated in the lie that kept him from knowing himself fully. He was angry with her for that, even now. And the anger had fed his guilt over her death, he realized.

Perhaps it was time to learn forgiveness after all.

When he was done lacing Eira's dress he crouched beside the bed, put her slippers on her feet, smoothed her skirts over her legs and looked up at her.

“You are the most exquisite woman I have ever met,” he said gravely.

She flushed. “We're well-matched then.”

Loki smiled, touching her legs again. Shaping her thighs through the fabric of her skirts. “You told me once that you could heal me, if I wanted to be healed.”

She blinked, brows lifting. “Yes?”

“I want that,” he said.

Her expression flexed with surprise, and then pleasure. “I want that, too.”

Smiling, he bent to retrieve his clothing. “You'll have a lot of work to do. I hope you're prepared.”

“Shall we start now?” she asked, taking his coat when he held it out to her, then watching as he pulled the tunic on over his head.

“No. We have something more important to take care of now.”

“Oh? What's that?” The dread in her tone told him she already knew.

“It'll be alright,” he replied calmly. “I'll be right there with you.”

…   …   ...


The dungeon was dim and unexpectedly quiet. Odin had placed Frey in a cell far away from Asgard's other prisoners.

Eira clutched Loki's hand tightly as they approached the shimmering barrier beyond which her tormentor now lived. Frey was there, of course, sitting motionlessly on his narrow bed.

The cell was sparse, as large as the one Loki had inhabited for a year after his return from Midgard, but much less lavishly furnished.

Frey had been given a small table, a single wooden chair, and a small stack of books, nothing more.

They'd taken his armor. He wore only the green leggings and a simple tunic. His graying hair was still plaited in the fashion of warriors, his face stony.

Loki stood aside and let Eira approach the barrier alone. Frey's gaze slid towards her, cold and disdainful, and then away again. He said nothing.

Eira was silent for a long time, looking at him.

Finally she said, very softly, “I don't know what to say to you.”

Frey stared straight ahead, sitting profile to her, gaze hooded with apparent boredom. His shoulders were stiff though, spine held erect. Loki recognized that posture. Silent rage in the face of helplessness.

He knew then that Frey would not acknowledge her. He wouldn't speak a word. It was the only remaining way he had to torment her. The only scrap of control he could retain. Whatever satisfaction Eira might have had in confronting him, Frey would not give it to her willingly.

“I'm sure that you don't regret the things you did,” Eira went on. “Perhaps it's pointless to tell you how cruel they were.”

When Frey failed to respond, or even acknowledge her presence, Eira glanced at Loki.

He nodded. Go on.

Turning back to the man in the cell, she took a deep breath.

“You made my life a misery for years," she said very low. "But that's finally over now."

She faltered, looking down with a glazed expression--a slight frown, as though the words had surprised her in some way. "I'm glad to be free of you,” she murmured, as though realizing it for the first time. She looked up at Frey again, voice stronger.  “You can't hurt me any more. Ever again.”

A muscle in Frey's cheek twitched minutely.

“I'm going to marry Prince Loki this Friggasday,” her lips curved tremulously. A tear tracked down her cheek. “I'm going to have a son.”

Frey's gaze snapped to Loki then, grey and cold. Gleaming with rage.

Loki grinned. Eat your heart out, Uncle.

“I'm happy now, Frey.” Eira went on, more confident now. The words rang very clear against the walls of the dungeon.

Frey held himself terribly still, but he appeared brittle. The muscles around his eyes were stiff and tight.

Eira glanced at Loki again and smiled. “I've never been so happy in all my life.”

Loki felt like his heart would burst.

She gave her tormenter one last look. There was regret in it. She felt sorry for him, Loki realized.

“I’ve got everything I ever wanted,” she said, and then released a heavy breath. “And you can never take that away from me.”

Frey's jaw clenched, hands fisting against his thighs. His throat contracted. He did look at her then, eyes glazed with impotent fury.

But Eira saw none of it. She had already turned away, toward Loki. She came to him and took his hand.

“I'm done,” she whispered, face wet and glowing with happiness. “Let's go.”

Loki bent to kiss her once and then murmured, “You go on ahead. I'll be right there.”

She hesitated, looking up at him.

“Don't worry,” he said. “I won't do anything rash, I promise.”

After she'd gone, Loki stepped up to the barrier. Frey turned that narrow grey gaze on him, radiating pure hatred.

“I thought you should know, Uncle,” Loki murmured, “That your kingdom will be well looked-after in your absence.”

Frey's brow flexed slightly. Confusion flickered in his gaze, and then a slow-dawning horror.

“You were right to choose her,” Loki went on with smug finality. “Eira will make an excellent queen.”

Frey sat frozen under Loki's smile. The God of Mischief bowed with a mocking little flourish, turned neatly on his heel, and strolled away, hands clasped casually behind his back.

A moment later, as Loki turned the corner and continued down the corridor, he heard Frey's distant, wordless cry of rage and the crash of wood on stone.

 

Chapter Text

The day of the wedding passed in a blur for Loki, though the two days prior seemed to drag on forever.

He'd been true to his word that he wouldn't make love to Eira again before they were wed, and though he'd spent time with her each day, they'd done nothing more than kiss and talk.

As a result, he was buzzing with need through the entirety of the ceremony. As soon as she appeared, decked out in green and blue, wearing a crown of multi-colored flowers, and her hair trailing down her back in glorious waves, the rest of the world faded into a distant buzz.

He would always remember the way she looked at him as they stood together on the dias in the throne room, before Odin and all of Asgard. While the Allfather began the ritual with a droning speech, her gaze catalogued Loki's new armor, the glittering gold breastplate and vambraces, the shining horned helmet. Even his legs, encased in black leather. And then she met his gaze with such a look of love and hunger that he nearly reached for her right there on the dias.

When he took her hand for the handfasting ceremony, he was overcome with a powerful and unexpected rush of memory--a vivid recollection of the dream he'd had on Arvakr the first time he'd made love to Eira. The nightmare, when he'd stood before all of Asgard a prisoner, in his true form. And they had judged him.

His heart began to pound in earnest, stomach dropping.

Eira hadn't judged him. She'd taken him into her body. Loved him. Given him everything she had. Her heart. A child. And perhaps her kingdom as well.

This woman accepted him--every part of of him--and he had come to her dressed in illusion.

From the very start, she had wanted the real Loki. Blue skinned and red eyed, broken-hearted and filled with bitterness.

Just like that, he released the spell that kept him in his Aesir form, gazing at her steadily.

Odin faltered in his speech. There were gasps from the crowd below.

But none of it mattered.

Eira's face split in a smile of pure, unabashed joy. She let go of Loki's hand and threw her arms around him.

The room filled with a ripple of hushed murmurs. Loki’s ears began to ring. He found himself holding onto Eira like a man at sea.

He glanced at Odin, met his father's startled blue eye. The Allfather's craggy face creased slowly into a smile. And then the old man chuckled.

That chuckle echoed across the throne room and the crowd seemed to shift and rustle with confusion.

Odin looked out at his subjects.

“My son!” he announced to the room, with a sweeping gesture of introduction. The two syllables rang like a thunderclap.

Eira stood back, looking up at the old man in surprise. Then she glanced at the people below.

The rustle of bodies and voices rose ponderously to a clamor.

Eira grinned up at Loki. “See?” she whispered. “I told you they love you.”

At last, blinking in shock, Loki looked down at the citizens of Asgard--at their smiling, upraised faces--and realized.  

They were cheering.

He felt Odin's hand on his shoulder and looked around at him.

“Your vows, Loki.”

Eira pulled back and Loki took her hand again in a daze. The words flowed almost thoughtlessly from his memory.

You cannot possess me for I belong to myself. But while we both wish it, I give you all that is mine to give.

You cannot command me, for I am a free person. But I shall serve you in those ways you require.

I pledge to you that yours will be the name I cry aloud in the night, and the eyes into which I smile in the morning.

I pledge to you the first bite of my meat and the first drink from my cup.

I pledge to you my living and my dying, each equally in your care.

I shall be a shield for your back and you for mine.

This is my vow to you.

And while she spoke the vows back to him, Loki looked at her mouth, her eyes, felt her fingers curling against his own.

He offered her an engraved ring upon the hilt of his mother's knife. And, much to his surprise, she held out his own ring upon the hilt of an old Vanir sword. Loki took them both, put the ring on his finger. When the exchange was done and their hands bound with a braided golden rope, he put his free arm around her and kissed her soundly.

“All mine, now,” he said directly in her ear to be heard over the cheers of the crowd and the sudden burst of music.

Eira stood on her toes and put her arm around his neck. Loki felt her tongue on his jaw and held her so hard against his chest that she squeaked.

Then he picked her up and carried her down the dias steps. The crowd parted and the air was suddenly filled with drifting clouds of multi-colored flower petals. The Asgardians were throwing them by the handfuls, calling out blessings and congratulations. By the time they reached the great hall, Eira's hair and dress were clustered with them.

Loki set her down on the dancefloor as their wedding song began, laughing as he helped her brush the petals away. She plucked a few from his helmet, and then from his shoulders,  grinning the whole time.

And then they danced, Eira's vibrant green skirts and Loki's cloak flaring around their legs, her hair swinging out behind her, still decorated with little flowers. Before long the room was positively choked with people dancing and laughing, and the long tables were piled high with food.

Loki was aware that there were stares. Many of Asgard’s citizens seemed to find his real appearance either discomfiting or--much to his surprise--fascinating. But they smiled at him, most of them. And Eira smiled at him, which was worth a thousand discomfited stares.

So, Loki cast off his own anxiety and made himself dance, and eat, and drink the fine wine, listening to the toasts and the chorus of wedding blessings. But when it was time--at the first possible moment that he could appropriately do so, in fact--he drew Eira away from the great hall, toward the rooms Odin had prepared specially for their honeymoon.

“Loki,” she protested, lifting her skirts with one hand in an effort to keep up with him. “We've hardly been at our own baquet an hour!”

“And it was the longest hour of my life,” he answered, tugging her along by her free hand.

“But all those people are here for us!”

“They'll be here celebrating for three days. We can return to the banquet later.” He flashed her a grin as they reached the broad double doors to their new chambers. “After we've consummated each other thoroughly.”

She laughed as he pulled her inside.

“Oh my--Loki!” she exclaimed, when she got a look at the enormous antechamber with its gilded furniture and elaborate tapestries. There were brightly wrapped gifts mounded near the dining table and the servants had laid out a lover's feast of dried fruits, bread, cold meats and cheeses. There was wine as well, and little pots of sweets, Loki noted. Honey and jams. Perfect things to lick off his wife later.

“Yes, yes, it's lovely isn't is? Wait until you see the bedroom.” He scooped her up and carried her straight to the enormous four poster bed. It sat atop a series of wooden platforms like wide, circular steps, each one smaller than the last.

“Oh…” she exclaimed softly, looking up at the shimmering gold canopy, and then at the matching bedding. “Odin really likes gold, huh?”

Grinning, he set her on the mattress. “Did you just notice that?”

Eira watched him begin stripping off his armor, her face glowing with amusement. “You certainly are in a hurry.”

He paused in the act of removing his breastplate. “Would you like me to go slowly?”

Her eyes glittered. “Either that, or much faster.”

Loki snapped his fingers and sent all his clothing to the interdimensional pocket where he kept such things.

Her smile faded, replaced by an expression of pure feminine appreciation. “I almost forgot how beautiful you are.”

“Mmm, flattery,” he stepped closer, right up to the edge of the low mattress, nudging her legs apart so he could stand directly between her knees. Her skirts were cool and silky against his bare legs. “More, please.”

Her lips curved, head tipping back to look up at him. “Can you put the leather back on?”

“Back on?”

She nodded. “Remember my dream?”

He smiled wickedly. “The one where I made love to you in your wedding gown?”

“Mm-hm.”

With a little flourish, he brought the leather shirt and trousers back. Eira's expression darkened with lust.

“Wasn't there green on it before?” she asked.

“There was. But you said in your dream I was wearing black.”

She smiled slowly, murmured, “Wicked man. You look so good all in black.”

“Mmm, thank you,” he purred. “Keep going.”

“Have I ever told you how much I enjoy your legs?” she asked, gazing at said extremities with unabashed hunger. “Your thighs in tight leather…” She sighed, reached out to touch them, palms flat, fingers spread wide, sliding up from his knees to the crease of his hip. “Makes my mouth water.”

Then she leaned down, holding his hips with both hands, and brushed her lips along the shaft of his erection where it strained against his fly. “This looks very nice, too.”

Loki growled, low and fierce. “More.”

She nuzzled him with cheek and chin, then dragged her teeth lightly along the same path her lips had taken, nipping the head when she reached it.

Loki plucked the crown of flowers from her head and tossed it aside. He touched her hair as she opened the placket of his leathers, moaned a little when she licked him, and then again when she kissed the head with soft, moist lips.

“Did you suck me, in this dream?” he murmured roughly.

She nodded and her fingers curled around his base, lips parting. Wet heat enveloped the head of his cock. The tip of her tongue tickled his opening.

“Eira,” he rasped in approval, pulling the pins from her hair while she sucked him, unwinding the complicated braids that decorated her crown.

When he was done he sunk both hands into the shining mass, cupping her nape and watching as he thrust slowly into her mouth.

She moaned when the head of his cock nudged her tonsils.

Damn. Pleasure tightened his balls, fluttered at the base of his spine.

Loki pulled back, out of her mouth, cock slick and gleaming. Eira made a small sound of protest. He waited until her eyes opened and focused again on his face.

“You were close,” she whispered.

Instead of answering, he conjured the bundle of rope he'd acquired specifically for this occasion.

“Oh,” she said softly. “Is that for me?”

He nodded.

“Another wedding gift?”

Loki smiled. “I know we were playing out your dream, but I've been fantasizing about this for days.”

Hazel eyes glittered up at him. “You want to tie me before we consummate?”

“Yes.”

Her hands tightened on his hips, drew him closer. She bent to kiss his cock and murmured, “This is better than my dream.”

She didn't fight him this time. She lay obediently against the golden sheets and let him bind her wrists to the carved headboard, arms stretched high above her head.

Loki paused to spread her long hair across the pillows, arranging it around her body so that she lay in a shining pool of coppery waves. Then he bent to kiss her before conjuring another bundle of rope and tying her right leg to one of the posts at the end of the bed.

“It's so soft,” she said, while he drew her left legs wide and looped the remaining rope around her other ankle.

“It's made of silk,” he replied, watching her skirts slide up around her calf as positioned her.

“Silk rope?” Her foot flexed in his hand, toes curling. “I didn't know there was such a thing.”

“I had it made specially for this occasion,” he admitted, tying the final knot.

Her head rolled toward him as he circled the end of the bed and crawled up onto the mattress between her splayed legs.

“I like the color,” she said seriously.

Loki grinned. The rope was green--her green and his braided together.

“And I like your wedding dress,” he said.

Then he pushed the green skirts up so he could kneel between her thighs, leaning over her on one arm, trailing his other hand down the beaded azure bodice.

“Now, where are those snaps you asked for?--ah, here we go.”

Eira's green-brown eyes were trained on his face as he undid her bodice snap by snap, all the way down to her waist. When it lay open, he regarded the matching blue silk underneath. Her shift was very low-cut and edged with delicate lace.

“You remember what to say if you want me to stop?” he murmured, hand gliding across blue silk, cupping one breast and then the other.

She nodded, said breathlessly, “Loki Laufeyson.”

“Good,” he murmured. “Now I'm going to make you come.”

He ripped the shift straight down the front and bent to Eira's naked breasts, her gasp echoing in the big room.

With one nipple drawn deep into his mouth, Loki started working his hands up under her skirts.

She flexed and shivered when he traced the inner surfaces of her thighs, whined softly when he grazed her sex. With her legs splayed so wide, the lips were already open to him.

“Loki…” she protested softly.

Ignoring her, Loki switched his mouth to her other breast, pausing to enjoy the sight of the first one--nipple swollen and distended--before he began to suck her again.

His fingers dipped inside, found her tight and wet, withdrew again to pester her clit in teasing little strokes.

“Loki--”

She broke off on a cry when he bit down on her nipple.

Her hips began to twitch against his hand.

“Hurry,” she whispered.

“Hurry?” He lifted his head to look at her. “Why would I hurry? We have all night.”

“Just this time,” she breathed, lifting herself to his fingers. “Please.”

Loki sat back between her legs and pushed her skirts up so he could see his fingers working between her folds.

“You're close already,” he murmured. “Your clit is throbbing.”

Loki…” she moaned.

“Tell me what you want.”

She closed her eyes, face flushed with pleasure and embarrassment.

“Say it,” he demanded.

“Your cock,” she whispered. “Put it inside me.”

“Ask me nicely.”

She licked her lips. Her eyes cracked open and pinned him with a gleaming, half-shuttered look of need. “Please put your cock inside me, Loki.”

The organ itself twitched eagerly in response to those words--and that look--but Loki only grinned down at her. “That was a politely worded demand, I'm afraid.”

He slid his fingers inside again and she clench.

“Please,” she whispered. “Will you please fuck me?”

“Well done." Loki removed his hand and positioned himself over her. “This is going to be fast,” he warned, guiding his cock to the lips of her sex.

“Yes…” she breathed as he pushed inside. “So good, Loki…”

“Are you stretched?” he asked darkly, remembering that day on Arvakr, working himself into her tightness until he could feel the opening of her sex clutching at his base.

Eyes squeezed closed, she nodded. “Always.”

He nudged deep, pleasure sizzling along his cock. “Do you feel me touching the mouth of your womb?”

“Yes.” She tried to lift herself to him, but the ropes limited her.

Loki began to thrust--long, slow movements, pulling almost completely out and then burying himself to the hilt.

“Hard,” she gasped. “Faster.”

“Hush,” he grunted, hearing the strain in his own voice as the pleasure built.

Her pussy tightened. Growling, he bent to her breasts again, biting the nipple not already marked by his teeth and gripping the other one hard in his hand.

Eria cried out, hips snapping.

“Gods, you're coming already?” he groaned, leaning back and pumping with helpless ferocity. “Eira...That's good, love. You're so slick inside. So tight…”

Eira made a soughing, high-pitched whine, breasts bouncing with his thrusts, arms pulling at the rope. Loki’s climax struck him with wracking intensity. He bent to rake his teeth over her throat, heard himself snarling like an animal, hands fisted in her hair now, riding out the pleasure with punishing thrusts.

She cried out and came again halfway through his climax. Loki urged her on in a husky rumble, thrusting hard. “Oh, love, yes...that's it...come for me again... Mmm, feels so good, Eira, so sweet...

She whimpered and bucked, pulled tight against the ropes and trembled all over. Loki drew back again to look at her, cock twitching in the wet sheath of her sex. Her face was slack, eyes closed, panting hard between parted lips.

Gods, it was sweet to have her this way again, bound and helpless. He'd imagined how this would go so many times--planned how he would make use of her, how he would make her come again and again. But faced with the reality of it--of Eira lying beneathe him with her wedding dress bunched around her hips and her breasts exposed... the fantasies fell away, replaced by raw, animal lust and possession.

He sent her clothes off in a flash of seidr and began to thrust again in earnest, drinking in the sight of all that coppery skin. Beautiful, elegant limbs arranged for his pleasure. Smooth belly slightly rounded now--not with pregnancy, but with health. Thighs and hips grown luxuriously soft from the weeks of good food and happiness. All of her bouncing and jolting with his thrusts, ribs expanding as she gasped for breath, face and breasts flushed deeply with passion.

"I love you," he rasped, pumping hard, thinking of sucking her, of keeping her bound for hours while he drove her senseless with pleasure.

Eira moaned and lifted herself to him, growing tighter. Wetter.

"I love you," he said again, and again she tightened.

Each thrust was punctuated with a slick little sound--his wetness and hers together. Almost senseless himself now--driving so deep she began to make that helpless keening sound again--he bent to tuck his face into the crook of her shoulder, biting, sucking, riding her in a searing frenzy. Vividly aware of her breath in his ear, her cries, her breasts sliding against his chest and her belly quivering beneath his.  "Eira," he rasped fiercely, "Gods--I love you. I love you."

Eira's only answer was a long, sobbing, shuddering gasp and the wet clutch of her orgasm on his cock.






Chapter Text

“There you are,” Loki said huskily as she settled from her last orgasm. “All better now?”

Eira’s nod was almost imperceptible. “Thank you…”

Her kissed her then and she opened for him with such languid passivity that he found himself growling and taking her mouth with deep, penetrating dominance.

A moment later he was thrusting again. Her eyes fluttered open when he lifted himself up onto his extended arms.

“Still hard?” she mumbled in surprise.

“Yes,” he growled. “I haven't come yet.”

Her tongue came out to wet her lips. “Go on, then.”

He took hold of her hips and sat back so he could see everything. “Tell me how good my cock feels inside you.”

“So good,” she mumbled, watching his body. “So thick. Deep.”

Abruptly, he reached back and touched the rope on her right ankle. In a flash of Seidr, the knot came undone. He drew her leg up and over, rolling her halfway onto one side, then looked down at her ass, cupped it, blue fingers digging into firm, coppery flesh.

“I'm going to take you here,” he said, sliding his fingers between her cheeks.

Her gaze met his, dark and glazed.

“Do you want my cock in your ass again?” he asked.

She nodded.

Loki put his other hand between her thighs and stroked the lips of her sex while he fucked her.

“How do you want me to take you?”

Her eyelids flickered with hesitation.

“Tell me,” he demanded.

“Face d-down,” she whispered, words jolting with his thrusts.

Pleasure throbbed in his balls, along his cock. “On the bed?”

She shook her head. Hesitated again.

Leaning over, Loki pushed her free leg up towards her chest and rode her a little harder, until her eyes rolled back.

“Where?” he demanded.

“The f-floor,” she whimpered.

That surprised him. “Really? Why?”

She shook her head wordlessly. Her sex had begun to flutter again.

“Tell me now or I'm pulling out.”

She moaned. “Want you t-to...surprise me. P-push me down.”

Lust crackled along his nerve endings. The head of his cock began to throb almost painfully. He pumped it against her cervix until she stiffened and cried out.

“Keep going,” he rasped.

Her eyes were closed now, face deeply flushed. “Don't t-tell me when. Push me down...Pull my skirts up and--” she broke off on a moan as his thrusts picked up speed.

“Then what?” he prompted roughly.

“Pin my shoulders,” she whispered. “Hold me down...Fuck me...on the floor.”

Loki groaned hoarsely, shuddered and climaxed in a blind haze, cock spurting wildly as Eira's fantasy played out behind his eyes in vivid detail.

His cry seemed to set her off as well. He made his final rapid thrusts through the rippling contractions of her sex, watching her spine bow and her legs tremble, gritting his teeth against the pleasure of it.

A few minutes later, lying behind her with his hips still tucked against her ass and three of her four extremities still bound, he murmured, “You've thought about that before.”

Eira made a muffled humming sound of confirmation.

“Did you imagine I would take you in the ass that way?” He shifted to tug some of her hair out from under his shoulder and rubbed the silky handful down his chest and across his belly, knuckles trailing her spine with the same movement.

“No...” she mumbled languidly.

“I hear a ‘but’,” Loki prompted.

She didn't answer immediately, but he was content to nuzzle the back of her neck and wait.

Finally she murmured, “I thought you might have me both ways again, like you did in the bath that time.”

His hand, still tangled with her hair, slid across her breasts and then down. “You liked that?” he purred, terribly gratified by the thought.

Eira nodded. “I was surprised.”

His fingers slipped into the hair over her mound. “Ah, I see. It's the surprise that titillates you.”

“It's you,” she sighed as his fingers dipped between her legs. “Everything you do.”

“Mm, yes. Me, surprising you. Dominating you.”

She shivered. “When you talk like that I get this funny quiver inside.”

“When I talk like what?” he asked darkly, already knowing exactly what she meant.

“So deep,” she breathed. “I can feel your voice in my body.”

Loki growled softly, fingers delving into Eira's folds, into the liquid evidence of their recent couplings. “You're going to feel a whole lot more of me in your body again in just a minute.”

She laughed. “Bring it on, husband.”

Loki released the knot that held her leg and rolled her onto her belly, lifting her hips to tuck one of the bigger pillows underneath.

She tried to look back at him, but with her arms still bound to the headboard, she couldn't see past her own shoulder.

He rearranged the pillows around her upper body as well, so she could rest her head comfortably, and then he summoned a soft rag and set about cleaning her sex.

"Are you going to do it right now?" She asked in a low, tremulous voice, muffled by the pillow and her own upper arm.

"What, take you both ways? No. You told me how you wanted that and I intend to give it to you." He tossed the rag away and stroked her slowly, fingers dipping inside. "I want you like this because you come so hard when I take you from behind."

He took Eira's shuddering sigh as a sign of approval and mounted her with his legs bracketing her thighs.

She made a breathy sound as he penetrated.

"You should see how you look right now," Loki purred, holding her upturned ass with both hands, fingers splayed.

There was no more talking for a long while after that. Just the sounds she made as he took her and the slap of his hips against her ass.

When it was done, he turned her over again and sucked her slowly once, and then again. Propped her up against the pillows and fucked her mouth. Remembering their conversation in her bath a few days ago, he pulled out and spilled his come on her breasts. She watched him do it with parted lips and lust-glazed eyes, lifting herself to each liquid spurt.

After, Loki untied her, did away with his own clothes, then took her into the big bath and set her on her feet beside the pool.

“Reminds me of the bath on Arvakr,” she said, as he stepped down into the water. “Only bigger and more... gold.” She looked up at the vaulted, gilded ceiling. “A lot more gold.”

Loki chuckled and submerged himself in the steaming water, surfacing again to watch Eira navigate the little stone steps, his come still glistening on her breasts.

“These used to be the royal chambers. My mother insisted on having her chambers closer to the nursery after my brother was born. Odin obliged her with a whole new set of rooms even more lavish than these.” He drew Eira into the circle of his arms and rinsed her breasts with one hand as he spoke, stroking his seed away. Then he did the same to the tender flesh between her legs.

Eira sighed and draped her arms around his neck, letting herself be carried along as he backed them into deepr water. “Frigga must have been a wonderful mother.”

Loki's heart produced a dull ache, but the loss--and other, more acrid feelings--were no match for the joy still buzzing through his system.

“She was,” he murmured, bending to lick away the beads of water clinging to his wife's naked shoulder.

“But she wasn't perfect, was she?” Eira asked softly. Her breath tickled his neck, and then his ear. She pushed the hair away from his shoulder and nuzzled him warmly.

“No,” he said.

“She didn't tell you who you really are.”

Loki pulled her closer, until he felt her breasts sliding against his chest and her thighs tucked between his parted ones. “She believed she was protecting me,” he murmured.

Eira's mouth drifted along his jaw, up his cheek to the tender skin below his eye. “And now you want to forgive her for that.”

“I do,” he said, eyes closed. “Though I hadn't planned on that being the focus of our honeymoon.”

“It's not,” she breathed. The tip of her tongue snuck out to taste the corner of his eye and Loki pulled her snug against his growing erection. “I can lift that burden right now, though. Consider it my wedding gift to you.”

“Now?” he repeated reluctantly.

Eira nodded.

He considered the dull pain residing in the center of his chest. It had been there so long, he couldn't imagine being without it. “Alright,” he said finally. “Go ahead.”

Eira leaned back in his arms, smiling, pausing to kiss him and then drawing him to one of the benches along the edge of the pool.

“Sit,” she said.

Loki sat and pulled her directly into his lap.

She didn't protest, but turned toward him and straddled his thighs with the water lapping at her narrow waist.

“Mmm,” Loki hummed, looking down at her breasts.

“Shh, be serious, Loki,” she chastised, one hand settling over his heart.

“I am serious,” he said gravely, cupping her breasts with both hands. “Deadly serious.”

Her soft laugh made the little globes jiggle against his fingers. Loki stroked his thumbs over her nipples, both of which were visibly bruised from his mouth. Eira gasped, legs tightening around his thighs.

“Loki!” she hissed.

He grinned. “What?”

But she didn't answer. Her hand lit with golden light, and Loki felt a sharp bolt of pain in his chest. In his heart.

An instant later, as he looked down at her hand is disbelief, the pain was born upward by a rush of warmth.

Loki slumped forward on a strangled gasp, eyes blurring, throat seizing.

“It's alright,” Eira crooned. “Let go, my love.”

Loki pressed his face into her chest and clutched her closer, pain pouring out in a scalding wave. He heard himself sob, tasted the salt of his own tears and though, No! I don't want this!

But Eira was there, her free arm curled around his shoulders, fingers warm on the back of his neck, slipping into his hair.

“Sometimes healing hurts as much as the original wound,” she whispered, kissing his ear. “But it'll be over soon. Just let it go.”

Loki struggled to obey. Closed his eyes and saw himself with Frigga as though from the outside. Saw the child he had been. The trust in his eyes, gazing up at her. Saw the love on her face and felt the wound of her betrayal all over again.

That had been the worst of it, he realized with a start. Frigga had hurt him worse than Odin ever could. Because he'd loved her. Trusted her. Beleived that she loved him.

But she'd lied.

Mother, why didn't you tell me?

We didn't want you to feel different, Loki.

But I am different!

I'm sorry, Loki. My son. I'm so sorry.

Eira's magic flowed into him like warm water on icy burns and he just...let the pain be swept away.

He let it go.

…   …   …


“There's something on your mind.”

Loki tugged the last of the tangles from Eira's hair and let the damp locks trail across his naked groin. The ends were cold. They left little wet marks on the gold sheets around her hips.

“Yes,” he said.

She turned between his legs to look back at him. He'd been quiet since the healing in the bath. There was a stillness inside him that he'd never experienced before. It felt strange and...good.

But there were other things to think of now. Other feelings tumbling into the space left behind, where the pain of Frigga's betrayal had lived.

“Tell me?” Eira asked.

Loki set the brush aside and turned his wife to face him, drawing her legs around his hips and tucking his own around hers. “Can we talk about something less serious?” he murmured.

She tilted her head to one side. “It's weighing on you, though. Whatever it is.”

“You just had a nice little jaunt around the inside of my heart,” he grumbled. “You know exactly how much is weighing on me.”

He'd felt it, while she was healing him--her presence, touching, cataloguing. Shining light upon everything he'd been holding on to: all the pain. The anger. The fears stored away in the deepest recesses of his heart.

So many burdens. He could feel them even now. She'd helped him let go of one--Frigga--but there were so many others.

It wasn't a very comfortable feeling, knowing she could see  so deeply into him.

“I know you have burdens, Loki,” Eira murmured, soft hands stroking his thighs. “I just don't know what they are. Unless you tell me.”

He grunted. “Reading my mind now, too?”

Eira gave him a puzzled look.

“I was just thinking about burdens.”

“Ah.” She nodded in understanding. “It happens sometimes, when I do deep healing. Especially if there's an emotional bond.”

“What happens?” he asked, frowning.

“There's a lingering connection,” she explained, tracing the Jotun markings on his belly.  “Between me and the person I've healed.”

“So you were reading my thoughts?” The concept was, surprisingly, not as unpleasant as he might have expected.

“No, I don't think so. Not consciously, at least.” She shrugged, smiled. “But I can feel that there's more to be healed. More that you want to let go.”

Loki regarded her silently for a few heartbeats, considering.

“Start with whatever's right on top,” she suggested. “That usually helps.”

“We're supposed to be making love,” he grumbled. “Not delving into the black morass of my personal suffering.”

Her lips compressed, corners curling up.

He smiled grudgingly. “It's alright, you can laugh.”

“I'm not laughing. You're just so charming when you're vulnerable.” Her eyes glittered with humor, though.

“Oh, charming am I?” he exclaimed, pulling her closer with his arms around her waist. “You find this pathetic display charming?”

“Utterly,” she murmured, right before he kissed her.

“I do believe you are infatuated with me, my Lady wife,” he said a moment later, trailing kisses down her throat.

Her hands were on his belly again, following the Jotun ridges down towards his groin.

“I think that's an accurate enough assumption,” she replied, warm fingers curling around his cock. “Ooh, so hard,” she murmured.

After a few minutes of kissing and stroking, she lifted her hips and angled his cock towards her.

“Allmother help me,” he breathed, watching her take him inside. “How can you always be so tight?”

Eira's head tilted back and her hands rose to grip his shoulders. She answered in a low, strained voice, “I heal myself, remember?”

He took hold of her hips and lifted her clear off, then brought her back down, groaning as he penetrated.

“Healing makes you tighter?” he asked huskily.

Eyes closed, rolling her hips, she nodded. “You stretch me, I heal myself, you stretch me again.”

“That is just…” Loki blinked, watching her body undulate as she rode him. “...delicious.”

Her eyelids cracked open, gaze heated, gleaming. “I know.”

He tipped her onto her back and pulled her hair over her shoulders so it streamed down her body, aroused by the sight of her breasts peeking between the burnished locks.

He rode her like that for a while, tickling her with her own hair, teasing her with slow, fluid thrusts. Teasing himself.

Then her turned her over and knelt behind her, drawing her up onto all fours before him, pulling her back until she was straddling his lap.

“Kneel up,” he said, when he had her aligned with his cock. And then, when she looked over her shoulder at him, he took hold of her hips and eased her down again.

“Oh...Gods,” she breathed as he filled her.

When she came to rest in his lap with his cock completely sheathed inside her, he kissed the back of her neck, gave her ass a sharp smack and growled, “Ride me.”

She gasped at the impact, pussy clutching, then looked back at him in surprise.

“Did you like that?” he asked. He'd never struck her before.

She nodded, lifting herself carefully, coming back down again. After a moment she seemed to get the hang of the position and took up a steady rhythm.

Until Loki slapped her other cheek.

She stiffened again, gasping, losing her rhythm entirely.  Her sex grew wetter, tighter. And then she started moving again, much faster.

The sight of his handprints on her ass made Loki feel wild. Aggressive.

He slapped her half a dozen times more, and each impact seemed to drive her higher, into a clutching sort of frenzy. She began to bounce almost frantically, making urgent little sounds in the back of her throat.

Finally, both cheeks welted brilliant pink, she leaned forward again, onto her elbows, spine bowing, ass up, and pushed back, rolling her hips as she did.

Please,” she panted.

“Please, what?” Loki rasped, consumed by the sight of her spread open to him, undulating back, lips of her sex shining and swollen. He gripped her ass with both hands and tilted his hips forward to meet her thrusts.

She moaned--a ragged, mindless sound he recognized very well. Eira was past the point of cogent communication. But her body language spoke clearly enough. The bowing spine, the upraised ass. Wordless animal signals his body recognized instantly.

He came forward onto all fours over her and pressed her down so her chest rested against the golden sheets, following her so he could finish it that way, with his chest to her back, hips pumping.

She made an appropriately animal sound when she came, and Loki slapped her again, once, twice, growling at the tightness each strike produced, climaxing into that spasming liquid grip with a guttural moan.

Some minutes later, still pinned limply under his weight, she panted, "Why have you never done that before?"

Loki turned his face away from her shoulder and said, "Didn't think of it. Had I known it would make you so wild I would have turned you over my knee ages ago."

She squirmed beneath him. "That sounds..."

"Erotic?" Loki lifted himself from her, placing a hand on her back when she would have sat up. "Wait, let me look."

The sight of her ass decorated with his hand marks did strange things to him. He touched the angry flesh and found it very hot.

"You'll have to heal yourself," he said stiffly, taking his hand away.

Eira sat up and twisted around to look at herself, and then at his face. "You're not upset, are you?"

"No," he said, watching her touch the welts as though savoring them. "Perhaps I should be upset that I enjoy beating my wife, but since it makes her come, I suppose I can allow myself the pleasure."

"Loki..."

His demeanor seemed to confuse her. He should have smiled to show her that he meant what he said, but lust and sexual aggression made the words sound grave.

Loki endeavored to clarify. "I want to do it again. Now."

Her eyes widened, dipped to his lap and widened some more at the sight of his erection.

"Heal yourself," he growled. "Now Eira. I'm going to bend you over the vanity and paddle your ass until you can't sit down."

Eira's expression flexed with shock and arousal, a flush creeping up from her chest.

"And then will you fuck me?" she whispered.

"Yes." It came out a snarl. Loki put one hand on his twitching cock as though to calm it. "Yes, wife. Then I will fuck you."

Eira wasted no more time obeying.

 

Chapter Text

Eira wanted to return to the banquet that evening, and though reluctant to surrender his time alone with her, Loki complied. They dressed--he in green and black leathers and a gold-trimmed tunic, she in a new green dress with a black satin bodice. 

"We match," she said, when he came into the antechamber and found her poring over the pile of gifts beside the table.

"We do." He pulled her in for a kiss, tasted chocolate and said, "Have you ruined your supper with sweets?"

She smiled up at him. "I had one of those little pastries there. I'm starving."

Loki glanced at the food still spread on the table and said, "Perhaps you can be persuaded to stay here and let me feed you from this lover's feast?"

Eira gave him a knowing look. "You'll make a mess of me. Besides, everyone is out there celebrating our marriage, Loki. I think we ought to at least join the supper banquet."

Arms curling around her little waist, he bent to taste the skin below her ear. "But all these lovely sweets will go bad."

"Put a preservation spell on them," she murmured. "You can feed me tonight."

"Mmm." He had some lovely ideas about how that activity would go, which he took it upon himself to describe to her in a dark whisper, mouth grazing the delicate shell of her ear.

She shivered, leaned into him, breasts rising above the low vee of her gown's neckline. "That sounds lovely," she mumbled almost drunkenly. "I'd like to do the same to you."

"Oh?" he nipped her earlobe, fever rising rapidly through his body. "Can you be more specific? Perhaps a demonstration is in order."

"Wicked man," she breathed, looking up at him with hooded hazel eyes. "Stop trying to distract me and take me to the banquet."

Loki scooped her up onto the edge of the table, knocking over the bottle of wine and one of the glasses, making the dishes clatter.

Eira yelped, "Loki!"

He grinned, hands already under her skirts, burrowing for her naked legs. "I'm afraid I stopped listening after I heard the words 'take me.'"

She slapped his chest when he bent to kiss her, gasped into his mouth when his fingers discovered their destination, tried to close her legs and found them held open by his hips.

"Loki," she protested, trying to push him off. "Stop!"

But she was breathing hard and the hot flesh surrounding fingers had already grown wet. Her clit swelled under the pad of his thumb.

"Once more," he murmured, working his trousers open with his free hand.

Eira was clutching his shoulders now, gasping as he stroked her. "Loki...you...ah!"

He removed his fingers and replaced them with the head of his cock. Eira shivered, hips tilting towards him in welcome.

"There," he purred, sinking home, drinking her little moan in an open-mouthed kiss as he began to thrust. "It'll be fast. I promise."

And it was fast. Perhaps their most hurried coupling to date. Loki gave her no more than a dozen deep, purposeful thrusts, still rolling her clit with his thumb. She hooked her legs around his hips and nearly fell backward into the food when she came, body arching, throat exposed. Loki held her with one arm and bit the upper swell of her breast, climaxing with her, groaning around her soft flesh in his mouth.

"You're a beast," she mumbled afterwards, limp and panting.

"I know." Loki tipped her forward into his chest and reached behind her to right the wine bottle and some of the dishes knocked over by his thrusting. His gaze caught on a small bundle of letters tucked under the edge of the silver tray.

"Have I got my skirts in the food?" she asked languidly, arms curled around his shoulders now, face tucked into the crook of his neck.

"No," he replied, plucking the bundle of letters from beneath the tray and turning them over.
Bloody hell. They were addressed to Eira.

In the language of Vanaheim.

Quickly, with a little flash of seidr, he made them disappear.

Eira looked over her shoulder, "What are you doing back there?"

"Your hair has fallen in the chocolate sauce, I'm afraid," he answered smoothly. "And a bit in the cream."

"Oh dear. That's not very sanitary."

He chuckled, drawing the long mass of burnished waves over her shoulder. "Should we send for Astrid to tidy you up?"

"Well, you have taken out all my braids. It would be a bit unseemly to arrive at supper with my hair completely loose. And full of cream and chocolate."

Loki grinned. "I think you look ravishing with chocolate in your hair."

Her smile inspired a long, languid kiss, after which Loki dutifully rearranged her skirts, closed his trousers and lifted her down from the table.

Astrid arrived wide-eyed and blushing, and could not meet Loki's eye as she followed Eira to the vanity in the big bedroom. His Jotun form clearly disturbed her, and the bedding was terribly mussed from their activities. The silk ropes still hanging from the bed frame and the substances in Eira's hair seemed to represent a level of debauchery the poor girl could hardly comprehend. She turned a shade of red so deep it was slightly alarming, and Loki decided to leave the two of them alone to sort Eira's hair.

Back in the anteroom, he conjured the letters again and looked at each address. He recognized two of the distinctly feminine, aristocratic signatures. Fulla and Syn. Goddesses of Vanaheim; two of Frigga's handmaidens. Women his mother had spoken of from time to time--women she had considered friends.

Women Eira had served with in the palace.

The third name was written in a hand so clumsy he couldn't entirely decipher it. Ullah? Ullur? A peasant's hand, to be sure. Clearly an individual with limited schooling. Possibly a servant Perhaps one who had helped Eira escape during the convergence.

The letters made him angry--and filled him with dread for reasons he couldn't entirely process.

His initial reaction was one of jealousy.

Eira had claimed there was nothing for her on Vanaheim. No one who cared for her. No one she wished to return to. But there were people who cared for her, clearly. Frey had kept her from them with threats and violence, but the letters were proof enough.

They would want her to come back. She still had a lover on Vanaheim as well. Well, an ex-lover.

He looked at the third letter again. Ullah was a feminine name. Ullur, on the other hand...

She's my wife. He told himself. Soon to be my queen. There is no threat.

But when he shoved the jealousy away there was another anxiety to replace it.

The fact was, she might very well say no to Vanaheim, to the throne--and Loki hadn't taken the time to consider what he might do if she did.

He could easily refuse to take no for an answer. Eira loved him. He could bargain. Manipulate. There was no doubt it his mind--he could find a way to coerce her into accepting her queendom.

But each time he pursued that line of reasoning, a voice in his head demanded, Will she be happy?

Will you sacrifice Eira's happiness in exchange for the throne?

And he stood there by the fireplace, listening to the murmur of the two women in the next room, staring at the letters in his hand, paralyzed by a sudden sense of disorientation.

He'd been fighting for his right to rule for so many years, driven by intense anger, betrayal, vengeance. And, yes, the desire to win his father's respect. To finally stand in the light of Odin's favor, as Thor had done for as long as he could remember.

He could still feel the ache of that--of standing on the outside, looking in. Rejection. Abandonment. Powerlessness.

That all-consuming drive had been the center of his conciousness for so long.

But... his center had shifted, he realized--with a dizzy sort of shock.

Yes, he still wanted to rule. Was still angry, wounded, driven. But the feelings had dimmed. Lost their urgency. Their fire. Been displaced by a new fire.

A fever.

Loki sent the letters off to their hiding place and began to quietly pace the antechamber, heart beating fast, thoughts spinning.

The universe had been telling him, No for as long as he could remember.

No, you're not worthy of your father's love. No, you're not as good as your brother. No, you cannot be king. You don't deserve it. You're unworthy. You're unwanted. Whatever it is, you can't have it. You can't win.

But he had won, finally. In fact, he'd triumphed in a way he'd never even thought to seek. 

Eira--her love, her acceptance, her trust and commitment. Her child. Her future. Standing in the light of her favor had changed everything.

But... it hadn't washed the old desires away. He wanted to rule. Maybe not with the same fire of vengeance he'd once felt, but with no less sense of entitlement.

If she refused the throne, he would still have Eira, but...

The thought was too agonizing to pursue. So, again, he pushed it aside. Resolved not to think of it, not to speak of it.

Not yet.

He told himself he just wasn't ready to relinquish this blissful honeymoon state yet. Wasn't prepared to let the outside world intrude upon his joy--their joy. Which was true, of course. He wanted her all to himself, and why shouldn't he be allowed to hold the rest at bay a while longer?

She would forgive him for that, he felt sure.

... ... ...

 

Their return to the banquet was received with enormous good cheer. The people of Asgard had been celebrating all day in their absence, the mead and wine had been flowing, and the great hall was alive with music and laughter. 

Supper found them seated at the head of Odin's enormous banquet table, the King himself displaced to one side in smiling deference to the occasion. 

There were drunken jokes and innuendos from the men, which Loki received with bored amusement and Eira with only minor embarrassment. 

The ladies murmured to each other, eyeing the flush in Eira's cheeks and tittering over the melting way she smiled at her husband. Concluding, no doubt, that Eira had found her first experience of the marriage bed quite satisfactory. 

When the couple rose from supper to dance, Eira was drawn away by an elderly Lord, and Loki--submitting to tradition with politely concealed reluctance--graciously invited another lady to the dancefloor. 

He'd returned to his Aesir form before they left their chambers, and though Eira had seeemed disappointed, he felt sure his dance parters were releived. He wasn't ashamed of his blue skinned form any longer--well, except for a little twinge each time someone looked askance at him or cringed a little under his crimson gaze. He was well aware that even with Odin's public acceptance at the wedding, the people of Asgard would need time to adjust. Still, he found himself feeling oddly stifled in his Aesir form. Frustrated by the need to conceal himself. 

Longing to be alone with his wife again, unrestrained. 

The two of them rotated through Asgard's aristocracy for nearly an hour before finding each other again. Eira sighed with relief when he swept her into a dance. 

"I thought I would have to flirt with stodgy old men the whole night," she murmured.

Loki gave her a stern look. "Flirting, were you? That's unfair. I didn't flirt."

She smiled. "Liar. I saw that beautiful Lady in the red dress laughing in your arms not ten minutes ago."

"Yes, well," he replied, mock-disdainful, "I daresay not every man you've danced with this evening has been a stodgy old one."

Her eyes glittered as he swung her through a turn. "But I didn't flirt with the young and handsome ones."

"Oh, how conscientious of you. I'll bet you let them look down the front of your dress, though, didn't you?"

Her green-brown gaze was warm and filled with hunger. "I could hardly stop them."

Loki let his gaze dip to the front of her dress and the smooth, mouthwatering flesh that swelled above it. "You should have left the marks I gave you."

She laughed. "That would draw more attention than I'm prepared to handle."

For some reason, he thought of the letters again at that moment--of Vanaheim. Eira must have seen it in his face because her brow knitted and she said, "What's the matter?" 

"Not a thing." He made himself smile at her. "I couldn't possibly be happier with the current state of affairs." 

She gave him a wry look just before he spun her under his arm. 

"What?" he asked as he drew her back to his chest. 

"You're deflecting," she replied, one brow arched in challenge.

"Well, I suppose I could be a bit happier with the state of things," he admitted. 

"Oh?"

"Mm," he drew her closer. "I would much prefer to have you back in our quarters, quivering beneath me with your legs around my hips."

Her eyes darkened. "Is that all?"

"Of course not. There's also the chocolate sauce, and the clotted cream. And your currently unmarred ass begging to be decorated with my handprints again."

Her lips quirked. "I meant is that all that would make you happier with the state of things."

"I know exactly what you meant." 

She rolled her eyes. "Fine. Take me back to our chambers, then."

Loki scooped her up so fast she yelped. Couples on the dancefloor stopped spinning to look as he carried her off. 

Their exit from the great hall was marked by a volley of raucous cheers and suggestive comments--several of the latter of which Loki very much intended to make good on.

... ... ...

 

The next two days of their wedding celebration unfolded much as the first one had. They spent most of their time sequestered in their golden chambers, venturing out periodically to feast and dance. 

Near the end of the third day, Odin caught Loki alone on the veranda outside the great hall and prompted him to tell Eira about Vanaheim. 

That night she seemed to sense his anxiety. She asked again what was wrong as they sat at the table in the antechamber drinking tea and nibbling fruit tarts the servants had brought for their daily lovers repast. 

Loki chose that moment to act out the fantasy she'd described during their initial consummation.

He dragged her out of her chair, took her to the floor and mounted her there just as she'd described. Fucked her roughly from behind with her shoulders pinned and her nightgown bunched around her waist. Withdrew after her first orgasm and oiled his cock while she lay in a panting stupor beneath him. 

She cried out when he pushed inside again, cock stretching her other orifice now, driving deep enough to make her spine bow. Filling her with his come only moments later, each thrust producing a delightful squelch as she tightened around him. 

Afterward he spanked her, still holding her shoulders down, delivering a series of stinging slaps that made her sob and shudder, ass blossoming with vivid red welts. 

The strangled sound of surprise she made when he thrust inside again was positively delicious. Her ass accepted him much more easily this time, cock slipping through the wet remains he'd left inside her just minutes before. Her welted flesh was fever-hot where each thrust brought his hips into contact with her body.

In the rush of feral pleasure, Loki forgot to facilitate her orgasm. But he needn't have bothered, as it turned out. The little minx came the moment he reached his own climax, driven by the sounds he made and his snapping thrusts. Her ass gripped him so tight it almost hurt. 

She didn't think to ask him what was wrong again until hours later, after they'd bathed, made love once standing at the edge of the golden pool, dried each other and returned naked to the table for another snack. 

Loki was spreading preserves on a crumbling biscuit when Eira murmured, "You'll have to tell me sometime."

He looked up, stomach dropping slightly. "Tell you what?"

But it was no use. She'd caught him unawares and the deflection sounded lame even to his own ears.

Eira just looked at him and waited. 

Well, they'd had three days, he thought with a dull sense of defeat. Three delicious, erotic days. 

"Go on," she said quietly, reading his hesitation. 

A dreadful sense of resignation swept over him. Sighing, he conjured the three letters. Held them out to her. Murmured gruffly, "I'm sorry."

He watched her face stiffen as she took them, reading the names on each address. 

There was a silence as she held the letters unopened in her hands. A long, thrumming silence, filled with Loki's quiet dread. 

And then Eira's eyes filled slowly with tears.

 

 

Chapter Text


“Where did you get these?” she whispered.

Loki watched a tear roll ponderously towards her chin. “They were on the table when we came back from the wedding.”

“Loki…” she mumbled, staring at the envelopes with visible dread. “I don't want them.”

That surprised him. “Why not?”

Wordlessly, she shook her head, thrusting the letters back at him. “Throw them away. Please,” she rasped, mouth trembling.

Loki took the letters. “I thought you would be happy.”

“Then why did you hide them from me?” Her eyes glittered with confused accusation.

Was she angry that he hadn't given them to her, or that he had? “Because it's our honeymoon and I didn't want anything to intrude upon it,” he said.

Eira sniffled, wiped angrily at her cheeks with both hands. “That's all you've been hiding these last three days?”

She looked up when he hesitated. Sighed heavily at the look on his face.

“It's not,” she said dully. “There's something else.”

Suddenly he was angry--mostly at Odin for placing the responsibility of this proposal on Loki's shoulders. He tamped the emotion down.

“Vanaheim needs a ruler,” he said stiffly. “Frey has destroyed his own line. There's no one left to take the throne.”

Eira frowned, clearly not understanding.

“Odin thinks you the best candidate,” he clarified, heart pounding.

Her eyes went wide and she sat very still for several seconds, hardly seeming to breathe.

Finally she said, “That's insane. I've no idea how to rule.”

“I do,” he replied grimly.

She blinked. And then he watched her remember his confession on Arvakr--everything he'd told her about his past. His thirst for power.

He watched accusation gather slowly across her features.

“Did you ask him for this?” she demanded, soft and disbelieving.  

“No,” he said.

“But you want it,” she insisted, “The throne of Vanaheim.”

There was no trace of question in her voice, but he answered anyway.

“Yes.”

There was another long silence as she looked at him, eyes shuttered, wounded.

Finally--rather abruptly--she stood. Loki watched her go into the bedroom, chest tight. Wondering if she wanted him to follow.

A moment later her voice drifted from the open doorway.

“Loki.”

He rose, went to her. Found her sitting in the center of the bed, hugging her own knees, long hair hanging around her like a blanket.

When she spoke it was with an air of confession. The words tumbled from her mouth.

“They could have tried to stop him,” she said, face blank. “They knew what he was doing to me. They looked the other way. Everyone did.”

Loki’s chest grew tight. Anger and helplessness for something he couldn't undo. Slowly, he traversed the big room, came up the steps of the platform.

She watched him with that same shuttered, wounded look until he came to a stop at the edge of the bed. Eira looked down at her bare feet on the golden sheets.

“He was royalty,” he said quietly to the top of her head. “Their future king. You know there was nothing they could have done to stop him.”

Her silence filled him with dread.

When she looked up again, he was surprised to see her eyes were dry.

“They could have tried.” Her features crimped with pain and resentment. “They didn't even try, Loki.”

And then her eyes did fill. Angry tears. Bitter tears he recognized so well.

The tears of a woman betrayed by those who had once been closest to her.

She looked away again, blankly, gazing at the far wall, then down at the blankets, seeing nothing. Loki stood over her, paralyzed by his own helplessness, not knowing what to do, what to say.

And then, with a blankness that matched her expression, she murmured, “He tried to rape me once.”

Loki felt the blood drain from his face, stomach dropping. The breath died in his lungs.

“I fought him,” she went on in that awful empty way. “I don't think he expected that.”

“Eira,” he said in a strangled voice.

She met his horrified gaze, hazel eyes clear, emotionless. “He cornered me in the baths. There were other ladies there. They ran out when he told them to go.”

Gods...Say something, he thought distantly. But what? Rage had stolen his voice. He felt cold and hot at once. It was a horrible, sickening feeling.

And then he did find words.

“The ladies who sent those letters…” he said hoarsely.

She nodded. “They were there.”

Gods! “I'm sorry,” he rasped. “They should all be in the dungeons with Frey.”

Her dry little laugh made him want to cringe.

“No, you were right,” she said. “He was their future king. What could they have done? They had no power over him. Better to avoid his wrath.”

The bitterness had crept back into her tone, though.

“Eira,” he said again, sinking down into the edge of the mattress.

She met his gaze very steadily. “I could have avoided Vanaheim for the rest of my life. I was really happy.”

Loki crawled across the bed and pulled her into his lap, into his arms. She let him do it, but she was stiff, reluctant.

She'd never resisted his embrace before. It made his heart shrink painfully in his chest. Filled him with something very like panic.

He told himself to be calm. She was wounded. Defensive. It would pass.

“Can you heal it?” he asked.

She stared at his chest. “I’m too angry.”

Loki put his arms around her, ignoring the stiffness in her frame. Thinking. Hating himself again for the first time in weeks.

“You still want the throne,” she said dully.

It didn't even surprise him that she knew what he was thinking anymore.

After a few beats of silence he said, “Frey is gone. Njord is dead. You'd be returning to a very different Vanaheim, Eira. One you have the power to shape. To heal.”

She sighed, soft and heavy. Defeated. Loki drew her tighter against his body, willing her to relax. To put her arms around him.

She didn't.

“Could you be happy without a kingdom?” she asked quietly, breath warm on his shoulder. “With just me? And our son?”

Loki swallowed. Licked his lips. Considered the lie that rose effortlessly onto his tongue.

Finally, with a grim sort of resignation, he discarded it.

“I don't know.”

As soon as he said it, he wanted the words back. Eira didn't move or speak for long, agonizing seconds. But he'd wounded her. Deeply. And he knew it.

“That's your answer then,” she murmured.

Loki turned it over in his mind almost frantically, wondering what the hell she meant. Terrified that somehow he'd ruined everything--that she would never be the same with him. He felt as though he'd betrayed her.

Perhaps he wasn't worthy after of all. Of the throne. Of Eira.

“We'll rule over Vanaheim, Loki.”

The words struck him like a splash of cold water.

He pulled back to look at her. “What?”

“I’ll do it,” she said, eyes dark with resignation. “But I have conditions.”

Loki blinked, “Conditions?”

“As many children as I want,” she said with that wound still gleaming in her eyes.

Loki said faintly, “Alright.”

“You will sleep in my bed every night.”

He frowned. “Of course I will--”

“You'll take no lovers,” she interrupted. Her eyes had glazed with tears. Angry tears.

“Eira--” he began, in dismay.

“I know how kings behave,” she snapped. “What that power does to men.”

Just what had she seen in the palace at Vanaheim? Had Njord…?

“Eira,” he said, “I've no desire to--”

“Swear it,” she demanded, clipped with emotion. “Swear on Frigga's grave.”

He glared. “I swear on my mother's grave, I will be faithful to you. You insult me by suggesting otherwise.”

“If you break that oath, Loki, I will throw you from the palace,” she said.

By the Fates, she was serious. Deadly serious.

“And do I get such an oath from you as well?” he demanded, temper flaring. “Or am I to share you in exchange for the throne?”

It was a childish dig--and a ridiculous one, at that--but her doubt in his fidelity stung. Deeply. And fear made him petulant.

She didn't even acknowledge the insult, however. She said, “I will never betray you, Loki.”

“What a relief,” he replied flatly.

Again, she ignored him. “And I will not be a passive queen. You may know how to rule, but I won't just sit by and leave everything to you.”

“Eira,” he said angrily, “What exactly do you think I'm planning to--”

“I don't know!” she cried, tears appearing suddenly on her lower lashes. “You’re the one who wants to be king so badly, you tell me!”

Understanding struck him like a physical blow. Loki's anger hardened into an icy crust on his heart. “You've been listening to my father.”

She closed her eyes, lips trembling just a bit. Then she lifted herself carefully from his lap and moved away.

Feeling cold, Loki let her go. Watched as she rose from the bed and stepped down from the platform, naked and beautiful with her hair flowing down her back. Suddenly he was very aware of his own nakedness, his blue flesh. His Jotun markings and the sharp ache in his chest.

Eira paused at the last step and turned back, face grave, eyes glossy. “I love you,” she said quietly, “But I need to be alone right now.”

Then she turned and went into the bath, closing the big stone door behind her.

…  … …


She was in there alone for over an hour. Loki got up and dressed, then went out into the anteroom. He paced for fifteen minutes, trying furiously to fend off the barrage of emotions that threatened to unhinge him.

Anger and heartache. Deep, burning regret. Terror that--in his determination to rule--he'd lost his wife's adoration. That she would never forgive him. He could just see himself ruling over Asgard beside a woman grown cold toward him. The irony of it was like a blade in his gut.

He'd already forgotten her most recent declaration of love, of courde. And the fact that she'd made him swear on his mother's grave that he would be faithful to her. All he could think of was the look in her eyes and the way she'd sat so stiffly in his arms. And her anger, too--he'd never seen her so angry.

What have I done?

After a while, he sunk onto the gold settee and closed his eyes. Not sleeping, or even resting, but turned to stone by his own self-hatred.

He sat like that, thinking--berating himself--for more than half an hour. And then he conjured the letters again, not really knowing why.

He stared at the names for a long time without even reading them.

When he looked up again, Eira was standing there across from the couch, wearing her dressing robe, hair still loose.

Loki sat up, letters forgotten in his hand.

“You can read them, if you want to,” she said.

Her face was different. Her voice too.

Loki's inner storm slowed considerably under that open, green-brown stare. There was a trace of seidr in her aura.

“You've healed yourself,” he said, heart lifting with cautious hope.

“Of course I have,” she murmured.

He swallowed, blurted, “I don't know why I want it so badly.”

Her eyes darkened--a hint of that wound peeking through. The wound he'd put there. Not healed after all then. At least, not completely.

“I want you more,” he said.

She smiled a little. “That's...good to hear.”

For some reason those four words filled him with shame. “I'm sorry,” he whispered. “Please forgive me.”

“Loki,” she took a step towards him. “It's alright. I want you to be happy.”

The anger came rushing back--anger at himself, at Frey and Njord, at the women who should have been Eira's friends.

“Will you sacrifice your own happiness for me?” he demanded. “I don't deserve it.”

She frowned. Her gaze shifted to the letters in his hand. Rose again to his face, “I'm sorry I was angry before. I didn't realize how wounded I still was--am. It will take time for me to heal--”

“Don't apologize to me,” he growled. “You don't owe me anything.”

“Loki…” she said softly.

He held up his free hand to stop her. “I shouldn't have said it. I don't need a throne--”

“Don't do that,” she interrupted gently. “Don't lie to me now.”

“I'm not lying.”

Her eyes glittered with regret. “Yes. You are.”

He stared at her helplessly, heart cracking. Desperate to see that wounded look leave her eyes. To have her warm and purring in his arms again.

“I love you,” he whispered. “Please, touch me.”

She came silently across the rug to him and stood at his knee. The hem of her dressing gown brushed over the top of his bare foot. One slender had rose to his head, fingers sliding into his hair.  
Loki closed his eyes and leaned forward, melting with gratitude. Pleasure trickled from her fingertips and tripped down along his spine. His head came to rest against her stomach and she cradled him there with both hands, nails scraping gently at his scalp.

“Why did you change back to your Aesir form?” she asked quietly.

He turned his face into her belly. Mumbled, “Dunno.”

The truth was, he'd still felt terribly naked even after dressing. His Aesir form had become like an extra garment. A suit of armor.

“Mm. Will you read the letters?” she asked.

The question surprised him. Then he remembered that she’d said he could.

It was a peculiar request, of course. But he understood.

“I think you ought to read them yourself,” he said, muffled against her robe. “When you're ready.”

Her fingers slipped down the back of his neck. “I suppose so.”

Loki lifted his arms slowly, took hold of her hips. When she made no protest he pulled her closer, between his legs, and wrapped his arms around her waist.

She came along willingly, and her little hands passed affectionately over his shoulders and upper back, then slipped into his hair again. The Fever warmed his nerves, poured heat into every muscle and vein.

But it wasn't quite the same. Something had changed.

He could sense her hesitation, though he couldn't have pinpointed exactly how. She just wasn’t as...there.

So, he nuzzled at the opening of her robe until he found bare skin, and then he kissed the smooth plane of her belly until it began to quiver under his lips.

Come back, he thought. Be with me.

And she did, of course. He lifted his face until he found her breasts and then suckled each one very gently. Slid his hands under her robe and stroked her waist, her hips, the smooth muscles in her thighs.

And when she softened into him, breath coming faster, skin heating under his touch, he slipped off the settee onto his knees.

He looked up once and caught her expression of surprise.

“Whatever you want,” he whispered, not knowing if he meant Vanaheim, or himself, or his body.  

Maybe all of them.

And then he took her sex into his mouth, suckling the velvet lips with slow deliberation.

Eria gave a shuddering sigh and tilted her hips forward. Loki responded by opening wide, drawing as much of her flesh into his mouth as he could, making her gasp. Tongue between her fold now, sliding down and back up again, as far as he could reach. Dipping into her body when she opened for him.

He went on like that a long time, slow and reverent, loving her with lips and tongue. Tickling, sipping, sucking. Pulling at her clit until it grew fat and hot in his mouth--and then sucking it some more. Short, rhythmic pulses. Long wet draws. Using his tongue to circle the bundle of nerves, to roll and flick. To trace the little hood and push it back.

She began to whimper loudly as the orgasm approached. Twitched and bucked against his mouth, thighs tensing, hands clutching his hair.

“Harder,” she whispered.

Loki sealed his lips to her and sucked, hard and fast, tongue writhing.

Again she bucked, cried out, breath ragged, hands fisting in his hair, making his scalp sting. And when she came the spasms struck her in rolling waves. He watched her body rocking with them as he continued to suck, mesmerized by the sight of her above him, breasts peeking between the halves of her robe, hair trailing down her body. Belly exposed and flexing.

When it was done he held herself up with her hands braced on his shoulders, upper body curving over him, legs trembling, panting loudly.

He looked up at her. Caught her glazed look, hazel eyes bright.

“Again?” he asked softly.

Lips parted around her panting breath, she looked at his mouth and nodded.

Gratified--encouraged--Loki returned eagerly to his task. He took his time. Sucked her leisurely. When he'd brought her a second time, he looked up and asked in a deep, husky voice, “Again?”

Again she nodded.

He set her on the couch and knelt between her open legs to suck her that way, using his fingers this time, finding her tight and wetter than ever.

Each time he brought her to climax, he looked at her pleasure-flushed face and repeated the question, “Again?” until finally she said, “Inside, Loki.”

He took her there on the edge of the settee, holding her gaze as he moved in her. Angling his thrusts very carefully to please her. Obeying each time she murmured “Faster, Loki,” or “Harder.”

And when, at the peak of her final orgasm, she cried, “Bite me,” he bent and sunk his teeth into the underside of her breast, cock jumping, seizing, spilling deep inside her.

It was good, of course. So good. As good as it had ever been, but…

It still wasn't the same.

Chapter Text

After he made love to her on the couch, Eira rose and went into the bedchamber to dress.

Loki followed. Stood in the doorway of the enormous dressing room, still feeling anxious, at a loss.

He watched her choose a dress--a simple, shimmering amber-colored one he'd never seen before.

“What do you plan to do?” he asked quietly.

“I need to speak to Odin,” she said, draping the dress over the chaise at the center of the dressing room and pausing to shed her robe.

Anger sparked along his nerves at the mention of his father. “I’d like to have a word with him myself,” he grumbled.

Eira looked up, standing there naked with a silk chemise in her hands. She seemed about to say something, then reconsidered and simply nodded.

“Will you help me dress?” she asked, pulling the chemise on over her head. When it was in place, she picked up the dress again. “This one has laces in the back.”

Pleased that she would prefer his assistance to that of her maid, Loki nodded and came across the room to her.

When the dress was on, he drew her long hair aside to reach the laces and she said very softly, “Frey's hearing is next week.”

Loki's heart squeezed. “I know.”

“I wondered why Odin had set it so soon after the wedding,” she murmured.

Working on her dress--and thinking hard--Loki said nothing, not sure what how to respond.

Before he could decide, Eira went on, “He means to bring the two servants from Vanaheim who helped me escape. For the hearing.”

He cinched the final lace and smoothed the skirts over her hips, then stood with his hands at his sides, looking down at the back of her neck and the little wisps of coppery hair curling against her nape.

“It’s only a formality. You'll have to give testimony as well, though,” he said, with an air of apology.

“I know.” She turned to look up at him, expression grim. “I had thought that would be the end of it.”

He could think of no other response, so he said simply, “I'm sorry.”

She didn't say it, but the answer was there in her face.

Not sorry enough to give up the throne.

Loki swallowed. “The sword you gave me during our wedding ceremony, was that your father's?”

Her lips twisted subtly at his attempt to change the subject. “Yes. Odin brought it back after he went to Vanaheim to announce Frey's imprisonment.”

“Do you have other belongings on Vanaheim?”

She shook her head. “Nothing of worth.”

They stood for a moment in silence, facing each other. Eira stared blankly at his chest, hair still spilling over one shoulder in burnished waves.

Words hung between them, unspoken. Loki wasn't sure what they were--whether they were his to speak, or hers. Maybe both. But they were heavy.

“I don't want it to be like this,” he said, low and helpless.

She met his gaze, read the emotion there. “Neither do I.”

“Tell me what to do,” he demanded in a near-whisper. “Tell me how to fix this.”

Her gaze searched his face for a moment, then slid away, past his shoulder. She sighed heavily. “There's nothing to fix, Loki.

Frustration made his temper flare. “If you say you don't want it--if you refuse the throne, I won't argue.”

“But you don't want that, Loki. We both know you don't.”

“I told you,” he insisted, “I want you more.”

She met his gaze very steadily. “It's not either/or, you silly man. You haven't lost me.”

The words came tumbling out unbidden. “Then why do I feel as though I have?”

Her expression of amused consternation did nothing to dispel his anxiety.

“Loki, I've accepted a throne I don't want because I love you and I want you to be happy. What more evidence do you need of my commitment?”

She was right of course, but the anxiety--the fear of losing her--was unrelenting.

“Perhaps you'll find yourself miserable once we've returned to Vanaheim,” he said. “And you'll have only me to blame.”

He couldn't say the words, you'll grow to despise me, but they were there in the silence that followed.

Eira regarded him carefully for the space of a few heartbeats--loud, painful heartbeats, on Loki's part.

Finally she said in a low voice, “I want to reassure you, but I've my own wounds to face right now. You'll just have to trust me.”

The words stunned him.

For the first time, he sensed her resolve. It was there in her voice, in her eyes--she had made her decision, and she wouldn't look back, nor question it. Perhaps she'd made it for his benefit, but she had made it.

Her quiet resolve struck him speechless while he grappled with a new understanding of her character--and with the emotions that realization stirred.

Brave. His wife was extraordinarily brave, and decisive. And strong.

And she loved him.

Suddenly he felt ashamed for questioning her. For doubting her. Alongside the shame came an upwelling of love and pride so intense it nearly stole his breath. In that instant, he shoved all his anxiety aside.

“What can I do?”

She blinked, brows rising a bit at the sudden shift in his tone.

And then her face creased slowly into a smile. There was relief in that smile. And love.

“You can come with me to speak to Odin,” she offered.

“To tell him you've accepted?”

She nodded. “And to discuss some conditions.”

He smiled. “More conditions, hm? I hope you give him as hard a time as you did me.”

Lips pursed primly, she replied, “Quite a bit harder, I should think, considering that all I asked of you was what you already promised  me with your wedding vows.”

Loki leaned in and bumped her gently with the front of his body. “I don't recall ‘all the children you want’ being part of my wedding vows.”

She leaned against his chest, hands coming to rest at his waist. “Well, I had to sweeten the deal for myself somehow.”

Her affection, even subdued as it was, made him buzz with pleasure. He tucked his nose into her hair. “How many children are you thinking of?”

“At least three,” she said. “And then I'll see how I feel.”

His deep chuckle seemed to stimulate her--she shivered a little bit and pressed closer. With a surge of joy and relief, Loki put his arms around her and held on.

“It will be my pleasure to uphold that promise,” he said, with exaggerated gravity.

They stood together like that in silence for while, and though the intimacy of the embrace was tentative, Loki told himself not to be concerned. Eira had made her choice, and he had made his. Whatever it took to recover her confidence--however long it took--he would do it.

“Odin has been orchestrating all of this, hasn't he?” she murmured.

Loki's pleasure drained away. “I believe he has, yes.”

“But his intentions are good, don't you think?” She sounded hopeful.

Loki set his chin on top of her head, glaring at the wall behind her. “Good for whom?”

“He's acting as a king,” she murmured. “To serve his kingdom and the nine realms.”

Anger made his next words rough. “Did it serve the kingdom to fill your head with doubt about my character? About my intentions for Vanaheim?”

Eira pulled back to look at him and Loki met her gaze reluctantly.

“He never said anything about ruling Vanaheim to me, Loki. He only told me about your past and his concern that your desire for power is centered in your ego.”

Loki growled worlessly. “And when did you have this discussion of my character, exactly?”

“When he first brought me back from Arvakr and returned my memories to me,” she murmured, watching his face. “When he told me I would have to marry you in order to see Frey charged with treason.”

The memory brought a twinge of resentment. Loki frowned down at her. “He was already planning to put you on the throne even then, no doubt. Why would he tell you those things?”

“I asked him that myself,” she said. “It seemed as though he was trying to warn me away from marrying you.”

“And what did he say to that?”

Her gaze drifted to Loki's mouth, through her eyes were unfocused. Thinking. “He said he wanted me to have a clear understanding of the man you are.”

A clear understanding, huh? “That old bastard has never understood me, Eira,” he growled.

“I know,” she said softly. “I told him that, too.”

Loki blinked in surprise. “You did?”

She nodded. “He was surprised to find you'd already told me about your brother and the attack on Midgard.”

“And even more surprised to find that you still wanted me, I'll wager,” he said bitterly.

“I think he was more surprised to find that you wanted me,” she admitted.

Well. That was...actually not too surprising, when he thought about it.

“I suppose I have changed after all,” he muttered, looking at the woman in his arms. “I never had much interest in love. Marriage.”

Eira smiled at that. “I'm glad you changed your mind.” She patted his chest. “Besides, whatever doubts Odin may have had about you, don't you think he's put them to rest? Why would he want to put you on the throne of Vanaheim otherwise?”

“I don't know,” he grumbled. “I still feel as though it's some sort of test. A dangling carrot that he'll snatch away at the last moment.”

She seemed to consider that for the space of a few heartbeats. “Well, he can't snatch me away.”

Loki smiled. “No, he certainly can't.”

“And I can't imagine he'd have any reason to tease me with the possibility of rule.”

“That's true,” he said. “Especially considering you never wanted it.”

They looked at each other for a while, thoughtfully.

“Perhaps we should just ask him,” she said.

Loki nodded. “Perhaps we should.”

…   …   …  


They found Odin in the throne room, half reclined on his dias with with a trio of elderly Lords below him, sputtering about property taxes and farm labor.

The old man looked up when Loki arrived with Eira at his side.

“Gentlemen, thank you for your time,” the Allfather interrupted. “We shall address your concerns at the upcoming council meeting.”

The three Lords, well-familiar with that booming tone of kingly dismissal, immediately made their bows and scurried off.

“Loki,” Odin said, by way of welcome. “And Princess Eir. Come.” He gestured them forward, sitting up a little straighter in his golden throne.

“Your majesty,” Eira began, at the same moment Loki said stiffly, “Father.”

They both stopped to look at each other.

“I take it you have news for me,” Odin said into that brief, awkward silence.

Loki gestured for Eira to continue, catching Odin's look of surprise as she stepped forward. He followed his wife to the foot of the dias and stood just behind her shoulder as she looked up at Odin.

“Loki explained about Vanaheim,” she said without preamble.

“Ah,” Odin replied impassively. “And what have you decided?”

“I've decided exactly as you planned I would, I expect,” was her unamused reply.

The white brow over Odin's good eye rose briefly. “As I planned?”

“Yes. You knew I would agree, didn't you? Despite my reluctance to return to Vanaheim.”

Odin regarded her shrewdly. “I suspected you might.”

“Because I love your son,” she clarified.

The old man's gaze flicked to Loki and then back to Eira. Loki could almost smell his suspicion. “Yes.”

“Why did you want me to believe him power hungry?” she demanded calmly. “Why did you tell me you believed him unstable?”

Anger had seeped into her voice. Loki put his hand at the small of her back.

Again, Odin looked to Loki, blue eye calm and calculating. Loki glared back.

“Because he is, child.”

Loki bristled instantly, but before he could speak, Odin continued, “I thought you might be the one to tame him.”

“I am not some animal--” Loki bit out.

“No,” Odin cut him off in that awful, booming king-voice. “But you are dangerous. Do you deny this?”

Loki growled, “Dangerous to some.”

“You wouldn't have offered him--us--the throne if you truly believed those things,” Eira interjected.

Odin regarded her with a trace of bitter amusement. “You think not?”

Eira frowned. Loki glared.

“He is better with you at his side, child. You balance him.” He looked at Loki again. “It may be hard for you to believe, but I raised you to be king for a reason.”

“You mean not just to give Thor someone to compete against?” Loki countered.

Now it was Odin's turn to glare. “You are royalty by birth. It was your due to be raised as such.”

“Yet you never intended me to rule,” Loki snapped.

Odin opened his mouth to reply but Eira cut in. “You've been planning this since you brought us back from Arvakr, haven't you?”

That gimlet blue eye turned to her, glare softening minutely. He said nothing, but there was an admission in his face.

Eira made a sound--a soft, quick exhalation. "It's been longer than that, hasn't it?"

Loki looked at his wife's profile and read the determination there.

“Tell him the truth,” she demanded quietly.

Loki blinked. The temper drained from Odin's face. The Allfather looked to Loki again.

“What truth?” Loki asked.

There was a short, heavy silence.

Eira turned to Loki. “He knew things were awry in Vanaheim.”

Loki frowned. “Before Arvakr?”

She nodded. "We spoke of it before he brought you back."

There was another brief silence as they both looked back to Odin.

The old man sighed. “Njord has been declining for centuries. Since Queen Skadi's death, in fact. And Frey has nursed a deep hatred for Asgard since the Aesir-Vanir war.”

"You knew when you married Frigga that Frey could never be king of Vanaheim," Eira murmured. "Not if the peace between our kingdoms was to endure."

Again, the throneroom rang with silence. Loki stared at his father, realization dawning slowly.

“You...you meant to put me on the throne all along?” he stuttered.

“It was a possibility,” Odin replied gravely. “But then you went mad, Loki, and tried to kill your brother.”

While Loki grappled with this, Eira said, “You should have told him all along what you wanted for him.”

“I did not know for sure that I could give him Vanaheim,” Odin replied. “I had no legitimate reason to interfere in Frey's succession until I learned of his crimes against you.”

“But you knew you would have to intervene at some point,” Loki said, still dazed. “You knew he was mad from the first.”

“I suspected,” Odin murmured.  

Again, there was silence. Strange sensations moved through Loki's chest. A tightness he hadn't known was there slowly loosened.

Finally, Eira said, “We'll return to Vanaheim after the hearing.”

Odin nodded once in acknowledgement and Eira turned to Loki.

“Is there anything else?” she asked softly.

He looked into her eyes and saw that something had shifted in her, too. There was a new sort of calm in that green-brown stare.

He touched her face with one hand, fingertips tracing her cheek and ear. “You're sure you want this?” he murmured.

You're sure you want me?

Her lips curved. Love blossomed deep inside her eyes. “Of course.”

Odin forgotten, Loki drew her in and bent to kiss her very gently. Without hesitation, she lifted her face to him and curled her arms around his waist.

“That's it then,” he said into her hair a moment later, holding her with both arms, heart swelling. “You'll never be rid of me.”

She giggled into his shoulder. “That’s the idea.”

Loki squeezed her as he had during their wedding ceremony--until she squeaked in his arms.

He glanced at Odin over her head and the old man was watching with a shuttered expression, half sadness and half pride.

It occurred to him then that Odin, too, had seen a bit of Frigga in the Goddess of Healing.

The Allfather's grief had not yet left him. Perhaps it never would.

But Loki had found his queen. His kingdom. Everything he ever wanted, plus more that he had never dreamed of.

Heart very full, Loki held that faded blue gaze and nodded once. Odin nodded gravely in return.

Somehow, for lack of words, this brief exchange managed to lay to rest a thousand years of familial resentments--and, in the way of many generations before, though no coronation had occurred and no announcement was given, the son stepped firmly into the role of the father.

Loki looked down at his wife. It was done. Well and truly done.

With a sense of resolution he had never truly expected to obtain, Loki lifted his wife against his chest and carried her out of the throne room once more. He took her back to their chambers, to their bed--and to the joy of the fever that would mark their union for thousands of years to come.

 

Chapter Text


Loki woke late the next morning to an empty bed. He knew without needing to check that Eira wasn't in thier rooms. Her letters lay open on the vanity.

He rose, naked, and picked the papers up, read a few lines of flowing feminine script.

Dearest Eira,

I hope this letter finds you well. The Allfather has brought us news of your wedding to prince Loki. He says it is a love match--that your fiancee is most devoted to you. Oh, darling, how happy we are for you! Our joy is matched only by our regret that we cannot be there to share in the celebration...

Loki skimmed to the bottom. It was signed simply, With love, Syn.

With a grunt he tossed the letter aside. Meaningless, sentimental tripe. The least she could do was acknowledge the torment Eira had suffered, or ask after her recovery.

The second letter, from a woman named Fulla, was a little more informal, though the first half was filled with simlar meaningless well wishes. Towards the bottom, however, Loki read:

I think of you every day, and wish more than anything that I could undo the suffering you experienced here. The palace breathes a great sigh of releif now that Njord and Frey are gone, though our future seem precarious... I do so hope that you are happy now, Eira. You deserve it, after everything you've been through. And though I understand why you might wish never to return to this place, I hope that you will one day. You are dearly, dearly missed.

May the Allmother smile upon your marriage, my friend.

I love you.

Fulla

Loki's heart lifted just a little. Perhaps Eira did have true friends on Vanaheim. Well, one, at least.

He wondered how she had felt, reading this. If it had lifted her heart a little, too, or if it had conjured only sadness.

Either way, she was the Goddess of Healing. She would make her peace with it. And if she wanted to expell them all from the palace and create a new court for herself, Loki would toss them out himself.

Not that he expected her to be anything but forgiving.

The third letter was a very different matter. Written in a clumsy, childlike hand, it read simply:

My Lady,

You are alive and I am so happy! I cryd for you each nite and praid to Allmother that you be safe and well. Please be happy now with your prince and do not forget me.

Love,
Ullah

"Is that Ullah's letter?"

Loki started. Eira was standing in the doorway, wearing a dark blue dress and a shuttered expression.

"You shouldn't sneak up on me," he said, forcing a smile. "You'll catch me doing something inappropriate."

"Like reading my private correspondence?" she asked lightly, gliding across the room to him with a faint rustle of silk skirts.

"Are you offended?" he asked as she took the letters.

"No." She smiled. "I said you could read them, didn't I?"

Loki watched her look down at the scribbled words, dark lashes sheilding her eyes.

"How do you feel?" he asked.

She looked up. "About the letters?"

"About everything."

Her mouth quirked. "Do you need more reassurances?"

"No," he growled, reaching for her. "I will, however, take a kiss."

After said kiss had been taken, Eira pressed her face into his neck and mumbled, "They don't know I'll be their queen."

Loki stroked the silky fall of her hair, only half of which had been braided. The skirts of her dress embraced his naked legs, soft and cool. "They'll be happy, Eira. My father was right when he said you were well loved on Vanaheim."

"I don't know how to face them," she mumbled. "After everything that happened..."

"You have nothing to worry about," he said firmly. "Let them come to you if they wish to make amends."

She turned her head so her cheek rested against the base of his throat and Loki let his arms rest loosely around her waist.

"They didn't do anything wrong," she said dully. "We were all living in terror of Frey. And Njord wasn't much better. He used the court ladies like his own little harem, accept for me."

Loki grunted in disgust. Degenerate bastards.

"Do you want to see them?"
he asked into her hair. "The ladies, I mean."

She thought about it for a moment. "Some of them, I guess. Ullah is just a child. She was my chambermaid. It was she and her father who helped me escape. And Fulla..."

Loki waited.

"We were very good friends, once. I got along with all of them, actually. Until Frey set his sights on me."

Loki'sheart ached for her. "What about the other one? Syn."

She sighed. "Syn is older. Your mother's age. She was like an aunt to me. She looked after me when Frigga left us."

They hadn't spoken much about Eira's relationship with his mother before. It had been too painful a topic to pursue. But now...

"Was my mother like an aunt to you as well?"

Eira shook her head. "More like an older sister."

"She must have loved you."

Her hands slid up his bare back. "What makes you say that?"

"You're very loveable," he replied. "And my mother had a soft spot for orphans."

She chuckled. "I suppose she did. Funny to think that her two orphans would find eachother someday and end up falling in love."

"That--" he broke off, thinking. "That is funny."

The pause in his speech made Eira pull back to look at him. "What is it?"

He'd gone stone still, blinking at her stupidly.

"Loki?"

"She knew," he breathed.

Eira's brows lifted. "She knew--?"

"When I was imprisoned on Asgard she told me I would find peace when I was ready to be healed. She had this glitter in her eyes, though. I thought then that she knew something she wasn't saying, but I brushed it off."

Loki watched as realization chased the frown from Eira's features.

Frigga--in the style of many Vanir Volva--had been trained in the art of scrying and other forms of precognition.

"By all the Fates," Eira whispered, face grave. "Do you think she foresaw her own death?

Loki's amusement faltered. "I...suppose she might have."

Had she known he would go to Svartleheim to avenge her? That he would be near-fatally injured?

It occurred to him then, finally, that if Frigga hadn't died, Loki would never have ended up on Arvakr with Eira. Would never have fallen in love, made peace with his father. Been offered the throne of Vanaheim.

"Loki..." Eira said softly.

Still blinking, he met her wide, green-brown gaze and saw his own realization there.

But there was something else, too. Something that made her eyes luminous with sadness. Something Loki wasn't quite prepared to acknowledge, though it sat burgeoning on the edge of his consciousness.

"What is it?" he asked, hoping both that she wouldn't answer and that she would.

Eira's gaze became shuttered again. When she spoke, he understood immediately that the words were a distraction--a very effective one, however.

"When I was a child, Frigga read fortunes for people in the palace sometimes. She was reading tea leaves for the ladies at court one day. For romance. They all wanted to know when they would be married and to whom."

"And you?" he asked, heart beating hard, for some reason.

"I was too young to be interested in romance yet, but I wanted to learn scrying. Frigga gave me a lesson. She made me read my own leaves." Eira's expression wobbled toward amusement. "I read that I would fall in love with a man in blue."

It took him a moment to understand, and then he barked a laugh.

"And what did she say?" he asked.

"Nothing really. She read the leaves herself, and gave me this funny look, like she was deeply shocked. And then she said, 'Well, close enough.' And that was it."

Loki smiled down at his wife. "I wonder if she knew then that she would raise the man in blue as her own son."

Looking at his mouth, she murmured, "I just hope she didn't see too far into our future."

"And why is that?" he asked, watching heat kindle slowly in her eyes.

"She may have been shocked by our...erm...activities."

Loki blanched. "Well, that is a deeply uncomfortable thought."

She giggled.

"Although...Speaking of our activities," he murmured, bending to kiss her again. "I thought you might like to join me in the bath."

Her hands traced their way back down along his spine and cupped his bottom. "I've already had a bath, though."

Loki growled playfully and nipped her shoulder. "I wasn't planning on washing you."

"Well," she murmured, "In that case..."

Her hand slipped between them. Loki groaned a little at her touch on his sex.

It had been different between them last night, and it still was. Not like it had been yesterday on the settee, but still strangely tentative.

The fever kindled more gently, though it burned just as hot. Her touch felt different, too. Deeper. As though she were touching much more than her hands could actually reach.

Her fingers gliding down the shaft of his cock seemed to be stroking his entire body, lighting fire to nerve endings that had previously been dormant. Touching parts of him that had nothing to do with his body, too.

Like she was caressing the inner recesses of his being.

Loki heard himself make a low, helpless sound. "Eira," he breathed, "What are you doing to me?"

Eira kissed his throat, soft and open mouthed. "Loving you," she whispered.

Her hand dipped, cupped him. Made him shudder with pleasure.

"Gods, that feels good," he said, voice shaking.

Eira hummed her approval, tongue tracing his jaw. Her other hand joined the exploration and Loki's breath left him in a hiss.

"You're so sensitive," she murmured, fingers gliding over the head of his cock while her other hand continued to cup and knead his testicles. "You were like this last night, too."

"I feel like a bundle of raw nerves," he managed in a strained voice. "If you keep going much longer I'm going to stain your dress."

"Mmm. Take it off me, then."

Loki peeled the whole thing off her in a matter of seconds.

"You hardly ever wear undergarments," he said, touching her naked breasts. "Is that for my benefit?"

"And mine," she murmured, taking hold of his cock again.

Loki grazed the fading bite mark he'd left on her shoulder the night before. "You didn't heal yourself."

"I didn't need to," she said, breathy now as he kissed the little bruise and tugged gently on her nipples. "You were so gentle."

"Mm." He bent to suckle her and she lifted up onto her toes to make it easier for him.

"I'm going to be gentle this time, too," he said, slightly muffled against her breast.

Her fingers slid into his hair. "Why?"

"Don't know." He switched his mouth to her other breast. "It felt good."

Loki pulled her hips to his and she rubbed herself against him, belly very smooth and warm on his cock.

"Take me to the steps," she said, tugging at his scalp.

Loki lifted her against his body, mouth still attached to her breast, and carried her to the first platform that led up to their bed.

"There," she said, when he'd set her on it and straightened to look at her. Her eyes glittered with lust and mischief. "What does this remind you of?"

The step put her almost at his eye level.

Loki looked down, watched as she lifted onto her toes to bring her mons against his erection.

"Arvakr," he rasped, remembering their interlude on the mountainside and the pleasure of her heat in that icy darkness.

"I still can't beleive we did that," she murmured, eyes shuttered with pleasure as she undulated slowly against him.

Loki took hold of her hips and thrust into her movement until he felt the lips of her sex part a little around his shaft.

Her little ah! of pleasure egged him on. He lifted her just enough so that his cock slipped between her legs and then held her still so he could thrust slowly into the seam of her thighs, lips of her sex gliding along the top of his shaft.

"Inside," she whispered, gripping his shoulders for leverage and tilting her hips forward.

Loki angled his cock until he felt the wet heat at the entrance to her body. System buzzing with lust, he took hold of her with both arms and thrust upward hard.

Eira gasped sharply at the abrubt intrusion and her whole body tightened for a moment, nails digging into his shoulders, pussy flexing.

The pleasure of it made his head swim. Again, he felt that strange sensation of rawness--of being touched to his very core. Moaning, he began to thrust again before the tension had fully left her, focused on the tight grip of her sex and the tingling rush of pleasure.

"So good," he rasped. "Hurry, Eira."

"Hurry?" she panted, eyes glazed. "Why?"

Loki pulled her closer and pumped hard. "Coming," he hissed. "Soon. Gods!"

He tried to hold it back, but his body would not obey. Perhaps a dozen thrusts and the orgasm burst over him like a tidal wave. Sizzling pleasure gripped his whole body, lit his nerve endings like white light, flooded his heart, his brain, every nook and cranny of his consciousness.

Like that first time in the cave, lost to his own anguish, Loki bit her blindly, deaf to her cry of pain and pleasure, knowing little beyond the firestorm of sensation and emotion that gripped him. Aware only of the unequivocal rightness of it--of her body in his arms, her sex squeezing him, her scent and the pulse of life in her her flesh.

Eira, he thought as the orgasm peaked. Just that. Her name, again and again. Eira. Eira. Eira.

And then, as his pleasure ebbed, Loki found himself swamped by unexpected gratitude. The feeling was so deep it brought burning tears to the backs of his eyes.

"Mine," he rasped, clutching her, still shuddering.

Those silky arms curled about his neck and then rose to cradle his head where it lay tucked into the crook of her shoulder.

"I know," she whispered. "Mine, too."

He took her to the bed and they curled up together in companionable silence. The afterglow was short lived, however.

The thing that had been niggling at the back of his mind would no longer be ignored.

Frigga.

The only true parent he'd ever had. The only one who had never lost faith in him--who had never withdrawn her love, no matter what nefarious things he did.

Even til the end, she'd beleived in Loki's inherent goodness. His worth.

If not for Frigga, there was no telling what would have become of Loki, lost in his brother's shadow. In his father's.

"She wanted these things for me," he said into the quiet. "A wife. A family. Peace. Even a throne."

Eira said nothing, just snuggled closer to his chest and sighed. Her fingers traced the Jotun markings on his back.

"She defied my father many times on my behalf," he went on, compelled to speak the words, though they filled him with a terrible sense of dread. "She never gave up on me."

"She loved you," Eira murmured. "That's what you do when you really love someone."

Loki's throat tightened, heart pounding again. His eyes began to burn.

"If she knew--" he broke off, voice cracking.

Eira stroked his back and waited.

Swallowing a wave of anguish, Loki forced the words out.

"If she knew that she would have to die in order for me to have all this--you, the throne, happiness--do you think she would have chosen to sacrifice herself?"

Eira's arm tightened about him. He realized distantly that he'd never told her he was happy before. He could feel her heartbeat against his chest. Her breath, very warm on his throat.

"Yes," she said quietly. "I do."

Loki closed his eyes, but hot tears squeezed out nonetheless, trickling down into Eira's hair. He pulled her closer, as though he would take her into his own body, into his soul, just to keep her.

"Do you think she knew?" he asked, nearly voiceless.

He already knew what the answer would be, but he waited nonetheless, throat aching, heart aching.

"Yes, Loki," she repeated, voice soft and unwavering. "I do."

He cried then in earnest, though silently. Not bitter tears, or even regretful ones. What he felt, to his own surprise, was a terrible sense of loss and gratitude, in equal parts.

Frigga...Mother...

She had been his mother, though his last words to her had denied it unequivocally. And even then, heart breaking before his eyes, she had not shunned him.

No. Instead she'd sacrificed everything--her own life!--to see him healed. To set him on the path to everything he deserved.

He would never be able to convince Odin of it. Or Thor, for that matter--not that he would ever bother to try. But Loki knew, somehow, without a shadow of a doubt.

It was true.

Frigga had been a master of the precognitive arts. She had known, and she had gone willingly to her death. For him.

Only a mother would make such a sacrifice.

And--he decided at that very moment--he would not squander it. He would take Vanaheim--his mother's kingdom--and he would make it great again, with Eira at his side.

He wouldn't promise to be good--goodness was a slippery slope for the God of Mischief--but the Goddess of Healing had more than enough goodness to balance that scale. He would be fair, though, and clever too, and Vanaheim would prosper under his reign. Under their reign.

Frigga would be proud.

"I love you," he said to the woman resting languidly in his arms.

Eira made a low sound of pleasure and squeezed him tight.

"I love you," she murmured.

His heart swelled. And swelled. And ached. Not with sadness now, or even loss.

With joy.

Loki rolled onto his back, pulling Eira with him. "Make love to me," he rasped, looking up at her.

She smiled. "Of course."

 

Chapter Text

 

About 300 years later

“My King, the nobles are requesting special considerations for their children with regards to your new education policies…”

Loki, perched on his throne at the head of the oval council room table, sighed and made a Go on, then gesture in the general direction of the man who'd spoken.

The stout Vanir councilman proceeded to detail the nobility's continuing--and to Loki's mind, deplorably whiny--resistance to sharing the new School of Sorcery with children from every rung of society.

Just a few centuries ago, Loki wouldn't have bothered to let the man speak, but he'd learned through repeated trials that if he simply listened--or at least appeared to--his subjects were more likely to accept his denial without resistance.

Vanaheim's nobility, however, was even more stuffy and self-important than that of Asgard. They just couldn't make peace with the idea of their upper-crust children sharing classrooms with the offspring of the lower classes, no matter how gifted.

The big, vaulted council room and the dozen council members seated about the enormous carved table was, as usual, utterly stern and stoic--even the youngest members, whom Eira had appointed shortly after taking the throne.

Stuffy indeed.

And stubborn, he thought, as the councilwoman representing the merchant class chimed in with her concerns about the school.

Eira had thought the school a wonderful idea. After Ulfir's birth--and the near-immediate proof of the boy's gifts--they'd decided to create the School of Sorcery so that he could study close to home rather than leaving to apprentice under a Master, as most gifted Vanir nobles did. And since the study of sorcery was traditionally not a popular pursuit for males in either Vanir or Aesir culture, the school was considered quite progressive as well.

Loki has wanted to teach Ulfir himself, of course, but their firstborn required constant supervision in his practice, and as King, Loki didn't have quite enough time. The blasted boy learned fast, and his mind was positively ravenous. He was also just a mite reckless with his powers...

The God of Mischief smiled to himself, remembering the mess Ulfir had made of the gardens the first time Loki gave him a lesson in transmutation.

The roses would never be the same.

Eira had nearly disowned them both for the damage to her beloved garden. Of course, she'd been in the advanced stages of pregnancy at the time, which made her...more sensitive than usual.

“Your Majesty?”

Loki snapped back from his little daydream to see that the entire council was watching him with identical looks of expectation.

“Thank you, councilman Kvasir. Councilwoman Gerse.” He nodded to each, and then took in the whole table with a sweeping look. “I'll discuss your concerns with my Queen and we'll reconvene next week to discuss.”

With that, he stood. 

The Lords and Ladies were all in various stages of rising from the table when a high-pitched, feminine scream echoed through the arched windows on the west side of the room. 

Twelve pairs of eyes turned to Loki, every one of them wide.

Loki smiled at them congenially. “That'll be my daughter. If you'll excuse me.”

He found them on a side path in the central gardens, not far from the council room entrance.

Eira had gotten there first. She stood back from the commotion, arms crossed, expression martyred, deep green dress shimmering slightly in the sunlight. Her hair was mostly loose today; it hung in rich waves around her hips. The braids at her temples were threaded with green threads.

Even after 300 hundred years, he still felt the flush of fever every time he saw her.

Not that he had much time to enjoy it, at the moment.

Their daughter's nanny was crashing through the bushes that lined the clearing crying, “Princess, please! Call him off, call him off!” Meanwhile, their youngest stood in the center of the clearing with her back to them, watching and giggling uncontrollably.

The grass beneath her olive green skirts was etched with scorched runes. They were still smoking.

“What's she done now?” Loki asked in a low voice as he reached his wife.

Eira slid him an accusatory look. “Your daughter has summoned some kind of creature. And not a very nice one, it seems. He appears to be Hel-bent on molesting poor Borghild.”

Please, Princess! Make it stop!” the buxom nanny screeched as she scrambled around a tree with a small, greenish figure hot on her tail.

Neither the nanny nor the child seemed to notice their King and Queen standing there.

Zophi’s giggles ratcheted up to outright cackling, the tone of which could only be described as maniacal. The creature caught up with her nanny and proceeded to tangle its small, clawed hands in the poor woman's skirts. The thing--all big slanted eyes and grinning, toothy mouth--looked like some kind of gremlin. Or perhaps a very ugly wood sprite? It was so diminutive, it couldn't possibly be dangerous, though Borghild certainly seemed to believe otherwise.

The two of them--nanny and creature--stumbled into the clearing near the princess and collapsed onto the grass, one trying desperately to keep the other from getting under her petticoats.

The creature made a reedy sound of mirth not totally dissimilar from the princess’ laugh. It's thin, pointed tail lashed left and right as it burrowed into folds of fine blue muslin.

Borghild screamed.

“Shouldn't you do something?” Eira asked mildly. “We'll lose another nanny.”

“I suppose,” he replied. “Though I doubt she's likely to stay on even if I do rescue her. She doesn't seem to have the temperament for it.”

Eira rolled her eyes and Loki bent playfully to kiss her cheek before he strode up behind his daughter.

Zophi’s little shoulders stiffened as he came to a stop behind her. The top of her curly black head didn't even reach his hip.

The high-pitched laughter faded.

Slowly, slowly, her head tilted back, until Loki found himself gazing into wide green eyes, upside-down.

“Hi, Papa.”

“Hello, darling. What are you up to?” he asked conversationally. Nearby, Borghild continued to scream and thrash on the grass. The creature was now entirely lost under her skirts.

“Just playing with Borghild,” she replied.

My daughter, he thought. The picture of innocence.

“Borghild doesn't appear to be enjoying your game, does she?” he asked, glancing at the distressed woman.

Zophi turned around to look up at him right-ways, rosy face pinching into a frown. “She said I was being naughty.”

“I see. So you decided to prove her right?”

The little girl shrugged. “Ulfy said if she was to bully me I should stand up for myself.”

It was at this moment that Borghild saw Loki standing there.

“Your Majesty!!” she screeched, both hands on the thrashing lump in her skirts. “Help me!”

Loki flicked a hand in the nanny's direction. The thrashing immediately stopped and Borghild made a sound of triumph as she kicked the little gremlin out onto the grass.

“We've talked about this before, my dear,” he said to his daughter. “You're to do as your nanny tells you. She’s not bullying.”

Zophi sighed, pale cheeks puffing slightly as she frowned. “She called me a brat, though.”

“My King,” the nanny squeaked, on her feet now, sandy braids in fine disarray.

Loki held up a hand toward the nanny, attention still on his daughter. “You are a brat, darling.”

Zophi dimpled as she fought not to smile. “I am not, Papa.”

“You're rotten to the core, I'm afraid,” he announced, glancing at the nanny with a smiling look of apology. “Were you harmed at all, love?”

The woman flushed prettily. “No, Your Majesty, only a few scratches.” She glanced nervously at the still-frozen creature lying paralyzed in the grass a few feet away.

“Don't worry about him, now. Take yourself off for a rest, my dear. I'll handle this,” he told her. “And you'll be compensated handsomely for your trials today, I promise.” He gave her his most charming smile--Eira had told him once that it could raise a lovelorn lady from the dead--and again, Borghild flushed, ducking her head in acquiescence. When she'd scurried off, Loki turned back to his daughter.

“Mum doesn't like it when you flirt with the servants, Papa,” the little girl said sternly.

Loki squashed a smile and replied, “I wasn't flirting, pet. That was damage control. And you can't go around summoning beasties to torment everyone who crosses you, my sweet. It just isn't practical.”

“It’s only a minor demon, Papa.”

A minor demon?! Loki was careful to keep his face blank. “And where did you learn to summon demons, I wonder?”

Zophi’s face shut down immediately.

“Not going to tell me, hm?” He smiled. “Think you can keep secrets from the God of Mischief?”

Zophi bit her lower lip, the shape of which was identical to Eira's. “I promised not to tell, Papa.”

“Very well,” he replied. “But you get twice the punishment. Yours, plus the punishment that should be visited upon your conspirator.”

Zophi's little shoulders straightened, spine going stiff with determination. Her black curls bounced as she nodded once bravely. “I understand.”

“Good girl. Go apologize to your mother for burning the grass and terrorizing your nanny, and then to your rooms until supper.”

Zophi took a deep breath and turned towards Eira, then marched over to her mother. Loki watched his wife look down on their only daughter with a look of mild annoyance.

“I'm sorry Mummy,” Zophi mumbled.

“Do better, brat,” Loki called.

Zophi shot him a glare and then looked up at Eira again. This time her apology rung loudly across the gardens.

“I'm sorry I summoned a demon and ruined the grass and terrorized Borghild and made you cross!”

There was a pause while Eira considered this rather aggressive announcement. Then she bent a little and smoothed Zophi's mess of curls.

“I'll teach you how to heal the grass,” was all she said.

Zophi, of course, threw her chubby little arms around Eira's legs, mumbling a much more genuine--and distinctly tearful--apology into her mother's skirts.

“I still don't understand how you do that,” Loki said after their daughter had gone off to her rooms.

Eira looked up at him as he neared. “Do you think she really summoned a demon just to get back at her nanny, Loki? She wants to be acknowledged. She wants to learn. Which is why I still think we should let her go to school with the boys.”

Loki put his arms around her and drew her against the front of his body, fever kindling slowly. “And I still think she's much too young,” he said, bending to kiss her neck. “They wouldn't be in the same classes anyway. He's a sixth year and the twins are third.”

Eira shivered under his mouth but her voice remained disappointingly steady. “I bet you she stops terrorizing her nannies if we let her go to school.”

“And I bet you she just learns more and more creative ways of wreaking havoc,” he murmured, nibbling her throat.

Eira's arms curled around his shoulders. “Maybe. But she’ll be happy. You see how morose she is when the boys leave for school in the mornings. And how raptly she listens to them talk about their lessons. Why do you think they teach her these things?”

Loki kissed his way up to her jaw and nipped her once, just below the ear. She squeaked.

“I'll throttle whichever one taught her to do summonings,” he grumbled, pulling back to meet her gaze, “And a demon, no less.”

“Only a minor demon,” Eira quoted, smiling.

Loki squeezed his wife until she squeaked again. “She's hardly out of diapers,” he growled.

“She's been out of diapers for centuries, Loki. And she's more gifted than the others. You know she is, and so do they. Plus,” she added at his sour look, “If we let her go to school, she'll be occupied for most of the day.”

It took him a moment to catch her meaning. When he did, however, he growled, low and wordless, lifting her against his chest and backing her towards the copse of trees where Borghild had attempted to escape her demonic pursuer.

“Wait, Loki!” she cried, slapping his shoulders.

“That's not how this works, and you know it,” he said, striding on. He had her pinned against a broad tree trunk seconds later, hands above her head, slender wrists clasped in his left hand.

Before he could do more than press against her she cried, “Loki Laufeyson!”

He stopped. Sighed. “What?”

“The demon, Loki,” she said breathlessly.

He leaned past the tree. The little creature was just visible beyond their hideaway, still frozen in the grass. On the other side of the clearing lay another copse of trees, and beyond that, castle Vanaheim loomed, spires silvery in the afternoon sunlight. He looked down into his wife's slightly glazed hazel eyes. “What about it?”

“Take care of it now, please?”

He frowned. “Awfully bossy, all of sudden, aren't you? Remind me what the rules are again?”

“Loki…” she panted, flushing slowly. “It's a demon. And it's in contract with our daughter. Please dispose of it before you ravish me.”

Reluctantly, Loki released her and stepped back. “I suppose you're right.”

“Thank you,” she breathed, smoothing her deep green bodice back into place.

After a lingering glance at Eira’s decolletage, Loki turned and strode back to the site of his daughter's summoning spell.

He nudged the demon with his foot. It had been frozen with a grin of pure evil on it's flat, horned little face.

“It doesn't look like a demon, does it?” Eira said beside him.

“It's just a babe,” he replied, waving a hand to reverse the paralysis spell. “We should count ourselves lucky she's not powerful enough yet to summon an older one, else poor Borghild might be in much worse shape.”

The demon rolled to its feet and looked up at them, baring its triangular teeth in a wide, malicious grimace.

Loki cast a circle of containment runes around it and then glanced sheepishly at Eira as the smell of burning grass filled the air.

“Sorry.”

She gave him a wry look as the demon began to snarl and throw itself against the walls of the containment spell.

Lllllet mmeeeeeooouuuuuttt!” it wailed, in a strange, rolling snarl of a voice.

“I am Loki, King of Vanaheim, God of Mischief,” Loki said in his best booming king voice. “Tell me what sacrifice you were promised.”

The demon’s murky green-black eyes went wide. It didn't appear to have any pupils. “Nnnnot my masterrr!” the thing snarled.

“No, but I will see your contract fulfilled, demon. Tell me what you were promised,” he demanded.

The creature grinned. “A woman! A woman wassss I prrrommmised!

Loki frowned. “Lies. My daughter did not promise you a woman's life.”

The demon gnashed its teeth. “Not a lifffe! A womannn!!

Loki looked at his wife. Her expression told him she was as confused as he.

He turned back to the demon. “What do you want with a woman?”

The thing gave him a sly look. A lustful look. “To feed,” it hissed.

“Not on her flesh,” Eira interjected, horrified. “Zo would never agree to let her nanny be eaten.”

Nnnot to eat.” The damned thing leered at her, narrow tail lashing behind it.

By the Gods.

Loki looked at his wife again. “Eira, our daughter has summoned an incubus.”

Eira's eyes widened. “No, that's...”

Together they regarded the little creature.

Eira put her face in her hands. “This is unbelievable.”

“Tell me what she promised you, welp,” Loki snapped at the demon. “Or I'll freeze you again. Permanently.”

When the demon only glared, Loki looked to Eira. “He'll make a nice addition to the fountain with the stone cherubs, don't you think, my Queen?”

Eira agreed wholeheartedly.

Finally, the incubus confessed that he'd been promised a kiss in exchange for tormenting the nanny. Borghild, of course, had refused to give payment.

“Only a kiss?” Eira exclaimed.

“It's just a welp,” Loki told her. “They're too stupid to haggle at this size. I'll wager this one has never even been summoned before. Too weak to be of much use.”

She gave him a disconcerted look. “Loki, why do you know so much about incubi?”

He cleared his throat. “It's...circumstantial knowledge.”

Her eyes narrowed.

“Master Sorcerer, remember? I have vast stores of archaic magical knowledge.”

“Right.” She rolled her eyes. “Anyway, let's get this over with.”

“What--" He started as Eira stepped forward. "You are not going to kiss that thing.” 

“Of course I am. Just paralyze him again.”

After a brief argument about whether or not it was ethical to order one of the servants to do it, Loki capitulated and paralyzed the little beast, then held it up so Eira could drop a kiss on its leathery, greenish lips.

The spell immediately broke and the demon seemed to curl in on itself, shrinking to nothing in the space of a breath. Returned to whatever hel-like dimension it had been summoned from.

When it was gone Loki gave his wife a stern look. “An incubus, Eira. Our infant daughter summoned an incubus.”

“She’s not an infant--she’s not even a toddler anymore, my love. And I’m sure the boys didn’t intentionally--”

“Only one of them is old enough to be learning summoning spells, now that I think about it,” he said darkly.

Eira shook her head. “Ulfir would never--”

“I will kill him.”

She sighed. “You will not.”

He stalked across the grass to her. “I will maim him.”

Her mouth quirked. “No, you won't.”

He put his arms around her. “I will bruise him extensively.”

“You've never struck one of your children before and you're not going to start now,” she said, turning her face up for a kiss.

Loki kissed her, slow and deep.

“I will put the fear of the Allfather into him,” he grumbled later, mouth on her cheek and then her ear.

“Fine, fine,” she murmured. “But I think you should question the twins as well.”

Loki didn't answer. He took her back into the trees and set her against the same trunk.

“The moment may have passed, my love,” she said as he pinned her hands above her head again.

“I assure you, it hasn't,” he replied, then pressed his hips into her.

Eira's breath left her in a quavering rush. He could actually feel the moment she surrendered to him. It still brought a sharp surge of lust.

“Where were we?” he asked.

“You were reminding me of the rules,” Eira murmured.

“Ah, yes.” Loki took a moment to kiss the upper slopes of her breasts. “You were getting a bit big for your britches, as I recall.”

She giggled. “The human colloquialisms have really begun to rub off on you.”

“Do not mention my brother right now,” he growled, nipping the breast he'd just been kissing.

Eira's hips jumped against him. “I wasn't going to,” she breathed.

“Good. Now tell me what we agreed.” He started working at the little hooks in the front of her bodice with his free hand.

“Rule number one,” Eira recited, voice just a little shaky as her bodice fell open and he took her right breast into his palm.

“I'm listening,” he purred, pulling the low-cut chemise aside to suck her.

She took a deep, shuddering breath. “Rule number one, I'm always to be ready for you.”

“Mmm,” he purred around her nipple.

“Rule number two, I'm not to talk back or resist, no matter where or when you take me--” She broke off as he switched breasts, his free hand now bunching her skirts upward.

“Go on,” he growled as he found her thigh and his fingers spread wide over the silky flesh.

“Rule number three, I'm not to speak when you take me, unless you speak first.”

“Good,” he purred, fingers between her legs now, just brushing the warm lips of her sex. “And what does it mean that you should always be ready for me?”

“I should--” she squirmed a little as he stroked her. It still embarrassed her to say the words aloud, though they'd been playing this game for weeks.

“I should always be wet,” she whispered. “Even when we're apart, because you might want me at any time.”

“Very good, my Queen,” he murmured, fingers sinking into her heat. She was indeed very wet. He straightened to kiss her and she hummed into his mouth, sucking his tongue sweetly.

After a while, he broke away and looked down at her naked breasts, at the distended nipples. Her breasts had changed after the children. Areolas a bit larger, darker. Nipples that stood out much farther when sucked. Still firm, though. Still deliciously pink at the very tips.

She'd nourished his children with these breasts. 

Arousal pulsed along his veins, looking at them. Remembering how they'd tasted, flowing with milk.

He drunk from her once, the first time they'd made love after Ulfir was born. He thought of it often--how he'd pinned amongst their rumpled blankets, cock buried to the hilt inside her after weeks of celibacy. Holding her breasts with both hands and sucking hungrily as he thrust into incredible tightness. 

Sweet. Her milk had been sweet.

“Tell me what you thought of today to keep yourself ready for me,” he said hoarsely.

He took his hand from between her legs to touch her breasts again and Eira rubbed her belly against the erection tenting his trousers.

“Last night,” she said in shy, sultry whisper. “When you took me in the larder.”

Loki's cock throbbed at the memory. She'd crept from their bed very late--for a midnight snack, a habit she'd developed during her first pregnancy--and he'd followed her unawares to the kitchens.

She hadn't even noticed when the larder door swung shut. In fact, she hadn't known he was there at all--until he had her bent over a barrel with her nightgown up around her hips.

He could still hear her squeak of surprise--and the sharp gasp that followed, when she felt his naked cock between her legs, pushing inside.

“You were wet then, too,” he said huskily, opening his trousers. It made him wild every time, to corner her unexpectedly and push into that slick heat without warning, without preamble. To fuck her in hurried silence where anyone might stumble upon them.

“Keep your hands up,” he growled, letting go of her wrists so he could hold her skirt out of the way and position his cock between her thighs. She stood on the bulging roots of the tree and tilted her hips to him, lifting one leg to hook it around his own.

He thrust inside. Hot, slick flesh gripped his shaft. Eira moaned.

“I love this position,” he rasped, pulling her leg higher on his hip and pushing deep enough to make her gasp again.

At that moment, they heard voices in the garden beyond.

Eira's eyes shot wide.

“Better not make a sound.” Loki grinned at her, withdrawing slowly.

“Loki,” she whimpered.

He shook his head. Thrust back inside, quick and deep. “You know the rules.” He let go of her skirts so he could hold both breasts and pump freely into her body.

Eira's arms began to tremble above her head.

“Keep them up,” he ordered, thrusts picking up speed, “It'll be fast.”

She tightened, a muffled whimper caught in her throat.

“Mmm, that's good, my queen,” he breathed, pleasure spiking. “So good…”

The voices were drawing closer. Loki moved faster, orgasm building rapidly.

Eira’s sex seemed to contract from end to end, squeezing his cock so tightly it actually stole his breath for a moment.

“Gods,” he rasped, forcing air into his lungs. Pumping hard and fast--but carefully, to muffle the sound of their bodies coming together. “They're just beyond the trees, love,” he whispered. “So close.”

His cock made a soft, wet slick-slick sound with each thrust, just audible above the rustle of Eira's skirts and their hushed breaths. She tilted her head back and squeezed her eyes shut, biting her lips to keep from crying out.

“I'm coming,” he whispered as the pleasure began to flush down his spine.

Eira bowed against him, trembling with silent orgasm while he pumped through his own pleasure in long, aggressive strokes. Her head thunked softly against the wood behind her, breasts bouncing,

She went limp an instant before he slumped against her. Loki held them both up for the space of a few minutes while they waited for the pair of ladies to finish puzzling over the burns in the grass and leave.

When he finally disengaged from her, Eira gave him a muzzy, happy look and said, “I'll never forgive you if someone actually catches us.”

He laughed as he tucked himself back into his trousers, then helped her re-hook the front of her bodice, pausing to kiss her breasts in the process. “Everyone in the palace knows what we get up to, Eira. Haven’t you noticed how careful your subjects are not to look into the alcoves or come too quickly around secluded corners?”

Eira flushed and tried to smooth the wrinkles out of her skirts. “I’d have preferred not to know that, thank you very much.”

His grin seemed to embarrass her further. “I love that I can still make you blush after three hundred years.”

She made as if to smack his shoulder and Loki caught her up against his chest. “Don't antagonize me, or I'll have you out there in the open grass. Or maybe on the edge of the fountain? What will your court think of that?”

She laughed. “You wouldn't dare.”

“No? Dare me then. See what happens.”

She shook her head “You are an evil, evil man, and I want a divorce.”

Loki burst into laughter. “Maybe we have been spending too much time around the humans.”

Eira's arms settled around his neck. “They do seem to love marrying and divorcing each other at regular intervals, don't they?”

“Mm,” he pulled her closer. “I suppose if my lifespan was that short I'd be fickle, too.”

They kissed for a while, slow and melting sweet.

“It was generous of you to allow Asgardians to bring them along when we started the refugee program,” Eira murmured.

Loki smiled wryly, resting his forehead against hers. “You know damn well I only did it to appease you.”

After Thanos and the snap, the Asgardians had been stranded on Earth. Eira had suggested they open the palace to the refugees when the Earth government wanted to push the Asgardians out. At such an early point in his reign, Loki had been...reluctant to share any part of his kingdom with Thor. 

But he had. Because his wife had demanded it, in her gentle, unyielding way. And Loki was glad he'd finally agreed.

Some of the Asgardians had stayed on Vanaheim and lived here still. The Vanir had been participating in a sort of exchange program with Earth. There were humans on Vanaheim even now, studying the culture, science, even sorcery. But now that New Asgard was well-established in New York--and had been, for several hundred years--Thor was rarely underfoot. Not that Loki didn't miss the big idiot, from time to time. They'd made peace with each other in the battle against Thanos.

It still surprised Loki sometimes that he and Thor could get along so well. Perhaps they'd both matured.

Becoming a king and a father does have that effect, he thought, gazing at the beautiful woman in his arms. 

Thor had two children of his own now, as well.

“What are you thinking about?” Eira asked idly.

“Being a father,” he replied.

Her smile brought a fresh trickle of the fever.

“That reminds me,” she smoothed his hair back behind his ears. “My time is coming again soon. A week maybe.”

“I know,” he said. “Shall we have another?”

She grinned up at him. “I think the more salient question is, can we not?”

He grinned. Their children had each come as close together as Eira's body could possibly produce them. They'd meant to wait a little, between the twins and Zophi. Waiting was not Loki's strong suit, however. At least, not when it came to making love with his wife.

Luckily, Vanir women generally didn't begin ovulating again until their babes were upwards of a hundred years old. That is, old enough to fend for themselves, in a very basic sense.

“We do have contraceptives now, thanks to the humans,” Eira suggested.

“If you think I'm going to wear a condom when I make love to my own wife, you are out of your mind.”

She laughed. “Well, their other contraceptives don't work for us, so you'll have to at some point, or we'll end up with a legion of children. A legion of very clever, very troublesome children.”

“Our children are delightful.”

“You didn't think so when the twins set fire to your study. Or when Ulfir turned your valet into a pig.”

He scowled at her. “Don't you dare mention the incubus.”

Her laugh brought him down for another slow, melting kiss.

“I will wear condoms if you want me to,” he said after. “Or we can fill this castle to bursting with half-Jotun children. Whatever you want.”

“Quarter Jotun,” she corrected absently.

“Mm.” He smiled. When Zohpi had come out white-skinned and black haired, they'd been floored. How could a child take after a false form? After some judicious genetic testing, they'd discovered that Loki was half Aesir. Or possibly Vanir. The two races had almost identical genomes.

Laufey, apparently, had dallied with a goddess.

It was an easier revelation to accept than he might have expected. After roughly two hundred years as a king and a family man, his sense of identity wasn’t so easy to challenge as it had been, once.

After that, he'd started using his Aesir form again on the regular, which was a bit of a shock to his sons. 

The boys had all inherited his Jotun coloring, if diluted. Only Ulfir had gotten his mother's hair, however. And her eyes. Loki frequently thought the boy a perfect combination of their looks. Ulfir was their only child to inherit Loki's shape-shifting gift, too, though the boy had never chosen to disguise his Jotun looks. He had, however, spent a great deal of his first hundred years tumbling about the palace as a very large, clumsy red wolf pup.

“We do make exceptionally handsome, talented children,” he said.

“We do,” she agreed. “And, if I'm honest, I sometimes think I'd like to have another girl.” She thought about it, and then added, “And you really like me when I'm pregnant.”

“Mm. I certainly do.” Smooth, round belly. Swollen, sensitive breasts. Sensitive everything, in fact. “Well, that settles it. We'll have another.”

She laughed. “Come on, let's go inside. I need to clean myself up, and your daughter is awaiting her sentencing. The boys will be home soon, too.”

“Mm.” Loki offered her his arm and they headed back to palace at a stroll.

“How was the council meeting, by the way?” she asked as they stepped onto the stone path.

“Oh, more of the usual,” he answered dryly.

“The nobility still wants segregated classes?”

“Yes. They've given up on caste segregation. Now they want gender split classes.”

Eira gave him a dubious look.

He sighed. “They don't want their aristocratic daughters in the same classrooms as peasant boys. Can't have impressionable young girls mingling with the coarse sons of the lower classes. They might like each other.”

She rolled her eyes. “We should be so lucky.”

Eira had a particular distaste for Vanaheim's rigidity surrounding class and gender.

“It's early days,” Loki said mildly. “We'll get there, eventually.” The school had only been open a century.

Eira leaned into him a little and Loki put his arm around her shoulders.

"How were the civil justice hearings?" he asked. 

Eira sighed. "Boring, mostly."

"Want to trade next week?" 

She glanced up at him. "No, thank you. You know how much I hate those meetings. I will trade you the education board meeting for security council next month, though."

"I thought you enjoyed the education board meetings," he said, surprised. 

"I do, but the school is your baby, Loki. The board likes to see you now and then."

"Mm. Fair enough."

They walked together for a few moments in companionable silence. The path curved round a cluster of very fragrant lavender bushes. They were nearing the west side garden exit when Eira asked quietly, “Would you be displeased if Ulfir married below his class?” 

He looked down at her in surprise. “No, I suppose not, if the match was a good one. Why do you ask?”

“The girls have begun showing interest in him. He's at that age.”

Loki smiled. “Well, he's a very handsome boy, if a bit on the skinny, serious side.”

“He's a late bloomer,” she countered. “And he's reserved. Passionate about his schooling. Girls like that kind of thing.”

“Some girls,” he agreed. “Though he doesn't seem particularly moved by the ones mooning about the palace after him.” Loki had a theory about that, in fact.

As though reading his thoughts, Eira said, “He does seem to prefer the company of boys, doesn't he?”

“It's normal for a lad his age to prefer the company of his own sex,” Loki replied.

They rounded a final curve in the path and neared the steps leading up out of the gardens.

“I know,” she said lightly. “But his brothers are already interested in girls, aren't they? Don't pretend you haven't noticed.”

Loki let go of her shoulders and took her hand as they mounted the steps. “Mm. I caught them hiding behind a tapestry outside the kitchens the other day, using a wind spell to flip up the skirts of every kitchen maid who walked by.”

She giggled. “Ulfir is different, though. You know it as well as I do.”

“I do,” he admitted, pausing to turn to her at the top of the steps. “Do you want me to speak to him about it?”

She looked up, expression warm with gratitude. “Thank you. It would only embarrass him if I brought it up, but I worry that he thinks he must handle all his struggles alone because he'll be king one day.”

“He's a very strong-minded lad. You've nothing to fear, love. ” Loki bent to kiss her briefly before they turned to enter the palace. “Now, let's go find our illustrious offspring.”

 

Chapter Text

Thirty minutes later, Loki had all three boys lined up in his study with identical looks of resigned apprehension on their narrow, cerulean faces.

Ulfir stood between the twins, his mop of burnished hair in its usual disarray, angular shoulders held back, spine erect. He'd begun his first pubescent growth spurts only recently, and though very thin, he stood head and shoulders over his brothers. The twins were hunched in identical postures of silent dread.

Loki sat on the edge of his big blackwood desk and regarded them sternly for a few long moments. Ulfir remained still while the twins began to fidget nervously.

"Does anyone know why I've called you here?" he asked mildly, crossing his arms.

Two curly black heads swung slowly left and right in denial. Ulfir's lips compressed slightly, gaze steady on Loki's chest.

"Ulfir?" Loki prompted.

Green eyes with a fine starburst of honey brown around the pupil rose to Loki's face. "Zo summoned a demon in the gardens today," the boy said gravely. "Mother told me."

"An incubus," Loki corrected, letting just a hint of ire sneak into his voice.

Three cerulean faces regarded him with identical frowns of nervous confusion.

"What's a incubus?" asked Nari.

Loki frowned at the younger twin. "An incubus."

"What's an incubus?" the boy repeated, gazing up at him with luminous, honey-brown eyes.

"It's a particular sort of demon," he paused to give his eldest son a penetrating look. Ulfir's eyes widened slightly. "One no school age child ought to know how to summon."

"I've never heard of an incubus before," Ulfir said hurriedly.

"Interesting. How do you suppose your sister learned to summon one then?"

Ulfir looked slightly stricken. The twins exchanged a look of panic.

"Narfi," Loki said, clipped.

The older twin snapped to attention.

"Do you know how your sister came to have such knowledge?"

The boy shook his head vehemently.

Loki sighed. "You do remember that you're speaking to the God of Lies, do you not?"

The twins looked terrified. Ulfir closed his eyes like a man about to walk the gauntlet.

"I took an advanced spell book from the school library," he confessed.

The twins stared straight ahead, as though by not looking at their elder brother they might avoid being associated with his guilt.

"Did you, now?" Loki replied expectantly.

Ulfir swallowed. "I ... may have accidentally left it out in my room where she could find it."

"I see," Loki drawled. "And how do you suppose she was able to read such an advanced text without assistance?"

The room was painfully silent. All three boys were beginning to look rather pale and green around the gills.

Finally, Ulfir's shoulders slumped. "I...I showed it to her. I'm sorry, father."

Loki looked at the twins. Their identical faces were stiff and carefully blank. He looked at Ulfir again.

"Is that right?" he said darkly.

Ulfir nodded.

Loki let the silence stretch. And stretch. Nari's lips began to tremble. Narfi shifted his weight from one foot to the other. Ulfir looked utterly resigned.

Finally, the God of Mischief sighed. "Nari, Narfi, you're excused."

The twins turned and scurried immediately towards the door. Only Nari paused with his small blue had on the jam and looked back at Ulfir.

Ulfir nodded to him almost imperceptibly. Go on. Save yourself.

It was a fight for Loki to keep his face stern. Blasted children and their unfailing solidarity. Always in cahoots and keeping each other's secrets.

It made him so damned proud.

When the door swung closed and he was alone with his eldest, Loki said, "We both know you didn't show your sister any summoning spells, Ulfir."

"I did," his son insisted, with admirable composure. "She wanted to know what I was--"

"Ulfir."

The boy ducked his head slightly. "Yes?"

"You showed your brothers and they stole the book from your rooms."

Ulfir shook his head hurriedly. "No, I--"

"I should have known you'd never teach your sister such a thing. Never put her in such danger."

Ulfir had the grace to look ashamed. "I did. I swear."

Loki let the silence stretch long enough that Ulfir did start to fidget, finally.

"Fine," Loki sighed. "You'll do three weeks stable duty, morning and evening, and you'll help your mother with the greenhouse harvest. And you will not bring home any more advanced spell books from school, nor share such spells with your brothers in the future."

Ulfir swallowed again and nodded stiffly. He turned to go.

"Hold on."

The boy stopped and looked back with visible apprehension.

"You know it doesn't benefit your brothers for you to take their punishment. They'll have to be held accountable for their own mischief eventually."

Ulfir straightened. "They didn't do anything. I shouldn't have brought the book home. It was my fault."

Sighing, Loki uncrossed his arms and crooked a finger. "Come here."

Ulfir came, shoulders back again. Bravely.

When the boy stood within arms reach, Loki looked down at his mop of bronze waves and said, "You're a good brother."

Ulfir looked up at him in surprise.

"And you'll be a good king as well."

His son's face flushed with embarrassed pleasure, green-brown gaze dropping quickly to Loki's chest.

Loki put one hand on Ulfir's narrow shoulder and squeezed. "Is there anything else you'd like to talk to me about?"

The boy was visibly surprised. "I...no?"

Loki gave him a searching look. "You're sure? Nothing about the girls at school? Or the boys, perhaps?"

Ulfir went very still under Loki's hand, eyes widening just a fraction.

Loki squeezed him again and let go. "It's alright, son. You're at the age. It's past time we had this talk."

Ulfir swallowed loudly.

Loki waited.

Finally, gaze glowing with jumbled emotion, the boy said, "They bother me."

Loki frowned. "Bother?"

"Girls, I mean." Ulfir hesitated, gaze skittering sway. "Well, I do like a few. Some of them are really smart, and polite. And they smell good, too." He paused, glanced at his father.

"But?"

His son's burnished eyebrows drew together briefly. "They giggle so much. And they're so silly sometimes--" He broke off, casting Loki a wary look.

"They do grow out of that, most of them," Loki said.

The boy didn't respond for a few beats, staring at the center of Loki's chest as though it held the answer to some gnawing universal question.

"I kissed one," he said distantly. He met Loki's gaze. "She asked me to."

"That's quite normal, son.

"I didn't like it. Is that normal?"

Loki dipped his head to one side. "Well, do you like her?"

The boy frowned. "Of course. She's my friend. And she's really pretty."

"Alright. But did you want to kiss her?"

He seemed to think about it. "I guess...Not really."

Loki shrugged. "Then maybe you ought to try kissing someone else."

His son gave him a disconcerted look.

"I'm not saying you should run around kissing everybody. But perhaps next time, kiss somebody you actually want to kiss."

The boy just looked at him. And much like his mother, Loki saw everything Ulfir felt in his eyes. Though the boy's face remained oddly blank, everything inside him came to slow, grinding halt and hung suspended.

Loki could see the pulse beating rapidly at the base of his throat.

"Go on," he murmured.

Ulfir shifted back minutely, still with that suspended look in his eyes. "I'm supposed to be king."

Loki nodded. "And you will be."

"What if I don't want to kiss any girls?"

The words came is strange, clipped sort of rush. Precise and slightly sharp. Like he'd driven them out by sheer force of will.

"Then don't," Loki replied.

This pronouncement was met with stunned silence.

When the boy finally spoke, his narrow face crimped with sudden ire. "I'll have to marry one," he said almost impatiently. "And have babies. Heirs."

Ahh, there it is. Loki shrugged. "Not necessarily."

His son gave him a dubious look, brows drawn together.

"Your siblings will doubtless have plenty of children," Loki said. "You can name one of them your heir, if you like."

The lad just blinked at him for a few beats, expression stern. And then the doubt in his face began to crumble and slip away, hope creeping in around the edges.

"Really?"

"Really," Loki said. "Marry whomever you please, Ulfir. Not that there's any hurry."

Something close to anguish flickered across the boys face. "I want to be happy like you and mum."

Loki's heart squeezed at that look. At the swiftness with which the boy concealed the feeling.

"What makes you think you won't be?" he asked.

"Who's ever heard of a king without a queen?" Ulfir replied with a quiet, brittle sort of resentment.

"There's a first time for everything, son."

Ulfir's posture shifted as though he were uncomfortable, restless. He seemed to steel himself, then met his father's gaze.

"I like Asmund."

"Mm. Is that the handsome one with the blonde hair? The one in your class?"

Ulfir nodded. "His father is a silk merchant."

"An honorable profession. Does Asmund like you as well?"

Ulfir's gaze slid away. "He's my friend."

"But you'd like him to be more than a friend, hm?"

Ulfir flushed a little. "I don't know."

Loki ruffled his hair very gently. "That's alright. You're young yet. You don't have to figure it out now."

The boy's chin dropped toward his chest. "Maybe I'll start to like girls," he said in a low voice.

"Maybe," Loki said lightly. "Or maybe not. I realized I liked them both when I was your age."

The boy's head snapped up instantly. "You did?"

Loki nodded. "Boys, girls, it made no difference to me."

"But you only like girls now," his son insisted. "Women."

"I like your mother," Loki corrected. "But I'd like her just the same if she were a man."

Ulfir's face and posture slackened with shock.

"You want who you want, son," Loki continued. "It makes no difference, so long as you're happy."

His son's expression remained blank for a moment, and then it began to wobble a bit. Confusion, anxiety... relief. Those green-brown eyes, trained once again on Loki's chest, glazed slowly with tears.

Loki hadn't seen the boy cry in years. "Ulfir..."

"I thought you would be angry," he whispered.

Again, Loki's heart squeezed. "What in the world would give you that idea?"

"'A king does whatever is necessary for the health of his kingdom, even if it hurts him,'" Ulfir quoted. "'No excuses.'"

"I never meant--oh, Hel." Loki pulled the boy roughly into a hug. "That's something my father used to say to me. I should have known better than to teach you by his example."

Ulfir's arms curled around his ribs and the boy pressed his face into Loki's shirt. His shoulders trembled.

Encouraged, Loki went on. "There are some things even Kingdom cannot dictate, Ulfir. Perhaps in the past...but not anymore. Not in my kingdom. Not for you."

"It's Mum's kingdom, too," Ulfir mumbled.

"So it is. And your mother will agree with me wholeheartedly."

Ulfir grunted, "She'll be disappointed."

Loki squeezed his son tightly. "She most certainly will not. Where do you get these awful ideas?"

Skinny arms tightened around Loki's ribs. "Uncle Thor said--"

"Don't even finish that sentence," Loki interrupted, temper flaring. "I've told you before never to listen to my idiot brother. And why would you talk to him about this subject, anyway?"

The boy turned his head so his cheek rested over Loki's hearti. "I didn't. Last summer he told me that before long Mum will start matchmaking for me--"

"No."

"And he said it would make her really happy--"

"Ulfir, no."

The kid sighed heavily. "Grandmother wanted him to marry Lady Sif and he did."

"And they're terribly happy together," Loki said irritably, squeezing his son once more before releasing him. Ulfir stepped back at looked up, eyelashes damp and expression hopeful.

"My mother was a master of the precognitive arts, Ulfir. She would have foreseen their happiness. That's why she urged Thor to marry Lady Sif. A fact my brother is still too thick to realize, apparently."

There was a beat of silence, and then Ulfir said softly, "Oh."

"Yeah. 'Oh' is right."

Another short silence.

"Mum is good at scrying," the boy said thoughtfully.

Loki smiled. "Indeed, she is."

"So if she tells me to marry someone..."

"Your mother will never tell you to marry anyone," Loki interrupted. "But if she does happen to make a suggestion at some point, you can bet it'll be based on something much more significant than her own personal preferences."

The boy's expression brightened slowly as he considered the implications of that.

Loki ruffled his burnished hair again. "Feel better now?"

His son's mouth kicked up at the corners. "Yeah."

"Good. Next time come and talk to me before you start tying yourself in knots, hm?"

"Okay."

Loki smiled. "Okay. Now get yourself down to the stables and finish your chores before supper. Don't come to the table with horse grime on you, either."

His son gave him a slightly offended look. The boy was nothing if not fastidious.

Loki smirked and waved him towards the door. "Go on."

Ulfir turned to go. Reached the door and paused. Looked back.

"I love you, Da."

Loki's heart swelled suddenly. Painfully. Ulfir hadn't called him Da in years. Since he was the twins' age. Since Zophi was born.

Since the boy had willingly taken on the mantle of older brother and future king. Example to his siblings. Protector. Leader.

Loki's throat grew tight. He found himself swamped with pride and a deep sense of wonder. To imagine that he--the notorious God of Mischief--had brought such an extraordinarily good young man into the world...

The words, when they came, were low and grave. Utterly heart-felt.

"I love you, too, son."

...

"I think it's time we acknowledge the fact that our daughter is a fertility goddess, Loki."

Bloody hel and all the Fates!

"No. Absolutely not," Loki replied.

Eira shot him a look over her shoulder as she handed her day dress to Astrid. Loki stepped aside when she sent the maid out to have the garment laundered.

Turning to the enormous wooden armoire, Eira said gently, "She summoned an incubus, love. And you said the boys had no idea what it was, so she did it intuitively. That's not a coincidence."

Loki stood in the dressing room doorway and crossed his arms stubbornly, watching his wife choose an evening dress from the colorful collection in the armoire. She wore nothing but her white silk chemise. His gaze strayed to the shape of her hips and waist, the curve of her ass.

Fever tickled his nerve endings, but he shoved it aside.

"She's too young to come into her godhead yet," Loki grumbled. "Even Ulfir won't come of age for a few more years."

Eira chose a shimmering, peachy dress with gold trim and carried it to the chaise. "I know. I just want you to be prepared. Her powers are already showing signs--"

"I am not ready for this conversation," Loki interrupted.

She sighed. "Loki..."

He came away from the door and stood behind her, tracing her sides with both hands, all the way down to her hips and back up.

"Don't try to distract me," she warned, glancing back over her shoulder at him with the dress in her hands. "Our daughter may be a goddess of love, Loki. Or even sex."

Loki put his face in her hair and growled wordlessly.

Unphased, she continued, "If we don't begin helping her harness and direct her abilities soon, we'll have worse problems than a baby incubi accosting the nanny, and you know it."

"One incubi does not mean--" he started.

"Loki." Eira interrupted, draping her dress over the settee and then turning in his arms to look up at him. "You remember the spring festival last year?"

"...Yes," he replied cautiously.

"You remember that someone cast a love spell over the entire court during the equinox ceremony?"

"Don't say it," he growled.

"That was our daughter, Loki," Eira replied.

Loki closed his eyes in denial. Bloody hell. People had been kissing and making love all over the palace for hours. He'd assumed it was some well meaning young noble playing a prank.

"There's no way that could have been--"

"It was," his wife insisted. "I was with her when it happened. She was dancing with the other children. She was happy. I don't think she even knew she cast the spell. It just...happened."

Thank the Fates such spells only affected adults.

Loki sighed. "Are you sure is was Zo?"

"Yes, Loki. I'm sure."

He sighed again. Dropped his head until his forehead rested against hers. "Why didn't you tell me?"

Eira's hands rose to cup his face, thumbs tracing the lines around his mouth. "Because I knew it would upset you," she said softly. "Though I still don't quite understand why. Would you be upset if one of the boys had such powers?"

He curled his arms around her. "It's not her powers that upset me."

Slender fingers slid around his ears and dipped into his hair. She kissed him lightly, lips warm and smooth. "Why, then?" she whispered.

He kissed her back while he thought about it. Finally allowed himself to acknowledge the truth.

"I suppose I'm just not ready for her to grow up."

"Mmm. There's plenty of time," she murmured. "She won't be grown for another three hundred years yet."

"You're right. Of course you're right," he grumbled. "But it doesn't feel that way. She's maturing too fast. Faster than the others. Much faster, it seems to me."

Eira smiled. "Girls are like that, my love."

Loki pulled her closer, until her belly bumped against him. "I'll have to take your word for it."

Her smile warmed him. "Will you let her go to school now?" she asked.

"I suppose I have no choice," he grumbled.

She kissed the tip of his nose. "Will you miss her terribly during the day?"

Damnable woman. "You see right through me, don't you?" he grunted.

Her smile warmed him. "I'll still be here to keep you company."

"But you don't giggle at my jokes like Zophi does, or hide under the conference table during board meetings and tie people's boot laces together just to entertain me."

She rolled her eyes. "And you wonder why she's so spoilt."

He shrugged. "She's my only daughter."

Eira stood up on her toes, lips returning to his in a slow, feathery glide. "Let's make another, then," she whispered.

They kissed for a while, leisurely. And then with increasing urgency, until his anxieties about their daughter were entirely forgotten, washed away by the fever.

Loki had just pushed her down onto the chaise and begun lifting her chemise up when they heard a whisper from just beyond the doorway.

"Did they kiss enough yet?"

Loki stopped, looking down at his wife with martyred expression. Her lips compressed, eyes glittering with humor.

A second voice whispered, "I think so. Papa doesn't look mad anymore."

Loki looked at the open door.

A third voice joined in, louder than the others. "If we wait too long they'll be mad we interrupted."

"Narfi, shush, they'll hear you!"

"Children," Loki barked.

He was answered by three sharp gasps and a sudden, ringing silence.

Eira shook with silent laughter as he rose from her, pulling the chemise down over her legs as he straightened.

"We've talked about this," he growled at the empty doorway. "You're meant to knock before you come into our chambers, remember?"

Zophi's head appeared around the door jam, green eyes wide an innocent. "Sorry, Papa."

Loki plucked Eira's dress from the back of the settee and handed it to her a she sat up, giving her a dark look. A look of promise.

Later.

The glow of hunger in her gaze made his body thrum with anticipation.

He strode to the doorway, leaving Eira to dress while he dealt with their children.

...

"Mum said we should ask you about it after you were done talking to Ulfy."

Loki sat down on the big couch in the spacious boudoir attached to the royal chambers. Zophi climbed onto his lap and plopped down sideways with her legs draped over his thigh. Nari perched on the couch opposite while his twin spawled onto the floor and began rolling around in front of the enormous fireplace with a pair of the palace dogs--two little white terriers Thor had brought them from Earth during his last visit. The little beasts followed Narfi everywhere.

"Alright, out with it then," Loki said mildly, resting his arms along the back of the couch.

"We want to play a prank on Uncle Thor when he comes to visit tomorrow for cousin Thrud's birthday," Nari said, brown eyes glowing with excitement. "But we can't agree which one."

Loki regarded his youngest son with amusement. Pranking Thor had become a family tradition. Eira had set the limit to once a year, however. Otherwise the children tormented him mercilessly.

"What did you have in mind?" he asked.

Zophi leaned up towards Loki's ear and whispered very loudly, "We can make his hair fall out!"

"Hmmm. That would be funny," Loki conceded. "But I think you can do better."

"My idea was to make him a dog!" Narfi piped up from the floor. "But Ulfy said that was stupid." His narrow face scrunched with resentment.

"He didn't say it was stupid, brother," Nari countered. "He said it was der..derv...deri--" he stopped, frowned. Tried again. "Derivy--"

"Derivative?" Loki supplied.

Nari brightened. "Yeah, that." He turned back to his twin. "Cuz we gave him a dog tail last year."

Narfi gave his twin a disdainful look, but it was ruined somewhat by one of the dogs enthusiastically licking his face. "I still think it would be funny," the boy grumbled, not even bothering to push the animal away.

"We could make him a lady," Zophi suggested, bouncing on Loki's lap with barely contained excitement. "Uncle Thor would make a pretty Lady!"

The twins regarded her with identical looks of derision.

"You can't marry him if he's a lady," Narfi taunted from the floor, propped up on his elbows now.

Nari sniggered

Zophi puffed up, one little hand fisitng in Loki's jacket. "I can too!" she cried.

Nari turned to gaze at his father with an expression of exasperated pleading while Narfi giggled maniacally on the floor. The dogs ran around him in circles, excited by his humor, yipping and snapping playfully at his shirt.

"Tell her she can't marry Uncle Thor, Da!" Nari demanded.

"I can! When I'm grown up I can!" Zophi shot back.

"You cannot! He's already married, Zo. And he's our Uncle! That's in-sess!"

"Incest," Loki corrected.

"Incest!" Nari repeated, without missing a beat. "You'll have dumb mutant babies!"

"I don't care," Zophi snapped, then looked up at Loki, eyes glittering with temper. "I can marry Uncle Thor if I want to."

Loki tipped his head to her. "Far be it from me to argue with a Lady."

Nari threw his hands up and his eyes rolled back dramatically in his head. His brother cackled, flopping left and right on the floor between the little dogs. One of them latched onto his shirt sleeve and began to pull, growling playfully.

"My, you're certainly having fun in here," Eira said, stepping out of the bedroom.

Loki gave his wife a slow perusal as she crossed the room to them, peachy skirts caressing her legs. "My, you look very fetching in that."

Eira smiled as she reached the couch, bending over them to drop a kiss on his cheek.

"Mum is the prettiest lady is the whole nine realms," Zophi said, gazing up at her mother with glowing adoration. "Someday I will be, too."

"That doesn't make sense," Nari said scornfully. "How can you both be the prettiest?"

Eira just smiled at her daughter and bent again, this time to kiss the little girl.

"We were just discussing my brother's visit," Loki said as she straightened. "Zophi wants to turn him into a lady."

"And then marry him!" Narfi cackled again and one of the dogs began to bark excitedly. The other promptly joined in.

"Narfi, the dogs, please," Eira said, taking a seat beside Nari on the other couch.

"Shush!" Narfi ordered. Both animals quieted instantly.

Eira put her arm around Nari and the boy leaned into her side. "Sometimes I wonder why your brother ever comes to visit at all, the way you torment him," she said.

Loki grinned. "It's how we show our love."

"Uncle Thor thinks it's funny," Narfi chirped, sitting up with the dogs jostling each other in his lap. "He always laughs."

"I supposed he does," Eira conceded.

"Will he bring baby Torunn this time?" Zophi asked, looking up at Loki.

"I'm sure he will, darling."

That seemed to please the little girl. She turned and snuggled back in Loki's lap, facing forward now, her little legs propped over his knees.

"I like babies," she said happily.

Eira gave Loki an arch look over their daughter's head. He could almost hear her saying, Fertility goddess.

He scowled back.

"Your father has some wonderful news for you, Zophi," Eira said, holding Loki's gaze in blatant challenge.

Zophi twisted in his lap to gaze at him with wide green eyes. "What is it?"

Loki shot Eira a glare and then smiled down at his daughter. "We've decided to send you to school next year."

The little girl's eyes went comically wide. And then she gave a long, piercing shriek of pure joy--which, of course, set off the dogs again and produced a chorus of loud complaints from the twins.

"Alright, alright," Loki yelled to be heard over the din.

Zophi stopped squealing and subsided into delirious giggles. Nari took his hands from his ears and cried, "Bloody hell, Zophi, you're so loud!"

"Language," Eira said sharply, while Narfi once again dissolved into cackles.

It went on like that for a few minutes with the dogs barking and racing around the room, Zophi giggling, Nari complaining vehemently and Narfi in hysterics on the floor.

Finally, Eira cried, "By the Fates! Will you all please settle down!" and the children obediently quieted. Even the dogs stopped in their tracks and fell silent.

"Thank you," she said, with relief. "Now, go and get changed for supper. And you--" she pointed at Narfi, "Do not bring those dogs to the banquet room tonight. I want to have a quiet, peaceful evening, for once."

"Yes, Mum," the boy answered dutifully.

After the children had shuffled out, Eira looked at Loki and arched a brow. "Next year?"

He shrugged a little sheepishly. "It's only a few months off."

She gave him a sardonic look.

"Let me enjoy her while I still can. Before long she'll be lost to adolescence and all the girly, frilly trappings thereof."

Eira rolled her eyes. "Fine. But use some of that time to prepare her for basic sorcery classes, please? She'll be centuries younger than the other students as it is."

He grinned, "Of course."

"Thank you. How did it go with Ulfir?"

"Well enough."

"Mm. Does he know yet that he prefers his own sex?" she asked.

"Seems to. He was concerned that he would have to marry a girl and have babies."

"Oh dear," she murmured, eyes twinkling. "And what did you tell him?"

"I suggested he choose an heir from his inevitable nieces and nephews."

She smiled. "Clever man."

Loki sipped his head in gracious acknowledgment.

"What a colorful kingship for Vanaheim," she murmured. "First a pair of despots, then the infamous God of Mischief, and then...two kings for the price of one." She grinned broadly and Loki grinned back.

"Yes. The aristocracy will have a mass conniption," he chuckled.

She smirked. "It'll be good for them."

"I agree."

"Well," Eira sighed and rose, "I'm going to check on the preparations for the banquet tomorrow. Will you--" she broke off, seeing the sudden change in his expression.

A look of dark, predatory intent.

The energy in the room flipped abruptly. Crackled with sudden, silent energy. The fever arched between them like an invisible electric charge.

Her lips parted. Closed again. He watched with predatory pleasure as she struggled not to protest--not to speak at all.

A series of objections filed past behind her eyes. Loki could almost hear them: It's nearly supper time. Astrid will be back soon. The children might return at any moment.

"Over the couch," he commanded softly.

Her throat worked, gaze fixed on his face with equal parts hesitation and arousal.

At last, she turned, walked around behind the couch, and bent slowly over it, placing her hands on the cushions where she and Nari had sat together. Long hair swept forward as she did and pooled around her hands.

And then she looked at him, eyes glowing with hunger and apprehension. A dark gleam of challenge.

He only made her do this when he meant to punish her.

"You called me out in front of the children," he said darkly. "Forced me to tell our daughter about our decision to send her to school before I was ready."

Her gaze sparked, lips compressing against the urge to argue.

Loki came forward on the couch. Rose slowly to circle around the furniture towards her. He let his voice drop to a near-growl, "You put me on the spot, my love. You know how much I hate that."

She watched him sidelong as he came around the couch, gaze shining with desire and restrained protest, until he crossed behind her. Her head dropped back to center then, and Loki waited until he saw it fall just a bit.

Submission.

"I should use the quirt on you," he murmured, testing. Leaning over and gathering her skirts in one hand. "Or the crop, at least."

Her shoulders flexed--a silent expression of resistance--but she said nothing.

"You think that's too harsh, hm?" he drew the slinky fabric up over her ass, chemise and all, and looked down at the coppery flesh. "But you know how I feel about Zophi going to school."

He cupped her, fingers slipping between her legs.

"Wet," he murmured smugly.

She swallowed. Released a soft, nervous breath.

"It's been a while," he went on, very low. Almost crooning. "I think I'll use my hand."

And then he struck her once, knowing she wasn't prepared for it. Relishing her sharp gasp and the way her spine flexed against the pain.

"I'm going to hit you a dozen times," he said, keeping his voice low and tender. Knowing it made her wild to hear him describe the punishment so lovingly before he did it.

Her shoulders trembled just a bit.

His voice dropped near to a whisper, palm gliding over her exposed ass--over the scalding print his hand had left there. "And then I'm going to fuck you here on the floor."

The breath left her in a near-silent hiss.

He took his time with it. Spacing the blows apart. Aware that the door to the antechamber was open. That any servant who entered would hear what they were doing immediately. Would know that Loki was punishing his wife.

Aware that Eira was aware. That the knowing made her terribly anxious, nearly desperate. Wildly aroused.

She didn't know, of course, that he'd placed a spell on the door, which he could activate at any time, and which would prevent it from being opened by anyone but himself.

Loki smiled wickedly. He certainly had no plans to tell her. Ever.

By the time he'd delivered the tenth strike her ass was brilliantly welted and she lay panting over the couch, the muscles in her legs trembling with the effort to remain still.

Loki drew back his arm for the eleventh blow and she tensed for it.

He paused. Waited for her to relax again. The waiting made her even more anxious, however, and her head began to turn toward him.

Cheeky.

He struck her then, catching her by surprise again. Putting a little extra force into it--a little extra punishment for that tiny act of defiance: that partial turn. He hit her hard enough to make her cry out--a small, strangled sob of pain and pleasure.

"One more," he murmured.

And then the little minx whimpered, "Loki," in a low, broken voice.

He froze on a delicious rush of surprise and outrage.

"Want more, do you?" he hissed, pleased and angry and violently aroused.

She shook her head quickly, not daring to look back again. But she'd spoken during punishment and that was one of his rules. She was never to speak during punishment, and she was never to look back at him.

"Six more," he said roughly, heart pounding with anticipation, cock straining at the front of his trousers.

She took all six blows with surprising composure--hardly made a sound, though he hit her as hard as he dared. The impacts were almost impossibly loud. By the end of it, her ass glowed a shade of red so deep it actually hurt him a little to look at it.

It also made him ferocious to be inside her.

His trousers were open before the ring of the final blow had faded. He put a hand on Eira's lower back. She gasped loudly when he thrust inside, back arching. Loki shoved her down again, held her pinned against the cushions, already thrusting, hitting bottom.

"Your ass," he growled, breathless. "So hot."

The flesh seemed to sear his hips and groin every time their bodies came together.

Eira groaned and the sound was broken, jolted by the sheer force of his thrusts. Her sex began to flutter.

"Not yet," he snarled. But she whimpered, tightened.

Loki moved faster, gripped one slender shoulder, the other hand digging into the soft flesh of her hip. The couch began to thump rhythmically against the floor. Eira's fingers dug deep into the cushions, digits tangled up in the reddish fall of her own hair.

Loki grunted with pleasure, enjoy the way his thrusts jolted her--as though each one carried an electric charge.

It was her ass, he realized distantly. Every thrust was like another blow. The pain must be incredible.

Eira made high, helpless keening sound then, hips flexing.

"I said not yet!" he snarled.

But it was too late. She bucked, toes scrabbling on the rug between his feet, sex constricting tightly around him.

The sound she made as she came was one of defeat--a wordless apology, strangled with pleasure.

It drove him straight over the edge, that sound. That and the heat of her ass--the sight of his cock driving between those brightly welted globes of flesh.

He pressed deep as the spasms took him, looking down at the glossy jointure of their bodies. At the gleaming seal of her sex around the base of his cock.

He could feel her wetness trickling down his inner thigh.

"Sweet Allmother!" he rasped, shaft kicking hard inside her. Pleasure blasting up his spine, racing in a fiery surge along the length of his cock.

Pouring out into her body in quick, molten spurts.

"Loki," she whispered, just as the pleasure began to recede.

He lay slumped over her, chest heaving, face pressed between her shoulder blades.

His reply was a voiceless rasp. "Yes, love."

"You said on the floor."

It took him a moment to process the words.

Slowly, he lifted his head. The orgasmic afterglow burned away in an expanding flush of outrage and elation.

His cock, impossibly, began to harden again.

"What was that?" he demanded very softly, staring at the back of her head.

She held herself terribly still beneath him. Loki heard the moist, secret sound of her tongue passing nervously over her lips.

"Y-you said you would fuck me on the floor," she whispered as though she couldn't believe her own audacity.

Loki couldn't quite believe it either.

"You--" he started, and then straightened so abruptly--so violently--that his wife actually yelped in fear.

He lifted her, turning back towards their bedroom, tossing her over his shoulder as he went.

"Loki!" she squeaked, when he threw her on the bed.

"Apologize," he snapped, standing over her with his cock jutting stiffly from his open fly.

Eira lifted herself onto hands and knees and looked up at him, eyes wide, face flushed. "I'm sorry, my King," she whispered.

He stepped closer, so she had to crane her neck to look at him.

"Again."

The fear in her eyes was nearly over taken by a familiar glazed look--a strange, intoxicated nakedness that he'd only ever seen in moments like this, when they were both lost to the play.

"I'm sorry, my King," she repeated, voice gone watery with emotion.

He glared at her, furious, ecstatic. His cock thrummed.

"Suck me," he growled.

Her complete lack of hesitation made his whole body sing with joy. She crawled straight to the edge of the mattress and opened her mouth for him. Began to suck the moment he thrust between her lips.

He took hold of her hair while she did it. Fisted his hand in the heavy locks just hard enough to make her scalp sting. Her eyes slid closed, mouth watering along the length of his cock.

"Why did you talk back to me, hm?" he demanded, voice low again--urgent with pleasure. Vibrating with the wild, joyful fury her combined submission and defiance always inspired in him.

Eira moaned around his cock, eyes closed, sucking him deeply.

"Why did you make me angry, Eira?" he rasped. "Why would you do that?"

Again, all she could do was moan, but she knew he needed no other answer, just as he knew that she'd done it--as she always did--because she wanted this. This melting, intoxicated madness. Both of them inflamed, swept away.

Deliriously, wantonly happy.

"I love you," he breathed, thrusting into the back of her throat. "Make me come."

Her eyes rolled up to him, vibrant green and gold, impossibly beautiful.

Loki didn't need to free her mouth to know what her answer was. It was right there, glowing in her eyes.

Yes, my King. I love you, too.

End.