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Finding Family

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The infant was small, crying and miraculously unharmed.

Tony had only known the child was there when FRIDAY alerted him to a sign of life amongst the rubble. He’d been flying overhead, surveying the damage of the latest Avenger battle. The signal she noticed had been strong and Tony had been cautiously optimistic about finding the person alive.

He’d been stunned to find an unharmed, wailing baby. It couldn’t be more than a year old. He’d taken a few moments to process it before quickly advising the team. He landed further away than normal, not wanting to startle the child.

FRIDAY was still scanning the child for injuries or anything out of the ordinary. But when she recognised magic, things became more complicated. Tony knew it was probably a mistake, but it was a terrified, crying child and he couldn’t turn away or ignore it.

Fuck,” he hissed under his breath, and despite the warnings from FRIDAY he stepped out of his suit and over to the baby.

Bending down, Tony very carefully picked up the child, holding it close to his chest and trying to calm it down. He hadn’t held a lot of children in his life, but Rhodey’s family was bursting at the seams with little cousins he’d met and had shoved in his arms, so he knew the basics.

He’d only been holding the baby for a few seconds when a tiny little hand reached out from beneath the tattered blanket and wrapped around his finger. It was like an electric shock coursing through him and he sucked in a breath and jerked. It felt like something had reached inside and wrapped itself around him, warm and snug. Fear and nerves conflicted with a sudden surge of happiness and calm, and the baby’s wailing turned to gentle, tired gurgling.

Tony’s heart was pounding. “FR-FRIDAY?”

“It would seem the child’s magic is now radiating from you at a much lower level.”

Shit.

“And that means what?

“I don’t know, Boss.”

Awesome.

“Well.” He looked down at the kid. “Get ‘em to send the Quinjet my way, I can’t fly the suit with a baby in my arms.”

“Yes, Boss.”

With nothing else to do and with who knew what magic coursing through him, Tony continued to stand there and hold the child. Tony surveyed the area but didn’t like the odds of finding the parents alive. He couldn’t imagine another reason why someone would leave a baby behind in the middle of a battle unless they were assholes.

It didn’t look good.

He heard a noise from the baby and glanced down. His lips quirked up in a grin when the baby started to doze off in his arms. The little hand was still curled around his finger, holding on tightly.

Tony really hoped his predictions would be wrong and they’d find the kid’s parents.


Unfortunately, they did find the parents, but not in the way Tony wanted.

The little boy’s DNA matched two bodies they found not far from where the baby had been crying.

They also discovered that the kid had used some kind of primitive bond on him and cried anytime Tony put him down or left the room. It became very apparent, very fast, that the child had latched onto him as its new protector and parental figure. Tony was still attempting to deal with that.

He was currently sitting in his bedroom where he’d set up the crib (along with many other things) he’d had FRIDAY order. He was lightly rocking it and humming under his breath. It let the kid know he was nearby and would hopefully prompt the child to fall asleep.

Bruce was in the far corner of the room, they’d paused their discussion on what kind of energy manipulation the child had when the baby had woken up, needing Tony to change him. It had been less than twenty-four hours and already Tony felt like he’d been doing this for weeks.

The baby finally drifted off after a few minutes and Tony was able to stop rocking the crib and focus back on Bruce. The scientist was already watching him and his tone was gentle, “What are you going to do about him, Tony?”

It was a question Tony was not ready to answer. He’d already done the math and had a pretty good idea where it left him. He sighed.

“There’s not a lot I can do, Bruce,” Tony answered, looking back down at the kid. He was fast asleep and radiating comfort. It was a warmth that spread through Tony’s chest and left him fighting down a smile.

“You can’t look after a child and still be Iron Man,” Bruce told him quietly. He wasn’t chastising, just stating.

He’d worked out what Tony had too.

Tony might have never planned to have a kid; it didn’t mean he wasn’t going to do everything in his power to be a good father.

“Then I guess it’s time to say goodbye to Iron Man.”

Bruce was silent for a long time. “That’s an incredibly selfless gesture for a child that isn’t yours, Tony.”

Tony just shook his head and looked back at the other man. “This kid picked me, Bruce, that means he’s been mine since the moment he grabbed my hand.”

Bruce’s gaze softened and he stepped closer, looking down at Tony and the child. “You’ll make a good father, Tony.”

Laughing roughly, Tony ran a hand through his hair. “I doubt that, but I’ll do my best.” He stared down at the sleeping child. His child. His son. “He deserves at least that.”

“Do you know what you’ll name him?” Bruce questioned.

They couldn’t find any records about the child’s birth, and based on his magic, they could understand why his parents had tried to hide his existence. Tony had known he would need to pick a name, and deep down, he’d already chosen what it would be.

A reminder and a role model; the kind of supportive, loving person that Tony could only aspire to be for his son.

“Edwin.”


Loki was irritated.

He had spent six months on Alfheim searching for a rare magical artefact. He returned to Midgard successful and had planned to use it on the mortal heroes. His plans were derailed when he learned that Stark had disappeared. He had retired. Iron Man was no longer an Avenger.

Stark was the only adversary on the pitiful realm who entertained Loki. Stark was intriguing with his unpredictability and inventions. His retirement was unacceptable.

He turned his focus on finding the man and it took an annoyingly long time to do so. It took him even longer than seeking out the Alfheim artefact. It took him almost an entire Midgardian year!

The house his spell sent him to was only two stories high and surrounded by sparse trees, wide open spaces and no one around for miles. It was large and well-maintained but seemed outdated among Midgardian dwellings. It had a large porch with pillars supporting the upper balcony which spanned the width of the house. The building was otherwise square and shapeless. It had little of the modern ostentation Stark favoured. It was a place he would never have expected Stark to choose.

Loki had arrived in his armour with his favoured staff in hand. He approached cautiously; well aware Stark’s home was never without its hidden defences. He expected some explosive weapon to be levelled and fired at him; he did not expect Stark to step out of his front door with only a single gauntlet raised. He wore plain clothing and seemed unusually wary. He didn’t mince words or use nicknames.

“I swear to fucking God, Loki, if you start a fight here I will end you. I’m retired. Get the hell out of here.”

Loki narrowed his eyes and gripped his staff tighter, preparing to aim it. “You are in no position to order me, mortal.”

Loki expected many things in response to his words; the rest of Stark’s armour appearing, the voice of his artificial servant or even an Avenger. He did not expect the voice of a child calling from inside the house.

“Da?”

Stark stiffened and a mixture of fear, protectiveness and dismay crossed his face in rapid succession. Loki stared behind Stark, watching as a small form stumbled forward. Tiny hands reached out and grabbed Stark’s pants legs for balance. The child could be little more than three Midgardian years. He had black hair and wide brown eyes. He had fledgling magic and Stark had a paternal bond to him.

When the child turned to look at Loki, he reacted without thought, converting his armour to casual clothing and hiding it from the child’s eyes. The child, Stark’s son, looked at him curiously before back at his father.

He asked again, “Da?”

Stark didn’t look away from Loki nor lower his gauntlet, but his free hand came down to soothingly run through his son’s hair. He kept his tone gentle and relaxed. “Sorry we interrupted playtime, squirt.”

It looked like it physically pained him to drop his eyes from Loki. He picked up his child, placing the little boy on his hip in a gesture that spoke of comfort and familiarity. The little boy wrapped his arms around Stark’s neck, cuddling close and looking at Loki with interest.

“We’ll just go back inside for a bit, okay?”

The little boy nodded and mumbled something Loki couldn’t make out. Stark’s eyes had found Loki’s again, something pleading in his gaze. Loki gave an imperceptible nod and Stark disappeared back inside with his child.

Loki remained where he was, trying to understand what he’d just witnessed. He knew Stark to be something of a philanderer in his youth so it was little surprise he had fathered a child - but to father one so recently? To retire from battle merely to care for said child? Loki’s mind reeled. It also left him in a position few but Thor would understand. Loki had always been fond and protective of children and animals. He would have had no qualms with attacking Stark and dragging him back into battle, but the involvement of a child changed things.

Stark returned from the house after only a few minutes. His gauntlet was still on his hand but it was lowered. He came to the very edge of the porch and Loki also stepped closer. A few metres remained between them but they were close enough to keep their voices low.

“You have a child,” Loki acknowledged. Stark smiled tightly but made no comment. Loki continued pointedly, “He has magic and you share a magical bond.”

Stark clenched his jaw. “Look, I retired to keep him safe and raise him properly. It’s not some double-bluff or giant game. I’m trying to live a quiet life and look after my kid.” He held Loki’s gaze. “Are you going to fuck this up for us?"

They both knew Loki could. The power was in his hands, but unlike the triumph he always felt at tricking, defeating or manipulating his adversaries, Loki felt no such glory. He felt confused, irritated and annoyingly... compassionate.

“I will not harm your child,” Loki told him. He watched hope, suspicion and tentative relief fight for dominance on Stark’s face. “I did not believe your retirement to be genuine,” Loki continued. “I have no quarrel with you or your son.”

Stark looked distrustful, but Loki followed up his words by leaving the way he came; he teleported back to his Midgardian home. He left Stark and the child be.

Yet, despite the distance his perplexity didn’t lessen.

Stark had always been the most curious mortal on Midgard, and the introduction of a magical son only made him more interesting to Loki.

He didn’t like leaving a puzzle unsolved.


Tony couldn’t trust Loki at his word.

The moment he left, Tony wanted to uproot them and move far away. He needed to hide them even better than he already had - but if Loki had found him here, where else on Earth was safe? Edwin was happy and comfortable where they were and he couldn’t afford to draw anyone else’s attention to them.

Tony had no choice but to stay put and send a coded message through FRIDAY to Thor.

He tried to comfort himself with the fact Loki hadn’t taken the perfect opportunity to hurt Tony. He’d hidden his armour and weapons the moment he spotted Edwin. Loki had always been more inclined to cause mischief than actual harm. Fuck, it was all Tony had to cling to.

Edwin noticed his worry and was curious about Loki--and how ironic was it that Loki was the first visitor to their house? --but he was young and easily distracted.

Thor eventually got back to him about Loki. Thor was concerned about what had happened, but he'd also painted a surprising picture about his brother. Basically, Loki liked children. They were innately mischievous and creative. They also tended to like his magic and tricks so Loki had a soft spot for them. Loki would never harm a child, and Tony, by retiring to be a full-time father, had been given the same consideration as civilian women gained during war. He was left alone.

Tony had still been sceptical, but when a month passed without a sign of the Trickster God, he started to relax. When three more months passed, Tony almost forgot about it. He had bigger things to worry about, such as his very curious and energetic son who spent most of the day asking, “but why?” to anything Tony said. Not to mention the occasional magical misfire Edwin was shooting out.

Edwin was three now. He was smart, curious, and very confused about his magic and why Tony didn’t have any. It was something Tony had trouble explaining to him when even Tony didn’t understand magic properly. He was doing his best, but he wasn’t sure it would be enough the older Edwin became. At least it had allowed him to sit down and have the “I’m your Daddy, but I’m not your actual Daddy” conversation. That had been fun. He’d have to explain adoption in greater length when Edwin was older, but it was enough for now.

It wasn’t until five months after Loki made his appearance that something happened. The completely unexpected, actually, if Tony was being honest.

Tony had been sitting in the living room reading over some documents for SI that he needed to approve. Edwin was on the floor watching his favourite cartoon and Tony was occasionally flicking his attention to his son to make sure he hadn’t wandered off.

He had just sent off the last document and was contemplating what he’d make Edwin for lunch when there was a knock on the door. Tony froze, his entire body coiling with tension. Edwin hadn’t even heard the sound. Tony swallowed and rose from the couch, his hand twitching towards the watch that hid his gauntlet.

“Hey, Edwin, stay watching your show, okay? I need to check on something.”

Edwin didn’t even look over his shoulder, too engrossed in his show. “‘Kay, Dad.”

Please, let it be someone who’s lost, Tony mentally prayed. Please, let it be some wrong-turning tourist.

He stepped forward, activating his gauntlet and letting it form over his hand as he carefully shifted the curtains from one of the windows and looked out at the porch. His tension went up by about three hundred when he saw Loki standing there.

He was in a casual black suit and his hands were raised in a similar submissive gesture to what he’d used in Germany all those years ago.

Unerringly, his head turned and he caught Tony’s gaze. His smile was small but very definitely present. “I mean you and your son no harm, Stark. You once promised me a drink, but I would settle for a conversation.”

Tony cursed under his breath. He pulled away from the window and glanced back at his son; still focused on the TV, still oblivious.

Tony knew Loki wouldn’t leave without getting what he wanted. He’d started things off peacefully and Tony couldn’t afford to let it become hostile. He kept his gauntlet on, but he slowly made his way to the front door and pulled it open partway. He kept his body shielding the interior of the house and his gauntlet was pointed at the Trickster God’s chest.

“What the fuck do you want, Loki?” Tony hissed.

“A conversation, I believe I already mentioned that.”

Tony glanced back behind him; still worried Edwin would reappear and be put in danger, or worse, become curious about the man who’d shown up at their house twice.

God, he hoped Thor was right about Edwin being an off-limits target.

“Can’t you go fuck with someone else?” Tony growled. “I’m sure Thor would just love to talk to-”

“Only you can answer what I want to know.” The flat statement pulled Tony up short, so did the frustrated frown that was furrowing Loki’s brow. Loki made a gesture at the house. “Your son is magical. You are not.”

Loki’s irritation grew after the statement. His petulance grew too. The expression on his face was similar to when Edwin couldn’t figure something out. The look said: ‘explain it to me!’ and under any other circumstance, Tony would have burst out laughing.

“Did you really just spend the last few months trying to puzzle us out, only to fail, and end up back at my door demanding the answer?”

Loki crossed his arms and glared. “Do not give yourself so much credit, Stark.”

It was the weakest defence Tony had ever heard. He doubted even Edwin would believe it. So much for Loki being the ‘God of Lies’.

Honestly, if he didn’t have his son to worry about, Tony would be teasing Loki. He’d be proud to have stumped and intrigued the mercurial and arrogant mage, but with Edwin in the mix, Tony didn’t want to be the sudden and sharp focus of Loki’s attention.

“So if you don’t give two shits about us, why are you here?”

“Your son is magical,” Loki insisted. “Mages on Midgard are rare.”

Tony’s jaw clenched and his hand which had dropped slightly rose again. He also stepped towards the trickster, his gauntlet almost pressed against Loki’s chest. “If you come five feet near my fucking son-”

“Stark,” Loki’s voice was surprisingly gentle. “I will not harm your son nor take him from you.” His expression turned wry. “You may not trust the truth of my words, but I am merely curious, nothing more.”

Tony gritted his teeth. He didn’t want to be caught in the middle of this. Loki was being polite and unthreatening, but Tony knew he could change as quickly as the wind.

“My son is special, Loki. Just leave it at that.”

“Yes, but-”

“Do you really think I’m going to tell you something that I haven’t even told SHIELD?

Surprise flickered through Loki’s expression and his eyes looked past Tony into the house. He had to physically stop himself from shifting to block Loki’s line of sight.

Was he overprotective of his son? Sue him. This was Loki.

When Loki’s gaze slowly drifted back to Tony it was more pensive. “Do you fear them? Is that why you have left your guarded tower for this secluded home?”

Tony clenched his jaw but didn’t say a word. Frustrated, Loki persisted. “Did you bed a witch? Is that how he came to be born?”

He said nothing.

Loki let out a frustrated breath. “Did she leave you?” He demanded. “Were you and your son too much for her?”

“Fuck off, Loki,” Tony snapped. Then cursed himself immediately afterwards.

Loki’s eyes brightened with triumph. “Is he entirely human? Does he have-”

Tony raised his gauntlet pointedly. He also sniped back, “What’s the difference between you and an Aesir?”

Loki’s green eyes turned poisonous in an instant. His posture shifted and gained a hint of the lethality Tony knew he was capable of whenever his ‘adoption’ came up.

Tony just smiled sharply. “Stop poking where you don’t belong, Reindeer Games. I’m not going to answer questions anymore than you are.”

Loki looked irritated, but Tony’s point had been made. Sadly, Loki did not look anywhere near close to giving up.

He opened his mouth, no doubt planning to fire another barrage of questions, but they both stiffened when Edwin called from inside, “Dad?”

Tony could hear him coming towards the door and Tony knew the panic and plea was written across his face.

It still shocked Tony that Loki’s eyes skimmed his expression for only a moment before disappearing in a shimmer of light. It wasn’t his usual illusions, it was a genuine teleport. Tony knew that without having to ask, Loki had continued to observe the unspoken rule; Edwin was off-limits.

Tony still stared at the front porch, reeling from the compassion and consideration Loki was showing.

“Dad?” Edwin asked, grabbing the material of Tony’s pants in his hand.

Tony glanced down to find Edwin’s big, curious, brown eyes looking at him. His smile was a little strained and he hurriedly retracted the gauntlet so he could ruffle Edwin’s dark hair.

“Sorry kiddo. What did you want for lunch? Sandwiches?”

Edwin frowned and tilted his head, trying to peek out at the porch. Tony pulled it open, showing him that no one was there and everything was normal.

“How did the episode end?” Tony asked, hoping to distract him.

It worked a charm, and Edwin’s attention was pulled back to Tony. He grinned and started to explain with childish enthusiasm and confusing sentences what had happened. Tony shut the door, locked it and led them back inside and towards the kitchen.

Tony had a feeling it wouldn’t be the last time he saw Loki, but if the mage continued to leave Edwin out of it, then Tony would deal with it. He didn’t like Loki showing up and being curious about them, but it was better than a hundred other alternatives.

Tony just had to hope his stonewalling would eventually make Loki give up and focus on something else.

Chapter Text

Loki could not get satisfactory answers from Stark. In fact, he could not get answers at all.

The man was obstinate and constantly dodged his enquiries or threw questions back at Loki. It did not help that the man’s son continued to interrupt them, forcing Loki to retreat.

He even attempted to visit late in the evening once, when the child should be sleeping, but Stark was even more tense and agitated than normal. Stark had even charged his weapon in warning until Loki willingly cut his losses and returned to his apartment on Midgard.

Loki knew he should leave the mortal be, but the situation continue to irritate him, like a persistent splinter beneath his skin.

The mortal retired, he hid his son, not just from his enemies but his allies as well. His child was magic and Stark had no such gift for seidr.

Loki had always been particularly intrigued by Anthony Stark, and his inability to gain answers to his questions only made him more determined.

Loki had known it would take time, but he was a patient being. He spent several months visiting and speaking with the mortal. He had gained nothing in the way of concrete answers, but had instead learned... peculiar things.

He knew the day Stark had been painting with his son as he answered the door with smears of red and blue on his face and clothes.

He knew the week that Stark’s child caught a mortal cold and couldn’t sleep. Stark had answered the door drained and with the whiff of sickness around him. Loki had learned the child had a stomach illness and Loki had offered advice before he’d thought his actions through.

Loki had doubted Stark would take the suggestions, but the next time he visited, Stark thanked him. His methods had apparently helped. Loki had felt... odd after that, but he had brushed it aside and focused on trying to pry more information from the mortal.

Stark took to laughing at him and leaning against the doorframe, teasing Loki and shaking his head. The last three times he visited, Stark didn’t even activate his gauntlet.

Loki wasn’t spending all his time pondering Stark and his son. He continued to cause mischief and mayhem for the Avengers (although, he found his interest in it lacking without a suitable opponent to test his skill and wit against) and perfected his spells. He stole trinkets and magic tomes from the other realms and spent time outside Midgard, exploring and forging new acquaintances and alliances.

He just... made sure to visit Stark every few weeks. It would take time to crack Stark’s defences and learn the answers he sought, but Loki remained willing and curious.

Loki had recently returned from Vanaheim and was due for a visit to Stark’s secluded home.

He arrived with his usual teleport and waited on the porch. Stark never took long to notice him. Loki was certain Stark had perfected a device that registered the magic generated by Loki’s arrival. He had no doubt that with a magical son; Stark would soon perfect many items that would cause Loki difficulty in the future. Yet, somehow, he only found himself curious about what the man might create.

Loki was leaning against one of the pillars wearing a shirt and trousers. The child never saw him, but he’d found that his Midgardian dress relaxed Stark, and it was best to have the mortal as receptive as possible.

He had not been waiting more than five minutes before the door opened and Stark was shaking his head.

“Just when I think you might finally be leaving me alone,” he muttered, but unlike the earlier days when anger and suspicion suffused his words, Stark just sounded amused.

Loki believed that, secluded and detached from his friends, Stark enjoyed having another adult to talk to.

On more than one occasion, Loki had wanted to ask if Stark allowed his child to socialise, but always bit his tongue. It was not his place to offer parental advice. It wasn’t as if he cared about the mortal and his son.

“I have not received my answers, Stark.”

“You’re going to be stuck visiting me for a long time then,” Stark told him, a hint of a smile playing at his lips. “Maybe you should cut your loss-”

Loki felt it before Stark heard his son. It was a sudden burst of magic that made Loki flinch. It was untrained and explosive. A wailed, tearful, “Dad!” was shouted a moment later.

Stark was off like a shot as he sprinted into the house. Loki found himself following, close on the mortal’s heels. Loki barely paid any attention to the layout or items in the house as he hurried after Stark.

The mortal rushed into what was obviously the child’s room. They found a blue magical flame licking up the wall and a large gash in the child’s bed where magic had sliced through it. A small plush lizard had its tail ripped off and the child was holding the body of the toy as tears ran down his cheeks.

Loki quickly understood what had happened and he sent out his magic to quell the flames and mend the bed. Stark had protectively pulled the child away from the flames, but the little boy was looking past his father’s legs, his eyes wide and his crying stopping as Loki fixed the magical accident.

He picked up the tail of the lizard and stepped over to Stark and the child. He ignored Stark to kneel before the boy. He held out his hand and gently requested, “Hand me your toy, child.”

The little boy hesitated before tentatively holding it out. Loki took it delicately and used his magic to sew it back together. The child’s eyes were wide and he wiggled out from his father’s hold to stand in front of Loki.

He looked awed. “You ‘ave magic too?”

“I do,” Loki answered, holding out the toy. “It can be difficult to control when you are upset. Were you upset?”

The child ducked his head, looking embarrassed. He gave a shy nod.

“Would you like to know a trick that can help?”

The little boy’s eyes widened hopefully and he stepped closer to Loki, an avid audience. Loki smiled faintly. “When your magic bubbles inside you, take a deep breath.” Loki demonstrated and the little boy copied. “Let it out.” The boy copied him. “Now, how high can you count?”

He bit his lip and looked down at his fingers. “Fif...fifteen? But I... I get it wrong sometimes.”

“That is fine,” Loki assured him. “Count as high as you can go. Then take another breath and let it out.” He demonstrated again and the little boy copied. “Your magic should be back to normal.”

“What if it isn’t?” He asked, looking nervous.

“It should be,” Loki told him firmly. “But if it isn’t, that’s normal too. Magic is very difficult at your age.”

The boy’s eyes were wide and hopeful. “Was it hard for you?”

“It was,” Loki answered. “It’s hard for everyone.”

The boy smiled and Loki grinned back and handed him the lizard. He promptly hugged it to his chest. “Thank you, Mister.”

“Loki,” he offered to the child. He then reached out to ruffle the child’s hair, not thinking about his actions. The little boy giggled, his upset forgotten.

“My name’s Edwin! Are you a friend of Da’s?”

The words made Loki remember exactly where he was and who the child’s father was. He slowly raised his head to look at Stark. The mortal was watching him with an unreadable expression.

The child wasn’t oblivious to the sudden tension. He looked between them with confusion. “Dad?”

“Go and play in the living room, okay, Edwin?”

“I... I’m s-sorry Da’, I didn’ mean to-”

That made Stark look away from Loki. His face instantly shifted, showing nothing but love and concern.

“Hey,” he said gently. "What did I say the first time this kind of thing happened?”

Edwin bit his lip and looked at his lizard. He eventually mumbled, “That it wasn’t my fault and it was okay.”

“Exactly. You’re not in any trouble, alright? I just need to talk to Loki for a bit.”

Edwin looked up at his father again before darting forward and hugging him. Stark grinned and bent down to wrap his arm around the little boy. Edwin pulled back after a few seconds before glancing at Loki; he smiled shyly before giving a little wave that Loki returned. He left the room shortly after.

Slowly and warily, Loki raised himself to stand. Stark continued to stare at him. The look made Loki feel uncomfortable and he barely refrained from crossing his arms defensively.

“What?” he eventually snapped.

“You just really helped me and him. You helped us.” It took a few seconds but then Stark smiled at him. “Thanks, Loki.”

It was genuine and heartfelt and Loki’s discomfort only grew. He felt... exposed and defenceless and he suddenly wanted to flee.

He made himself stay, at least long enough to gruffly say, “Make sure the child continues his breathing exercise. It will help even when the magic has already been released. He still controls it even if he does not know how.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks.”

He continued to grin at Loki. He continued to show gratitude. Loki didn’t know what to do with it, and in the end, he teleported.

It was a pitiful retreat, but Loki didn’t know what else to do. He assured himself it was just a temporary aberration, a momentary ceasefire in his attempts to manipulate information out of Stark.

Things would return to normal by the time he next appeared at Stark’s residence.


He remained away for two weeks. He went off world and released some of his confused frustration by wreaking destruction and starting fights and mischief. He felt better by the time he returned, more in control.

Stark might have seen him be kind to a child, but the mortal was not foolish enough to forget the power and danger Loki possessed.

He might not be Stark’s enemy, but Stark would learn better than to smile at him like that.

Loki was prepared and he arrived at the Stark residence wearing clothing more suited to Asgard than Midgard. It wasn’t armour but was instead a soft tunic and leather pants along with his customary boots. It would remind Stark of the armour he still possessed and could call at a moment’s notice.

He barely had to wait a minute before Stark opened the door. Annoyingly, the mortal was still grinning.

“Stark,” he began, preparing to start another of their usual conversations, but the mortal interrupted.

“We’ll get to the usual argument in a second, Loki.” His eyes were twinkling. “Someone wants to say hi to you first.”

Loki instantly tensed and his hand darted towards a dagger; was it Thor? The Midgardian sorcerer? The mindless beast?

But Stark looked over his shoulder and called, “Hey, Edwin!”

There was the sound of running feet and Stark opened the door wider so that his son could be seen. He was in a shirt, pants and socks. The moment he saw Loki he brightened and the child broke out in a beaming grin. He rushed forward and barely skidded to a stop before colliding with Loki’s leg.

“Loki!” He was almost vibrating on the spot and before Loki could do more than blink, the child was talking. “I did what you said! And it worked! And, and, Dad even let me try it and use my magic. And, and, even when it went wrong, it was okay! And, and, Dad says you’re a mage. Can I be a mage too? How long have you been one? Is it hard? Yours is green. Why is mine blue?”

The child only paused to suck in a gasping breath and Loki could only raise his head to look at Stark with incredulity. Why was he letting his child near him?

Stark just looked amused.

“Oh, you think that babble is bad? All I've heard since you've been gone is 'when will Loki be back?' 'can I ask Loki to show me how to do this?' 'how long has Loki had magic?' 'where did Loki go?’ You have officially beaten Sesame Street as his most talked about subject.”

Loki’s confusion only grew. Loki might have an easy rapport with children, but he was hardly the person a sane parent would allow anywhere near their child. Let alone, Stark; a former enemy who knew what he was capable of. Why would he even...

A tug on his pants tore Loki from his thoughts and he looked down at the child. Edwin’s brown eyes were wide and hopeful. He was chewing his lip but he released it to ask shyly, “Can I see your magic?” He got even shyer, a faint pink on his cheeks and his eyes dropped to stare at the ground. “Can I... s-show you mine?”

Loki immediately softened and a soft smile played at his lips. The child was so innocent and new to magic, and if Stark had no issue with Loki being around his son...

“If your father allows it, then I would be honoured, Edwin.”

Edwin broke out in a wide smile and instantly turned around to look at his father. Loki raised his own eyes to Stark. The mortal looked conflicted as he glanced between them, but after a heavy debate, he gave a very small nod.

“Nothing dangerous,” he insisted; Stark’s eyes finding Loki’s.

He knew there were many other stipulations lingering beneath Stark’s request and Loki gave a nod. His promise to Stark had not changed; he would not harm Stark or the man’s son.

When Edwin reached up and took Loki’s hand, he startled, but allowed himself to be led into the house by the excited child who was talking at great length and asking question after question.

Loki had not had a magic student in some time, and never one so young and inexperienced, but Loki found himself smiling at the child and taking a seat in front of him on the cleared carpet in Stark’s living space.

It had been many centuries since Loki had been so readily accepted into someone’s home. It had been even longer since someone had admired his seidr and requested him to help them. It may only be for an afternoon, but Loki decided to put his antagonism to the side, and enjoy training a new pupil.


Tony’s life had taken a lot of unexpected turns, but watching his son get magic lessons by former enemy and bag of cats Loki was a bit out there even for him.

Yet... Loki wasn’t a bag of cats, not anymore. He was also surprisingly patient and kind.

Tony had watched them like a hawk for the first hour, trying not to show how terrified he was that something would go wrong. But Loki reminded Tony of a professional teacher; he was sharp, careful and very good at explaining things and keeping Edwin safe.

Tony ended up watching from pure curiosity rather than worry. Loki’s magic was emerald green whereas Edwin’s was sky blue. Loki explained that every mage had their own personal seidr and it formed in different ways and colours.

He let Edwin touch and sense his magic and showed Edwin how to find his own without releasing it in a burst of damaging spellwork.

They spent about three hours together (Tony was privately stunned Edwin could sit still for that long) before Loki claimed their session over and insisted Edwin have something to eat and drink.

“You will too, won’t you, Loki?” Edwin had asked, turning those big brown eyes on Loki.

It turned out he had as much resistance as Tony did. “Of course.”

It was what found Tony making sandwiches for himself, Edwin and Loki. (Out of everything in his fridge, roast beef, lettuce, tomato and mayo were apparently what Loki liked. Who’d have known?) They all sat at the kitchen counter, eating and drinking. Edwin spent the whole time telling Tony about everything he’d just experienced while Tony hummed, gasped and nodded in all the right places.

It only took about ten minutes before Edwin was starting to fall asleep on the counter, halfway through his third sandwich and second glass of apple juice.

“Okay, kiddo,” Tony said, coming around and scooping his son into his arms. “Time to have a nap.”

“Don’ wanna,” he mumbled, his eyes already drooping as he curled into Tony’s chest. “M’magicin’.”

“I think you’re done for the day,” Tony said, fighting down a smile. He glanced over at Loki who was watching them with amusement. “I think your magic teacher says so too. You agree with me, Snape?”

Loki sent him an irritated look for the nickname (did he get the reference? Tony would have to ask) but his voice was firm, “Mages need their rest, Edwin.”

Edwin’s eyes opened a little and he shifted to look blearily at Loki. He yawned loudly. “’Kay.” His fingers curled in a faint wave. “Bye ‘oki.”

He was out like a light only a few moments later. Tony shook his head and chuckled. “Well, you certainly knocked him out.”

“He performed well for a beginner,” Loki stated, eyeing him thoughtfully. “He has a lot of seidr for one so young.”

“Hah!” Tony crowed, taking care to keep his voice low so as not to wake Edwin. He still remained proud. “Out-performing on his first day? That’s my boy!”

“It means he will need significant tutoring, Stark,” Loki continued flatly, unaffected by Tony’s enthusiasm.

He turned away from them; looking down at the plate which had his half-eaten fourth sandwich on it (Tony was not secretly proud of his sandwich making skills or anything).

Loki frowned pensively. “He should have gained a teacher six months ago.”

Tony tried very hard not to flinch. He couldn’t blame himself, he had no idea about magic, but it still felt like a failing. He’d promised himself he would give Edwin everything he could ever need, and he’d failed to deliver.

“Okay, tutoring, we can do that. You said he picked things up well, so it shouldn’t take too long for him to catch up, right?”

Loki started picking at some crust. “He is bright. He should do well.”

“Okay, phew. That’s good.” He looked down at his sleeping son before back at Loki. “Hang tight. I’m going to put him down for a nap, then I’ll be back.”

Loki jerked up his head, his expression conflicted, but Tony was already turning away and heading to Edwin’s room. Edwin was completely dead to the world and Tony tucked him in with ease. He shut the blinds, turned off the light, and made sure Edwin's little lizard ‘Lisa’ was tucked under his arm.

When he was settled, Tony shut the door partway before heading back out to the kitchen. His mind was abuzz with thoughts on how to set up an education schedule. He didn’t want to home school Edwin forever, and if magic-tutoring could help him go out and meet kids his own age without fear of a magical accident, then Tony was all for it.

Returning to the kitchen, he found Loki hadn’t moved. He was glaring at his sandwich though. Tony started clearing up Edwin’s dishes while asking, “Why the frown Reindeer Games?”

“You will need to speak with Thor. He will be able to find you a suitable Asgardian tutor.”

Tony couldn’t stop the way he grimaced. Loki instantly caught it and eyed him suspiciously. “What?”

“I don’t know them.”

And, okay, maybe it sounded a little ridiculous since he was sure Thor would only choose someone trustworthy, but the thought of some magical stranger walking through his door and tutoring his kid made him uncomfortable.

“Stark,” Loki looked at him with incredulity. “You allowed me to teach your child.”

And that... was a lot more damning then Tony had realised. But, Loki had never hurt them, he’d helped them. Tony hadn’t noticed when it happened, but Tony had started trusting Loki with Edwin.

And that was all that mattered.

“You won’t hurt him,” Tony said. “I know you won’t hurt him, and Edwin already likes you.”

Loki blinked. His face still looked impassive but his eyes showed shock. They looked vulnerable. “You want me to teach your son?”

Tony hadn’t realised he was asking, but now that he knew, he wasn’t taking it back. Loki was said to be one of the greatest mages in the universe. He might be occasionally volatile and violent, but not to children. Not to them.

“Yeah,” Tony answered, his voice soft. “I’d like you to teach my son.”

He knew Loki could say no. He could scoff and say ‘why would I waste my time with two useless mortals?’ but he didn’t. His eyes fell away from Tony and he ripped the crust of the sandwich into further pieces.

“I was once your enemy, Stark. I remain an enemy of your world. You cannot want me assisting your son.”

But, that was the thing, wasn’t it? Loki had been attacking Earth less (Tony might be retired, but he wasn’t oblivious to the lack of news reports) and he’d never been hostile since the moment he showed up.

Was it a coincidence? Was it all just a scam? Tony didn’t think so. Tony had seen Loki with Edwin. He didn’t fake his responses; he genuinely liked Edwin and wanted to help him. Whether he was willing to admit it or not, Loki wanted to teach a mortal child magic.

“You promised you would never hurt us. That I wasn’t your enemy since I retired.” Loki looked up at him. “You told me to trust your words. So this is me trusting them. Will you teach my son, Loki?”

Loki hesitated and his eyes drifted back to his plate. He didn’t say anything for a long moment and Tony had to stop himself from fidgeting.

“If I teach your son,” he started slowly, “I will need to see him many days a week and for hours at a time.” He raised his head. “I will visit you frequently, Stark.”

There was a warning to his words, and acknowledgement that the more he was around them, the more he would uncover what Tony had tried to hide.

But Loki had already breached the outer walls. He was already further inside than the Avengers had ever been.

Tony had to go with his gut instinct and that told him this wouldn’t be a dangerous and stupid decision. His gut said this was right and would be good for Edwin, maybe even for Loki too.

So Tony flashed a bright smile and used a quip to lighten the mood. “I hope you don’t mind being paid in sandwiches and non-alcoholic beverages. Speaking of which, you going to eat that or-”

He was stopped from reaching for the plate when Loki pulled it closer to himself and glared. Tony’s grin widened.

And although Loki didn’t say anything else, he did finish both his sandwich and his water as Tony cleaned up the kitchen. He was a little disappointed that he turned around from the cupboard to find Loki had disappeared.

There was a note beside his plate however and the elegant cursive was written with green ink.

Tony burst out laughing when he skimmed it and realised it was a shopping list. Apparently Loki had taken Tony’s offer for payment seriously.

Shaking his head, Tony stuck it on the fridge with a magnet. Apparently he would need to start ordering a lot of turkey and green tea.

Chapter Text

The last thing Tony would have expected was for Loki to become a familiar face around the house, yet, that was exactly what happened.

Loki showed up three days after agreeing to teach Edwin. He was in casual Asgardian attire and he conjured a pile of books almost as tall as Edwin.

It turned out; magic study with Loki wasn’t something to be taken lightly. It also turned out that Tony was required to study just as much as Edwin if he was going to help his son learn about ‘seidr’. He was supposed to make sure Edwin meditated every day. Loki also suggested he read all the source material so that if Loki wasn’t present, he could at least help Edwin.

It meant they had a lot of conversations over sandwiches and juice while Edwin was sleeping off his magic lesson.

Tony didn’t mind though, he liked being appraised of everything Edwin was learning. It was also fascinating and Tony had as many questions as Edwin most days.

Loki seemed torn between amusement for both of them and a fair amount of exasperation for Tony. Surprisingly though, he didn’t try to use the time to gain answers to his own questions. Tony got the feeling that as long as the subject was about Edwin’s development as a mage; Loki was willing to put everything (antagonism, curiosity, reticence - everything) to the side.

It was patently obvious that Loki was willing to do a lot for Edwin.

Edwin, of course, adored Loki. He thought the world of him and spent every moment Loki was away asking when he would be coming back and why he had to be gone so long.

It could have been worrying or evening irritating that his son was bonding so much with Loki of all people, but it wasn’t, because of the way he saw them interacting.

Tony had been more nervous than he wanted to admit as Loki started showing up on a regular basis and spending hours inside the house. Loki and Edwin were bonding on a level Tony simply couldn’t reach. He felt worried. It was less about his relationship with Edwin being threatened and more about what Loki might be teaching him on a subconscious level.

But, two weeks into their magic lessons, Tony had seen something to allay even his strongest fears.

Loki had shown up as per normal and Tony had let the mage inside. They’d still been in the hallway when Edwin had rushed into the room, smiling brightly. “Loki!”

He’d run towards the mage and thrown himself at Loki in a hug. Loki had stiffened momentarily before relaxing and gently resting his hand on the boy’s shoulder. “Good day, Edwin. Are you ready for your lesson?”

Edwin let go of Loki, still smiling. “I got something for you!”

He let go of Loki and ran towards the living room. Loki had sent Tony an odd look, but Tony just shrugged, acting nonchalant, but internally curious about how Loki would react. When Loki's intense gaze didn't lessen,Tony relented and explained, “He wanted to do it.”

Loki’s eyebrows furrowed at his answer but Edwin was already approaching. He held a piece of paper shyly before he hurriedly turned it over and thrust it towards Loki. It was a messy drawing done in crayons but it was a clearly recognisable stick-figure Loki and a stick-figure Edwin practicing magic while stick-figure Tony made sandwiches. Lisa the lizard and a pile of books were also in the picture. Written down the bottom in childish scrawl was ‘To Loki, from Edwin’.

Tony was sure big, bad, dangerous space mages weren’t supposed to melt. Yet, that was exactly what happened. Loki’s face went through a series of unguarded, raw emotions that made Tony want to look away. Loki reached out for the drawing carefully and took it with reverent hands. “Thank you, Edwin.”

Edwin’s nerves melted away and he grinned so widely his eyes crinkled. Loki just lightly ruffled his hair. Edwin was quick to start talking about his magic lesson and what he’d been practicing in Loki’s absence.

Tony’s eyes were locked on Loki. He watched as the mage stared down at the drawing for a few moments more before carefully folding it and slipping it inside his shirt. Tony knew the expression on Loki’s face; it was the one he wore the first time Edwin had made something for him. If Loki had a fridge, Tony would bet money that drawing would be going on it the moment Loki was home.

That had been the first time that Tony really saw Loki; not as a powerful sorcerer or even as a patient teacher. He saw another guy who was a sucker for Edwin’s big heart and doe eyes. He saw someone who was a little bit lonely and who was suddenly being bombarded by the affections of an innocent, happy child.

Tony might have smiled at little more at Loki when he made the mage’s sandwiches that day.


The second time Tony got a glimpse at who the mage was underneath was a week before Edwin’s fifth birthday.

Loki had been tutoring for about eight months and Tony was relaxing about Edwin and Loki’s budding mentor-student bond. Loki had left earlier that day and wasn’t due back for another two. Tony and Edwin were having dinner when he asked what Edwin wanted to do for his birthday.

Edwin was kicking his feet and nudging his vegetables around his plate.

“Can I have a lizard cake?” he questioned quietly.

“Absolutely,” Tony agreed, internally wincing at figuring out how to bake a cake shaped like the little stuffed toy Edwin was so fond of.

“Can I... can I invite Loki?”

Tony probably shouldn’t have been surprised by that. He’d hesitated on an answer, but when Edwin had lifted his head, looking hopeful, Tony found himself promising, “We’ll see if he can come.”

Edwin smiled and went back to his food with more enthusiasm. Tony was already preparing a way to gently let Edwin down when Loki inevitably said no.

He honestly expected it to go badly or for Loki’s distaste at the idea to show on his face. It was why he pulled Loki aside before Edwin’s magic lesson. He’d been hovering by the door and didn’t want Edwin to know Loki had arrived yet. Loki was eyeing him oddly as Tony was barricading the door and not letting him inside.

“Stark, what are you-”

“It’s Edwin’s birthday in a week. He wants you to attend the party. Or well,” Tony grimaced, “the get together, which is us, eating my attempt at a lizard shaped cake and probably hitting a piñata in the yard.” Tony ran a hand through his hair. “I completely get it if you don’t want to come and everything but he asked and-”

“I will attend.”

Tony blinked. “You will?”

“Yes.” Loki answered, and Tony only had a moment to be pleasantly surprised before Loki was frowning. “But, you cannot keep him secluded in this house forever, Stark. It’s not good for his-”

“-development, I know.” Tony hissed, rubbing his neck. “I’m hoping to get him out with other kids soon, but it’s hard. I can’t afford to have someone see him do something magical and then tell the wrong person. I want to get him in school, get him to make friends, but I don’t want anything to happen to him.”

Loki nodded, a pensive frown marring his brow. “He is still a good year from gaining genuine control over his seidr.” His lips twisted thoughtfully. “I shall see what I can do.”

Tony was surprised by the promise, but didn’t get long to ponder it as Edwin poked his head into the hall and saw them.

“Loki!” He cried happily and Tony was forced to open the door wider.

Edwin took a step towards them, his nervous hope impossible to curb as he glanced between them. “Is he... is he coming, Dad?”

“I am,” Loki answered for Tony. “I would be honoured to attend your celebration.”

Edwin bounced on the spot before throwing out his arms and hugging both Loki and Tony. It pressed them closer together than they had ever been, but Tony barely noticed half of his chest pressed to Loki’s he was too busy hearing Edwin excitedly talking about how it would be the ‘best birthday ever’. Tony tried not to wince with guilt that his son only had two adults to share it with him. He didn’t know any better, but that made it worse. Tony resolved himself to find some way to get Edwin interacting with other children.

He just hadn’t expected Loki would solve the problem for him.

Loki arrived on Edwin’s birthday in a casual purple shirt and dark jeans. He had a small wrapped package that was placed with the ten others Tony had bought for his son. Loki even wore a birthday hat and sung Happy Birthday with Tony. Tony might have taken a lot of pictures and videos of Loki and Edwin.

The glare Loki sent him let Tony know his activities were not appreciated. Tony just gleefully showed Edwin the photos thereby, making them impossible for Loki to delete without disappointing him. Edwin was better than any secret weapon for making Loki stand down.

Honestly, Tony was privately stunned and genuinely happy to find that Loki would play along with everything Edwin asked. Edwin was having the time of his life and Tony felt happy - felt grateful for Loki. The feeling only doubled when Edwin opened Loki’s gift.

It was a little silver pendant in the shape of a lizard. It hung on a leather cord and had bright blue eyes.

“This is a very special necklace for you to wear whenever you leave this house,” Loki told him. “It has magic in it to keep you safe. It will let me know if you are ever in danger.” His eyes flicked up to Tony. “It will also help to balance your magic when we are not doing lessons.”

Tony stared at Loki, completely stunned at what he had done, at how much he had helped. He’d wanted to say something, but Edwin was too busy shrieking with joy and hugging Loki. He was then showing Tony the necklace and putting it around his neck.

Loki had, in one gesture, given Tony a means of letting Edwin socialise.

Tony didn’t get a chance to say anything to Loki about it, not until an hour later when Edwin was finally crashing after a day of excitement and sugar. He’d put his son to bed and Loki was preparing to leave when he’d reached out and gently touched Loki’s arm, making him stop.

“Thank you, Loki.” He couldn’t put into words exactly how much he appreciated what Loki had done. “Just... just thank you, really.”

Loki smiled faintly and pulled his arm out of Tony’s hold. “It was to assist Edwin, Stark, nothing more.” His hand shimmered and a new necklace appeared. “This will hide your appearance so parents will not recognise you.”

Reaching out, Tony took it, fingering the simple circular pendant. “Thank you”

“You’re welcome, Stark.”

“Tony,” he corrected, looking up at him. Loki frowned and he insisted, “Call me Tony.”

It almost looked like Loki might refuse, but in the end, the mage gave a small nod. He disappeared a moment later and left Tony looking at nothing but air.

Yet, it was that moment combined with a dozen others over the last few months that found Tony looking and thinking of Loki as something other than a former enemy. It found Tony seeing him as a friend.


Loki had never intended to become so attached to the Stark family.

He was only meant to find answers to his questions, solve the puzzle and leave. Loki didn’t intend to get so entangled.

Loki didn’t expect to gain a student. Edwin was so very bright and took to seidr with vigour and delight. He would be a fine mage someday.

While Stark – Tony was a man of no magical ability, yet he understood concepts it took some mages decades to comprehend. Truly, if Tony possessed magic, he would be a sight to behold.

Yet, it wasn’t just their understanding of magic, it wasn’t just the trust Tony displayed by letting Loki into his house. It was the softer, unconscious things. Tony knew how to make his favourite sandwich, and always made sure to have tea ready. Edwin hugged him every time Loki visited and spoke to him about what Loki had missed while he was gone.

Edwin made things for him; childish drawings and affectionate caricatures. Loki kept every one of them.

He wasn’t supposed to grow fond of them. He wasn’t supposed to care.

Loki wasn’t supposed to feel safe there. So safe that when he was in trouble, injured and barely able to leave Alfheim with his head attached, he teleported to Midgard, expecting to find his apartment, but instead he found himself outside the Stark home.

He gripped the nearby pillar when his head spun from the effort of moving between realms. He was breathing heavily and barely noticed the door being yanked open.

“Shit, Loki. What the fuck?”

Loki’s eyes opened, finding Tony in front of him, his eyes wide and his hands outstretched, not sure whether he should touch.

“I did not…” he pressed a hand to his injured side. “Mean to come here. I will… will leave. I just need a moment.”

Tony’s eyes hardened. “Forget that. You’re injured.” He came around and carefully slid his arm around Loki’s back. “Put your arm around me. We’re getting you inside. Is anyone going to follow you?”

“No,” Loki said harshly. “They will not come here. I would never lead them here.”

Tony nodded. “Good. Come on.”

Loki should have resisted, and perhaps if he was not so weak or tired, he would have pulled away, but Tony was warm and offering him safety and shelter. He leant against the other man and let Tony lead him inside.

Edwin was in the hall, his eyes wide and his face pale.

“Edwin,” Tony said, his voice brooking no arguments. “Shut the door behind us then go into the living room.”

He didn’t move, his hands twisting and his voice full of worry, “Is… is Loki going to be okay?”

Loki smiled tightly. “I will be fine. Do as your father says, Edwin.”

Edwin bit his lip but gave a nod as he scurried behind them and shut the front door. He then made his way into the living room while they continued down the corridor. The moment Edwin was out of sight, Loki let the smile drop from his face. He slackened a little more against Tony.

Tony didn’t say a word, not until he got Loki into the bathroom and sat him on the seat of the toilet. He started pulling out medical supplies.

“What did you do this time and who did you piss off?”

Loki gave a pained smile. “Just a bit of fun.” Tony glared at him, clearly not in the mood for their usual banter. “I’ll survive,” Loki assured him, “and no one will find you. I’m sorry my teleport sent me here.”

“And why did it do that, huh?” Tony asked, even as he came closer with a damp cloth. “Shirt off.”

Loki didn’t argue. He used a small tug of seidr if only to avoid straining the wound. Tony hissed when he saw it, but applied the cloth quickly. Loki winced at the throb of agony.

“Did someone try to cleave you in half with an axe?”

“Yes,” Loki answered simply, closing his eyes against the pain.

“Was it at least worth it?”

Loki finally smirked. “Yes.”

He’d gained the magical text he was searching for and, in a few years, it would be very useful for Edwin to study. Not that he would be divulging that fact to either his student or Tony. They would only be horrified at the theft.

Tony didn’t ask another question for a few minutes, focusing on cleaning and bandaging the wound on his side as well as the minor scrapes and gashes on the rest of his body.

“How drained is your magic right now?” Tony asked quietly. His eyes raising and catching Loki’s. They were far too sharp. “You came here by accident, that means your control wasn’t at its best. You’re also not healing yourself with magic.”

Loki grimaced. “I never should have advised you to learn magic along with your son.”

“Yeah, that’s really backfiring on you now, isn’t it?” Tony asked, but despite the tease in his words, there was genuine concern in his eyes.

Loki couldn’t remember the last time someone had shown such worry about him. It made him soften and admit, “I am tired and my reserves are drained. It was a long fight and travel between realms is difficult enough without an injury.”

Tony nodded. He then stated, “You’re staying for dinner.”

It was the same tone he’d levelled on his son. He also followed it with a look that dared Loki to disagree. Had it been any other, Loki would have refused on principle, but when he looked down into soft brown eyes that were so like his son’s… Loki could not refuse.

He nodded in soft agreement.

“Good,” Tony said. “I’ll get you some clothes to change into.”

Tony turned and left the room. Loki sat awkwardly. It was true that Tony had not been his enemy in sometime, but to call them friends would be laughable… and yet, Loki’s magic had brought him here, knowing it would be comforting and safe. Tony had immediately come to his aid and wasn’t simply offering his house for temporary refuge; he was demanding Loki stay to eat and recover.

Perhaps, it was merely a wish to protect Edwin and keep his son from being sad at the loss of his magic teacher.

And yet, Loki had to wonder if Tony actually… cared.

The thought filled him with more warmth than he expected. He adored Edwin, of course, and he was entertained and impressed by Tony. He had been intrigued by Tony from the start, and long before the man fathered a son, but had that truly turned into… friendship?

Loki wasn’t sure, and before he could puzzle it out, Tony was returning with a grey shirt and black pants.

“I know these aren’t your size,” Tony began, apology on his face. “You got enough magic to alter them?”

Loki nodded and reached for them. It took a moment to re-size them. Tony helped him pull the shirt on and after Loki assured him that he would be fine, left him alone to manage his boots and pants. Loki knew he shouldn’t use magic for such simple tasks, but knowing he would be welcomed here for a few hours, it let him expend it.

He magiced away his clothes, letting them land in a pile on the floor. He pulled on the pants manually, feeling exhausted from that simple task. His feet were bare and it was cold on the tiles, but he pushed from his place leaning against the basin to open the door.

Tony was waiting in the hall and was quick to come to his side and wrap an arm around him to guide him into the living room. Edwin was standing just inside the room fidgeting on the spot and leaning to look down the hall. His eyes were wide and worried as he watched them come into the living room. He didn’t come close, not until Tony helped Loki to sit down on the couch. Edwin was at Loki’s side in minutes.

“Loki?”

“I’m fine,” Loki insisted.

“He’s not fine,” Tony instantly rebutted. “He’s hurt, but he will be fine. It’s our job to look after him.”

Loki’s gaze darted to Tony. “You do not have to do that.”

“I have a feeling you won’t do it on your own,” Tony responded simply. He then put a hand on Edwin’s shoulder, making the boy look away from Loki. “Loki’s staying the night so he can rest. I have to make dinner. I want you to keep an eye on him and let me know if he needs anything.”

“Okay, Dad,” Edwin said. He then turned back to Loki with his shoulders firm and the weight of responsibility on them.

It was a rather ingenious move, using Edwin to make Loki stay on the couch and relax. He was almost impressed by the manipulation, if only it hadn’t been used on him.

Of course, Tony had said something else as well and Loki’s gaze found Tony’s. “I thought I was only staying for dinner.”

“You thought wrong,” Tony answered.

“Please stay, Loki,” Edwin chimed in, his expression full of lingering concern and fresh hope.

Loki hadn’t intended to protest, rather, a part of him had relaxed, knowing he would have many hours and a night’s rest to recover – but even had he planned to refuse, his argument would have washed away at Edwin’s request.

Smiling, he reached out and gently ruffled the boy’s hair. “I shall stay.”

Edwin brightened and he went to move, probably to hug Loki before remembering he was hurt and hesitating with his arms outstretched. Loki reached out for him, carefully guiding Edwin into a hug that would avoid his wounds and not stretch anything. The boy melted into him.

“I’m glad you’re okay, Loki,” he whispered, a small sniffle following.

Loki’s heart melted and he soothingly rubbed Edwin’s back. “Merely a graze. Your father is simply overdramatic.”

“Am not,” Tony shouted from the kitchen. It made Edwin giggle.

He pulled back and smiled at Loki. “Do you want something, Loki?”

“Would you ask your father to brew me a tea?”

Edwin nodded and hurriedly ran towards the kitchen, a trail of ‘Dad’s’ being called on every step. Loki chuckled and closed his eyes. He could hear the sound of Tony and Edwin talking about what tea to make him and for Edwin to get ‘Loki’s mug’. It was a murky green and tartan monstrosity that he was certain Tony had bought simply to vex him. Yet, the fact that it was his mug never failed to make Loki smile.

This feels like home.

The words whispered through his mind, and Loki tensed. It made him hiss with pain as it aggravated his wounds, but the hurt was secondary to the thought, the realisation.

Because his magic hadn’t simply come somewhere safe, it had taken him home; and that meant the Stark’s home.

It made his stomach sink like a stone.

Tony Stark had welcomed him in with open arms. He’d given Loki a place to belong and to feel like he was appreciated and cared for. Asgard had not been his home for years, and his apartment on Midgard was a place to live, but hardly a home.

But here, this, them, had wormed their way into his heart until even his seidr knew where Loki wanted to be.

And how could he possibly expect the Stark’s to feel the same way about him?

Chapter Text

Tony hadn’t known how they’d go with Loki having dinner with them and spending the night. It was more of a gut instinct than any rational thought.

Loki looked exhausted, and whether Loki felt the same or not, somehow, the mage had become Tony’s friend, and he wasn’t about to let Loki teleport when it might prove dangerous.

It meant Tony had to come up with something for dinner. He’d planned for hamburgers, but that would be difficult for Loki to manage with an axe wound to the side. So, spaghetti it was.

Edwin, much to Tony’s amusement and exasperation, was taking his job as “carer” to an extreme. Loki only had to breathe a bit too heavily and Edwin was shouting for Tony. Loki tried to insist that he was fine, but since he looked like shit, Edwin was reasonably concerned.

It left him juggling dinner with constant glances into the living room to assure himself (and Edwin) that Loki hadn’t lapsed into a coma.

Loki did do his best to distract Edwin by asking him about how he’d been and what he was up to. Thankfully, the necklaces Loki had given them meant Edwin was finally socialising with children his own age.

Edwin spent about twenty minutes regaling Loki with all the excitement of the past few days. They hadn’t worked their way up to having “play dates” but at least Tony was beginning to think he’d be able to send Edwin to school in the next year.

When dinner was served, Tony brought the plates into the living room on metal trays. Edwin was wide-eyed. They never normally had dinner anywhere but the dining room.

“Dad?” Edwin asked as his tray was handed to him.

He was sitting beside Loki on the couch, and seemed to have been recounting a story using Lisa the lizard and one of his toy soldiers as characters. Loki had been watching with avid attention, and the sight of Loki listening patiently and responding enthusiastically to a five-year old would never not be charming.

“Special occasion. We get to eat here tonight.”

He handed Loki his tray, and saw the mage frown. “Oh? How is this different?”

Edwin pointed in the direction of the dining room. “Dad says we always have to eat at the table.”

Loki frowned and looked at Tony, calculation in his gaze. “You do not need to revoke this rule on my behalf.”

“I thought you liked breaking the rules?” Tony questioned, amusement in his gaze.

Loki’s lips twitched. “Not all rules.”

“I think you’ll be more comfortable here,” Tony said. He could see Loki’s scowl deepening so he hurriedly changed the subject. He looked at Edwin. “I’ll get you some water. We’re going to be careful not to get food on the couch, aren’t we?”

Edwin nodded. “Yes, Dad.”

“Loki? Anything you want to drink? Some water?”

Loki still didn’t look happy, probably imagined he was being coddled or something, but he didn’t argue. “Water will be fine.”

Tony disappeared back into the kitchen, filling a plastic cup for Edwin and a glass for Loki. He handed them to each of them before getting his own dinner and drink. He took a seat on the chair and let out a soft groan of contentment. He wasn’t so young anymore and standing up for hours killed his lower back.

Edwin had waited until Tony sat down, but he knew that was his cue and he eagerly scooped up a mouthful and started eating. Loki did the same, and, knowing how much food Loki could shovel down, he’d made extra.

Tony ate slowly, simply enjoying the quiet; in his experience, it never lasted long.

“How did you get hurt, Loki?”

And, there we go, he thought.

Tony was surprised it had taken that long for Edwin’s curiosity to get the better of him.

“I got into a disagreement,” Loki answered.

“With who?”

“An angry person.”

“They got angry at you?”

“Yes, they did.”

Edwin’s big brown eyes went wide. “But why?”

Loki’s mouth twitched as if he was repressing a smile. “I did something they didn’t like.”

Five bucks says you stole something, Tony thought but didn’t say. He wasn’t opening that door with Edwin sitting right there.

“What?”

“A naughty thing. It was very wrong of me. It will teach me not to do it again.”

Tony snorted, but quickly covered it with a cough. As if. Loki wouldn’t stop being a little shit. It was built into his makeup. The only thing it would teach Loki was not to get caught. Edwin was none the wise, but Loki sent Tony a knowing smirk.

“Dad says there’s always something to learn,” Edwin declared with a proud smile that quickly faded. “I don’t like that you were hurt.”

“I didn’t like it either,” Loki insisted. “I will take great care not to be hurt again.”

Edwin beamed. “Good!”

He turned back to his food, conversation over, worry absolved. Sometimes, Tony wished he could see life so simply.

Tony watched Loki, and the mage raised his head, catching Tony’s gaze. They had a silent conversation comprised of raised eyebrows, wry smirks and an eye roll. When Edwin got a bit older, Tony would teach him how to read between the lines and ferret out half-truths.

But, he wanted Edwin to have a few more years of innocence. Tony hadn’t even explained Iron Man yet. He was dreading the day that ‘Loki the villain’ came into the picture. He was hoping it wouldn’t be for another few years.

They lapsed into silence as they ate.

Edwin finished his meal first and waited impatiently for Tony to eat the last of his and stand up to take his tray. The moment he was done, Edwin was off the couch and looking at Tony hopefully, “Can we have popsicles?”

“Sure thing, kiddo.”

Edwin bounced with glee and rushed into the kitchen. He wasn’t yet able to reach the freezer, but he’d be waiting for Tony to do it for him. Stepping over to Loki, Tony found the mage’s bowl empty.

“You want some more, or anything else?” Tony questioned. “I made a bunch.”

“I would appreciate more,” Loki admitted.

Staking the trays and bowls together, he made sure to keep Loki’s separate as he said, “Coming up.”

He made his way to the kitchen where, as predicted, Edwin was bouncing beside the fridge. Tony placed his and Edwin’s by the sink while putting Loki’s beside the pot and adding more to the mage’s bowl.

“Dad?” Edwin’s confused voice asked.

Tony glanced at him to find Edwin frowning.

“Loki’s healing,” he explained. “It means he needs to eat more. Just like when you need to eat more after magic lessons.”

Edwin nodded slowly, only for something conflicted to enter his eyes. He glanced between the food and the freezer with disappointment and Tony suddenly realised. “Did you want Loki to have a popsicle with you?”

“Yeah,” Edwin admitted, looking sad.

“Well, there’s still plenty of time,” Tony insisted. “Not every day we have a guest. We can push your bedtime back an hour. What do you say you pick a movie to watch? Loki can have a bit more to eat and then we can all have a popsicle.”

Edwin was beaming by the end. “You mean it, Dad?”

“Absolutely,” Tony agreed.

Edwin let out an excited shriek before rushing over and throwing his arms around Tony’s waist in a hug. He chuckled and rubbed his son’s back. He didn’t have long to enjoy the hug before Edwin was pulling away and rushing towards the living room, chanting ‘Loki’ as he went. Tony just shook his head and went back to serving up Loki’s next bowl of spaghetti.

It’s nice, having someone else here, Tony thought. I could get used to this.

But, Tony forcefully shook the thought away; after all, just because Tony had retired from hero-work and a life of excitement, it sure as hell didn’t mean Loki would want to do the same. Especially not with them.


Tony had selective movie tastes, and if he was going to pass down anything to Edwin, it was a good choices in films.

He let Edwin watch all the current trending kid shows and movies, but he couldn’t resist showing him some of the classics. Many of them were darker than Tony remembered, but Edwin didn’t seem to mind. In fact, he often loved them more than what was showing nowadays. Edwin loved movies from the eighties. The movie he chose for tonight was ‘Basil, The Great Mouse Detective’.

He settled down on the couch beside Loki before reaching for Tony’s hand and tugging him into place on the other side. They were a little squished together, but as long as Loki said his injuries weren’t causing him discomfort, Tony was happy to share.

And, watching Loki’s reactions were almost as great as Edwin’s.

Edwin gasped and pointed and yelped. He also giggled, cheered and clapped along with the music. Loki watched the movie with a head tilt and a frown. They paused halfway through for a bathroom break and to get popsicles. Edwin picked green along with Loki (no one was surprised) while Tony stuck with red.

They had to stop after that, to clean up the mess on Edwin’s hands and face, but it was worth it since Loki was able to get up from the couch with less strain to his movements. Sitting down for hours on end was helping him heal faster.

There was one moment at the end of the film where Basil was fighting Ratigan in the clock tower. Edwin had grabbed both Tony and Loki’s arms and was hiding behind them and peeking through the gaps in their fingers. Tony shot an amused glance over his son’s head. Loki however was looking at Edwin with concern.

“Hey,” Tony whispered, catching Loki’s attention but not Edwin’s. “The movie ends okay. Edwin will be fine.”

Loki didn’t look entirely convinced but he turned back to watch the cartoon rodents battle to save the baby mouse.

Eventually, Edwin did lower their hands from his face, but he still gripped them tightly. He held Tony’s hand in his right, and Loki’s in his left as they rested in his lap. Tony found his attention focused more on the image they made then the movie on the screen. Perhaps he should have been upset that Edwin reached for them both as someone to comfort and protect him, but he wasn’t. He could only smile softly. He knew that Loki would fight just as fiercely for Edwin’s safety as he would.

He liked being able to share this moment with someone. Tony imagined this was what people felt like when they had a partner with them.

It made his heart ache in a mixture of sadness and longing, but he shook it off. Edwin had chosen him, and he was damn well going to do the best he could for his son. It didn’t leave time for romance or looking for a partner. Edwin was his top priority.

Tony made himself turn back to the movie, watching the triumphant success and the happy ending. Edwin was smiling, but he was also drooping, the adrenaline and fear abating to remind him that it was way past his bedtime. Tony let the credits roll, waiting for the moment when Edwin’s head finally drooped and rested against his arm. Tony then carefully began to manoeuvre his arms around his dozing son. Loki assisted where he could and Tony soon hefted Edwin into his arms. Loki handed him Lisa the lizard which he tucked into his hand.

“Dad?” Edwin asked tiredly.

“Time for you to go to bed.”

“Don’t wanna,” Edwin complained.

“Oh, but you’re gonna,” Tony countered with a grin.

Edwin shifted, turning to look back at Loki. He was still leaning back against the couch, watching the display with a small smile.

“Loki’ll be here tomorrow?”

“I shall,” Loki answered. “But tonight, you must rest.”

Edwin pouted, but his eyes also dropped and he eventually turned back into Tony’s arms and nodded. Tony smiled and headed for Edwin’s room. He was half-asleep even as Tony changed him into his pyjamas and got him into bed and cuddling Lisa.

He turned to leave when Edwin called, “Dad?”

“Yeah, kiddo?”

“I like Loki here.”

Tony stroked a hand over Edwin’s head. “Yeah. He’s nice to have around.”

“Can he stay longer?”

“We’ll see. Loki’s got other things outside of you and me.”

“But-”

“Shh,” Tony insisted. “Time to sleep.” Leaning forward, he pressed a kiss to Edwin’s head. “Sleep well, Edwin.”

“Night ‘ad.”

Standing up from his crouch, Tony turned from the room and flicked off the light. He left the door open partially and made his way back towards the living room. Loki was exactly where Tony had left him, only he was scowling at the TV.

“What’s got you in a twist?” Tony asked, taking a seat on the couch and stretching out his body.

He tilted his head back and let out the relieved sigh of parents everywhere. Edwin was asleep, he had a few hours to tidy up and relax before bed.

“Edwin was afraid of that villain.”

“Yeah, but Basil beat him. Day saved; happiness restored.”

“Tony,” Loki said, his voice sounding strange. “I am a villain.”

Tony’s eyes snapped open and he turned to look at Loki. He recognised the discomfort, the unhappiness, the guilt even, and suddenly it all made sense. Loki hadn’t been worried about Edwin’s ability to recover from Ratigan showing his true colours, he was worried about Edwin learning who Loki was and fearing him.

Well, that’s a nice big can of worms we just opened.

Sighing, Tony shifted from his relaxed sprawl to something more inducive to the heavy conversation they were about to have.

“We all know the truth about the invasion.”

Loki’s eyes fell to his hands. “I continued to fight you long after that.”

“You haven’t had any recent plots on Earth.”

Loki’s smile was wry. “That hardly erases what I have done. It does not make me any less a monster than that rat.”

“You’re not a monster,” Tony insisted, his voice firm. Loki’s eyes flicked to his and Tony held them. “You’re not, Loki. God, I just have to take one look at you with Edwin and I know that in my bones.”

“But will he see me that way?” Loki asked, his voice small and vulnerable. “In another year, in five?” Loki looked at Tony as if he had all the answers. “Will Edwin still see me as someone to protect him from the evils of the world, or will he see me as one more monster to frighten him at night?”

And that was a complicated question.

Right now, Edwin saw Loki as his magic teacher. He didn’t realise that he was on SHIELD’s ‘most wanted’ list. He didn’t know that Loki was a criminal on this and most planets. Edwin didn’t know that Tony and Loki had fought countless battles on opposite sides.

Or that the first time he’d seen Loki, he and Tony were enemies who would have fought, if not for Edwin.

Tony sighed. “Look, I can’t guarantee what will happen, but I don’t think he’ll fear you. I think…”

“What?” Loki asked when Tony trailed off.

Tony met his gaze and admitted, holding nothing back: “I think he’s going to be upset when he finds out, and I think he’s going to ask you why you do it.”

Loki grimaced and looked away. “That is not an answer easily explained.”

“No, it’s not,” Tony admitted. “But, he’s a kid, and right now, he thinks the world of you.”

“I know,” Loki whispered. He stared at his hands. “I do not want to lose his good regard.”

Tony gave a helpless shrug. “You’re the only one who can do something about that, Loki.”

Loki chuckled bleakly. “How could I possibly? I cannot erase the past.”

“No,” Tony said as a thought occurred to him, and he looked at the miserable mage beside him. “But you can change the future.”

It seemed impossible to imagine, and truthfully, if you’d asked Tony about it six years ago, he would have laughed until he was blue in the face. Loki turning to the forces of good? Loki redeeming himself? He’d have called bullshit.

But, watching him sit on the couch, feeling beaten down and depressed over the opinion of a five-year-old, Tony could see the potential for good within him. He didn’t have to be a hero, but maybe he could stop being a villain.

Hell, he already had, at least where Earth was concerned. He’d thrown himself into teaching Edwin, and maybe that had given Loki the stability and appreciation he’d always lacked but sorely needed.

“If you can prove to me that you were a villain but you aren’t anymore,” Tony said, “Then I’ll back you up with Edwin.”

Loki raised his head, a furrow to his brow. “How would I prove that?”

“You already are by not attacking Earth. We keep it quiet for now, and in a few years when it reaches a point where he needs to know the truth, we sit him down and explain.” He gave Loki a smile. “Kids love a good redemption arc.”

“And you would trust this?” Loki demanded. “On my word alone? You would listen to the word of a God of Lies? I could be laying waste to thousands on other planets. How could you know any different?”

“You’re right,” Tony agreed. “I can’t know, but that doesn’t matter. What matter is, if you do lie and Edwin finds out; how’s that going to make you feel?”

Loki cringed and it was all the answer Tony needed. He still continued, driving the point home, “I’m not telling you to become an Avenger. I’m just saying that if you don’t want Edwin to think less of you, then that’s in your power to change.”

Loki was silent for a long time, staring at his hands and letting Tony’s words sink in. Tony sat back and watched him, trying to work out whether Loki would accept or reject the concept. He didn’t realise how much he cared about the answer until he was waiting for it.

He liked Loki and he enjoyed the mage’s company. Tony would hate to have to kick Loki out of the house and end the magic lessons. He’d also hate for Loki’s actions to hurt Edwin or make him feel betrayed.

Yet, when five minutes passed and Loki didn’t say anything, Tony decided to leave the mage to his thoughts. He pushed up from the couch and Loki’s gaze snapped to his.

“Got to wash dishes,” Tony told him.

He didn’t wait for a response and headed into the kitchen. He grimaced at the amount and started filling the sink. Loki had cleared them out of food, so he didn’t have to worry about storing the leftovers. He was humming AC/DC as he worked, shifting around the kitchen as quietly as possible. When he turned around after putting the salt and pepper in the pantry, he jumped and almost shrieked at finding Loki standing beside the counter.

“Damn it!” Tony cursed. “Don’t sneak up on me!”

“I did not wish to wake Edwin,” Loki explained.

Tony scowled, his hand over his still racing heart. “No excuse. My yelp would have woken him if you were any closer to me. Jesus.”

A hint of a smile caught at Loki’s mouth. “My apologies.”

“Yeah, well, whatever. What are you doing up? Aren’t you resting the axe wound?”

“It is mostly healed. I am now waiting for my seidr to recover.” His gaze drifted over the dishes. “Perhaps I could help?”

That was unexpected. The arrogant prince offering to clean along with the lowly mortal? Would wonders never cease?

Despite his incredulity, Tony wasn’t about to turn down the assistance. “You can dry.”

“Very well,” Loki agreed.

It was almost easy after that to fall into a routine.

Tony stepped over to the sink and began to wash the dishes. He knew he could use the dishwasher, but he found it calming to clean and dry everything himself. (It wasn’t that he forgot to take the items out of the dishwasher every single time and found it easier to just manually do it.) He then passed the items to Loki who dried them with a towel.

He’d been around long enough to have a basic idea of where everything went and he walked around the kitchen putting them away.

They’d been silent for almost five minutes until Loki picked up the coloured monstrosity that was his personal mug. Tony hadn’t noticed, too busy trying to clean everything thoroughly without making any noise. He only paused when the other man spoke.

“I would like to change,” Loki said, his voice barely loud enough to hear. His eyes hadn’t moved from the cup. He was holding it like a precious object.

Tony smiled softly and looked away. He focused on washing a plate as he said, “I’ll help however I can.”

Loki didn’t say ‘thank you’, but nor did he say another word as they washed and dried in silence. Tony didn’t mind. He didn’t need to hear it to know the gratitude was there. It was obvious in the way that Loki lingered in the kitchen, ready and willing to assist Tony in any little task.

And when they were finally done and Tony directed him to the spare room, Tony made his way to his own bed with a smile on his face.

Tony had always known he would do anything for Edwin, now it seemed, Loki was willing to do the same as well.

Chapter Text

Tony had gained a normal sleep schedule since becoming a father. It was kind of inevitable if he wanted to not only function but keep Edwin out of trouble.

He woke up at five-thirty in the morning thanks to Edwin entering his room and whispering “Dad”. Edwin had Lisa in his hands and he was too excited to go back to sleep. Loki staying for breakfast was apparently a ‘big deal’.

He had to talk Edwin out of going into Loki’s room to wake him up; not only was he still healing, but Tony didn’t know if Loki was the kind of person to draw a knife on anyone stupid enough to disturb his sleep.

While Tony didn’t tell Edwin the second part, he did insist that there would be ‘no waking guests before sunrise’.

Edwin was unhappy, but Tony encouraged him to climb into bed with him and once he was curled up against Tony, it only took about five minutes before he fell asleep. Tony kissed the top of his messy hair and closed his eyes.

He managed to fall back asleep for another hour and a half. When he woke up again, Edwin was still dead to the world and Tony carefully extracted himself. Edwin didn’t stir and Tony made his way out to the kitchen to get coffee.

Starting the machine, Tony leant against the counter with a smile as he remembered the night before and cleaning up with Loki. It had been nice. Spending time with Loki in general was nice. It wasn’t just because he missed adult interaction. He and Loki just… clicked. Tony had never found that with anyone - even with Rhodey and Pepper, there had always been some parts that didn’t line up. With Loki? It worked perfectly.

It was a shame that Loki couldn’t stay with them more often.

Letting his eyes slip closed, Tony imagined that; Loki there in the evenings helping him cook and clean up. The mage around throughout the day, giving Edwin magic lessons and reading in the corner while Edwin watched his TV shows. Loki in the mornings, waking up and looking after Edwin so Tony could get the occasional sleep in.

Loki walking into the kitchen and making Tony a cup of coffee. Wrapping an arm around him and kissing the top of his head, whispering ‘good morning’ and-

-the coffee machine percolating jerked Tony from his thoughts, and made him open his eyes. His heart pounded at what he’d just imagined. God, he’d thought of Loki as his partner.

What the hell, he thought. I am obviously half-asleep if that happened.

Tony shook off the thought, banishing it from his mind and pouring himself a strong cup of coffee.

He grabbed his tablet and took a seat at the kitchen counter, pulling up the news and his emails. He managed ten minutes of silence before Loki stepped into the kitchen. Tony was far enough removed from his daydream that he didn’t even tense at the sight of the other man.

“Morning,” he greeted quietly.

“Good morning,” Loki replied, his voice sleep-roughened. His hair was also frizzing in places.

Tony tried not to smile as Loki went to the kettle and switched it on. He pottered around the kitchen as if he’d always been there. He opened the cupboard and pulled down his cup before fishing out a tea bag. The kettle had just boiled and he was pouring the water when the last member of the household came into the room. He was more awake then both of them.

He ran over to Loki and gave him a hug around the waist, Lisa the lizard pressed against the mage’s back. Loki startled before looking down. His surprise was adorable, as was the way he softened and ruffled Edwin’s hair.

“Good morning, Edwin.”

“Mornin’.”

He pulled away and flashed Loki a smile before coming around the counter and hugging Tony. The position was too awkward for a hug, but he wrapped his arm around Edwin regardless. “Morning, squirt.”

“Mornin’, Dad.”

“What do you want for breakfast today?”

“Cheerios.”

“Coming up,” Tony said.

He put down his coffee and tablet and got off his stool. He picked Edwin up and placed him on the seat beside him. Edwin put Lisa on the counter and began kicking his feet as Tony moved to make the requested bowl of cereal.

“What are you havin’ Loki?” Edwin asked.

“I’m not sure,” Loki answered, taking a sip of his tea.

“You should have Cheerios,” Edwin declared.

Tony looked over his shoulder and gently chastised, “Loki can eat whatever he likes, Edwin. We’re not going to make him eat Cheerios.”

Edwin looked abashed. “Sorry, Dad. Sorry, Loki.”

“It’s fine,” Loki insisted. “I had no meal planned, so I shall take your advice, Edwin.”

Edwin beamed at Loki while Tony fondly rolled his eyes where no one could see. Loki was such a sucker for Edwin.

Dutifully though, he got down a second bowl and then, for ease, he added a third. He poured them all a bowl of cereal and filled it with milk. He placed Edwin’s down first, then Loki’s to Edwin’s right (where he had taken a seat) and then his own at Edwin’s left.

They started eating, but the quiet didn’t last long before Edwin asked, “Are you better now, Loki?”

“I am, thank you,” Loki answered. “Although, I shall have to put off our magic lesson for a few days. I am not quite recovered enough for that.”

“That’s okay,” Edwin said. “We can play instead!”

He dived back into his cereal after his declaration, missing the surprise in Loki’s eyes turn to something warm as he watched Edwin. It was the look of someone who didn’t expect to be picked or wanted, but who was sweetly surprised every time it happened.

Tony didn’t know what had happened to Loki before he ended up on Earth, but if he could look that openly wondering every time a child wanted to spend time with him, Tony wasn’t sure he wanted anything to do with Asgard.

Edwin finished his food in record time, and waited with impatience for Loki and Tony to do the same. When Tony placed him on the floor, he started tugging on Loki’s shirt. “Can we play now?”

“Of course,” Loki agreed. “I shall just clean up my breakfast.”

“Nah.” Tony interjected. “That’s fine, I can do that.” He waved them off. “You go.”

Edwin started to tug Loki towards his room, but stopped. He looked back at Tony hopefully. “Can we paint, Dad?”

Tony grinned. “Tell you what. You go show Loki some games, and I’ll come get you in an hour when I’ve set up some painting outside.”

“Thanks, Dad!”

Edwin was tugging Loki shortly after, and the mage went without protest. Tony watched them go with a soft smile.

I really could get used to this.

But, he made himself look away with a sigh. Because, even if Loki stuck around and even if he lived up to his promise to change. It wasn’t going to be forever. How could it?


Loki had never had as much fun as he did that morning with the Starks’.

Edwin introduced Loki to all of his toys and even when they staged a mock battle against the villainous dinosaur who had kidnapped the fair princess (a stuffed dog), Loki couldn’t bring himself to feel upset, especially when Edwin had him as second in-command of the rescue.

They had just stormed the castle and saved the day when Tony arrived to tell them the paint was ready. Edwin dropped everything and rushed out of the room. Loki followed at a more sedate pace. He was glad his wounds were almost fully healed as they ended up lying on a sheet together with their paper and the cups of paint in the centre.

Edwin painted with the enthusiasm common in a child. Tony, while obviously technically skilled at drawing, lacked the more artistic creativity. Loki had always enjoyed drawing and decided to paint a forest in the middle of autumn.

Edwin was awed, Tony was noticeably impressed even as he teased Loki. When Tony flicked the first bit of paint and hit him, Loki knew it was an accident. It didn’t mean Loki hadn’t responded in kind. Edwin had giggled and done the same.

After that, paint went everywhere.

But, instead of being angry at the chaos, mischief or mess, Tony was laughing just as hard as Loki and Edwin. He even pulled out his phone and took a photo of the three of them, covered in paint and grinning.

When Tony took Edwin inside for a wash, Loki remained on the decking, staring at the sheet that was covered in spilled paint. He felt happy, he felt accepted. Loki hadn’t felt part of a family in a long time, not since the lies of his adoption and even, in the decades before then, he’d never truly felt like he belonged.

But, Tony and Edwin made it so easy.

When Tony had tugged him into the photo with Edwin squished between them, Loki truly felt like Tony wanted him there.

And that was dangerous to contemplate.

Loki had always loved children, truthfully, he’d always wanted children. The rumours about him birthing a horse and a wolf had been malicious by-products of his longing and his inability to father them himself. His preference for men, after all, had never been a secret on Asgard.

Tony Stark was a handsome, kind, intelligent man with a son, and Loki was noticing him.

Loki scrubbed his hands over his face.

What a fool, he thought viciously.

Yet, it didn’t erase the sight of Tony with his eyes crinkled, a laugh breaking free as Edwin smeared yellow paint across his cheek. Loki’s heart had swelled with affection, and it wasn’t just Edwin he felt it for. Loki had looked at Tony and wanted to kiss him.

It is just like you, Loki hissed at himself, to find a way to ruin everything.

Tony had been far kinder than expected; he let Loki into his home, he allowed Loki to teach his son. Tony was giving him a chance – and in return, Loki started longing to replace an absent woman.

He’d pushed his curiosity to the side once he’d started teaching Edwin. He stopped asking Tony about who Edwin’s mother was and how Tony had come to be alone, but now he desperately wanted to know. He wanted to learn everything, so that once he knew what he was up against, he might be able to approach Tony as a suitor.

There was no guarantee Tony would be interested in a man—in him—but, Loki needed to find out.

It was as he was wondering how to approach the topic, that the man on his thoughts opened the door and said, “Shower’s free.”

Loki raised his head and nodded. “Thank you.”

“And here.” Tony stepped out of the house and held a piece of paper out to Loki. “I took a bit longer because of it, but I wanted to do this before I forgot.”

Loki sucked in a breath as he took the printed photograph; it was the three of them, covered in paint and smiling.

“I thought you’d like a copy,” Tony said quietly.

Loki swallowed. They looked like a family. His fingers itched to trace their faces, but he forced himself to resist. “Thank you.”

“No problem.” He flashed Loki a smile. “Now, you better hurry up and shower. We’re having lunch soon.”

Loki frowned. “I have no other clothes.” He glanced down at himself and smiled wryly, “These aren’t even mine.”

“Don’t sweat it,” Tony said. “I’ve placed another set on your bed for you to magically alter.”

“Thank you,” Loki replied again, not sure what else to say, but meaning every word. “Not just for this, but for letting me stay.”

“That’s what friends are for, right?”

Just friends? Loki wanted to ask, but forced it down. He merely folded the picture and stood up. “Regardless, I appreciate it, Tony.”

He was rewarded with another smile, before they were distracted by the door opening and Edwin poking out his head. “Dad?”

“Just telling Loki the shower is free. His turn to get clean, kiddo. Then we’ll all have some lunch.”

“Can we watch another movie?”

“Absolutely,” Tony answered without hesitation.

Edwin bounced with excitement as Tony and Loki both stepped inside. Tony placed a hand on Edwin’s shoulder, directing him towards the kitchen. Loki made his way to the guest room. He placed the folded picture on the nightstand before reaching out and touching Tony’s clothing.

It suddenly meant a great deal more to put on the other man’s clothes.

Loki tried to shake it off as he took them to the bathroom. His lips twitched as he saw flecks of paint decorating the shower that Tony hadn’t noticed. He shut the door and began to pull off his clothes. The paint had hardened and wouldn’t stain anything it touched, but Loki was still cautious as he made a pile on the tiled floor.

Stepping into the shower, he turned on the warm water and let it slide over his skin. He closed his eyes and began to scrub his hair and body free from paint. He could imagine Tony in this same position, washing himself down. He would be in a rush, wanting to get outside and check on Edwin.

Briefly, the thought of being in the shower with Tony crossed Loki’s mind but he resolutely pushed it to the side. He couldn’t afford to fantasize, especially not in the man’s house. He opened his eyes and focused on removing all paint and checking his wounds. They were completely healed, barely a scab remaining.

When he finished in the shower and towelled himself dry, he didn’t step over to the clothes, instead, he let his magic slide over his skin, pulling at clothes from his pocket dimension. They fell onto him with ease. His magic was not fully recovered, but the comfort, warmth and safety of the Stark home had done wonders.

Loki knew he could teleport back to his apartment. There was nothing to stop him, save not wanting to leave Tony and Edwin.

But, he didn’t want to overstay his welcome.

Reaching out for Tony’s clothes, he ran his fingers over the fabric, feeling a hint of sadness that he would not be able to wear them.

Resisting the urge to sigh, Loki picked up the dirty clothes and made his way to the laundry. He found Edwin and Tony’s own clothes thrown into a trough. He added his own to the pile before coming back to collect Tony’s clean clothes.

He could hear Edwin in the living room while Tony was getting items out of the fridge. It was a moment that Loki would enjoy experiencing over and over again. It hurt to ruin it.

“Thank you for your clothing, Tony, but I have no need of them.”

Tony glanced up, his half-smile fading as he regarded Loki.

“Your magic’s back,” he said, stating the obvious.

“Yes.”

“Then you don’t need to stay.”

It was a simple statement and Loki couldn’t tell if Tony was happy about it, or disappointed. Loki hesitated, but decided to take a chance.

“No,” he answered, “but, there is also no need for me to leave, if you do not wish me to.”

It took a few seconds but slowly, Tony smiled. “So, you’ll stay for lunch?”

I will stay for as long as you will have me.

Knowing he couldn’t say it, Loki settled with a simple, “Yes.”

“Awesome. I’ll whip us up some sandwiches while Edwin picks the film.”

Tony turned his back, continuing to get out food and cover the bench. Loki watched him, a dozen questions running through his mind, but he didn’t know how to ask any of them.

“You’re staring,” Tony announced, jolting Loki from his thoughts. Tony just looked amused. “Is sandwich making that fascinating?”

“When I arrived here injured, you never hesitated to assist me,” Loki said, his voice soft. “You also insisted that I stay to recover. You let me remain now when there is no need for you to do so. You called me your friend and I…” am discovering I want so much more from you. “I do not want to lose your regard either.”

Tony’s expression softened. “That won’t be hard, Loki. Just keep being you; the person you’ve been since you started giving Edwin magic lessons, hell, since you started showing up just to banter with me outside the front door. Because that Loki? I like him a lot.”

Loki’s heart raced and he opened his mouth, not sure what to say, when he was distracted by a five-year-old throwing his arms around Loki’s waist in a tight hug.

“Loki!” He greeted enthusiastically.

He smiled instantly and stroked the boy’s damp hair. “Hello again, Edwin.”

Edwin grinned up at him. “Have you seen Spongebob?”

Loki frowned. “I have not.”

His arms unwound from Loki only so he could grab Loki’s hand and start pulling him towards the living room, already chatting about who Spongebob was and why Edwin loved him. Loki sent Tony a confused look (a living kitchen sponge that caught jellyfish? Had he truly heard that correctly?) to which Tony pressed his lips together as if holding in a laugh.

In the end, he found himself on the couch with Edwin beside him and the cartoon playing on the television. When Edwin decided to rearrange to sit on Loki’s lap, he found himself more focused on the excited five-year old than the show he was pointing and giggling over. Loki hesitated for only a moment before wrapping his arm around Edwin in a loose hug. The boy just leant back against Loki as if it was the most comfortable position in the world.

When he saw a flash out of the corner of his eye, he turned to find Tony with his phone in hand and a picture having been taken. He sent Loki a wink before heading back into the kitchen. Loki felt the warmth in his heart spread throughout his chest. It didn’t matter if it wasn’t everything he wanted, and that he wasn’t a permanent member of the family yet.

Because if he left their house today with two pictures that he could place somewhere in his apartment… well, it wouldn’t be perfect, but it would give him something to aim for and hold onto.


Loki didn’t want to return to his apartment, but he knew if he didn’t leave after lunch, he would always find a reason to put it off.

When he finished his meal, he stood from the table (they had eaten in the dining room this time) and declared softly, “Thank you for allowing me to stay, but I am healed enough to leave now.”

Tony gave him an understanding smile and a nod, but Edwin’s eyes were wide and sad. “Do you have to?” He turned to his father. “Dad? Can’t Loki stay?”

“Loki can’t stay here forever, Edwin. He has a home of his own.”

Edwin slumped, looking completely deflated. He looked back at Loki hopefully. “But you’ll come back?”

“Of course,” Loki insisted. “We still need to have a magic lesson this week. I’ll return in a few days.”

“What about to play? Can’t you come to play?”

“Edwin,” Tony said softly. “Loki already comes and sees us a lot. He has other things he needs to do.”

Edwin scowled at his plate and Loki ached to scoop the boy into his arms and swear to stay as long as Edwin wanted. Yet, he knew he couldn’t.

“Perhaps, I can try and visit more frequently.” He flicked his eyes to Tony. “I’m sure your father would enjoy some time to himself.”

Tony’s eyebrows shot up, but Edwin was already smiling. “Really?”

“I shall discuss it with Tony, and see what can be arranged.”

Edwin beamed. He also pushed out of his chair and before either Tony or Loki could assist him, he was on the floor and running around to Loki. He threw his arms around him in a hug. Loki didn’t know what made him do it, but he caught Edwin and hefted him into his arms. Edwin laughed and wrapped his arms around Loki’s neck in a tight embrace.

Loki held him close and ran a hand through Edwin’s hair. He knew his smile was soft and affectionate, and he couldn’t contain it if he tried.

He half-expected to look at Tony and see him with his phone raised, taking a picture, but instead, when he looked at the other man, Tony was watching him with a strange, unreadable expression. It made Loki frown. “Tony?”

His question made the man jerk and look away. He quickly began cleaning up plates.

“Right, so,” Tony cleared his throat. “Magic lesson in a couple of days, playtime visit after that?”

“That would be ideal,” Loki answered, still looking at Tony in puzzlement.

“Great,” Tony answered. “Sounds good.”

When he had the plates in his hands, he flashed them a somewhat strained smile and left the room. Loki watched him leave, feeling concerned.

“Loki?” Edwin asked and Loki looked back at the confused boy in his arms. “Is something wrong with Dad?”

“I’m not sure,” Loki answered, bending down to put Edwin on the ground. “Why don’t you watch more Spongebob while I speak to him?”

“’Kay,” Edwin agreed, leaving for the living room while Loki made his way to the kitchen.

He found Tony at the sink, running water and staring as the soap suds formed. Loki didn’t know what was wrong, but there was only one thing he could conceive of.

“Are you unhappy with how well I get along with your son?”

Tony jerked and looked at him with wide eyes. “What? No! I love seeing you two together.”

“Then you are unhappy with me… holding him?”

“No!” Tony insisted again. “God, you guys looked like-” yet, Tony cut himself off and looked away. He clenched his fist and brought up a hand to pinch the bridge of his nose. “It doesn’t matter.”

“I believe it does,” Loki replied. “If you are unhappy having me here-”

He couldn’t finish before Tony was moving from the sink and standing in front of him. “I’m not,” he said, his voice earnest. “I swear, that’s not it. I just…” he sighed. “I ran away with something and now I need to reset.” He flashed Loki a smile that was more uncomfortable than anything. “Just, let it go? I promise, it’s not going to be an issue.”

Loki didn’t want to drop the subject, but Tony was looking at him with hopeful eyes, and he found he couldn’t bring himself to argue. “Very well.”

Tony slumped with relief, and his smile became more genuine. “Thanks, Loki.”

He inclined his head before looking at the living room where the TV was beginning to play the show’s theme song. “I should say goodbye to Edwin.”

“Yeah, okay,” Tony answered, and for a moment, he almost sounded disappointed.

Loki forced himself to dismiss the notion and turned from Tony to say goodbye to Edwin. He didn’t want to, but he had no other choice. He was merely a guest, and unless he became something more, he would always have to leave.

Chapter Text

Everything had been going so well, and that probably should have been the first warning.

Loki fit into their family so easily, and maybe, if Edwin hadn’t been in the picture, he would have noticed things sooner.

Or maybe, it was only because of Edwin that things happened at all.

But, one moment Tony had been eating a sandwich in the dining room, the next Loki was hoisting Edwin into his arms and Tony was thinking, I want this, and they’re my boys.

He was looking at Loki and thinking that Loki was the missing piece. Tony wanted Loki, in their house, in their family, in his arms. He’d wanted to walk over and kiss his son's head and kiss his partner's lips.

It all fell into place like a tonne of bricks and the moment he’d realised Loki had slipped inside his heart, it was the moment he began to backpedal.

Loki had noticed and Tony had hurriedly shut down his enquiries; because if Loki didn’t know, then Loki couldn’t reject him. If Loki didn’t know, then he wouldn’t get awkward and stop spending time with Edwin.

It didn’t matter that Tony wanted Loki here as much as Edwin, because Loki only showed up for one reason and it sure as hell wasn’t a middle-aged mortal who made him lunch.

So, Tony buried the realisastion. He’d printed the photo of Loki and Edwin on the couch while the mage said goodbye to Edwin and he handed it to Loki before the mage disappeared in a teleport. When he was alone, Tony let out a heavy sigh and tried not to think about what he’d just worked out. He tried to be upbeat and cheerful for Edwin, but it didn’t really work, after all, he wasn't the only one thinking about Loki.

When night-time finally came and he was tucking Edwin into bed, Edwin said, “Dad?”

“Yeah, kiddo?”

Edwin pulled his lizard up to his chin. “I miss Loki.”

Tony sighed and stroked his fingers through Edwin’s hair. “I know, me too.”

“Why can’t Loki stay?” Edwin asked, looking at him with wide, hopeful eyes.

Tony didn’t answer for a long moment, just stroking his son’s cheek. Because how could he reply?

Not everyone will give up their life to raise a child.

He has far more interesting things to do than live here.

He won’t want to devote his life to us.

He might adore you, but he’ll never want to be here with me.

“Because,” he eventually replied, “Loki has other things he needs to do.”

“But why?” Edwin asked. “Why can’t he live here and do them too?”

Tony didn’t know how to explain, not without making Loki sound cruel, or making Edwin feel like he wasn’t important to Loki.

“Because…” he quickly alighted on an example, “because Spongebob can’t just move in with Patrick. It doesn’t work that way. They’re friends but they have their own places and their own lives. They can’t spend all their time together.”

“But, I want him to be here,” Edwin said. “He likes it here. We like him here.”

“I know, Edwin,” Tony said, pain lacing his voice despite doing his best to hide it. “But, it doesn’t always work that way.”

He could see Edwin was still confused and didn’t understand, but Tony didn’t know what else to say. He leant forward instead and kissed Edwin’s head.

“We’ll just have to make the most of Loki’s visits, okay?”

Edwin pouted mulishly, but he didn’t argue any further. Tony gave him one more kiss before standing up. “Night, Edwin.”

“Night,” he muttered, still sounding unhappy.

Tony sighed, but he didn’t know what else to do. He hoped Edwin would accept it before Loki next showed up. The last thing Tony needed was to comfort Edwin every time Loki left, especially when he didn’t want the mage to go either.


Tony tried to ignore his feelings and his growing yearning for Loki. He focused on Edwin and pretending that they were fine on their own.

But, when Loki reappeared a few days later and Edwin threw himself at the mage in a hug, Tony’s heart swelled with affection. He wanted to join Edwin at Loki’s side. He wanted to kiss him and say, ‘welcome home’ as if Loki had merely been visiting another planet, and had always planned to come back.

Tony knew that wasn’t the case, and he knew he couldn’t do anything about it. So, he smiled, made a quip and went to put the kettle on so that Loki could have something to drink while he and Edwin had their magic lesson.

And, things went back to normal. Tony repressed his feelings and tried not to let it show. Loki stayed for lunch, Edwin continued to ask Loki to stay for longer periods, and more often than not, Loki agreed.

He didn’t stay another night, but he did stay for hours after his magic lessons. He played with Edwin, the three of them watched movies or played games together. It was so much like being part of a family and Tony took every opportunity for a photograph.

There weren’t a lot of photographs around the house since Tony preferred digital copies, but when Edwin made the request, Tony didn’t hesitate to print a copy of the three of them covered in paint and put it on the mantle with the other photos.

Loki noticed it the next time he visited.

It had been almost two weeks since the photograph was taken. It was a playdate, rather than a magic lesson and Tony had already prepared an assortment of craft projects from building a house with popsicle sticks to paper mâché.

Loki had entered the room only to freeze. He then made a direct line for the mantle and picked up the frame. Tony tried not to flush. Loki wasn’t the only face there, of course. There was a photo of Tony and Rhodey at MIT as well as Pepper withholding coffee from him when he was scowling, pouting and half-asleep. There was one of Bruce and Tony in the lab, grinning widely at each other. There were also numerous photos of Tony and Edwin.

Tony had told Edwin stories about his ‘aunt’ and ‘uncles’. Edwin had even spoken to Rhodey and Pepper a few times on the phone when they’d used a secure connection that no one could trace. He promised Edwin he could meet them when he was older.

But, Loki was the only one photographed with Edwin.

Loki’s fingers traced the glass and Tony found his feet carrying him to stand beside Loki so he could look down at it too. They all looked so happy.

“You have my picture,” Loki whispered.

“Of course we do,” Tony answered, just as quietly. “You’re an important part of Edwin’s life.”

You’re an important part of my life, Tony thought, or, at least, I want you to be.

“Tony,” Loki said quietly, dragging Tony from wishful thoughts. He looked puzzled and almost concerned. “What happened to Edwin’s mother?”

Tony stiffened, his throat constricting as he tried to figure out what to say - only, Edwin answered for him as he came over to join them, looking up with innocent eyes. “Dad found me. My bio-bio-”

“Biological,” Tony said. He swallowed and forced a smile. He reached down and ruffled Edwin’s hair. “His biological parents died.”

“I picked Dad!” Edwin said with enthusiasm, wrapping his arms around Tony’s waist.

The familiar warmth of Edwin’s magic erupted. Blue energy escaping from Edwin’s skin to press against Tony in a warm wave of affection. It always happened, anytime they spoke about their first meeting and the bond Edwin had formed between them.

Tony felt his own happiness and Edwin’s in an upsurge of magic and love. He hugged Edwin to him even as he turned to look at Loki. The mage looked confused, and beneath that was something raw and almost… painful.

Tony frowned. “Loki?”

“Where did you find him?” Loki whispered, and there was something in his voice that made Tony wary.

“Edwin,” he said, keeping his voice light. “Can you give me and Loki a minute? Go grab some blocks from your room, okay, kiddo?”

Noticing the change in mood, Edwin didn’t argue. He pulled his magic back inside him (he was doing so well with his magic training and Tony would praise him about that later) and left the room. The moment he was gone, Tony was focused on Loki.

“Loki-”

“Where did you find him?” Loki repeated again, his eyes wide.

Unlike all the times Loki had asked about them before, this time Tony didn’t hesitate. “It was after a battle. FRIDAY registered a sign of life and I found him in the middle of the rubble. I picked him up and he formed a magical bond with me. We searched for his parents, but they were already dead.” Tony sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “I adopted him and when he was old enough to understand, I explained.”

“You… you adopted him. A… a magical son…alone… on a battlefield.” Loki’s words were coming in stops and starts as if he was having difficulty saying them. “And you… you gave up everything to… to raise him.”

“He’s my son, Loki. He has been since the moment I picked him up.” Tony told him. “What else would I do?”

Loki looked gutted. He looked like he was about to fall apart.

Worried, Tony touched his arm. “Loki? Are you okay?”

“No,” Loki answered, simple and painful all in a single breath.

Which didn’t make any sense. The truth about Edwin’s parents was sad, and Tony knew when Edwin grew older, he’d likely want to find out more about his true parents, but Tony didn’t understand what was hurting Loki so much.

“What’s wrong?” He asked, feeling out of his depth, but desperate to sooth the pain in Loki’s eyes.

Loki gave a harsh laugh. “Did you know that I was adopted, Tony?”

It was all he needed; the realisation swept through him, making his face fall and a mixture of sorrow and anger flood his chest. He wanted to hug Loki, he also wanted to punch someone. Possibly Odin.

“Loki…”

“He said I was abandoned, found in the ruins of Jotunheim at the end of the war.” Loki laughed bitterly. “I later learned I was a stolen prince, a tool that he could use.” He closed his eyes. “I found out I was a monster through accident. I did not have a father who would tell me from the very start.”

“Shit, Loki,” Tony whispered, his heart aching for the other man.

He didn’t even think as he stepped closer and wrapped his arm around the mage. Loki didn’t resist and Tony pulled him into a tighter, comforting hug. Loki’s arms came around his back, the photo frame pressed against his spine. Tony just held him even tighter.

“Odin is a fucking asshole,” Tony hissed. “What the hell? I can’t even… I can’t even fathom that. Christ, Loki.” He started rubbing the other man’s back. “He never deserved you. I’m sorry.”

“You did nothing,” Loki said, his voice still thick with emotion. “You need not apologise.”

Loki pulled in a breath as if trying to get himself back under control. Yet, he never pulled out of Tony’s arms. Instead, he only seemed to melt further against him. His chin rested on the top of Tony’s head.

They didn’t say anything for a long moment, but Loki was the one to break it with a whisper, “I am glad Edwin found a good father.”

Tony felt a mixture of warmth at the words and worry that he wasn’t as good as he could be.

“I try my best,” he said. “My own father was an asshole, but we had a butler. Edwin Jarvis. I’m trying to live up to his example.”

Loki’s voice was soft and a little wondering, “You named Edwin after him.”

“Yeah, I did,” Tony answered. “A reminder and a promise. I’m not going to repeat the mistakes of the last generation.” Tony pulled back a little, forcing Loki to remove his chin. They stayed wrapped around each other, but Tony caught and held Loki’s eyes. “And you won’t either. You’d be an amazing Dad, Loki.”

Loki’s expression was raw and full of wistful longing – and Tony wanted to cup Loki’s cheeks and kiss him. He wanted to say how amazing he was with Edwin, and how, if he wanted them, Loki could be a father to Edwin. They could be partners and parents.

Because, Tony couldn’t imagine another person he’d rather raise Edwin with.

But, he didn’t know how to say it - he was afraid to say it, and before either of them could utter another word, Edwin was asking, “Dad? Loki?”

He had his lizard in his hand and was taking careful steps closer.

Tony smiled. “It’s okay, Edwin. Everything’s fine.”

He unwound one arm and Edwin came running. Loki unwound his own and they suddenly had Edwin against their legs, hugging them back. It was a group hug, a family hug, and it felt so God damn right that Tony never wanted it to end.

And the longing for more was too much to resist. He looked up at Loki, finding the mage already watching him.

“Stay over tonight?” he asked.

Loki’s smile still had a hint of sadness, but he answered, “Yes.”

It wasn’t everything Tony wanted, but at least it kept Loki with them for a little while longer.


Loki remained a little down all day.

They had fun making popsicle houses and had a picnic outside. Loki laughed and smiled and posed for photographs, just like normal, but his eyes continued to flick to Edwin, something turbulent and pained within them.

Eventually, Tony pulled him aside when Edwin was in the bathroom.

“Loki? What’s wrong?”

He didn’t waste a moment. “Was it one of mine?”

“Your what?”

“My attacks,” Loki whispered, sounding guilt-ridden and wrecked. “Were his parents killed in one of mine?

Oh, Loki. Tony touched the mage’s arm in comfort. “No,” he said quietly. “It wasn’t one of yours.”

Loki let out a rough breath, slumping with pure and aching relief. Tony wanted to pull Loki back into his arms, but he wasn’t sure if Loki would accept a second hug. He settled for squeezing Loki’s arm.

They only had a few moments before Edwin was heard bounding down the hallway and they had to pull apart and plaster on smiles. Tony did notice that most of Loki’s tension had disappeared.

When it was time for bed, Edwin demanded a bubble bath. He also demanded that Loki help. It ended up with the two of them kneeling at the bath, Edwin with a tower of foam on his head, an army of rubber ducks (thanks to Loki’s magic) floating through the water and their clothes soaked through.

None of them truly minded as they were all sporting wide grins. When they finally got Edwin clean of soap, scrubbed down and in pyjamas. It found him sitting up in bed, uninterested in sleeping.

“Can I have a bedtime story?” Edwin asked.

Tony moved to the bookshelf. “What story do you want tonight?”

“Can Loki tell me a story?”

Loki had been standing by the door, a smile on his face as he leant against the frame. He straightened at the request, but didn’t come inside. Tony gestured him to join. “I’m sure Loki’s up for the task.”

The mage still hesitated but he came to stand beside the bed, using a flicker of magic to summon two chairs. Tony was pleased to take a seat rather than kneeling or fetching his own chair.

“Would you like to hear a story that my mother told me when I was your age?” Edwin nodded; his eyes wide. Loki smiled. “Lay down in bed, and I shall start.”

Edwin was quick to comply. Tony bent forward to fix the blanket and hand him his lizard, but once he was settled, Tony leant back against the chair and prepared to listen.

“A long time ago, on the Elven realm of Alfheim, there were two best friends who were as different as night and day…”

Loki’s voice was soft and melodious, painting a picture with words, and answering Edwin’s questions without breaking stride. The story was about bravery, good triumphing over evil, and the power of magic.

When Loki finished the story, Edwin was barely keeping his eyes open.

“I wanna be a ‘age like ‘em,” Edwin mumbled, sounding half-asleep.

“And you will,” Loki promised, reaching out and stroking Edwin’s hair. “But for now, you must sleep.”

Edwin’s eyes fluttered closed. “’ight ‘oki, ‘ight ‘ad.”

“Goodnight, Edwin,” Loki said gently.

Tony got off the chair and placed hand on Loki’s wrist. He didn’t remove it, but rather he kept Loki’s hand on Edwin’s head as he brushed a kiss to Edwin’s temple. “Night, kiddo.”

Edwin was already asleep by the time he pulled back. Tony smiled at his son before standing up. He let go of Loki’s wrist and walked over to the light switch. He waited for Loki to stand, send the chairs back where they came from and join him at the door. Tony then turned off the light and stepped into the hall. He left the door partly open and shared a smile with Loki.

“Welcome to the ‘Edwin bedtime routine’,” Tony said quietly. “It changes constantly, and rarely goes off without a hitch. I think you’ll make an excellent addition. He loved that story.”

Loki chuckled softly and glanced back at Edwin’s room. “I loved it as well, when I was young.”

“Awh, little kid Loki. You must have been adorable.”

Loki snorted. “I was a horror, Tony. I did not get the moniker ‘God of Mischief’ for nothing.”

Tony just laughed. “I don’t know, I’d love to hear some of those stories. I love a good prank.” Yet, he paused and frowned, barely noticing Loki’s surprised pleasure. “Although, not where Edwin can hear. I’m not ready for him to discover mischief.”

“Is the great Tony Stark worried about what a five-year-old can do?” Loki teased.

“When that five-year-old has you as a mentor? Yes, yes he is.”

He made sure to smile in order to take the sting out of his words. It worked when Loki laughed.

“I do not believe you have to worry,” Loki said. “He is not the kind for mischief. He is also happy and loved with no one to compete with for attention.”

Tony shook his head. “I think you forget how much he idolises you.” Loki frowned, looking perplexed. Tony shook his head, unable to believe Loki couldn’t see it. “Loki, he’d perform a prank in a heartbeat if he knew it would make you proud of him.”

“No,” Loki shook his head. “He would not want to disappoint you.”

“Oh, he knows I’d soften the moment you both started to laugh.”

“Even so-”

“Loki,” he said abruptly. “Did you know I asked Edwin who his hero was the other day?”

Loki frowned, looking as if the change in subject confused him. “Why would you do so? Did you wish to introduce him to Iron Man, or-”

Tony snorted. “No. He still has no idea who I used to be, or who the Avengers are. We were watching one of his cartoons and I was curious. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but do you know who he said?”

Loki swallowed thickly, looking like he couldn’t believe it. “The sponge?”

“No,” Tony said softly. “No, he said his hero was you.”

Loki’s voice was rough, “I am no hero.”

“To Edwin you are,” Tony rebutted, keeping his voice gentle. “I’ve told you before, he thinks the world of you.”

He doesn’t want you to leave, it was on the tip of his tongue, but he swallowed it down, because Tony knew if he said it, he would follow it with; and I don’t want you to leave either.

“You both think too highly of me,” Loki whispered. Tony’s eyes had fallen from Loki but he glanced up at that, finding the mage staring at Edwin’s door. “But,” Loki continued, just as quietly, “I can only feel grateful for it. I can only promise to do everything possible to live up to your trust.”

He turned back to Tony; his eyes fierce and determined. Tony knew better than to take Loki’s hand in his, but it didn’t mean he wasn’t tempted. He settled instead for assuring him, “I have every faith that you will.”

When they fell quiet, the silence felt comfortable and soft, they were looking at each other and it would be so easy to shift closer and press against Loki’s chest. He wanted to hug the other man and kiss him. He wanted to pull Loki to the bedroom – to their room and have an early night.

Tony also knew, if he wasn’t careful, he’d end up doing one of those things and wrecking everything he had with Loki. It was why he made himself step back and look away.

“Right, well. I think we should head to bed. Edwin likes to wake up early and since gaining a kid, I’ve learnt to treasure the little sleep I can get.”

Loki smiled faintly. “I will not keep you from your sleep, Tony.”

Tony nodded and started to move away before a thought occurred to him; mainly, the last time Loki stayed over and he was woken at five-thirty in the morning. There was no guarantee that Edwin would come directly to him this time, especially since Loki wasn’t injured.

“Loki, what’s your policy on being woken?”

Frowning, Loki questioned, “Pardon?”

“Edwin. There is a good chance he will poke you awake. He might even fly into your room and jump on your bed. So, what is your policy on being woken? You won’t draw a knife on him by accident, right?”

“Of course not,” Loki answered, looking affronted. “My seidr recognises his, I would know if it was him in my room.”

“Oh, good. So, this is enough advanced warning? It’s okay if he wakes you?”

Loki looked a little disbelieving, but he still gave a nod. “If he does so, he will not come to harm.”

Tony didn’t like that hint of incredulity, it made Tony want to encourage Edwin to jump on Loki’s bed. He wanted to be there at the door taking a photo and smiling at the two of them. He wanted to then slip into the room, slip into the bed and give Loki a good morning kiss and-

Cutting the thought off before it could go any further, Tony stepped away from Loki and further down the hall. “Well, I guess we better get ready for bed, no telling when we’ll be woken up.”

Loki nodded, but he somehow looked sad, despite the smile on his face. “Goodnight, Tony.”

“Night, Loki,” he answered, turning on his heel and hurrying to the bathroom and shutting the door.

The moment it was closed, Tony pressed his forehead against it. He then lifted his head and thumped it against the wood a few times.

He’d had Loki all to himself; a few hours to have a drink and some quiet conversation. He could broach the subject of more. He could get an idea of whether Loki was interested in dating someone (a man) and what he thought of Tony in general.

But, what did he do? He ran and hid in the bathroom rather than face up to the truth and admit it to the mage.

I want to kiss you. I want to date you. I want you as part of our family.

He felt like such a fucking coward.

Chapter Text

Loki rested uneasily that night.

His mind kept turning back to Tony, the man had looked so open and affectionate before he’d turned away and ended their evening before it had even begun.

Had he noticed Loki’s affections and grown uncomfortable? Had the reminder of Edwin’s fondness for Loki upset him? Was Loki reading into things and Tony truly was just tired? The thoughts ran through Loki’s mind over and over again.

He found himself lying in the guest room, staring at the ceiling. He wanted to be down the hall, wrapped around Tony, but with no certainty it would be welcome, he was forced to sleep alone.

Loki had told himself numerous times when lying in his own apartment that should he never have Tony as a lover but maintain the Stark family’s high regard, he would be content.

But he still fantasised, in his more wistful moments, of living in this house, side by side with Tony. It need not be as lovers, yet he hoped that given time and enough exposure, Tony might come to fall for him too.

It was something to hold onto when he was alone in New York, staring at the photos of the three of them together. It was something to fall asleep dreaming about on difficult, lonely nights.

When Loki finally drifted off, he didn’t expect to be woken. Tony had warned him of it, but he’d dismissed the notion. Edwin hadn’t woken him the first night he’d stayed at the Stark’s, why would he do so now?

Yet, it was exactly what happened.

He stirred at sensing someone in the room, but he wasn’t fully awake by the time small fingers were poking his arm. “Loki?”

Loki blinked open his eyes to find Edwin standing beside his bed, biting his lip. The moment he realised Loki was awake, he was grinning. The next thing Loki knew, Edwin was throwing his arms around Loki in a hug before climbing onto the bed, using Loki as a step ladder.

He let out an ‘oof’ as he got a knee in the stomach, but Edwin didn’t notice as he sat down beside Loki. He looked thrilled. “Morning, Loki!”

“Good morning,” Loki answered, still not feeling quite awake.

He turned to look at the clock that was in the room. It wasn’t even seven in the morning. He frowned and focused back on Edwin. “Did your father tell you to wake me up?”

Edwin suddenly looked guilty and stared at his fingers. Loki shifted a little to better sit up. He asked quietly but firmly, “Edwin?”

“Dad’s not awake,” he mumbled. “I wanted to see you were still here.”

Loki smiled and his heart softened. “Of course, I’m still here.”

He reached out to touch Edwin’s shoulder only to be surprised when, the moment he made contact, Edwin was clambering forward and cuddling up against him. Loki had to rearrange slightly, but it ended up with Edwin using his chest as a pillow, his little lizard tucked between them and Loki’s arm wrapped around him.

It was quiet for a long moment.

“Loki?”

“Yes, Edwin?”

“Why can’t you stay all the time?”

Loki’s breath caught. “Oh, Edwin…”

“We want you here.” He let go of his lizard to grip Loki’s shirt. He looked up at him with wide, hopeful eyes. “Why can’t you stay?”

“Oh, Edwin,” Loki repeated, his throat feeling tight. I want to stay; I want to stay with all my heart. Yet, Loki knew he couldn’t say the words and confuse Edwin further. “It’s not that simple.”

“Why not?” Edwin asked, his gaze turning sad and frustrated. “Why do you and Dad say it?” His lip suddenly trembled. “Do you not… not wanna…”

“Edwin,” Loki said firmly, cutting that thought off. “I always enjoy staying here, never think that I don’t.” He waited until Edwin gave a small nod. “It is not that simple, because…”

Yet, he trailed off, because all his reasons wouldn’t make sense to a five-year old. Edwin knew they all liked each other and had fun together, he didn’t see a reason for them to be apart.

He didn’t understand that Loki wanted more than a platonic relationship with Tony. Edwin also didn’t understand that, while Tony might not mind him visiting, it was another thing entirely to have him around permanently.

Yet, Edwin didn’t ask for the rest of his answer. He let out a sad, trembling sigh and cuddled even closer to Loki. “I just want you here.” He sniffled. “I miss you when you go away.”

Loki closed his eyes, feeling them sting. “I miss you too, Edwin.”

“Can you talk to Dad?” He asked, quiet and hopeful. “Can it be simple and you can stay?”

Loki swallowed. Edwin had no idea what he was asking. He didn’t realise he was requesting Loki open himself up for a rejection.

But… maybe he didn’t have to confess his feelings, maybe he could just… ask to stay a few more days? Maybe a week? He could even suggest it to Tony with the explanation that, given enough time, Edwin would give his focus to something else.

He could tell Tony it would make Edwin happy, and that would be more than enough to make Tony agree.

It wouldn’t be everything he wanted, but it would be a few more days with the two of them.

“I can try,” he replied.

Edwin let out a sigh and instantly relaxed. “It will work, Loki.” Edwin lifted his head, sadness forgotten for happiness. “Dad wants you here too. He doesn’t think you wanna stay. But you’ll tell him, won’t you, Loki?”

His smile felt uncomfortable. “I will talk to him. We’ll see what happens.”

“Yay!” Edwin beamed. He also pressed back against Loki’s chest, wrapping his arms around him and cuddling him even more.

Loki melted into the bombardment of affection and cuddled Edwin even tighter. He knew he wasn’t Edwin’s father, that he never could be Edwin’s father, but in moments like this, he sometimes wished he could call the boy his son.


They stayed in bed for another ten minutes before Edwin started to fidget. He wanted to wake Tony up straight away so Loki could talk to him, but Loki convinced Edwin that they should let Tony sleep in. Partly, Loki wanted to avoid the conversation, but he also wanted to give Tony a chance to rest. Last night, he’d mentioned how little sleep he got with Edwin early to rise, he deserved to wake up naturally for a change.

They made their way to the kitchen and Loki, familiar enough with the layout of the house, was able to get the food Edwin wanted for breakfast. He made it something of a game, that they needed to be quiet to avoid detection. Edwin loved it.

Loki prepared the toast and also cut up some fruit for Edwin, making a smiley face on the plate and causing Edwin to cover his mouth to smother his giggle. Loki was leaning against the counter sipping tea and quietly answering Edwin’s questions about the story from last night when Tony wandered into the room. His hair was sticking up in places and his clothes were rumpled. His eyes were confused and concerned, but the moment he alighted on the two of them, he relaxed and smiled. His expression also flooded with affection.

Loki swallowed at such a naked show of fondness, not to mention, Tony’s trust. He’d been worried, but upon seeing Edwin with Loki, he’d believed everything was fine.

“Dad!” Edwin greeted happily, holding out his arms and demanding a hug. Tony instantly complied, embracing his son and placing his chin on Edwin’s head so he could look down at the food.

Loki turned away if only to hide his longing. He turned on the coffee machine to prepare Tony his morning beverage.

“Hey, kiddo,” Tony’s voice was sleep roughened. “I see Loki’s made you breakfast.”

“Yeah!” Edwin infused. “He’s telling me about Alf... Alf…

“Alfheim,” Loki filled in.

“Yeah! And Loki made a face with the fruit!” He giggled. “But, I had to be quiet. Loki said we couldn’t wake you.”

“Did he?” Tony asked, and Loki looked over his shoulder, finding Tony’s brown eyes watching him softly. “I’m grateful. It was a nice sleep in.”

Loki smiled, and it felt like the moment could stretch forever, but Edwin interrupted by squirming in his chair. Tony looked down at him and Loki glanced away, focusing on the coffee.

“What’s up squirt?”

“I wanna get down,” Edwin insisted.

“You don’t want to finish eating?”

“No,” Edwin declared, and Loki glanced back at them to see Tony putting Edwin on the ground. Edwin darted towards his room, but paused long enough to look at Loki and grin. “I’m going to play.”

He was gone a moment later, and Loki was torn between laughing and groaning. Apparently, Edwin had no intentions of letting Loki waste a moment: he wanted them to talk, and in his childish excitement for a happy solution, he’d made sure to facilitate it.

It meant Loki had no chance to prepare.

“Well, that’s a first,” Tony said with a chuckle, coming to stand beside Loki and the unfinished coffee. “Normally, he’d be following around at my heels.” Tony sent him an amused look and gently bumped their shoulders. “Looks like you really are magic.”

Tony’s face was so open and relaxed, they were close enough that they were touching and Loki just wanted to lean down and kiss Tony. He wanted it to be normal. Loki wanted every day to start this way, and for an affectionate kiss to be something familiar yet just as treasured.

And, suddenly, he didn’t want to make up a reason to stay, he didn’t want to use Edwin as an excuse or to manipulate Tony into agreement.

He wanted Tony to want him here. Loki wanted this family to be his.

“Tony,” he said, his heart pounding, and his stomach churning. “I would do anything for Edwin, and I do not want to make you uncomfortable. What I am about to say… it can be forgotten in a moment, should you wish it. Please, do not forget that.”

Tony frowned, his gaze sharpening for concern and confusion. “Loki? What’s going on?”

Loki pulled in a slow breath, preparing for something that would no doubt hurt, but would at least let him know once and for all.

“I adore Edwin,” Loki began. He swallowed, staring at the bench rather than Tony. “And I have come to adore you.” He heard Tony suck in a breath, but he continued, refusing to be daunted, “I want to be a bigger part of your life, and your family. I… I have come to want you, Tony Stark.”

“Loki…”

He refused to look at the other man. Tension was landing thick on his shoulders, but if he was going to do this, he would leave nothing unsaid.

“Edwin asked me to stay here, and I want to agree, more than anything, but I do not want to be a guest and a friend. I want… I want to be your partner and lover. I want to help you raise Edwin.” He smiled wryly. “Not that you need the assistance. You are a perfect father.”

“Loki-”

“I know I am not an ideal prospect.” He gave a jerky shrug, admitting the truth, no matter how painful. “I know you may never have considered me. I know you are unlikely to consider me, but it does not change my feel-”

He stopped when he felt a touch to his cheek. He jerked and turned his head to Tony. The other man didn’t look disgusted or uncomfortable, he looked happy.

“Loki,” he said quietly. “I want you to be a part of this family too. I have for weeks. I want you just as much as you want me.” He laughed softly. “I thought you’d have no interest in a middle age mortal. You adored Edwin, but me? Why would you want me?

“Tony,” Loki whispered, his eyes wide.

Yet, he didn’t get a chance to argue Tony’s words as Tony slid his hand to cup Loki’s neck only to pull him down. Loki went without hesitation, his eyes closing as their lips pressed together in a soft, sweet, and perfect first kiss.

It made Loki’s heart race and he brought his hands to Tony’s hips, holding him close as their lips caressed. It was a blissful moment and Loki didn’t want it to end.

But, even when they broke apart, they lingered close. They were both smiling, and Loki felt hope and happiness flooding his chest.

“Can you stay here a few days?” Tony asked, looking tentative. “Like… a test run, see how we go?”

Loki nodded. It would, after all, be best to see if this was something they could maintain. The last thing Loki wanted to do was tell Edwin he would remain, only to leave in a few months. “Three days?”

“Yes,” Tony agreed, letting out a breath of relief. “Perfect.”

Loki smiled and couldn’t resist ducking down for a second, chaste kiss. When he pulled back this time, he made himself let go of Tony entirely.

“What shall we tell Edwin?” he asked.

Tony grimaced and ran a hand through his hair. “We’ll say the truth; you’ll be staying for a few days. We just won’t tell him why. At least, not yet.” He flicked nervous eyes to Loki. “I want to make sure this will work, before we tell him.”

Loki nodded. “I agree. I do not want to hurt him, even by accident.”

Sighing once more with relief, Tony smiled at Loki. “Exactly.” Tony reached for his coffee and finished preparing it. “Alright. Do you need to get anything from your place, or can you magic in clothes?”

“My seidr will be sufficient,” Loki answered.

“Great,” Tony took his coffee in one hand, while the other reached for Loki’s and linked their fingers. “Let’s go tell an excited kid that you’re going to be here for a few days.”

Unable to stop his smile, Loki followed along behind Tony. It still felt impossible to be holding Tony’s hand and beginning a relationship with him. He had been so certain that Tony would never consider him, but now he would be staying for three days. He would have a chance.

Perhaps being part of the Stark Family was more possible then he’d believed.


Tony couldn't believe it had been so simple - that Loki wanted him too and had dared to tell him. Tony wanted to keep holding Loki’s hand, to press into his space and share soft affection as they reaffirmed that they both wanted this - but he didn’t want to confuse Edwin. They couldn't rush this. It was why he let go of Loki’s hand before they reached Edwin’s room. Loki didn't say a word, but Tony knew he understood and wasn’t upset.

When Edwin learned Loki would be staying for a few days, he let out an excited shriek and hugged them both tightly.

The rest of the day wasn’t particularly eventful, but they did spent it together. Tony read with Edwin and went over his alphabet and numbers. He was trying to make sure Edwin would be ready for school. Luckily, Edwin absorbed information like a sponge.

It was both amusing and enjoyable when Loki was the one to make them all lunch and drag them from their lesson to eat it. He and Loki shared a smile, and although Tony wanted to kiss Loki, he resisted. They ate, they watched a movie and they played a game of ‘tag’ in the yard.

When the day finally ended and they sent Edwin to bed, it found them unsure what to do as they stood in the kitchen, alone for the first time all day.

Yet, when Loki stepped closer, Tony tilted into his touch, sharing another kiss and gripping his shirt to hold him close. The kiss was full of affection and longing, yet before desire could truly slip into it, Tony pulled back.

He didn’t let Loki go, but he shook his head.

“I don’t want to rush this.”

“Neither do I,” Loki replied without hesitation.

“So, we take it slow.”

Loki nodded. “Yes.”

Tony forced himself to pull away. “How about we clean up in here and have a drink? We don’t get a lot of chances to chat. We should do that.”

“I would like that,” Loki agreed, already stepping around the counter to help.

Tony smiled. “I wash, you dry?”

“As you wish” Loki agreed.

And, just like that, everything slipped into place.

Loki stayed for three days and one or both of them was always with Edwin unless it was evening; the only time they were alone.

They spoke about Edwin at first, but then they broached out into the usual banter that had always existed between them but had been tampered around Edwin. They found themselves laughing and trading sharp statements filled with wit and sarcasm. They spoke about magic and engineering, hunting trips and gala events. Their arms and thighs brushed as they sat together, and every evening ended in at least one kiss.

When the three days were up, Loki promised to be back - and just like that, Loki spent half the week with them, and the other half in his apartment or travelling the realms.

Edwin waited with bated breath for Loki to return, and Tony knew he wasn’t any better.

And by the end of a month, Tony was well past the point of needing a trial. He wanted Loki here. He missed him when he was gone, and he kept turning around to talk to someone who wasn’t there.

He wanted to tell Loki, but with Edwin at their feet and a magic lesson happening, he never got the chance, not until that evening when an exhausted five-year old was sent to bed and they made their way to the kitchen.

He caught Loki’s arm before they could reach the sink and tugged the mage to turn around. Loki came willingly and their lips met in a kiss that Tony could share every day and never grow tired of it.

Tony cupped Loki’s cheek, keeping the kiss slow and tender. When they pulled back, Tony stayed close, letting their noses brush.

“Stay,” he whispered.

Loki frowned. “I am.”

“Not tonight,” Tony replied, “and not for a few days. Just… just stay.”

Loki’s hands came to his neck, his thumbs stroking Tony’s jaw as his eyes looked at Tony with unmasked hope and wonder. “You are sure?”

“Positive. I don’t want to have to watch you leave again.”

Loki let out a soft sound and kissed Tony. It was full of passion and longing, and it made Tony groan. His body flooded with desire. It was something he hadn’t felt in so long.

“Fuck,” he hissed when he pulled back, their bodies pressed together and want filling him.

Loki laughed and nuzzled his neck. “Yes, that would be the idea.”

Tony gave a choked laugh, his lips curling in a smile. “Just want me for my ass, do you?”

“No,” Loki said, his grin pressed to Tony’s skin. “But, it is a fantastic benefit.”

Loki’s mouth moved to his neck, sucking on the skin and making Tony tilt his head. His eyes fluttered closed and his hand slid into Loki’s hair.

“Loki,” he whispered, shivering when the mage nipped the skin. “What about Edwin? What if he wakes up?”

Pausing, Loki pulled back to look at him. “I can ward his room. We will know if he is in trouble or needs us, but I can also place a spell of sleep over him. He will not wake until morning.”

Tony bit his lip. “What if he wakes up anyway?”

Loki smirked. “While he will become a talented mage, he is not yet old enough or trained enough to break my spells. I assure you; he will not wake.”

Tony hesitated, but only for a moment. He trusted Loki, and God, he wanted this, he’d spent nights dreaming about it and had numerous cold showers, not wanting to risk Edwin barging into the bathroom.

“Okay,” Tony agreed. “You ward his room; I’ll clean up out here.”

Loki kissed him; a single fierce, searing kiss that left Tony’s head spinning by the time Loki pulled away to look after Edwin.

Tony watched him go, his heart racing and his body wanting nothing than to jump into bed and drag Loki down with him.

He was so eager, he didn’t even wash the dishes by hand, he shoved them in the dishwasher and made his way directly to find Loki. The mage was already waiting for him and Tony kissed him the moment he was near enough, he then pulled Loki into his room by the shirt.

And, just like Loki promised, they didn’t get interrupted.


Loki stayed in his bed that night, but they both woke up early and Loki slipped into the guest room. Tony didn’t want him to go, but they both understood the necessity. They needed to have a conversation with Edwin before he found them in bed together.

Tony stripped his bedding and threw it in the wash. Loki offered to magically clean it, but Tony dismissed it. He knew enough to recognise that Loki shouldn’t waste his magic on tasks that could be done the manual way.

When they were both changed, showered and the washing machine was going, Loki removed the wards and they waited in the kitchen with a tea and coffee. They’d spoken briefly about what they would say, but Tony wanted to be upfront and honest: Loki was moving in, and Loki was going to be just as much of a parent to Edwin as Tony. Loki hadn’t argued, but he’d looked dubious.

Honestly, they were both nervous. Tony was jittering and Loki was staring at his tea like it held the answers to the universe.

When they heard the familiar sound of Edwin’s footfalls, Loki pulled in a breath while Tony rolled back his shoulders. He knew Edwin would be happy, he knew this would be fine. He just… didn’t know how Edwin would take learning that Loki wouldn’t be using the guest room anymore.

He was almost six, and he was smart enough to understand. Tony just didn’t know if he’d be upset.

Edwin stepped into the room, rubbing his hand over his eyes. When he saw them, he smiled, but the expression faded as he noticed the discomfort in the air.

“Dad? Loki?”

Tony tried to smile, but he knew it looked nervous. “Hey, Edwin. Can you come with Loki and me to the living room?”

Edwin nodded, but his steps were hesitant. “Did I do something bad?”

“No, nothing like that, Edwin.”

He relaxed a little and reached out for Tony’s hand. He took it and led him into the living room, Edwin looked around for Loki, obviously wanting to take his hand too, but Loki was on the other side of Tony and unreachable. Tony didn’t know if Loki did it on purpose or not, but it only made Edwin frown more.

Tony got him to sit on the couch before taking his own seat on the coffee table. Loki hesitated before taking a place beside Tony. Their thighs and shoulders touched, and the warmth of each other was a grounding comfort.

“Edwin,” Tony began quietly. “You know how Loki’s been staying here for a few days every week?”

Edwin’s eyes went wide with shock and pain as he looked at Loki. “You’re leaving? You’re not going to stay anymore?”

“No, Edwin,” Loki hurried to say, even reaching out and taking Edwin’s left hand. He squeezed it. “I’m not going anywhere.”

Edwin relaxed, and let out a breath of relief. Tony also reached out and took Edwin’s free hand. Their touch made Edwin look down at them with curiosity and confusion.

Tony decided to bite the bullet.

“Loki has decided to stay permanently.” Edwin jerked his head up, his eyes as big as saucers. “Only, he, um, won’t be in the spare room. He’ll be with me.” Tony took Loki’s other hand, linking their fingers. They were all holding hands, and it felt so right. He just hoped Edwin agreed. “Loki and I… we’re um, going to be together.”

Edwin blinked. Looking between them with a small frown. “Like a Mum and Dad?”

“Yes,” Tony agreed, glad he understood, even while a part of him was holding his breath.

Edwin tilted his head. “Will Loki be my Dad too?”

Tony heard Loki suck in a sharp breath, but Tony didn’t hesitate. “Yes.”

It only took a moment before Edwin’s smile spread across his face; it lit up his whole expression. He tugged his hands free if only so he could leap off the couch and into their arms. He threw an arm around each of their shoulders.

“This is the best,” Edwin said, his voice so full of happiness. “I have two Dads.”

Tony let out a soft laugh and hugged Edwin back. “You sure do, kid, and we’re so lucky to have you.”

“I never imagined I would be so lucky,” Loki added on a whisper, his voice thick with emotion. His arm came around Edwin too, sliding into place underneath Tony’s. “I could not imagine anything greater than having the both of you in my life.”

Edwin cuddled even closer to them. “Best having you too, Dad.”

For a moment, Tony thought it was him Edwin was talking to, but then he realised it was Loki. He knew Loki understood it a second later. He stiffened and he gasped. Tony pulled back and so did Edwin. Loki was looking at Edwin with raw emotion, it was almost painful to witness.

“What?” he whispered, still seeming disbelieving.

Tony’s heart ached with both happiness at the moment and sorrow that Loki still couldn’t comprehend it.

Edwin grinned. “Best having you here, Dad.”

Tony’s heart swelled and Loki pulled Edwin into a crushing hug. Obviously, he was careful not to hurt Edwin, but he closed his eyes and tucked him in close. Loki didn’t look like he wanted to let go. Tony smiled and indulged in stroking Edwin’s hair and kissing Loki’s temple.

“You know,” Tony said softly. “I have no problem with sharing ‘Dad’ but I think that might get confusing.” Two sets of eyes looked up at him, and he smiled. “Why doesn’t Loki be your ‘father’ instead?”

“Okay Dad,” Edwin said happily. He then looked at Loki and giggled. “And Father.”

Loki’s eyes looked a little watery, but he still smiled. “I like that.”

And so did Tony, in fact, he loved it. He had his lover and his son in their home, everything was absolutely, one hundred percent completely perfect. He'd never been happier.

Chapter Text

After Loki and Tony got together, everything was bliss. There were very few problems that weren’t smoothed out easily. The three of them fit together so perfectly, and Loki became a part of their family as if he’d always been there.

Loki moved in all of his things and got rid of his New York apartment. They even cleared out a spare room and made it a magic space in the house for Loki and Edwin to use.

It was wonderful, it was perfect – until Edwin started to ask questions.

Why do you hide your faces with magic when we’re at the park?

How did you two meet?

Why can’t I meet Uncle Rhodey and Aunt Pepper like you promised?

Why can’t I mention Father when I talk to them?

Edwin was eight and wanted to know the truth, and although Loki and Tony had argued about it numerous times late at night when Edwin was sleeping. Loki had eventually agreed to sit Edwin down and explain things.

Loki didn’t want to point out he was a villain everyone hated. Tony kept trying to assure him that Edwin would still love him regardless of his past. Loki didn’t believe it.

So far, they’d used half-truths to illustrate their history.

Your Father showed up uninvited to a party’, Tony had said to describe their first meeting.

I came to visit because I was unhappy that your Dad left without saying goodbye,’ Loki explained as to why he’d shown up at their house the first time.

Those answers weren’t going to cut it forever. It was better to sit him down at a young age, rather than have him find out by accident.

(And after learning what he had over the years about Loki’s Jotun heritage, he knew Loki agreed. It might hurt, but Loki didn’t want to repeat the same mistakes Odin and Frigga had.)

They decided to do it in the morning; less chance to chicken out if it was first thing. They waited like they had so many years ago for Edwin to wake up.

He was older and taller now, but he still walked in wearing pyjamas and rubbing his eyes. He froze when he saw them hovering nervously beside the counter.

Edwin lowered his arm, his soft brown eyes filled with confusion and concern. “Dad? Father?” He glanced between them. “What’s the matter?”

“You’ve been asking some questions lately,” Tony began, keeping his voice level and even. “We decided you were old enough to learn the truth.”

“About how you and Father meet?”

“Yes,” Tony agreed.

He paused, waiting for Loki to say anything but he was staring resolutely at the floor. It made Tony step closer and place his hand against Loki’s back in support. He turned back to Edwin who eyed them warily.

“You know about the Avengers.”

“Was Father a part of them?” Edwin asked with wide eyes. Loki flinched and Tony rubbed his back soothingly.

“No,” Loki finally spoke, his voice pained. “I formed them.”

Edwin tilted his head, his frown deepening.

“A few years before you were born,” Tony began to explain. “There were a bunch of super-powered people around. There were also a few geniuses with too much time on their hands.” His attempted quip didn’t make Loki smile and Tony sobered. “When a… threat appeared from space, they were brought together to protect the world.”

Edwin was too smart for his own good. (Really, he was just like his Dads.)

“F-Father was the threat?”

“He was,” Tony answered, “but we didn’t know at the time that he was forced to do it. Otherwise, we would have handled things differently.”

“You… you were an Avenger, Dad?” Edwin asked, shocked.

“Yes,” Tony agreed. “I was Iron Man. I retired to look after you. Loki was… well, he was…”

“A villain,” Loki said, sounding miserable. “I was taken to prison on Asgard after my invasion. I escaped and returned to continue fighting the Avengers.” He swallowed. “I wanted to hurt Thor. He is my…”

When Loki trailed off, Tony continued for him. “His adopted brother. When Loki was fighting us… well, Loki and I, we respected each other. When I left to raise you, he didn’t like it. He came to see what I was up to.”

“He was going to attack you?” Edwin asked, his voice small.

Loki still wouldn’t look at Edwin, he was leaning against Tony for support while hunching defensively. “I didn’t attack, not when I learned about you. I would never have harmed you, Edwin.”

Loki still hadn't raised his eyes; it was why he missed Edwin walking towards him. Tony he held his breath and waited. When Edwin immediately wrapped his arms around Loki’s waist. Tony let out a relieved exhale. It was nothing on Loki who tensed, not seeming to breathe.

“I still love you, Father,” Edwin whispered. “I know you’re not bad.”

Loki shuddered and curled around Edwin, hugging him close and pulling in a breath that sounded more like a sob.

“I would never hurt you or Tony,” Loki said fiercely. “I will never hurt this planet again. I would never do anything to upset you or your Dad. You are the most precious people in the world to me. I love you both with all of my heart.”

“It’s okay, Father,” Edwin said, patting his back.

Tony brought his hand to Loki’s hair, stroking through the strands in a calming gesture. He wished this was all that needed to be said, but there was more.

“No one knows Loki is here,” Tony said. “He’s still considered a villain to the Avengers.” Tony sighed. “And your Uncle Rhodey? He’s War Machine.”

Edwin snapped his head to Tony. His eyes wide. Tony figured he’d drop the next bombshell. “And your Aunt Pepper, she runs Stark Industries, which, isn’t actually the coincidence I told you it was. I’m the ‘Stark’ in Stark Industries.”

Edwin’s mouth was open and his eyes were even wider than before, something Tony wouldn’t have thought was possible.

He just stood there for a long time, curled around Loki and processing the information. Tony waited, watching with a hint of nerves, worried that Edwin would inadvertently say something to hurt Loki.

Loki was still curled around Edwin like he never wanted to let go; like he thought everything would be snatched away from him. Tony’s heart ached to see it, and he wanted to sooth all of Loki’s fears, but he knew only Edwin could do that.

Eventually, Edwin asked, “Father?”

He saw Loki pull in a breath; his face still mostly obscured by Edwin’s hair. “Yes?”

“Does that mean you’re from space?”

“Yes.”

“Does… does that mean Alfheim is real?

Tony almost laughed. It was so unexpected and yet utterly relieving. Edwin had been in love with the land of Elves since Loki had told Edwin his first bedtime story. Loki had always referred to it as a ‘realm’ or a ‘planet’ and apparently Edwin was finally making the connection.

Loki even pulled back slightly, looking at Edwin’s hopeful expression.

“Yes,” he admitted, still seeming perplexed. “I did most of my magic studies there.”

Excitement flooded Edwin’s face. “Can you take us there, Father? Can we go to Alfheim? Can I see the Elves? Please.”

This time, Tony finally did bark out a laugh.

“We finally tell you what you want to know and that’s all you care about?”

Edwin shrugged and smiled. “I wanna see the mages. I wanna see where Father learnt magic!”

It felt too good to be true, and Loki seemed to think so as well.

He asked cautiously, “You do not… care about The Avengers? That your Dad was Iron Man? That I was… once his enemy?”

“Well, yeah,” Edwin answered, his tone screaming ‘duh’. “But, I wanna go to Alfheim! I want to go with you and Dad!”

Tony started shaking with silent laughter, it was more from relief than the comment being particularly amusing.

“Don’t stand between Edwin and Alfheim, Loki.” Tony said. “We learnt that years ago when I tried to tell him a bedtime story that didn’t involve Elves.”

“Pleaaaase, Father,” Edwin said again, clutching Loki’s shirt and giving his widest, most hopeful eyes. “I want to learn magic where you learned magic!”

Loki was staring at Edwin with awe and love. His delighted smile was one of the most beautiful things Tony had ever seen, because, in that moment, Loki had realised Edwin still loved him and still treated him exactly the same.

“I will see what I can arrange,” Loki said.

“Yes!” Edwin shrieked before throwing his arms around Loki in a hug. “I love you; I love you. You’re the bessssst.”

“Hey!” Tony complained, but his smile ruined it. “Undue favouritism, Edwin. I’m hurt.”

“Sorry Dad,” Edwin answered, but he didn’t sound apologetic at all.

And, how could Tony be upset when Edwin was hugging Loki and Loki looked like a weight had finally fallen from his shoulders, leaving him relaxed and at peace.


Loki left the following day to visit Alfheim and see if he could arrange for the three of them to travel there. He’d made a lot of attempts to win back the trust of the Elves so that he could gain the right materials to train Edwin as a mage. The Elves, having always liked Loki, were keener to forgive and accept him without ratting him out to Asgard.

(Although, Loki had admitted that his complete lack of crimes and mischief over the past two years had minimised much animosity and had even found Thor ceasing to search for him. Loki had admitted, with some amusement, that maybe Thor believed he was dead - again. Tony had just shaken his head and smiled at his lover’s words.)

Tony had been in the laundry, moving clothes from the washing machine to the dryer when Edwin had given a strangled shout of, “Dad!

Tony had dropped everything and rushed into the house. “Edwin?”

“I’m sorry!” Edwin said, and Tony felt his heart sink as he rushed to the magic room. Edwin was strictly forbidden from practicing magic when Loki wasn’t there to supervise.

“Edwin!? What happened?!” Tony demanded, throwing open the door.

“I, I just wanted to read about the Elves! Loki said I could read the books! I, I didn’t mean to say the spell!”

Tony stared, his heart in his throat as he looked at the book floating in mid-air.

Oh fuck, Tony thought, but he tried not to let his worry show. Loki was careful about keeping genuinely dangerous spells out of Edwin’s reach, but Edwin was still invisible.

Tony reached for the phone in his pocket. He tried not to let his panic show as he smiled tightly. “Okay, Edwin. It’s okay, I’m going to call your Father-”

“N-No!” Edwin said, the book floating a few steps forward.

“Edwin,” Tony insisted. “We need to get you visible.”

“B-But, I don’t want Father to be mad.”

“He won’t be mad,” Tony said. “It was an accident.”

He couldn’t see Edwin’s expression, but he could still recognise the mulish silence as Tony phoned his lover. An inter-realm phone had been something they had created within months of becoming a couple.

“Tony?” Loki answered on the second ring, concern in his voice.

Tony tried to hide his own fear that this was something worse than it actually was. “Edwin got into your spell books. He’s invisible.”

There was a pause, before, “I’ll be home in ten minutes.”

Tony let out a relieved breath. “Thanks, Loki.”

He ended the call and looked at the book which was his only indicator of where their son was standing.

“Now,” Tony began, “I want you to keep holding that book and stay right there.”

“Okay, Dad,” Edwin said glumly.

Tony went into Edwin’s room and grabbed one of his jackets and brought it back to the room. He exchanged it for the book. “I want you to wear that until your Father arrives so we know where you are.”

It was only when it was on that Tony noticed the slump to his shoulders. He reached out and squeezed one of them. “Hey, we’ll get this sorted. Your Father is one of the best mages in the universe.”

“I know,” he mumbled. “I’m sorry.”

Sighing, Tony pulled Edwin into a one-armed hug. “What did I tell you since the very beginning?”

“That it’s not my fault if my magic does something.”

“And what did Loki tell you?”

“Accidents happen when you’re a young mage.”

“See? You don’t need to be sorry, just try and be more careful in the future.”

Edwin nodded, his face rubbing against Tony’s shirt. It was an odd sight and feeling with Edwin completely invisible apart from his jacket.

“Dad?” Edwin asked after a moment.

“Yes?”

“Will this mean I can’t go to Alfheim?” He sounded so deflated.

Tony carefully brought up a hand to smooth down Edwin’s invisible black locks. “No, Edwin. You can still go as long as Loki can work out it out with the Elves.”

Edwin relaxed further against Tony and he stroked his son’s hair gently before questioning, “Why were you reading about invisibility?”

Edwin turned his face further into Tony’s shirt and mumbled, “I wasn’t.”

“Then what were you reading about?’

“… Hiding.”

Tony frowned. “Why?”

“I… I want Father to be okay.”

It took Tony a moment to make the connection, and when he did, he softened, “Edwin. Were you trying to keep your Father safe?”

Edwin nodded. “You said people don’t like him. I don’t want anyone to hurt him.”

“Edwin,” Tony voice was soft. “Your Father is very good at keeping himself and us safe. He’s an amazing mage.”

“I know,” he whispered. “But I…” his voice became thick with emotion, and Tony knew his eyes would be tearing up, “I don’t want anyone to hurt him.”

Tony opened his mouth, planning to console their son when another voice spoke: “I will do everything in my power not to come to harm, Edwin.”

Edwin jerked in Tony’s arms while Tony looked over his shoulder. Loki’s expression was soft as he stepped into the room. His hair was windswept which probably meant he’d used a hastier skywalk than normal in order to get to Earth quickly.

“Once,” Loki continued, stepping into the room. “I would have taken less care. Thrown myself into unwise plans without concern for the consequences.”

Tony tried not to grimace. They’d spoken many times about Loki’s past, about what found him in Thanos’ clutches and, more importantly, about the suicidal path he had been on after learning his life and family was a lie.

“But,” Loki continued, coming to stand behind Tony and place his hand on Edwin’s back without hesitation, “I now have you and your Dad. I have a reason to do everything in my power to come back home.”

Edwin was quite for a little while before he said, “Okay, Father.”

Loki smiled, and green magic spread from his hand over Edwin’s back. Edwin’s blue magic instantly came out to meet it, twirling around his in an affectionate gesture that never failed to make Loki smile. It took only a few seconds for Edwin to become visible again.

The moment the spell was broken, Edwin was grabbing Loki and pulling him and Tony into a tight hug. His eyes were squeezed shut as held onto them.

“I don’t care if no one ever knows you’re my parents. I don’t care if I never meet Auntie Pepper or Uncle Rhodey. I… I don’t care if I never see the Elves.” His magic flared again, this time wrapping around them both in an embrace that was just as tight as his hug. “I just want my Father and Dad.”

Tony’s smile was achingly loving and Loki’s was just the same.

“You will not have to miss out on meeting the Elves, Edwin,” Loki assured him.

“And you won’t have to worry about Pepper and Rhodey.” Tony flicked a glance to Loki. “We’ll work something out.”

Loki shot him a concerned look, the same expression that had always appeared anytime Tony had mentioned letting people know about their relationship or letting everyone know Loki was reformed. He thought it was a terrible idea that would bring unwanted danger and scrutiny.

Tony had, up until now, agreed; but they couldn’t keep this a secret forever. It wasn’t fair to any of them, but especially not Edwin.

He knew it would take time as well as some careful and long discussions to make Loki agree, but it would be worth it in the end. There was a lot of negative opinions surrounding Loki, but they were geniuses, they could come up with something.

And if they could find a way for Loki to travel more freely and live a life with less secrecy, it would open up so many more doors for them as a family.

It was worth the chance.


Tony tried to bridge the idea carefully, but Loki was reticent. He shut down the conversation and wouldn’t talk about it.

It was a good thing Tony had learnt patience through raising a son. It took him months, but eventually he got the truth out of his lover. Loki didn’t distrust Tony and Edwin or their love for him, he just worried about everything else.

He was afraid that outside forces would tear them apart. He feared Asgard coming for him and threatening Tony and Edwin. He would give himself up immediately if that was the case. Loki worried the Avengers would demand his imprisonment (and that Earth's people would follow suit) until, to protect Tony and Edwin, he had no choice but to be separated from them.

Loki didn’t want that to foster anger and regret in Tony for his friends, or in Edwin for Tony.

He wanted them happy and together, and if that meant hiding as a fugitive, Loki would do it for the rest of his life.

Tony had pulled Loki into a tight embrace when the mage finally admitted it as they lied in bed one night.

I would never let anything keep us apart,” he whispered, his words a vow. “And, I think you’re underestimating us if you believe we’d ever let that happen. I’m not telling you we break the news in one go. I’m saying we arrange our pieces and set up our arguments. You’re the master tactician, babe. Don’t tell me we can’t win this fight.

Loki had given him a faint smile, but worry had lingered. He’d at least agreed to think about it, and Tony decided to let things lie as his lover thought over it.

So, they continued on as normal; raising Edwin, living their life, doing everything together as a family.

They visited Alfheim under the cover of magic, meeting a close friend of Loki’s who let the three of them stay in his house. Tony was just as excited as Edwin to be on another planet, and the Elven mage was delighted to meet them both. They stayed for three days before returning home with a dozen books for Edwin, and some interesting bits of metal for Tony.

He didn’t have much of a lab anymore, but now that Edwin was older, he was able to devote more time to working in his study. He’d even brought out the tech he’d kept locked away while Edwin was young and Tony couldn’t be distracted.

Now, he had no such problem.

It had been three months since Alfheim and Tony was still fascinated by the material he’d brought back. He was in the middle of experimenting with some of their preferred metal for welding when Edwin knocked on the door.

“Dad?”

“Hmm?” Tony hummed.

“You know when we were at the park?”

It was a few days ago, but Tony barely had to look away from the metal to recall it. “Mm?”

“And I met the dog?”

Tony paused. He also finally stopped what he was doing and looked over his shoulder. Edwin was staring at his feet and wringing his fingers.

“…Yes.”

Edwin bit his lip. He still wouldn’t look at Tony. “I… I liked the dog.”

“Edwin,” Tony began. “Are you asking for a dog?”

Edwin gave a jerky nod. “I… I know they’re a lot of work, but, but, I can feed him and wash him and clean him and he can sleep on my bed, and, and-”

“Have you spoken to your Father about this?” Tony cut in, curious to hear the answer.

Edwin scuffed his foot against the floor. It was all the answer he needed. Tony almost smiled; Edwin still hadn’t worked out exactly how much of a creampuff Loki was for him. He was stern during his magic lessons and never, ever compromised when it came to Edwin’s seidr – but outside that? Tony knew Loki would give him the moon if he only asked.

It was why, Tony already knew what he was signing up for when he said, “Talk to your Father about getting a pet. If you two can agree on something, we can look into it.”

Edwin’s head jerked up and his eyes were wide with shock before he rushed towards Tony and gave him a quick but grateful hug. “Thank you, Dad!”

Tony didn’t even get a chance to raise his hands before Edwin was running out of the room in search of Loki. Tony just shook his head and turned back to what he was working on.

He’d better take the peace and quiet while he could get it, because if they would soon be adding a puppy to the mix, Tony doubted he’d be holding onto a lot of free time.


Loki, as Tony expected, gave in within minutes.

Their trip to the nearest animal shelter was scheduled for the next day, and upon arrival, Edwin was overwhelmed by the number of dogs all clamouring for attention.

Tony had anticipated walking away with a puppy; a bundle of energy and fluff – and, they did, he just didn’t expect they’d walk away with another dog too.

The thing was, they were led to the puppies and Edwin immediately fell in love with a female beagle that was less than a year old. The moment she was in his arms, Edwin was laughing as she licked his neck. He held her close in a loving embrace.

Loki and Tony hadn’t even hesitated to tell the employee that they would take her.

It was as they were walking out with their unnamed dog in Tony’s arms that Edwin had heard a sad little huff and had zeroed in on what must have been the biggest dog in the establishment. It was an Irish Wolfhound.

Edwin walked over immediately, and when he was told it was safe, he pressed his hand against the cage, gaining a sniff and a lick.

They were told by the employee that his name was Sergio and he’d been there for three years. He was four years old and no one had wanted him. Edwin had turned to them with the biggest, saddest most heartbroken eyes and Loki had declared without needing to consult with Tony.

“We’ll have him too.”

The employee was delighted and once they’d signed the secondary paperwork, Loki had Sergio on a lead who was lit up with excitement. Tony was a little concerned that the sheer size of him might be dangerous around Edwin, but Loki shook his head.

“He will be fine. He has a kind heart. He will not hurt a fly.”

The statement turned out to be true as once they got the two dogs home, Sergio seemed happy to simply lie on his new bed and soak up all the pats that they were giving him.

The beagle, by comparison, was running around and exploring everything with extreme curiosity. Loki was keeping an eye on her while Tony ruffled Sergio’s fur.

“Well, kiddo,” Tony said, smiling at Edwin. “What are you going to name her?”

Edwin didn’t even hesitate, “Alfie.”

Tony’s lips twitched and he caught Loki’s amused gaze across the room. He had the distinct impression that their little beagle had just been named after Alfheim.

“Alfie it is,” Loki said, cementing the decision.

And, just like that, their little family grew a bit larger.

Tony pulled out his phone from his pocket and waved it for Loki. The mage rolled his eyes but used some magic to hover it in the air and take the perfect photo of the five of them.

Tony knew it would be the first of many, happy family snaps.

Chapter Text

The next two years passed in what felt the blink of an eye. Alfie grew into a smart, mischievous and highly energetic dog. She had Loki and Edwin running ragged. Tony took to sitting in his makeshift lab, Sergio lying placidly at his feet.

He felt very bonded to their giant wolfhound. Sometimes, he felt like they were the only two not out to cause immediate and total chaos.

Edwin was becoming an amazing mage and his magic studies were split with his time at school. Loki also schooled him on the other realms as well as Earth. He told Tony that, even though he was considered a criminal, Loki was still a prince, and that made Edwin one by rights. Loki would make sure he was raised with the etiquette and knowledge befitting his station.

Tony took to kissing his lover’s cheek and, if it was late at night, asking if his prince wanted to come to bed. It always worked a treat, even if it did mean making Sergio spend a few hours in the hallway (since the wolfhound preferred to sleep on his dog bed in the corner of their room.)

Alfie, by comparison, slept on Edwin’s bed every night, no matter what. The only time that changed was if Edwin was sick and wanted to sleep in the bed with them. Then they ended up with two adults, one child, one beagle and a wolfhound all crammed into a single room.

Tony wouldn’t change it for the world.

Well, that wasn’t entirely true. There was one thing he would change, and he and Loki were taking steps towards it.

They wanted to tell people they were a couple. They wanted to give Edwin the freedom to be their son, if not in public, then at least around his extended family.

It had been two years in the making, but they had made progress. Pepper knew the truth. She was the first person they’d told and after much assurances and promises, she’d agreed to keep their secret. Pepper had also demanded to meet Loki.

Loki and Tony had teleported to her in New York and, after a long discussion and Pepper cross-examining and grilling Loki more furiously than a lawyer in court, she was willing to believe them and be teleported to their house to meet Edwin.

She adored him, Alfie and Sergio. She also smiled warmly whenever she saw the photos of their family together. It had been a year and Pepper now considered Loki a friend, and visited them at least once a month.

Rhodey was the harder sell, and it had involved Pepper helping them get him alone and away from The Avengers, SHIELD or the military. Loki had teleported Tony to New York and he’d been waiting in Pepper’s apartment.

When Rhodey saw him, he’d pulled him into the tightest hug and Tony had clung back. He’d missed his best friend. Rhodey had then demanded to know where Edwin was and well, maybe Tony should have been less blunt, but all he’d been able to say was: “He’s with his Father.”

Pepper had sighed in the background, knowing all their carefully laid plans had just been thrown aside. Rhodey’s eyes had widened and he’d started asking questions; wanting to know ‘who, when, how’. Tony had pulled in a breath and dropped the bombshell.

And, like Tony expected, ‘It’s Loki’ didn’t go down well.

It took almost two hours of arguments and Pepper weighing in on Tony’s side. It took showing Rhodey pictures and videos stored on his phone. It took him saying, ‘I love him more than anything, and I’d marry him in a God damn heartbeat’ before Rhodey actually started to calm down.

He demanded a meeting too, and after Loki showed up, and they spoke for another hour, Rhodey agreed to keep quiet.

That was six months ago, and Rhodey was also a frequent visitor to their house now. He seemed to like Loki too, if the growing list of ‘embarrassing Tony stories’ he told was any indication.

Things were going so damn well, and Tony probably should have expected that their good luck would run out.

It was a normal Saturday morning, Loki was reading a book in the living room, absently patting Sergio’s head where it rested on his leg. Tony was sipping coffee and watching Edwin play tug of war with Alfie.

When his phone rang, he lit up at seeing Rhodey’s name and placed it to his ear, “Hey honeybear, how’s-”

“The Avengers know Loki’s there. They’re on route to protect you.”

“They what?!?” Tony demanded, leaping to his feet. “What the fuck? How did they possibly-”

“Odin called in a favour with someone off-world. I only just found out. I’m not with them, Tony. They’re coming and they think Loki is a threat.”

“Shit, shit, shit,” Tony cursed.

“Tony?” Loki demanded, on his feet and full of concern. Edwin was staring up at him with wide eyes. He never swore in front of Edwin.

“The Avengers know you’re here,” Tony told him. “Odin did something. Loki, they think you’re a threat.”

Loki stiffened. “I’ll leave.”

Tony grabbed for him, not even letting Loki call for his magic. “Don’t. No, stay here. Loki, this is your home. I’m not letting them send you away.”

“Tony-”

“No!” Tony growled. “You’re my partner. This is where you belong, they’re the ones who aren’t meant to be here.” He came close and cupped Loki’s cheek. He pressed their foreheads together and vowed, “I will not let anyone take you away from me - from us.”

Loki closed his eyes and leant further against Tony. “I do not want any of you to come to harm.”

“We won’t let that happen,” Tony insisted. “We won’t let them tear us apart.”

It took a moment but Loki finally gave a small nod. He also pulled back. Loki was suddenly calm and composed. “Edwin. You will take Alfie and Sergio to your room. It’s heavily warded and I will add additionally layers to it and the house. You will not leave the room until your Dad or I come to get you, do you understand?”

Edwin’s eyes were wide with alarm, but he knew better than to argue. “Yes, Father.”

“You’ll take my phone,” Tony added. He put the phone back to his ear. “Rhodey?”

“Still here.”

“Tell Pepper to call my phone. I’m giving it to Edwin. If anyone but us gets into the room, she’s his nominated legal guardian. She’ll keep him safe.”

“On it,” Rhodey answered. He hung up a moment later and Tony offered the phone to Edwin who took it.

He held it to his chest while looking between them. Loki stepped forward and knelt down. He placed his hands on Edwin’s shoulders and held his gaze. His voice was soft but serious, “Edwin, no matter what happens, know that I love you, and am proud of you. I could not have asked for a greater gift than being your Father.”

“Father,” Edwin whispered, his eyes tearing up before he threw himself around Loki, hugging him fiercely. Loki’s arms instantly came around him, holding on tight.

Tony felt his own eyes sting. They both knew what Loki was doing: he was saying goodbye on the chance that he was taken away and could never see Edwin again.

Loki pulled back, although it looked like he didn’t want to. He ran his hand over Edwin’s head and gave him a smile that couldn’t hide all his sorrow. He then kissed Edwin’s forehead before he was standing and striding out of the room, no doubt beginning to place wards on the house.

Tony walked over to Sergio and took the confused dog by the collar helping to guide him towards Edwin’s room. “Grab Alfie.”

Edwin followed his order and soon had the dog in his arms. Yet, unlike the usual squirming, she was placid, possibly aware that something was very wrong and she needed to behave. When they reached his door, Tony guided Sergio inside before letting go of him. Edwin was standing with the phone and Alfie in his arms. He was pale and his eyes were wet.

“Dad…”

Tony cupped his son’s cheek. “No matter what happens,” Tony began. “You and Loki will always be the best thing to happen to my life. Sergio and Alfie too. You’re the family I never thought I’d have, but that I cherish above all else. I love you.” He bent down and kissed the top of Edwin’s head. He pulled back. “I’m going to help protect us, and protect Loki. Stay here, be quiet, and look after Sergio and Alfie.”

He stepped back and shut the door, taking a moment to push all his emotions down before turning and heading for the lab. He had an Iron Man suit, but he bypassed it for a single gauntlet. He didn’t want to hurt his friends, but he damn well would if it was them or Loki.

Tony wanted this to work. He wanted to convince everyone to fuck off and leave them alone – but if that couldn’t happen. Tony would make sure Loki fled with Edwin.

Pulling on the gauntlet, he went to find his lover.

Loki was beside the front door, his hands and eyes glowing green. Tony stood next to him, letting their arms brush. It took almost a minute for Loki’s eyes and hands to fade. He looked over at Tony. “The wards are in place. I’ve done everything I can.”

Tony took Loki’s hand and linked their fingers. “We’re as ready as we can be.” He squeezed Loki’s hand. “And if it isn’t enough, I want you to grab Edwin and skywalk the two of you to Alfheim.”

“Tony-” Loki instantly protested.

“No," Tony interrupted him. "You need to be safe, and Edwin needs a magic teacher. Like fuck am I letting SHIELD near him. They can’t do shit to me; I’ve got Pepper in my court and there are no laws I’ve broken. The two of you will be safe with the Elves.”

“I will not leave you,” Loki hissed. “I refuse.”

“Tough shit,” Tony snapped. “I won’t have them capture you or Edwin. If you’re both safe, then that’s all I need. I’ll be let out eventually, and Pepper can look after Sergio and Alfie in the meantime.”

Tony,” Loki whispered, his voice pained.

Tony squeezed Loki’s hand before bringing it to his lips for a kiss. “You can come get us later. Just, promise me, if it’s looking like the worst is happening, you’ll grab Edwin and run.”

Loki swallowed. He closed his eyes and leant down, resting his forehead against Tony’s temple.

“Very well,” Loki whispered.

They both knew it was the safest backup plan.

Yet, they didn’t have long to linger close and draw comfort from each other as Loki jerked back. “They’re here.”

Tony didn’t hear the aircraft, but then, if they were aiming for stealth that wasn’t surprising.

Loki moved to let go of his hand, but Tony held firm. Loki glanced at him and Tony glared, refusing to lose his connection to the other man. Loki’s expression softened before he turned to the front door, determination now flooding his features. He pulled open the door and together they walked out, hand in hand to face the Avengers.

They found Steve, Natasha, Thor and Clint all running towards the house but they stuttered to a stop when they saw the two of them. Tony had his gauntlet half raised but Loki was standing tense, but unthreatening. Bruce wasn’t anywhere to be seen.

Clint’s bow was slowly rising, but he didn’t look ready to actually shoot. Natasha was frowning heavily, trying to work them out. Steve’s posture was openly bamboozled while Thor was blinking rapidly.

“Tony…?” Steve began.

“Yeah, hi. Thanks for showing up unannounced and planning to attack my lover, partner and Edwin’s other Father. Cheers for that.”

The stunned silence that followed would have been amusing at any other time, but right now, it just made his anxiety and tension coil tighter.

“Is this true, Loki?” Thor asked, taking a hesitant step closer. “Are you and Stark lovers? Is his son… your son?”

“Yes,” Loki answered, without hesitation. “I have been living here for five years. This is my family, Thor.” A hint of anger and agony swirled through his words. “You will not take this away from me.”

Thor and Loki held gazes for a long time, before, much to Tony’s surprise, Thor smiled. The expression was soft and awed.

“You are happy.” He laughed and placed his hammer back on his belt. He shook his head, his entire expression glowing. “Oh, it is now so clear! No mischief, no mayhem, nothing of you - and you are here.”

He walked up to the house and while Tony and Loki both tensed, Thor merely brought his hand to Loki’s neck, clasping it gently. “My brother. You have found your place and your home. The Allfather himself could not make me take this from you.”

Loki’s mouth opened and his eyes widened; shock stealing his speech. He swallowed thickly. “You will not oppose me?”

“No, Loki,” Thor insisted. “I will not deny you and your family your happiness.” He dropped his hand from Loki’s neck and turned to stand beside him. “Instead, brother, I will help you protect it.” He looked down at the Avengers and tilted up his chin. “If you still seek to attack my brother,” he pulled Mjölnir into his hand. “Then you will have to fight through me.”

Clint glanced over at Steve who was frowning. Natasha’s stance had already relaxed, proving she at least, no longer expected a fight. It seemed to only be confirmed when Bruce made his way out of the jet and joined the other Avengers. Tony brightened at seeing his Science Bro, while Bruce sent him a small smile.

“If there isn’t going to be a fight, and if it’s alright with you and your partner, Tony. I would love to meet your son.”

“Yes!” Thor instantly insisted. “I wish to meet my nephew!”

Tony glanced at Loki, who still seemed surprised this had all gone so smoothly. Tony raised his eyebrows and Loki frowned before giving a half-shrug. Tony smiled and turned back to Steve, Clint and Natasha.

“That depends,” he said, directing his question at them. “Is there going to be a fight?”

Steve softened. “No, Tony.” He sighed. “I can’t say I’m particularly happy about it, but…” He clicked his shield back into place. “If this is why Loki hasn’t attacked in years…”

“We’re happy to let it lie,” Natasha filled in. Clint followed it by slinging his bow back over his shoulder.

Tony let out a soft breath of relief. “Okay. Great. Awesome.”

He let out an incredulous laugh before turning to Loki. He couldn’t resist pressing up and kissing his lover’s lips in a relieved, disbelieving kiss. Loki barely kissed him back, but Tony understood. He was surrounded by his former enemies; he had a right to be tense.

It was why Tony pulled back and tugged at Loki’s hand, moving them to the door. He let him go if only to push him towards the house. “Go get our son.”

Loki only hesitated for a moment before stepping inside. Tony gave him a few seconds before following, he directed the Avengers into the living room. They were looking around curiously. Clint alighted on the dog toys. “You have a dog?”

“Two,” Tony answered.

Natasha and Steve had headed directly to the mantle full of family photographs. Steve picked up the one of the three of them covered in paint. “He really has been here for years. Edwin must be five in this.” He glanced up. “He’s ten now, isn’t he?”

“Yeah,” Tony said. “That was before we were a couple.”

Steve frowned. “How long was Loki here before you were a couple?”

“He started showing up when Edwin was two. He kept coming, didn’t he?” Natasha asked, yet her tone said it was more a statement than a question.

Tony paused, not sure about giving it away, but Bruce, his genius Science Bro caught on. “Oh!” Bruce sounded surprised. “Loki’s a mage. So is Edwin.”

“Ah!” Thor almost seemed to be bouncing with excitement. “My brother finally gained a pupil to pass on all his knowledge! And to have that pupil be his son!” Thor looked like Christmas had come. “Loki had always wanted such a thing.”

The Avengers looked surprised by the confession, but Tony wasn’t. He’d known for years.

He was saved from a response when Alfie came bounding into the room, full of curiosity and excitement. She barked happily as she bounced from person to person, sniffing everyone. Steve bent down with a smile to offer his hand, and she immediately licked him and wagged her tail.

Tony barely glanced at her, and neither did Thor, their attention was on the hallway where Loki and Edwin appeared. Edwin looked worried and was still clutching the phone. Loki’s hand was on his shoulder, keeping him close. Sergio was at their side, standing tall and protective beside Edwin.

Edwin barely looked at anyone else, his eyes found Tony. “Dad?”

“It’s okay, Edwin,” Tony assured him. “They’re not here to hurt me, or your Father. They just want to meet you.”

Bruce was the first to approach. He gave a gentle smile. “Hello, Edwin. My name is Bruce, I’m a friend of your Dad.”

Edwin frowned. “Bruce." He looked at Tony before back at Bruce. "Dad says you used to invent stuff together?”

“We did,” Bruce agreed, his smile growing. He held out his hand for Edwin to shake. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Edwin bit his lip and looked up at Loki. When the mage nodded, he shyly held out his hand and shook Bruce’s. “Nice to meet you.”

Thor was the next to approach, filled with unending enthusiasm. He gave Sergio a pat, without any fear of the large dog, being rewarded by Sergio butting into his hand, wanting more. (He was a giant marshmallow, that dog. Give him a pat or a treat and you had a friend for life).

Yet, Thor barely glanced at the dog, his attention was on Edwin. He looked him up and down with marvel. “I have spent many centuries looking forward to this day. My first nephew! I am most honoured to meet you, young Edwin!”

Thor offered his hand and Edwin smiled a little wider as he took it. Tony noticed the mischief in his eyes a second before he asked, “Father said you once wore a dress and almost got married. Did that really happen?”

Tony snorted and carefully covered it by a cough. Loki finally cracked a smile and Clint immediately asked, “Yeah, Thor. Did that really happen?”

Thor sent his brother a frustrated glare. “Must you tell my nephew only the most embarrassing stories, Loki!” Yet, at the look on Loki’s face he sighed and muttered, “Of course you must.” Edwin just giggled. The sound made Thor’s frown turn to a smile. “Aye, my nephew, it is true. Your Father might tease me for this story, but I remain grateful for all he did to assist me.”

Loki seemed startled at that response, but neither Thor nor Edwin noticed as Natasha was approaching next and preparing to introduce herself.

Edwin was getting more excited and interested by the moment, but Tony's gaze kept drifting to Loki. He slipped around the group of Avengers who were talking with Edwin and patting Sergio or Alfie. Tony walked over to Loki who was standing a little behind Edwin. He took his lover’s hand.

“Hey,” he whispered. “Are you okay?” It took a moment before Loki gave a slow nod. Tony wasn’t convinced. “Are you sure?”

Loki finally looked at him. “They are not fighting us, or taking me away from you both. How could I be anything but joyful?”

And that’s when Tony realised, it wasn’t worry that was keeping Loki watching Edwin, it was incredulity, it was hope.

Tony leant up and kissed his lover’s cheek, lingering close and savouring the moment.

It wasn’t solved overnight, and their safe, quiet slice of domestic life would never be the same, but that wasn’t a bad thing. The Avengers were on their side, and if Thor could convince Odin to leave them alone… well, everything would be perfect.

They wouldn’t have to hide. They could visit New York and Tony could show Edwin the mansion and the tower. They’d still have to disguise who Loki was when around the general public, but that didn’t matter. The important people knew and wouldn’t hunt them down for it.

Things were, actually, amazingly, turning out okay.


It was a busy day, and when all was said and done and the Avengers finally left. They were not only exhausted, but they could still barely believe they’d walked out of it unscathed and with the promise that SHIELD wouldn’t know about Loki and that Thor would speak with Odin.

They weren’t out of the woods yet, but they felt hope.

It still meant that they lingered close, none of them wanting to be apart. They set up a mattress with pillows and watched movies in the living room while eating popcorn. Edwin was between them both and Loki’s arm was around Tony’s shoulders. Sergio laid half on Tony’s legs while Alfie slept curled up in Edwin’s lap.

They even had dinner there, Tony ordering a pizza and Loki teleporting to pick it up before reappearing with the food soon after.

When it was time to head to bed for the night, Edwin didn’t even have to ask before they all piled up on the bed together. They were all exhausted from the emotionally draining day, and with the room heavily warded, they fell asleep with Tony to Loki’s back and Edwin in the curve of his arms.

Tony woke up hours later in the early morning to find Loki stroking his hair.

“oki’?” he asked.

“It’s early, love, go back to sleep.”

Yet, something about Loki’s words brought him to full wakefulness and he looked over his shoulder at his lover, blinking open his eyes. “What’s the matter?”

Loki sucked in a deep breath, his resistance futile when it came to either Tony or Edwin’s curious brown eyes. “Thor pulled me aside earlier today. Do you remember?”

Tony woke up a lot more, but made sure to keep his voice low so as to not wake Edwin. “Yeah. I remember you came back from the kitchen looking pale. You said everything was fine?”

“It is,” Loki insisted, yet he also shifted even closer and pressed his lips against Tony’s hair.

Tony unwrapped one arm from Edwin to lightly touch Loki’s head, stroking his hair. “What’s wrong, Lokes?”

“I never want to be without you, Tony. You or Edwin. It has pained my heart all these years, knowing how much longer I shall outlive you both.”

Tony’s heart ached. They’d never spoken about it, but they’d both known the truth. Yet, when Loki pulled back and caught his gaze, there was something yearning in his eyes, and that gave Tony reason to pause.

“What did Thor say to you?”

Loki licked his lips. “He said he would petition Odin for the right to give my chosen consort and son the gift of Aesir life.” Loki stroked Tony’s cheek with pure longing. “Tony, I want that more than anything.”

Tony’s eyes were wide with shock. “That… that’s possible?

“It is rarely bestowed,” Loki breathed. “But when requested by the Crown Prince and perhaps with some restrictions laid on me, he might agree.” Loki’s eyes flickered to Edwin. “I know he has always wanted a grandchild, even if it were an adopted mortal mage.”

“That’s, um, that’s a big step, Loki,” Tony whispered. He saw Loki’s face start to fall and for hurt to erupt in his eyes, but Tony instantly soothed him. “I’m not saying no. I’m just saying, we aren’t even married yet, and-”

“Marry me,” Loki said, and Tony startled.

“What?”

“Marry me,” Loki repeated. His hand came up and caught Tony’s, linking their fingers even without looking away from Tony’s eyes. “Marry me, Tony Stark. Let me be your husband for eternity. Let me bind my magic and life to you. Let me bind my magic to our son, the way he has long bound himself to you. Let us be more than just lovers, let us be husbands.”

Tony let out an incredulous, happy laugh. He also smiled wide enough to hurt his cheeks. He didn’t have to think about it. He’d told Rhodey as much months ago, I’d marry him in a heartbeat, and that heartbeat had finally come.

“Yes,” he whispered.

Loki lit up and ducked down to kiss him. Tony kissed back, squeezing Loki’s hand so tight it hurt. He didn’t care.

Their kiss disturbed Edwin, who elbowed Tony and grumbled, “Ew.”

They broke apart to laugh, looking down at their indignant, half-asleep son.

“Edwin,” Loki began, happiness infusing his voice. “How would you feel if your Dad and I got married?” Edwin’s eyes went wide. Loki kept going. “How would you feel, if we bound our magic the same way you bound yours with Tony? And if I made a similar binding between myself and your Dad? Linking us together forever?”

“Oh my God, oh my God!” Edwin shrieked. He clambered half over Tony so he could hug them both. “Yes! Please, please, yes! Can you get married on Alfheim!? Can we do the binding now? How long does it take? Are you going to get rings? What are they going to look like? Can I tell Auntie Pepper? I want us to be bound so bad!”

Tony laughed and shot his fiancé a smile. “I think he’s happy about it, Loki.”

Loki’s dimples were showing how delighted he was. “I think he is too.”

Edwin gave a loud, exasperated groan, causing Loki to ruffle his hair and tug him further on top of them until Tony was forced to make room for him to slip in between them. He just giggled and reached out, grabbing and holding their hands.

“This is the best,” he said, sounding utterly content. “I love you.”

“We love you too,” Tony said gently.

“With all our hearts,” Loki agreed.

“Best Dads in the world,” Edwin declared. “No! The universe.” He nodded. “Best Dad’s ever.”

Tony’s heart swelled and he knew Loki’s did the same. They glanced at each other and shared a smile that couldn’t begin to show how much that phrase meant to them.

After all, they both knew what it was like to have a father they could never truly love, or call ‘best’ so to be able to give that to their son? It meant the world.

And to combine it with a proposal, an acceptance and a long future together? Their lives had never felt more perfect.

Chapter Text

Loki had never been happier than the day he bound his magic to the two most important people in his life - and the day he married Tony.

Edwin had wanted to do the binding straight away, and they hadn’t refused. Loki and Edwin’s magic were already familiar with each other and they linked in a father-son bond that was already half-formed. Tony and Loki’s bond was a different and more complex binding. Edwin sat and watched the entire time. He didn’t even roll his eyes or give his familiar ‘ew’ when Tony and Loki kissed during the ceremony. He seemed too happy by what it represented.

It wasn’t until a year and a half later that they were able to marry.

Odin had demanded to meet Tony and Edwin once Thor had explained the situation and, although Loki had been nervous and unwilling to visit Asgard, he had agreed for Odin to visit them at Avengers Tower.

Odin’s piercing gaze had examined Tony shrewdly, but when he turned to Edwin, he softened. It was an expression Loki hadn’t seen since he was Edwin’s age. It was painful and difficult to watch as Odin interacted with Edwin. His son was uncertain about Odin at first, but he quickly lost his fear and became curious.

After speaking with Edwin for fifteen minutes, Odin then turned to Tony and fired numerous questions at him. It was more of an interrogation than a friendly chat, but Tony withstood it without flinching or hesitating.

When Odin finished, he gestured Loki follow him to the landing pad of Avengers Tower. Loki had stood on edge beside Thor, but Odin said softly, “I am glad you found your place, Loki. This Midgardian will suit you well. And your son…” Odin’s gaze travelled to the tower, his expression turning sad and gentle. “You and your consort raise him well.”

“Fiancé,” Loki had corrected. “Soon to be husband.”

Odin nodded, as if he didn’t expect any different. He also reached into a pocket and proffered a single golden apple. Loki sucked in a sharp breath and took it with trembling hands. “For your husband. When your son becomes an adult, bring him to Asgard for an apple.”

Loki couldn’t believe it. He raised his head. “You cannot simply give me this.”

“I can, and I shall,” Odin stated simply. “For some time, Loki, I thought you lost with no thought save vengeance on your mind. Now, I see the boy I once knew. I see someone of whom I can be proud.” His eyes flickered back to the tower. “I see a man and child I would like to know.” He turned back to Loki. “Bring them to Asgard once a year. I would know my son-in-law and grandson.”

A moment later, he tapped gungnir on the ground and the Bifrost enveloped him, taking him back to the Golden Realm, and leaving Loki with a maelstrom of emotions he didn’t know how to handle.

They were emotions he never truly came to terms with, even after Tony ate the apple on their wedding night; even after they started to visit Asgard once a year.

There was too much history between them for him to simply overlook, even when he owed Odin the lives of his family - when he was still waiting to extend Edwin's.

So, he kept quiet, and let their visits pass without argument.

Of course, there were many arguments that did occur, mostly with Edwin. When he turned fourteen he wanted to learn to fight so he could become an Avenger. They both refused, but eventually agreed he could join when he was eighteen and had eaten a golden apple. Edwin was petulant and unhappy, but he accepted. Loki took to training him to fight with magic, while Tony (and the Avengers who now demanded they visit every few months) took to teaching him how to fight and defend himself without fists and weapons. Thor was always keen to spar with his nephew, teaching him Asgardian fighting techniques at every opportunity.

Edwin had listened attentively for the first few lessons before using one of Loki’s old tricks to knock Thor’s feet out from under him. When he had done it, Tony had laughed himself out of his chair and Loki had beamed with uttter pride. Barton had high-fived Edwin and Edwin had winked mischievously at Loki.

Sometimes, Loki couldn’t believe how purely perfect his life was, but it was moments like this as Edwin crested the age of sixteen, where he simply sat back and enjoyed it.

They were at home and Loki was sitting on the porch with Sergio at his feet and Alfie on his lap. Tony was teaching Edwin how to drive, and he could see them sitting in the car, Tony giving Edwin another explanation about what to do and what not to do.

Something which, now that Edwin was learning about Tony’s more colourful and stupid decisions from his youth, was making Edwin’s responses become more amused and sarcastic. He had a sharp tongue, just like both his parents, only he had a kind and empathetic heart; something that rarely made its way to the surface with Loki and Tony.

He was a sweet boy with a caring disposition. He also knew how to be a little terror, but rarely did so unless he was in front of his parents and wanted to make them proud. Tony thought it was hilarious while Loki thought it was adorable.

Loki couldn’t have asked for a better son, a better husband, and a better life than right now. He was happy, he was content, and he knew things would only get better.

Edwin would grow into a talented mage and a brilliant hero. Loki wouldn’t be surprised if he moved to Alfheim, when he grew tired of Midgard. His love for the planet had never waned, and as Loki’s criminal status was dropped from Asgard and the realms, it meant they had visited more frequently.

In the past, Loki had never looked to the future with excitement, but rather with dread. He had always expected to be alone, and lost behind the blinding light of his brother; but here he sat, bathed in the light that exuded from Tony and Edwin. They welcomed him in with open arms and made the ice from his heritage melt under their affection and love.

Loki had never imagined this would happen when he showed up over a decade ago, preparing for a fight.

But, instead The Norns had given him a family where he was accepted, appreciated and loved.

Breathing in deeply, Loki closed his eyes, relaxed back against the chair, and soaked up every bit of blissful warmth.


Edwin was lucky.

He had the most loving, understanding, amazing parents in the world. He loved his Dad and his Father. His childhood had been perfect, and he looked back on every moment with fondness and happiness.

He had amazing Aunt’s and Uncles and Odin was… well, he was always nice to Edwin, but he knew his parents didn’t get along with him very well. He felt sorry for Odin; he was lonely and full of regret. Edwin was always nice to him when he was on Asgard, and spent a few hours walking the palace with him and learning Asgard’s history or talking about his life on Earth.

He was an Avenger now, so he often regaled Odin with victorious battles or funny anecdotes. His parents didn’t fight for the Avengers anymore, not unless they were in serious trouble. It was up to Edwin, Thor and the newer Avengers.

Edwin loved it. He knew he was making his Dad’s proud.

The first time he’d shown them his hero outfit (he’d worked hard with Bruce and Thor to get it just right) they’d stared at him with shock and awe. It was done in dark grey and the blue of his magic. He’d based it off his Dad’s undersuit but with a gold Asgardian cape. He had an old casing of his Dad’s arc reactor in the centre which he’d filled with his magic for a power source. He’d also found an old golden circlet of his Father’s. Odin said it was from his Father’s youth and had long been discarded. Edwin had taken it reverently. It had two small horns, but one was broken. He wore it, like the arc reactor, as a badge of pride.

He’d held out his arms and declared, “What do you think of Iron Mage?”

“Iron Mage…” his Dad whispered. “And an arc reactor.”

“You’re wearing my horns,” his Father said, just as softly.

“Well, yeah,” Edwin said. “If I’m going to be a hero, I have to let people know who my heroes are.”

His Father let out a small, pained noise while his Dad just came towards him and pulled him into a hug. His father soon followed suit. Edwin grinned and hugged them back tightly.

“Guess our little fawn, finally took after his reindeer father,” his Dad said, sounding choked with emotion.

“How many nicknames do you have for Father?” Edwin asked, sounding more entertained then annoyed.

“Too many,” his father said, but Edwin knew he was lying.

His parents had continued to quibble, and had Edwin laughed along with them, enjoying the warmth and comfort that came from being with them.

He knew how much it meant to them both, because he saw his Father touching the horns with a raw look one night. He also saw his Dad stroking the arc reactor with aching affection. They wouldn’t say anything, but Edwin knew, and it made him wear both pieces with pride.

Whenever he put on his horns and felt the arc reactor against his chest, he knew he was making his parents proud. Edwin also knew that if he ever needed them, they would always be there. They were a family who always had each other’s back.

“Hey kid. What are you doing up there?”

Edwin blinked, and looked down at the floor. He hadn’t realised he’d started floating or that he was a few inches from the ceiling. Peter Parker was looking up at him, smiling with amusement.

“Oh, nothing, I guess. Just thinking.”

“Well, be careful, your horns are almost hitting the roof.”

Edwin reached up to touch them, still worried he’d accidentally damage them. “They’ll be fine.”

Peter took his word for it. He liked that about Peter. He always accepted what anyone had to say. His Father called it foolish naivety. His Dad told him to look after the older man.

“There’s an Avengers meeting in ten minutes,” Peter said. “Thor’s got some news on a new threat.”

Edwin gave a salute and Peter repressed a smile before walking away. Slowly, Edwin lowered himself down to the floor, but paused when he caught sight of himself in the mirror. He always wore the horns and arc reactor, even when he was just walking around the tower.

Everyone he met said he was the spitting image of his Father, but with his Dad’s chocolate eyes. The statements were ridiculous since he was adopted, but he always liked hearing it. He didn’t even bother to correct them.

Who needed to know he was adopted? Because as far as he was concerned, DNA meant nothing, when a magical bond, shared memories, and love gave him his parents.

He was Iron Mage. He was Edwin Stark-Lokison and it was as simple and lucky as that