Pairing/Characters: Tony/Loki. Warnings: Character death, child death, blood, angst, misery... and then a curiously happy end.
Summary: The absolute FINAL part of a series. I promise this time LOL. Other parts are Blue, Red And Green (should never be seen) and Something Borrowed. Something...
~*~ MIDORI ~*~
When they had discovered that Tony was pregnant and couldn't shift back into his normal human form Loki had been overjoyed at the prospect of another baby, and Tony had been struck with abject terror after he remembered how Loki usually gave birth. Loki had calmed his fears; pointing out that his current Frost Giant form was able to carry the child and birth it without the need for a knife or a bathtub, but then Loki himself had started worry about the prospect of where they would live for the next nine months.
When word reached Helblindi of Tony's condition, he offered them a room at the palace, right next door to Ástrior's quarters, and they had stayed there for two months, until Loki started to have crippling panic attacks every time there was a knock at the door. He was terrified that someone would discover his true identity, as such a revelation would put not only Helblindi's position as king in danger, but would place his family jeopardy, so he kept himself hidden away, living in constant fear of discovery.
Tony couldn't bear to watch Loki suffer any longer, so had contacted SHIELD to ask for their help. Two weeks later they arrived back on Earth, traveling through the Bifrost, and landing in Antarctica where SHIELD had been able to get them into a long abandoned research station, under the guise of being a preservation crew, who were to make sure it didn't fall down. It was midwinter, and while the island was populated and a haven for tourists during the summer, now it was far from prying eyes, and cold enough for a Jotun to be comfortable.
Loki had laughed when he had been told they were being relocated to somewhere called Deception Island, and as they arrived Tony had remarked that it looked like something from Lord Of The Rings. Tony had reminded Loki that as he was shorter of them both now, he was technically the hobbit. Loki had pointed out that despite his newfound height, Tony still had the hairiest feet, and the debate had petered out.
They spent hours exploring the wooden shacks, abandoned warehouses, and piles of rusty equipment. They investigated the old whaling ships, and Loki had cried as Tony had him what they were used for. They would swim in the frozen sea, and occasionally dig down into the volcanic soil, then watch as the hole would fill with steaming water. They would bathe in the hot, bubbling water, surrounded by ice and penguins, for as long as they were able to stand it, and then throw themselves into a snowdrift, to cool their overheated skin. They would lay in the permanent darkness and watch the stars overhead.
As Tony lay in the snow, he turned his head slightly and watched Loki, illuminated by the gentle moonlight, lying with his eyes closed, looking utterly content, then he ran his hand over his belly, and started laughing to himself.
"What is so funny?" Loki had asked. "Do you see a constellation in the shape of something crude?"
"This, everything," Tony said, waving his hand. "This whole situation is ridiculous, and I've never, ever, been happier."
"It certainly is rather strange, I'll give you that."
"I'm a member of a different species, living in the Antarctic, I'm laying in the snow with no pants on, and I'm pregnant," Tony said, with another laugh, and then added wistfully, "I never even thought I'd end up with a man. I always assumed eventually Pepper would give in and we'd end up living in a little mansion somewhere, with a white picket electric fence." "Well, there are no men like me."
"The first time Steve told me you said that to him I thought you were just being a complete dick," Tony said. "Now I realise you weren't lying."
"I don't always lie."
"Is that a lie?"
Tony sighed happily and said, "Isn't it amazing that two messed up, crazy people like us could have a family and they'd turn out OK, and not maniacal genius super villains?"
"Well, I know you are quite insane Stark, but I have no mental illnesses."
"And that's while you'll always be crazier than me," Tony said, and Loki let out a snort of derision in response. "Yes, yes, laugh it up Mister I'm going to rule the world and be King Loki."
"I would have won... eventually."
"Actually," Tony said, "After seeing the way you acted that night after Ástrior sneaked out of her room on a school night I can well believe it. I thought you were going to throw her through a window."
"I would not harm her," Loki said, "And besides, you should know I save defenestration just for you, light of my life."
"That's sweet," Tony said. "I think."
"Noooo," Loki whined, as Tony ran a hand up his ribs. "Please, just let me sleep for another hour and I promise I'll service you then."
"You're no fun," Tony said, with a pout. "You're tired all the time lately."
"It's you," Loki said. "You're wearing me out."
"You're getting skinny again, too," Tony said, as he leaned over, pulled the sheet back, and kissed each of Loki's prominent ribs.
"That's you again, making me take too much exercise," Loki said. "We've already done it 3 times tonight. Surely that's enough."
"I can't help it. Being a Jotun makes me horny."
"It's a great shame it does not have the same effect on me."
"Please? Just one more time?" Tony pleaded.
"Can't you just do it yourself?"
"It's not the sameeee," Tony whined.
Loki huffed in displeasure, then turned over, and ran his hand down Tony's body till it was between his legs.
"Don't bother with that," Tony said. "I'm ready to go now."
"Very well," Loki said, stroking himself, and finding it almost impossible to get any kind of response out of his own body at first. He moved over and entered Tony slowly, who moaned loudly in response.
As utterly happy with everything as Loki was right now, he was finding it increasingly difficult to get even remotely turned on by Tony's constant demands for sex. It wasn't that he loved Tony any less, if anything he loved him more than ever, it wasn't even the fact that he was a 10ft tall, 4 months pregnant Frost Giant, it was the fact that he was female, and Loki very definitely preferred male bodies.
The time they had sex on Asgard, both in Frost Giant form, had purely been an experiment on his part, and had proved once and for all that he had zero interest in the female body. Discovering that Tony was going to be stuck like that till he gave birth had been a shock, then an enormous disappointment, but one he kept to himself.
Loki thought back to a Youtube video Tony had once shown him of a Chihuahua trying to mate with a Great Dane, and started to feel faintly ridiculous, and finding it difficult to get any kind of friction inside Tony's large body, and he asked, "Do you need me to shift into something larger? Can you even feel this?"
Tony moaned loudly as he came, and Loki said, "Oh. I suppose you can."
Loki climbed off Tony, lay back in the bed, and pulled the sheets up over himself.
"Aren't you going to finish?" Tony asked him.
"I am too tired."
"I could do it for you."
"Tony, please," Loki whined. "Let me sleep."
"I miss my cock," Tony announced, randomly.
"I miss it too," Loki said, his voice muffled by the sheets he pulled around his face. "I miss lying there and making almost no effort while you pleasure me."
Loki woke the next morning with a pounding headache. He rolled out of the bed and went to the small bathroom, filled a glass with water and then turned on the light. The sudden brightness caused his headache to spike into throbbing pain and he lost his grip on the glass, which dropped to the floor and smashed.
Loki moved his bare feet, trying not to step on the broken glass, but then heard a crunch and felt pain shoot up his leg. He put the toilet seat down and perched on the lid, pulling his foot up so he could dig out the small shard of glass. Blood dripped onto the floor as he pulled it out and then held a tissue to it.
The wound on his foot did not heal, and Loki knew it had begun.
"You look terrible," Ástrior said, as she sat sipping a cup of tea, after teleporting in to drop off supplies.
"I am fine," Loki said, rubbing at his forehead. "You don't look it." "It would possibly help if someone would let me sleep at night," Loki said, casting a weary eye at Tony, who merely shrugged happily in response. "Hormones still driving you wild, eh?" Ástrior asked. "I've got no idea what you're talking about," Tony said.
"You were in the room next to me at the palace. Ice is a great sound conductor," Ástrior said, and Tony looked shocked.
"You heard that?"
"Oh Loki, please harder, harder!" Ástrior said with a laugh, her voice mocking and high pitched.
"This is your fault!" Loki snapped at Tony. "You've corrupted our first born!"
"Oh, father please," Ástrior said, rolling her eyes. "You're quite the screamer yourself."
Loki's eyes went wide, his mouth dropped open and he looked between them both, lost for words, and Tony couldn't stop himself from laughing.
"It's not funny, Stark!" Loki shouted.
"Oooohh, calling me Stark. Someone's in a bad mood!" Tony said, as he laughed again.
"Stop it," Loki said, holding his hand to his forehead. "I am in no frame of mind for your jests today."
"Hey, what's wrong with you?" Tony asked gently, noting that Loki looked in pain.
"My head hurts."
"How can someone with magical healing ability get a headache?" Tony asked.
"It's the spell," Loki said quietly. "It is pulling on my magic quite a lot today."
"What spell?" Tony asked.
"The one that is keeping you as a Jotun."
"What?" Tony asked. "I thought you cast a spell and that was it."
"That's not how shifting someone else works when they don't have their own magic," Ástrior replied. "As long as the spell remains in place it draws a small amount of power from the caster, until it's released."
"So basically it's using him a giant battery pack?"
"Pretty much," Ástrior replied.
"But what about when he was pregnant with you and he was mortal? He didn't have magic then."
"It didn't matter then because when I became mortal my body became a fixed point," Loki replied, still holding a hand to his head. "If I'd had 3 heads when Odin made me mortal, I would have stayed that way."
"When you introduce a baby into the body it changes the spell," Ástrior continued. "It demands that the spell be maintained, but it can't do it itself."
"So what happens now?" Tony asked.
"I maintain the spell until at least six months," Loki said. "At that point she can be born and healing magic will ensure she can survive."
"Can you last another two months with a pounding headache?"
"It appears as if I have very little choice," Loki said with a shrug.
Loki hadn't eaten much in the last week. Steve and Clint had flown down in the Quinjet a few days earlier for a visit, and they had nervously exchanged glances with Tony, as they watched Loki attempt to eat a little soup, then give up when he couldn't stop his hands shaking. The strain of the constant headache was beginning to tell on him.
Tony had made him some toast, slathered it thickly with butter and placed it in front of Loki on a plate, in an effort to tempt him to eat. He knew from experience that Loki could rarely resist such a treat, even though he usually only ate healthy food full of fresh fruit and vegetables, and claimed most Midgardian food was poison. The smell of it even made Tony's mouth water from the other side of the room, but Loki simply watched as the butter melted, with his arms wrapped tightly round his own body, and then he stood up.
"I am tired," Loki announced. "I am going to lay down."
"You haven't eaten your toast."
"I am not hungry," he said, then sniffed loudly, and wiped his nose with the back of his hand. He was surprised to see a smear of red on his skin when he took it away. "I am bleeding."
"My nose is bleeding," Loki said, and Tony quickly got him a cloth, which he took and dabbed it gently at his nose. There were a couple of spots of blood when he pulled it away, and he said, "How strange."
"Sit back down," Tony said directing him to the chair. "Pinch your nose."
Loki didn't understand the command, so Tony took the cloth from his hands, pinched below the bridge of his nose, and held the cloth underneath it.
"This should stop it," Tony said, and he watched as Loki swallowed a couple of times, then squirmed out of his grasp, "Hold still!"
Loki pulled away from Tony, blood streaming from his nose, no longer just a few drips, and then he vomited, bright red blood, into his own lap.
Tony gasped in shock, and knelt down. Loki stared back at him, wild eyed and frightened, and Tony grabbed him by the shoulders, then said, "Wherever you're bleeding from, can you heal it?" Loki shook his head in response, and Tony said, "Loki, you have to call for someone OK, call for one of the kids, you can do it. Think of one of them and they'll come to help us."
Loki closed his eyes, his nose pouring blood like a faucet, and tried to concentrate. Thora was closest, but she was only 16 and he couldn't put her through seeing him like this, so instead he thought of Ástrior. He pushed his mind out till he found her, and sent the only word he could think of, "Help."
Within seconds there was a flash of green light and Ástrior appeared, clad in a green cloak.
"Father," she said, moving to his side. "What happened?"
"He just started bleeding," Tony replied. "We couldn't get it to stop."
She moved behind Loki, gently running her fingers through his hair, as his head began to flop to one side, and his eyes started to close. She ran one hand down till it was cupping his neck, and then rested her cheek against his head.
Tony watched as green tendrils of light entwined them both, the blood flow began to stop, and finally Loki's eyes shot open as he took a deep breath.
"Thank you," he said, with a blood stained smile.
"Anything for you," Ástrior replied, and then she gently kissed him on the forehead.
"You must go home," Loki said, after Tony had cleaned the blood from his face, dressed him in fresh clothes, and laid him on the couch.
"I'm staying. I can't leave when you need me," Ástrior said. "What if this happens again? What happens if it's worse, and you can't call for one of us?"
"You haven't been married long, you must be with your husband."
"He will understand, and if he doesn't he isn't much of a husband."
"I want her to stay," Tony announced from the other side of the room, and Loki glared at him. "You're getting worse."
"It's the spell. It's draining more of his magic," Ástrior said. "More than it should."
"Why?" Tony asked.
"It's the arc reactor," Loki said, looking up from cleaning dried blood from under his fingernails. "It is not a naturally occurring element, it is harder to control. It's tearing the spell apart."
"What happens if the spell collapses?"
"You revert back to your natural form and the child will still be inside you," Loki said. "She is not governed by the spell and will remain unchanged."
"That doesn't sound so bad. You managed it."
"All your female organs will be gone, you will not have a womb," Loki said. "Without a womb, without a blood source, she will be dead within minutes and who knows what internal injuries it could cause you."
"Oh," Tony said. "So what are the options?"
"Either you keep the baby and who knows what effect that might have on father," Ástrior said, and then she took a deep breath, "Or you don't keep the baby."
"Absolutely not!" Loki shouted. "I'm shocked you of all people would even suggest such a thing. You know what I went through to have you. You think I should have casually thrown you away simple because my life was in danger? I will not lose another child."
"But it's not just your life you're risking here," Ástrior shouted back. "I'm not willing to lose both my parents because you two couldn't keep your hands off each other for five damn minutes!"
"It will not come to that," Loki said quietly, in response to her sudden outburst.
"You have no idea what this will do," Ástrior said, and stamped out of the room, out into the snow and slammed the door loudly behind her.
Tony knew the reason behind Loki abject refusal to even hear about the possibility of removing the child that was developing inside him. Aside from his other children who were taken from him, there was a more recent, raw open emotional wound that had cut both of them deeply.
Before Ástrior had announced she was getting married, Loki had been bored enough to create Lacey Stark, a pretty young woman whose job in a local day care center not only gave him something to do on weekday mornings, but stemmed his constant need for something to take care of.
They hadn't been able to help themselves and occasionally fooled around a little, while Loki was in Lacey's form, but they were always careful to make sure that Loki shape shifted back to his male form straight away after they were finished, to make sure he didn't get pregnant.
Well, almost always, apart from that one Friday night when they were both drunk, and Tony found Loki crying in the bathroom the next morning because he couldn't change back. At first Tony wondered if he had done it on purpose, but soon changed his mind.
"I'm going to be stuck in this body for nine months," he said. "Nine whole months!"
"It won't be so bad," Tony said, putting his arm around Loki's shoulder.
"I miss my penis," Loki wailed, burying his face in Tony's neck.
"You can have mine any time you like," Tony said, fighting his rising urge to laugh.
"Oh, very funny!" Loki snapped, pulling away from him. "You aren't the one who is going to have to sit down to use the toilet for 9 months!"
A month later Ástrior had come round for breakfast and as they all sat round the table, she handed Loki a spoon, their fingers brushed together, and she snatched her hand back as if shocked.
"Wow," she said. "I guess congratulations are in order."
"You can tell?" Tony asked, almost dropping his cup of coffee.
"Of course she can tell," Loki said. "The baby has a very clear signature."
"Yeah, and she's a feisty one," Ástrior said.
"I never understand what you all mean by signatures."
"It's a very physical thing, like a smell or a taste. Everything has it's own signature." Ástrior said.
"So I have one?"
"You are very unusual," Loki said, as he spooned yogurt onto a bowl of fresh fruit. "You have two signatures, one for you and one for your Arc reactor. I must say the signature of the Arc reactor is very much more pleasing than yours."
"Yeah, it's relaxing, kinda like a night-light," Ástrior said, and Loki nodded. "I love being around it."
"Wait," Tony said, "So if I didn't have my Arc reactor, you all wouldn't like being around me so much?"
"Shall I remove it so we can find out?" Loki asked, cocking his head to the side.
Tony was woken the next morning by a slight chill, as Loki had obviously climbed out of bed and left the sheets pulled back. He dragged them back over himself, and then heard a small muffled sound coming from the bathroom. He closed his eyes, preparing to fall back to sleep, then snapped them open again when he heard the sound again and realized someone was crying.
He jumped out of the bed, put his ear to the door, and then tapped gently on it.
"Loki?" he asked. "Are you OK in there?"
He waited for a reply, but when none was forthcoming, he pushed the door open gently.
"Ohhhh, Loki, no," Tony said, when he saw Loki was sat in the bathtub, back in his male form, with his bloodied nightshirt pulled up around his waist.
Loki looked up, his eyes puffy and red from crying, and he sobbed, "I can't find her."
Tony moved quickly and knelt by the bath, wrapping his arms tightly round Loki, and they both cried.
"You need to eat something," Tony said as he lay on the sofa with Loki in his arms, hours later.
"I'm not hungry," Loki replied.
"I could order some of that nice soup you like from the Szechuan Place?"
Loki shook his head, and then said, "What will we tell Ástrior?"
"You should tell her the truth."
"No, I don't want her to know."
"We could tell her the time wasn't right, but why don't you want her to know?"
"I'm sorry," Loki said softly, his breath hitching in his chest.
"Sorry for what?"
"This has never happened to me before," Loki said, starting to cry again. "I must have done something wrong, but I don't know what it was."
"Hey," Tony said, running hand over the back of Loki's head. "This was not your fault, OK? These things happen on their own, you have nothing to be sorry for."
"But I must have-"
"Stop," Tony said, cutting him off. "You did NOTHING wrong. We can try again."
"No, no," Loki replied, rubbing his eyes. "I could not go through this again. It hurts too much."
The days had blurred together before Loki got sick, and time seemed to pass quickly as they spent hours just having fun and laughing together, but now he was slowly getting worse every day, and it was at least another month till the child could be born and survive, even with the help of healing magic. Family and friends had come to visit, each of them shocked by Loki's rapidly deteriorating condition, and no one could remember when he had last eaten or drank. His dwindling stores of magic were keeping him alive, and no one could predict how long he could keep going before they ran out.
Odin had sent for the finest sorcerers in all the nine realms, and all had given the same advice: let the baby go, but Loki would hear none of it. After they left, Loki had asked to be alone, his body aching from the magical prodding the sorcerers had subjected him to, but after an hour he found he could not sleep and had asked Ástrior to sit with him.
"I have lied to you," Loki said quietly, after a while.
"You are Loki Liesmith, father," Ástrior said, smiling gently. "I would expect nothing less."
"I told you once I gave a child away," Loki said. "That was not true."
"Oh father," She said, leaning over to hug him, and kiss his cheek. "Why did you think you needed to lie to me about that?"
"I would rather you think bad of me for doing that than, than careless for losing her."
"I would never think bad of you, no matter what you did," she said. "I am yours, and you are mine, and I will never judge you."
"I loved her so very much," Loki said. "She was happy and bright and she would have been the best of all of us. Then one day she was just gone and I don't know what I did wrong."
"You did nothing wrong," she said, wiping away his tears, and pulling him closer. "The time was not right. It was not your fault."
"She has found her way back to us," Loki said. "She lives now, within Tony, and I cannot bear to lose her again. She speaks to me with no words, she tells me how much she loves us and wants to be born. She sings to comfort me when I cannot sleep. If you heard her you would see why I cannot let her go."
"I understand that, but she's killing you."
"Promise me, promise me you will let none harm her and I will promise you in return that I will fight as hard as I can to see her born. If you listen to her you will understand why."
"You promise me you will not die?"
"I cannot promise that," Loki said, "But I promise I will fight as hard as I can to stay with you."
"Then I give you my word that will not allow anyone to harm her," Ástrior said, pulling her legs up onto the bed and lying back on the pillows, Loki's head still cradled up against her neck.
"Thank you," he said, and closed his eyes, finally able to drift into a fitful sleep.
Later Ástrior crept out of the room and went through to the living room where Tony was sitting on the couch.
"How is he?"
"That's good," Tony replied.
Ástrior sat next to Tony, he put his arm round her, and then pulled her into an embrace.
"He is very ill," she said, "But he has promised not to leave us."
Tony kissed her on the top of the head, and said, "We'll find a way through this."
Ástrior ran a hand up Tony's side, placing it on his stomach. She closed her eyes, and cried as the baby sang a wordless song to her.
Loki hadn't spoken in a week, and his body was slowly shutting down, clinging to life, but maintaining the spell. He spent most of his time asleep, but had stirred briefly when Odin, Frigga and Thor had arrived.
Frigga had softly sat on the edge of the bed, taken hold of his hand, and then lent down to kiss his forehead tenderly. Loki's eyes had flickered open, and he looked round the room. He smiled as Frigga sang him a lullaby, the same one she had sung to them as children, and Thor had left the room, weeping inconsolably.
The attacks of bleeding and pain were coming more frequently now, and Ástrior had pulled a rickety bed into her parents' room to be close to her father, in case he needed her during the night.
"What happens if he dies?" Tony asked one day, as he pulled Ástrior out of the room, after healing Loki from a tear in his liver, which had left him writhing in agony.
"The spell will transfer to the nearest genetic and energy match and start drawing from their power instead."
"So it'll choose you?" Tony asked. He hadn't even considered the possibility.
"Yes," Ástrior replied. "If father dies, the spell will take me next."
"You have to leave now," Tony said, grabbing her hand.
"NO! I will not go," she shouted, dragging her hand away from his. "Our father gave up everything for us, he gave up the right to rule this realm for us, and I will not abandon him when he needs me."
"You have to. You have to get as far away from here as possible."
"Oh dad," she said softly, putting her hand to his cheek. "It doesn't matter where I go, it will still find me. Distance is no object to a spell like this."
"Then you have to help me then, help me get rid of the baby," Tony said desperately. "I don't want to, but I can't lose you all."
"I gave my word to father that I would not allow that to happen, and I cannot break it," Ástrior said. "Even if you try on your own, you would not be able to hurt the baby."
"What are we going to do?"
"I think it's time you called all your children home," she replied softly.
It hadn't taken long for them to arrive. Steven had excused himself from a trip on the Earths first manned expedition to Neptune, but he didn't really mind as he had already stood on the surface of the planet as a child, surrounded by a bubble of his fathers magic that kept a breathable atmosphere within it.
Maria, Virginia and Edward all worked for Stark industries in the R&D department and had no problem getting time off since the big bad boss was their dad, and Thora cut classes at Harvard without giving much of an explanation, knowing she could make up anything she missed since she was so far ahead of her classmates.
They worked in shifts; always making sure someone was sat by Loki's bed, just in case he needed healing, as he was slowly faded away.
"Dad!" Ástrior shouted one afternoon, and Tony came rushing into the room.
"What is it?"
"I think it's time," she said quietly, wiping her face.
"No, no, it can't be…" Tony said. "There's still two weeks to go."
"I don't think he can hang on much longer," she said, as Tony climbed onto the bed and noted that Loki was barely breathing. "Lay next to him."
"What are you doing?" Tony asked, as Ástrior gently cupped her hand against the back of Loki's head.
"I want him to see you," She replied. "I want him to see you how you really are. How he remembers you."
She closed her eyes, and after a moment she said, "I can see his thoughts. He's thinking about when you met. Oh… I think I just saw my own conception."
Tony lay on the bed, turning to face Loki, and felt his daughters hand snake into his hair, and rest against the back of his head. He felt a strange prickling sensation creep along his scalp, he closed his eyes, and when he opened them again he was in a different room.
He recognised the bed, Loki's bed in his old room in Asgard, and Tony span round to see Loki sat by a roaring fire, the golden light of flames illuminating his pale skin in a soft glow, and he looked so breathtakingly striking that Tony felt like he'd been kicked in the chest.
"I always loved winter in Asgard," Loki said, not taking his eyes off the hearth. "There is something comforting about an open fire, don't you think?"
"It's beautiful," Tony said, and Loki finally turned to face him and smiled softly.
"Come sit with me," Loki said, and the chair he was sitting in shimmered and turned into a bench strewn with comfortable cushions.
"Don't do this," Tony said, as he sat down and took hold of Loki's hand. "Don't do this. Let go of the spell."
"You know I can't do that."
"I can't lose you."
"And I can't lose her. Not again."
"What do you mean?"
"The child you are carrying, she is the one we lost. She chose us. She waited for us."
"US, Loki not me. She wants you too," Tony said. "Let the spell go and she'll find her way back to us."
"No," Loki said, sternly. "I will not disappoint her again. If I did that and she didn't find us again I could not live with myself."
Tony watched as Loki moved his hand over and placed it on his stomach, then the most beautiful sound he had ever heard filled the room. An ethereal, siren song, and he felt his eyes get wet.
"Do you hear her?" Loki asked, and Tony nodded, unshed tears finally spilling down his face. "Do you understand now why I cannot let her go?"
"Yes," Tony whispered.
"She loves you," Loki said, cupping Tony's cheeks in his hands and kissing him, "And you will be able to love her enough for both of us."
Loki kissed him again, deeper this time, and then lowered his hand to Tony's crotch.
"What are you doing?" Tony asked.
"I aim to have you one last time," Loki replied, with a glint in his eye. "You can grant me one last request, can't you?"
"We can't do it now. Ástrior will be watching. She said she could see your thoughts."
Loki paused a moment, set his head to one side and replied, "She said she will look away."
"Oh, OK then," Tony said and kissed him back.
They made love on the rug in front of the fire, a phrase Loki would have scoffed at, until now, and afterwards as they lay in each others arms he said, "Her name is Elska, by the way. She chose it herself."
"What does it mean?" Tony asked.
"It means 'love'," Loki said. "Through you, and our children, I have learnt what that word means."
They lay in silence for a moment, Tony idly stroking Loki's hair, and then Loki quietly said, "It's time for me to go."
"I know," Tony replied, brushing his thumb over Loki's brow.
"I have one final gift for you," Loki said, moving his hand to Tony's stomach, and then the room started to shake. The walls began to crack as the shaking increased in violence, and slabs of gold fell onto the bed, as the room was destroyed around them until there was nothing but blackness left.
"Goodbye," Loki said, kissing him one last time, and when Tony opened his eyes, after they parted, he heard the soft sounds of his children crying in the room, and Loki lay lifeless next him, with one hand on Tony's stomach.
Before Tony had a chance to react he felt an enormous cramping sensation in his abdomen, and when he looked down his belly was bigger than it had been before.
"What's happening?" Tony asked, and then he gasped as the pain came again.
"You're going into labor," Ástrior said, as she moved her hand over him.
"No, I can't be," Tony said. "It's too soon."
"Father moved the baby along with the last of his magic," she said, her nose starting to trickle blood. "She's coming now."
Tony wrapped his fingers around Loki's cooling, slack hand, and held on tight while he pushed, his children using their magic to help their sibling out into the world as quickly and painlessly as possible.
They built a funeral pyre outside where only two months ago, Tony and Loki had laid on their backs and laughed as they made snow angels in the darkness. They dressed him in his finest armor, and covered him with a fine embroidered green tapestry that Frigga and Odin had brought from Asgard. They had each placed gifts next to him, then built the pyre higher.
Now he was back in his normal human body Tony had been forced to wear polar gear to combat the cold, and while he was glad to be human, and could pee standing up again, he missed the freedom of trekking across the beautiful antarctic landscape in nothing but a scrap of material.
"Hello my darling," Frigga said as Tony handed her Elska, who was all bundled up in the white fur pelt that Thor had given them many years ago, when Ástrior was first born. Tony remembered how Loki had always loved that pelt and had lovingly wrapped all his children in it when they were young. Just thinking about it made his insides ache.
"I will take care of her," Frigga said, as she ran a comforting hand down Tony's arm, then he turned to Thor who handed him a flaming torch.
"Are you sure you don't want to do this?" Tony asked him.
"No," Thor replied. "He would want you to do it."
"I suppose I should feel glad no one expects me to jump on there with him."
"There is still time if you change your mind," Thor said with a smirk, and Tony smiled.
Tony stepped forward and held the torch to the base of the pyre and the fire quickly took hold. Soon it was burning brightly in the midwinter darkness, the flames reaching up into the sky so high that Tony wondered if people could see it like a beacon on the horizon miles away.
He stepped back from the pyre, taking Elska in the crook of his arm and he moved towards his children. He hugged each of them in turn, then settled next to Ástrior, who wrapped her arms around him and rested her head on his shoulder.
"I wish he could have seen how beautiful she is," Tony said as he looked down at Elska, and wrapped his free arm around his first daughter.
"He knew her," she said. "That's the most important part."
"By the way," Ástrior said, after a while. "I never said I would look away."
"Oh" Tony said. "So you saw everything?"
"Oh yes" she replied. "Father was a liesmith till the end."
"I wouldn't have it any other way," Tony said, watching as the smoke billowed into the sky. It was almost a year later when Ástrior announced she was pregnant for the first time. Tony was overjoyed at the thought of being a grandparent, and knew it would just be the first of many.
She gave birth to a beautiful, black haired son, whose green eyes watched them all intently with a knowing stare. Tony had to have it explained to him why all his kids were smiling at each other secretly, and exactly why Ástrior had named him Loki.
The title came from this page. Midori is the Japanese word for green. According to that page green is the colour for eternal life, and in several religions it is the colour of rebirth, springtime and hope.