In Love With The Darkness

Warnings: Explicit content ahead...

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

By the time Eira awoke, the sun was setting and the last of its rays gilded her face, piercing her eyelids as she winced and raised her head from where it lay on Loki's chest.

She looked away, only to see that Loki was still asleep, his eyes tightly shut, his face peaceful and relaxed. For a moment, she watched him sleep, her eyes gliding over his handsome features, still so haunted and pale, after all this time. Memories skimmed across the surface of her mind, too fast to truly examine, as she softly frowned.

There was still so much she did not know, beyond what she'd been taught in her human life, about Loki and what happened to him. How he came to rule Earth and why he was allied with the Chitauri.

Sighing, she slipped from the bed, her bare feet silent on the cool marble, and Loki did not stir. He was as exhausted as she had been, but now new energy flowed in her veins and she wasn't willing to sleep anymore. She smoothed her hair down, and decided to check on Anna while Loki slept.

Dressing quickly in a simple white gown, she walked from her bedchambers, only to find a number of guards awaiting her, all the bearing the dark cloaks of the mutants who served Loki. Their leader, a tall, dark-skinned female with silver streaks in her hair, stepped forward respectfully.

"My Queen," she bowed, one hand fisted over her heart. "We came as soon as the messages came that the Resistance attacked. How fares the King?"

"He is resting," Eira murmured, evasively. She didn't want them to know exactly how severe his injuries had been. As much as she wanted to remove whatever magic Loki used to keep the humans in check, she didn't want to weaken his reign that way, and she still didn't know exactly how Loki ensured their obedience. He had many enemies, ones that would not think twice about using his weakness against him and not care about the humans left behind. She had to be subtle and cunning in this new game of theirs. "There must be a gap in the magic surrounding this place. Search for it and send word when you find it. What of our prisoners?"

"Five dead, eleven currently under guard. We have treated their wounds as you instructed, my Queen," the leader of the mutants replied courteously, frowning slightly as Eira did. "What is it, my lady?"

"There were seventeen Resistance fighters," Eira murmured, her mind racing as she remembered, for the first time, Peregrine and his desperate rescue attempt. Her heart pounded, and she gripped the mutant's arm. "Take me to them, now!"

She was shown to the cellar where the captured Resistance fighters had been taken, all either still unconscious or securely bound so they would not be a threat. In the darkness, Eira searched intently for a familiar face, although she had known many now imprisoned in the cellars, she didn't find Peregrine.

He had escaped.

She wasn't sure if she felt relieved or concerned anew by his escape. On the one hand, she'd desperately wished he'd never come after her and was happy he had gotten away, but on the other, she knew he would not give up. The vow he had made to Jaina long before, to always protect her, would not let him.

The mutants were standing, awaiting her orders, and inwardly she marvelled how quickly she'd fallen back into giving commands. Everything she had once known and experienced was slotting into place again.

"Take them to the Capital," she told them firmly. "Keep them under guard but do not harm them. Treat them well and ensure they are taken care of until the King and I return to the city."

"Very well, my Queen," the mutants' leader bowed, raising curious brown eyes to hers. Her gaze was strong and unwavering, making Eira feel like she was being scrutinised with a fine toothpick. She held her gaze firmly, still inwardly surprised by the self-will in those eyes. How was Loki doing it?

"What is your name?" Eira asked softly, as she turned away and led them out of the cellars.

"Kamaria, my Queen," she replied. "Kamaria Munroe."

"Thank you, Kamaria. You're not related, by any chance, to the legendary Storm of the X-Men?"

"An ancestor, my Queen," the mutant nodded, looking a little uneasy. Storm and the X-Men had been some of the longest to hold out against Loki during his conquest of Earth. "I do not share my ancestor's rebellion against the King, my Queen, I assure you of that-"

"I'm sure you do not," Eira's lips quirked, a little sardonically. "But you shouldn't be ashamed of her, Kamaria. She fought long for a cause she believed in, more than most. You should be proud of her conviction, if nothing else."

Kamaria stopped, frowning slightly, as she regarded the new Queen. This one was not like the others. "Thank you, my Queen," she bowed her head. She hesitated, a compulsion in her mind whispering against her next words, but Eira's strong gaze and warm words had unloosed her tongue. "If ever you should need my aid, you only have to call."

"Thank you, Kamaria," Eira smiled softly, before she turned aside and strode for the servants' quarters.

The servants' quarters were located in a back wing of the palace, out of the way and small, but comfortable enough for its inhabitants. Once again, Eira was surprised as she walked through the silent corridors, the wing empty of the servants who were assisting the mutants to remove the fallen or injured Resistance fighters, tending to their own wounded and repairing as best they could the damage done to the palace. All the rooms were empty, but Eira glanced around them curiously.

They were all spartan, with just a bed, a chest for storing clothing, a table and a chair, but the servants had brightened their living quarters with little touches here and there: a small vase of purple wildflowers on a table, a picture of a beach at sunset, a vividly coloured rug on the floor. Overall, they were better than Eira was expecting.

Some of them even contained two beds, or a double, and she guessed they were allocated to family members or couples. It wasn't until she opened the door to the last room in the corridor that she found her goal.

Anna lay on her bed inside, covers over her and eyes open but still weak, still pale. Another female servant sat with her, helping her drink from a glass of water. Anna's eyes widened when she saw Eira, and she almost choked.

Immediately, the other servant spun and bowed, her breath stuttering in her throat. "My Queen!"

"No, please don't trouble yourselves!" Eira held her hand up, stepping forward quickly and raising the servant girl up. "I only came to see how Anna is faring. How are you?"

"I'm well enough, I think," the younger girl murmured, her eyes still wide and uncertain. "You should not have come down here, my lady. It is not proper for a Queen-"

"I will decide what is proper for a Queen to do, Anna," Eira smiled wickedly, taking a seat on the other side of Anna's bed. "And for now, I want you to rest here until I decide you are well enough to attend me."

"But my lady-" Anna gasped, but Eira raised her hand again, cutting her off.

"No buts, Anna," she retorted firmly. She reached out, placing her hand on Anna's forehead, frowning as her magic found and began to repair the damage done to her skull, a minor fracture and some bruising. "You have some bruising and a fracture to your skull. You should have been seen to, immediately."

"It is alright, my lady," Anna murmured softly, looking to Eira with trusting eyes. "There were more important things to see to-"

"None of that!" Eira cut her off again, sternly, as the servant stood beside her gaped at their Queen, showing concern beyond the ordinary for a mere serving girl. "You are important, Anna. Now, I want you to stay here and rest, until I send for you, or come myself. Understand?"

Eira's magic pulsed and rippled as it spread over the site of Anna's injuries, as the young girl nodded, bemused and tired, as her eyes slowly drooped. Eventually, she fell into a deep slumber, as Eira rose, stroking back a loose curl that had escaped and fallen across her face. With a sigh, she turned to the other servant, and smiled reassuringly. "She'll be alright now; I've healed most of the damage. She'll sleep for a few days; see to it that nothing disturbs her and that she had anything she needs. If anyone disagrees, refer them to me. Understand?"

"Yes, my Queen," the servant nodded, smoothing down the creases in her plain but smart uniform. Eira nodded, and swept out; all but unaware of the confusion and awe she'd left behind.

Slowly, she began to walk back to her rooms, her brow creased as she thought while she walked. So much had happened that day, and her mind was still processing it. She marvelled at how much she had forgotten, and yet she performed feats of magic and healing that had taken her centuries to master, and now performed again after relearning as if she'd never forgotten them.

She just didn't understand why. Why had she been sent back, reborn for all intents and purposes, and why then? Why not immediately after her first death? Only one being could have possessed the power to achieve such a feat, to call her soul back from Valhalla and return her to the lands of the living in a physical form.

The All-Father.

But why? To what end? To harm Loki? To kill him? Or something else? She did not doubt now, that her memories had returned, that the ravens she had seen had been Munnin and Huginn, watching her for the All-Father, but why?

Suddenly she stopped, as realisation struck her in a flash. The Resistance, the mission…all of it was a setup, all of it to get Eira in exactly the right place, at exactly the right time, to jog her memories of Loki and for Loki to see her. That was why the blade wasn't poisoned, why she had been chosen above any others, why they'd allowed Loki to take her. There had to be an Aesir in the Resistance, leading them, directing their actions. But why?

Despite her anger, her growing rage, she didn't have an answer to that question.

No matter. She would find the answers to her questions in the coming weeks, once she discovered exactly how Loki was ensuring the humans' obedience without completely ensnaring their free will, and once she'd dealt with Peregrine. She had no doubt; he would come for her again, but not to rescue her, not this time. He had seen with his own eyes how she had used her magic to defend Loki. He would not be so understanding next time. She had to be ready.

Grief filled her, and she stopped for a moment, leaning against a marble pillar as she closed her eyes and leaned her forehead against the cold stone. There was more to this than met the eye, and to find out what, she needed Loki alive, by her side, and Peregrine would never allow that, not now. The fires of vengeance in his heart never let him rest now, until he'd punished her for her betrayal and Loki for 'corrupting' her to his side.

If only she could make him see that she had been doomed from the day she was born, or reborn, that sooner or later, she would have sought out Loki and remembered her past life. She had no doubt that was what she'd been sent back for, but the rest was still a mystery to her.

Nevertheless, the loss of her oldest, dearest, friend stung. Forgive me, old friend…

"My Queen?" a voice punctured her reverie, as she straightened and spun to find two mutant guards watching her cautiously. "The King commands your presence in your chambers."

Eira smirked and rolled her eyes. "Well, if he commands it," she muttered sardonically, turning about and leading the way, the two guards at her back.

Loki was up and standing by her bed when she walked in, shutting the door behind her securely. She had a feeling she knew what was coming next, and anticipation tightened her nerves with every step, when he turned to watch her walk across the room towards him, his eyes burning even as he smiled at her.

"I see you have recovered, Eira," he told her, silkily, as she smirked right back at him.

"Clearly you have also," she breathed, tossing her golden curls over one shoulder for a moment, as she reached him.

"Your magic is potent, Eira," Loki replied, that wicked smirk still hanging around his lips. "Your progress in such a short space of time has surpassed even my wildest expectations."

"I'm so thrilled to have pleased you," Eira rolled her eyes, as he reached for her. Mischief lit her eyes as she dropped to her knees and Loki's breath caught in his throat. She lifted the edge of his tunic, with a devilish smile. "Although perhaps I'd better check the wound, to make sure it's healed correctly.

Despite herself, Eira's mouth dried and her body began to throb with want, as she pushed the stiff green fabric up his torso, revealing his lean but muscled body, one she remembered well and longed to feel again. Sure enough, the area where he'd been wounded was smooth and free of damage, but she ghosted her hands over it anyway, relishing every shudder and rippling muscle, smiling to herself when she heard his gasp as she leant in and pressed a kiss to the area above his hipbone.

His hands suddenly gripped her arms and pulled her upright, held tightly against him as she exhaled shakily at the hard, desire-strained planes of his face. "I think we have things to talk about, don't you?" she asked, her voice arch and pointed, as she evaded his hold and glided away, fully aware that she wouldn't be capable of doing more than screaming his name in a few moments, towards a small table set back from her bed.

"Has it crossed your mind at all, why and how I've come back?" she asked, as she walked, achingly conscious of him at her back, matching her every step determinedly. "Why I was betrayed and sent to you?"

"A trick of the All-Father's, no doubt," he replied, his voice low and husky, as he caught her waist and spun her around against him, "It's not nice to tease, Eira…"

He ensnared her wrists behind her back, simultaneously locking her against him and imprisoning her hands so she couldn't escape. Eira just laughed.

"You've been doing it for millennia, why shouldn't the rest of us get to have any fun?" she retorted, one brow raised. She was determined not to succumb too easily, however. While the hunger reawakened by the memories of her past was becoming ever more all-consuming, they still had a veritable morass of problems to be dealt with between them.

Loki had other ideas. She twisted her head to the side at the last moment, making him miss her lips, but he changed tack and lowered his mouth to her neck. An enraptured moan escaped Eira's lips, as she arched into him, at the torturous trail of hot, open-mouthed kisses that wound down her neck, her face turned to the ceiling. She fought to remain in control, as his hands tightened around her wrists, pressing her ever more securely into him, and she gasped when she felt his arousal against her abdomen.

Slowly, he raised his head, his eyes flashing with burning lust, as Eira gave in for the moment, and leaned into him, capturing his lips with her own. The hold on her wrists loosened, and she took the opportunity to slide them up his arms and into his hair, hauling him closer even as his arms closed, vicelike, around her waist.

Their lips caressed and teased each other, fighting for dominance, seeking to sate their collective hunger only to stoke it further, like embers bursting into an inferno. Eira felt her entire being come alive, as if electric currents were racing over her skin, as Loki pressed her back into the table behind them, uncaring as several objects fell to the floor behind them. Urgency burned in their blood, after seven centuries apart, as Loki lifted her atop the table, and Eira pushed her skirts out of the way herself, opening her legs and pulling him against her.

Gradually, the haze of urgency was punctured by something else, a nebulous thought that took hold of Eira and wouldn't let go. The need in Loki's hands, his kiss, his touch, his body, was so unlike him, even in their darkest hours together after he'd discovered his true birth. Eira took control of the kiss, wrested it away determinedly, and kissed him slowly, tenderly, cupping his face between her delicate hands, callused and scarred after years of hard living and work, as he slowly leaned into her, following her lead. Eira moved back, panting, and met his eyes, dark and haunted as they met hers.

"What happened to you?" she panted. "After you fell. What happened, Loki?"

He did not answer for the longest time, simply stood there, between her legs, in her arms, and stared at her. And what she saw both terrified her and broke her heart.

His eyes were an abyss of pain, loathing, hatred and longing, directed not at her, but at everything and everyone he had ever lost, deep beneath the veneer of the King and the trickster he wore. Whatever had happened to him before he came to Earth had broken him.

Finally, Loki closed his eyes and leaned his forehead on Eira's, his breath shuddering against her lips. "I was broken," he hissed, before opening his eyes again, except this time, they shone with hope and need. "Until now."

Eira shuddered as he bent his head back to hers, taking her mouth hard, as her fingers curled in his hair and returned it heatedly. "Now," he breathed when he broke away for the third time, and the broken creature that had been in his eyes was gone. "Where were we?"

Eira rolled her eyes but let the subject drop. There would be plenty of time for questions later, when they reached the Capital, but now…she just needed him, as he needed her. The time for games was, for the moment, over.

He took her weight in his arms and carried her over to the bed, laying her over it before he stood upright, eyes rapt as he took her in, golden hair splayed riotously over the rumpled covers, her simple gown glimmering in the pale light of the lamps, caught around her knees. Eira smiled and pulled herself up on her knees, hands reaching for the hem of his tunic, pulling it over his head impatiently.

"Seven hundred years!" she gasped, her breath hitched as his hands found her breasts through the silk of her gown, as she tossed his tunic aside, kneading and teasing her heavy flesh until she was panting against his skin. She lathed his skin with kisses and bites, as he ran his hands over her body, skilled fingers finding and caressing all the places that drove her mad with wanting.

"Seven hundred years too long, my love," Loki gasped against her neck, as he pulled the hem of her dress up her thighs, even as her hands dove for the fastenings of his breeches. "I've missed you, Eira."

"So did I," she breathed, meeting his eyes for a moment, as her dress bunched around her waist. "Even though I didn't realise it."

Slowly, reverently, Loki pulled her gown up her body, uncovering the pale skin of her torso, breasts and arms, as she raised them so he could pull it off over her head, shaking her golden curls free. His eyes roved over her body, and she met his gaze firmly, a wicked smile of her own on her lips. She pulled him into her, shoving his breeches down his hips until they fell away, and he stepped out of them and kicked them away. "At last," he breathed across her skin, bending his head to her breast, taking its hardened peak into his mouth as she gasped and arched into him, hands curved around his head to hold him to her.

One of the hands on her waist slowly glided down, over the jut of her hipbone, and down the long crease, sliding into the heated, damp folds there until Eira's body trembled in his arms and her breath shuddered from her in a series of gasps and moans. Abruptly, she pulled him up to her by his hair, kissing him ardently until he capitulated with a groan, pushing her further back on the bed and following her down, his face burning with naked longing. Eira arched when she felt his arousal just brush through the hot, wet juncture of her thighs, and twisted her legs around his, shoving him over until she straddled him. She laughed at the shocked look in his eyes.

"This body may be inexperienced, but my mind certainly is not," she told him archly, her voice breathless and quiet, as he grinned and wrapped his arms around her waist again, pulling her to him for a kiss. And it was true, her body felt like it was experiencing the skill and wonder of his touch and kiss for the first time, even as her mind knew and welcomed each sensation, each wave of flame over her skin, edged with both newness and familiarity.

Loki's hand drifted to its previous haunt, and Eira shuddered, as she felt one, long, talented finger penetrate her, and she rocked her hips against his hand, moaning as she rode his finger. He added another, and her breaths turned to pants, as she wrapped her arms around his neck for balance. His eyes met and held hers, intently, as with every slide and thrust, as her breath fractured and the pressure built beneath her skin, ignoring the slight discomfort as her untried muscles adapted to this pleasure.

"Enough!" Eira finally gasped. "Enough teasing, Loki!"

"I'm not even getting started," he quipped back, his eyes dark and predatory, as she felt a shiver start at the base of her neck and ripple down her spine to its base, her muscles tightening around his fingers. Determinedly, she pulled them away, and replaced them with something far more satisfying, as she sank down onto his arousal, wincing as her body gave way to his penetration and struggled to adapt. His hands spasmed and grasped her hips in a bruising grip, as she waited until the discomfort eased slightly, and then she moved, rocking her hips in a circular motion that made Loki gasp and moan beneath her. The pleasure built, higher and harder, beneath her skin as Eira panted and moaned, moving her hips urgently and unceasingly, even when he sat up into her embrace, holding her to him. She crossed her legs behind his back, and rolled her hips into him, feeling his heartbeat pound against her own, even as his lips and teeth marked her neck.

The pressure built at last to a peak and she broke, her muscles shaking and trembling as she grasped his back, her anchor to reality, as her mind dissolved and everything with it, focussed only of the pleasure as it washed over her, and the hardness of his body still within her.

Abruptly, he twisted her sideways, pressing her into the yielding bed beneath them, her legs still tightly wound around his waist, as he pulled back and thrust in, and Eira gasped, arching her spine upwards until their chests moved together, the friction glorious as it just built the pleasure anew. One hand grasped his shoulder blade, her nails leaving small, red indents, as he thrust into her; the other was sunk in the raven-dark locks of his hair, just brushing the softness of her cheek, as she gasped his name against his lips.

He supported his weight on his elbows, just enough not to crush her, and kissed her deep and hard, matching the rhythm of his body as he flexed and drove into her, her hips matching his rhythm, until at last, his own release came, and he fell into her, his body sated and heavy, as he raised his head just long enough to brush a tender, loving kiss over her smiling lips, their eyes meeting and holding for one long, infinitesimal moment.

Understanding flashed, and then was gone.

Two days later, they returned to the Capital, and Eira walked down a long aisle in the main Hall of the Court, gowned in white with long sleeves that began from just below the rise of her shoulders and floated down her arms to her wrists, the lace back dipping down into white opaqueness that ended in a long, trailing waterfall of silk. Her golden hair was upswept and intricately braided against the crown of her head, her neck and ears unadorned, her only ornament the silver diadem fixed across her forehead. The assembled crowds cheered outside the walls of the court, while inside, thousands of pairs of eyes watched her as she walked through the high, dome-ceilinged halls of Loki's domain.

Her face was stoic and gave nothing away, as she walked past the crowds of men and women, all watching her with interest, some from other worlds, mostly human, to where Loki stood tall and proud in his green and black robes, the Sceptre in one hand, awaiting her.

She reached the steps of the dais, and he reached out a hand to her. Meeting his eye challengingly, she accepted it, as understanding once more flashed between them both.

The game was once more in play, but this time the stakes were so much higher than Eira's freedom. Now she was playing for the freedom of humanity.

To be continued...