Disclaimer: What's that? It didn't take me three months to update? It's a back to school miracle! Short and bittersweet, but hopefully satisfying. Thank you for sticking with me through the time it took me to write this fanfic.
Loki languished in that cell for three more days and other than guards bringing him food, he received no visitors. On the dawn of the fourth day however, four guards came to get Loki. He was shackled of course, but much to Loki's surprise they didn't otherwise manhandle him and rather than taken publicly through the main palace, he was directed through back passageways to arrive at the throne room.
Thor and Sif sat together waiting as Loki was brought up to the throne. Something seemed strange about Sif, but Loki couldn't place it until what she thought was her gravid belly whined and she reached down to pick it up. It seemed that during his short incarceration, she had finally given birth.
"I've thought at great length as to what should be done with you." Thor addressed his sibling while Loki was still coming to this revelation. He appeared weary, though that was of little surprise with a new baby. "Balder spoke on your behalf as he promised and his own role in Ragnarok has been considered, but the fact remains that you have shown no remorse for your actions, and I begin to think you never will. I gave you my trust, and you rewarded me with deception and an attempt at murder." He sighed heavily. "But in light of the fact that I agree your punishment was overly harsh, I shall grant you one leniency. You are banished, Loki."
"Banished?" It was both better and worse than what he'd been hoping for. "Wait, Thor! My King!" He pulled against the chains. "There's more to the story! At least grant me the right to explain myself!"
Thor and Sif looked intrigued, as Loki had known they would. It might not change his fate, which all in all was a generous one regardless, but it would give him time to look for a way out. "Yes, there was poison in the wine." He began. "But had Balder not been there, I would have slipped the antidote into all but Odin's drink. We would-including me-have spent a miserable night, but only Odin would have died." He looked to Sif. "You would have become mysteriously nauseous before the meal, so you would not have ingested the wine at all. I had no intention of harming the baby...and my congratulations, by the way."
"I would have become nauseous?" Sif repeated. "Except that I did. That nausea simply turned out to be a precursor to labor." She looked down at the bundle in her arms with a fond look. "Her name is Torunn."
"I knew it would be a girl." Loki said quietly, before looking back to Thor, who's expression was quite the opposite of Sif's. "I'm not going to deny what I did, but are you honestly going to tell me he didn't deserve it after everything? You said it yourself, brother. He stole me from a family that did in fact want me. He lied to me my whole life, and when I found out the truth he turned from me. I tried to play the good son, and what was my reward? Am I God of Lies because of my skill in deception or because everything I was raised into was?"
"His actions don't excuse yours, Loki." Thor replied. "Yes, he lied to you, but you are the one who chose to react to that deception with violence. I've heard your reason, but your wronged feelings makes it no less a crime and if you've nothing further to say-"
"But I do!" Loki interrupted. "He threw me into that cell, alone and in darkness! He knew I wouldn't handle it the way an Asgardian would! He left me there to lose my mind!"
"Are you aware of the properties of that cell, Loki?" Thor asked. "It's called Redemption. If you had regretted your crime, truly felt remorse, it would have released you. I knew what I was doing when I came for you. I thought maybe there was another way to redeem you. I only found out afterward how thoroughly my father's plan failed. How could you regret your crimes when you'd forgotten what you had done? That's why I'm granting you leniency now. You are banished, Loki. Nothing you say will change that.
But maybe banishment wouldn't be so bad. He could go anywhere, in or outside the Nine, and if Thor was anything like Odin then banishment didn't mean forever. If he decided he wanted to return to Asgard one day, then he'd simply need to find out what Thor wanted him to do in order to earn his way back.
"Before you send me away, I want to know my niece's face." Loki said. "I've been waiting all this time to meet her. I swear I'll leave without protest if you grant me that one last thing."
Thor looked to Sif and arched a brow in silent question, leaving it entirely up to her. Sif sighed softly, but then she stood to descend the dais and go to Loki, holding up her infant for him to see.
Loki couldn't help the soft smile that spread across his face as Torunn tried to focus on him with eyes that didn't quite have that ability just yet. "Hail Torunn Thorsdottir." He whispered. "May it be that we meet again one day. I've no doubt you'll excel in whatever path your life takes you."
Satisfied, he nodded to Sif, and as he'd sworn, allowed himself to be escorted away. They took him to the Bifröst, where Heimdall informed him that as long as he swore not to try conquering or massacring anyone that he could go wherever he chose. Loki considered this offer, and then he made a choice that surprised everyone, including him. "Jötunheim."
The shackles were removed, and away Loki was sent. The trickster knew he would no doubt be closely observed, but it mattered little. His family had wanted him, and maybe it was time to get to know them. It wasn't as if he had anything better to do now and maybe he could turn this situation to his advantage.
"Did I make the right choice?"
Sif looked up from their daughter and arched a brow.
"In letting Loki live." Thor clarified. "In banishing him instead of imprisoning him."
"You never would have forgiven yourself if you had killed him." Sif pointed out. "As to banishment or imprisonment; he will scheme either way and I say it's better to prove yourself as different from your father as you safely can."
"Father isn't that bad." Thor protested, though it sounded weak even to his own ears. "He's simply a better king than father and made some mistakes."
"I'm of the opinion you father knew exactly what he was doing." Sif replied. "We know force is his favorite conquering tactic, so why wouldn't that extend to family? Loki wouldn't bend knee, so more force was applied."
Thor's brows arched, and he turned more to look at his wife. "Well this is a changed tone. Why are you now on Loki's side of this issue?"
"I'm simply stating what I see, Thor. I am War, and I know its faces." Sif glanced down at Torunn, who was quietly sleeping and then returned her gaze to her husband. "Your father is strategy and guile, but so is Loki. Two master strategists playing opposite sides of the field, and it seems neither will relent, even though one is already defeated."
"So we can assuredly expect to hear from Loki again." Thor said.
"You already know the answer to that, Thor. The question is when and how, not if." Sif carefully transferred Torunn to Thor's arms. "But we have one advantage. Our daughter will grow up on stories of your youth. She will hear of her uncle so that when they meet again, she will know him. Whether Loki returns in her youth or adulthood, she will know of him and if I've any measure of Loki then he will want to know of her. May it be that his curiosity undoes any more foul schemes."
"That's much to hope for." Thor said, and sighed. "But it is what we have. Asgard will be as it has ever been, and resist any force Loki may bring against it." He looked down at his daughter, so blissfully asleep and smiled. "Well, perhaps not quite as it's ever been."
"Indeed not." Sif agreed. "Though I dare say it will be several centuries before I give Torunn a sibling." She sighed and then laughed at Thor's dramatically saddened expression. "Get back to me in a year or so."
"Indeed I shall!" Thor lifted his daughter carefully to kiss her forehead before returning her to her mother so they might get on with the day's business.