For the first section, I listened to "Marriage Proposal" from the Young Victoria soundtrack, followed immediately by "Victoria and Albert" from the same soundtrack. Listen to them, in that order. Do it.
Then, I listened to "Science and Magic," from the Thor soundtrack, followed by "Now We Are Free" from the Gladiator Soundtrack.
Loki's closed eyes hurt him. Though he pressed his forehead against the door, he could hear nothing from within. And through the window to his right, no sound came but the wash of the pouring rain.
His breathing exercise had failed him. Weakness coursed through his whole frame. He squeezed his eyes shut harder, closing his fingers. His chest shuddered.
He had come to the edge.
And fallen over it.
He swallowed. It caught in his throat.
He bent, and got down on his knees. The chilly marble felt hard beneath him. He laced his fingers and gripped them tightly together.
"Please," he whispered—for the very first time in a very long time. "Please. Forgive my selfishness, forgive my conceit. Forgive all of my flaws and stupid mistakes and everything I've done to…to…" He sucked in a breath, his eyes burning. He kept them shut. "Please, just let them live. Do what you like with me, I don't matter. Let them live. Please, please…let them live. I…"
He ran out of words. Swallowed again. Clamped down on his hands, his voice failing him—but his soul cried out to the heights of the stars.
The pouring of the rain outside faded.
And a soft, distant warmth touched Loki's right cheek.
A faint glimmer flickered against his eyelid.
He opened his eyes.
Cold tears spilled down his cheeks.
Slowly, achingly, he turned his head to the right to glance wearily out the window…
The rain had ceased.
The high gray clouds now seemed to have taken on a soft, golden inner-glow…
Stiffly, Loki got to his feet, and shuffled toward the window. He rested his hands on the marble, then reached up and unlocked the pane. He pulled on it, and swung the window back.
A fresh, cool, moist, spring-like breeze swept in, filling his lungs, caressing his face, and causing more tears to tumble. He cleared his eyes, and gazed out upon the grounds…
And the sun peeked over the mountains.
All at once, the few stray drops of rain lit like flecks of gold as they tumbled. The towers of Asgard flooded with rich color, and all of the flowers and tree branches twinkled. The rivers lit up like ribbons of silver—and all the birds far down below began to twitter. The breeze greeted him again, almost laughing…
The door opened behind him.
Loki pulled in a sharp breath, then dared to turn around.
Eir stood there, her hair all undone, and her clothing in disarray. But Loki fixed on her face.
Tired, and pale. Dark circles under her eyes.
But her eyes—her vivid eyes were alight.
And when she saw him…
Loki's heart stilled.
Eir reached out her hand, and beckoned with her fingers.
"You may come in now, Your Highness."
Loki couldn't move for the longest moment.
Then, he stepped one foot forward, then the other, until he found himself beside Eir. She stepped out of the way. He ventured forward, into the shadow of the room, his heart thundering…
There, in the center of the room, on a freshly-made bed, lay a young woman. Her doe-colored hair had been braided. She wore a new, white lace nightgown, and fleece blankets covered her up to her chest. She had color in her cheeks and her lips…
And she gripped the hand of lovely Nanna who stood beside her bed…
And she spoke to her.
The young woman turned her head. Found him with her soft, radiant brown eyes.
And smiled at him.
Loki flew to her.
He crossed the floor in an instant, and fell down beside her.
His desperate gaze swept across every surface and angle of her beautiful, beautiful face.
"Are you all right?" he gasped, taking her face in his hands. Her skin felt so warm beneath his cold hands!
"Yes!" she cried, beaming at him, her eyes shining. "Yes, I'm fine!"
And Loki kissed her.
He closed his mouth over hers and kissed her and kissed her. He could not get enough—she responded instantly, wrapping her arms around his neck as he reached beneath her and lifted her up against his chest—he tasted every bit of her warm, soft mouth, lingering on her lower lip to pull back and plunge in again to kiss the corners, her upper lip—oh, to breathe in her scent, to feel her slender form in his arms, to hear her breathing, feel her tighten her grip on him and kiss him back with the same fervor!
Their mouths broke apart. He gazed down at her face. She laughed, and her own tears spilled—like drops of crystal. Loki, breathing shakily, stroked a strand of her hair away from her face…
And he smiled back. The joy in his heart sent physical pain darting through every limb.
Jane met his eyes. Gave him a glowing look.
"Look what I have for you," she murmured.
Loki blinked. Jane glanced past him.
Loki turned his head…
And the world went utterly still.
Eir stood at the foot of the bed, a swathed bundle cradled in her arms. And Loki could just make out the curve of a small, soft head.
And for just an instant—he forgot about everything. Even Jane.
"Here you are, Papa," Eir smiled, stepping toward him.
Loki raised himself up off the bed, off of Jane, turned carefully and sat on the edge. His heartbeat staggered. He could look nowhere but at that bundle.
Eir bent a little, and held the bundle out to him.
"Remember to support her head," Eir reminded him.
And all at once…
She was in his arms.
A small, delicate weight.
Loki stopped breathing.
He looked down into a little, perfectly-formed face. Wide eyes, and a swath of black hair.
Eyes—one the color of the purest, glimmering emerald. The other, a deep, vivid brown just like her mother's.
Eyes that fixed on his.
A delicate brow that furrowed when she saw him. Unconsciously, he made the same expression back.
His throat closed—a dart of fear passing through his heart.
"Hello, Little Bean," he whispered. "Do I…need to introduce myself?"
Her whole body flushed blue. She reached up with a pudgy hand, stretched out her fingers at him—
The sound rang through the healing rooms. Her whole face beamed—like the rays of the very first dawn. She wiggled, and squeezed her fingers shut, wiggled again…
And flushed back, to flesh-color.
"I…" Loki whispered breathlessly, wide-eyed. "That's…an amazing trick. I'm very much impressed."
"Btttthhhllll," she answered matter-of-factly.
Absently, Loki realized that Jane's hand had been resting on his arm this whole time, her thumb rubbing back and forth. He glanced back at her. Tears glimmered down her smiling face.
"I think I'll keep her," Loki decided. Jane let out a watery giggle, and swiped her other hand across her cheeks.
"What do we have here?"
The voice rumbled through the domed chamber—
And before Loki could turn, he felt Thor lay a massive arm around him and pull him against his side. Thor's long hair fell across Loki's shoulder, and for a moment he felt his beard brush his forehead.
"Well, hello Princess," Thor greeted her, bending closer and grinning at her. She went cross-eyed trying to focus on him. Then, she reached up and bapped him on the nose.
Thor bellowed out a laugh. It nearly made Loki deaf.
And Aurora squealed with giggles.
"I've never seen such a lively, responsive newborn," Eir remarked. "She's remarkable!"
"'course she is, she's half Jotun," Thor said, frowning good-naturedly up at the healer. "She's a survivor, this one—a warrior."
"I think she's beautiful." Loki glanced up and back to see Sif, who had spoken, tears running down her face. She caught Loki's eye, and quickly wiped her tears away. He gave her a crooked smile.
"Oh, sweetheart!" Frigga hurried in, touched Sif's shoulder briefly, then came up to Loki's left. She eased down onto the bed next to Jane and smoothed Jane's hair.
"Oh, my dear, how are you feeling?"
"Much better, thank you," Jane sighed, giving her a bright look.
"You look lovely, really. And the baby…Oh, she is wonderful!"
"You have held her long enough, give her to me," Thor said to Loki.
"I beg your pardon," Loki raised his eyebrows.
"Boys, no fighting over the baby," Jane winked. Thor sat down on one of the couches and held out his arms.
"Do not drop her," Loki growled. Thor rolled his eyes.
"As if I would drop a child."
Loki buried a smile and gently handed the babe over to his brother. Despite his bear-like aspect, Thor handled her with slow tenderness, and rested her head in the crook of his arm. Loki sneaked a glance up at Sif—where, sure enough, her eyes immediately gained a subdued, inspired light as she gazed at her husband.
"Good work, Lady Jane," Odin praised, entering and drawing around to the other side of the bed. He reached out and laid a hand against her head for a moment. "Very well done. But I must confess, you had us all very worried for a while."
"I was worried too!" Jane admitted. "But Eir and Nanna and everyone else were excellent."
"Hello, Steven," Nanna spoke up as Steven stepped in after Odin. Steve took Nanna's hand and pressed a quick kiss to her lips before turning to Jane. He grinned at her.
"Knew you'd make it through, ma'am," he nodded. "You and the little one. She's a very pretty baby."
"You can hold her next, Steve," Jane decided. His eyebrows went up.
"Come now, you're not afraid?" Thor prodded.
"I would like to hold her as well," Sif cut in.
"I'm next, then," Frigga announced.
Eir began to laugh.
"There is no rush, everyone!" she cried. "You have her forever!"
Loki looked at her. Eir glanced at him, and her eyes sparkled.
Loki glanced down, considering those words. Then, he watched in amusement as Thor got to his feet, and gingerly handed Aurora—Aurora!—off to Steven. Steven's whole expression changed to one of quiet wonder—and Nanna beamed at the sight of him. Chuckling to himself, Loki put his feet up on the bed and laid back. Frigga eased out of the way. Jane sat up a little, edged toward him, and laid her head on his chest. He wrapped an arm around her and kissed her forehead. The bed felt soft and inviting as he sank into it—and Jane's warmth beside him soothed every ache in his bones.
Sif pressed up close to Steven's side, studying the baby's face, and finally had her turn. Sif became very solemn and intent, and as Aurora and the queen gazed into each other's eyes, Loki instantly knew that they would become the dearest of friends.
Odin held her next, talking to her in a sweet, gentle tone Loki had never heard; and then teary-eyed Frigga praised her for several minutes before finally relinquishing her back to Jane, then kissed Loki all over his face.
And so Loki and Jane lay there all the rest of the morning, Aurora between them, brightly watching all of them as the rest of the family formed a halo around the bed. Eir opened up the shutters and curtains and let the morning light stream in across them all. Servants brought trays of food in—apples and pears, and buttered toast, bacon and porridge and juices and wines and hot cider. Everyone ate, and laughed, and could talk of nothing but the baby, and what she would look like when she grew up, and who would be in charge of teaching her to ride, to sew, to cook, to sing, to dance, to swordfight, to shoot an arrow straight, to play games of logic and strategy, track animals in the woods, and make the perfect snowball.
Soon, an envoy arrived bringing Erik Selvig, who Jane embraced from the bed, and who also had his chance to hold the child. Aurora liked him right away, and became fascinated with fiddling with the collar of his plaid shirt.
All day long, brightly-clad, smiling courtiers filtered in and out to give congratulations and leave presents. Aurora, surprisingly, stayed awake for most of it, though by late afternoon Eir had to respectfully shoo everyone out so that the doors could be shut and the parents could rest.
Jane sighed against Loki's chest. Aurora's eyes blinked slowly shut. Night had fallen, peacefully. Candles and torches cast a deep, sleepy light throughout the room, and the soft whispers of the healers in the background made Loki drowsy.
"I have something to tell you," Jane murmured.
"Mhm?" Loki grunted, trying to force his eyes open.
"Eir talked to me before she let you in," Jane went on, quietly. Carefully. Loki shifted, trying not to disturb the baby. Aurora wiggled, but didn't wake. Loki turned his head so he could gaze down at Jane. She was already looking up at him. He lifted his eyebrows.
Jane watched him seriously.
"She apologized, first of all."
"For putting me through that kind of struggle," Jane said. "She hadn't anticipated it. Nothing unusual had happened to me during my whole pregnancy, except that I could acclimate to the cold better."
Loki nodded, listening.
"Apparently…" Jane sighed, adjusting the covers slightly, but still gazing into his eyes. "Jotun babies do something when they're about to be born that Aesir and human babies don't do. They encase themselves in ice, and they're born like…well, like an egg. It protects them."
Loki frowned. Didn't say anything.
"Aurora was doing that," Jane said, stroking the baby's soft head. "There was no way I could have had her naturally."
"I see," Loki murmured.
"And also…" Jane said, looking up at him. Her eyebrows drew together. "I didn't want to say this in front of your mother…But the way they delivered her almost killed me."
Loki swallowed. Jane reached up, and laid her fingers against his throat. Pain crossed her eyes—and resignation.
"Eir told me," Jane whispered. "That I cannot have any more children. Ever. The strain of another delivery like that will kill me."
Loki's breathing unsteadied for a moment, but Jane just waited. No tears welled up, and she did not go pale. So Loki calmed.
"So…what do we do?" he wondered.
"I've already done it."
She sighed again.
"Eir made me a potion. She told me if I drank it, it would keep me from having any more children. We could go on as we have been, and won't have to think about it."
Loki considered her.
"You drank it."
She nodded once.
"I did." She searched his face, her eyes brightening. "Is that…all right? Is that what I should have done?"
Loki gazed at her, then reached up and laid his hand against her cheek. Stroked his thumb across her cheekbone.
"I love you more than my life," he whispered. "And now, though I don't know how it's possible, I love her more than all the nine realms combined."
Jane smiled beneath his fingers. He leaned his head toward hers. He held her gaze earnestly.
"You have already given me more than I could have ever asked for, Jane Foster," he breathed. "My prayers have been answered. I have my brothers and my mother and father—I have you, and I have this child. I am content, forevermore."
Her expression broke, and she leaned up and kissed his lips.
He let her kiss him, then opened his mouth further, tilted his head and kissed her deeply, drawing in deep breaths of her. For an infinite while, they re-memorized the taste and breaths and feeling of each other, pleasantly and sweetly drowning.
Then, when their lips finally parted, they lay in each other's simple, warm embrace, and both rested their hands upon their little baby. Silently, their hearts quiet, they delighted in the sensation of her tiny chest rising up and down. And, at long last, the three of them finally fell asleep to the whisper of the healers, the flicker of the torches, and the twinkle of the stars through the curtains.
And they all lived happily,
To the End of Their Days
END OF FALLEN STAR TIMELINE
Keep an eye out for "Frozen Heart," the Lokistone's response to Thor: The Dark World
And don't forget to find my original novel "Bauldr's Tears: A Retelling of Loki's Fate" on Amazon! Book 2 is coming soon!