Author's Note: Hello! Welcome back to my lovely crossover world! I'm very excited to share this with you. Now, as of right now, this is the only chapter I have written but do not fret. I plan on working on this exclusively along with my other WIP, Partners in Time. As with that story, I do not have an update schedule planned, so you will just have to bear with me. My personal life is in a bit of upheaval currently, and it's emotionally draining. Anyway, I really hope you like this first chapter. As always, please leave me a review when you're finished. Much love, xxDustNight

*Playlist* (Remove '*' for it to work): Empire: http* * /u*ser/124640*1351/pla*ylist/2P4JPrUDdG*XyyYs6aEfuCr

Full Summary: Nine months after the fall of Fenrir, Hermione finds herself once again part of a much larger plan. With Loki realms away and the knowledge of not one, but two prophecies on her shoulders, how will she deal with her greatest challenge yet: motherhood? Loki's past comes back to haunt him and his new family at the same time, leaving him with a difficult decision to make. Can Loki and Hermione save the universe together once more, or will their happiness slip right through their fingers?

Trigger Warnings: PTSD, Depression, Explicit Language, Sexual Content, Near Death, Character Death, Light Dom/sub, Violence, Discussion of Miscarriage

Disclaimer: All non-original characters, plot points, and information belongs to those at Marvel Studios, Warner Brothers, or J.K. Rowling. The title, "Empire" comes from the song of the same title by the fantastic Of Monsters and Men. The cover photo was created for me by the lovely Freya Ishtar. The story plot and dialogue belongs to me. I do not write for profit.

Pairing: Hermione Granger/Loki Laufeyson
Rating: M (Rated Mature for adult language, violence, and sexual situations)
Song Recommendations: "Human" by Rag'n'Bone Man, "Holy Roller" by AWOLNATION, and "Wherever I Go" by OneRepublic

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"Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness."
— Albert Einstein
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Prologue: Penitence

Looking out at the snowy expanse before him, Loki observed the immense change that he'd help orchestrate. It'd been a long time coming, transforming the wasteland that Laufey had left behind on Jotunheim. There was much, much more to accomplish, but this was a start. This was something Loki could say was his doing—something he'd had a hand in that hadn't turned to chaos. To ruin. Sighing, Loki felt something akin to pride swell within his chest where he stood on his bedchamber balcony.

If only Hermione was here to see how far he'd come from the nefarious villain he'd once been. He had her to thank for that, for if he'd not been bound to her, Thor would likely be dead, and the universe would be in bedlam. Alas, just as quickly as it sprouted, the pride diminished, leaving him with a hollow feeling in his chest. He was dealing with anguish of unequivocal proportions thanks to the bond he still held with Hermione from the Rime Diamonds. Inhaling deeply, Loki closed his eyes, pulling from memories in an attempt to ease the ache.

His musings did not last long as there was a sudden knock at the door. "Who's there," he called out, turning when the door opened to reveal one of his guards. Quirking a dark eyebrow, he waited for the guard to speak.

"The palace is prepared for your leave, my liege." The guard bowed then, full of respect for his king. Despite the gesture, Loki felt no thrill from the act, for his heart was in far too much turmoil. Instead, he put on his normal façade of indifferent ruler and quietly thanked the guard for informing him. Then, he waited for the guard to disappear before returning his stare to the realm before him.

When the door clicked back into place and he was alone once more, Loki cast one last look out into the star filled sky, hoping Hermione was well and that one day she may forgive him for seemingly abandoning her. Reentering his bedchamber, he moved to the ornate wardrobe, extracting his traveling cloak, the fur lined fabric meant to stave off the bitter cold of Jotunheim. He hardly ever felt the cold anymore, his despair cold enough to keep him in his Jotun form easily. He pulled the garment around his shoulders before glancing in the mirror inside the wardrobe. Red eyes glowered back at him from amidst his cerulean face.

It was far easier to rule the Jotuns in his true form, although there were days he missed his Asgardian façade. Whenever he made trips to his first home, he made sure to mask his ridged, blue skin. Slamming the door heatedly, Loki made for the exit himself, pausing at the bed to pick up his gold horned helmet. He also took a second to trail his long fingers over the midnight blue quilt, hoping that one day he wouldn't have to sleep there alone.

Deciding he'd kept his brother waiting long enough, Loki left his bedchamber and began his descent through the renovated palace. He had to admit, it was now a thing of beauty—no longer foreboding and decrepit. The icy halls were well lit, and the crumbling walls from before had been restored. It was everything he'd ever wanted, and yet…Yet, there was still so much missing,

Free of the palace, Loki tugged his cloak closer around his lean body and began walking through the snowy tundra toward the Bifrost point. He actively avoided the chasm where he'd used the star magic to blast Fenrir into oblivion. The area still seemed a bit off even though countless searches concluded that the beast was no more. Regardless, Loki forbade his people from venturing too near the area in case something were to happen. As he neared the Bifrost point, the wind picked up and a gentle snow began to fall, causing him to pause for a second. Turning around, he glanced back toward his kingdom, his empire, and smirked. After a moment, he turned his face to the sky, calling out for Heimdall to open the Bifrost. As the rainbow light exploded around him, pulling him forward into the vortex, Loki decided to focus on the here and now, and not worry about what the future may hold.

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Arriving inside the golden Observatory, Loki glanced around, spotting Heimdall standing at his pedestal. Striding forward, he inclined his head to the watchful god, before greeting him. "Heimdall." As he did all this, his Jotun form transformed to Asgardian. Oddly enough, he felt more at ease like this, and he relaxed ever so slightly.

"Welcome back to Asgard, Loki," the god replied as he turned his sword and extracted it from the pedestal. "Thor awaits you in the Royal Hall. He will not be thrilled that you've kept him waiting far longer than he intended." His tone was slightly scolding, but Loki chose to ignore this, instead opting to inquire about a particular Midgardian witch.

"How does she fair?"

Heimdall didn't bother to hide the smirk that ghosted across his dark face. "Lady Granger is well. She is preparing to celebrate the union of two of her closest friends."

Nodding, Loki decided that was enough for him for the time being. He didn't like to know too much about her life, understanding that there was nothing to be done about it from realms away. He'd chosen to send her back, to stay secluded from her. He'd chosen this hell, and he would live it for as long as necessary in order to protect her. When the time was right, he would return to her and bring her home, to Jotunheim, where she could rule by his side forevermore, or at least until she passed on.

Moving to the door, Loki was stopped when Heimdall murmured, "She watches for you. Each night as the stars light the night sky on Midgard, she watches and she waits for your return."

With his back to Heimdall, Loki closed his eyes, the ache within his chest reverberating so hard that he nearly fell to his knees. He knew this, of course. He knew that she yearned for him just as deeply as he yearned for her. The pull in his heart day after day and night after night was enough to tell him that, he didn't need to hear the words aloud. Clenching his hands into fists, Loki reopened his eyes and decided not to respond. He, instead, left without a word, fully intent on handling his business with Thor and returning swiftly to Jotunheim where he could hide away in his own icy prison of despair.

The Asgardian palace was just as extravagant as ever, the golden walls far more regal than those of the one back on Jotunheim. Shutting down his usual jealousy, Loki glared at the luxurious marble floor as he stormed into the Royal Hall. Thor was busy conversing with a few guards, and had yet to notice his arrival. Technically, as he was now a king, he should have been announced, but for such a minuscule visit, there'd been no need. Besides, with his dampening mood, it was better for everyone if he dealt with fewer people.

As he approached the throne, Thor finally realized the Jotun's presence, asking his guards to leave them alone. This did not bode well, and a dark feeling fell over Loki as he stopped in front of his brother. "You summoned me," he said blandly, trying to keep any worry from seeping into his voice.

"I did, although I expected you hours ago," the blond replied, rising from his throne to stand in front of Loki. He gestured toward the side entrance, the one that would lead them to the private dining room. "There have been reports of disturbances in other realms," Thor explained as he began walking, Loki falling in beside him. "I was curious if you had any idea what these instances could be from."

"You're asking if I am to blame." It was not a question, and a scowl overtook Loki's pointed face, his eyes narrowing slightly.

"I will not deny that accusation."

Scoffing, Loki removed his helmet, tucking it under his arm before running a hand through his dark locks. "Have I not been a peaceful ruler these past few months, brother? Have I not abided by your seemingly endless amount of rules?" As they arrived in the dining hall, Loki placed the helmet on the table with perhaps a bit more force than necessary causing the goblets of wine to rattle.

"Loki," Thor sighed, and then paused before starting again, rubbing a hand over his weary face. "Brother, you know as well as I that you have been known to stir up trouble in the past. I am merely checking out all possibilities before I send an army to investigate. Please, do not take this personally." Sitting at the head of the table, he indicated Loki sit to his right.

Despite the irritation he felt, Loki did just that, sliding into the wooden chair and reaching for a goblet of his favorite Asgardian wine. He took a swill, relishing the bitterness as it filled his mouth, flowed down his throat. "I do not believe I will ever not take offense to being your first choice as the source of distress, Thor."

"Fair enough." Blue eyes danced with mirth as Thor too sipped at his goblet of wine. "Nevertheless, you are aware that I will be sending a guard back to Jotunheim with you just to be certain."

Irritated now, Loki set aside his wine. "I see no point in that when you have Heimdall watching my every move."

"Whatever is out there, Loki, a darkness is coming."

When Thor refused to meet this eyes, Loki leaned forward, getting as close as he dared to the new king of Asgard. "There's something you are keeping from me. I suggest you disclose this information before I decide to disavow our entire peace treaty just so I can break that pretty little nose of yours."

Throwing back his head, Thor let out a burst of laughter. "You truly have changed, brother. Threats to break my 'pretty' nose." Chortling, he met Loki's heated stare before growing more serious. "Jane and Darcy have informed me of a mysterious prophecy that Hermione has been keeping to herself. They know not the contents of this prophecy, only that it affects a number of people, Hermione included."

Loki sat back into his chair, letting this news wash over him. It wasn't like Hermione to keep such things from her friends, unless it was dangerous. "Does Heimdall know the details of the prophecy?"

Shaking his head, Thor replied, "He is unable to bear witness to prophecies that do not include him."

This troubled Loki, his brow furrowing and that gnawing in his gut growing stronger. "Obviously we need to discern what this prophecy entails." Taking another sip of wine, Loki tried not to worry, wanting to trust Hermione's judgement on the situation. Obviously she was keeping the prophecy a secret for a reason. "When was the last you saw her? How did she seem?"

"You could find out yourself, you know. Go and see her, explain why you've stayed away all these months," Thor said instead of answering his brother's question. Loki rolled his green eyes, causing Thor to smirk. "That is what I suspected. How do you think she will react when you finally return to her? Do you expect her to welcome you with open arms?"

"Hardly." Tipping his goblet to see what remained of his wine, Loki grimaced. "I suspect she'll be quite furious, to be honest. I don't take her for the kind to come happily after being shunned."

"She was rather a mess for a while."

"I'm aware, brother. I am aware." Setting aside the wine, Loki gave his brother a hard stare. "You never did tell me more about her reaction to our separation—."

"Nor do I plan to. If you want to know how she is faring, I suggest you go and see her, and not through her dreams."

Loki winced, regret making him nearly sick. "No—No, I will not be doing that ever again. The Diamonds do not like when I shift my magic through their cores. It could kill her, and that is definitely not something I could live with."

"You are right," Thor murmured, trailing off with a distressed look on his face. "She could certainly not take another blow such as that right now. She has enough to be dealing with in her condition."

"Condition?" Perking up, Loki leaned toward Thor, his piercing green eyes glaring at the blond king.

"The depression…"

"Are you suggesting that she reverted to her old ways?" Worry etched itself across the Jotun's face, his chest constricting with worry.

Shaking his head, Thor refused to meet Loki's gaze. "Her depression was deep, she nearly allowed herself to die this time according to Jane and Darcy. This was months ago, though. She is doing better now, to an extent."

"What caused her to change her mind, to fight for her life?" Curiosity bubbled in Loki's chest as he pondered over a suspicion Fenrir planted in his head all those months ago. He had no way of knowing without seeing her himself, or his fool of a brother giving something away.

"I—I cannot be certain, but I believe she decided that death would be far worse a fate than the anguish she has to bear." It was a lie, Loki knew this the moment he heard the words, but decided not to question it further.

Instead he asked, "Is my scepter still encased in the vaults? I may have need of it this night."

"Yes," Thor replied with a nod, reaching again for his goblet. "I can escort you down after we have eaten.

Knowing the conversation was over, Loki turned his attention to the meal in front of him, although he felt no hunger. He felt nothing these days, nothing but the anguish. And now, now he had more to ponder about. What was this prophecy his brother mentioned and why would Hermione believe death a worse fate than being separated from him? Tonight he would cross the realms using his scepter and find out exactly why she was not inquiring further about his absence. After all, it had been months since Thor had told him she questioned after him or his well-being, and he was starting to wonder if she wanted him back in her life at all, if ever.

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He walked slowly down the darkened hallway, his leather boots creating soft thuds along the worn floorboards. The inter-realm jump had been easy, now was the hard part—making sure not to wake Hermione from her sleep as he snuck into her flat to observe her. Loki practically held his breath as he eased open her bedroom door, the hinges creaking ever so slightly. His head snapped up at movement from the bed, a black feline uncurling itself before slinking off to another area of the room.

Gliding forward, Loki settled himself gently on the edge of the bed, feeling it dip as he did so. Without thinking, his hand moved to card his fingers through her curls, the softness making him recall a time not so long ago when he'd been able to do the same. Removing his fingers from her hair, he raked his eyes over her greedily, wanting to take her all in. A part of him wished for her to wake, for her to curl into his lap and ask him to stay. He ached desperately to hear her voice, to see her chocolate eyes dance as she laughed, but now was not the time for such things.

This trip was to be short. In fact, he would need to be leaving within the next few minutes so as not to alert Heimdall to his travels. Sighing softly, Loki noticed nothing wrong with Hermione as she slept peacefully, curled on her side. Her quilt was wrapped loosely around her form, hiding her body from view. He decided against shifting it in fear she would wake, instead opting to take what he saw at face value. Perhaps Fenrir had been wrong—perhaps he'd panicked for no reason, sent her away and shattered her trust for not reason.

Regardless, he had to be going, so with a heavy heart, he rose from the bed. Her body shifted slightly, curling itself more towards where he'd been perched as if seeking him out. Biting back his pain, Loki retraced his steps, exiting the bedroom and down the hall. In the living room, he grabbed his scepter from where he'd left it leaning against the wall, and transported himself back to Asgard, back to his loneliness.

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Sleep never came to Loki that night. Instead, he paced his old bedchamber in the Asgardian palace, trying to figure out what to do next about the situation with Hermione. He knew he couldn't stay away forever; that would only make things worse. The longer he stayed away, the angrier and more distant Hermione would be. The short trip to her had been rejuvenating, his despair abating for the briefest of periods. It provided him with some clarity on the situation.

Thor came to him early that morning, before dawn had fully broken the morning sky. He allowed him inside the room without comment, an act not lost on the blond. Together, they stood in silence, watching as the sun broke the horizon, a new day beginning. The quiet was not uncomfortable, nor was it foreboding. It was like when they were younger, two brothers standing side by side, pondering on what they would have to do next in their long, long lives.

After some time, Thor broke the silence. "You've gone to see her." His voice was not laced with anger or disdain, but curiosity.

"I did."

"What did you learn?"

"Nothing of importance. She was fast asleep, and I let her rest, my presence unknown to her." Loki closed his eyes against the brightness of the new day. "What was I supposed to learn that you are keeping from me still, brother?" His question as quiet, barely loud enough for normal ears to hear, but Thor heard perfectly, a frown forming on his handsome face.

"I believe that is something you need to discuss with her, when she is awake and cognizant of your presence, Loki." Turning to face to Jotun, Thor felt himself grow angry. "It is unfair of you to catch these glimpses of her, yet she is not allowed the same pleasure." He gestured at Loki's face before continuing, "Your coloring has improved and your eyes are clearer. Can she say the same? How will she feel upon waking from whatever dream you forced upon her this time?"

"What are you accusing me of? Are you insinuating that I have hurt her somehow? That I am bringing her harm on purpose?" Loki felt his temper beginning to flare, and quickly. His clenched his hands into fists as he turned to face Thor. "How dare you," he seethed, teeth bared.

"I'm merely questioning your true intentions. Do you have plans of ever returning to her, or are you going to make her suffer for all eternity, forever alone on Midgard as she watches everyone around her die!?" As soon as the words left Thor's mouth, he knew he'd made a mistake. He was uncertain whether or not Hermione wished for Loki to know about the change in her life from the Rime Diamonds. He watched as Loki's eyes went wide, a fury igniting behind the green orbs.

"What did you just say?"

The question was spoke low, menacingly. It made the hair on the Back of Thor's neck stand on end. He swallowed, taking half a step back in the hopes that his brother would not attack him. It would not bode well for two kings to brawl on a balcony where all the city could see. Swallowing, he pushed the hair from his face, trying to keep calm so not to further upset Loki.

"Hermione—she is like us now. Your bond has altered the aging process as she once knew." He sighed, knowing he had to further explain. "Even as a witch, she would have lived a longer than normal life for a Midgardian, but with the magic of the Rime Diamonds flowing through her from your bond, she will live as we do, long…eternal."

The breath left Loki in a rush, a dizziness overtaking him so quickly that he had to grab hold of the balcony railing. This was something he'd not foreseen. Yet again, how could he have known? He and Hermione had always assumed that she would be the first to die, him outliving her by centuries. This changed things—for the both of them. Gathering his thoughts, and his bearings Loki faced Thor once more, his fury forgotten for the moment.

"If she is now as we are, does that mean she's been healed entirely—" He paused, trying to make sense of the millions of thoughts flying through his head. "Does that mean issues she had before regarding her health and well-being have been corrected?" Thor hesitated, but it was enough to confirm Loki's suspicions. "Tell me—tell me!" He lunged forward, snagging Thor by the front of his armor and pulling him close. The God of Thunder did not flinch, but he did display the tiniest indication of guilt.

"If you are asking if she has been healed of the effects from the torture she received during their Wizarding war, then the answer is yes." Glancing away, Thor refused to say anything further, unsure whether or not Hermione wished for him to reveal her secret. It was her secret to tell after all, and somehow, Loki had not discovered it whilst visiting her the night before. "If you wish to know specific details, then you will need to discuss that with Hermione."

Releasing his grip on Thor, Loki turned away, running a shaky hand through his hair. His lack of sleep on top of his sorrow was not helping him to think clearly. Had Fenrir been correct? Had he missed something when visiting Hermione? There had to be signs he missed somehow. Glaring at the city before him, Loki growled, furious with himself for putting this off for entirely too long. Rotating slowly, he met Thor's worried gaze.

"It appears I must ask permission to break our treaty, brother," he admitted with a smirk. "I am going to need to travel to Midgard." He sighed, relief at finally making a decision on the matter washing over him. He waited for a response, knowing Thor would grant him this breach in their contract, but knowing he wouldn't do it without some sort of catch or stipulation.

Hanging his head, Thor sighed heavily. "I will need to meet with my counsel before granting you permission of such a request."

"They will never agree to it," Loki scoffed, frustration lacing his words. "And it will take ages to gather the four of them from wherever they roam currently." Anxiety began to creep along his spine, the very idea of being kept from Hermione making him uneasy.

"Calm yourself, Loki…" Thor tried to soothe his suddenly frantic brother. "Sif and Volstagg are currently on Asgard, while Hogun and Fandral can be reached easily enough.

"Certainly you understand there's no time for that." Loki took a step towards Thor, his eyes narrowing slightly. "I've wasted enough time."

Thor grasped Loki's shoulder reassuringly, a sad smile on his face. "While I am thrilled you've finally come to you senses, there are protocols that must be met."

Shrugging out of Thor's grasp, Loki stalked away, back into his bedchamber. He knew Thor was right, of course, but that didn't make him feel any better. With his mind finally made up, every nerve in his body screamed for him to be with Hermione, the bond making his blood sizzle and his gut clench. As if realizing the turmoil his brother was experiencing, Thor followed the Jotun inside, but passed him by to head towards the door.

"I will go and send word to Hogun and Fandral, but in the meantime, you should return to Jotunheim and continue with your reconstruction." It was a long shot, he knew, trying to convince Loki to be anywhere but here, but he had to try. As suspected, he was greeted with a scoff.

"I will remain here, Thor. Make haste, if you would. You know my patience is particularly thin when it comes to Hermione." He glanced away, not wanting to share his encumbering emotions with the Asgardian king. It was bad enough he was practically begging to be allowed access to Midgard, he didn't need to add this to his list of current anxieties.

"Very well then," Thor said with a final glance at his brother. "I will send word as soon as I know something." Loki merely nodded, turning away to glare out the open balcony doors. Leaving him alone, Thor hoped that he would be able to grant Loki what he wished.

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Thor watched as Loki paced the marble floor of the throne room, a scowl making him look the villain he once was not too long ago They'd yet to hear back from Hogun and Fandrall, but it surely couldn't be much longer before they arrived. He'd sent Sif to greet them upon their return, yet it'd been hours since she'd departed for the Observatory. With night quickly approaching, and the shadows growing in the hall, Thor's anxiety rose ever higher. He did not blame his brother for his frantic pacing, if he'd not learned to channel his emotions recently, he'd be doing quite the same.

Loki, having been unable to wait quietly and out of sight in his bedchamber, joined him after only an hour. He said nothing, just continued to try and wear a path in the ancient flooring. In essence, Loki had every reason to worry, for he had no idea what awaited him on Earth. From last he'd heard, Hermione was quite close to her pregnancy. This meant that upon their arrival, she would have plenty to explain, as would he. Loki would not take kindly to being kept in the dark of Hermione's condition, and Thor would be the one he'd focus his anger on.

Stroking his beard, Thor wondered if he should perhaps finally reveal what he knew, putting Loki's suspicions to rest. Sitting up higher in his throne, he cleared his throat, trying to decide what exactly to say to the Jotun. As anticipated, Loki stopped pacing, his tall form slowly turning until he was looking up at the Asgardian king. Taking a deep breath, Thor opened his mouth to speak, ready to blurt out the words Loki needed to hear. The dark eyebrows of the Jotun drew together, his face guarded as he prepared to listen.

As Thor began to speak, the hall doors burst open, slamming against the marble walls with a bang. Both occupants of the room turned their attentions to the doorway, watching as Lady Sif sprinted into the room. She skidded to a halt in front of the throne where Thor was now standing, Mjolnir in hand. Her eyes were wide with panic, but she spoke clearly and calmly.

"Thor, Heimdall is requesting your presence in the Observatory immediately!"

"Then, I will go at once," he answered jumping down from the golden pedestal. He made to move past Sif and Loki, but she reached out, stilling him with a hand to his forearm.

"No, you misunderstand," she clarified. "He is requesting the both of you—something urgent is happening on Midgard, but he would not tell me of the details." Her hand dropped from his arm as Thor shot Loki a frantic look, a look that was returned, but tinged with anger. "What? What are you not telling us?"

Wetting his suddenly dry lips, Thor merely shook his head. "There's little time to explicate. Come—we must hurry." They set off for the Observatory, Sif explaining what happened while Loki continued to shoot him dark glares. He would pay for withholding this information, but that would have to be dealt with later. Right now they needed to get to Midgard and deal with whatever fallout was happening.

Upon arriving in the Observatory, Heimdall inserted his magical sword into his pedestal, turning it swiftly. The room began to rotate, turning them all so they were facing toward the passage for Midgard. Thor moved forward, his blue eyes bright with worry. Heimdall's eyes were focused, gazing off into the endless starry night. There were lines of tension on his forehead, marring his dark skin and aging him drastically. Finally, he spoke, voice deep and conveying the turmoil he clearly felt.

"It's time—you need to go to her. There are…complications."

"Who is the she you speak of, Heimdall," Thor questioned, suddenly worried that Jane may be in trouble. He shot a wary look at Loki, who was giving him a narrowed eyes glare.

"Lady Granger."


At Thor's quiet exclaim, Loki whirled around, stalking forward and grabbing hold of his collar. "I warned you, brother. I warned you that if any harm came to her, there would be hell to pay." Shoving him away, Loki held tighter to his scepter and walked briskly towards the portal. Using the golden staff to point, he indicated what he intended. "You will take me to Midgard—now!" His words echoed around the room, his magic and fury exploding outward with enough force to rattle the ancient walls.

"There are protocols that need to be upheld, Loki." Thor tried to reason with the Jotun, "I will go ahead and then Lady Sif can bring you once the council has met and granted you permission."

"Must I remind you of what will happen, of what I am capable of?"

Before Thor could refute, Lady Sif spoke up, her voice firm and sincere. "I think you should let him go, Thor. This is an emergency situation, and that should be taken into account."

Thor looked her in the eyes, and finding her serious, sighed heavily. "Are you certain? Do you believe this is the best course of action?"

"I do, and I believe that Fandrall, Hogun, and Volstagg will agree." She ran a hand through her dark, wavy hair. "We have all come to love Hermione as family, and if anything were to happen to her, we would want everyone there to help her." Pointing at Loki, she added, "Take Loki and go. Go now before it is too late. I will deal with the Warriors Three."

Placing a hand over his heart, Thor bowed to Lady Sif. "Thank you." Then, turning towards his wayward brother, he nodded solemnly. "Let us go then. We must make haste if we are to arrive in time to aid your beloved." Moving to stand next to Loki, he held his hammer tightly. "We are ready, Heimdall."

With a loud burst of sound, Heimdall activated the Bifrost, projecting the rainbow light before the pair. Loki gripped his scepter, preparing for the journey before tilting his head and calling over his shoulder. "Thank you kindly, Lady Sif. I always liked you most of all." She laughed in response, shaking her head at the mischievous god. Through the pain he was feeling in his chest, he decided to ask Thor what he might expect, for he suspected Thor knew exactly what was happening down on Midgard. "Tell me, brother—tell me what is happening."

Deciding there was no way to avoid the truth any longer, Thor closed his eyes briefly in an attempt to gather his courage. Finally meeting Loki's frightened green eyes, he admitted what he knew. "Hermione is with child, and I believe, that she's gone into labor."

Loki balked, a million emotions cascading through his body at the realization of what Thor revealed. Fear and anger won out, as always, and he lunged forward, but it was too late. At that moment they were pulled into the swirling vortex, their bodies plummeting through the Bifrost towards Midgard. Refocusing on the here and now, Loki held his breath, urging them to move faster. He needed to get to Hermione, and quickly. Hold on, my love. I'm on my way.

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A/N: Please review!