The Nightmares.

"Loki?" a rumbling voice, raspy from sleep, drifts into his dreams, and he yawns and hums, barely coming to consciousness. A warm hand touches his shivering shoulder, and he jerks awake, sitting up. The hand rubs circles on his back. "Shh, it's all right. It's only me, Brother. I can't sleep. I… I had an awful dream."

Loki nods tiredly and looks to Thor in the low lighting. He is sweaty around his hairline and his eyes are baggy and wide. It must have been some nightmare. Loki wonders if Thor woke up shouting. He wonders if anyone would hear him if he had, considering the size of their home.

"Climb in, then," the younger replies, lifting the sheets and scooting over a few places, leaving a broad enough gap for the other. "You shan't have another nightmare if I'm here. I will keep them from you with my magic."

Thor smiles lazily, dimples showing. He slides into bed and curls up around Loki's back. "Thank you, Brother. I trusted you would. Oh," he adds, arms stilling over Loki's heart, above his nightgown. "You are so cold again. It's a good thing I came to you. I can warm you while you keep my nightmares at bay. A fair trade."

Loki chuckles quietly at that. "A fair trade," the boy agrees as he places his arm over Thor's and closes his eyes. He relishes the warmth, the security. He can tell by the way Thor is already falling asleep, despite how wide awake he appeared, that he is relishing in the same comforts.

But he isn't asleep quite yet, because he murmurs into Loki's hair, "Will you always protect me, Brother?"

"Of course I shall," Loki frowns. "What a dumb question, Thor. And I know you will always protect me. Mother said it was your duty to."

Thor makes a grunt akin to a curt laugh and then, very quickly, the golden boy is deeply asleep, snoring soundly.

Loki smiles to himself and wiggles down a bit and turns in Thor's arms until he fits the top of his head below Thor's chin, and he can feel the steady beating of Thor's heart against his the tip of his nose. He is half buried in the covers, now, but it hardly matters. He is warm, and he sends only pleasant images to Thor's mind to keep his dreams from straying into the frightening things he must have seen before.

Yes, a very fair trade, indeed.