Maia woke with a start, her breathing heavy, flesh hot and covered in a fine coat of perspiration. It was still dark, no light showed around the edges of Loki's curtains, and his arm tightened around her waist.
'What's wrong, love?' He murmured as sleep slowly left him.
'Nightmare.' She breathed and the terror in that single word woke him the rest of the way.
He propped himself up on his elbow and pushed at her shoulder so she lay flat on her back and faced him. 'Your skin is like fire, sweet one.' He murmured as his fingers gently caressed her cheek. 'Here, allow me.' Grateful in that moment for his Jotun heritage, his fingers cooled instantly and he sank them into her hair and behind her neck and she sighed, the breath leaving her lips shudderingly. 'Do you want to talk about it?'
She finally made eye contact with him and the dream came flooding back, the details making her eyes go wide and she threw her arms around his neck, pulling herself up into his embrace. His arm flattened from where he touched her neck down her spine so he could take her weight and held her close.
'Dear girl, you're terrified.' He could now feel the delicate tremors running through her and realised this had really scared her.
'So real.' She whispered.
'It was only a dream, beloved, hush now.' He reassured her as he shifted his weight to lay back on his pillows, drawing her with him and tucking her head under his chin, her upper body fully against his. 'Do you wish to share? Let me help chase the demons from you?'
'I think so, maybe. Can we put the light on?'
'Of course.' He kissed her cheek softly and waved his hand, the bedside light clicking on.
She pushed herself up, leaning on his chest and studying his face carefully. 'You weren't you.'
'Not me?' His hand began to massage her neck, trying to ease the tension as his hand soothed her panicked fever.
She shook her head, her hair falling around her face. 'You were trapped, in a mirror, you were the reflection, but whoever, whatever was this side, was a fake you.'
'A doppelgänger?' He frowned.
'Something in disguise.' She clarified. 'Like, a spell, or magical cloaking. Not a shapeshifter.'
He looked at her thoughtfully. 'You told me earlier you had vivid dreams in your youth. Were they ever predictive?'
She shook her head. 'No, just really realistic. Lucid.'
He nodded carefully, wanting to reassure her rather than scare her more. 'I'm sure it was nothing, kitten. Try and rest, even if you don't sleep. It was nothing but a dream and as long as my body holds breath nothing shall touch you.' He encouraged her to lay against him and she finally gave, her head settling on his chest once more.
'Thank you, Loki.' She whispered as she pressed a soft kiss against his clavicle.
'May I switch off the light?' She nodded against him and he turned it off again then curved both his arms tight around her, petting and whispering sweet assurances to her until he felt her breathing finally even out as sleep took her once more.
Loki did not want to worry her, her dreams had never been precognitive and it may mean nothing, but he knew to never brush any possibility aside and that he had never previously been trapped in a mirror, and he wanted to be sure. There were still those on Asgard who would dig for him, Thor included, but his concern was their work with her powers may have unlocked more than he intended. If her dream came to fruition and someone tried to trap him in a mirror and take his place, with the cuff restricting him he may not be able to stop it. In the morning he would ask Thor his thoughts, as there would be few powerful enough to do this, and would suggest they take unlocking her powers a little slower, just in case.
It had made his heart hurt to feel Maia so afraid, her body trembling in terror, her eyes wide. He wanted to protect her, from any and everything he could. Was this love? Perhaps the start of it, the way she made him feel and act was out of character, and he had not felt this way for the longest time, had not thought he was still capable of it. It was so unfamiliar as to be almost alien, but he refused to let this worry him, instead trusting his instincts, which were telling him to love and cherish her, protect her with all he had, and he intended to do just that.