Alright, so it took me a little over 3 weeks, but I managed to finish another chapter. I'll try to move faster next time, but I can make no promises. Thank you for reading and tell me what you think, if you feel like it! :)
Slowly, she made an attempt to open her eyes, and…
It was useless. Her eyelids had developed a will of their own and she should have stopped from trying to change their mind some hours ago already. She noted that the difference between dream and reality became surprisingly (all right, so maybe not that surprisingly) hard to discern when one had one's eyes closed.
"My head hurts." That was the first thing she could think to utter after some while of this comatose state. Great, not only did she lose control over her face muscles, but her voice had also almost deserted her, the Breton discovered.
"I said…my head hurts." Divines, that blasted spell had had the same effect on her vocal cords that she imagined eating glass would have produced.
On another note, the bed was more comfortable than she remembered it to be, which was strange, but nothing to complain about.
She could just feel him in the room; even imagine him there, smirking evilly, if she tried. That was, if Malvina would not have rather avoided doing that to her mental health.
"I know you're there, why are you ignoring me?" She grunted, and there was pleasure to be found in the better, more familiar sound of her own voice. The sound was getting better with use.
It was with great effort that she finally opened her eyes, and it took her only a few seconds to fix him across the room with her stare. The smug bastard was shamelessly eating out of her stock of sweetrolls. Dibella, Melvina so wanted to punch him for that….In order to calm down, she told herself there would be time for that later.
It took him a short while more to notice her state of consciousness, and when he did, he suddenly seemed to lose his appetite. "What do you want now, woman?" The Nord sighed, visibly irritated. Gods, she was so thankful that she'd learnt Telekinesis at the College, or else she never would have been able to hide his mask under her pillow, bed-ridden as she was. His expression of vivid frustration was always a delight to see, if one was to ask her.
He looked around puzzled, and then looked at her sourly, and the woman mentally laughed. He could tell she was behind the disappearance of his beloved possession, no doubt. It was sure to rub him the wrong way, and that was just terrific, in Malvina's opinion. Still, she would need to inflict a lot more harm than that before she would feel that all the embarrassment he'd caused her the last few days was fully compensated.
Forgetting about her plans for revenge for a second, the thief's curiosity was elicited by a stray thought. "Tell me… what did the Captain said when he saw you carrying my unconscious body onto the ship?" The Breton thought she saw the corner of his lips twitch ever so slightly, but her vision was a bit too blurry to be sure.
He lifted an eyebrow sarcastically. "Who said I carried you?" He countered her question, and, by the Eight, he was definitely hiding a smirk in that very moment. Malvina refrained from shuddering at the possible meanings behind such an occurrence. That vile man… she wouldn't have been surprised to hear he'd dragged her around town in a bag of Ash Yams.
She shook her head. "Then how in Oblivion did I get on this blasted ship?" Did she really want to know? Malvina herself was unsure of that. Uncertainty never stopped her before, though (as her beat body could attest), so of course she asked anyway!
"The innkeeper was kind enough to lend me a wheelbarrow. He hardly used it anymore, so he did not protest when I demanded that he gave it to me." He answered her with pleasure, pleasure at the humiliation he was putting her through- he could try to keep his expression vacant all he wanted, the shine of his eyes gave him away for the sick, sadistic bastard he really was.
"You paraded me around the city in my underclothes, unconscious and unkempt…" Her nostrils flared. "…in a cart?"
Perhaps appropriately, although her mother would have most categorically disagreed, Malvina swore violently, putting all her time spent in bars and taverns to good use. Out of the river of the insults she was spurting, Miraak himself could make out some small fragments. "…slime! A rotting cadaver would have more sense and wit than your stupid ass… son of a… go lick a wolf between its furry le... mangled, flea-bitten, poor excuse for a- " The rest she muttered mostly to herself while she furiously tried to tear at the bed's furs, much to the First Dragonborn's amusement.
"Being carried in the arms of your 'hired servant' would have been better?" There was a certain irony in the way he said that, one that got to her, even in her angered state.
"Well, if you put it that way…" All kinds of assumptions would have been made, that was for certain, and not one of them innocent or even remotely harmless for her reputation. People would have thought her a vulgar little thing for sure…
Oh, who was she kidding? Like she gave a thought about such things!
"Yes, it would have been." The woman declared, pigheadedly.
Miraak could not say he was all that shocked. Her stubbornness had made itself known as an important part of her personality long ago.
Mockingly, he laughed lowly under his breath. "Too bad I don't have your best interest at heart, then." She glared at him, conveying all her hatred for him in that one look, but over the course of the time they had spent together, it seemed he had developed immunity to Malvina's charming way of expressing herself.
Miraak wondered how long she would keep looking at him like that if he said nothing about it. Hmm, the idea was intriguing enough, so he decided to find out. Curiosity was a strange thing, but, considering all he'd been through the past days, he would indulge himself. With all the precision he possesed, he returned to what he was doing before she'd decided to interrupt her with her nosiness.
"I hate you." She lasted a few good minutes, which was not bad at all; still, he'd been expecting more from someone of her prestige. How that small woman had managed to slay the World Eater, he would never be able to tell.
"I'll take that as a compliment." Frankly, who did that woman not hate? He would have asked, but he was not at all interested in her life. "Is that all you had to say?" The former Dragon Priest would not have been surprised if she insisted on wasting his time even if that was the case.
Her heavy sigh of resignation was a most welcome sound, and he allowed himself to smile since he had his back to her, but it did not last much, for she just had to say something again. That never ended well, and this time would be no exception, he could just feel it. "Actually, there was one think I wanted to ask of you." Was she smiling? He turned his head her way, and, Gods, she was!
Damn that woman, that was the last thing he wanted to have to deal with. Swallowing his dread, and despise everything in him screaming that he really shouldn't indulge her, Miraak couldn't not help but ask her to elaborate. "What is it now?" He made sure to let his unwillingness to even consider serving her plainly audible in his voice, but Malvina had the incredible talent of effortlessly disregarding the feeling of others, so it made little difference to her that he did.
"I'm thinking this journey will last at least a few days more, am I right?"
He grunted, gritting his teeth. "Yes, almost a week."
She nodded, approvingly. The man could tell she was planning something, and her plans had the habit of putting him in uncomfortable situations, painfully so, even; that was not good news.
"Well, I'm going to start getting bored soon enough, and so will you, undoubtedly, and I've just had an idea that could fix that."
"What kind of idea?" The whole conversation was doing nothing to put him at ease, really.
"Read?" What did she even mean by that?
A nod. "Read!" She was probably going out of her way to sound as ambiguous as one could sound.
What followed could be best described as a tense silence on his part, but her eyes were filled with anticipation, so maybe it was tense in some way for the both of them…
"Why would you need me for that? Are you saying you want to read my writings?" The man was about to start listing reasons as to why that was a horrible idea, the book wasn't ready, the parts that were ready were not sorted out, the content- she interrupted him before he could follow his line of thought, like she loved to do whenever she had the chance. Divines, was that habit of hers an ever-annoying reminder of how stupid he had been when he had first met the woman for not having killed her on sight. He'd always thought a disaster could be seen from afar, but he supposed that was not always true. She was the biggest misfortune that had ever befallen him, after all, and he'd never seen it coming.
"Well, I was thinking that you could read some books to me, since you don't have anything better to do anyways; oh, and because you're supposed to do things for me, of course." Miraak really, really wanted to groan aloud after hearing that, but he had better self-control than to do so.
"I would rather not do that. After all, that is something that you could still do yourself." He responded, reasonably, but the Breton's reaction was not at all a desirable one.
"I know." Her grin was the best and only sign he would get that warned him of his incoming misery. "That's why I wanted you to do it in the first place." Cheerily, she hummed a few notes under her breath, but the only thing he recognised in the gesture was pure, unaltered evil.
Looking back on it, maybe letting her be maimed by a dragon was not the best of all the ideas he'd ever had. Now she had another reason to torture him, not that she'd ever really needed one before. The ancient Dragonborn suddenly did not feel so good anymore.
Malvina smiled victoriously, as if she'd smelled his defeat, and he rolled his eyes at her. "Go and bring me something to eat for now, Nord; I'm starving."
No, she'd definitely deserved a beating. Still did.
Making up his mind, he decided that there was no way in Oblivion he was going to read to her a single word, even at the risk of her going through with her usual dark threats.
Well, that was surely not going to end happily, not that Miraak gave a damn. If a battle of will was to take place, he was sure he was more than capable enough to best her. After all, this was a woman that let herself be dragged all the way to Solstheim only because of a vague note and some shady rumours. He'd played her before, how hard could it be to do it again?
His former master knew, but it was much fun to let Miraak figure that one out all by himself.