To Catch a Thief: Chapter Thirty-Three

“I think I’m going to up my rates,” Marcurio announced when they finally stopped to take shelter for the night. It was the same cave where she and Brynjolf had cooked up their Falmer Blood Elixir scheme, and though Ginna would never say as much out loud, a part of her actually felt comfortable there. Maybe she wasn’t as spoiled as Brynjolf liked to say she was. Marcurio, on the other hand, was uncomfortable, his clothes still damp and the smell inside the cave was so overwhelming he’d threatened to throw up several times. “Or at least modify the fine print on my terms of service.”

Ginna knelt in front of the fire he’d started, warming her hands and shivering inside her wet leather Guild armor. She chuckled a little and watched him unsling his pack before lowering to sit across the fire from her. “I’m sorry taking on this job conflicted with your high moral standards.”

“Well, if I had known when you came up to me at the Frozen Hearth you were planning to drag me on a Skyrim-wide murder spree…” he started, and then dug into his pack for a bottle of brandy. “Oh, who am I kidding. I still probably would have come along. I always was a sucker for a pretty girl in trouble.”

She ignored his flirtation, denying the curious intrigue she’d felt at the Dwemer museum when the tingling of desire rose in her belly after watching him work his magic. Despite how much of a turn off his incessant bragging was, he was actually pretty powerful and there was definitely something sexy about power. She rifled through her own satchel until she found a bit of jerked horker meat to sate her hunger and a bottle of mead to take the edge off the cold she could feel seeping into her bones that made her shoulder throb and ache.

“You really seemed to know a lot about the Dwemer when we were talking to Calcelmo.” She shifted the conversation. “Where did you learn so much about the ruins of Mzinchaleft?”

“You spend enough time in the Bee & Barb, you learn a lot about things you’ll probably never see.” He shrugged. “Mjoll talks about the place constantly, her lost blade, the giant Dwemer construct that nearly killed her, Aerin saving her life after she crawled away.”

Ginna had only crossed paths with Riften’s great champion, Mjoll the Lioness, once but that was enough to turn her stomach. Righteous do-gooder Void-bent on saving Riften from the Thieves Guild. Brynjolf loathed her and Rune told her that Vex had been trying to frame that meddlesome bitch for years, but the charges never seemed to stick.

“If you came to Skyrim to go to the College of Winterhold, how did you wind up in Riften?”

“A few years back I was companion to a thane of Riften, an Altmer battlemage named Anariel. We traveled everywhere together. Fighting the good fight, bringing honor to ourselves and all that good stuff.” He drew his legs up and rested his arms across the top of his knees. “We were in Morthal when she died in battle, clearing out a vampire coven for Jarl Idgrod Ravencrone…”

Lowering his head to rest on his arms, he was quiet for a few minutes, thoughtful and sad as he remembered. Ginna watched the length of his hair slip over his shoulder to slide down his arm. The flames leapt and danced in his eyes, making them look like pools of molten honey. He seemed so vulnerable right then, and in the past she might have taken advantage of that vulnerability without a thought, but it actually made her feel sad.

“I was beside myself after she died,” he went on. “Didn’t know what else to do so I traveled back to Riften with her remains. A part of me just wanted to leave this gods forsaken frozen wasteland, go back to Cyrodiil and forget, but even after she was laid to rest I couldn’t bring myself to leave. It was as though I just sat down on that bench in the Bee & Barb to wait for her, even though I knew she was never coming back. I’ve been there ever since.”

“You loved her?”

Something inside Ginna had shifted, the hardness that had been her buffer for so long softening when she met Brynjolf, and though try as she might to fight it, she saw love enmeshed with tragedy everywhere she looked. Would theirs become another of those fleeting, tragic love songs barely memorable enough for bards to sing?

“Not half as well as she loved me,” he sighed, slugging back long gulps from the bottle of brandy he held. “And I’ve regretted it ever since. I was really young and stupid. I took advantage of her feelings for me because I thought she’d always be there.”

“That’s rough.”

She couldn’t even begin to relate because she’d never had someone love her that way, had never loved anyone else. Not until she’d met Brynjolf. The men in her life had been affectionate to a point, even Mallus had his moments, but none of them really loved her beyond the physical. None of them had laid beside her in the dark talking her to sleep, soft fingertips brushing the hair across her cheek, leaning in to kiss her forehead as her dreams carried her away. None of them had ever wanted to be her partner…

Gods, she longed for his warmth then, a shiver moving through her.

“What about you? How did you wind up in Riften? With Brynjolf of all people?”

“It’s a long story.” One she felt she’d already told too many people.

“Come on, I told you my story, and besides we’ve got nothing but time until the sun comes up,” he pointed out.

“Let’s just say I came in on a debt and found myself never wanting to leave and keep it at that.”

“Maven Black-Briar has that kind of effect on people. If you prove yourself valuable to her and you owe her a debt, she finds a way to make sure she owns you for life.”

“My debt to Maven is paid. I could leave Riften anytime I want. I just… I don’t want to. My heart is there now.” It felt so strange saying those words out loud, admitting to someone else that she was in love. The Ginna she’d been just a few months ago would have never yielded her heart so quickly to a man, and yet just thinking about him made her ache inside.

For a time they were quiet, and then he looked across the fire at her as if he’d been reading her emotions. “What can you possibly see in that guy, Ginna? He’s a rogue and a scoundrel, always running some scam, stealing from anyone and everyone he can.”

“Mm,” she mused softly, remembering how quickly he’d slipped into another persona when they’d been in Markarth together, scamming the people with their mystical Falmer Blood Elixir. “That’s why I like him. I see myself in him.” She leveled her gaze at him, watched the fire leap and dance in his golden eyes before he squinted, trying to make sense of her words. “I see my future.”

“You deserve a better future than what he can give. What could he have to offer you? Prison? A cold blade in a dark alleyway?”

“You seem to keep forgetting, I was already a thief when I met him.”

“Perhaps, but I still say you deserve better.”

“You’ve spent four days with me and you’re already an expert on what kind of life I deserve? You watched me slaughter those people back there in cold blood, Marcurio and you could barely stomach it. I can’t even count the number of people I’ve had to kill in my lifetime.”

“You obviously had your reasons. You said yourself there was no other way. Kill or be killed.”

“There’s always another way. I just choose to do things my way.”

“All right,” he said. “But whatever we were doing there, this is about more than some petty thievery for your Guild. What is this whole thing with the journal all about? Why’s it so important? Who’s Gallus?”

“You shouldn’t worry about those things. The less you know, the better off you’ll be.”

“Well, I’m an official accessory to mass murder, Ginna. I don’t think it gets any better off than that. Come on, I think I have a right to know what we were doing back there. I risked my life and acted against my better judgment to help you.”

“It’s only official if the murderers get caught,” she tried to draw him off the subject with humor, but he wasn’t going to budge. She could see it in his eyes, those serious, mesmerizing eyes that had she not grown a heart and a conscience would have easily drawn her in against her own better judgment.

“Come on,” he said again. “Just give me something, so I don’t spend the rest of my life guilty and wondering how well you conned me into believing you were actually in trouble.”

“All right…” she sighed. “A long time ago the Guild was torn apart when the Guildmaster was stabbed in the back and left for dead in an old Nordic ruin. There were only two people who knew what really happened that day and the wrong one made it back to the Guild. He framed his partner for the crime and she spent decades in exile, hiding in the shadows.” Would that become her life in twenty years? Always on the run from Brutus and the people he’d turned against her with his lies? She was more like Karliah than she’d ever realized; maybe that was why she’d trusted her without question. “Whatever is written in that journal… It will bring that betrayal into the light and it won’t be pretty, but I’m hoping it will protect the people I love from suffering anymore than they already have.” She took another drink, closing her eyes and letting the warmth of that mead rush through her, into her warm cheeks, through her blood until that heat took the edge off of the cold. “I got caught up in it all. I didn’t really even mean to, and now that same backstabbing bastard ran his blade through me and left me for dead in the ruins where he killed his own Guildmaster.”

“Wait, so, someone really did stab you? As in, an actual stabbing?”

Ginna lifted a hand to the healed wound beneath her armor to show him where with a soft pat of her fingers. “Right here.”

“Damn,” he muttered, shaking his head. “Now see, is it really worth it, Ginna? To me that seems like some kind of divine intervention, a message from the gods that you’re in the wrong business.”

Ginna laughed. “You’re a funny guy,” she told him. “Has anyone ever told you that?”

“I’m not being funny, I’m being serious.” But he was smiling.

“I think that’s what makes it so funny. It’s like you just don’t get it.” She took a drink and lowered the bottle to rest at her side. “I mean, think about it, Marcurio. You have your magic, right?”

“Well, yes, but I don’t really see what that has to do with…”

“How long have you known you wanted to be a mage?”

“I don’t know, since I was a boy and I realized the only way someone my size could make an impact was if I took advantage of my affinity for the arcane arts. I used to get bullied a lot, but I don’t see what that has to do…”

“That’s my point exactly. I had nothing as a girl. My father made sure of it when he gambled and pissed away every septim he earned. I had to take care of myself because he wasn’t going to do it. And then I realized one day I didn’t have to do without. That there were things in other people’s pockets, things I wanted, things that would make my life easier and all I had to do to make them mine was reach in and grab them.”

“That doesn’t make it right.”

“It makes it right for me.”

“But it’s so dangerous… Surely you have other talents. The way you wield blades is remarkable, Ginna, your strategic thought process… You could be a hero, not a rogue.”

“And being a hero isn’t dangerous?” She didn’t give him a chance to answer. “Look at Mjoll. The ruins of Mzinchaleft destroyed her. And what about Anariel?” Watching the light drain from his eyes made her feel cruel, and the guilt that followed was something unfamiliar and cold. It made her feel bad, but she had to drive that point home. “Life is dangerous, Marcurio. No matter what stars we choose to align ourselves with, eventually we all get to die.”

“Well, when you put it that way, I guess I can’t argue,” he admitted, and then, “well, I could argue, but I see no sense in it. You’re obviously very happy with this lifestyle of yours. Who am I to tell you that you shouldn’t live it?” He was thoughtful and quiet again for a time, but the place his mind wandered was soon revealed. “Though I do still say you deserve someone better than Brynjolf. Someone who’s actually willing to get out there and stand beside you. Someone who isn’t afraid to say… oh, I don’t know, join in the fight when you’re in a bind.”

“You mean someone more like you?”

She watched the playful light return to his eyes, the long edges lengthening, brow quirking upward with his suggestive grin. “Now you’re talking. I’d take good care of you. I’d even look the other way while you did… well, whatever it is you feel you need to do with your life. I’d stand beside you in battle, not send you out to fight alone. And I’ve been told my skills as a lover are unmatched.”

What would his hands feel like on her skin? Those long, beautiful fingers trailing across her bare belly, palms warm as he kneaded her breasts, lips whispering against hers. Would she feel the magic he possessed tingling through her body as he rose up inside her? And he had really nice lips, softer than most of the Imperials she’d spent her days with. She wondered what they would feel like against hers, both of them gasping with desire as they writhed and stretched and tangled their bodies together right there in the same place Brynjolf had taken her up against the cold stone walls.

Just thinking about Brynjolf was like a shock to her system. In the past, she’d have had no qualms sating her lust with someone else. She couldn’t even count on both hands the number of men she’d slept with while she’d been with Mallus, and yet just the thought of taking another into her arms felt like a betrayal of the heart. Even if he was sitting in Riften cursing her name, she didn’t want to ruin what they had together by drawing another man between her thighs for some meaningless pleasure. Gods, how quickly being in love changed a person.

Shaking those thoughts from her mind before they could go any further, Ginna laughed again as she stood up. “You and me are never gonna happen, Marcurio.”

“Oh, come on,” he urged, taking another drink. “Don’t tell me you’re not the least bit curious about what I have to offer.”

“Not curious at all,” she lied.

“It was worth a shot,” he shrugged. “And it’s your loss.”

 

About erica

Erica North is the fanfiction pseudonym for fantasy/romance author Jennifer Melzer.
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31 Responses to To Catch a Thief: Chapter Thirty-Three

  1. Elspeth says:

    Marcurio and Ginna BFFs!!!

    • erica says:

      I know! For someone who didn’t know how to make friends, I think she’s doing pretty well for herself. And then I thought it was kind of funny that she never had dirty little sexy thoughts about Rune. I think he’s like a little brother in her mind, and thoughts like that squick her out.

  2. Dovahkiir says:

    ///butallthatsexualtensionsobs

    • erica says:

      I know. It’s a lot of sexual tension. Poor Marcurio.

      • Dovahkiir says:

        If Ginna doesn’t want him, I’ll just take him and run away. ;_; <3

        Also, did you see the new Dawnguard details? c:

        • Elspeth says:

          Maybe Marcurio needs to make out with the Tiny Breton Battlemage who stops by the Bee and Barb on her way to Winterhold.

          • erica says:

            Perhaps, but I think Rune might get jealous if he found out his secret tiny Breton love is kissing Marcurio. I was seriously thinking I might introduce Marcurio to my first character, Fionna, from the Dark Brotherhood at some point, since she married him in my game over there.

            Maybe they could have their own story. She’s all kinds of unregrettable bad and I think he secretly likes the naughty girls. It could be part of the “Rune’s Identity” story. Hmmm.

          • Elspeth says:

            Rune is definitely more the tiny Breton’s type. She left all those magewhores back in University.

          • erica says:

            I have this little thought in my imagination that Rune has someone in Solitude, maybe a healer who looks after his father, and that was why he was so distraught when he and Ginna were leaving Solitude after meeting with Gulum-Ei.

          • Elspeth says:

            oooh, I like that.

          • erica says:

            Maybe, if I do something else after I finish To Catch a Thief, like send Ginjolf to take care of the Guild Issues in Cyrodiil and possibly help uncover the secrets of Rune’s past, you can help me create the character?

          • Elspeth says:

            I can do that. I love making characters. I’ve got some original characters coming up soon.

          • erica says:

            Excellent. I will see where I am when I get back from vacation. I had this thought about breaking the story into three perspectives, and I think I could do it without it being too confusing. Maybe the three women, or maybe from Ginna’s POV, Rune’s POV and Marcurio’s POV, as I find a way to weave their stories together. The Dark Brotherhood involvement would be a great in for Fionna, maybe she would come to Riften after the failed attempt on Titus Mede II’s life because after some research she discovered there was an lost heir, a child that was hidden away because of some bizarre social or political scandal. Hmmm, I love it when my brain goes into overdrive, but not when I am in the middle of another story.

          • Dovahkiir says:

            Speaking of hidden children, LOL
            Back when I was planning Athalia’s backstory, one of my good friends David suggested she might be the emperor’s child without knowing it. xDD
            Of course I dumped that idea though. Making complex characters scares me/sob

          • erica says:

            Awe, don’t be scared. Complex characters are fun. Some of my favorite fictional people are complex. Like Mordred from Arthurian legend. I’ve read so many great stories during my life in which he was this incredibly complex and beautiful character that no matter how you looked at him, you couldn’t help but feel sorry for him.

        • erica says:

          Hmm, I don’t think so. Which ones? I saw they are releasing new details tomorrow at E3 and that if you play on XBox, you could try to get Beta approval, but that was it. Was there something more? *gets excited*

          • Dovahkiir says:

            I just saw a list my friend psoted on facebook with all the features, I’m not sure where he got it but here:

            The expansion features two new factions: the Dawnguard, housed in Fort Dawnguard; and the Vampires, who reside in Castle Volkihar. The strongholds serve as new homes for the player, with each featuring unique bonuses. In addition, the Soul Cairn can be visited, which is a plane of Oblivion filled with undead.
            Joining the Vampires allows the player to transform into a Vampire Lord at will, along with special accompanying abilities, which can be chosen from a dedicated skill tree. Vampire Lords will be attacked by almost all NPCs on sight, while regular vampires no longer trigger a hostile reaction. A Lycanthropy skill tree is also added, granting new powers and abilities for Skyrim’s werewolves.
            Dawnguard adds a variety of new enemies throughout Skyrim, including powerful Legendary Dragons, Gargoyles, Death Hounds, and Armored Trolls. New weapons, such as the crossbow and Dragonbone weapons, are available, along with new shouts such as Soul Tear, which rips the spirit of a slain enemy from its corpse to fight for the player. Also included is a new NPC in Riften’s Ratway, who can alter a character’s appearance (but not race or gender).

            //YOU CAN FINALLY CHANGE APPEARANCE ASKLJFHASL//

          • erica says:

            Oooh, nice! I swear, if they make us all wait until August (September for those of us playing PC and PS3,) I will scream my face clean off.

          • Dovahkiir says:

            shhhh no tears, only hugs. :( <3

            If it's gonna come out in August or September, then I'll probably have my best friend get it for me. c:
            Well, she will probably buy it without me telling her to, then I'll end up feeling bad because I'm pathetic.
            //will buy it myself

          • erica says:

            It looks so exciting. I just can’t wait to play it. Maybe it will magically come out while I’m on vacation and by the time I come back, half the wait time will be over. That would be awesome! If not, we will all get through this trying time together. *HUG*

            Though my husband keeps threatening to go buy an XBox so he doesn’t have to wait.

          • Dovahkiir says:

            Use your magic! Make it happennnn! ;7;

          • erica says:

            I think my Shrine of Talos might be disconnected. I’ve been trying to influence Bethesda with my amazing mind powers, but to no avail. I’m hoping they at least announce the release date tomorrow at E3. Unfortunately, I’ll be in the car driving, driving, driving most of the day and I won’t see it until tomorrow night if they do.

          • Dovahkiir says:

            w-wait
            E3 is tomorrow? o_o
            jdkAJHASKFJGHAL OH MY FUCK ASSASSIN’S CREED III DETAILS
            /UGLY HAPPY CRIES OF FEELS

            Oh my god ;_;
            and oh *reconnects shrine of Talos* c:
            Oh god I can’t wait for all the things tomorrow ;_;
            I will go sob now and eat my nutella

            Also, have fun on your vacation! :D

          • erica says:

            I think E3 started today.

            Have you seen the Dishonored trailer yet?

          • erica says:

            ooh, and thank you. :) I’m going to be gone for almost three weeks. It’s going to be crazy! But I’m trying to get a bunch of chapters up and ready, and I’m hoping I’ll still be able to write while I unwind at night on the beach. Wee!

          • Dovahkiir says:

            I’ve seen the cover picture thing for Dishonored on Tumblr, but not the trailer~ *runs to see*
            And wheee, beaches! xD
            The beaches here in my country get hot as hell. I just tend to stay indoors more since I can get heatstrokes so easily, no matter how much water I drink or skin I protect. ;u;
            And who knows? Maybe you’ll get inspired while you’re at it. 8D

            I’m trying to write the second chapter for my story since I have like two days before I have to start worrying about my next exam.
            Planned drawing and writing the whole time, but nope. art/writers block. ;_;

          • erica says:

            I’m hoping there’s no heatstroke or sunpoison in my future. I’ve got nothing but Scottish, Irish and Norwegian blood in my veins. I freckle and fry in the sun. I’ve got SPF 50 waterproof sunblock, so *fingers crossed*

            I’m hoping for a little inspiration. The ocean always inspires me.

            Maybe once exams are finished, your mind will be free and you can write and create without blockage.

          • Dovahkiir says:

            By the nine, that game looks like a modern, science fiction version of Assassin’s Creed mixed with Skyrim.
            THIS IS
            PERFECT
            /CRIES MORE

          • erica says:

            I know! It looks beautiful!

          • Dovahkiir says:

            i sHOULDNT GET EMOTIONAL OVER VIDEO GAMES BUT IT KEEPS HAPPENING;;;;

            I really felt like drawing something to get all my AC feels out, but it just won’t come out right. ._.
            So I’m just sitting here and doodling, and stopping to write a few words here and there every once in a while. xD

            I write really slow. ;u;

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