"Oof, I'm not that drunk, am I?" I mumbled, my voice slurring a little.
The Master chuckled and pushed himself away to come closer and sit down onto the steps right next to me. His shoulder lightly touched mine as if to prove that he was real. Not that it was needed, the little warmth his body gave off proved it well enough, made me aware of the cold.
"What's with that eyepatch," he asked mockingly and tugged at it. "I thought you wanted to be a viking and not a pirate." The Master chuckled at his own dumb joke.
I slapped his hand away, scowling. "I don't want to be either. Contact lens fell out."
"Not a problem. You'll get some new ones. Or your specs if you prefer those."
It took a moment for his words to sink in, or rather their meaning. The Master laughed at my confused face and nudged me. His features turned serious, however, at his next words.
"You're not staying here."
Despite my situation I huffed derisively. "And that's your decision now?"
"Actually… yes." Casually he propped his arm on my shoulder. "A part of me is keeping you alive, lil' lumin. My energy is it that keeps your body functioning." His eyes bore into mine intensely. "That does give me the right to make this decision."
Okay. No arguing with that. He had a point there. But that was as good as it would get. I growled in frustration, because nothing made sense with him. And his bloody arm was annoying, too, so I wound out of the way and pushed against him, even though I knew I didn't have the strength to really shove the Master. Instead I sprung up and trod in front of him, bending down a little.
"You're so messed up, you know that?" I snapped at him, angry at the tears in my eyes.
The Master only cringed. "Tell me about it." He chuckled at my eye-roll. "Well, you can make a fuss as much as you want. You'll come back with me. I don't care what you or the Doctor thinks about it." A dark look clouded his eyes for a moment, suddenly replaced by something that could be anger. "So go and say goodbye to your boyfriend. We're leaving."
My mouth dropped open and for a moment I was simply speechless. Something had gone majorly wrong here, I realized. Somehow I managed to calm down, the alcohol probably helped, and drew in a deep breath, my hand wiping over my face.
"He's not my boyfriend," I let out exasperated.
The Master arched a brow and tilted his head, looking weirdly confused all of a sudden.
"But you wanted to stay here with him."
My hand dropped to my side. "Yes!" I snapped, anger bubbling up from deep down. "Because you pushed me away! And I don't even get why! What the bloody hell made you so angry?"
"You... slept with him," came the answer, sounding almost more like a question.
I grunted and rolled my eyes again. "So?"
The Master looked so puzzled all of a sudden that I almost laughed. His expression was so confused as if I had given him an unsolvable puzzle.
And then, slowly, it dawned on me.
"Wait... right... You're not human," I concluded. "Do... Time Lords regard such things as more important than humans?"
He opened his mouth and closed it again, contemplating his next words, before he attempted another try. "Time Lords don't really need any of that. But.. uhm... well... It mostly seems as if humans use sex as some sort of... bonding?" Again his brows arched questioningly and if it were for any other situation I would have simply laughed at having him of all people be so damn clueless for once in his life.
Instead I dropped back down to the stairs by his side and let out a deep breath. Then I couldn't help it and started to laugh, despite the murderous glare.
"Yeah, okay," I admitted after a while. "Guess many handle it like that."
"Then what's so funny?" the Master growled at me, brows furrowed.
I snorted. "You really should never watch some late night television. And stay away from the internet."
Now it was at him to roll his eyes. "That's not the same," he protested. There was a pause in which he gave me a strange look. "Please tell me it isn't."
"Probably depends on the person you ask." I giggled, couldn't hold it in. The mere fact that we had this conversation was weird and ridiculous enough. "Oh, don't look so angry." I nudged him. "I'm not making fun of you, promise. But to answer your question" - I poked out my tongue -"For humans it's... sometimes it's just... fun. Or comfort seeking. Dunno how Time Lords handle it."
"Similar... if at all." The Master scowled at the aurora, then tossed me a dark side glance. "But then it makes no sense that you're so scared every time I come too close to you."
I snorted. "Come on! You always behave as if you're about to just have your way with me! And that's not fun at all! I really don't need any of that again." I paused, pursing my lips. "I know you wouldn't. But sometimes you still act like it. And then it's just... instinct...reflex? Something like that. If that really bothers you, stop acting like an arse."
"Again..." he muttered, suddenly emanating something dark that made me startle and shy away from him. "Someone did that to you, once?"
Crap. Maybe I should take better care of my wording. But if he wanted to use this against me somehow, he wouldn't be lucky.
"I left it behind me. Doesn't matter anymore." My answer didn't satisfy him the least, that much was obvious by the barely contained rage he emanated. It wasn't because of me, though, I realized, sensed it somehow. So, for a reason I didn't understand myself, I opened up a little. "My... ex-boyfriend. It's complicated. He didn't... not with physical force, at least." I sighed and sunk together. "I probably don't have to tell you that people can be forced to things with other methods."
"And now you want to kill him for it."
I looked up and blinked perplex at the Master. He still looked angry, but also as if he had understood something. Well, the wrong thing, obviously. I shook my head.
The Master gave me a crooked smile. "No? Now I thought he was the one you wanted to shoot so badly."
"What would I gain from his death?" was my dry response. "Aside from being assured he can't do it to someone else. But why would I care about people I will never meet?"
A snicker made me look up and when I met the Master's eyes the tension from before vanished slowly. I couldn't sit still any longer and shot to my feet to stretch my limbs. So many thoughts were racing through my mind, it was hard, if not impossible, to pick one.
"So... that's it?" I finally asked, glancing at the Master, who also heaved himself to his feet, eyes however, glued to the stars above. "You thought I fell in love with Ivar and that I would want to stay here? And that's what made you so angry?"
They way he glared into the sky was filled with a deep longing and an almost palpable sadness. How long was he a prisoner already, I wondered. How many years or decades had he not been able to move freely, had been stuck inside the TARDIS with barely a chance to leave. I had seen what he was capable of and that his own behaviour kept the Doctor from giving him more freedom. But then again... Nine hundred years of living couldn't be spend by sowing destruction alone. There had to be more. A lot more.
I stepped in front of him, glanced up. He lowered his eyes towards mine, his expression barely changing.
"No," he finally muttered.
"Then why did you throw me out?"
"That?" The Master shook his head. "No, that wasn't about you. I was angry at the Doctor. You were just in the way."
So the other Time Lord had been right. Somehow this really surprised me. In the end the Doctor might indeed know the Master better than I had thought. Maybe well enough to also judge if those drums were real or not? Was he right about them? Was he right to keep another man locked away like that? Was I the one judging it all wrong?
"You felt so... safe with him," the Master continued, a deep scowl etched into his features. "Don't worry, I haven't seen much in your memory. But that... How could you feel like that with someone you don't know? And why don't you feel safe with..." He cut off his own sentence by biting down on his lower lip. As if he had wanted to say something he didn't want me to hear.
It wasn't hard to finish the sentence, however. Even half drunk. I gave him a sarcastic smirk.
"Threatening people's lives and wanting them to be scared all the time doesn't really invoke any sense of safety."
He glanced away, stubbornly trying to avoid looking at me directly. Sometimes he really reminded me of twelve year old and I sighed. Could it really be that he had been mad because I didn't feel safe around him? And if that was the case, why then had he acted even more scary than usual?
I probably wouldn't get any helpful answers from him, that's for certain. The most important thing I had learned, however, the only thing that actually mattered to me, was that he hadn't just left me behind, that he had never intended to drop me here and vanish. I didn't care about the reasons and my head was too clouded to connect this fact to our conversation before.
It was Yule.
And that still was a night of magic. A night that wore the beautiful curtain of an aurora. A night in which nothing mattered, but the moment. And when my eyes wandered from the colourful sky to the Master, I knew how I wanted to spend this time.
"I don't get you, seriously." I poked a finger at his chest and thumped at the mead hall. "It's cold and I don't see a reason to leave right away. We could have some fun in there. Let's mix them up a little."
That finally made the Master look back, then at the hall, then at me again. Ideas and thoughts visibly rattled in his mind, a grin slowly formed on his lips.
"You know... It actually was the two of us who killed that dragon. I think they should pay us some more respect. What do you say?" Mischief radiated all over his features, the boyish grin crinkling the corners of his eyes.
The Master strode into the hall, past the celebrating people and straight towards the slightly raised top part, where the earl sat on his throne, laughing and chatting with some people.
"Oi, you!" the Time Lord called out, gaze fixated on the other man's eyes. "I demand this throne for myself." And with a sweet smile he added, "Only for tonight."
Everyone who had overheard it went silent, including the earl himself. I was sure the Master had attempted hypnotism, but its reliability was always somewhat questionable.
It did seem to work, however. The earl rose from his seat and suddenly smiled.
"For this night and this night alone. You came from a place far away and yet helped our people survive. The honour might be yours, therefore." The man let out a hearty laugh and stepped down to vanish with the people he had spoken to before. "Take good care of the hall."
"Oh, I will." The Master chuckled, rubbed his hands and flopped down on the throne as if it were a sofa. His legs dangled over the armrest as he waved over a servant to bring him some mead.
I kept in the background, uncertain how to act. But already the Master waved me over and pushed a drinking horn he had just been given into my hands.
"Another one," he demanded grinning. When he got it he raised the horn and pulled me next to him. "Give a toast to the little dragon slayer! She landed the final blow!"
I had not expected to suddenly be the centre of attention and blushed, grinning like an idiot. Many raised whatever they were just holding and shouted a mass of cheers. And there, amidst them, also was the Doctor, trying to path a quick way through the celebrating men and women. He clearly wasn't amused at the Master's display. He had a hard time, however, to get close, and the attention clearly wasn't on him, but on us.
"A name!" a man nearby called out. "What name shall we tell our children?"
I glanced sideways at the Master, but he only shrugged with glinting eyes. What name should I tell them? My own? The fake name? A completely new one? Or…
I smiled and glanced back at the man who had called out. "Tell your children that their name was Dovahkiin." I raised my horn. "Skol friend!"
More shouts filled the hall and the people returned to celebrating the night. The Doctor had barely made progress, but would soon be with us. Something the Master blatantly chose to ignore.
"What does that name mean?" he asked with an amused undertone.
I coughed and couldn't hold in a laugh. "It's a name from a video-game. I just couldn't… It was too good." I giggled. "That won't cause a paradox, will it?"
"Doubt it." The Master snorted and shook his head. "You're such a nerd."
"Hey, it's totally fitting. I've been waiting to make some Skyrim puns since that damn dragon landed the first time."
"Yeah?" came the mocking reply. "Looked more to me as if you were about to wet your pants." He poked out his tongue.
"Pfff… You wish."
"Master! What the heck are you doing?!" The Doctor had reached us, almost tripping over his own feet. "Where have you been all the time? And could you just stop hypnotizing people?"
Nonchalantly the Master continued to dangle his feet from the armrest and swayed the mead inside his horn. He lay his head back and tossed a side glance at the other Time Lord.
"Naaaah," he drawled. "Too much fun. Don't ruin the mood, Doctor. We're heroes."
The Doctor scoffed. "You mean murderers."
"Oh come on," the Master spat and rolled his eyes. "Your hands are far from stain-free. Stop being so sanctimonious. And look at them." He waved a hand towards the people. "Isn't that something good? I made some apes happy."
"There would have been another way. I'm sure of it!"
As much as I was sad about a mighty creature dying, I also wasn't willing to let this victory slip. I plonked down on the arm rest, next to the Master's feet.
"Last time you scolded him for leaving people back to die," I dryly commented. "And now you're angry because he didn't?"
The Doctor's mouth dropped open and the Master started to roar with laughter.
"Oh, look at you, Doctor," he cackled and demonstratively wiped a non-existing tear from his eye. "How does it feel to have your own twisted morals served to you like that?"
"That's not... I don't twist anything! And I don't run around and slaughter some ancient creatures! It might have been the last of its kind! No one has seen an egorlblak for millennia! And you have nothing better to do than to murder it and then play king of the hall!"
Rage was bubbling from the Doctor, his dangerous side shining through vividly as he climbed up the small enhancement to the throne. The Master didn't budge at all, only his eyes gave away his ire.
And I... I had enough of it.
"If you don't intend to travel back in time to prevent it," I tossed in, "there is nothing you can change about the dragon."
"Oh right!" He threw his hands up and let them fall down again. "Of course you'd say that. Having all the praise for yourself for once. Feels great, doesn't it?" he mocked angrily.
I was too drunk and too happy with the current situation to let anyone ruin it, so I only shrugged. "Yeah, feels bloody nice. What now? Scold me? Or you want to keep me prisoner, too?"
Again the Master chuckled and his only comment was a happy, "Oh oh."
I sighed and shook my head. "Come on, Doctor. The dragon's dead, the village is safe, and who knows how much else. And the Master playing earl for one night won't let the world end. I'm rather certain of that."
"But that's not the point!"
Now the other Time Lord spoke up, decided to break his silence in a way that sounded as if he was speaking to a child. "And no one cares about it. If you hate everything so damn much, go and hide in the TARDIS. We'll be back by morning." He waved towards the doors.
"Besides," I added with a smile, "it's Yule. No one should be so angry. Not tonight. Not while the air is filled with magic and laughter. Not while the stories of old are alive in music, dance and mead." I raised my horn with a wide grin. "Just tonight, Doctor, okay?"
It clearly was the alcohol that spoke out of me, but what did it matter? It was fun and, in a way, I was right, wasn't I? Even the Doctor seemed to accept it, his features softening in a deep sigh.
"Yule... right. Almost forgot. Did you see the aurora, Lucy?" Slowly a reluctant smile stole itself on his face. "It's beautiful, isn't it?" I nodded happily and finally the Doctor grinned himself. He let out another breath and chuckled, the tension falling from him like an old, worn cloak. "One night. Right. Celebrating. I can do that! Just you watch!" With that he hurled around, his coat snapping against his ankle, but once more he faced back. "No more deaths here, yeah?"
I exchanged a look with the Master and as soon as the Doctor was gone we both laughed heartedly about the situation.
"Hey." Playfully I slapped his boot. "Are we good again? You and I?"
The Master gave me a mockingly arched eyebrow. "We've never been. You're still human and far below me." He chuckled at my exasperated grunt and raised his mead filled horn. "But for one night I can maybe turn a blind eye to it. Skol, lil' lumin. Enjoy the feast in my hall."
Grinning I shook my head and toasted back. "Skol, earl Erik, oh great slayer of beasts from beyond."
We both stayed silent for a few seconds, the sound and music washing over us. Then a smile formed on his lips and on mine as we exchanged mischievous glances.
This would be a fun night.