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sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-09 09:05 am
Entry tags:

The Philosophy of Romance; PG, Vimes/DeWord (sort of)

Note: This fanfiction is moderately AU to the canonical series and does not fit within my Discworld timeline of fanfics. It takes place about twenty-three years after Going Postal.
Summary: Carrot spies on Vimes, who's having a romance with de Worde, and it's not really anything like it sounds.
Warnings: None.

Also available at AO3.


It is, by now, a well-established notion that camels are the best mathematicians in the world -- any given world, as a matter of fact. In this case, we speak of the Discworld, which dances a razor's-edge ballet between existence and eradication through sensible thought. They are still the best, nonetheless.

It has never occurred to anyone to ask who the best philosophers are.

Oh, some say the Ephebians, who can prove to you that nothing exists and time is an illusion; some say it's the Omnians, who can find a loophole with which to defend any theological point of inquiry; some even say it's the followers of the Way of Mrs. Cosmopolite, who after all do have the most well-known holy book in the multiverse.

Truth is, it's gargoyles.

Balls, you say. Gargoyles don't talk. They don't even move. They eat pigeons.

All of which is true. Gargoyles tend to stay in one place, which gives them a lot of time for thinking. And they're not very good talkers, and they don't usually have anyone to share their thoughts with*.

* Raising an interesting question about how gargoyles procreate, which has been thoroughly discussed in recent Ankh-Morpork folk songs, but never really answered.

You could say they're philosophical about the whole thing.


Most gargoyles have identities intimately tied up with city geography; Corporal Downspout was one of the few exceptions. He considered 'Corporal' to be that part of his name.

Because he was a Watch officer.

He was, in fact, head of the gargoyle 'wing' of the Watch, which had started out with just him and Pediment and now encompassed at least two officers for every Watch house. Normally he looked like a wrinkly, beak-faced old man with bat ears and half-spread wings, but tonight he was incognito, which for a gargoyle means either lurking in the shadows or holding a small animal in one's mouth. He'd chosen a rat, who was currently having a very hard time of things.

And he was watching the office of the Ankh-Morpork Times, from a low outcrop on the ground floor of a tailor's shop.

Downspout, unusually for a gargoyle, had a little bit of initiative. He was not, technically speaking, on assignment. In fact, Commander Vimes would probably be quite angry if he knew what Downspout was doing. But Downspout was a Watchman, and the Watch had very firm Rules about taking care of its own.

He'd noticed what Carrot referred to as the Interesting Activity on his own, but he hadn't had time to report it before the Captain himself came to him.

"Now it's not that I want you to keep an eye on him, mind," said Carrot. "That'd be a shameful display of mistrust of an officer. But if you did happen to see him walking about at night, you might make sure you know where he's going. Just in case he got into trouble."

And he probably meant that.


Downspout's head swiveled slightly, in response to the sound of boots on cobblestones.

Here he comes...

He came down the street in the shadows, walking with the air of a man going for the hundred metres' nonchalant stroll. Downspout felt himself grip the rat tighter in anticipation.

He looked left; he looked right; he took off his helmet, smoothed his hair self-consciously, hitched up his sword belt, and knocked cautiously on the door.

A light went on, and when the door opened, Downspout saw the silhouette of a young woman in the doorway. He wasn't particularly well-versed in human interactions, but he knew enough to recognize that sort of figure when he saw it.

The Watchman glanced around again, and stepped inside at her invitation.

Two feet to Downspout's left, a cloud of cigar smoke wafted upwards.

"It's interesting, isn't it, Corporal?" asked Commander Vimes, the dog-end of his smoke glowing in the dim night. He stepped out of the shadows and leaned on the ledge Downspout was crouched on. "I was worried, you know, when he started staying out nights, but I didn't bet on this development. A Watchman meeting nightly with a representative of our fair newspaper. Carrot asked you to look? Or was it your idea?"

"Oth, ur," Downspout murmured.

"Both? Well. Good to know the men are keeping such a close eye on him. Perhaps too close an eye. Go on ahead, Downspout. You're off this case."

Downspout dropped the rat, which scuttled away, and began the slow, hesitant crawl towards the upper levels of the city, where he was more at home.


Inside the old offices, long since abandoned by the Times for better digs, Sara de Worde laughed and toyed with the edge of a curtain, shyly. The young man across from her put his helmet down carefully.

"You're so serious all the time, Sam," Sara said. She went to him and wrapped her arms around his neck. He let her kiss him; after a moment, he kissed back.

"There's so much to be serious about," Sam Vimes-Ramkin, Watch constable and well-deserving heir to the name Old Stoneface, replied. "For starters, I'm almost positive I was followed tonight."

"So? It's not illegal to be in love, you know," she answered.

"It is when I'm the son of the Commander and you're a risk to city security."

"You never tell me anything."

"I tell you lots of things, but it's a bit hard, you're a reporter and you usually know about them by the time -- "

"No, that's not what I mean," Sara said. "I mean, you have never told me anything I could tell papa, for the paper. Not that I would."

"I know that, and you know that, but my father doesn't. Neither does yours, for that matter. If they knew -- "

"They will know," Sara said, with the smug pride of a woman with a secret. "How much longer do we have to wait, Sam?"

"Just until my references go through with the Genuan Watch Commander. Then we're for the swamp, and you can start your paper, and I can get some rank, and when we come back -- "

" -- we'll be our own people," she answered. "How long, do you suppose?"

"Well, it'll be two years for Corporal, and five more if I want Sergeant, but I figure if I make rank over there, I can come back here and nobody can say I traded on the Vimes name. Besides, dad's said he'll retire."

"He always says that. He never will, you know."

Sam lifted her up, setting her deftly on a long, flat table. "Don't let's talk about it," he said, touching her cheek.

"What should we talk about, then? The trouble we're both going to be in, once you do get the job in Genua and we both have to tell our parents?"

"We could elope. Send them a clacks from twenty miles outside the city."

"Mum would go spare if we eloped. She and dad've been planning the page layout for my wedding since I was twelve," Sara said, and kissed him on the nose. He made a face.

"They'll go spare anyhow. They think you're too good for a common Watchman."

"I'm not too good, and you're not common, Sam, you know that."

"Common as muck," said Sam proudly, in her ear. "My father was born in the Shades, you know."

"But you were born in the richest part of Ankh, and you've had nannies and governesses and tutors -- "

"But I'm a copper's kid, when all's said and done."

"Dad doesn't mind Mister Vimes."

"Mister Vimes minds your dad," answered the boy, wrapping his arms around her waist. "I know it's good-natured, as good-natured as he ever gets, but twenty-five years of impolite cooperation is not exactly grounds for them to be best pals."

"Well, they'll just have to be, that's all," said Sara, looking so like her mother that he did laugh. "At least long enough to get through a wedding ceremony."

There was the click of a match being struck, and a pool of light appeared to their right.

"I hope it's short, then," said Stoneface Vimes, lighting a cigar casually. Sara felt every muscle in Sam's body tense. "Suppose I'll have to dress up in that damnfool gold armour again."

"How long've you been listening, dad?" Sam asked, his mind circling back to his remark about 'as good natured as he ever gets'.

His father shook out the match and tilted his head slightly, as if considering things. Sara's breath caught in her throat. She wasn't afraid of much; she'd been on assignment in the Shades and hung upside-down from the rafters of the Patrician's Palace to take iconos when she had to. But she was afraid of Sam's father. Very few people weren't, other than her mum and dad.

"Long enough, I think," his father said finally. "You ought to listen to the young lady, Sam. It'd break your mum's heart if you eloped." He tapped the end of his cigar. "Aren't you supposed to ask the father's permission before you get married?"

"I was going to -- " Sam began.

"I wasn't talking to you, Sam," his father said sharply. He looked at Sara with an interested sort of gaze, as if he was just noticing her for the first time. "Sara de Worde. My, my. I should have expected this, I suppose. You were always tagging after Sam when de Worde came up to the house on business. I think...yes. You would have been about three, which would make Eight? You were crying because you'd been down to the dragon house and there'd been an explosion. Sam had to carry you back."

"I don't remember that," Sam mumbled.

"I do," said Sara softly.

"My son is not and never will be a useless lord. He's a workman. So are you, I think," Vimes continued, as if he hadn't heard them. "He's going to be a Duke someday. Richest man in the city. He's going to be the Commander, if he has the ambition to get that far. Genua will do you good," he added, as an aside to Sam. "Ask for Blintzer, he was trained in Ankh-Morpork, he'll show you the ropes. Now, Sara..."

"Yes, sir?"

"Are your intentions towards my son honourable?"

Sara put her hand to her mouth, covering a smile. "Yes, Mister Vimes."

"And you're not going to break his heart?"

"I wouldn't do that, sir."

"Dad -- " Sam tried, but he was cut off again.

"You're not after him for the Ramkin fortunes?"

"With all due respect, sir, I've got my own."

Vimes grinned a horrible grin. "Yes, the de Worde legacy. Very well. And you intend to start a paper in Genua?"

Sara nodded. The Commander's stare became disconcerting, and she blushed.

"How far along are you?" he asked. Sam blinked.

"Two months," Sara answered. She looked at the younger Vimes. "Sorry, Sam. I was going to tell you, soon as we were married. I wanted to make sure you weren't doing it just to make an honest woman of me."

"" Sam was obviously trying to form words, but nothing was coming out. "How did you know?" he finally managed, turning to his father.

"A father knows these things," Vimes answered calmly. "Does yours?" he asked Sara.

"Oh, no, sir. No, sir. I don't think, sir. Oh..." Sara looked panicked, now.

"I shouldn't worry. You know, he didn't marry your mum until...well, that's not here nor there. I understand your parents have a quite, oh, how shall I put this. Quite an energetic relationship."

"They always make up afterward," Sara said. Her smile was back, now, and trying gamely to match his. Sam, like a forlorn seagull in a storm, was looking confusedly from one to the other.

"So I hear. Very well. Good to know Sam's got a healthy interest in women. I was beginning to worry."


"It's all right, Sam, Sara knows it was a joke." His father stepped back and crossed his arms. "Very well. You have my permission to marry my son. But you're not to elope, mind you. And we'll be out to Genua for the birth. I don't trust my daughter-in-law's safety and my first grandchild's health to those foreign doctors." He looked at his son. "Sara, you'll have to forgive Sam, he's a Vimes and we tend to take a little while to process things like sudden fatherhood."

"Fatherhood," Sam repeated.

"And I'd like, if at all possible, to be there when you do tell your father," said Vimes the elder, shaking some ash from the end of his cigar. "That would make an old man extremely happy, Sara."

"I'll try, Mister Vimes."

"Good girl. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go break the news to Sybil. Which will be almost as good as telling de Worde. Try to locate your brain before the end of the night, Sam. I'll see you for patrol in the morning."

Sam had a sudden vision of what he and his father were going to discuss on that patrol, and he winced.


"Goodness, Sam," Lady Sybil exclaimed, when he finally arrived home. "I lost all track of time. It's nearly midnight."

"Yes," said her husband, shaking out his greatcoat and draping it over the back of a chair near the smoldering remains of the fire the Boy had lit, some hours previously, in the library fireplace. "Sorry. I had some business to see to."

"I can't remember the last time you got home this late."

"I think Sam was nine."

She laughed. "That's probably right. You look serious, dear. Is something the matter at the Yard?"

"Sort of. One of the officers. Got into a bit of a scrape."

"Oh yes?" she asked, with the politely interested tone of a woman who has listened to her husband's problems for thirty years, and knows the serious from the small.

"Yes, got a girl in trouble. She's nice enough. You know young Sara de Worde?"

"William's daughter? Of course I do. Oh, the poor girl. I'm sure she can take care of herself, though. Do you suppose he'll take responsibility?"

"I think he will. Stand-up officer."

"Is that why you're home late? You're not the father of every lad in the Watch, you know."

He grinned, suddenly. "Sybil, how do you feel about being a grandmother?"

"Being a what?" she asked, looking up from her breeding books.

"Well, I'm not the father of every lad in the Watch, but I am the father of one..." he said, savoring the moment.

"Sam and Sara?"

"I caught them discussing an elopement. Don't worry, I put it out of their heads."

"Sam and Sara de Worde?"

"Sybil, I don't think I've ever seen you this flustered," he said. She put her pen down.

"Our little baby Sam."

"About time, too, I'd say. Sara says she's two months along. She wasn't going to tell him until he married her. Brave woman."

Sybil's face lit up with the biggest smile he'd seen since Sam was born. She stood and crossed to the fire, where he stood, and hugged him.

"You weren't mean to them, were you, Sam?" she asked.

"Only a little," he said with a grin.


The Duke of Ankh might not be the most beloved man in the city -- indeed, in some parts he was hated with a passion -- but he was one of the best-known. His son was relatively well-liked, and generally thought to be a credit to the family. The Times was read by pretty nearly everyone, and nobody had a bad thought of Sara, which was pretty incredible, considering some of the things she'd written in the paper.

So there was, if not dancing in the streets, then at the very least a carnival atmosphere, when the Times published the brief, happy clacks from Genua:


It is not certain that William ever forgave his son-in-law's father.


[identity profile] 2005-09-25 08:31 am (UTC)(link)
Subject line was a bit misleading, but the story made me laugh a lot. And I think I completely forgot about it when you mentioned the folk songs, and just read on. You really do write Discworld well (not aping Pratchett, but being just as good as him).

[identity profile] 2005-12-12 02:21 am (UTC)(link)
HA!! Oh, that is awesome! I'm not exactly sure what I was expecting when I read the "Vimes/De Worde (sort of)", but it wasn't that. Very nice, though.

[identity profile] 2006-01-24 05:04 am (UTC)(link)
I loved this! Vimes' take on his son's romance was just so delightfully unruffled. =)

(Anonymous) 2006-04-11 05:06 pm (UTC)(link)
Sweet! "Try to locate your brain before the end of the night..." -- oh _yes_. Lovely.

[identity profile] 2009-11-07 08:30 pm (UTC)(link)
I grinned all over the place during this one. But the beginning gave me some trepidation. I really was fooled there for a moment!

Fooled me

(Anonymous) 2011-03-28 12:00 pm (UTC)(link)
I feel sort of ashamed, I came in expecting slash
samjohnsson: It's just another mask (Default)

[personal profile] samjohnsson 2011-03-30 11:47 pm (UTC)(link)
LMAO! Which means now that there will be holidays together and the formalized bickering that is in-laws and the political maneuvering that is currying the favor of both families! If only this was canon and televised, so I could justify popcorn!

[personal profile] chironsgirl 2011-11-23 12:12 am (UTC)(link)
Liked this enormously.