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sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-09 08:55 am

The Patrician's Papers: PG-13; 1 of 3. Vetinari/Margolotta.

Note: The Patrician's Papers falls after Night Watch in the book timeline and technically follows Defender of the Crown in my fanfiction timeline, but properly it is a sequel to A Room Vith A View. As a note, despite the opening prologue, Vetinari is not dead, nor does he die, anywhere in this fanfiction. The Editor's commentaries upon his death are solely for the sake of continuity.
Summary: Vetinari and Margolotta rekindle an old flame, in several different ways.
Warnings: None.

Also available at AO3.



Never in the history of Ankh-Morpork has there been a ruler quite like Havelock Vetinari. If I had not with my own eyes witnessed his burial, I would not describe him as a cold, calculating, heartless, ruthless ruler. But, since I have, I can. He is dead. Really. We're sure this time.

In his decades of service to the city, Vetinari never hesitated to eliminate any threat, destroy any rival to Ankh-Morpork's power, and arrest and imprison any street mime unlucky enough to draw his attention. His relationship with his city was precarious at best; he survived being arrested for treason and attempted murder, attacked by a dragon, and at least two meals, that we know of, cooked by C.M.O.T. Dibbler.

He was a man of few vices, if any, and even fewer virtues. His great accomplishment was the transformation of Ankh-Morpork into the Disc's major political power. His encouragement of open guild activity, his calm acceptance of a multi-species society within the city, and his political negotiations both at home and abroad have set the standard Ankh-Morpork looks for in any potential Patrician.

The job is open, by the way. Apply to the City Council, Rats Chamber, Patrician's Palace, or send vitae c/o Commander Samuel Vimes, AMCW, Pseudopolis Yard, Ankh-Morpork.

After his death, the volume you are reading was discovered in notebook form in the Patrician's private effects. It has obviously been ready for publication for some time; indeed, the title of 'editor' is hardly more than a formality in this case. Some annotations have been made to explain apparent mysteries in the text, and some explanations have been added when necessary, but otherwise this is more or less an exact copy of the Patrician's manuscript version.

Apparently, The Patrician's Papers is not merely a political treatise, but also a journal of sorts; the progression of the writing from that of a young trainee Assassin through to a seasoned statesman is quite clear. Whether this is intentional or whether the Papers were simply written in his spare time is less definite.

Let me end, gentle readers, on a somewhat amusing note: If the Patrician were alive today, he would never allow such a work to be published in his city.

-- Editor


Inside my brain a dull tom-tom begins
Absurdly hammering a prelude of its own
Capricious monotone
That is at least one definite "false note."
-- TS Eliot


Editor's Note: Chapter One of The Patrician's Papers is the only chapter which bears a date; it claims to have been written on the twenty-ninth of May, in the same year as the revolution which put Mad Lord Snapcase into office. There are two theories about the first chapter, which is told in parable format; one claims that Vetinari is himself the Watchman, already wishing for order in a chaotic city, and that the Boy is merely a distant way of looking at himself. The other holds that he is the Boy, taking full advantage of the riots to assassinate Lord Winder.

Obviously the second theory is ridiculous. At the time of the revolution, Havelock Vetinari was not older than seventeen. There is no reason to doubt the date; the parable reads like a young man's slightly romanticised version of events. Therefore, we can only assume that Vetinari had poured his desire for stability in the city into the character of the Watchman.


There was once, in the City of Ankh-Morpork, a Boy who liked to climb. He wore the city like a glove, and if he did not want to be seen, the city swallowed him into its shadows as effortlessly as a snake swallows an egg. Though with far less digestion involved.

This Boy climbed buildings, and spent his nights in the shadows, watching and learning from all that went on below. It was dangerous to be out, at night; the only men who took to the streets were the revolutionaries, or the Seamstresses. There were police on the street, because a curfew had been enacted, and those caught out in the curfew who could not bribe their way to freedom were often taken to the house of pain.

The Boy did not like this. Neither did his guardian, a Genuan lady of some repute, who said to him that when the time was right, he and no other should be the hand of the city and kill the mad ruler.

But then one night into the city came a man from Pseudopolis, a Watchman with a single sharp eye. With him he brought good sense and order for those that would listen (which were few) and he denied the men in the house of pain their nightly prey.

Which was bloody brilliant, thought the Boy, and from that day forward the man had two shadows.

This Watchman and bringer-of-order was not a bright man, not as clever as his enemies, but he moved in straight lines while the rest of the world moved in curves, and the Boy admired his ability to continually survive while doing so. In a time of riots, the Watchman lit the lamp over the Watch House and walked amongst the people as if he had not been the great general they rumoured him to be. The Boy watched and listened and learned, and shot a man who would kill the Watchman.

(This paragraph was apparently added later; it is in a separate sheet tucked between two notebook pages, and seems to read like a much older Vetinari. -- ed.)

The Boy would remember, in later years, that he might soon have been sent to kill the Watchman, for he was too ready to lead men and too good at the leading to be safe in the city. The Watchman could have told him that no such thing occupied his mind, but the Boy was young and impatient, and the Watchman could turn hearts to great works.

(end added section. -- ed.)

In the revolution, while the Boy awaited his chance to rid Ankh-Morpork of a madman, the Watchman held a barricade across a quarter of the city, pushing the rule of law further and further into the heart of the town and incidentally snapping up all the useful bits like the cattle market on his way.

And the Boy, no doubt, did his own duty as well, in the knowledge that the Watchman's order must someday prevail in his city.

But when?


Things had changed for Sam Vimes.

Oh, there was young Sam, of course, and a baby changes even the most solidly set of men, through a cunning strategy of sleep deprivation and emotional abuse.* There was Sybil to care for, because one does not simply bounce back from bearing an entirely new life and bringing it into the world. He had to run the house and make sure the dragons were fed and a million other things that Sybil had done without his even noticing it. He couldn't be at the Yard as often and wouldn't even if he could, an entirely new sensation in his experience.

* Because nothing gives you an inferiority complex like not being able to stop your own child crying at two in the morning.

But there were other changes which touched on his life outside of the house on Scoone Avenue, changes in the way he held himself, in the way others treated him.

Vetinari, for example. It wasn't anything you could actually see, and it wasn't really anything you could point at as evidence. But there was...not a deference, exactly, but a respect in the Patrician's eyes. Because Vetinari had been sixteen and had seen what John Keel could do. In that time and that place, yes; the Patrician never forgot the power of John Keel's rhetoric. Nevertheless, it was always difficult to tell what the Patrician was thinking.

He had an expression, learned young, that was as close to expressionless as you could get while still possessing a face. Vimes had never been able to crack through it when it appeared, but he had grown used to what might, in Vetinari, be considered moods. In other men they would be considered pauses, or possibly hesitations. Vetinari, for his part, was less likely to hide them. They understood each other too well.

There was no doubt that the Patrician was in a filthy mood this morning. He'd actually scowled. His voice hadn't changed at all from its normal low tone, but Vimes had definitely seen a scowl and now he was staring out the window at the city, which he always did when he was irritated. Pretty soon, he was probably going to use a metaphor.

If he uses more than one, Vimes decided, I'm going to duck and cover.

"Okraippenschet," said the Patrician. Vimes blinked.


"It's an Uberwaldean word. It means the moment before everything goes all to hell."


"I'm sure I have a throat sweet -- "

"It's Trollish. Means about the same thing. Forbodeings."

"How appropriate." Vetinari turned, and put his hands flat on his desk. His left hand strayed to a pile of letters nearby. "I believe, Commander, that I am indeed having forbodeings."

This was unnerving. Vetinari having forbodeings meant that something was going to happen and the Patrician didn't actually know it was going to happen. When Vetinari had a gut feeling, Vimes got a pain in the neck.

"Could do a street survey," Vimes suggested. "Haul in some suspects, shake down some stools, dig out a few moles. Andre hasn't heard anything unusual, or he'd have told me."

"I do not think city scuttlebutt will be of much use in this matter. You may ask Sergeant Angua if she has heard anything on the howl. You have agents in the Sto Plains, do you not?"

"Officers," Vimes corrected. "Like to give me a clue what to ask them, or shall I try for the riddle of the week?"

Vetinari raised one eyebrow, slightly.

"Be on the watch," he said. "That is all. No pun intended. Aha."

"Hah," Vimes barked, hooking his thumbs in his belt. "Sto Plains means travelers. From Uberwald?"

"If you wish to act upon assumptions, Sir Samuel, I cannot stop you," Vetinari said briskly. "That is all, I believe. Good day."

Vimes would have pushed, if he thought it would do any good, but Vetinari's face had closed itself off when he mentioned Uberwald. Which, in itself, was more information than the Patrician generally betrayed.


My dear Havelock,

It is difficult for a woman of advanced years to consider anyone younger than, say, a dozen decades, as a fully grown man. I had thought to leave you to your own devices for a few years to see whether you prospered or perished, though I had no doubt you should thrive. I forget that decades pass quickly for the mortal.

Perhaps you received my letter of congratulation on your ascension to the Patricianship; though the mail was highly untrustworthy such a short time ago, I shall not doubt that this one, at any rate, will find you quite quickly. I suppose you, with your stability and control, have only yourself to blame for the speed of its delivery. If the original did not reach you, allow me to extend my congratulations now.

The recent ambassadorial visit from your Sir Samuel reminded me that I have interests in Ankh-Morpork, just as I'm sure my rather unsubtle inquiries brought me to your attention after so many years. I hope it did not stir up unpleasant memories for you.

Tell me, Havelock, do you suppose we could speak like civil people once more? After all, we did manage it for the better part of a week, once. True, we were much younger then. But as we say in the Temperance League, everything is taken one day at a time.

You were so wise, Havelock, so many years ago. I would dread to think what you could do with the power you have achieved, but I know that power is, for you, merely a side-effect. Do you still rule because it is your duty, Havelock, or do you take any pleasure from it, in these times? I think you must. I think you would not have sent the Duke of Ankh to Uberwald if you had not cultivated quite a subtle sense of humour. You see, I do know you still. I wonder if, as you taught me, I could find your levers even now. I wonder if you would allow me.

I hope you are well, Havelock. I do not doubt it. Well and clever and wedded to the city you cried out for in your sleep, so long ago, like a homesick boy.



Office of the Patrician

To: Margolotta von Uberwald
Zer Castle
Bonk, Uberwald

If you would speak to me, Lady Margolotta, you should not write letters; I cannot hear you in them. You surprise me yet, as you always could, but I do not think you would come to Ankh-Morpork. So we must remain as we are.

I was a homesick boy. Now I sleep quite well.

Havelock Vetinari


My dear Havelock,

Why shouldn't you come to Uberwald, if you are so desperate for my voice? The coaching roads hold no fear for you. I am sure there must be business you could attend to, in the mountains; the Low King has invited you to visit, has...he...not? I imagine a few weeks of your diplomatic mediation and the intertribal wars between the trolls and dwarves would stop, if only out of sheer terror.

Your letter reads rather like a lover's, you know. One hopes you trusted it to be delivered securely. Ah yes; the addresses, how very clever. Who indeed would open a package from Corporal Igor of the Watch, to a fellow Igor in Uberwald? I wonder, did you commission the removal of that hand to send to him, or did you merely take advantage of the moment?

I hear you have been injured and walk with a limp. Strange to imagine you an old man. You are old, now? But then you were always old. I think you would laugh to see me. Perhaps Commander Vimes has mentioned our little talks.

My friend Otto lives in the city now, and I hear he is gaining quite a reputation as an iconographer. He always was the obsessive type. He would, if asked, accept a letter in return for this one. I say this merely as an item of interest; even public figures such as yourself should not have to stuff letters into other peoples' packages to ensure their privacy.

Why not come to Uberwald, Havelock?



Office of the Patrician

To: Margolotta von Uberwald
Zer Castle
Bonk, Uberwald

Mr. Chriek...such an interesting man. I do believe you are right, and that he has not read your letter or mine. I wonder what is wrong with him.

I cannot come to Uberwald. I will not leave my city. If you doubt this, I suggest that you remember our first night in the high bedroom.

Havelock Vetinari


My dear Havelock,

Such a short letter, to travel such a long distance.

I remember that you did not make me come to you -- you merely made me knock first. I came of my own accord. Remember, Havelock, it was I who chose you, not the other way around. You may control the way in which we meet, but you will never control whether or not we do.

Now, Havelock, what do you remember of the time we spent teaching each other? Do you look back fondly, or do you try to put it from your mind? Perhaps you do not care enough to do either. Perhaps, though I doubt it, there have been other, brighter flames. Have no fear, I have no use for rummaging around in your past and shan't bother.

I remember when you told me my lessons were finished, but I should never have the courage to use them. I think you already know that you were wrong. But then, as you said, you had less than two decades behind you. One mistake might be allowed.

And now they mint coins with your likeness, and you rule the greatest city on the Disc and send men to Uberwald to disrupt our quiet way of life. You said I would not come to Ankh-Morpork; I think you would not dare to come here, either. I think you know that your survival would be slim, with only the weak protection of the Lore.



Office of the Patrician

To: Margolotta von Uberwald
Zer Castle
Bonk, Uberwald

If you asked me to come to Uberwald for your sake, not for politics or for mere curiousity, I do not know how I should answer. Does not that frighten you?

I have no regrets.

Havelock Vetinari


Ankh-Morpork was bustling its way through the morning: doing business, running scams, stealing, chasing, shouting. It was a Watchman's paradise, but Vimes was too distracted to notice any of it.

What made Vetinari anxious about the old country? Trade was fine. The Low King wouldn't be leaving so soon after taking power, and no other countries nearby were powerful enough to worry Vetinari.


Wolfgang's militia might have reorganized, but Angua would have heard. Some power-mad little king coming to gain Ankh-Morpork's allegiance? Probably not.

He stopped dead in the middle of the street and nearly got run over by a cart full of vegetables.


It couldn't be.

Could it? She wouldn't. There wasn't any reason for her to come to Ankh-Morpork.

Except that the Uberwaldean Temperance League had an awfully large following in the city. Margolotta was a black-ribboner and, knowing her, she wasn't just a one-meeting-a-week kind of woman. She was an organiser of things.

Oh, bloody hell.

Margolotta von Uberwald was coming to Ankh-Morpork.

Damn, double-damn all vampires!

Vimes began chewing his cigar, a certain sign that someone was going to be in a world of pain by the end of the day. There was a clacks office a few streets down, and he could have messages out to the Sto Lat Sammies in less than an hour. He could put Downspout and Cornice on the roof of the little building where the Ankh-Morpork black-ribboners met. He could double the guard on the Pa --

The Palace?

Now why had he thought that?

Because Margolotta knew Vetinari. She'd admitted that much. Because she thought like him. Vimes suspected, though he had no solid evidence to back it up*, that Vetinari had been a much younger man when they met. Still Vetinari, though...

* As though this had ever stopped him before.


Havelock Vetinari, in his office high above the city, let his hand pick up the last letter from Margolotta -- let himself open it and read it again. He rested two fingers of his right hand against his chin, thoughtfully.

Politics was a dangerous game, even more so when it was tied up with personal history. He'd never faced this particular situation before and while he had long ago examined and laid to rest any...misgivings, about leaving Uberwald, he had not been able to resist replying to Margolotta's taunts and questions, even in his own cryptic fashion. But it was safe, wasn't it? She would not leave Uberwald, and he certainly couldn't leave Ankh-Morpork.

But she had left Uberwald. Else why hadn't she written? And his...hah, as Vimes put it, his 'officers' in the mountains had confirmed it.

Oh bloody hell.

His eyes -- the same cool, blank blue as always -- scanned the delicate writing.

Do you look back fondly, or do you try to put it from your mind? Perhaps you do not care enough to do either.

He stopped reading and set the letter down, folding it with care.

You are not nineteen, Havelock, however ageless she may be. You are the ruler of the most powerful city on the Discworld -- which, by the way, you should be getting back to ruling, since you know Drumknott is waiting in the anteroom to be summoned. There are four Guild representatives you have to frighten into submission by the end of the day and countless little reports to read...orders to give to keep the mechanism running smoothly.

You've wound up Vimes. He'll do as he usually does. Keeps him from making trouble, at any rate.

Get on with things.

So he did, as he always had.

And now they mint coins with your likeness...


For more of Chapter Two, including the Editor's Note, see 'Room Vith a View' part 3.

And four wax candles in the darkened room,
Four rings of light upon the ceiling overhead,
An atmosphere of Juliet's tomb
Prepared for all the things to be said, or left unsaid.
--TS Eliot


'Dialogue Upon Control'

Tell me how you have so much power, Havelock Vetinari.


You have power over your companions, you tell them vot to do und they do it.

Not always.

Often enough. And vhen they don't, you have arranged things to compensate. Or to force them to do it.

Dark Lady, you make it sound as though I were a blackmailer.

Are you not?

No. I am an arranger of conveniences. Blackmail, you see, is a crime of opportunity; only petty people who have stumbled upon accidental evidence are blackmailers. I am a tactician. One day I will be a politician.

Vot is the difference between the two?

One thinks ahead for himself. From the Latatian root Tactitus, a single-minded general. One thinks ahead for others, from the Latatian, Polis, not merely settlement or village, but 'city'.

You know your language very well.

One must understand what words mean, before one can understand what people mean.

So you think ahead. How far ahead do you think?

You have heard of people making five-year plans?


Multiply by ten.

You have not answered my qvestion, however -- how do you gain so much power?

Because I do not consider it power. Any thug has power. Power is a toy, to be hired and used and stolen. What you call Power, I call Control.

I don't understand.

Control is mastery of the situation. It is analysis before action. Control does not require strength of body.

Vot does it require?

Strength of mind. Knowledge of where the balance lies. Knowledge of the other man's levers, and how to pull them. Control begins and ends with the self. Control results in power, but power will not always result in control. And that is the secret that kings die for.


Sun had set on the city by the time the last of the day's appointments left the Oblong Office with the sensation many people had that he'd only just escaped with his life.

Vetinari rarely had to actually threaten anyone anymore and it had been months, if not years, since the scorpion pit had been put to use. Reputation was enough, encouraged occasionally by the imprisonment or execution of some well-deserving criminal. It was the way that he had of looking at a person which indicated that, whether or not it was in use, the scorpion pit was well-stocked and needed only a wave of the hand to

There was absolute honesty in the look. He had long ago given up middle-class morality in favour of political survival. Torture was a distasteful option, but it was quite clearly always an option.

That was the thing about reputation; you got it really very easily, but you had to work to maintain it.

He finished his perusal of the day's last report, signed it and added a few orders, and passed it to Drumknott.

"Will that be all, sir?" the clerk asked.

"For tonight," Vetinari replied. "I shall take dinner in my rooms, I think. Thank you, Drumknott, you may go."

The young man hesitated, and Vetinari, in no mood to answer Drumknott's questions, looked up sharply.

"Sir..." the clerk began.

"What is it?"

Drumknott, normally unflappable and nearly as unreadable as the Patrician himself, winced. "Nothing, sir. Thank you."

He bowed and left through the door that lead to the clerk's anteroom where he would distribute the orders to the night-secretaries, who would in turn go about their business of keeping the city in order for the few hours that Vetinari was, in fact, a human being who had to eat and sleep like any other. He spent remarkably little time at it, on the whole.

Many past Patricians had chosen not to move into the Palace but rather to maintain houses or flats in the more stylish parts of the city, using the imposing central building of Ankh-Morpork's government as a sort of office-with-ballroom-attached. Vetinari, who even before his appointment to Patrician rarely went home except to sleep, saw no point in this. The Palace was enormous and for the most part unused*. He had a suitably arranged suite of rooms, including his plain bedroom, a small and selective library, a workroom that would put even the most well-equipped of the Assassins' laboratories to shame, and a corner room, really not more than a closet, which -- once the renovators and glaziers had finished -- afforded a stunning panoramic view of his city.

* Or had been, before Vetinari. Now it was inhabited by legions of clerks, staff who fed and cared for them, sub-clerks who followed their orders, agents in need of a rest (who were never there long) and the occasional spouse or child, because even bureaucrats breed.

It was in this room that he normally dined, if he wasn't working. The view was one of the few luxuries he allowed himself along with good-quality ink and quills, and steak for his dog, who ate rather better than Master Vetinari did. It wasn't that he could see anything in particular going on, down in the streets, which was probably just as well; but he could see at least half of the city, with its lighted streetlamps and crowded buildings, ticking away.

He sipped his water and allowed his mind to wander. This was the only time, the only place he ever did.

When had he decided to become Patrician? Certainly by the time he took the Grand Sneer. When he had graduated the Guild school? When he had killed Winder? Good lord, before even that? What man chooses his destiny at the age of sixteen?

He could remember Winder's death with crystal clarity -- the actual event, at any rate. He'd told the old man he was his future. He could not remember, however, whether he'd meant that he was going to have Winder's job, or just that he brought the future with him, and the future had no place in it for a paranoid despot who couldn't rule a straight line, let alone a city.

Probably the latter. He'd been a bit of a romantic, as a boy. A mischief-maker, as well. He hadn't had a city's worth of troubles to keep him busy, and so had spent his time on more trivial matters, such as subtle, anonymous torments of Prefect Downey, or endlessly entertaining rounds of Confuse Cyril de Worde -- a game which he'd declared himself Grand Master of, eventually.

All of which had come to a screeching halt after his return home from the Grand Sneer. Hadn't it? He'd had no more time for games across the rooftops or his beloved edificeering. He'd had politics to think about, and staying alive in politics during Snapcase's reign had been training enough for his first years in office, when nobody trusted him, everyone wanted him dead, and the only reason anyone obeyed him was, indeed, the metaphorical* scorpion pit.

* Metaphorical in the sense that it was not in the room when people discussed it. Not in the sense of it being nonexistent. In those days, it had been very much extant: blatantly, even rudely, the exact opposite of metaphorical.

Was it politics, though? It wasn't as if he was new to that game, even young as he was. Or, was it that he was fighting with a new intensity, because he'd made the first true sacrifice of his life, for the city? And it had to be worth it? If he'd given something up, he'd better damn well reach the goal.


Not hardly. It'd been barely a week. A childish moment of infatuation with a much older woman because they'd seen eye-to-eye on a few things and had a few more things to teach each other. One didn't form grand passions in a week and certainly, being no more than an acquaintance, one couldn't consider it a sacrifice. Hardly a twinge.

The fact that it was still 'hardly a twinge' even after twenty-five years, did not occur to him, oddly enough.

He stood almost absently and walked back into the Oblong office, retrieving a book from the small shelf near his desk. A History of Uberwald, by Antoni Zhalien. A gift from Margolotta, after their last disastrous dialogue before he left. A warning, of sorts; Zhalien had been the last man to try to vanquish the vampire and had ended up in several graves.

Inside the book, a single letter -- her letter of congratulations when he was appointed Patrician -- and the remains of a pressed white flower blossom, one of the nocturnal sort that grew in Margolotta's underground garden. He wasn't sure why he'd kept any of it. He was not a normally sentimental man. But there'd been no point in throwing them out, either.

Now, compared to the single formal letter tucked in the book before him, a wealth of correspondence. Three letters, comparatively long, each more taunting than the last -- though really, calling him an old man at the age of forty-seven was a bit ridiculous, especially coming from a vampire who was centuries old.

It was as if she thought that now, especially now, she could goad him into some foolish action. What would it serve him?

Perhaps more importantly, what would it serve her?

He recalled the drift of her hands across his skin, and clearer, the sound of her voice, their conversations, the teacher-and-student dialogue that changed every so often from one to the other -- he would ask her about tradition, or she would ask him about power. Compared to those times, compared to the intimacy of brilliant minds meeting, sex -- even with Margolotta -- was a dull biological function -- like washing one's hair.

He had learned as much from her as she had learned from him, but up until now, he'd put it to better use.

He put the book back, between the end of the shelf and his copy of Tacticus' A Soldier's Life.

Vetinari, in private, did not bother with his walking-stick, especially over short distances, but he always carried it with him. For one thing it was a heavy hardwood stick with a weighted brass handle, good for fighting with. For another, he was never truly in private and he would be hard-pressed to explain why he was walking without the stick if someone came upon him suddenly.

So it was that, when he reached the back-entrance to his rooms, he gripped the stick tightly. Someone was moving about in his library.

None of the doors but this one were ever oiled, and all had developed a warning creak that Vetinari was quite pleased with. This door, which led directly to his office, was for his own personal use, and therefore swung silently open when he pushed it with the tip of his cane.

Margolotta von Uberwald was standing in his library, examining one of his books intently.

He studied her, aware that she could probably hear and smell him, damnable vampire senses. She was as tall as he remembered, but gone were the children-of-the-night evening dresses and carefully done up hair, replaced with a sensible, conservative, summery dress, appropriate for early Sektober in Ankh-Morpork. She looked about as old as she had when they'd met -- a well-preserved early middle age. Younger than him, now. It was as though she'd stepped directly from his adolescence to here. Her black hair, still with its red highlights, glinted in the rising moonlight. Her eyes were shadowed, her body outlined perfectly.

What he had forgotten was how beautiful she was. The glamour she carried with her whether she wanted to use it or not.

"This is going to be awkward," he said aloud. She turned, as if he had indeed startled her. "I've had Vimes begin watching for you on the coach roads. What's he going to think of me when he finds you already here?"

"You did say I had the power to surprise you, Havelock," replied Margolotta quietly. "I didn't vant to disappoint. I am still, technically speaking, tventy miles outside Ankh-Morpork. I merely vanted to...arrive early."

"And in my rooms. Most visitors prefer to speak to my secretary before making an appointment," he observed. There was a pause, while she invited him to consider the appropriateness of calling her a visitor.

"Not even a rap at the window for old times' sake?" he asked, almost lightly.

"You veren't here ven I...arrived," she said, with an impatient wave of her hand. "Come out of the shadows, Havelock, and let me have a proper look at you."

"Your night-vision is excellent," he answered, but he did step out into the library -- being careful to use his stick.

She was quite good at containing herself. Her eyes barely flickered as she took in the changes in him. The dark trousers and shirts that he'd worn in Uberwald gone, replaced by shabby black robes of office; his hair just beginning to show a few threads of grey. Lines in his face, and a goatee that was, it had to be said, showing more than a few threads. A limp, a cane. But still Havelock Vetinari. Wiser and older, but still him.

"How do you find an old man?" he asked.

"Not as old as I had imagined," she replied.

"Not a boy of nineteen anymore."

"You vere never a boy, Havelock. And how do you find me?" she asked. "Have I changed, in your mind, over the years?"

"Not so very much."

She smiled. "Vill you kiss me hello?"

"No, Margolotta, I think not," he said, slowly. "Let us not presume too much upon nostalgia."

If she was hurt, she'd learned to hide it better than in the past. She nodded.

"You've been quite a bother in recent months," he continued, seating himself in one of the library's hard wooden chairs. "I've had to watch my communications with Uberwald most carefully. You tipped your hand too soon, inquiring after Vimes before I'd decided to appoint him ambassador."

"I did not come to Ankh-Morpork to speak to you of politics," Margolotta said evenly.

"Then why did you come?" he asked, in the same quiet tone she'd used to greet him. "Why are you in my city, Margolotta?"

Her face changed in an instant, to a brilliant, charming smile.

"You invited me, Havelock."

And then she did walk to the window, and undid the latch with a flick of her fingers, and stepped out into the gloom, vanishing from sight.

He very carefully did not run as he went to the window to look out. There was a distant purple glow, over the Tower of Art, and that was all.

Continue to the next part

[identity profile] 2009-10-06 06:32 pm (UTC)(link)
Hi Sam,

Am re-reading this with great pleasure after devouring the new Pratchett, whch has more Margolotta&Vetinari in it! It was very odd reading it because I've internalised your Margolotta and Pratchett's is very close but not quite the same.

[identity profile] 2009-10-06 07:31 pm (UTC)(link)
Thanks! I'm glad you liked it.

And more Margolotta in the new Pratchett, eh? I might have to pick it up...

[personal profile] chironsgirl 2011-11-23 02:08 am (UTC)(link)
And of course, there is some very interesting Margolotta in Unseen Academicals....