Anyway, I felt obliged to compensate a bit, so here follows shortish Vetinari...Margolotta fic. It’s under a cut as there is technically a spoiler for Raising Steam, but it’s really only a spoiler for the basic concept of most of the novel.
*And feeling once again that Unseen Academicals is seriously under-appreciated on LJ. The fact that it is culturally specific for things that LJ isn’t big on doesn’t help – if a person doesn’t recognise (or think to Google when it is the only type on a page) “They think it’s all over”, they are probably not very well equipped to get much of the nuance out of the story. I am similarly under-appreciative of Soul Music, because I am not well informed about Music with Rocks in.
It is a long way from Ankh-Morpork to Uberwald
It is a long way from Ankh-Morpork to Uberwald. This had hitherto been true both geographically and metaphorically, and the latter was still the case, but while not the most enthusiastic of engineers could do much to diminish the distance in a strictly spatial sense, in terms of temporal geography the two realms had moved a great deal closer.* These days there was a railway to Uberwald and a handsome station at Bonk**, and as Lord Vetinari’s carriage bore him from the station to Lady Margolotta’s castle he might have reflected that being spared the better part of a month’s jolting on even the best-sprung seats of a horse-drawn coach was worth any amount of the disadvantages of steam engine time.
But modernity had not yet solved all mysteries, and there remained those ills in the world that not all the Igors and engineers combined could cure, which was why when the great doors swung open on their ever-creaking hinges and Vetinari crossed the stone flags of the hall leaning on his stick, Lady Margolotta emerged from her sitting room***, and exclaimed,
‘Havelock! But you should not have travelled.’
She, of course, was unchanged, and being traditionally dressed in the comfort of her own home appeared unchanging, even if the red liquid in the glass proffered now by Igor was not quite the same ... wine she had once enjoyed. Whereas he - Vampires have no reflections and no mirrors, but if the window glass hadn’t told him a far less acute man than he might have read it in her eyes. A thin man now grown gaunt, a pale face turned yellow, a knobbed hand seized upon a cane no longer for show. An old man, a sick man. A dying man.
‘I had no choice.’
‘I vould have come to you.’
‘It would not have done.’
Lady Margolotta raised an eyebrow. ‘Ve are now in the Century of the Anchovy, Havelock. Besides, does not the Ankh-Morpork and Sto Plains Hygienic Railway assure the lady traveller of her every comfort and complete safety?’****
‘I believe there is such a promise. A trifle ambitious, but such is advertising. However I meant rather that your presence in Ankh-Morpork, welcome as it has often been, might not have answered this particular necessity in the most diplomatic way.’
She had not taken her glass. He took a brandy and drank it hastily. In the hall, the howling gale seeming to issue from somewhere near the roof stopped abruptly and the fire leapt in the hearth. Somewhere an Igor had pulled a leaver.
Vampires could read minds, sometimes even his. The fire she had no need for crackled and spat.
‘Surely Igor – ’
Vetinari shook his head. ‘Can the Igors of Uberwald cure death?’
‘There are secrets they might guard even from you. I vill persuade them.’
‘And I am sure you would be most persuasive. But it would not be enough.’
‘Havelock – ’
‘Dear lady, I have searched, and there is no other way. My work is not done, my successor is not ready. Margolotta, give me more time.’
*Rumour had it that they had moved closer in other ways as well, but sensible people generally refrained from making jokes about the body politic to the heads of the bodies in question.
**Correctly pronounced Beyonk, although the Society for the Proper Pronunciation of Uberwaldian Placenames, a small and determined and above all unrealistic group of philologists, wrote stern letters to newspapers and dictionaries the Disc over in an attempt to convince people otherwise.
***Not the one with the chintz bats. The one she actually used.
****Although in the case of Lady Margolotta, not necessarily the safety of everyone around her.
Author’s note: This is not my headcanon. If Vetinari ever decided to become a vampire as a solution to the succession, he would not go alone to trust the head of a rival power, but make extremely competent, extremely local arrangements, and the vampire in question would shortly thereafter end up extremely dead. But all fic of a single-author canon is inherently slightly AU, so that’s all right then.