** And now for something for people who've been wondering what Havelock and his mistress have been up to lately. Thank you Merrymoll for giving me a title so I could finally post the thing. The story is dedicated to Jurious, the first to put Hanna's face on paper, and beautifully at that. (*hugs*). Enjoy chapter 1, and rest assured this story won't be anywhere near as long as Rulers. I'm thinking 10 chapters tops. For people new to the Hanna-Havvie thing, the story that started the series is "Say Yes" in the R section and next came "Conspiracy of Beers" in the general audience section.**
It took an hour for the verdict to be delivered by a smiling Lord Downey.
"Havelock, I'm afraid you're unemployed. You had a good run, old chap, but the Council has decided you're due for a rest. I say, you do look a tad tired."
They were not in the dungeon of the Palace of Ankh-Morpork because Downey suspected no cell in a building where Lord Havelock Vetinari had lived and worked for fifteen years was secure enough to keep him. Instead, one of the roomier cells in the Tanty had been converted for Vetinari during the trial. He was there now, sitting in what looked like an aged plush-seated dining room chair that had found itself among the eclectic furniture in the city jail. The small mattress against the wall was almost clean, the mirror on the wall broken only in a few places, the razor beside the sliver of soap only uncomfortably dulled. Despite the simple accommodations, Vetinari managed to look well-groomed. The shadows under his eyes betrayed the fact that he was not well-rested.
"May I ask what the vote was?" he said quietly.
Downey took a seat opposite. "Interesting you should ask. I assumed there would be some dissent. The evidence against you in some areas was not all that strong, frankly. But the four or five votes I thought you were guaranteed didn't materialize. A mystery."
Not much of one. During the trial, the Throne Room at the Palace was converted into a court room by the addition of long tables and a raised platform from which evidence was presented and arguments made. The tables were occupied by most of the members of the City Council. The missing members, those not allowed to participate in the vote on the removal of Vetinari as Patrician of Ankh-Morpork, were forced to sit in the back with the spectators or weren't there at all. They were the handful of people most likely to put up a fuss about the coup.
From the Assassins, of course. There was something about the Assassins Guild that made it a breeding ground for men who had an itching to get rid of Vetinari despite the fact that he'd been educated there and still had a finger in the proverbial pot as Provost of Assassins. But it had happened before, an attempt on his life by a former president of the guild. And now there was Downey. Reactionary Downey. Silk-stocking Downey. Bullying schoolboy Downey.
Using his head.
His first night in jail, Vetinari had found this last point the most irritating. Noblemen and civic leaders who walked around thinking were the most dangerous of all.
Downey was not a man normally given to brilliant plots but he had apparently learned enough in his role as head of the Assassins Guild that a brilliant plot was not going to topple Vetinari, the master of plots and anti-plots. So he hit on an alternative.
This, not organized opposition or quiet scheming or even a bold show of arms, could tip Vetinari from his post. A conspiracy of one, Downey had thought through what he needed for The Day, wrote down nothing, confided in no one, and then suddenly he made an appointment with the Patrician and arrived with a half dozen loyal Assassins. It was a random day, a split-second decision. He hadn't even told his men why he wanted them to accompany him to the Palace.
Within ten minutes of sealing off the Oblong Office, a statement had been issued: Lord Havelock Vetinari has been arrested. All inquiries of a municipal nature will be addressed to Lord F. J. Bartholemew Downey.
A fait accompli is far harder to fight. Vetinari's enemies celebrated and his allies scrambled to keep their own skins. Allegiances shifted faster than even Downey had expected. By his first night in the Tanty, Vetinari was effectively without support. Except for a few select people Downey had known would be uncooperative.
One of them, Sir Samuel Vimes, Duke of Ankh, had been relieved of his post as head of the City Watch as soon as he refused to accept Downey's new title of "Acting Patrician." The order to turn Vimes out of Pseudopolis Yard had been filled by the Palace Guard, which didn't like the Watch anyway. The Tanty was being run by the Guard at the moment and was, of course, ringed by Assassins. The last thing Downey needed was Vetinari slipping out.
"I'm sure you're wondering what happens now," said Downey, leaning back comfortably in his chair. "Are you wondering?"
Vetinari fixed his gaze on Downey's hands.
"I'll tell you anyway. A former Patrician guilty of abuse of power… pardon, found guilty in a fair court of law…who did as much for the city as you have doesn't quite deserve the ultimate punishment. That seems to be the going sentiment. At the moment." Downey smiled cheerfully. "And seeing as you love sunlight, the Council has found a delightful place for you to take a much-needed rest for the next…oh…ten years or so."
There was no reaction from Vetinari.
"You remember the island of Khavos, don't you?" said Downey. "It was quite fashionable a few years back for wealthy families to rent the villa there for the summer. I was there about ten years ago. Exquisite, I assure you. A veritable island paradise lapped by the waves of the Circle Sea. A thousand delightful miles away."
Downey's smile widened but Vetinari remained impassive.
"What a time you will have!" said Downey, clapping his hands. "And to show its gratitude for the positive things you've done, the Council has agreed to pay for up to two hundred pounds of personal effects to be shipped with you and… Oh, did I forget to mention that your private funds have been confiscated?"
Vetinari ignored the question.
"I didn't think it necessary but the Council insisted. Talk of you skimming over the years and so on. All unfounded, I'm sure. But nevertheless, we must bow to the will of the Council, eh? In its wisdom, it also granted you the right to take some company with you so that you could not accuse them of sending you into a lonely retirement. One companion may go to help you wile away the long, blisteringly sunny days. You will be leaving in the morning so I suggest you tell us now who the lucky person will be."
Vetinari stared in silence at Downey, who started to fidget under the gaze.
"Come now, Havelock. Surely there is someone, one single person in this great city of ours, who you think would be willing to share your extended holiday."
The stare didn't waver.
Downey shook his head. "I find that a rather sad state of affairs. I realize that your former duties as patrician were time-consuming but it is astounding you did not find the time to cultivate at least one friend or family member who can stand your company long enough to survive it on a solitary island. It hits me right here." He tapped his heart.
Even at this, Vetinari chose not to react. It was getting on Downey's nerves, the calmness and silence.
"We shall choose for you, then. A servant responsible for packing your things. The Council thought it best that you not be allowed to do this yourself."
A slow smile spread across Vetinari's face. Downey turned cold despite the half dozen men in black who stood silently at the wall behind them, their hands folded patiently but in split-second reach of a weapon.
"You're quite right," said Vetinari. "A holiday would be a refreshing change. I also find the idea of going alone and without luggage appealing. I would arrive free as a bird, hm?" He nodded and stared into space as if imagining pleasant times ahead.
"Am I to understand you wish no companion, and to take none of your personal effects?"
"That is a masterly summation, Downey."
"Then I will oblige you." Downey bowed slightly. "I wish you a pleasant journey and a very relaxing decade."