Author's Note: Oh dear gods, I'm nervous about posting this. I've spent over a month working on this story and I hope it's good. I think it is.
Lady Margolotta von Uberwald and Lord Havelock Vetinari, one of the most interesting canon pairings (at least I think so) on the Discworld and one of the few we know hardly anything about. I got bored of waiting for Pterry to write something about it, so I made something up myself, and here it is.
One chapter will be posted every week (and yes I know the chapters are short), specifically on a Friday 'cause it's easier for me. Please read and review, all feedback is welcome on this, but flames will be looked at with nothing but disdain. Did I mention I'm nervous about this one?
Disclaimer: Although I wished really hard, I didn't turn into Terry Pratchett; therefore none of these characters belong to me, do they?
"I think we should tell them."
Pietr Scholtzy, proud proprietor of the Horse and Cabbage Inn gave his wife an inquiring look. "Tell them what, Anna?"
"About…her, Pietr," said Anna. "And about the Baron, too."
"How many times do I have to tell you, woman? If either of them found out we were warning travellers to avoid Bonk then we'd both end up as their next meal," said her husband. "Besides, you didn't tell those two from Quirm last week."
Anna sniffed. "That was different, they didn't pay their bill." She leaned out into the doorway slightly so she could see into the main room of the inn and sighed. "They're so young, little more than children…"
"I heard one of those 'children' say he was a trained Assassin."
"The loud one with brown hair."
"Really? I would've thought it'd be the thin one."
Pietr grinned. "Him? I couldn't see him putting down that book long enough to kill someone. Besides, why do you care so much about a group of tourists from Ankh-Morpork? You know all they've done since they came here is insult us and the other guests." He shook his head and frowned. "Grand Sneer, indeed…"
"They're just misguided, Pietr. Honestly, you always take it so personally." She took a deep breath and looked at him, a resolute expression on her face. "No, we have to tell them. Off you go."
"Me?" Pietr asked. "Why me?"
"Because every time I try to talk to them, they just smile blankly at me and order more drinks. I'm sure they think I'm just a barmaid or something." She gave her husband a gentle push in the direction of the door. "Go on, I'll be watching."
Havelock Vetinari turned the page on his book and tried in vain to block out the mindless chatter of his companions. For what felt like the fiftieth time that day, he silently cursed the circumstances that had led to him being lumbered with a group like this; but unfortunately, as much as he hated this, he had to admit it was necessary. In the months following Lord Winder's 'assassination' and the murder of John Keel, Lord Snapcase, the new Patrician, had been striking out with increased ferocity at anyone who he thought could pose a threat; Doctor Follett and several other leading figures in the conspiracy to overthrow Winder had already met with nasty 'accidents' or had simply disappeared. Thank goodness his aunt had managed to escape, thought Havelock, she was currently laying low in Genua, but even that wouldn't be safe for long.
But while she was safe, at least for now, he wasn't. The assassination of Winder, while an open commission, had not been officially completed by a Guild member and therein lay the problem. The infiltration of the Palace, Snapcase had reasoned, had happened so professionally that only an Assassin could have done it, and as the only Guild member given the commission that night had not even reached the Palace roof, let alone the ballroom, then the task must've taken place unofficially. No fully-trained Assassin would have dreamed of taking on a commission unofficially, not only was it against Guild rules and would lead to an instant dismissal and inhumation, but it was dishonourable. Besides, most of them either had alibis or had provided one quickly under the ministrations of the trainee torturers.
So now the finger was being pointed at the students.
The only thing to do now was try to blend into the crowd and try not to be noticed; and in a group of loud, obnoxious young men on their Grand Sneer and away from all adult supervision for the first time, who was going to notice him? No one…or at least that's what Havelock and his aunt hoped.
So, they'd picked the most obnoxious young men they could think of; Lord Rust had been a shoo-in for chaperone as he had a way of speaking to people that was guaranteed to elicit him nothing but hatred from the locals; Downey and Ludorum from Havelock's class at school would provide the level of noise and attention-seeking needed and Cyril de Worde would provide the touch of specieism. Now all Havelock had to do is smile and try not to draw attention to himself and everyone should be so busy hating the rest of the group that they wouldn't notice the quiet young man minding his own business at the back…
A man Havelock recognised as the innkeeper approached their table. "Hello sirs, how is your food?"
Downey threw down his fork and shoved his plate away, a slight frown on his face. "As if you could call that food…"
"Oh, it's not that bad, Downey," said Ludorum. "Come on, pass it here if you don't want it. Why don't you like it, anyway?"
"I agree," said Rust. He turned to face the innkeeper. "Can't you people cook properly up here?"
Pietr's smile tensed slightly. "If there is something else I could get you gentlemen from the kitchen…?"
"Oh, don't bother, I'm sure everything else will taste just as bad," Rust said brusquely. "Why are you bothering us anyway?"
"I merely wanted to ask where your next stop will be on your tour, gentlemen," said Pietr smoothly. "I could tell you some points of interest about the town you'll be visiting next."
"I hardly think we need your advice--" started Rust.
"We'll be visiting Bonk next, Mr Scholtzy," interrupted Havelock. "I've heard it's got an interesting cuckoo clock museum, do you recommend it?"
"Er…yes," replied Pietr, slightly surprised at the politeness of the question. "It's got some interesting exhibits. Do you know much about the people of Bonk, sir?"
Cyril de Worde started slightly at the man's question. "People? I thought Bonk is just another dump full of peasants like this place."
The smile on Pietr's face tensed even more. "It does have a mostly human population like we do, sir, but have you heard about the other people that live there?"
"You mean the lawn-ornaments?"
"No, I'm talking about Lady Margolotta and the Baron, sir."
"You actually have nobility in this country?" asked Cyril, his lip curling slightly. "Well, at least they'll be more our sort of people." He turned to Rust, who was nodding. "I can't stand being around the lower classes for too long."
The innkeeper's face turned red slightly and his smile slipped. "They may be nobility, sir, but they're also—"
"How far back do their lines go?" asked Rust.
"What?" said Pietr, confused.
"Their titles, man. Have they been in the families long?"
"Does that really matter?" Pietr said. "Look, if they offer to let you stay the night in their castles, don't--"
"New money, I bet," Cyril interrupted. "These mountain towns never have anyone of any real breeding in them, just mindless peasants."
"Listen, don't go into the--"
"Well what else can you expect, this far from civilisation?" asked Downey glumly.
"Listen to me, I'm trying to tell you about Lady Margolotta and the Baron, they're the unde--"
"Oh, what are you blathering on about, man?" said Rust impatiently. "Why do you keep going on about this Lady Margolotta and the Baron for? Honestly, I swear you people get more stupid the further we get from the city."
The innkeeper's face went blank and he seemed to be coming to some sort of decision. He glanced over to the kitchen doorway where his wife was standing, then a huge friendly smile appeared on his face. "I just wanted to inform you about the marvellous hospitality of the Uberwaldian nobility, sir. Lady Margolotta and the Baron are famed for it; and they're always ready to entertain young men from Ankh-Morpork such as yourselves. I heartily recommend you pay them a visit on your way through our fair country."
"I hope they've got some decent food, at least," grumbled Downey.
"Oh, I dare say they will have, sir," said Pietr, the smile getting wider by the second as he backed away from the table. "Their dining habits are legendary…"
"Did you tell them?"
"Why not? I thought we agreed—"
"They insulted your cooking."