Author's Note: I wrote this 'cause I was bored and couldn't sleep. It's silly.
Oh, and thank you to all the people who offered to beta-read for me. I will get back to you, I promise, I'm just very slow. And I'm too impatient to wait to post this.
"Did you suggest a working party?" said Wonse.
"Of course I did! It didn't do the trick this time. You know, I really am inclined to increase the reward money."
"I don't think that would work, my lord. Any proficient monster slayer knows the rate for the job."
"Ha! Half the kingdom," muttered the Patrician.
"And your daughter's hand in marriage," said Wonse.
"I suppose an aunt isn't acceptable?" the Patrician said hopefully.
--p. 117, Guards! Guards!
"…O'course," (Dibbler) continued, "by rights there should be a maiden chained to a rock. Only the aunt said no. That's the problem with some people. No sense of tradition."
p. 154, Guards! Guards!
"Madame, how wonderful of you to come," said Vetinari, giving his aunt a warm smile as she was ushered into his office.
"How wonderful of you to invite me, Havelock," said Madam. "What is it you want?"
"Excuse me?" Vetinari frowned slightly. "I only wanted to see you, Madame. It's been such a long time since we had a proper conversation."
"And that has nothing to do with your current dragon problems?"
Vetinari sighed. "Fine, I do have an ulterior motive. And it's not my dragon."
"No, but it is your problem," said Madam evenly. "So…?"
"I need your help. The city doesn't exactly have anyone officially designated for dealing with problems like this so I'm afraid I have been forced to consult with…" Vetinari grimaced, "…outside contractors."
"Are you referring to heroes?" asked Madam.
"If the term can be applied to such individuals then, yes, 'heroes'," said Vetinari, sarcasm practically dripping off of the last word. "Unfortunately, their terms are rather difficult to manage."
"In what way?"
"Well, so far I've only been able to scrape together fifty thousand dollars as the reward money but they say it's not enough. They're demanding the traditional reward."
"Half the kingdom and your daughter's hand in marriage?" said Madam.
Madam stared at him thoughtfully for a moment. "You don't happen to have any illegitimate children I don't know about then?"
"This is why I always said you should get married, Havelock," said Madame with a sigh. "You never know when having a child can come in handy. It's a shame you didn't have any siblings; you could've borrowed one of theirs."
"Assuming they would've had any." Vetinari gave her a hopeful smile. "I was thinking, as I don't have any daughters, and the only close family I have is you, would you be available….?"
"Available for what?" Madam's eyes narrowed. "Havelock, are you saying you want to offer me as payment?"
"Is that okay?" asked Vetinari.
"I knew I should've spanked you more as a child," said Madam coldly. "Honestly, the nerve…"
"I didn't mean to offend you, Madam, I'm just rather a tight spot at the moment."
"So I hear."
"I wouldn't have asked," said Vetinari, "but my only choice at the moment seems to be paying some ruffian to kill the blasted dragon or trying to appease it in some other way."
"The usual method; tying a maiden to a rock so the dragon can eat her."
"And I suppose you want me to volunteer for that too?" asked Madam in a withering tone.
"Well, if you wouldn't mind too much…"
Madam chuckled. "Havelock, I know I never actually sat down and had that little talk with you when you were a boy but you do know what the qualifications for maidenhood are, don't you?"
"Well, yes but--"
"So what makes you think I could qualify?"
"Ah." Vetinari frowned. "Point taken. I don't suppose you would be willing to pretend you're still a vi—a maiden?"
"I hardly think that would be believable, do you?" asked Madam. "And why would I want to? I'd be eaten by your dragon."
"It's not my--" Vetinari stopped mid-sentence and sighed. "Okay, fine. Will you at least consider the marriage option? If it helps I'll try to give the job to the better-looking barbarians first."
"How sweet," said Madam sarcastically. "But what makes you think I would be interested in some rough, tough, leather-bound muscleman with all the finesse of a troll?"
"Do you really want me to answer that?" asked Vetinari with a smile. "I have met some of your 'friends' after all. Some of them could barely understand words with more than two syllables."
"It wasn't their conversation I was interested in," said Madam, matching his smile. "And if we're really going to talk about past conquests, then it's only fair we talk about yours too. How is she, anyway?"
Vetinari stared at her. "I don't know what you're referring to," he said stiffly.
"I'm sure you don't."
"So you're refusing to help then?"
"Havelock, you know I admire your dedication to Ankh-Morpork, and you know that I would help you in any way I can but there is no way I will let you feed me to a dragon or marry me to some man I don't even know." Madam reached over the desk and patted his arm reassuringly. "I'm sorry but the answer is no, dear."
"You're not going to go and sulk, are you?" asked Madam. "You always used to go off into a corner and sulk if you didn't get your own way when you were little."
"The Patrician of Ankh-Morpork does not sulk, Madam."
"The Patrician may not, but little Havvie Vetinari was famed for it as a child."
"I'm no longer a child. And don't call me Havvie," snapped Vetinari. "You know I don't like anyone calling me that anymore."
"As you wish, dear." Madam smiled at him. "Are you eating enough? You look thinner. Have you lost weight?"
"Not that I've noticed."
"Of course, if you lost any weight at all you'd probably disappear entirely," said Madam thoughtfully. "How are you sleeping?"
"The usual way."
"I thought so too."
"Are you still getting those awful Assassins coming after you?" asked Madam.
"Not anymore," said Vetinari. "After the first dozen or so disappeared they've been rather more hesitant to lose members."
"Disappeared?" said Madam slowly. "What did you do to them?"
"Do you really want me to tell you?"
Madam looked at her nephew's smile and fought the urge to shiver. "No, I suppose not."
"Good." Vetinari looked pointedly at his paperwork. "Now if you'll excuse me…"
"Of course." Madam stood up and gave him a dazzling smile. "Good luck with your dragon, Havelock."
"For the last time, it's not my dra--."
"If you say so, dear."