Sam Vimes was terrified.
First off, most of the obvious things that would be considered terrifying and nearly synonymous to the names 'Vimes' were not happening; he was not being chased, he wasn't chasing anybody, and, in fact, nobody was being chased. At least, not in his direct line of vision.
He had decided to marry Lady Sybil. This was not even considered as an option until Fred mentioned offhand that "gen'rally, a man marries a woman after a while, no offense, of course, Captain. And Lady Sybil is—" ah, and that was when Vimes had glared, "—well, a lot of woman, sir."
Of course, that wasn't the only thing. Sybil had very tactfully mentioned that in her family tree, they were usually married within the week, mostly with arrangements from the parents and judgment from noble deeds. Vimes figured that Sybil's family line had something wrong with it, but that would hurt Sybil's feelings, so he never said it out loud.
Point was, he had to propose. It wasn't living together that scared him; he could live with Sybil very easily. Even her cooking was just right. No, it was the stuff in between that scared him, the ring, the horrible notion of romance, her being stuffed into one of those terrible dresses and one of those wigs that made her a good foot taller than him, stuffing him into a suit...
Oh, and the title. He could make do without the title. Nobility was something to be avoided at all costs, save for Sybil, who enjoyed mucking out dragon pens and was as sensible as any common man.
He went to the jewelry store and asked for a ring with a large diamond on it, or at least one as large as he could afford. Compared to the jewels Sybil already had, it was practically invisible. Nobby was the one who suggested it, and Vimes had faith—when it came to shiny, valuable things, Nobby knew his stuff.
Then he had to do the deed. Fred suggested that Sam tell Sybil that her eyes were like "pools of lim-whotsit blue" and that the more adjectives, the better. He had decided against the blue eyes quip, though—Sybil's eyes were an average, quite lovely brown.
So were Mrs. Colon's too, come to think of it.
The moment that Vimes stepped through Sybil's door, all advice went out the window. Did he have to get on one knee? He had sprained it after falling off of a roof the night before, and he really disliked bowing, but it was customary, wasn't it? What did he say? The question itself was simple, but he had a feeling that the Ramkin-stigma demanded something a bit more ornate.
"What is it, Sam?" Sybil asked, a small, indulgent smile on her face.
"Herm," said Vimes, or something quite like it. Maybe, he thought desperately, he should have taken off his breastplate. They were supposed to embrace, or something like that, and it wouldn't be very comfortable-
"You look rather troubled, Sam," Sybil said, a note of irritation creeping into her otherwise cheery voice.
Oh Gods, this was a mistake. He wavered on his feet and scratched his chin. Ah. That's what he had forgotten. He should have shaved. This was a mistake. Look at her, and look at him! She was kind and considerate and had heaps and heaps of class and very beautiful in his own way, and he was the opposite of all of that and if he knew what was good for him, he'd walk out that door right now instead of--
"For heaven's sake!" Sybil threw her arms in the air and beamed. "Yes, Sam, I will."
Vimes blinked. "Huh?"
"You could have at least made an attempt," she said and pushed her lips to his. There were no fireworks, as her kisses were as sensible as she was, but it was still a very nice kiss nonetheless.
"But—I—" Vimes shook his head, and resorting to what he knew, popped the ring's case open and slid it on her finger. Helplessly, he asked, "How?"
"Oh," Sybil said, looking quite pleased with herself, "Erikson told me."
She tutted. "Honestly, Sam. The jeweler." Looking thoughtful, she added on, "and Nobby told me, too. So did Fred, but I think that was by accident, and poor Carrot has been staring at this house for the past hour." She paused, examining her ring. "And it really is a very nice ring. Nobby's got good taste."
Vimes stared, baffled. "Right." This was the part he liked, though, the straightforward part where he could talk to Sybil, but Sybil had a very firm idea as to what the betrothed did.
And, he thought, which was possibly his last coherent one, he really didn't have to worry about leaving his breastplate on.