Discworld: I do not own these wonderful characters. Only taking them out to play:
Drumknott had been attacked.
Lord Vetinari had heard the news at 3am in the morning from a spy he had tasked to overlook the safety of his most precious staff, his personal secretary and confidante.
Fortunately, Drumknott's only injury was a bruised eye - a dark bluish brown bruise that stained the flesh around his right eye and cheek, accidentaly enhancing the pale blue colour of the young man's startlingly clear eyes. It was a look that was strangely appealing and may make a not so casual observer's insides flutter (if they happened to be paying attention to him in that way).
Looking both vulnerable and defiant, Rufus Drumknott was lain down on a plain white bed in the infirmary. He was still dressed in his nightclub attire of sharp and smart: dark blue trousers with a once crisp, now a little damp and smudged, white shirt. His usual immaculate hair was a mess. Vetinari was used to looking at his secretary's extremely well kempt and bland appearance. This was an unusual look so he gazed intently.
Drumknott was a very reliable character. He was sensible and dependable, all the qualities that Lord Vetinari, the Patrician of Ankh-Morpok, valued and respected in his staff not to mention his personal secretary. The Patrician was an astute risk-taker and was rarely surprised - although he knew that occasionally, Drumknott would attend a bar of this sort - he was a young man after all and even that, whilst it was not a totally regular activity in that it catered only for men, it was a fairly normal pursuit and he had no issue with that. However, when one who is thought of as removed from that sort of leisure interest, or is as removed as it could be from plain sight, well, it was easy to forget that they would even know what to do with themselves should certain opportunities arise. Lord Vetinari paused. Well, it was certainly refreshing to see this man before him so exposed but The Lord caught himself and felt ashamed because he despaired that it should have to be because of an action by a violent fool. After all this could have been so much worse.
Drumknott loathed to speak of his personal life apart from mundane little details for his own reasons and now everyone would know that like everybody else, he enjoyed a good time...occasionally. Vetinari understood what the younger man must be feeling.
The perpetrator only had a chance of one hit before he himself was struck down. The spy had certainly saved Drumknott's life but worried about the injury the secretary incurred. The spy was lucky, Vetinari only transferred him to guarding the ornamental pigs for a month.
" Aargh," winced Drumknott as Nurse Oats applied the cream to the dazed fair haired secretary.
" Oh I'm sorry sir" apologised the Nurse unconvincingly but grinning amiably. "There you go my dear, it's all done. It'll be sore for the next few days and you'll be having one helluva shiner on it but do apply this here ointment and it should prevent further swelling and discomfort." The stout and sturdy Nurse offered him a jar of sweet smelling medicinal paste to Drumknott which he accepted, feeling more than a little pathetically grateful and certainly extremely embarrassed.
"Ah, thank you Nurse Oats, sorry to be such a wimp. This sort of thing doesn't usually happen to me." He was blushing under the watchful eye of his Lord which was currently paying more than enough attention thank you very much. He avoided his master's gaze. A shiver ran down his his spine. It was almost as the Patrician could see inside of him thought Drumknott with an edge of paranoia. I've done nothing wrong, no-one should make me feel...he then decided to be brave and caught Vetinari's eye but Drumknott, to his annoyance, found himself blushing and so he quickly looked away. A different type of shiver occurred through his body and his slightly confused mind. He had drank a little but not enough...What a night!
Nurse Oats smiled but with a look of thoughtful motherly concern on her face at the range of conflicting emotions that seemed to be showing themselves blatently on Drumknott via his odd facial expressions.
She decided to console him.
" It's a tragedy to risk so much for romance sir, my sister had paint thrown at her walls just because she took up with a lady, who to top it all, was also a Troll. Ah, nice couple and at least her Bertha can take care of herself and my sister. No-one throws paint at a Trolls house twice you know!" The Nurse winked, her face crinkling as she smiled lopsidedly at him.
" But oh," she sighed "Some people, they were brought up in holes, ignorant and violent, worse than animals, oh it makes me cross you know."
"Um, oh. " Replied Drumknott. He really was at a loss to what to say to this personal disclosure of support. Face aflame again.
" Thank you Nurse Oats. It seems your sister and I are both lucky in who we have to support us."
Too late he realised what he had said and now his fierce blush appeared to be a permanent fixture to his usually pale complexion. A sick feeling also arrived in his belly with the realisation that everyone must know where he was last night. He sighed and closed his eyes sinking into the bed.
" Drumknott," acknowledged Lord Vetinari finally speaking, startling the younger man. He turned and spoke to the Nurse who seemed to have finished and was cleaning up. " Nurse Oats, " he continued. "Don't let us keep you," he raised his eyebrows pointedly.
" Of course my Lord, the police are downstairs. They have been waiting for a while for me to finish but I imagine they can wait a little more." She nodded at Drumknott and grinned toothily at him, bowed and collected her equipment in practised haste.
Lord Vetinari nodded at his best nurse. Then stared at Drumknott frowning, both men in silence then until she left.
" The police? Perhaps we should just send Nurse Oats after the culprit instead?" Drumknott smiled nervously, his voice a little higher than usual. He swallowed and licked his lips, suddenly thirsty and very, very uncomfortable.
Verinari continued to stare levelly at him. He then sighed, " oh Drumknott, why expose yourself so?"
" Expose?" Drumknotts heart started to beat faster. He suddenly felt ashamed.
" I-I was merely enjoying a drink in a bar,th-that I have frequented in the past," Drumknott feared that he was on the verge of tears. "Certain ignorant persons" he spoke with more confidence, " dislike this bar and from time to time when they have drunk themselves into idiocy, attack those who leave. I was unlucky this time. Good luck to the police in finding those culprits, usually folk do not have possession of a spy to assist them with these matters, and the police huh, usually they can't be bothered. I've carried friends home who have been bloodied by some stupid oaf." Drumknott trembled and forced himself not to show that he was too emotional. He wanted Vetinari to respect not pity him.
Vetinari watched the younger man speak and choosing his words carefully he began, " that's not quite what I meant but I, ah I apologise, I didn't mean to put the blame at your door." Vetinari touched the younger man's arm comfortingly to Drumknott's astonishment. " Drumknott, " the Lord began to explain, " we have the culprit, and he will be soon be given to the police. You will only need explain a small statement to them." He paused and removed his hand appearing suddenly self-conscious.
" I am sure," continued the great man, "that he will be pleading guilty so that there will not be any need for you to suffer further ...embarrassment."
" My Lord," the secretary nodded, taking long deep breaths. He looked up at his Lord, The Patrician of Ankh Morpok with a frown. The Lord waited for him to speak.
" You must have known of course, all this time. I feel foolish. Is the reason why you hired a spy to keep watch over me because...we're you afraid that I would do something wrong?"
The Patrician sighed, again feeling the need to protect this man was a vulnerability in him that continued to risk clouding his judgement.
" I protect my staff Drumknott and I do not think it a crime to wish not to see you hurt," he explained in a soft voice.
" You've had spys follow all of your other staff recently? I certainly have missed that memo. Did you have a spy follow your last secretary?"
Vetinari looked at Drumknott sighed inwardly and couldn't lie.
" My last secretary tried to kill me. " Vetinari admitted staring challengly at Drumknott.
" Ah..." nodded the secretary. A slight twinkle appeared in Drumknott's eyes." I must be special then?" He caught Vetinari's eyes. This time without blushing.
Vetinari's lips twitched into a smile his eyebrows raised and he looked away.
" I think you need to rest Mr Drumknott, who knows what a knock to the head will do to a young man like you?"
Drumknott returned the smile.
" Well thank you Sir, for protecting me. I know I did nothing wrong but I don't like to be the focus of gossip. It can be ...distracting."
" We'll talk about this later, when you are well Mr Drumknott," replied Vetinari decisively. " I will task Nurse Oats to care after you daily ". With that comment he turned on his heel and left. His deep black cloak swirling magnificently behind him. Drumknott very nearly swooned.
Three days later, the gossip had only started to get going as Drumknott enjoyed a page one feature on a slow news day because the story had been leaked to The Ankh-Morpok Times.
Probably, he mused bitterly, by the police.
The Patrician scheduled a discussion with Vimes and Carrot then cancelled it as he feared he would shout too much. Instead he cancelled the funding for the annual PC hogsmead ball out of spite. The Lord's feelings for the well being of Drumknott were at the forefront of his mind ever since. It was so very distracting to look at those eyes and not want to touch him, to connect with him in some way. He felt his desire was not something to be ashamed of but it had to be controlled. The Patrician was not a preditor or harraser of his staff and respected Drumknott to know that he should not put him in an uncomfortable situation. He felt too many emotions including a little shame at having realised his attraction to Drumknott when he was at his most vulnerable. He was very attracted to the younger man he knew that now and he would very much like to... Vetinari bit his lip and squashed any inappropriate thoughts tightly packaged into things to be wondered about during bathing time.
He looked at his diary. A meeting was scheduled with the Queen of Meldiva to renegotiate peace treaties with her neighbouring yet fighting lands today. He was worried that he would start a war. If only he could talk to Drumknott. Vetinari looked at the clock. In one minute his personal secretary would be late. He raised his eyebrows.
" My Lord," Drumknott announced, walking swiftly into the room with tea already prepared.
Lord Vetinari the Patrician of Ankh-Morpok stared. Drumknotts left eye was not very swollen but it was very bruised. His eyes looked dazzling in spite of this but what was most disconcerting was the suit that Drumknott was wearing. Slightly coincidentally, it was his sisters birthday today and he was attending a meal in the evening. He had picked up a new suit in the sale and had decided to wear it to work so that it would be quick to get from the palace to his sisters home without going home to change. Although he could have changed at work before he left, a little part of him wanted to be bold and to be noticed.
It was a very flattering suit emphasising and enhancing the younger man's figure in the most stylish way. A suit designed to have people look.
The Patrician did follow that command but then his gaze focused on the tea laid out in prim porcelain cups on a silver tray.
" Drumknott I will be busy this morning."
"Of course, My Lord".
" Can you assist with the guild of Auditors general meeting? It's essentially a just-putting-in-an-appearance-and-trying-not-to-fa ll-asleep sort of an affair."
" Of course sir, I find the minutes of those meetings to be most interesting."
Drumknott stared innocently at Vetinari who chuckled.
" Hmm, well, excellent then. "
The Patrician drank his sweet tea. Drumknott sat down to begin his days work.
" You appear to be well suited today Drumknott. Is there an occasion? " Said Vetinari in his best nonchalant voice.
" Yes sir, " smiled the secretary with a shy smile. " My sister's birthday you see. I will be visiting her after work. We're going to Mama Oysters for a meal."
" An ...interesting choice."
"She adores fish, it's her favourite restaurant and it's actually become rather fashionable now".
" Oh is it? Wait, is this the Mama Oyster that was under suspicion of being a smugglers den? I believe Carrott arrested several people involved last summer?"
" Oh that was only the grandmother and yes I believe that has actually enhanced it's reputation. The clientele feel rather risqué being entertained in a den of rumoured inequity. "
" Besides she was only smuggling crabs over the amount she was allowed to from a country she wasnt allowed to and they were fresher than the ones that were being legitimately sold. Hardly the crime of the century. Just a bit ...naughty?"
" Not exactly what the press would have us believe eh Drumnknott?"
" The press exaggerate? Surely not sir?" Grinned the secretary.
The time passed favourably between the two men, the Queen of Meldiva was not her usual acidic self as Drumknott was able to pacify her with his faint but calming charm. It was too early for treaties to be signed but the negotiations had started with a promising note and that at least provided everyone with hope.
The day progressed as usual; they met with dignitaries and guild members, criminals and lawmen/women, allies and enemies; the secretary acted as the perfect foil to his Lord, The Patrician of Ankh-Morpok.
" Isn't it about time you left?"
"Sir? Oh! Yes, I'll almost be late!" A startled Drumknott looked at his watch, he got up and gathered his things in haste.
" Most people would say that was being on time." Replied Vetinari in his most driest tones.
"Sir. Uh, goodbye my Lord."
" Enjoy your evening Mr Drumknott."
The secretary dashed out with as much grace as he could, giving a little bow as he closed the door behind him.
Lord Vetinari sat alone in the quiet and empty office and shuffled a few papers, with a sigh, he started to prepare for tomorrow's duties.
" Oh Rufus! We thought you would be late." Exclaimed his sister.
" What? I'm on time aren't I Louise?" Drumknott entered the terraced house of his sisters family, so different, more chaotic but more vibrant than his own modest palace dwellings. His sister, his great aunt, two nephews and a neice were milling about in the front room. His fathers deep tones could be heard from the kitchen speaking to, he presumed, his mother (as her light, dainty voice could not always be heard within a room, let alone outside it).
" Well yes but I know you - I say a time and then you appear thirty minutes early whilst we all run around getting ready. Mind you we are still running around."
" You look beautiful Louise. More than ready." Said Drumknott hopefully.
" Hah," said a scathing elderly voice. " You wish!" The elderly woman was sat on a large armchair, filling it completely a small boy was by her feet playing with pegs, a face covered in blue goo - product of the sweets the aunt appeared to be chewing slightly more delicately.
" Auntie Miria," scolded Louise with a smile, "hush now, I am actually ready."
Drumknott's sister was only two years older than him and while she acted skitish and girlishly most of the time, she was a very sensible and successful tailor. NOT a seamstress. How embarressed she was when she first found out what that euphemism meant in this city.
The whole family of Drumknotts had lived in a village on the outskirts of the great city if Ankh-Morpok until they decided as one that life woul be more profitable (and exciting) to move and have a new life there. Drumknott and his sister found the change easier than their patents whose greengrocers business almost floundered several times but they never seemed to regret the move and his mother loved the theatre, his father the the sports. Life may be hard in the city but life was certainly lived.
" Do you have someone Rufus?" Asked his sister loudly in the restaurant after one too many glasses of the house wine.
" Uh, no."
" Hah! " Said his aunt, using her elderly aunt powers of deduction. " He paused, he's got someone in mind! Mark my words!"
" Not really. " Rufus blushed crimson. His sister looked at him quizzically in surprise.
" Are you alright my son? After they reported that nasty business in the papers? Your mum and me were so worried."
" I'm fine dad, the Patrician saw to it that I was taken care of."
" You were lucky Rufus that the police captured that thug so quickly. Is that bar as dangerous as the Times reported?" Said his mother with very concerned eyes. Drumknott replied carefully.
" Mum, no, they embellished the story. It's just a bar for men only. Sometimes there are fights, because men fight...Sometimes people go too far. "
" Enough of this. We've got some eat in' to do here!" Cried Aunt Miria, waving her fork around alarming the waiters.
" Er, I agree." Said a relieved Drumknott before the conversation went too far.
Drumknott lay in his bed that night, happy to have enjoyed the company of his family but feeling a little lonely as he left for his home and his bedroom deep in the palace.
It was quiet now, late as it was, it was still too quiet in this part of the vast building tonight. Normally the peace brought him comfort and solace away from his daily work but now he missed the company of loved ones. eventually Drumknott drifted to sleep and dreamt of strong hands surrounding him.