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The Patrician

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The office of Patrician, by definition, is a man above men. To excel, he must be an enigma, all-knowing and unknown. He cannot be seen to have a weakness. In all his time as Patrician, Vetinari has only made two exceptions: crosswords and Wuffles. As far as intimacy, as with most things, Vetinari has never been a man who required much. In school, he was content to have none of those high-born imbeciles as friends, relying mainly on his doting Aunt and his brief but pleasant encounters with a young Lady Sybil Ramkin. As for lovers…when he was younger, he had assumed he merely didn’t function and was, frankly, quite relieved. People whose affection could be bought will quite willingly sell other things; plans to the Palace, documents of import, habits of the individual in question, or a hand to slip something terminal in the wine. He had realized the error of his assumptions, however, when he met the Lady Margolotta. With her, he had felt every ache of teenage need that had been absent all of those years. She was beautiful, elegant, and well-bred, but above all, dangerous and powerful. He was a mere toddler compared to her, with her years and experience. He learned much about control in Uberwald, how to control his thoughts, words, and body when under the horrid stress of temptation. He learned about manipulation, about reading people, about listening, and a hundred other little things that preserved his Patricianship. While Lady Margolotta had proven to him that he was not empty of the basest of human need, she had proven that only very certain traits in an individual would conjure up those emotions. So with ease he turned down both vapid and quite clever high-born ladies, turned down hints of well-toned sons who would look at anything with enough power. No, what he demanded was in so short a supply he worried little about the possibility of anything interfering with his life, going so far as to check eligible candidates among the upper crust of the competing nations and finding them quite lacking. Vetinari demanded power, not for an end, but because only an equal could pose a threat, ever give him that delicious tingle of danger. Money wasn’t power. Heredity wasn’t power. Power was the ability to get things done precisely the way one wanted. He was safe in the knowledge that few knew this truth.
He had never expected, therefore, to find the tingle when confronting that pathetic drunkard who was Captain of the Night Watch. True, Samuel Vimes had risen much over the years to fill out his titles, but not matter how many titles Vetinari forced on the Commander of the Watch, the former Captain hissing all the while, he remained the boy from Cockbill street first and foremost. Vimes was rough, preferring action to reason. He was strong, managing to keep this city and his officers more or less in line and safe. He threw his life on the line more times than most soldiers and would keep doing so as long as he smoked those cheap cigars. He understood Vetinari as far as he let anyone. He pressed Vetinari on any issue he disagreed with, with no back stabbing or plotting, simply a head to head confrontation in the true Vimes style. Vimes was powerful. Vimes was dangerous. And married to a woman Vetinari respected and cared for and a lovely little son waiting at home.
Vetinari almost always has to shake himself mentally. The past is inconsequential, the future unchanging; navigate intrigues and plots while keeping the city more or less the same. And one day the Commander of the Watch would die in action, as age or bad luck turned on him. And Vetinari would continue keeping his city safe, seeing an over-zealous, shinning Captain Carrot every day and not his Commander, wrapped in cheap cigar smoke and clothed in old, worn boots. And Vetinari would keep toiling on, working as he always had, the city not quite as seamless with its Commander gone. And in his heart, somewhere padded by years of control, something would be broken, shattering a little more whenever Carrot would snap to attention without a trace of irony, when there would be no meaningful glances. And, quite possibly, when Young Sam would come into his office when Vetinari would be quite old, the young man crisp and smart like his mother, but kind and duty-bound like his ever-deserving father. And even then, Vetinari could not break, even when the last piece would shatter inside him.