|chibirisuchan (chibirisuchan) wrote in no_true_pair,|
@ 2008-07-06 21:27:00
Title: Tournament of Lies
Fandom: Discworld and Vagrant Story
Pairing/characters: Granny Weatherwax and Sydney Losstarot
Warnings: deathbed fic
Prompt/challenge you're answering: "Granny Weatherwax and Sydney: there's no need to complicate / our time is short / this is our fate, I'm yours"
"Offer me solutions, offer me alternatives and I decline.
It's the end of the world as we know it... and I feel fine." -REM
Funny thing, Esme thought. She'd really been expecting someone taller.
And a skinny boy with silver claws might be an interesting way to mess with people's preconceptions, while also getting the scythe-like references in nicely, but. All in all, they really should have given the boy an entire cloak, not just the leftover bit they'd dragged out of some otherworld's attic trunk or other.
...The boy did have a well-tuned smirk, though.
Still. She was Esme Weatherwax. She wasn't about to be impressed by someone's attempts at headology. Not to mention that it was downright rude to try it at a time like this.
"If you're waiting for me to scream or beg or plead," she said crisply, "you're going to have a long wait, lad."
"If I were expecting you to scream or beg or plead, I wouldn't be here," the boy replied. "I have a choice to offer you, Mistress Weatherwax. You see, I am in need of an heir."
It was all she could do not to laugh aloud. "And you came looking for me? Here? Now? At the end of a spinster's life? Lad, whoever explained 'the process of getting heirs' to you did a shamefully bad job of it."
"Not a child, Mistress," the fey young thing said, still courteous and mild as the spring. "An heir. One who would willingly accept the gift, and the burden, of what I carry."
"I'm about to be dead, lad," Esme told him. "Children or no, if this is how you always seek out heirs, I reckon I can tell you why you're still looking."
The boy's smile was rueful and charming and might have been dangerous if she'd been eighty years younger; now the only pull it held for her was a wistful memory of what it had once been like to need to resist the lure in a pretty lad's shining eyes. "Your pardon, Mistress," he said, bright with barely-restrained laughter. "It's been some time since I've needed to speak plainly."
"Get on with it, then," Esme told him. "I don't have all day."
"You're always so carefully guarded," he said. "But then, if you weren't, you wouldn't be suitable."
She didn't bother to ask how he knew anything at all about her, because when a stranger who looked like this one appeared to you on your deathbed and started making comments, then you'd gone and let a story get hold of you.
"All right, all right," he said, and this time he did let himself laugh. "In comparatively plain words, then -- you have spent your life embraced by power, and never succumbing to its lure. And you walk that balance through deliberate, careful choice, and all the lure the Dark can bring to bear has been unable to shake your determination. I approve, Mistress Weatherwax. I would give you authority over the Dark, and over the power I bear, and over its temptations. You would continue to be yourself; you would simply hold greater authority, because I believe you worthy of it. And because I believe you able to resist it, as well. I would return your life to you, whole and mended."
Esme sighed. "And the catch?"
"That's all there is," the lad said, and there were shadows in his voice that didn't belong on a face that young. "You would live, carrying my power."
"No," she said.
"I assure you I am no demon," the boy said, terribly earnest for all that he looked the picture of a fallen, twisted angel. "No witless tempter, no dark creature with designs on corruption -- I need you uncorrupt, Mistress. I need you as stern and strong and self-controlled as you have always and ever been. I cannot choose one who would fall."
"I understand," Esme told him, quietly. "I do. But this was my life. I held on knowing that there would be an end to it. Knowing I wouldn't have to struggle forever. That once it was time, I'd never again need to worry whether I might be losing my grip. This is my reward, lad, not my punishment."
"I know," the boy said, and bent his bright head. "And I should have realized that you would know it as well. Still, I couldn't keep from asking. If you'd wanted more..."
"If I'd wanted more," Esme said with a certain rough sympathy, "you wouldn't have been here either, because I'd have been cackling a long time ago."
The boy's laughter held nothing of mirth, just weary knowledge. "As you say, Mistress."
He knelt in the white sand that spilled around their ankles, and carefully tucked the back of his clawed hand beneath hers, lifting her withered, gnarled hand close enough to kiss. "Godspeed, Mistress Weatherwax."
It had been years -- decades -- since anyone had bothered; since anyone had dared. Still, she couldn't summon up the affront she needed if she was going to cuff him for his impudence.
"What's your name, lad?"
"Sydney," he replied, head still bent.
"Thank you, Sydney," Esme told him, and patted his hair because she still could; and then she turned to face the door.