bethbethbeth: (Discworld Lilacs (ankh_khpt))
[personal profile] bethbethbeth posting in [community profile] disc_fest
Author: ms skylark
Title: Speed Dating Ankh-Morpork Style
Rating: T
Character(s)/Pairing(s): Sybil Ramkin/Sam Vimes
Word Count: 1,693
Summary: Sybil decides to do something different in the wake of Vimes' departure. Speed dating? What could possibly go wrong?
Possible warnings and/or enticements - highlight to view (may contain spoilers): *Potential - but unsuccessful - sexual assault.
Author's Note: *Sybil may be OOC, but then I toyed with the idea of her sometimes getting, well, bored, with doing what society expected. And sometimes people do decide to let go a little when they've just been snubbed by a prospective lover :) * Set inbetween Guards! Guards! And Men at Arms.

***


Lady Ramkin surveyed herself in the full-length antique mirror in the corner of her bedroom with a certain depression. There was no denying it. She was, officially, a 'lady of a certain age.' And it showed. Always the big girl in the group, the girl who was 'nice', and ever the spinster. She scowled at her reflection in a very un-Sybil-like way. Since that 'misunderstanding' with Captain Vimes, who she most definitely would not think of, her thoughts had been returning again and again to sharing the Ramkin Mansion with someone. She wasn't entirely off the mark when she said that the responsibility of maintaining the ancestral Ramkin estates was a burden for one person. Clueless Sam did not bite when she said that. Shaking her head, she mentally scolded herself for allowing her thoughts to return to him. So, if Sam was struck off the list, what was a girl to do? She slumped onto her, very proper, bed realising that she had absolutely no idea how to dip her toe into the dating scene, even if she wanted to. All of her contemporaries were married (or in a ménage a trois or possibly quatre) with families and, in some cases, grandchildren. A deep knowledge of the social scene as it applied to aristocracy instilled in her a grave distrust and an inclination to look elsewhere, for people who didn't know her. Sybil had a strong urge for anonymity and a sudden deep loathing for the shackles of propriety that seemed to be binding her to a lifetime of spinsterhood and acute loneliness. Running her finger down the spines of her beloved dragon books, her finger caught on a leaflet that had been pushed absently into the pile with a load of other mail. She pulled it out idly and her eyes widened as she read the headline.

*A Newe Waye to Meet Youre Perfect Partner!*
Why Settle For Just One Date?
Speed Date!
The Mended Drum, every Tuesday 7.30


Her forehead wrinkled as she reread the leaflet. Sybil would be the first to admit she was out of touch, but even she knew that The Mended Drum Was Not Where A Nice Girl Went. She tossed her head rebelliously. When did 'nice' ever do it? Perhaps it was time to try a different tack.




Once more Lady Ramkin found herself in front of her mirror. Her former outfit of a calf length navy blue dress with sensible lace collar and a modest amount of cleavage, had found itself on the bedroom floor, kicked off by her bed. After some time rummaging in her wardrobe, she had eventually found an outfit that was slightly more alluring. A lifetime spent disregarding the more feminine aspects of her gender had clearly put her at a disadvantage (dragons didn't care what you looked like), nonetheless Sybil looked at her reflection approvingly. What she DID have going for her was a truly magnificent bosom. It was a bosom a man could lose himself in for many a happy hour. Sybil's physique was a physique that would make Hubland warriors cry with joy and the longing of Opera houses Discwide. Now, after a lifetime of fading into the background and trying to make herself small, she was fully prepared to embrace her figure and the outfit she had selected reflected that, she felt. It was a black dress, but a dress that fitted her like a second skin, and the neckline, to put it mildly, plunged. And a plunging neckline on Lady Ramkin would make the blood pressure of any red blooded male skyrocket. It was a dress she had brought for a date many years ago, on the advice of a well meaning friend - she had spent the whole time with her date talking to her breasts. In the end she hadn't even bothered with any conversation. Squaring her shoulders, Lady Ramkin sallied forth, prepared to take what Ankh-Morpork had to offer.




Climbing out of her carriage, Lady Ramkin hugged her shawl closer to her body and bade Willikins goodnight. It had taken some arguing to convince him she hadn't gone raving mad and that she knew exactly what she was doing by coming to The Mended Drum - culminating in a direct order.

Only generations of good breeding stopped her reflexive expression upon opening the door of the tavern. The straw covered floor felt sticky underfoot, and she desperately tried not to imagine what with. The candles guttered in their brackets on the wall throwing mysterious shapes into the air around her. For the first time, Sybil wondered at the wisdom of what she had done. The figures at the bar turned around and surveyed her as she stepped inside, from the swords crossing their backs and scar ridden bodies she guessed they were Hubland warriors washed up in the city. Smiling nervously, she looked around and saw a small group standing by one wall, underneath a peeling 'Speed Dating' poster. Striding confidently forward she nodded at the poster.

"Hello chaps, speed dating?"

A nervous chorus of 'hello's' greeted her, most of the men in the group stared at her with their eyes bulging slightly. A thick set man with a grubby apron stepped forward.

"Take a seat over there with the others," he said in a bored voice. "Miss...?"

"Just Sybil, please."

"Well, 'just Sybil', take a seat and we can get going, ok?"

"Oh, before I sit down, I'll just get a drink..." she turned quickly, rummaging in her delicate shoulder bag for change. Approaching the bar, she didn't notice the greasy grins of the other patrons watching the unfolding scene with interest.

"A sherry, my good man," Sybil placed some change on the counter, wreathed in total aristocratic self confidence. The trouble with complete self confidence is that it doesn't register the likelihood of trouble occurring.

"And what is a nice lady like you, doing here?" The voice sounded far too close to her ear for comfort. Turning around slowly, Sybil stared into a pair of blue eyes so cold she could almost feel the chill. The man's blonde hair hung in greasy straggles to his broad shoulders, shirt of indeterminate colour bound by a leather belt upon which hung at least two daggers that she could identify.

Swallowing hard, she nodded behind her.

"Looks like I can save you the bother don't it," the leer was positively animalistic, yellowing teeth glinting in the candlelight, and his hand shot out gripping her wrist with an almost supernatural strength. Sybil felt an emotion she hadn't ever felt before - at least, not for a long time. She felt sickening fear coiling in the pit of her stomach and a universal truth was beginning to become apparent. She was who she was, and she had just made a monumental mistake. One thing the Ramkins bred for was healthy big bones, and she thanked her ancestors as she mustered all of her strength and pulled backwards vigorously, unseating her companion.

"You crazy bitch," he snarled, reaching for a dagger. As he did so he accidentally bumped a neighbouring drinker, who turned around punching behind him.

In the ensuing melee, Lady Ramkin ducked and ran for the door, a flying dagger whizzed past her shoulder with a noise like ripping silk and tearing her dress. Yelping, she all but flew out of the door and cannoned into three watchmen who had heard the commotion start and stopped to investigate. A pair of strong, calloused hands steadied her and she was mortified to realise tears were streaming down her face. Blinking rapidly, she looked into the shocked face of Captain Vimes.




"What the hell just happened?"

Sergeant Colon whispered in awe as he took in the trembling form of Lady Ramkin swathed in a blanket that did nothing to conceal her figure hugging attire, her hands wrapped around a steaming mug of tea in the office of the Watch house.

Vimes ran a hand through his hair and shrugged, wishing he didn't feel somehow responsible. "We were patrolling past The Mended Drum, something was kicking off and Lady Ramkin came flying out of the door, Fred. I don't know what she was doing there and that's the truth."

Vimes walked carefully over to Lady Ramkin and took a seat next to her. He was relieved to see that the tears had stopped and she seemed more like her old self.

"I'm sorry Sam. I made an error of judgement," she gave him a small smile. He tried not to stare at her dress, but found his eyes kept wandering down to her neckline. He mentally shook himself.

"As long as you're alright," he said with surprising gentleness. Seeing her so upset was stirring up feelings he couldn't identify, and he realised that he didn't ever want her to be upset. A fierce, protective urge swept over him.

Standing, she picked up her shawl, rearranging it so it covered the rip in her dress. "I had better go," she looked at Vimes with an expression he couldn't place.

"I'll accompany you." He smiled at her, and extended his arm for her to take.

Maybe this time things would be different. Squeezing her hand, he knew that they would be.




Note: I wanted a slightly fluffy take of fun and frolics with speed dating. A slightly angsty tale was determined to be written however. So apologies!

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