Title: Figure of Eight – Chapter 7 – The Waitress (DRAFT!)
Word Count: 4,904
Summary: Expelled from Unseen University days earlier, a young Rincewind the Wizard – burdened by the Spell and fed up with magic – seeks shelter from the cold and finds comfort in an enthusiastic fan.
Disclaimer: I do not own the Discworld series, nor the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.
Author’s Notes: Would normally go right here, but mine were a bit lengthy. All you need to know is that earlier, flagrantly distorting Discworld‘s canon, we see that Rincewind got laid before his time at Unseen University and knows his way around a woman. Spoiler: the “Seamstress” that gets mentioned was a prostitute he used to know.
Figure of Eight – Chapter 7 – The Waitress
“You’re a wizard.”
Rincewind looked up. A slightly chubby young woman with a dirty blonde ponytail had stopped to address him. She was holding a wooden drink tray covered in empty mugs.
He had just dove inside from the ruthless cold of another Ankh-Morpork winter. Hands tucked up under his wide, red sleeves and hat brim pulled low, Rincewind huddled by the inn’s pathetic fireplace looking like a drenched cat someone had tried to drown.
It took a few seconds for him register her question.
“Beggin’ your pardon, sir, but you are a wizard, aren’t you?”
She smiled. Rincewind looked around. Ah, yes, he was still on the Ankh side of the river. No sign of shady criminals or a brawl (yet). That explained the girl in the green dress humming to herself as she served bedraggled customers.
Those two syllables managed to widen her eyes.
“Wow! I never met a wizard before! Welcome to Sweet Fanny’s Pub.”
Before he could stop himself, he said, “Surely you’re not…?”
She laughed. “Oh, no. That’s my Mum.”
Rincewind kept his face neutral and said, “I’d like a pint of your best, please.”
“Sure thing. Anything else, mister…What should I call you?”
“Rincewind. And yes, I was wondering if you have any rooms available.”
“Yeah, I think we do. I’ll ask Daddy. Are you visiting the city, Mr. Rincewind?”
“Erm, no. I’m looking for a new place to live, actually.”
“Oh! Well, most of the wizards here hole up in Unseen University. Are you here on business with them? It’s a great school, so I hear. I only ever saw the top of it over the wall. You can see its old tower from this side of the river, too. It’s grand!
Rincewind tried, really tried, not to look as depressed as he felt – nor as insulted, abandoned, dejected or angry – when she brought up the university. She clearly had assumed he was from out of town – Quirm, maybe, or Pseudopolis. (Were they at war this week?) He could pose as one, surely, just for a night, to try and assuage the nagging voices in his head saying, “Pathetic loser,” over and over. Sometimes, this dreadful week, he had felt another voice trying to use his lips. He knew it was that horrible Spell.
Rincewind pulled his hat down and shot for enigmatic instead.
The girl lingered, as though waiting for something more, then some other customers beckoned her. A voice from the bar snapped a name and she trudged over grumbling.
A few minutes later she was back with an overflowing mug carefully balanced on her grubby tray. She handed it to him and he took it gratefully.
“It really is our best,” she said. “I nicked it from Daddy’s stash. He doesn’t serve any old customer the good stuff. I figured a wizard isn’t any old customer.”
Doubtful, but not wanting to disappoint her, Rincewind took a sip.
Mmm. It really was quite good. He took a longer pull.
“This is excellent. Thank you…uh…?”
“Thank you, Emma.”
She departed, humming happily to herself.
Rincewind downed the mug and immediately wished for another one. He wanted to forget everything. Wanted to lie in a proper, downy bed again. Not that his bed in dorm room 7a had been remotely comfortable, but it was a bed nonetheless and better than a livery stable.
He wanted to go home.
You are home, a voice told him.
It wasn’t the Spell, just the part of his psyche reminding him that Ankh-Morpork, no matter what grimy part of it, would always be his true home, other wizards be damned. From temples, to stables, from boarding houses to inns, he could find somewhere to crash and it wouldn’t make a lick of difference; it was still on one of the streets he’d grown up on.
It wasn’t like he had an ex-girlfriend living next door he had to pass by everyday. It was a big city.
Then again, this particular ex was visible from nearly any street in it.
Looking up at the tilted Tower of Art filled him with such loathing he considered leaving Ankh-Morpork and never coming back. But that wouldn’t work, would it? That would be giving up everything that made him Rincewind.
But you don’t want to be Rincewind tonight, do you?
The girl turned, another frothy mug in her hand.
“Would you like to learn about magic?”