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Title: That I Do Not Lose You
Fandom: Discworld
Characters: Jonathan Teatime
Pairing: pre-Susan/Teatime
Summary: When Jonathan Teatime came to the Assassin's School at the age of 8, he came with nothing but the clothes on his back and a battered copy of Twurp's Peerage.

When Jonathan Teatime came to the Assassin's School at the age of 8, he came with nothing but the clothes on his back and a battered copy of Twurp's Peerage. There was nothing else, not even a trunk. All of the family's other possessions had been sold to pay off his parents' rather substantial debts, except for a few special pieces that were taken away by wizards from the Unseen University, who had loaded them onto a cart in grim, nervous silence.

There had been some debate about where to place a boy so much younger than their usual students, a full four years younger than the first years. In the end, they decided that the young Mr. Teatime ought to be treated just like any other first year, sink or swim, and assigned him to a dormitory with his classmates. He was already small for his age, but next to them he looked particularly frail and weedy.

Jonathan did not get off to a good start with his new roommates, whose names he never bothered to learn. No one likes to be talked down to by someone several years their junior, and a lecture accompanied by a supercilious stare from an eight year old with a creepy glass eye was doubly infuriating when that boy was a scholarship boy. They never called him by his name, just 'scholarship boy', and they made the phrase sound like 'dog shit'. Jonathan just smiled his polite, bored smile at them and went on studying.

It might not have gone beyond that if it hadn't been for the Twurp's. Jonathan had refused to part with it upon his arrival at the school, despite requests and threats disguised as requests, and eventually threats not disguised by anything at all. Any attempt at parting him from the Twurp's met with the same bright, polite smile, and eventually the person trying to get him to surrender the book would find themselves trailing off before suddenly remembering something urgent they had to do in another building. It was that kind of smile. And so little Jonathan Teatime carried the book to meals and classes and exams. He slept with it under his pillow. Every night before he went to bed, he opened the book to the same page, read the same entry, closed it carefully, and slid it under the thin, flat little thing that passed for a pillow in the first year dormitories. Then he would lay down and fall asleep. Often he would work the book out from under the pillow in his sleep and wake up with his arms wrapped around it, the way other children might clutch a favored blanket or stuffed toy.

It was just too good for the other boys to pass up. They had been longing for weeks to take snotty little Teatime (who had the impertinence to have a natural talent for Assassination, even one-handed) down a few pegs. He might as well have handed their target to them on a silver platter.

There were seventeen of them, and only one of him. He shouldn't have stood a chance when they wrenched the Twurp's out of his hands and dragged him out of bed. There were more boys than there were bits of Jonathan to hold back, but when the first boy tore out a handful of pages and held them over the candle flame, weedy little Jonathan Teatime went mad. A few boys found themselves wishing they'd considered the fact that Teatime had passed all of his exams so far with perfect marks a little more carefully, but they didn't get the chance to wish for long. Jonathan had turned into a biting, kicking, punching, screaming whirlwind, and none of the other boys escaped unmarked before the head of house came to see what all the fuss was about. He took the tableau in quite calmly. Teatime stood in a circle of other boys, all of whom were clearly reluctant to approach him. Next to him lay the tattered remains of Twurp's Peerage, and the figure of another boy, groaning faintly.

It looked like Mr. Teatime was going to swim.

After the other boys had been sent off to infirmary (where the nurse found that all of the bones in one boy's hands had been carefully and thoroughly broken, and would probably never heal well enough to grasp anything properly again), Jonathan was left alone in the empty dormitory with instructions to turn in a paper analyzing his technique and how he might have more efficiently attempted to inhume his classmates to his head of house by the end of the week.

He stood amidst the scattered and scorched pages for a long time. Then he knelt on the floor and slowly, patiently began to search. He found the page he was looking for at last, under a bed. It had landed next to an unauthorized cache of highly restricted poisons. He ignored those for the moment, and gently extracted the scorched, soot-smudged page. Many of the words were obscured, but that didn't really matter. He knew the entry by heart. A little of the coat of arms was visible, though, and the motto: Non timetis messor. And a little further down: STO HELIT, Susan. There was a little pencil sketch in the margin next to each name (an ambitious innovation that had lasted only a single edition before being discarded as too expensive and labor-intensive. The editor who had suggested it was similarly discarded, sans head). A little girl stared solemnly out of the page, daring the reader to doubt the short, strange genealogy that led up to her name.

Jonathan Teatime didn't doubt it. Too many strange things had happened in his own home before his parents died for him to doubt something as straightforward as the idea of Death having an (adoptive) granddaughter. His mother had laughed when he showed her the entry, and said that some people would do anything to seem mysterious; his father had glared at the entry and muttered angrily about upstarts who didn't know their place. Teatime didn't care. Susan Sto Helit was only a year younger than he was, and someday he was going to meet her, and they would be friends.

He folded the page carefully, making sure not to crease the picture. After some thought, he tucked the folded page into the sheath of his favorite knife. It was snug with the knife and the paper both in there, but they fit.

Then he gathered up the remains of the Twurp's and threw them away.

I am not to speak to you—I am to think of you when I sit alone, or wake at night alone,

I am to wait—I do not doubt I am to meet you again,
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.

"To a Stranger", Walt Whitman

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