Vienna, Austria

December 30, 1828

Dear Reader,

It appears there have been several interesting developments as the Austrian nobility prepares for Vienna's ball season to begin on the first day of the New Year. Carriages are being cleaned and horses groomed, Viennese seamstresses are working their poor hands to the bone, and parents across the city are attempting to fit ten years of etiquette lessons into these final days of chaotic preparations. As you well know, dozens of balls take place in our glittering capital city until the first of March, at which desperate mothers fling their young daughters at Austria's most eligible bachelors and bored fathers hedge their bets over cards in the parlour, waiting impatiently for the night to be over.

I do not intend to show all my cards before the game has even begun, but I promise you that this ball season promises to be just as full of delicious gossip as any other and I intend to share it, regardless of the consequences you may face.

The identity of this author may be a secret, but rest assured, dear reader, that no secret can be kept from me. If my name did not immediately alert you, the warning bells should be ringing loudly in your mind by now- that is, if you have something to hide. As the season progresses, I will leave no stone unturned and no scandal unpublished. You do not know me; you cannot stop me.

I am sure you are reading this, laughing nervously at the prospect that I may be telling the truth. Perhaps you will briefly wonder if I could possibly know about the skeletons in your closet. Regardless, you will crumple this paper and throw it away, not giving it a second thought. Soon enough, dear reader, I will be your only thought. You will think of my reaction with every move you make and every word you utter.

I will see you in the New Year, dear reader, even though you will not see me.

Yours Truly,

Dame Hinweisgeber


A/N:

This story was born during a conversation between myself and MsHope about how fun it could be to write a historical AU and how that fun could be extended by making it a Bridgerton-esque story. You don't have to know Bridgerton to understand the story- though I would recommend the show!

Dame Hinweisgeber is our Lady Whistledown. "Hinweisgeber" translates to "whistleblower" in English. How close she really is to Lady Whistledown is something you will have to read to find out!

The title is derived from the song that I listened to through most of my writing: "Schwanengesang, D957, No. 4: Ständchen" by Franz Schubert. "Ständchen" translates to "Serenade". If you care to listen, I would recommend the version by cellist Mischa Maisky and pianist Daria Hovora.

Thank you eternally to MsHope and persaphones for spending the past months lending me their ears, advice, and expertise as I asked them for suggestions and opinions while refusing to give away any details of the story!