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FIC: Be So Converted (2/2)

Title: Be So Converted

Genre: Much Ado About Nothing

Rating: T

Author: tkel_paris

Summary: What would happen between Benedick and Beatrice if Don Pedro hadn't decided to play Cupid for them? Would they still find each other?

Disclaimer: I don't know who owns what where Shakespeare is concerned.

Dedication: sykira. This was supposed to be your Christmas present. So sorry for the delay.
Author's Note: An extra idea that popped up while I was finishing Seals of Love.

Beta read by tardis_mole.


Part One


Be So Converted

Started February 26, 2014
Finished May 7, 2015

With Borachio and Conrade under careful guard, Leonato and Innogen felt at leisure to draw their niece and the Senor who had prevented Leonato from hurting Hero at the church aside for some speech. Although they could not go far, as they expected Margaret to be found quickly.

“Senor, I pray thee enlighten us on why thou defended my daughter in my niece's name,” Leonato demanded.

Beatrice had not let go of Benedick's arm, and spoke first despite not being addressed. “The truth, Uncle, is that I look upon the senor with the highest eye of favour.”

Innogen smiled. “I told thee that our niece would not seek so many skirmishes of wit with Benedick if she did not wish for his company,” she proclaimed to her husband.

Leonato nodded. “And thy wisdom proves superior to mine in this, Wife.”

Benedick spoke when he saw an opening. “And I must confess that I quite requite it.” The words felt strange to say, making him nearly stumble over them. He had never had trouble speaking his mind before, but this time the stakes seemed so much greater than even the life or death situations in the heat of battle.

“Which would explain thy always seeking her out; but what's your will?”

Benedick wondered if Leonato was being deliberately obtuse or genuinely acting the part of a guardian who needed to check on his charge's potential future. “Your will is enigmatical, but we desire thy goodwill as to consent for myself and Beatrice...” he paused long enough to adjust their hands so they were clasping “to be joined in the state of honourable marriage, for which we require thy help.”

Despite everything both Leonato and Innogen found large smiles; her hands clapped together in delight while Leonato shook Benedick's hand heartily. “My wife's heart and mine are with thy liking; and in gratitude for thy actions in my daughter's defence thou may be wedded to my niece on the morrow.”

Were it not for the severity of the situation still hanging over all their heads Beatrice would have squealed for joy and Benedick laughed. But the worries for Hero, no matter how innocent she had been proven, dampened their show of emotion.

The sounds of people approaching alerted them that the interview was over. “Senor, thee may accompany Beatrice a while, for thy honour is shown to be the best of the land. We shall see thee at dinner.”

“We thank you, Uncle,” Benedick said, pausing long enough to adjust to hold Beatrice in a one-armed hug that made her smile and do the same for him. Though she also took his hand hanging over her shoulder.

They walked to the garden room with the lawn chairs and sat across from each other. Silence reigned over them as they had almost never had a peaceful discussion; until he decided to break it.

“I pray thee, for which of my bad parts... did thou first fall in love with me?”

She smiled, grateful for the mood change. “For them altogether, which maintain so politic a state of evil that they would not permit any good parts to intermingle with them. But I pray you, for which of my good parts did you first suffer love for me?”

“Suffer love! A good epithet, I do suffer for I love thee against my will.”

“In spite of your heart, I think. Alas, poor heart! If you spite it for my sake, I will spite it for yours for I could never love that which my friend hates.”

“Thou and I art too wise to woo peacefully,” he mused, drifting a little into reflection.

Beatrice smiled. “It appears not in this confession: there's not one wise man among twenty that will praise himself.”

He laughed quietly. “An old, and old instance, Beatrice, that lived in the lime of good neighbours. If a man do not erect in this are his own tomb ere he dies, he shall live no longer in monument than the bell rings and the widow weeps.”

“And how long is that, think you?”

“Question: why, an hour in clamour and a quarter in rheum: therefore is it most expedient for the wise, if Don Worm, his conscience, find no impediment to the contrary, to be the trumpet of his own virtues, as I am to myself.” And having drawn a bigger smile from his lady he felt it necessary to change the subject. “So much for praising myself, who, I myself bear witness, is praiseworthy; and now tell me, for thou did part a little whilst I wrote the Prince, how doth your cousin?”

Beatrice's expression soured. “Very ill, as she did not even wish for my company.”

“And you?”

“I would be very ill, too, if not for thy efforts on mine behalf.”

“Serve God, love me, and mend,” he gently urged her.

She smiled again. “My uncle will expect us at dinner. Will you come, Senor?”

He sat up and leaned forward to take her hands. His words were gentle and captivating. “I will live in thy heart... die in thy lap... and be buried in thine eyes.”

Beatrice could not look away. He had never spoken in such a tone to her, and she felt like a spell had been cast over her. Here was the charm and care that he hardly ever showed, and never to this extent. It was the greatest proof of how deep his love went, if he would let her see him acting so unlike his typical manner before the other soldiers.

“And thereupon I will kiss thee,” he added, unable to resist the compulsion any longer.

Instead of arguing his words, she leaned in and met his lips. They let out sighs as they finally met as they had never before. Their arms drew tightly around each other as he lifted to join her on her seat, needing more contact with each other.

Until their movements felt constricted. His uniform and her dress were making what they could do limited. It both dampened the mood and reminded them that they needed to be careful as they were not yet married. Especially given what had happened to Hero.

Benedick blushed as much as Beatrice was, and helped her stand. “We ought to each retire for the moment, and meet again once we are each more comfortable.”

“I agree. Until later, Senor.”

They parted ways, only after they walked the path to Leonato's.

/=/=/=/=/

The next morning Benedick walked in with Leonato. Only the former stopped to stand with the Friar while Leonato went to sit next to his wife. They were now waiting for Don Pedro and Claudio.

At last, the two appeared. Don Pedro walked sternly and properly. Claudio followed, but stumbling and pressing a hand against the walls and pillars. Benedick scowled at the sight of the latter. He had overheard rumors that Claudio had been seen grabbing a bottle of tequila after the memorial for Hero. No question he had decided to drink more of it than was wise, and more than the one bottle rumor spoke of.

And given how much attention it seemed Don Pedro was clearly aiming to draw to himself, it was obvious to Benedick that Claudio had nearly done yet another stupid thing. What said thing was, he did not want to know.

“Good morrow to this fair assembly,” proclaimed Don Pedro.

Leonato stood. “Good morrow, Prince; good morrow, Claudio. We hereby attend you. Are you yet determined today to marry with Innogen's niece?”

“I am,” Claudio managed to say, clearly and firmly.

“Innogen, go you and fetch her.”

And she did, walking primly and calmly.

Don Pedro turned to check on Claudio's appearance, making sure that the man's tie was straightened. Benedick turned to the Friar with a look of exasperation.

The holy man's silent sigh showed the helplessness he felt on the matter. “I have observed that when I had attempted to speak to soldiers about excessive drinking it rarely found a willing ear,” he noted on a whisper. “If the Prince can not reach Claudio on the matter then the odds are against anyone else doing so. Except perhaps a wife. The Lady Hero may yet be the making of him.”

Benedick grimaced and answered in the same tone. “I wish that the restoration of Hero's honor had not required her to still be married. It would have served Claudio right for her to be able to choose another.”

Friar Francis grew thoughtful. “It doth occur to me that had there been other male relatives around, perhaps Beatrice's father were he still alive given his rank, then the weight could have been pulled to permit such an action. And were a member of the Duke of Venice's family present, the family where Leonato's mother had come from, the Prince would have needed to handle the accusation with better care. So would have Claudio.”

An understatement at best, and both men knew it. The Venetian navy was second to none, and such an accusation made in the presence of even distant family might have triggered all-out war.

“Alas that family disputes made the Bastard's actions all the more damaging,” Benedick said, nodding as he acknowledged the point.

It was then that Don Pedro and Claudio moved toward the others, and noticed who stood beside the Friar. “Good morrow, Benedick,” greeted the Prince, voice quiet and respectful. He owed him such for showing a wisdom that exceeded his own. “What stand you here for?”

“To be bound in the state of honourable marriage.”

Claudio's eyes widened, as if being sobered by the revelation. “Thine actions were for the love of Beatrice; I did see true.”

“Alas that it was the wrong moment for your eyes to work properly. I did caution thee more than once that too much drinking can harm thy honour worse than the battlefield ever could.”

“Benedick, I pray thee say no more,” pleaded the Prince. “I must answer to my father the King for my failure to discharge my duties to him where my brother was concerned. For thy part I would beg thee to reconsider thy future and continue at my side.”

He shook his head, gaze firm with only a hint of regret. “Troth, Prince, I have given my word that I shall be at Beatrice's side whilst we restore proper rule over her father's lands. I have vowed to her that I shall not leave her side save for if Messina is threatened; and so I must beg thee to accept that I meant what I wrote.” He held his hand out in a handshake offer of friendship.

Any further attempts by Don Pedro to persuade him had to stop, for the wedding march began as Innogen hurried back into place. The Prince accepted the shake and then all three men turned to face the incoming procession.

Four women all clad in black and wearing veils walked in step, each lady's hands clasped loosely in front of her as none seemed to be looking much above a few steps before them. They stopped only a little in front of the men.

“Which is the lady I must seize upon?” asked Claudio once the march went silent.

“You shall know once Benedick has seized upon his own bride,” Leonato retorted.

“I'faith, Uncle, thou must knowst as well as any that none may seize upon Beatrice. She gives herself, and permits none to give her without her consent.”

Leonato's grimace showed he knew the truth. And so he backed off to make way for Beatrice to step forward from the others, who all stepped slightly back.

Once she did Benedick knew it was she; none of the others had the figure he had long admired. He offered his hands silently, and was pleased that she took them after raising her veil over her face to rest behind her head.

Their vows were said, kept to the short and brief form of ceremony; mostly in acknowledgement of Hero's situation. Their smiles grew as Beatrice let Benedick place the wedding ring on her finger, and even more so when the assembly reacted in shock when Beatrice placed a ring on Benedick's finger. Equals in every respect.

At length, they were married. And Benedick smiled. “Never let it be said that I took thee for pity.”

She smirked at him. “I would not have denied you; but by this good day I might have declared that I yield under great persuasion and partly to save your life, for I suspect I would have heard you were in a consumption.”

He rolled his eyes. “Peace! I will stop your mouth.” And this time there was nothing to constrict them or their motions as their arms wrapped around each other, once his hand lowered from cupping her face.

Their lips remained locked together far longer than anyone thought possible, but not even the Prince dared interrupt with a joke about the moment – no matter how much Benedick's earlier protests seemed to scream for it. Although he was compelled to do it when they did at last part in a breathless daze: “How dost thou, Benedick, 'the married man'?”

Once he wrapped an arm around Beatrice, Benedick found enough breath to be able to respond. “I'll tell thee what, Prince; a college of witcrackers could not flout me out of my humour. Dost thou think I care for a satire or an epigram? No: if a man will be beaten with brains, a' shall wear nothing handsome about him. In brief, since I do purpose to marry, and have indeed, I will think nothing to any purpose that the world could say against it; and therefore never flout at me for what I have said against it; for man is a giddy thing...”

He trailed off, looking a moment into the eyes of his wife. “...and this is my conclusion,” he finished, proudly. And took great pride and joy in the look of love and respect that his wife bestowed on him with his words. O if only he had not been such a man as he had been! They could have been long married by now and been blessed with descendants to dote on. Well, they could only go from where they stood, and hope that they would yet see those children that he now longed for.

After a long moment, they noticed Leonato stand. It was their cue to step aside and let Claudio prove whether he would be worthy at all of Hero. They moved to sit beside Innogen.

Once they were there, Leonato spoke. “Now this same is she; and I do give you her.” One stepped forward as he began to speak, and put her hand in his.

“Why, then she's mine,” declared Claudio. “Sweet, let me see your face,” he begged as he moved toward her.

But she held up her hand, just as Leonato said, “No, that you shall not, till you take her hand before this friar and swear to marry her.”

Claudio tried to recover himself, and it took a few seconds more than it should have. “Give me your hand; before this holy friar...” He took it and turned them both to face Friar Francis. “...I am your husband, if you like of me.”

She took her hand out of his to slowly raise the veil over her head, taking much more time to do so and then met her soon to be husband's gaze. When she did he nearly collapsed backward, needing the Friar to hold him upright.

“And when I lived I was your other wife, and when you loved you were my other husband,” declared Hero, in a way announcing the truth without saying it.

“Another Hero?!” cried Claudio.

“Nothing certainer. One Hero died defiled, but I do live; and surely as I live I am a maiden.”

“The former Hero! Hero that is dead?” demanded Don Pedro, not quite believing his eyes and letting it show in his tone.

“She died, my lord, but whiles her slander lived,” Leonato calmly rejoined, the words pointed to what they were driven to as to protect his child. Actions that would never have been needed had the Prince carried out his duties as he ought to have done. And fortunately Don Pedro was wise enough to spot the reminder a league away.

“All this amazement can I qualify; when after that the holy rites are ended, I'll tell you largely of fair Hero's death: meantime let wonder seem familiar.” With that Friar Francis stepped aside to let the two become reacquainted for a moment, aware as anyone that this would be awkward for at least one of them.

Hero took the first step, drawing Claudio toward her by the motion of her feet. His face pleaded with her to forgive him, that he felt unworthy of her. But she merely clutched him to her, having missed him too much, and then kissed him. An act that seemed to restore his mood with every passing second. Yet even when they broke apart to have the vows spoken did Claudio look like he knew full well he had escaped lightly, and that his guilt would be long-standing.

Benedick and Beatrice looked at each other with heavy expressions, tinged with a hint of relief. She leaned in to whisper, “Shall you truly feel fully comfortable about this? Can we trust him to keep his word?”

He took a deep breath before turning to whisper back. “Not fully, but my knowledge of Claudio's honor gives me great hope for the future. Never again will Claudio trust another over his Hero.”

“What if you are wrong?”

“Well, if he dare hint at such he would have two cousins to contend with who would join to hurt him.”

She found a smile. Even when he motioned with his eyes that he had to handle the next part alone before he stood. The very action caught the attention of the room as he strolled over to face the Count who knew that the previous challenge had to be addressed.

The two men faced off, one nervous and the other determined. Benedick, the latter, spoke first as was expected. “For thy part, Claudio, I did think to have beaten thee, but in that thou art like to be my kinsman, live unbruised...” He slapped Claudio, only giving a tiny lie to his own words after carrying out one act on Hero's – and Beatrice's – behalf. “...and love my cousin!”

Claudio looked like he wanted very much to challenge Benedick, especially over how his actions were for Beatrice's sake, but he could not find a way to manage it. Although his thoughts were plainly racing across his face. Although not as quickly as the color from the handprint.

Benedick held up a finger in warning. “Come, come, we are friends.” The words were enough to convince Claudio to pat him on the back just as he did the same. And now freed to be his normally cheerful self, and even more cheerful now that he had his secret dream become a reality, Benedick made an announcement as he went to collect Beatrice to her feet. “We'll have a dance ere we leave to the wedding breakfast, that we may lighten out own hearts and our wives' heels.”

Not that Beatrice needed any coaxing. She was squealing instantly and elated as he twirled her around.

It was not long after that the Messenger came to inform them about Don John's capture, and Benedick declared that he would handle the matter. And although the Prince kept to the sidelines, feeling as much the weight of his own actions as the pain of seeing Beatrice with her husband, there was much joy to be shared.

But none was greater than that of the couple no one saw coming. For the formerly dueling pair was plainly deeply in love, and almost completely ignoring everyone else.

It was just as well that none were paying careful attention to them, for if they did it would be noticed that they were each thinking of a different type of dancing. Not that any married pair who enjoyed such faulted them.

THE END

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
inward_audacity
May. 18th, 2015 01:47 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry for the super delayed comment. I was in Taiwan for seven days and I only got home yesterday.

This is such a beautiful story.

“I will live in thy heart... die in thy lap... and be buried in thine eyes.”

I always loved this line and I will never forget the way Beatrice looked when he whispered those words to her. It's so captivating.

Their marriage will be such an interesting and fun one.

Thank you for sharing! I loved every bit of it.
tkel_paris
May. 18th, 2015 08:27 pm (UTC)
Taiwan?! How was it?! Am so envious.

That line and how it was delivered... Makes a girl melt every time. And made the next line all the funnier.

Amen, fun and interesting. :DDDDDD

Another story or two should come later this year. :D
inward_audacity
May. 19th, 2015 01:07 am (UTC)
Taiwan is beautiful. I spent 5 days in the little towns on the outskirt of Taipei city and it's so peaceful there. I was up in the mountains and when you're up there, you can't hear any of the city noises. There were no sound of cars or buses or anything. It's just you and nature. And you can see stars! I saw the big dipper one night and in the morning, you can watch the sun rise.

The way David delivered that line makes me swoon. I can't believe Catherine can remember her lines after that. I'd be a mess if anyone said that to me.

Yay! More stories. I can't wait.
sykira
Jun. 3rd, 2015 12:56 am (UTC)
Sorry again for the delay, I want to give this the attention it deserves.

I love how you've re-crafted these scenes so they lose none of the rhythm and flow. Little things like Benedick rearranging their hands before he announces their desire to marry to Leonato and Innogen are so perfect because they pace the dialogue so perfectly for a reader who doesn't have the benefit of seeing it performed. (Now if only playwrights had half that skill!)

Then they flow so naturally into the deck chair banter, showing us that their previous barbed wit can evolve from being directed at each other to being used lovingly in gentle jest and it's just…*swoons*

Two things I like better about yours than the staging include you keeping in the longer speech about Don Worm (although it's beyond me how that speech follows on from suffering love, LOL *googles cliffnotes*) and how you make it explicit that Benedick's "die in thy lap" speech and tone really is a seachange for them in that it's the first time he is brave enough to be so tender with her, and the first time I imagine any man has treated her that way. I think DT and CT played this *perfectly* but just as with "Kill Claudio" the overall hyped up farce-humor-uproarious-laughter-audience just didn't quite know how to process it, with it being so sudden a mood change, and so it dissolves quickly into more laughter rather than being allowed to breathe as it does here in your story.


He sat up and leaned forward to take her hands. His words were gentle and captivating. “I will live in thy heart... die in thy lap... and be buried in thine eyes.”



Beatrice could not look away. He had never spoken in such a tone to her, and she felt like a spell had been cast over her. Here was the charm and care that he hardly ever showed, and never to this extent. It was the greatest proof of how deep his love went, if he would let her see him acting so unlike his typical manner before the other soldiers.



“And thereupon I will kiss thee,” he added, unable to resist the compulsion any longer.



Instead of arguing his words, she leaned in and met his lips. They let out sighs as they finally met as they had never before. Their arms drew tightly around each other as he lifted to join her on her seat, needing more contact with each other.



There are so many things to love about this rewrite. Situating the kiss here makes it SOOOO much better on so many levels, for one thing it makes sense to have it be an actual kiss rather than a failed attempt following as it does now from his tenderness ♥







“I'faith, Uncle, thou must knowst as well as any that none may seize upon Beatrice. She gives herself, and permits none to give her without her consent.”



♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ LOVE!

tkel_paris
Jun. 11th, 2015 08:02 pm (UTC)
Okay, I feel bad about not replying no matter how crazy life has been. But where do I begin? Your reviews definitely make my day. *hugs*
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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