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Title: Assumptions Burst
Genre: MAAN
Rating: T
Author: tkel_paris
Summary: The lives of Beatrice and Benedick are made more complicated by the presence of her father, who has plans for his only child. Plans she does not agree with.
Disclaimer: Don't own anything Shakespearean. Also don't have anything to do with the Josie Roarke production that I adore so much. If I could make money off these...
Dedication: sykira, whose praise has inspired me to try writing even more MAAN fanfics. This is your fault, lovely. ;) Also dedicated to inward_audacity, whose comments were the basis for this idea. And thanks to tardis_mole for betaing.
Author's Note: Posted in sykira's honor. You know why. Sorry this is so late. But I think you'll like this one. I've created an OC, and I think I'm almost as in love with this one as I am with Benedick. You'll see why. :D

This was supposed to be a “just because” present, but given how long it's taken me it's turn also into a Christmas present. Enjoy and have a Happy Holiday season!



Assumptions Burst

Started September 2, 2015
Finished December 23-25, 2015


Chapter One: Once More Onto the Breach

“As satisfying as victory is, Pierto, there is a sweeter delight in surviving to enjoy a respite,” Benedick declared.

Pierto smiled as he followed his commander into the room designated for the celebrations and toward a table to the side. “Aye, my lord, and a greater reward in living in peace for those brave enough to master it.”

Benedick laughed as he took a lager from the person passing them out. “Would any who saw thee grow from boyhood thought it possible that a man bred by the sea could master a sword so well?”

“None not destined to be locked up for madness, for the swords of a soldier is at best a fool's weapon for a sailor.”

Their banter was silenced by drinking for a moment.

“I received word from my father,” Pietro said.

Benedick raised an eyebrow. “Oh? Is it good?”

“Yes, my lord. He sends greetings and Godspeed.”

That could only mean one thing, and required a certain answer. “Ah. Then resend word of my favour for both and my regards to your mother.”

“Yes my lord.”

“It is not far gone from memory when your father wished ill of me for foul play of my father's doing, Fifteen years hence and he regards me in better light.”

“He has peace in it, my lord; come to terms has he with knowing that thy honour hath perserved me.”

“Good, then my father will have to bow to a better man. Though we may wait another fifteen to see it,” Benedick added under his breath.

“Have hope, my lord, that he will also be more disposed towards you in the meantime.”

“I shall pray under static stars and wish under moving ones. But, alas, you still bide with me under false pretences.”

“How do, my lord?”

“That you regard me above yourself in rank and standing, when it should have been I who bowed to you.”

Pietro shook his head firmly. “Nay, indeed, my lord. You are the better man. False, my following is not. I have learned greatly what it is that a man may call himself a man. Before I began in your service I was but a boy. Therefore, with your grace and God's fair favour, I will tarry yet in your service until I am but half the man I serve, even if I am grey with years and bent with toil to do't.”

“I doubt it will be that long, but tarry you shall. For I have not met a man more worthy and steadfast to be my brother, be it arms, blood or service. You are my equal and better, Pietro,” Benedick praised.

“I am as red-cheeked as a maiden at her first kiss, my lord. You speak such words of affection and praise. I aim to be worthy of them.”

“And there, your aim is true.”

Before Pietro could answer, Claudio entered. He was looking for Benedick and his cheerful manners soured instantly upon seeing Pietro. “Ah, there, gutter-snipe's waif. Where have you been? Scrubbing your master's leathers twice for slacking?”

Pietro's eyes hardened before he turned his back on Claudio.

Benedick had to intervene. “Take heed, Count; my lieutenant here would have thee overmastered for he hath many years more in war. Let us not mar the taste of victory.”

Claudio was ready to retort but the Prince entered. All had to turn their attention at once on him, though he looked at Pietro – who also had to turn – with a promise. “This is not over, servant.”

Ignoring Claudio Benedick raised his bottle to their overall commander, the Prince. Pietro, not so willing to push the equals point that Benedick was permitted to get away with, bowed.

Don Pedro motioned for silence, which came quickly. “My men, a campaign well done! We have lost so few that the victory is complete!”

Roaring cries of victory rang through the room until silenced again.

“I declare I hath never seen such excellent conduct in war as I have in this. I shall require great time to bestow all the honours owed for thy noble actions.”

Cheers mixed with nudging fellows known to have done extremely well followed.

“Some distinctions I must acknowledge here,” the Prince continued once he obtained silence again. “To the steadfastness, approv'd valour, and confirmed honesty of Benedick of Padua!”

Benedick accepted the acclaim silently, merely raising his bottle in acknowledgement and smiling modestly. His aid smirked even as he raised his own bottle in approval.

“And to his loyal aid, who has stood by his commander for nearly sixteen years and proved that a man from the sea may yet be a fearsome land warrior: Pietro of Venice!”

This time Benedick smiled broadly and nudged his friend, who awkwardly accepted the accolades. But less so because it soured the Count's mood.

“And the greatest honours I must bestow on the man who so far exceeded my expectations, whose promise shines brighter than the midday sun. Feats beyond his age show that he shall go far. Raise your drinks again for Count Claudio of Florence!”

In the midst of the cheers, accepted gladly and readily by the young Florentine, only Benedick noticed that Pietro was not so keen to raise his lager this time. He did, but without any hint of cheer.

“Now we celebrate our victory, and then gather ourselves for a journey to our place of rest after the war. We are for the fair lands of Messina!”

Benedick stiffened, unnoticed amongst the roars of approval. He turned to his aid.

“My friend, will you go with me?”

“Wither to quiet?”

“More than can be found in this madness.”

Pietro gladly followed Benedick to an outside part where few had noticed existed. Yet they could still see and hear the events inside if they wished.

Benedick leaned against a pillar. “What troubles thee about Claudio? 'Tis not the beast of envy, which poisons the minds of all?”

The avoidance of the unease was evident, but respected for the moment. “Not for his actions, which I confess were valiant and aided in winning this last action. Honour and courage he hath in battle; only a fool would deny such. Nay, it is a more personal reason.”

“I did not know there was a dispute between Venice and Florence.”

“More between our fathers, standing from before my brothers were born.”

“Who offended whom?”

“His father angered mine for words spoken against my mother's family.”

“What man would speak ill of thy mother's relations? Is she not a gentlewoman?”

“Yea, though not of the wealthiest sort; not that my father cared once he was certain that she would raise him excellent children. The objection was that the late Count thought there was no need for a family to educate a daughter as much as my grandfather had my mother.”

Benedick scoffed. “Only a weak man seeks a woman of mean understanding. Real men of valour will look far and wide for a woman taught to use her mind.”

Pietro looked his way. “And have you not found such a woman?”

The older man slumped, exhaling sharply. “Yea; the fairness of spring with the splendor of autumn, excellent discourse, and will not let any man overcome her. I would be married except for her father.”

“O! Viscount Olivio's only heir. The Lady Beatrice is a fine woman. I do not fault her for scaring all those young bucks who courted her father's favour and not hers. But is there no way to convince the Viscount to relent and accept thee as a son? As a younger son is it not best to wed a lady with no brother or sister, for your obligations to thy father are not pressing where there are elder brothers and nephews to continue the line? Would a man not wish for his son by marriage to adopt his own traditions?”

“I shall learn that this time, having spent the past ten years accumulating wealth to be able to provide for a family in a style befitting a lady of Beatrice's standing. Yet it is not Olivio's wrath I fear. His edicts forced me to let Beatrice think I played her false, and so where I would woo her for her favour among women and to uphold her house, I must endure her tongue and feign anger at her. Instead her father would rather she be in the shadow that all women must take in obeying a lesser man than even my father.”

Pietro exhaled slowly. “I agree. I too am a lesser son and would rather marry a fair daughter were she an only child, to pedestal her honour and her family name rather than follow mine brothers and live in their shadow.”

“Your father would accept?”

“He wishes for better than my and your fellows; those who wish to be little more than dandies and enjoy all the sport they can fit into their lives. We neither could live such lives; we must be making a name for ourselves, seeking our fortunes in war and peace. All the wealth of Venice be as nothing in the face of the love of a good woman who would be my equal and not servant.”

“I wish that her father would accept that her wisdom is equal to a man's, and as such ought to have her own choice. I shall not relent until I know that she is absolutely decided against me once she knows the truth about why I left ten years ago. It is a dagger to my heart to have her thinking ill of me.”

“May the Prince perhaps become thy advocate?”

“I believe a man who will not make his own case in love is not a man a woman of character should seek as a husband. I must find a chance to speak with her when she is disposed to listen.”

“Then may God shine favour upon thee and support thy wit. I must worry about what I shall see when we arrive.”

“What worry doth thou have about entering Messina? Surely there is not a father who denies thy beloved her choice?”

“Nay, I have not spoken; my love is unacknowledged. Yet I fear I shall find myself on the outside, for my beloved was looking favourably upon the Prince's newly proclaimed right hand.”

Benedick's eyebrows raised. “Claudio?” he breathed. “Whose favour do you wish for?”

“The Lady Hero, your beloved's cousin.”

“Surely Leonato would permit you to court her. Thou have a higher rank than Claudio, good fortunes, and can claim kinship that would strength the family's ties; is not your father kin to Olivio's sister?”

Pietro nodded. “And yet I am a Duke without land, who gained my title from less ancient time than Claudio gained his. So in a sense I am inferior to him; worse for Hero plainly admiring him when we were in Messina before this action began. I would much rather earn another scar from sparring with thee.”

Benedick found a tiny smile breaking his soured manner. “To match the other on thy cheek? Did I not stitch it well enough?”

“As well as I stitched the one on thy sword hand. Little scars that give me pride, and I know thou takest pride in the proof of thy training. Both matches were excellent practice for this last action.”

“Well, I am sure the Prince shall ask for us both shortly. Let us contain our griefs for now, and venture onward. My only comfort is that this cannot be more uncomfortable than the row with my father after I broke thee out of confinement.”

Pietro gave a tight smile. “Go I to make my fortune with a legitimate letter of recommendation to Padua, making the most of the brief peace between our lands; and I am arrested as a suspected spy when war broke out again. I must thank thee fifteen years more for quarrelling so much with thy father than thou were willing to risk thy neck for a younger man of his sworn enemy state. What could I do but serve the man I owe my life to?”

“The Prince supported me after I presented my proof that thou could not be the spy believed to exist and that the word was not to be trusted, and my father was forced to relent. Of course I could not bring thee back. Never did I think that a man ranked higher than myself would yield so readily to a lesser.”

“Only in station. In character and valour thou wilt always be superior to myself. Blessed am I to count thee as my dearest friend. No one else could I speak such things to.”

“Nor I. I believe thou art more of a brother than mine own.”

“I thank thee for thy kindness and wisdom.”

They drank a moment in silence. It was the only source of calm for either soldier.


Chapter Two: Fathers' Expectations

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
inward_audacity
Dec. 27th, 2015 06:43 am (UTC)
Aww. This is a little sad. Benedick is in love with Beatrice yet he has to stay away from her because of her father...and she thinks he was just messing with her heart.

I hope this pair of star-crossed lovers will have a happy ending.

I have great expectations for Pietro. He seems like a sensible and loyal friend. Hopefully, he'll be able to help Benedick talk to Beatrice in private and clear their misunderstandings. Beatrice needs to know that Benedick was and is true to her.
tkel_paris
Dec. 27th, 2015 06:46 am (UTC)
This was where the idea led me to. So it will be sad in places.

I love Pietro, and I hope all my readers will love him, too. :)
sykira
Feb. 4th, 2016 02:25 am (UTC)
Eeek! Okayyyy I am officially in AWE. HOW in the WORLD are you able to write like this?!! I thought I was doing well churning out Shakespearen-lite prose when I was freshly immersed in it, but that was YEARS ago and yet here you are, not just with the Thees and Thous, but also the cadence and ways of speaking so metaphorically even just in casual banter--it's sublime. And amazing. TELL ME YOUR SECRETS WOMAN!
tkel_paris
Feb. 4th, 2016 05:00 am (UTC)
*blushing*

Please. Some of this is my beta tweaking my words. Although I have managed to write some things that Moley didn't tweak at all. I believe one of them is two chapters from this one. But I'm honored that you like it that much. Makes all the hard work worth it.

If I figure it out, I'll tell you. But I still feel like I don't have a firm grasp on when to use "thee" vs "thou" and such.

And I'm insanely curious to know what you think so far of my OC, Pietro.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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