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FIC: Thou Wilt Quake For This (5/9)

Title: Thou Wilt Quake For This
Genre: Much Ado About Nothing
Rating: T (except for the DVD extra)
Author: tkel_paris
Summary: Benedick and Beatrice have found themselves forced to marry. While their family and friends are determined to make them fall in love, a chance emerges to expose the villains who trapped them. Can they succeed and protect Hero?
Disclaimer: I don't know who owns what where Shakespeare is concerned. However, Josie O'Rouke owns the version of MAAN I'm basing this on.
Dedication: sykira. You know why. May you have plenty of Benedick-flavored dreams after reading this. ;D
Author's Note: This was the third idea that came rather quickly when my Muse was originally prompted by THE scene in MAAN. And a huge thanks to tardis_mole for beta reading. I needed to figure out how to make this plot bunny work, and that wouldn't have happened in a timely fashion without you.




Thou Wilt Quake For This

Started February 26, 2014
Finished October 9, 2014




Chapter One / Chapter Two / Chapter Three / Chapter Four


CHAPTER FIVE: AN HONEST YOUNG GENTLEMAN

Bruno had struggled and felt heavy. The deception would take place tonight and he was yet to get anyone to listen to him.

He had tried to speak with Leonato and Innogen that morning, but neither was willing to listen; they merely sent him off before he could speak of what he wanted to, and once a servant was dismissed they could not speak without risking a flogging. The same for when he approached his grandmother under the guise of requesting help with his Rubic's cube. Bruno had no wish to be flogged, for a servant sent for flogging would not be listened to.

Senor Benedick had been in a sorry state that morning as well, and only wanted the book. And yet when Bruno brought it to him he had thrown it. Why had he been hiding? And why was he covered in white paint?

The Lady Hero was not an option to speak with, either; for all she respected his mother Maria, she only noted him when she needed something. And now her focus was entirely on the wedding.

Which was very bad, for the deception was to take place tonight. Bruno had almost no time left to convince anyone who could act to listen to him! Worst of all, he was under orders to bring items to one part of the house and return promptly to another.

He was on his way back when he heard a joyful shrieking that made him start. Who was making a racket this time?

Beatrice skipped into the room on her way toward hers. She was beaming with joy and her voice was making sounds that were not understandable.

Here, here was his last, best chance to be heard; for the lady was known to listen to servant concerns and treat them fairly. And the only person he had yet been unable to attempt to speak with. He took a deep breath and put himself directly in her path. “Lady Beatrice!” he saluted.

She drew abruptly to a halt and struggled to compose herself. The alarm on the lad's face sobered her mood instantly. “Yes, Bruno, what is it? What concerns thee?”

“I overheard last night of a plot to disgrace the lady Hero, but no one will listen to me.”

She froze. “Yea, against Hero, you say?”

“Yes, my lady; and the same villains are responsible for your impending marriage.”

Now her attention was entirely captured. Benedick was right; a servant might overhear far more than the villains thought possible, and a child servant was easily underestimated. But here was the information they sought! “And no one will listen?”

“None will grant me a moment to speak of it for I am but a child, and a servant at that. I am merely ordered about and am expected to return to the kitchens soon.”

The news did not surprise her, but she would hardly let that stop either of them. “Come! I shall say that I need thy help; that shall protect thee from flogging. Then we must find Senor Benedick, for he will know what to do and be able to act upon it! Does thou know where he went?”

He decided to not mention the book confusion, or the paint that covered the lord. “I saw him heading for his rooms over an hour ago at least, and I heard a request sent for the barber's man to come to him.”

That made Beatrice pause a moment but she promptly shrugged. “Perhaps he must get himself groomed for the morrow.” She managed to conceal her imagination's rapid pondering of what his face would look like without his beard, a thought that made her heart quicken. “Come, we shall chance the censure of our fellows and attend him; there shall you make us aware of all you know, and then he and I shall determine how to act upon thy knowledge. Come along!” She took his hand and led him off.

He took a huge breath of relief. He was being listened to! The Lady Hero might be saved, and the Lady Beatrice's honor fully restored!

/=/=/=/

“I thank thee for thy pains,” Benedick said, sending the barber's man off with a smile and payment.

The man nodded and bowed before walking off.

Sighing, Benedick looked in the mirror and ran his hands over his newly shaven face. How long had it been since he lacked a beard? He had still been a youth, he was sure of it. Yet here he was, having recalled something Beatrice had once said in one of their verbal duels; if the lady who was to be his – even by lack of choice on either of their parts regardless of their hearts' hidden wishes – seemed to wish a man to willingly go without a beard on his face then he would oblige her. A small price to pay for her sake.

And he was free of the paint now. He had clean clothes on, if not the greatest, and was about to finish preparing for the night's events.

Except for whatever Don Pedro intended for two men ending their bachelor days. He groaned, wondering how he could escape the “entertainment” of the evening. All he wished to see was Beatrice's skin, to let her learn how he could be tempted into “improper” behavior behind closed doors and to introduce her to the activities of the marriage bed. It would be different to bed a beloved wife than a whore, after all. Much more satisfying, especially once he had educated her and taught himself her preferences.

His man suddenly came to his side. “Sir?”

“What is it? Thou lookst positively baffled.”

The shifting of feet confirmed the master's words. But each of Benedick's men knew to not keep him waiting. “Sir, the Lady Beatrice is with a very young gentleman of her uncle's; she says the boy hath urgent knowledge for the both of you and she brought him here as soon as he made her aware of it. She says they shall not depart without speaking with you, but says the three of you must speak without being overheard for the boy seems uncertain who to trust with the knowledge he hath.”

He frowned. Beatrice was a lady of virtue, he knew that in his heart, and she knew how to judge a servant's word; so what could have possibly convinced her to risk coming to him without a proper chaperon – a matter very important given the slander that forced them to wed – when she was so determined to not let him know of her feelings? Could this servant have the knowledge they sought? “I shall go to them directly. Lead me to them and do not speak of their coming.”

His man did, and he found them standing impatiently in the hall leading to the guest quarters.

Benedick sent his man off with a nod, and he steeled himself to face the lady in full knowledge that his feelings were completely engaged. “Lady Beatrice. Forgive me, but I cannot recall this young gentleman's name even though we spoke earlier today.” Any other time he would have called him 'Boy', but if his man had referred to him as a young gentleman then he would do the same. Very likely Beatrice had referred to him as such, and the man had not wished to endure her tongue – even with her unable to hear him.

Beatrice started upon hearing his voice, and more so at the sight of his shaven face. He had chosen to lose his beard! He had heard her that one time! It was almost enough to derail her thoughts.

But she recovered herself by recalling his own uncertainty of her feelings. “This is Bruno, son of Maria and Balthasar, who are both in my uncle's service. He hinted to me of something urgent, but I do not know who can be trusted to overhear whilst he speaks of what he knows.”

Blinking at her agitation and the obvious nervousness of the lad that was attempting to be concealed, he nodded. At last his own words had proved to be prophetic! “There is a garden already attended to, with benches and bowers,” he softly suggested. “I believe we can speak there whilst not being overheard.”

He led them to his favorite spot, where he knew the gardeners had already seen to early this morning and would therefore leave alone the rest of the day. There were two good seats, one which could take two people. Beatrice and Bruno promptly took that one.

Once seated across from them, Benedick looked Bruno in the eye. “Well, Bruno, thou hast risked a great deal to speak with this lady; that I can see in thy eyes. First let me apologise for mine actions this morning. Suffice to say that I had left my body in a poor state after the revels, unable to hear a request; and then thy unwittingly timed thy return with my book poorly, though it was not thy fault. What news hath so alarmed thee to insist on such secrecy?”

The apology was unexpected, but welcome. Bruno felt Beatrice's encouraging hand take his, and he found his courage after looking at her. “Last night was I cleaning after the revels when I overheard Don John complaining that Count Claudio would marry the lady Hero, and one of his men – the one with the beard – said he could cross it.”

Both adults stiffened. “Borachio,” Benedick ground out, his voice dark. “Tell us what he plans.”

“He told Don John to lure the Prince and the Count to a place where he intended to make them see him courting my aunt Margaret privately, where he would call her 'Hero' to make the Count think my lady Hero a... stale.”

Beatrice gasped. “The height of villainy!” she breathed. “Dishonouring my kinswoman by lies! And using her own gentlewoman to do it!”

“But there is more, my lord and my lady!”

Benedick wished to take Beatrice's hand in support, but it was perhaps too soon. “Speak, then. So the Prince's brother approved this?”

“Yes, sir, and this was not the first time they have plotted to disgrace someone. I overheard them say that they had plotted together to create the moment that forced thee to wed.”

Both adults were silent for a long moment.

“Did they speak of how they did it?” demanded Benedick.

“No, sir; their words did tell me that they put into practice the whispers that made my Lady Beatrice seem to have been alone with thee for too long, and that thou had taken liberties not permitted to an unwed couple; from what the bearded one said I fear my aunt was beguiled with drink and made to unknowingly create the illusion.”

Benedick's face turned grim whist Beatrice's paled. She shook her head. “Foolish Margaret!” she snapped, trying to keep her voice quiet. “Thou must know that he cannot afford a wife, nor wish for one! And still thy leaves Titus' suit aside for a man who can only bring thee ruin?! And he is about to do it again!”

Bruno looked pained at the thought. “What can be done? No one else will listen to me, so how canst this plot be prevented?”

Benedick thought a long moment. “The difficulty is that they must be caught in the act of a villainy; I fear that we must let them deceive Claudio, but have witnesses to disprove the claims. Beatrice, this plan of Borachio's rests on the assertion that Hero is left alone to act in an unchaste manner; do not leave her side tonight for even a moment, for if thou can attest to being her bedfellow this night then the world – especially the Prince – would respect that I am honour-bound to defend thy testimony. Troth, even an enraged Claudio would know it was expected of me, and the Prince would believe thy words. I shall collect men of mine whose loyalty I can be assured of to follow Don John and his men from a distance; the Prince hath had me keep watch like a faint shadow on his brother's actions before, and I know mine men despise John the Bastard as much as I doth. Knowing that drink shall be flowing, I know Borachio shall likely brag to Conrade of his exploits, and then can we and the Prince's Watch arrest him. Perhaps Conrade as well if he owns up to any part.”

“What if they doth not brag?” asked Bruno. “I heard the Prince's brother say that his gentleman had a role in the lies against yourselves, but he spoke of no particulars.”

“Then we shall have my men as witnesses to what they did to slander Hero. I shall do everything to escape the festivities to be a witness myself.”

Bruno knew he had to be satisfied, but he was young enough to worry still.

Beatrice took his hand. “Fear not, young Bruno. No man is more honourable than Senor Benedick, and if he gives his word that something shall be done then it shall.”

Benedick felt his spirits lift at her confidence in him.

Bruno nodded. “I must return to my duties before my grandmother decides I have left them too long. I am to help my father this night.” At the nods from both adults he rushed off.

Beatrice sighed and made to get up. Now alone with him, she felt a need to depart. “I thank you for hearing him, Senor: you were right that a servant may hear where villains doth not expect; and now I must bid you farewell until the morrow.”

“Please stay a moment more, Lady Beatrice,” Benedick begged. “You doth have confidence in my ability to protect our cousin, do you not? Is it not my office to defend Hero?”

“Yea, but I am alarmed; how easy it is for a man to ruin a woman, and if she doth not have someone to protect her rights then she is undone.” Her voice caught, realizing how even some protection was worthless if the men in question did not trust the woman's own judgment. Now she understood how easily her uncle had been played for a fool, and how this latest plot could very well succeed even with Benedick knowing of it.

“Thy rights I shall always defend. Did I not promise such when we were forced into this engagement? And that thee should never find thyself imposed upon by anyone, including myself?”

She blushed slightly. “I thank thee, Senor, for a lady's honour be so protected by men such as thee. Perhaps...” She paused, swallowing her nervousness down. The words were dangerous, but she could not rest without voicing them, in the prayer that he would understand. “Perhaps if events had not overtaken us and we had acted freely, maybe then happiness would have been more than a dream. Maybe a merry war would have ended as a skirmish and not a battle. Perhaps even love might have been a welcomed bedfellow with happiness, except for you and I.”

He noticed her unease and hesitation. But her words shocked him. She was willing to risk something rather close to a declaration when she feared he would scorn it? A confession promptly slipped out of his mouth: “I do love nothing in the world so well as you.”

She gasped, stopping in place and turning slowly to look at him in shock.

He squirmed but took nothing back. “Is not that strange?”

“As strange as the thing I know not.” She cleared her throat, wringing her hands as she tried to find an answer. “It were as possible for me to say I love nothing so well as you.”

When she gasped at actually saying that aloud, he stood as his hopes soared.

A lifetime of “But believe me not. And yet I lie not. I confess nothing! Nor I deny nothing-”

He had to speak, to distract her from panicking as she put a bench between them. And his choice slowly brought a grin to his face. “By my sword, Beatrice, thou lovest me.”

Beatrice slapped her hands on the bench and snapped. “Do not swear upon it and eat it.”

He rested his hands on the bench, away from hers as he had to raise his head to the sky to pray silently for the patience he needed to convince her; he knew better than anyone that passion made anyone less than rational and they had so much to lose if either of them mucked things up again. “I will swear by it that you love me; and I will make him eat it that says I love not you.”

She leaned in, a dangerous glint in her eyes. “Will you not eat your word?”

He leaned closer, keeping about a foot between their heads. “With no sauce that can be devised to it.”

Silence lasted for a long moment between them, eying each other to test the other's feelings.

He broke it first, his face cracking into a huge smile as he spoke. “I protest... I love thee!”

She squealed and jumped up and down, hardly able to remain still. It was louder than her earlier acts of a woman learning her most wished-for, hidden dream was coming true.

Benedick was grinning just as widely, but his honor reminded him that they might attract attention. He motioned for her to be quiet.

Beatrice realized it as soon as he began motioning. “Oh, shoot! Why then, o may god forgive me!'”

“What offence, sweet Beatrice?”

“You have stayed me in a happy hour,” she rasped with some difficulty. “I was about to protest that I loved you.”

He was at her side, holding her gently by the arms in an instant. “Then do it with all thy heart!”

“I love you with so much of my heart there is none left to protest.” She squawked in disbelief, drawing away out of reflex.

He didn't like being apart, but he knew better than to approach without warning again. He just held his hands open. “Come, bid me do anything for thee!”

They both burst into laughter at the absurdity of his words given how they had been acting toward each other. But they also both needed to laugh given the tension their and Hero's situation inflicted on them.

At length Beatrice recovered her composure and gasped as she regained control of her voice. Benedick silenced his laughter to listen.

“Would thou wish to be bound to me if these villains had not created this deception? Wouldst thou be a man for my sake, protect mine rights... or shall I discover I hath merely exchanged one ruler for another?”

He stared at her, stricken.

“Wilt thou be like my uncle, or prove to be above the mettle of the valiant dust, the wayward marl?”

He stepped forward, being careful to not step too close. “I had not given the matter thought that I would wish to own up to, but mark my words; thy rights I shall guard and my first proof shall be in defending our cousin. I vow to see thy family's traditions upheld, making them my own.”

“Even forgoing thy father's?”

He grimaced. “Especially forgoing mine father's, for his place such a narrow role for women that I cannot abide; his beliefs and mine have not agreed since I was a lad. I am sure thine own have not agreed with thy uncle's since not long after thy father's death, and what he sees as curst ways are actually an effort to protect thy rights. I know that only my actions shall reassure thee and therefore I think our efforts must focus on this night, on ensuring that Don John does not succeed in his ultimate quest of ruining Hero and Claudio. On the morrow we shall expose Don John as a villain, and I shall declare that I will have thee freely.”

She found a smile. “I suppose I shall be willing to not deny you. Then you would declare your feelings before the whole assembly, Senor?”

He approached to take her hands. “I will live in thy heart, die in thy lap, and be buried in thy eyes.”

She was transfixed, not merely by his words but by the look and pauses that accompanied them.

Sense chose that moment to return to his mind, turning his face flush. “And moreover I will speak with thee to thy uncle.”

She blushed, drew away and nodded. “O god, we nearly acted in the manner of which we were falsely accus'd!”

He took her hands again, even more delicately than before. “After the morrow we may act however we deem suits us and our marriage, with thou in control of thy rightful inheritance and myself holding the titles in name only; but for the night we must part ways to prepare. We neither have much time, I fear; and so farewell until the wedding, my lady.” He kissed her hands tenderly.

She blushed despite herself, and left with a smile, stroking his cheek briefly before stepping away. There was also the barest hint of a skip to her steps. She had faith and confidence in him, and would carry her part out. Now she had to dampen her spirits to act the part expected of her, that of a woman forced.

He watched her until he could not see her any longer before he hurried in the opposite direction. He had men to instruct for the night before he prepared.

He needed the distraction from his own desires, now inflamed by the knowledge that she would be an eager if rather nervous partner in the marriage bed. He had to resolve this dreadful matter first, and then he could give his entire being to loving her completely.


Chapter Six: Mischief Strangely Thwarted

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
ginie59
Oct. 22nd, 2014 02:36 am (UTC)
yes, finally someone listen to poor bruno now benedick and beatrice knows of the plot but call me paranoid but i think that will not be as simple as plain.

and oh my god they says their love to each other it's about time now i'm impatient for the next chapter.
tkel_paris
Oct. 22nd, 2014 03:57 am (UTC)
It must be a good chapter if I've rendered you half speechless. :) Well, wait and see. It'll be rough, I'll tell you that much.

Yes, about time they admitted it, right? I'll be posting within a day or so. (I need to get ready for bed - early class to teach tomorrow.) Again, thank you so much for the warm words.
inward_audacity
Oct. 22nd, 2014 11:49 am (UTC)
I feel your pain, Bruno. It's hard to be young and have no one listen to you. I cannot wait for Beatrice to kick the troublemakers' asses. Benedick will hurt them but she will probably destroy them. She's my hero.

I love that you added that little bit where she can't help but stroke his clean shaven cheeks before stepping away. It's adorable and really sweet.
tkel_paris
Oct. 22nd, 2014 06:38 pm (UTC)
Worse when you're a servant. :/ Yeah, she is awesome and CT made her even more so.

Couldn't resist. :D
cannibalilly
Oct. 23rd, 2014 06:19 pm (UTC)
Once again a nice example of how adults dismiss children... or maybe how rich people dismiss servants? Maybe both, but eventually Bruno made it!

You did a great job in explaining their feelings to the given (and added) dialogues, especially Bruno's! (Yes, yes, I've grown very fond of him ;P) I just love that you gave him a more important part to play in this.
tkel_paris
Oct. 23rd, 2014 06:49 pm (UTC)
Thank you! He deserved it, and got the recognition from them.

And I take you loved the dialogue between Ben and Bea? :DDDDD
sykira
Oct. 25th, 2014 05:03 pm (UTC)
Oh my word! You probably heard my squeeing clear across the country! This was SUCH A GORGEOUS way to have them declare their feelings, and for me at least, completely unexpected. I confess I thought your idea from the start was to send them to the altar still not knowing the truth of their feelings for each other, I'm not sure why because in retrospect that wasn't a logical assumption on my part, but it made the surprises in this chapter all the sweeter :D

I LOVED her blushes! I LOVEDLOVED his chivalrous concern for a chaperone and appearances, even though they were already fake-disgraced, oh such honor, I just adore Benedick!

And his approaching then not pursuing when she backs off, it's beautiful, it's BETTER than the director's choices in the play sometimes, because it show's how respectful Benedick is of her feelings even more than propriety, not that Benedick in the play isn't ridiculously respectful of both but just…this was blissful.
tkel_paris
Oct. 25th, 2014 07:02 pm (UTC)
Oh, so that's woke me from my troubled sleep. ;) If I weren't so sick I'd be jumping up and down over how excited you are. :D

As I said, may you have lovely Benedick-flavored dreams from this. ;D

You mean his stopping immediately when she backs off? Well, she just put the bench inbetween them. He can't miss that meaning here. Not where there's hardly anything for her to step behind. Hmm... I never tried to think about the motivation behind Benedick's coming closer until she deliberately placed three chairs between them. I'll have to think about that.

Chapter 8 is about to come up. :DDDD
sykira
Oct. 25th, 2014 07:30 pm (UTC)
*cue another Saturday in which Sykira deconstructs MAAN til the cows come home!*

I do like the bench replacing the chairs, have NOWORDS for how much I adore what CT does putting the chairs between them and how it first slows Benedick as he clearly sees what she is doing and why, and how he carefully and thoughtfully makes the decision to come right up to them, I think even leaning a knee on them as if a castle rampart that divides them, he treats her self-made barrier as if it was formidable as any impassable fortress, but he at the same time makes the point that he will strain himself over it to reach her without violating her space. Basically DT (or this could be Josie) handles that IMPECCABLY and I could cry for the perfection of it, and when you give me an opportunity to revisit it, and you treat it with the same solemnity and honor, I love you for it.

And I don't mean that lightly, because if you could see the rest of my life, I was actually throwing my career under the proverbial bus on Thursday because I could.not.handle watching a big boss paw all over a young secretary friend of mine, and it was driving me nuts that her best friend (a gay guy) just stood there and shrugged, no matter how overtly physical the harassment became, so I kept stepping in and making excuses to take her away from the pervy boss to the point where I was making a pest of myself, but at least later an older lady secretary (THE secretary of the pervert) took me aside and said she really appreciated what I did…but basically I expected to work with sex offenders and instead the slime balls I work with are the bosses instead :( and reading fic like this is like you have given me a big glass of ice cold crystal pure water when I've walked in a dessert all day.




Edited at 2014-10-25 07:34 pm (UTC)
sykira
Oct. 25th, 2014 08:03 pm (UTC)
I wanted to hit post before I got interrupted, but actually the bench wasn't even what I was meaning by "his approaching then not pursuing when she backs off, it's beautiful" so much as the bolded part below, but I'll include all the "stage directions" I especially love:

Benedick wished to take Beatrice's hand in support, but it was perhaps too soon.

Beatrice sighed and made to get up. Now alone with him, she felt a need to depart. ...

“Please stay a moment more, Lady Beatrice,” Benedick begged.
...
He rested his hands on the bench, away from hers
...
She leaned in,
love how he lets her choose to lessen the distance

He leaned closer, keeping about a foot between their heads.


He was at her side, holding her gently by the arms in an instant. “Then do it with all thy heart!”

“I love you with so much of my heart there is none left to protest.” She squawked in disbelief, drawing away out of reflex.

He didn't like being apart, but he knew better than to approach without warning again. He just held his hands open.

He stepped forward, being careful to not step too close.



He approached to take her hands. ...

She blushed, drew away and nodded. …

He took her hands again, even more delicately than before.
...
He kissed her hands tenderly.

She blushed despite herself, and left with a smile, stroking his cheek briefly before stepping away


and then, THEN, as if all that beautiful mesmerizing spellbinding dance of building trust, respect and honor wasn't enough to have me on the floor, you cap it with The Oncoming Desire:
He needed the distraction from his own desires,

which has such promise of HAWTness :D :D

so like I said, perfection ♥
tkel_paris
Oct. 25th, 2014 09:17 pm (UTC)
You're very welcome. :DDDDDDDDD
tkel_paris
Oct. 25th, 2014 09:18 pm (UTC)
If I could whistle, I would. Yikes...! *hugs* Glad this provided a welcome relief for you.
sykira
Oct. 25th, 2014 11:25 pm (UTC)
Aha remembered one other thing, now that the kids and I made blackberry ginger lemon limeade with everything in the fridge and too much sugar, then I added spiced rum to mine, so now I am thinking clearer :D the reason I like to attribute the chair-wall directorial decision making to CT and DT rather than Josie (apart from my massive crush on DT and CT as a duo, and DT as being very sweet and protective, and CT being a total genius) is that when the actor who played Borachio understudied for a heartbrokenly apologetic sick-DT, he broke RIGHT through the chair wall without a second thought, totally startling CT and sending her in a panicking tizzy right across the stage to get away from his predatory advances. she wasn't quite shrieking, but she was clearly very disturbed by it, over the edge from the balance Bea and Benedick had and into a more fearful unbalanced place. Borachio (because he was playing D but he might as well have been playing Borachio) was smug about it too :(
So so wrong. But I'm still one of the only audience members ecstatic poor DT had to bow out that night because I got to see how much was HIM and how much was the director/staging y'know?
tkel_paris
Oct. 25th, 2014 11:31 pm (UTC)
Ooh! Yeah, I'd definitely put the attributing where you did. Glad you found something good come out of that night. :)
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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