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FIC: Thou Wilt Quake For This (7/9)

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.

Will post a chapter a day until this is done. So... three more posts after this.





Thou Wilt Quake For This

Started February 26, 2014
Finished October 9, 2014




Chapter One / Chapter Two / Chapter Three / Chapter Four / Chapter Five / Chapter Six


CHAPTER SEVEN: RIGHT WELL PREVENTED

Beatrice had a massive headache and badly wished for more drink. The dancer – despite the lack of feeling any attraction to him – had left her feeling frustrated in an unpleasant way, only making her wish for the following night when Benedick would join her in bed in what had been her parents' room.

Now she understood a little better why ladies would seek such entertainment. As unknowing as she was, she was certain that some things he would never do; yet the thought of being touched and tempted by Benedick in the marriage bed was keeping her imagination and body aflame. It was yet more fuel for the yearning for drink as a distraction.

And yet remain fairly sober she did, for Hero's reputation depended on it. She kept close to her cousin's side once they departed for the dancing area. She even followed along when Hero and Maria wanted to dance, injecting her own ideas when they paused for a breather. It had them laughing at everything that came from across the pond and what their own sources came up with. The dancing was actually the best part of the evening, almost relieving her of her headache.

Or would have without the volume. These clubs played their music far too loudly. It was not helping her headache. She would need some medicine once they returned to their duplex room, but she had to be certain that she had kept her word.

Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed men slinking about the shadows. Raising a hand to pretend to wipe away sweat to conceal where her gaze drifted to, she observed a figure she knew to be Benedick slip behind a pillar. If he was present then so were his trusted men, and they had heard more evidence of the plot: so all she had to do was keep to Hero's side.

But when she saw Borachio with a woman she knew to be Margaret, it took all her trust in Benedick to not attempt to aid the plainly drunken gentlewoman. It violated her instincts, but she knew that they had to entrap the villains to be certain that Don John could not harm anyone else and so she pretended to ignore it. Although she knew she could be as blunt as need be if Borachio came too near and appeared threatening to her, and yet she had to act as though she knew not of the plot.

Approach he did, sort of flirting in a semi-drunken manner with first her and then Hero. Beatrice snapped and swatted him, keeping the imaginary bubble around her – which she had cultivated over many years – strong, but it didn't deter him from stealing Hero's veil. She wanted to squawk almost as much as Hero did, but she noticed Innogen rush to Hero's side and start leading her out. That forced Beatrice to do the same, praying that Benedick would see at least one villain captured this night.

She glanced back in his direction, and met his gaze. She gave the tiniest nod and returned her attention to helping her aunt comfort the disconcerted Hero. She would do her part. Now it was all up to Benedick and his men.

/=/=/=/=/

Knowing that Beatrice and Hero were safely out of the way allowed Benedick to concentrate on what Borachio was doing, and how Claudio and the Prince reacted. He was also aware that he had spotted Balfor in the shadows, which meant Conrade was near as well.

Benedick and his men watched in disgust as the now veiled Margaret was coaxed into dancing in ways that would have earned her a smacking from her parents if they knew of it. If she was lucky. And it did not help that the shadows and the color of Margaret's dress helped conceal the height difference and other features that would have exposed it as a deception even as drunk as the Prince and Claudio were.

Now Benedick could imagine how the plot against himself and Beatrice had worked. He and Borachio could be mistaken in the dark for the other, if one could not see well enough to tell the difference in beards apart. While Margaret's body shape was different, Benedick could easily imagine that with Beatrice indisposed Margaret could have been persuaded to wear something that made her look more like her Lady's cousin.

It was sickening. But not as much as what Borachio persuaded Margaret to do as the nail in the coffin. To use a rather unfortunate expression, under the circumstances.

However, the Lieutenant had to hold Alonso back and Benedick had to motion for him to keep quiet, The man's near outburst was because he was a cousin to Angelo, Margaret's father, and known to treat her in a teasing avuncular fashion. Benedick knew this was horrible for his man to have to witness, but he was one of his most trusted men.

Naturally Claudio bought it fully and had to dragged off shouting by the Prince and the Bastard.

Benedick shook his head, and then widened his eyes as the lights darkened. Where was Borachio?!

When they could see properly again, Borachio was gone and Margaret was stumbling on one heel, the other in her hand.

Benedick motioned to Alonso after Margaret to see her safely home. It took a moment and a whisper to make him act:

“Only the villains, the Prince, Claudio, and ourselves saw this. There may yet be a chance she is yet still a maiden; she acts so drunk that I doubt she could have done a full act. But we must be swift!”

He was not about to mention that the frottage they saw – at least what he hoped was such – was allowed under Roman Catholic Church law. Nor was he going to admit how he knew that.

They watched as Alonso approached her just as the two old men who were part of the Prince's Watch for that night also did. He gently chided her as she was helped to sitting so one of the Watch could help her with her heel.

Benedick rubbed his face as he leaned against the pillar. “O god, the dark and the lighting and the drink seduced even the Prince to the Bastard's words! Claudio hath no hope of different. Glad I am not that I drank not more than half of mine and refused the offerings of my lord's hand. This is a devilry that needs a clear head, clear eyes, and a steady speech to tell it”

The Lieutenant stood nearby, his body showing a calm that was belied by his expression. “Aye, Senor, and a co-witness of the same ilk.”

A slight movement caught their eye and they pressed deeper into the shadows. Conrade walked up, and remained unaware of them as he passed by and into the light from the street-lamps. Balfor quietly approached and pressed himself against another pillar, shaking his head in negation at Benedick's silent inquiry.

Sighing, Benedick leaned to see what he could see. The two Watchmen were stepping closer to the shadows, evidently unseen by Conrade, while Alonso walked Margaret away. The expression they could see confirmed that he thought she knew not what was going on, and was perhaps yet still an innocent where it mattered to her ability to marry.

A moment later, they heard Borachio calling out, very near, “What Conrade!”

The trio pressed themselves firmly against the pillars and into the shadows as the plainly drunken villain stumbled sideways toward them. Somehow he missed and entered the lit night, all the while banging against the bags of trash waiting to be collected.

“What Conrade!”

“Here man; I am at thy elbow!” Conrade snapped.

Borachio's voice came clearly. “Mass, and my elbow itched; I thought there would a scab follow.”

As the villain spoke, Benedick saw the Captain and Lucius hurry silently to press themselves against another pillar. Good! All of them were present now!

“I will owe thee an answer for that,” Conrade darkly promised. “And now forward with thy tale!”

Oh, this was fortunate! They would have a full confession!

“Stand thee close, then, under this pent-house, for it drizzles rain; and I will, like a true drunkard, utter all to thee.”

To Benedick's horror, he could just make out one of the Watch utter, “Some treason, master: yet stand close.”

Worse the two approached from the shadow side of the pillars. Benedick and his men all raised their hands to indicate silence.

Borachio appeared to have detected noise. “Didst thou not hear somebody?”

At that moment a man exited the shadows between the two villains, partly dressed like a soldier. It was quickly clear from how the man looked at Conrade that he was an entertainer.

Fortunately the Watch understood enough and nodded their agreement, moving quietly for their own respective pillars on either side of the already present witnesses. That the Watch was – to Benedick's exacting eye as a commander – two rather inept old soldiers was neither here nor there. They had the authority to carry out the Prince's orders, and could be useful.

“No,” said Conrade, barely reacting with outward disgust at the man's look at him, “he marks us not.”

Benedick let out a silent sigh. The Watch would be witnesses, which was good and bad. Just as well he was also there.

Conrade's words reassured Borachio, who began his tale once the other man had walked off. “Therefore know I have earned of Don John a thousand ducats.”

All eyes in the shadows widened.

“Is it possible that any villainy should be so dear?” laughed Conrade.

“Thou shouldst rather ask if it were possible any villainy should be so rich; for when rich villains have need of poor ones, poor ones may make what price they will.”

“I wonder at it.”

Borachio scoffed before launching into the tale. “But know that I have tonight wooed Margaret, the Lady Hero's gentlewoman, and called her by the name of Hero! Woo-hoo!”

The two villains laughed. The men in the shadows remained still, the Watch in horror and the others in grim confirmation.

“I tell this tale vilely:--I should first tell thee how the Prince, Claudio, and my master, planted and placed and possessed by my master Don John, saw afar off this amiable encounter,” bragged Borachio.

Conrade was grinning. “And thought they Margaret was Hero, just as they did when thou used Margaret to be thought was Beatrice?”

“Two of them did, the Prince and Claudio;--O how that night rings fairly in my mind! That act of villainy could not have happened without thy knowledge. But thou didst never tell how didst thou know that Benedick would be unable to defend his own honour.”

Conrade laughed. “I chanced to be near enough to hear the Prince speak of the difficulty in Capo Peloro, and order Benedick to slip in the darkness of the night alone to secure the material from the Prince's contact.”

Boarchio hooted. “O how too easy! And the Prince nor Benedick knew!”

The Captain and Lieutenant both noted the tightening of their lord's face. They had wondered why their lord had left them that evening, but now they could each wager a guess what necessitated the business. They knew their lord was trying to not focus on the words he would have to have with the Prince about greater secrecy.

“How didst thou know that Beatrice wouldst have no witnesses to her honour?” Conrade asked, breaking the laughter.

Benedick had long wondered this, and now would he have his answer.

Borachio chuckled wickedly. “Again I owe all to Margaret, who admitted whilst under the effects of drinking a few nights prior that the Lady Beatrice is like clockwork indisposed by an illness that only all women since Eve have known: therefore I was confident that the timing would work; and when Margaret did confirm it did I persuade her to wear items to look like Beatrice in the dark.”

Benedick grimaced. He knew that Beatrice did not have a high opinion of Hero's waiting gentlewoman. Even though Margaret's sister, Maria, was Beatrice's waiting gentlewoman the pair were nothing alike; Margaret was an excitable maiden (with an obvious wild streak) whilst Maria was a happily married woman with children, including the good lad Bruno.

“Alas that thy actions were limited by the Harpy of Messina's reputation,” mourned Conrade.

“Aye, for I could not take the villainy as far as I did this night; still was Don John pleased to shackle the two together, as I know he is pleased with the results of tonight. For the devil my master knew she was Margaret; and partly by his oaths, which first possessed them, partly by the dark night, which did deceive them, but chiefly by my villainy, which did confirm any slander than Don John had made, away went Claudio enraged; swore he would meet her, as he was appointed, next morning at the temple, and there... before the whole congregation... shame her with that he saw o'er night and send her home again without a husband!”

They laughed as Boarchio mimed slapping motions as he spoke.

The Watch members burst forward before Benedick could stop them.

“We charge you in the Prince's name, stand!” cried Hugh Oatcake, brother to the Friar of Messina.

“Stand!” declared George Seacole.

Borachio and Conrade began laughing, mocking them as they called for Constable Dogberry through the radio.

Benedick had had enough. He gestured sharply and his men all moved into the light. The Captain and Lucius grabbing Borachio, and the Lieutenant and Balfor grabbing Conrade. It silenced them cold and turn their faces white.

Then Benedick stepped forward, getting right into the villains' faces, which only made them both tremble.

He gave them a dark and satisfied grin which didn't alter when Dogberry and Virgil arrived. Not even the Constable cocking his rifle could remove the grin.

/=/=/

End of Chapter Note: I asked my beta, tardis_mole, for a place name that Benedick could have gone to on the Prince's command. Capo Peloro is, according to Wikipedia, the extreme northeastern tip of Sicily. It's close to Messina so he could've reached there in the time given. It's also a port area, so there'd be merchants and manufacturers to cover whatever the Prince needed.


Chapter Eight: Examinations of Various Types

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
sykira
Oct. 25th, 2014 11:46 pm (UTC)
Do you now, this cleared up a couple of things for me, like discerning between Margaret and Maria, and the phrase "utter all to thee"…I don't know why I blank on these things after all this time but I still do.

I love how masterfully Benedick take charge at the end here *shivers delightfully*
tkel_paris
Oct. 26th, 2014 02:04 am (UTC)
For me it's remembering that Maria is the invented character from this production, and hardly has any lines in the play itself. I think I give her more lines than the production did!

Oh, yes. That was a good moment. *insert evil grin here*
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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