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

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.

And I must admit to being inspired by one of the MAAN fanfics I read, "Messina Sunlight". One action the author had Benedick do seemed SO fitting to this story that I had to include a modified version fitting the events I created. So bless you, imnotacommittee from FF.N!






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 / Chapter Eight


CHAPTER NINE: THE MOST PROPER LORD AND LADY IN MESSINA

It was a loud time in the church despite the organization. Although the presence of so many in uniform – wearing or carrying their caps, depending on their exact role in connection to the intended couples – helped bring quiet into the room. The only men who would be wearing their caps would be the Prince, Claudio, and Benedick – as per the custom.

Don Pedro stood still and silent as he waited with Claudio by the Friar's side. They were waiting for the moment when the Count had to denounce Hero. It had made their blood loss from drinking feel very heavy indeed.

Although the question of how Benedick would react came to mind as the man himself entered the church, cap under his left arm.

Benedick did not step immediately to his comrades' sides. Instead he paused to stand before the small memorial made in honor of Beatrice's mother, Leonato's only sibling to survive childhood. It seemed that he had been rather fond and protective of his younger sister and therefore took her death – incurred from bringing Beatrice into the world – hard; enough so that he had ordered special additions to the church and the family monuments.

The one before Benedick spoke of a lady's virtue and honor, and her gentle heart. Virtue and honor her daughter had, and a gentleness hidden within a heart filled with a need to stand for what was right. He was not certain he was equal to the task of being Beatrice's husband, but do his best he would. He owed her and their descendants that. And oh did he pray there would be descendants; certainly one on the way by Year's End.

He bowed his head to the memorial and made the sign of the cross. “I shall treasure your child, my Lady. I wish you could have been here to support her.”

Feeling his task done, he then stepped with military precision to stand beside Claudio, nodding to the Prince. “Good day, my lord. Count Claudio.

The terseness of the greeting puzzled both lords. Don Pedro decided to make his remarks casual to encourage his friend to relax before he sprained something. “Welcome, Benedick. How I wish that thee were here to part almost a fray instead of meeting thy present circumstance.”

A scowl crossed Benedick's face. “In a false quarrel there is no true valour.”

Claudio frowned. “A man who enters a false quarrel doth not deserve to be called a gentleman then.”

Benedick's lips thinned at the irony. “Then pray that thy honour is never used against thee, Count.”

“Thou art very calm given the events that brought thee here, Benedick,” noted the Prince, wanting to keep the peace before it was broken by their discovery.

Benedick pursed his lips. It seemed his cryptic warnings would go unheeded. “I have come to honour my vow that I undertook, whether the event itself was intended by me to happen or not.”

Claudio looked at the Prince. It seemed strange that Benedick acted less like a man in love and more like a man itching for a fight. As somber as his mood was, he decided to join the Prince in seeking to lighten the mood. “Perhaps we ought to have been up and down to seek thee; for we are high-proof melancholy from waking and would fain have it beaten away. Wilt thou use thy wit?”

“It is in my scabbard: shall I draw it?”

Don Pedro's eyes widened. Was Benedick hinting that he was considering drawing his sword in church? Surely he knew what bad manners that was! He held up his hands to hold him off. “Dost thou wear thy wit by thy side?”

Claudio ignored the growing alarm of Friar Francis and took a better look at his friend's face. “As I am an honest man, he looks pale. Art thou sick, or angry?”

The words only increased Benedick's sour mood and made him think less of Claudio than before. “Sir, I shall meet your wit in the career, and you charge it against me. I pray you choose another subject.”

A light laugh escaped Claudio, who did not recognize the signs for what they were. “By this light, he changes more and more: I think he be angry indeed.”

“Benedick,” said Don Pedro softly, “pray do not let the Lady Beatrice be greeted by such a state.”

“Then Claudio hath better not give me more reason to speak a word in his ear.”

That silenced the lords, and nearly made the Friar shake. He could hardly believe that no one else marked the exchange, even as quiet as it was.

Benedick could not conceal the relief in his eyes as the wedding march music began. He put on his cap and joined the other two men in turning to see the incoming trio.

The congregation watched as Leonato escorted his daughter on his right arm and his niece on the other. Hero held a gentle smile as her gaze fixed on Claudio, like she had found peace. Beatrice's face was seemingly locked in a grim expression, but there was a flicker of more hopeful emotion as she briefly met Benedick's eyes through her veil.

He read the message clearly and gave the barest hint of a nod and a smile. He had to be the one to act. Especially since Claudio looked away far too soon.

It was enough to calm Beatrice's nerves. He had the proof they needed. She would have to follow his lead, but she trusted him to defend Hero.

Benedick watched their approach and barely restrained the sadness the sight suddenly gave him. The ladies' dresses were more elaborate than Beatrice would have liked. Hero's was a fluffy concoction, and her own – from one conversation they had had during dinner the night of the revels – was in cream rather than white, to fit the shame fit upon her shoulders that had sullied her life and brought her to the altar without her permission or want. And it cost a fraction of the airy material used to create the effect of Hero's gown. If she had been a man, the bride would have been permitted a dress made by the royal dressmaker.

Yet another thing to annoy them both.

Leonato raised the respective veils over each lady's face, and gave each a kiss to bid them farewell as their lord. He also squeezed their hands gently, with a little more tenderness and a longer expression toward Beatrice. A silent apology for failing to defend her as he knew he ought to have.

His sister, Beatrice's mother, had a great deal in common with their mother, Maria Tomasi Di Salvo, the only daughter of the Duke of Venice. Such had been Leonato's pride in and love for his sibling that he had refused many suitors for her because he thought they were not good enough for her; a few he had even sent away because she told him of reasons she had to not trust them. But when a member of the Sicilian royal family – not related to Di Salvo's Tomasi line – came calling and she favored him, Leonato was wild for the match.

Elena's death hit them all hard. He now knew that he had not done enough to show the love he was assured of having toward his beloved sister's only child. Beatrice's father, however, had doted completely on her until his untimely death. Looking back on it, Leonato wondered if Beatrice's manners toward suitors had been her trying to ensure that her father's line received a worthy successor. He supposed that Olivio would have disapproved of all the suitors that came; even Benedick would have been looked on with suspicion, for his rank – a commoner as he was only a younger son of a lord – was perhaps less than what a daughter of a royal line could claim.

Beatrice took his hand. “I forgive thee, Uncle,” she whispered. “I believe my father would have acted very like how you did.” She allowed the love for her uncle that she rarely showed appear in her expression.

Leonato hugged her briefly and smiled with a hint of watery eyes. “Thou hath never been so like thy mother as in this moment, child of my heart,” he whispered back. “I believe thy parents would have eventually approved of Benedick as their son, and be very proud of thee.”

He then stepped to the side, letting the ladies step to their respective new lords before either of them could come close to crying.

Don John watched from his seat behind Innogen. He was satisfied when Claudio turned away to face Friar Francis, brother to Hugh Oatcake. It meant the plan was still in action. Benedick's staring at Beatrice was perhaps not surprising since the man would look a great many dangers in the eye.

But one thing startled him as Beatrice joined Benedick at the altar: he offered his left hand – palm upwards – to her. She placed her right hand over his, apparently accepting his protection implicitly. Then Benedick covered her hand with his other and drew her nearer. What did this mean?

Benedick offered his hand in a moment of inspiration. It would be a comfort to Beatrice, a reminder that he would protect her against any further shame. It would also unnerve the Bastard, making him wonder what the intention was. But most of all it would draw a stark comparison between himself and Claudio: the man who was marrying to defend his lady's honor was acting more like a man in love than the count who had practically gone mad seeking his lady.

It would grant additional weight to the accusation Benedick would launch when the time was right.

Benedick's Captain and Lieutenant saw all, and hid their own satisfaction as they slipped quietly out the doors, ignoring the confused looks on Titus' and Angelo's faces. The Sexton and the Watch, with their captives, waited outside. They would be summoned to enter at Benedick's signal.

Friar Francis began the ceremony. “You come hither, my lords, to marry these respective ladies?”

“Yes.”

“No.”

That Claudio's answer differed from Benedick's baffled Leonato. “To be married to her: friar, you come to marry her.”

Friar Francis addressed the ladies. “Ladies, you come hither to be married, Hero to this count and Beatrice to this senor?”

“I do.”

This time the answers were identical. The calm within each was nearly the same.

“I address each couple before me: if either of you know any inward impediment why you should be not conjoined, charge you, on your souls, to utter it.”

“I know none for myself,” said Beatrice, stepping slightly forward to eye Claudio's actions.

“And none for myself,” added Benedick, moving slightly back and to the side so he too could watch the Count's actions.

Claudio did not notice, even if the rest of the congregation did. He merely turned his eyes toward the woman who was supposed to become his wife. “Know you any, Hero?”

“None, my lord,” said Hero, at last calm.

Friar Francis was growing uneasy. Only Hero was acting as he had expected. “Know you any, Count?”

Leonato smiled. “I dare make his answer, none.”

Claudio exclaimed, “O, what men dare do! What men may do! What men daily do, not knowing what they do!”

“And many know not what they are led to! Your words are as empty as those that prompted your present action, Count,” Benedick injected before Claudio could speak again.

Claudio, the Prince and Don John all started. All eyes of the congregation were on the two men. Hero looked back and forth between them, trying to figure out what was happening. Beatrice merely prepared herself to get Hero out of the way when the moment was right.

Friar Francis decided to interpose. “What matter do you speak of, Senor?”

Benedick squeezed Beatrice's hand before letting go to face Claudio fully. “Why, that a man I had called friend and thought had the very bent of honour has allowed a man he ought to know is not to be trusted persuade him that my cousin is no maiden.”

The congregation exclaimed, a cacophony of sounds. Beatrice looked at the assembly and a gleam flashed in her eyes at the horror in Don John's whole manner. She also noted the undisguised relief in Bruno's expression.

Leonato stepped forward to address Claudio. “My lord, does he speak but true? Accuse you my Hero of being a common stale?! Benedick, how do you know of this?”

Benedick stepped closer to his soon-to-be cousin, pausing only to give Beatrice a pointed look before he met the accused's eyes. “Hero, please join your cousin to the side.”

Hero looked at him in shock. “What for?”

“Come, Hero!” hissed Beatrice, dragging her by the arm several steps away and then behind her.

It then dawned on the Prince and the Count that Benedick was spoiling for a fight and that he had aimed his anger at Claudio the whole time. But why?

With Hero out of any danger of being thrown or hit or beaten, Benedick was at liberty to answer his uncle. “Through the events requiring the examination that you were summon'd to this morn; I fear Constable Dogberry was too... cunning to properly communicate the accusations against the men to be questioned, and therefore the Sexton had to act in thy place.”

Don Pedro had to step forward, intrigued even as Leonato gave himself a silent talking to for not learning how to decipher Dogberry's words. “What means thee, Benedick? What reason doth thou have to challenge Claudio's word?”

“Why, my lord, I shall tell all the tale, but be prepar'd. Captain!”

At Benedick's call a commotion came from outside. “Come you, sirs; you must be looked to,” came the voice of Dogberry before the source of the commotion came inside.

The Captain marched Borachio in, the Lieutenant marched Conrade, and the rest of the Watch and the Sexton following. Margaret's cry was the loudest, but the biggest reaction was from Don John who jumped out of his seat. Attracting Innogen's attention and suspicions.

Don Pedro was in almost as much surprise. “Two of my brother's men bound! Officer, what offence have these men done?”

The Captain and Lieutenant each shoved their captive to stand before Don Pedro. The former looked calmly at his commander's lord. “Perhaps, Prince, you should ask them yourself.”

The answer was not what Don Pedro sought, but he looked at Don John, and frowned at the demeanor he saw. He shared an alarmed look with Claudio before he turned back to the bound men. “Who have you offended, masters, that you are thus bound to your answer? What's your offence?”

The two captives exchanged a defeated look, and a nod from Conrade told Boarchio that his confession was to be first.

“Sweet Prince, do you hear me, and let this Count kill me.”

“Or this Senor kill us both, once we hath each been heard,” added Conrade.

Claudio stared in shock at them both. He glanced at Benedick, who plainly expected the words.

Borachio continued, “I have deceived even your very eyes: what your wisdoms could not discover, these... shallow fools of the Watch and observant men of the Senor's have brought to light: who in the night overheard me confessing to this man how Don John your brother incensed me to slander the lady Hero, how you were brought to see me court Margaret in Hero's garments.”

No one, not even Margaret, could speak.

Conrade picked up the tale. “And they also overheard me confessing to this man how I had chanced to overhear the Prince order Benedick on a secret mission which meant that he was not in Messina when he was supposed to be there in the Lady Beatrice's company: such I told my lord Don John.”

“And I further recounted how upon learning from Margaret who I had already plied with drink that the Lady would be indisposed and without witnesses to where she was, I persuaded Margaret to return to my side in Beatrice's garments; and how I acted and guided her to make any witnesses believe that in the dark they saw Benedick and Beatrice,” admitted Borachio.

An even greater silence fell over the room. Don John looked for an escape but Benedick's men had him surrounded.

Borachio tried to hold his head high, but looked heavenward – well aware he did not deserve its comfort. “Our villainy they have upon record; which my friend and I had rather seal with our deaths than repeat over to our shame. And, briefly, we desire nothing but the reward of villains.”

Don Pedro rubbed his eye and face hard, only letting them fall when he could not hold them up. He stared to the side sightlessly whilst Claudio stood stock still and staring at the ground near his feet.

At length the Prince found his voice. “Runs not this speech like iron through your blood?”

“I have drunk poison whilst he utter'd it,” Claudio mumbled.

“But did my brother set thee on to these?” demanded Don Pedro.

“Yea, and paid us richly for the practice of them,” admitted Borachio.

The Prince nearly paced but instead looked at Benedick. “How didst thou know to place thy men so well?”

The tone was less disbelieving and more of a dawning horror as his better feelings from the night before returned full force.

“My information is in the overhearing of a servant of Leonato's; servants I note can be forgotten if they do their appointed tasks well, and child servants are even more easily ignored. Thus the young gentleman of Leonato's household was not even noted when Don John vented his spleen in displeasure that he had failed to prevent the possibility of Count Claudio marrying Hero, and how Borachio claimed he could cross the match by performing the deception which was performed yesternight on thyself, Prince, and on the Count. Aye, my lord, a deception that was not carried out until thy both were deeply in thy cups with merriment.” He paused to look at Beatrice, nodding for her to speak.

Which she did, primly and proudly. “To defend Hero against such slander the Senor urged me to stay at my cousin's side the whole night, to ensure that I continued what hath been for this twelvemonth and been her bedfellow. When my aunt did escort Hero home did I go with them, just after I witnessed Borachio steal something of Hero's to further the deception.”

Benedick spoke over the murmurs of the congregation. “And I commanded my most trusted men to follow Don John, Borachio, and Conrade yesternight; I rejoined them as soon as I could respectfully leave Leonato's side. Once I had and the entertainment of the night had left did we see Don John approach thee, Prince. A few of my men left earlier when Borachio departed to begin his part, and the rest followed Don John as he led the Prince and Claudio to where the ladies had gathered.”

Margaret stood in horror, looking like she could not quite swallow the words and yet was connecting the pieces. “What?! Senor, do you mean that Borachio deliberately plied me with drink to encourage my actions on both nights?”

Benedick gave her a sad look. Assured as he was that only himself, Don Pedro, Claudio, and his own men had witnessed the act, he hoped that with careful words her reputation would not so damaged that she could not marry. “How well doth your memory of yesternight and that one night fare, Mistress Margaret? I am of the belief that each night your drink was spiked by Borachio in much the same manner as I witnessed Don John spike Claudio's drink before making his announcement that he and the Prince follow him. Remember you those moments?”

She blushed. “Not very well, I confess.”

“He intended it to be that way, else thou might have realized he called thee by the wrong name.”

Margaret's memory dredged one moment where such an action would have looked very bad to anyone watching. Especially if they thought she was Hero. She covered her mouth and sank into her seat. “O god, what did I do?!” she wailed.

Benedick immediately addressed the assembled crowd to allow Margaret a chance to recover herself while her parents went to her side, too shocked to react.

“After thee three left, Prince, I waited with my men to consider what we had seen and how to inform Leonato. We then saw Conrade be found by Borachio, and the tale began to unfold at the former's insistence; there did Borachio boast of what he had done against Hero, and then Conrade mentioned what his own part had been in the deception against myself and the Lady Beatrice: then did we capture them. I only insist of my lord that the author of all be likewise bound to his word, and that I may devise brave punishments for him. And a reward granted to the young gentleman whose honesty nearly went unnoticed if not for Beatrice: and that gentleman is Bruno.”

Balthasar sucked in a breath as the congregation murmured. “Those notes I took... those were thy attempt to gain an audience!”

Ursula's eyes widened. “Thy attempt to speak with me had naught to do with thy toy, but everything with those overhearings!”

“The movements as the revels ended,” Titus added, the truth dawning on him.

Leonato's numb face saw widening eyes. “That look as you walked away... You were hoping to tell me of the plot.”

“There was a great weight hanging over thee,” Maria voiced, taking her son's hand. “Yet it was gone that afternoon.”

Bruno saw all eyes on him and had to admit to his part. “I met the Lady Beatrice and begged an audience with her. She brought me to Senor Benedick's notice immediately.”

Don John shook, red-faced and clenching his fists. Words deserted him but for a moment. “I am undone by a mere servant, a boy at that?! The boy should be whipped for listening in on his betters! The word of a servant does not – nay, should not – better me!” He turned his head and glared at the child sitting at the back of the church with his family, and his expression turned murderous. He lunged with his hands outstretched toward the boy's throat, only to be knocked to the floor by Innogen.

Many stared in shock. A few, Benedick and Beatrice included, stared more in awe.

“Pray excuse my unladylike act, my lords, my husband,” she puffed at them, and barely rubbing her complaining hand. “But that did feel good. Liken honour with honey and upholding it the bee. It has its own sting, but pleasure in the eating nonetheless.”

In truth Leonato could not fault his wife. This was their daughter and niece's respective honors at stake, and she was a lioness when her girls were threatened and she saw a way to strike.

At her feet, Don John raged at her.

“Enough, brother!” Don Pedro also shook, white-faced and tense. “How close you came to making a fool out of me and the Count! No more villainy for thee! Benedick shall decide thy punishments, and our father thy ultimate fate. Take him away, men!”

There was silence as the soldiers seized Don John. The Captain bound him, shooting a dark look that removed much of the rage from the Bastard's manner.

“Hold!”

Beatrice's cry startled the assembly. Benedick's eyes were the widest. “Beatrice?” he breathed.

She marched to his side. “Wronged and unable to act have I been since this lie was perpetuated: have not I earned as much right to decide the punishments as thee?”

While the whole assembly looked on her in shock, Benedick's face merely contorted for a moment before it settled into a hint of shame. “Forgive me, my lady; thou hast more right than I: would it satisfy thee to select the brave punishments? Perhaps even let Hero and Margaret give suggestions?”

“Yea; I wish that other villains may learn to respect a woman's ability to find ways to defend herself, and to ensure that these ones before us learn why they ought to have feared me.”

Don John laughed. “Fear a woman? He who does is no man!”

Beatrice stormed to stand right in front of him. The men restraining him held firmer, to ensure he could not harm her. “Here is my answer to that, snake!”

One of her knees flew upwards, without her placing hands to stabilize herself, and made contact with the heart of his being, wounding pride and body to extremes. The Bastard was left trying to hunch over as he screamed, instantly sweating heavily and turning pale. Every man in the room flinched, although Benedick's reaction was held to a twitch in the face. He alone suspected what she had intended.

Conrade and Borachio shook more than anyone. But the latter happened to accidentally catch Maria's eye, and paled further at the fury he saw there. She was sister to Margaret, and was Beatrice's waiting gentlewoman; she had three reasons to ask to join in choosing the punishments, and he had no faith that she would show any more mercy than her fiery Lady seemed inclined toward. Whatever punishments Alonso had in mind suddenly seemed wished for.

Pleased with her work, Beatrice stood tall over the man responsible for her situation. “Believe me when I swear that thy other punishments will make thee yearn for this pain. Take him away!”

The chief villain was then led off. The soldiers followed, more just in case. Even though none doubted the large Captain's ability to manage the short Don John by himself.

Claudio stood ashen and shaking. His mouth moved, but no words escaped.

While Beatrice returned to Hero's side with a lighter air in her step than before, Leonato looked at Margaret. “Margaret, were thou pack'd in all these wrongs, hir'd to it by Don John?”

“No, by my soul, she was not, nor knew not what she did when she spoke to me, but always hath been just and virtuous in any thing that I do know by her!” cried Borachio, impassioned. He would endure additional shame rather than see the lady he had used cruelly punished for his own sins.

It was small comfort to Margaret, for her parents gave her a glare that said she was going to hear a great deal from them once they were home.

Leonato motioned for the remaining villains to be led off. Dogberry led the procession out, with some of Benedick's men following just in case.

Hero looked at Claudio, blinking at the sight before her. She had finally found her voice and it had never sounded firmer without shouting. “Is my lord well that he doth listen to so wide a plot? Tell me, Claudio, thou did not truly believe this deception, did thee?!”

Benedick had thought hard about what to do if Hero did see the evidence, but he decided that such a lecture might be best saved for private. So he chose to help the Count save face before the assembly. “He was deeply in his cups, cousin; a man who has been so expertly convinc'd to drink poison faces a sickening awakening once his awareness returns. He may require thy loving hand and compassion to forgive himself; and yet I would be cautious in accepting him again, Cousin: a man who trust'd his lady as half himself having taken the time to know her ways would have never been so deceiv'd no matter how much drink was plied into his stomach.”

Claudio and Don Pedro were duly stricken by the pointed remark.

The Friar looked to Hero. “Lady, what doth thou wish knowing what nearly transpired under a grave biting error?”

Hero looked at Claudio, her eyes wet and her body trembling. “I cannot believe that my lord would so easily be led to believe that I could act so wantonly, that I should have no sense of decorum or honour! I had Hestia and not Dionysis as my template. I believed thou like Hercules in thy valour, like Arete in honour, and like Appollo in love; and this is how I am repaid for mine loyalty and love? To be disgraced if not for mine new cousin who may indeed be the only man of Messina?”

“So thou doth believe that, sweet Hero?” asked Beatrice, her tone lilting with an unspoken question.

Hero paused before she looked at Beatrice, and a tiny flush appeared on her face as she saw that Beatrice was aware of the deception practiced on her and Benedick. But she rallied as she knew her cousin would not reveal that and that their audience – including the other participants – remained unaware. But she did not need to look at Ursula and Margaret to know they also flushed. “Yay, Cos; thy husband hath all the honour for all his pretence of frivolity, all possible right to be bound to a lady of our standing. God give thee every joy, cousins.”

Overwhelmed, Hero fell to her knees before her mother and began crying. Innogen wrapped her arms around her child and tried to whisper comfort to her.

Leonato looked pained, although none could tell if it was solely from how tense he stood from the revelation of the plot against his child and niece. At length did he speak. “Prince, Count, I had not thought it possible I could have ill words to speak against either of thee; yet now mine honour demands to take mine child back under my protection until I am satisfied that she shall not be treated so again.”

The words drew Claudio to defend himself. “I know not how to pray your patience; yet I must speak.”

The whole assembly looked on expectantly, waiting to see how the Count would act.

Claudio dropped his hands to his sides. “Choose your revenge yourself; impose me to what penance your invention can lay upon my sin: for... sinn'd I did in mistaking.” He would have spoken slightly otherwise, but the dangerous look in Benedick's eyes told him to tread with care.

The Prince recovered himself enough to step forward, removing his cap as he did. “To satisfy this good old man and his daughter, I would bend under any heavy weight that he'll enjoin me to.”

At the surprise of the assembly at his seeming to forget he was at least two ranks higher than Leonato, he rubbed a hand across his flecked and worried brow for a moment. “My lord, Leonato and all those here as witness; my father would have me return home to be a floor washer rather than bring him shame. His bastard son is one thing, but I, the heir, should have been beyond reproach. And yet I have fallen for the villainy myself. I shall not hear the end, and though if I were a lesser man I would beg of it by sword if necessity asked it of me. But I am a man, and therefore, I will not turn aside. By my honour and valour, before the Governor I would, on bended knee, beg for swiftness to his decision on my punishment so that I might entreat with my father all the sooner, and have my ear bent by him rather than thee. For, even as thee hath the authority here, I fear his anger more.”

Leonato released a tight sigh. This was most unusual. He, being called to punish the Prince? He had not the heart nor the spine. “I believe you have suffered enough at your half-brother's hands,” he decided quickly. “I think all who know him and know of him would say that is punishment enough. I pity you when your father hears what you have to say and thank god my feet are too small for your shoes. I shall think on it... if I must,” he decided at length.

Don Pedro nodded, without much relief.

That left Leonato with the Count to consider. He looked at the contrite man for a long moment, and then shared a look with his wife as his eyes also checked on their still sobbing daughter. The sight of Hero so broken-hearted made up his mind. “Count, my heart and mind are too weighted with emotion to fairly judge what thy penance ought to be. That you may not be bound to Hero is the only thing I am certain of.”

Hero heard and lifted her head, trying to find her footing. “Father-”

He held up a hand. “Not today.” he amended, acknowledging the plea in his daughter's eyes. “If thou will submit to whatever penance I devise upon careful thought then when it is over, Hero may be approached again for consent. Only if she hears directly from thee and is convinced that she ought to give thee another chance shall you meet her again at the altar.”

Leonato was thinking of making the man serve a year in his own army. Perhaps a trusted man of Don Pedro's would remain with him to ensure it was not overstepped in either direction. Depending on what the King decided, the man might be the Prince himself.

Claudio slowly nodded. “I do embrace those terms, noble sir; and dispose for henceforth of poor Claudio.”

With that he stepped aside, joining the now silent Prince and removing his cap. Each put theirs under their arm.

Friar Francis looked from Benedick to Claudio and back again. “Senor, thy wisdom hath prevented a grave biting error from taking place, and sent three villains to their rightful fates on this world. Yet I must note now that even with such actions justly brought to light the necessity of thy marriage remains: I fear that blame would still attach to either should you neither wish for this match.”

Benedick nodded in understanding but raised his hand to halt the Friar's speech. “Troth, Friar, mine answer remains the same; where else shall I find such a woman of wisdom and beauty whose wit can meet or even exceed mine? Beatrice is a worthy lady to be loved and made half a man's self even as she makes him half herself; I hath long determined it would be the highest honour to be bound to her and her family's traditions, and I have prayed for as long a time that she might feel the same.”

The Friar looked at Beatrice. “Lady, what doth thou wish? Would thou be wedded to this man?”

Beatrice smiled at Benedick as she returned to his side. “The Senor hath prov'd himself the best man in the land, the most honourable that ever liv'd, and vow'd to respect mine traditions; he hath prov'd so long enough that I held hope that he would return the feelings I hid so deeply when we misunderstood each other ten years hence. Yea, I shall have him as my husband and... by law if not action... my lord.”

Applause broke, with some females – particularly Margaret, as chastised as she was – squealing in subdued delight. Benedick and Beatrice gainfully tried to ignore their surroundings as he doffed his cap, took her hand and kissed it, bowing low over it to do so. A sign of his acceptance of her family's ways.

And so they moved to stand again before the Friar so he could speak the rites.

When the Friar declared them married, Beatrice gladly tossed aside her bouquet – not noticing that Margaret caught it – as Benedick cupped her face with one hand – the other being needed to first remove the cap again – for their first kiss. A kiss that soon had their arms wrapped around each other and their attention wholly captured by the other. There was at one point the telltale foot swept behind Beatrice to prove the romance of the moment. A moment that earned applause.

If nothing else had proved that they entered this marriage innocent of the charges against them, the overwhelming passion unleashed right then would. Nothing done in sin could account for this enthusiasm in an embrace. This was the touch between a pair whose passions had long been suppressed.

The sight was agony to Claudio, knowing that if he had been skeptical as he ought to have been he could be now embracing Hero as his bride. Hero was likewise pained, but relieved that her cousin would not be in a loveless marriage.

But none hurt more than Don Pedro. His own brother proved a villain beyond all reckoning, his own honor tarnished, and now he knew that was deeply pained by his own heart at the sight before him. Happy as he was that his right hand had found happiness he could not help that wish deep within that it could have been he who called Beatrice wife now.

Not that he would ever let Benedick know that the words had been anything but a jest to make him realize his own feelings.

No one dared break their focus on the other, not given what they had been through. Leonato looked like he was considering it but Innogen kept touching his hand to stop him; no one would stop her girl's moment except Beatrice and Benedick themselves.

At length they felt a need for air that could not be satisfied while kissing and they parted. They stared at each other, his hands to his sides to prevent anything untoward happening and hers near him for balance. They turned toward their audience – he wrapping one arm around her shoulders while his face proved he would be a good gurning competitor, she taking that hand, cap and all, over her shoulder and wrapping her other arm around his waist while she struggled to use her breathing to recover her composure – and flushed when additional applause – with a little laughter – came.

He held up a hand to silence the applause. He whispered to Beatrice, and she nodded with a smile, content to let him speak. The words would hit the hardest coming from him.

Benedick met the eyes of the Prince, Claudio, Leonato, Margaret, Hero, and Ursula as he spoke. “My wife and I thank you, one and all, for your great pains in rendering us admissible to love, though they be wasted upon a trifle since even through our merry war we have had great affection for each other and in innocence, despite the false witness, have we kept chaste for the marriage bed.”

The words left the assembly in silence. Much to the pair's satisfaction.

THE END


DVD Extra: Buried In Thy Eyes

Comments

( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
inward_audacity
Oct. 26th, 2014 03:45 am (UTC)
*patiently (not really) waits for the DVD extra*

Woah. From Innogen to Beatrice and even Maria; remind me never to mess with the women in Leonato's household. I thoroughly enjoyed Innogen pouncing out of her seat like a lioness with her eye on the prey and defending her family so fiercely. It was amazing to read.

“Believe me when I swear that thy other punishments will make thee yearn for this pain. Take him away!”

I love this line! It's just so strong and powerful, it makes me so proud of Beatrice for some reason. I imagine Benedick feels the same way. Don John better be prepared for whatever punishments the two of them can come up with.

Thank God Leonato decided to not let Hero marry Claudio. Not yet anyway. I really despised him when he believed every lie that came out of Claudio and Don Pedro's mouth in the play. I hated that he didn't believe his own daughter and was ready to kill her until Benedick stepped in. You have redeemed him. A little bit.

No father in the right mind will let his daughter marry a man who have proved to be a petty and insecure little man. I like that their wedding did not happen. I always wanted Hero to decide that she'd rather be alone for the rest of her life than to be with Claudio. He so does not deserve her. I hope Leonato makes him work hard to win back their trust and her love again. Life's too easy for him if she just marries him without a second thought, like she did in the play.

Opps. Sorry for the long comment. I love this :D
tkel_paris
Oct. 26th, 2014 04:04 am (UTC)
Tomorrow at the latest. :)

Well, get Hero mad enough and she joins the ranks. Here I think she was in too much shock.

Benedick is naturally proud of Beatrice, and honored and humbled to call her his wife. And no way Don Jon will be prepared. ;)

Why do you think Benedick has little fondness for the man? And yet he is better than his own father. (Makes you wonder how bad such a scene would've been with a father like that. *shudders*) Yeah, slightly. Maybe a bit more than in the play or in any of the other fics I've written. Why do you think Benedick had to use Leonato's honor against him in "Seals of Love" to ensure he let him defend Hero's honor?

Yeah, it would've served Claudio right if Hero choice that instead, or worse that she found someone else. Someday I might write that. And no way she'd take the Prince when he bought the lies.

Never apologize for a long comment. I love them. *hugs* They're almost like medicine since I've been unwell. :)
inward_audacity
Oct. 26th, 2014 04:14 am (UTC)
I shall do everything I can to not go crazy while waiting for it (:

I agree. She's probably in too much shock to know how to react. I hope when she does recover, she'll make them quiver in fear.

Yeah. Sadly. This man, while I believe he does love his daughter very much, loves himself and his reputation more. Which is really sad when you think about it. Poor Hero. I always thought of her as a Daddy's girl and to have your father think of you like that is just horrible. At least she has Benedick and Beatrice to care for her.

Please write it. I want Hero to find someone more deserving of her. Claudio needs to be taught a lesson, even one as painful as losing her. If he truly loves her, he would have believed her. He would have stood by her and do everything in his power to prove her innocence. Like Leonato, he loves himself more.

I'm sorry you're feeling unwell. That makes the two of us. *hugs* Feel better!
tkel_paris
Oct. 26th, 2014 04:25 am (UTC)
I've been trying to work on other stories today and yesterday, with varying success. So I have my own madness to contend with.

Hero was the one to denature Don John in "Glance of Love". Give her time.

Reputation. You know the irony in that? In not knowing your child enough your reputation and honor are damaged anyway. So Leonato is worse off than he would have been had he challenged the accusation from the start. Never mind Claudio.

Let me find the right setting for it. Maybe one of the next stories I have in mind.

Thanks. *hugs* You feel better soon, too. (And as always, feel free to reread and comment on anything in any chapter. I expect to be posting something else in addition to the DVD extra soon. Not MAAN. DW.)
inward_audacity
Oct. 26th, 2014 04:32 am (UTC)
Oh irony. Thou art a heartless bitch.

A man's pride is his worst downfall. S

Yay! More stories :D I will keep a lookout for all of them!
tkel_paris
Oct. 26th, 2014 04:57 am (UTC)
Sometimes she creates delicious moments for those of us who enjoy seeing someone get what's coming to them.

Yep. Goes for long-lived aliens, too.

:)
dm12
Oct. 26th, 2014 05:39 pm (UTC)
Can't wait for the DVD Extra! Benedick did promise he would take care to ensure she enjoyed their wedding night. As he's a man of his word, I'm sure she will. I see he's already looking forward to descendants!

This was quite a unique take, and the juxtaposition of Beatrice and Benedick's situation with Hero and Claudio's was well done. Indeed, Benedick proved himself to be the properest man in Messina.

All of the women in the household, Maria, Innogen and Beatrice, were well able to defend themselves. I'm glad Beatrice took matters into her own hand (or knee, as the case might be) and will be devising the punishments. There is no fury like that of a woman!

I'm glad that Claudio wasn't just allowed to marry Hero immediately. He, and she, need to really think through if he is worthy enough. He readily believed things that should not have been.

I like that Bruno found out and was finally able to approach Beatrice about the plot and what had been done to her and Benedick as well. Children are often dismissed, but they hear all and see all. It's just too bad that Benedick couldn't really do anything about it until after the damage was done. Still, it was a good reveal of character.
tkel_paris
Oct. 27th, 2014 01:41 am (UTC)
Am going to post it in a bit. Assuming I don't collapse from being tired first. This cold is knocking me for a loop, and I may have to request subs for tomorrow's classes. :(

Would you expect anything less from Benedick? I think he's really looking forward to raising his own little Beatrice. :)

Good. The contrast worked. And Beatrice carried on the charge for the women, surprisingly led by Innogen. :)

Yeah. Exactly.

Thank you. I'm honored.
dm12
Oct. 27th, 2014 01:50 am (UTC)
Feel better, post it when you can.

Ooh, a little Beatrice, won't that be fun! Or lots of little Beatrices and Benedicks running around... all of that wit!
tkel_paris
Oct. 27th, 2014 02:03 am (UTC)
Posted. And thank you.

*giggles* They'll have their hands full. ;D
sykira
Oct. 30th, 2014 02:54 am (UTC)
I'm commenting before I've barely started this chapter, before I've got carried away as I have done, getting caught up in the romance, but I do keep meaning to say your Shakespearean dialogue is utterly SPECTACULAR. If I didn't know this play by heart I wouldn't know that you've made so much up from scratch and yet woven it seamlessly into actual lines from the play. I am so amazed by that. It's that very challenge that both stumped and spurred me me when it came to writing mine--how on earth to recreate this lyrical roundabout way of speaking that communicates while often not saying that at all. You do it not just impeccably, but poetically, and that's part of why you really REALLY could and should just re-work the Josie-specific references out of this and publish it, hon, because writing like Shakespeare is a rare skill indeed!
sykira
Oct. 30th, 2014 03:08 am (UTC)
...as Beatrice joined Benedick at the altar: he offered his left hand – palm upwards – to her. She placed her right hand over his, apparently accepting his protection implicitly. Then Benedick covered her hand with his other and drew her nearer.

Is this a tradition thing? I absolutely LOVE it!

And I love Benedick making sure Hero is out of harm's way with Bea before everything goes down and I ADORE Innogen smacking Don John a good one YUSSSSSSS! Brilliant!
sykira
Oct. 30th, 2014 03:15 am (UTC)
"and yet I would be cautious in accepting him again, Cousin: a man who trust'd his lady as half himself having taken the time to know her ways would have never been so deceiv'd no matter how much drink was plied into his stomach.”"

YES! SOOOOO much wiser than how it actually ended to have Claudio held to account and do penance, and work his way back to Hero's good graces (and bloody well grow up a bit while he's at it!) but I think sadly at the time people were so misogynistic it just would have translated as Hero being rejected at the altar if the marriage hadn't gone ahead there and then :(
tkel_paris
Oct. 31st, 2014 04:21 am (UTC)
Hmm... I'm wanting to write one where Hero gets to make another choice. I'll have to think about the social mores that would permit that. I think it'd be up to Benedick presenting it in such a way that Leonato's own honor can be used to defend his taking Hero back. Maybe. We'll see.

I liked that line of mine. Thought it was genius. :)
tkel_paris
Oct. 31st, 2014 04:24 am (UTC)
Nah. A thought of mine. Claudio didn't take Hero's hand, just turned as she approached. I thought it'd be a good contrast between the men, and Benedick also wanted to comfort Beatrice and alarm Don John at once. *evil grin*

Yeah, it quickly dawned on me that he would ensure his cousin was safe. He wouldn't trust anyone right then. Except for Beatrice. And I owe TM yet again for dialogue. Innogen's lines wouldn't be the lovely thing they were without hir's suggestion. *bows for both of us*
tkel_paris
Oct. 31st, 2014 04:25 am (UTC)
*takes a deep breath* Okay... One more project for once NaNo is over. *rubs hands* Anything that should perhaps be expanded given that I'll be removing the obvious? Perhaps the exact deception should be described to set the stage?
sykira
Nov. 1st, 2014 07:08 pm (UTC)
Ah…the deception rewrite would be tricky, I personally would cut out the paint altogether, I don't think I ever did reply to you on that did I? *goes to see*
tkel_paris
Nov. 2nd, 2014 06:29 am (UTC)
Eh, anything that screams 2011 version would have to go. I'd have to research to be able to justify keeping Innogen (and may have to give her a different name, even). But... it'd be a good challenge. :)
sykira
Oct. 30th, 2014 03:22 am (UTC)
If nothing else had proved that they entered this marriage innocent of the charges against them, the overwhelming passion unleashed right then would. Nothing done in sin could account for this enthusiasm in an embrace. This was the touch between a pair whose passions had long been suppressed.

muwhahahaahahaha

oh I am punch-drunk tired but there are so many levels I can read this on! One does not even need to be a DT/CT shipper AT ALL to acknowledge they have sexual tension in SPADES and then of course there's the carryover from Ten and Donna!

Oh and I loved his speech at the end there, interesting choice! So do they dance then??

tkel_paris
Oct. 31st, 2014 04:19 am (UTC)
This is what Maria had an inkling of and snapped at Hero and Margaret for, because she knew that they'd need no help. Maria feared that any "help" would do the opposite. She is protective of her lady.

I wish I could describe my tiredness as punch-drunk. That'd be more pleasant than what I do have. Hence enjoying some good stuff like this - whether Ten/Donna or Ben/Bea. :D

Heh! Dancing, indeed! ;D
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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