Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

FIC: Be So Converted (1/2)

Title: Be So Converted

Genre: Much Ado About Nothing

Rating: T

Author: tkel_paris

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

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

Dedication: sykira. This was supposed to be your Christmas present. So sorry for the delay.

Author's Note: An extra idea that popped up while I was finishing Seals of Love. Beta read by tardis_mole.

Be So Converted

Started February 26, 2014
Finished May 7, 2015

“Come, Lady; die to live. This wedding day is perhaps prolong'd; have patience and endure.”

Benedick watched as the Friar and Innogen led Hero out of the church. Leonato had already left in grief over the weight of the accusations against Hero, the anger he had let loose against his own child, and the pain of having to pretend she had died upon being falsely accused.

And slowly but surely the guilt of taking the Prince, the Count, and Don John at their word – or so Benedick hoped.

He followed just a little as Beatrice followed her cousin slowly. He felt a need to speak with the wit combatant he had spoken ill of before. She looked as though she needed a friend.

“Lady Beatrice,” he called quietly, certain that the others would not hear.

She stopped, turning to face him warily.

He was instantly stricken by the heaviness of her grief. “Have you wept all this while?”

“Yea,” she answered, barely able to raise her voice to speaking level. “And I will weep a while longer.”

The sight of her tear-streaked face tugged at him, making his chest constrict. “I will not desire that.”

“You have no reason; I do it freely.”

“Surely, I do believe your fair cousin is wronged.”

His words lightened her soul greatly. “Ah, how much might the man deserve of me that would right her.”

He felt a twinge. Would she submit herself to someone if they restored Hero's honour and reputation?! Hiding a swallow at the thought, he instead asked, “Is there any way to show such friendship?”

“A very even way, but no such friend.”

“May a man do it?”

“It is a man's office, but not yours.”

As she wept anew, he thought about what he could do. What sort of way could she mean? He only knew he did not like seeing her so grieved and longed to remove her tears. He was not yet sure where this need came from, other than a belief that ladies required more respectful treatment than many a man was willing to even think of giving. Respect he learned from feeling the injustice of his own father and brothers' actions.

He stepped closer, slowly to not frighten her. “How may I be of service to thee, Lady Beatrice? It grieves me to see thee so burdened.”

“What concern of yours is it, Senor? I am sorry for my cousin, and thou hath no right to act on her behalf. Only a man who wished to be bound to me, or perhaps to have me bound to him, would have such a right; and as thou have noted my mind is not of a sort to draw in such a man.”

Those words felt worse than a sword wound. They hit something far deeper, and he could not hide that hurt. “Are there no men who could act in the place of a brother, an uncle, a cousin? Kin or kith who may act?”

“None!” She sobbed and choked out, “The only way I see for my cousin to be right'd is for a man to act on her and my behalf and kill Claudio!”

Her words left a deep silence over them for a long moment. At length Benedick found his voice, and it was numb with the shock in the face of her belief. 'Is Claudio thy enemy?”

Her anger recovered. “Is he not approv'd in the height a villain, that hath slandered, scorned, dishonour'd my kinswoman? O that I were a man!”

Benedick was still, his insides freezing at the stark portrayal of the man he called friend – for all his faults. He was therefore startled when Beatrice grabbed his hands to make her point as she forced out her explanation of her anger.

“What, bear her in hand until they come to take hands; and then, with public accusation, unmitigated rancour – O god, that I were a man!” Her scream as she abruptly released his hands made him recoil slightly, but she was too angry to pay attention. “I would eat his heart in the marketplace!”

He tried to calm her. “Beatrice-”

“Talk with a man in the open air? A proper saying!”


“Sweet Hero! She is wrong'd, she is slander'd, she is undone!”


She gave him no chance to try again. And her flailing hands silenced him as much as her words.

“Princes and counties! Surely a princely testimony, a goodly count, Count Comfect, a sweet gallant surely! O that I were a man for his sake! Or that I had any friend who would be a man for my sake! But manhood is melted into courtesies, valour into compliment, and men are only turned into tongue, and trim ones too; he is now as valiant as Hercules that only tells a lie... and swears it.”

Benedick was completely still. Here was his sex's most grievous faults laid bare, and laid firmly at the door of two men he had considered to have the very bent of honor. There was no way he could defend either of them.

Beatrice barely noticed his stricken stance. “I cannot be a man with wishing; therefore I will die a woman with grieving.” She moved to leave.

He stepped in the way, suddenly desperate for her to remain. “Tarry, good Beatrice! You are not without friends!”

She slapped his hands away. “You dare be friends with me than fight with mine enemy?”

The words tumbled out of his mouth before he could think once about them. “I wish to be more than friends for I do love nothing in the world so well as you!”

She gasped, mouth hanging open.

He froze a moment, but the weight of the moment forced him to speak after a pause. “Is not that strange?”

She took several breaths to find enough focus to answer him. “As strange as the thing I know not.” She needed another as her heart was trying to leap into her throat. Clearing it seemed to help long enough to speak. “It were as possible to say I love nothing so well as you.” She covered her mouth and stumbled back as she realized what she said.

His heart lifted and he followed.

“But believe me not! And yet I lie not. I confess nothing! Nor I deny nothing!” She quickly moved chairs between them, stopping him in his tracks. “How can thou who is bound to the Prince's service be a man for my sake?”

He took a deep breath and covered her hands gently where they gripped one chair, showing he was not moving in threat to her but in support. “Think in your soul that Claudio hath wrong'd Hero?”

“Yea,” she choked. “As sure as I have a thought or a soul.”

“What proof have you?” he asked.

“All proof unheard since I am woman and not man,” she wept bitterly.

“Tell me, sweet Beatrice, and I will tell to every man as mine own truth.”

She did not hesitate to trust him. “I know it as false. My aunt brought her home and Hero was in my bed, where we have shared sleep every night. Yea, since my father died and left me orphaned and without a man to call upon. If she had risen hence I would have known!”

He released her hands to touch her arms. “Enough. I am engaged, I will challenge him.”

She stared at him in shock.

He reached for the hand still resting on the chair. “I shall kiss your hand and so seal my promise.” He did, lingering over her hand. “By this hand, Claudio shall render me a dear account.”

She struggled to speak. “Will this not place you in an impossible state with the Prince?”

It would, if he had not determined already his whole course of action. “Then I shall have to quit his company, an act which I pray shall give him pause over his own actions. My lot I cast with yours and shall look not with second thoughts. Once I hath secured the restoration of your fair cousin's name shall I dedicate myself to thy service, my dearest Lady, as thou hast had possession of my heart when I did not know it.”

Beatrice make choking sounds for a long moment, stumbling away toward a pillar and then finally breathed, “Why then, o may God forgive me!”

“What offense, sweet Beatrice?”

“You have stayed me in a happy hour. I was about to protest that I love you.”

Even with the weight of the moment, Benedick smiled as he approached to touch her arms. “Then do it with all thy heart!”

“I love you with so much of my heart that there is none left to protest.” She gasped, pulling away into the open so she could lean against a pillar.

He wanted to ask her to bid him to anything for her, but he thought better of it. It was time for them to go to their different goals, but he looked at the pain warring with the joy in her face and could not quite leave her. “Let me escort thee to thy uncle's. Go comfort your cousin once there. I must say she is dead.” He put his hat back on, and offered his arm. “May I have the honour?”

She slowly picked up the bouquet before accepting his arm, leaning into him as they walked until she recovered herself enough that she could manage the rest of the way. That was her intention, however. But she found herself uneasy enough that her gait would not steady.

Benedick pretended to not notice. “I must write a letter to the Prince, informing him of my resolution. He shall pause at the knowledge that his actions have cost him my service.”

Suddenly she did not yet want him to leave her side. “There is paper at my uncle's; thou may use it as mine uncle will be grateful to thee.” Then she paused as she looked pensive.

He frowned. “What concern troubles thee now, my lady?”

“When you have right'd Hero, when will you come with me to approach my uncle?”

Benedick stood taller as the request painted a stronger and clearer picture of his lady, one that made him feel even more unworthy of her. More ashamed of his actions in the years since they met; and yet determined to stand for her sake. “I see it matters a great deal to thee to be part of every decision that alters thy life; to rule over the lands that are thine by blood and right, no matter what custom and the law state. I understand thy desires and vow this: upon our marriage I shall defer to thy knowledge of thy family's lands and traditions, enforcing thy choices if any dare deny thy right. And we may go to thy uncle whenever it pleases thee.”

Beatrice found a tender smile. “Thou art truly the properest man in all of Italy, perhaps even the world.”

He felt secure enough to draw her a little closer and smile warmly. “At this moment I would fight anything on thy behalf, sweet Beatrice.”

Their steps became even closer to each other, enough to declare to any observer that they were together without shoving it in their faces.


Footsteps interrupted Benedick as he sealed his work. He looked up and his eyebrows raised. “Beatrice, why art thou here and not with thy cousin?”

“Hero wishes to be alone with her gentlewoman. No words of comfort could I offer that she would accept; her heart is too frail to hear that there is one who will defend her, for it would mean that the man she still loves in spite of his failing her may die on the sword.”

Beatrice's voice betrayed the anger she had bestowed a showing of to Benedick earlier, but it lacked the depth of venom that she had let loose before. Her own tears had left her a bit spent.

Benedick tucked his now finished letter in his coat's inside pocket as he stood. He took her hands tenderly. “I thank you, my lady; thou hast made my unpleasant task easier. I must now say that Hero is dead and make Claudio and the Prince aware that they have acted wrongly.”

Beatrice nodded. “Let me walk with thee to the courtyard.”

Arm in arm they walked. Their conversation was soft, a discussion of what their plans would be for the future. The few servants who saw were stunned and left motionless from their disbelief that the governor's niece and the Prince's longest-serving lieutenant could be so at peace with each other.

Only they halted when they came upon Leonato and Innogen. The former was seated and venting his spleen to his long-suffering wife who suppressed her own grief to deal with his. The words coming from the man brought frowns to both lovers. They kept their displeasure silent, not wishing to attract attention even as Innogen drew Leonato out of his grief and back into anger.

Benedick did have to whisper to Beatrice, “I pray no one forces thy uncle to become aware of how much hypocrisy in his actions; a man ought not to trust others ahead of his own judgement of his child.”

Beatrice nodded. “Such is why I hath rebelled where and when I could.”

The slow entrance from the other side of the area of the Prince and Claudio, both clearly not expecting to find anyone around, silenced all talking. “Good day,” said the Prince, echoed by an equally stiff Claudio.

Benedick and Beatrice held back as Leonato began to confront them, and was seconded by Innogen pointing out the obvious about being wronged, although her words were more poetic than Leonato was capable of. They remained in the background as Leonato shouted and scolded Claudio as he ought to have from the start. They remained where they were when the news that Hero had “died” was revealed, stunning both the Prince and Claudio despite not being enough. The lovers remained aside as Innogen proved that she was as big a force to be reckoned with as her husband, the inspiration for Beatrice to carry even further.

But when the Prince insisted that Hero was accused justly Benedick decided it was time to step forward. “Good day, my lord.”

Beatrice followed, keeping in step with him.

Leonato's ready rant was stilled, partly by the interruption but more by the sight of his niece standing so closely to the Prince's lieutenant. “Senor Benedick. Niece.”

The Prince nodded his own greeting, although it was subdued due to the gravity of the immediate situation. “Benedick, you have come to part almost a fray.”

“In a false quarrel there is to true valour. I have come to seek you both.”

Claudio would have tried a more light tone, but he felt it necessary to temper his tone. “We have been up and down to seek thee; for we are high proof melancholy and would fain have it beaten away. Will thou use thy wit when we are left alone?”

“It is in my scabbard. Shall I draw it?” Benedick retorted, not amused.

“Store thy wit by thy side?” asked the Prince before anyone else could.

“As I am an honest man, he looks pale,” noted Claudio, a little amusement creeping into his voice by habit of how he spoke to Benedick in the presence of the Prince. “Art thou sick or angry?”

“Sir, I shall meet your wit in the career, and you use it against me. I pray you choose another subject,” Benedick snapped.

Claudio nearly laughed, but the look on Beatrice's face kept that firmly under wraps. “By this light, he changes more and more: I think he be angry indeed.”

Benedick stopped anyone else from reacting by holding out his hand. “Shall I speak a word in your ear?”

His tone was so deadly without being overpowering that they all stilled. Even Beatrice, who knew what he was doing.

Leonato and Innogen's mouths dropped wide open. Their eyes grew even bigger when they noticed that Beatrice did not share in their shock.

Claudio looked numbly at the Prince, who slowly gestured for him to follow Benedick, who only walked far enough away that lowered voices would be difficult to be overheard. Gentlemanly honor demanded it, no matter whether the other party had claim to any. Once over, Claudio tried to make a joke in a quiet tone. “God bless me from a challenge.”

Benedick was not amused. “You are a villain.”

Claudio squawked a laugh.

“I jest not,” snapped Benedick. The resulting silence allowed him to begin his critical attack. “I will make you good how you dare, with what you dare, and when you dare. Do me right, or I will protest your cowardice. You have killed a sweet and innocent lady, and her death shall fall heavy on you. Let me hear from you.”

He stepped away, but Claudio did not let him go more than a step before pretending he could not be serious. “Well, I would meet you, so I may have good cheer.”

“Sir, you wit ambles well; it goes easily,” Benedick retorted in a slow manner, letting every bit of scorn for the title show. He walked over toward Beatrice, which happened to place him near the Prince, whose movements to judge what was happening drew him closer. Now came the hardest part. To see what the Prince did and said.

While he could not jest, Don Pedro could comment on something he remembered. “Lady Beatrice, despite when you transhaped Benedick's virtues for an hour the other day you did conclude that he was properest man in Italy, now you stand at his side. What has changed your opinion now?”

She kept her tone measured, holding in her anger and grief. “That he hath proved there can be no man more proper in the world. Who else would go against his brothers in arms to defend a woman he knows is innocent? Even though he had not been attentive he was aware enough of her character to know that none who properly observe Hero would dare accuse her.”

The words were delivered calmly, but the underlying deadliness was pointed and unmistakable. Her manner was just polite enough to avoid being accused of being unladylike. But it still earned uneasy looks from her guardian and aunt.

Don Pedro thought a long moment about how to reply. Then he focused on the one thing he could. “Benedick, I must state that I feel Hero was justly accused, and the accusation was full of proof.”

“In that I must disagree with you, my lord. Prince, I thank thee for thy many favours.” He drew an envelope out of his pocket. “I must discontinue your company.”

Only Beatrice did not still from the announcement.

Don Pedro looked carefully into Benedick's eyes, and saw a sad yet determined resolution. “Thou art in earnest.”

“Most profound earnest,” breathed Claudio. “And I would almost warrant for the love of Beatrice.”

“I do not deny that, for it is true,” proclaimed Benedick, shocking none more than Leonato. But he did not tarry. Instead he turned to the Prince. “Yet it is immaterial to the matter at hand. Your brother the Bastard is fled from Messina. You have among you killed an innocent lady. For my Lord Lackbeard there, he and I shall meet.” He let the words sink in for a moment. “Until we do, peace be with him. Senor Leonato, your niece and I wish for a moment of thy time, aside from these men.”

Again, more silence from the elders, but before the Governor could give an answer they were interrupted as the Sexton marched into the room, business in his entire manner. “Governor, I hold here the examinations ta'en this morning; thy awareness is required as an accused hath stolen away.”

Leonato received and read the papers, not trying to stop Innogen from reading over his shoulder. Within moments they each turned stone cold in his expression within moments.

“Where art the villains?!” he bellowed.

“They follow, in the care of the Watch.”

Benedick closed his eyes tightly for a moment, unimpressed. He remembered the Watch officers he saw walking about yesternight, and he was worried that their efforts would not have produced a result that would permit actual justice to happen.

“Come hither, sirs, you must be looked to!” cried a voice familiar to Beatrice and her family. Even she closed her eyes at the sound of Dogberry's voice, as much as she tried to have patience with him.

The Prince was stunned. “Two of my brother's men bound?! Officer, what offence have these men committed?”

The Messanger was not permitted a chance to speak much, for Dogberry insisted on showing off what he thought was his wit in discharging his duty as the constable. “ Marry, sir, they have committed false report; moreover they have spoken untruths; secondarily, they are slanders; sixth and lastly, they have belied a lady, thirdly, they have verified unjust things; and, to conclude, they are lying knaves.”

Not even the angry Leonato was surprised at the Prince's rapidly shifting expressions. They all waited until Don Pedro had recovered himself.

“First, I ask thee what they have done; thirdly, I ask thee what's their offence; sixth and lastly, why they are committed; and, to conclude, what you lay to their charge.”

A moment of the two in a battle of wills passed until the Prince's already short patience was pushed to the breaking point before Dogberry backed off.

“Masters, this learned constable is too... cunning to be understood. What's your offence?”

Borachio managed to speak, even with the weight of Benedick's stare bearing down on him. He knew that man had to have guessed some part of the events already. “Sweet Prince, do you hear me and let this Count kill me. I have deceived even your very eyes. What your wisdoms could not discover these... shallow fools have brought to light, who in the night overheard me confessing to this man how your brother Don John incensed me to slander the Lady Hero, and how you saw me court Margaret in Hero's garments.”

Benedick had to turn away in disgust. Not just at Don John and Borachio for thinking of and carrying out the plan to begin with, but also at the Prince and Claudio for falling so easily for it. His only comfort would be that their honors would make the guilt weigh heavy on them, and he only hoped that Claudio would recognize his own guilt in the matter without trying to fall back on any male excuses.

He had seen plenty of them back home. He knew all of the tricks, and did not trust that he had not taken advantage of a few to escape attentions he had not wanted. Thank goodness he would never have to worry about that once he married Beatrice. He might never again see a battlefield, but there was reason to live now, reason to cherish life beyond what he had had before.

And what a life it might be.

Borachio broke the silence left by his words. “My villainy they have upon record which I had rather seal with my death than repeat to my shame. The lady is dead on my and my master's false words; and briefly, I desire nothing more than the reward of a villain.”

The Prince rubbed his eyes hard, as if to scrub at his own guilt. But the way he let his hands hang by his side said that it did very little. Claudio's numb stance, rigid from the shock and horror of his actions, proved the man's own guilt.

“Runs not this speech like iron through your blood?” Don Pedro asked Claudio, tightly as he was struggling to contain his feelings.

“I have drunk poison whilst he uttered it,” muttered the Count, aloud.

“But did my brother set thee upon this?”

“Yea, and paid me richly for the effort,” Borachio admitted.

“He is composed and frame of treachery: and fled he is upon this villainy!” exploded the Prince. Oh, how would he explain this to his father, the King?!

Claudio sank into a chair on the paving to one side. “Sweet Hero! Now thy image doth appear in the rare semblance that I loved it first!”

Beatrice turned to Benedick and joined him, ignoring the words of Dogberry. “Senor, my cousin is righted by this, is she not?” she whispered.

He kept his answer equally quiet. “I fear the deception must be carried out further. How to revive her now is a challenge.”

“No, villain, thou beliest thyself,” they heard Leonato say.

Turning, they both realized that he was speaking to Borachio. But only for a moment. His attention turned to Hero's accusers.

“Here stand a pair of honourable men who had a hand in it. I thank you, Princes, for my daughter's death. It was bravely done if you would but think of it.” He added a salute to mock them.

Claudio stood. “I know not how to pray your patience; yet I must speak.”

The courtyard went silent while Claudio struggled for the words to express himself.

“Choose your revenge yourself; impose me to what penance your invention can lay upon my sin: yet sinn'd I not but in mistaking.”

“Error hath no excuse for a gentleman of honour,” snapped Benedick, taking a few warning steps toward Claudio, who reflexively drew back from the mere look in his eyes, the chair falling back from beneath him with a clatter. He glanced at it, but retained his feet after a fashion. And Benedick was not finished with him. “The fault lies either in thy wisdom or in thy impatience and willingness to believe other men over a lady, one who you had been prepared to make half yourself. Why would any man be prepared to do so if he hath not ta'en the time to be certain he hath chosen wisely; not merely for the alleged more vital matters of family and money?!”

The cutting words were sufficient. Claudio hung his head.

Don Pedro thus changed the words of apology he had on his tongue. “Then I am equally guilty of such a failing in my wisdom, trusting the words of a brother I knew hath every ability to conceal the truth; but upon my honour, to satisfy this good old man, I would bend under any weight that he'll enjoin me to,” he declared, speaking to Leonato.

The Governor thought quickly, a plan beginning to form to revive his daughter in the public eye. “I cannot bid you my daughter live; that were impossible: but, I pray you both, possess the people in Messina here how innocent she died; and if your love can labour in sad invention, hang her an epitaph upon her tomb and sing it to her bones, sin it to-night.” He went to his wife's side and took her hands. “Tomorrow morning come you to my house, and since you could not be my son-in-law, be yet my nephew: my wife hath a niece, almost the copy of our child that's dead. Give her the right you should have given her cousin, and so dies my revenge.”

Benedick and Beatrice each had to fight the urge to widen their eyes. It was an insane plan, so easy to see through; and yet what other choice there was to bring Hero back neither could see. All they hoped was that Claudio was willing. Even though Beatrice plainly wished for an alternative.

“Oh noble sir, your over-kindness doth wring tears from me! I do embrace your offer; and dispose henceforth of poor Claudio,” cried the Count, offering his hand.

Leonato did not take it, as was his right. Instead he merely acknowledged it and confronted Borachio, who pled that Margaret was innocent, and then endured dealing with Dogberry until that man left with the Watch and his faithful assistant. At last he could address the deceived men who wronged his daughter. “Farewell, my lords: we look for you tomorrow.”

“We will not fail,” swore the Prince.

“Tonight I'll mourn with Hero,” promised Claudio.

“Bring you these fellow son,” Leonato commanded the Messanger and the Sexton. “We'll talk with Margaret, how her acquaintance grew with this lewd fellow.” He turned to his niece and Benedick. “Come with us, and whilst we wait for Margaret to come to account for her own actions in this, no matter how innocent, we shall speak of the words you spoke, Senor; and Niece, you shall be present as thy both appear to wish.”

Benedick offered his arm, and Beatrice accepted it as they followed the others out. Leaving Don Pedro and Claudio to stew in their guilt.

Part Two


May. 12th, 2015 03:33 am (UTC)
hi! sorry been working SO much, i promise I'll be back to read and comment properly when i next get a day off, thank you for this to look forward to!
May. 12th, 2015 03:59 am (UTC)
Tis okay. I love your detailed feedback, so know that two chapters are waiting for you to enjoy them. *hugs*

Latest Month

June 2019


Page Summary

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow