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

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

Chapter One / Chapter Two / Chapter Three / Chapter Four

Assumptions Burst

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

Chapter Five: Sporting With A Lady's Feelings (Or Not)

In the corner of the House where the ladies prepared, Beatrice stood to the side. Her clothing choice was intended to keep men at bay, and it seemed to work given her past experiences. She could only hope that it would continue to do so this evening. She dimly recalled overhearing the talks when various gentlewomen wed, and this hardly seemed like a night to make a woman truly happy with her own husband. Entertainment, however sanctioned by the presence of their mothers and elder gentlewomen, was not exactly the sort of activity that ensured a lady's reputation.

She wondered why it was being done in the first place. Not that she knew her objections would be heard. Both her mother and her aunt had it in their heads to do so whilst the men celebrated, and Beatrice could only imagine what they would be getting up to. And she scowled wondering how deeply involved Benedick would be. Would he accept the attentions of a whore?

Her heart twinged more than she would ever admit at the thought.

Innogen's voice broke through the quiet. “Daughter, art thou prepared for thy lessons of the evening?”

Hero blushed. “I believe so, mother; yet I am so nervous.”

“Nothing unseemly shall happen. Think of this night as an education to make the marriage bed less frightening to thee. Your aunt and I each had such a night.”

Elena nodded. “Yea, and it did permit us to approach the bed with less fear.”

Beatrice rolled her eyes, hearing all from her spot outside. “A man meant to 'entertain' is nothing like the man who holds command over your whole life,” she muttered.

Hero glanced at where she knew Beatrice stood. “Mother, might I have a moment with my cousin?”

“Your cousin who is not appreciative of the marriage state?”

“Yea, the same; I have words to speak with her and would wish for privacy that would benefit her more than myself. Grant me this one wish before I am everyday tomorrow married.”

Innogen nodded, stepping aside to speak with Elena and bringing the gentlewomen away,

Hero went to where her cousin leaned against the pillar, watching the moon rising. It was a peaceful sight, and the younger lady could appreciate it as well as any.

Beatrice smiled at her cousin's approached. “How now, sweet Hero? Happy art thou to see things that cannot be true representation of marriage?”

“I did not come to speak of myself; I came to speak with thee of thee.”

“Whatever for?”

Hero sighed and joined her cousin in leaning. “Is thou aware that many would say that thou art too disdainful; that thy spirits are as coy and wild as haggerds of the rock?”

Beatrice snorted. “A higher compliment many could not pay me.”

“But they also say that 'Nature never framed a woman's heart of prouder stuff than that of Beatrice; disdain and scorn ride sparkling in her eyes, misprising what they look on, and her wit values itself so highly that to her all matter else seems weak: she cannot love, nor take no shape nor project of affection, she is so self-endeared'. And therefore certainly it were not good you knew any man's love, lest you make sport at it.”

“God of love, when would any ever have the lack of wit to fall so entirely in love with a harpy as myself?”

Hero changed her tactics. “Cousin, I pray thee explain thy words over the years. I never yet saw man, how wise, how noble, young, how rarely featured, but you would spell him backward: if fair-faced, you would swear the gentleman should be your sister; if black, why, Nature, drawing of an antique, made a foul blot; if tall, a lance ill-headed; if low, an agate very vilely cut; if speaking, why, a vane blown with all winds; if silent, why, a block moved with none. So turns you every man the wrong side out and never gives to truth and virtue that which simpleness and merit purchaseth. Such carping is not commendable.

“Tis not carping when the man lacks one important thing; the ability to deserve your respect. Hero, a woman must by the law be ruled by her husband. Unless he is wise enough to see your own virtues and wit, your own merits shall be overruled entirely. What man who would place his fellows above thee is worth having as a master?”

That could not be argued. “No, when put that way to be so odd and from all fashions as you are, can be commendable: but who dare tell you that others doth not think so? I always thought if I should speak, thou would mock me into air; O, that thou would laugh me out of myself, press me to death with wit.”

Beatrice took her cousin's hand. “I press thee so that thou wilt think for thyself. Have we not both seen proof that a man's judgement is not always trustworthy?”

“Indeed; but can we press ourselves to the point that we permit a man truly worthy to pass by?”

“What sort of man do you speak of?”

“Why, that I am sure that Benedick loves thee so entirely.”

Beatrice slapped the pillar so hard she flinched as the pain hit. “Says who? The prince and thy new-trothed lord? What, did they bid thee tell me of it, Hero?”

“No, they did not speak of this nor entreat me to acquaint you of it; but if I did not love and know thee I might have persuaded them, if they loved Benedick, to wish him wrestle with affection, and never to let you know of it. And nor he of your love for him, which you bare in secret, Cousin, and have done these ten long years.”

Beatrice nearly pushed herself off the pillar in shock.

Hero shook her head. “Despite that the gentleman deserves as much as may be yielded to a man: yet upon all the things I said before I might have said therefore let Benedick, like cover'd fire, consume away in sighs, waste inwardly: it were a better death than die with mocks, which is as bad as die with tickling.”

“What proof have thee that he loves me?” Beatrice demanded, hurt that her cousin would think of concealing this from her. “Why hath not my own actions been such an ill word as to empoison liking?”

“Beatrice, I could not do thee such a wrong. I know thou cannot be so much without true judgment – having so swift and excellent a wit as you are prized to have – as to refuse so rare a gentleman as Senor Benedick. He is the only man of Italy, always excepted my dear Claudio. And I pray you, be not angry with me, cousin, for speaking my fancy: Senor Benedick, for shape, for bearing, argument and valour, goes foremost in report through Italy. Indeed, he hath an excellent good name.

Beatrice sighed. “His excellence did earn it, ere he had it. But still, what proof?”

“Dost thou believe he played thee with false dice ten years hence?”

“Indeed; we spoke of wishing to wed, and I was aware that my father did not look on our talks with fondness. I begged Benedick to let me come with him, but he swore that he did not wish me to do something that would stain my honour. So agreed I to wait, and then he was gone the next day.”

“Cousin, he was ordered to leave thee.”

Beatrice looked carefully at Hero. “What? How certain art thou?”

“By being quiet I ca go about unseen rather easily when I wish it, and chanced upon a spot where I overheard my father speaking with thy father. Beatrice, my uncle refused Benedick's suit and commanded him to leave on the morrow. He threatened severe action if he did not obey. If not for that I do not believe the Senor would have left thy side! Permit me to describe that I heard last night after thee departed.”

“What has thee so vexed?” Leonato asked.

“That commoner from Padua has me vexed," Olivio admitted, his face pointed at the fireplace, his troubled face alit by the glowing coals.

"What does that mean, my Lord and brother?"

"Ten years hence, he petitioned of me my daughter's hand in marriage."

Leonato was stunned. "Then why, pray tell, is Beatrice still unwed?"

Olivio turned to peer at him over his shoulder. "I will not give my daughter to a man other than the Prince," he replied.

"By commoner, dost though mean Benedick?" Leonato wondered knowingly.

"Yes, that is he," Olivio confirmed, turning to glower at the fire. "At the moment of his arrival, when other ears were not inclined, I pressed to remind him of my parting words with him, ten years hence."

Leonato flinched, but hid it, thankful that Olivio’s back was turned and did not see it. "What did you tell him, my brother?"

"I said plainly that I had heard his petition once, ten years hence, and disallowed it and sent him from Messina. That he hath come back more than once is for the Prince to answer. If it had been mine word alone, he would have been stopped at the border. I spoke plainly; do not impassion me on this visit with thine groundless words of self-appropriated riches and heraldry. They are not worth one Ducat. Thine flattery of my House falls as dust around my feet, to be trod like blasphemy under foot. I told him; thou art not and never shall be worthy of my daughter’s hand. And if thee asks a second time, thine House and mine will dispense with peace! And thee will meet death upon mine own sword, boy of Padua!”

Olivio did not hear the gasp that caught in Leonato’s throat.

“I then turned to my servant,” Olivio continued. “I set upon him an order that he should set a watch on the wenches’ whelp of Padua. If he so much as approaches my daughter, my household are ordered to escort him out of the gates and lock them behind him.”

“I heard this and other threats," Hero finished.

Her cousin clutched a decorative marking on the pillar, barely able to speak. “He did not play me false, but let me believe so because my father threatened him?!”

“I believe this merry war has been the only way he could speak with thee without feeling he was risking his life or thy safety; his own honour and care of thy honour hath placed him in an impossible position. I am sure he would have married thee then had my uncle not prevented it.”

“And my father's threats explain why he hath only approached me under the cover of the revels,” breathed Beatrice.

“Daughter, we must away!” Innogen called.

Hero hugged Beatrice. “Think of what I have said. Perhaps my uncle can be persuaded with the right daughterly pleas.”

As Hero walked away, Beatrice took several deep breaths. “What fire is in mine ears? Can this be true? Stand I condemn'd for fatherly wishes so much? Contempt, farewell! and maiden pride, adieu! No glory lives behind the back of such. And, Benedick, love on; I will requite thee, taming my wild heart to thy loving hand: if thou dost love, my kindness shall incite thee to bind our loves up in a holy band;
for others say thou dost deserve, and I believe it better than reportingly. Therefore to my father I shall go as soon as may be.”

Her mother approached from the inside. “Beatrice, of what didst Hero speak?”

“Did you hear us not, mother?”

“Not one word, you were so softly spoken that a butterfly pass by and I heard it clearer.”

“That to my advantage,” Beatrice replied, quietly.

Elena frowned. “You dare to speak to me with the same lack of respect you show to your father?”

“It is not a lack of respect, Mother,” Beatrice assured her. “It is the sound of my breaking heart that I speak with. And yet my father cares not. Would you, in my place, truly to otherwise?”

“Your disrespect of your father is repaid double on your mother,” Elena replied after several seconds of hesitation. “Have you not thought on such a truth? Never wondered? You seek too much in contempt and not enough in duty.”

Beatrice pleaded with her mother, the woman who had gently encouraged her education and the ways that were not always womanly for fear of suppressing her child's spirit. “If a man came to my father, and spoke of love and marriage, my father would deny him my hand. My father would wish for me only scorn from a man who cares little for our family’s traditions. I have done nothing but tried to keep them alive. Why is that so terrible to bear?”

“Your vanity and arrogance makes our traditions appear unworthy of a man’s care, Beatrice,” Elena pointed out after a long quiet of trying to find any words. “No man will ever love you, because you have dirties the name of your father in favour of your own arrogance.”

Beatrice was silent.

“Go and sit with your cousin and learn something,” Elena ordered quietly. And then left her alone without another word.

Innogen noticed her sister-in-law's high emotions, as tightly kept under wraps as they were as Elena returned to her side. “What troubles thee, sister?”

“I was forced to use words against my daughter's wishes, words softened from what my lord would use yet no less hurtful to my child. Am I right to obey so much when I see my child is suffering, when there is a man who she would happily have as I was to have her father?”

The younger matron was silent for a moment. Yet words came to her more readily than either expected. “Elena, whilst we are to be ruled by our husbands we must act to protect our children from harm; if such harm comes from their father then we must decide whether our vows to them are in conflict to our vows to God. If you believe that Beatrice is acting as God wished her to then thou must find some way of convincing the Viscount to listen.”

“What if he will not?”

Innogen knew not what to say. Yet she was spared by Margaret's antics aimed to prod Hero to relax.

Despite her mother’s words, Beatrice was not disheartened. In fact, it strengthened her belief in what Hero had told her. Nothing seemed to dampen the secret thrill of knowing the truth.

It was with a much lighter heart than she thought possible on the eve of her cousin's marriage that she went with her family and the gentlewomen. Although the shrieks she wanted to unleash were dulled as the thoughts of what it might be like to finally be wed to Benedick overpowered her.

Chapter Six: Wise Words Unheeded


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 28th, 2015 01:00 pm (UTC)
*gasp* She knows.

I don't know what to say. Oh, I can't begin to think what Beatrice would do. I sense a storm rolling into the household should (and I believe Beatrice will) confront her father.

I have no words. You robbed me of them.

I can only say that I can't wait for the next one.
Dec. 28th, 2015 04:43 pm (UTC)
Next chapter will appear later today. One note: you might want a pillow to punch. Fair warning. Because two storms shall collide.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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