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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!

FTR, you may want a pillow handy to punch for this and the next chapter. Fair Warning.


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


Assumptions Burst

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

Chapter Six: Wise Words Unheeded

Pietro stood in the background to avoid catching Claudio's attention. He also wished to hear as little of the talk about the wedding as possible. But it had a downside; he was unable to help soften the teasing toward his own lord, and it seemed that the latter's wit had deserted him somehow.

Benedick could no longer take the teasing and stood after the naughty tease that he wished the Prince had not made when he knew of Beatrice's feelings. “Yet! Is this no charm for the toothache?! Old senor, walk aside with me; I have studied eight or nine wise words to speak with you, which these hobby-horses must not hear.”

Leonato was willing, aware that Claudio would be more relaxed for whatever else Don Pedro had in mind once he was gone.

He was surprised to see Pietro join them. “And are you sharing in these wise words, young Duke?”

“Nay, I am to stand in support of my lord.”

“When doth Benedick's wit require support?”

“Tonight, sir, my wise words are not for you alone. I beg of thee to entreat thy brother to hear my words.”

Leonato stilled and looked at the two men. “And your right hand is here to plead your case as a cousin to Olivio?”

“Indeed; I hope that my honour shall be enough to let his own persuade him to hear Benedick.”

“Well, I shall bring you both to him; God be with thee both!”

/=/=/=/=/=/

Olivio's mood was a bit lighter. He was certain that it would not take much more to drive Benedick away, not after the morning's efforts. So he could focus on getting Beatrice to accept the Prince's suit. He would only wait so long before he made her have to accept it without delay. The next time that Don Pedro offered would be when she would consent, one way or another. Or he would accept for her, and her free will be damned.

He had chosen to walk away early from the festivities for Claudio. He knew the young men would have a better time once he and Leonato left. Why his brother chose to wait a while longer he did not know.

He sat alone with his cigarette, enjoying the time to himself.

And yet the quiet was bothersome. “Oh that my sweet wife were here. Time would be more peaceful with her.”

He heard footsteps. “Soft, far too many to be just her, and too hard to be ladies. Who comes?”

“Tis I, brother, with two men who would speak with thee,” Leonato said.

Olivio blinked and put out his smoke, standing to greet his petitioners. He scowled when he saw one of them. “And what business doth thou have with me, young commoner of Padua? Hast thou already forgot my warning of the other day?”

Benedick took a page from his lieutenant's book, and let it pass over him like water off a duck's back.

Pietro raised his hands. “My Viscount cousin, I beg of thee to hear my lord; he hath been seeking a moment to speak with you on a matter of great importance and I cannot imagine a finer man to make the request he wishes. Recall that I owe mine life to him, which would have cost thy cousin, my mother, great pain had he not acted in my defense. And may I remind thee how dear my mother is to my father, and that what pains her he takes as his deepest concern?”

The reminder was unpleasant, but could not be ignored. Nor could he forget that his sister's daughter had married the Doge's second son, and it was said that the siblings were very close, taking their spouses as tightly into the family bonds as though they were related by blood. “Very well, you have engaged my honour on that. For thy mother's and sister-in-law's sakes shall I hear your commander. Senor Benedick, what words does thou consider worthy of mine ears?”

Benedick took a breath and accepted the papers that Pietro had carried for him. “Never could I forget your words about my station and wealth when last we properly spoke, but I have ignored the threats you made upon my arrival; hence I wish to show what hath changed in the past ten years. Every Ducat I could spare from my absolute expenses have I put aside, and I have gained courtesies from the Prince in addition. So my fortunes are now great enough to support a family in a style that would keep them very comfortable even without a wife's fortunes increasing that. This is where my fortunes have climbed to.”

He showed the paper to him, which Olivio looked at but did not take.

Leonato accepted it and his eyebrows bounced up. “I'faith, I have not seen anyone succeed in raising their fortunes so high. I see that Fortune herself was with thee. Hardly any of the frivolities that many a young man indulge in would I think you have spent a single Ducat.”

“Nay, I chose to avoid them all. What are they if a man doth not have someone to share his life with? No lady which my own family hath suggested would be able to engage my interest for longer than mere minutes, which would hardly be fair to them. Lesser men think that cavorting with the camp-followers and keeping mistresses makes a man; they could not be further from the truth. A man who would forego all such things for the love of a woman worthy of ruling if Beatrice were permitted would treasure her and her traditions as his own. I come to beg only the opportunity to speak with Beatrice and beg of her father a chance to woo her. I would let my actions prove to thee my worthiness to protect your traditions and honour your memory. I would relinquish any claims to my father's traditions to adopt yours as mine own, protecting them for my and her heirs.”

Olivio held up a hand and returned the papers. “Remarkable as your promises are, they are not enough. You are still not of sufficient rank to be worthy of the daughter of a royal line, and never shall be. Find a rich lady of lesser standing, for there are surely many who would like such a man as you.”

Benedick's jaw slackened.

“While you are a valued man of the Prince I cannot command you to leave Messina; but you shall not attend my niece's nuptials tomorrow. I need not remind you that you are unwelcome in my presence, or perhaps ten years has been too long for your memory?”

Pietro had to speak again, although he took the papers. “My good lord and cousin, you would risk your traditions falling away under the pressure of those of a grandly titled man who may not have the respect of your daughter? Has Benedick not shown respect for your daughter's intelligence and wit? What sort of a man would submit himself willingly but a man who has nothing to acquire from his father but his name? I myself would wish to do as he wishes; to take a lady who is her father's only heir and hold her up on a pedestal as I rule in her honour.”

“Young cousin, thy loyalty and words are noted; but he is not the suitor I have in mind for my daughter. A lady like my daughter is only fit to be a Queen.”

Both younger men stilled. “The Prince?” both breathed.

“Yea. She is under my rule, and shall submit to her destiny. Now leave.”

“If my lord is not welcome on the morrow, then I shall attend neither,” Pietro declared. He bowed sharply. “Viscount. Governor.”

Benedick swallowed hard, and managed a bow. But he could not speak as he walked away. His ready wit had nothing.

As they walked into the night, Benedick whispered, “Is it all come to this? Shall I never be able to enjoy the love of a woman who deserves to be respected?”

“If he hath not forced her into marriage before then he is not likely to press it,” Pietro remarked. “Perhaps if you make your case to the Prince he will persuade Olivio that you are the perfect husband for Beatrice.”

Benedick shook his head slowly. “The Prince hath always looked on her with some admiration. I cannot be certain that he will not decide he would rather have her for himself. How can anyone withstand such pressure? Surely all of her family shall insist. Peace, let me be for the night.”

Pietro knew when to be silent. There was nothing he could say. Yet he needed to state one thing: “I pray that my father is not driven to anger by disappointment in the Viscount or in the Governor's not persuading him otherwise. You know the Doge wishes he had a daughter to offer thee, and that he hath a unwed niece he has thought of introducing to thee?”

That was news to Benedick, though he barely reacted. “Flattering as that is I fear I may never be in a state to accept; but I pray thee be careful in thy words. I would not have him declare war on Messina, for the city could ill afford it, despite the Viscount's threat.”

“I pray he is more reasonable than that, but you know what he is capable of when angered; and he would take offense on thy behalf, for I am offended on thy behalf.”

“Still, beg him to not be rash,” Benedick pleaded softly before parting ways for the night.

They did not know that someone was near enough to overhear.

/=/=/=/=/

Don John thought the plan was going well. Claudio seemed ready to believe it. Drink was such a blessing to a villain's deeds.

But Don Pedro was unwilling to believe it, and not even his typical words were working. He recalled that his brother seemed to look favorably upon Hero's cousin. That had to be the cause.

Lucky for him, he had the right words to add to force his brother into his way.

"Ignore me, as you will, half-brother, but if I am right and you ignore my warnings out of a man's desire for Hero's cousin, this foul deed will splice thee from your vaulted seat of respect and honour and from our father's throne and deftly set me in thy stead as his successor. This match between the Count and the lady was your doing. Would'st thou really be that blinded with drink and love as to ignore my warning when it is your dishonour that will be bitten and me on the throne? I don't want the throne. By God, the world is abed with war as it is! Fear it twice as bad if I were to take but portion of it as my own!"

The pain in the Prince's eyes told the Bastard that he would fall into line.

And he certainly saw the pain that Don Pedro felt upon knowing he had to give up on any thought of Beatrice. Not that Don John cared, but it delighted him to know that he thwarted his own brother's wishes.

/=/=/=/=/

Benedick paced in the dimly lit gardens, needing a moment of peace and quiet. Oh, there was little of the latter to be found as there was a great coil around Leonato's this evening.

“Olivio's words hang over my head, weighing me down like an anchor dropped into the sea. War hath taught me that rank doth not ensure nobility, and it also doth not mean that a person is truly better because of their family history. How could a man so renown for his awareness and willingness to permit his talented daughter to be well educated not see that she requires a special touch in a husband? I do not pretend to be that man, but I yearn to be; I hath wanted that almost since I met Beatrice. What now?”

Footsteps interrupted his musings. “Soft, who comes near?” He glanced at his watch. “Tis a late hour; why would anyone be out unless they are part of the celebrations?” He stilled. "I wonder if is was the watch Olivio threatened to set upon me, though I hath not seen any servant of Olivio’s employ; perhaps Leonato hath a hand in the watch’s retraction?"

He leaned to get a better look, and sucked in a breath. “Here comes Beatrice, and Hero and their mothers with them. What mean they going about without gentlewomen, maids or footmen in escort?”

So he approached, allowing them to hear his footsteps and catch a glimpse of him in the moonlight. “Good evening, ladies. What doth four beautiful women mean going about alone?”

Beatrice started at seeing him, flushing and praying he could not see. “We were at the pub, honouring Hero's nuptials tomorrow; when a ruffian stole her veil our mothers decided it was time to return for sleep.”

“A ruffian? Are you hurt, Lady Hero?”

“Only my comfort. I could not see his face in the dark, but there was something familiar about it. And then he took it right off my head. Beatrice tried to take it back, but my aunt prevented her.”

“I could not let my daughter risk herself so over a mere trifle,” Elena justified.

“Entirely proper,” Benedick remarked. “But you have no escort?”

Innogen shook her head. “We felt that it was not proper given that daughters must be given some education to make their marriages a success; but forgive me that I cannot speak more frankly before a man not of the family.”

He understood that she could not speak of the exact details, perhaps not even with a man who was part of their family. Certainly not, knowing who ruled their lives. “Would you permit me to walk you to Leonato's door, so I may know that you returned safely?”

He asked as much because he could tell that Beatrice had imbibed more than he was comfortable seeing. What could have driven her to such an extreme? He hoped he would have a chance to ask.

But it left him with only the honor of ensuring their safety. He had to be silent as it was evident that the only talking that any were up to was comforting Hero from the unease she felt.

Beatrice was not inclined to speak, but he noted that she was constantly looking his way. He caught her eye and received a tiny smile before she looked away with a flush.

Benedick, still smarting from what her father had said, decided to speak softly. “You will be well, my lady?”

“Do I look ill?”

There was not her usual venom, which told him that she was not feeling herself. He gave a wry smile. “I believe that is how I looked after last night's revels, when I felt angry enough to drink more than I ought to have.”

She blinked. “You admit to getting sick with drink?”

“Aye, it is a common failing among men; though I should hope it is not the cause of thy lack of usual spirits, for I do not think we have had such a civil discourse in years. Not that I feel it right, and yet it would be preferable for a merry war to be entirely in jest.”

It was the gentlest he had been with her since their last honest talk, before he had suddenly left. Now that she knew the cause she felt a little uncertain how to act. “Such uncommon care you are taking toward us, Senor.”

“It ought to be the usual way; is not a lady's honour the most important thing to protect, far and away above a man's own?”

“Even if the man insists on the lady not acting in a manner that would secure the happiness of both?”

“Alas that society would not attach penance to any actions out of the way; I would not see thy name tarnished for the wide world.”

They had arrived, and had to part. Elena reached for Beatrice's hand. The younger woman took it, but turned around as she walked into the house. “Then all is forgiven, Senor Benedick. Until the morrow, then.”

He could not find the words to tell her that he would not see her save for some miracle. “Farewell, my love,” he whispered before walking off to his quarters, grateful that the moon was hiding his tears.

/=/=/=/=/

Beatrice knew she should be going to get ready for the wedding, but she had to do one thing first. It might be her only chance to make her case.

She entered the room where she was told her father and mother would be. Sure enough they were both ready.

Elena was horrified. “Beatrice! How is it thou art not prepared to honour thy cousin?!”

“I would speak with both of thee immediately. It is important.”

Olivio sighed. “What is it that concerns thee, daughter, that you would put off thy preparations?”

“Father, I know that you sent Benedick away ten years ago. Hero overheard you say something and thought I deserved to know what she realised had happened.”

Neither was prepared to hear that. Elena looked for confirmation from her husband, and could see the truth of their daughter's statement in the anger on her husband's face.

“Father, no man has honoured myself so much as Benedick. No man of a title could possibly come close to his innate nobility and sense of right. He would be a worthy Viscount, and he is in truth the only man I could ever love and respect enough to permit myself to fall under his rule.”

“Lord, she is admitting that there is a such a man for her!” Elena cried. “What of all the words spoken against him?”

“Those were when I thought he had played me with false dice. Now I know it was my father's dictates. I wished him to take me away, and he would not. He insisted on speaking with thee first, and then the next thing I knew he had left without a word! Father, how could thee permit me to endure such heartache for over ten years?!”

“Daughter, you know not what is necessary for the sake of House and future. A man who is but a commoner as he is but a third son is someone not worthy of thee.”

“I have seen with mine own eyes that a title doth not ensure nobility or honour!”

“You would accuse the Prince of such?”

“A better man would not have wooed a lady on behalf of another, forcing her to endure the threat of being pressured to marry himself! And surely his interest in me would not be so great if I were not wealthier than he because of mine inheritance!”

“Pray, silence, daughter! Thou shall forget Benedick! He has always been unworthy of thee, and I sent away that pup for thine own good! Once Hero is wed to the Count I shall be speaking with the Prince. Thy answer when he next approaches thee shall be what I expect!”

“Husband-” Elena pleaded.

“It shall be!” Olivio bellowed.

Beatrice's eyes watered as she shook. But then a hard look crossed her face. “I swear if you endevour to shackle me to the Prince, a man you know I do not respect enough to trust with my dowry or my body, our line shall die with me for you shall find my body dead with my wrist slit by my own hand before I will be wedded to him!”

“Daughter!” Elena cried as Beatrice fled the room fighting back tears.

Olivio was silent, stricken by the very words. Leonato had admitted hinting in the deception played on Benedick that Beatrice might do such an outrage to herself, but he never thought it might be a true danger.

His wife turned on him. “Is such a connection worth our child's health? Her very state of mind? Her life?! Husband, the Prince hath not been nearly as respectful of myself and my honour as Senor Benedick hath.”

“Peace, wife!” he cried, thinking quickly to reassure himself as Leonato joined them, looking rather shaken. “I shall ensure she is not left alone. The Prince shall persuade her that Benedick is worth forgetting.”

Elena stood taller, suddenly looking very much like her daughter. “You could never suppress her in the years prior; what makes thee certain it shall work now? I fear thy bed shall be very cold tonight and perhaps forever. I would rather go with my daughter to a convent than to bear the foul words of thy tongue for another day. Better did I think of thee when wooed and my heart is broken seeing that I have been entirely deceived by my husband. I shall pray to god that at Hero's nuptials thy feelings shall be in better regulation, for if Beatrice dies so will I.”

She walked off, ignoring his command that she attend him.

Olivio stilled. “Whenever did the wonderful Elena disobey me? She hath never challenged my authority, not to this extent!”

Leonato sat beside him. “Would that I had better news, but I fear the merchants have beset themselves into a fright that I cannot talk them out of.”

“Thy daughter is to be wedded to a man of the very bent of honour, according to report. What could possibly beset thee?”

“Last night was a merchant returning to his home from my house, and overheard Benedick and the Duke speaking as they walked away; the Duke – who for certain was offended on his lord's behalf – indicated that his father, the Doge, would take equal offence at thy refusal to permit Benedick's suit.”

“Ha! The ruler of Venice taking offence on behalf of the son of his enemy?”

“I would have doubted it, except not only is this man known for speaking true I have word through the men in the Prince's service who are from Messina. The Doge hath issued that Benedick hath safe passage to and from Venice for life: a surer sign of his pardoning him of any wrong he considers the Lord of Padua to have done the Duke could not exist!”

“It doth not change that the Lord of Padua beset my party on the roads to the city!”

“Nay, I agree that cannot be forgot; and yet their fears may be justified!”

“How so?”

“The soldiers hath also assured me that the Doge wished he had a daughter unmarried and of an age that Benedick might become his son. A man would do a great deal for someone he thinks so of, and more so for one whom he owes his youngest's life; it is known across the King's lands that the Doge is fond of the Duke and is in close contact with him. Word shall surely reach him of thy dismissal of Benedick, and the merchants fear that Venice shall declare war on Messina.”

Olivio was silent for several seconds, but slowly shook his head again. “I will not believe it.”

“I would have found stronger words to dismiss their fears if not word reached me that the Lord of Padua and the Doge of Venice have a mutual enemy: Claudio's father. It seems he did them both a wrong, and the bad blood hath been ta'en up by Claudio who is known for speaking ill of the Duke to his face.”

“What?! May be Pietro of Venice's rank be newer, yet he is still Claudio's superior. Marry, he is my superior!”

“Whatever the source the Doge still holds it against the son. Knowing that he is allying himself to the city you hail from makes the merchants' fears less impossible. Brother, Messina cannot defend itself against the might of Venice; should the Doge act as feared I know not if the King himself can stop him.”

Olivio thought quickly. “Then we shall speak with the Prince as soon as Hero is married; perhaps he can speak first with the Doge to prevent such an action. Meantime, Brother, let us away. I pray my wife shall have calmed enough to remember why she accepted me.”

Leonato did not smile. “She had suitors of higher rank, and chose thee because she thought thy character superior to them all; that she did not have to leave Messina added to thy attractions. I fear my sister and niece are more alike than you would wish.”

That left the Viscount silent.

Chapter Seven: Social Murder

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
inward_audacity
Dec. 29th, 2015 03:14 pm (UTC)
Uh-oh.

Firstly, I still can't get over how easily Claudio and Don Pedro believed Don John. He has proven himself to be unreliable and a liar. Why do they believe his words? Ugh. Men and their egos.

At least, Benedick can prove that he has seen Hero returning home with her family...

Olivio doesn't know his daughter or his wife for that matter at all, does he? I feel bad for both ladies. I wish Benedick could comfort Beatrice. I think after ten years of forced separation, they at least deserve that...
tkel_paris
Dec. 29th, 2015 05:24 pm (UTC)
Next chapter will be going up soon. So be ready...

The male ego proves itself such a fragile thing. If they knew more of how Leonato protected his child, or of Hero herself they would know enough to call Don Snake what he is. But he's experienced where his brother is concerned, and has read Claudio well.

Ah, yes.

Olivio's line is an old royal line, and so he thinks his daughter deserves better than to marry a younger son of a lord (who is effectively a commoner because he practically inherits nothing). Benedick must've seemed too up-and-coming to begin with ten years hence. And Olivio suffers too from this male pride and too little trust in a woman's word. But trust me... stay tuned...
sykira
Feb. 2nd, 2017 07:08 pm (UTC)
Ah…so wonderful to finally come back to this amazing story! I have d/loaded it and and am typing comments offline as alas my internet access here in this field in the middle of nowhere leaves a lot to be desired. I’m glad though that I waited so long, in a way, because now I can savor it and not rush things (and wait til the kids are asleep so I can concentrate for longer than 60 seconds at a time!)
Due to lack of internet I’ll probably just reload the last chapter and cutnpaste all my thoughts in one comment box cause there’s no way my cellphone hotspot will accommodate me reloading all 13 tabs – I had to do that at my mum’s house just to get it d/loaded!
I love how you have weaved the actual dialogue into a new story – and I LOVE the idea that these scenes can be read as Benedick already knowing he’s in love with her, and regretting the pain he caused her, all with a very Shakespearean external Plot Reason for it (that is NOT him being a jerk!) ♥ ♥

Olivio’s violence against women is as hard to read here as it was to watch in the play with the violence toward Hero :_( Bravo to you for not shying away from these disturbing themes like so many people seem to do with this play. It totally fits Bea’s reticence and disdain for a husband too, to have grown up with a father like Olivio.
D’awww Bea rejecting the Prince, oh bless, I love that but ;-) partly cause it’s just so adorbs to see her flustered and the Prince all hopeful, and partly because I love how it elevates her character to be sought after by a lovestruck prince, who remains mopey about her rejection right til the end of the play!
I do love Pietro, he’s a great friend to Benedick and am soooo hoping he steals Hero from that pillock Claudio! He is much more worthy of her sweetness.
Great backstory for why Benedick left and could thereafter only trade barbs with his beloved Beatrice—I can already tell it’s going to become my headcanon to the point where I’ll forget what’s actually canon, LOL! It HAD to be something like this though, for sure.
tkel_paris
Feb. 3rd, 2017 01:07 am (UTC)
*squees* So happy to hear from you, my friend! And now I'm starting to hear what you thought of your fic!present! :DDDDDDD

Ooh! That's a definite lack of internet! Do whatever you need to. I'm just thrilled to see you commenting at all. *hugs*

Olivio has a lot in common with Leonato, but I think Olivio was more extreme. Thank you. It feels uncommon to get praised for focusing on such a reality. Yet it totally makes sense for Bea to feel that way, and she would be more extreme in her reactions.

She is adorable when flustered. Shame her father had to be so insistent on his own plans for her. All that pain he caused and causes!

Yes, you love Pietro! Then you shall be happy with my next planned MAAN story. ;D

I remember originally thinking he failed to grasp Beatrice's point of view about men and their right to rule, which he finally grasped when she rails against Claudio. Here it's her father causing the problems, which makes it much stickier to solve. But... hang on until the end.

Looking forward to your thoughts on the rest! *hugs* Hope life is going well other than the internet scarcity.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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