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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 / Chapter Five / Chapter Six / Chapter Seven / Chapter Eight / Chapter Nine / Chapter Ten

Assumptions Burst

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

Chapter Eleven: Lovers' Quarrel Silenced Forever

Benedick sat staring at a child's toy Pietro had found. Each had held a look of sadness when they gazed upon it. They had each attempted to put words to music.

But his attention was truly on his lieutenant, who stood nearby on a call to the Doge. Both men's bodies held poorly concealed tension.

“Aye, father; my lord implores thee to wait for additional word from here. A war when we have just returned from action is not in the interests of any, and he would not have Messina endure thy anger... Grievous is the offence from Olivio, though I feel Claudio's makes his seem like a fly to brush off... Nay, we neither would wish war on Messina, and there is something strange about Don Bastard's involvement in the accusations against Hero. Benedick is half-convinced that the Snake hath used his tongue to beguile the Prince and the Count; yet he doth not exonerate either man for falling for the trap... Father, out of respect for the lady my lord loves and for the memory of the lady I love, wilt thou not spare Messina from suffering for the foolishness of one noble...? You are, sir...? Yea, I shall relate whatever I learn... Godspeed, Father.”

“What news?” asked Benedick, warily.

Pietro rested the receiver after ending the call, and exhaled slowly as he came over and sat down, picking the toy up as a distraction. “I hardly know what to think. Father was deeply furious; yet he marveled at thy insistence for mercy. What is more unsettling is that thy father's advisors contacted him; they are to speak very shortly.”

“Indeed? I fear what may become of our fathers setting aside their differences.”

“As do I.” At length Pietro shook his head and handed the toy to Benedick, changing the subject. “How many men are truly capable of using words in some fashion deemed ideal and yet so strange to any plain speech?”

His lord exhaled sharply and fell back against his reclining chair. “Leander the good swimmer, Troilus the first employer of panders, and a whole bookful of these quondam carpet-mangers, whose names yet run smoothly in the even road of a blank verse, why, they were never so truly turned over and over as my poor self in love. Marry, I cannot show it in rhyme; I have tried: I can find out no rhyme to 'lady' but 'baby,' an innocent rhyme; for 'scorn,' 'horn,' a hard rhyme; for, 'school,' 'fool,' a babbling rhyme; very ominous endings: no, I was not born under a rhyming planet, nor I cannot woo in festival terms.”

Pietro's exhale was harsh. “Not that right of us is able to go about any wooing. The lady I wished for is gone from reach forever in absolute, and the lady thou wishes for may yet be unable to permit a courtship for respecting her cousin.”

“I cannot act without clear proof of Beatrice's wishing for the match; and without any interference from her family. That we have had enough.”

“I fear that the quarreling between our fathers, not to mention my father and Claudio's, must seem mild compared to the pain thou hast endured because of this. I wonder if the alliance to my brother was in Olivio's mind a point to ill dispose him toward thee as Venice and Padua are so often at odds.”

“And not even my vow to forgo my father's customs worked upon him. It is all uncertain. All that I know is that I expect to hear very soon from Claudio or else I shall subscribe him a coward.”

“A coward he hath always been in matters of the heart,” Pietro declared, with a spite that he rarely showed. “He had a lack of knowledge about the ways of others'.”

“He hath certainly been unaware of how thou hast governed his behaviours by refusing to engage in arguments with him. Even given the low cast of honour this day, I am still fair amused at the look on his face each time thee turns thy back on his wit. Though hast greater patience than I, brother.”

“I was not aware that it amused thee.”

“I did not wish it known,” Benedick admitted. “The Prince would have been displeased. Alas, I believe he has noted your back turned and Claudio’s dislike. Needs-must he hath noted my amusement if not my refusal to stop you carving your honour into the Count’s stupidity. He deserv’d that and more. Especially now.”

Pietro nodded. “I have oft desired to carve much into his skin, if not for mine own self but for my mother, but thought it too thick to reach his stupidity. I thank thee, brother, for restraining me from attempting it. My honour would have been restored, doubtless, upon such a deed, but it would be for my mother more. And Viscount Olivio’s in extension, for the insult spread has been tasted by all of the line, blood and by marriage. My father’s anger notwithstanding, I shall not quench that dishonour unless thee sees it just that I do’t.”

“Just it is, but I have stayed thy hand to stop a war none can win,” Benedick replied. “And though it angers me in your stead to restrain you, Padua and her mightiest could not stand against all of Italy. A war of words it must be, oft kept silent to save blood from being spilled.”

Suddenly they heard footsteps approaching. “Those are soft steps, my lord,” Pietro commented. “Ladies summoning us to dinner?”

To their surprise, it was four ladies all clad in black and wearing veils. They stood, uncertain who they were but bowing nonetheless.

One stepped to the front and raised her veil.

Benedick started. “Lady Beatrice! What does thou doest here?”

“I came to speak with thee.”

“Please say it was not against thy father's will.”

“My father hath withdrawn his commands. I am my own master until I marry, and can be my own master after if a man wish it continue.”

Benedick's heart leapt into his throat, and he looked at Pietro. “Pray give us a little space to speak.”

“I shall remain near enough to safeguard her honour, but far enough that the pair of thee may have no overhearers. But, for your honour also, my brother, pray, leave the door wide.”

Pietro bowed to Beatrice and stepped out to join the ladies as Beatrice sat in the chair beside Benedick, in full view of the door and the walkway beyond. One of the ladies spoke to Pietro.

“I am amazed, sir. None would be so generous that I know.”

He recognised the voice, having heard it chiding the young gentleman Bruno with a mother's rebuke for some act of youthful exuberance. “Yes, Mistress Maria, but a lady's honour is the most cherished thing to a man of true valour and honour. He safeguards it closer than his own, for hers can be tarnished forever by the wrong words by the wrong person. A man's can be as well, but it is far easier for a man to redeem himself than a lady can. He can challenge the accuser directly, which a lady cannot; she is dependent on a man being willing to support her. If she hath none, she is doomed. I cannot permit what happened to Hero to happen to another and I feared what would become of my lord's lady. My only shame is that my loyalty to my lord forbade me from attending the events of today, for I would have added my knowledge of the lady's innocence.”

“But it is proved she was falsely accused,” she murmured.

“It is not enough.”

Maria tilted her head, taking in his manner and expression. “You speak as though she was dear to you, Duke of Venice.”

He sucked in a sharp breath. “Yea, and I would give mine own life if it would restore hers.”

One of the veiled ladies listened keenly to this, head also tilted to show her interest.

Nearby, Benedick and Beatrice struggled for words. Neither could find them at first. So many foul things had been exchanged between them since her father's commands that had parted them over ten years hence, and now that there were no such barriers it was leaving them more than a bit confused.

Benedick chose to jump into humour. “I hardly dared think that thou had come because I wished it.”

She smiled slightly. “Yea, Senor, and depart when you bid me.”

His smile let her know he doubted that, but he played along with the banter. “Oh, stay but till then.”

“'Then' is spoken, fare you well.”

He sagged into silent laughter, well aware that she had caught him out again. It was with immense relief that he heard her stop walking away and even whisper a No out loud.

“But I shall tarry longer than thou wish it and ignore thy bid,” she decided.

“I shall tarry also, then,” he decided, watching her retake the chair. “And shall complain mightily until hunger and thirst drive me away.”

“And I shall follow,” she teased airily. “For by then a lady may be fair swooned being of lighter air and greater need.”

“And so he shall ignore her there the more than she ignored him,” he tossed back. “For a man with two shadows canst carry them both.”

“He must,” Beatrice responded. “For a man with two shadows is a man back’d by a woman he trusts.”

“Truly an honour that has passed me by. For the words of her father would have me leave it.” Benedick tensed, realising he had said too much. He had promised himself not to reveal it, but to his surprise Beatrice seemed unsurprised by the reveal. “Pray tell, you know of which I speak?”

“I know if it and of much more besides,” she confirmed. “I know of many words you have not shared that in the small hours of the night you share only with your sword and admit only in the light of day to your brother. Only your sword doth betray you.”

Benedick swallowed, knowing she didn’t mean the sword that lay across the table. “My apologies, my lady. I meant no disrespect, but having loved you from a distance has pained my soul and blighted my nights, when both could have shared your company and in marriage your bed.

“And to that is why I have come. For love is greater than the emptiness of my heart and the marriage bed together. Ten years have I scorned that blame, which was not yours to carry and in ten minutes I hath seen it overturned and restored me my heart to you. And, for pity, had I wished to stop your hand to save your sword from further wear.” She glanced in his direction with a blush, well aware he understood the hint.

Bendick neither denied it nor did he repent of it, nor did he dare a flush of embarrassment to mar the wit. Most men took to them a woman of the night. He spent his breath on the prayers of heavenward exclaim. He doubted that Pietro had spoken of it, but thought instead that perhaps his prayers may have been overheard. He would speak not a word of it. “Sweet Beatrice, how dost thou know of such matters?”

She gained even more color, but was prompt in her answer. “Two sources: my aunt spoke of them to Hero as part of the lessons prior to today, and Margaret was overheard many times speaking of men's swords at the pub. For doth not man have two tongues and woman two mouths?”

“Quite true, and I must praise your aunt for her forthrightness with your cousin.” He cleared his throat and changed the subject, using humor to ease the flames in their faces. “I pray thee, my lady... for which of my bad parts did thou first fall in love with me?”

She smiled, grateful for the tension break. “For them all together; which maintained so politic a state of evil that they will not admit any good part to intermingle with them. But for which of my good parts did you first suffer love for me?”

Benedick had to give a motion that he granted her a point for that phrasing. “Suffer love! A good epithet! I do suffer love indeed, for I love thee against my will.”

“In spite of your heart, I think; alas, poor heart! If you spite it for my sake, I will spite it for yours; for I will never love that which my friend hates.”

“Thou and I are too wise to woo peaceably.”

“It appears not in this confession: there's not one wise man among twenty that will praise himself.”

“An old, an old instance, Beatrice, that lived in the lime of good neighbours. If a man do not erect in this age his own tomb ere he dies, he shall live no longer in monument than the bell rings and the widow weeps.”

“And how long is that, think you?”

“Question: why, an hour in clamour and a quarter in rheum: therefore is it most expedient for the wise, if Don Worm, his conscience, find no impediment to the contrary, to be the trumpet of his own virtues, as I am to myself. So much for praising myself, who, I myself will bear witness, is praiseworthy: and now I must speak plainly on a matter that has often left me without any words. Beatrice, I have wished almost since I knew thy wit to be beyond anything any women I had ever met had developed. I cannot see myself trusting another as I have you. I vow that I shall forswear my father's traditions and make Messina and your family's house my own. Your rights I shall defend, taking only the title and name according to the law, but not in practice. The traditions are thine to teach me, and I shall cherish them and aid thee in teaching our heirs... if thou will still have me after I left.”

“I confess I was very angry that you left me without a proper word; it seemed that I had been played with false dice. I had to be informed by Hero that you had been commanded so by my father, and you did not wish to tarnish my honour because you loved me so much. Much did it explain, and I find I cannot remain angry at thee. Far more did you do in staying away than my father did. Only my mother's persuasion upon him allowed me the liberty to refuse suitors as she could speak to her own actions that permitted them to be matched. I pray thee... can thou forgive me for letting mine anger set my wit upon thy character?”

He took her hands gently, looking for any sign he should let go. When she gave none, he tightened his hold ever so slightly. “My sweet, I do not know how else I should have behaved had I been in thy place. I cannot and do not fault thee. I only ask... will thou allow me to live in thy heart... die in thy lap... and be buried in thine eyes for as long as we both live?”

She sucked in a breath from the moment he started his plea, and felt entranced. She managed a smile. “And you say you cannot woo? I am done away with. Will you be mine tomorrow that you may fulfill those enchanting words?”

“Tomorrow is not soon enough, but I and my sword do swear. Both swords,” he added. “It can be done?”

“My father will make it happen if I wish it.”

His smile became huge, and he tugged to see if she would come into an embrace. She joyfully went to him and threw her arms around his person. He lifted her off her chair and beyond her feet, cheering together as they also shed tears of relief that their long wait would be over.

Tears with a hint of pain as they both knew it would not have happened without Hero's tragedy. Although hers were not as strong as he expected. He leaned to whisper. “Can you be happy when your cousin is gone to your ancestors?”

She stilled and leaned back to look into his eyes, answering in the same tone. “I must confess a secret; one that must not be repeated at all.”

“I can be secret as a dumb man; tho must knowest that.”

The earnestness is his expression persuaded her that her instincts were right. She leaned in close to whisper the truth.

His mouth dropped. 'Truly?”

“Yes, but you cannot tell anyone. Not even your friend, Pietro.”

He closed his eyes and nodded, schooling his features back into a more controlled look. “I swear no word shall cross my lips or eyes unless or if you decree otherwise.”

“Thank you.” She returned to the embrace, which he took great delight in finally being able to handle.

Pietro's eyes watered. His own dreams were forever shattered, but he could take some small joy in knowing that his lord's long-suffering was at last at an end. It was so long overdue that there could not but be some bittersweet tears over the resolution.

Benedick drew back slightly. “I must contact my father and the Doge; many lives may be at stake and prompt word of our nuptials may lessen their fury and permit reason to rule.”

Beatrice's eyes widened. “You think they would call a war?”

“Many fear it; Pietro and I have barely kept them from bubbling like cauldrons.”

He led her to the phone as he spoke, hearing the others follow to keep them in sight. He dialed and then held Beatrice close as he waited. Within moments he began speaking:

“Good den, brother. It is your younger bane. I must speak with our father immediately... Yea, I know he is speaking with the Doge. That suits my purposes for they must both know that I am to be married tomorrow... I spoke but true. The event I have wished for ten years to come shall at last happen... I thank thee...”

He drew the phone aside to smirk at Beatrice at Pietro. “My brothers predicted I would die a bachelor.”

Both were amused. But he did not get more time to explain.

“Greetings again, Father. Are you speaking still with the Doge...? Aye, good day to you, sir. I call to inform thee both that Beatrice and I shall at last be married tomorrow... Proof hath been found that Don Grouch is the author of the slander against the Lady Hero, and both the Prince and Claudio have admitted they sinned... Father, I am sorry that my family cannot be present; yet to wait one more day is intolerable for myself and my lady... I thank you both and I believe she shall as well... Indeed...? Either Pietro or I shall call tomorrow then, if we doth not hear from either of thee first... Aye, good night.”

As he hung up Beatrice eyed his stunned expression. “What said they, Benedick?”

“Whilst my father is not pleased with my choice to forsake my heritage he is delighted that I become heir to a viscounty. The Doge is rather more pleased, although he restrained it.”

“All this we expected and yet more than we hoped,” Pietro noted. “But what hath thee in alarm?”

“Our fathers are in agreement to a truce, and to contact the King to suggest a penance for Claudio and the Prince for slandering us.”

More than one person sucked in a sharp breath. What would the King say when he found out?

Chapter Twelve: Listening to the Players


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 6th, 2016 06:11 am (UTC)
That was one beautiful proposal. I always loved that scene and I'm happy that you've included that into the story. It's gorgeous.

I'm swooning...

I'm excited to read the next chapter again!
Jan. 6th, 2016 08:27 am (UTC)
The new situation made it more romantic, didn't it? I feel a little gooey watching him say those lines, and I feel the emotions CT put into Beatrice in that moment. :DDDDDDD
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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