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Title: Glance of Love
Genre: Much Ado About Nothing (2011 performance)
Rating: T (with two chapters rated M – one for paranoia, the other with... more cause)
Pairings: Bendick/Beatrice, Claudio/Hero
Summary: One chance look shared on the night before the ill-fated wedding day drew a pair of dueling lovers together... a bit earlier. Thus altering the lives of those around them as well.
Dedication: To Shakespeare for writing the play. To the people who arranged to put on the amazing performance, to Digital Theatre for putting out a download, and – most of all – David Tennant and Catherine Tate for the silent exchange that inspired this fic – as shown here (and all pics within - unless otherwise noted - came from the same source):
Disclaimer: I didn't have the money to see this in person. So I own nothing except this idea. :( And a copy of the Digital Theatre download. :D
Author's Note: Title is a play on the song that was playing as this moment happened. My muse is a definite minx for coming up with this... and a few other MAAN-based ideas. :D

This would probably make more sense if you've seen that MAAN production, but I wrote it with the aim of trying to make things clear to any reader. Still, I know my peeps who had the great fortune to get tickets and see the play – or fans like me who had to wait for the Digital Theatre download – will get every last reference I make to the performance itself. I suppose this is also for the fans who either can't afford to get the download and the ones whose computers can't make it work – every Doctor/Donna fan should get to see this play.

Readers, this is the result of being an unrepentant Doctor/Donna fangirl, adoring the dynamic Tennant and Tate have in anything they do, and having an imagination that went into overactive squeegasm madness over several moments I refer to. :D Heck, spoiler footage of The Kiss powered me to reach NaNo winner status in under fifteen days. That and an Internet blackout at my house that prevented me from watching it over and over again. :D

Happy Birthday, sykira! Enjoy the modified confessions! :D

Note on the pics: now I'm using them to highlight the emotions they're experiencing, not for accuracy of what's being portrayed. :)

Sigh No More, Ladies / Seals of Love / Light of Love

Chapter 4: We Go Together

Benedick swallowed, forcing his voice to work somehow. Then he noticed what was in her hand and paled slightly. “Lady Beatrice,” he began slowly, kneeling so he didn't have to shout over the noisy music. “Have you been drinking all this while?”

Beatrice supposed he was surprised to see her drinking something other than lager. It was the only thing she was ever imbibed in his presence before. “Yea,” she acknowledged, not admitting just how long she had had the bottle in her possession. “And I will drink a while longer.” To emphasize that, she took a sip right from the bottle.

He cringed. He wanted to take it from her, but that would be an imposition of his will on her. He would not repeat the previous time. “I will not desire that.”

She scoffed. “I do it freely. The celebrations are a bit too much for my tastes.” And she took another sip.

He nodded slowly, still waging the internal battle to not take the bottle from her and caution her about the headaches one might have from that much drinking – or even worse, serious illness. “Yea, I felt the same about Claudio's. I had no interest in being part of them.”

She raised her eyebrows in surprise. “A man who does not share his fellow men's preferences? The world perhaps could not handle another like you, Seńor.”

He smiled, just a little. “The world could be better with more like you.”

Her face fell. “There are few who would agree with such a sentiment. The world wants mild women who do not challenge men. That women have wisdom and could rule is ignored or denied. Daily I must fight to protect myself from being 'fitted with a husband,' as my uncle says. He will not listen, and has imposed his will on my fortunes. Mine!” She pushed herself upright, to get to her feet, unsteadily.

Benedick's hands reached out to help her, but she waved him off. Still, she struggled as she added, forlornly, “How can I trust that there is any man who show such friendship that he would defend my right to decide how to run my father's household? Who would stand as my guard against those who would prey upon women of fortune?”

Drinking had loosened her tongue slightly. She was barely aware that she had let out things that she had not dared admit before – she only cared that she did not expose the secret in her heart. Not yet.

The sight of Beatrice's frustration and despair rendered Benedick's control over his own tongue void as he shot to his feet. “I would defend your right, for I do love nothing in the world so well as you!”

Beatrice gasped and snapped her head up. Her hands flew to steady herself against the pillar, forgetting that one had held a bottle. It fell behind and to her left, smashing against the floor and shattering into pieces. Unaware, she turned her shocked expression on the man who put it there.

His cheeks puffed out from surprise, his eyes wide. Oh, he hadn't intended to just blurt it out... but he wouldn't dare take it back. He struggled to find his voice – his usual readiness with words was fled and gone. He had to say something, so he let out the first thing that came to mind. “Is not that strange?” Yet it did nothing to ease his spirit or thoughts.

She stared at him, barely able to blink. Her mouth slowly closed. “As strange as the thing I know not.” She took a few breaths, painfully aware his eyes were on her, transfixed. She forced her throat to clear, loudly. She recovered her balance enough to wring her hands together and meet his eyes again. “It were as possible for me to say I love nothing so well as you.”

And she gasped silently, turning away. Oh, God, help her! Could she keep anything secret tonight?!

Benedick's restrained expression slackened as hope filled him. He followed her as she stumbled toward another pillar.

But believe me not,” Beatrice protested, waving her hand as her other helped her balance. “And yet I lie not,” she owned, trying to catch her breath.

He stepped closer, worried for her and unable to leave her side. Even were she unaffected by drink. He was distinctly feeling like a moth being lured by a flame.

She took a deep breath and pointed at him. “I confess nothing,” she growled, stumbling against a few chairs. “Nor I deny nothing,” she gasped as he stepped even closer. She felt like she was being caged, and managed to push three chairs in a line between them.

Benedick stopped immediately. He hid a cringe that he had alarmed her, and stayed still to show his respect for her. Evidently, no one else did – sadly.

Beatrice wrung her hands. “You must not attach any meaning to my words now. My cousin's impending nuptials has produced a great turmoil in my soul, and I sought escape tonight.”

He knew the truth of a wise saying: in vino, veritas. It did not detract from the moment – although it meant he had to tread with care. “By my sword. Beatrice,” he began with a firm gentleness, slightly belied by the smile he could not quite suppress, “thou lovest me.”

It was a hint of the male tendency to impose on her. Just a hint, but enough to trigger her ire. Not that she could manage her usual bluster as she had to use the chairs to stay upright as she retorted, “Do not swear by it and eat it.”

He was too close now to back down. “I will swear by it by that you love me, and I will make him eat it that says I love not you.”

She leaned forward a bit. “Will you not eat your word?”

With no sauce that can be devised to it.”

There was a staring match. Marred by her twitching slightly from nervousness. Although each had to force themselves to breathe.

Benedick's smile returned slowly, looking rather like a man drunk. “I protest... I love thee.”

She couldn't have held in the loud scream of delight had she been sober. However, the drinking had dulled her ability to handle sudden changes in balance, and letting go of the chairs to flap her hands about in excitement sent her falling toward the ground.

Beatrice!” Benedick shoved the chairs aside to kneel next to her, relieved when she fell into another chair.

She managed to wave him off. “Oh, shoot!” she breathed, trying to recover a measure of dignity. But it seemed to be gone. “Why then, God forgive me!” she cried, clasping her hands together in prayer as she lowered her head.

He blinked, hovering just nearby. “What offence, sweet Beatrice?”

She looked up, placing one hand over her heart as she tried to bring her breathing back under good regulation. “You have stayed me in a happy hour. I was about to protest I loved you.”

His eyes lit instantly. He sat and touched her shoulders. “Then do it with all thy heart.”

Her hands reflexively grasped his arms. “I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest.” She gasped again, still not quite believing – as she tugged away, leaning back to put a hand over her heart.

Benedick beamed. He needed a moment to find his voice, and held his arms out. “Come, bid me do anything for thee.”

She spluttered into laughter, and he had to join her. Them? Agreeing like this? It seemed surreal, something absurd. Their hands each grasped the other's arms to steady themselves. Beatrice's laughter dipped into a squeal as she lost her balance and fell forward, into his arms.

He caught her, and moved to sit next to her, feeling like a giddy schoolboy over getting to hold her. If he'd had the chance to hold her before the misunderstanding, he would've tried much harder to clear the air between them. They might have been celebrating well over ten years together by now.

Benedick's laughter could not stop him from speaking, as he suddenly felt that he had the courage to ask the most important question of their lives. “I do mean it, Beatrice. Will you have me?”

She gasped suddenly, pulling away in surprise and trying to recover her composure. He didn't fight it, all humor fleeing his face. She was about to answer him or even ask him something in response, and he had to give it all of his attention.

She felt tears building in her eyes. Oh, how she wanted to stay in his arms and seal everything between them! But... could she? “You say that you would do anything for me. Can I be assured of that? What if others demand you do otherwise – as the law and history and custom might demand?”

He shook his head. How could the chance be slipping through his fingers?! “Sweet Beatrice, I would never do you wrong.”

Beatrice's teary eyes met his evenly. “Will not your family, your lord, and the world at large demand that you take control over everything – casting aside all of my knowledge, wisdom, and family history? Will not you have to bow to such expectations, and even come to regret taking hands with a woman who is not the ideal wife? If the choice is between what I want of you and what another man expected of you, what will you choose? Will you expect me to follow your lead when I know in my soul that another action is right? How can I be assured that you will protect our family against any threat – that you will be a man for my sake?”

He stared sadly at her. Oh, what had Leonato and all her other suitors done to make her feel so low about herself? And was the world truly so bad as that?

It was, his soul whispered. And he had expected her to follow his lead back when they met. It was the practice he had been taught to expect... and yet he had not even thought of marrying anyone else. It told him what direction he had to take – if not the actions required.

Beatrice wept openly then. His silence was alarming her. “If I cannot have proof of that, then I would rather die a maiden with grieving for lost love than a wife under chains regretting the loss of her freedom.” She got up, managing to remain steady.

He grabbed her hands. “Tarry, good Beatrice.” He took her right in both of his. “By this hand I love thee!”

She shook her head. The plea in his eyes almost undid her resolve. “Use it,” she declared, trying to not break, “for my love some other way than swearing by it!”

Benedick forced his breath to stay even. “If I can give thee such proofs then will thou consent for us to be bound in the state of honorable marriage? Be utterly sure of it?”

Beatrice's tear fell readily. “Yea,” she cried from the weight of her feelings, “as sure as I have a thought, or a soul.”

Enough!” he declared, gently holding her shoulders. “I am engaged. I will meet your challenge.”

She took a number of unsteady breaths, hardly daring to believe her eyes or ears as her hands stayed where they had been – in the air. She trembled under the weight of his earnest gaze.

He dropped his gaze to her right hand. “I will kiss your hand, and so seal my vow.” He held it in both of his, and pressed his lips to it.

Beatrice's breathing hitched. There was an infinite tenderness to it, and it lasted several long seconds. He certainly believed his promise. Oh God she wanted him to show that proof she craved!

He released her hand from the kiss, but not from his own hands. “By this hand, I will set out to prove daily that you may depend upon me, that there shall never be reason to repine.”

She still wept, but her tears were quieter. Her heart told her he would prove himself. Her soul believed it. Her mind still needed the proof, and would not rest easily until she had it.

He eyed her expression. Her eyes seemed a bit tired. “Please, come and let me fetch you water and food. Believe me when I say it will make you feel better.”

She managed a tiny smirk, silently rebuking him for the almost-order. But she knew he was speaking from the hard-earned wisdom that came from being addled by drink. So she nodded, letting him guide her in relief past the shattered bottle.

It only dawned on her then that she was lucky her feet had not been hit by the shards – sandals did little to protect the bottoms of feet, let alone the sides and tops.

Chapter 5: Come Away Death


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 11th, 2012 08:09 pm (UTC)
I am so glad I've had a beta eyeball my entire MAAN fic btw because we are choosing some of the same chapter titles and I promise I didn't steal them from you! You do have a knack for titling things!

This is just a fly by cause this week is so crazy I can't even get reading time, at least not the proper kind I want to devote to this and TM's story too but I promise to catch up in between doc appts on Thurs *squish*
Sep. 11th, 2012 10:38 pm (UTC)
Eh, well, the goal was to use all 11 of the soundtrack titles. So... don't worry about overlap. I was just trying to take you back to good memories. And thank you for the compliment! :D

Take care. You'll have a few chapters to read at once, if you're able to. *hugs*
Sep. 12th, 2012 09:04 pm (UTC)
D'oh...soundtrack titles! Of course, how could I miss that, I've only listened to it so many times I have lost count!

This, honey, is sheer brilliance. I have decided I like him winning her hand THIS way much better than "Kill Claudio"

more thoughts soon...
Sep. 12th, 2012 09:55 pm (UTC)
10pm still can't get kid to sleep, sighhhhhhh

I just wanna say its masterful how you reworked this so that there are such strong parallels to the Shakespeare version, it REALLY worked for me, I could see it play out in my mind and it is gorgeously done. The flow of the sentences feels so right too BRAVO!
Sep. 12th, 2012 10:18 pm (UTC)
Aw... *hugs*

Given that I've taken lines from other parts of the play and reworked them for this, I'd hope there are parallels! :) So I'm still making your week, eh? :DDDD

Well, he does still have to prove his love beyond a doubt, prove that he will stand by her against everything and everyone. Stay tuned. ;)
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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