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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! And now for the immediate aftermath of last chapter... :D No picspam this time - mostly because I lack the screencaps I want for this chapter. :(

Sigh No More, Ladies / Seals of Love / Light of Love / We Go Together / Come Away Death / Sonnet Rap /  The Rain It Rainth Everyday / Who Is Hero?

Chapter 9: Pardon, Goddess of the Night

The celebrations were subdued, the music kept lower than it otherwise would have been. It was impossible to be truly jovial when the lady who was supposed to be married stood just short of accused outright of being not virtuous.

Although some were seeing a benefit to the sharpest shrew of the land finally being off her uncle's hands. She would either be following Benedick wherever he went, or they would be busy setting up her father's house to be occupied again.

Mind, none really wanted to be nearby when the newlyweds finally found a door to lock behind them. Between the length of the kiss and how they kept in some physical contact ever since, everyone older than ten could hear the loud unspoken implication that they were more than a bit impatient to be alone.

Not that the couple was paying the slightest attention to any of their potential detractors. They moved to a slow ballad on the dance-floor, looking into each other's eyes as they held each other as closely as they dared given the inferno raging between them.

On one side of the room, Hero sat guarded by her parents, three gentlewomen (Margaret, Maria, and Ursula), and two of Leonato's men (Angelo, Ursula's husband, and Titus). Above her knees and held by her hands lay Benedick's sword in its scabbard, its weight both reassuring and uncomfortable. It was a symbolic gesture when he 'gave' it to her for safekeeping – it reminded everyone that he and his sword stood between her and her accusers.

Nearby, Maria's son sat with his Rubik's cube. He needed a distraction, and knew not what he could do to help – other than stay out of the way unless he was called for. He was sad for Lady Hero, and yet happy to see Lady Beatrice find her own joy. O he did not look forward to growing up.

To another side, Don Pedro stood with Claudio and Don John. He was aware of his brother's tension, and Claudio's unease after the multiple sources of public humiliation he endured. But his thoughts were not on either of them. Instead, his eyes watched the Lady Beatrice's gentle smile that was reserved for Benedick, her husband. A painful truth had crossed his mind. Although he had thrown himself into the plot to bring Benedick and Beatrice into a mountain of affection and had even spoken true when he said 'she were an excellent wife for Benedick', he now saw how much he had meant his own offer for her.

He truly had been intrigued and fascinated by her from the moment they met, and he had meant it far more than he knew when he claimed – during their sporting with Benedick to practice on him – that he wished she had 'bestowed this dotage on me. I would have doffed all other respects and made her half myself.' His heart had been captured by her, explaining why her refusal had hurt so much – leaving aside the joking she had evidently felt necessary to cover her true reasons for refusing.

Such a loss for his lands. He could have easily left his lands and realm in her hands and been confident in her ability to choose wisely. She would have done the realm proud, and won over her detractors once she showed her ability to rule in his name when away on campaigns. And it would have been an excellent move politically to be connected to Leonato's family.

Still, he liked to think that he was more motivated by a genuine wish to be the lady's husband than political concerns. She was extraordinary.

He silently acknowledged that the better man had won her. When he had the time to himself, when he did not have to watch over an unstable count and a brother he still did not quite trust, he would go to the side and smoke in private with his thoughts, face his regrets.

The rest of the assembly watched and talked amongst themselves. No one raised their voices – the mood left from the near social death of Hero was heavy on their hearts. Only that some couple had found some joy despite everything permitted any pleasure out of the gathering.

Seńor Leonato!” A crisp, nasal voice interrupted the subdued action, stopping the dancing and music at once. Most of the room recognized the Sexton, the cousin of Balthazar. As children, they had only shared colouring alike, but as grown men they were often mistaken for twins. Only the sharp difference in their voices ensured that they were not mistaken for each other by sound. By sight, Balthazar's preference for Hawaiian shirts would have ensured that he was never mistaken for his military relation.

Leonato turned from the bar to acknowledge the man as he walked briskly toward him. “What is it, Sexton?”

The examinations you said to commence without your presence have been completed, and you must read them at once.” The Sexton handed Leonato a folder, which the governor opened and read.

Leonato was expecting some random offence that he had recently commanded be punished more severely, but he was not prepared for the contents. His face paled even as his body tensed. “O that I had known,” he breathed, closing the folder sharply. His hands started shaking. “O that I had known!” he shouted, kicking a nearby empty chair, startling his wife, daughter, and their gentlewomen.

Benedick was ready to intercede, but his new uncle did nothing further. Only breathe like a man who had just had a fire ignited in his stomach. So he stayed put, keeping an arm wrapped around Beatrice's shoulders. She was more than unnerved enough by her uncle's actions to want her husband's comfort.

A mixture and shame and anger played on the governor's face. “Bring him forth!” commanded Leonato. “Bring forth the villain!”

Come hither, sirs, you must be looked to!” cried a seemingly uneducated male voice. It was followed by a man in a mixture of fatigues and more casual clothing. Behind him trailed the primary officer who acted as Don Pedro's messenger, and then five more men followed. One was in a pale suit that had been better days, and a hat that was a bit torn up top. Two were older men, each wearing an orange “Prince's Watch” vest, were each dragging along another man. One was Friar Francis' brother, Hugh Oatcake. The other was his friend George Seacole, who led the Watch the night before.

Don John blanched as he recognised the other two. Oh, no...

Don Pedro stepped forward. “Two of my brother's men bound?!” Borachio and Conrade were being led into the room, and neither would look up. Their hands were captured in front with what appeared to be duct tape. The Messenger hurried in front and snapped a salute, which Don Pedro barely returned. “Officer, what offence have these men done?”

Sir, this man-”

But Dogberry, the man in the fatigues, interrupted the Messenger, made a number of sputtering noises and gestured in a waiting motion with his hands. He had to be the one to answer this. “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.” He finished with a hand wave more fitted to those telly game shows than a constable. Never mind his expression that said can-you-believe-that.

Many closed their eyes. Dogberry was a bit known for pretensions to being educated.

Don John felt a ray of hope. If Borachio and Conrade kept their mouths shut, all might still work out.

Wincing, Beatrice whispered to her husband. “Master Dogberry has tried to educate himself.”

He nodded slowly. “He named the offences, yet gave them a different order of importance at the same instant. That requires some skill.”

Don Pedro grimaced, face twitching from not trying hard enough to conceal his frustration. “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.”

Dogberry started to speak, but Don Pedro held up a finger. It repeated until Beatrice called out, “Constable Dogberry! Let the prince lead.” She did not want to see anyone pushed to their limits any further than had already happened.

The constable looked between her and Don Pedro, and stepped back. “All right,” he said, clasping his hands behind him and staying near a pillar.

Don Pedro sent a look of thanks to Beatrice. He had nearly resorted to pinching the man's ear to shut him up. Turning to Borachio and Conrade, he said, “Masters, this learned constable is too... cunning to be understood.” He barely held his countenance over the line, not surprised to see the man – out of the corner of his eye – puffing up slightly. “What's your offence?” he demanded.

Borachio did not need to see that Benedick's glare on on him – he could feel it. He knew the man had likely pieced together enough to know what he had done. Even with Don John present, there was only one course of action. Especially when the Sexton had informed him that Benedick was now cousin to Hero. “Sweet prince, do you hear me and let this count or this seńor or this governor kill me.” His eyes rested on first Claudio, then Benedick, then Leonato as he spoke.

Don John stiffened so much that his joints nearly locked. No!

Ignoring the glare, Borachio continued speaking to the prince. “I have deceived even your very eyes and the count's: what your wisdoms could not discover, these... shallow fools have brought to light, who in the night overheard me confessing to this man” he turned to look at the downcast Conrade briefly “how Don John your brother incensed me to slander the Lady Hero, and how you saw me court Margaret in Hero's garments.”

Margaret paled, trying desperately to remember anything that could disprove that. But his eyes fell upon her with such remorse than she knew he was not lying. O God, how drunk had she been that she could not remember?!

Claudio was sheet white, seeing the truth of how he was played for a fool. Don Pedro himself was frozen from the revelation.

Don John made a move to leave, but four soldiers grabbed him. All fight went out of him when he noticed that Benedick's narrowed eyes were suddenly fixed upon him. He did not even notice the Lady Beatrice's even more dangerous look.

Benedick's free hand grabbed Beatrice's, silently reminding her that he was as furious over this discovery as she was, but that they had to wait a while longer before speaking. His eyes caught hers, asking wordlessly for permission to handle it. She tightly nodded, knowing that it was his duty to act on her behalf – as much as she wanted to take charge.

Leonato, already aware from the written examinations, stood stock still. His breaths were measured, waiting for the villain to finish his confession.

Borachio could no longer look at any of them and closed his eyes. “My villainy they have upon record, which I had rather seal with my death than repeat over to my shame. The lady would be dead upon mine and my master's false accusation if not for the protection of her new cousin; and briefly, I desire nothing but the reward of a villain.”

Don Pedro rubbed his face in dismay, cringing the whole while while Borachio spoke. His hands reached into his hair before they fell useless to his sides.

Claudio remained like a statue except for his mouth, which moved slowly, silently.

Benedick's arm tightened around Beatrice, trying to remind her to wait and let the others vent before she had her say. The prince needed to come to terms with his nearly fatal misjudgement. However... “That John the Bastard is behind this surprises me not, though I confess amazement that he could create such a cunning plot.”

Beatrice's lips quirked ever so slightly. Her husband's words plainly declared that he considered Don John's intelligence at least a bit lacking.

Nay,” Borachio said. “He desired to cross the count's wishes. The plan was mine alone.”

Margaret cried out and swooned, drawing her mother, sister, father, nephew, and even her lady to her side – cries of “Margaret!” and “Meg!” overtaking the rush. Titus, having long been fond of Margaret, also checked on her. Friar Francis joined them, concerned that the girl might be suffering from more than shock. Innogen had to take the sword off Hero's hands before it caused any harm.

Don Pedro slowly looked at Claudio, pointing at him. “Runs not this speech like iron through your blood?”

I have drunk poison whiles he utter'd it,” the count muttered aloud, al-but choking on his words.

But did my brother set thee on to this?” Don Pedro demanded of Borachio.

Yea, and paid me richly for the practice of it.”

He is compos'd and fram'd of treachery,” Don Pedro exclaimed, flinging his arms briefly, “and fled he would upon this villainy!”

Don John smirked. This pain and shame he had inflicted would suffice. “It was too easy, and-” He cut himself off when Hero got up and stormed over next to him.

The room expected a slap. The lady would be justified.

Hero was feeling a fire that she had never known in her life. Her wedding ruined, and her dearest gentlewoman manipulated?! She grabbed his shoulders and did what her cousin called 'denaturing the beast': she sent a knee against his organ.

He choked on his breath, folding over as best he could whilst held back by the soldiers.

Hero looked at his stricken form, stood tall and walked back toward her gentlewoman's side with primness. And a stony expression.

Beatrice's face had never shone with more pride for her cousin than at that moment, and she stopped her for a big hug. Even Benedick raised an eyebrow in approval, patting her shoulder in brotherly support. “Well done, cousin,” he whispered, drawing a tiny hint of a smile from her before she returned to check on Margaret.

None faulted Hero. She had taken the opportunity to defend her own honour.

Whilst Claudio sank into a chair, stricken by the news, Benedick spoke. “I will leave Claudio's penance in the hands of my uncle and cousin. Once they are satisfied with his actions, I will release him from the challenge. Prince, think not on your brother till at least tomorrow; I'll devise thee brave punishments for him.” He nodded to the soldiers, who gladly took Don John away. He fixed his stare on Borachio. “Was Margaret a knowing participant in this?”

No!” Borachio had never shown such conviction or determination to be believed. “Upon my soul, she was not, nor knew what she did when she spoke to me.”

Benedick nodded slowly. That kind of outburst was difficult to fake, and Borachio lacked the acting ability to manage it. The battlefield told you a lot about a man's skills. “Then hope that the Lady Hero will permit mercy on you, for I can think of worse punishments than death.”

Borachio shuddered. Conrade flinched.

Before any could speak, Benedick took Beatrice's hand again. “My lady,” he whispered, “are you ready to withdraw?”

She shivered, hearing an undertone that he was ensuring was not detected. “Past ready,” she whispered back, giving him a significant look.

He turned to Leonato. “Sir, my wife and I wish to depart for the day, as these events must surely come to a close now.”

Leonato merely waved them off. The villains had to be dealt with, and a punishment set for Claudio to endure – and both were his responsibility to see to. “We will see you on the morrow, when Claudio shall account for his actions and how his penance was carried out. Good night, niece and nephew.” He vaguely knew he would not likely see them before then in any case.

Benedick quickly collected his sword and hat, and then walked out hand in hand with Beatrice. Each hiding the nervousness that was starting to take over.

They left behind a silent room, which soon forgot about them in the face of waiting for Claudio's fate to be decided. (Aside from those who were also concerned for Margaret.) His honour would demand he submit to whatever revenge Leonato devised, and the prince's honour would also insist on bending under any weight to satisfy the governor's demands – as he should have demanded better proof.

At least he knew he would never have to worry about what to make of his brother's words ever again. Let Benedick's imagination deal with him.

Chapter 10: It Was A Lover And His Lass


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 20th, 2012 02:19 pm (UTC)
Aieeeeeee I am all caught up and getting all het up waiting for the rest! A lover and his lass! Yesssssss!

I keep replaying this part in my mind, it's so much perfection:
Before any could speak, Benedick took Beatrice's hand again. “My lady,” he whispered, “are you ready to withdraw?”

She shivered, hearing an undertone that he was ensuring was not detected. “Past ready,” she whispered back, giving him a significant look.>>

and much less fraught than how I handled the same transition --I think it took me two full chapters to disentangle them from the wedding revelers!

I swooned over protective!Benedick too ♥♥♥♥ and I lolled at Hero kneeing her enemy in the family jewels, snort! I wish the real Hero had had a cathartic moment like that!

Thank you SO much for this delicious story, I shall now go back to compulsively checking for more!

Sep. 20th, 2012 07:44 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I knew you'd KNOW what the next chapter's about. ;D

Hey, however you handled it HAS to be good! I'm sure of it! *hugs* Well, I suppose they didn't have the excuse in yours that they have in mine. Different stories, after all.

When he's protective, he IS swoon-worthy, isn't he? :DDDDDD Yes, a shame Hero didn't get to except here, right?

Next part coming up soon! :D
Apr. 2nd, 2014 12:01 am (UTC)
::smish:: you are so good at this!
and Hero's revenge on Don John? priceless!
teeny weeny typo things I noticed -
in my copy of MAAN, they use the spelling 'Signior' rather than 'Seńor'
>>see that Benedick's glare on on him>>
truly amazing how you reworked the plot! LOVE IT.
Aug. 6th, 2014 04:12 am (UTC)
Not typos. Evidently the original used that spelling, not the more modern one we see in Shakespeare editions. Did you know if the original spelling had been kept then the most famous play that DT starred in would have been titled "Hamnet"? I have a beta who knows a LOT about original spellings. :)

Sorry I missed this comment. Glad you loved it. *hugs back*
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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