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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):
http://eternity-online.net/screencaps/maan/images/maan155.jpg
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! Sorry for the delay, but Benedick and Beatrice insisted on one extra scene added before the final one.

A big thanks to my betas for the story: tardis_mole for critical reminders about behaviour and spelling errors that have come down because of poor translations/transcriptions; cassikat for pointing out things that wouldn't be obvious to someone who hadn't seen the performance (as she hasn't); and bas_math_girl for confirming that I hit all the important notes from the performance. You're all awesome! *glomping hug*


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? / Pardon, Goddess of the Night / It Was a Lover and His Lass



Chapter 11: Sigh No More, Ladies (Reprise)

It was daylight. A knock sounded from the newly married couple's chamber door, disturbing them from their comfortable embrace that promised more. Benedick grumbled as he reached for trousers to cover himself with, and helped Beatrice keep herself covered.

He opened the door to find Maria – in a black dress and wearing a veil – holding feminine clothing. “For the Lady Beatrice, suiting the dress that your uncle has decreed for the day.” She entered when Benedick silently motioned her inside. “You are asked to come to the church by 12 o'clock, as Claudio has completed the penance imposed after you departed, and invited to break your fast at your uncle's.” She carefully placed them over an unoccupied chair, and the shoes on the floor as she spoke. “We are all to learn the Lady Hero's decision. Will you both come as presently as possible?”

Beatrice blushed, for she had clean forgotten that she needed clothing for the morning. She nodded thanks, which Maria wordlessly accepted before departing.

The couple shared a frustrated look.

Far sooner than either liked, they were nearly dressed. If they spent some time sharing a bath or helping each other dress, that was theirs and theirs alone to know. He buttoned his jacket while she placed her veil properly on her head, securing it in case of any rapid movements – not impossible, knowing her. She was leaving her shoes – heels, alas – for last.

Benedick checked the time and sighed. He had intended to spend much more of the morning in bed with his wife, but duty got in the way. Now he had a new reason to silently curse Claudio for listening to a man he had to know was not to be trusted.

Which reminded him, he had to still devise punishments for Don John. Perhaps Beatrice would like to give him ideas. Well, he could put that off a while yet.

Beatrice noticed his frustration. She had to smile at him. “I am sure we may find a way to depart early.”

He lost his frown, mostly. “Do not tease me. I am already tempted enough to make our uncle quite displeased with us.”

She laughed. “As soon as the important events pass, shall I make our excuses? I am sure we can claim we have waited long enough to start our life together. I certainly will need your influence to secure access to what is mine.” She could not suppress her bitterness.

Benedick walked over, and gently tugged her around and into a hug. “He cannot deny us access any longer, I promise.”

She nodded tightly, exhaling against him as she returned the hug. She might still be under the legal authority of a man, but no more would she deal with her uncle's rule. Now any deference was merely because he was her uncle, not because he had guardianship over her and she had to watch her actions. Shaking off the reminder, she drew back slightly to kiss him briefly, in gratitude and relief.

Well, she meant it to be brief. Trouble was that the night before had not been enough to resolve the passion nearly unleashed where it did not belong, and they were ready to completely ignore their obligations.

Only a bell tower chiming in the distance broke their moment. They panted as they parted, although she kept her hands hovering over his chest – just in case she needed the balance.

Beatrice blushed, quickly thinking of something to distract them both and let them recover their composure. Luckily, she found it quickly. “I pray you... what made you choose to... let go of our merry war? To accept your love for me?”

Benedick managed a tiny smile, even as his flush increased. “It was by chance. I overheard the prince, Claudio and your uncle speaking of you. Hero had told your uncle and Claudio that you loved me.”

She gasped, pulling away slightly.

He froze. “What?”

She shook her head. “I never spoke of it to Hero. She said that she thinks I cannot love!”

Benedick's face widened. “Then... they were... deceived? And yet spoke the truth unknowing?”

Beatrice stiffened as a horrible thought came to her. “Did you speak of your feelings to anyone?”

He shook his head, hard. “No! Until I overheard them, I knew not my own heart. And I was too filled with my thoughts and what I could do. I could barely speak of it to you.”

Her mouth fell, then snapped shut before she spoke. “I had kept my love so tightly within that it burst forward when Margaret told me my cousin and Ursula were talking of me. I overheard them say that you love me, that Hero had it from the prince and Claudio.”

His eyes narrowed. “They deceived us,” he breathed in realisation. “They did this to entertain themselves at our expence!”

MAAN_troth-no



Beatrice's hands twitched. “I knew I was not well-respected in my uncle's house, but I had not thought my cousin capable of such.”

Benedick suddenly panicked and checked his desk, refiling through his papers.

What, do you think they went through our things?!”

I... I tried to write a sonnet for you, forgot to throw it out because it was awful. I cannot put it past Claudio to have found it.” He groaned, rubbing his hands over his face. “And it is missing!”

Beatrice gasped. “O I did the same! My cousin could have found mine!”

They shared an appalled look, trying to figure out what to do.

Benedick soon straightened, exhaling sharply. “Well, we can make them return them – if we are right and they did take them. There are stories I believe young Claudio would rather I not mention before an assembly. I know how to ask the question such that he won't be able to lie.”

Beatrice found a smile over her husband's devious streak, and felt free to let her own out. “Then I suppose Hero would prefer I not speak of some of the things she said about Claudio before we learned that the action was over.”

They shared a pleased nod, and he checked his watch. “Shall we?”

The need to ensure their privacy and to stop any further meddling was inducement enough. The wish to get the day over with was another.




They were all again assembled in the room used as the church and for the celebrations. This time, the dress was black. Margaret sat numbly by her mother, forced to stand aside from the events as part of her penance for not seeing the evidence that Borachio was not to be trusted. She had expected a long punishment, but she had been stunned upon waking – her lady hugged her, and forgave her. Thus Leonato and Innogen had not lectured her beyond a caution.

Her parents had been another story. Margaret was grateful that she was not required to admit the details of what little she did remember of that night. Borachio had not been willing to speak of it, which was a relief beyond measure. Proof he had a little honour left in him, despite his villainy.

In the nearly empty row in front of her sat Benedick. The absence of Don John made a markedly different effect on the room, he felt. But he would not sit alone for much longer. Beatrice would be beside him today, not in front of him.

He was merely waiting for Claudio and the prince to arrive, which would permit the remaining ladies to walk in – thus beginning the moment that would decide Claudio's future. He sighed unhappily, wishing once again that he could have remained in bed with his wife a while longer – or that they had been in her father's house.

No, he corrected himself, our house now. The man I may be, but she knows more about the habits and traditions.

Today they might have the time to start the process of taking control... together. Depending on how the moments ahead went.

Don Pedro entered calmly, regally. Claudio stumbled in behind him. Benedick scowled. Ah, so the rumours – which reached his ears when he and Beatrice broke their fast – that the Count had slipped into drinking last night out of guilt were true. Foolish man. He had hoped the young man had enough sense to learn his lesson after drinking had led him into this moment.

Good morrow,” Don Pedro proclaimed, “to this fair assembly.” He hoped his title and presence would quell any talk about Claudio's appearance. Years of discipline kept his thoughts from showing. He was still surprised that his own weight, imposed by Leonato, had proved extremely light – if rather mortifying – and was ready to put this all behind him.

Good morrow, prince,” Leonato greeted, standing with an ease. “Good morrow, Claudio. We here attend you. Are you yet prepared to face Hero and hear her decision?”

Even hung-over, Claudio managed to straighten slightly as he paused in his efforts to reach Don Pedro's side. “I am.”

Go you, Innogen, call her forth.”

As Innogen left the room in a calm manner, Benedick's eyes watched the men standing up front. The friar stood in his black frocks, reading over his material for the day. Leonato sat at ready, prepared to handle whatever came forward. Don Pedro meanwhile quietly admonished Claudio to pull himself together.

It was a sobering thought to Benedick that had he not listened to the instinct to go and seek Beatrice the night before last, he might not have realised just how much war actually went on in homes and families – especially within Leonato's. His own behaviour yesterday was proof enough – Benedick could not imagine not knowing your own child well enough to know when she was being slandered, let alone believing others over your own blood without just cause. Therefore he might not have interfered on Hero's behalf yesterday and thus a deception might have been necessary to permit today to happen. He also might only now be asking the friar and Leonato about being married to Beatrice. He thanked god for whatever had convinced him to push aside his concerns – he would not trade his life now for anything.

Well, perhaps the chance to do that one day over again. But what was done was done.

The wedding march began as Innogen rushed with grace back into the room. The assembly stood, and then three ladies – all dressed in black and wearing veils – slowly walked in to the music. He knew who the three were: Maria in the front, Hero behind her, and Beatrice at her cousin's side, trailing slightly.

Claudio stiffened. A march playing meant one of two things. Either he was already forgiven, or – and this was perhaps more likely given the insistence on all black today – he was being set up to possibly be rejected by Hero. His gaze lowered to his feet. It would be her right, his soul told him. She would not be wrong to choose to wait for a man who treated her like Benedick treated her cousin. Shame once again overcame him completely.

The ladies kept their gazes just a few feet ahead of them, not chancing meeting anyone's eyes. It was best to see if they could keep Claudio guessing a bit longer. Beatrice's eyes raised for a quick look, and noticed the clear signs of a hangover in the Count. She then felt that they would likely succeed.

As the music faded to nothing, Claudio's eyes scanned the ladies. He was confused, and now regretting drinking straight from a bottle of tequila – which Don Pedro had remonstrated him for at length since finding him with it last night. Never mind the handgun, which he'd carried out of guilt and had a thought of using. Until Don Pedro appeared, which was more than enough to frighten him out of it. “Soft and fair, friar, which is Hero?”

Benedick's lips quirked. He could imagine being confused from drinking, but he knew which lady each was. Not a chance he would be confused about which was Beatrice after having lain with her and helped her dress.

MAAN_duringfinalmarch



Indeed, it seemed even more unlikely that anyone would be fooled without drinking. Maria was shorter than her lady, and Beatrice had a fuller figure that even the modest dress she wore could not conceal. Drunkenness completely explained how Claudio and Don Pedro had been fooled by Don John and Borachio.

Leonato held up a hand. “If your wisdom cannot determine that, then you must speak to them all until Hero chooses to unmask herself. If she chooses.”

That had been a hard argument for Benedick to pull off. As Hero was wronged, the one whose reputation was nearly murdered, it ought to be her choice to whether forgive Claudio or no. The governor had finally been persuaded with moments to spare before they had to set out for this assembly.

Claudio understood the implication. It was all up to his now limited ability with words. He knelt before the ladies, looking down at the ground under their feet. “Sweet Hero, my judgment failed me. I listened to one I knew should not have been trusted when I ought to have trusted you. If you can forgive me and give me your hand before this holy friar, I am your husband and servant if you like of me.”

Silence reigned for a long moment. All witnesses wondered whether his contrite words would be believed.

Then Hero tapped her companions' arms. They stepped quietly back as she stepped forward, slowly moving her veil behind her head. “You then believe with your soul that I speak the truth when I say that as sure as I live, I am a maiden?”

His voice nearly failed him, and he could not meet her eyes. “I know it now completely.”

She motioned for him to stand, which he slowly did – still unable to look at her. She took a slow step forward, drawing his eyes up. He opened his mouth to speak, but could not form words nor did he know what he would have said if he could. But she hugged him, drawing him out of his shock.

He was immensely relieved. She had forgiven him. Moments later, they parted enough to lock lips.

Don Pedro watched them. One day, Claudio would be able to stand taller for this. Hero might prove to be his making as a man, if she was that determined to stand with him after how he treated her and yet demand his respect. Conduct on the battlefield was after all only part of a man's worth.

Leonato turned toward Benedick. “Nephew, are you satisfied with the reports of Claudio's penance and with Hero's forgiveness toward him?”

Benedick took a deep breath. It was his cue to stand and walk over to Claudio, who reluctantly broke the embrace with Hero to face him, taking a few steps to meet him.

The two men faced off silently for a few seconds. Then Benedick spoke evenly. “I did think to have beaten thee, Claudio. But in that thou are to be my kinsman,” he patted his about-to-be cousin's shoulder and briefly – lightly – tugged on Claudio's thin tie as a silent rebuke over his appearance, “live unbruised.” But he belied the words with a slap to Claudio's cheek.

Claudio exclaimed incoherently, recoiling from the waist up. Okay, he unquestionably deserved that.

Hero flinched, but Beatrice grinned behind her veil.

Benedick pointed at him in warning. “And love my cousin!”

The younger man could not keep silent, nor restrain his irritation at losing the fun of the sport over the deception that plainly permitted Benedick's marriage to happen. “I find myself disappointed that all was so clean for you yesterday. I had well hoped for the opportunity to cudgel thee out of thy single life to make thee a double-dealer.”

Benedick raised a finger to silence the rant. “Come, come,” he tightly warned, “we're friends.” The two patted each other on the shoulders, tacitly accepting that peace had been restored between them.

Although Benedick and Beatrice each now knew with certainty that there had been a plot to trick them. Therefore their plans would have to wait for the reception.

With that, the assembly began to seat themselves again. Benedick returned to his seat, and was pleased that Beatrice had unveiled and come next to him – in spite of who had been seated there the previous day. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders, glad for the nearness they could freely indulge in now. “Man is a giddy thing,” he muttered to her, speaking of many things with that one statement, but especially the odd wit that their friends had drawn on them.

Are you content, then?” she whispered back.

He smiled softly at her, tightening his one-armed embrace. “This is my conclusion,” he said proudly.

She beamed at him, leaning in and wrapping her arm around his waist. She took the hand dangling from her shoulder in hers and tucked her head against his shoulder to watch her cousin finally be wed.

Behind them, Ursula exchanged a happy smile with her downcast daughter. Even as shamed as Margaret was, she could not help but be thrilled at the sweet picture before her.

Long moments later, when the room was cheering and exiting as the celebrations began, Benedick and Beatrice held back a moment – walking slowly so they could speak without being overheard. “How long, Sweet Beatrice, must we remain in obligation to our family?”

She sighed unhappily. “Until our cousins depart for the night. You have not heard that Hero has asked us to sing?”

His eyes widened as he looked at her. “She is serious?!”

She nodded grimly. “But,” she added with a hint of a smile, “I do have an idea that does suit us.” At his inquiring look, she whispered her song choice in his ear, pulling back with a smirk. “Would that not be fitting, if we are not released from it after asking for our sonnets back?”

He had to grin. “I think I can forget that the last time I heard that song, I was recovering from the reveling.” He lowered his arm to take her hand. “Come, let us complete this early so that we may dance.”

Beatrice's squeal went unnoticed by the others – not that she would have cared. She pointed at her shoes. “These are being left behind at our table,” she informed him.

He laughed. “Then you won't care if I leave this,” he fingered his jacket, “over my chair?”

Her laughter joined his as they strolled out, swaying a bit to the music that Balthazar was playing on the speakers nearby. Hero's request was just one little stop on the path to the rest of their lives together. They would make it through as they would everything else: as partners.

MAAN_strollingtodance



Whether dancing or just living, they stood now as one.

As it ought to have always been. As it now would be forevermore.

THE END



Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
sykira
Sep. 28th, 2012 05:37 pm (UTC)
Ahh such utter brilliance! I love how you parallel the killing of Hero with the slaughter of her reputation, because in that society there was much Crossover

Will be back!
tkel_paris
Sep. 29th, 2012 02:12 am (UTC)
Hope to hear more from you soon! :D
sykira
Sep. 29th, 2012 10:16 am (UTC)
Yeah that was me thinking I could actually get enough time to finish a coherent thought! fail
tkel_paris
Oct. 3rd, 2012 12:14 am (UTC)
That was me the other night, reading your latest post. :D
sykira
Sep. 29th, 2012 11:51 am (UTC)
Anyway, yes. With the 80s setting it is easier to forget how social death is equated to actual death in the original play but you bring that back and my analytical brain thanks you for it :D

(I have more thoughts and will share them today but have to run to take kid to doc for ear infection #274835)

I love how you worked in all my favorite dialog "and this is my conclusion!" in such imaginative new ways. This was an amazing fic and a gorgeous ending THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for this gem.

*mems forever and ever*
tkel_paris
Oct. 3rd, 2012 12:17 am (UTC)
Well, there can still be social death even now. It just takes more for it to happen. Or within the right circumstances.

(Aw... So sorry to hear that.)

You're welcome! I LOVED DT's delivery of that line. When a FFN reviewer asked for "man is a giddy thing", I knew I had to add that in somehow. And I found a way. :D

So happy you've mem'd it! *squees*
sykira
Sep. 29th, 2012 01:02 pm (UTC)
I adore how you wrote their first morning together, their longing to be alone with each other is so sweet and sensual and just guhhhhh. But they also face the world together, as partners, the dynamic you have built for them is amazing and so perfectly THEM *happy sighs*

Cute how they figured out the ruse too ;)

This here:

He shook his head, hard. “No! Until I overheard them, I knew not my own heart. And I was too filled with my thoughts and what I could do. I could barely speak of it to you.”

Her mouth fell, then snapped shut before she spoke. “I had kept my love so tightly within that it burst forward when Margaret told me my cousin and Ursula were talking of me. I overheard them say that you love me, that Hero had it from the prince and Claudio.”


Is genius on so many levels - the language usage "Hero had it from the prince" is so smart-but what really blows me away is your grasp of their psychology - people have asked me, well, did they love/fancy each other beforehand or not? Like were they ere crushing on each other even as they were sparring? And the answer is right here, yes, but they didn't know it!
tkel_paris
Oct. 3rd, 2012 12:19 am (UTC)
*squees* You say the sweetest things! :DDDDDDD Yes, I think I just might be proudest of this story. Out of all of my fanfics so far. :D

Had to have them figure it out. Gives them a way of getting out earlier and back to bed sooner. ;D

BMG left a review saying this should be required reading for people studying the play. One can wish!!! :DDDDD
sykira
Oct. 3rd, 2012 10:50 am (UTC)
akhilanda
Oct. 3rd, 2012 10:00 am (UTC)
Aboslutely spiffing!
there needs to be more maan fic in the world but you've set the bar so high so noone else can reach it!
tkel_paris
Oct. 4th, 2012 11:28 pm (UTC)
I do have some more fics waiting in the wings to be written. :D
earthgirl2008
Jan. 10th, 2014 03:56 am (UTC)
I read the entire thing and it was simply... BRILLIANT! I adore all of it! And my only pain is that Shakespeare should have wrote it the way you had! Blimey, hope Shakespeare doesn't try to haunt me now for saying that! Ahh let him! LMAO!
tkel_paris
Feb. 7th, 2014 01:05 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed this. I have another MAAN fic I'm finishing right now. It's titled Seals of Love, and starts here.
earthgirl2008
Apr. 15th, 2014 08:34 am (UTC)
Awesome! Thanks ever so much! *Goes to read it right now!* ;)
morganfm
Apr. 2nd, 2014 12:26 am (UTC)
::ENCORE THAT LASTS FOR TEN MINUTES AND MAKES ALL THE LOVELIES RUN BACK ON STAGE THREE TIMES::
this was amazingly brilliant, I adore how you worked in all of their adorable lines into this alternate story. Wonderfully, brilliantly fantastic.
tkel_paris
Aug. 4th, 2014 04:17 pm (UTC)
Oh, dear. I missed this comment! My bad... :(

Thank you. As I said, I do have two more in the works. Just need to make some time to write them. (But I have to wait for my power cable to arrive so I can make sure I'm working with the most up to date versions... Meh...)

And I guess I have to use this icon in light of yours... ;D
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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