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FIC: Seals of Love (3/9?)

Title: Seals of Love
Genre: Much Ado About Nothing
Rating: T (some implications)
Author: tkel_paris
Summary: Written as a Christmas present for sykira. A what if inspired by my writing “Glance of Love” and the indications of what might have been for Benedick and Beatrice had their merry war not been triggered.
Disclaimer: Good lord, I'm writing fanfic about a Shakespeare play! Do I need to write that I own nothing? Especially when it's inspired by a particular stage performance?
Dedication: sykira. Merry Christmas, love. :D With thanks to bas_math_girl for beta reading.
Author's Note: When my Muse got the bug that later became “Glance of Love”, she got a few other ideas as well. And now that NaNo's over, I'm working on the Christmas stories. Thank goodness some of them were already done. :D

And I picked names out of my character name book. I was on a meaning kick, so that explains the five I chose. :)

And sykira, I'm trying hard to finish this ASAP. There are still chapters that need a little expanding, and RL has been keeping me busy. But I'll try to keep the chapters coming.

Chapter One / Chapter Two
DVD Extra the First


With the children fed and engaged in various activities meant to further their education, Beatrice wondered where her husband had wandered off to. He had been extremely distracted, unusual for him when she wasn't the cause. Although with the planning for Hero and Claudio's wedding, it was not entirely unreasonable – they were being asked to assist in all aspects, and she knew Benedick still harboured doubts about the suitability of Claudio as a husband.

She never thought that she would feel grateful that she only had her uncle to deal with when she and Benedick were courting. Of course, their outlook was entirely different from her cousin's. It had not, however, kept their wedding small, as they had wished. No, for Benedick's family had to be fetched from Padua, and a union such as hers had to a public event in Leonato's opinion. And as governor

Meeting Benedick's family had made Beatrice a little uneasy. She would not change who she was for anyone, a vow strengthened as Benedick did not wish her to alter, but a new bride could not help but want her in-laws' approval. After all, she had no parents or siblings, so she wanted to maintain some connection with his family.

Indeed, her outspokenness had alarmed Benedick's parents and brothers, but he refused to permit any ill talk of his wife. And with his previous ranting and railing against marriage, they were reluctant to do anything that might make him return to such an attitude. So in the end, while Beatrice was not understood in the slightest, she was accepted and welcomed into the family.

She might have been more irritated by it had her husband's mother not been so enthused about the grandchildren who kept coming, The woman had also had no daughters, so Beatrice and her daughters seemed special to her. And given the rather overbearing manner of Benedick's father, Beatrice was not surprised by her husband's insistence on making her father's home their home. But she never truly looked forward to their visits, even when she could count on her uncle keeping her male in-laws occupied, and then her mother-in-law became easier to get along with.

The sounds of one of their children's musical toys reached her ears, making her frown. The children were all in other parts of the house. Why did the sound come from outside? She headed over and looked.

There was Benedick, leaning over the toy and playing with tunes, clearly amusing himself. Entertained at the unusual sight, she stepped out quietly.

He was so into his actions that he started drastically when she came into his sight, but he only fell back into the lounging chair. He knew better than to pretend he hadn't been doing anything with a toy. At her questioning look, he smiled wryly. “I came across some attempts of mine at rhyme from whilst we courted. Does thou remember those days?”

Beatrice's light laughter rang through the air. “We neither of us played the rules of courtship according to anyone else's standards. I even made efforts at sonnet writing – and was satisfied with none of them.”

I neither with mine. I felt then that all those carpet-moungers whose names are so referred to were never so turned over and over as my poor self in love. I could not show it in rhyme, and I tried!” When she looked curious, he grimaced and closed his eyes. “I could 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.”

Her face twitched in laughter, but she held her tongue, knowing she had little room to speak. “We neither of us could woo in festival terms, husband. We came too close to not accepting each other.”

He took her hand in an instant, holding it tightly as the memory washed over both of them.

Beatrice stood listening to Benedick's speech, and it started out well. Words flowed freely between them until she sensed his words turning too close to her uncle's thinking. Her face tightened.

Benedick opened his mouth, and then he looked at the lady's face. He stopped and lowered his gesticulating hands. “Lady Beatrice, have I displeased you somehow?”

Yea. Your words which flowed with wit like water over rocks now seem like the valiant dust that are so espoused by worthless men who rule over the land.”

He flinched. “You know I mean you no insult. I am nothing like my father.”

That caught her attention, and made her frown. “Then why spout the nonsense of your father and his ilk? You dare expect me to submit without question to the rule of a man?”

He was momentarily silent. “You are not merely speaking of the customs I have been brought up in. You are speaking of your uncle ruling over the lands and fortunes that are yours by right, that your kin and kith cannot live in their rightful homes because the law decrees there must be a master to rule over them, a man – whether he is related by blood to the previous lord or no.”

So now you see where I live trapped, scorned, expected to meekly accept a ruler who I might not respect. Are there men who shall listen to women, who will accept that women may know more and have the right wisdom? If I cannot find such a man, then I should rather die a maiden condemned as a shrew than live in chains.” She turned to walk away. “Farewell.”

Something twisted inside Benedick at the thought of her not thinking well of him. He hurried to take her hand. “Tarry a moment, good Beatrice.”

She shook his hand off. “Do not try to bend me to your will.”

He held his hands away then, showing that he would respect her wish. “Please let me speak a moment, Lady Beatrice. You have made your reasons and opinions clear, now let me say my peace, if I may.”

She took a deep breath, and nodded as she exhaled. That was the closest she had ever heard him come to begging. “Then speak, I will hear you.”

He did not like the tension he saw in her posture, and felt even graver than he had thought possible when they had met only minutes before. “You must have watched the society and expectations I have been brought up in. Protecting ladies has become part of my instincts, and I would never force my company on any woman. Have I utterly insisted on speaking with you when you have made it plain you would go?”

Beatrice thought a moment. “No. Not even this moment counts, for you acted with respect and been more pleading with me than commanding.”

Then know this: I do not wish for a meek woman who will abide by my every word. Why do you think I have not accepted any of the women my family have presented before me as possible wives? Why do you think I have railed against marriage before my friends and fellow men?”

Because they have acted as fools because they will not bother themselves to know the lady before they offer for her? Her beauty, fortunes, and connections are more important than what sort of companions in life they shall make for each other?”

He nodded. “You have put it exactly as it is. Indeed, I do not think I would have ever considered marriage, no matter my family's insistence, before just a moment ago.”

Voicing the words took him by surprise, but they could not be unsaid. Nor was he sure he wished them unsaid.

Beatrice's eyes widened. “Senor, speak plainly. What is it you wish?”

It took him a long moment to pull together the words, which would have surprised him had the moment not been so serious or so foreign. “I believe... and feel that it is for the opportunity and permission to court you for your hand in honourable marriage.”

She gasped, utterly silenced.

He went for broke. “And to make your father's house our home.” At her continued disbelief, he took another deep breath to fortify his courage. “Messina is a lovely place, lovelier for your being from here. I do not wish to live near my family, for I have disagreed with them on many things. I would rather make my rich wife's home mine, and be a man for her sake so she may rule over what is rightly hers.”

Her breaths were erratic. “You would endure the scorn of your fellow men for supporting my rights? How can I be sure that you shall always act for my benefit than for what society demands of you?”

Male pride should have been offended by what he was thinking of doing, but he found no such feelings. The idea of losing her when she was possibly within his reach was too much to bear. He could not lose the chance to win... nay, earn her love. “That would be proved in the courtship, would it not? You need more time to trust me, and I need time to ensure that I will let go of habits and customs that would serve us ill. Will you permit me the chance to prove myself?”

Shaking from shock, she slowly nodded. She even let him take her hand to kiss it, thus sealing his promise.

Beatrice found a smile. “Lucky for us that we found each other, and can laugh at the follies of others when they try.”

He scowled, frustration coming out through his words in waves of scorn and anger. “Wife, I still do much wonder that
one man, seeing how much another man is a fool when he dedicates his behaviors to love, will, after he hath laughed at such shallow follies in others, become the argument of his own scorn by failing in love: and such a man is Claudio. I have known when there was no music with him but the drum and the fife; and now had he rather hear the tabour and the pipe: I have known when he would have walked ten mile a-foot to see a good armour; and now will he lie ten nights awake, carving the fashion of a new doublet. He was wont to speak plain and to the purpose, like an honest man and a soldier; and now is he turned orthography; his words are a very fantastical banquet, just so many strange dishes.

Beatrice groaned, leaning back on her lounger. “Hero is no better. Gone is the sensible girl who laughed at the posturing of men, who assume that they know what a woman wishes to hear and create words that are entirely wrong. Men do not know empty words are no better than foul words and foul words is but foul wind, and foul wind is but foul breath, and foul breath is noisome; therefore the women if they are wise shall depart unkissed.”

Thou and I were always too wise to woo peaceably.”

Or woo in festival terms. Now, husband, thou hast old paper in front of thee. Would those be fashioned of your brain for me?”

Not wanting to speak them aloud, he closed his eyes and handed them over. “You owe me a look at yours, wife. I should not be the only one so exposed.”

Beatrice's face took on several wild looks of shock and dismay. “Well, I believe mine were just as terrible. I have them kept away, for as much as I hated them I could not bear to toss them.”

Benedick reached toward her, silently asking with his eyes for her to sit beside him. She did, giving him a saucy smile that always left him feeling a little less in control of his actions. He gently drew her into an embrace that brought their faces very close. “It was all fortunate, for I doubt your answer would have been to my liking had you seen them then. Mine might have rightly made you angry at me.”

And you could have proposed in a more romantic fashion, I suppose?” she teased with a huge smile.

He laughed with closed lips.

Their time was drawing near. Don Pedro was going to bring them off to another part of the realm within days, unless some business detained them longer. Which was leaving Benedick rather anxious.

Nearly every moment spared from training and his duties to the prince was spent in Beatrice's company. The others were in actions meant to test himself for his willingness to forsake the man's right to rule outright and respect her capable manner. The past weeks had been a revelation of assumptions for the both of them. He had seen hints of what she had in watching her uncle and aunt's relationship, and she had learned that a little subservience to him on occasion would likely help the futures of any children they might be blessed with. He had said nothing but words of support when she had expressed frustration that she had to play the games of society.

They met in the gardens, having quietly made the agreement. He knew that they had attracted considerable attention from everyone around them. Leonato had plainly noticed, and appeared to be in favor of the match if considerably surprised by it. Innogen smiled widely whenever they were together and enjoying each other's company. Hero, still far too young to be considered for marriage, watched them in awe of their banter. A few of the waiting gentlewomen were intrigued, and heaven knew what the most foolish of them joked about. But it was Don Pedro who was looking the most intrigued by their manners. He had made inquires of Benedick, trying to discern his intentions, but the younger man refused to answer them without a solid understanding between himself and Beatrice first. It seemed too risky.

He was waiting by the fountain, sitting and thinking in disgust over some of the jokes made that he was letting Beatrice rule him. Luckily for his mood, Beatrice appeared. He beamed. “Sweet Beatrice, wouldst thou come when I called thee?”

Yea, Senor, and depart when you bid me,” she joked, knowing that she would not be so obliging.

Still he enjoyed the pretending. “Oh, stay but till then!”

'Then' is spoken; fare you well now.”

He couldn't stop his silent laughter. Oh, she knew how to use his own words against him!

Beatrice turned back after just a few seconds. “No,” she whispered aloud with a smile. She happily stood beside him. “But you may explain why I am hearing that your manhood has been called into question without you retaliating. Ruled I do not wish for, but I cannot be for one who does not act as a man.”

What, thou wouldst have me tell them I love thee no more than reason? Or claim that I am almost sick for thee?”

As long as they do not claim I am well-neigh dead for you. Shall we claim that we merely love each other in friendly recompense?”

He laughed. “I am more likely to claim in anger that I would have thee, but in some light that it was for pity.”

She snorted. “I would likely not deny you, but would say that by this good day, I yield under great persuasion and partly to save your life, for I was told your were in a consumption.”

As much of a jest as it was, he felt a tiny sting. It was likely what drove him to stand. “Peace!” He smiled, feeling very mischievious. “I would then stop your mouth.”

How? By ordering me to be silent?”

More likely I would do this.” He cupped her face and kissed her.

He would later swear his doing so had partly been driven by their banter, but soon their arms were around each other and they lost all track of time.

Only the sound of one of Leonato's men nearby carrying a heavy object forced them to part. They stared in dazed shock at each other, each keeping their hands off the other to prevent a renewal. Both were blushing as they realized they had nearly touched places that only married people should know.

Benedick cleared his throat. “Beatrice,” he slightly squeaked. He recovered the rest of his voice. “Have I done enough to earn your consent to be bound together?” He hated how uncertain he sounded, but he'd learnt he could never assume where she was concerned and so he used the more formal address instead of the familiar he longed to use.

Beatrice's lack of breath nearly prevented her from answering, but she managed to recover enough to speak. “Tis apparent that you have endured teasing and possibly lost favours from your actions, and even avoided gatherings in favour of being in my company. I cannot imagine any of those men helping you pull off such a charade, nor can I imagine you putting one on. Will you come with me to my uncle then, Senor?”

He could have cheered for joy, but suppressed it. Instead, he took her hands in his. “I will live in thy heart...”His weighted gaze held hers captive. “...die in thy lap...” Which made her blush, although her still looking him in the eye emboldened him. “...and be buried in thy eyes.”

They nearly kissed again, but another sound from the distance snapped them to remember propriety. “And moreover I will go with thee to thy uncle's,” he added in a rush, and they hurried hand in hand to locate Leonato.

The look exchanged said that each remembered going as partners to her uncle and stating their intentions. It had begun an awful melody of planning and preparation that had nearly driven both insane until the wedding night, which was a more welcome form.

The temptation to enjoy each other's company was too great, and they embraced warmly.

Their kissing was interrupted by the sounds of shouting. They groaned as they parted. “Beatrice, tell me they have not been so bad with my absence.”

I think the wedding is causing this.”

They rushed off to restore order to the household.

Chapter Four: To Break Upon Them


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 29th, 2013 03:42 am (UTC)
"He held his hands away then, showing that he would respect her wish. "

YES! He totally does this, DT I mean, unlike other versions I have seen (and probably, let's face it, unlike how Shakespeare wrote it) but DT and CT's version pays a lot of attention to him taking her seriously and not forcing his touch on her…and the pain in his eyes when she rejects him or goes on a tirade against the unfairness of how women are treated. This is SO central to who she is and her whole character's journey in MAAN that it is GENIUS that you use it here as an alternative setting for this sparring and misunderstanding between them. Genius.
Dec. 29th, 2013 05:00 am (UTC)
Yes, he was respectful. Only one moment, which he backed off from when she really pushed back. Haven't seen the 2012 version yet (although I want to, just to see Nathan Fillion as Dogberry), but I doubt that Benedick was as respectfull. It was an element that had to be used, and I felt it perfectly explained their break in canon. So this spawned naturally from it.

I did nearly include the moment where the boy turns off the keyboard, but I forgot to in the end. *giggles*
Dec. 29th, 2013 04:02 am (UTC)
>>"I would never force my company on any woman. Have I utterly insisted on speaking with you when you have made it plain you would go?” and i am a puddle of happy goo!

LOVING THESE FLASHBACKS their courtship retold is magnificent, and making me fall in love with them all over again *swoons*
Dec. 29th, 2013 05:01 am (UTC)
Two comments from you! I'm spoiled! :DDD
Apr. 23rd, 2014 10:47 am (UTC)
Has to be said that If anyone can rewrite Shakespeare it would most definitely be you! Oh, I'm so loving this! :D
Apr. 23rd, 2014 02:13 pm (UTC)
Thanks. :D
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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