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fic: In Illyria

Another unexpected Shakespeare fic, focusing on Olivia in Twelfth Night: fill for the "secret twin/doppelganger" square on my trope_bingo card. 644 words, rated PG. This one's for [personal profile] thimpressionist.




The boy's impassioned speech pierces her grief, as nothing else has done since her brother died.

O, you should not rest
Between the elements of earth and air,
But you should pity me.


Olivia's no fool: she knows the page Cesario is only pleading his master's cause, but she's still swept away by the fervour of his imagination. The thought of being loved like that by this beautiful youth makes her feel dizzy, breathless; Maria must have laced her too tight.

“You might do much,” she says, and means Do what you will.

She has never felt like this before. Love hits her like a sickness, and the only cure is out of reach. The boy remains impervious to bribery, to charm, even to the offer of herself and her fortune. The more he urges his master's suit, the more she longs for Cesario.

His pity is worse than his scorn; she thinks he would love her if he could, but something prevents him. Some mad idea of loyalty to Orsino, when she could make Cesario his own master. He doesn't see it like that; he thinks perhaps she'd be buying him, or fears to be ruled by a woman. She doesn't care any more about ruling, or being ruled. She just wants him.

And then, unbelievably, he says yes. Looking dazed, as if he can't quite believe it himself. As if he's walking in a dream. She pinches herself to make sure it's really happening, but here is the priest, and they're exchanging vows and the man she loves is looking at her as if he's never seen her before. Cesario looks a little strange himself; perhaps she does as well, transformed by the shock of finally getting what she'd thought was unattainable.

She hates the hours that stretch out between now and bedtime, and yet she's nervous, too, fearing that the passion of his words to her will be unmatchable by anything their bodies can do together.

What happens is worse than anything she could have imagined. To be denied, publicly, when she calls out to him as her husband; to have Cesario declare his love for Orsino in front of her, in front of everyone. She has read of such things - the love of boys to their lords, and sometimes the other way about. But she never thought to hear it spoken of in broad daylight, by the man who'd vowed eternal constancy to her, less than two hours since. There's a ringing in her ears and she thinks she might be going to faint.

And then. And then something really impossible happens, and there are two Cesarios standing there. Her mind will hardly take it in; she says something, but she has no idea what.

Sebastian. Her husband's name is Sebastian, and the boy she fell in love with is a girl. The brother is the image of his sister, and of course he's right, the mistake is resolved now, and yet. What she fell in love with was not just that boyish beauty, but the mind that spoke those passionate words. She has no idea what this man's mind is like.

“You are betrothed both to a maid and man,” Sebastian jokes, and for a moment she can't help imagining the three of them in that strange wedding-bed: a man and a maid and a lover who is both of those things and neither. Cesario had warned Olivia right at the start, though she couldn't understand the warning: I am not what I am.

Be careful what you wish for, Olivia thinks with a shiver, looking at her strange beautiful new husband and his twin sister, still in her boy's clothes. And then the moment passes and the play moves on, a letter to read and a plot to unravel, a pairing-off of couples and a clown's sad song.



Also posted at http://fengirl88.dreamwidth.org/135774.html with comment count unavailable comments.

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