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fic: Her Very Sorrow

Title: Her Very Sorrow
Fandom: Two Gentlemen of Verona
Rating: G
Length: 500 words
Content notes: no warnings apply
Author's note: Written for the amnesty challenge at fan_flashworks; prompt used was "Jewelry". Title from Act IV, Scene 4, where Julia, disguised as a page, is sent by Proteus to woo Silvia on his behalf. Neither Proteus nor Silvia knows who the page really is.
Summary: Silvia recognizes the ring at once.

Silvia recognizes the ring at once; it's the one Proteus's sweetheart, Julia, gave him when they parted. She's heard him say so a thousand times, telling the sad tale of his love. If he'd seemed a little too fond of telling the story, well, he was Valentine's best friend, and Silvia had put on her best sympathetic expression and said all the right things in the expected places.

There are days when even Silvia doesn't know who she is. Not those men's fantasy of her, that's certain. They see what they want to see, in love with the prize or the picture or the idea of themselves as lovers.

Valentine was the first man she liked enough to woo him for herself, though he was so slow to believe it that she didn't know whether to laugh or weep.

She weeps now for his banishment, her cruel father's sentence on the man who dared to aspire to his daughter's hand without his consent. Valentine is gone, perhaps for ever, and Silvia, left to grieve, is persecuted by the suitors she never wanted. Her father's choice, the oafish Turio, is bad enough, but Proteus is worse.

Proteus. The name suits him, shape-changer that he is. Julia's lover and Valentine's friend, metamorphosed into yet another of Silvia's unwanted suitors, pleading with her to give him her portrait, or sending his clownish manservant with a wretched mongrel dog that pissed all over her gown.

And now here is this new page of his, a gentle youth, not like that other clown, holding out Julia's ring and begging Silvia to accept it on Proteus's behalf. The insult to both of them, her and Julia, makes her scalp crawl with rage. How dare he set her up as a rival to this woman she has never met, and use the other woman's love-gift to woo her? Has the man no shame?

No point in taking it out on the boy; it's not his fault. He speaks as feelingly of Madam Julia's sufferings as if they were his own, claims to know her almost as well as he does himself, and says he's wept a hundred times, thinking of her sorrows. Silvia can easily imagine how convincing he must have been in the pageant he talks of when he wore Madam Julia's gown to act the part of Ariadne lamenting her betrayal by Theseus. No wonder Julia wept to see him.

If this were another sort of story, she would fall in love with the pretty delicate boy who loves his mistress so well. But she has no heart to give the boy, even to spite his master. Her heart is with her banished Valentine. All she can offer the page is her purse, for his sweet mistress's sake, and her own tears for Julia, desolate and left.

As for Proteus, let him sigh his oaths to her picture: the shadow rather than the substance, fit object of devotion for such a faithless lover and friend.

Also posted at http://fengirl88.dreamwidth.org/157768.html with comment count unavailable comments.


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