evocates: (Real: Sean - Only half-broken)
• just another dreamer • ([personal profile] evocates) wrote2013-05-30 01:59 pm

[FIC] RPF: i'll bite my tongue at thee [2/2]

Part I

Part II

Orlando took a long, shuddering breath and placed the last letter he read back into the pile. His hands groped blindly to the side, capturing Miranda’s small one in his own as he pulled her into his arms.

“I remember now,” he said. “There were a few days when my dear friend was very much distracted, and he would not speak to us. Dominic and I teased him. ‘Have your silver tongue turned to lead?’, we said. If only I knew what weighed so heavily in his heart then!”

He stared down at his own hands, taking a shuddering breath. “Why has he kept these letters and not send them? Why did he not tell me all of this? Though many call him a fool, he had always given me wise counsel! Why has he not gifted me the chance to return the favour to him?”

“I don’t know the answer to such questions,” said Miranda. She lifted her head, tracing her fingers over his cheek. “I only wish that my cousin did not burn his journal.”

“’Twas he who begun the kiss,” Orlando said quietly. “Why did he do that? I thought he held only hatred in his heart for my friends and me.”

“Perhaps if we read on, we might know more,” suggested Miranda. “Perhaps my cousin will tell your friend his reasons.” Despite her words, she looked upon the letters as if they were wild beasts that would leap upon her at once. Perhaps she was not wrong to do so, for the contents for these innocent paper-pieces already preyed on Orlando’s heart and mind.

“No,” said Orlando. “No, not today. Let us give ourselves and the dead a rest, and continue this tomorrow morn.”

“No, Orlando, we must continue,” Miranda shook her head. “Time has not given herself so freely to us. The funerals will be held tomorrow, and they will be buried in separate tombs. That mustn’t happen; I want to know more, Orlando. I need to, so I might have the words to convince the Prince and parents to allow them to lie together in death.”

“To bury them together!” exclaimed Orlando. “What gave you the idea?”

“’Tis a feeling that reaches deep within my heart and grasps it with hot, spidery hands,” said Miranda, shuddering. She reached up suddenly, her hands cupping Orlando’s jaw. “If I died, will you not wish for us to be buried together?”

“Don’t talk about things like that!” Orlando said, placing a finger on her lips. “Please understand this, Miranda: if you die, I will find any and all possible ways to come to you, and I will die beside you, or beside your tomb if I must.” His eyes bored into hers. “There is surely no living without you.”

“Those are beautiful words, Orlando,” said Miranda, and smiled.

Orlando leaned in, kissing his love swiftly. It lightened his heart to see her smile, but his eyes were drawn once more to the letters. “Do you believe their love is like ours?” he asked hesitantly. “Surely it isn’t? I know only the beginning and end of this affair, but they use such cruel ways on each other, and I have never seen or heard of any love like that!”

Miranda laid her head on his chest. “’Tis a different love, but love nonetheless. I have no doubts about that.” She shook her head, and her eyes were determined as they met his. “No matter the argument, my lord, we have to continue.”

Turning his head away, Orlando considered his own rooms. Long had he spent here, and long had this place given him comforts, yet now he considered the shadows hidden in the corners, and wondered if he could ever look upon these familiar walls without harbouring a small seed of dread in his heart.

“Very well, my gently insistent lady,” he said, turning back to Miranda. He smiled slightly, pressing his finger against a plush lip. “I give in. But hear me out: I wish for us to head for the gardens. These might be my rooms, but they feel almost inhumanly oppressive. There are too many hours I have spent with my friend here, and there are echoes of our voices. I can almost hear him as I read.” He took a deep breath, “His voice seems to take over mine sometimes.”

Shuddering, Miranda wrapped her arms around him. “The gardens, Orlando? Why?”

Orlando held his love close, his fingers trailing through her rich hair. “I thought I knew him well, though he was rarely constant, but I recognise now that there is so much of him I don’t know.” Yet he knows me so well, he thought, and brushed the thought away for it perturbed his heart too much. “But he has never stepped into our gardens to my knowledge; he has always hated them because, in his own words, nature should never be so cruelly declawed.”

He pulled away from Miranda, reaching for the last letter and tracing his fingers over the words written by a hand that was now cold.

“This letter sounds nothing like him at all.”

Miranda stood, reaching out both hands, open-palmed, towards him. “Let us head for the gardens now, my husband,” she said. “Let the Sun chase away the ghosts in your heart.”

*

“I did not know my cousin as well as you did your friend,” Miranda began as Orlando led her to a sheltered pavilion within the gardens of Montague. “Even so, I can barely believe there was not a single word spoken of his artistry. I have only heard of his fame earned through swordsmanship.”

“How little we know of another, no matter it is blood or time we share,” sighed Orlando. He glanced over to Miranda, stroking a gentle hand over her cheekbones. “Let us never keep any secrets from each other.”

“Ah, will you then tell me of this beautiful Cate you hold such affection for?” Miranda raised an eyebrow, the dimple in her cheek deepening as she smiled.

“Held, my love! Held!” cried Orlando. He left his friend’s letters on the bench, reaching out to take both of Miranda’s hands into his own. “’Twas but an infatuation, I swear!”

“Have no worries, Orlando; I merely tease. After all, am I not now a Montague?” replied Miranda.

Raising her hands, Orlando kissed them fervently. “My soul has found its mate in you, my love; never doubt that,” he said. “In my youth I had looked upon many beauties and pined after them, but now I am a man, and you are my wife.”

“Your wife commands you to continue reading these letters, for the sun sinks quickly,” said Miranda, her smile widening. “Come now, Orlando: let these men no longer be strangers to us. Perhaps if we know them truly, they will be remembered well.”

Chuckling, Orlando kissed her cheek again, but he obeyed nonetheless, picking the next letter out of the pile and unfolding it.

***

7 April



How might a man ever take the true measure of himself? How might one man ever take the true measure of another? It takes courage and great wisdom, greater than any I have possessed, to know turn away from the abyss of knowledge rather than taking another step. All humankind lives on the edge of the cliff, blindfolded and stumbling, never knowing when he might fall over the edge. Oh, but if I have the wisdom to say, ‘Stop, there is naught more I wish to know of you, trouble me no more.’

Sean is not a fox; nay, ‘tis cruel Fate who is the true vixen and both of us are made to the image of Chantecleer. Currents have pushed us from the comforting spring into the very depths of the ocean, and now I scrabble and claw for the surface but I fear I will never find it. Once more my fingers grasp uselessly at words. Must I write down all that has happened between us? Oh, if only memories and events fade into mist if we do not write! If only they will change and turn as insubstantial as misted breath in the winter chill! Words held their dominion over me for most of this night; now they leave me, and I am bereft and cold and afraid.

Sleep, gentle sleep, take me now so I might no longer think! Morpheus, find the waters of Lethe such that I will forget this night! If any god exists who still listens with mercy to the cries of man, let him grant a desperate one his wish: Let me forget! I have lost my heart, leaving only emptiness. Surely a heartless man has no need for tender memories?

O, even as I beg so fervently, the hollow in my chest where my heart used to be refuses to obey. I must not forget. These new memories are as precious as precious to me as new-birthed jewels freshly dug from the earth, and just as sharp-edged. I hold them within my hands alongside a new, precious burden. Can a sword-callused hand hold thin glass without shattering it? Oh, if I have answers to all of these questions!

The candle sears me. Green eyes haunt me within its flames. I must leave my desk.


8 April



Love is ephemeral and fleeting. Romance has form only in beautiful words men and boys use to lure women to their beds. Love is a ridiculous thing: so fickle, so blind, so very, very out of reach. Paris stole Helen from her marital bed and a thousand ships were launched to retrieve her, yet the Prince of Troy’s vanity surely exceeds any love he has ever felt for the legendary beauty. Love favours him, yet was Love herself not prone to vanity? Ah, the woman who finds her happiness with Love’s son was hated by Aphrodite herself for her beauty. Would it not be better to be hated by Love instead?

Oh, Orlando, I can already see your frown. You despise it so when I speak so frankly about my thoughts on love. So many times you have cried that you will die for Love, that you will give up your short and brilliant life for just one moment with a lady who returns all of your affections. I wish more than ever to believe in your words, but what has Love done for me? Love makes my heart weep and my mind curse my fate. The Greeks are truly wise; have they not named Aphrodite the patron of Jealousy? I am jealous, my friend; deeply, bitterly jealous of you, for you are young and unspoiled while I am made of a much more bitter material, the toy of cruel Fate.

I cannot delay writing any longer. So I will write, my dear friend. I will set quill upon paper, and in doing so engrave my sorrows into stone.

The stars were bright yesternight, though the moon was waning, turning her shy face away from the Earth. The clock’s face showed me the witching hour as I slipped out of the door. Sleep eluded me, and the winds were so still that I thought I might die in the heat of my rooms. Oh, if I had the patience to withstand such a small discomfort! Yet if I had—nay, let me tell this story in a proper manner. Great bards of the past! Homer, Virgil, Ovid, lend me your skills and your manner such that I might tell this tale as if it is not my own! I fear I might fail in this task, but I must at least try.

Verona is fair in the day, but in the night it is alien to the eyes with its many shadows. Yet my feet knew the way better than my mind, and I found myself in an alley, the same one that had overturned my life (was it only six days ago? it seems a lifetime). There, lit by stars and moon and streetlamp, I found Sean. It seemed he could not sleep either, and the two of us looked at each other. Oh, how his eyes glowed in the dark! Oh, how much showed within those eyes! They are windows to the soul, it was said, but I saw not only his soul but his heart and mind in the single glance we exchanged. I searched so desperately for a taunt but could find none on my lips. Even my usual insults of ‘King of Cats’ and ‘merchant’s son’ ran away from me like Daphne from Apollo, for I knew them to be false. Those words captured so little of who Sean truly is.

Sean turned away without a word— oh, if only I had let him go! If only I was not such a fool! Yet I found my body moving, and I grasped his wrist. His skin was warm against mine, as if his heart was a furnace that burned within him and his blood carried the heat until it near-scorched me.

“Do not leave,” I said. “’Tis a beautiful night, and the enmities of the day are washed away by Nyx’s soothing fingers.”

“Ever you call upon the Greek gods in your speech,” Sean replied, and he did not pull himself away from my grasp. “Do you wish that you were born in that age, to have become a great hero celebrated through time in songs and tales?”

His words caught my breath in my throat and I could not breathe in that one moment. How could he have seen so deeply into me and pulled out my hopes for the moon to gawk at? Anger came to me again, but I made the mistake of looking of looking into his eyes. There was no jeer there that I could see, and I realised he spoke with wistfulness, as if those words captured not my dreams, but his own.

“If we are great warriors, then you would be a Trojan, and I an Acheaen,” I said, and my feet took me a single pace closer to him. “Our battles would not have been mocked or disapproved of, but gloried, for then we would be warriors.”

“I am no Prince of Troy,” Sean snorted. “Have you not always named me a merchant’s son? You are right in that, for my name is a plain one. I am no Capulet.”

The anger kept dammed burst forth, and I pulled away from him, stalking into the shadows of the alley. “Oh, if only that is true!” I cried. My voice sliced through the silence of the night. “If you are no Capulet, then—”

I could not continue, for Sean’s arm was around my shoulders and his lips upon my own. His tongue darted between my lips, stroking over my teeth with great passion. I gasped, and I tasted him. Like fire itself he was: the heat of his skin burned hot against my own, and I knew that fire will ever destroy or be destroyed. If the house does not burn, then the hearth fire will be reduced to embers. Ash was in his kiss, coupled with honey; passion I felt in my heart, battling with despair. I held him close, pulling his body to mine, and oh at the moment I wished we were as blissful as Baucius and Philemon! If only we were turned into oak and linden then, never again to be parted, sundered from all human cares of the world!

I wish that still. The light of the morning has not diminished my desires; it has only illuminated them, showing the thorns that have wrapped themselves around me, piercing through me. There are no scars on my skin; a pity, for if the heart’s wounds show upon the body, they might be easier to bear.

“You are no Montague,” said Sean. His breath ghosted across my lips, and I admit I trembled then, for it was a greater tenderness than I ever felt or have ever felt. “You have a choice. Take the path of your kinsman: be the neutral party, swayed by neither family. Walk further down that route; be a friend to both.”

My heart twisted. How similar we truly are when our harsh masks had been ripped from us! Have I not pondered the same days before? Have I not wondered the same?

“Will any Capulet reach their hand towards me?” I said, and bitterness near swallowed my whole self. “You have long called me a friend of Montague, and that is how I am known to Verona.”

“You will not try?” whispered Sean. If he had sounded angry, if he pushed me away instead of laying his head upon my shoulder, then perhaps I will find the strength to walk away and close my heart to him. Yet there was his hand in my hair, tugging on the short strands, and with each pull my heart drew even closer to him.

“I can no more sunder myself from my friends than you from your relatives,” I said. “I have known the Montague boys since I was a child—they are like brothers to me, and Montague himself is like a father.”

“If you have met me instead when we were children, would we have been friends? Would you have been known as the friend of Capulet instead?” said Sean. His hand was in my hair, and I would not have thought him capable of such tenderness but a month before. For whole lives Man thinks he knows the truth about his world, yet that certainty can be snatched from him in but a single day. Irony, thou art a truly unkind mistress.

“No man knows the consequences of the paths he did not take,” I said. “Time will not be allowed to turn back; our childhoods are long lost to us. Yet might we not have friendship now? Will you not extend your hand towards me as a Capulet?”

“I wish to, yet I find that path to be full-dark. Lord Capulet is my unwilling uncle, because I am the living proof of the folly of his house and how close he was to ruin before he married my aunt. The Capulet House might bear his name, but it was held by currency he gained through marriage.” Sean sighed, a deep and heavy sound. “No, he holds little fondness for me, and I have no sway with him. He will rather sever me from my family than renounce his hatred for my sake.”

Always lovers are told to be honest with each other, yet now I wished he had lied to me, or kept such truths away such that I might believe him deceitful. Yet then he stripped himself bare before my eyes and I know his words to be sincere. If only we might thrust ourselves away from each other! I know I should, yet I found myself wrapping my arms around him, wishing desperately I could envelop him with my arms and take him far away from this city that is both home and prison to us.

“If only we are plain men,” I cried. “We might escape this city to another, and leave the all-consuming shadows behind.”

“Nay, we cannot. Too much ties us to Verona,” Sean laughed, and it was a bitter sound. “You are neither Montague nor Capulet, so you do not see. This feud between the great houses cannot be washed away by us. Only blood, a full river of it, can wash the streets of Verona clean, and we are caught in its currents.”

“If you believe any tenderness between us to be doomed, why did you kiss me?” the words burst forth from my lips like rushing waterfalls, and I wished to drink them back. Yet Sean took no offence, and his laughter was a cool drink from the spring.

“There was invitation writ in your mouth, and there was naught I would do than to take it, Viggo.” I started then, for it was the first time I have heard my name on those lips for a very long time. Long had the two of us called each other by insulting names, as if our real names were drowned, silenced, in the ocean of hate.

I parted my lips to speak, gentle tease at the tip of my tongue (“Are you well-versed in the reading of such invitations,” I thought to ask), but Sean shook his head. I was suddenly bereft of his heat, and he walked towards the wall, running his fingers over the rough brick. Did he seek to find answers there? I do not know. I could barely see him in the darkness, and his eyes were veiled from me.

“Can you hear the cries of the city?” Sean asked suddenly. “She cries for the spark that will swallow the two houses that tears her apart. Fire will cleanse her just as easily as it will consume all of us, in the end. ‘Tis only a matter of time.”

Spring waters dried to ashes in my mouth, and I could not help my harsh words: “You seem fixated on death tonight.”

“Aye, I have thought often of death, for I see no other way that this feud can end,” Sean said, and I was greatly shocked at the change in his voice. Not by the blackness of despair—for he spoke of dark things—but by the roughness, as if he was revealing to me his true self, the merchant’s son who voiced cold philosophy with a trader’s rough dialect. I find no way to capture it in page, but it lingers in my mind like a clarion call, and you must surely hear it.

“Surely there must be another way,” I said, desperately. “The Prince tries to keep peace as best he can, and I will do the same.”

“A single spark, Viggo; that is all it will take.” Sean turned, and his eyes pierced me in the darkness like the polished, gleaming tip of a spear.

“Your cynicism blackens your lips and turns you foul, Sean. Turn away from it. There might still be hope left. If we do not believe in hope, we will never find a way to escape the dark shadows that escape at every corner,” I said, grasping at words to comfort. Yet I knew they were but a weak protest, and I found my hands shaking once more as I reached out, drawing Sean close, resting my head upon his shoulder.

Words welled up in my heart, a river bursting through a dam, drowning all within its reach. “You fear revenge. You fear that if one life is lost, then another will be taken for payment, and another taken, and the cycle only ends when all are dead.” Dark words, cruel words, and oh if they were only the creation of the cold night! No, even in the light of day, I know them to be true.

“Will you grant me a cruel oath, if I ask it of you?”

Sean’s fingers were rough, sword-callused, but their touch was tender upon my lip, tracing the white scar above. “There has been nothing you have ever asked of me. Nothing in the whole of my life. Now you do so, and your wish to do so is far more vicious than any request you might put forth. I am a fool, Viggo, for aye, I will grant it, no matter the wish.”

My hand spread out upon his chest, and I felt the steady drum of his heart. I found myself wishing for that reminder that he lived now, that death was away though night surrounded us, and the soft, warm gusts of his breath against my temple was sweeter than any touch I have ever felt and will ever feel again.

“If in the heat of the moment, I wound you or you me past the point of saving, then allow us to end that cycle there. Let us die together, by each other’s hands.” I looked up to him, and the sorrow in his eyes near stopped my heart and breath in that one moment. Yet the words could not be denied. “If the world will not allow us to love, then let us find love in death.”

“You will call this love?” asked Sean, and his voice was blank to me.

Is this love? Is what we have such a sweet-sounding thing? I have spent nearly my entire life hating him, and though many have said that hate and love are joined together, both only the other side of another, I can barely believe how quickly my heart has changed. Has it changed? Is this love? We have tasted only each other’s lips. I have yet to see him smile. Yet my heart cries out that I already know him as much as one man can another—nay, better, for he has the courage to lay his heart out in a painting, and in it I saw my own heart mirrored. How can I not know him when our hearts and eyes and minds seem so much in harmony?

My mind knew not. It knows not, even now. Yet a part of me could form words then, and these I spoke: “In the past, if you have asked what I feel for you, I will say there is only hate. Yet now hate is far from me, so far that I do not think even great ships will allow me to reach it. You have turned me inside out until I barely know myself. But I know this: if I can have but one wish, I will ask to see myself reflected forever in your smiling eyes.”

Sean grasped my hands in his, bringing them up to his mouth. He kissed my knuckles with his eyes fixed upon mine. “Aye,” he told me, and oh, it was a sweet promise indeed, as sweet as poison.

Oh, were that mine is an unrequited passion! If I am alone in my love, I would have allowed him to thrust me against the wall twice or thrice, and hate him once more afterward for the dispassion of his gaze. Were that I am blind, and does not see how his eyes glow with gentle emotions now as they meet mine! Yet I am not blind, yet he is honest in his desires, and I know we are doomed indeed. Two branches of rival trees, unable to break ourselves from our kin. Twined with love in those green eyes is fear, as black as the shadows around us.

As heavy lids fell to veil green light, I felt the chill of the night sink down to my bones. I watched Sean bent over my hands, his eyes closed, and I thought then that surely this is how he will look like when he dies.

I clash my lips with his in desperation. Was it to seal the promise we made? Was it to chase the darkness away? I did not know. I do not know even now. I know I ache to feel his fire against my skin even though I might be burnt to ashes by it. No man will choose love if he knows it brings so much pain. There is no choice in this; it simply is.

In your times of great passion, my dear friend, you have asked me what I might wish to die for. Always I had naught but jests for you, but now I know the true answer. I will die for peace, for she is a kind lady sorely needed in our fair Verona. I will die for peace so gentle souls like yours will never have to suffer the torment that now plagues me without rest. I will die for peace so love can be born without any need for hatred or fear. My breath chokes in my throat even as I write these words. I can barely breathe.

The shadows grow closer and closer. Sean is the Sun, but is it not the Sun himself who casts the shadows? He has brought me light, and he has brought the shadows to me. I am afraid, Orlando. I am terrified. I now head towards a path shrouded by fog, and I fear the Reaper awaits me at the end.

Yet now I reach out my hand in my mind, and I feel Sean’s warmth. Thus the fear seems bearable, if only for a moment.


20 April



The letters of previous days have been burnt. If only the fire might destroy all signs of my newfound sweetness so I will not grieve for its loss! Nay, that I have ruined with my own hands without need for flames, and now my hands tremble for fear of losing that which I wished to disavow but weeks ago. I have left a few letters untouched; my hands would not obey me when I sought to toss them into the hearth. Perhaps that is a wise choice; surely after this night, dark things will come to pass. There must be explanations left behind if—no, I dare not set such things in words, in stone. Let them remain mere premonitions, as insubstantial as mist.

Oh Orlando, will you forgive me? Have my whims caused the ruin of all of us? Were that I did not convince you to join me! Were that I had gone to Capulet’s great ball alone; obeying the invitation’s bidding and called no one else to accompany me! Were that you and Dominic had not met that poor servant and asked to read the list! Were that you had not seen Cate’s name! Yet all that have passed, I am left once more to mourn all that could not be. Time obeys no man’s wish to turn it back, but I wish so desperately for such a thing that I am willing to give my entire life for it.

My dear friend, I have lied to you. I did not attend the party out of obligation to the Prince; I did it to see Sean amongst his family, with the desperate hope that if Lord Capulet knew how much we meant to each other, he will be tempted to extinguish this rivalry. I wished to see him by stronger light than the cold moon and stars, to be surrounded by others without the need to stow ourselves away as if our affection for each other was an abhorrent thing best left unwitnessed by the eyes of decency. I urged you on for I wished to introduce my friends to the one I love so, in hopes that you might look upon each other with different eyes.

My wishes for this night were as numerous and brilliant as the stars in the night sky, but all they are now are all ashes beneath my feet. I have no more heart left to wish for a phoenix to be formed from them. I know it to be impossible. Orlando, my foolish, foolish friend! Of all the Mirandas in the world you could have loved, why choose the Capulets’?

Sean raged so to see young Miranda in your arms; ever has he been protective of her, for though she knows him little, he has watched her as she grew, and loves her as a brother would a sister. This I know to be true, for he has told me, and though Sean has many faults, he is no liar. Were that he was less honest!

Could your eyes not be turned to any other beauty, my friend? There were so many who surrounded us! I am selfish to ask such a thing, for I know Love gives us no such choice. If I could choose, I would not have chosen Sean as the one with whom I found my soul’s mate. Ah, the cruelties of Love. Eros’s arrows rare lead us to happiness, for every drop of happiness Love gives, she extracts the price of an ocean’s worth of hurt and sorrow and suffering.

My friend, will you love me more if I tell you that I, like you, have given my heart into the hands of one of Capulet’s house? Will you even believe me if I even tell you such a thing? Sean cried my name with such rage when he recognised my form standing beside yours and Dominic’s amongst Capulet’s friends. Yet I did not fear; yet my anger did not rouse. His harsh fire had not been turned towards me for some days, and I found myself missing it. Oh, Orlando, will you think me mad if I say I have formed my selfhood within the various ways Sean’s lips formed around my name?

The shadows approach Verona. They draw closer and closer after this night. I find myself surprised as I look out of the window and still see the stars. Even the shadows cast by the candle’s flames seem large and overwhelming. Death has drawn his great cloak over us and now he awaits with his grey scythe for the first drop of blood to spill. I am afraid, though it is not the shadows I fear. I am terrified of how easily my hollowed chest reaches out for Death, and how effortlessly my soul welcomes him.

The night is cold and its chill wraps around me. I must seek warmth. Forgive me for stopping my quill now, my friend, and hope for me in any way you can that I will find Sean tonight. I must speak to him.

***

“That is the last letter,” Orlando said.

His hands opened without his consent, and the piece of thick parchment, darkened with Viggo’s words, floated down to the garden floor. He watched as Miranda picked it up; watched as she traced her finger over her cousin’s name, written by his lover days before they died by each other’s hands.

“How dark their hearts were! How the shadows touched their souls and refused to loosen their grasp!” cried Miranda, turning to face her husband. Her eyes were filled with tears. “Oh Orlando, have we doomed them by falling for each other? If we had not met at the ball, they might still be…”

“No,” Orlando said, the word bursting out of him. He leapt forward, snatching the last letter Viggo had ever written from Miranda’s grasp and dropping it on the bench. “No, don’t think about such things!”

There was more he should say, more words on the tip of his tongue to comfort his wife. Yet Orlando could not find them for his breath choked in his throat, and he drew Miranda into his arms and held her tightly. Was this how Viggo had held Sean, he wondered wildly. Was he always haunted by the knowledge that they would be torn apart at any moment, with each sweet embrace soured by heavy grief?

He read their souls in the words Viggo had written, and yet he still did not know. Orlando was not a man made like Viggo was; he did not linger upon dark thoughts, preferring the comfort of hope, of gentleness, with riotous wishes of the hatred between their houses resolved through his and Miranda’s love for each other. Did love not conquer all? He knew the answer now was no, not for Viggo and Sean, for they loved each other so dearly and yet the shadows still took them, and all the relief they knew was that of one cold blade that pierced both of their bodies.

Orlando closed his eyes. He saw the fragile peace of Verona spread out in front of him. Like dry kindling barely doused by a sudden wind it was, and he knew that the fires Viggo so feared would swallow the fair city once more if naught more was done to change kindling to heavy steel, never once more to be touched by fire.

“Oh, let Verona be changed into a city of light and joy,” whispered Miranda against his neck. “If not for our own sake, then for theirs; the city must be changed so this tragedy will never be repeated again. If a Montague falls for a Capulet, then so be it; let them be as happy as we were before death’s chill came so near.”

“Your eloquence is far more than mine!” declared Orlando, standing up immediately. “Yes, my love. Yes, that must be done. Come, let us find the Prince and your mother.”

“Why?” asked Miranda, looking up at her husband through tear-filled eyes.

“They must not be buried separately,” said Orlando, and he wiped his face with his cuff. “They were parted unjustly in life, but let them be together in death, and sunder them never more.”

Miranda lowered her head. She gathered the letters slowly, sliding each back into their places before knotting the dark silk ribbon around the pile again.

“First, the Prince,” she said finally, unfolding herself to stand. “He will convince my mother and father, if none else can.”

Orlando gave a small cry of joy and kissed her hard. Their hands tangled together as they headed north, towards the Prince’s house. The setting sun turned their dark hair into fire, but those were gentle flames indeed.

***

On the 27th of April, in the full bloom of spring, Viggo Mortensen, of the Prince’s House, friend of Montague, and Sean Bean, son of Brian, nephew of the Lady Capulet, were buried in the same coffin. Within Viggo’s cold hands were placed the letters he wrote telling of the great passion they shared. In their tomb, overlooking their bodies, hung Sean’s painting, the stark colours and the wild oceans they both loved guarding them.

Orlando and Miranda grieved for their friends who died to quench the fires of hatred between the two great houses of Verona, but they lived. Yes, they lived, and happily so until the end of their days.

***

“Let us speak no longer of dark things,” said Sean as he pulled away. Viggo’s breath ghosted across his skin, and he shuddered as his fingers traced the bright white scar above Viggo’s mouth, peeking through the short hairs that appeared on men’s jaws at this time of the night. “I gave you this scar, did I not?”

“Aye, you did,” Viggo said, and there was warm mirth in his voice, honey born from the thoughts of a man who realised a past rage-filled memory had now turned sweet. “There was a ring on your finger as you swung your fist at my jaw, and it tore the skin.” He laughed. “I remember your shocked eyes as you watched blood flow past my skin to drip onto your shoes.”

“It was an ugly ring,” said Sean, shaking his head. He traced his thumb over it again. “I haven’t worn it since, for when I returned home there was rust red staining silver, and I could not look at it again.”

“So I have marked your ring,” whispered Viggo. Fingers brushed against Sean’s eyes, causing bright green to be veiled by heavy lids for but a moment before Viggo traced the small scar barely below the brow. “Just as I have marked you here.”

“The wound you gave me was far less grievous,” said Sean, and he laughed again. “I was frequently pleased with myself about that fact.” He looked at Viggo again as his fingers captured his hands, turning it over and pressing a gentle kiss upon the inside of the wrist.

The streetlamps shone a dim, sickly yellow light as Sean led Viggo from the depths of the alley to its mouth, where the light of the moon and stars could reach them easily. Viggo looked upwards to the stars, leaning against Sean’s shoulder as their arms grasped for each other, seeking for gentle warmth and rough skin.

“We have marked each other well,” Viggo said.

“Aye, we have. In manners that the light sees, and which it doesn’t,” Sean turned his head, his lips brushing against Viggo’s temple. Tiny little intimacies they have given each other each night, and Viggo’s brush ghosted over Sean’s neck, his lips’ warmth obvious above his collarbone. Viggo turned his eyes upwards, catching Sean’s gaze—made emerald-bright and gold-flecked by candles burning in the lamps—before he leaned forward.

They crashed together, suddenly caught up in the tide of desperation, of passion, of desire, of everything they barely dared to voice in fear that the shadows will swallow the words in the air and consume them both. They tried to consume each other instead, their mouths sliding against each other, hands clawing and tugging at shoulders. Like dancing on the edge of knives they kissed, right out in the open where any sleepless passersby would see them. Viggo pushed his advantage, pressing Sean against the wall, and pulling him closer, hand digging into long hair. Sean allowed him, his tongue licking over and over at the white scar above Viggo’s lip, as if his tongue could remake the mark into one on the soul and heart instead of merely the body.

Foreheads touched even as their lips parted, and hands caressed jaws, necks, each mirroring the other’s movements, their eyes fixed upon each other. Viggo laughed quietly, a soft, bitter sound, and Sean alighted two fingers against his lips, silencing him.

“Often I have turned my face to the sea,” said Sean, his voice a whisper almost too easily caught by the winds and scattered. “I looked upon endless sapphire and wished I have the courage to take a boat and escape this city. Now you make me glad I did not, because if I had I would not have this with you.”

“Your life would have been far simpler if you have not found this,” said Viggo, whose heart’s darkness was far more stubborn and less easy to dislodge than Sean’s. “Perhaps you might have found another, gentler love.”

Sean snorted. “I am not made for gentleness and neither are you,” he said wryly. “Any gentlewoman who finds me worthy would be burnt to ash by my temper within the week; I know that well. There is none other who can equal me as well as you, Viggo.”

“So this is a fated love,” said Viggo. There were words on his tongue, bitter ones bemoaning his fate, but he caught the sardonic humour in Sean’s eyes and shook his head instead. Why waste time lamenting what would never be, and why not grasp onto all that he could hold onto in the short time he knew he had left?

“Tell me of the sea,” he said instead. “Tell me what drove you to make that painting.”

“I will,” said Sean. “If you first inform me what you have done with it.”

“It sits in my sitting room,” said Viggo, and he burst out laughing at the sight of Sean’s widening eyes. “Yes, I placed it in my rooms where all who entered would see it! I allow only those who knew to make intelligent comments on the piece to come in.” He buried fingers into Sean’s hair, pulling him forward and he kissed him again, breathing in Sean’s disbelieving laughter and drawing the little sounds into his mouth.

“I thought you would’ve thrown it to the side once you found out the artist,” chuckled Sean. “Why, I had it that you threw it into the ocean!”

“I would never do such a thing!” cried Viggo. “’Tis an object dear to my heart for…” he hesitated, suddenly overcome by uneasiness, for with none he had ever discussed the manner at which his heart’s eyes viewed nature, and he didn’t wish to be laughed at. Yet he shook his head hard at the next moment, for had not Sean been courageous, and laid his heart out for Viggo to look at already?

“When I saw it, ‘twas like you have seated yourself behind my eyes, and drew what I saw and could never find the paints or words to capture,” said Viggo. “’Twill be easier to carve out my own heart than to be rid of it.”

There was a long moment of silence, as if the air itself had stilled to allow for unspoken words to travel between bodies by means of touch. Sean turned, fingers tracing Viggo’s jaw before he nudged for him to sit, and they dropped down onto the stone pavement, their backs against the brick wall as their eyes gazed upon the stars.

“I do not have friends like yours,” said Sean quietly. “My presence in Lord Capulet’s house has always been a tenuous one; my sister is my guardian, true, but she was oft busy with many duties to tend to. I do not fault her or Lord Capulet for my upbringing, however, for they gave me a strong education.” He glanced over to Viggo, smiling wryly. “Yet my truest friends have always been strays like myself—not boys, for there always is a gulf between us—but cats, dogs, and such.”

Viggo looked upon Sean, and knew he saw a man more lonely than himself. He wondered how he could have missed that Sean was almost always alone and rarely found with a servant or a page by his side.

“The sword is a cold companion,” Sean continued, “and I found my paints to be a better one. Nature gifted me her strays, and in her I saw great beauty. Yet within her I found another gulf between myself and my fellow man, for none saw her as I did,” his fingers traced over Viggo’s jaw, curling against the end of the strands. “None but you. Signor W— spent many days convincing me to put it up on exhibit, but I must spend many more in thanks for his efforts.”

Viggo tilted his head, lips grazing sword-callused palm. “My friends have been much comfort to me in my youth, but none have touched me the way you have.”

“Yet you have friends, and they sought your company,” retorted Sean. His anger was short-lived, however, and his eyes softened almost immediately. “Nay, I will not blame you for my bitter; ‘tis not your fault.”

“My loneliness was unlike yours, but it was loneliness nonetheless,” said Viggo, and once more he gave name to what lay thick and unspoken in their conversation. “I stood alone amongst the crowd, surrounded by glass none could see. I love, and yes, I was loved, yet I was not understood, for my attempts to expose my heart was met with uncomprehending eyes and blank faces.”

“Hush,” Sean said, and placed a hand over Viggo’s mouth. “Let us not linger longer in thoughts of emptiness. Have we not found each other?”

Viggo raised his hand and took Sean’s into his, tangling their fingers together. He looked into green eyes and wondered at how pleasingly the scar curved when Sean smiled. It was, he thought, a mark made in anger, but he did not regret carving it.

“Yes,” he said, and let Sean take his mouth and steal all words for the rest of the night. “We have.”

Who knew how much time they would have left?

End


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