kindkit: Sailing ship at sea. (Fandomless: Blue ship)
[personal profile] kindkit
Title: To His Image Did I Devotion
Fandom: Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
Pairing: Antonio/Sebastian
Rating: Teen
Warnings: None needed
Word count: 1000
Summary: "His life I gave him, and did thereto add / My love without retention or restraint, / All his in dedication"
Notes: Written for [livejournal.com profile] flo_nelja, who asked for Antonio/Sebastian after the end of the play. Title and summary are quotations from Twelfth Night, of course.




The duke gives him a purse, a pardon, and a pretty speech: "You have preserved dear Cesario's - Viola's - life, and what she tenders far more dearly, the life of her brother. I must then rest your debtor, for such gifts have no quittance. But what I can repay, I shall, master Antonio."

Viola glows at this and every word from Orsino's mouth. Doublet-clad still, she drinks Orsino in like a boy studying his hero. Antonio would like to believe Sebastian once looked at him like that, but not even the duke's good Rhenish can practise thus upon the plain truth of his memory.

Sebastian's new wife--his young, beauteous, rich wife--looks fair to worship the boy as much as any husband could hope. Sebastian is puffed with the flattery of it. But Antonio sees how sometimes, when courtesy turns the girl's eyes elsewhere, Sebastian glances down the long table to where he sits at Maria's right. And then hastily away.

Antonio leaves the feast well before the brides are taken away to bed. He returns to the Elephant, telling himself he'll wait three days. That was time enough for Our Lord to harrow hell and save all Christian souls; Sebastian can manage his own small, profane escape in so long, if the marriage yoke galls him.

In the end, it's four days before Sebastian appears, and Antonio is waiting still. His first mate has come every day, begging him to take the ship out to sea. Antonio wonders if he was right to call it witchcraft, the enthrallment that keeps him here.

He recognises Sebastian's step before the boy is halfway up the stairs, but he stays in his seat by the window, pretending to read the salt-stained prayerbook that was in Sebastian's pocket when they pulled him from the sea. Sebastian gave it to him for remembrance. If Antonio has said any prayer in all the hours he's sat over it, stroking its roughened pages, it was not a Christian one. Dear God, he thinks now as the top stair creaks, if this be sin, let me keep my sin a little longer.

"My dear friend," Sebastian says from the doorway. "How I feared to find thee gone."

Antonio's feigned indifference dies. Tears burn his cheeks like vitriol as he takes Sebastian into his arms and kisses him. "I'd have waited a year. Fifty."

"Would you?"

"It felt like fifty," Antonio says, unable to govern his words. Love the popinjay must flaunt himself.

"I'm sorry," Sebastian whispers, his lips silky against Antonio's ear. "Thy faith is greater than my merit."

"But you have it," Antonio answers, leading him to the fine wide bed in this fine private room he's hired with Orsino's gold. Late sunlight seeps golden through the shutters, the sheets are soft and perfumed with lavender, the air warm, the boy as lovely and as eager as he's always been. It's a dream of pleasure, and yet Antonio aches like a pressed man after his first flogging. At every touch of Sebastian's fingers, every gasp and shudder of Sebastian's sweet white body, he can scarcely forbear weeping. The climax takes him like fire, and not the poetical kind; once he saw a heretic burned, and he knows if he were a little less of a man, he could scream and plead as loudly.

Certainly he's not man enough to shut his mouth upon his hopes, afterwards. Hopes, he finds, are pains. Cursing himself all the while for a fool, he says, "The tide will turn soon. We could be at sea before dark."

Sebastian's eyes are closed, and for a moment he doesn't stir. He looks like a beautiful corpse. "Antonio," is all he says, and all he needs to say.

Antonio thinks of treasure ships lost, of all the gold and jewels the sea has ever taken to herself, and all the men who've grieved for fortunes they could not recover. A consoling tale in its way, but nine-tenths of it is a lie. This wrack is not fate, but piracy. "My congratulations to your lady wife."

Sebastian's clear grey eyes open. His perfect mouth deforms itself into a frown. "My father was a lord of Messaline. I cannot spend my life as a sea-captain's boy."

No seaman scoffs at prudence. But it stings to be mistaken thus, when he's bared himself to Sebastian in all ways. "My friend, not my boy."

"Your catamite."

"My soul." He touches Sebastian's hair, his pale eyebrows, his maiden's cheek and the roughening jaw that proclaims him man. "My joy, my wonder, my heart of oak. I'm not a poor man, you know. And every farthing of it is yours, as I am, always."

"Bought with my honour."

Worse than flogging, worse than burning. This is flaying alive. "Do you keep your honour in your arse, then?"

"Oh, Antonio." Sebastian leans up on an elbow and smiles as he did when they talked late into the night in a swinging cot under a ship's lantern. "I don't mean the . . . the bedding. I mean . . . my father's name, I suppose. Can I let it die with me? And I swore my troth to Olivia."

In all those nights lying twined together, Sebastian made no promise to him. The only vows were Antonio's, which Sebastian always sought to turn with a light word and a kiss. He should have noticed that. "You break my heart."

"No more than my own." Sebastian rubs at his over-bright eyes. Catching the hand, kissing it, Antonio tastes salt water.

"Young hearts mend. But I'll remember that you wept for me, a little."

Sebastian kisses him hard, dresses, and goes. Antonio hears unsteady footsteps down the stairs. The last of him, the end. He licks his lips again and again, until he knows he's only imagining the bitterness of salt.

A shore breeze is rising, steady and straight, humming through the shutters. It'll be a good night for sailing.





I'm now taking a new request. First commenter on DW or LJ can name a fandom (see here on DW or here on LJ for a list of fandoms I can write), a character or pairing, and a brief prompt.

on 2010-09-17 05:33 pm (UTC)
ellen_fremedon: overlapping pages from Beowulf manuscript, one with a large rubric, on a maroon ground (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] ellen_fremedon
Ohhh. Oh, this is exquisite and painful.

on 2010-09-17 05:48 pm (UTC)
ellen_fremedon: overlapping pages from Beowulf manuscript, one with a large rubric, on a maroon ground (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] ellen_fremedon
How about the Second Doctor? Prompt: costume drama. Interpret that however you like :-).

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