(Scene: a holding cell in the Duke's palace. ANTONIO imprisoned. Enter SEBASTIAN.)
I got married.
It might be funny, if it weren't so serious.
It might be cause for celebration, if the boy's eyes weren't the same as the day you plucked him from the sea: wide and shining and confused.
It might be something you could laugh about together, if there weren't still these bars between you.
It might be funny, if it didn't hurt you both.
(Scene: the Duke's palace. Enter the DUKE and VIOLA, in man's clothes; LORDS and MUSICIANS attending.)
Cesario, good Cesario, will you sing for me? O musicians: play on. Cesario, good Cesario, will you sing for me?
Good my lord: what shall I sing?
It ought to be easy, to sing of her love. It used to be easy, to sing for her love.
Was it not everything she waited for: to speak the truth, naked and by its own name? Sometimes, it is simpler to speak the truth through lies.
It used to be bitter, to hear him sing of love. It ought to be easier, to hear her love.
Was this not everything he dared not want: Viola's love, from Cesario's lips and in his name?
Sometimes, it is harder to desire truth than lies.
It ought to be easier, to know whose love she professes.
(Scene: the lady Olivia's chamber. Enter OLIVIA and the PRIEST.)
Father, pray for me. It is my wedding night.
Daughter, listen to me. You married Cesario and you would take Sebastian to bed? Daughter, talk to me. Are you not confused? Are you not distressed?
A marriage is not a marriage until it is consummated. A wedded maid is not a woman until she is a bedded wife.
Father, pray for me. It is my wedding night.
(Scene: the Duke's palace. The DUKE and VIOLA, alone)
You know this is not something you ought to be doing. It is the only thing you could do.
Cesario's lips are wet and urgent, mouthing at your neck, your jaw, sucking hungrily at your lower lip. For your part, you can do little but draw ragged breaths and dig your fingers into his buttocks, hitch him closer to you. He obliges, pushing his hip between your legs, where it's not enough, and not what you're looking for, not now.
Viola whimpers and clutches at your hair, pulls your forehead down against hers; her eyelashes skitter across your skin and her breath on your lips. Beneath the breeches is unfamiliar to you, and she has not the words to guide you – a broken litany of my lord and love and please and I can't and I don't know and please – but she pushes forward against your hand and if you pull back a little, Cesario's face is easy to read.
This is the only thing you could do; this one suspended moment, to have them both and not have to choose. You know this is not something you ought to be doing.
(Scene: Olivia's house. Enter SIR TOBY, SIR ANDREW, and SEBASTIAN in girls' clothes.)
Why, Cesaria, you make as fine a maid as any in Illyria, I'll drink to that!
I'll drink to my sister, the finest maid in this country or any! And to my wife!
What, is your wife yet a maid? Is Sebastian not yet man enough to take a bride!
She would have better married the sister! Cesario cut the finer man – he spoke hotter, and more ardent, than this twitter-pated boy.
Ah, but he had not the courage of his sword. Oho, Sebastian, will you draw against me?
You would insult my sister? My honour? My wife! Draw, villain: I am man enough in any garb for you!
Steady, boy. Sir Andrew means nothing by it. Put up your sword. Where is my cousin Olivia?
Why, with my sister: they sew and spin together, as like as two pods on the pea-tree.
Is the fair Viola as quick with her distaff as you with your sword, Sebastian?
Nay: far quicker. Why, she will work her distaff all day, has she just one friend such as my wife with whom to spin.
(Scene: the Duke's palace. The DUKE, SEBASTIAN and VIOLA)
When they come to ask, the likeness wrings your heart.
He saved my life.
You do not know which of them it is you answer: Only for love of you. Perhaps you mean neither of them.
(Scene: Olivia's chamber. OLIVIA and MARIA. From outside, SIR TOBY and SIR ANDREW carousing.)
Send for my husband. We will have no more of this in my house.
A married wife needs no guardian. And a landless husband would do well to defend his wife.
Where is my lord Sebastian?
Why, he is with your uncle, for they toast his sister's wedding day.
Viola is not to be married for yet a week!
And they say they shall toast her every day 'till then.
(Scene: a cell in the Duke's palace. ANTONIO imprisoned. Enter the DUKE.)
You have done me wrong, sir.
There is an equilibrium here: a fragile equality between two men powerful in their own right. Both undone for love of a lad more beautiful than he is cautious.
You are beloved of one who is of the dear blood of the one whom I love.
The sea rocks and shudders against the coastline of Illyria, licking and caressing and, in the end, gaining no ground.
Sail for me. Take my flagship, pursue my enemies on the heaving ocean tide.
His duty is simpler, at sea; his role drawn more clearly. And yet –
I will keep a place for you in my house.
It is not the offer he wanted; it comes from the wrong mouth. It is not everything he wanted, but it it is better than he'd hoped.
You have my oath, and my service with it.
There is an equilibrium here, that of a bargain struck. Two men who could not keep that which they truly wanted.
(Scene: the DUKE and VIOLA, with the PRIEST and GUESTS)
The distaff took easily to your hands again, and yet the gown sits strangely on you, as if it doubts your right to bear it. It is strange – but not unpleasant – to stand by his side: not before him, or behind him, but by his side.
Words are boundaries. They define that which is, and is not. Who may, and may not. You would not wish to marry under any name but your own – and yet.
Later, one of you whispers Cesario and the other echoes: Aye.