Season Content Notes: Revenge plot, violence, boundary violations, sexual harassment, ableist language
Sometimes, fools have more wisdom than the wise, but even the wisest fool can be a fool in truth. The rest of Malvolio’s story cannot be erased, if only because he still had a small role to play in Cesario’s tale. But for all the man deserved some comeuppance, he did not deserve so far a fall and so great a humiliation.
The fool, to this day, is shamed by the role he had in Malvolio’s downfall, for some jokes are such as never should be played. Suffice to say that while all these other happenings continued, the steward remained, not seen to by a doctor, but locked in a dark house and mocked by false priests. It is some comfort to the fool that it was by his hand that Malvolio was finally able to appeal for help to Lady Oliva, but that came later.
For while Malvolio was trapped in darkness, Sebastian was getting to know the lady Olivia — his mysterious rescuer — and worrying.
Near a week after Olivia first invited him into the manor, Sebastian found himself wandering the grounds. He was trying once again to find sense in his world. Lost in thought, he did not notice the fool was also relaxing in the sunlight.
“This is the air,” he mused, “that is the glorious sun. This pearl she gave me, I do feel’t and see’t.” The pearl in question rested atop a small pin. It was not expensive, as such things go, but still more valuable than anything remaining to him since the shipwreck. More valuable than anything that should be so lightly gifted to a stranger. “And though ’tis wonder that enwraps me thus, yet ’tis not madness.”
He tucked the pin away and sat down on a bench, clasping his hands. “Where’s Antonio, then? I could not find him at the Elephant: yet there he was; and there I found this credit, that he did range the town to seek me out.” And Sebastian had ranged the town himself in return. A few folks admitted to having seen Antonio when they first arrived in town, but no one knew where he was.
At first, Sebastian hadn’t worried — with he and Antonio looking for each other, it was likely they had been victims of bad timing. But it had been several days, with no word. And while he worried, he also wished for Antonio’s advice. “For though my soul disputes well with my sense, that this may be some error, but no madness, yet doth this accident and flood of fortune so far exceed all reason that I am ready to distrust mine eyes and be persuaded but that I am mad.”
He felt foolish speaking to himself. But it at least slowed down the whirl of thought and fear. “Or else the lady’s mad. Yet, if ’twere so, she could not sway her house, command her followers, take and give back affairs and their dispatch with such a smooth, discreet and stable bearing as I have seen she does.” There was some deception here. Some answer other than that he had lost his senses or the lady who so assiduously courted him was lacking hers.
He could not find it.
It was a relief to see Olivia walking toward him, even with the priest in tow. Anything to distract Sebastian from his own thoughts.
“Blame not this haste of mine.” Olivia pleaded, reaching for Sebastian’s hands. “If you mean well, now go with me and with this holy man into the chantry by. There, before him, and underneath that consecrated roof, plight me the full assurance of your faith.”
Sebastian’s jaw dropped. He couldn’t help it. But somehow he also was not surprised.
The lady continued, perhaps oblivious to his shock, perhaps trying to persuade him in spite of it. “So my most jealous and too doubtful soul may live at peace. He shall conceal it whiles you are willing. What do you say?”
By logic, Sebastian knew he should say no, for while it would be a most advantageous match — especially in his current circumstances — the world still spun mad around him.
And yet — if he were to be thrown into a world where reason was suspended, that left him only the senses. So by them, he chose: standing and squeezing Olivia’s hands between his.
A good woman, who cared for him and dealt well with her people. An attractive woman he was coming to care for and enjoy spending time with.
A future, where he’d had none.
“I’ll follow this good man, and go with you,” he said, “And, having sworn truth, ever will be true.”
He had one moment to see how her eyes brightened and her smile beamed before she let go of his hands and wrapped him in a hug. A bone-crushing hug for all her slight frame.
After a few moments, she pulled away and turned to the priest. With a much more reserved composure, she said, “Then lead the way, good father. And heavens so shine, that they may fairly note this act of mine!”
Chance is a chancy thing. And one who paid attention might have noted that chance was working its will with abundance that day. Scarce had they passed within doors when Duke Orsino, accompanied by Cesario and more of his entourage, came down the drive.
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