Disclaimer: Shakespeare owned Twelfth Night. I own nothing but this fanfic. I make no profit from this fanfic. Don't sue please?

Rating: NC-17 to be safe

Notes: Orsino/Viola, cross-dressing, pseudo-slash? Lots of err… PWP. Please forgive the author's attempts at fake Shakespeare/old English.

Summary: Post-TN, gossip hurts

Twelfth Night fanfic based on the 1996 MCMXCVII Fine Line Features version

Title: Night

"They say she only married him for his money."

"Oh, do tell! Is it also true that they… before their marriage?"

A fit of giggling tittered through the ranks of women, all with hair coiffed and colored and powdered, dressed in silks and velvets, lamplight winking off jewels and gold, dainty hands toying with fans and eyelashes winking and blinking at the men.

"I've heard that she disguised herself as a male to worm her way into his bed."

"Why, that little harlot! What a brazen wench she! I love my Lord Orsino more than words can tell!"

"Hush, Hush, Rosaline, we know of your pain…"

She watched, demurely garbed in orange, crushed silk slivered with gold, face hidden beneath a lace veil. They knew not that she of whom they spoke lay within their midst, shorn hair hidden by a wig of deepest black curls.

Her eyes were pained but she hid it well. She'd had months of practice, after all. They had delayed on marriage, two months full after he had found her secret, and yet, for few knew of it, and they would not gossip, she continued her play until it was decided there had been enough delay and their souls were joined.

The party slowly wound down with the last tapers, and the lords and ladies separated to their carriages, the men retiring from their rooms. He noticed her silence as they rode home, and questioned her.

Viola sighed. "Do you regret becoming my husband?"

Orsino was rather surprised to hear such a question. He had thought… "Why do you ask such a strange question of me?"

"Tis nothing, my lord."

She was hiding something. The signs of evasion were subtle, but their explorations had been many and their souls echoed each other. "Tell me."

"Tis only gossip, nothing more, my lord." She protested ineffectually.

"Mere gossip would not haunt thy steps so, my love."

"They believe me impure, a harlot, some bar wench you took fancy to, what I know not… never have I done them harm, and yet…!"

His anger was like fire, swift and merciless. "Who hath slandered our name so?"

"There was scarce a lady present who kept her tongue and mayhap her wits with her, save my lady Olivia, for she were silent…"

"Far from it be for I to state thy pains mean nothing." Orsino finally spoke. "Tis… 'Twill pass, princess mine."

Viola nodded slowly, though her thoughts still ran the whirlwind devilish. "My lord, I apologize for my improper words…"

"Silence. Betwixt now and anon, some recompense shall be made, but for tonight, my lady, I desire they company."

Pink tinted her cheeks as she nodded and followed him to their shared bedchamber. Her elation changed to surprise as he kissed her only briefly before drawing a set of very familiar garments from his wardrobe.

"What means my lord thus?"

"If my lady tonight has taken ill, I would that my friend would accompany me." He said. The intent was clear enough. Would she?

She sighed, and nodded. The wig and dress were quickly discarded, and it was almost a relief to slip the corset over her breasts and bind them flat, feeling his eyes even as she stepped into her black uniform twinkling with golden buttons and the polished leather boots, belting on her sword-belt…

The cosmetics, few though they were, were purged with water and she smoothed the false mustache over her upper lip as she smiled. His answering grin was feral, and she shivered in anticipation.

"Come boy, the night is yet young…"

She followed him as they left the castle, lantern in hand, as they had done in the past, when yet he knew her identity not. A thrill of excitement began to sing within her veins and she still felt the slow approval in his eyes. It would be… delicious, whatever game tonight they chose to play.

His steps were careful, and she recognized the outcropping well. Here it was that they had argued within the wind and rain on the values of love, and could a woman love as much as a man? He seemed to have accepted her answer as such…

They sat in silence for a few moments watching the sea. It was calm tonight, as no storms wracked the summer air.

"What dost thou my lord desire?" She asked, as she slid down to cup his legs, her head pillowed against his thighs.

"What wouldst my boy offer?"

"That which no man may have save thy lordship alone…" Her teeth worked quickly, and he gasped as her tongue rasped against hardened flesh.

"Thou art impertinent, youth." He retorted, but with no real fury, even as his fingers tangled in short hair, urging a deeper contact.

He tasted of leather and smoke and wine and she took him easily, hearing him groan even as he filled her with warmth. Long, slow strokes sank into her as he cried out, though which name he screamed in his throes of ecstasy she knew not.

It mattered little.

His eyes burned as she released him. He sighed, a long slow sigh, before he removed his cloak and carefully spread it on the barren ground. She caught the gesture and her long coat followed, before he carefully pressed her down. Her trousers and such were quickly divested and she swallowed him as he entered her intimately.

He kissed her even as he finished, feeling her clutch him as she shuddered in ecstasy. "Thou art all that I desire, love. Never let it be said otherwise."

"My lord…."

"Hush." A command, as he tasted her upon his lips and found her sweet. "No more words."

She was quick to comply.

He watched his love sleep afterwards, still dressed in a white shirt and trousers, a contented smile upon her face, as he lit his lamp and began to write.

It was announced all over not two days later, how Lady Rosaline had poisoned her elderly father to inherit his fortune, how Lady Guinevere dallied with her butler, how Lady Winter had been a swineherd's daughter…

After that, things quieted down on Illyria…

"I do not understand." Olivia said as she sipped her tea. "Were it I…"

"Tis nothing more to chatter idly about." Viola replied with a secret smile. "My lord has his ways."

And once again, Olivia thanked the stars she had married Sebastian and not Orsino. That odd look on the other lady's face gave her shivers.

End Fic

Completed 1/1/06