The "missing" scene where Claudio goes to the church thinking Hero is dead. Note that Claudio's character has always annoyed me hence I made him suffer (MWAHAHA!!). Actually written for my A-Level english coursework hence the copy here may change through the drafting process. :)
Thou hast so wrong'd mine innocent child... Thou hast belied mine innocent child... thy slander hath gone through and through her heart... The words of sweet Hero's father swam in front of Claudio's mind's eye as he looked out through the dark grounds to the church. Such anguished, angry words once sounded with grief and fury from Leonato's mouth now echoed in Claudio's ears, taunting him with his own dire mistake. How could he have acted so brash, so unforgiving, so cruel, when he knew in his heart of the pure sweet innocence that is... was Hero. The fall of that delicate girl was his doing and so on this night he was undone.
A gust of cold wind shook him out of his revelry and for the first time the moon's face shined outside of the dark clouds that hung forbiddingly over the estate. The celestial glow illuminated the landscape before him and lengthening the shadows so that were reaching out like deathly fingers to him. His own shadow stretched out to meet them, reaching through the dark and grasping at the gravestones. Slowly he took his first step of the terrace of the main building and began along the path through the graveyard. The path seemed to extend further and further into the distance and the squat ancient building of the church seemed leagues away at the foot of the endless boulevard of graves. The wind picked up again and the gusts of cold evening air made the trees quiver and the grass shivered underneath Claudio's feet. It seemed as though the occupants of the graves themselves were stirring as a fork of lightning speared the clouds casting ghastly shadows on his path. The lightning also illuminated the names on the headstones... Alfredo, a good husband... John, master of his trade... Helena, a caring mother... Juliet, taken before her time... Ernesto, he fought for what was right... Bernadette... Osric... Fleance... Emilia... Hero... Hero... Hero... Hero, Hero, HeroHeroHeroheroherohero...
Claudio snapped his eyes from the graves and a cold shiver ran down his spine as he realised he had reached the other side of the graveyard. The church stood ominously in front of him, taller than he had ever remembered it being, black bricks suddenly darker than ever and glistening in the oncoming mist. Towering stained glass windows showed images of horrific battles and evil gods and a sudden bolt of lightening crashed through one of the windows, dyed glass shattering on its flight through the air. A shower of shards rained down on Claudio scratching into his skin drawing drops of bright glistening blood and he took himself hurtling through the church door.
The door slammed shut with a boom bringing dust sprinkling down from the ceiling and as the air settled down Claudio peered into the dimly lit church. With a sudden unknown urgency Claudio pushed his way through the darkness down the aisle. His shoes clattered loudly on the floor as he rushed to the front of the church.
With a distinct crack Claudio dropped to his knee in front of the stone alter which loomed over him. A sharp shiver ran down his spine and a cold wind scraped the back of his neck. The air outside the old chapel was crackling with lightning still but inside the stone walls silence lay thick and heavy like an old untold secret. A gust of wind veered through the corridors behind Claudio, the ghostly moan echoing along the hallways before whistling through the doors of the chapel and with an ethereal power, extinguishing the torches inhabiting the walls. Almost in slow motion the darkness spread out from the walls into the centre, enclosing Claudio in her magic, her long shadowy tendrils draping over his arms and writhing up and down over his torso. Her grim touch left trails of goose bumps in its wake, sending strange and mystifying sensations rippling over his frozen body. In an instant her touch left him. The doors behind him slammed shut. Shaking, Claudio reached out for a candle and with a shuddering movement struck a match and wearily lit it.
"Hero..." Claudio's voice stumbled and cracked in the back of his throat, the word coming out quietly, choked with a sob. The light from the tiny flame burnt into Claudio's soul until the dark shadow of a hand reached out, stealing it from him. Again the darkness closed in on him, pricking, pulling and plucking at his pale skin. She rose further, spilling like ink into the air, dripping into his eyes like an icy tar stealing his sight. The darkness pressed on, her blackness seeping into his mind, gravelly whispers stirring just beyond his subconscious.
Taunting. The whispers were taunting him. Suddenly a barrier broke and the voices came flooding into Claudio's mind. Hero! You killed her! All your fault... always your fault... never forgive... never forget... your fault... my fault... everybody's fault... but not hers... not Hero's... sweet Hero... sweet, sweet Hero...
"Hero, sweet Hero..." coughing and sputtering, Claudio found himself face down on the cold slabs, the bare stone burning icily against the soft skin of his cheek. He slowly pushed himself up, jerking back down an instant later only to succeed in dragging himself up the second time. The silence was muffling even his shallow breathing, suffocating him in the darkness, as the air seemed to blur in front of him. She moved again, the darkness. She moved, flitting in and out of his peripheral vision. He tried batting her away like a wasp but his hand just swooped through the air. One moment of nothing gave Claudio the courage to speak out.
"The blame is not mine!" he shouted, only for the words to echo emptily back at him, distorting as they reached his ears. "I am not at fault!" Again the words were thrown back into his face but long after the echoes had faded their true meaning lingered.
A shadow above the alter caught Claudio's eye but it was no ordinary shadow, the light gently avoided it, white light gently flowed over its soft curves. Claudio's eyes were drawn, flickering to the feminine glow above the alter and there she was. A memory of Sweet Hero gazed down on him. Frozen to the spot Claudio watched at the translucent girl floated down towards him, her dress billowing out around her, the same beautiful white gown she had been wearing on that fateful morning.
Though she was but a hands breadth away from Claudio he could not feel her breath on his face or the warmth of her body. A single tear ran down her cheek and the tears continued to flow as she looked longingly into his eyes. A glint of red flashed in her eyes and suddenly her iris' flooded with a blood red light, her hair gushed black as jet and the stream of tears became blood. Dark eyes glared daggers as the harpy arched towards him and crashed into him with full force. A banshee's scream brought Claudio back as the harrowing figure in midair flew in faster and faster around him becoming more like a corpse, grotesque and pained as her gnarled hands groped at Claudio's face. Claudio dropped once more to his knees and closed his eyes tightly but memories of Hero's quiet voice probed his ears.
"You killed me, Claudio." She whispered, "You killed me. Why did you do this to me? I would never hurt you, Claudio. Not you."
"NO!" As Claudio shouted he snapped back to the cold empty chapel, coated in a cold sweat and jerked his head around glancing for any uncanny being. It was just himself in the dark stone room and the only sound he could hear was the rain tapping wetly on the slate roof.
Suddenly a pale hand snaked up from underneath his arm to his chest and another one joined it on the other side of his torso. He felt himself plunge into a cool embrace as he heard Hero's voice muttering quietly in his ear. He blinked and out of the darkness appeared another vision of Hero but this time bruises creating the perfect shape of a man's hands adorned her neck, her breath came out in pained rasps as she advanced on him. Unable to move from fear the ghosts kept coming at him, bloody, beaten, broken. Dead Heros surrounded him clawing at him, touching their cold skin against him whispering accusations and taunts. The one directly in front of him barely looked hurt anywhere but her eyes, they showed a painful hurt that could never be fixed whilst she stared into his own shamed eyes. She went to gently touch his cheek but as she did she choked, the breath came short to her lungs and her ashen hands flew to her throat. A look of terror crossed her eyes and then a look of deeper deeper hurt was there when blood came dribbling through the gaps between her delicate fingers, staining her fine white dress. The blood continued to flow, her tiny hands doing nothing to stem the bleed. Claudio could not move for the apparitions around him gripped onto his body, his arms, his legs, forcing his eyes on the sight not three feet away. The young Hero in front of him tried to scream but no sound was uttered, the whole ghastly event was playing around Claudio now in a deathly silence. In a feat of desperation the Hero, weak and feeble in front of him reached out to him with a blood soaked arm. Then disappeared. They all disappeared but in the brief moment before they did Claudio had seen the gaping hole in Hero's throat where the blade of a sword had done its deed. His sword.
Weakened, alone Claudio could do nothing but stare back at the alter is hope that something, someone will answer him. What question he was asking in did not know but nothing stirred in the small chapel, he was alone, ignored. With the stride of a broken man he stepped up to the alter and knelt to pray. But no words came to his lips, no thoughts to his mind┘ there was no one to pray for anymore, no hero. The storm outside continued. Hours seemed to pass with nothing but the sound of the rain and Claudio's own guilt. He could not bring himself to the selfish act of praying for his own well-being. He did not believe in his own heart that he truly deserved it and ever would again. Time blurred or stopped or ignored Claudio; time being of no relevance any more.
With a flash of lightning the torch flames burst back into life and Claudio stood up from the alter, all he could do now was to return to Leonato with his shame. After three steps towards the door of the chapel he stopped. Not out of his own choice but suddenly an invisible force was acting on him. He tried to compel his limbs to move forward but he actually felt hands as cold as ice gripping and pulling at his arms and legs. Sharp fingers tightened their hold, pinching into his skin making it more difficult still to move his limbs. Suddenly the invisible muscles jerked his arms outwards, crucifying him in the air, they then grabbed his legs pulling him into the air and flipping them over his head. He span for a moment in above the stone floor before the invisible hands gripped tighter, holding him upside-down, dangling four feet off the ground, his arms and legs taut in place above his head, his body spread-eagled in mid-air.
Frozen for a moment he could almost hear the beings around him thinking of what they could do with him then his limbs were jerked back around and he flipped in the air. Then he was curled around in a tight ball before being thrown cart wheeling through the air into the wall on the far side of the chapel, the creatures let go of him and he went smashing into the stone bricks and slid like a broken doll onto the floor. Before he had time to recover the hands seized him again and flung him into the air and brought him hovering above the alter. There was silence as the creatures loosened and tightened their control over him dropping him slightly every few moments. Bringing him closer and closer to the top of the crucifix that could spear him at any time. Then without warning they let him go, making him fly head first down the alter steps, skidding to a halt at the foot.
He heaved himself back to his knees trying to catch his breath then when he felt the presences had finally left he felt a hand clamp around his shoulder. His eyes rolled in his head and he turned to face whatever ghastly being was there, haunting him.
As he turned he came face to face with Friar Frances with a bemused expression on his face. "Young Claudio, Leonato has called for you."
Claudio blinked slightly before following the friar out of the church into the graveyard where the rain was no longer and the sun made him squint. As he left the old church his eyes told a different story, one of guilt and lost hope. Slowly he made his way back to Leonato, a changed man. Hero's eyes followed him as he walked on through the gravestones...
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