Will goes on to live a life of success and legend; Viola never returns home to England and dies of swamp fever six months after her ship wrecks on the Virginian shore.

(This, however, is not the end of their story.)


"Chin up, Will," Rochester says.

Will pushes away pages of script. "My muse," he says. "She's abandoned me."

"She's not abandoned you," Rochester says. "She's waiting for you. Anyone who sees the two of you for more than two minutes together can see she's panting for you to go after her."

"Don't be so bloody literal-minded," Will says. "And don't talk about her like that."

Rochester claps Will on the shoulder bracingly. "Go afer her, man," he says.

"What, a penniless, no-name playwright, go after the most famous actress on the London stage?" Will laughs. "Try another."

Rochester sighs. "Well, if you won't take her, then I will," he says. "And you can help yourself to some of London's finest whores." He gestures to Nancy, over by the bar.

Will shoots him an ugly look.

"Your talents are wasted on these stages, you know," Rochester says thoughtfully. "You're good at the bawdy stuff, you are, but your wit is too refined for the likes of us. I'd like to see you try your hand at something other than one of those comedies you call plays."

"I was born in the wrong time, Johnny," Will says. He shakes his head morosely.

Across the bar, Ned Kynaston raises his mug. "I'll drink to that," he calls.


"Did you hear about that actress?" Garrick asks. "The pretty one. Wessex's wife. Died in childbirth."

"I've heard," Will says thickly. His eyes are wet.


"You're going to ruin my dress," Viola says. "Get up."

"Mmph," Will says, kissing her again. She's wearing some flowing medieval thing, pale blue, her golden hair virginally loose around her shoulders. She looks like a vision, a goddess incarnate. "Do I have to?"

"Rossetti will kill me if I damage it," she says. "It cost him the profit from his last painting."

With a groan, he rolls off her. She threads her hands through his hair idly.

"I don't like you modelling for him," Will says, voice muffled against the bedclothes.

"My love!" Her eyes widen with amusement, and she props her face up on one hand. "You're not jealous, are you?"

"Not because of you," he says. "But I know Gabriel. And Gabriel's reputation with his models."

Viola laughs. "I can handle Rossetti," she says. "Don't worry on about that. Now get me out of this."

She stands, and he rolls to sit on the edge of the bed, stripping her of the dress. After a moment she stills under his hands.

"What?" he says, and then follows her gaze. She's looking at the half-empty bottle of absinthe on the floor by the bed, balanced precariously atop a volume by Baudelaire. He grits his teeth; she hates his drinking and doesn't even know that the drinking is the least of it - she doesn't know about the opium.

"Will," Viola says sharply. "You've too good a brain to be rotting it with this stuff."

He pushes the bottle aside.

"Come back to bed," he says, voice coaxing.


He is due to stand before the House Committee on Un-American Activities tomorrow, and he cannot find a clean shirt anywhere.

"Dammit," he says. His nails are black with ink, and his typewriter is gutted and in pieces on his desk; the stupid thing fell apart in the midde of the script for Psychic Martian Zombies from Space, and he's had to write the rest of it out by hand, and his penmanship is terrible these days. His only good tie has a grease stain on it, and his face hasn't seen a razor in two weeks.

"Will," Viola says.

She's standing in the door to his office, dressed for business in a sharp suit and a low-brimmed hat. She's smiling, but it looks false.

"I'm sorry," he says, "I don't have time to chat at the moment. Your bloody husband is trying to blacklist me, I'm a bit busy trying to, you know, save my career and all that. Such as it is."

She doesn't answer him, eyes stoic and guarded, and he knows the situation's not any easier on her but still he runs his hands through his hair, exasperated.

"Oh, God," he says. "I cannot deal with you right now."

"You could go back home," she says. "To Britain. Keep writing there."

"I'm not going to run," he says. "Not this time."

She smiles. "Which is why I love you," she says, and she tugs at his stained tie, pulling him closer. She smells of powder and perfume, and he is so, so tempted to kiss her but knows exactly how dangerous it would be to do so right now, even without taking into account the surveillance Wessex's men have on him.

"You're going to go through with it, then?" she asks softly.

Will leans back against his desk; she lets go of his tie. "Yes," he says. "Unless you think you can call him off, I don't have much of a choice, do I?"

She strips off her gloves, delicate eyebrow arched wryly. "I suppose you don't," she says, and he grabs for her at the same time as she reaches for him. He kisses her until her pins are falling from her hair and her scarlet lipstick is smeared across her cheek. "Run," she breathes into his mouth, and when he pulls back and she smiles, the effect is curiously eerie.

"You're not serious," he says.

She kisses him again, and he draws his hands through her pale hair wonderingly.


Will moans, smashing a hand across his keyboard.

The new barista, passing by with a stack of dirty cups and plates, raises an eyebrow. "Finals?"

"Creative writing workshop," he says. She grimaces sympathetically. "Remind me again why I waste my money on this shit?"

"I couldn't tell you," she says. She puts a hand on her hip. "I think those courses are a waste of time, honestly. You've got it or you don't. All that constructive-reader's-group bullshit is just one big circle jerk."

He snorts in agreement, then passes her his empty coffee mug, then cocks his head.

"Hang on," he says, snapping his fingers, "I know you, don't I? Yentl. Two years ago. Viola, right?"

She smiles. "That's me, yeah," she says.

His face sobers. "Huh," he says. "You're the daughter of the university president, aren't you? What are you doing with a job at a place like this?"

Viola shakes her head, still smiling, turns to go, and then pauses. "Do you really want to know?"

Will lets the lid of his laptop fall closed and takes his feet off the chair beside him.

She laughs. "I'll bring some more coffee over," she says.

(This is not the end, either.)