Disclaimer: Do I need a disclaimer for Shakespeare? But, yeah, not mine.

Author's Note: I wrote this a while ago, but I figured I'd post it anyways. For Romeo and Juliet, if you didn't realize that.


He kneels in front of her grave.

"It's been three years, Juliet." He says. "Three years since... since that day."

He is alone in the graveyard. In a few days, the place will be packed with people. In a few days, it will be the anniversary of the death of Romeo and Juliet.

But he has come every year on this day, the anniversary of that ill-fated masquerade that started it all.

He places a single red rose on the grave. He has no flowers for the grave beside her. He tries to avoid looking at the grave of the man who had once been his best friend. He still hasn't forgiven Romeo.

He knows that it is partially his own fault. He did, after all, insist that Romeo come to the masquerade. And his motives hadn't been as pure as they seemed. He had known that she would be there; kind, beautiful, and so naïve. He had longed to see her again. But he had never expected things to end as they did.

"Do you remember the day we first met?" he wonders aloud. "It was the Dimitri's garden party. You looked so beautiful in that lavender gown. I went over to talk to you, not knowing you were a Capulet, and you seemed so scared. You had little experience with formal parties; I had little patience for them. We didn't belong in that world. So I helped you sneak out with me and we spent the rest of the day exploring the city. I've always wondered how you explained to your parents why you arrived home at eleven o'clock at night, with your ruined gown, accompanied by a Montague. I never got the chance to ask you, and I don't dare ask your father or your mother. Even now that we're no longer enemies."

He smiles slightly at the memory, but the smile quickly fades.

"I wish I hadn't convinced Romeo to go to the masquerade. I wish he hadn't seen you. You were so easily swayed by his charms. How were you to know that he wasn't as sincere as he seemed? I mean, he was sincere at the moment, but he was like that. Ruled by the slightest emotion. Whatever you thought, he didn't love you. He was merely enamored with your beauty. He would have cast you aside as soon as he lost interest."

He clenches his fists, hating the shallowness of his former friend.

"Did you even truly love him, Juliet?" he wonders "Or were you simply overwhelmed by his sweet words? Love shouldn't be like that. It shouldn't be based on appearances, or pretty words. Romeo barely knew you. How could he love you? He never saw you laughing as the wind blew strands of coppery hair in your face; He never heard you complaining about your dirty shoes, before taking them off to run barefoot; he never held you as you cried over a dead cat in the street, or laughed with you as a pompous duke was, quite literally, thrown off his high horse. I may have only known you for one day, but in that one day I learned more about you than he could ever know. So why did you have to fall for him? I loved you, Juliet, more than he ever could. I truly loved you. Did you really see me as nothing more than a friend? If I had dared to try to meet with you again in secret, would it be me in that grave beside you? Would we all still be alive?"

He is silent for several minutes. It is a scenario he has considered many times. What if he had done what Romeo did? What if he had courted her in secret? He had stayed away from her for her own good. He had thought that she would be in danger if they were found together. Perhaps he had been wrong. Perhaps it had been more dangerous to keep his love to himself.

"I'm sorry, Juliet." He says as he walks away. "I wish things had been different. I wish it could have been me."

The ghostly figure of a beautiful woman watches him go.

"I loved you, too," she whispers. "Benvolio."

But her words are lost in the wind, and don't reach the departing figure.

XXXX

Old Lord Capulet stands before the grave of his only daughter. Three years ago today, she had taken her own life to die with the man who should have been her enemy.

Among the thousands of flowers adorning her grave, he notices a single red rose. He turns to his friend, Lord Montague.

"Who do you think sent the rose?" he wonders casually.

"The man who loved her as much as Romeo did," Lord Montague replies cryptically. "And perhaps even more."


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