Author's note: This is my own interpretation of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, written years ago in college. It is considerably adapted, expanded, and reduced to suit my own fancy at the time. Hopefully it will suit yours as well. It is, after all, subtitled "As You Will."

Chapter 1

The Twins

They were twins, Viola and Sebastien, and never had siblings been bound more by love and misfortune than they. People said it was impossible that a young man and young woman should look as much alike as they did, even for twins, but they had inherited all the best parts of their parents and shared them equally. They had their dead mother's straight, shining hair that in sunlight turned to pure gold and in moonlight shone almost silver, and they had their dead father's warm golden-brown eyes that appeared frank and trusting and hid mischief quietly away. They had their mother's delicate, heart-shaped face and their father's long nose and wide mouth. They had their mother's slender strength and quick, graceful hands and their father's square, firm shoulders, height, and nobility of carriage. As small children, if they were dressed alike, no one could say which was the boy and which the girl, and even now at age twenty-three, if Viola put on Sebastien's clothes and bound her slight figure, only those closest to them could say she was not her brother. They were merry hearted and liked to amaze and astonish others, often tricking people into believing they were brothers or the same person. They were intelligent and studious. Yet as alike and devoted as they were, they had many differences. Viola often said her brother was too apt to give others friendship and love, and Sebastien said that his sister was too apt to be distrusting and to withhold love from others until she knew them intimately. Sebastien loved swordplay and activity; Viola preferred stillness, peace, and creativity, often taking up embroidery or writing songs. Viola was as feminine at heart as her brother was masculine, and they loved each other the better for their differences.

Their father had been a landed duke with great power in Messaline. He had married a gentleman's daughter of a very small fortune, and their love was great until she died when their twins were ten years old. When the twins were fifteen, their father had fallen out of favor and lost his title and lands to the crown. The three of them traveled to many lands on the small fortune they had from their mother for two more years, until the father, never perfectly well since the death of his wife, died. The last six years, Viola and Sebastien had been ever together, traveling far and wide. Then the storm came.