SUMMARY: Geoff's real reasons for heralding William, and what inspired his speech at the stocks.
RATING: PG-13 (For slashiness.)
SPOILERS: Yes, this spoils a pivotal part in the film. If you don't want to be spoiled, then don't read this.
FEEDBACK: Please? This is my first fic in almost a year, and my first A Knight's Tale fic, ever.
DISTRIBUTION: Anyone who wants it, just ask.
DISCLAIMER: A Knight's Tale belongs to Brian Helgeland and all that. Geoffrey Chaucer belongs to himself, but the character we all know and love was modified by Brian Helgeland. I make no claims (though I wouldn't say no to a naked Chaucer of my very own).
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This fic was inspired by Chaucer's cut speech during the stock's scene. The words he speaks (in quotation marks) are pulled directly from that scene and were not written by me. Everything else, however, was.
DEDICATION: To Paul Bettany for pulling an amazing performance. His Chaucer pulled me out of my 11-month block. And to my fabulous Stoners. You're all gold. Cheers.
Wat has the right idea. Pain. Lots of pain. We all feel it, at the sight of our William in the stocks, head hanging, like a mourner at his own funeral. And it may just be. At times, I wish I were more like Wat. Able to release my pain in anger and violence; to shed it so it will no longer burn those deep places in me.. but I cannot. Such is the curse of a man of so many words.
Words.. they are what I know. All I know. But sometimes an emotion is so base and deep, that the simplest word can describe it. It needs no decoration.
I hurt. When he looks upon his Lady, I hurt, for he would never deign to look upon me.
But I see in his eyes, when he looks upon her, all of the simple joy a man in love can possess. I smile to look at him, for she brings him happiness, and that I shall not deny him. He tells a story with his lance, and she is his muse. He wins for her; weaves the tale of a poor Thatcher's son, who set out to change his stars, and conquered all those that dared stand in his way. And that is a story I could never tell.
I was pulled to William. Lured to his side by his innocence and strength. Determination and spirit. And by his side I shall stay, for as long as he will have me. I tell those that scream in the stands, fantastic tales of their Lord Ulrich, but these feigned tales of chivalry and knighthood pale in comparison to the simple glory that resides in this man's soul. The truest soul I have ever come across.
He is my muse.
"Listen to me! Listen!"
The crowd rages, so angry at having been betrayed. Their hearts have been broken. They loved their Lord Ulrich, and now they are blinded to the truth. That William Thatcher is one hundred times the man that Ulrich was.
"You're cut from the same cloth, you and he.."
But they will have none of it. They want their hero. The larger than life character, created by my words. They don't want their own cowardice and failures thrown up in their faces. Our William did indeed rise from the ashes to fly free as the Phoenix, and the fact that a man, as simple as themselves, was able to change his stars when they cannot.. well, they'd just as soon hate him, as they hate themselves.
"..I have never seen a heart like the one that beats inside this man. Great it is! Swollen with all the virtues risen of pride. Free, courageous, constant, and most of all, filled with hope. At least, until today."
And for that, I weep.
I feel the tears as they prick my eyes. I know the glisten and sheen. I know the crack in my voice when I speak of my passion for this man, for I do it often.. but never have I spoken it aloud. I speak through my words. The scratch of quill on parchment is my singing. The smooth lines of ink, my testament. The flame as I burn those pages is unequal to the smoldering ache in my gut. The ashes he shall never rise from.
But now, I shall speak, as the desire to say what my heart feels is overwhelming. This time, it shall not be imprisoned on paper. I shall proclaim my thoughts, free and true, for they may just save my Lord's life.
"What makes a man noble," I ask, stalking in front of the crowd, "His lineage or his heart?"
I feel all eyes on me. I know I have captured their attention, for they want to hear my words. They want to believe that it is safe to love this man as we do. To know that their joy and cheers have not been in vain.
"And what are knightly virtues, and who decides who may possess them? My Lord, it's true, was born poor, in Cheapside, London.. and so what? For he is as true as steel; no, truer. For he is like gold.. to me."
And it is said, in pure and simple words. William is like gold to me. Rare and priceless, strong but yielding, shining and warm, and above all else, desired. Desired by all. By me. I feel that my heart my burst from my ribcage. It flutters like the wings of a hummingbird. I place my hand upon my chest and feel my skin, sweating and chilled as if fevered, but I am not ill.
I am a man in love.
I feel the first teardrop fall. It trails down my cheek, and I make no move to wipe it away. I would never. I wear it proudly. I care not what anyone thinks of me. I weep for this man. For all he has lost, for all he has loved, and for all which he desired, but can never be. Yet I also weep for me. I allow myself that one failing.
I cannot separate myself from this, and look down as if from upon a cloud. Day after day, I watch humanity pass me by. There are a thousand and one tales in my head at any given moment, all waiting for my quill, and I can remove myself from them all, for who am I but just one more character? But not this time. This time, I won't allow it. I will throw myself to the lions, and hope for mercy.
"He is like gold, and you and I are merely iron. And yet you people.. you would come to see him rust."
But it is not William that would rust.. it is the dagger I have plunged into my heart. It will keep and rust.
I look from them in disgust, for I see my face reflected in their eyes. I cannot look upon myself, for as much bravado as I have, my heart is but that of a simple man. It bleeds a poet, and only a fool wordsmith writes of what he does not know. Yet here I am, doing just that. Weaving words in that air of love for William, yet I know nothing of his love. I doubt I ever will. As I look back, away from the crowd, I see the confused faces of my friends. They may be simple, like myself and these good people, but they understand. They know my words. I look to my Lord, hoping against hope that his face may bring me some semblance of peace.
Alas, none. He has not even raised his head to me. So it is with this, that I hang mine.
"Shame on you."
"Leave him! Go home."
And leave me. Look not upon me any longer, for I am shriveled. Sucked dry. Wasted. I have given it all for you, my Lord. Please, when you have come back to us, look kindly upon me.
I hear the crowd begin to chant. Ulrich. Ulrich. They dare to chant that fabrication's name after what I have just preached? After I have laid bare my soul to this man, William, they dare utter Ulrich's name in my presence?
"His name is William!" I shout, my eyes blazing.
And they are silent for a moment, and then a female voice calls out his name, followed by yet more voices. Their chanting mirrors the voice in my heart.