Title: Pro Patria Mori - Chapter VII
Author: Serpentis lord_alexander
Pairing: Monaboyd and some others as well for good measure
Rating: Bordering on the NC17
Summary: Yorkshire. 1929. Founder's Day drifted against them like the faintest touch of gossamer thread, and it would prove to be like no other.
Disclaimer: St Regulus doesn't exist. Shame. The other people do though. Not a shame. Not mine though.
Feedback: is a perfectly buttered piece of Toast
Author's Notes: I'm back in the groove - enjoy this. It's got actual Monaboyd in it, and everything. Shock horror, you may faint, etc.etc.
Founder's Day drifted against them like the faintest touch of gossamer thread, and it would prove to be like no other.
Monaghan had been polishing shoes for what seemed like hours, though it was only for a little time. While rugby boots were a task he undertook with the strange enjoyment of one that liked larking in mud, polishing his best brogues was something that replaced ironing Bean's shirts on the list of things that he hated most. But then...his mother would notice, would she not? She'd see her neatly dressed son and still be disappointed by the state of his shoes. The leather, however, was old and did not like to hold a shine - Monaghan's dress shoes had been his father's before being given to him. It was not that they were a hand-me-down, but they were a decent, hard-wearing pair of brogues that had been broken in most comfortably, and the son rather liked having the items of apparel about him. Though Monaghan's father was a stickler, he loved the old man.
Anyway, today would be a triumph. Today, there was acting to be done.
It was always Shakespeare, always safety in Shakespeare. A comedy one year, a tragedy the next, a history - all in three year cycles. Since it had been Romeo and Juliet, followed by Henry V part I, this year the Bard's language would come to life in the form of humour, and it was Much Ado About Nothing. The choice had tickled Monaghan, he'd laughed with the madness of it all, but of course he was chosen. He was too talented not to be, even the English master was impressed by his raw talent on the stage. He was, of course, chosen as Benedick as Serkis had been allowed to pick the small yet flashy role of Dogberry. The dark-haired young man's performance, playing up the East End accent and indulging in the language, had the others in fits of laughter.
There was a new addition; much to his mother's pleasure, Wood had taken a part and was playing Hero and was faintly too knowing and arch for the role, but it had been decided long before that this performance was more about comedy than actuality. Rebelling against the usually dry direction of the English master, Serkis had gently bullied Mortensen into running the piece, and he was particularly impressive. The scenery was most beautiful, the poetry of the words flowed like sparkling sunlight and honey, the costumes were surprisingly accurate to the period. Mortensen's obsessive perfecting streak had beaten the actors into performers, and it had come together most beautifully.
Boyd was Beatrice.
It was rotten bad luck, or fate, or both, that had propelled Boyd to being the lead 'woman' in this piece, especially for Monaghan. At the close of the play there would be a chase kiss on the Scotsman's rouged cheek, as the curtain fell. He'd not wanted to, he'd pleaded with Mortensen, but the Dane had been steadfast in his vision like all artists, and that touch of lips to flesh would remain, he'd said in his mild, faintly nasal voice. Boyd as Beatrice - spirited and with his cheeks hollowed by make up and mouth reddened with lipstick. Boyd as Beatrice - the wittiest heroine in Shakespeare, the most intelligent, the most rounded of all the Bard's creations and the one calculated to have the audience and the cast wanting and admiring her. Boyd as Shakespeare's greatest female creation, and how could Dom be a foil to that wit when he was burning in thought of that gentle, sweet kiss that would meet with a powdered cheekbone?
He continued polishing and shining, not noticing that his hands were black with boot polish and that he'd massaged the black wax into his kneecap when he wasn't paying attention.
Monaghan's father shook hands with him, his fashionable mother left a scarlet lipstick mark on his cheek that she removed with a swipe of her gloved hands. She'd worn a suit that wasn't Chanel but almost was identical; drop waisted, and tweedy, the skirt laying neatly on her kneecap, those rather ugly brown leather shoes with the louis heel. There was a foxfur over her shoulders, Mrs Monaghan's short hair, the same light brown as her son's, was cut into an Eton crop and covered with a cloche. She was frighteningly smart, was Monaghan's mother. His father paid enough to be proud of his little wife, of course.
"Where are your little friends, Dominic?"
Mr Monaghan was soon siphoned off to talk to those industrialist types he was deeply involved with, leaving his son and his wife alone and faintly awkward. The woman tried and that was what made Monaghan faintly embarrassed. She never had been able to cope with his transition from Mummy's Little Boy to a youth, much less this independent and amusing creature that sometimes she wasn't sure was her son. Mrs Monaghan loved the boy, deeply and with a frightening passion, but she couldn't understand him. This acting business, that unspeakably common London boy that he was pals with, or that silent hulking - good looking, as her mind always reminded her when it came to Bean - rugger player. She'd met others, in passing. McKellan had charmed her, Bloom had smiled prettily. Mortensen had told her she had beautiful bone structure and had given her a little portrait that sat on her desk in their sprawling Manchester town house. Mrs Mortensen wished her son would stay a little more with these latter boys than with the rough young men he seemed to prefer.
"Bean is taking part in the rugby exhibition, and Serkis is making final checks for the play...oh, hang on Ma, there's Wood. Wood!"
Only out of earshot of his father could Monaghan call his mother Ma. The patriarch of the family hated the common Americanism of the expression.
"Monaghan! Hey, you must be Mrs. M? It's real nice to meet you, I'm Elijah Wood, I'm in Monaghan's dorm! Hey, Mom! Come meet Monaghan and his Ma!"
When Mrs Monaghan saw the vision walking over the grass towards her, she gripped her son's hand.
"Yes, that's Wood's mother, and it is her."
In white fur despite the heat of the April day, her platinum hair swept up and painfully fashionable for 1929 was a year where styles became more feminine, Mrs Wood glowed. She had a rather similar face to her son, though without the traces of puppy fat; high cheekbones, large glowing blue eyes, perfect teeth, a pretty mouth that was a rich deep red when she smiled, and Monaghan was reminded of vampires. A beautiful woman, a prized woman, but he wasn't sure whether there was anything under the glacial surface. The Ice Queen, they called her, and Monaghan was frozen by her very presence.
"Real good to meet you both - it's so nice meeting such darn good friends of Elijah. He talks about you all the time, you and...Andy, that's the boy's name, isn't it?"
The warmth of the address towards Monaghan cooled rapidly when Mrs Wood spoke of Serkis, but then both mothers were looking at each other with perfect understanding. What did their clever, handsome, well brought up boys see in some terribly uncouth working class boy from the slums of London? If didn't make sense at all.
Serkis was lying low for the moment, as his most hated enemy was stalking the lawns. Mrs Wood. Mrs Wood with her perfect hair and bright Hollywood smile, her nails like talons and her legs that were endless in their beauty. And Serkis hated her. He didn't dislike many people, for he was a content and relaxed individual, but his lover's mother was someone who turned that amusing languidness into boiling disgust. She was the Ice Queen and the young man who loved her son was the Devil himself. He'd played Mephistopheles, after all, why shouldn't Serkis be the very heat to Mrs Wood's essentially iceberg personality? He was passion, and lust, and love, and burning with every emotion, and she was perfectly pristine and cool. She was diamonds, that adorned her beautiful pale throat. He was garnet.
All he did was love Elijah. That was a crime? Then he would rather be arrested than be concealed.
Boyd was staring; he could not help it. How could he not when there was a young man in knee boots and breeches changing before him? Monaghan's body was as sleek as an otter, and smooth, and his skin was the white-hot texture of silk. He gleamed like a young Prometheus, all that promise and passion, and the dips of his spine were hollows that beckoned the caress of Boyd's fingertips.
This time, the dress was white and simple, flowing from the gathered waist with an equally gathered neck and sleeves. The result was charming; a cross between village girl who should be dancing with her beau, flowers bedecking her hair, and a young Italian lady of the Tuscan hills. Mortensen had even constructed face breasts which gave a little definition, though both Boyd and Wood were haunted by those behind the scenes groping them. Even when they weren't attached.
Wood had come to find his costume, and Davies had been touching the millet-filled silken bags with interest.
Someone had found a rather fashionable wig for Boyd, which was angled into a bob cut with a long thick fringe, and Serkis, grinning, had called him the blond Louise Brooks. Wood had escaped a little easier, for his long dark ringletted wig was looped up into Grecian curls. Of course, Wood also looked more feminine, but Mortensen had given his reason for the short wig as Beatrice being more masculine than Hero, and they only had two wigs.
Monaghan slid onto the bench beside him, grinning with a typically impish expression. His white shirt was overly large and kept sliding down one beautifully constructed shoulder, and Boyd was thankful that the gathers of his dress were such that any inconveniences would be smothered by fabric.
"If you're not careful, one of the fathers will propose marriage to you, Boyd. You look a top piece of crumpet in that dress."
"Wood looks better."
On queue, the young American, his mouth reddened, rushed over to them. There was the faintest scraping of his jaw, and around his delicate lips, and Boyd gave a faint smile that curved his lips so prettily that Monaghan was relieved to have Wood to concentrate on.
"For the love of all things holy, Wood, Hero can't rush off and kiss Dogberry ev..."
"You go' stubble rash," Boyd murmured. "Serkis should shave more, he's like a hedgehog, you ken."
Monaghan ended up dabbing the affected parts with more make up, and managed to paint Wood's lovely mouth before Mortensen announced to the ensemble that it was five minutes to curtain up.
"A miracle! Here's by our own hands against our hearts.
Come, I will have thee; but by this light, I take thee for pity."
Beatrice gave a smile which curved her pretty womanly mouth, and there was still that spark of rebellion in the way she looked up at the man she realised that she had loved, not hated.
"I would not deny you; but, by this good day, I yield upon great persuasion; and partly to save your life, for I was told you were in a consumption."
Benedick's finger stroked across the curve of one perfect cheekbone in a tender caress that belied any former bitterness. He looked delighted with her mithering.
"Peace! I will stop your mouth."
And there is was. A kiss - a heavenly thing, a kiss. Just a sweet gesture of affection, and in this case it was to fall on Beatrice's pale cheek, but it was misjudged, or the words broke the vow of the stage, and softly, the young woman and her lord's mouths met in a gently tenderness of lips.
Monaghan was shaking like a palsied dog; what had he done? Before the entire school, before his parents, before Boyd's rigidly Presbyterian mother and father, before all the masters and all the pupils, he had kissed Boyd on his warm, yielding mouth. For a moment, there, which was a lifetime in his mind, which replayed endlessly over and over and drove him to rub at his eyes so lilac and black spots hovered, for a moment they had been kissing. There'd been no revulsion, or disgust, or words said afterwards. Wood had smiled as if something was amusing and then had gone with Serkis somewhere, still dressed in his ghostly white gown. Mortensen had congratulated him on an excellent performance and had been swept off by Bean.
He stayed behind the flats, in the little backstage where they had rushed and gathered and worried about how the Shakespeare had disseminated itself. A triumph, it had been called. There had been no other performance like that of Monaghan's. Boyd was radiant. And it was ruined for him, because of that one, ill-judged movement of his head, of meeting flesh that was not supposed to be touched, because that was torture, was it not? Torment was feeling Boyd's mouth press back and knowing that it was just an act.
A voice of peat bogs and whisky, and Boyd was watching him. He'd changed into other clothes, and it was the first time Monaghan had seen the Scot in anything other than uniform or rugger kit. The Arran knit jersey, cream and cable-knitted, the dark trousers - very casual though he found that the Scot looked very well in the chocolate brown tweed and the over-large jersey.
"You look bloody awful."
"I'm so sorry..."
Boyd moved like a ghost. The lights were extinguished, apart from the eerie glow of the stage that allowed faint trickles of luminescence through the gaps between the sceneries, and the shadows meant that he seemed to float across the floor towards where Monaghan was huddled. He'd not changed, he'd not even removed his make up which was pancaked across his face and throat. The white shirt was smeared with the heavy base, and there was a contrast, even in this light, between the true colour of skin and the fake foundation orange.
He crouched before the younger boy, and took a hand in his.
"You've nae got anything to be sorry for."
"I was supposed to kiss your cheek. I kissed you, in front of everyone!"
"But t'was what the play wished, Monaghan."
What Shakespeare had written and what should have happened were entirely different matters. Schoolboys did not take such liberties upon stage before the cream of parents and faculty alike. They didn't wish, by God they didn't, that there had been more of the same. Schoolboys did not crush so wickedly upon some poor young man in a dress and then molest him upon stage.
"Peace. I will stop your mouth."
Monaghan couldn't breathe.
Eyes never met across crowded rooms, there wasn't that lightning spark that shattered hearts. Even school rooms, or prefect's studies, or anything like that. There wasn't a shaking quake that moved the world when fingers slowly touched, and Monaghan smiled like that - he had such a piercingly sweet smile, with that elfin naughtiness tempered - worlds didn't stop in their dance around the sun. When Boyd slowly crawled between the Lancastrian's breeched and booted legs, when he rested his elbows on Monaghan's thighs and breached the distance between their mouths so they could feel the warmth of their breath mingling, nothing changed. It should have. In some romance tale there should have been towers crashing to dust, and birds stopping mid-song to listen to the slowly increasing breathing rates. But...there wasn't.
But, when they broached that gap and their lips brushed for the first time, temporality and everything else melted away from their own existences.