Using characters based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, the Japanese Romeo X Juliet anime, and the setting of Thomas More's Utopia.
"Good Benvolio! Fair day to you!" Romeo's voice called, the blonde looking up from his work with the plough to see his ebony haired friend running towards him. Looking around Benvolio was relieved to see the other men had their heads bent over their own work, and the Syphogrant was nowhere in sight.
"Hush Romeo, hush! It is unwise to draw attention unwanted." Benvolio cautioned meaningfully, though it seemed his friend hadn't a care in the world as he took up his plough and thrust it into the hardened earth. "Now hush; and tell me where thou hast been! It is long past the starting hour. You are fortunate the Syphogrant has yet to venture here to check our workload." The slightly younger boy added as he too returned to work, pausing as his friend let out a carefree laugh.
"Oh! Wouldst thou could see her Benvolio! Her eyes are as emeralds, her hair the shade of fire, and her skin is pale as dawning light!" Romeo praised dreamily, his mind wandering from his work as he looked up at the cloudless blue sky. Benvolio had never seen his friend's mind so far from work.
"And the name of this temptress?" Benvolio asked teasingly as his plough scraped the dry earth.
"Juliet Capulet." The ebony haired youth replied in a sigh, Benvolio's expression darkening slightly.
"You are infatuated with the child-woman of Anemolia who wears pearls upon her throat?" He asked incredulously, Romeo scowling slightly at his friend, who was clearly not convinced by his flattering description. Pulling off his tight fitted woollen shirt, Romeo tossed it to the ground with Benvolio's identical one, both a light natural cream since neither boy was married.
"She is not a child Benvolio; she is an angel!" He replied earnestly. Benvolio sighed and waved it off as he returned to work.
"An angel in your clouded eyes perhaps, but I bid you forget her friend Romeo; both you and I know Prince Escalus' son has designs upon Ambassador Capulet's daughter." The blonde replied, his blue eyes shifting to his friend in concern, but the older boy seemed completely unconcerned at the notion. Benvolio tightened his grip on the wooden plough in his hand as he felt someone wrap an arm around his neck and lean upon his back.
"Right you are good Benvolio; my kinsman Paris does indeed have his heart set upon the fair Juliet, and her father could not be more delighted upon this matter, however I hear the fair Juliet's affections have been stolen by another. A scoundrel and a villain they say; though dear Paris is unlikely to say a word less of his rival in love." A familiar voice sounded merrily, Benvolio turning his head to see a familiar shock of dark hair. Along with the pronounced chin and glittering grey eyes he couldn't mistake him for anyone else.
"Mercutio! A leaning post I am not!" The blonde chided in annoyance as he shrugged the older man off. Mercutio laughed as if he were once again seventeen, though he was three years their senior, and soon due to be married himself. With his hands on his hips the older boy turned smugly.
"Respect thine elders young Benvolio, and you elder I am." Mercutio teased in response.
"Mercutio, wherefore dost thou tarry here? I thought you to be studying at this time." Romeo asked good-naturedly, secretly delighted that his older friend had joined them, though he was likely to be reprimanded if the Syphogrant turned up.
"Indeed I am, but while toiling over my books I caught wind of a rumour; one of utmost scandal! In the library was I, and well you know that the good, and overly pompous, Ambassador Capulet had taken residence in our home. Working was I, when upon a sudden I caught the flow of some argument, and none too small either! It was the fair Juliet and her father, arguing upon the subject of her marriage. ‘You'll have this young man!' Said he, ‘A man of likely status and intelligence is he.' Though I personally hold no such hopes for my dim-witted kinsman. In response Juliet held firm, ‘I say again, I shall not see him, and he shall not see me for all the world.' It seems her father intended to adopt our custom of marriage and was trying to arrange a viewing for Paris. Upon her refusal old Capulet flew into a rage, however Juliet was not to be swayed and fled the house." Mercutio related, noting the way Romeo's expression darkened with deep interest. He had long suspected his friend of being the subject of Juliet's desires and had often thought he saw the two tarrying secretly in the gardens.
"Oh! What cruel fate has befallen dear Romeo!" Benvolio sighed sympathetically.
"I must away! I must go to her!" Romeo declared as he gathered his shirt and tugged it over his head.
"Romeo! Thou cannot be rash! Already for the past week hast thou missed work the fields and tarried in the gardens! Your absence has not gone unnoticed." Benvolio cautioned as he looked around. "Lied for you I have, but my excuses are running short, and the Syphogrant grows suspicious!" He added worriedly as Romeo scuffed the dry earth in frustration.
"Fear not! For I am here!" Mercutio stated as he took up the plough that Romeo had cast aside. "I have sacrificed my time of study to come forth and help an ailing comrade, for so infected by love is he that his work will be of no use to man nor beast. Fly Romeo! To the orchard she fled, and there I did leave her awaiting your arrival." The older man confessed, the ebony haired boy smiling gratefully as his dear friends.
"I thank you my friends, with all my heart." He called over his shoulder as he took off across the fields towards the treeline, where he was less likely to be noticed by the other workers. Through the trees he ran, and soon came he to the edge of the orchards, where he spied Juliet in the woollen dress of the women.
"Dear Romeo! Mercutio said he would send you yonder; I was not sure I could believe it." She exclaimed as she hurried into his warm embrace and leaned her head upon his shoulder. Drawing back Romeo took her arm and led them further into the trees; no workers were there since it wasn't yet the season for apple picking.
"Mercutio is a dear friend; only Benvolio would I trust more than he." Romeo replied assuringly as he looked about, expecting others to arrive searching for Juliet. "I am told of your predicament...Think you that your father would accept me?" He asked as he shifted his gaze to the redhead at his side.
"Alas! You know our fathers have not bonded in their time of acquaintance. My father has never forgiven yours for not offering forewarning of your peoples' traditions." Juliet confessed, Romeo nodding his agreement. Feeling that these foreign ambassadors needed to be shown their arrogance Romeo's father, the Tranibore Montague, who was regularly at court with Prince Escalus, had decided not to tell the Anemolian ambassadors about how they chose to dress, and the fact that only the bondmen wore gold chains and children wore jewels. Upon arriving the Anemolians had suffered extreme embarrassments for all their finery, and Capulet had not yet forgiven Montague the insult.
"Agreed...Would that we could be married without their knowledge or approval." Romeo sighed with longing. "I would bring this to court and ask the prince his blessing; however you are foreign and not bound by our laws, and Paris is his kinsman. It is unlikely the prince would approve our match." The boy continued as he chose a spot at the base of a tree to sit down, Juliet taking the place at his side.
"What if we were to flee? In any other country, where they know not our names, we would be able to marry and live happily...Then you could take up whatever craft you like rather than being educated as your father was." Juliet suggested as she leaned against Romeo, who slipped his arm across her back with a smile.
"I do not hate my father's craft, and yet another year of husbandry do I have before I must face my father's books." He added with an assuring smile, however whether he liked his father's craft wasn't the issue. "If I left I would be branded a traitor...I would be unable to return, and hunted down as a fugitive...This is no life for you." He sighed as he looked at the redhead, who shifted her head upon his shoulder to look at him.
"We need only get out of their grasp. Their reach is not immeasurable; soon would they tire of hunting you." She assured, her green eyes sparkling with determination, though Romeo was still reluctant. "Rather would I be hunted with you than forced to become the wife of Paris." She added firmly, reaching out to grasp his hand.
"I have few savings...However, of children's trinkets I have many. I have been told that foreigners value the sapphires and rubies we wear in childhood; is this true?" Romeo asked, almost in disbelief, though Juliet always wore a string of pretty pearls around her delicately sloped neck.
"It is so; you see I too wear a string of my mother's pearls, and more I have in my box at the house of good Mercutio." Juliet replied hopefully as she fingers the string of white pearls. Romeo nodded thoughtfully as he leaned back and looked up through the trees.
"Would that this action wouldn't anger my father...How shall we flee? I know of nothing outside Utopia." Romeo confessed, the girl at his side sitting up straight with a smile.
"Follow the river to Fone Anydri we must, for trade ships there are from other lands, and of those surely one will grant us passage!" Juliet insisted optimistically, though Romeo found it hard to believe. They would risk being cut out of trade agreements if they were caught, but then if they weren't caught they would make a fair amount if the value of jewels was as high as he'd heard.
"Very well, but alone it may be difficult. I shall speak of this to Benvolio and Mercutio; they shall help us." Romeo assured, though his confidence that they would escape was slight. He had never heard of anyone successfully slipping through the net. "Meet me here tonight my love, and bring all you may need for travel. I will wait after the dinner hour until the bell tolls eight, but no longer. If you are not here I shall know some evil has befallen you." He replied, the redhead nodding her agreement as they rose to part. Juliet returned to her rooms while Romeo returned to his work to tell his friends his plan.
"Grandfather; I shall excuse myself." Romeo announced as he got to his feet, his whole family turning to look at him. It wasn't customary for anyone to leave the dinner table until they were all excused, and Romeo knew his grandfather well enough to know he wouldn't get away without some form of explanation. "I agreed to continue my work early. We are behind in our harvest." Romeo replied before the elder could speak. Across from him Benvolio nodded his agreement.
"We are indeed behind grandfather." He confirmed, the old man nodding his consent. At Romeo's departure his eyes shifted to Benvolio, the rest of his family awaiting his decision.
"Benvolio. Follow your cousin and see to it he doesn't go astray." The old man instructed. The young blonde boy rose with a slight bow before following Romeo's footsteps outside, where the ebony haired boy was waiting by the garden hedge. A small cloth bag in his hand contained all of the childhood jewels he had saved.
"It is as you thought; I was ordered to watch you." Benvolio said hurriedly as they walked down the path, the sun already low in the sky. Usually dinner ended around seven in the evening, and they would start work again at eight. Right now it was nearly time for dinner to end, so time was of the essence as they made their way to the orchard. It didn't take long, and once they arrived Juliet was already waiting.
"Romeo! Come; we must hurry. My father has already noticed my absence and Mercutio is leading the search." Juliet urged in a hurried whisper as Romeo took her in his arms, all three turning towards the treeline as they heard a group approaching. Benvolio stepped forward and motioned to them to hide, the lovers crouching down by the shrubs at the edge of the orchard.
"Hold! Who goes there?" A familiar voice shouted, Benvolio stepping further away and into the open.
"It is I; Benvolio of the House of Montague!" The blonde replied as Mercutio stepped from the trees, along with five other men from his household.
"Good Benvolio; the Lady Juliet has fled, hast thou seen her?" Mercutio asked, playing his oblivious role very well.
"Mercutio! My relief at our meeting is great; I too am searching for Romeo. Perhaps your paths have crossed?" Benvolio asked, Mercutio shaking his head regretfully. "This is bad news indeed! If we search together perhaps we shall find them; there was no one on the path across the Eastern field, perhaps the South shall bring us more luck." The blonde suggested as he motioned to the left path, Mercutio swiftly agreeing and leading the group away from the hiding couple.
"Come Juliet, we must flee!" Romeo whispered as the voices faded in the distance. The redhead nodded as she grasped the taller boy's hand and allowed him to lead the way across the orchard and into the Northern fields, heading towards the river that would take them to Fone Anydri. Following the river they moved as swiftly as they were able, sometimes running to avoid the prying eyes of workers. They reached the harbour in the dead of night, and most residents in the town were sound asleep. News of their disappearance had clearly not left Romeo's home town yet.
"Romeo! The ships!" Juliet exclaimed as they entered the harbour, where five large wooden ships had docked, and a few smaller fishing boats were still unloading their catch. Walking along the docks they looked at each ship, only two of which seemed ready to depart, but there were a few smaller ships also ready to leave.
"Two so young should not be out so late!" An old voice called from one of these small ships. It was large enough to go out to sea, but small enough not to draw too much attention. It was a small trade ship, bigger than the fishing ships, but with no need for a large amount of cannons or men it was far smaller than the huge war ships that occasionally docked to trade.
"We seek passage from here." Romeo said quietly as he approached the ramp. The old man wasn't native, that much was obvious; but he also wasn't wealthy, which worked to Romeo's advantage. "I will pay." The ebony haired boy added as he held up the sack, which the old man eyed thoughtfully.
"Where are you trying to go? I'm going far from here. To England." The captain replied as he ran a hand through his short grey hair.
"England would be acceptable." Romeo replied, he and Juliet hurrying aboard at the captain's nod. Romeo took a deep blue sapphire from the cloth bag he carried and held it out to the old man, who took it with a low whistle. "Will that be enough?" Romeo asked anxiously as the old man turned it over in his hands.
"Too much lad; far too much...I'm not one to take more than I'm owed." He replied, the two youths looking fearful as he sighed. "Don't worry...I'll see you right somehow. Welcome aboard; best get below it'll be time to cast off soon." The man decided as he ushered the youths to the door below.
The time between is not important; needless to say they escaped to sea and found themselves in England a few weeks later. The kind old trader set the couple up with his brother, Arthur Hunt, who was able to trade Romeo's childhood trinkets off, each making a large profit. Soon the young couple had purchased their own home, and Romeo was working as a carpenter in London. They married, and put Utopia to the back of their minds, settling into their new life together. A year went by, then two, and they thought that they were safe, until they got word in the form of an old friend.
"Mercutio!" Romeo cried, somewhere between joy and despair as he grasped his friend's hand firmly. Mr. Hunt had brought the Utopian to Romeo's door, his brother having given him passage. Mercutio forced a smile as he made his way inside, where Juliet sat by the window of their small apartment above a bakery.
"It is good to see you too old friend; however I bring bad tidings. My being here must be evidence enough that they know where you reside. They come to this place as we speak to place you under arrest. You must move on." Mercutio said urgently, Juliet hurrying into Romeo's embrace. Romeo shook his head firmly as he held Juliet in his arms, but before he could reply the door was thrown open and another man entered, someone Romeo didn't know.
"You are the one! Montague!" The man exclaimed as he drew a sword. His clothes were foreign to both Utopia and England, so Romeo could only assume that this ebony haired man was from Juliet's homeland.
"Hold Tybalt!" Juliet objected as she moved in front of Romeo, who kept his arms around her. Tybalt's blue eyes were like fire as he roughly moved Juliet aside, forcing her from Romeo's protective embrace.
"I demand retribution for the wrong you have done my family Montague! You dishonour my cousin by stealing her away, and you disgrace your own family by fleeing Utopia! Prepare yourself!" The older man snarled as he pointed his blade at Romeo's throat, the younger man pushing the blade aside.
"I will not fight one of my wife's blood." He protested, his objection fuelling Tybalt's rage. The hot tempered man lunged forward and grabbed Romeo's collar, forcing him into the white wall of the small entryway they were standing in.
"Every word you speak is a further disgrace!" Tybalt cried as he was forced back by Mercutio, who stood between them.
"Peace Tybalt, peace!" The usually light humoured man shouted as he parted Romeo from Tybalt. As the older man regained his balance Mercutio turned to Romeo and ushered him towards the doorway. "Flee! Swiftly!" Mercutio ordered as he drew his own blade and followed Romeo down the stairs and out into the paved streets, where people hurried back and forth about their business.
"Montague!" Tybalt cried as he burst into the street ready to strike, finding himself blocked by Mercutio, who countered each strike with one of his own. Romeo dodged away and watched in alarm as his best friend fought with his wife's cousin.
"Hold good Mercutio!" Romeo pleaded as he moved between them and pushed Mercutio back, his blue eyes widening as Tybalt's blade slipped beneath his arm and pierced his friend's chest. "Mercutio!" Romeo cried as he fell to his friend's side while Tybalt looked at his bloodied blade with a stunned expression.
"Tybalt!" Juliet cried as she ran into the street, a crowd gradually building up around them as the fight became evident. Tybalt shifted his shocked eyes to Juliet as Romeo gritted his teeth beside Mercutio's lifeless form. Unable to contain his rage Romeo took up Mercutio's sword and turned it on Tybalt.
"Tybalt!" He shrieked in rage as he ran at the older man, who quickly regained his composure as the inexperienced swing came towards him. Juliet screamed as she watched her husband and cousin fight, the circling crowd backing away in alarm as the two men fought vigorously. As a police whistle sounded Romeo found the opening he needed and struck Tybalt down, feeling nothing but bitterness as the man fell.
Moments later Romeo was seized by police and imprisoned. He was put on trial and sentenced to death for the murder of Tybalt Capulet, though since it was provoked by Mercutio's death he was given a choice. He could return to his homeland of Utopia and become a bondman, as was the custom of his people as a punishment for most offences, or he could remain in England and die by their laws. Romeo chose the latter.
Juliet's father arrived shortly after Romeo's arrest and would reclaim his daughter upon her husband's death, however he hadn't counted on her emotional state. She was in such deep despair that she refused to eat, she didn't sleep; all she did was cry. In the end her father went to plead with Romeo, but he would not be moved. If he returned to Utopia he would become nothing more than a slave, and he knew Juliet's father would not allow him to keep her, married or not.
Upon the day of his execution Romeo was allowed to see his wife one last time, an occasion filled with tears and bitterness. Romeo looked physically exhausted; his eyes were black rimmed and red, his cheeks were slightly gaunt and pale, and his ebony hair was dull and dusty. Juliet herself looked no better; her red locks hung in matted tresses about her shoulders as she flew into her husband's arms.
There was little for them to say, so they stayed quiet. When it was time Romeo was taken and hung, quietly and away from the public eye. Juliet returned to her father's rooms, where he was preparing to set off for his homeland. Juliet made no such arrangements. She stole to her room and plunged a knife into her heart, unable to bare the thought of life without her Romeo.
In his grief Juliet's father had Romeo and Juliet buried quietly, side by side, and returned to his homeland. How differently things could have been if he had listened to Juliet's wishes, or if Romeo had been free to pursue her in his own country, or if the trader who'd helped them had never retuned to Utopia.