All the World's a Stage

297720
“All the world's a stage,
and all the men and women merely players…”

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20. XX

~~“This jest shall cost me some expense.”

During the next few months, Titania and Oberon got together whenever they could. Each worked on a performance and Juliet spent her free time trying to remind Romeo about why they fell in love. She cooked dinner for him every chance she got and did her best to make sure she was fixed up whenever he saw her.
One day, he got a little concerned about her behavior and decided to ask her best friend, Viola about it. “Do you know if something is going on with Juliet?”
“What do you mean?” She asked, innocently.
“She’s been acting…different, lately.” He tried to find the right words. “It’s not really bad, but she just seems to be putting a lot of effort into things that don’t really matter that much. It makes me worry she is over-doing things.”
Viola smiled. “I wouldn’t worry. It’s just her senior year and I think she wants it to be special. Don’t tell her I said anything, but I think she’s stressed about the play, it being her last one, and focusing on you, sometimes, is a good distraction from it.”
He mulled that over, uncertainly. “I’m a distraction?” He wanted to think he was important to her and not just someone she turned to when she didn’t want to think about other things that mattered more.
“Not in a bad way.” Viola assured him. “Just don’t worry about it, okay?”
“Okay.” He did his best to take her advice and push it from her mind, but he couldn’t stop the thought from nagging at him and he was distracted for the first dress rehearsal.
The club managed to book the theater for the week before their show, making it nearly impossible for the society to put up their set because they were afraid of what may be done to it when the club was there, unguarded.
“They’ll have to put them up, soon.” Don John commented. “They like to do complicated sets and decorations, so they won’t have time to put them up the day before. They’ll have to do at least some of it by the night of our performance, so we'll still be able to mess with them.” He was disappointed that they had avoided setting up for so long and feared they may not be able to pull off any of the pranks he’d planned.
“Maybe we should focus more on our skits and less on messing with the society.” Oberon suggested, still holding out hope that they may not do it, at all.
“We will, for now.” Don John smiled. “We can focus on our performances until we’re able to pull off our secondary plans.”
“Alright.” Oberon withheld a sigh. He was afraid that Titania was going to get hurt if they pulled off their pranks and he decided to warn her the next time they met.

Titania smiled at her reflection in the Puck costume, which was in her room, since the theater hadn’t been deemed secure enough. It was covered in cloth leaves, seeming to be made of them. It went over one shoulder, leaving the other bare. Her mask was green with leaves for decorations. They had decided she would be barefoot, so she didn’t have any shoes. She hadn’t even been this excited about the ball. Puck was her dream role and she couldn’t wait to play him.

The day before the club’s performance, Oberon pulled Titania into an empty classroom. She immediately leaned in for a kiss, but he pushed her away. “I need to tell you something.” He brushed some hair away from her face. “I know your group is preparing to work on sets, tonight, but the club is going to mess with them, if you do.”
She frowned at him. “Well, that’s not very nice. Shouldn’t you tell Mr. Prince?”
He shook his head. “The club would get shut down and I would be to blame. I can’t do that to my friends, even if they behave like idiots, sometimes.”
She sighed, but didn’t argue. “I’m surprised Puck hasn’t heard about it.”
Oberon smiled. “Well, they have each agreed to keep things separated when it comes to our little feud.”
Titania nodded. “Well, I appreciate you letting me know. Any idea what they are going to do?”
He shrugged. “Don John likes to keep details quiet, as much as he can. It decreases the chance of anyone spilling the beans, but I will let you know if I learn anything else.”
She nodded her understanding and kissed him. “You can leave first, today.”
He smiled and kissed her back, before exiting the room.
Once alone, she let out a sigh, praying that nothing would ruin her big moment in her dream role. She watched the clock, leaving after ten minutes. She was a little late to rehearsal, but everyone was too busy focusing on their own costumes to notice. Some people were working on the sets and she watched them, warily, trying to predict what might be done to mess with them.
“It’s getting close to opening night.” Puck commented, as he walked over to her. He leaned close and whispered. “You might want to avoid being late again. Tensions get high around this time.”
She nodded her understanding. “We’d better take our places.” She headed backstage, her heart pounding. The closer the performance got, the more nervous she became. Remembering what Puck had told her, she had memorized her lines backwards and forwards. She could do the blocking in her sleep. No matter how nervous she was, she knew she would not fail on opening night. She convinced them to hide what they could of the sets, so the club wouldn’t be able to do much damage. She just had to hope nothing else went wrong that was beyond her control.

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