Title: The Pirate and the Puritan
Summary: A couple of losers in love get another chance at a happy ending
In which we learn what happened to Antonio and Malvolio after the end of the play. Don't read the last bit if there are sleepers or easily disturbed cats nearby. Slash but no sex. Major warning for language through.
I realized while reading this that it's been a good 20 years or more since I've read the play and at least 5 more than that since I've watched it so I looked around and found the 1996 version by Trever Nunn on YouTube.
I said in the comment that I left on the fic that I hadn't really liked Malvolio before. [ETA: No, I didn't. I must have said that to someone I've talked about the fic to since then.] The dim memory I had was of a joyless scold who is the butt of a sort of humor that I dislike a lot. I do not like jokes whose sole point is how funny it is when someone embarrasses themselves. It's not funny to me. It can be sad, or there can be satisfaction at seeing someone who has earned it taken down a peg, but other than that I just get contact embarrassment and start skimming (or fast forwarding) until the scene is over. Which is probably why I didn't realize what a tragic figure Malvolio really was until Shay took him out of that context and presented him as a person.
With that in mind I found myself hoping that canon!Malvolio gets at least as good an ending as Shay's did.
I also found that Sir Toby, a character I'd sort of mentally filed as Falstaff lite, is not a harmless drunken rogue but an outright villain who got off far better than he deserved.
When I was reading the fic I cast the Malvolio in my head with Rene Auberjonois about the age he was when he was on Benson. Nigel Hawthorne took a bit of getting used to, and I still can't substitute him in my head in the cast of this fic, but I can't imagine someone topping his performance in his last scene. Shay's story is a bit of a divergence in that Malvolio doesn't seem to have gotten that scene in her version although there are echos of it in a conversation he has with Antonio early on.
I thought that Shay's depiction of Antonio's feelings for Sebastian had to involve at least some use of slash goggles until I saw their very first scene. Oh.My.God. Although it's clearly one sided Shakespeare couldn't have made it any more clear that Antonio was in love with Sebastian without risking the wrath of the authorities. I looked up a copy of the play and if anything the film tones it down slightly from the original. There is no sub about it, his feelings are pure cannon text. In a play that deals with unrequited love in all it's forms he fits right in.
Having seen it again Twelfth Night still isn't one of my favorites. It's got a weak ending and a meandering plot but Ben Kingsley and Helena Bonham Carter are incredibly good as Feste and Oliva in this version and it's worth seeing it just for them.