Merchant of Venice au where Portia and her handmaid Nerissa are lovers
and every time some guy shows up
to try and win Portia’s hand, Portia gets really anxious that
this’ll finally be the one to pick the right casket – the one with her picture
in it that will make her his wife – and then what will she and Nerissa do? Portia can’t bring herself to
disobey her dead father’s will and simply refuse the suitors, so she lets them
file in and take the test. Each one stares at her like she’s some sort of prize
to be won in a way that makes her feel sick and cling to her dear lover all the more
but she starts to relax as months become years and man after man comes and chooses either the gold or silver casket. She laughs with Nerissa over the foolish pride of these men, gradually convincing herself that none of them will ever think to choose the dull old lead casket that must hold her portrait.
but then one day Bassanio shows
up. Bassanio, the funny charmer she used to flirt with but never really was all
that serious about. Bassanio, the one man who can claim he knows her well. He’ll know how to play this
game her father’s set up, Portia realizes, and her blood runs cold.
so there he is, standing before the three caskets, and Portia can barely stay standing she’s so terrified. He passes over the gold casket. Nerissa grips her hand. He passes over the silver casket. If it weren’t for her lover’s shoulder to lean against, Portia’d collapse right to the floor. He flashes his charming grin at her, mistaking her trepidation for eagerness, and opens the lead casket.
No note, no portrait. The lead casket contains nothing at all.
And so Bassanio departs despondent as so many men have before him, hastening off to save Antonio. Portia pities him somewhat, and sends him away with enough money to pay off the bond and a hinted loophole that might help him succeed in saving his dear friend (who will totally become Bassanio’s boyfriend and the two couples will spend their days in perfect gay bliss but that’s a story for another time ahem back to Portia)
Once Bassanio has left, Portia sweeps Nerissa up into an ecstatic hug, laughing and kissing her all over and then exclaiming, “I just can’t imagine how my father forgot to add the portrait to any casket! I wonder where it is…”
And Nerissa smiles slyly and pulls something out of her pocket. “You mean…this portrait?” And sure enough, there it is. Portia simply gapes, absolutely stunned, as Nerissa kneels before her. “As I’m the one who chose the correct casket, I’m the one who gets my lady’s hand, is that not so?”
And Portia laughs and cries and laughs some more and she and Nerissa live happily together in their nice big house on Belmont for all their days, no need for Portia to worry about any suitors ever again