Disclaimer: I do not own Macbeth.
"So how is the Queen?" one of the ladies from the court asked the royal doctor.
"It is hard to say," the doctor replied. "During the day she seems perfectly fine and like there is no evil in her innocent world. At night though…"
"At night?" the lady repeated.
"At night, she has taken to sleepwalking," the doctor announced. "It is really quite alarming."
"Oh no," the lady gasped. "Why do you think she's doing this?"
The doctor opened his mouth to theorize when he spotted Lady Macbeth. "There she is – with a candle. Maybe she'll reveal something."
"Oh, if only I hadn't just found out that my husband is an evil tyrant…" Lady Macbeth moaned as she walked past them, appearing to be in a trance. "And all I've ever done is try to support him…where did I go wrong? Oh the completely unnecessary guilt! I cannot take it! The blood on my hands from being married to a murderer simply will not come off! And to think he murdered my father, as well…Do his crimes have no end?!?!"
"Well, that was informative," the lady noted. "Answered all of my questions."
"Yes, the Queen is truly something to be so obliging even while unconscious," the doctor said admiringly. "It's a tragedy that she is trapped in a marriage with such a heartless monster as Macbeth clearly is."
"Truly, he is more wicked than I had thought to have had his father-in-law and benevolent king murdered while he was supposed to be offering hospitality!" the lady sounded scandalized. "And then killing the guards who he clearly paid to do it!"
"While I agree that those guards deserved to die for their crimes, the killer should not have been the one who precipitate those crimes in the first place," the doctor agreed.
As Lady Macbeth stealthily returned to her room, she smiled. "Honestly, it's like I don't even have to try…"
Lennox was standing around with the other lords, waiting for something to happen.
"So…" he began awkwardly. The last time he'd been involved in an awkward silence, Macbeth had broken it by talking about the weather, but he wasn't about to have that much in common with such an evil tyrant. "How about that military situation?"
"It's pretty amazing," another lord replied. "The English army is on its way and the Scottish army is going to meet them near Birnam Wood."
"The English army is lead by Malcolm, right?" a different lord asked. "I know he's next in line for the throne and has more morality in his little finger than Macbeth has ever had ever, but is he really qualified to lead an army?"
"If he can't manage that then he doesn't deserve to be king," Lennox insisted. "I mean, God, even Macbeth managed to whip the Scottish army into shape. Granted, he's since lost their loyalty and they will be fighting with us to overthrow the dictator, but proving yourself capable of leading an army is practically the most basic requirement for a monarch. Otherwise the other nations will know that you can't do anything to stop them and invade whenever they feel the need."
"Since Macbeth has no army, what does he actually intend to do?" one of the lords wanted to know. "I mean, yeah he's holed himself up in his drafty old castle, but he can't stay in there forever and he's got no army to stand against our sheer numbers."
"Well, the Scottish army only turned on him once the rightful heir, Malcolm, showed up," Lennox pointed out. "Maybe he thinks that if he kills Prince Malcolm then the army will submit themselves to his rule again."
"If Malcolm should die, Macduff could always rule," one of the lords suggested. "He needs something to take his mind off his poor, dead family anyway."
"Lady Macbeth, I have news for you," Macbeth announced, striding into the hall of Dunsinane with the royal doctor and the attendants trailing behind him.
"Oh?" Lady Macbeth asked politely.
"The old ladies said that in addition to the fact that no man of woman born can hurt me, I'll be King until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane," Macbeth told her.
"The first I already knew about from your letter," Lady Macbeth acknowledged. "And as for the second…as long as no one takes up massive deforestation we should be fine. You might even want to pass a law to that effect."
"Huh?" Macbeth looked confused. "I thought it meant that if people plant more tress the forest could expand and reach here."
"Well, that could happen," Lady Macbeth acknowledged. "But that would take time. If people were to suddenly decide to cut down a bunch of trees and carry them over here, that would also fit."
"Why would that happen?" Macbeth asked blankly.
Lady Macbeth shrugged. "Damned if I know; I'm just trying to cover all our bases."
"From a fake prophecy," Macbeth said flatly.
"Believe – or not – as you wish," Lady Macbeth said airily.
"Oh, that reminds me: they said to tell you hello," Macbeth reported.
"Did they now?" Lady Macbeth asked absently. "Interesting. Seyton, my husband would like to know what our military status is."
"I would?" Macbeth asked. "You know, you have a point: I should probably know these things."
"My Lord, there are over ten thousand Englishmen approaching the castle," Seyton reported. "And are being led by Lady Macbeth's brother."
"Donalbain?" Lady Macbeth blinked. "I thought he was attempting to drink himself to death in Ireland?"
"No, your other brother," Seyton corrected.
"Malcolm, hm?" Lady Macbeth mused. "I can work with that…"
"Even though I'm sure that the forest will be right where I left it two hours ago, it never hurts to err on the side of caution," Macbeth decided. "Fetch me my good armor, will you?"
"As you like, your majesty," Seyton bowed and went off to do as requested.
"By the way, my Lord," the doctor said quietly to Macbeth. "Your wife has been sleepwalking. We're all quite concerned."
Once he, too, was gone, Macbeth turned to his wife. "Sleepwalking?"
She shrugged. "It's a good way to get exercise at night."
"So I've got 10,000 Englishmen and the entirety of the Scottish army," Malcolm reminded everyone.
"We know, sire," his officer, Siward, said tactfully.
"Just reminding everyone what enough willpower not to mock a powerful monarch's ridiculous nickname can get you," Malcolm shot back. "Now on the one hand we have a ton of firepower on the other Macbeth has…what's Macbeth's plan?"
"I believe he is locking himself in his castle and refusing to come out," Siward informed him. "Not that you can blame him as the minute he comes out we're going to kill him."
"I see. That's just…well, it's a plan I suppose," Malcolm remarked. "Now I've been waiting around for weeks to persuade King Edward that I was serious about the whole not laughing at him thing while Scotland has turned to shambles and I would really rahter not have to wait around for another couple of months until they run out of food."
"Surely it wouldn't really take months for them to be out of supplies, would it?" Siward asked. "I mean, how much can they possibly have stockpiled?"
"Macbeth's always been rather paranoid and my sister likes to be prepared for any eventuality so I'm sure they each have their own supply," Malcolm responded.
"Fun," Siward said wryly. "But what can we do?"
"Well…I had heard that Macbeth was something of an environmentalist. Let's cut down half the forest and see if that won't get his attention," Malcolm decided. "Plus, that way if we have each soldier carry a branch or so then it will obscure our numbers. Not that we need to, because it's almost embarrassing just how outmatched they are, but it might trick them into thinking we're even MORE over-prepared."
"I knew there was a reason we were following you," Siward declared. "I'm off to go inform the troops about our deforestation strategy."
"Well, if we're going to do this, we may as well do it properly," Macbeth decided. "Raise the banners, man the fort…just basically do whatever needs to be done to prepare for this onslaught."
"Ah!" Lady Macbeth cried.
Startled, Macbeth rushed to her room. "What happened? Is she alright?" he demanded as he saw the doctor kneeling over her.
"She's fine," the doctor assured him. "Well…physically. The mental state of someone who had just attempted to take their own life is always questionable at best. She needs to rest now, so don't stay too long."
"I won'te; I have a battle to prepare for," Macbeth promised as the doctor left him alone with his wife. "So what? After all of this, you decided to commit suicide right before the final battle? Do you really have so little faith in me?"
"Yes, yes I do," Lady Macbeth replied promptly. "You still don't believe that the witches are, in fact, witches."
"Because they're not-" Macbeth started to say.
"But that's neither here nor there. I did NOT attempt to kill myself just now," Lady Macbeth insisted.
"But…the doctor said-" Macbeth began.
Again, Lady Macbeth cut him off. "If I was planning on killing myself, I would already be dead. I would thank you not to think me so incompetent I couldn't even get that right. I merely wanted people to think I tried in case you lost and I needed to go with the 'so horrified by my husband's crimes I couldn't bear to live anymore' defense. It never hurts to err on the side of caution, remember?"
Before Macbeth could answer, a messenger flew into the room. "My Lord! Strange news! The 10,000-man army is making its way here…carrying the trees of Birnam Wood!"
"That sounds like another prophecy coming true," Lady Macbeth commented before closing her eyes. "Oh, the horror! The horror!" she cried dramatically.
Macbeth sighed. "You know, I'm actually starting to suspect that poor Banquo got the better end of the bargain…"
"Hey look, Macbeth decided to show up after all. Alright, everyone drop your boughs and grab your swords," Malcolm commanded. "Unless, I suppose, you'd rather club people with your boughs. But either way, it's time to fight."
"Against one person?" one of the soldiers asked.
"Nonsense, I'm sure he has supporters somewhere," Malcolm claimed. "And it's up to us to find them! Do try not to kill anyone on our side, though."
"No man of woman born can hurt me, no man of woman born can hurt me…" Macbeth repeated like a mantra. "Ow!" he complained as one of the soldiers managed to swipe his cheek. "The hell? Are you a girl disguised as a boy who wanted to go into battle to either protect her father/brother/boyfriend or to escape the confines of your dreary existence?"
"Nope," the offending soldier said cheerfully. "I'm a changeling."
"That's very nice," Macbeth said, plunging his sword through the changeling's stomach. "And now you're dead."
"No…my father, Lord Siward, shall avenge me!" the boy claimed as he died.
"Did I just hear somebody say 'avenge'?" Macduff demanded. "I must find and kill Macduff for ruining my carpet! And killing my family, too!"
"Oh crap…" Macbeth muttered. "Run away!"
"Did I hear someone say 'run away'?" Macduff continued. "That is certainly not the Scottish way, you must be English – I say, Macbeth?"
"No?" Macbeth denied weakly.
"Are you sure?" Macduff asked skeptically. "You sure look like him."
"Well I'm not," Macbeth insisted. "I'm actually his identical twin cousin."
"Oh. Well that would make you on his side then and as long as you look just like him, I'll still want vengeance," Macduff said apologetically. "Nothing personal."
"Before we do this, let me ask: Are you secretly a girl, a minor, or a changeling?" Macbeth queried.
"Nope," Macduff replied.
"Can you think of any other interpretations for 'not a man of woman born' that might apply to you?" Macbeth pressed.
"Well that's quite an unusual question. Still, seeing as how I'm about to kill you I suppose I can afford to humor you a little. As it happens, I was born via C-section instead of naturally," Macduff offered. "Do you think that counts?"
"Damn it!" Macbeth swore.
"I can't believe we managed to capture the castle with only two people," Malcolm marveled.
"Perhaps the 10,000 Englishmen on top of the entire Scottish army was a bit of an overkill," Siward commented.
"Possibly," Malcolm grudgingly admitted. "But it was also EPIC."
"Excuse me, Lord Siward?" Ross asked nervously, approaching them.
"Yes?" Siward asked idly.
"I don't know why I'm always the bearer of bad news, but…Macbeth killed your son."
"WHAT?!?!" Siward shouted, enraged. "I will have his head!"
"No need, I already got it," Macduff announced triumphantly, swinging the head around by the hair. "He claimed he was Macbeth's identical twin cousin but I knew better than to believe that."
"Because there's no such thing as identical or even fraternal twin cousins?" Malcolm asked. "Well…technically, someone could sleep with two brothers in a very small time frame and have it happen that way, but they'd still be half-siblings first."
"He had his name on the inside of his shirt!" Macduff declared.
"…Right," Malcolm said finally.
"Shortestrevenge trip ever," Siward said. "So anti-climatic."
"Hey, that's right: I totally just avenged my family!" Macduff realized.
"So very much not a family man…" Ross murmured.
"Hey guys, what's going on?" Lady Macbeth asked, coming downstairs. "I was just taking a nap when I heard fighting so…who wants to fill me in?"
"Gruoch," Malcolm began. "Your-"
"I told you not to call me that," Lady Macbeth hissed.
"But it is your name and your husband is dead," Malcolm informed her.
"I see. Well, you can still call me the Dowager Queen, then," the Dowager Queen informed him.
"What about your role in all of this?" Malcolm demanded.
"My role?" the Queen blinked innocently. "Whatever do you mean? Was it because I was not strong enough to stop Macbeth's madness? Honestly, I had no idea what to do! I tried to stop him, but he just wouldn't listen!"
"No one actually believes you, you know," Malcolm said flatly.
"Oh, how much you must have suffered!" Ross wailed.
"Truly, you are an inspiration, my lady," Siward added.
"Why couldn't my wife have been more like you?" Macduff cried.
"Okay, so maybe they believe you," Malcolm allowed. "They shouldn't, but they apparently do."
"Actually, dear brother, I think you'll find that now that my evil husband is dead, you're the only person who doesn't think I'm some sort of saint. And not even the evil kind," the Queen said smugly.
Malcolm sighed. "Do you have any more plans to bring ruin to our great nation?"
"Nah," the Queen denied. "I've had my fill for awhile. Besides, as a widowed Queen, my status is unassailable."
"Long live King Malcolm!" Macduff cried out.
"Long live King Malcolm!" everyone echoed.
"Your bravery is to be commended," Malcolm began, "even if your ability to see the blatantly obvious leaves much to be desired. As such, I am making you all earls. But only if you show up for my coronation. I'm looking at you, Macduff."
"Fine…" Macduff sighed. "This is so troublesome."