A/N: So, after re-reading Much Ado About Nothing, and re-watching the film twice, I was in the mood to write a fanfiction for my favourite Shakespeare play. This is all told from Benedick's POV, and takes place the night after the masked ball, where Beatrice insults him to his (masked) face. I have tried to keep it fairly true to the language and style of the play, however it is not written in iambic pentameter. Also, the italics are Benedick's thoughts in his dream (which, in case you're confused, starts after the dividing line). Hope you enjoy, and please give me a review if you've got the time!

Disclaimer: Obviously, I do not own Much Ado About Nothing. Shakespeare does.

Night time

Benedick

O, she hath abused me something rotten, shooting arrow after poisonous arrow at me with all the aim of Robin Hood, though none of his good heart! Though I prepare for my bed rest now, I know I shall not be able to sleep, for I shall be up all night in a fury, devising an impossible slander against which that harpy shall have no retort! If I were not so sure of my excellent act, which so well hid my true person and character that even the keenest eye would not detect me for Benedick, I should not be surprised if she knew it were me, and threw her biting words at me heedless, indeed, with joy! For she holda no other pleasure in life but to spite me, and play me for a fool! And those mice that call themselves men, Claudio and Don Pedro, they wonder why I swear never to love a woman. 'Tis impossible! For those that are meek and gentle, and hold all those qualities that are generally desired by mankind, do not please me; I cannot see their worth. And yet, those who are a worthy match for me, in beauty and in wit, who I - could admire, had I not sworn to be a tyrant to the other sex - they, as my dear Lady Disdain, scorn and despise me, and I cannot like them, for they are too wily to be ensnared in any man's affection. [Sighs] Enough of this. I will to bed, and think no more on this subject that I love not.

[Enter Claudio]

Claudio

Good Benedick sleeps. I know not of what he dreams, but from tomorrow his nightly fantasies will be filled with nothing but the beauty and love of Beatrice, for the Prince's plan is concocted.


Benedick

If Signor Leonato be her father, she would not have his head on her shoulders for all of Messina, as like him as she is.

An amusing pun. My wit really does serve me well -

Beatrice

I wonder that you will still be talking, Signor Benedick; nobody marks you.

Cold, cold woman! Well, lady, I will meet you.

Benedick

What, my dear Lady Disdain! Are you yet living?

A good riposte. Aloof enough to sound distant, but with a sting in the tail. Match that, 'my lady'!

Beatrice

Is it possible disdain should die while she hath such meet food to feed it as Signor Benedick? Courtesy itself must convert to disdain if you come in her presence.

Harsh, dear lady, harsh. Oh, that my fellow soldiers should turn on me, laughing at her quip, and my own constitution should betray me, colouring like a cooked lobster. Never fear, though, for I am not done yet.

Benedick

Then is courtesy itself a turncoat. But it is certain I am loved of all ladies, excepting only the one who could ever be of worth. And I would I could find in my heart that I had not a hard heart, for truly I love none who would confess their love to me.

Why would I say that? Now she may thinkā€¦no. Certain she will take it in jest, for that is how it was meant. She looks surprised though she recovers quickly

Beatrice

A dear happiness to women, for could they not be expected to match you in wit, they would die from the pain of denying your pleasure. Even you, I chance to say, enjoy being beat from time to time.

What does she mean by that? The script has been turned upside down, surely!

Benedick

Ay, it is true few women can match me for my wit, and none can ever get the better of me.

Beatrice

None but the most proficient.

Benedick

Can this be? Know'st thou of a woman who could? I pray you, show me to her, I shall prove you wrong.

Beatrice

She stands before you.

I remain speechless for but a moment, not because I am knocked out of my reason, of course, but rather I am trying to gather my thoughts. Means she what I think she means, responding mistakenly to my slip of the tongue previously? It cannot be. But I forget myself. I must counter her, or risk proving her right.

Benedick

Perchance we may meet on occasion in such a fierce battle of wits that neither of us can best the other, and we emerge with a draw. But if you believe you have ever won our battles, then I am afraid you are sadly deceived, madam. Remember, I am a soldier, and therefore better prepared than you for any battle.

Beatrice

Well, praise God and my cold heart that I am not your wife, then. Although I admit it would please me to frustrate your wit every day, and night too.

Benedick

Indeed, needs must you spend more time in my company if you are to frustrate me, for I am far from spent.

Beatrice

Do you challenge me, then? Should I spend more time with you, merely to wear out your wit? But alas, I fear mine would be exhausted as soon as I had conquered yours. Perhaps, then, I must find different ways to perplex you.

She walks forward, holding my glare, and I wonder what downfall she is plotting for me now. Her face is now so close that there is but a hair's breadth between our lips.

Benedick

[Whispering] What are you doing, prithee?

Why does my voice shake thus? Have I so little control over my own faculties in the face of this snake?

Beatrice

Hush.

Then her enchanting serpent's tongue darts out and she runs it slowly over my lower lip, eyes never leaving my gaze, and I can think no more. I lean forward, my eyes fluttering shut, but I feel a sudden sharp pain in my knee and my eyes snap open to find myself sprawled on the hard stone floor of my bed chamber. I curse.

Claudio

[Laughing] Of what did you dream, friend? You look mighty disappointed.

Don Pedro

Methinks he dreams of love. He may deny the attraction of a woman in life until his face turns blue, but in the unconsciousness of a dream every true thought of a man is revealed. He looked to me as if he were kissing a fair lady.

Benedick

I think not! Your words bring me into a foul humour, sir. I take my leave of you to bathe. [Exit]

Don Pedro

Peace, dear Benedick! [Aside to Claudio] Methinks this trap of mine will catch the poor Benedick as easy as a carrot attracts an ass. He hath some marks of love in him already.

[Exeunt]