Disclaimer: Thank God, I don't own this.

A/N: I will not write in verse form. I will not write in Elizabethan English. I would not aspire to be Shakespeare, not because he was "genius," and I don't think I can, but because I do not believe achieving that level of evil is entirely healthy for a human. I do not like Shakespeare, I don't know where this came from, and I have no idea why I wrote it. Just so we're clear on that.

In Cloisters Bright and Cheerful

He's never been one for romance. Sappy looks and love poems and cuddles by the fire are so not anything he ever wanted, or imagined himself having.

It's not that Mercutio doesn't understand love, it's just that Mercutio does understand hate, and how easily the two can share room space. He's never wanted it, it's never wanted him. Mercutio and love have an understanding.

But Romeo… that kid is messed up.

He's going on about Rosalind again, his dream girl who doesn't dream back. She won't have him. She's sworn herself to a convent. Going to be a nun, she is. Woe is Romeo.

Benvolio is sympathetic. He's never been in love either, but he's better at acting like he feels Romeo's pain.

Mercutio is trying not to smile.

Romeo is his friend, his best friend, actually, and he'd be hard pressed to find a better one. And he knows, he has known, for quite a while, that his friend is in love with a girl named Rosalind.

He's known, in fact, since the day the lady told him herself.

He hadn't planned for it to happen. He'd swear it to a priest-had done, actually, several times-he hadn't meant for it to happen. But it had.

Sneaking into a convent isn't the brightest idea in the world. It's dark and cold, and the nuns are rather frightening beings in big black robes who pray all the time and never smile.

But Mercutio is bored, and boredom will lead a man onto strange and mysterious paths, and so one Tuesday afternoon, he sneaks over the outer wall and into the cloister of St. Anyanka.

Inside, he finds corridor after corridor of stone floors and plain wooden doors, occupied by nuns. He's never been inside a convent, naturally, so he doesn't know to expect such… silence. It's quiet as the grave in this place. And aye, it's dark, and the lanterns are gloomy. Mercutio shivers, because why did he want to come here again?

And then he turns the corner and finds her.

She's sitting at a worktable in a big, empty room, stitching at something he can't identify and humming under her breath. Her habit is black, but it isn't up to the glory of the long robes worn by fully committed Sisters. She's a novice.

And she looks up and sees him.

What happens next is slightly unclear in his memory, but he does know that she catches his suddenly panicked gaze with her own calm, serene one and smiles. She doesn't call for help. She doesn't say a word. She just smiles up at him and then goes back to her work, humming just a little bit louder for his benefit.

He stands still and watches for another moment and then flees.

He's back the next day, though he isn't sure why. The floors are cold, the halls are grim, and the Sisters are so very stern. But the memory of a smile lures him back just as sure as if she'd caught him on a line and Mercutio finds himself once again wandering the cloister.

When he finally finds her again, she isn't sewing. This time, she's alone in a large room filled with books.

He learns her name-Rosalind. He tells her his. She smiles at him. He stares at her. She tells him that his friend, Romeo, is in love with her. He blinks. And she smiles again, that same smile. Mercutio falls.

Romeo is his friend, yes, and God knows there isn't much Mercutio won't do for the kid. But Rosalind is lovely and sweet and smiling at him with one of those smiles a man just knows is meant to drive him mad. So yes, Romeo is in love with her, but Mercutio has the feeling that she doesn't exactly feel the same way.

They don't talk about Romeo. Maybe they are afraid that if they do, anything they say will come out patronizing and vaguely smug. We know, but you don't, and oh, keeping it secret is hard. Instead, they talk about them. He learns to appreciate it when she lets him hold her hand. She learns to accept his attitude and arrogance as the cover-up they are. They laugh, they talk, they tease each other mercilessly, and through it all, she smiles.

He sneaks into the convent every Tuesday-sometimes at night, sometimes during the day-and steals along the corridors until he reaches her room. And she's always in her habit and she never takes it off, no matter how much he cajoles and teases and pouts and swears she'd be radiant in white. She wears her black as a shield, and tells him that he'll see her in white on their wedding day and no other.

Somehow, the prospect of that day doesn't seem so bad to him now. Sworn to be a nun indeed.

Mercutio and love have an understanding.

He'll play the fool, the jocular man, the friend who makes everyone else uncomfortable with his attitude and the things he says…

And love will relent, and allow him Rosalind, who smiles like she knows what it does to him and enjoys it, and who isn't half as beautiful as Romeo describes her, yet is even more lovely for it.

Romeo is crying now. Benvolio shoots a frantic it's your turn look at Mercutio. He flashes his friend a grin and goes to slug Romeo in the shoulder and crack a joke.

It's Tuesday. The little door in the garden wall is unlocked but he ignores it because that would be too easy. He slips into the cloister.

It's lit.

A/N: It's weird to write for a fandom I don't like… This was originally a present for a much beloved teacher who enjoys Shakespeare and was delighted with my strange imaginings.