Hamlet, crowned prince of Denmark, meets the Lords Rosencrantz and Guildenstern when they crash in through the door of his chambers on his first night at Wittenberg.
They have their arms around each other, doublets unbraced, and both their cheeks are flushed a high pink color from what appears-- by their inability to balance-- to be excessive drinking. They’re singing a drinking ballad, yowling off key about some long dead maiden fair, and kissing. The lyrics of the ballad fade in and out of audibility as one cuts the other off with the crush of lips meeting. They stagger across the room and fall onto Hamlet’s bed, one fully on top of the other, before they so much as look away from each other. When they do, the one with longer, lighter brown hair looks up from underneath his partner and glances quizzically around the room.
His eyes settle on Hamlet as his friend starts to lay a series of kisses on the column of his long, pale neck. He looks like he might speak but then his eyelids flutter in pleasure and he hums in approval instead. He does snap out of it a moment later.
“Rosencrantz, it uh-- it appears we’ve made a small error.”
“Of course we have, Gil. To err is human and so are we. We must, therefore, continue to err. We have no other choice. Shut up and kiss me.”
“No,” the other man-- Gil?-- says, laughing. “I meant in our selection of room…”
Rosencrantz pulls away and frowns. “What the devil do you… Oh. Well, yes, that is a very expensive looking bedspread,” he murmurs. And then, after a beat, “Can’t be ours.”
“I don’t believe that is our confused scholar in the corner, either.”
Rosencrantz cranes his neck back to look at Hamlet. After a moment of bewildered staring his whole face melts into an easy, charming smile. “Well, not yet, anyway,” he says, throwing a wink at Hamlet.
“If the bedspread was too costly for you I dare say I’m out of range as well,” Hamlet retorts, not sure in the moment whether it’s an insult or not.
Both men burst into laughter though. Rosencrantz rolls off his friend and onto his side, lounging on Hamlet’s bed easily. “And what price do you tender yourself at, dear little prince?”
Hamlet raises a wry eyebrow, entirely sure Rosencrantz is unaware of why his phrasing is perfect. “Why should I tell such a thing to men whose names I’m not even privvy to?”
“You shouldn’t!” shouts Rosencrantz. “Therefore, I am one Rosenstern and this is my Guildencrantz.”
“He means I am his Guildenstern and he is one Rosencrantz.”
“I’m quite sure that’s what I said, Gil, what should be the aim of this repetition? Are you now a parrot?”
“If I am, I am a bird of your feather.”
“If I am, I am a bird of your feather.”
“If I am, I am a bird of your feather.”
“And feather-brained, the pair of you,” Hamlet says, marveling at their nonsense. Their replying smiles are a perfect combination of ease and invitation.
“Well a ton of feathers weighs less than a ton of bricks, so at least our shoulders are less burdened with weight than yours would seem, good lord,” Guildenstern says, propping his upper body up on his elbows and causing his tunic to slip over his shoulder.
For some reason, it makes Hamlet grin. No one in the whole court (or country) of Denmark would ever speak so forcefully with him. It’s refreshing. “And how shall I remedy myself from such a strain as a head full of bricks?”
Rosencrantz sits up and grins, “Unburden yourself a while, good sir,” he pulls a wineskin from his side and holds the leather pouch aloft.
Hamlet smiles fully then, and stands from his chair to wander over. At the edge of the bed he takes the pouch and takes a long pull from it. It’s mead, sweet and bright. Hinted in the back of the flavor is the taste of cherries. It’s delicious.
“The store this comes from must be excellent. Thank you for sharing,” Hamlet says.
“You’re welcome, m’lord,” Guildenstern says, still leaning back on his elbows. His eyes, though a brighter blue-grey color, seem dark with drink and desire.
“And… how should a man repay such generosity?” Hamlet asks.
Rosencrantz takes his wineskin back, brushing Hamlet’s hand as he does so. He takes a long drink from it-- head tipped back and throat moving with each pull. “By sharing your company methinks,” he says, lips stained with pink honey wine.
“While you’re both still in my bed?”
Guildenstern falls back on the bed with a low sounding laugh, hands laced behind his head. “Prove how generous you are and share that as well.”
“As well as, if you please, your name,” Rosencrantz adds.
Hamlet grins and tugs at Rosencrantz’s belt, bringing him forward so he can seal their lips together. Everything tastes of burgeoning intoxication. “Hamlet,” he says when he pulls back, against Rosencrantz’s lips.
And from there he falls into bed with the both of them.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern do not-- contrary to both popular belief (and what they spend an enormous time establishing as popular belief)-- spend all their time together. They attend separate lectures often and must attend to various errands and duties separately on occasion. But it is definitely strange to see one without the other. They seem to pine for each other when one is not near. It’s nothing spoken. It’s just a something aching in the way they list off to the side, knowing that the other will not be there to rest against but doing so out of habit all the same.
Their families, Hamlet learns, have been sworn allies to each other for the last ten generations. They were born to be brothers in arms. Hamlet suspects that perhaps they did not mean “in each other’s arms” but Wittenberg is another world, enchanted and distinct from any outside expectations of church or state. This otherworldliness is what lets Hamlet permit himself to fall so deeply into them. And fall he does. Their company, their dynamic, their bed. They are three threads woven together such that they seem only one strong cord.
Lips at the shell of his ear whispering nonsense feel the same as lips trailing down his spine or up to where his inner thigh meets his hip. Hands hoisting him up to jump over stone walls in a quick escape from a friendly jape have the same affection as hands that wrap snuggly around him and bring him to release. They joke and they laugh and they fuck for hours, and the pair of them seem to have a completely never ending supply of wine.
When the weather is fair they make eyes at the kitchen maids for food to take in a basket and eat out in the sunshine soaked meadows, or strip naked and splash in the brook nearby. When it seems the rain outside will never stop they hole up in Hamlet’s quarters and tell stories until they all fall asleep. When the snows come they bundle up and wage the friendliest possible war of snowballs in the courtyard of their dormitory.
Neither Rosencrantz nor Guildenstern ever ask him about Denmark, and he never offers information. Only the letters from his mother and father ever remind him he will one day rule a country. Hamlet never wants to leave Wittenberg. But unfortunately in order to stay he does have to focus occasionally on his studies and that is an activity which neither of his compatriots support. To the point that he himself stops supporting it, in truth. He does what needs must to stay in good graces with his professors, but nothing above and beyond, until of course he is so behind that he must double his efforts. This would be fine if not for the fact that his friends have quite an effective way with distracting him when it suits them, which is all too often.
When there are monarchs to be studied or poetry to be memorized, Guildenstern will always abandon them in favor of throwing Hamlet down on the nearest available surface. The same can be said of Rosencrantz and essay writing, which he particularly loathes. He verges on sullen whenever the task is set in front of him.
In fact it is a balmy May mid-morning that finds them all scattered around Guildenstern’s quarters, Hamlet chipping away at the same essay Rosencrantz is yet again attempting to write by way of staring out of the window wistfully. He’s balanced on the wide window sill, one leg bent so as to rest his chin on his knee while the other leg kicks back and forth like a listless metronome. For the fifth time within the quarter hour he groans loudly.
“I can hardly think of anything less useful than German,” he says bitterly.
“We are in Germany at present, dear friend,” Guildenstern murmurs, not looking up from his own mathematical reading, “there are several immediate and practical uses for--”
“Useful to the soul, Guildenstern. Where’s the heart in it?”
“I will suggest that it might be easier to see the heart of it if you removed your head from inside your arse,” Hamlet says, scratching away with quill to paper.
“And had I but known we had a master of modern anatomy in our midst I would have given him his proper due!” Rosencrantz replies, rolling his eyes.
“Scandalously inappropriate of you not to have, Ro. Poor showing,” Guildenstern says, grinning like a wolf into his mathematics text.
“How will my family live with the shame? They’ll have to burn my branch off the family tree.”
“A tragedy if ever I heard one. It is a good and a healthy branch, thick and heavy… with such girth.”
Rosencrantz whips his head around to stare with a mischievous look at Guildenstern, who only spares one filthy glance up from his text. That’s all the encouragement he needs, however. Rosencrantz springs up off the window sill and glides over to Guildenstern’s chair. He stands behind where Guildenstern sits and runs splayed fingers up the back of his neck, into his curling brown hair. Guildenstern doesn’t look up as his friend bends to lay wet kisses along his neck, but he does tilt his head to one side to allow better access.
Hamlet spares them glances every few words as he continues to write. They’re beautiful. Guildenstern is tall and lean, brown of hair and broad of shoulder. Rosencrantz is dark of hair, shorter, but more muscled. His mother was a Spanish courtier, Hamlet knows; he thinks her son must have her eyes.
“Gil?” Rosencrantz questions.
“It’s such a lovely spring day, don’t you think?”
“It is, indeed.”
“And should not on lovely spring days be heard the sweet sounds of bird songs?”
“I believe if you listen closely, Ro, you’ll hear them doing just--” Rosencrantz bites gently at Guildenstern’s throat, “--just that.”
“You’re quite right. But there is one song missing.”
“The goldfinch, of course.”
Hamlet’s quill freezes on the page. He shakes his head and runs a hand through his hair. You’d think neither of them had ever seen blonde hair the way they carry on and call him ‘goldfinch’. The nickname is, obviously, unfathomably embarrassing to him but he tries to hide how very much lest they seize upon it and make even more use of it.
“Ahh, you make an excellent point,” Guildenstern says, closing his text and abandoning any pretense of still studying.
He reaches a hand back to twist his fingers into Rosencrantz’s hair. He tips his head back and Rosencrantz dips down to kiss him, easy and lush. They stay like that, kissing slowly, for a while. It’s hard not to watch them, valiantly though Hamlet tries. Rosencrantz is the one who pulls away, taking Guildenstern’s hand and tugging him out of the chair. They cross the room, shedding clothing as they go. Only Guildenstern’s breeches remain, as they reach the bed, and when he lays down Rosencrantz pulls him free of them. Guildenstern looks beyond Rosencrantz to where Hamlet is still seated.
“Come,” he says beckoning.
Hamlet smiles a little and shakes his head. “In a moment. I’ll watch first.”
Rosencrantz turns and his smile is wide. “I’ll put on a show then.”
Guildenstern takes him by the wrist and pulls him bodily down on top of him. “You always put on a show.”
“They can hear him in the cheap seats, that’s certain,” Hamlet says, leaning back in his chair.
Rosencrantz laughs loudly. “And do I have adoring fans?”
Guildenstern darts in for a searing kiss and palms his arse. “Most ardent,” he replies as he pulls away.
Rosencrantz tilts his hips, already hard, with a needy noise escaping him. His hand strays to wrap around Guildenstern’s cock. Hamlet is suddenly aware of his heart hammering away in his chest and his own cock, pressing up against the laces of his breeches. Guildenstern bats Rosencrantz hand away and takes both their cocks into his larger hand, stroking up and down. They curl into each other, writhing and tangling their legs.
They are so very familiar. Their bodies have a history, shared memories. Rosencrantz’s hands roam everywhere. His breath is erratic. He seems almost at the edge already. Guildenstern appears to have the same thought. His eyes spring open and he stops moving.
“Shhh,” he says, kissing Rosencrantz. “Easy.”
“I want you.”
“I know, Ro.”
“Then what are you waiting for?” Rosencrantz says, grinning.
Guildenstern raises an eyebrow. “What’s the rush? Don’t make me tie your hands.”
“Oh. Oh, shall we?”
“The leather’s in the nightstand.”
“I know where the leather is.”
“Then get it and tie me down already.”
Guildenstern moves like lightning. Hamlet can’t stay away any longer. As Guildenstern fastens Rosencrantz’s hands over his head to the bars of the bed frame, Hamlet divests himself of his clothing and walks to the bed.
“A-ha!” Rosencrantz says, smiling at Hamlet. “That’s what it takes to lure a goldfinch from its nest.”
Hamlet rolls his eyes and settles down on the bed with his front to Rosencrantz’s back. His skin is flushed and warm.
“You’ve yet to make me sing, though.”
“Patience, young man,” he replies.
Guildenstern pins him with a look so incredulous Hamlet bursts out laughing. “Point taken,” Rosencrantz says, shrugging as much as he can with his hands tied above his head.
Guildenstern reaches back into the night stand and pulls out a glass jar filled with translucent oil before turning back and settling down on the other side of Rosencrantz. He hands the jar to Hamlet, who removes the cork stop from the top and pours a bit onto his fingers. Guildenstern hikes up Rosencrantz’s leg to lay across his own. Hamlet hands the jar back and bends to kiss Rosencrantz’s shoulder before sliding fingers down to his arse.
Rosencrantz makes a short, high sound as Hamlet pushes in shallowly with one finger. The muscles of his back ripple and tighten against Hamlet’s chest. He teases him, pushing around the rim but not fully inside. Rosencrantz whines, shifting. Guildenstern captures his lips in a kiss, but keeps their torsos and hips from touching. Rosencrantz’s hips jerk downward, searching for more sensation. Hamlet complies, finally pushing one finger in fully.
He takes his time, pushing in and out. First quickly, then slowly. Guildenstern slicks up a finger too and works it in beside Hamlet’s. They find a rhythm, play with it. Sometimes they push in together, sometimes alternating. Rosencrantz is a swearing, squirming wreck. His cheeks are a redder kind of pink, beneath his beard. His cock is straining against his stomach, leaking. He asks for more, over and over again.
Hamlet takes his cues from Guildenstern, who shakes his head no each time. It must feel like forever to Rosencrantz before Guildenstern adds another finger and Hamlet follows suit. The noise he makes is completely shameless, a broken groan. He bears down and works his hips fervently, panting. A layer of sweat has built up between his back and Hamlet’s front. Hamlet groans himself when he inadvertently thrusts against him and the slide is easy and warm.
Guildenstern removes his fingers and goes for more slick. Hamlet thinks it’s to further work open Rosencrantz, but he reaches over their friend and wraps his hand around Hamlet’s cock. Hamlet groans and seizes upward to lay his lips on Guildenstern’s, who strokes him firmly and kisses back. His mouth is soft, and Hamlet nips gently at his lower lip. When he pulls away, Guildenstern repositions Rosencrantz’s leg so that it’s bent at the knee and lifted. He nods to Hamlet, who moves down and presses his cock into Rosencrantz.
It’s as good as it always is. Hamlet shudders at the feeling of so much wetness and warmth pressing in around him, the sheer closeness of a whole other person. He enjoys women’s love as well for this reason. He can’t be bothered with making a distinction, though some men seem to insist upon it. After the first dizzying wave of pleasure, Hamlet lets his hips take over. He has a rhythm of his own with each of them. Rosencrantz prefers strength of thrust to speed, at least at first. He glances over Rosencrantz to see Guildenstern on his knees, desire glazing his eyes. With one hand he holds Rosencrantz’s leg in place as with the other he strokes himself with torturous slowness. Hamlet’s cock throbs at the sight; it’s almost too much.
Hamlet rests his forehead and on the back of his friend’s neck and strains himself with pushing in and out. The slide is so, so good. He loses himself in it. The sound of flesh meeting flesh, the taste of Rosencrantz’s skin under his mouth. The smell of sex hits him unexpectedly, which of course only makes him more lustful. He speeds up his thrusts. Rosencrantz is shouting his bliss with every push of Hamlet’s hips. There’s so much shared body heat. Hamlet can feel sweat beading on his forehead. Rosencrantz’s voice is echoing off the stone walls.
Guildenstern stops touching himself to lay down and put his mouth around Rosencrantz’s nipple-- to great effect if the frantic string of curses Rosencrantz lets out is any indicator. Hamlet wraps his arm around the leg Guildenstern is holding so he can move more freely. Guildenstern grins and kisses his way down Rosencrantz’s chest, finally stopping to lick at the head of his cock. Rosencrantz looks down, eyes pleading. Guildenstern keeps his eyes entirely on Rosencrantz as he wraps his lips around him and moves his head down.
“Close, close, close, close…” he whispers, and Guildenstern nods, lips still around him, which to Hamlet looks exactly like permission.
Rosencrantz reads it as such too, and throws his head back as he grinds his hips between and Hamlet’s cock and Guildenstern’s mouth, screaming wordlessly. His whole body tightens and jerks and Hamlet can see Guildenstern’s throat working as he swallows.
His thrusts slow. Rosencrantz looks more than debauched, thick black curls sticking to his forehead. He twitches and shivers as Hamlet pulls out of him. Guildenstern rises up, wiping a the back of his hand across his mouth. He climbs over Rosencrantz and on top of Hamlet. Hamlet’s half breathless with desire to come. He fumbles for the jar of oil, still somewhere near the bed. Guildenstern grabs for it on the other side of Rosencrantz, who is watching them with post coital, tired eyes.
Hamlet takes the jar gets some more oil onto his fingers and, once the cork is back in, pushes two into Guildenstern, who moans. His fingers move fast, rapidly in and out. Guildenstern collapses forward and spreads his knees, pushing back into it, crying out. Hamlet kisses him, his free hand tangling in his brown wavy hair, damp with sweat. He pushes his cock next to Hamlet’s groaning into his mouth.
“Three fingers, then fuck me.”
Hamlet pauses to work a third finger in and the noise Guildenstern makes is beyond the telling of it. He didn’t always know how to make him scream like this. But they’ve trained him extensively and he is an expert now. Wittenberg has trained him to do so much more than he ever thought it would.
Shortly after adjusting the angle to brush against that place inside Guildenstern that makes him buck and yell, he asks for Hamlet’s cock in a thready, breathy voice. Hamlet could cry, he’s so ready to come. Guildenstern takes him in hand and sits up, taking a miraculously short time to get them lined up before he bears down and sinks onto him. Hamlet swears and wastes no time pushing into him. The friction is so much more intense, as there’s less oil, and Guildenstern is so much more mobile.
Hamlet grabs his hips and meets him thrust for thrust but almost can’t focus past the build of such pleasure. Guildenstern grabs his own cock and starts pumping away, cursing and moaning. Hamlet can feel it all building in his spine, the release is so close. His whole body is tense and coiled. Guildenstern tilts back and groans when Hamlet’s cock his that place inside him again. He rides that place hard for a few thrusts and then he comes, spilling all over his hand and whispering Hamlet’s name fervently.
Hamlet hears his name said in such a way and it snaps every barrier inside him keeping his release at bay. It rushes over him, white hot and ecstatic. It holds him in that place of bliss for a long while, weightless and deep. When he comes back to himself, Guildenstern has untied Rosencrantz’s hands and flopped down between him and Hamlet. They’re all drenched in sweat.
Hamlet looks at the pair of them, and how well they fit together. It has a way of making one feel special, that they’ve allowed only one other person into this world of theirs. Being fair, Hamlet suspects that at times they have certainly let more than one other person into their bed, but not necessarily their world. That is the honor. Although, he can’t help laughing at how silly said world often is, to use all this just to avoid a German essay.
They look up at the sound of him chuckling. “What?” Rosencrantz asks.
“I know we’ve already established this, Ro, but you really don’t like essays.”
They all start laughing, stomach’s clenching, and then it’s hard to stop, drunk on post-sex sensation as they are.
“How do you know it’s that I don’t really love fucking?” Rosencrantz asks, when they’ve finally stopping laughing quite so hard.
“I’m not so certain at this point that you don’t hate German more than you love fucking.”
“It really is a nattering little language. The whole--”
“Must we?” Guildenstern interrupts.
“Must we what?” Rosencrantz says, rolling onto his side.
“Must we labor through the whole scene on the uselessness of this before you do what you inevitably always do and simply go ask Horatio for help?”
Rosencrantz scrunches up his mouth and then sighs dramatically. “I’ll go tomorrow morning.”
Hamlet frowns, looking between the two of them. “Who’s Horatio?”
They both frown and turn to him in perfect sync. “How,” says Guildenstern.
“Can you not know,” Rosencrantz picks up.
“Who Horatio is?” Guildenstern finishes.
Hamlet shrugs. “Apparently with ease. How do you know him?”
“You mean to tell me you get the marks that you do, with how often we distract you, without going to Horatio for council?”
“Is he some sort of tutor…?”
“Half of Wittenberg has their work done for them by Horatio! How have you been here this long and never even heard of him?”
“I appear to be a part of that honorable other half who does their own work?”
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern roll their eyes and begin mock bowing to him, which is difficult given their reclined positions, but they manage.
“Ohhhhh, the good and most honorable goldfinch.”
“Mooooost nooooble among the other sky rats of the continent.”
“Often sought for his soooound judgement.”
“Grant us grace, your most pious highness.”
Hamlet decides the only payment for such insolence is obviously to grab the closest one to him and ruffle his hair relentlessly with his knuckles, laughing all the while. Guildenstern makes a few shouts of protest between his laughter, and Rosencrantz is too helpless laughing at Guildenstern’s misfortune to keep their little act going.
When Hamlet pulls away and flops back into the mattress, Guildenstern’s hair resembles something like a thorn thicket. “In earnest,” Rosencrantz says around a huge smile, “you should come with me to see Horatio, anon.”
“What need should I have of a tutor? Is there any likelihood, even if my marks should plummet, of Wittenberg expelling the crowned prince of Denmark?”
There’s a long pause. Hamlet looks over to the pair of them, stony with silence.
“The what?” Rosencrantz asks.
“The…crowned…” Their faces are blank. “You.. you didn’t know? This whole time?”
“You, our Hamlet, are the crowned prince of Denmark? The shock I feel at this news is-- the horror! The deception.”
“God in heaven above, we could have kept that ruse up for days and you give yourself away so obviously in the very first moments? Ro, this is, without question, my greatest disappointment in you.”
Hamlet exhales the breath he did not know he was holding. “You demons!” He cries, throwing his arm over his eyes and laughing.
“Of course we knew,” Guildenstern says, chuckling. “You were always so vigilantly set against ever bringing up anything surrounding the subject that we thought ‘Well... should he ever just come right out about it, we have to pretend ignorance.’ It was the only option.”
“What a nice change of pace for you to pretend ignorance instead of merely living in its squalor.”
“You are a cruel and a vicious prince.”
“Indeed, Prince Goldfinch, I never thought you would show yourself to be such a tyrant,” Rosencrantz says, shaking his head.
“I could not have chosen two worse schoolmates should I have sought them out.”
“Well, really, who befriends the two drunkards who stumble into his room bent on buggering each other?” Rosencrants replies with a raised eyebrow.
“In contrast, perhaps because of that there’s hope for you yet, Prince Goldfinch,” Guildenstern says, fighting a smile.
“I have quite a serious inquiry,” Rosencrantz says, leaning in. “Is his sovereignty only over goldfinches or over all birds while happening by circumstance to be the most golden of all--”
Hamlet lunges for Rosencrantz and nearly tackles him off the bed.
The next morning, in the multi-colored light coming through the massive stained glass windows of Wittenberg’s sanctuary-esque library, Hamlet finds himself in the midst of having a revelation. He calls this revelation Horatio (as that is, in fact, his name). He really does not expect to think much of this mysterious genius Rosencrantz and Guildenstern so revere. He doesn’t even intend to actually go and meet him. But following Rosencrantz to the library is something to do as, for a brief moment, all his coursework is complete.
And he further doesn’t think much at first of the thin, dark haired boy Rosencrantz points out at one of the long tables near the wall. But when they come closer, Hamlet has an inkling of why Rosencrantz and Guildenstern profess to favor going to Horatio for academic assistance over anyone else. Horatio is an almost painfully pretty, rather young looking, man. His eyes are large-- so brown as to appear black-- and his hair is a thick, straight black mass falling to just above his shoulders. He has lips pink enough to stand out from afar, and the line of his jaw is something to be admired. When he smiles warmly at Rosencrantz, Hamlet feels almost envious for a moment, and it takes not an hour’s time in Horatio’s company before he feels himself entirely charmed. It happens thusly:
Rosencrantz opens his mouth to speak but Horatio interjects before he can.
“Fünfzig zeilen von Vergil?” He says, barely glancing up.
Rosencrantz sighs. “And two pages of critical analysis thereafter. And all in German, of course.”
“What a sadist your German professor must be to assign the homework in German.”
Rosencrantz huffs, “I would venture to say that as it currently stands that point has not merely been sufficiently made but also decorated, advertised, and put on display for curious passers-by.”
As Hamlet laughs and takes a seat across the table, Horatio extends a hand toward him.
“Hamlet,” he replies, shaking his hand.
“Hamlet Of Denmark?”
“What brings you here? From what this fellow and his compatriot tell me of you, you have no need of my help. Nor much interest in it.”
“Oh, I’m here to watch.”
And a brilliant grin breaks out across Horatio’s face. “A fan of blood sport, are you?”
And in the course of an hour Horatio proves it to be a blood sport indeed. This is, really, the source of the revelation. Hamlet realizes quite quickly he’s never seen anyone verbally knock around Rosencrantz or Guildenstern. The pretty marvel in front of him is the very first. Hamlet has seen his pair of jokers charm, seduce, and coerce almost every student (and, more impressively, roughly half the faculty) with ease and grace, but Horatio will flatly not have it.
He doesn’t for a second allow Rosencrantz any of his usual trickery. Every sly remark is rebuffed and directed back to the subject at hand, every slight error corrected and noted on paper. He makes Rosencrantz recite his translations aloud and corrects his vowel pronunciation without fail, which practically amounts to roughly once every twenty seconds. He makes Rosencrantz start from the top until he gets all the way through without a mistake. And all the while he progresses steadily with own work in front of him, quill scratching away on parchment.
A shaft of red tinted light from the window falls on his black hair, glittering faintly, while every now and again only the very tip of his nose will dip into the nearby shaft of blue light. Hamlet can feel a fascination spawning already. Horatio cannot be more than twenty and yet he holds himself like a professor of many degrees.
It’s not arrogance, though. Hamlet came of age at Castle Elsinore, he knows arrogance. This is... distilled confidence, unwavering certitude. Perhaps it is the foolhardiness of youth which makes it so prominent, a sort of bravado in the extreme, but Hamlet doesn’t think so. It’s quieter than that, manifested from the core. Hamlet wants to bottle it-- pull it from Horatio’s marrow and drink it down daily every time he he’s required to set foot back on Danish soil.
When Rosencrantz is done and makes a hasty retreat from the library, Hamlet can’t decide whether he wants to follow or not. Of purposes to remain, he has exactly zero. But he doesn’t want to leave yet. He moves to get up but then stops himself awkwardly mid-motion and flops back down, momentarily having forgotten how to make decisions about movement. Horatio doesn’t seem to notice. He finishes writing the end of a sentence and then drops his quill onto the table, flexing his hand to stretch it out from being cramped in one position so long.
“So how do you know Rosencrantz?”
“That depends, how innocent are your ears?”
Horatio chuckles. “Not very.”
“Ah. Then I made his acquaintance the night he and Guildenstern mistook my quarters for theirs amid some drunken debauchery.”
“Now, here’s the matter, everyone always relays that they met that pair in the most sordid way and then I have to reply with how I happened upon them in the stacks having a heated argument about how to pronounce the french pamplemousse.”
Hamlet laughs so loudly for a library setting it briefly embarrasses him.
“In which, may I add,” Horatio continues, “both of them were wrong.”
“That’s far better than my story!”
“Oh, really,” Horatio says, with a quirk of his lips.
“Really! How wrong could they have been?”
“Pam-PLEM-us and Pomp-le-MOUSE.”
Hamlet has the good sense to cover his mouth before laughing this time, but it doesn’t help much. A rather severe looking librarian walks by and pointedly stares at them. Hamlet puts his hands up in surrender and nods at the man, which serves as both his acknowledgement and apology. The librarian looks appeased and walks on.
“I feel I may be a disturber of the peace. I should leave you to your work,” Hamlet says, quietly, rising from his chair.
“Oh, no. My peace was long overdue for a disturbance. I appear to be finished, at any rate.”
“Oh,” Hamlet says, grinning. “Then would you care to go for lunch?”
He doesn’t know where that comes from. He’s not apt at asking for company. He’d fucked Rosencrantz and Guildenstern for weeks before he’d thought to or been comfortable with asking them to share a meal.
Horatio grins back at him. “That sounds delightful.”
Revelation thy name is Horatio, Hamlet thinks and waits patiently for him to gather his supplies.