Hamlet has never been more light-footed than today. The sun has yet to rise, but hesitant harbingers of light are seeping through the thick windows of Castle Elsinore, tinting his way through the stone corridors in a light grey. The grey will only slowly mix with a muddy white and yellow. Mornings are slow in Kronborg, the grey clouds always covering the skies and strong walls surrounding the rooms adding to the twilight of the early morning hours. Only servants and guards are up at this hour. The night shift changes for the morning shift in a time frame of half an hour and Hamlet has carefully calculated his way through the corridors in this time frame so that he can skip past the servants and guards without them noticing him in their slight hustle. He has done this before, it’s been a few years now, but the ways are essentially still the same as are the time slot for the shift exchange and the positions of the guards. Still, he is taller than he was then and it’s more difficult to hide in the shadows, but he has the advantage of knowing every corner of every corridor and every more or less secret way – the advantage of having grown up in this place. There are very few employees who know the castle as well as he does – and of course he has the misfortune of running into one of them.
It’s a shame really. He had been doing so well. He had even already made it past the big wooden door down into the west wing corridors that are now officially off-limits for him. He has from there made it past three corners and halfway down the hallway that he is sure will lead to the door he is heading for if only he makes it past the next corner and to the end of that next corridor... His excitement must’ve gotten the better of him and made him lose focus – Hamlet yelps when, halfway down that hallway, someone grabs him by the back of his collar.
“I believe you should not be here,” a voice says and Hamlet spins around.
“Marcellus?!” Of course he had to run into Marcellus of all people. The young guard practically grew up with Hamlet and therefore knows the castle at least as well as he does. He also knows Hamlet’s tricks of tiptoeing through the corridors in early morning hours... Marcellus, in total, knows him far too well for Hamlet to somehow win this fight. But the prince of Denmark has never been one to give up, even and especially when winning seems impossible.
“You shouldn’t even be in this part of the castle, young prince.” The guard gives him a stern look.
Hamlet, in response, tries his most innocent smile. “I was merely—“
“Oh I know where you were sneaking off to.” Marcellus has interrupted him before he can even try an excuse. Hamlet pouts, but he also cannot hide the excited glint in his eyes from Marcellus. “You’ve missed him by an hour. He is safe and sound and his travels went well apparently. Went right to sleep. No idea what made Their Majesties think that having him arrive in the early morning hours would keep you from trying to be there when he checks in... He text you when he would get here?”
Hamlet grits his teeth. “No, he wouldn’t, not with being told not to and all that. I asked in a favour with mother’s assistant to find out.”
Marcellus nods in sympathy. “And still you missed him by an hour – that’s a favour gone in vain. Well, either way, young prince – I can’t let you through to him.”
Hamlet finds it rather odd that Marcellus calls him young prince considering that they are of the same age, but it is a habit he must have picked up from the rest of the staff and if he is going to be regarded as a child he won’t hesitate to act like one. Marcellus is still holding him by the sleeve of one shirt, seemingly (and rightfully) suspicious that Hamlet will run off the moment he lets him go, and Hamlet slumps in the grip, making himself small and staring up with big eyes. He barely refrains from dropping to the ground; he may be desperate, but he is a prince after all and he has some dignity left still.
”Please, Marcellus!” he begs. “Please let me! I won’t tell anyone you did! What’s the big deal anyway? I just want to see him. I’ve missed him so much... Please?”
Marcellus merely shakes his head at him. “Come now, young prince. It’s only another fourteen days. That’s not the world.”
Hamlet immediately gives up the appeal to the guard’s sympathy and frowns. “I haven’t seen him in weeks.”
Marcellus shrugs good-naturedly. “And two more won’t kill you.”
Hamlet huffs. “Can you assure that?”
But Marcellus just laughs. “He knew you would say that.”
Hamlet’s entire face lights up at that. “He spoke with you? Did he say anything about me? Anything he wanted you to tell me?”
“Yes. He told me not to let you through to him and to tell you that patience is a virtue and a prince should tend to his virtues.”
With that, the frown is back. “Of course he did.”
“He misses you too,” Marcellus adds on a more compassionate note. “But he knows and respects the health and safety provisions.”
“You know how small the odds are that he has it?” Hamlet grumbles.
“Not small enough,” Marcellus shoots back.
Hamlet gives him a look, but the young guard just keeps grinning. “You won’t let me through then?” Hamlet tries one final time. “I thought we were friends. What, are you too afraid of my mother’s wrath if you let me pass?”
Marcellus has the audacity to laugh at that. “Queen Gertrude can be very convincing, but not even she beats Horatio! He has made some very particular remarks about what it would say about my personality and steadfastness if I let myself be convinced by you.”
Hamlet sighs and Marcellus pats his back in sympathy. “Go to bed, young prince. Don’t think I don’t understand how torturous it is to be so close and yet to far apart. You can still chat. If that’s not enough go and write him a letter – or come up with some nice romantic gestures to pass the time. Your young man will be ready and waiting for you here in fourteen days.”
With those last words he gives Hamlet a light push back into the direction he came from. Hamlet throws a last wistful glance over his shoulder when he reaches the end of the corridor, but it’s no use – Marcellus is standing there, waiting patiently for him to have left. Patience is a fucking virtue, huh? Well, virtues are for morons then.
He texts Horatio later when morning has properly reached Helsingør.
Hamlet [9.34]: You break my heart.
Horatio [9.47]: And a good morning to you too.
[9.48] I had a pleasant journey and I slept very well, thanks a lot for asking.
Hamlet [9.50]: I would've exchanged all such pleasantries and a lot more if you hadn't boycotted me by telling Marcellus I would try to sneak over to you.
Horatio [9.52]: He didn't need to be told.
[9.53]: It's only another 14 days, Hamlet. I'm going as insane as you are, but we've dealt with worse. At least I'm here now.
Hamlet [9.57]: Alright, I forgive you. But only because I love you so much. <3
Horatio [9.57]: I love you too.
Hamlet [9.58]: I can't guarantee I'll be acting sane though.
Horatio [10.00]: Please don't do anything stupid.
[10.01]: Just keep yourself busy to distract yourself from the waiting.
Hamlet [10.02]: We'll see.
Horatio [10.02]: Guess that's the best answer I can get.
Hamlet [10.03]: You know me so well! :-*
“Well at least Marcellus didn't call you out to your mother, right? I mean, she'd be furious you even tried to get to Horatio!“ Guildenstern's soft face is smiling sympathetically at him from the screen of Hamlet's tablet. Hamlet has propped it up against some cushions and himself against the headboard of his bed. He rolls his eyes.
“She's just overly sensitive with father being at risk ever since he got sick some years ago...“
Guildenstern shrugs. “Can't really blame her, can you?“ His cat, Mrs. Tipples, joins him out of nowhere on the armchair he is sitting in and Guil immediately starts scratching her behind the ear. The purring is so audible even through the video call that Hamlet can nearly feel it in his chest. “Fourteen days is the standard procedure with this anyway, you can't really complain. At least you get to see him after.“
“Fourteen days are unbearably long, especially with him being practically next door!“ Hamlet heavily objects. “I seriously have no idea how to bear it - it's hell!“
It's Guildenstern's turn to roll his eyes. “I should think that it could be a lot worse. Ros and I won't be seeing each other for at least another two months - and we're not constantly complaining!“
Hamlet waves a hand dismissively. “You and Rosencrantz have been living with your long distance relationship for two years before Wittenberg, you're used to it. The only times Horatio and I spent apart since getting together were a few weeks over holidays when we couldn't be at the other's, a few weeks, tops! This is far worse! I'm dying!“ He dramatically lets himself fall to one side.
Guildenstern laughs. “It's a global pandemic, Hamlet. People are actually dying all over the world. The least people can expect from the prince of Denmark is that he abides by the same health and safety protocols everyone else has to follow.“
Hamlet blinks up at him from where his face is half buried in the sheets. “Is this one of those times when you tell me I'm exaggerating because I asked you to let me know when I'm wack out?“
“My point is,“ Guil laughs, “check your privilege, my lord..“
Hamlet sits back up with a sigh. “You're right of course. ...I just miss him.“
Guildenstern hums. “Of course you do. But you're lucky, it's the 21st century! There are so many options! Have you two tried video chat sex? Highly more effective than simple phone sex, let me tell you, Rosencrantz and I recently--“
“Please! Guil! No details about your virtual sex life!“
Guildenstern pouts. “You're not usually so shy to hear about it.“
“It's not that.“ Hamlet makes a vague gesture. “It just reminds me painfully of my currently sex-starved life. And there's no point anyway. Horatio's phone camera's broken - has been for weeks.“
“And he hasn't had it fixed?“
“He insisted he'd have it fixed when the lockdown is over, but then things sort of escalated. And he won't let me buy him a new one.“
Guildenstern makes a face and then seems to realise something. “Hold on. You mean to tell me that you seriously, literally, haven't seen Horatio in weeks!? No wonder you're going insane!“
Hamlet sighs. “Finally someone who understands.“
Guildenstern bites his lips and shakes his head sympathetically. “What about plain old phone sex?“
Hamlet shakes his head. “We tried that the first winter when I had to go home and he couldn't come with me yet. Doesn't really do the deal at all for either of us. It's sorta weird not to see each other, you know?“
“Hm yeah, Ros says that too...“ Guildenstern sighs and frowns. “Poor you really... So what now?“
Hamlet lets himself drop to one side again and slightly adjusts the angle of the tablet, propping it up against the pillows in a different spot so that they can comfortably see each other. “It's not just sex.“ A yawn escapes him. “I mean, don't get me wrong. I long for sex - and so does he for all I know, but I also just miss him so much.”
“I know, man.“ Guildenstern shifts in the armchair and Mrs. Tipples meows disapprovingly, then gets up and jumps off his lap. Guil throws a slightly wistful look after her. “I miss Rosencrantz terribly, too. And I know it's been so long already, it doesn't really get better, but it's only another two weeks, Hamlet. I'm sure you can kill the time.“
Hamlet worries his bottom lip between his teeth. “Yeah, I guess... You're alright though, yeah? I mean I feel kinda bad now because I'll be seeing my boyfriend in two weeks and you've got no idea how long it'll be until you see yours...“
Guildenstern smiles warmly. “Oh we'll be good, thank you. We've gone without seeing each other for longer before, so far at least, and we're working on convincing our parents to let one of us visit the other. And the video chat sex is fantastic!”
Hamlet groans. “Please stop talking about fantastic sex!“
They both laugh.
“So what'll you do to pass the time?“ Guil eventually conversationally throws in.
Hamlet sighs and runs a hand through his hair. “No idea. Marcellus said something about coming up with romantic gestures....“
“Maybe he's got a point with that,“ Guildenstern hums.
“I mean you have the castle around you and people you can talk to, but Horatio is self-isolating - and it's not even within his own four walls. He must be feeling terribly lonely. If anything this is probably way harder on him than on you, really - despite him being a way more patient man than you are...“
Hamlet curses. “You're so right of course! Gosh, why didn't I realise that? I'm such a horrible boyfriend sometimes!“
“Horatio seems to love it.“ Guildenstern shrugs and then laughs when he sees Hamlet's pained expression. “Hey calm down, you're not a horrible boyfriend. You can be very sweet at times even - inconsiderate at other times, but only because you get so lost in your emotions. Anyway, you've got two whole weeks to make up for it with the greatest romantic gestures.“
Hamlet rolls around and grabs the tablet while sitting up. He quickly tabs through the open windows to an open chat room.
“What's happening now?“ Guildenstern asks, his face visible in a smaller window in the bottom right corner of the screen while Hamlet scrolls through his contacts.
“I'm texting Ophelia to ask if we can meet. I need her advice. She's great at romantic gestures.“
He tabs a quick message. The answer follows nearly immediately.
“Alright, I'll leave you two to your scheming then!“ Guildenstern laughs. “Tell me how it went. And greetings to the lady.“ Hamlet nods absent-mindedly, he is already occupied with other things now. “Yes. Thank you so much for your help, Guil! Speak to you later!“
“Oh and call Rosencrantz some time as well, he is getting upset you're calling me more than him!“ is the last thing Hamlet hears Guildenstern throw at him before they end the connection.
“So what, he’s just locked into his room all day or what?” Ophelia’s voice is sharp and clear even through the slight distance. She is sat with her back to the wall next to an open door. Hamlet is sitting with his back against the same wall, on the opposite side. Windows in both the room Ophelia is and the hallway Hamlet is sitting in are wide open, the afternoon breeze seeing to sufficient ventilation.
“Nah, it’s more like with your family,” Hamlet says into the corridor, loud enough so that Ophelia can hear him in the other room through the open door. “The outer west wing corridors are off limits for me and all staff that aren’t for now to take care of his needs – that’s where his chambers are. He’s supposed to stay in there when he can, but he can take walks and the conservatory is open for him only these fourteen days. Food and everything else he needs is brought up to him. He is to be tested by the end of the week and they hope to have the results when the second week is over at the latest.”
He can hear Ophelia sigh. It feels good, knowing her to be sitting back to back with him. It just feels right to have her in his back, both of them supporting each other. She’s his best friend and he would have lost his mind weeks ago if they hadn’t found a way to talk to each other.
“Your mum really is super cautious with your dad’s health these days, huh?”
Hamlet shrugs, then realises Ophelia can’t actually see him, but she probably knows. She knows him so well.
“I mean I knew she was very worried about it, but I never even thought she might abandon your family to another part of the castle. Minimal contact with everyone in the family – and so on.” Hamlet sighs. “I offered to spend the two weeks of self-isolation with Horatio and keep away from her and dad for the time being until we’d know we both don’t have it. But she said she wouldn’t take the risk with any family member.”
Ophelia hums on the other side of the wall. “She just worries about her family. Dad has to meet a lot of people for his work and so I guess it’s just fair that we should isolate from your father. Even so, it’s only fourteen days, Hamlet.”
“You sound like Marcellus, Horatio and Guildenstern all over again.”
Ophelia laughs. “All very sensible young men. You should listen to them.” But then her tone grows more serious. “You really should consider yourself lucky though. I know it’s taken you weeks, but at least you managed to convince your mother that Horatio should come to visit at all.”
“Ah...” Hamlet mentally scolds himself. Here he is, being a bad friend again. “So I take it Polonius still hasn’t agreed to getting Laertes home?”
“He isn’t exactly helping things along himself.” Ophelia sounds half devastated, half annoyed. “Laertes loves being stuck in Paris. I bet you twenty krones he has met some girl he doesn’t want to tell dad about and doesn’t want to leave her.”
Hamlet chuckles. “Well at least he isn’t stuck in a place he doesn’t want to be in.”
“Yeah, I guess... I just worry about him. I’d be feeling so much better if I knew he was safe and had him around...”
“Yeah...” Hamlet doesn’t have siblings so he can only imagine how Ophelia feels. But the first weeks when Horatio had been stuck in Wittenberg he had been sick with worry – and things in Germany had been better then than they were in France even now... “Maybe try reasoning with your mental stability being better when he’s here? That worked pretty well for me...”
“Your family has always been taking your mental health issues more seriously than my family takes mine.” She is right, and it breaks his heart. It isn’t fair at all. “I guess it’s an entirely different horror to not be able to talk to someone face to face although they are in the same building though.”
Hamlet sighs. Ophelia doesn’t love talking about herself and the things that make her feel miserable too much. Helping others, especially trying to help Hamlet, usually makes her feel better about herself she says and therefore he lets her, but it worries him too... He makes a mental note to check up on her more in the following days.
“Yeah...” he says. “It must be even worse for Horatio, being all alone and so on... Marcellus said I should try coming up with some romantic gestures and I think he’s probably right. That’s why I’m here actually. Was hoping you could maybe help me with that...?”
He hears a sound coming from the other room. After a moment he frowns and leans over to peek through the door. Ophelia has scrambled to her feet and is now rummaging through her desk drawer, pulling out a notepad and a bunch of differently coloured felt tip pens. “Right,” she says and sits down on the floor right where she is, crossing her legs while Hamlet shifts a little to lean against the door frame. “I’ve got a few ideas, but let’s make a list. I’m sure I’ll be adding a few things over the days as well.”
Hamlet grins at her. “You’re the best.”
Ophelia waves a hand dismissively, her other hand already writing a first idea down on an empty piece of paper. “Yes, yes, I am the queen of romantic gestures and you don’t deserve me. Now let’s get to work! This is the most exciting thing that has happened in days.”
Hamlet and Ophelia have spent a lot of their shared childhood scheming and making the most absurd plans – they were well-known to be a deviously plotting couple that nobody in the entire castle was safe from. The big prank war of 2006 is still remembered fondly by the servants, less fondly but no less vividly by the kitchen staff. They make a good team, always have. Hamlet loves putting plans into action and is great at both improvising himself out of the worst outcome situations and at coming up with the most cunning if risky ideas. Ophelia, on the other hand, is great at planning. She always has loved making plans and perfecting them down to the smallest detail and she has every bit of the patience that Hamlet is lacking. It is no miracle, really, that Hamlet was head over heels in love with her in their teenage years. But it didn’t take them much time to figure out that while they were a great team when it comes to scheming, they definitely didn’t make a great couple – and that was that. It was fine. No bad blood remained between them. Laertes had been pissed at Hamlet, but Laertes used any reason to be pissed at Hamlet back in the day so who really cares?
They make a great team, they complement each other, but they also work very differently. It is therefore no miracle either that Ophelia sends Hamlet away after an hour or so of companionable brainstorming to not have to bear his impatience anymore. She assures him that she will make the list by herself and give it to him when all is put in order and thought through. She tells him to kill the time by writing a letter to Horatio or something so that he doesn’t explode with impatience
So Hamlet retrieves to his chambers to write a letter to his boyfriend – because that’s romantic and nice. First, however, he calls Laertes and has some stern words with him about talking to his sister more and maybe trying to return home some time. (He doesn’t really call him, he sends a very elaborate voice message – because talking to Laertes is sort of annoying, the dude is always either high or a little uppish, so Hamlet avoids actually speaking with him. At the twenty minutes voice message Laertes just sends an annoyed emoji and a “dude wtf long?” though and so Hamlet sends him an angry gif and calls to leave another unnecessarily long message on his phone mailbox.) Then he turns to letter writing. But letter writing is old-fashioned and boring and takes so long - and if there is one thing that Hamlet is not, that is patient. Fuck that virtue. Who made virtues the benchmark for anything anyway?
So he decides to call Horatio instead.
“I may suck at patience, but I’m great at love – and that’s a virtue too!” is what he says when the other picks up the phone and Horatio laughs. God, it’s so good to hear his voice.
It feels weird, talking on the phone to someone who is practically in the same building he is in, but if Hamlet pretends that Horatio is still back in Wittenberg and not a few doors and corridors away it is okay.
They talk for two hours about just about everything before Horatio apologises. “Look, I’m really sorry, Hamlet, it’s just... I have a lot of work to finish for Wittenberg with the research assistant position I got accepted for – and they want us to do the work we can although campus and all libraries are shut down and stuff, but...”
“What, you’re meaning to tell me that now that I finally got you to spend your time here you will be working through the semester holidays and not have any time for me?”
Horatio sighs. “I was actually really hoping to get this done until the fourteen days of self-isolation are over. But I’m afraid that won’t happen if we spend our usual six hours a day talking on the phone...”
Hamlet groans into his phone. “So I either have to bear not really talking much to you now or I distract you now, but then don’t have your undivided attention when I can finally see you later? How can you do this to me? I am suffering enough as it is!”
Horatio chuckles, but there is something wistful to it. “Look, I don’t love it any more than you do. Two weeks – you can text me any time and we can talk for an hour or so in the evening – and I promise that you will have all of me in fourteen days time. Deal?”
Hamlet hums. “All of you, eh? Sounds like a good deal...”
“Hm, you should take it. I don’t make the offer to everyone.” Hamlet can practically hear Horatio’s smile.
“I literally miss you so much,” he responds. “I will sneak over to your room at night and watch you sleep so that I can spend time with you without distracting you when you have to work.”
Horatio laughs. “You will do no such thing! Promise me that or I’ll let Marcellus know that my room needs to be guarded by night as well!”
“What even are the odds that you have it?” Hamlet whines.
“If I have it, I don’t want you to catch it. And we’ll know in fourteen days!”
“Oh fine. I bet Marcellus already has people guarding your room by night anyway. He just knows me too well.”
Horatio makes a contemplative noise. “Now I feel weird because I know that there are people outside my room guarding me when I sleep...”
Hamlet smiles ruefully. “Welcome to my life.”
Horatio eventually insisted on returning to his work and Hamlet reluctantly let him end the phone call after they’d spent ten minutes throwing declarations of love back and forth. Hamlet went to sleep with the sound of Horatio’s phone-distorted voice telling him that he loves him.
He tried returning to the letter the next day, but it turns out that letters simply aren’t Hamlet’s thing. So he texted Ophelia asking for the list impatiently, but she briskly told him to “give me another day.” And so Hamlet spent half the day staring at a mostly blank piece of paper in his room before giving up and starting to dig for a different idea.
Hamlet makes a tiktok. Because that is more his things and because it’s fun and also it has taken him months to get Horatio to stop being super sceptical of tiktok so why not make use of that now? It takes him about half a day to decide what to settle for and then another few hours to make it perfect.
He finishes his first tiktok around noon of the third day that Horatio’s been in self-isolation.
The person who sends you this wants you to know that no distance can keep your hearts apart.
It’s classic. It’s sappy. It’s perfect. He sets to work and continues in his theme.
The person who sends you this wants you to know they love you.
The person who sends you this wants you to know they miss you.
The person who sends you this wants you to know you’re the most amazing person on the planet to them.
The person who sends you this wants you to know there’s nowhere they’d rather be rn than by your side.
At around 2 p.m. he texts Horatio.
A few more follow after that.
Check your tiktok.
The person who sends you this knows the world is a mess, but it’s bearable with you in it.
The person who sends you this wants you to know that they didn’t know what love was before they met you. Now they do.
The person who sends you this would get on three different planes just to get to you.
Horatio gets back to him after that one.
The person who sends you this wants you to know they will bring down the stars from the heavens for you if only you give them a bit of your time and attention.
Horatio [3.14]: I believe I was the one who took three different trains to get to you.
Hamlet [3.16]: Yes but I would’ve done the same if the Danish nation wouldn’t have hated me for it.
Horatio [3.17]: Yes, you’re such a hero.
Hamlet [3.17]: The thought counts?
Horatio [3.20]: Look, you’re being very sweet.
[3.21]: And I love you and miss you, too.
[3.21]: But Imma need you to stop.
Hamlet [3.21]: Whyyyy?
Horatio [3.22]: It’s really cute.
[3.22]: But first of all the constant notifications distracts me from my work.
[3.23]: And also
[3.23]: And I have told you this before
[3.24]: I can’t stand tiktok.
Hamlet [3.25]: You say that. But you secretly love it.
Horatio [3.26]: It makes me cringe so bad.
[3.26]: I literally only have it because you bullied me into installing it.
Hamlet [3.27]: Because you wouldn’t admit that you secretly love it.
Horatio [3.28]: I appreciate the sentiment. But please just stop sending me tiktoks.
[3.29]: What happened to our deal? You don’t distract me and I get my work done before two weeks are over?
Hamlet [3.31]: I’m trying out romantic gestures.
Horatio [3.32]: That’s sweet.
[3.32]: But maybe try something that you don’t know I loathe.
Hamlet has never been one to back down from a challenge. He lets some time pass – because he doesn’t actually seriously want to try Horatio’s patience – and then can’t decide on his next move for a while. He eventually settles for a Storytime, shoots a quick video, adds some text... He grins to himself when he sends it out to Horatio.
[3.38]: Also, there’s a line between romantic and outright cheesy.
Hamlet [3.40]: Admit that you love it
Horatio [3.41]: If you send me one more tiktok I will delete the app from my phone.
Hamlet [3.42]: No you won’t.
Horatio [3.42]: Try me.
Do you ever like... fall in love helplessly and then get quarantined and your beloved has a broken phone camera...?
The whole thing ends on him making a wonderfully heartbroken face. It’s perfect really.
Half an hour passes after that. Hamlet starts getting a little restless after a while and for a moment he considers sending Horatio another text telling him to check his tiktok again, but that would be like giving up. Also, somehow, he is sure that Horatio has seen it. Or if he hasn’t and Hamlet asks him to check his tiktok perhaps he really will delete it...
It takes another ten minutes before Horatio’s response reaches him. To Hamlet’s surprise, it comes via tiktok. Horatio has sent the same video back, but the text is changed.
Do you ever like... cringe so hard at something your bf does that you wonder how he even got you to fall in love with him?
Hamlet laughs out loud. Oh that is just magnificent!
Hamlet [5.52]: You just went to the effort of making an actual tiktok to scold me for mine
Horatio [5.57]: That just proves you have a bad influence on me.
Hamlet [5.58]: I should support your tiktok on my instagram
Horatio [6.00]: Don’t you DARE
Hamlet [6.01]: Consider it done.
[6.04]: Juliet Capulet and Benvolio Montague think you’re “super relatable.”
Horatio [6.06]: Who are they?
Hamlet [6.06]: No idea
Horatio [6.07]: So now some strangers on the internet have an opinion about me? Great.
Hamlet [6.08]: Awww don’t worry, it doesn’t matter what they think about you. I will always think you’re amazing.
[6.09]: Except maybe if you get more famous on tiktok than me.
Horatio [6.10]: You’re insufferable.
Hamlet [6.12]: Admit it. You love tiktok.
[6.12]: And you know exactly how I got you to fall in love with me.
Horatio [6.12]: I do
[6.13]: hate tiktok.
Hamlet [6.13]: I love you too.
Horatio [6.14]: <3
It is finally raining. Clouds had been hovering for days above Helsingør, but only now water is pouring down in a never-ending stream of wetness. Hamlet is happy about it. Not as happy as Ophelia though. They are standing underneath the canopy of the terrace leading down to the royal gardens, six feet apart and both staring out into the pouring rain. Ophelia is happy because the first point on the list she passed on to Hamlet the other day requires access to the gardens. These days there is always someone in the gardens. Ophelia and Hamlet used to hide there as children and they would’ve met here even now to talk. But the gardens are the only truly accessible outdoor space, the outer walls taken aside, and staff, servants and inhabitants take turns taking walks and spending their break times in the gardens for a walk in fresh air. Shifts have been made to allow everyone access to the gardens at least once a day for half an hour without the gardens becoming crowded. Only now that everything is drenched in rain staff and servants retire to the roofed terraces in the east wing of the castle. So that means that now Hamlet and Ophelia finally have the gardens to themselves.
“Are you sure about this?” Hamlet asks. He likes rain, but the constant stream of water down from the skies doesn’t exactly look inviting from where he is standing.
“Of course I’m sure!” Ophelia has to raise her voice over the sound of thunder in the distance. “Flowers are the basics of romantic gestures. If you don’t get him handpicked flowers, why even bother with any other romantic gestures?”
“Because they don’t require me to risk drowning in the worst thunderstorm this spring?”
“This is our best chance, Hamlet!”
“I knooow.” He sighs. “Yorick will kill me when he finds out.”
“Yorick loves you. You’ll be fine. Also, he never needs to know who stole his precious roses.”
“You think he won’t immediately know? Who else would do such a thing?”
Ophelia turns to him. “Stop worrying so much! Take it as an adventure!” She frowns. “Didn’t you tell him you’d get the stars down from the heavens for his time and attention? What’s stealing some flowers next to that?”
Hamlet sighs. “I hope the Danish nation will never hold me to my word as much as you do. Alright then. You do the white ones, I do the red ones?”
“Yes.” She smiles. “No more than one from each bunch. We meet here when we’re done. The one who gets back first decides which point on the list we do next.”
“Alright.” Hamlet gets in position, clutching the pruning shears more firmly in his hand.
Ophelia takes a deep breath before starting her countdown. “Three... two... one...”
He is soaked head to toe half a minute after setting off - and the fun doesn't stop there. He cuts himself at least thrice on the thorns and once on the shears, but it's not that bad. He also nearly trips on the slippery ground between his second to last and last bunch of red roses, but he just so catches himself from falling face first into a bush.
They both make it back underneath the canopy at the exact same moment and struggle hard to slow down from their run in order to not crash into the wall.
They are breathlessly laughing and dripping water everywhere when they throw their yield to the floor between them.
“Stalemate!“ Ophelia declares.
“But I recovered six roses, you only five - which makes me the rightful winner!“ Hamlet declares.
Ophelia laughs. Hamlet thinks that he hasn't seen her this happy in weeks. She’s an amazing friend.
“Alright,“ she says and pulls leather gloves from her fingers - that Hamlet hadn't even noticed she was wearing before. Gosh, she is so much cleverer than he. “Let's finish it then. Marcellus knows you're coming?“
Hamlet grins. “No. But he's the one who told me to come up with romantic gestures. He better play along!“
Ophelia laughs. “Well the best of luck with that. You better get these roses to Marcellus before Yorick even gets the chance to hear of our endeavour.“ She smiles fondly at him. “Tell him to send my best regards to Horatio. I will be taking a hot bath in my rooms. Let me know how it went afterwards and come around so we can discuss what the next point on the list will be!“
Hamlet shoots her a delighted grin and carefully picks up the flowers, taking care not to cut himself on the thorns this time. “And take a hot bath yourself. No need for you to catch a cold from running through the gardens,“ Ophelia says over one shoulder, already heading back inside through the entrance that will lead her to her family's rooms. “Else people will think you have the virus and totally spin out!“
“Thanks for the help!“ Hamlet calls after her.
And with that he makes for another entrance, this one leading to the west wing corridors.
For some generally unknown reason there is nobody in all of the castle that news get to faster than to the gardener Yorick. It had originally been one of the reasons why child Hamlet had befriended the man, his boundless knowledge of the castle had been impressive to him from the early days on.
Now, Hamlet is sure that Yorick is hot on his heels by the time he is knocking on the wooden door that separates the west wing corridors Horatio’s rooms are located in from the rest of the castle. He has passed by a young serving girl on his way here and she has given him a particular look. Nobody lays a hand on Yorick’s roses. Nobody in their right mind anyway. Hamlet will have to come up with a fucking great excuse later if he wants to live. For now, however, he needs to get rid of these roses before Yorick catches up to him. He has to hammer against the door for over a minute before it is yanked open from the other side.
“What the hell, Hamlet!” Marcellus yells. “You’re making a fuss like the castle is burning down! What is—“ He starts and takes Hamlet in. “Good lord, did you go outside in this dreadful weather? Why would you—Are those Yorick’s roses!?”
“Technically, they are my roses now!” Hamlet responds, a little out of breath still. “And they will be Horatio’s roses really soon. I need you to take them to him though.”
Marcellus stares at him blankly for a long moment. They both flinch when there are noises from a few corridors behind Hamlet. “The good old gardener right on your heels, huh?” Marcellus shakes his head in disbelief.
“Yes and if he gets here before you take these and disappear these flowers will never reach Horatio and my sacrifice will have been in vain!” Hamlet says, shoving the bunch of red and white roses into Marcellus’s face.
Marcellus blinks and takes a half-step back, but wraps one arm loosely around the flowers. “Alright, alright. But never let Yorick know I was in on this!”
“Deal!” Hamlet hisses and turns to leave down the corridor as fast as he can. He just so remembers what else he wanted to say and turns back around before Marcellus has closed the door. “Oh and tell him I love him! And the lady Ophelia sends her best regards as well!”
“Should’ve known she’d have to be in on this,” Marcellus mutters, but Hamlet is already gone, running down the corridor, and the thick wooden door is closed again.
Yorick eventually corners him before he can get back to his chambers. And Hamlet is sure that the only reason why the man doesn’t drag him down to his parents by an ear to complain is that they have to keep their distance of six feet. Hamlet denies the accusations for no more than a minute, his defence crumbling away underneath Yorick’s stare. He mumbles something about commitment and true love and Yorick having taught him to be true to that for years and Yorick berates him for using his own words against him and sentences him to a week’s worth of gardening in the queen’s winter garden.
Ruefully he makes his way back to his chambers. There he runs himself a bath. While waiting for the tub to fill he checks his phone, and immediately a smile breaks out over his face. He has a message from Horatio. Hurriedly he opens it.
Horatio [2.38]: I’m not sure what you got me there, but... It looks like it were flowers once, but they are falling apart and dripping water everywhere...??
Hamlet [2.54]: Shut up! I made the effort of stealing them for you!
Horatio [2.55]: Is that supposed to impress me?
Hamlet [2.55]: Criminal energy can be sexy.
Horatio [2.55]: I’m not sure if that counts for the criminal energy that procures soaking flowers.
Hamlet [2.55]: I’m trying to be romantic here!
[2.56]: You could give me some credit...
Horatio [2.56]: Oh they’re beautiful.
[2.56]: Or I guess they were once.
[2.56]: I’ve never gotten flowers that I didn’t dare put in water because I’m afraid they’d drown or dissipate before – so that’s a new adventure.
Hamlet [2.57]: Stop laughing at me!
Horatio [2.57]: You can’t even know for sure I’m laughing at you.
Hamlet [2.57]: Yes I can.
[2.58]: I can practically hear you laughing.
Horatio [3.00]: Sorry, I got distracted, the flowers were swimming away. You were saying?
Hamlet [3.02]: I will take a bath now and then I will cry myself to sleep because you didn’t like my flowers.
Horatio [3.03]: Send my regards back to Ophelia though.
Hamlet [3.03]: Stealing flowers while it rains was her idea btw.
Horatio [3.04]: Of course it was. She is way cleverer than you.
Hamlet [3.04]: So you admit it was clever, but you complain that they’re wet??
Horatio [3.05]: I love you. Just get me something dry next time please.
Hamlet [3.05]: I’ll note it on the list.
Horatio [3.05]: You’ve got a list??
[3.05]: What kind of list?
[3.06]: I thought we agreed that you won’t distract me...
[3.12]: Of course you’re in the bath when I want to know something for once.
Hamlet [3.39]: The list is top secret of course.
[3.40]: I love you too btw
Day 6 to 7
He orders something online for Horatio the same evening, but it takes until the next evening for it to arrive. Horatio calls him around 8p.m.
“You got me a book?”
Hamlet puts his phone on speaker and drops it next to himself on his bed. He is scrolling through his amazon orders on his tablet. “You said to get you something dry next time. Books are dry. Ideally.”
“Hahah,” Horatio deadpans, but Hamlet can hear him smile again. “It’s the first book we talked about when we happened to meet on campus and were both reading it – after the first time we met in class after that party... That’s really sweet, Hamlet... You know I already own a copy of it though, right?”
Hamlet hums in contemplation. “Thought maybe you had to leave it in Wittenberg. And it’s one of your favourite books. Anyway, I ordered a wine test delivery, an indoor plants beginners set, a three times three metres blanket that looked really soft and one of those destination maps where you scratch the places you’ve been to free for you as well.”
“Hamlet!” Horatio sounds a little baffled. “Stop ordering me stuff! We have a rule for this – you don’t spend unnecessary amounts of money for me and you don’t buy things for me. I don’t want to feel like your boy toy or your pet – that’s why we have the rule!”
Hamlet clicks his tongue. He loves seeing – or hearing, on that matter – Horatio slightly irritated. And there is nothing that flusters the young man more easily than when Hamlet spends some money on him. “That rule is for Wittenberg. It doesn’t count when you’re locked into my family home like a prisoner.”
“Your family home is a bloody castle! I’d feel like a prisoner if I were locked in the dungeons or something. This is more like a low-key luxury hotel that you can’t leave whenever you want to. Not prison. Anyway, Hamlet – what am I gonna do with all this stuff you buy me for compensation? How did you even get it sent here in such short time?? Do you have like some sort of secret royal delivery service?”
Hamlet can’t fight a smirk at that. “Yeah. It’s called amazon prime!”
There is a pause at the other end of the line that Hamlet can only describe as indignant.
Then he can hear Horatio take a deep breath. “Dude don’t order stuff from amazon, like, don't you know Jeff Bezos doesn't pay his workers properly even though he's a trillionaire by now – like he benefits from this horrible global crisis and his employees are among those who suffer strongly from it or at least are at risk most, he becomes a trillionaire and they don't even get pee breaks! It’s like they’re slaves of neo-liberalism and Jeff Bezos is some feudal lord who doesn’t give a damn about anyone except himself or about anything except his money!”
“Dude!” Hamlet has stopped scrolling through the website open on his tablet. “That guy is a trillionaire now!? Oh my God, if I had that much money I would totally give so much to charity – and by charity I mean you.”
Horatio huffs. “Glad to hear you haven’t gone sombre with missing me too much to still make fun of me. You could take this a little more seriously, you know?”
“Oh I’m serious!” Hamlet declares sternly. “You are the greatest charity to give money to, considering that—Oh wow, I just realised. I may not be a trillionaire, but I do have money! Let me paypal you!”
Horatio is laughing now. “Stop being a bitch about your money!”
It is later that evening after they have ended their phone call that Hamlet tabs through a few pages on his tablet to make an arrangement. He goes to bed with a sly smile, knowing this will be fun and he isn’t disappointed.
He wakes up to an email the next morning and grins.
It is the exact same amount of money he has sent to Horatio before going to sleep. Grin never fading he opens his paypal and sends the same amount back. The original payment included a tag saying “to the cutest boy alive.” This time he adds a note saying “to the love of my life” and heads for breakfast afterwards.
Subject: You have received a payment
Horatio has sent you 2000 krones.
“No thank you. I don’t need your money.”
Two hours later another email appears in his mailbox.
This one makes him laugh out loud. And it gives him an idea. He sends the money back, adding the note: “ransom for my stolen heart.”
Subject: You have received a payment
Horatio has sent you 2000 krones.
“You already have my love. Stop trying to buy it.”
From there it goes back and forth.
Subject: You have received a payment
Horatio has sent you 2000 krones.
“okay stop it now”
Payment: 2000 krones
Subject: “hush money to the only true witness of my love”
Subject: You have received a payment
Horatio has sent you 2000 krones.
“This will look really suspicious on your financial record.”
Payment: 2000 krones
Subject: “To the greatest of all charities – your love for me.”
Subject: You have received a payment
Horatio has sent you 2000 krones.
“Stop. Sending. Me. Money.”
Payment: 2000 krones
Subject: “my love for you is steady, it will never end”
Subject: You have received a payment
Horatio has sent you 2000 krones.
“I feel like I’m part of some criminal scheme. Stop it.”
Payment: 2000 krones
Subject: “Accept my love, accept my heart, accept my money.”
Subject: You have received a payment
Horatio has sent you 2000 krones.
“I do not accept your payment and I won’t no matter how long you keep bothering me.”
Payment: 2000 krones
Subject: “your love takes all burdens from me and washes my heart clean”
When Guildenstern video calls him half an hour later to ask what he’s been up to the past week, Hamlet is still lying on his sofa hysterically laughing. Guildenstern joins him in it when about ten minutes later paypal sends him another email, asking him safety questions about a worrying amount of transactions from his account in one day.
Subject: You have received a payment
Horatio has sent you 2000 krones.
“I WILL NOT TAKE YOUR FILTHY LAUNDERED MONEY”
Hamlet is staring at the piece of paper in front of him frowning in concentration. The skype icon on his tablet is making the traditional call noise, the tablet is lying next to him on his desk. Hamlet flinches, forced out of his concentration when the person on the other end of the line finally picks up.
“Ham! Whaddup?“ Rosencrantz's voice is rough, his dark hair a mess. He must have slept in. Or is it the middle of the night and Hamlet has lost his sense of time again?
“Did I wake you?“ he asks, then checks the time on his phone. No, it's an absolutely sensible time to be up. Good.
“Nah,“ Rosencrantz replies. “Just having a lazy day. What're ye up to?“
The risk of being a terrible friend averted for now, Hamlet's focus shifts back to the piece of paper in front of him. “I need your help.“
Ros sits up in his bed, the angle of the camera shifting with him slightly. “Alright, go ahead. No wait! Guil said something about your Paypal account being barred - is it about that? Cause I'm afraid I can't help you with that.“
“No, that's - fine...“ Hamlet waves a hand at his tablet screen. “I'm doing this thing - trying to come up with romantic gestures for Horatio while he's self-isolating. Ophelia's made a list.“
“Oh yeah, that one. Guil's told me about that too, yes...“ His tone takes an accusing note.
Hamlet grits his teeth self-consciously and looks up, giving Rosencrantz a sheepish smile. “Yeah... sorry I didn't tell you myself. I know I haven’t called in a while, it's just... I've been busy with all this and stuff...“
Ros sighs. “Oh you know, it's fine! I could’ve called you as well, I guess, I just spend all my time online video chatting with Guildenstern and the time is limited enough with my parents needing my help... Well anyway, guess I’d be just as distracted if my boyfriend were locked into a room practically next door.“
“I keep telling myself that it’s only another week now, but it doesn’t really make it any better...“ Hamlet sighs.
Rosencrantz hums. “I imagine not... So anyway, what are you up to then? What point from the magical list is it?“
Hamlet clicks his tongue. “List – that’s my cue. And precisely the problem. You see, Ophelia told me to write a letter, but letter writing is so boring and I just couldn’t really stick with it - so, I have decided to make one of these things we will do together when the pandemic is over list things instead.“
“Sweet! I’ve seen some of those online. So it’s like things you'll do when we’re all back in Wittenberg and things are back to normal?“
“What’s the problem with it?“
Hamlet lets his pencil drop onto the table and buries his face in his hands. “Well,“ he muffles through them, “you see, I started off just writing down what came to mind and that was all well. But now the list is filled with 90% sexual stuff and nothing romantic at all because I can’t stop thinking about sex...“
Rosencrantz laughs so hard that he drops his phone and has to pick it back up. “I got this right, yeah?“ He wipes laughter tears from the corner of an eye. “You call me because you want to think about something other than sex? Why would you call me for that??“
Hamlet peeks through his fingers and shoots Ros a glare. “As I just said, my mind is focused on sex - and so I couldn’t think of anyone else to call.“
Ros snorts. “Right. Don’t let your boyfriend hear that. Or mine, on that matter.“
Hamlet groans. “Sexual frustration during lockdown sucks...“ He groans again, more loudly this time. “And now that I’ve said ‘sucks’ my mind wants to add a dozen more sexual things to that list. I really need help...“
“Evidently,“ Rosencrantz chuckles. “I have heard of your video chatting problem. Why don’t you just buy him a webcam for his laptop?“
Hamlet rolls his eyes. “Are you kidding? The last time I bought him a camera it lead to the big ban on buying electronic devices for one another.“
“Right, I remember... He didn't talk to you for three days! ...Gosh, I thought working class pride was outdated.“
“He said it's about me feeling entitled to make choices for him, too...“ Hamlet shrugs. “We're ones to talk though, right? It's 2020 - I don't even think anyone really says ‘working class’ anymore. At least not here!“
Rosencrantz shrugs. “Yeah, probably not. Whatever man, let’s see what we can do for this list of yours.”
“Yes!” Hamlet picks his pencil back up. “Thank you!”
“It’s a pleasure.” Ros thinks for a moment. “So what are like places you like to go together in Wittenberg?”
Hamlet considers that. “There is this little hidden alcove in town where we once went during carnival and—“
Ros interrupts him. “Yes, I know that story! Jeeze, Hamlet, you really do need help! Why don’t you try coming up with places that are not somehow linked to sexual endeavours?”
“I’m trying, but I can’t!” Hamlet whines.
Rosencrantz sighs and mumbles something that sounds suspiciously much like ‘needy idiot’. But before Hamlet can ask, he is interrupted again. “Isn’t there this one café that you two usually go to on Saturday mornings?”
Hamlet’s face lights up. “Oh yeah! That’s sweet!” He puts it down on the list. “Gosh, I hope they don’t have to close down due to the crisis.”
“Fingers crossed,” Ros agrees. “Anyway, that’s something non-sexual – was that so hard?”
Hamlet raises an eyebrow at him.
“I swear to God, Ham, if you make a sex joke with the word ‘hard’ now I will end this call.”
Hamlet has to laugh. “Okay, okay, I’m trying! That’s a wonderful point. Any more ideas?”
“Don’t you guys have this tradition that the day after you’ve both finished all your exams you go and see some sight that you haven’t seen yet in the city? There must be some stuff left on that list, right?”
“Oh yeah!” Hamlet smiles. “We’re going to the old printing house next.” He dutifully adds it to the list. “And when one of us is really nervous before an exam, the other gets him a coffee and some of the really good bread from the bakery in the old town square!”
“See! Now we’re talking!” Rosencrantz props a pillow up against the wall behind him and settles in more comfortably. “Horatio will love this list. Tell me more about your little romantic things. Have you ever been to the Christmas market together?”
They talk and talk and Hamlet’s pen hardly leaves the page anymore. Later they go through the work of picking out the points that make it on the final list. They argue a little about which points are most romantic and when Hamlet reads out all the sexual points he put on the list earlier, Ros won’t stop laughing first and then asks him to read them out again more slowly so that he can take notes for himself and Guildenstern.
It is late afternoon when he finally passes the list on to a servant for it to be passed on to Horatio. Horatio’s reaction, then, only reaches him in the evening.
He picks up the phone with the third ringing, unusually late for him, but he had been busy writing a note to Bernardo because he has had an idea...
“Whaddup?” he says into his phone, not having checked who’s calling.
“I love you and I miss you terribly and you’re an amazing boyfriend and I don’t deserve you,” is Horatio’s immediate response from the other end.
Hamlet drops everything else he’s doing. A smile breaks out across his face. “You liked the list?”
“It’s the sweetest thing. Thank you.” There is a sniffing sound from the end of the line. Hamlet starts.
“Woah, hey, are you crying?” Hamlet asks. “Did I do something so romantic that it made you cry?”
Horatio lets out a shaky laugh. “Shut up!” His voice picks up Hamlet’s teasing tone. “Was this another one of Ophelia’s ideas?”
“No, all mine this time,” Hamlet hums, self-satisfied. “Rosencrantz admittedly helped a little though.”
Horatio lets out a soft breath. “You’re making me feel a little bad with sending me stuff and making the effort, involving your friends in the work – while I can’t send you anything.”
“I know, they won’t let you because you might have the virus and all,” Hamlet sighs dramatically. “For now you’ll just have to accept to be showered with my love.”
Horatio chuckles. “I’ll definitely make it up to you once I get out of here. On that note—“ there is the rustling sound of paper being rearranged in the background, “I got sort of curious about number eleven on your list... I’ve never heard of it. I think you’re gonna have to tell me about it...”
Hamlet giddily laughs, then lowers his voice. “Oh I think I’ll better show you actually.”
Another shaky breath from the other end of the line. Then a moment of silence. Finally, a sigh. “Only another week,” Horatio says, sounding wistful now.
“Only another week,” Hamlet quietly agrees.
“So... What exactly gave you this idea?” Bernardo is leaning against the kitchen counter, arms crossed over his chest, giving Hamlet a more than sceptical look.
“Well,” Hamlet responds, fiddling with a pan lying on the table awkwardly for a moment before letting it go and clearing his throat. “So I was making this list yesterday - things I want to do with him when the pandemic is over and we're back in Wittenberg. And through that I only sorta realised that he can't send me stuff, but of course I can send stuff to him! And then one of the points on the list was breakfast in bed and I thought - why not send him breakfast?”
Bernardo’s eyebrows impossibly raise a little more. “Yeah. Sure. I got all that. My question's more like: What made you think that you cooking would be a good idea?”
Hamlet shrugs. “He’s usually rather the one to make breakfast, but you know... I thought I might as well learn something for life and be able to make breakfast sometimes in the future.”
Bernardo sighs. “Right. Isn’t this just gonna be fun...”
“Hey!” Hamlet pouts. “It can’t be that difficult to make an omelette!”
Bernardo stalks over to the fridge and gets out a few things. “Hamlet,” he says, back turned to the same. “Last time you were down here I had to learn the hard way that you don’t even know how to make a hot chocolate.”
“Well they say milk isn’t that good for you anyway, right?” Hamlet mumbles to himself.
Bernardo scoffs. “Cooking takes a good deal of patience and a spark of intuition – you have no patience whatsoever and let yourself be carried away by way too much of what is your version of intuition. I’ll readily try teaching you again, but don’t complain if it doesn’t turn out the way you imagined it would.”
“We can always just try making something until it’s good enough to send it up to Horatio, right?” Hamlet sheepishly asks.
“Do I look like I will waist food on your attempts at learning to make a simple breakfast?”
Hamlet frowns, but his mood brightens immediately again when he sees Bernardo gathering the ingredients on the table. “Do I get to fry some eggs?” he excitedly asks.
“You,” Bernardo pointedly says, “get to cut some vegetables – and I’ll be watching you very closely with that knife. For now I’m not letting you anywhere near the stove, let alone a frying pan.”
Half an hour later the kitchen is a mess. Once or twice one of the servants entered the kitchen to get themselves a coffee, but they immediately stopped dead in their tracks when they saw Hamlet, gave Bernardo a pitiful look and cautiously backed off, leaving the room. Hamlet feels a little insulted, but he can’t really complain by now...
“So you also burn toast?” Bernardo says sourly. He is carefully clearing out the burned rests of bread from the toaster. “I would ask you whether there is anything else in this kitchen you’d like to burn, but I’m not sure there’s anything left!”
Hamlet grits his teeth and says nothing. Bernardo sighs and puts the burned omelette aside.
“I know I said I wouldn’t waste food on you, but this definitely isn’t edible and unless you want that boyfriend of yours to starve, we better make something else.” He looks at Hamlet and sighs. “Can I trust you with the coffee machine? You know his coffee order, right?”
Hamlet nods. Bernardo seems satisfied with that and turns to one of the cupboards, pulling a bowl out of it. Hamlet hesitantly watches him over one shoulder while turning to the coffee machine. “And what will we make for him?”
Bernardo glares at him. “Let that be my worry for now.”
When Hamlet has finished Horatio’s coffee order – Moccha Latte, no sugar, perfectly made because Hamlet had to win a bet against Rosencrantz once whether he could get everyone’s coffee order perfectly and befriended a young female barista in Wittenberg who taught him well and so the only thing he truly knows his way around in a kitchen is a complex coffee machine – he turns back around to Bernardo and finds him whisking a liquid dough. He has also put two pans out on the two different stoves and when he sees Hamlet watching suspiciously, he puts the bowl down in the middle between the stoves and waves him over.
“Pancakes are a principally simple matter,” he says seriously. “Try not to burn them so I don’t have to come over there and break the six feet rule. Just do exactly what I do! And I’ll be watching every one of your steps.” He puts two scoops into the bowl. “Oh and don’t you get boisterous and start doing the throwing stuff to flip them – use a spatula like a humble beginner.”
They set two work and Hamlet watches carefully and learns. He still burns his first few attempts a little, but Bernardo is stern and patient and when the dough is all used up they have a stack of pancakes at least a third of which are Hamlet’s work. Afterwards, Bernardo shoos him through a step by step recipe to make blueberry sauce, yelling at him from across the room every time Hamlet gets dangerously close to making a mistake. In the end, they have made a decent portion of blueberry pancakes. Hamlet wants to help cleaning up, but Bernardo fears he will set something on fire attempting to clean and he ushers him out of the room assuring him that the food will be sent up to Horatio and yelling after him to not come back for at least a month so that the kitchen can recover from the chaos he’s caused.
Horatio [2.39]: I can’t believe you sent me breakfast. I feel strangely courted.
Hamlet [2.42]: You are. <3
Horatio [2.43]: Does that mean you will be making breakfast more often from now on?
[2.43]: Because if that’s the case I think I’ll have to buy some fireproof equipment for the kitchen.
Hamlet [2.44]: LOL that sounds almost like you’re asking me to move in with you.
[2.44]: I think I’ll leave the cooking to the people who are more apt to it though.
Horatio [2.46]: Maybe we should move in together.
[2.46]: You know, it would make us one household and we wouldn’t be forced apart if something like this ever happens again.
Hamlet [2.48]: Woah hold on wait are you actually asking me to move in with you??? OMG!!!
Hamlet [2.49]: OMG Horatio just asked me to MOVE IN WITH HIM!
Ophelia [2.51]: Oh wow, and here I always thought he would definitely break up with you one day.
[2.51]: Just kidding man.
[2.52]: But now that it’s clear he won’t leave you – and you obviously won’t leave him I mean you do realise he could be off way better than with you, you’ll never get a better deal – I hope you’re aware that I will kill you if you don’t make me best woman at your wedding
Hamlet [2.53]: Hahah. Very funny.
[2.53]: And of course you’ll be best woman. That’s been set for years.
The Three Musketeers
Hamlet [2.50]: HORATIO ASKED ME TO MOVE IN WITH HIM
Guildenstern [2.55]: Congrats man
[2.55] @Rosencrantz you owe me twenty krones
Hamlet [2.56]: What did you bet on?
Guildenstern [2.56]: Who’d ask who first
[2.57]: Good thing you already have the opportunity to get used to living together now
Rosencrantz [2.58]: @Guildenstern shut up
[2.58]: @Hamlet Did you say yes?
Hamlet [2.58]: Oh shit I totally forgot!
Horatio [2.49]: I mean it just seems like the sensible thing to do.
[2.50]: Is that a yes?
[2.53]: Did I say something wrong?
[2.55]: Oh my God should I not have asked??
Hamlet [2.58]: Sorry sorry sorry I got carried away with excitement
[2.59]: Definite YES. I LOVE YOU.
Horatio [2.59]: Oh thank God I was afraid I had scared you off or something
Hamlet [3.00]: You could never.
[3.00]: If anything I always thought I’d be the one to scare you off one day
[3.00]: But if my self-made breakfast can’t scare you off I guess nothing else can either
Horatio [3.01]: Definitely not.
[3.01]: I would ask you to in the future leave the breakfast making to me though
[3.02]: Also because your breakfast got to me around lunch time and I don’t want to starve to death in our future shared flat.
Hamlet [3.02]: The word ‘future’ has never sounded so sweet
Horatio [3.02]: #relatablequotes2020
Hamlet [3.03]: You’ll get to make all the breakfasts you want. All the meals.
Horatio [3.03]: Oh wow thanks...
Hamlet [3.04]: Okay yeah that came out wrong...
Horatio [3.04]: Hmyeah.
[3.05]: You’re cute when you get excited though.
Hamlet [3.05]: I will totally make plans for our future shared flat all day now!
Horatio [3.06]: What have I kicked off...?
[3.08]: I love you too.
“This is weird. Even for you. Isn't this weird?“ Marcellus is eyeing him suspiciously. The solid wooden door between them is opened yet again and they are keeping their distance.
“I at least understood the wet flowers. I didn't complain about four separate amazon deliveries. I even went with the lousy late breakfast. But this...?“
“It's quite simple, actually.“ Hamlet explains. “I have been lying awake the entire past night missing Horatio. And so I thought - what do I usually do when I'm back in Wittenberg and he cannot stay the night or I can't or one of us is somewhere else for a couple of days and I miss him?“
Marcellus doesn't seem convinced. “And?“
Hamlet rolls his eyes. “And I usually put on one of his jackets or something else that he has left behind. Because it feels sort of domestic to wear his clothes and also they smell of him and that comforts me.“
Marcellus blinks, then shrugs questioningly.
“And,“ Hamlet continues slowly as though speaking with a child. “As I cannot get one of his jackets now because his things are to stay in his room for health and safety reasons, I thought - he might be feeling the same way. Why don't I have him brought something of mine so he can at least have the comfort of it?“
He holds out his hoodie, loosely folded in his arms. Marcellus frowns at it.
“Have you been wearing that thing?“
“Only for a few hours.“
Marcellus sighs. “Well alright then. Not my type of romantic gesture, but who am I to judge, right?“
“Damn right,“ Hamlet agrees and carefully throws the hoodie over to Marcellus so that it lands softly in his outstretched hands without getting disarrayed too much.
The way Marcellus had stared at him in confusion had made Hamlet doubtful of the romantic quality of his idea, but half an hour later he receives a message that reassures him.
He imagines Horatio holding the fabric tenderly, then burying his nose in it and taking a deep breath like Hamlet had once caught him doing. He also imagines Horatio then putting the hoodie on and wearing it for the rest of the day, the piece of clothing a little too big and adorably loose on him. He smiles. God, he misses his boyfriend.
Horatio [9.45]: THANK YOU.
She sends him a link. Hamlet clicks on it and begins to read.
Hamlet [10.02]: He loved it. I officially don't need you anymore, I have my own great romantic ideas now :P
Ophelia [10.03]: I'll remind you when you come knocking on my door begging for help next time ;)
[10.04]: I found something for you though
Hamlet [10.10]: Do you think this would work?
[10.10]: I mean you know we can't see each other, right?
Ophelia [10.11]: I got it from a friend from college and they said they couldn't see their girlfriend either but it was really nice apparently
Hamlet [10.12]: Ok sure, it's an interesting experiment
[10.12]: I've had another idea myself that I think you'll like and I could use your help with it
Ophelia [10.13]: Tell me everything
Horatio’s adorably nervous laughter makes Hamlet giddy even just over the phone. “Is this weird? I do feel a little weird now. Remind me why we’re doing this?”
Hamlet has to laugh. He’s holding up his phone in front of him, scrolling through an open webpage. He’s standing in the middle of his room, all furniture moved to the sides a little. “You said you’d learn your dance steps for the Early Summer’s Ball with me, remember?”
“If I remember correctly, the Early Summer’s Ball was cancelled because of the coronavirus,” Horatio objects, but it is a soft, good-natured objection. Hamlet can hear he’s having fun.
“Yes, but you said you’d let me teach you the steps. There will most probably be an Early Summer’s Ball next year.”
“So I technically still have lots of time to learn the steps – for example when we can actually see each other.”
“Yes, but the earlier we start, the more perfect the outcome will be, don’t you think?”
Horatio laughs. “This is the strangest idea Ophelia has had yet! What is this website supposed to do?”
“Apparently it links our phones and keeps a record of how synchronised our moves are to the dance and to each other. It’s not exactly a VR experience, but Ophelia says she has a friend who says it works.”
“Oh yes, the reliable friend of the friend of my boyfriend who recommends this to me...” Horatio chuckles. “So what are you gonna teach me? I hear tango’s supposed to be the dance of love?”
Hamlet laughs. “Maybe something a little less complex for the start. Tango’s a lot of passion, lots of touching – I’ll teach you plenty of that a few days from now if you want me to.”
“Can’t wait,” Horatio earnestly replies. Gosh, Hamlet is so giddy, he feels like laughter will bubble up from his chest any moment, and it does in fact keep happening.
“I was thinking slow waltz. A lot less touching.”
“That’s a shame,” Horatio breathes-
“Indeed,” Hamlet agrees. “But more accurate. And I have taught you the principal steps before.”
“Ah yes.” Horatio snorts. “You won’t be surprised to hear that I remember the occasion, but not the steps.”
“There seemed to be more memorable things happening that night,” Hamlet agrees with a chuckle. Oh yes, truly a memorable occasion.
“I suppose this time you’ll actually teach me the slow waltz then? It’s not just a strategy to seduce me?” Horatio teases.
“Horatio, dear,” Hamlet purrs. “Everything I do just is a strategy to seduce you. Seduce you into spending your life with me.”
Horatio lets out a breathy laugh that is a little cut off by the phone connection. “You have to stop saying things that make me weak in the knee if you want me to dance with you.”
Hamlet laughs. “Never.” But then their phone’s connection via the internet page is finally complete and he chooses a dance. “So,” he says, “here’s a first choice. I will gladly teach you both the male and the female part. The woman steps are usually a little more complicated, it’s the case with most dances, mostly because the woman goes backwards more and things get complicated here and then. The man steps are a little simpler, but it is of course nice to have someone else take the lead when you start learning.”
“It must be possible to dance the woman steps and lead though, right?” Horatio asks.
“Oh yes very possible,” Hamlet agrees. “Ophelia has told me all the tricks, too. But it’s not what you’re supposed to do and we want to teach you proper dancing so that you can, and I quote you, ‘impress the king and queen into being convinced of thee as a worthy paramour to their son.’”
Horatio laughs out loud. “I’m sure I never said that!”
“Oh you did! After a glass too much of the best champagne, but Ros and Guil are my witnesses!”
“Oh my God, please never tell anyone I said that.”
“Why?” Hamlet innocently asks. “My parents thought it was really funny.”
He can hear Horatio gasp for breath and again can’t suppress his laughter. “I’m just joking! Of course I didn’t tell them.”
“Well thank God,” Horatio sighs. “I think I couldn’t learn to dance well enough with all the time in the world to make up for such an impression of me.”
Hamlet chuckles. “Oh I think you could. I’ve got a feeling you are a naturally talented dancer.”
“Oh yes?” Horatio’s raised eyebrow is practically audible. “Is that why your first attempt at teaching me the slow waltz was over so quickly?”
Hamlet hums. “You were so good that I couldn’t resist from taking you to my bed any longer. So good indeed that it became the first of many times.”
He can hear Horatio take a deep breath on the other end and is sure that he is blushing right now. If only he were there to see it...
“Alright. Man steps first then, please,” Horatio finally says.
Half an hour later Hamlet is gliding across the room easily, phone held up steadily in front of him, eyes half closed to the music. This is sort of nice. He can track Horatio’s movements in regard to his on his phone and if he keeps his eyes half shut he can nearly imagine having him around him, holding each other and dancing across the floor. Horatio has picked up the steps quite quickly and is going rather smoothly about it really – as far as he can tell, anyway. He’ll have to take a look at stance and actual footwork once they get to see each other again.
“See?” he says quietly. “I told you you’d do great.”
There is a soft hum from the other end of the line. “I’ve got to admit, I’m actually impressed with how well this is working out. But perhaps I only say that because this way you can’t constantly annoy me with corrections to my stance or footwork.”
Hamlet grins. “Hey, Horatio. Can you believe it? We’re virtually dancing together!”
Horatio laughs. “Oh shut up and stop leading already, I wanna give it a try!”
He texts Horatio in the morning of his last day on self-isolation.
By 5.30p.m. he gets a skype call. He picks up immediately.
Hamlet [9.03]: How is your work coming along?
Horatio [9.10]: I’m very nearly done.
Hamlet [9.11]: Good. Make sure to be done by 6p.m. latest and that you are free for the evening.
Horatio [9.12]: Why? Should I be worried?
Hamlet [9.12]: No. I’ve just got a surprise for you.
Horatio [9.13]: Ok but you know we can only see each other tomorrow right?
Hamlet [9.13]: Yes. I’ve got different plans.
[9.13]: Trust me, you’ll love it.
[9.14]: Just make sure you’re free from about 6p.m.
Horatio [9.14]: Ok sure, can’t wait to see what you have planned xx
“Agatha! It’s so good to see your face!”
The elderly woman with thin grey hair appearing on his screen smiles a broad smile. “It’s equally good to see you, prince Hamlet!”
“Please,” Hamlet wrinkles his nose. “Just Hamlet.”
Agatha laughs. “Of course, young friend. You will be very happy to hear that everything is prepared and in order and we’ll be ready to go in another hour or so.”
“That’s wonderful!” Hamlet beams. “The life stream is prepared as well? Wouldn’t want everything to be perfect and then for nothing because of technical problems.”
Agatha throws a glance over her shoulder. “We’d hire someone for it to make sure usually, but with how things are... August, our youngest, is taking care of it. He says he vouches for it and that everything will be fine.”
“August is a good boy, I’m sure he’ll deliver,” Hamlet says at Agatha’s sceptical look.
“I’m sure,” she agrees with a sigh. “I’m a bit too old for all the online stuff myself, but I’m glad we’ve found a way to perform for you nevertheless. You’re lucky that we have recently played The Importance Of Being Earnest and that all actors involved are part of the crew and nobody has to self-isolate from the rest though, I must say.”
“Lucky indeed! I’m so glad it works out!” Hamlet agrees excitedly. “It’s Horatio’s favourite play! And he’ll love your performance of it! I have seen it myself last year, remember?”
Agatha smiles. “Of course. We always fondly remember our visits in Helsingør. They are the highlight of our season – especially because a certain young prince is always so excited to invite us to dine at court.”
“I’ll invite you twice next year to make up for not being able to this year!”
“Your generous donation to our travelling group was more than enough to make up for it. It’s hard to come by these days, but we’ll pull through.” Agatha assures him.
“It was the least I could do,” Hamlet sighs. “Artists don’t get enough support as it is, and your players have always been so dear to me. It would be a grave loss if you had to break up because of this crisis!”
“Young friend, we will never break up,” Agatha laughs. “Theatre and travelling are our life. But it is good to have friends who support us. Your young man will be ready in an hour then?”
“Yes, I’ve made sure of it.” Hamlet rubs his hands together excitedly. “Did everything work out well with the short bit I wrote?”
“The monologue about distance and love?” Agatha smiles. “I must say it is a beautiful piece of work. Tony is looking forward to performing it very much. It may well be the sweetest and happiest bit you have ever written for one of our shows. Your contributions have otherwise often been... rather gloomy, I dare say.”
Hamlet laughs. “Yes, Horatio has turned my life around! You wouldn’t believe it. He has brought happiness to a man who thought all attempts at it were in vain.”
“Yes, I took that from the monologue already...” Agatha smiles a motherly smile at him. “And I have noticed before. I think, sometimes, the entire Danish nation must have. We are all very glad to see you so happy, Hamlet.”
Hamlet’s throat feels a little tight suddenly and he has to fight some tears. Agatha and her players have always been like a second family to him. His way to escape from court when his life seemed to suffocate him. Before he went to Wittenberg, they were the closest thing to freedom and unconditional love he knew. “Yes,” he says, a little hoarsely. “You know, I want to give some of that happiness back to Horatio because – well, he makes me so happy, you know? And I just... Well that’s why I had the idea with the play...”
“It’s a beautiful idea. I’m sure he’ll love it.” Agatha has always known how to reassure him. “Well young friend, if that’s it for now we’ve got a few final preparations to make.”
“Yes,” Hamlet agrees. “Oh wait! Make sure to also set up the link for the stream with Ophelia. She said she wanted to see it too.”
Ophelia texts him a life review all through it and Hamlet is still catching up with her remarks on the last half hour during which he hadn't been able to tear his eyes away from the tablet screen when Horatio calls him.
“That was wonderful.“ Horatio's voice is small the way it is whenever he is in awe or some other great emotion overwhelms him.
“I'm glad you liked it,“ Hamlet whispers back.
“I loved it. Liked is the understatement of the year.“
“And that says something,“ Hamlet chuckles, but Horatio only briefly joins him.
“I still can't really believe you did this for me. This was the sweetest thing anyone has ever made the effort of organising for me, I think.“ Horatio sounds very moved and Hamlet smiles so brightly he fears that his face will hurt from it.
“It was the closest I could get to getting the stars down from the heavens for you.“ He manages to say it with some nonchalance, but it is probably still audible how genuine he is.
Horatio lets out a breathy laugh. “It was so much better than that really. Your monologue was a masterpiece, Hamlet.“
Hamlet can't help it, his heart misses a beat. He put a lot of work into that monologue, has for a long time and he hadn't been sure how to deliver it to Horatio, had been waiting for the right moment - it seemed like this was it. He hopes that was the right decision. “You noticed it then?“ he asks lightly. It is a pretty obvious attempt at hiding his nervousness. Horatio practically knows The Importance Of Being Earnest by heart, of course he would have noticed.
Horatio sighs. “I did. And I must say... You did something so romantic that it made me cry.“
“Really?“ Hamlet's voice is half an octave higher than intended, but he can't fight it.
Hamlet sighs in something like contentment. They both whisper their declarations of love and for a moment there is something like peaceful silence between them that feels real even over the phone.
“I hear you've tested negative,“ Hamlet eventually conversationally throws in. But his voice is still somewhat small and so is Horatio's when he answers.
“Yeah. I was happy to hear it too. Means I finally get to see the love of my life again tomorrow.“
Hamlet's breath hitches in his throat. “What a coincidence,“ it comes out a little throaty. “So do I.“
A New Day
Hamlet is bouncing from his heels to the tips of his toes and back. Forth...and back. His restlessness is visibly unsettling the guard standing by the solid wooden door that Hamlet is making an effort to stare down, but he couldn’t give less of a damn. The entire morning he has been feeling strained, like he is walking in clothes a size too small for him on desert sand in the afternoon sun while something like madness is after him. He has had a very hasty breakfast and then has taken a nervous shower, constantly switching the temperature between ice cold and burning hot. Then for an entire half hour he couldn’t decide what clothes to wear. And then he wanted to kill time by playing online chess with Ophelia, but she was only just waking up, still half asleep and scolding him for waking her at this time. Ten o’ clock? Why on earth did his parents say ten o’ clock? He has no bloody clue and they haven’t exactly tried to reasonably explain it – not that he is going to go through the misery of asking. It was difficult enough to convince his mother to let Horatio come to Kronborg as it is. Hamlet has been trying to avoid her since so that she doesn’t change her mind at something he says... He doesn’t exactly understand his mother – and she doesn’t exactly understand him. But she tries harder than his father does and he tries back in return, it’s a sort of deal they have and it works well enough. Gertrude cares about the mental health of her son. She doesn’t understand exactly, but she cares. And Hamlet cares about royal duty, the royal duty that his mother is trying her best to fulfil and he sees and respects that and does what he can to support her. This way they have come to an understanding about Horatio coming to Elsinore – Hamlet had made it very clear that he would go insane without him by his side and Gertrude had eventually agreed under the premise that Hamlet accept all rules she would set for Horatio’s arrival. He did, and oh, nobody can say that he hasn’t tried his best, he really has. But it has been two weeks by now and if that solid wooden door doesn’t open sometime soon he will very much just kick it down, that’s for sure.
There is a soft knock on the door from the other side and Hamlet freezes mid-bounce. The guard at the door frowns at him, but moves to open the door just a crack. Hamlet remains in place where he is, but strains his neck to glance through the narrow gap – to no avail, it is just Marcellus peaking through. He shoots Hamlet a grin.
“Ready for the big reunion just as you are – just let us move out of the way so that you don’t knock one of us out with the force of it, yeah?” The other guard laughs and Hamlet shoots daggers with his eyes because if Marcellus is just keeping him waiting for the fun of it...
But then the clock chimes ten and Marcellus takes his fellow guard by an arm and pulls him away down the corridor, giving the door a light push as they leave so that it slowly falls open.
The rapidly increasing gap reveals the view on the corridor on the other end and on the figure of Horatio, standing with his hands in his pockets, biting his lips, looking terribly sheepish. He is obviously a little uncomfortable with all the attention of the “big reunion” thing, but he looks wonderfully adorable with it and also there is a glint of excitement in his eyes and a slight flush to his features – and he is beautiful. Hamlet can barely stop himself from screeching like a lovesick teenage girl – quite an accurate characterisation, some part of his mind supplies, but it doesn’t really matter – he is already moving even if not yet aware and Horatio is too and before either of them knows it they are flinging themselves at each other.
The force of their impact makes them swirl around twice and Hamlet’s breath hitches in his throat when they stumble and he has to scramble for them not to fall. They are both laughing and clinging onto another. Their laughter subsides when they find their balance and they wrap their arms more firmly around each other. Horatio’s face is buried in Hamlet’s shoulder and Hamlet has wrapped one arm around his waist, the other around his shoulders, his hand stroking through Horatio’s hair. He buries his own face in the nape of Horatio’s neck and takes a deep breath. Horatio’s fingers claw into his shirt and a sound not unlike a sob escapes the man. Hamlet can feel him shaking slightly in his arms and he impossibly pulls him even closer and strokes his hair and back and hums into his shoulder, ghosting his lips over the back of his neck. Horatio’s trembling turns into more of a shiver and he releases a shaky sigh that is muffled by Hamlet’s shoulder. Hamlet can feel the frame of Horatio’s glasses dig into his flesh uncomfortably, but even that doesn’t really matter now. He finds himself very unwilling to ever let go of Horatio again, but in stroking Horatio’s back he discovers something curious.
He moves back, only the slightest bit, just enough to murmur into Horatio’s ear. “Are you wearing your best shirt?”
Horatio’s hums something into his shoulder and Hamlet chuckles, but then Horatio raises his head and takes a steadying breath. “I was under the impression I might meet your parents because they might want to welcome me...”
There is the hint of a question and Hamlet smiles. “Oh yeah, great news: I convinced them to give the entire day to us so you will only have to see them tomorrow.”
Horatio apparently can’t keep his hands off Hamlet because they are roaming over his back, moving up and down his sides, clenching into his clothes at some points and letting go again and Horatio seems a little... distracted. He hums in contemplation and buries his face in Hamlet’s neck. “You could have mentioned that,” he mumbles. “Could have saved my best shirt for the occasion.”
Hamlet laughs softy. “They will be happy enough with your second best shirt!” One of his hands is still tangled in Horatio’s hair while the other is holding him by a hip, now sneaking a finger through one of Horatio’s belt loops... “In the meantime,” he whispers into Horatio’s ear, “I am more than happy to ruin your best shirt for you.”
Horatio’s whine is muffled against Hamlet’s neck and it makes him breathless, but then Horatio’s face comes up again and before he knows it their foreheads are pressed together. Horatio’s eyes are half-closed and Hamlet has to blink rapidly to adjust his view in such close proximity. “I really want to kiss you right now,” Horatio quietly says – and that is... – “But if I start kissing you now I most definitely won’t stop and maybe this isn’t the place...”
Hamlet bites his lips and looks around. He knows what he means. If he starts kissing Horatio now he isn’t even sure they’ll make it to either of their rooms and in the corridor... that’s a little tasteless at best and rather rude to the personnel as well...
“Right,” he breathes and takes Horatio’s hand into his. “Yours or mine then?”
Horatio laughs – and it’s so good to finally actually hear him laugh in person again! “Yours if you don’t mind,” he says. “I can’t stand the sight of my room anymore.”
A few minutes later Hamlet closes his bedroom door behind them and catches back up to Horatio. He doesn’t immediately kiss him though. Instead, he pulls him into another hug. Horatio’s relaxes against him and Hamlet holds him tight and they just stand like that feeling close and safe for long minutes.
When they finally move apart it happens following a mutual impulse and they never stop touching even as their take a half-step back both to look at each other, two of their hands loosely intertwined by their side. They share their most genuine smiles and Hamlet carefully reaches out to run a thumb over Horatio’s cheek. Horatio’s eyes flutter closed and he ever so softly leans into the touch with a sigh. Hamlet grazes his finger by the edge of Horatio’s glasses and softly underneath them by the corner of an eye. Horatio’s eyes are lightly red-rimmed and now that he pays closer attention the man looks tired.
“Hey are you okay?” Hamlet asks softly. “I didn’t make you cry all night with how romantic I was, did I?” The joke comes easily, but Hamlet sounds serious and he is. Horatio gives a small smile and squeezes his hand lightly.
“I’m fine,” he blinks at his boyfriend. “I just really missed you. And I wasn’t exactly dealing well with it at times.”
Hamlet looks at him and thinks about Horatio missing him from Wittenberg, Horatio travelling all the way from Germany up to Denmark to finally see him again, Horatio spending hours worried and missing him, not knowing when they would see each other again, Horatio spending the past weeks crying more often than he would let on...
Hamlet pulls him closer again, puts a hand at the back of his neck and leans forward so that their foreheads are touching again. “You seemed to be dealing so well with it,” is all he knows to say for a moment. “With being busy and all.”
“I was,” Horatio agrees lightly. “I... was keeping busy. Distracting myself.”
“You should have told me,” Hamlet scolds. But there is no heart in it, just the loving invitation to share next time.
“I should have,” Horatio lets out a huff of breath. “And I really was busy. I just didn’t want to worry you. I was afraid you would break the rules and fight yourself through to me before two weeks were over if I told you that I’m lonely.”
Hamlet laughs and Horatio grins and they hug tightly for another moment. “I’m fine now,” Horatio whispers and Hamlet nods. “You’re here now.”
They smile at each other again. And then they kiss. It is the softest, sweetest thing and it reminds Hamlet of falling in love with Horatio. It is like fleeting on butterflies with a sparkler flaring in your body right where you would otherwise breathe and the sea breeze in your back pushing you forward. Come to think of it, falling in love with Horatio has always been like the perfect kiss. Sweet and raw and real and fulfilling, and also a promise of so much more, like the warmth of a fire. Not a spark of it, not the flames – just the warmth that is inherent to every fire. The warmth that promises all else that a fire can be, but also holds its original beauty. The warmth that is for forever. Horatio’s kiss tastes of cherries and sandalwood on a summer evening when the sun has just gone down and the best part of the day only just starts. It is chaste, but deep and it lasts.
Horatio is smiling up at him when they move apart and he pushes his glasses back up his nose with the fingers of his left hand while scrunching up his nose in the effort to adjust his eyes – it is the sweetest thing Hamlet knows and he is melting like every time he sees it. He knows that the smile on his face must be an utterly silly one. Dumb love – that’s also an accurate characterisation.
“So,” Horatio says conversationally, his fingers running over the hem of Hamlet’s shirt absent-mindedly. “You said we’ve got the entire day to ourselves...?”
Hamlet grins. “Yes. Why do you ask?”
“Oh, I was just thinking...” Horatio shrugs innocently. His eyes shift to Hamlet’s bed behind him and back to Hamlet’s lips. “You know that list of things that we will do in Wittenberg when the pandemic is over that you wrote and sent me?”
“Yeah, I was just thinking...” Now it is Horatio who has curled two fingers into one of Hamlet’s belt loops to pull him closer. “There are a few things on that list that we could already start on or try out here.”
“You think?” Hamlet laughs breathily. Horatio’s lips graze over a spot right underneath his left ear and it sends shivers down his spine.
“Yes, so we have more time for the rest of the list when we’re back in Wittenberg,” Horatio murmurs, leaving kisses down the side of Hamlet’s necks. He only speaks in the intervals when his lips leave Hamlet’s neck to move a little lower. “Only... seems... sensible... doesn’t it?”
Hamlet finds that he agrees and they are kissing again and Horatio is quite decidedly moving them over to Hamlet’s bed. They stumble and fall eventually, but they fall together and they land softly and they shift and rearrange until there is no space left between them and pouring from their lips are the softest declarations of love before they fall again, still together and always in synch.
It’s a new day. The state of the world is surely still terrifying and things are far from being alright again. But there is something to hold onto. And hold on Hamlet will.