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Romeo and Hamlet

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Chapter 1 :

At the party held by the Capulets ; Romeo, along with his friends Benvolio and Mercutio, had started to merge into the crowd of joyful people in bright colours, drinking and dancing. Hit by a masked stranger who had not seen him, Romeo looked around him, apologizing, and caught sight of a very peculiar gentleman. On the opposite side of the room, next to a great set of torches, stood a pale young man, alone, holding a glass of red wine, and looking at the people dancing and turning and jumping before him, though he seemed not to see them. He was all dressed in somber clothes, as if, having jumped into the wrong celebration, he was now the only mourning boy among a bunch of merrymakers. This vision struck young Romeo in the heart, amazed by the tragic beauty that sprang from the young man. Slightly dazed, he stopped a serving man who was trying to make his way through the guests, and asked him : “What gentleman is that which does stand alone there ?” The serving man looked rapidly in the indicated direction. “I know not, sir” he responded. Romeo made a step towards the pale young man. “Oh, he does teach the torches to burn bright ! Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear. Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night.”
Hearing those words, Tybalt recognized the voice of the young Montague. He and Capulet started arguing about his presence here, Capulet trying to soothe the violent temper of his nephew. But Romeo never heard them, for he was moving towards the young gentleman, walking as in a dream. When he had reached him, he took his free hand, and, looking into his pale blue eyes, said :
“If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle sin is this :
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.”

The young man looked at Romeo with an air of surprise, and giving him the most handsome smile : “Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much. And I am afraid I am not worthy of such devotion.” There was something genuinely sublime in his countenance, for he had the appearance and expression of the noblest soul, yet he seemed as sad as the winter’s sky. Romeo could see that he was splendidly broken, and his own heart clenched in his bosom. “You speak in the most princely manner, holy saint. Methinks you cannot be of this place, if only of this world ?” Romeo said. The stranger smiled again, slowly bending his head to hide that he was blushing. “Are you embarrassed, dear soul ?” Romeo asked when he noticed it. “Pray, pardon my coarse manners. I would willingly end my life before I make you feel ashamed.” Saying this, he slowly let go of the young man’s hand, still staring at his charming face. “Sir, I would only be ashamed if, by excess of prudishness, I made you regret such sweet confidences” the gentleman replied. He too was looking into Romeo’s eyes now, with such intensity that it left him speechless. He took back his hand, and continued with the same smooth voice : ”My name is Hamlet, and I am here as a student. I was sent in this noble house on the advice of my mother, who has some relation with the family.” But he was soon interrupted by a second serving man, who reported that Lady Capulet asked for his presence.

The two young men were quite brutally separated, and the next minute old Capulet was bidding farewell to the company. Benvolio appeared and grabbed Romeo’s arm, saying that it was time for them to leave. Mortified, Romeo had to go without any last glance to the pale young man, who –alas !– was bound to his ancestral enemies.

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Chapter 2 :

A couple hours later, young Hamlet was in his room, reading by the window. The moon was high in the skies and the night was clear and quiet after the departure of the last guests. Nonetheless, whenever the young prince tried to read a line of his heavy book, he found his mind constantly distracted by the memory of a certain gentleman, whose dark brilliant eyes still haunted him. At length, he decided to close his book, left his room and knocked gently at the door of Miss Juliet Capulet, whose bedroom was at the end of the corridor.
There was light under the door, and, soon, the young lady appeared in her night-dress. “Lord Hamlet ?” Juliet said when she saw him. “Please, come in !” “I do not want to disturb you in any way, Miss Juliet” Hamlet whispered. “There was just something I wish I could ask you, if you don’t mind me showing up at this time of night.” Juliet smiled brightly, and opened wide her door : “Please, Lord Hamlet, you are very welcome, and it is always a pleasure to answer your questions. Come in !” Hamlet entered the room, the window was open and there was a sweet smell of pine coming from the garden. Juliet closed the door behind him and sat on her bed, looking at the young man who stood, hesitating, in the candlelight. “What is it you wanted to know, Lord Hamlet ?” Juliet asked after a moment. “Well, my dear, this is quite difficult for me to ask, for I am afraid it is some…private matter that brings me here” Hamlet replied. “Private, my Lord ?” “By that I mean that I will not ask you about the art or history of this land, as I have done before. The truth is, I am preoccupied with a more common subject.” Juliet frowned, but she was still smiling. “Well,” she answered, “I believe that I am also – if not more – qualified to answer your lordship on the most common subjects. Feel free to ask me anything !” After another moment of hesitation, Hamlet finally asked : “Did you eventually notice a certain gentleman with whom I was speaking at the party ?” The young lady laid down her eyes for a moment, thinking. “Well, I believe I did. Was he not quite tall, with dark hair and eyes, rather good-looking ?” she asked. Hamlet turned his face towards the window, for he was blushing again. “Yes…I guess he was just like that” he responded. “Do you have any idea who he is ?” There was an air of profound interrogation on Juliet’s face, as she was trying to understand the purpose of such questions. “To be honest, my Lord, I believe the man you are referring to was the young Romeo Montague. I was quite surprised, in fact, to see him tonight, for I think you know by now that the Montagues have always been old enemies of this family. That is why I found it rather strange to see him and his friends in my father’s house” she explained.

Hamlet stood looking through the window, silent. Thus, the mysterious young man had a name, but one which was despised in this home he was so kindly welcomed. A deep feeling of despair invaded him as he felt the wind blowing into the room. Juliet got up, closed the window, and stood before him. She was not smiling anymore. “My Lord, why do you look so sad ?” “I am alright, thank you my dear child. I think I will leave you now, for I have benefited way too much of your patience. If I may just ask one last thing from you : stop calling me ‘my Lord’, please. I am no Lord here, and I only wish to be your friend” he added before taking Juliet’s hand and kissing her goodnight. “Very well, I shall do as you wish, sir” she answered, surprised. “Goodnight, lady” Hamlet said, and he left her alone.

When he got back in his room, he was unable to find any rest. His heart was heavy with sorrow as he thought of his forbidden affection for Romeo, of his wretched kingdom to which he should inevitably return sooner or later, of his incapacity to find his proper place anywhere. He closed his eyes, but could not sleep at all, for his mind was filled with the image of Romeo, the deep murmur of his voice and the feeling of his fingers around his hand.

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Chapter 3 :

The following day was quite morose for Hamlet, although he tried his best to be agreeable to his hosts. Miss Juliet observed him a lot, and was more and more worried about him, for it seemed obvious that her young friend was deeply unhappy. She decided that she should enquire after him later, for she did not want to make him feel uneasy before her parents.

When the night had fallen again over the Capulets’ villa, Hamlet retired into his apartments, and started writing a letter to his mother. He had opened the window to let the air come into the room, and, suddenly, he heard a strange noise coming from the gardens. It seemed like the singing of a bird, but a very peculiar one that he had never heard before. Intrigued, he got up and came to the window, looking outside in the night. The moon spread a soft clarity on the trees and the fountains and the flowers. Then, he perceived something moving behind the bushes. Observing attentively, he almost fainted when he saw someone emerging from between the trees, and that this person was Romeo. The young man smiled at Hamlet as he was advancing towards him. Once he was under his balcony, he stopped and looked at him with devouring eyes. “Goodnight, dear Hamlet. I am afraid we have not been properly introduced the other night. I am…” “Romeo !” Hamlet interrupted. “I know who you are ! What on earth are you doing here ? You should not be here” he added. “You are quite right, I should not be here. Yet, I am. Will you allow me to see you for a moment ?” Romeo asked. Hamlet looked behind him quickly, then looked at Romeo. “Sure” he said, “but how ?” “Give me a minute” Romeo replied. A few seconds later, he was climbing the young cypress beside the window of Hamlet’s room, and jumped on the balcony with the agility of a wildcat.

Hamlet was breathing fast as Romeo came closer and closer to him. “You should not be here” Hamlet repeated. “You are a Montague, aren’t you ? If they see you here…” “They will not see me” Romeo interrupted. “Are you worried about me ?” he asked maliciously. Hamlet did not answer, but he regularly checked that he didn’t hear somebody coming. Romeo was still smiling at him with a saucy air. Then, he made one more step towards Hamlet, and slowly caressed his left cheek with the back of his hand. “You must know that from the very first time that I saw you, I have adored you beyond reason” Romeo confessed. “I came here tonight with the hope that I shall see you anew, and tell you how I feel. But of course, if you want me to leave and never speak to you again, I shall always obey you, even if it must crush my heart.” Hamlet was paralyzed and remained silent, caught between some inexplicable fear and a burning desire. “No. I… I do not want you to leave. But you might be caught…” he finally managed to articulate. “I do not fear them,” Romeo answered. “I only fear your disdain, this is a far greater danger to me.” “Then you should have no fear at all,” Hamlet answered in a whisper. “For it is not disdain that I have for you, that you can be sure of.” Romeo smiled brightly, slowly fondling Hamlet’s blond hair. “You do me too much honour, but I could not be happier…” Then he kissed his lips with much ardour, pressing his strong body against Hamlet’s.

They were still in the middle of this passionate embrace when they heard some noise in the corridor, and the next moment somebody knocked at the door. “Who is it ?” asked Hamlet, pushing Romeo away from him. “It is only me, sir” Juliet’s voice answered behind the door. “Miss Juliet ! Will you give me a second ? I am coming…” Then they both ran to the balcony, and exchanged a last kiss before Romeo jumped over it. Once he was outside, he turned back towards Hamlet, who murmured : “Come back tomorrow night, same hour, be careful.” Romeo smiled again, and disappeared, swallowed by the darkness.

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Chapter 4 :

Hamlet closed the window hastily, and hurried to the door to let Juliet come in. She seemed worried and quite bemused as to what took Hamlet so long. “Were you occupied, sir ? If I have interrupted you in any way, maybe I shall come back later…” “You did not interrupt me, my dear” Hamlet answered. “Please sit down. I was just writing a letter to my mother, but I am afraid I have fallen asleep… Pardon me if I have kept you waiting too long.” Juliet frowned as she sat on the chair at Hamlet’s desk, while he sat on his bed. “Were you not speaking to someone ? I thought I heard voices when I arrived” she asked, staring doubtfully at him. “Voices ? There were no voices my lady, except for mine, maybe, if I was dreaming…” he stammered. Obviously, Juliet was not in the least convinced by this explanation. She glanced at the letter on the desk, then at the window. “Why did you close your window before opening the door ?” Hamlet frowned too, and was trying to think about some plausible excuse. “Well… I just got cold when I suddenly woke up, my lady. But you are right, it would have been more polite if I had let you in before clos-” “And how is it,” she interrupted, “if you fell asleep on your desk, that you managed to put your quill back into your inkwell ?”

Hamlet looked at the table, confused. The quill pen was indeed at its right place. Juliet was watching him as he was running out of excuses. “Now, Hamlet” she said with a smooth tone, “if I may, I am afraid you are not telling me the truth. In fact, I even believe that you have been hiding something from me for a certain time now. That is why I came to see you tonight, and you have only increased my interrogations.” He was looking at the floor while she was speaking, and his heart was beating fast. Indeed, he knew how perilous it would be for Romeo if the Capulets should be informed of their secret affection. Nevertheless, Juliet was his only true ally in this house, he thought, and the fear of not being able to keep this secret alone tortured him. “I can see that there is something you don’t tell me, Hamlet” she continued. “I am not your enemy, I hope you know that. You said that you only wished to be my friend, so do I. And do you know what friends do ?” Hamlet looked at her as she paused. “They share secrets. I am sure you would be amazed to see how good I am at keeping secrets” she added with a mischievous smile. Hamlet remained silent for a while, thinking.

“Well, you are quite right” he finally said. “I have not been completely honest with you, my sweet child, and I apologize. You should know that I would trust you with my life, for you are my most loyal friend in this country. In fact, probably my most loyal friend in the world” he added after considering his Danish companions. “The fact is, I have kept a secret from you, because it is not my life that is at stake here, and, to be honest with you, I was afraid.” Then he paused, and saw that she was looking at him, listening. Thus he told her the whole story, from his first encounter with Romeo, and he also narrated their brief meeting a few minutes ago. He spoke freely of his feelings for him and of his fears. How he wished that the two families were not enemies, how he wished that he could stay with him and never return to Denmark, how he wished that they could just disappear together. He told her how he would abjure everything for him : his family, his friends, his fiancée, his kingdom, his revenge. Everything. He told her that this one man had showed him more affection and respect and fondness within a few days, than any of the people he had known since he was a little child.
There were tears in his eyes as he spoke, and in Juliet’s eyes too. Finally, he stopped, for he could not speak anymore. Juliet kneeled down before him, took his right hand and kissed it. “I am glad that you shared this with me, my dear friend. I promise that I will not let you face this alone, and I shall never fail you nor reveal your secret” she proclaimed.

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Chapter 5 :

When Hamlet woke up the following morning, he found himself slightly relieved of his burden, for he was convinced that sharing his secret with Juliet was the right decision. He was to study all day, thus he went straight to the library and remained there for hours, alone.

At midday, he was quite surprised to see Lord Capulet entering the room, apparently looking for him. “Are you not hungry, my lord ?” the old man asked. “You should not stay hidden here by yourself all day long, that makes a man go mad !” he added. “Sir, thank you for your concern and advice, but I assure you, I am not hungry at all” Hamlet answered politely. “Besides, I have found some very interesting books about ancient Roman theatre, and I am altogether absorbed in this study.” “Ah ! Books ! Very well,” cried Capulet. “I think you Northerners are way too fascinated with the arts of the South, but do as you wish.” He had started to go back and forth along the bookshelves, looking alternately at the volumes of the library and above Hamlet’s shoulder. Then, picking a small book with a green cover, he said : “If your lordship is interested in theatre, I recommend this work about the history of the Arena, the Roman amphitheatre just north of the river.” Then he put the book next to Hamlet’s right hand. “Thank you sir, I will be glad to read about it.” “Forsooth, I am quite sure you will ! It is a beautiful piece of architecture, although quite away from the center of the city. I shall take you there, if you wish ! Near the Montagues’ villa, however. Do you know about the Montagues, lord Hamlet ?” he added this last question as he sat at the table in front of him. “Well, I only know what I have been told, sir,” Hamlet replied, puzzled. “That is, they are not friends of this house, I believe ?” “Indeed, they’re not !” Capulet answered, laughing. “You see, we and the Montagues have been fighting for decades now, quite an old story. But the governor wants both our families to put an end to that, he was very clear. That is why, when the young Montague boy appeared at the party the other night, I pretended not to see him.” He was speaking lower now, as if somebody might hear him and report the confidence to the governor. Hamlet was trying his best to act natural, he took a deep breath and raised his eyes towards Capulet’s face.

“The young Montague boy, sir ?” he asked. “Yes, precisely” Capulet answered, frowning. “I saw him with my own eyes, and he spoke to you. Oh ! I do not want to know what he told you, but…” He looked about him rapidly, and bent towards Hamlet, as to tell him a secret. “You should know, this boy is vicious, lord Hamlet ! Whatever he told you, you should not believe him. A race of liars and recreants !” He knocked on the table as he said this, and spoke more softly afterwards. “I am telling you this, because I am responsible for you as long as you remain in my house, and I do not want you to be influenced by evil company. Of course, this quarrel between our families has nothing to do with you” there he rose and walked around the table, then put his hand on Hamlet’s shoulder. “Those matters are not of your concern, and I strongly hope that they will never be.” Nervous as he was, Hamlet still managed to draw a soft smile on his face, and turned around to old Capulet with an air of naïve innocence. “Of course, sir, so do I. Thank you very much for the book !” The man gave a faint scowl and slowly left the room after telling him good-bye.

Hamlet stayed at the library for the rest of the afternoon, trying to make sense of this uncanny interview with Capulet. Apparently, the man was not aware of his relationship with Romeo, nor could he suspect anything, but the simple fact that he warned him about that subject made him feel pretty uneasy. Still, Hamlet decided not to worry about this for the moment, and went straight to Juliet’s room. She promised to ensure that no one should disturb him in his room tonight, so that he could be alone with Romeo for a few hours.

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Chapter 6 :

The same day, Romeo was in the gardens of the Montagues’ villa, talking with his friend Mercutio. They were walking along a hedge, sharing views on whether Benvolio should marry the girl he was courting or not, when the tone of the conversation became more serious. “What about you, my friend ?” Mercutio asked. “Do you have nothing to tell me ?” Romeo stopped and looked at Mercutio, puzzled. “What do you mean ?” he answered. Mercutio stopped too, and looked at him in the eye. “Come on, Romeo. You and I have always been very good friends, you are like a brother to me. I have known you for years now.” “That is quite true” Romeo replied. “But shall I ask you what you mean precisely by this ?” “You shall ask me, and I shall tell you” Mercutio pursued. “I know you, and I am certain that you are not indifferent to somebody you met at the Capulets’ party the other night. Some foreign boy with blond hair, rather pretty. Will you deny it ?” he added with a slight smile. Romeo gave him a dirty look. “What are you talking about ?” he cried. “Have you lost your mind ?” He walked away from the place where they had stopped, looking about him. Mercutio ran behind him, and caught his left arm. “Oh please, not to me. You have always been a terrible liar !” then he looked around them, and whispered : “Besides, I saw how you were looking at him.” Romeo held his breath and said nothing. “And, someone also told me that he saw you yesterday night, wandering about the Capulets’ villa” he added. “Oh, so you are spying on me now ?” Romeo screamed. Mercutio grabbed him by the neck and jumped behind another hedge. “Are you mad ?” he said with a softer tone. “Do not cry again like that, somebody might hear us ! Look, what do you think I am trying to do here ? Hmm ? Think about it for a moment, you idiot !” Romeo was restraining his rage, but he stayed quiet. “As I told you,” Mercutio continued, “you are my friend. You think I care who you love ? That is none of my business. And I have never spied on you ! It happens that someone I know saw you yesterday, and told me so because he found it strange. Now, if you are going on nocturnal escapades in the Capulets’ house, that is a problem for me, for you might not leave the place alive ! Do you understand me now ?”

Romeo was strangely soothed by these last words. He pulled himself out of Mercutio’s hold, and looked at him again. “I think I do,” he answered, “and pardon me if I doubted your intentions, my friend. I know very well the risks I take in going to the villa…” “Yet you will do it again, won’t you ?” Mercutio interrupted. “Will you prevent me from doing it ?” Romeo asked with an air of defiance. “I could, and maybe I would succeed the first time. But you would find a way to escape, at length” Mercutio replied. “So I will save my strength and time, and I will help you to go. I will escort you tonight, we will go down to the first public house together, have some drinks, make sure the people see us. Then we will leave and do the same thing in the next public house, until it is dark enough and the men are too drunk to care about us. Then, we will go by the narrow streets, silently, stealthily, and you will jump over the villa’s wall and I will make sure that no living soul sees you this time. Understood ?” Romeo was quite amazed to see how his friend had already settled the whole plan, and rather amused. “Understood” he answered, smiling. “I would be quite lost without your help !” he added. “Oh I am sure you would !” Mercutio answered. “Does anybody know, except you ?” Romeo asked, becoming very serious again. “No. Nobody knows you as I do, and I have no intention to reveal your secret.” “Are you angry with me ?” Mercutio looked at his friend, frowning. “Don’t be stupid. I have no reason to be angry with you, but I will if you have yourself killed.” They smiled again and Romeo embraced him.

At twilight, they went out and scrupulously followed the established plan until they reached the house of the Capulets.

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Chapter 7 :

The night was already dark when Hamlet came back to his room after dinner. It was agreed that Juliet should keep her door open to be able to hear if someone was coming by the corridor, and that she should prevent everyone from entering Hamlet’s room until the following morning. Yet, Hamlet carefully locked the door before turning to the window. He opened it and stood at the balcony, smelling the perfume of the flowers and the trees. It was calm outside, but he could hear the crickets chirping and the birds hiding in the hedge. He stayed here for a little while, and looked at the moon. He had the feeling that the hour was past, and that Romeo was late. Where was he ? What was taking him so long ? Was he safe ? Had he changed his mind, and decided not to come, finally ? Trying to dispel his fears, he leaned on the stone balcony, and whispered to the night : “O Romeo, dear Romeo, why are you not here already ? The night is dark, the moon high in the skies, time is running out, please come back to me…”

After a few more minutes of silence, he heard a strange sound from behind the trees, like the singing of a fantastic bird. “Methinks I know this kind of nocturnal animal !” he said to himself, and Romeo emerged from the shadows. He stopped for a moment and they looked at each other, then they looked all around them, but there was no one in the gardens. Romeo climbed the tree leading to the balcony with the agility of a cat, and they both moved back into the room. Hamlet closed the window behind them and turned towards Romeo. “You are late” he said softly. “My dear, I am deeply sorry for that, but I had to be particularly careful this time. Apparently, my first visit was not as discreet as I had wished it. Will you pardon me ?” he asked. “You will have to convince me to do so” Hamlet replied with a smile. Romeo came closer to him, put his hands around Hamlet’s waist, and kissed his lips. Then he went further down with his right hand until he held the boy’s thigh and pressed him against the wall, kissing him more fervently. Hamlet was also holding him close, slowly rubbing his black hair between his fingers. He gently pushed him away to catch his breath, and smiled. “Convinced !” he murmured, before kissing Romeo again.

The house was still quiet and they were careful not to make much noise. As the moon was shining bright outside, Hamlet extinguished the candles in the room. “I am afraid I have to leave before dawn…” Romeo warned him. “Why so early ? You have just arrived, don’t talk about leaving yet.” “Sorry my dear,” Romeo apologized, “I wish I could stay here with you and never leave again, there is nothing I want more than this, but we must be cautious.” “Fine. I will have to content myself with a few hours with you, then” Hamlet replied. “Don’t you think that a few hours will be enough ?” Romeo asked as he was taking him in his arms. “I think a hundred years would not be enough” Hamlet answered. Then, they kissed again, and started undressing each other. Romeo was touching him very softly ; he took off Hamlet’s shirt, threw it on the floor, and kissed his chest. They laughed and hugged, then they both fell on the bed, naked and entwined in each other’s arms. Hamlet was caressing Romeo’s back and kissing his neck, then he closed his eyes and moaned with pleasure.

Their shadows were dancing on the wall by the moon-light. All was still and silent but for their whispers. Their burning bodies made love until they fell asleep, exhausted. Then, they lied together, still embracing one another. The darkness rapidly vanished outside as a new day rose. The wind started blowing on the beds of flowers under the balcony. The crickets were silent and the birds of the night were gone. But the two lovers were still sleeping, numb and happy. For a brief moment, it seemed as if the whole world had stopped moving to watch them.

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Chapter 8 :

Romeo was the first one to wake up. He looked at the window and saw that the day dawned, then he looked at Hamlet who was still sleeping in his arms, with his face slightly lit up by daybreak. He fondled his hair and kissed his neck. “T’is time for me to go” he whispered. Hamlet woke up, turned towards him and caressed his cheek. “Is it ? You must be mistaken, it is not the light of dawn that you see here, it is only twilight. We still have the night before us…” he replied, and he kissed his lips tenderly. “I wish I was mistaken, my love, but the night is already over. You know it as well as I do, and I must go.” He made a move as to rise up, but Hamlet seized his arm, and drew him back towards him. “Don’t go, please” he murmured. They kissed again, and Hamlet pushed him on his back and climbed onto him. “Don’t go” he repeated. “Alright !” Romeo said, and he sat with Hamlet on his lap. “Alright. I shall do as you command. If you want me to stay, I shall stay here. I don’t want to leave, anyway.” “But if you stay, you will be trapped” Hamlet replied. He bent his forehead to touch Romeo’s. “You must leave before they wake up. I cannot let them hurt you.” Romeo smiled at him. “Why ?” he asked. Hamlet moved away from him and frowned. “Why ? Because I love you, you reckless idiot !” he answered.

Romeo took him in his arms and kissed him intensely. “Then, come with me ! Let us leave together, now”. Hamlet touched his face gently. “I can’t” he said. He pulled himself out of Romeo’s arms and started putting his clothes on. “Why not ?” Romeo asked. “I want to be with you” he added, “if we stay here we are condemned to hide ourselves. If the Capulets learn that you see me, Tybalt will kill me with great pleasure. If my family learns that I see you, my father will disinherit me, my entire family will despise me. There is nothing here for us if we stay. I would leave everything behind for you…” “I know you would be stupid enough to do it” Hamlet answered before throwing Romeo’s shirt at his face. “But I can’t leave with you. I am sorry.” Romeo put his shirt on and looked back at Hamlet. “Why ? You said you loved me…” “I do. This is not about love. This is about duty. You cannot understand” he said gravely. Romeo looked at him, puzzled. “Then you should explain it to me. What duty are you talking about ?” Hamlet was entirely dressed now, he stopped and looked at Romeo in the eyes from the other side of the bed. “Soon, I will have to return to Denmark. It is not what I want, but I must do it” he replied. “Why ?” Romeo asked again. “Because it is my kingdom and I must take it back !” he cried.

They both glanced at the door by fear that someone may have heard the noise, but all was still silent. Romeo rose up and moved towards Hamlet. “Your kingdom ?” he asked. “Really ?” Hamlet turned his back to him and sat on the bed. Romeo moved closer, and remained quiet for a moment. “So, you are Prince ?” he finally asked. “Yes, I am” Hamlet said, looking vaguely through the window in front of him. “Why didn’t you tell me ?” “Because it did not matter. I am the same man, prince or not.” Romeo sat next to him. “If I had been aware of that, I probably would not have crept into your bedroom like a vulgar thief…” he said. Hamlet smiled and turned his face towards him. “I am glad you crept into my bedroom like a vulgar thief. After all, I have decided to let you in.” “And you shall regret that decision !” Romeo added, laughing. Hamlet kissed his cheek and gave him the rest of his clothes. “When shall we meet again, then ?” he asked. “I cannot let you risk your life every time I want to see you.” Romeo got dressed rapidly as he was thinking. “There could be a way, probably less exciting, but assuredly less dangerous. Can I send you a letter here this week ?” “I only receive letters from my friend Horatio, maybe twice a month… Write it to miss Juliet, and don’t put your own name.” “Fine. Wait for it” Romeo said, and he kissed Hamlet with passion, before opening the window and disappearing again.

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Chapter 9 :

The following day, Hamlet was enjoying the nice weather to read in the gardens of the villa. He was really struggling day and night to take Romeo out of his mind and think of something else than the night they had spent together, so he thought that a good book and a bit of sunlight could help him focus on something else. Nevertheless, it was quite a failure, for he could not help but thinking of his lover and of how bad he needed to see him and talk to him again. He had already lost the course of the story he was reading when miss Juliet and her nurse stopped before him. “Lord Hamlet, would you mind if I sat with you for a moment ?” Juliet asked. “My lady, I think we should leave lord Hamlet alone, he must be busy studying” the old nurse replied dryly. “It is completely fine, miss” Hamlet answered. “Lady Juliet does not bother me at all, I assure you”. Juliet turned towards the nurse with a pinched smile : “Will you leave us for a while, now ? I would like to speak with lord Hamlet alone, if I may.” The nurse frowned and mumbled something inaudible. “As you wish, lady, my lord…” they heard her say as she was going away.

“Damn, that stubborn old mule !” Juliet muttered when she had sat next to Hamlet. “Is it really too much to ask for a bit of intimacy ?” Hamlet looked at her, amused, but she continued before he could answer anything. “Anyway” she pursued, “I have something for you” and she took a sheet of paper out of some fold of her dress, giving it to Hamlet. “How do you know this is for me ?” he asked, for the letter was still sealed. “Well, this is the seal of an aristocratic family, although not really involved in politics. But I know that it is the family of a certain boy, Mercutio, who is a close friend of your friend Romeo. Now, unless Mercutio writes me a letter to tell me how much he admires my beauty and that he fell in love with me when we met at the party… Which I would certainly appreciate, for he is a rather good-looking man” she said with her usual mischievous air, “I guess that it is in fact addressed to you. You told me that he should write you during the week, I did not think it would be so quick, but here it is.” Hamlet looked at the letter and finally decided to open it and read it. When he had finished, he remained silent, looking before him with a heavy heart. “Is there something wrong ?” Juliet asked. “No… Oh, no. He tells me to meet him at the church tomorrow, he has a priest friend who will help us get some…intimacy, as you said.” Juliet smiled and got closer to him. “Speaking of intimacy… Did he stay last night ?” she asked. Hamlet was rather uneasy and tried to move away from her. “He did…” he answered timidly. Juliet frowned and moved back. “Then, why are you so grim ?” Hamlet looked at her but could not find the right words, so he looked at the floor, anxious.

“Juliet,” he said after a while, “I have no idea where I am going with this. I feel so terribly lost…” his voice faded away as he was trying to hold back his tears. Juliet took his right hand in hers and moved closer again. “What is wrong ? Don’t you love him ?” she asked. “With all my heart.” He paused for a moment. “But I told him that we could never just…leave together, somewhere. I have too much responsibilities, I have a duty…” Juliet looked around, and spoke lower. “Didn’t you tell me that you would be capable of letting everything behind for him ? Including your homeland duties and your title ?” “I did say so” he admitted. “So what has changed ?” He hesitated for a while, as if the truth was too frightening to be put into words. “I am so afraid… I don’t know what is going on, I have never been in love with anyone else before, not like that ! What if I give up everything for him, and then he stops loving me ? I don’t even understand how he can actually love me !”

Juliet put her hand on his shoulder and tried to soothe him. “If I may, I think you should share this with him. Meet him tomorrow at the church, and see what happens.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 10 :

As it was planned, Hamlet left the villa to go to church the next day. The Capulets were not surprised when he insisted to go alone, for he spent most of his time alone, anyway. He walked for a good twenty minutes before reaching the place, and entered the church softly. It was not a very big edifice, and at this time he found it completely empty. He looked around him and decided to sit for a moment on a bench. He was staring at the stained-glass windows on his right when he heard someone coming and sitting a few rows behind him. He did not dare to move, and waited for the stranger to speak. “Lord Hamlet ?” the unknown voice asked after a moment. “Yes, and you are…?” Hamlet replied. “Friar Lawrence, my lord. If you want to come with me, I shall lead you to your friend. He is already waiting for you.” Hamlet jumped on his feet and followed the priest in silence. They went through a little wooden door, took a staircase of grey stones and reached a tiny room under the roof.

Friar Lawrence opened the door and let Hamlet come in, before closing it behind him. In the room was Romeo, standing by the thin window. When he saw Hamlet, he turned and smiled at him. “Hello my prince” he said. Hamlet looked around him as he walked towards Romeo. The room was dark and narrow ; there were only a little bed in one corner and a table in another, hidden by a pile of old books. He kissed Romeo gently, and asked : “What kind of place is this ?” “It is Friar Lawrence’s room. I know, it’s not very… royal, but it is safe. We can trust him” Romeo answered. He took Hamlet’s hand and invited him to sit on the little bed next to him. “Look, I have a proposition for you” he said. “I thought a lot of what we talked about the other day, and you are right. I cannot ask you to sacrifice everything for me, you have important duties, and someday you will be king.” He paused for a moment and looked at Hamlet, who was still impassive. “So ?” Hamlet asked after a while. “So,” Romeo continued, “I thought that, maybe, I could go with you, if you agree of course. In fact, I have always wanted to see Denmark !” “That’s not true” Hamlet replied. “Right, that’s not true. It must be cold and grey and humid ; everything I hate” he admitted. “But at least, I would be with you.” Hamlet took a deep breath and looked at him. “That’s not possible” he said. “Well, why ? What is it this time ?” Romeo asked, visibly hurt. “I am already engaged in Denmark” Hamlet confessed.

Romeo rose up and started walking back and fro in the little room, grabbing his hair with both hands. He laughed, and it was a very unpleasant kind of laugh. “Well,” he said, “maybe you should have started here, don’t you think ? Maybe you should have told me that the first time I saw you : ‘Excuse me, I am prince of Denmark and I am already engaged to a beautiful woman, so don’t talk to me again’, that would have saved a lot of trouble !” He stopped in front of Hamlet, and he was not laughing anymore. There were tears and anger in his eyes. “I am so sorry” Hamlet said without looking at him. “I have not been honest with you, you don’t know the truth about me, you don’t know anything. I have too many secrets, but if I told you, you would never want to be with me again. I am sorry Romeo…” a tear rolled down his cheek and he couldn’t finish his sentence. Romeo kneeled in front of him, put one hand on Hamlet’s knee and lifted up his head with the other so that he could look in his eyes. “How can you say such a thing ?” he replied with a gentler tone. “You will always be my prince, and I could never stop loving you, no matter what. But I need you to be honest with me, and to stop keeping secrets from me. I can hear whatever you have to tell me, I won’t leave you. You have to trust me.” Hamlet stopped crying and began his story. He told Romeo the whole truth : that his father had died some time ago, that his uncle had married his mother and was now King, and that they sent him away to get rid of him because they suspected him of knowing some things he shouldn’t know. Then, he told him how he had a vision of his dead father, and how the ghost revealed him that he had been murdered, and that his uncle was the usurper and the murderer. As he was talking, he realized that he sounded completely mad and that Romeo would never believe him, with his stories of talking-ghosts and murders and revenge, yet he told him everything, for he felt that he had to. When he was done, he stopped and looked at Romeo, but he remained silent. “I know you must think me a madman” he added, “but that is the truth, I swear.” Romeo was still, his eyes looking at the floor, and he did not answer. “I warned you…” Hamlet said with a lump in his throat. Romeo’s silence was a real torture to him, and every second that passed seemed an eternity. He was on the verge of tears again, but he tried to restrain himself. “Please, say something !” he finally cried.

Romeo raised his eyes and sat back on the bed next to him. He was still holding Hamlet’s hand. “Do you love her ?” he said after a moment. Hamlet frowned. “Excuse me ?” “That woman you are engaged to, do you love her ?” Hamlet was totally puzzled by this reaction, but he managed to answer : “Well, she is a nice girl, from a noble family, and she is rather beautiful…” “But, do you love her ?” Romeo insisted. Hamlet looked at him in the eye. “I truly love nobody. Nobody but you” he replied. “Great !” Romeo said, and he seemed satisfied with this answer. “But, did you actually hear what I have just said ?” Hamlet asked. “I heard everything, from your father’s death to your uncle’s suspicions and your desire for revenge” he said. “Yet, the only thing you ask me is if I love my fiancée ?” “Yes. But since you don’t, you can marry her” Romeo answered. Hamlet was more and more confused and it was starting to be obvious, so Romeo smiled at him. “I mean,” he explained, “you have to marry her, but that’s only politics. If you don’t love her, then you can still be mine. You know, I can be your secret lover, that’s enough for me.” A brief smile passed on Hamlet’s face as he was beginning to understand. “So you still want to come with me to Denmark” he said. “I do.” “It is a terrible plan” Hamlet said, “my uncle has spies everywhere. If he finds out the truth about you –and I am sure he will– he will hurt you in order to hurt me. I can’t…” but Romeo interrupted him. “Hamlet” he said, “what choice do we have, really ? If we stay here, we cannot be together because I am a Montague. If we leave somewhere, you lose everything. If I come with you to Denmark, we cannot be together because I am a man, and a foreigner, and because you are engaged to a noble woman. In any situation, there is no perfect ending for us. We shall never be ordinary lovers… But at least you will have a chance to take your kingdom back, and do justice to your father, and I wouldn’t be too far from your castle and you could come see me when you want to.” Hamlet was seduced and frightened at the same time by this plan. “But you would not be safe…” he said timidly. “If I have to choose between being safe and being with you, you know I have already taken my decision. I don’t care that much for my safety anyway !” He took Hamlet’s other hand and moved closer to him. “Don’t push me away, please…” he whispered. Hamlet closed his eyes and kissed his lips tenderly. “I still believe that it is a terrible idea,” he said, “but I don’t have a better one, and I don’t want to leave you.” Romeo smiled and kissed him back. “Then it is agreed ! When you go back, I go with you, my prince.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 11 :

After that day, Romeo and Hamlet did not see each other for a while. They had decided that it would be more reasonable for Hamlet not to leave the villa too often to avoid suspicions. Instead, they exchanged letters, through the intermediary of Juliet and Mercutio. They also agreed that they should meet again in Friar Lawrence’s room the next Thursday, and that they should try not to go to their secret place more often than once a week. Thus, they had to content themselves with a few letters, and Hamlet terribly missed his lover on his lonely days of study at the villa.

Two weeks had now passed since they last saw each other, and Hamlet was reading alone in the library, as usual. Suddenly, someone opened the door rather violently, and Tybalt burst into the room. Hamlet started and looked at him with surprise, for it was the very first time he saw Tybalt enter the library, and he was the last person he expected to see by coming here. Tybalt seemed irritated, or at least, he seemed more irritated than usual. He strode across the library and sat in front of Hamlet, looking angrily at him. “Sir Tybalt ? May I help you ?” Hamlet asked, trying to hide how nervous he was. “Probably” he answered, drily. Hamlet closed his book, frowning. “Juliet has betrayed us” he pursued. “She has betrayed her father, she has betrayed me, and her entire family. I am certain of that !” he cried. Hamlet looked at him, trying to understand what he meant, and a terrible feeling started to grow inside of him. He took a deep breath and spoke as calmly as he could : “What do you mean she has betrayed her family ? What are you talking about ?” Tybalt was staring at him with suspicious eyes, but he finally calmed down and answered in a softer tone. “She has a relationship with that miserable boy, the Montagues’ favourite pet !” he said. “Who ?” Hamlet asked, rather frightened. “That Mercutio, an arrogant moron ! He was at the party we held a few weeks ago, he came with Romeo Montague. I saw him too, this little…” “Tybalt !” Hamlet interrupted quite briskly, surprised himself by his sudden outburst of anger. Tybalt was evidently surprised too, for he was speechless, but still staring at him angrily. “Tybalt,” Hamlet repeated more gently, “I do not know what you are talking about. I do not understand why you accuse Juliet of such things. And I do not understand why you are saying this to me !” Tybalt was perfectly calm now, and he stared at Hamlet as if he was trying to look inside his brain, and, even more frightening, as if he was actually succeeding in doing so. He did not say anything for a long moment, and Hamlet was starting to miss his former violent tone, for his silence made him even more anxious.

“Well,” Tybalt finally replied, “I just thought that maybe you already knew about that, after all she spends most of her free time with you.” His attitude had become very unpleasant, as if he already knew what Hamlet was about to say and that whatever it would be, he would not believe it. “I know nothing of Juliet’s love affairs, and that is none of my business” Hamlet answered, wary. “Really ?” Tybalt asked, frowning, and with a discrete, sly smile. “That is very strange” he pursued, leaning on the back of his chair, “there is a very slight vibration on your left cheek when you are lying, did you know that ?” Hamlet’s heart jumped in his bosom, and it was more and more difficult for him to seem calm and to hide how nervous he was. Tybalt seemed to take great pleasure in torturing him, for he obviously knew something that he was not supposed to know. How could he know he was lying ? What did he think he knew about Juliet and Mercutio ? What if he knew the entire truth ? Finally, he took a little sheet of paper out of a pocket and threw it on the table in front of Hamlet. For a few seconds, Hamlet hesitated, but he took the paper and read it. He recognized it immediately, for it was the last letter that Romeo had sent, officially to Juliet, and signed with Mercutio’s name. It was a very short message, only saying :
“My dear, meet me at the church the day after tomorrow. I cannot wait to see you again. I love you with all my heart. Yours forever,

Hamlet handed the letter back to Tybalt, even more anxious than before. “How did you get this ?” he asked slowly. Tybalt smiled frankly at him. “I took it in Juliet’s room, it was on her desk. There were more of them, at least three or four other letters.” Hamlet’s head was aching, he was trying to think as fast as he could, wondering if Tybalt had read the previous letters, which were more explicit and dangerous. “Did she give it to you ?” he asked. “No. Look, I’ll be honest with you” Tybalt answered. “I came to see her yesterday, because I knew she was receiving letters, I had already noticed that. I wanted to know who sent them, but when I asked she refused to tell me. She never refuses to tell my anything, usually. But she said that she wanted me to stay out of this, and asked me to leave. I just took the first letter I could grab before going away, while she was opening the door.” Hamlet was breathing fast, but he tried to reason himself. “Now,” Tybalt continued, “it is your turn to be honest with me. You said that you did not know about this, yet I remember very well that yesterday you told us that you would go to church alone on Thursday. May I ask you why ?” He took a deep breath, and tried his best to hide the slight vibration on his cheek and to appear sincere. “Fine, you are right” he confessed. “Juliet told me about the letters. At the beginning she simply did not answer to them, but then he continued and she received three letters per day. I told her to answer him that she was not interested, and she did so. But apparently he was so happy that she had finally answered… he imagines that she likes him, you know, and he absolutely wants to see her. She did not know what to do to get rid of him, so I suggested that she should ask him for a date and then I should go for her and speak with him and try to make him understand that she does not want to see him, that he must leave her at peace… I am sorry I lied to you, Tybalt, but she made me promise to keep this affair secret.” He was obviously embarrassed, but he hoped that his embarrassment could appear to be due to the so-called confession of this secret.

Tybalt looked pensive as he was slowly rubbing his beard. “Why didn’t she tell me about that ?” he finally asked. “Why did she come to you ? I am her cousin, her family…” he looked really upset, and Hamlet tried to comfort him. “Well… I do not mean to offend you, but she was afraid that you might react quite brutally if you knew. She told me that she wanted to avoid another family quarrel, and that it would be better if I intervened, calmly.” Tybalt seemed a bit irritated by this answer, but not surprised. “Fine” he said, standing up. “I hope that you will handle this with your diplomacy, or I will. And in the future, I would like you to be honest with me. I hate liars more than anything…” “Sure, of course… Sorry…” Hamlet muttered, as Tybalt was leaving him at last.

Chapter Text

Chapter 12 :

When he left the library, Hamlet went straight to Juliet’s room. He knocked at the door and burst in without waiting for an answer. She was brushing her hair, sitting on her bed, but she jumped on her feet when she saw him. “Hamlet ! I am glad to see you… Do you know ?” she asked when she saw the look in his face. “Yes, I know” he answered. “How on earth is that possible ? How did he manage to take this letter ? I thought you were supposed to burn them all !” he restrained himself from screaming this, by fear of being heard by someone else. “I am sorry, I did burn all the previous ones, but I had a couple other letters still on my desk with other things… I just forgot to get rid of them” she answered, confused. “You just forgot ? How ? Did you also forget about what could happen to me, or to Romeo if somebody should know about us ?” She had never seen him that furious, and for a moment she didn’t dare answer anything. He kept going back and forth along the room, and he stopped after a time, trying to recover his spirits. “Excuse me…” he finally said more calmly. “I should not talk to you so violently, this is not your fault. Only, I just had the most terrific conversation with your cousin… I think it has moved me a little too much.” Juliet sighed and took him in her arms. “I am sorry” she said. “Of course this is my fault, you are perfectly right, I should have been more cautious… But he doesn’t know everything, does he ? What did he tell you ?”

Hamlet took a deep breath and reported the conversation he had with Tybalt to Juliet. They both sat on her bed while she was listening, and she took him in her arms again when he had finished. “O Lord, I am so sorry Hamlet ! But I am glad that you managed to convince him. How are you going to reach Romeo, now ?” she asked. “Well, I’ll see him tomorrow, and we will have to stop writing letters, I guess. But it doesn’t matter, we can still see each other. Besides…” he paused for a moment. “I must make arrangements for my return to Denmark” he finally added. “Really ?” Juliet asked. “When do you leave ?” “I do not know yet, I must write to my mother. But I think that in a few weeks, it will be settled” he replied, anxious. Juliet looked at him, but he was avoiding her gaze and seemed preoccupied. “What about Romeo ?” she finally asked. Hamlet remained silent for a moment, and he was visibly getting emotional. “Romeo is coming with me…” he said at last. “Really ? That’s great !” she exclaimed with a bright smile. “Are you not happy about that ? You look so grim…” “I am just worried” he replied. “It won’t be easy to make him travel with me secretly. And even if we manage to come safely to Denmark…” he stopped and got up. He started walking along the room again, grabbing his hair with both hands and sighing. He stopped in front of the window and remained still, looking at the gardens with an air of nostalgia. Juliet stood up and came towards him softly. “What’s wrong Hamlet ?” she murmured.

The sun was setting down behind the high trees surrounding the villa, and the atmosphere was getting slightly colder. After a certain time, Hamlet answered quietly : “I have thought a lot about this travel, and about us in Denmark. Romeo doesn’t seem to realize that the situation will be exactly the same here or there. We will still have to hide ourselves and we will still face great danger, there is no way to escape this. I feel like I am unjustly trapped, again. How is it possible to be a prince and to live as a prisoner ?” he asked mostly for himself. Juliet tried to embrace him timidly. He kissed her on her head, turned back and then left her room silently.

Back in his room, he started writing a letter to his friend Horatio to ask him if he could find someone trustworthy, to organize his safe return to Denmark. He took great care to precise that he needed to make another passenger travel with him secretly, and asked for Horatio’s discretion. Then he went to bed, thinking about his next meeting with Romeo.

Chapter Text

Chapter 13 :

The next day, Hamlet went directly to the church as soon as he was ready, and was very careful to avoid meeting Tybalt alone until he finally left the villa. It was decided that Juliet should speak to Tybalt to confirm Hamlet’s explanations while he was away. Finally, he arrived rather early at Friar Lawrence’s room, but the man let him in to wait for Romeo. He appeared less than an hour later, and was slightly surprised to see that Hamlet was already here. “Did you miss me so much, dear ?” he asked with a bright smile, slowly walking towards Hamlet. “You have no idea…” Hamlet answered, also with a smile. Romeo wrapped his arms around Hamlet’s waist and kissed him gently. They stayed still for a moment, embracing each other without talking. Then Hamlet raised his pale sad eyes to look at Romeo.

“Is there something wrong ?” Romeo asked. “You must stop writing me at the villa” Hamlet replied timidly. “Tybalt has been spying on Juliet since she receives more letters than she used too, and he found the last one you wrote. He thinks Mercutio is, well, harassing her…” he added immediately. Romeo looked at him with astonishment and took a step back. “Excuse me ?” he said. “Don’t be mad, please…” Hamlet stammered, grabbing Romeo’s arm. “He doesn’t know about us, I swear he doesn’t suspect anything. Only, I told him I was going to meet Mercutio today, to ask him to leave Juliet alone.” Romeo was speechless and slightly worried. “But what about us ?” he asked after a moment. “How are we supposed to communicate now ? How am I going to do to see you ? Shall I climb at your balcony again ?” he added, upset. “No ! Of course not, we will find a way” Hamlet answered. “Look, we can still meet here, just once a week, it is not unusual to go to church alone once a week, is it ?” Romeo sighed and moved away from him. “Tybalt is going to suspect something” he answered. “Maybe he’s not” Hamlet replied. “You said yourself that he spied on his own cousin just because she was receiving letters ! He will personally follow you until he discovers why the hell you disappear every week to ‘go to church’, of course he will suspect that there is something under it !” he cried.

Hamlet moved back, and for a moment he dared not answer anything. They both remained silent, each on one opposite side of the little room, Romeo standing by the narrow window and Hamlet near the door. Hamlet was visibly hurt by Romeo’s words, though he perfectly understood his reaction. He knew that the damage was done, and that the only solution now was to find a new plan. Finally, he thought of a possible solution, and moved slowly back towards Romeo. He put his right hand on his shoulder, hesitated for a moment, and murmured : “I may have an idea…” Romeo turned around and looked at him with an air of despair. “After all, I was supposed to meet Mercutio today” Hamlet continued, “so why couldn’t we pretend that, after politely asking him to stop writing letters to Juliet, we finally became pretty good friends ?” He paused for a moment to observe Romeo’s reaction, but he only frowned and asked : “What do you mean ? What for ?” “Well,” Hamlet pursued, “Just imagine : we talked for a long moment, we became good friends since he is a very charming person, I don’t doubt that, and we decided to meet again. But Mercutio is not really in good terms with the Capulets, so he decides to apologize for his behavior with Juliet, he promises it won’t ever happen again, and he asks if they really mind if he invites me for a reception at his own villa, now and then… you know, to establish good relationships, turn the page…” A new smile brightened Romeo’s face as he started to understand, he took Hamlet in his arms and kissed him on his forehead. “That is simply brilliant” he said, “meeting directly at Mercutio’s villa, and officially ! Brilliant” he repeated. Hamlet was rather satisfied with this idea too. “Do you think he will agree ?” he asked. Romeo smiled again. “Well, you’ll have to ask him yourself” he said, “come with me, let’s find out.” “Now ?” Hamlet asked, worried. “Now”.

Chapter Text

Chapter 14 :

A couple hours later, Romeo and Hamlet were sitting in the gardens of the villa of Mercutio’s family, the young man listening to them as they exposed their plan to him. After Romeo was done, he looked at him, amazed, and started to laugh. “No way !” he cried, still laughing. “There is no way you will make me do such a thing, you stupid fool !” he added. Romeo and Hamlet looked at each other, then they looked at Mercutio again. “Please” Romeo replied, “my friend, we need your help. I cannot ask this to anyone else, what are we going to do if you refuse to help us ?” “Well boys, I mean, no disrespect Prince Hamlet” he said, turning to the young prince, “but this is none of my business. I have already taken too many risks only because you’re too foolish to stay quiet and obey your father, Romeo. Besides, you have put me in a very uncomfortable situation with the Capulets thanks to your letters, as if they did not hate me enough for being one of your closest friends ! Sorry, but you cannot ask me to do that. I will not suffer this humiliation” he said firmly.

Romeo sighed and looked away, rather desperate. He was running out of ideas to convince his friend, and knew that he was as stubborn as an old mule. But Hamlet tried to persuade him, and started with his usual soft voice : “Mercutio, I know this is the first time we meet, but I think I already know you, through everything that you have done for us. You’re right when you say that you have taken great risks, and we owe you a lot. But we only ask you to do all those things because we have no one else to turn to. Please, I am begging you right now, we need you again…” his voice faded away as Mercutio was raising his eyes towards him, and he looked furious. “No offense, Prince, but you do not know me at all. That’s right, I have taken great risks, but it was never for your pretty face ! Everything I did, I did it for Romeo’s safety. I did it to protect him. Now, what about you ? What did you do to keep him safe ? I’ll tell you, Prince Hamlet of Denmark, you did nothing. After decades of hatred and war between those two families, you are the most dangerous person Romeo ever had to face.” Romeo rose suddenly and grabbed Mercutio by his shirt, but Hamlet rushed towards him : “How dare you ?” Romeo said to Mercutio, who had never seen him so wrathful. “Come on, come on guys” Hamlet said, trying to separate them. “Leave him alone, Romeo, just let him go !” he insisted. Romeo held him tight, and refused to move. “Come on, he’s your friend, he cares about you, you cannot blame him for that…” Hamlet added. Romeo finally let go of him, but the two men remained still, facing each other. “Stop behaving like children, will you ?” Hamlet pursued. “He’s quite right after all” he said, looking at Romeo, “you cannot deny that you are in danger because of me, whether you like it or not.” A slight smile passed on Mercutio’s face as Hamlet said this. “Now, we should probably just stop seeing each other and everybody would be safe” he added. “Of course we won’t” Romeo replied, still staring at Mercutio. “We will find another way. Sorry for the inconvenience, my friend.” He turned to Hamlet, took his hand, and they both went away, silently.

After a moment, Mercutio sighed and finally gave in : “Fine” he said in a low voice, without looking at them. “I’ll do it. I’ll write a letter to the Capulets, apologizing for something I haven’t done, praising some haughty annoying prince I barely know and inviting him to my house. I’ll do it because if I don’t, you will have yourself killed. But I’m telling you, this is the last thing I will ever do for you, for both of you, and this will end very badly. Now go away !” Romeo and Hamlet smiled at one another, thanked Mercutio and left the villa discreetly. They stopped in a back alley, took a deep breathe, and started to laugh. Then, Romeo caressed Hamlet’s face, and he kissed him softly. “I am sorry” Romeo said, “I never thought he would talk to you like that. Apparently he strongly dislikes you…” Hamlet smiled at him and kissed him again. “That’s a shame, because I really like him !”

Chapter Text

Chapter 15 :

A week passed without any further incident at the villa Capulet, and Hamlet did not see Romeo again after their interview with Mercutio. He was starting to worry about his lover, with whom he could not communicate anymore, and to doubt Mercutio’s word. When he sat at the dinner table this evening, he was nervous and trying to hide his anxiety to the family.

“Lord Hamlet” old Capulet said suddenly, while pouring some wine into his glass, “I have received a very peculiar letter today, and it has to do with you” he added quite theatrically. Hamlet held his breath, and he was glancing at Tybalt from time to time, who seemed to be as surprised and anxious as he was himself. “Really ?” Hamlet asked, “was it a letter from my uncle in Denmark ?” he said innocently. “No, it was not from Denmark. Actually, it was from a young man of Verona, and there are very few men in Verona whom I least expected to write me a letter. His name is Mercutio” he said after a pause, to see if everybody was listening to him carefully. Tybalt stared at Hamlet immediately, suspicious, while Hamlet was acting surprised and doing his best to prevent him from seeing that he was lying. “That young Mercutio, is he not the friend of the Montagues ?” Lady Capulet asked, frowning. “Yes, my lady, precisely. But it appears that our friend Hamlet has better relationships with the Montagues than we have…” old Capulet said. “How strange is that…” Tybalt added, still staring at Hamlet and waiting for him to say something wrong. Suddenly, a soft laugh came from the other side of the table, and Juliet looked at her cousin. “Strange ? Sorry my dear cousin, but how could that be strange, indeed ? Absolutely everybody in this city has better relationships with the Montagues than we have ! There is nothing strange about this.”

Hamlet felt immensely grateful to Juliet for this intervention, but he did not know yet that she could do even better. “Lord Hamlet did not know sir Mercutio at all, but I asked him to talk to him for me” she said, and she explained calmly to the whole family the story of Mercutio’s letters and her request to Hamlet. Tybalt watched her angrily all the while, sometimes glancing at Hamlet, certain that there was something wrong under this. When Juliet was done talking, Lady Capulet told her how saddened she was that she did not speak to her family about that, but the young lady seemed so moved that her mother could not do her any more reproach. “Your mother is right” old Capulet said after a while, “but I understand your wish to avoid another escalation of violence. Anyway, it seems that Lord Hamlet has taken good care of this matter, since Mercutio has apologized for his behavior. He prayed me to forgive him, admitted that he was wrong, and said that Hamlet acted noble towards him. He wants to invite him, and every one of us, at a party that will be held at his father’s villa next week.” This announcement left everybody speechless for a few seconds. Hamlet was glad to see that Mercutio had finally kept his word, but the Capulets did not seem that enthusiastic. “Well, that is rather new” Lady Capulet said, surprised, “but I cannot trust those people. If Hamlet wants to go, he can, he shall represent our family, that will be enough. No need to say that I firmly forbid you to go” she added, looking at Juliet with insistence. “I shall do as you command…” Juliet replied softly. Tybalt suddenly rose from his chair, gave a black look to Hamlet and cried : “This rat wants to invite us at a party ? What kind of joke is that ? I shall never step foot in that house, the Montagues and their friends are nothing but vermin that should be exterminated !” Then he left the room quite violently. Old Capulet finished his wine and sighed. “Well, I think you will be the only one to go, Hamlet. I hope you don’t mind…” he said. “Not at all” Hamlet replied, “I have not forgotten your words about these people though, and I promise to be careful. I will only be there to show the good faith of this family.”

When dinner was over, the ladies retired in their chambers, and Hamlet stayed alone with old Capulet for a while, discussing his studies and the history of Verona. Then he took his leave and went back to his bedroom. On his way, he suddenly saw Tybalt, emerging from the dark as he was entering the eastern corridor. The young man stood straight before him and Hamlet started. “Tybalt ? You scared me…” he said, but Tybalt immediately pushed him against the wall with such violence that Hamlet thought he was going to break his bones. “What are you doin…” he asked without finishing his sentence, for Tybalt drew his sword and put it under Hamlet’s throat. “I am warning you” Tybalt said, “I know you are a liar. This story with that goddamn dog Mercutio, I know it’s all lies. You are hiding something, I am sure of that, and I will discover what it is.” Hamlet’s heart was jumping in his bosom as he felt the blade against his skin and as he watched the fury in Tybalt’s eyes. “You cannot threaten me” he finally said, trying to recover his confidence. “I am a prince, not some thug of Verona you are used to fight. Put down your sword now, and I won’t tell anyone about this” he added. But Tybalt laughed and pressed the blade under Hamlet’s throat, so that the young man was unable to talk any more and started to breathe with difficulty. “And who are you going to tell, prince Hamlet ? My uncle ? He won’t believe you, or he will pretend not to because he cares about his family’s reputation more than anything else. As for your parents in Denmark, well, they have sent you here saying that you were mad, that you needed to ease your spirits. There is no one to believe you. You are all alone, your grace !” he said ironically with a horrible smile. Finally, he put down his sword and disappeared instantly, while Hamlet was still trying to catch his breath.

Chapter Text

Chapter 16 :

The next days were particularly dull and lonely for Hamlet, who hardly ever left his room, even to study. Tybalt’s sword had left a scar both on his throat and his mind, although he said to everybody who asked that he had accidentally cut himself with his razor blade. Yet, this event reminded him of his dangerous situation, and he decided to write to his friend Horatio, urging him to find a way to get him –and Romeo– back to Denmark. It was funny, he thought, how he now imagined Denmark as a safe place for him and his lover, considering that everybody at court was actually spying on him every day and plotting to get rid of him.

When the day of Mercutio’s party finally came Hamlet left the villa early, trying his best to avoid Tybalt, even though he was certain that he would follow him, or have somebody else following him, until he reached his destination. The only thing that reassured him was that he was sure that Mercutio would never let Tybalt enter his house, by fear of him fighting with everyone. There were already a lot of guests dancing and drinking when he arrived, all unknown to him. He took a glass of wine and walked along the large rooms, surrounded by people who were sometimes staring at him, until he finally found Mercutio speaking with two young gentlemen. “Prince Hamlet !” Mercutio exclaimed when he saw him, dragging him towards his friends. “May I introduce you to Prince Hamlet of Denmark” he said to them with a solemn tone, “a very noble and worthy gentleman. Hamlet, these are my friends, Benvolio and Lorenzo, they were looking forward to meeting you…” Hamlet shook hands with both of them, smiling uneasily. “Were they ?” he said, surprised. “To be honest, Prince Hamlet, we were really curious to know how our Mercutio could have become friends with a nobleman like you” Benvolio replied. “Well, that is indeed a fantastic story” Hamlet said, looking at them with his sardonic air, “which Mercutio will be delighted to tell you, I am sure, but may I borrow him for a moment ?” he asked, grabbing Mercutio’s arm. They both went away slowly, trying to find their way among the crowd that had now gathered into the dancing room. “Where is he ?” Hamlet asked to Mercutio’s ear as they passed a group of musicians. “He’s waiting for you” Mercutio replied, “but first you need to let me introduce you to some people.” Hamlet frowned and stopped him. “What for ?” he asked. “Come on” Mercutio said, “this is a public ceremony, you must be used to this. People must know that you were here, they must see you, talk to you, so that they will tell to their friends how charming you were. Come.” So they met another group of Mercutio’s friends, and another, and Hamlet smiled at them and did his best to seem charming, and this lasted for almost an hour. Then Hamlet took another glass of wine and dragged Mercutio in a corner. “For God’s sake !” he said, rather desperate, “will you let me go now ? Where is he ?” Mercutio laughed and took Hamlet to the terrace. “You sound like a spoiled child, did you know that ? Anyway, you’ll find him in the gardens, he’s probably hiding somewhere among the trees and the fountains. You’re free to go !” Hamlet thanked him and descended to the gardens.

The night was dark already and a fresh air came from the North, a real blessing for Hamlet who was starting to feel slightly dazed. There were some people dancing outside, and others just enjoying a bit of freshness, but few of them were walking among the trees and the flowers. Hamlet slowly disappeared in the darkness, losing himself behind hedges and bushes as tall as himself. Then he heard a sound behind his back, and the rustle of leaves. “There he is, my night bird…” he murmured, turning back to see Romeo walk towards him. He smiled at him and they kissed slowly among the shadows. “How I have missed you…” Romeo whispered, caressing Hamlet’s hair. “I have missed you too” Hamlet replied. “Don’t ever leave me alone with those people again !” he added with a smile. Romeo took him in his arms and kissed his forehead. “Never” he said.

Chapter Text

Chapter 17 :

Romeo then took Hamlet’s hand and conducted him to a small fountain with a sculpted Dionysus pouring water from an amphora. The moon shed a slight silvery light on Hamlet’s face and hair, so that Romeo perceived the scar on his throat. “What’s this ?” he asked, touching it slowly with his forefinger. “Nothing” Hamlet replied, taking Romeo’s hand in his and kissing him. But Romeo softly pushed him back to look at the scar again, insisting. “What do you mean ‘nothing’ ? It’s far from being nothing ! Did somebody hurt you ?” he asked. Hamlet hesitated for a moment, he first thought of telling him the razor blade version of the story, but then he realized that Romeo knew what it looked like to be wounded by a sword, and he finally told him the truth. “The dumb bastard…” Romeo said, furious. “I swear I’m going to kill that goddamn…” “Romeo !” Hamlet interrupted him. “Don’t do anything. Promise me you won’t hurt him. Think of all the things we did already, we’re so close, soon we’ll leave together and never come back… If you do anything to Tybalt, all our efforts will be in vain. Please, promise me” he repeated. Romeo sighed and looked away for a moment. “Alright, I promise.” Hamlet smiled and kissed him gently, and they stayed here for a few minutes, silent.

Then Romeo got up and looked in direction of the villa through the trees. There was nobody left in the gardens, all the guests seemed to have gathered inside. “Come” he said, taking Hamlet by the hand. They sneaked across the bushes and the beds of flowers, silently, hiding in the shadows. When they reached the villa, Romeo opened a window at the opposite side of where the dancing hall was, and they entered the house without noise. They had arrived in a small living room, completely deserted, and they could hear the sound of the party not far from there. Romeo lighted a candle and opened a door on the left, guiding Hamlet in a dark corridor. “Where are you taking me ?” he asked. “Chhhh !” Romeo replied with his finger on his lips. “Just follow me” he whispered. They continued their way to a narrow staircase, through another corridor and another secret door, until they reached the bedrooms on the first floor. Romeo opened a huge wooden door and they entered the room. He put the candle on a table and closed the curtains.

The room was beautifully decorated, with colored paintings on the walls, golden mirrors and marble furniture. “Whose room is this ?” Hamlet asked as he was examining the paintings. “It’s Mercutio’s” Romeo answered. Then he started to take off his clothes and pour some red wine in a glass, since Mercutio always kept some wine in his bedroom, next to the window. “What are you doing ?” Hamlet asked, anxious. “We can’t stay here, can we ? Mercutio…” “Chhhh !” Romeo interrupted. He gave the glass of wine to Hamlet and started undressing him too. “Mercutio won’t use his room tonight, trust me” he said. “He’s having a party, and when he’s having a party, he always ends up totally drunk on a sofa in the dancing hall. Believe my experience, he won’t be able to reach his room until tomorrow afternoon !” he added, laughing. But Hamlet was not reassured, and he kept looking in every direction and listening, fearing the sound of footsteps in the corridor. “What if somebody else comes ?” he asked. “Come on !” Romeo replied. “Nobody will come, trust me. I know this place better than my own house. Don’t you want to spend the night with me ?” he asked with a fake sad air. Hamlet smiled at him, he was completely naked now except for his shirt. “Of course I do…” he said. “Good” Romeo replied. “Now drink some wine and come in bed with me.” Then his naked body crept under the sheets. Hamlet drank and put the glass back on the table. Then he took his shirt off and kissed Romeo, and the candle was long burnt out before they fell asleep, wrapped in each other’s arms.

Chapter Text

Chapter 18 :

Hamlet was the first one to wake up the following morning, a ray of sunshine glowing through the curtains and lightning up his face. He turned to Romeo, caressed his back and kissed his neck softly. Then, a distant sound made him turn around suddenly. He sat in the bed, holding his breath, listening, and he heard that someone had climbed the staircase and was now coming in the corridor. “Romeo ! Romeo, wake up !” he whispered. But Romeo was still sleeping, and he had to push him quite violently to wake him up. “What ?” Romeo asked, yawning. “Somebody’s coming, we have to get out !” Hamlet said, but it was too late, for the footsteps had just reached the door. They both sat side by side in the bed, terrified, and the door opened. Then, Mercutio entered the room, obviously released to see them.

“Ah, there you are ! I knew it. Slept well ?” he asked while closing the door behind him. Hamlet blushed instantly and turned towards Romeo. “Too drunk to reach his room, uh ?” he said in a low voice and giving him a black look. “Wh-What are you doing here ?” Romeo stammered, looking helplessly at Mercutio. The latter smiled and walked to the window, checking that there was nobody outside, and he poured himself some wine. “Well, let me remind you that this is still my bedroom, my dear” he said calmly. Hamlet blushed once again, and he tried to take back the sheets towards him as he muttered : “We’re really sorry Mercutio, we should never have come here…” “Ay, never, this is all my fault” Romeo finally said. Mercutio looked at them without saying anything, then he started to pick up their clothes on the floor and threw them on the bed. “It’s fine, yes, fine, don’t worry. Let’s just never talk about this ever again. It’s fine. Now get dressed, you must leave. I’ll make you pass through another way out, so that nobody sees you. Hurry !” he added suddenly, seeing that they were still sitting here, too surprised to say or do anything. Then he left the room and they got dressed quickly, without uttering any other word. Mercutio came back a couple minutes later and made them follow him through a few corridors and empty rooms, until they jumped in the garden through another window. It was still early in the morning, and the guests that had fallen asleep in the dancing room had not woken up yet. Mercutio guided them behind a tall hedge, to the extremity of the gardens, where a hidden door led to the streets. He opened it carefully, went through it before them, and they followed him. They had arrived in a dead end, desert, and they only heard the sound of horses and merchants coming from the nearer streets. “Now” Mercutio said, “you go first, Romeo. This way. Go and don’t look back, just act natural. Hurry up, go !” Romeo obeyed and went away, disappearing instantly. Hamlet took a step as to go away too, but Mercutio held him back.

“Wait” he said in a low voice, “stay here for a moment, and you will go the opposite way. I’m not sure, but if somebody has followed you, you want to be careful.” Hamlet obeyed without saying anything and stood still next to him. Then, in a perfectly calm voice, and looking straight before him, he added : “I hope you’re aware that if you have him hurt in any way, I will personally ruin your life, Prince Hamlet”. Hamlet looked at him, slightly scared, not knowing how to respond. “I don’t care if he loves you” Mercutio pursued, “if I have to get rid of you, for his own sake, then I will, by any means.” Then he turned to Hamlet and they both remained silent for a while, just looking at each other. “I know” Hamlet finally said, observing Mercutio with his pale blue eyes. “And I know you don’t like me, yet you have helped us so far. I shall be forever grateful for this, for everything you have done for us” he added. Mercutio turned back and opened the little door silently. “I didn’t do it for you” he just said. Then he walked back into his gardens and locked the door behind him, leaving Hamlet alone. “Well, I know this too…” Hamlet said for himself. He then looked around him carefully and left in the opposite direction to get back to the Capulets’ villa.

Chapter Text

Chapter 19 :

During the next two weeks, Hamlet did not come back to Mercutio’s villa, but he received two letters from him, written by Romeo. He spent most of his time reading alone in his room, avoiding the library now, for the company of any Capulet other than Juliet was a source of unbearable anxiety. It seemed to him that they were all examining his behavior, waiting for him to do something wrong, to betray himself. He was just beginning to think that this atmosphere reminded him of Elsinore way too much, when he actually received some news from Denmark. It was his dear friend Horatio who wrote him a letter to let him know about his expedition. Apparently, everything had been organized as he had asked, and a merchant had been sent to find him and take him back home. Hamlet was immensely relieved, and he decided that he should tell Romeo so that they could get ready to leave.

Thus, the next day, he warned the Capulets that he was going to Mercutio’s villa, and he left early in the afternoon. When he arrived, Romeo was not here, but Mercutio’s father allowed him into the living room and gave him a glass of wine. He thanked him and drank slowly, rather embarrassed, and Mercutio finally showed up. “My dear friend !” he exclaimed with a fake smile, taking Hamlet out of the room and to the gardens, where they would be alone. “What are you doing here ?” he then asked in a lower voice. “You were not supposed to come. What do you want ?” he insisted, visibly irritated. “I am sorry, I know I wasn’t expected” Hamlet replied, “but I need to see Romeo now, it’s important” he added. Mercutio stared at him silently, but there was fury in his eyes. “You cannot come to my house whenever it pleases you and expect me to do your will !” he exploded. “Get the hell out of here” he said suddenly, taking Hamlet’s arm. But Hamlet stood still and pushed him away with unexpected strength. “Please !” he cried, “I need you to do this last thing for me, for us- whatever. It’s important” he repeated. Mercutio was about to respond, when Hamlet added : “I am leaving. I’m going back to Denmark, you won’t ever see me again. Just another week and I’ll be gone. But I have to tell Romeo, please”. Mercutio paused for a moment and looked at him suspiciously. “Really ?” he asked, “you intend to leave, and never come back here ?”. Hamlet nodded. They both remained silent for a while, until Mercutio finally said : “Alright. I’ll send someone to his villa. You stay here” and he disappeared into the house.

Hamlet waited alone in the gardens for about twenty minutes, and then Mercutio came back, followed by Romeo. “Hamlet ! Is everything alright ? I came as fast as I could, Mercutio said it was important…” Hamlet took one of his hands and caressed his cheek. Then he looked past his shoulder to Mercutio who was still on the threshold, watching them. “Thank you. May we have a moment alone ?” he asked sharply. Mercutio then turned and went back into the house silently. They climbed back the few steps that lead to the gardens, and Hamlet murmured : “Everything’s ready ! I have just received a letter from Horatio, he says that the merchant who is going to take us to Denmark is on his way. It’s safe, he says he knows the man, he is discreet and trustworthy. He’ll be here in a week !” Romeo blinked and smiled slowly. “Really ?” he asked, “so this is it ? One more week and we leave together ? God, I can’t believe it…” Hamlet smiled too and kissed him. “Me neither” he said, “but it is happening ! I couldn’t wait to tell you, and you must be ready to go” he added. They were both so happy that they didn’t notice that Mercutio had reappeared on the threshold and was watching them again. “So you’re leaving with him ?” he asked suddenly. Romeo started and turned back, his heart beating fast. A naughty smile appeared on Mercutio’s face as he pursued : “That’s smart, really. You said you were going away, but you didn’t mention that he was going with you… How smart” he repeated. Romeo and Hamlet were both looking helplessly at him. Romeo then let go of Hamlet’s hand and made a few steps towards his friend. “Mercutio… I am sorry. I didn’t tell you about that, I knew you would try to stop me, I know you only want to protect me, but you can’t…” his voice broke a little as he saw Mercutio’s eyes on him, filled with rage and despair. “You can’t leave, you can’t follow him out there !” he said. “Don’t do it. Please. You will regret it, I can’t let you…” but he was unable to continue. Romeo put one hand on his shoulder and looked at him in the eye. “Please forgive me, my friend. I could never tell you how grateful I am for everything you ever did for me. But now you have to let me go…” Mercutio looked successively at him and at Hamlet, then he looked back at Romeo. There was only sadness in his eyes now, as he progressively gave in and accepted the facts. “Ay, I see it’s too late to make you change your mind. I hope you know what you are doing… So I guess this is goodbye ?” he said. Romeo took him in his arms and held him close. “Farewell my dear friend, and thank you” he whispered. Mercutio closed his eyes, hugged his friend in silence, and shed a few discrete tears.

Chapter Text

Chapter 20 :

Hamlet also warned the Capulets that he was about to leave them, and it was quite hard for him to hide how relieved he was. Of course, he knew that he would miss Juliet terribly, and it hurt him to see that she was really sad at the idea of his departure, but he promised to write her as often as he could. Lady Capulet wanted to organize a huge party as a way to tell a proper goodbye to Hamlet, and mostly because she enjoyed very much organizing parties. Although Hamlet tried to tell her that it was not necessary, he did not have the heart to disappoint her while she seemed so happy with the arrangement of this important event. Thus, they had this amazing party at the end of the week, and Hamlet was very surprised to meet a number of people that he had already seen at Mercutio’s parties. It seemed to him that apparently, to a lot of people, it did not really matter whose family was the noblest and the most respectable ; as long as they could enjoy the celebrations, they were capable of having lunch at the Capulets’ and then drinking with Romeo Montague and his friends the same night.

Tybalt also seemed to be particularly happy about Hamlet’s departure ; in fact, it would have been difficult to tell which one of them was the most delighted at the idea of never seeing the other again. Yet, Tybalt, who was always suspicious, thought that there was something behind this sudden return to Denmark, and he decided to interrogate Hamlet. The next day, at dinner, he asked him if he wouldn’t mind going to church with him, in order to spend some time together out of the villa. Of course, Hamlet hated this idea and understood that Tybalt had something in his mind, but he could not refuse to accompany him at church in front of his whole family, so he had to accept benevolently.

Thus, the next morning, Hamlet and Tybalt left the villa together and walked through the city. It was a beautiful day, with a dry wind blowing gently in the noisy streets, and Hamlet thought it could have been a very pleasing moment, if only Tybalt was not walking beside him. After a few minutes, Tybalt indeed started to ask him about the circumstances of this decision to leave them already, pretending to be genuinely concerned with Hamlet’s obligations in Denmark. Hamlet answered all his questions very calmly and politely, thinking that he would never have to endure those interrogatories again. He was about to respond something when he suddenly stopped in the middle of the street, speechless and frightened, for he saw that Romeo had just appeared at the corner of a merchant shop, right in front of them. For a moment, he did not notice them, but then he raised his eyes and saw that Hamlet was here, staring at him, and that Tybalt was next to him. Hamlet tried to pursue the conversation, pretending that there was nothing important, but Tybalt had seen Romeo, and it was too late.

“Ah ! Come back here, Montague !” he shouted, since Romeo had turned and intended to go, hoping that Tybalt would not have had the time to recognize him. Romeo stopped but still turned his back to them, he was nervous and worried, not knowing what to do. “Look at that” Tybalt pursued, looking successively at Hamlet and at Romeo, “isn’t he one of your dear friends, Hamlet ? Don’t you recognize him ?” he said with a horrible smile. Then, to Romeo : “Turn around, coward ! Look at me when I talk to you !” Romeo took a deep breath and turned back to Tybalt, smiling. “Tybalt ! That’s only you, damn, I’m sorry, I did not recognize you at first. I thought I heard an old sick dog barking in the distance, calling my name… You know how dreamy I get sometimes !” he answered with his bright smile still on his face. That was too much for Tybalt, who drew his sword instantly with a raging scream. The people in the streets started to shout and run away as they saw the two men facing each other with deadly hatred in their eyes. Romeo drew his sword too, and refused to step back as Tybalt was moving towards him. Hamlet had grown totally pale and he was looking helplessly at Romeo. “For God’s sake, stop it now ! This is madness !” he cried, desperate. “You better look at this, Hamlet, for today is the day when I finally get to kill that Montague bitch !” Tybalt replied.