With Rosemary and Sage, and Oranges

He is aware of standing on a marble floor. The first thing he notices is that the stone is cold beneath his feet, and afterwards, that a little way off there is a rug made from some animal's skin, perhaps a horse, and that it would be easier to stand there, and that there his feet would not be cold.

But what calls his attention is more important than the floor. He bows his head of tousled gold, and rakes a hand through it, feeling a twig of rosemary brush his fingers. He pulls it free, and looks at it for a moment, then tucks it back behind his ear. He can hear a woman's voice, his mother's, and yet disregards it, tilting his head sadly at the figure before him.

"Do you not come your tardy son to chide, that lapsed in time and passion lets go by the important acting of your dread command? Oh say!"

And the figure tells more words to him, which tremble in its haunting voice, and it settles a pale, grey-transparent hand on his torn black sleeve. He takes in these words but could not repeat them. He understands what is said without comprehending, and he is sorry.

"Speak to her."

Another command, but easier achieved than the first. He goes down on velvet knees before his mother, and takes both her small hands in his slender ones, whispering:

"How is it with you, lady?"

It does not please her, as he'd half thought it would. As the figure had demanded it, he'd been vaguely sure that it was the right thing, which would stop her talking with this anguish. She momentarily runs a bewildered hand over his tangled hair, asking him questions he wouldn't be allowed to answer. She asks to whom he is speaking, as though she could not see the figure.

And he answers her back, "On him, on him! Look you how pale he glares. His form and cause conjoined, preaching to stones, would make them capable!"

And from somewhere quite far away, he hears a man murmuring, "That's so. They would, for you."

Yet that's quite far away, and he is distracted. The figure glances at him, and he rests his head against his mother's shoulder, trying to fend off the glance by flapping his hand at it helplessly.

"Do not look upon me, lest with this piteous action you convert my stern effects! Then what I have to do will want true colour, tears perchance for blood."

He shivers, protesting that with all his mind. And now his mother speaks, and he does his best to ignore it, though he cannot. She's always asking questions. He's always trying to avoid them. She repeats it, a little louder, adding the unknown question of "Enjolras?" before the repeating.

"Do you see nothing there?" he asks of her, quivering and pulling away from her.

She sees nothing. Of course she sees nothing. And now the figure is fading, leaving, and he's not sure he was ready yet. She ought to see before it is gone, though, and he does his best to make her see. He gestures. He points.

"Why, look you there. Look how it steals away. My father, in his habit as he lived. Look where he goes even now out at the portal."

And yes, he is pleading. Why can't anyone ever see anything? His madness is false, but it seems as though the world is trying to make it real. He stands, away from what else she is likely saying to him, brushing down the long black-velvet tunic, brushing out the frayed edges, and with a sad fondness, smoothing down the wrinkles over his heart. Suddenly, he turns, catching his mother's last word.


He has more to say, but, as the figure did, the world fades around him, and he is once again standing in the back room of le Musain in his shirtsleeves, across from a wide-eyed Courfeyrac.

Christophe-Marie straightens, and glowers fiercely at the man. "What's wrong now? Have I missed a line?"

Martin regains some composure. "Oh, no, my lord. Prince Hamlet is very eloquently and unmistakenly spoken. I admire your ability to make it seem as though he were in the room with me."

Christophe eyes him balefully, and reaches out for his script-book, taking it from Courfeyrac. "Thank you for helping me rehearse." He runs a hand over the soft, worn leather cover, with the words, 'Hamlet, Prince of Denmark' cut sharply into the surface. He's loved this now-familiar book, and the scent of dust that goes with it. If he ever goes home again, he'll make sure that his father purchases the play in some form to put in the family library. If he ever goes home...

Courfeyrac breaks in on his reverie.

"My pleasure. Oh, I meant to ask. Shakespeare's rather not the thing these days, is he? Your director is an ambitious man."

"My director..." The golden-haired actor turns away, annoyed with being disturbed in his thoughts, and equally bothered by the mention of his director and his director's purposes. "My director is doing as he sees fit."

"Hamlet isn't a popular play right now, Enjolras. But you're a good actor, and a very handsome man." Clavier winked. "We'll get quite a crowd, even if half of them are only young women."

"Of course." Martin leans over the table and takes the book back from Enjolras. "We weren't quite done with that act, were we? Let's finish it."

Christophe regards him. "Very well. Act three, scene four, line one hundred and fifty-one of that. Give me my cue."

As Courfeyrac begins speaking, Christophe finds himself returned to Denmark. He finds himself back in that hall with the cold marble floor, facing his mother. He finds himself once more dressed all in the loose black velvet, torn at the hems, and smelling faintly of rosemary. He finds himself Hamlet again.

Chapter Two.
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