Luc Bahorel hated poetry. It seemed to him to be a tremendous waste of time. When smaller, he loved his father to tell him stories of heroes and dragons and the subsequent bloody battles. When older, he discovered Shakespeare, and fell in love with Macbeth. But he wouldn't have called that poetry. He danced in storms and shouted the lines at the thundery skies. Once upon a time, he sat on a fence amidst the majestic hail and called out to the world the grief of Macduff with his young, clear voice.
"--All my pretty ones? Did you say all? O, hell-kite! All?"
He fell forward off the fence, feeling something out of place, and looked around to see a tall man in a long black coat standing on the other side. The man smiled, and told him,
"I was lost in your spell. Do you enchant the skies often?"
Luc fled, and soon after surprised his mother by refusing to go out in the rain any longer.
He never spoke to anyone of the incident, but he treated Macbeth with a little fear, and didn't read it quite as often. A little while, and he stopped quoting it. He assured himself he didn't love it any less, but it was a childhood thing... He had no time for childish things now.
He grew older still, left home for the city of Paris, and took a fancy to the tales of other men. He preferred history to a tragedy, and adventure to history. He despised poetry more than ever before, and decided firmly that Macbeth really was more of the stuff. He discarded his copies of Shakespeare with an odd sense of relief, and bought Hugo's Bug-Jargal instead. He joined the ABC society after listening to a speech in the street that caused a small riot.
He met the poet Jehan Prouvaire at the Café Musain in the year 1828, fell in love, fell out of love, fell back in love, learned it to be reciprocated, obtained a lover, and instantly found himself in an awkward position. Jehan wrote poems constantly, all the time, and got ink everywhere. Luc put up with poetry because it made Jehan happy, but he was exasperated to find every kiss left him with blue or green ink on his face and clothes.
"If I'd just gotten a nice girl, I wouldn't be covered in ink all the time!"
"If you'd just gotten a nice girl, you'd shout at her because you couldn't stand being covered in perfume all the time," Jehan said mildly.
Jehan wrote poems for Luc, but Luc had a surprisingly bad memory and kept forgetting where he'd put them. He could never find them anywhere. Jehan suspected Luc's fireplace knew, but he refrained from mentioning this.
Luc still danced with thunderstorms, but in a very different way now. He supported all revolutionary causes, turning himself into a finely carved stereotype with his fellows in Les Amis. They regarded him as a man who would sooner smash windows than see a good play. In actuality, he was there in 1830 when Hugo's Hernani came out on stage, though he was the cause of the riot that followed. Approving of the play, he struck the man behind him who did not. When all hell broke loose, he laughed. He went to Jehan's apartment afterward with a cut lip and a nasty gash in his arm, feeling proud and tall and light-headed and as though he had defended the greatest piece of literature on earth and won, though this was not strictly true.
Luc lay on the bed, grinning at the ceiling in the best of spirits, and Jehan sat beside him, worrying and fussing.
"Jehan, you are fluffy. You are fluffy to the infinite. That's what I like about you." He sat up and caught Jehan in his arms, kissing him and smearing his shirt with blood. "Revenge. That's revenge for all the ink on my poor shirts! Oh, my fluffy."
"You're not drunk," Jehan said happily, not minding, "and yet you're acting it."
"A good fight is far more intoxicating than a good wine," Luc informed him.
In 1831, he purchased Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris, and called it a fine tale, but he also bought second-hand a copy of Macbeth in English, although he never read it.
In February of 1832, Luc Bahorel ceased to hate poetry. He couldn't help it. He kissed Jehan's ink-stained hands, became a sentimental fool, and grew overall exasperated with himself. Histories were better than tragedies, adventures better than histories. An insurrection was worth more passion than a simple love affair. Victor Hugo was highly superior to Jehan Prouvaire. Nevertheless, he stopped burning the poems he received, and began to actually read them. They were pretty little things, useless and soppy, and yet there was a peculiar charm to them that captured him. He was highly irritated.
In April, he heard that Macbeth would be played in a matter of months, and tried to pretend he didn't care, but he skimmed through the second-hand copy and every line seemed familiar. At last, he told Jehan with some pleasure that they would be going to the theatre on June seventh.
"You'll see the most splendid and horrific play ever written. A drama that instils in its viewers more revulsion and fascination than any ever written," he declared. "A finer play has not been seen before. You'll love it at the same time you wish to hide your face from it. I can't wait to see your reaction."
Jehan giggled and kissed his cheek, leaving a smear of black. "Silly. I'll be delighted."
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