Rosencrantz doesn't remember much. It doesn't dishearten him; it's difficult to be disheartened by what one can't remember, when one can't remember ever having remembered it in the first place. It doesn't even dishearten Guildenstern. Rather, it worries him; he will pace and fret and question, what's the first thing you remember?, barely-controlled fear lighting his eyes until they are bright as a knife edge in sunlight. Touch, he says, and Rosencrantz will clasp his hand, half-comprehending, until the fear has passed -- until he has almost forgotten that it ever existed at all.
Rosencrantz doesn't remember much, but neither does he always forget.
He knows that Hamlet is not the man he was. From our young days brought up with him -- and at times, when the wind ruffles his hair in a very particular direction or the sun reflects just so against the windowpane, he can recollect those days as something not abstract but real. He remembers sitting together in a vast, high-ceilinged library, listening to Guildenstern and the Prince quarrell over the finer points of a syllogism; he remembers sitting at the river, folding paper boats, he and Hamlet disregarding Guildenstern's huffing and sighing as they took it in turns to set them afloat; he remembers the three of them walking the halls of Wittenberg, lighthearted even as their books weighed down their bodies, laughing all together at a joke the Prince had told. He remembers when Hamlet used to tell jokes -- jokes meant to make people happy, not to make them hurt. He remembers when Hamlet used to laugh at him, low and fond, when he misread a question or misinterpreted an argument. He remembers -- he thinks -- Hamlet's mouth warm and soft on his, his back pressed against the cold stone wall of a deserted corridor; he remembers how giddy he felt, suffused with the heady rush of secrecy and haste and the tantalising proximity of that whipcord-thin body to his own.
I remember, he told Guildenstern once, when there were no questions.
"My lord," he says, "you once did love me," -- but looking at Hamlet now, brow quirked and lips thinned, he struggles to believe it even as he speaks. Hamlet protests, of course, all righteous indignation and innocent eyes, and Rosencrantz struggles to believe that, too.
The memories don't linger for long; scarcely an hour later he has forgotten them all, and is left only with the knowledge of what he tried to insist to the Prince. Such a silly thing to say! No doubt he's made a fool of them both; no doubt Guildenstern will be unhappy with him, and tell him so in as many words as he possibly can. Nevertheless, there's no use in sitting around fretting about it. He's only human. It was only a mistake.
He'll know better, he thinks, next time.