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From Heart to Limb to Pen

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Horatio wakes up with the first ray of sun and looks at the sleeping Hamlet next to him. The sheets that Hamlet has pushed off himself during the night carry faint mirrors of Horatio’s writing, like distant memories of letters.

He traces the black lines on Hamlet’s skin with his finger. They’ve already started to fade since he put them there last night; bits of poems and Latin proverbs and philosophy elicited from Hamlet as answers to Horatio’s questions. In his mind's eye, Horatio still sees the image of dark ink forming slow, wet lines against Hamlet's taut skin, Hamlet's breath quickening, hitching in his throat—relishing the game, but aching for Horatio's touch.

Only when Horatio could not find any more clear patches of skin on Hamlet's belly or back did he give way to other lessons entirely, taught and learned with hands and lips, skin on skin.

He's had enough time to learn that, if he wants Hamlet to take an interest in things he considers important, he has to mix business with pleasure. Usually, Horatio can feel himself rebel against the idea, but truth be told, he finds this particular blend is to his taste.

The lines of his letters are not well-formed for a number of reasons; they are but scribbles, and Hamlet most likely won’t remember half of them once the ink washes off. Still, looking at Hamlet like this, skin aglow with the first morning light, a sheen of sweat glistening over black ink, Horatio finds a beauty here that can rival any scribe's craft.

Hamlet awakes and gives him a look that makes Horatio's chest feel tight. He pulls Horatio close, kissing him deeply, and Horatio can't help but think maybe this lesson will be well remembered after all.