'Fashion i' th' Earth'

Hamlet is mad, yes, and he's not ashamed of it, only frustrated by it. Horatio can see; it seems as though everything he does is obvious to Horatio. He doesn't just act; most of the time he's only himself and they still think him mad. It makes the whole world swirl together in senselessness. Sometimes he wonders if he isn't so completely mad that he'll drown in it. He makes everything strange by himself and he can't reach out and touch anyone. But Horatio can see. Horatio hums and doesn't seem to realise that the world's changed from having a healthy complexion to pallour; yet, at the same time, he knows when to rub Hamlet's shoulders and insist that it's all going to *turn out right*.

Yes, Claudius must die. It can be done. It will happen. If Hamlet never even touches him, Horatio promises, he will still die. Everyone dies, and Claudius will be getting rather old now, he says, musing on it.

Horatio always looks the same. He's the only thing that hasn't changed. He still exaggerates stories when he tells them. He still lies on the floor on his back and says things that are so annoyingly philosophical that Hamlet doesn't want to think about them. He still reacts sweetly to teasing and still makes jests with a perfectly straight face.

He still kisses Hamlet's golden hair and tries to pick out the rosemary, only to be slapped at. Hamlet needs the rosemary. And then, blithely, Horatio leaves off and doesn't touch it.

Night, Hamlet suspects, is when Horatio does his worrying, when there's no one to see. During the day, he must stay in his role of warm comfort and understanding philosophy. Perhaps Hamlet is selfish, but he prefers it that way. He needs Horatio when Horatio is composed almost as much as he needs his rosemary.

He's mad, and he never thinks straight. He keeps getting all his thoughts mixed up, and yet one thought he generally keeps whole and apart from the jumble of other ones: he loves Horatio. He needs Horatio.

And on the occasions that he feels as though he's lucid, that he's sane at last, Horatio makes him do things he used to do. Horatio reads with him, lying on his stomach with his feet in the air, and Hamlet lies on his back, holding his own book up high where he can hardly read it, just as he did when he was a boy. Sometimes they take walks together, and Hamlet realises that Horatio feels so happy he may break because he has his old friend back.

Does that mean, since when Hamlet returns into the madness, Horatio seems as though his heart may break, that either happy or miserable, Horatio will end up in pieces?

But Hamlet loves Horatio, and hides the worry that he's destroying him within madness. Then, when Horatio kisses his hair and his cheeks and smilingly tells him that in the end, they'll be happy, he can believe it without guilt.

Horatio is the only one who understands.