He is young. I realize this, and yet, aren't I?

Rosaline! Rosaline!

Why am I expected to retain my maturity in the face of this siege?

Ah, but he is young, and she is one of many.

A skirt and a pretty face

and nothing in between with which to satisfy a boy;

there's the tart having my hackles up like much younger competition.

A competitor… am I really?

For what?

For his affections?

For his loyalty?

I had hoped to be above it, I had thought to be, but now,

gazing on that youthful face, those dedicated pools of hazel…

it is enough to make me weak; sick with the thought of what I have become,

of what I am become.

Admittedly,

there was attraction in the establishment of this contract,

but I had thought to follow custom and be a fare man should the time arrive

that such a jay catch his eye and snare him.

I had thought to hand him over directly

and dress the package to suit, as societal practice would dictate.

I remember it well even now.

"You are young." I had told him,

tugging one of those disgusting, beautiful curls.

He answered my profession with a laugh charming and charmed.

"Oh? And you?"

"I am older." I'd replied.

He'd propped himself up and the moon's light shadow etched the silhouette of his empty head.

"Three years only." He told me.

I chose not to stir from my clover bed, but raised a brow at his quarrel.

"Is it not so much?"

"So much?" he asked,

only feigning the ignorance common of youth,

for his skull, though empty, was level yet.

"I can't say, not knowing your rule of measure."

And he smiled, having an amusement at the expense of my honest blood.

He smiled,

and I had half a thought to pluck it from his superior lips with mine own.

Thinking better, I rose, shaking the rebuff with the clovers' leaves.

"Not so much!" he was quick to amend,

regretting the goose in light of my departure.

"Not so much… but enough." I rejoined to him.

"Enough?"

and I would have gone,

but though his naïveté was not genuine, neither was it false;

so inspired by the self-doubt that comes direct

before an offer of acceptance.

Thinking better, or thinking worse,

I effected the original task,

and took those soft, shameless lips

and the mouth there behind.

It is not an uncommon arrangement.

And I had every intent

to enjoy the position

and abandon it when order called.

But something more in him, in me?

Something more has made the very minstrel of Mercutio,

Admitted.

And what is this to him

but a position of mutual, social, gain?

And so Rosaline, and so Juliet,

and now Juliet!

And there's the rub assured,

for Rosaline and forerunners of such

were but paltry sample to wet the appetite

which later mine would match and satisfy.

And should she match and he go?

What then of true Mercutio?

Enough! Scoundrel! Have at!

That beggar louse and rat-catcher of the house of pox!

To accuse my mate and master (though he scarce could know)

I'd score ten thousand quarrels for the name of Romeo.

But what, and ho, and lo

a hit.

A scratch, too aptly placed

and I am done before the scrap is nearly through

injured 'neath the trusted arm of Montague.

This same arm 'neath which

I have often and on many occasion lain

and placed my faith, in faith yet

I am slain.

House of alliance, mateship, depth and breadth of love

House of treachery, naïveté and youth,

A plague o' both your houses!