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[fic] Houses of the Holy

What I wrote for Yuletide 2011! I had fun with this one.

Title: Houses of the Holy
Fandom: Hamlet
Pairing/Characters: Hamlet/Laertes, Hamlet/Ophelia
Rating: R
Summary: Haunted mansion AU. The Denmark family lives in the kind of house that swallows you whole.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
A/N: Originally posted here for the yuletide 2011 fic exchange for gileonnen.

At the Denmark family manor, time stands still.

They arrive there on a cold grey day in November, Ophelia’s fingers laced so tightly through her brother’s that her knuckles go white, and Laertes offers her a slightly strained smile that tells her it hurts, just a little. Behind them, their father tells them, Remember to behave, you two, we’re guests in this house, and don’t you forget it, then laughs and hugs them both behind the shoulders, to take the sting out of the rebuke.

A traded glance between siblings conveys what words won’t. Hand in hand, they wait as the door gapes open with a creak like a scream, studiously ignoring how Polonius ushers them both forward, like display children, like offerings, like a sacrifice to the altar of old and bloody money. The maid that ushers them in has a face as grey as the day, like she too has been sitting in an attic collecting dust, forgotten and full of what’s hidden and bitter.

You could choke on secrets in this house, Ophelia thinks, and die in splendor, go to your wake in scarlet satin, a half smiling corpse.

*

The young scion of the house calls himself Hamlet, and doesn’t introduce himself until the second day of their visit. The first thing Ophelia notices is that he’s beautiful. The second thing she notices is that he terrifies her.

Hamlet, only son of the illustrious Denmark family, angles a hip toward her just so, beckons with crooked glance and smiling mouth, asks, “So, little bird, what have they told you about me?”

That your family is mad.

(That you’re the maddest of them all, prince of lost minds.)

That you take after your father.

(That you’re your uncle’s bastard, your mother’s secret shame.)

That you love beautiful women.

(That you love beautiful men, too.)

That you ruin the women you touch.

(That you’ll ruin me if I’m as stupid as all the rest.)

Ophelia averts her eyes.

“Nothing,” she says. “They’ve said nothing at all to me.”

*

Nightfall breathes life into Denmark Manor.

Ophelia has lost all ability to sleep, eyes open in the dark, waiting for the ghosts that haunt the hallways to find her. Instead, her brother does.

“It’s going to be okay, you know,” he whispers, careful not to wake their father next door as he slings an arm around her shaking shoulders. “We won’t stay here forever.”

Ophelia buries an incredulous laugh in the crook of his arm. “We already have.”

*

On the fifth day of their visit, Ophelia sees Laertes with Hamlet in the music room turned foyer. She watches them fight while the afternoon sunlight streams on to the baby grande, strains to hear the cruel and jagged whispers that crescendo into shoves and snarled, half-audible accusations.

“You’re the monster of this house,” Laertes tells Hamlet.

Ophelia opens her mouth, emits silence.

She stands, rooted to the spot, when Hamlet digs long, alabaster fingers into the folds of Laertes’ shirt, and slams her brother back first against the edge of the piano. The two of them stay like that a moment, breath flowing in gasps, Hamlet standing over Laertes like a dark and furious shadow, full of rage and beauty.

Then Laertes has Hamlet’s grasping fingers twined through his own hands, and he’s kicking his opponent’s legs out from under him, twisting and collapsing the tableau until they’re crumpled in a heap at the foot of the baby grande.

And Laertes is kissing Hamlet.

Ophelia shoves a fist against her mouth. She cannot blink.

Laertes is kissing Hamlet, and Laertes’ fingers are tearing at the buttons of Hamlet’s dress shirt, kissing Hamlet’s mouth and neck and sternum as if he wants to kill him. Hamlet’s head slams against a piano leg, white neck taut and black hair wet with perspiration. His eyes are closed, his mouth open, and he is laughing and laughing and laughing, as those long, beautiful fingers cleave angry red marks down her brother’s exposed back.

Ophelia flees.

*

She’s losing track of the days, as if the house has begun to swallow her time too, now that it has her. She curls in on herself in the belly of the manor, and around her the walls laugh and laugh and laugh.

Eyes shut against the night, she presses her palms deep against the grooves of the sockets, presses until her temples ache and lights dance against the tunnel black of her vision, presses and waits for her brother, and doesn’t cry. Never cries.

Laertes doesn’t come this time.

*

“You saw us, that day.”

Hamlet lounges across the foot of her bed, smiling mouth wide and dark eyes boring into hers. They are eyes that articulate starvation, hungry eyes that seek out beauty to feed something that won’t ever be sated.

But beauty will do.

“You saw us,” Hamlet repeats, enunciating every word with an aristocrat’s condescending precision, cruelty etched into the flick of his tongue, red against white teeth. “You saw your brother fuck me.”

Ophelia opens her mouth, closes it, opens it, but her voice is gone, gone, gone, and then Hamlet is kissing all remaining sound away, one hand tangled in her hair and the other reaching between her legs. He arches against her, chest to chest and groin to groin, and now it’s her fingers trembling against his shirt buttons, her fingers that reach for his hair and clothing and draw him in, closer, closer, closer.

And it's her fingers, too, that close around his neck.

“No,” says Ophelia. She can’t remember the last time she spoke, and her voice comes out rusty with disuse. “No,” she repeats, sliding a leg out from under him, shifting her weight so that she’s lying on top of him, legs straddling his waist, as she presses flush against him. Her fingers fall loose, leaving purple bruises on white skin, and he watches her with eyes filled with night, chest heaving.

Her lips drop to the space between his ear and hairline. “You don’t get to ruin me,” Ophelia whispers, soft as snowfall, and presses a kiss like a bite to Hamlet’s throat.

*

They leave on the seventh day.

Her father stands on her left, and her brother on her right, and they leave in the wake of the grey-faced maid’s chatter, all full of apologies for keeping them in such a lonely, empty house.

Ophelia does not read the names on the gravestones at her feet as the door shuts behind her, and Hamlet does not see them off. A gust of cold wind kisses her neck once, twice, and at Laertes’ concerned glance, Ophelia smiles and pulls her coat more snugly over her shoulders.

They leave the house and its gravestones behind. Ophelia does not think of Hamlet again.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
sandrine
Jan. 2nd, 2012 04:37 pm (UTC)
I'm not usually a fan of AU's, but I really enjoyed this! The idea is so clever and well-executed, and I really like your writing style. (Plus, I've always had a bit of a soft spot for Hamlet/Laertes!) Thanks for the lovely read. :)
chaos_harmony
Jan. 2nd, 2012 05:25 pm (UTC)
Aw, thanks -- this was a bit of a rush job on my part, but I had fun with it, so I'm glad you enjoyed it! My recipient requested horror AU, and I've always been a fan of the creepy gothic manor trope, so I kind of just ran with that. :D
tianar
Jan. 2nd, 2012 11:23 pm (UTC)
This was lovely. I love your writing.

And, oh man, this made me miss Hamlet and our characters' completely effed up love lives.

(and Laertes. It's completely egotistical to be so attracted to a character you've played, BUT I DON'T CARE. LAERTES WAS HOT.)
chaos_harmony
Jan. 3rd, 2012 03:20 am (UTC)
Merci beaucoup! I'm flattered that you like. :D

Ahahaha, that show will always have a special place in my heart. And it's okay, no one can blame you for finding Laertes sexy, because everyone who reads/watches that play finds Laertes sexy.

YOU ARE MY FAVORITE FAKE BIG BROTHER, MADI. ♥
harmonyangel
Jan. 7th, 2012 10:49 pm (UTC)
Oh, this is really fantastic! I love your prose, and how haunted everything is, and how poor Ophelia tries to display agency. The descriptions are gorgeous and hot, too. Lovely work.
chaos_harmony
Jan. 7th, 2012 11:59 pm (UTC)
Eeee, thank you so much! I have a special place in my heart for Ophelia and her tricky relationship with agency, since I played her once, back in my theatre kid days. Good times!
chaos_harmony
Jan. 8th, 2012 01:16 am (UTC)
P.S. So much love for your icon. Eeeee siblings! ♥
harmonyangel
Jan. 8th, 2012 01:29 am (UTC)
I wish I could find an iconic picture of Laertes and Ophelia to complete the set of pompous/crazy siblings!
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )