"At least, the food is good," Felix said as he settled into the chair next to me.
"I think it's left over from Father's funeral." I knocked back my third shot of whiskey with a wince.
"Hamlet, that's horrible." Felix squeezed my thigh gently under the table.
"Isn't it, though?" I blew out a sigh. My father had died less than a month before, twenty-six days to be exact, and now, Gertrude, my mother, Queen of Denmark, was already remarrying. The fact that she had been engaged to my uncle Claude, my father's brother, less than two weeks after the king's death didn't seem to bother anyone but me. Perhaps, everyone's desire to have strength of the crown clouded their judgment of her.
Even Felix, my friend and lover, only seemed to get angered to appease me. Everyone of late had been walking on eggshells around me as if they could avoid the inevitable explosion that was bound to happen at my mother's feet. I just hadn't worked up the courage, or the drunkenness, to go after her and my uncle.
I wasn't so uncouth as to do it at their wedding, though it was awfully tempting. Maybe if I could have thought of the right words, I would have done it by now. But I was just so appalled at the quickness with which my mother had recovered from the king's untimely, and if you ask me, suspicious death that I just couldn't put together enough words about it to form coherent sentences.
"Look," Felix said, pulling me from my thoughts. "I know that the throne should have been yours, but you can't--"
"I don't give a fuck about the throne," I interrupted. "If I could, I would run from Denmark as fast as possible. But I can't. Especially now. As pissed as I am at her, I won't leave my mother alone with that man."
"You're not still on about that, are you?" Felix sounded frustrated. "Your uncle did not kill your father."
"Felix, you know as well as I that old Hamlet did not have a heart attack. I think he was poisoned."
"I think you need to get laid," he said with a smirk. "You've been through so much. You should let me take care of you."
"That's what you think, is it?" I smiled in spite of myself. No matter what happened, Felix could always get me in better spirits.
"That's what I think." He moved his hand further up my thigh. "Maybe, I could just crawl under the table and suck that tension out of you."
"You wouldn't," I teased. The look in his eyes darkened, and for a moment, I wondered if maybe he really would.
His hand crept up again until his palm rested flat against my growing erection. "Wouldn't I?" He pressed firm circles over my cock until it stood at full attention and pressed almost painfully against the clasp of my pants.
"Felix," I hissed through clenched teeth.
"Yes, my lord?" His thumb slid up and down my shaft. "Is this not enough? Perhaps you'd like me to pull you out onto the dance floor. I would fall to my knees in front of everyone and profess my loyalty to the true king before unsheathing you and taking you in my mouth. Would you like me to show the country to whom my life and my body belong?"
He was doing his best to make me come, and it was a struggle not to explode under his touch. Pre-cum flooded from my tip, and I found myself thankful I still wore my mourning black and the evidence wouldn't show so much when I finally had to stand.
"You are incorrigible." A quick glance around showed that no one paid the slightest attention to us. It helped that I'd chosen seats far from the head table occupied by the bride and groom. The party was in full swing, and no one bothered looking for the distressed prince. If anything, they were probably glad I had hidden myself away so that their fun was not ruined by my moroseness.
"Do you wish me to stop?" he asked, the quickening of his hand over my cock showing he had no intention of halting even if I begged. "Or do you want me to finish you?"
My gaze caught his, and the fire in his eyes coupled with his hard, fast strokes over my shaft brought me before I could think to respond in words. My hands gripped the table so firmly I heard it start to splinter under my palms while I fought not to cry out my pleasure.
"My lord, I believe we should get you some clean trousers. Perhaps, I could accompany you to your chambers?" Felix's breath was hot as he whispered against my ear.
"That would be...appreciated," I said.
"You two should try for a little more discretion." Felix's brother, Larry, dropped into a chair across from us and grinned wickedly.
"And you should try for some decorum," Felix snapped back.
"I'm supposed to ignore such a flagrant display of affection? It was watch the two of you paw each other or watch the bride and groom do it. And let's face it. Hamlet is much prettier than Claude."
"You're a pervert," Felix said, rolling his eyes.
"You're jerking off the prince at his mother's wedding, and I'm the pervert?" Larry barked with laughter.
"I'm your brother." Felix glared Larry. "It's disgusting."
"No more disgusting than two men fondling each other in public." Larry drained the drink that was in his hand and slammed it on the table. "You're lucky Father didn't see you."
"I don't give a damn what father thinks."
Larry and I both gave Felix disbelieving looks. Claude's chief advisor, Peter Polan, might never be King of Denmark, but he was certainly the king of his household. He said jump, and Larry and Felix both asked "how high". I think they both respected their father, but more than that, they feared him immensely.
Peter was an imposing man at six foot two inches tall, and a solid mass of muscle topped his light features. He was the polar opposite of his two sons. Larry and Felix were three years apart in age but could have passed for twins. Both of the young men were dark and slender, and neither was close to brushing six feet tall. Larry was about an inch taller than Felix at all of five foot eight. Only Felix's piercing blue eyes were in contrast to his brother's chocolate brown irises.
Sparing the rod was never even thought of in the Polan household. Felix had come to my chambers many nights to have me tend the bruises his father had left on his body after some smart-lipped remark had sent the older man into a rage. It had been on one of these nights that he and I had finally admitted our feelings for each other. The development had left Felix oddly appreciative of his father, and it burned me to my soul to see him grovel at the wicked man's feet.
Granted, not everyone could be expected to have the relationship I'd had with my father. He probably spoiled me more than any man had ever done with his child. I believe the fact that his father had been most generous with him, both with gifts and affection, gave him the drive to do the same with me.
To watch Peter behave so violently toward his children left me incensed. My father had warned me long ago to stay out of it, that it was none of our business what happened in other families. But the closer Felix and I became the more I wondered how much longer I would be able to hold my tongue.
"I'm scared to leave you here, brother," Larry said with a sigh.
I realized I had missed part of a conversation as I'd lost myself to thoughts of Felix's father. The two had moved closer together and talked softly to each other.
"You know you don't have to worry for me," Felix said with a wave of his hand. "It's not like father holds back that much when you're here. I can't imagine it being worse once you're gone."
"You're leaving us, Larry?" I asked, surprised I hadn't heard of this sooner.
"Yes," he sighed. "I'm going to France for an extended stay. Hopefully, I'll find much fine wine and even finer pussy and forget about this downtrodden place forever. If things go well, I'll send for you both, and we can live out our days, drunk and happy and free."
"And if things go badly?" I asked with a smile.
"Then I'll be back soon with a sad heart and a flaccid dick."
"You are quite the poet, Larry," Felix said with a laugh.
"I do what I can to make my brother smile." He sighed again. "Hamlet, I ask that you watch out for him. It won't be long before the whole kingdom is aware of the two of you. I'm not accusing or blaming, but anyone with half a mind will start to notice the way the two of you look at each other. He loves you and you him, and I love you both. I fear for your safety. Father will not take this well, and it scares me to think what will happen to both of you when he learns the truth of your friendship."
"You know I won't allow anything to happen to Felix. You're right that I love him. No one will lay hand to him while I am alive to stop it."
Felix looked at me with an odd expression on his face. I was startled to realize that I'd never before told him I love him. My face reddened with shame that the first time he heard me say it was in front of his brother. I would have preferred to be alone with him, perhaps curled around his warm body while nuzzling his ear and whispering it softly to him.
He held up a hand to stop my words, a smile spreading across his face. "It's enough to hear you say it. In fact, it may mean more that you can utter the words in front of my family rather than hide it away from people the way we've had to for so long. My heart's full to bursting right now. Don't ruin it with an apology."
I nodded, returning his warm smile with one of my own. "I would never have apologized for saying it, Felix. Nor shall I ever apologize to anyone for how I feel about you. I do love you, and if I didn't fear for your safety, I would have shouted it from the castle roof long ago."
"I can't decide if this is the sweetest or the grossest thing I have ever witnessed," Larry said with a roll of his eyes. "You'd best not let Father hear your professions. I don't want to come back to find either of you floating in a river somewhere."
We all stood, I after making sure that my coat swept over my front in case any telltale sign of our earlier encounter remained on my trousers.
"Safe travels, my friend," I said, taking Larry's hand across the table and shaking it heartily.
"Be careful, brother," Felix said, throwing his arms around his older sibling. "I'll miss you. Please write and tell me of your adventures."
"I will, Felix. And I mean it, be careful."
Felix nodded; his face was so raw with emotion that I knew he was too choked up to speak any more. He and Larry had always been close, and I knew it had to be killing him to see his brother go. For me, I worried more that Peter's attentions would no longer be split between the brothers but focused solely on Felix. I knew I had to find a way to get Felix away from this hell we called Denmark, our home. This was no longer a safe place for us.
Between the loss of my father and the chance of increased beatings from Felix's, Denmark was quickly becoming too dangerous to risk staying. The throne would never be mine, and I didn't know that I wanted it anyway. Let some other kingdom swallow us up once Claude was gone. I didn't care anymore. My love for Felix was stronger than any sense of country could ever be.
Felix and I watched Larry cross the hall to say his goodbyes to his father. I was pleased to see Peter had his back to us and most likely hadn't even noticed Felix and I were in the room at all.
"It would be best to make our exit while they are distracted, don't you think?" I asked Felix.
"Quite right," he agreed. "I shall meet you in your room. I must stop and make my exit to the new king. You may be able to dismiss common courtesy, but I shudder to think what would happen if I were to leave without due deference."
I nodded and made my way out of the hall, grateful to reach the quiet of the corridor without being waylaid. My quarters in Castle Elsinore weren't too far from the great hall, and I was thankful. I was eager to bathe before Felix found me. The earlier events of the evening had dried to a sticky mess in my trousers, and it was becoming uncomfortable, not to mention quite unseemly and did not lend itself well to romantic thoughts.
The doors to my suite were in view when I was distracted by a commotion further down the corridor. Curious about its source, I continued down the hall and was shocked to find a flurry of activity in my father's personal quarters. Maids and pages were busily packing boxes with his clothing and effects.
"What the hell is going on in here?" I bellowed in anger. My fists were clenched at my sides, and I felt my face burning.
"Prince Hamlet," a page stuttered. "We are doing as Queen Gertrude requested and packing away your father's things for the church."
"My mother," I seethed. "She has no right to make such decisions. Stop! All of you stop what you're doing right now. Just stop. Get out of here."
"Prince Hamlet," the page said softly.
Everyone finally stopped what they had been doing and scurried around me out the door. I walked into the room and sat on the bed, burying my face in my hands.
"Father." I choked on the word as it escaped my throat. "My dear King, what have they done? All that I have left of you, save your blood in my veins, that treacherous witch would have thrown to the proletariat who only wish to wipe the spit from their babe's mouths with the king's finery.
"What a cruel whore to marry your brother and disregard you as if you didn't matter, as if you'd never mattered. And these fool people, who cheer at the feet of their new crown with nary a thought to the true king, the man that for decades ensured the promise of a roof over their heads and meat on their table every night. What fickle beasts they are that now sit in that hall with the new king and celebrate his marriage whilst not a month ago they cried their crocodile tears for my father. Oh God!"
I stood and walked to one of the boxes, pulling from it uniforms that my father had worn in the Denmark Army before I was born. He had been fitter then, the crown of king making him softer around his middle as the years had worn on. My fingers played along the fringe of his gold sash, and I fought not to scream as I thought of it being chucked into a charity bin with the soiled trousers of the bourgeois.
I lifted my gaze to the door to see Felix standing there, leaning against the frame and looking at me with piteous eyes.
"Don't look at me like that, Felix. The last thing I need right now is pity. Please. Do you know what that bitch has been up to? In my mourning, I hadn't even thought she'd been ridding our home of his things. These are my things now. She has no right." I was getting worked up again, and I wasn't sure that I would be calmed easily.
"My lord," Felix said as he walked into the room. "There is no way that I, a common man, could ever think to pity such a prince as you. You have every right to be angry. I know you think I'm appeasing you, but honestly, I can't imagine how you must feel. This is something I have never and will never experience. I don't know that I would mourn the loss of my own father at all. He has never given me cause to feel affection for him the way you felt for our King."
"Do not grovel at me like a commoner," I said with a playful punch to his arm. "I'm sorry that your father is such a bastard, and I'm sorry I can't shake the loss of mine."
"Hamlet, it's been so short a period of time. It's not fair that any of us expect you to let it go. I'm sorry if I've been short with you about your temperament. You should grieve in your own way and in your own time. That's everyone's right."
I knew this was his way of saying I shouldn't be hard on my mother for grieving so shortly. But I wouldn't waver. To marry my uncle so quickly was unforgivable in my eyes.
"Felix, help me with these boxes." I pointed to the mess scattered about the floor as a means of changing the subject. "I wish to move his things to my quarters before my mother can attempt to rid Elsinore of them again."